Christmas in July blog has published an interview with me, discussing what inspires my work. Below are a few excerpts from the interview:
How did you get started on Etsy?
I have always liked making things with my hands, and after I’ve gifted beaded bookmarks, earrings, and necklaces to friends for various holidays, someone suggested I create some for sale. A painter I know pointed me to Etsy as an alternative marketplace for artists and crafters. Once I had some time during a maternity leave, I decided to try opening an Etsy shop and have listed a few pieces. My first sale came 3 months later when someone bought five bookmarks to gift to members of their book club for the club’s anniversary. That made me decide to keep going.
What got you interested in making fertility and menstrual cycle jewelry? How does it work?
We grow up so disconnected from our own rhythms, in a culture that teaches to suppress your own instincts in favour of external priorities. I have had issues with my cycle my entire life. We lose touch with what our bodies tell us, we push ourselves too hard, and end up with menstrual cycle irregularities that often lead to fertility issues. There are groups of women all over the world organizing Red Tents once a month, where women gather in circles and share their triumphs and their worries. They talk about getting in tune with your cycle, understanding how your body works, and harnessing the strengths of each stage of the cycle to seize control of your fertility, creativity, productivity, and to know thyself.
One of the ways to get in touch with your cycle, is to keep track of where you are in it. Certain times of the month call for rest, others for undertaking complex projects, yet others for socializing. There are various charts and calendars a woman can use to follow her cycle. I wanted to create something that could be beautiful, deeply personal, yet not necessarily known to an external eye, – a piece of jewelry to wear with a movable charm to indicate where you are in your cycle. It can be used in a privacy of a bedroom, worn openly as an accessory, or used as a subtle reminder to our family members whether we are in need of more rest. These gemstone and crystal jewelled calendars can, of course, be used for fertility-awareness purposes. To know when your ovulation is lets you know when it is best to try conceiving or abstaining, whatever your reproductive goals are.
Following my creation of menstrual cycle tracking bracelets and necklaces, I have come up with pregnancy-tracking necklaces as well. Who can ever remember which week they are in? Computer-based trackers are so impersonal and cold. I found, I wanted something more palpable, like Tibetan mala beads, to finger each week, to think on the baby growing inside me, and to acknowledge another week that passed, by moving a charm.
My first pregnancy and the following few years brought more awareness of birth, life, and beauty to me. I have discovered the Blessingway ceremony and was moved to create a variety of Blessingway beads to honour expectant mamas’ rite of passage. Blessingway is a Navajo ceremony that has been adopted by women of many cultures to bring the awe, support, and attention to the budding mothers. Baby showers focus on the baby and on the material things for the baby. Blessingway (or Mother’s Blessing) showers the mother with love and understanding from other women. As part of the ceremony, each woman brings with her a bead and strings it on a cord, while sharing words of wisdom and love with the mama-to-be. Together the Blessingway beads make a necklace from which the pregnant mama can draw strength throughout the last weeks of her pregnancy and in labour.
I participate in several birth-related initiatives in Ottawa: there is a Positive Birth Movement, the CHOICE! Birth and Baby film festival, Mothers of Change, and Consumers Supporting Midwifery Care, and I talk to many mothers. There is not much support for pregnant women in our society. There is lots of advice, horror birth stories (why is it we never hear the good ones?), fears, pressures, medical tests, and obligations. Yet a key piece is missing: women need support of other women who have been there, they need to draw upon this well of strength and knowledge, to embrace pregnancy, birth, and the wonders of babymoon. I have had a Blessingway for my second baby, and it was wonderful. Now I wish to inspire women to surround the pregnant mama with love. That love will blossom in her and in her child, and that is the best birth gift anyone can give.
Are there any other crafts that interest you or you wish you could master?
I am fascinated by work of silversmiths. I like goth aesthetic and fantasy, and enjoy working with gemstones in beading, so I would love to explore the blending of stones and silver designs in those styles. However, my youngest baby is only seven months, and my hands are full these days. Perhaps I shall venture down that path at a later time.
What is your favorite color and why?
This is a very tough question. If I absolutely had to pick one, it would be blue – the sky blue, the almost-blue lilac, the bluish purple, and a myriad of other shades of blue. But I love the blackest black of the starry sky, the green of the young shoots in the spring, the deep blood red, and so many more colours. Colour is a medium for me, and I play it like an instrument.