Saturday, November 27, 2010

Doodling Miracles

I recently became ingrigued with these small talismans called Milagros. Milagros, which is spanish for miracle, are small amulets used as votive offerings in Latin America, Spain and some other countries in Europe. The idea behind a milagro is that it is a physical representation of a prayer. For example, if someone is experiencing a pain in the leg, a milagro in the shape of a leg would be attached to the robe or altar of the saint during prayer.

In addition a milagro can also be utilized in a prayer of thanks. Inexpensive generic tin milagros are often sold by church vendors, but many craftsmen will create custom more detailed ones out of a variety of materials.

One of the things which makes milagros so remarkable is the fact that the tradition has endured for over two thousand years and although these folk charms are most classically associated with Catholic prayer they have been an inspiration for artist all over the world from all sorts of religious backgrounds.

That is exactly my case, for some reason I have been particularly fixated with the heart icon, I love hearts, of all shapes and colors, so no wonder my favorite milagro is, yes you guessed right... THE HEART MILAGRO. It represents love, healing and gratitude as well as longing, passion and worry. It is the most common image offered at shrines.

For the last few weeks I have been taking a metalsmithing e-course with Stephanie Lee. I really love this workshop. This weekend I decided to try to incorporate a milagro somewhere in my work and I started doodling, perhaps to stamp it or etch it or... just for fun. Here are my Heart Milagro Doodles.

Milagros are part of a magical and symbolic past, and are an ongoing part of a fascinating folk culture. If you want to find some to incorporate in your jewelry and you are not quite ready to travel to Mexico, there are some etsy vendors that have a large selection of them. I hope they bring you all they are meant to bring.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jennifer Maestres' Pencil Beads

It never ceases to amaze me how some artist find inspiration and turn the common and most ordinary objects into incredible pieces of art. Jennifer Maestre was originally inspired by the form and function of the sea urchin, animals, plants and mythology.
She started experimenting with different materials to make urchin forms. She started working with nails of different types, textures and colors which she pushed through window screens. She then continued working in a larger scale, adding zippers and other elements.

In her desire of sculpting more complex forms she started experimenting with other pointy things and techniques, and finally came up with the idea of using pencils by turning them into beads and sewing them together. To make a pencil sculpture she takes hundreds of pencils, cuts them into 1- inch sections, drills a hole in each section, sharpens them and sews them together using mostly a beading technique called the peyote stitch.

Born in Johannesburg , South Africa in 1959, Jennifer is a graduate of Welsley College and holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art. She has been teaching her off-loom techniques for many years and is internationally known for her unique pencil sculptures.