Monday, August 9, 2010

Creating a Gift

I’ve just heard from my friend Melissa, known to most of the online world as Dr Snit that she received the bracelet I’ve spent the last several months (off and on) designing and working on as a special gift for her. I’vewanted to blog about it for some time, in part to share a little bit about Melissa with the world, and in part to express the thoughts and sentiments that went into designing this bracelet.

Just to give you some context, I met Melissa on Facebook a couple of years ago via a little application called (fluff)friends. Unlike many of my online friends I have since had the fortune to actually meet her and her adorable little doggy in person. (Or, ok, full disclosure, she was determined enough to push me not to be too shy to give meeting up in person a shot!)

She is a comedian, writer, geek, poet, lifelong student, improv-er, and a friend and supporter to many people near and far Since meeting her, I’ve also seen her living with a seemingly endless parade of life-changing chronic and auto-immune illnesses. She has become an active advocate and supporter of others coping with similar illnesses through her writing and social networking, including her blog Living With Lupus-But Dying of Everything Else, and her Chronic Snarkopolist column on the Dear Thyroid website. Visit her links if you're interested in a very unique, open, raw, and real portrait of a person living with lupus and auto-immune thyroid illness. Not to go any farther into the most personal details, let's just say she’s been having a difficult year. Beyond trying to be an emotional support when possible, I really wanted to send something tangible her way, a token, that would let her symbolically carry the support of friends with her, to pull out when she is sad, or lonely. To that end, I spent a long (some might say an insane amount) time choosing just the right materials for this piece.
Jade animals: I’ve been told that the year 2010 has the potential to be rocky for those, like Melissa, who were born under the Chinese sign of the tiger. To counteract that, I have included jade versions of the tiger’s ‘allies’ (the horse and dog) and ‘secret friend’(the pig or boar) as focal pieces in the bracelet.
Tiger’s eye: Tiger’s eye used in jewelry has been thought to bring good luck and protection from the evil eye. It also works as a grounding stone to bring calm and clear thinking. It is also supposed to alleviate physical pain and stomach problems. The tiger is also a very meaningful animal for Melissa. I love tiger’s eye, and bought these beautiful round tiger’s eye beads at a little bead store in Connecticut, especially for this project.
Copper: Copper has often been used as a healing metal, and some sources say it is especially good for arthritis, rheumatism, and blood or metabolic disorders. Copper is also thought to help enhance the healing effect of other stones. For this project I used beautiful bright red-orange copper magnet wire (a type of enamel-coated copper wire normally used for electrical applications) that I found on etsy to make the beaded links. I made the bracelet extendable with beautiful solid copper jump rings, a lobster claw clasp, and a short length of chain (and some copper advice) from A Beaded Affair. I’d also like to give some appreciation to Bailey Belle for copper advice and support via twitter.

The final element of the bracelet is the Hamsa, or Hand of Miriam: The hamsa has meaning in Jewish (especially Sephardic) culture, as well as some Middle Eastern or North African cultures. It is used to ward off the evil eye, and is supposed draw positive energy, happiness, riches, and health. It is often hung in the home or worn as a charm or amulet. Aside from its obvious positive and protective meaning, its relationship to Jewish culture symbolizes one of the many connections I feel with Melissa.
After months of choosing and designing just the right elements, and searching for the actual pieces, this bracelet has finally come to life and been delivered. This is why I so love making individual gifts, even when the specific meanings behind them are not as clear as this one. While I don’t believe that certain stones or materials truly have inherent ‘magical healing powers,’ as a student of psychology I believe that materials in a human or social context have meanings, that gifts, tokens and symbols can have a psychological and emotional effect, and that the mind and emotions have an effect on physical well-being. I sincerely hope this bracelet will help bring her joy, healing, and support. <3

Copyright 2010. See more at Voyage of the Hyperspace Hippo


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