Friday, February 06, 2009

The charms I made for the Valentine's Day Swap

When I mentioned all the hard times I had with the Romancing the Charm swap, I didn't mean to warn anyone off swaps, I was just saying I somehow have a talent for making everything more complicated and more expensive than it needs to be.
I continued, even after the class, to have issues.
It took me forever to make the charms, they're far from perfect, and they're far too fragile, but hopefully they'll be well received.

The swap required I come up with an idea for 19 identical charms for Valentine's Day.
I gave it serious thought, as I think art in any form deserves intention and a degree of symbolism.

I like what I do to carry some form of meaning.

The crucial part is that fine line where you've over-thought the process, or where you didn't know how to you wind up with something too cluttered.
In all things, one must remember:

In simplicity lies elegance.

At the start, I figured I'd make a collage.
I began with listing symbols associated with love and Valentine's Day, from cupid to Conversation Hearts candies.
For collage materials, I thought of the Queen of Hearts playing card, or an illustration of the Queen from Alice in Wonderland.
'Love' postage stamps, red roses, vintage valentines, lace, the goddess Venus.
I thought of a sepia-toned photograph of lovers from the 1920's, or even a transparency.
A seed packet of Bleeding Hearts flowers would be interesting.
Pearls. Kiss prints.
I thought of using a vintage sewing pattern of a dress with a heart-shaped bodice--all these great ideas in a regular collage, but not when I'm limited in size (per the challenge requirements) to an inch and a half.

But beyond symbolism and design, how was I going to make my charm?
I considered making little paper collages, partially stitched, glued onto altered Scrabble tiles.
This would be especially apropos on an 'X' tile, the universal symbol for 'kiss'.
I also considered collages under resin in bottle caps (both crafts I've only read about, but would like to try).

I considered sewing pink vinyl hearts stuffed with heart-shaped sequins.
Perhaps a tiny mosaic on tin.

What to do? And what should be my design?

In the end, as you know, I decided on soldered glass, but my options for what to sandwich under the glass was still up for debate.

I love text on things, so I thought of including famous quotations about love, or perhaps portions of a famous poem, or song lyrics ("My Funny Valentine"? Or "Tell Him", my favorite song by Lauryn Hill?).

I considered focusing on my favorite phrase, Ndinombethe (pronounced "in-day-nom-bay-tay"), an African expression meaning "As I go, I am wearing you", meaning the effect we have on one another as we cross paths, be it accidental or intentional.
Though the expression refers to even strangers we meet, it certainly also holds true about the one we love, and the indelible imprint love leaves on our hearts.

Then I was sitting drinking my coffee the other morning, my black cat purring on my new soft robe, and out of the blue I thought of butterfly wings.
What a beautiful charm could be made with a piece of butterfly wing under glass.

Wings are simple yet complex, fragile, inherently beautiful....just like love.
The epitome of elegant simplicity.

I found real butterfly wings on eBay, specifically intended for craft use.
The set was for about 80 wings, and I was hoping that 20 of those would be identical (probably monarch), and indeed that was the case.

Though most recipients probably covet the beautiful blue wings, and I could probably cut enough squares to use, what I really wanted was wing tips.
I wanted the angles of flight.

I have a photograph at the beach, where the sky is a brilliant blue, and I thought this would make a great backdrop
Even the cloudy sky is interesting

For the reverse side, I thought I'd use a sparkly foil, perhaps with organza and the final words of Lenny Kravitz' "You're my Butterfly":
Fly high
fly fly fly

(there's only one inch after all).

But then I was at a client's house, and I noticed a work of art framed in glass.
No mat, no color, just glass.
And I realized that the wing itself is beautiful enough to stand alone.
My pleasant surprise was discovering the underside of the wing is just as lovely.
The bonus is the beauty of God's creation can outshine my limited soldering abilities

So this is what I made

I added a hang-tag for shipping, and included a quotation relating butterflies and love (the author is unknown)
Charms ready for mailing
Love is like a butterfly,
It goes where it pleases
and it pleases wherever it goes.
Love is like a butterfly,
Hold on too tight, it'll crush,
Hold on too loose, it'll fly.

Other interesting quotations I considered:
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

~Irish Blessing

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Blogger Jennifer W. said...

Really pretty, Barb! And loved hearing your process to get to the final product.

10:32 PM  
Blogger kt said...

They're gorgeous, and i agree with you that they stand on their own quite nicely. I feel that way about leaves, too.

You're a good storyteller.

11:47 PM  
Blogger BellaKarma said...

All your ideas sound fantastic! The winged-charms are amazing! Absolutely gorgeous! And I, too, enjoyed hearing about the creative process. =)

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Beautiful! As you were leading us from kisses to butterfly wings it reminded me of the precious "butterfly kisses" the kids and I used to share. We would snuggle real close and flutter our eyelashes on each other's cheek.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Cindy Is Crafty said...

Awesome charms, Barb. I hope you don't mind, but I am going to borrow your quote for my quote o' the month on my blog. I love it!

6:53 AM  
Blogger Pattie - Chicagoland, IL said...

Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Your talent astonishes me. All I can say is WOW!

8:18 AM  
Blogger svelteSTUFF said...

WONDERFUL! Now I wish I had participated in the Swap!!

4:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That an interesting journey of creation. They came out really good. I hope you like the ones you receive.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Heather - said...

Those are really neat! I'm sure the recipients will be thrilled.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I just got mine in the mail yesterday and am thrilled with it. Thanks so much. I love the story behind it all too! Happy Valentine's Day

12:41 AM  
Blogger The Tattered Rose said...

Barb, I love the butterfly charms. I kept one of the blue ones for myself and it and the whole bracelet will be a treasured keepsake. Happy Valentine's Day. :Trish G.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Jessica Rodarte said...

I am lucky I got one of your beautiful charms for the swap. I could tell a lot of work went into making it. Thank you. :D

12:51 PM  

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