A Gau Box and a Tibetan Bead Adventure

“Tibetan Gau Box”

 

In 1993-4, Don and I lived in Hong Kong.  I discovered ethnic beads at the fabulous bazaars located in alleys and byways and became enamored of the giant orange and yellow beads that were described as those worn by Tibetan nomads.  I asked Don to take me to Tibet on one of his business trips to Beijing.  Ha!  Impossible since it is located on a 5000’ high plateau in distant southwest China.

So I convinced him to have an adventure travel vacation in Tibet.  Be informed adventure travel translates as difficult travel, as in one-star or no-star accommodations, toilets that range from pots under the bed to blackened porcelain with no seat, mattresses that feel like plywood, walking a lot, crossing the Himalayan mountains with a view of Everest in a jitney without any shock absorbers…a trip to Katmandu, Nepal, that took 24 hours including the overnight accommodations described above.

The pleasures of adventure travel are close-ups of the native population, interesting food, cultural immersion, different religions.  And beads.  No bead shops, just go to the village square and the traders find you.  Whew.  The first lesson is to push away the crowds, establish some control, and patiently look, point, and bargain.  What wild memories!

These Gau boxes were my most unusual finds!  Today’s necklace features an excellent specimen.  I paid $100 for it and it is $490 on Etsy as I looked for one today.  As you know, I don’t mark up the original price I paid.  No need to, since you, my dear readers, are looking for an interesting necklace, not a collector’s item for a display case.

Gau (sometimes Gao) boxes are antiques today, less than 30 years after our first visit.  We returned again in the late 90’s and the change was sad—China had infiltrated Han Chinese into Tibet in a massive relocation program to dilute Tibetan culture.  As a result, many Tibetans have crossed the mountains into Nepal where they are respected in their enclaves

These boxes contain Buddhist paper prayers and relics folded into the box, and worn around the neck, near one’s heart, by Tibetan nomads or travelers.  It also is an amulet to ward off negative energy and attract blessings (just like those fluttering strings of flags placed in the mountains).  Like any antique, they have patina, the fancy word for wear marks and nicks over time.

This necklace is 24” from clasp to bottom of box which is 2.5” diameter and 5/8” thick.   The clasp is hammered pewter.  The necklace weighs 7.7 ounces.  The set is $195.

The beads are dyed coral shell pearls.  These pearls are made from the lining of oyster shells, ground, shaped, dyed, and coated with a lustrous shine.  They do not lose color or shine due to sweat or perfume.  I also like them because they come in large sizes for a reasonable price.

At the beginning and end of the necklace and in the earrings are other Tibetan beads with silver decorative endcaps.  The beads in those endcaps and the center of the Gao Box are the same orange beads I first saw in Hong Kong…seems they come in all sizes. 

These are two other Gau Boxes I bought on that trip.  They are shaped like shrines which is another use of the Gau Box.  The large one is a wonderful speciman with many cultural icons carved in the silver and a wonderful polychromed deity in the window.

The small one is so old the silver plate wore off to its copper base.

 

 

 

 

 

A Max Moment

I dare not disappoint Max’s followers.  Here he is trying to dismember his stuffed  toy, but his smart Mom bought him a leather toy and it takes a really long time for him to destroy it.  Approaching 28 months.

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Postscript:  I imagine there are prayers and relics still in these boxes but I am afraid of ruining them if I attempt to open/close the boxes, so I don’t.  I just imagine.  I encourage readers to use their imagination also.

A Clockwork Orange

 

“Clockwork Orange”

I do believe this necklace will be as much fun to wear as it was to create! Making it was a real adventure in my orange drawer…I know, I should get out more.

It started with the orange and red lampwork* glass hearts by Pumpkin Hill Beads (MA) that I bought last October and have had sitting on my worktable percolating. So, when I organized the large stash of Helen’s beads that I bought last November (see January 1, 2020 blog for story), two strands of red-orange beads fell in love with the hearts. I pulled out the orange drawer and right on top were these vintage Lucite circles in orange and red. It’s so predestined, isn’t it?

I checked the red drawer also and found other goodies, all of them vintage glass or Lucite (plastic used in costume jewelry from 1950-70 and loved by me because the colors are so real.)

The large orange circles are end-capped by square reddish vintage glass with modern hieroglyphic marks. The necklace is longer than usual at 25” because I believe the circle and heart centerpiece demanded some space on the torso. It dangles for 4”.

The centerpiece only wanted to be assembled one way: a red and an orange circle butting up together (how to tie them together was my big challenge) with hearts attached in some pleasing way.

The clasp is an orange circle and a silver toggle. The earrings had to be long also and they emerged with sterling silver earwires that drop 2’’ from the lobe to the tip of the orange heart.

I present my March 1 creation for your aesthetic discernment. $140 for the set plus $7 shipping.

*Lampwork: artist-made glass bead sitting in front of a flame with a mandrel in one hand and glass canes in the other.

 

A MAX MOMENT

BROMANCE is in the air. Max and his best buddy, Ralphie, also a Labradoodle, but a standard sized one, are inseparable and non-stop for an entire five-hour playtime at Sunshine Pet Parlor (Hull, MA). When I bring Max in, Ralphie is already there and he comes running to the gate to greet Max. Max enters and falls on the floor to indicate his submissiveness, jumps up and they dash through the pet door to the backyard for hours of doggie rough and tumble.

 

Petal Power

“Petal Power”

This necklace is very pleasant, pleasing and a joy to wear. Front and center are vintage Lucite flowers, in subdued shades of olive, orange, teal and yellow. Nestled inside the flowers, and appearing in the necklace, are vintage glass beads with multi-colored markings. The basis for the necklace is rock crystal. The clasp is a treat for the back of your neck: an orange circle and a silver metal toggle.

Lucite is clear acrylic plastic first manufactured by Dupont in 1937 for military use. Dupont also offered to license it to several costume jewelry makers who found they could carve it, dye it, and make lightweight jewelry. From the 1940’s until 1970, it was hugely popular.

I like working with rock crystal and use it often. It is pure colorless quartz which doesn’t sound as interesting as rock crystal. It is often seen as a six-sided one or two-inch carved prism of pure light and energy known as the “Perfect Jewel.”  For centuries, metaphysical practicioners have considered rock crystal to be a healing stone.

The necklace is 20” long and the matching earrings hang 1.5” from the top of the earring. The set is $89 and shipping is $7.

 

A MAX MOMENT

On a recent sunny winter’s day, I put Max out for some fresh air. This is Max following an airplane’s flight path. He is a curious puppy, now 21 months old.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Readers!

Three Shades of Orange

Usually I control myself from making too many orange necklaces since it is my favorite color and I don’t want to impose it on others. Similarly, I restrain from making pink necklaces because it is a color I don’t like. I suspect the nice pink necklace from my 2017 one-necklace-from-each-color-drawer program sensed my distaste and won’t sell.

The sultry hot weather of the last two weeks of July drove me to the orange drawer where I found materials for not one but three lovelies! My favorite, of course, is the ultra-chunky one of XL-sized faux cinnabar/real resin beads measuring 1.25” from hole to hole. It also has an outrageous and amazing dangle that is 11” long.  It was made by my ophthalmologist’s sister who lives in the Philippines. The resin beads are made in Indonesia, making this a thoroughly Asian necklace.

This fun necklace is 19” long with an 11” dangle. Wear your gold earrings with it. $79.

 

The next chunkiest necklace in my orange madness features three sizes of black water buffalo horn—a sustainable product—with a nice shine to it. The orange beads are glass with millefiori bits inserted during the manufacturing process. I do believe they are made in India. Coordinating earrings with sterling silver ear wires drop 2.5” from the earlobe.

This 19” necklace is $65 for the set.

The last one I wish to present is a two-strand square coral opaque glass seed bead necklace with a special 8-strand dangle. It is special because I made it many years ago in my San Luis Obispo, CA, studio for a project I fell out of love with so I saved the dangle in my tassel box. I love tassels whether made of beads or fabric, whether made by me or not. Many door and drawer knobs in my home are decorated with tassels.

The tassel consists of orange seed beads and milky multi-colored resin beads tied together and connected via a vintage fluted brass bead.

The necklace is 20” long and the tassel adds 4.” Wear your gold earrings with it. $89.

 

A MAX MOMENT

MAX THE LABRADOODLE

15 MONTHS OLD

July’s weather got to Max too. I was enjoying the 5 o’clock hour at my sisters’ beach cottage when he got away from me and dashed for the water. Except there wasn’t any water. It was “dead low tide” which means the tide goes out beyond the rocky beach to expose extensive mud flats. Max was in heaven and jumped around, sprinted up and down, and finally started digging…for clams?…and put his face, front paws and chest into the stinky mud.

 

Meantime, I am down on the rocks calling Max.  Ha! Temporary deafness! Unresponsive!  Finally a neighbor found some kind of a treat, ran down her dock above the mud and waved it in his face. He went for it and she teased him up to the rocks. I brought him back on to the grass, then the street, and turned on the hose until he and I were rid of mud.

The next day, the neighbors came over and we laughed a lot. One gal who had a standard Labradoodle said she remembered more than one occasion when her dog did the same thing.

Venetian Memories

“A Venetian Memory”

I’m trespassing in unknown territory here.  While I have a unique necklace to present, I know very little about it.  So this blog is all speculation based solely on my 25 years of experience.

In Venice, I was walking to a bead shop near St. Pantaleon Church, set in a small plaza on a canal.  There was also an antique shop in the plaza.  I spent some time looking in its windows,  discovering several treasures which impassioned me.  Recall how I love hunting for interesting beads and you’ll understand how I wanted to pounce on a necklace and a bracelet in that shop window.  It was closed.  Later, I thought.

The bead shop had beautiful local glass beads made in Murano which I was pleased to purchase and thrilled the prices were close to what I pay for them in the USA.  I sauntered back to the antique shop.  Still closed.  I was to make two more trips until I could enter the shop.

I looked at all their jewelry butsettled on to the two I zeroed in on earlier in the day:  for myself I bought a pearl necklace with a front closure similar to the one I am presenting to my readers plus a honey yellow glass bead bracelet with this orange and brass dangle.

Once I arrived home on May 8, I placed the bracelet on my work table.  On June 10, I finished the necklace.  I had purchased a strand of giant Baroque* pearls last October.  I removed the clasp and centerpiece unit from the bracelet, strung the pearls and voila, a Venetian Memory!

A close-up of the centerpiece.

The clasp/centerpiece is a gold-colored brass of excellent craftmanship with 6 orange glass cabochons bezeled in place with filigree work on top and bottom.  This circular piece is attached to another brass circle with a 1950-style flower soldered on to it.  Quite a remarkable example of workmanship.

The necklace consists of two pricey components—the pearls and the clasp/centerpiece.  20″ of pearls which range from 14-17 mm each (one inch is 25.4 mm) and a clasp/centerpiece (meant to be worn in front) which is 2″ long.  $149.

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*Baroque pearls are natural freshwater pearls featuring unique markings, imperfections,  irregularities and subtle beige coloration unevenly marked.


A MAX MOMENT

This is one of Max’s most endearing traits as he calms down as he approaches 15 months:  when he jumps on my bed, he takes a big mouthful of the throw into his mouth, brings both paws beside his mouth and gets a contented look.  It’s his “blankie”, his security blanket!

 

Happy Holidays!

“This is the Most Angelic You will Ever See Me”

 

These wings were a buzz item at the Summer 2018 Open Studios of my neighbors and colleagues, Donna and Paul Goes, mentioned previously in these pages.  A most creative couple, they taped the wings to a wall and invited visitors to be photographed.  Over 100 visitors enjoyed it!  (Except me since I was hosting my own Open Studios.) To continue the fun, they brought the wings as well as a surfboard background to Hull’s annual “Endless Summer” Street Fair where Hull Artisrs sponsors a Kids Tent with art projects.

I immediately saw this as a Christmas/Hunakah/Holiday greeting!

One of my favorite pastimes is to take time to laugh.  Me in angel wings was a grand opportunity to do so!  May the Holidays and the New Year give you many moments of laughter!

“Max and Priscilla” by Michael Domina

Michael Domina is another of Hull’s most creative artists and a close friend.  Some time ago he did a contemporary self-portrait and we discussed doing my portrait in that fun disjointed style.  Well, when the time in his schedule arrived, so had Max.  Quick change of plans.  It’s me and my doggie companion on a new road in 2018.  And in case if your viewing screen is small, let me tell you it is a very orange work of art.  I’m so happy Michael interpreted me so on the mark!

Closing this last blog of 2018 by saluting my readers, offering much gratitude for following my meanderings.  It gives me great satisfaction to write, to share my craft, and to laugh.

Sending special wishes for you to close out this year with a bang and to enjoy 2019!!!

 

Drawer 31: Light-Medium Blue

“Something of an Asterick”

 Just like last week, I am focusing on the centerpiece while I am in the blue drawer. Only this time the centerpiece has a lot of orange, so, dear readers, I must cheat.  I must take the orange drops from Drawer 19 to make a great necklace.  Orange and blue are at opposite ends of the color wheel which makes them very compatible…not always true in our human relationships.

My compliments to fellow New Englander Stephanie Sersich (Topsham, Maine) for her wonderful Lampwork starfish. I met Stephanie at one of those gigantic bead shows in Oakland, CA, and found her here three years ago in the small but fabulous show the Bead Society holds each October in Watertown, MA.  Her starfish was alluring to me on all counts:  slightly irregular shape; polka dots, so many layers of scintillating colors!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an asymmetrical necklace. They are a lot of fun to make and a challenge to balance.  I often choose to go asymmetrical when I have a few stunning beads I want to highlight.  In this piece, there were an excess of fabulous blue beads, none totaling more than a half-dozen.  So I gave it a whirl.

Here is a description of those beads, starting from the clasp: flat rectangular vintage medium blue; two American Art Glass with lampwork glass in between.  Then the most challenging section to balance:  two odd-shapes with a large Art Glass in between across from one odd-shape balanced with periwinkle ceramic beads. The polka dot lampwork beads were irresistible!   The only beads I had volumes of were the orange Czech glass drops, so they became the glue as well as the “pop” that holds the necklace together.

Only you, the viewer, knows if all this asymmetry worked.

The necklace is 18” and the starfish dangles 2”. The clasp is an orange glass circle with a silver toggle.  Matching earrings of American Art Glass and orange drops.  The set is $145.

See Week 17 for details on American Art Glass.

Note to Leticia S:  your necklace is on the way!!!