Thursday, December 23, 2010
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
To celebrate the holidays, I've decided to gift these luxe trade bead earrings to one lucky reader.
Subtle, unique and with just the right amount of sparkle, these earrings feature a pair of 300-year-old Mozambique Island trade beads flanked by pea green Swarovski pearls and faceted yellow quartz globes. They are connected with sterling silver wire and hang just over 2.5" (6.4cm) including sterling ear wires.
It took me over a year to find a matching pair of these clear trade beads, which were originally made in Bohemia and then brought to Africa to use as currency. Due to dozens of shipwrecks over the centuries, many of these old beads wash up on the shores of Mozambique Island, where they are collected and strung on fishing line by local boys. The strands are full of mismatched beads, and it is very difficult to find (nearly) identical pairs.
Everyone who sends me a message using the Contact Form between Dec. 1st-5th will be entered in the drawing. On Dec. 6th, I will have Rico draw the winning name from a hat.
The winner will receive these earrings gift wrapped and in time for Christmas. Yes, I will ship internationally. No, I will not fill your inbox with spam and unwanted junk. You can expect an email newsletter from me quarterly at most.
Happy holidays, and best of luck to all!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
After several weeks of painting patterns for my 2D visual dynamics class, we received an assignment to incorporate a portrait of someone who would be the "hero" of our selected pattern. This painting is of a Mozambican artisan and fashion designer named Maria, who I came to be friends with through the fairs at Café com Letras. The portrait is based on a photo of her that I took one day on the veranda of our flat in Maputo.
This was my first ever attempt at painting a person. I wanted Maria to look as if she were being surrounded by this swirling lotus-blossom pattern that I found on a piece of wax print fabric. This painting took about 5 hours to complete, and I am super pleased with the result.
I think it's safe to say I've been bitten by the painting bug. All I can think about these days (other than jewelry) is how much I want to keep painting!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Yesterday in my 2D class I learned how to convert photos from Photoshop into Illustrator and then manipulate the colors. I'm pretty pleased with the result of my experimentation on this photo of my old friend Maria from Maputo, who is a fashion designer.
The purpose of this exercise was to be able to modify and scale up a portrait photo that will be then be painted on canvas, together with a pattern of our choice. I'm not sure exactly how mine will be composed, but I do know that it will be *full* of color.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Last night Rico and I joined our neighbors at the Bridge School benefit concert. The weather wasn't the best, but we got out the rain gear and blankets and made the most of the evening.
Since school rules my life these days, Rico and I decided to head home early because I needed to do some paint mixing exercises and study for my art history midterm. We missed Pearl Jam, which I'm gutted about, but were able to see some great artists including Neil Young, Lucinda Williams and Jackson Browne.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Part of me wishes I'd bought more capulanas while in Mozambique. I am particularly regretful that I didn't buy multiples of this gorgeous blue, green and brown bird print fabric. I keep hoping I'll find it for sale somewhere online, but no luck thus far.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Part of me delights in this insane rhythm - I feel like I'm on my own personal Project Runway much of the time - and after all, this is really why I decided to go to art school. I'd never push myself this hard if there weren't an academic structure, peer critiques, and the pride of presenting my work driving me. I'd work hard on my own, but not to the point of exhaustion day after day. I've surpassed even my own expectations of how much I'd learn and what I'd accomplish thus far.
That said, something's got to give. Periods of intense, sleepless work can push your boundaries but they can also push you over the edge. There is no room for creativity when stress levels blow through the roof. I'm aware of this, and have made some decisions to avoid a breakdown.
My art history class and 4D class (essentially digital media) are not priorities. I am content to put in a B-effort in those subjects. The time I'd have to dedicate to get an A is much more valuable used in other ways - in the jewelry studio, working on my own designs, doing assignments for my 2D class (color transitions - I am obsessed!) and doing practical and enjoyable things like sleeping, cooking, relaxing and hanging out with Rico.
I've never in my entire life knowingly put in a B-effort. I got a B in Finance back when I was in business school, but I studied my ass off for that grade. It was the only B I've ever received, and I remember feeling equal parts ashamed and relieved. Now I'm happy to get a B in the classes I don't "care about", whereas previously the thought of a GPA that was anything but perfect would give me great anxiety. Priorities change, I suppose.
Friday, October 01, 2010
I love doing these pattern studies with colored marker. They are completely intuitive, meaning I don't start out with a plan of what I'm going to draw. Rather I begin with one shape, then another one, then add another layer and so forth. The pattern grows organically, and it's always amazing to see what the end result looks like. Each of these drawings takes several hours, and the process is quite meditative. I get into this trance-like state and forget to eat, drink or pee if I'm not careful!
This particular pattern was inspired by the Cartier and America exhibit that I visited a few months ago at the Legion of Honor Museum. I bought a gorgeous book that shows all of the jewelry that was in the exhibition, and I was definitely thinking of the art deco style and the obsession with the "exotic" that are so typical of some of the Cartier designs.
With each pattern that I complete, I can't help but dream of being a fabric designer. I would so love a skirt with this motif!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I am having a moment of nostalgia as I remember our time in Maputo, in particular. We were part of such a wonderful social group, and it saddens me to think that these people are in our past, that we will never be together again. Most of our closest friends have already moved on from Mozambique, on to new contracts and new lives, be it at "home" or in a different country, a different adventure.
I reminisce fondly, and with massive saudades, about all of the house parties, the road trips, the late afternoon coffees and weekend sundowners. In particular I miss my fabulous girlfriends: Jenny, Kelly, Helen, Zahra, Anel, Lindsey, Claudia, Evy...the list goes on.
I always used to think it was hard to make friends in Mozambique, and in all fairness it really was. People always coming and going, tricky relationships between expats and locals, cliques determined by country of origin and/or place of work. However once you managed to establish a friendship, you could be sure long-lasting bonds would be formed in record time.
Making friends here in the Bay Area has been slow-going, and in some ways even more difficult than in Maputo. We've established really nice relationships with our neighbors - most of whom are in their 40s and 50s - but it's been challenging to make friends our own age. Much of the time I feel like a fish out of water when it comes to being social, in particular with "peers". I have some friends from my high school days in New Mexico, but for the most part they live at least an hour away and I see them very infrequently.
When it comes to friendships, I am definitely of the "quality over quantity" philosophy, and am content to primarily hang out with Rico, my mom and our neighbors. However, there is part of me that aches to have girlfriends again, ones who live in the same city and who I can call up to have a spur-of-the-moment drink, or invite to dinner full well knowing that the house is a mess and we are eating leftovers, just because the pleasure of their company is so desired.
I remind myself that it took a good 2 years for me to feel like I had friends in Mozambique. I'm sure that at some point I'll look back on this post and find it hard to remember what it was like *not* to have a close girlfriend or two near Casa Cali. But today, on this anniversary of a great change in our lives, I find myself wishing that I could turn back time and spend just one evening with my friends in Maputo.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Monday, September 06, 2010
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I am a hot weather girl at heart, and was somewhat saddened at the thought that I'd never be able to use half of my wardrobe again given the cool, foggy tendencies in the Bay Area. While I find it somewhat odd that the hottest days here come in September and October, I welcome the heat and look forward to swimming at The Plunge, the awesome pool that just re-opened around the corner from our house.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
1. I am fairly certain I qualify as someone who suffers from OCD, but have never done anything about it (i.e. therapy) because my life isn´t made unmanageable by my funny little habits. One of my compulsions is with numbers - in particular the number 13. I am especially satisfied when there are 3 sets of 13. For example, if I am cooking and know that the veggies I´m stir-frying (or whatever) need just a bit more time to be perfectly done, I start counting in sets of 13. I either have to do 3 or 9 repetitions to feel like all is right in the world. Sometimes I´ve burned my food because I don´t want to stop at 2 sets of 13, or God forbid at the number 8 or some other unacceptable integer. That said, I can usually make my desire to have a perfectly cooked meal override my compulsive counting patterns. Other ways in which counting to 13 appears in my life: prior to diving into a pool or the ocean, while annealing a piece of metal, while running (I count my steps), and while trying to fall asleep.
2. I like dogs, but can´t stand the way they smell or to be licked by them. I also have a healthy fear of big dogs, at least until I get to know them well enough to trust they won´t jump on me or try to bite.
3. I am the fastest typer you will ever come across. I think I could set a Guinness Record, if such a category existed. (Maybe it does...who knows, this could be my ticket to fame!) I type so fast that I score off the chart of every words-per-minute software I´ve ever used. I´m definitely over 80 wpm, and am super accurate. I also hit the keys - in particular the space bar - with such force that I eventually rub the letters off the keyboard and leave burnished, shiny marks in their place. I can also hold conversations with people while I type and it doesn´t really affect my speed or precision, or my ability to make sense while I talk. Rico often makes fun of me and will randomly tap his fingers lightning-fast on a table, suggesting that I´m just typing gobbeldy-gook instead of real words. I think part of my typing speed is due to the fact that I played classical piano for 15+ years and developed super power muscle memory in my fingers. If all else fails, I´d make a damn good court reporter.
4. I´ve never baby-sat in my entire life. I don´t particularly feel comfortable around babies or kids, although I believe I´d like to have a family at some point.
5. I am somewhat obsessed with almond-flavored desserts. Marzipan, almond paste, almond extract - I love them all. Once my friend Marlen gave me a giant tube of marzipan as a gift and I ate the entire thing pure in just 2 days. The most delicious dessert I´ve ever eaten is an almond frangipani tart with nectarines from a bakery in Berkeley called La Farine. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
6. I have issues sharing utensils, glasses and food with other people. I´m totally grossed out by the idea of ingesting someone else´s residual saliva. It´s to the point that I´ll willingly give up whatever I was eating or drinking and let the other person finish it, rather than take it back and think about how I´m consuming their spit. I can override this instinct if necessary (to save face in social situations) but it takes a big mental effort on my part. I hope never to be offered chicha if I ever visit Peru. I think it would make me vomit.
7. I have problems regulating my body temperature. 99% of the time, I feel cold and have a really hard time warming up, even while wearing wool socks and a sweater, and sitting under layers of blankets. My hands and feet are usually like blocks of ice, and they often go numb and lose all circulation (I have Reynaud´s Syndrome). However, even if I have white digits and am trembling with cold, my body - in particular my core - radiates heat. It´s especially pronounced at night, when seemingly a switch flips and I go into nuclear reactor mode. I give off insane amounts of heat while sleeping and when relaxed, and yet all the while feel cold. Go figure...
Sunday, August 15, 2010
This morning in Rio's leading newspaper, O Globo, there was an article about how Levi's is launching a new line of jeans called Curve ID that (gasp!) take into account the fact that women have multiple body types and waist-to-hip ratios. Here is a press release in Portuguese that talks about how these new jeans are designed to "highlight feminine curves". There are three levels: Slight Curve, Demi Curve and Bold Curve. There is also a fourth level that will be launched separately, Extreme Curve, that's geared toward those with a super ample booty. I notice, however, that they all seem to be skinny jeans...sigh.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
- lightweight baseball cap (I miss having a hat when I go running);
- pair of lounge pants (I brought leggings, which are fine and comfortable, but somewhat limiting in that they have to go *under* other layers, not over);
- another set of workout clothes (I brought 2 sets, but I've actually been really good on this trip and exercised at least 7 times. It's been okay just washing the workout clothes I have, but an additional set would have been great);
- thin pair of socks/knee-highs that can be worn with ballet flats (it's been COLD);
- a hoodie, or some other long-sleeved top that can be worn while working out (I've used my regular long-sleeved top, which has been okay, but I miss my hoodie);
- a travel umbrella (we've borrowed one from family for this trip, but it would be necessary in any other context);
- fabric beach bag;
- capulana/kanga/pareo or whatever you like to call a beach wrap. Ideally one that could double as a scarf.
- dressy tank top (I brought 2, which was one too many);
- quite so much makeup...I would have been fine with just the colors I wore for the wedding;
- set of gold costume jewelry (haven't worn it...was intended to make my outfits "dressier", but we ended up not going out at night at all this trip);
Friday, August 13, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 09, 2010
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
I especially enjoy working with colors that are a challenge - that is, they are difficult to combine with other tones, are generally considered as "ugly" (browns, oranges and yellow-greens frequently end up in this category), are hopelessly connected to a specific look (e.g. light pink being sweet and girly) and so forth. One of the reasons I'm so drawn to the Mozambique Island trade beads is that they come in a rainbow of colors, all thrown together somewhat wily-nily on fishing line by the boys who find the beads on the beach. I try to work with every single bead on those strands, every shape, every color. It pushes my creativity, makes me look at the beads with new eyes.
Here are a few new pieces from the Alexandra Amaro Mozambique Island collection that incorporate some of my very favorite colors: ruby and chartreuse.
These Cascata Earrings feature a mix of 300-year-old Mozambique Island trade beads and Indian Rubies, with a faceted pear-shaped ruby dangling from the bottom of the cluster. The tiny trade beads are in shade of pink from dusty rose to pomegranate. Pink trade beads are incredibly hard to find, and it literally took me hours to find them among the sea of reds in my collection. I love how delicate this design is, how these old beads worn by centuries under the Indian Ocean can be elegant and feminine.I loved working with the pink trade beads so much that I decided to make a matching bracelet. This Venezia Bracelet features a mix of antique Mozambique Island beads, Indian Rubies and lovely red-violet Hydrabadi Garnets. I incorporated a mix of handmade Thai Hill Tribes silver beads to add texture and add to the asymmetrical interest. I could look at the shades of pink and purple in this bracelet for hours; no two beads are alike.