Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A new way to play

My husband’s grandmother is am amazing lady!! She is almost 85 years old and a complete firecracker. She has lead an amazing life and been EVERYWHERE. This is a woman with out prejudice or judgments. She has friends all over the world from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Hong Kong. She posed naked for me two years ago for a series I was working on about societies ideas of beauty. She is a rock star!!!

Her home looks like a museum, full of odds and ends collected over a lifetime of travel. She has this amazing butterfly candleholder in her house. It is about four feet tall and made of black iron with amazing details all the way up the sides. It has a huge butterfly on the top that sits, wings spread wide, behind where the candle sits. I remarked how much I liked it and asked her where she got it. She then proceeded to tell me about walking trough the red light district (before there were red lights) in Bangkok and seeing them in all the prostitutes’ windows. They used to use them to let customers know if they were, uh…occupied. When the butterfly is facing out towards the window they are available, facing in and candle towards the window, busy. She thought the candleholders beautiful, so she knocked on the door and asked if she could buy it.

She has about a thousand stories like that, being in Africa and trading her Hawaiian muumuu for beaded necklaces and traditional fabrics, flying to Morocco and buying a beaten up RV and driving around Northern Africa for 8 months….I could go on and on.

Over her travels she has collected an amazing amount of jewelry from around the globe. She has been dealing in rare and antique beads and jewelry for years and years, she started collecting in the 40’s. She has amazing things; my current favorite is a pre-Columbian necklace that is well over 500 years old and WAY out of my price bracket!! She lent it to me to wear for a day…I felt like Frieda Kahlo, it was great!

She called me the other day and said she had something for me. So, I packed lunch, grabbed my son and went for a visit. Always an amazing experience! She said she wanted to give me some great beads that “will be in all the big stores this season with less quality, fake beads. Here are some real ones and here’s what you do” She rocks!

I have been struggling and I guess needing a break from painting for a few days to let the dust settle. So, I am playing with these beautiful beads (they are made of all kinds of cool natural stuff, shell, bone, wood, semi precious gems, nuts etc), sitting in bowls my amazing husband bought while teaching in Malaysia…I am having fun and letting go. It is funny how life provides you what you need when you least expect it.


Anonymous amy said...

Wow, there are some amazing bits on that table and what an incredible lady. It is my dream to spend quite a bit of time in North Africa and her idea of buying a rusty RV and driving around is just so brave and fantastic!

11:40 AM  
Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

beautiful beads
beautiful bowls
beautiful story...

12:01 PM  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

what an amazing woman! i'd love to have supper with her and hear some of her stories. i can't wait to see what you'll create with all these lovelies!

12:05 PM  
Blogger megg said...

what a remarkable woman! I am so glad that you are getting to know her so well. You know, as I read your story I thought that you would probably end up doing the same things - talking to your granddaughter about living an unusual life - creating beautiful things and living all over the world and inspiring her to do the same. I hope you make yourself a gorgeous necklace that you can wear to remind yourself of this remarkable woman, of your own unusual life, and of the girls you will inspire someday!! xoox

1:44 PM  
Blogger M said...

What a wonderful present and exciting story!! It's great that you are connected to such an amazing woman- and like Meg said, I can see you doing the same thing one day. You're already inspiring me.

2:04 PM  
Blogger liz elayne said...

i love the way you have shared this story with us. anything you make from these beads will be richer because of her energy. she sounds incredible. just beautiful. (i would simply love to meet her!)

12:01 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...


you were not kidding when
you said she was a firecracker.

thats amazing
and enthralling...


10:34 AM  

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