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Intersectional Cuff

Intersectional Cuff with Heat PatinaLately I’ve been reading about “Intersectional Feminism.” And, while it’s a lot more detailed than what I’ll get into here, I love how it approaches things. The basic concept is that it is necessary to look at people/life/situations from a multitude of perspectives in order to understand and address a problem. It fits in well, in my mind, to the holistic approach I learned in graduate school through the diversity classes which were part of my Clinical Psychology training. None of us are “one” thing or identity. Within each of us are representations of an assortment of “identities” including gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, cultural identity (which may not match our ethnic heritage), age, etc. Any time we face a form of privilege or discrimination, it could be a response to any one or combination of these.

 

It is in the huge diversity within humanity and the world that I find beauty. I find joy and inspiration in the “intersectional.” As messy as it can feel to try to understand people and situations through this lens, I love the ways in which it stretches me as a person. It makes me grow into a better human being, even as I struggle against our societal pressure to be “one” thing (a task at which I will- always- fail joyously).

 

In this “Intersectional Cuff” jewelry piece I wanted to create a beautiful artistic representation to remind me of the beauty of intersectional identities and the infinite possibilities they can embody- even within a single person (or piece). I also wanted to capture the rainbow of diversity which intersectional identities create, and so added a rainbow heat patina to the design.

 

In my case, I hold many identities within myself. I am woman, victim, survivor, disabled, multi-racial… and my list goes on. I have been discriminated against during my life for any number of these things in isolation or combination. I have been told to pretend that some of these identities, part of who I am, do not exist…. and yet they all exist, in me, and I would not be the person I am without them or the experiences I have had because of them.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about intersectional feminism, here’s an article from Everyday Feminism to get you started!

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Coming Alive to 2015

While I was taking photographs at The Butchart Gardens, this bee decided to claim a flower for its own.....
While I was taking photographs at The Butchart Gardens, this bee decided to claim a flower for its own…..

I find one of the hardest things about being a business owner, particularly one with disabilities which impact my immune system, is allowing myself the time off to get healthy. It’s especially difficult when I have commitments I need to honor. When I can’t do everything Continue reading Coming Alive to 2015

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Springing into Creativity!

I feel so happy with the longer days returning! During the winter months, especially with a weak immune system and seasonal affective tendencies, I lean toward hibernation and self-isolation through mid-March. Now that the temperatures here are finally on a warming trend and the flowers are beginning to bud, I’m beginning to feel like I might return to the land of the living.

 

This past weekend marked the second time since winter that I’ve actually felt a personal motivation to go outside and work a little in the yard. Clearing away dead branches and leaves which had fallen since the last autumn day of yard work, trimming some of the plants which got out of control last year (Virginia Creeper was getting into lots of unapproved locations)… my partner and I even decided on the placement of our three flower pots (we’re still debating about what kind of flowers we’ll plant in them.

 

It seems like every time I look out my window or go to enjoy some fresh air in my yard I find new inspiration for Butterfly Sundries’ Beautiful World Collection. Budding flowers are so pretty! I can’t help but take out my sketchbook and use them as inspiration for etching designs. The challenge I have is not being able to identify the flowers!

 

These are the first flowers which have shown up in my yard this spring; they are my current inspiration for a new pendant design!

These are my first flowers of spring and my current source of inspiration... I just wish I knew what kind they are!
These are my first flowers of spring and my current source of inspiration… I just wish I knew what kind they are!

 

There are lots of new floral designs coming to Butterfly Sundries Beautiful World Collection (which supports Weed Warriors, the Featured Charity through May 2014)! Keep an eye out for them on Etsy!

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Designing Dancing Women (and Men)!

Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.
Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.

I’ve been having a great time designing new pieces for Butterfly Sundries’ Dancing Women Collection, several of which will be unveiled soon. But, it’s also been a very mind-bending experience. I started the collection knowing I wanted to feature diverse representations of beauty, including women with visible disabilities and a wide range of body types. I never expected that to be the easiest part of the design process.

The challenging part of the process, as it turns out, is choosing powerful dance representations and postures for the designs. As I began designing I realized that so many of the dance positions I learned as a child and can draw at the drop of the hat make women appear graceful… but somehow smaller. Many of them are overtly sexual (and while sexuality and sensuality are both good things, these things are not part of the focus of this collection). They make us take up less space. My quest has been to find and choose artistic representations which are fluid, graceful and still empowering. I want a woman to feel encouraged to fill the space she occupies with her own power and beauty.

The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!
The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!

By contrast, it’s also been an interesting process considering the possibility of exploring a customer’s request for expansion in the direction of Dancing Men designs. I never realized how little I’ve thought of what men look like when they’re dancing. Imagining them in body postures similar to the ones in the Dancing Women Cuff bracelet is counter-intuitive to me (I am embarrassed to admit that my first conceptualization was of men of all sizes and shapes in various body building poses- which then led me to question my own preconceptions and biases; my second thought was of a scene from the movie Hitch).

It’s amazing to me how the simple process of creating a line of socially-conscious jewelry which seeks to combat the bias of media depictions of beauty can be so enriching to me personally. I never realized that I’d adopted gender-role constructs surrounding dance, but- now that I recognize how I’ve internalized some of our cultural values- I look forward to the process of creating and adopting new, healthier, and more empowering constructs!

Meanwhile, you can kind find these designs- and many more- in Butterfly Sundries’ shop on Etsy!

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Introducing the Dancing Women Collection!

Butterfly Sundries’ new Dancing Women Collection consists of a number of Butterfly Sundries’ original jewelry designs celebrating the beauty of all women, including all of ages, sizes, shapes, races, sexual orientations or abilities. With the firm belief that ALL women are beautiful, Butterfly Sundries’ seeks to feature diverse representations of beauty in this collection- increasing the visibility and positive representations of often-ignored women.

This original Butterfly Sundries etched cuff features the silhouettes of beautiful women. Embracing the beauty of all body types and including women with physical disabilities- Butterfly Sundries is dedicated to empowering all women to dance.
This original Butterfly Sundries etched cuff features the silhouettes of beautiful women. Embracing the beauty of all body types and including women with physical disabilities- Butterfly Sundries is dedicated to empowering all women to dance.

While Butterfly Sundries’ original jewelry collections usually start with a charity to which a portion of the proceeds will be donated, The Dancing Woman Collection is a jewelry line without an official cause. The collection was inspired, initially, by the wonderful work done by a large 501c3 which, as part of one of their campaigns, used music and dancing to bring awareness to domestic violence issues. But, during the initial design phase, the collection evolved to become so much more.

I am, personally, passionate about a great number of issues. Media literacy is important to me and I strongly believe that representation matters. Seeing positive body representations of all shapes, sizes and abilities help to normalize and generate acceptance of all forms of beauty (many of which are often ignored or marginalized by our society).

My designs in this collection have been influenced by the work of  Jean Kilbourne (she has made a huge impact on my view of women in the media since I first became aware of her work in 2000; I highly recommend her Killing Us Softly videos if you ever get the chance to see them).  As a voluptuous woman, myself, I surround myself with information and the work of communities and non-profits which promote body positivity for all persons; these communities have also been inspirational in my designs. It was very important to me to create a space where, in these designs, positive visibility for women with disabilities was created (yes, I am one).

Women are beautiful, powerful and inspiring. Dancing, for me, is an act of beauty, strength and, sometimes, rebellion. Also, it is a way of giving oneself permission to fill space with one’s own beauty and self-expression. I would hope that every woman will embrace that powerful act.

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Practicing Gratitude

“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~  William Arthur Ward

 

Thanksgiving is over. Family visits are coming to a close, at least until Christmas-time. Siblings have had their annual squabbles; someone won the fight for the turkey’s wishbone. Arrangements are being made for Christmas and now the shopping plans for everyone on our wishlists is (presumably) getting started in earnest. Black Friday has started and many are shopping for deals on the gifts which will “truly make Christmas special” for their loved ones. The rush, the bustle and the chaos of the season we often look forward to (and feel completely crazy by the end of) has begun.

 

I’m not ready to leave the sanctuary of gratitude yet. I want to stay here a while longer- no, I want to stay here forever.

I am grateful that I’m not out shopping for Black Friday.

There is nothing I can buy which will make me happier. No thing would mean so much to my loved ones as a few minutes of my precious time without distraction. No time spent shopping will mean so much to me as a few more hours of sleep, quiet, reading or jewelry-making.

I am grateful for all that I can do.

As a person with disabilities, there are many things I cannot do as easily as others. But for every single thing I can do, I am grateful. It may take me longer, it may come at a high price- but I am grateful for the choice.

I am grateful for the power to choose (and the ability to recognize the gift).

Everything is a choice. Everything. I cannot always choose what happens to me but I can absolutely choose how I will respond to it. Every choice is a matter of priorities- and while I may not always choose wisely, I have the ability to change my choices- if I choose. Choice empowers me in a way that simple bodily health cannot. I know from experience that my time, energy, health and even brainpower can fail me; I am not invincible. Capability can be taken for granted and then wasted; I know to be mindful of how I use whatever I am blessed enough to get.

I am grateful for quality friends and family.

I don’t tend to have a lot of relationships (people are, much as I love them, exhausting). I don’t spend much time out socializing. I’m lousy on the phone and I visit in-person even less. But, as quirky and out-of-touch as I am, I have a few close friends and family members who understand my limitations and love me anyway. However frustrated they get with me- they know (I hope)- that I will always love them, give them what energy I can and I’ll always accept them who and what they are.

I am grateful for the eyes and heart to recognize beauty- and the opportunity to create it.

Beauty is everywhere, even in a spiderweb covered with dew or a spider (through the safety of a camera lens).
Beauty is everywhere, even in a spiderweb covered with dew or a spider (through the safety of a camera lens).

Beauty is all around us, all the time. It’s in a spiderweb covered with dew. It’s in the warm colors of autumn leaves. Genuine smiles, a cat’s purr, a warm heart, a thoughtful gesture, we know those things are beautiful. But the person who is bent over from arthritis and pain but gets up and greets you anyway… this too is beauty. The homeless person who shares what she has with someone even less fortunate, this is beauty. The man who is struggling to make ends meet and care for his children but still finds time to bring groceries to the home-bound person in the next apartment, he creates beauty. The youth who spends time listening to the same story again which she’s heard 20 times before from her grandmother… beauty is everywhere.

It’s in the little moments we take for granted every day; beauty is in the choices we make every day, each opportunity to help create a better world with the choices we make. Sometimes it’s a choice to acknowledge the beauty of a moment when we see something which can inspire our spirit, sometimes it’s a choice we make to do something.

I am grateful for the opportunity to create a more beautiful world, one choice at a time.

Whether it’s where I spend my money, how I spend my time, who I choose to become, what I choose to do…. In this moment now, I choose to practice gratitude for every choice I can make. May they be good ones, and may I do my part in helping to make this world a better, brighter and more just place for all.

 

“Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” ~ Margaret Cousins