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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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Inspired by Artist Lydia Makepeace

One of my Etsy friends and shop owners, Lydia Makepeace, has gone through a remarkable evolution in the expression of her creative voice. I first became familiar with her work when she sold (primarily) jewelry; in fact, her acorn necklace was so beautiful that it inspired my very first Etsy Treasury: “Squirreling Around… Awh Nuts!” Over time, I’ve continued to be amazed by her work as she’s given her primary focus to her paintings.


I have found, while our mediums are different, I never cease to find inspiration in her work. Her use of colors and textures always give me ideas for new jewelry expressions in my own work. And, her willingness to always challenge herself to new heights reminds me to strive to add new skills to my repertoire (rather than becoming too comfortable in what has become “easy”).


One of Lydia’s recent paintings caught my imagination; as soon as I saw it, I wanted to create an etched pendant inspired by it. Of course, I don’t want to steal her work or fail to give credit- so I tossed the idea aside and set about focusing on other projects…. until I remembered she had a birthday. Finally, an excuse!


Sometimes, as artists, it can be easy to wonder whether or not anyone appreciates our work. Compelled to create, but separated from those who appreciate and purchase our work, sometimes we can feel like our creations get lost in the abyss. We put all of our heart and soul into something, it sells (sometimes after a long while), and then we often won’t hear anything about the piece ever again; we simply hope that it found a home in which it will be appreciated.


So, for my dear friend, I decided to give her the gift of a reminder. I made for her a two-sided etched copper pendant. The front has an etched botanical pattern, inspired by one of her paintings. It’s my hope that she will always remember that her work, her voice, is appreciated.

LM Pendant

The back of the pendant has the word “inspire” with a few decorative “splotches” of paint. This side is a “thank you” for all the times she has inspired me, and the expression of my hope that she will never stop painting (or inspiring).

Back of LM Pendant

On a personal note, I can’t recommend Lydia’s shop enough; I am an enthusiastic follower of both her Etsy shop and her Facebook page! Her birthday pendant is now on its way; help me give her an even bigger gift by checking out her shop and following her on Facebook!