Sunday, 28 November 2010

Winter Landscape - Reindeer Lapland Bracelet - A Haiku

I kept this rather clumsy watercolor sketch of winter birch trees as a reference for future work using this pallete.  There is something very calming and restfull  in the contrast of the cool greys and blues (paynes grey, neutral tint) and the warmer earthy colors raw sienna, burnt sienna, sepia and burnt umber.

Winter landscapes provide a remarkable variety of color - subtle, shifting and almost elusive during the darker days.  In this dormant but nonetheless beautiful time of year there is a stillness which leads to inner contemplation and a restfullness after the hectic activity of the previous months.

 I was delighted when I ordered some white reindeer leather from my supplier.  I had expected it to be really white and brash but instead it is a natural white color with a grey/blue tinge like the reflection of the winter sky on snow.  I was reminded of an episode in one of the Clan of the Cave Bear books where Ayla tans some leather to make for her wedding dress. She bleached the leather white by soaking it in urine - nowadays I suspect the principle is the same but probably with a refined form of ammonia rather than raw urine. I had this leather for months not quite knowing what  would do with it until now,  the icy Northern winter has set in and given me inspiration for this piece of jewelry.  I combined sepia colored leather to represent the color of the bare trees on a dark blizzardy day. The pewter wire shines bright like a frosty morning.

Just as I´m writing this a snow blizzard is blowing. This haiku by the master Matsuo Basho  is in essence what I´m seeing from my studio window at this moment..

Winter solitude--
in a world of one color
    the sound of wind.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Autumn Inspired Lapland Bracelets

Whether creating a painting or a piece of jewelry, color is my main inspiration.  Living here in the forest one is alwas surrounded by the colors of nature and aware of the changing of seasons.  Nature provides us with a remarkable pallete, which like fashion changes with every season.
I love the way in Autumn when the green vegetation becomes faded and takes on more gentle softer tones  than the bold brashness of Summer.


This wonderful reindeer leather is vegetable dyed and I love using this particular green color.  The color shifts from an earthy browny green to a delightful moss green, depending on the light.  Because of this, it is hard to describe, it can be the color of pine trees or like the moss that grows so thickly on the forest floor and the highlands around me.

With these two bracelets I have added heather colored elements.  Heather is one of the last flowering plants before the hard grim winter sets in.  As I beekeeper my long Autumn walks are taken up by discovering how much heather is growing in my area.  Heather not only yields the most fabulously tasting honey but it is the last natural food for my bees before the winter´s syrup feeding.

No color represents Autumn more than this tawny tan color. Autumn leaves, faded bracken and the creatures of the forest who become more visible as the leaves disappear.  The silent forest becomes alive with the frenetic activty of the red squirrels. Foxes stealthily watch their prey knowing that they face a long winter of near starvation.  The roe deer  bravely movemore closely to human habitition enjoying  the delights of a cultivated garden. My favorite sight is the magnificent coppery foliage of the beech trees.  The leaves stubbornly hold on to the trees long into the winter so bright, cheerful and comforting on the darkest days.

Autumn is also time for the rich abundance of berries that grow so prolifically in Sweden. The forest is carpeted with jewel like lingon and blueberries.  Aromatic juniper berries are collected for a warming seasonal stew.  For me there is nothing like my own blackcurrants made into jam, cordial and frozen to make pies, cakes and even smoothies during the Winter.  These underestimated fruits are fantastic packets of vitamins and energy, perfect for revitalising a tired body on a sunless Winter day.