I cannot resist artfully arranged baubles imbued with meaning arranged in vessels. I don’t think anyone can. Canopic jars, medicine bags, reliquaries, hoodoo- all longstanding examples of items blessed with significance.
I usually avoid making art that incorporates this because it’s akin to using the abandoned baby doll in a horror film. It always works. It’s compelling. Every. Single. Time.
I have succumbed.
A while back, my friend M.D. gave me a bunch of Pyrex bottles with stoppers. His lab was doing a Spring cleaning and he couldn’t bear to throw them away, so they ended up in his closet with an equally obscene amount of test tubes. I used one of the bottles to make a gift for a friend; a blessing for her thirtieth birthday. I moved on to other projects, but those bottles kept resurfacing in my thoughts. I decided to make more. I have never spent so much time looking for items of specific symbolic significance in my life. It was really fun.
In the end, I made 10 bottles, all focusing on positive attributes.
For those interested in the specifics:
- Good fortune: New Zealand jade, paper crane, gold flakes, silver piece, green parrot feather; wrapped with green linen thread
2. Passion: thorns, match, cinnamon bark, red feather, amber; wrapped in red silk thread and cinnamon bark charm
3. Renewal: snakeskin, robin’s egg, monarch wing; wrapped in white linen thread and a snail shell charm
4. Calm: beach glass, wool roving, dried lavender; wrapped in blue silk thread and a bell charm
5. Strength: Horsehair, porcupine quill, rock, obsidian arrowhead, shark tooth; wrapped in blue linen thread and a rock charm
6. Harmony: feather, quartz, match, fossilized shell; wrapped in salmon colored linen and a bell charm
7. Luck: wishbone, amber, parrot feather; wrapped in green linen thread and a paper crane charm
8. Wisdom: turtle vertebrae, acorn, scarab, black feather; wrapped in black silk thread and an owl charm
9. Protection: sage, salt, silver, circa 1870s evil eye; wrapped with maroon silk thread and a silver circle charm
10. Inspiration: pen nib, clear quartz, peacock feather, turtle bone, dragonfly wing; wrapped with yellow linen thread and a peacock feather charm
Perhaps the next set will focus on darker aspects. Coffin nails, bird bones and grave dirt come to mind.