Ornament Magazine

For 43 years, Ornament Magazine has been documenting personal adornment through the world’s highest levels of wearable fine craft and art media. The magazine itself has a physical beauty that has never been compromised: thick paper, glossy finish, stunning photography, and deeply-researched articles.

I first encountered Ornament in January 1979 in the skimpy magazine section of my local jewelry supply store in northern New Mexico. Having farted around with bead stringing, weaving, and embroidery, I was starting out in ‘hot’ jewelry-making (due to the Christmas gift of a tiny butane Microflame torch like this, some flux, a soldering block, and some copper wire. Thanks, Dad.)

In the late 70s, the Four Corners region of the American Southwest was a nexus for serious jewelry design.

The local Native American tribes had ancient, vibrant stonecarving and fiber traditions married to relatively-new silversmithing exposure. In the early 20th century, Fred Harvey and other Anglo entrepreneurs helped make ‘Indian’ jewelry and fashion popular with the outside world, opening up a vital industry for Native crafters. Arizona Highways Magazine often showcased Native jewelry designers. In Albuquerque, Saul Bell had made Rio Grande into ‘the’ jewelry-making supplier of the region, as well as a powerhouse of artistic and technical networking. From the Latino population came another lush, riotous tradition of decorative and wearable art.

It was a good time to be a young artist inspired by all of these intermixing elements. In the fall of 1979 I started learning from an actual, serious jeweler (who quickly trained me out of most of my self-taught jewelry bad habits.) Ornament and Lapidary Journal were mainstays in his library. From him, I first heard about the Tucson Rock & Gem Show and Fire Mountain Gems.

These days I return to Ornament for regular, and often wistful, recharges of my creative batteries. I may not always agree with or even like the featured artists or scholars, but I always find *something* to inspire me.

Sew Madness

I have some free hours tonight. To help settle my manuscript submission jitters, I’m playing with several sewing projects that need to advance to their next stages. Not finished (cue hysterical laughter); any one of these will take far more than a couple of hours for that.

  1. Refine the patterns and start cutting UV-blocking fabric for a bicycle car rack cover. This is an absolutely necessary top-priority piece. Yakima has not yet figured out that what works for sun-and-heat resistance in northern climes fails quickly and miserably down here in hell Crematoria Muspellheim Phoenix. scarf strips
  2. Check that I have everything ready for a gonzo insane 15″ x 76″ scarf in a loose open weave of these gray-tan linen strips. With large freshwater pearls sewn over the junctures. It would easily be a $200 scarf if I was insane enough to sell it, based on hours and materials. Anyone want a $200 scarf? I’m making it because I will wear until I get bored with it, and it wants to be made. Faded Glory jacket
  3. Blocking the paper pattern for a waterfall bustle to go on the back of this Faded Glory jacket in sage eyelet. The jacket is extremely well made: the seams are bound the way I’d do them from scratch, and it has vaguely Victorian/steampunk lines that will be perfect with black braid and bronze buttons. I just found a sage/khaki hat that will go with it, with some modifications. But the jacket also needs to be a tailcoat, and I’m intrigued by the lines of waterfall bustles and their back-folded ruffles. I lucked out with some sage-printed cotton and some antique bronze sequined black net, which go well with some of my other fabric stores in sage-green tones. Here’s the brown paper pattern…sage bustle pattern
  4. Which leads to the discovery (which I suspected) that even my modest little 18″ bustle is going to take at least 80″ of fabric. Because Ruffles. I think I have it…but it will be close. I keep telling myself that if I can make a 60″ accordion-fold fabric book, a double-faced waterfall bustle is going to be relatively easy.

Now, if I can just juggle things like this for the next 8 weeks, I will be able to ignore my manuscript submission jitters. Yeah, right.