Friday, January 13, 2012

Year of the dragon jewelry

On the 23rd of January the Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the year of the dragon. I am not very much into astrology (western or otherwise) myself, but I am very much into dragons, and so I had to check out what this supposedly means – this year of the (water) dragon. Turns out, that I want to believe it this year! And so I have of cause made a special version of my Dragonling pendant with a smooth blue topaz drop.

You can purchase your very own
2012 water dragon on Etsy or Amio if you live in Denmark

So, why am I so thrilled about 2012?

The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 animals and each of these animals come in 5 different elements (Read much more about the Chinese Zodiac here)

The last Year of the Dragon, which occurred in 2000, was fraught with fear. There was a lot of hand wringing about the collapse of our technological world, the Y2K bug and other millennial prophecies that turned out to be more hype than bite.

The Year of the Dragon is again just around the corner and fear and trepidation are once more an issue. This time it’s the Mayan Calendar and the alleged 2012 Armageddon prophecy. Is the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which comes around every 12 years, truly something to be feared?

Unlike the wicked, fire-breathing dragons of Western mythology, China’s celestial dragon symbolizes potent and benevolent power. Dragons are ancient, majestic, wise, and intelligent, and Dragon years are considered particularly auspicious for new businesses (hooray! That means my gallery!), marriage and children. Dragon years also tend to boost individual fortunes and the world economy (we surely need that and as I write this, there seems to be a SLIGHT improvement going on. Perhaps the dragon is starting to kick in?)

It’s also true, however, that all five of the Chinese Dragon years — Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water — tend to magnify both success and failure. So while they can mark huge achievement, disasters can be equally immense. The Year of the Fire Dragon (1917, 1976, and 2036) typically wreaks the most havoc.

However, the Year of the Water Dragon (1992, 1952 and 2012) is noted for its calm, visionary intelligence, and balance of right brain creativity with left brain logic.

So, what influence might the Water Dragon, which rules from January 23, 2012 to February 9, 2013, have on the powerful energies already anticipated at that time?

Like all Dragons, the Water Dragon is an innovative, fearless leader. But the Water Dragon is also far more sensitive to others’ needs, and is more likely to be progressive and diplomatic, as well as socially and environmentally conscious (and we surely need that badly too!) Because Water bestows a more peaceful disposition, this Dragon will act wisely and intelligently, and unlike his fellow Dragons, is willing to set aside his ego for the good of all.

This Dragon is a successful negotiator, and while he is adept at marketing, he also knows how to apply force skillfully when necessary. On the down side, the Water Dragon sometimes forgets to build a solid foundation for his grand plans, and he can hold on too long to pet ideas and projects, and thus create a famous Dragon-sized disaster.

If you subscribe to the dawn-of-a-new-era theory of 2012, then it’s easy to see how the influence of the Water Dragon will increase the likelihood of success for progressive movements gaining momentum all across the globe (I am sure the Occupy movement reads this with interest). Energy conservation and green energy-producing technologies, curtailing Global Warming, challenges to multinational corporations, attention to world hunger and the renewed health of the oceans and sea creatures will all likely fare well (more cheering).

If your expectations tend more toward disaster, then you might expect tsunamis, hurricanes, monsoons and other weather extremes to be in the headlines (so we elegantly jump over this prediction).
But of all the Dragon years, the 2012 Water Dragon is most likely to bestow the Chinese Five Blessings of harmony, virtue, riches, fulfillment and longevity, adding even more weight to the growing belief that 2012 will be about breakthroughs, not disasters.

Oh we like this prediction, don’t we? I do – let’s celebrate and keep focus by wearing the dragon!
Go get your very own 2012 water dragon and have a stunning 2012!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A tiara in honor of a splendid monarch

On Saturday the 14th of January our beloved Queen Margrethe II celebrates her 40th jubilee as a monarch of Denmark. There will be balls, concerts etc and of cause all will be covered extensively by the two national TV stations DR and TV2.

Inspired by this event and the fabulous jewelry of the Russian Zar family, I have created a new tiara. This is my most regal looking so far and I am completely in love with it. I wanted a very crown-like style, though still keeping a certain non-symmetrical look. I created the tiara of almost 2m of 1,5 mm sterling silver wire and adorned it with a large facet cut quartz crystal and 14 smaller white topazes.

This tiara has, together with my small princess crown, been lent to TV2 to be worn by the hostesses throughout their coverage of the events on the 14th of January. So, tune in on Saturday and see some of the Castens tiaras live!

Read more about the royal family and the anniversary here.

Psst: 14th of January is my birthday. Funny to have all Denmark celebrate ;-)

How did I create it?
Okay, back to the tiara: I spent my Christmas holidays in Finland at the home of my boyfriends family. When not eating or walking in the snow (yep – we had a white Christmas) I worked on my newest tiara design. I wanted the look of the regal tiaras, which, as I learned from the program on the Russian splendors, is based on a traditional Russian adornment for women: the kokoshnik. Take a look at these pictures of royal kokoshnik style tiaras to get a drift of what I wanted to accomplish (though with substantially fewer stones).

My technique to get the right dimensions was to work with paper models. Actually it took me quite a while to reach the right shape and size, cutting, testing and cutting again. My Finnish family watched in wonder ;-) Finally I was ready to create the design itself and I drew quite a few versions

Eventually I chose this one over the others. It's not symmetrical, not too high on the head and has a nice even distribution of stones. I was still unsure about all the balls, but I knew that this was the basic shape I wanted. Then I started testing with stones and ended up using mostly white topazes. I wanted a large white topaz at the center too, but couldn't get my hands on one large enough right now and hence settled for a quartz crystal.

Okay, off we go shaping all the swirls and waves of 1,5 mm silver wire. It took quite a while and I have to admit: my fingers were quite sore once I was done!

As allways, I wanted to hammer part of the swirls in order to get that whiplash effect. Here I have marked the areas to hammer with a black marker.

Chiming on the amboss is over and now the tricky part: soldering. A tiara is large and hence I have to heat everything which requires a big flame. But the hammered details are much thinner than the rest and risk melting if I'm not careful.

Eventually I managed to do the entire soldering in only 3 go’s, making disaster much less likely during the process

I decided not to add all the balls – maybe in a later design, but this one I wanted simple.
I had a little space issue: my pickle pot it too small! I need a bigger one, most definitely!

Right, all the soldering is done and initial renovation too. Now of for setting the stones.

After a last finish this is the end result. I am quite satisfied I have to say and hope, someone will wear this tiara with joy! See more pictures of the Zarina tiara at my homepage