afghani glass

March 16, 2008


I was going to title this post ‘a man from afghanistan’, because it is as much about the man who sold me these beads as it is about the beads themselves. At the recent Auckland Gift Show the only thing that really caught my interest was a display of strings and strings of these little chunks of glass. These images I shot do them little justice. Some look like fossilized wood, some have iridescent mineral deposits, all of them emanate a mesmerizing energy that can only be described as ‘authentic’. In the journey that is my life, I have always been particularly attracted to objects and people that embody this quality.

I made a call to the number listed on the dealer’s card, and yesterday afternoon Kyle and I went to the inner city flat of Q and his family. I didn’t know what to expect, but what we found was amazing.

We were greeted by a traditional Afghan family, and in the most hospitable way, we sat drinking orange juice and chatting before getting on to the business of buying. Q and his wife had lived in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s rule. They have family living there today. Q takes trips back to buy precious stones, silver jewellery, and antique glass beads, which in light of recent events seems more than a little dangerous. Q supports his wife and 4 children by selling these things all over the world. He even lived in Texas for a while.

He pulled out cotton strings weighed down with chunks of turquoise, lapis, coral and amber. All natural, nothing inauthentic. But what I was really interested in were the glass pieces.

“They found an ancient city in the Afghan desert,” he said. “Many pieces of glassware were discovered, but many of them had been broken.” They made these pieces into beads. Two thousand years old? Very possible… I believed him.

Blowing our budget for the week, we bought three strings, and have plans to go back for more. In my mind’s eye I see some of the best jewellery galleries in the world carrying pieces made from them. But am I up to the task? Can I create a setting that will show the beauty and authenticity of these artifacts?

There was something so lovable about Q, his timid wife, and their long-lashed children (that are self-possessed beyond their years and speak perfect New Zealand english). Sitting in a room far away from our two birth countries, I wondered what he must think of me. Looking again at his business card, which didn’t even list his name (but did have the email address of his teenage son) I wondered how he found enough business to survive. I made a mental note to find a way to help.

The obstacles I have had to overcome here are insignificant in comparison.



Some images get me right in the back of the nose. The smell of a truckload of cut flowers is a freshness like nothing else. I miss it. I miss tucking stems into vases in a loose way, like this arrangement by Sarah at Saipua. Her blog is such a refreshing commentary on life, and I nostalgically identify with her floral design adventures.

helen britton

March 11, 2008

Jane Dodd tipped me off to yet another amazing jeweller – Helen Britton. Her pieces take me back to the years that I was an antiques dealer, searching flea markets and grubby second-hand stores for ‘treasures’ with amazing patinas and shapes.




a whole new world

March 11, 2008

Once I decided to let myself be interested in jewellery, it was everywhere I looked. Not just the typical earrings/ring/necklace combos, or glittery forgettables in 18k gold, but intimately crafted objet d’art. A lilliputian world of social commentary and exquisitely wrought personal creativity. Like this work by David Neale. The methodology and commentary on these lyrical pieces (on Neale’s website) is accessible and quite evocative to me, which I don’t find with some contemporary art.



Neale’s work, as well as Julie Blyfield‘s, shown below, make me want to hop on the next plane to Melbourne.



I found these two artists through some amazing sites. Check out Gallery Funaki, either online or in person, as it’s heralded to be the best jewellery gallery in this southern quadrant of the world. Another excellent resource and community is Klimt02.

I had a mocha today…

March 8, 2008


And it had an asterisk on top. Or snowflake, if that’s what you want to see in it…

Really what I want to talk about is the way, when called upon, the universe can almost magically give you what you need.  It is probably no secret that I have been unhappy living here. I had kept it bottled inside, only talking to a few people about my deep sadness. No more. I now talk about it to anyone and everyone (by which I mean complete strangers) on a daily basis. This is where the benevolent energy of the universe comes in.

Yesterday I was sitting at the library and I heard a California accent. A lot of times I will lurk and listen to see if an observed American is someone I want to engage. Mostly I will let the observed American pass by without so much as a peep from me, but I felt an interesting energy from this dynamic lady with cropped blond hair. She lit briefly on the table by my chair and we talked animatedly (as much as you can talk animatedly in a library), and we exchanged contact information. I felt immediately at ease and understood by her, in a way that I don’t often get here.

Today I went to the grocery store to buy one thing: cat food. I grabbed the bag and then stood in the frozen food section looking at the magazines (they’re smart at this store- the magazines are displayed in the coldest area so you will want to grab and go, not drool over Jude Law’s picture for an hour).  I was startled out of perusal (of aformentioned Jude Law picture) by M, the same bright presence from the library encounter. We hurried out to the food court to have a coffee before she had to go… actually she had carrot juice and she shouted me the mocha.

Within an hour I knew more about her than I know about almost anyone. Sometimes you can talk to strangers with a candor that is absent in normal daily communications. She spoke about her life experiences, and in them I identified myself. I got the sense that she could see into my soul. The parts of life that I am just now getting to, she had lived, analyzed and made peace with. The sticky points, the hard decisions made, the hopes and regrets, were all used as illustrations for how I might find my right path. There are some people in life that you can have an emotional shorthand with – they understand in a few words an ocean of complicated thoughts. I said very little in retrospect, but it wasn’t necessary.

She told me what to do. Not in a condescending or clinically removed sense, but in the way a mother bird pushes the chicks out of the nest at the right time.

So what does this asterisk mean for me, for Kyle, for our future on this planet? I guess you’ll have to stay tuned and see what far lands we travel to next.

it’s been a while…

March 3, 2008

I know I’ve been letting this little blog languish. Sometimes real life gets in the way of i-life. It’s been a challenging couple of months, but good things are on the horizon. I love the jewellery class I’ve been taking, and hope to roll up my sleeves and get into it fully very soon. Here’s a brooch I completed at last night’s class.


Pressed silver is riveted to sanded plexi/perspex, antique sari thread from Nepal is caught in between. And a view of the back:


The tutor for the class is Jane Dodd. See some of her amazing work here and here.