Friday, February 26, 2010

Frida Kahlo

This is Frida Kahlo. Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón in 1907 to a Mexican mother and a German father. As a teenager, while studying to be a doctor, she suffered a horrific road accident that messed up her back pretty badly, and gave her recurring pains in the legs and back for the rest of her life. For months after the accident, she had to be in a body cast, and to stave off boredom, she started to paint.

From a very young age, Frida was a handful - individualistic, rebellious, outspoken. In 1929, against her mother's wishes, she married Diego Rivera, the famed painter whose work she had always admired. She was 22, he was 43.

And yes, like any self-respecting artist, Rivera was a champion philanderer, despite what you might think of him aesthetically. He had affair after affair, and while they had a very tumultuous married life, they had an equally fruitful and stimulating artistic relationship.

After a while Kahlo too got in the game and became very open about her bisexuality. Rivera closed an eye with regards to her lady friends, but was incensed and very prone to fiery outbursts regarding her gentleman friends.

Kahlo with Nickolas Muray with her painting, Me and My Parrots (1939). Muray was the respected celebrity photographer she was to have a 10-year on-and-off affair with. When their affiar ended, Muray wrote her a sincere letter of thanks for having given him a small part of her life, acknowledging that she and Rivera were always The Ones for each other.

In 1939, Rivera persuaded Kahlo that they should be divorced. They parted ways, and Kahlo was heartbroken. They continued to keep in contact and inspire each other, until they remarried just one year later in 1940.

I suppose this is what being soulmates is like. On the one hand you can't stand the person, and on the other you can't stand life without the person. At the end of the day, they had a synergy that bounced off each other, that inspired and improved each other's life passion, and that was their art.

Rivera kisses Kahlo in her hospital bed in Mexico in 1950, where she spent 9 whole months. Several operations had to be performed on her leg and back.

While they were together, Kahlo suffered 2 miscarriages, in between relapses of excrutiating pain in her back and legs, from the road accident she had as a teenager. A lot of her work expresses this sense of lack and loss in surrealistic terms. Fact is, some of it is a bit too surreal for little old-fashioned Me.

My Grandparents, My Parents, and I. 1936

This piece symbolises Kahlo's own ancestry, with her maternal grandparents symbolised by the land, and her paternal grandparents symbolised by the ocean. She herself is depicted as a child of around 4 years old, when she has always claimed to be her birth year, becasue that was when she witnessed the Revolution just beyond the doorsteps of her childhood home, The Blue House.

What The Water Gave Me. 1938

This painting is a culmination of events in her life, and carry very heavy symbolic elements. It also illustrates her highly personal pictorial language. Some critics have categorised her work as Surrealism, but some still argue that because she never really frees herself from the reality of the contents of her painting, it cannot be deemed Surrealism.

My Dress Hangs There. 1933

This was done when Frida accompanied her husband, Diego Rivera, to America, where he was commissioned to do a mural at the Rockerfeller Center. While he worked on his mural celebrating industrial progress, Kahlo's painting depicted an ironic portrait of American capitalism, pointing to social decay and the corrosion of basic human values.

While her conceptual work bordered on morbidity, grotesque and depression, Kahlo's self-portraits were acutely personal, and are some of the most moving pieces of art out there. 55 of her 143 works are self-portraits.

Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Leon Trotsky). 1937

Kahlo had a brief affair with the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, when she and Rivera hosted a stay for Mr and Mrs Trotsky at The Blue House.

Self-Portrait, Time Flies. 1929

Self-Portrait (Dedicated to Dr. Eloesser). 1940

In the banderole, it reads: "I painted my portrait in the year 1940 for Doctor Leo Eloesser, my doctor and my best friend. With all love, Frida Kahlo."

Self-Portrait with necklace, 1933

"I paint self-portraits because I am
so often alone, because I am the person I know best."

- Frida Kahlo

Kahlo's work didn't really become known and valued until decades after her death. While she was alive, she was known popularly as "Diego Rivera's wife, who also happens to be a painter".

As a result, she was highly photographed, for her fabulous folkism, which is what I love most about Frida Kahlo. She was known to get dressed meticulously on a daily basis, taking into account coordinating colours, shapes and accessories - from the rings on her fingers to her organic pre-Columbian chokers, the elaborate earrings to the flowers and ribbons in her hair.

The photographs below were taken by a long-time lover, the celebrated Vogue photographer, Nickolas Muray. She may not have been following the trend, but she certainly was singularly stylish.

Part of Kahlo's iconic status is, I believe, due largely to the way she expressed her Self so succinctly. Not just in her painting, but in the way she dressed, the way she talked, and the way she chose to live her life. And that is why I am so, so enamoured by her. Her pain was her passion, and vice-versa.

In 1954, after several operations on her back and the amputation of her leg, Kahlo fell into depression. She became seriously ill with pneumonia, and passed away on 13 July 1954, a week after her 47th birthday. The night before, she gave Rivera a present for their silver wedding anniversary, "because I feel I am going to leave you very soon".

The last entry in her diary reads: "I hope the exit is joyful, and I hope never to come back. - Frida." Because of her back problems, potent prescription painkillers were readily available to her. And after she died, no autopsy was performed. Till today, it is not known if Kahlo's death was a suicide.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pain and Passion

So I have been working prolifically on my new collection. I decided on my Muse, chicken-scratched pages of ideas, and for the past two days have been crafting enthusiastically (and endlessly) on some prototypes and some more high-end exclusive pieces. Highly invigorating stuff. Not to mention, oh-so satisfying to see the finished piece sitting pretty in a ziplock bag.

And today I am suffering for it. From all the heavy wire-working, I have developed terrible, terrible Tennis Elbow. Yes, it is entirely possible to get Tennis Elbow without playing a smidgen of tennis. The little piece of muscle sitting on top of my elbow is painful to the slightest touch, much as if someone has whacked it with, well, a tennis racket.

So it's Salonpas to the rescue. The smell is disgusting. One of those mentholated herbal scents usually associated with ailing aged people, and it makes me feel like 100 years old. But hey, if it relieves my pain, I can live with the pong quite happily.

So here's to Pain and Passion. And there within lies my Muse. Any guesses who it might be?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Makes Me Think

But it's true. Doing lots of inversions during yoga clears your head. :)

And lots of side-twists make you burp and/or fart. But that's a whole other post... ;)

(pic via tumblr)

Monday, February 22, 2010

New (Commissioned) Stuff

This gorgeous number is titled Brilliant Dawn, and was commissioned by a lovely, lovely client who took fancy on one of my older designs. While the original was in purples, greens and browns, she wanted something in reds, oranges, yellows.

And so, Brilliant Dawn is crafted from carnelians, corals and yellow glass briolettes, and accented with freshwater pearls, onyx and garnets. To top it all off with a superluxe feel, 24K vermeil is used.

I love this, because it's one of those pieces that you can't stop looking at. Because every time you do, you discover something new about it...

Friday, February 19, 2010

An Overhaul of Sorts

I tell you, Change is all out to get me. First with the house-help leaving, and a new one coming, who will be in need of training and accustomizing. And then my trusty ole laptop went and died on me.

It died pretty much a slow death, with me ignoring all the signals from the increasingly often hangings, 'coz I was too busy with the housework. Until a few days back, it hanged, and just plain refused to come back on. I'm currently using its baby brother who is supposedly reserved for music...

So we took it off to the shop a few days back, and yesterday the computer guy called to say that everything on the hard drive is lost! EVERYTHING! All my pics, all my invoices, all my notes... Now if that isn't just the biggest f***-up, I don't know what is. Seriously, all my records of all my past pieces, all the lovely pics I had planned for blog posts, all my favourite links, and even some amount of family pics from the recent hols... argh.

In any case, on a more positive note, I AM back at the worktable, currently working on a friend's wedding present. A little overdue, and I am timing it for when she returns from her honeymoon next week.

And on an even brighter note, I've got 2 custom projects to start working on, a Mothers' Day Special shipment to work on for Isetan KL, and my next collection to conceptualise, put down on paper, and craft up prototypes for. All intensely creative and reassuringly "crafty". So I'm gonna keep on keeping on, and not let botherations bother me. ;)

I guess the best way around Change is to embrace it and, corny as it may sound, go with the flow. After all, it's all about Perspective. ;)

(pic from icanread)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Library Lust

I have a "small" collection of books that could warrant a lovely library. But my shoe-box of an apartment won't let me - :S. Instead, I shall just carry on fantasizing...

I am so a sucker for big windows in reading rooms...

Or how about some salad and white wine while you read? Yum. :)

Love everything about this room except for the dead zebra...

(pics via housebeautiful)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Yes, it has been 5 long days since I blogged. The last hiatus was over the Christmas hols, but that was a legitimate holiday. This time though, I have just been too busy cleaning house, and surviving the Chinese New Year rigmarole.

Being without help for the past 10 days took its toll 2 days ago, when I gimped up my thumb while vacuuming. I was enthusiastically sucking up all the dirt from under the sofa, when I pulled the nozzle out really hard and banged my thumb up against the coffee table.

Now, as far as I am aware, I have a pretty high threshold for pain, what with having birthed 2 kids au naturel with no drugs, and a massive blackwork tattoo at the back of my neck, and a huge one on the arm with multiple sittings... But this thumb-stubbing was, I swear, the ultimate pain. It was pretty bad, realistically, 'coz the cuticle was torn off backwards from the nail, and it was bleeding some. But the pain, oddly enough, was so bad I almost passed out. Seriously, my hearing was going and my head was all woozy.

So I quickly cleaned it up and went and lay down on the bed. And fell asleep for a couple of hours. After which I went for a walk, because I couldn't do any housework anyway. Even walking around was painful, 'coz I had to have my hand raised to shoulder level, else I could feel a throbbing pressure in my thumb.

Glad to report today though, that all is well. I managed to wash my hair with both hands today, and do the washing up after lunch. I was also back at vacuuming this morning. This time with the coffee table moved well away.

I was gonna post a pic of my gimped thumb, but thought it might be a little too gross. So this shall have to be a pic-less post. ;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Customed Care

I have a friend who is currently going through a pretty rough patch. So I crafted this necklace up for her, to channel some positive energy her way.

A handmade chain of calming Amethysts, dotted with Onyx for protection against The Nasties...

... with charms of freshwater Pearl for strength, Clear Quartz for clarity of mind, and a touch of Carnelian for some fire in the belly.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Will Survive

It's never-fricken-ending. There is no completion. To say it's "therapeutic", or "good exercise" is to be very, very optimistic.

And optimistic I shall be. I am overlooking the increasingly dusty bookcase and icky floor, and working on changing the bedlinen and the laundry.

And tomorrow, while I dust the bookcase and sweep and mop, I will overlook the growing ironing pile. All this in between preparing meals, washing up, ferrying Them Two here and there for various extra-curricular activities...

Good strategy for a perfectionist, if I don't say so myself... :)

(pic via Anne Taintor)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Monday!

I am keeping the spirits up with this super Fleetwood Mac classic. One of my all-time faves. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February Monthly Giveaway Result

It's Sunday, so Maya is at Taekwondo lessons.

Which makes Ruhi the honorary Picker of The Winner.

And the winner is...

Congratulations, Cheryl! Please email me your mailing address, and your prize will be on its way! :)

Thank you so much everyone for playing! It has been really good fun. Hope to see you around the blog AND at next month's Giveaway!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Keeping Calm and Carrying On, with More New Stuff

For the next 12 days, I am on my own. My housekeeper is hanging up her apron to head back to the Philippines to get married and settle down. She's been with us 5 years, and it is with her help around the house that I have been able to focus on the kids and pursue my jewelry adventure. Bless her.

The last time she left to go on home leave for a month, I turned into a monster. I didn't realise that it was just not possible to keep the house as neat and tidy as she does AND work on MAYA & RUHI, AND run The Real Maya and Ruhi's schedules. Well, not possible for me anyways, being not one for multi-tasking and of zero organisational skills. I was trying to do it all, and failing miserably at everything. It was pretty ugly.

So this time, I am going to have to let the crafting take a back seat, for the next 12 days, until my new helper arrives. I will only turn to the worktable in serious need of therapy from the day's foibles, and even so, only to relish the monotony of wire-working most part of a wraparound. I have plans, Big Plans, for a series of stunning wraparounds and bib necklaces... in 12 days' time. ;)

And as my sabbatical from crafting begins today, I list these at my Etsy shop...

I experimented with an ultra-modern look, with this handforged 14K gold filled ear wire, clear quartz facetd nugget, and 14K gold plated chain. Quite cool, no? (Do excuse my skanky thumb nail, with dabs of colour from giving Ruhi a fancy manicure.)

I go back to my roots with this triple-strand necklace. I used to do a series of these, which sold very well at the boutique. And I love how glorious this piece, with faceted smoky quartz, coral, Swarovski pearls and 925 silver, has turned out.

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I really love this one. So delicate, yet so striking, is this lovely number crafted from faceted onyx, raw-form rose quartz nuggets, freshwater pearls and 925 silver.

This pretty little pair crafted from faceted coral, turquoise and 925 silver, is a burst of spontaneity to any outfit. So bold, so bright, so fun!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New stuff

This hasn't photogrpahed very well, but those are actually faceted navy blue resin beads, wireworked in gold brass wire.

The top centrepiece is a sienna-rust orange of a faceted red aventurine, while the rest of the necklace is accented with fuchsia agate, amazonite, Swarovski pearls and 24K vermeil. The icing on the cake: a geode slice for a pendant.

I love how this has turned out. The colours are striking with a hint of Byzantine flavour, while the classical air of its form and colours, is juxtaposed with the raw energy of the geode slice.

This is up in my Etsy shop. Click here to check it out! ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oscar de la Renta RTW 2010

I am bowled over by the finesse of this collection. From the conservative yet creative silhouettes, to the Orientalist palettes and graphic prints.

My mind is dancing a jig to the tune of really eclectic-bohemian wraparounds. I'm just hoping they come to fruition. For they would be pretty delicious... heh heh.

Some howlite, accented with subtle corals, olive jades, carnelians and amazonites, topped with 24k vermeil...

Fossilized coral with garnet, coral, fuchsia jade, turquoise and olive jade with 24K vermeil...

Faceted blue agate with turquoise, subtle howlite and possibly some clear Swarovski bling, topped with 24K vermeil...

Rutilated quartz anyone? I have a bunch of really lovely faceted rutilated quartz that I have exciting plans for... with some turquoise, subtle garnets and maybe some carnelian, and 24k vermeil...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monthly Giveaway

This month's giveaway is from my venturing into making smaller teardrop hoops. They're turning out to be really fun, 'coz they're so versatile to work work with - as dainty little somethings on their own, or pretty endings to dramatic long numbers.

Crafted from non-tarnish brass wire, Swarovski pearls and 14k gold filled ear wires, this pair measures 5.5 cm from the bottom of the ear wire to the bottom of the pearl. Another version with pink pearls and wire-wrapping, is listed in my Etsy shop. Click here to see it. :)

Just leave a comment at this post if you are interested in receiving these for free! The winner will be announced on February 7th's post, so you have until then to leave your comment... Good luck!