Labrys Amulet

August 31, 2008

LABRYS AMULET:  Blade is 2 1/4″ wide, total length of pendant is 3 3/4″.  High-carbon steel blade, forged, ground, drilled, polished, and decorated.  Black steel wire handle and wrap.  Antique African iron bead.

Odd to think that I’ve been blacksmithing for 14 years, off and on, and never made one of these, despite featuring them on two cards of the Ironwing Tarot (Ten of Blades and Trump VI – CONNECTION).  But my first forged iron pieces were wands, necklaces, bells, and other ornamental things.  It was only a few years ago that I began to feel comfortable designing and forging primitive ritual knives.  I’ve met several “master bladesmiths” and although their work is interesting and impressive, I have no desire to enter that world, which has its own rules and is even more male-dominated than ordinary blacksmithing.  Women bladesmiths are extremely rare, and I am still exploring what it means to be one.  I don’t make many knives but the work – and the result – is always intense.

The double curved blade is one of those simple universal symbols that appeals to everyone, regardless of time or culture.  It stirs the imagination, recalling the crescent moon, a flying bird, a moth, a bone, or a human figure standing with outstretched arms.  As the traditional weapon of Shango, it is a symbol of masculine energy.  As the labrys, it is a symbol of feminine power.

This one is the real thing, a substantial tool with sharp cutting edges.  The problem with any double-bitted ax is that it’s hard to attack something without cutting yourself at the same time…perhaps that is another of the symbol’s messages.

Awhile ago I bought fabric to make a banner for my blacksmith shop.  The shop isn’t open to the public and I don’t do fairs or demonstrate anymore, but I thought it would be fun just to brighten up the place.  The fabric is a one-yard cotton ombre print.  The anvil is black cotton stitched on by machine, with the edges hand-embroidered in herringbone stitch with dark green thread, and the anvil contours done in gray split stitch.  The veve for Ogun Ferraille, the blacksmith’s loa, is embroidered in white pearl cotton.  Aluminum mirrors are embroidered on in three shades of purple.

I found a brand new melon-colored blouse at a local thrift shop, a lovely nearly-iridescent “shot” cotton that demanded some ribbons and embroidered decoration.  Here’s the result:

Lepidolite Shisha Mirror

August 18, 2008

Here’s an experiment with shisha mirror embroidery, since I want to use it in several projects.  Instead of the usual glass mirrors, I tried a thinner version cut from a sheet of polished aluminum that was left over from one of our tubular skylight installations.  It’s easier to work with than glass, and I can cut it to any size or shape.  In the photo, the left mirror is aluminum.  The one on the right is translucent lepidolite mica, backed with aluminum to make it more reflective and bring out the beautiful pearly lavender color.

If I’m in the mood for it, embroidery work can be peaceful and satisfying, which is why I spent the Full Moon doing that instead of something more exciting.  Beluga kitty had a couple of seizures (they tend to occur more often at the New and Full Moons) and I wanted to calm my own energy and that of the house, since he is very sensitive to these things – he spends much of his time in the doorway to my studio or the hallway just outside, which is essentially the “crossroads” of the house.