Thursday, March 12, 2015

“An’ if you stay right there, I’m sure you’ll see the Zulu Queen …”

(Lyrics from the Mardi Gras’ classic, "Go to the Mardi Gras," by Professor Longhair)

Well, I've made it to Day 3 of the jewelry challenge issued by my friend and fellow jewelry designer, Heidi Post of  Ex Post Facto Jewelry. [Of course, I do realize it's taken me numerous weeks just to get three entries completed and Mardi Gras is over. Oh, well...for those who know me, it's Classic Char, right?]

I am dedicating this day to my friend Angelique Theriot, who is a native of NOLA, an architectural historian, and at this minute, is driving across the Mohave Desert on a cross-country trek to her soon-to-be new home in San Francisco, CA. We miss her already!!!

Like many of us in the Crescent City, Angelique is a lover of all things Mardi Gras and an avid attendee at parades; however, she really goes that extra mile at Mardi Gras in terms of attire. 
Angelique wearing a Queen of Wands tarot card inspired costume.

Angelique makes the most spectacular ensembles, sometimes planning months in advance and researching historic costume design. For instance, one year she created a Death's Head Moth getup based on vintage ink and watercolor drawings; in this case, an illustration of a Mistick Krewe of Comus death's head moth costume from the 1873's Mardi Gras parade inspired her own garb.
from Tulane University's 
Louisiana Research Collection

Angelique (on left) as a Death's Head Moth
 (with her friend Ginger on the right). 
Queen of Wands and her beau, Chef Brent Trachina
The Queen of Wands with Isis (aka. Katie Gelfand)
Angelique aboard the U.S.S. Drag Queen Mary (this is my favorite)
Her ensemble for Mardi Gras 2015 was inspired by the lavish costumes used in Ziegfeld Follies, ca. 1907 to 1936.
Zeigfeld Girl 
Angelique's 2015 Mardi Gras Zeigfeld costume
Angelique's 2015 Zeigfeld costume
In the Quarter on Fat Tuesday
Not limited to Mardi Gras in her creativeness, Angelique designs fabulous costumes for other days that are celebrated in New Orleans like Mid Summer Mardi Gras and Krewe de Boo.
Mid-summer Mermaid
Perhaps one of the worst female serial killers of all time, the infamously vile Countess Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed inspired Angelique's Halloween costume last year.
The Countess Bathory and Mowgli (aka. Brent)

As a farewell present, I designed a necklace for Angelique. To go with her vintage looks, the 1920's style pendant is suspended from a long chain with agate and turquoise beads and a tassel at the bottom.

Copper metal clay pendant with hand-faceted turquoise beads.
The photographs below of Angelique and Brent were taken recently by Aubrey Edwards, who uses often overlooked scenery to highlight her disparate subjects, which include musicians, performance artists, community activists, and even southern firework salesmen. (Angelique is wearing the necklace I made for her.)
Angelique and Brent as captured by Aubrey Edwards
We are going to miss you, boo (but I'll see you in April!).
Regardless of what she's wearing, Angelique always looks awesome! 
“And the third day seemed like a week again…” –Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin in 1979’s The Jerk)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"You will see the Zulu King down on St. Claude and Dumaire…"

(Lyrics from the Mardi Gras’ classic, "Go to the Mardi Gras," by Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd, aka. Professor Longhair…)

Finished bronze crowns
This is my entry for Day 2 of Heidi Post's jewelry challenge. Adhering to my Mardi Gras theme I present bronze and white copper crowns for the season. 

However, I must briefly address two questions that have cropped up in the last few days. First, folks want to know why I haven't posted on my blog since 2011. That one is easy: I was too busy making jewelry and doing archaeology! Sheryl Howard at Merkay Fine Jewelry in Jennings, LA is the exclusive carrier of my work. She is amazing and very supportive, even though it takes me forever to do anything! [I like to think of my jewelry as "small batch," kind of like whiskey.] I own but I haven't had time to set up a web site (of course).

In relation to archaeology, I co-authored a book, wrote a book chapter, published several articles, and have presented a number of papers on some really neat archaeological sites in the Southeast. So, I haven't been idle; I just haven't had time to blog.

Second question: How or why did you start making jewelry? I started making jewelry for one simple reason: my Yums, aka. my mom, Penny Donald (we call her Yums cause that's what the grandkids call her). Anyway, she was wearing these fabulous creations by a woman from my hometown, Kathie Krielow, and she just raved about them (along with everyone else in my hometown and rightly so!). And she purchased Kathie's pieces for us as well (me, my sisters, my sister-in-law). 

Well, I was so inspired by Kathie---and I still am, she's amazing---that I started making jewelry too. Mostly tying/stringing pearls. I'm good at knots; who knew? 

Bronze metal clay
in the leather hard
stage before firing
When I started working with metal clay, Yums kept saying, "Char, I want you to make me something...a big hunk of metal that looks like it came right out of the ground." Being an archaeologist, I have first hand experience with what time, dirt and moisture can do to metal. 

White copper metal
clay before firing 
But it dawned on me that what my Yums wanted me to do went against everything I learned at Texas A&M about the proper conservation of artifacts from folks like Donny Hamilton, Wayne Smith, and Helen Dewolf. Everything I know about chemicals I owe to Donny and Wayne (that sounds bad, but chemicals are necessary to patinate metal, i.e., give it an aged finish). And when I'm making jewelry I try to channel Helen; she's both an artist and a conservator, the best possible combination.

So, my point is this: I'm continually striving to make my mom the perfect "hunk of metal, all beat up," as she phrases it. Oh, if only I could master soldering. It's holding me back in a big way (right, y'all???). 

White copper metal clay
crowns before firing

One final word: most of my work has a medieval flare to it. It's not my fault and it's not just my archaeological training. Most of my life I've had relatives travel far and wide, bringing back what to me where always exotic treasures like spears, grave rubbings, coins, etc. My Uncles Mac and David and my Aunts Brenda and Charlotte were especially proficient at this, lol. Thank heavens!

  “…the second day seemed like five days.” –Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin in 1979’s The Jerk)

Monday, January 19, 2015

“Oh Because It’s Carnival Time…!”

(Lyrics from the Mardi Gras classic, "Carnival Time," recorded by Al Johnson in 1960.)

Well, it’s official—the Twelfth Night festival, aka. the Feast of the Epiphany, ushered in the 2015 Mardi Gras season on Tuesday, January 6th.
Float from Krewe of Bacchus 2013
Photo by CD Pevny
Actually, Twelfth Night can fall on January 5th or 6th, depending on whether you use Christmas Day--the 25th of December--as the First Day of Christmas (as in, My True Love Gave to Me…) or the day after (the 26th of December).
Photo by CD Pevny
In a nutshell, Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox. Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter. And, of course, Mardi Gras is always on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. (

Member of the El Lucha Krewe 2013
Photo by CD Pevny
The first krewe to parade this season was Jeanne d’Arc, which rolled on Twelfth Night, January 6th. Not coincidentally, this is same day that Joan of Arc’s birthday is celebrated. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) is known as the Maid of OrlĂ©ans. Her life was short—she was burned at the stake when she was 19 years old—but productive and inspiring. Saint Joan was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1920.

Joan of Arc Statue in NOLA
Jeanne d'Arc Coat of Arms
Joan of Arc, c. 1485

So when Heidi Post of Ex Post Facto Jewelry issued a jewelry design challenge last week—i.e., every day for 5 days I have to post a photo of something I’ve designed on Facebook and then tag someone else to take up the challenge—I decided that my creations would focus on Mardi Gras (my favorite holiday). [And I'm only 9 days late with my first post; that's not so bad for me.]

Clovis oyster designed
by yours truly.
(Still needs glitter)
Mustaches made by the Bearded Oysters
for this year's 610 Stompers Ball
2014 Bearded Oyster

On the First Day…

The Joan of Arc – Twelfth Night – French Louisiana connection was too much to resist: Jeanne d’Arc, Fleur de Lis and other medieval-style medallions handmade by me from bronze metal clay. They still need bails, of course. These photos are posted on my Mojeau Jewelry page on Facebook.
Jeanne d'Arc medallion

Jeanne d'Arc and Fleur de Lis medallions

Fleur de Lis Coat of Arms
Heidi sent me this challenge knowing that I don’t know anyone else that makes jewelry except for her, so who am I going to pass the challenge to, lol? Not to mention, this is my first blog post in four years!!! It's not called the Infrequent Beader for nothing, right?

Someone help a girl out? Please volunteer to be “it.” And make sure you visit Heidi’s Facebook page for Ex Post Facto and like it. 

"The first day felt like a week.” –Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin in 1979’s The Jerk)