Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Kusunoki necklace...

Kusunoki is the Japanese name for "camphor tree". I made this necklace as a little tribute to the magnificent camphor tree in the anime "My Neighbour Totoro" (Tonari no Totoro), by Hayao Miyazaki. The camphor tree in the film was indeed one of the main characters, majestic, dark and fragrant. The soundtrack, beautifully composed by Joe Hisaishi, captured the night, the garden and the tree with its whistling leaves amazingly well. So well that, when listening to it, one cannot prevent oneself from smelling the pungent, refreshing scent of camphor at night.

The smell of camphor is a very dear smell to me. Since I was a little girl back in my old house, I learnt to love it. Not the camphor of moth balls (although I must say I don't dislike it!), but the pure smell of the camphor wood. We have two big old carved trunks from China, made of camphor wood. Very pretty they are, and my Mom used to keep the bedlinen inside it. When they were opened, the smell of the camphor wood - still very minty and fresh after who knows how many years - would waft through the house and, at night, permeate my dreams with its distant mystery. I loved it. I loved it so much that managed to procure myself some time ago a scent that, in many ways, duplicates that long lost sensation. The scent is called "Un Parfum de Charmes et Feuilles", by The Different Company.

In this necklace, I tried to depict many things: the colours of camphor trees at night and how do they look like in a Miyazaki film, dark night green with flecks of ancient gold. I tried at the same time, to give it a scent and a memory. A scent I love, and a memory of my early days that will no longer come back.

For Kuzunoki I have used:

- Four flat oval deep green dragon vein beads;
- Three large round gold-speckled malachite beads;
- Six medium round dark green dragon vein beads;
- Several Swarovski pearls in powder green and two different sizes;
- Several Swarovski bicones in Chrysolite Dorado, Crystal AB Satin and small Swarovski rondelle beads in Rosaline Gold;
- Two Czech Fire faceted beads in shades of antique gold and pink;
- Several green jasper small beads;
- Two tiny stardust spacers in ancient gold;
- One set of Tibetan hook clasps and links.

Some close-ups below...

A detail of the S-hook clasp in antique gold. I used a copper wire to string the necklace and it can be seen in the first picture, followed by a bronze crimp, a stardust spacer and the green jasper beads. The 2nd picture shows the Swarovski crystal pearls, some of the bicones and round dragon veins in more detail.

Details of the jasper beads, Swarovski pearls and bicones, round dragon veins and also the two faceted Czech Fire beads I used as an accent.

These two pictures show the malachite beads in some detail. The gold spots are real gold, ie, impurities accumulated in the mineral. They look quite nice, but are hardly discernible in the pictures. Tried my best though!

These shots show two of the dragon vein flat beads. I always use them (it is a type of agate) because their shine and texture are so unique. No bead is the same, there is always some little mark or vein to differentiate them. The colours are also magic. Dragon veins come in such a variety of shades that you really want to use them all. This one has black veins and the shade varies between dark green and teal. It's like a forest at night, thus my choice of stone for this piece.

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