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Five weeks in Nepal

Posted on November 11, 2015 by Anastasia Valentine | 0 Comments


As you may know, earlier this year I received a call to reconnect with a country that I consider my second home, after the earthquake in April in Nepal. From the initial $300 sent for relief supplies, my involvement in post-earthquake Nepal expanded very quickly, and I now find myself responsible for the significant project of rebuilding the village of Rainaskot in Lamjung.

It has been an incredible few months of working harder than I ever have in my life, Making jewelry during the day and fundraising at night. Due to the tremendous support of the donors and my clients, I was able to fund the first five houses, and also take five full weeks off from my jewelry business to go see the progress on the ground. Between witnessing what my fundraising has accomplished and seeing beloved people and places for the first time in 16 years, this month was a big, big deal.

One of the places I visited, though for a very short time, was the town of Patan, where I spent two years learning sculpture in the 90's. That experience shaped my artistic voice in so many ways that are still with me today. I find myself full of inspiration after my reconnection to this special place. Here are some pictures from Patan and pieces of beautiful jewelry that I saw during my travels:


 
Most of my time was spent in the village of Rainaskot, where the rebuilding project is taking place. It is a beautiful village perched on a ridge overlooking the Himalayas. The most astounding thing that I learned was that this village may have ceased to exist if not for the rebuilding plan. 

The villagers welcomed me and my Nepali partner, Bibek, with flower garlands and we were invited several times to each house for food. While I was there, the foundations of the first five houses were completed, and the rest of the construction will resume after the holiday season ends this weekend.

Here are some highlights from the 20 days I spend in Rainaskot, Lamjung, and a link to donate to the project: http://fundforlamjung.org/donate
What does this mean for the rest of my life, my work in the studio? Honestly, there are a lot of questions to answer in the coming months. It seems likely that the work in Nepal will become a long-term calling and balancing the two will take some consideration. For the time being, I am eager and ready to get started on new projects, especially with the renewed inspiration of my time in Nepal.



It hardly seems like Christmas can be coming up so soon. I am going to be making some gift-ready items in the coming weeks. This is in addition to the Valkyrie Wing Ring and the Ganesha Pendant, both of which have been runaway hits this year, and the Vegeveiser pendant, which launched just before my trip.

I am also taking some custom orders for delivery by Christmas. Send me an email atnatasha@natashajewelry.com or fill out this form to get a spot in my schedule.

I look forward to making you something special, for yourself or for your loved ones. As always, thank you for allowing me to share my work and my thoughts with you

Nepal Relief Jewelry

Posted on June 14, 2015 by Natasha Wozniak | 0 Comments

In my last message, I introduced my latest project, rebuilding a village in Nepal.

The great enthusiasm with which I committed to my part of this project (fundforlamjung.org) took even me by surprise. 

However, looking back on the influnece that Nepal had on my work, the depth is undeniable. I lived there at an age when I was just developing my voice as an artist, and a little bit of Nepal is infused into everything that I do, even if it isn't immediately obvious.

Even though it hasn't been very long since the earthquake, since I began fundraising, since I decided to be part of the rebuilding team, I have already had many requests to combine my jewelry with the fundraising efforts.

So, I present to you, three pieces, with a portion of the price going to Nepal. One is a completely new piece, the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles. I declare him the icon of this project as we hope to proceed with very few obstacles!

You can see the three pieces below, with all the details of the Nepal inspirations and the donations connected to each piece.

Ganesha Pendant

Here is the magnificent Ganesha. For anyone starting a new path in life or a new project, he is the first to give offerings to. 

The piece was hand carved by me in my Brooklyn studio, but my skills were learned as a Fulbright scholar in Nepal, learning under the world-renowned statue makers of Patan.

$65 of the $365 purchase price will go directly to house construction, through my own projectFundforLamjung.org 

C
lick here to purchase

I call this pendant the Bahini Pendant, because Bahini is the Nepali word for little sister. 

It was originally designed for the organization 50 Cents. Period, run by my friend Lorrie. They normally work with women and reproductive health.

The pendant design is inspired by decorative designs on fabric and in jewelry in Nepal.

Now, 50 Cents. Period is the fiscal sponsor of Fund for Lamjung (meaning they take care of accounting and filing non-profit tax forms for us), and they are also doing relief work in the hard-hit Sidhupalchowk district.

For each Bahini pendant sold, I donate $50 to 50 Cents. Period for their Nepal relief efforts.

Click here to purchase.

Bodhi Leaf Pendant
This leaf is from the Bodhi tree, is a symbol of Buddhism. The Buddha, who was born in Nepal, was meditating under this tree when he achieved enlightenment.

This piece has personal significance too, as it is the first piece I created in my jewelry collection, in the 2001, in the wake of 9-11, as I prayed for peace in enlightenment in this world.

I decided that this moment was the time to bring it back, in the wake of another disaster that feels personal to me.

$50 from each pendant will go to my rebuilding project, Fund for Lamjung.

Click here to purchase.

About Nepal and some custom jewelry

Posted on May 26, 2015 by Anastasia Valentine | 0 Comments

I have had a variety of custom pieces lately, that I have put my heart and soul into. Pieces that give me such a strong connection to the owners of the pieces, as I worked intensely on them to make sure every detail fit them perfectly. In an inner and outer kind of way. 

One of the designs, I actually suggested to the client. He is a big fan of Ganesh and I just knew he needed a gold and ruby Ganesh. He enthusiastically agreed and there may have been some yelling for joy when the package arrived. 



Another client had been given a tennis bracelet with aquamarines, which was totally unremarkable. The stones became totally transformed in this cuff that features a box clasp. She had the old bracelet in a safety deposit box. Now she can wear it to conquer the world, and paired with the Valkyrie Wing Ring, it becomes even more powerful.



My spot on my site to request your own custom piece is here.

There is more though. and this isn't about jewelry.....

In case you haven't seen what I have been up to via social media, the last few weeks have been a bit of a strange adventure. Starting with $300, Western Union and some supplies on a train in India.

Let me back up a bit. It was 20 years ago that I went to Nepal as a 19 year old student. My first time out of the country. In the early part of the year, I went to a village in Lamjung for the fall festival. I fell head over heels in love with Nepal, this village, and this family that hosted me. Here is a picture of us together at that time.

 

I always dreaded the day that I might hear that an earthquake had hit Nepal. What would I do, how would I help, would I be able to step up as a true friend to Nepal? 

This is the country where I learned so much about how to love your fellow humans. As this family and many others had loved me, a stranger, without reservation.

I have my answer now. I have committed to help an entire village get rebuilt. 

In the days after the earthquake, before this was clear, I talked to a younger member of this family from the village, Bibek. He was on his way from India, back home to Lamjung to volunteer with some people he had worked with before, so I decided to send $300 so he could buy supplies.

It turned out that my friends also wanted to send some donations in this manner. He now has bought and distributed hundreds of tents and tarps, medicine, food, and even some tin roofs to villages that have not received any supplies yet. 

Even as he was doing that, he was asked by the district coordinator to start a plan to rebuild an entire village.
 
We have been scrambling to get proposals together, contact engineers, finalize the design and cost of each house, overcoming the hurdles of sporadic wifi and limited means of communication.


Even when Bibek's own house fell down in the very large aftershock this week, he carried on. (pictured below)
​Bibek's house


He has assembled a team on the ground in Nepal while I have secured a non-profit sponsor here in the US,and moved from the temporary fundraising page to a new website, a home big enough to house our much bigger project.

fundforlamjung.org

We have $2000 ready from the total of $4000 in donations we have received so far, and we will be able to build our first new house with that fund. A great start! 

I
 have a jewelry business, I am building a village in Nepal. I don't really know how these two things are going to fit together, but I felt strongly that I should share>

My heart is full with all of these things. The art and the mission. I hope your heart is full too

Jewelry Through Human History

Posted on April 09, 2015 by Natasha Wozniak | 0 Comments

180,000 years ago.....

In the age of Neanderthals, jewelry was already being made and worn.

I used to say that jewelry was invented at the same time that we were learning how to master the use of fire, but with this recent discovery of eagle talons that had been clearly manipulated in order to be worn as jewelry, the time frame for this particular invention got pushed back 100,000 years to 180,000. You can go read more about this discovery in Smithsonian Magazine.

What does that say about our current culture of trendy pieces and DeBeers pushing diamond jewelry as a prize for the obedient wife? To me, it strips this primal human urge and we completely miss that potent charge. The guys, for the most part, get left out of the fun of adornment.

The more I think about this history and purpose of jewelry, the more I am asked to make pieces that connect with our past, whether through bear teeth or gold. Pieces intended to beautify, yes, but also true talismans. Giving energy to the wearer, reflecting their life, their potential. 

I wanted to share a few of these with you, and as always, if you would like to get on the calendar for your own piece of custom expression, you can head over here to learn more and fill out my form.


Flowers dotting filigree

When the client first emailed me, she sent along the most stunning photo of Greek filigree gold earrings. Just spectacular examples of early goldsmithing, when the tools were hard to come by and soldering was done on a charcoal fire.

I felt quite a responsibility to uphold the lineage of craftsmanship and beauty that is part of my craft. Even with the contemporary updates of black and gold and asymmetry, the earrings have the classical shape that made the originals so stunning. A special touch was to put flowers on both sides, because hoop earrings show both sides. Details are important.

Bear teeth and diamonds

The most primal jewelry is made from bones and claws. One of the most unusual materials to cross my jewelry bench, these bear teeth were originally strung on some simple wires. With the intertwined branches and the diamonds, they became glamorous, yet totemic earrings.

While the original teeth were barely noticed, the new version is attracting quite the attention, from what I hear. I hope people ask the back story, because she has some tales to tell.

A queenly collar
The large collar in jewelry often represents the times when a ceremony is performed or a dance unites the wearer with the divine. Or it can be protection in battle, giving both practical protection as well as a powerful appearance. 

This collar was made for a woman that is both queenly in appearance as well as accomplishment. She is directing films and plays, which is not unlike a battle on certain days. Of course, she also wears it to the victory party, also know as Opening Night.

Warrior of Beauty RIng

Posted on November 16, 2014 by Natasha Wozniak | 0 Comments

At the beginning of the year, I chose for myself the word "daring". As a maker of talismans, I felt that I was perhaps lacking in this area, I needed my own talisman for daring. I intended it to be my Warrior of Beauty ring.

What does being a warrior mean to me? Well, nothing to do with fighting, but everything to do with being completely committed and not willing to give up on something that is held dear. It also requires the willingness to step out in front. Not an easy task at all. Sometimes raising the white flag of surrender seems like the comfortable path.


Mughal Archer Ring 

My fascination with archer rings from Mughal India goes back at least a decade, since I first came across them in books of Indian Jewelry. Here was a ring that had a practical purpose. Yet, in the 17th century, they were also made with very little practical purpose, as they were encrusted with rubies and emeralds, unlikely to stand up to any serious archery.

This combination of the warrior lineage of the ring style and the exquisite adornment, well, it was the perfect match for a Warrior of Beauty. I began this ring back in January when I picked my word, but I went through a few different iterations before being satisfied. Here is the side by side view of the wax carving with the finished ring.



Mine has rubies too!

Whether you are a Warrior of Beauty too, or you need another talisman for your purpose in life, I am here for you:
http://www.natashajewelry.com/pages/custom-design

 

Creating Beauty...both on and off the workbench.

Posted on September 02, 2014 by Natasha Wozniak | 0 Comments


This summer, I have been going deeper into my mission as a Warrior of Beauty. A large number of very special custom pieces have graced my bench, and my heart and soul have been poured into making each of these pieces into treasures that the reflect the wearer.

Going into the fall, I will be making some pieces to add to my collections, but my custom design clients are keeping me quite occupied. If you want to get a spot on the schedule, make sure to reach out.

I have a shared a couple of recent designs at the bottom of the email, but I also wanted to share the link for my Instagram account. If you follow me there, I share a sneak peek into the daily happenings in the studio.

For example, a collage of images the I have shared over the last few months:

My Appearance on HGTV

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Natasha Wozniak | 0 Comments

I was going through some boxes...

and I finally found the DVD of my appearance, about 10 years ago, on HGTV. Luckily, there was an easy way to convert the format. and I uploaded it to YouTube. The video gives a great overview of my process. It was a pretty major undertaking, with many hours or prep. I had to many versions of the locket in various stages of completion (they didn't have time to have me actually make the entire locket that day), and yet, it took about 8 hours of staging and filming to create the segment that is shown. No, I didn't know they were filming me eating the bagel.



Enjoy!

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