Sunday, November 29, 2015

Chirldhood memories


Too often I see people going crazy with decorating over the holidays...
I have one simple rule and that is the "less is more" notion. This is not to say I am a minimalist, because I am not even close to being one. It's just that I believe simplicity is key in pretty much everything. I grew up, being told that when Christmas comes, everything goes. The more colors and shapes the better... Like certain women, when they are pregnant, they binge eat just because they have the impression that the baby bump serves as a great excuse and disguise for belly fat. But everyone can tell the difference between love handles and babies, just like almost everyone can tell the difference between simplicity and kitschy clutter.

I created the "Childhood Memory" heirloom set inspired by the simplicity of holiday ornaments, that used to decorate my grandmother's Christmas tree. As much as I love her regardless, I believe it is safe to objectively state that her behavior and lifestyle have not served as much inspiration in general, but her taste in Christmas decor was filled with dignity. Tiny apples, pine cones, acorns, paper-cut snowflakes and walnuts have humbly served as baubles and she had cut a baby's face out of an old magazine, dressed her with fabric and made wings from different type of paper, and DIY'd her into a tree topper angel. Splendidly organic. Humble. And peaceful. Not casting a shadow over what is truly important with all the glamour and glitter. I was aiming to recreate all that with a Jasmin Blanc twist, in feminine, delicate and subtle ceramic heirloom ornaments.



Saturday, November 28, 2015

Henna hair dye

I have been meaning to write this post for a while now.

My hair has always been a delicate subject to me. I have never dyed my hair and never have I intended to dye it. For some reason I was assuming that I would inherit dark-hair-at-the-age-of-70 from the side of the family that I seem to have inherited all my physical traits, and never have I expected to see gray hair to appear in my twenties, ever. Yet it appeared and as much as aging in general is not a subject that bothers me, that of aging hair had thrown me off balance and really made me contemplate my options.

I am trying to eliminate artificial products from my life as best as I can, so the thought of covering my head with para-phenylenediamine (used in most conventional hair dyes, but also in chemical photographic developing and as a vulcanization compound, scary, right?) was out of the question.

My natural hair color is a deep dark brown, so in the very beginning I was advised to try to color the couple of gray hair that grew out with a green walnut infusion, which made my hair shine, but it did not darken it. Perhaps, had my hair color been lighter, it would have helped, but it left me looking for other options.

Indian women, and their beautiful hair...So inspiring...
I discovered henna, and dozens of articles, tutorials and testimonials later I found Beachcombers on Etsy, a shop owned by a husband and wife, in love with the wonderful ancient art, selling body art quality organic henna powder. And though I was scared to death the very first time I did it (every time I look at this photo it makes me laugh out loud) I grew to love the result and the fact that it lacks chemical components.


I decided to write down my experience, to help those who also debate whether to try it or not. Instead of eating an entire bar of chocolate to calm yourself (like some of us), just read this guide to know what you can expect. There are a couple of important aspects that are good to keep in mind.

1. Quality

Henna is RED. Remember that when you see Henna Hair Dye listed in different colors or hues, and labeled as natural product. These companies are either lying or they are entirely ignorant. The henna leaf  releases a red dye, and blond/black henna dyes are botanically impossible.
When choosing henna it is incredibly important to make sure it is certified organic, and body art quality. This means that it is free of metallic salts and other compounds and so you'll make sure there will not be any cross reactions when applying store bought hair dyes (like you'll end up having smoke come from your hair) or allergic reactions. Organic henna is by no means an allergen.

2. Protect your skin and surroundings

Henna stains everything. Literally everything it touches. So make sure you cover your forehead, ears and neck with a bit of olive/coconut oil and wear clothes that you won't mind ruining accidentally. And use gloves when applying the paste on to your hair.

3. Time

You will want to free up quite a few hours for this purpose. Henna dye takes quite a few hours to set, so depending on the color-intensity you want to achieve, you would have to leave it on your hair anywhere from 2- 7 hours. I usually leave it up for 4 hours. Also, keep your head warm, as the color will set more effectively. I usually wrap my hair in clear plastic wrap and then in to a dark colored towel.

4. Henna will not coat your hair

It is good to know, in advance, that henna will not coat your hair. Instead it builds on your own color. So if you have roots, highlights or just some gray hair, the dye will have an entirely different intensity throughout your hair. And depending on your original hair color it will result in a different kind of red. Basically the lighter your hair is, the more your head will be carrot colored (good to know, blondies!).

5. Orange hair 

If you've washed the mixture out of your hair, dried it, and your hair is orange, don't freak out. It will darken over the next three days. In the beginning it is very bright and intense, but the color deepens as time passes. And what is great about it is, that it does not fade out entirely, so often you'll find it is enough to touch up the roots.



Mixing henna

- organic henna powder
- lemon juice
- essential oil (optional)

For those with a more sensitive skin, you can divide the juice quantity into 50% lemon and 50% orange. The orange juice is less likely to irritate your scalp. Regarding adding essential oils to the henna mixture, this is totally up you. Henna has sort of an algae smell, it is rather powerful, and many find it too much. Personally I have no problem with that, it does not bother me. Yet lately I have been adding a few drops of pure lavender essential oil, and I love the result.

I never follow any particular measurement. I just add citrus juice gradually and stirr well until the mixture becomes the thickness of  mashed potatoes, then I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it for 16-20 hours. Right before applying I add a bit more juice to achieve sort of a thick pancake batter consistency and I add the essential oil.

Another tip that I personally find important is that henna works best on clean hair, so I always wash my hair the day I intend to dye it.


Dying hair with henna is a wonderful alternative to conventional hair dyes. You don't have much color option, but I find it a good compromise, if the dye I choose to use helps and nourishes my hair and gives it such an amazing shine. If someone had told me even just a year ago that I would end up being a red head, I would have laughed at the foolishness of me being anything other than natural walnut brown. But now that I became red(ish), I have to admit, I like it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Do you see what I see?


Even though I had merely a couple hours rest, I woke with an immeasurable joy in my heart, the unconditional type, that carries you through the entire day regardless of how it turns out to be. I have been humming this melody ever since I opened the blinds to discover that today is our first official snow day. There is something so breathtakingly beautiful in the beginning of each season, the anticipation and the welcoming of something new is so thrilling to my restless soul...


And as a delightful way to celebrate these glorious snow-days, I'd like to invite you to head down to the main hall of Iulius Mall, Cluj Napoca, and do some early holiday shopping at the Jasmin Blanc booth. You can find my work there (close to Sephora) from 26-28 November from 10 am to 10 pm. Look for lustrous ceramics, I promise to shine! If you are out of town this weekend, don't worry, as you will have another occasion right before Christmas to dive into Jasmin Blanc dishes and jewelry 18-24 December.

I don't do many craft fairs, so these rare occasions are an awesome opportunity for those who prefer retail shopping instead of the online, touching and seeing ceramics in person is an amazing experience from what I understand from my customers. They say that as great as my photos are, nothing compares to actual interaction! So come, see for yourself. I'd love to meet you there!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

magic




We have had the most breathtaking sunsets these past weeks... I cannot remember the last time November was so colorful. But this one managed to endlessly bewitch me. I looked up from my workbench to be dazzled by the fierceness of  the passing sun...

Cinnamon scented thoughts



It starts to be that time of year, when my hands smell like oranges, my oven keeps debating whether to bake the honeyed slices of pumpkin or the cardamom cookies first, the whole kitchen looks like a sweet mess with traces of flour, cinnamon and bits of dried fruit... Despite the extra long working hours, I must confess, I absolutely love this time of year. Almost no sleep is yet again, my best friend, but opening up the kiln to a gloriously lustrous ornament bunch is so much more gratifying than sleeping. I loved Courtney's definition of her pre-holiday weeks. So true... But as the fire joyfully sings in the fireplace, my sweet fury crew is happily sleeping on pillows scattered everywhere, I hastily paint away on cat portrait orders with a calm heart and a joyful soul right into the night. There's no load of work, lack of sleep and tiredness that could make it all feel bitter...

I am continuously overwhelmed by your love and appreciation, my dear customers. Allowing me to be even just a tiny part of your holiday through the Jasmin Blanc ornaments and gifts is pure magic to my heart. I am ever so grateful for your support...



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Family



Change is a funny thing...
Especially the one we feel is taking negative directions.
I think most of us, at some point in our life we've found ourselves in the situation when we seem not to recognize someone around us. We might have thought we knew that person. And perhaps we really did at one moment in time. Or perhaps they never fully revealed their true self to us. And then we feel disappointment and bitterness, because we feel we've been deceived.

This is especially sour in very long friendships or inter-familial relationships. Over long decades you interact with a person on a daily basis. And then you wake up one fine morning, and it turns out not to be such a fine day after all. In fact every day turns out to be so from that moment on.
In the beginning there's struggle. Difficulty to understand the reason behind this change. Then there's pain. A powerful new wound, cut deeper by each new nonsense that we fail to get. Then there is disappointment. When seeing the decay in a person's character, they loose so much dignity that it merely leaves you feeling sick to your stomach....and when you get through this roller coaster of feelings and everything in between, after your rage and confusion have subsided, and after your emptiness slowly regains its mass, you sit and wonder if there is anything you can do. Slowly you will realize that the best action is to distance your expectations of what that person used to be and accept the road their character went down on. Be merry and grateful that you've had the privilege to know the person you once looked up to, and stop expecting them to be as inspiring and have the same integrity they used to have. Our anger often puts a barrier to adopt such an attitude, but it is a process... and processes only require progress, they, by no means, require immediate success.

And above all, what we absolutely need to do is forgive. Forgive them for taking crooked decisions, forgive them for being unrecognizable, forgive them for not being able to cope with the anger that had somehow built up in them over the years, forgive them for not being able to control it and so forgive them for being weak.

Eventually forgive yourself for all the times you were unable to handle it gracefully and forgive yourself for some of the times you were unable to forgive.

Sunday


the problem is we think too much, and we feel too little...

Friday, November 20, 2015

a winter gift guide


Of all clay bodies I prefer porcelain the most for the purpose of jewelry making. It speaks strength and elegance to me like no other... If it had a gender, it would most likely be feminine. Just like stoneware would surely have to be masculine. 

[mermaid] earrings// [gold bay] studs// [knot] studs// [cobalt waves] ring// [golden geometry] espresso cups// [divine] necklace

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Studio days


Rings, rings and more rings...They are probably my favorite piece of jewelry along with earrings. I made quite a few these past weeks and have not had a single cut or bruise on my hands. I was even surprised about that. Then I was putting a quick salad together for lunch the other day, and for the sake of wounds I ended up cutting my finger along with the tomatoes. Apparently someone had sharpened the knife that used to cut like a stick...

But anyway, I will soon add different color choices for the [STONE] ring to the shop. For now I am heading on to painting some of your custom cat pendants, to ship them as soon as I possibly can to insure arrival by Christmas. I will keep you updated.



In the meantime, over in dreamland...


Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunset


Oh world, why don't you see that God has nothing to do with all the dark deeds that have happened lately all around the globe...? Why can't you see that your hateful messages and opinions regarding prayer take root in the same point that generated those actions? Why can you not distinguish between fundamental and dogmatic religions and faith, pure as it should be? Why can you not see that active prayer and love is all we truly have and need... to once again act as human beings... together. As one.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

if I had a child, I would...


...teach him that there are negative and positive actions. And each has its consequence.
...show him to love all and frown not on the person but on their behavior.
...teach him not to condemn a whole nation or race based on the actions of a small group.
...read the bible with him and let him contemplate the Scripture. Who am I to proclaim to know what was meant to be written and understood by it?
...teach him the difference between religion and faith.
...teach him not to mistaken prayer with wishful thinking.
...teach him, that a life is a life and none is more prestigious than the other, regardless of whom it belongs.
...show him what love is.
...forbid him to grab a weapon in the name of (someone's)good to fight the wars of the selfish.
...encourage him to seek justice not with his fists, but with his heart.
...work hard each and every minute of my life at showing him that answering hatred with love is the only way to bring change about.

If I had a child, I would stand by as his heart got broken by all the cruelty that is going on in this world, but I would stay calm at the certainty that I taught him everything he needs to put the pieces back together and be able to trust and love again instead of contributing to creating even more hatred.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two for Thursday



I'd trade nice fingernails in for working with metal any day. So much for ladylike hands... but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

One meter


(foggy gray November morning)

Silence is beautiful to me, but I fear the times when I feel overwhelmed by it. When it sits heavily on my shoulders, pushing me down, instead of allowing me to float peacefully. I fear the times, when it will be all I have, surrounding me entirely, pressing against my chest.

Leaving work the other night, I found myself in such a thick, suffocating fog, I barely saw one meter ahead of me. Especially since the headlights lit up the dark opaque air, had I not been familiar with every turn and bump in the road, it would have been incredibly hard to drive. Is that not an enlightening metaphor for life? Rarely do we see further than a meter ahead, despite our constant ambitions to preview everything in our near and far future. And yet, that meter, always ONE meter, is enough to go down any road. And perhaps we can merely go slow as a turtle, but slow steady steps is all it takes to get to where we need to be going. Without having the ability to envision the rest of it, progress can still be made.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sneak peek: new jewelry collection


Oh my, I cannot wait to officially launch my new jewelry collection. A very, very special one at that, featuring porcelain and sterling silver, having been inspired by an abundance of wonder-like feelings and named through a beautiful friendship! I just had to share a little teaser, hoping to spark your interest and curiosity...

Love,
E.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday



If tomorrow we'd only be left with that which we gave grace for today, how would our lives be?

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Stockist announcement


Oh my, long work nights have been my friend these past few weeks, and it especially intensified over the last 10 meters before actually getting to send packages off. That said, I am thrilled to announce that two new shops will be carrying Jasmin Blanc pieces.

One is a wonderfully curated art shop, called Collector, from Berkley, CA. You will be able to hold some of my Christmas ornaments in your hands, if you're in the area, study them before you take them home with you. That is one of the most fascinating aspects of shopping in an actual shop, I think.



The other absolutely fabulous shop I am honored to have been contacted by is Curiosa & Co in Belgium. I have admired this shop for about a year now, and when Evelien wrote me an email, saying she's interested in carrying my work in her shop, we immediately got to it. You will be able to find a significant variety of my jewelry in Gent in about a week from now.

Reaching out and spreading my wings is such a gift to me. Thank you for allowing and helping me to grow; your support as customers, as fans and as friends is incredibly touching and I often have to take a moment to catch the breath that you've taken away... Gratitude makes me smile with every fiber of my being. Thank you a million times over!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Days like these...



Holiday preparations are in full swing in Jasmin Blanc studio. And the last 10 meters in fulfilling a couple of wholesale orders have really taken the best of me. Since the word rest, and everything it implies, has never really come naturally to me, I must remind myself (or if that fails, I have to be reminded by someone) that signs like migraine and nausea mean that I need to get some sleep, and they are not a hint to drink more coffee.

So after taking a healing walk with the dogs over the hill above my studio yesterday, I absolutely had to lay down. I cannot even remember the last time I took a nap. It was probably in high-school.
It is amazing what 30 minutes of napping can do. Seriously. Who knew? Well...my cats and dog. They know all about the wonderful healing power of napping. All. Day. Long.

But jokes aside, balance is a difficult thing, I find. Especially if one does, what one truly loves. And running a business alone can also be challenging. But I am always thankful for it all piling up, because otherwise I would forget to take a step back and contemplate the aspects I still need to aspire to, in order to work smarter and not necessarily more... My vision of growing is more of an internalized nature, it has never been a physical growth concerning the enlargement of my studio into a company with employees (although in recent years I gladly accept seasonal help) to meet the demand. Allowing my professional work to be shaped and changed through my personal development is the best solution for my business to keep growing, while maintaining the very personal and intrinsic nature that had shown through since the very beginning. It may not be a business model advertised in books out there. But it is my own method. And I leaned, that no one can truly personalize solutions for us from the outside, these sort of certainties have to stem from within.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November



Colors became a bit subtler. The fierceness and warmth of October has begun its shift into more muted nuances, and by the end of November all the reds, oranges and chocolate browns will have grayed and blackened out. November is so honest, I find.

I read myself to sleep last night.
But just before the calm, lavender scented night carried me away, I read a thought that completely dazzled my attention, and actualized thoughts I could not find the right wording for (so thank you Liz).

"And what are your plans now?" Alma said.
Mr. Pike raised his hands, as though in supplication before heaven.
"It has been so long since I made plans, you see."
"But what would you like to do?" Alma asked.
"Nobody has ever asked me that question before."
"Yet I ask you, Mr. Pike. And I wish for you to give me an honest answer."
He turned his light brown eyes upon her. He did look awfully weary. 
"Then I shall tell you, Miss Whittaker," he said. "I would like never to travel again. I would like to spend the rest of my days in a place so silent -and working at a pace so slow- that I would be able to hear myself living.
The signature of all things - Elizabeth Gilbert

November is a little like this, don't you think? I have such aims, too. Deep down I suppose we all do...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sunday

Weekend advice from the voice that makes me close my eyes and truly smile inside and out...