Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Metta Magic.

Since my unexpected route from an Economics major to an aspiring fashion writer, I've been in pursuit of having my passion as my career. It's never easy. Some people lose their passion as work gets harder. Some gave up and landed up all miserable and stuck in their office cubicle.

New York based costume jewelry designer, Kathy Cherry of Metta Metalworks has perfected it. Meditation plays a crucial role in her life and she decided to translate the importance of its teachings into her jewelry designs.

"There were so many powerful images from the teachings that I wanted to remember and incorporate into my day to day - that I did what has always come naturally to me - I made something that I could keep with me as a reminder."

Trained as a metalsmith, Kathy has a remarkable portfolio. I love admiring designers' sketches so here are some of Kathy's skteches for Emporio Armani's Nugget Collection. 

"Logo driven product tends to be very successful for Emporio Armani. The challenge is always how to reinvent, how to strike the balance between enough logo and too much, and how to make it feminine."

In my (unprofessional) opinion, the rest of the design - colour, material, texture and cut - have to complement the logo. A balance has to be reached. You can view more of her sketches here. Besides that, Kathy has also designed for Club Monaco, Fossil and Guess. 
The thing about jewelry is that not only the design has to be appealing (of course), there should be a story behind the design as it adds a meaning to the wearer. I personally find things more valuable when I am attached to them more.
My two favourite designs by Kathy are the Stacking Bracelets and Snake Pendant Necklace. While layering wrist candies is one of the hottest trends, her mix of beads (from wooden ones to natural stones), colours and metal pendants with red ropes is so balanced that every single component complements one another perfectly.
Alright. I guess the bracelets didn't really have a meaning (to me yet!) and I will find it out from Kathy.

Update (straight from Kathy):

"The charm that has the B D S on it, for the three refuges - the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The red strings that you see on the charms is my Buddhist version of the Kahballa strings that people wear. Fashion people can look down on wearing ratty old strings on your arm so I wanted to find a way to keep the string from different dedications or ceremonies with me. On this piece it winds around a little central pin so you can keep it as a reminder.

Finally the little white nuggety looking charm is an amulet. If you look closely, you'll see it's a softened image of the Buddha sitting cross legged. Monks make amulets in many different shapes and sizes for celebrations and carry them themselves for any number of different reasons but the amulets usually commemorate some event. Some are said to be "magic" some have "healing powers". It all depends on which group of monks made the amulets.

Thanissaro Bhikku (Than Geoff for short), the amazing Buddhist monk that I follow gave me a lovely one from his collection that actually rattles - a "Kra Pow Amulet" made in the temple of Somdej Toh. He gave me another that is said to have been made in the early 1800's when the monks scraped the paint off the mural wall of a temple in order to paint a new mural.  Sometimes if my head is racing I'll place one over my heart with my hand on top and think of him; what he means, what he has taught me. It brings me back to earth."

The Snake Pendant Necklace has another amazing story.

"Than Geoff told me a story once about how he was meditating late one night in some tall grasses. Suddenly he heard the sound of a snake making his way through the grass near by. Evidently Than Geoff is terrified of snakes - and there were many poisonous ones in the area. He immediately started a Metta Practice (inspiration for her label's name) towards the snake - Metta is translated as Loving Kindness or Unconditional Friendliness. He wished the snake well - that it be happy, free of stress and suffering - that it live at ease... AND that it go away - which it did." 

Now, do you feel like that you want to own the necklace more? I do!

To me, Kathy is more than just a costume jewelry designer. She lives life to the fullest and is extremely down-to-earth. Even though we communicate through emails, I feel her spirit in every word she says:

"There is so much in life that can suck if you let it - can make you do things that are unkind, thoughtless or down right mean.  The snake reminds me that I can choose a different approach to those people, places and things that I find irritating. Wishing you self as well as others well is one of the foundations of Buddhist practice, because when people are happy and at ease they tend not to act like assholes."

Here are the five facts about Kathy, exclusively for VW.:

1. Although Kathy is about a foot and a half taller than her - she is frequently mistaken for Burn After Reading actress, Frances McDorman.

2. She is a long time Buddhist and runs Dharma Punx NYC, a meditation center down on the Bowery with a new off shoot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with her husband, Josh Korda.
3. She feels compelled to put the images on something she can wear - or tattoo (above) them directly on her body - because it's so easy to forget and to start taking stupid things seriously.
4. She has an absolute passion for almost anything old and metal (above) - bridges, manhole covers, gates. She scours estate sales and flea markets for obscure pieces, pattern inspiration, religious icons, scrimshaw, amulets, pretty much anything that touches off the creative lash point. 

5. When she was still single and lived up state full time, she actually took an Indian cooking class thinking that she might meet a nice man there (men were in short supply up there).  

6. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast (me too!) who has travelled on many occasions to scuba dive near the lustrous coral reefs of the atlantic gulf. She enjoys mountain biking and hiking in the catskills, where she has a summer cottage; has attended yoga retreats in the Yukutan Penninsula, where the asanas are practiced in huts at the crack of dawn.

Metta Metalworks is available online and offers international shipping.

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