Sep 24, 2012

Play Date Artist with Shelly Graham Turner

When I saw Shelly Graham Turner of Tori Sophia post this pic ...

noun, Informal .
I was intrigued! 

Firstly, this is Play Date Artist, Turner's brilliant new feature on her blog, "Fabric of My Life," and that means Shelly and I have both created jewelry. We've both used the same bead kit: a beautiful mix of Shelly's handcrafted clay lavender "Silly Rabbit" beads from her shop Tori Sophia, matte AB purple glass beads, and green wood rondelles. The jewelry I was moved to make is rooted in the idea of play, and completely inspired by the idea of being a weirdo in the best way.

The idea of being a weirdo has always been a part of me. As an adult, I know being a weirdo is a good, good thing ... and the minute I saw that picture of a little girl, I saw myself as a child. Only as a child, the weirdo part never seemed good at the time.

I was a weirdo in my school: looking at the picture of the girl, memories of being the only Mexican American kid in a very suburban, comfortable middle class school come to mind. I see the Hispanic child in me behind those eyes looking out at the world. And I remember always being the extra good kid to compensate for being the extra unusual Hispanic weirdo in my class. 

Much like the basic feminist ideology that as women climbed the glass ceiling, we would have to do twice the job to be considered half as qualified, I was twice an angel and twice the honor student.

They were tough years for school systems, and tough years for me. The idea of diversity was non-existent both to me and to the institution of education, and 1970's attempts at addressing and dismantling stereotypes about Hispanics were iffy at best: I simply was what I was: a weirdo, and the possibility that that was ascribed to me never crossed my mind.

Looking at Shelly Graham Turner's picture, I also see another little girl: one who loved justice, one who dreamed of becoming an attorney, one who felt deeply valued and loved in her family and wished that same respect for others. I see the artist.

Masakatsu plays his "Eight Melodies"

I see myself as the 4th grader who started a petition right then and there when my classmate, a sweet little boy returns late from lunch and is paddled with the long, wooden weapon with holes that hung in every classroom of the school.

As the sound of his tears and cries echoed throughout the cold, empty, rose colored, linoleum lined hallway, my trembling heart and hand began: "We the people ..." I wrote.

Mr. Driver and the tardy classmate returned to the room and I set about collecting signatures. We would end the atrocity of corporal punishment once and for all. Together, we the people could make it so. 

No one would sign it but Benita. She was tough and brave. I liked her for the rest of my life. I continued to pass around my shaking paper, eventually being caught by Mr. Driver. For a brief moment I wondered if I might be physically punished to, but Mr. Driver would find it rude to spank a girl. 

He took my paper and said nothing. He began our science instruction, unwrapping deli paper across his desk. I could hardly believe the injustice I'd addressed was being ignored. He took out a scalpel and speaking of the wonders of the eye, explained his butcher was kind enough to provide our class with a cow's eye for our science lesson. 

Mr. Driver proceeded to open the organ, jumping when suddenly liquid squirted directly into his eye and then slowly dripped across his face. Strange, darkly tinted fluid. He pulled out a white handkerchief from his jacket. And like the little boy he had spanked, I felt compassion then for him too as I noticed then that Mr. Driver's hands were shaking as much as mine.

It was the end of an era and a time of awakening.

Mother (EarthBound)

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." -- Pablo Picasso

When I was a kid, boys in school were spanked and girls probably were not; Hispanics were odd, the world was one way; for fun we played kickball in the street. Video games had yet to be invented.

As a grandmother, I have little skill at electronic games. But the stories, the emotions, and the challenges today's games hold intrigue me. Boys cry, girls manifest justice, love wins.

Recently, the soundtrack for the video game Zelda played across our nation. "The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses" was an astounding, popular fine arts event that sold out in city after city. 


[ahrt] noun
1.the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles,  
of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

The story lines, cinematic features, computer programming, music, and wonder of many modern video games today make them nothing less than art forms. With this in mind, I've longed to tell the story of a video game in jewelry, to honor that which my grandchildren and children love: the art of video games today. 

My Play Date Artist jewelry is based upon the video game, Mother (Earthbound),  a tale that begins with a weirdo, our hero, a little boy who saves the world with love. It's an intense, mature children's story: the boy who cannot love, who has been made cold from lack of love, must be saved by the boy who loves. Unlearning sexism, unlearning violence and redefining what it means to be a person are at the heart of the game. In the game, The Eight Melodies must be obtained. They come from a doll, a bird, a monkey, a piano, a cactus, a dragon, Eve, and lastly, a gravestone. In the end, "The Eight Melodies' are sung to save Mother, our home, our earth. The song, sung to him when he was very little, brings the antagonist his childhood memories; reminding him, transforming him, and finally freeing him to love. Originally written in Japanese, here is the English translation of the song:

 The Eight Melodies from Mother sung by St. Paul's Cathedinal Choir

The Eight Melodies lyrics:

Take a melody,
Simple as can be
Give it some words and
Sweet harmony
Raise your voices,
All day long now, love grows strong now
Sing a melody of love
Oh, love

Love is the power
Love is the glory
Love is the beauty
And the joy of spring

Love is the magic
Love is the story
Love is the melody
that we can sing...
Mother: The Eight Melodies Necklace
Mother was not released in the US, but made it's way here, carried by a strong devoted fan base. Mother is a treasure, a special video game that arrives like a discovery, with a special cult following by higher energy, gentle and caring gamers. 

When I realized Shelly had sent 8 special "Silly Rabbit" beads, I knew they were to create special jewelry -- jewelry I've thought long about, wanting to honor my grandson and all he loves. Similarly, Andrew Thornton's gentle focal interconnects on the necklace with a sea glass wheel, becoming a beautiful Tibet prayer wheel bead. As I've learned from Erin Prais-Hintz in her "Challenge of Travel; Nepal," when the prayer wheel spins and the mantra "OM MANI PADME HUM"   is spoken, one is "equal in splendor to a thousand Buddhas."

 The Tori Sophia beads Shelly sent me are so gorgeous. the bead mix is ethereal, with soft shades of purple and green, and beads of various rich textures. I'm so honored to receive such a beautiful gift! 

I'm in love with Tori Sophia beads, Silly Rabbit series.

My clasp is in honor of Tori Sophia art! My favorite, the "Silly Rabbit" series.

They are the perfect beads for beads of courage, perfect for memory and reconstruction. I added Swarovski crystals, carved fluorite and peridot rondelles, and created a scallop of silver chain that runs along side the necklace as a frame.

I'm not surprised that Shelly Graham Turner is the friend and artist who made my dream of creating "video game jewelry" come true; Shelly is magic like that. She is in tune, intuitive, giving and funny. We share busy lives as grandmothers, matriarchs, and jewelry artisans. The beautiful art, and empowering, special clay art beads Shelly creates (owls too :) inspire and impress me. I'm excited to see what she has created too today because as I watch her create, read her wonderful blog, and visit her shop, I am moved by her success, generosity, and talent. And I'm more grateful than words can express for being her playmate artist today! Being friends and artists together with Shelly Graham Turner is a gift.

Thank you Shelly!


a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson.
a person or company that makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods: food artisans.

Mother Melodies. Beads by Tori Sophia


  1. Oh Rita! Your post and your necklace are so-o-o beautiful - JUST like you! I enjoyed your post so much, you always write with such emotion and I love it. I want you to know that if I were there I would have signed your petition too! I was always feisty when it came to protecting others - especially the underdogs. (Not so much when it comes to defending myself). NOW I am a self-proclaimed superhero...hahaha

    Thank you for playing with me! Love you my friend
    ~ Shelley

  2. I feel the need to choose my words well to honor what you've written here. I was also the weirdo in school. I came to the US from Romania when I was 6 1/2, not knowing the language & being intensely shy. It was sheer & utter culture shock & I didn't speak in class for an entire year. You are such an inspiring & moving writer. I'm brought to tears by your words.

    But I digress, because I must also address the magnificent necklace you created with Shelley's beads. I absolutely love it! The soft beach glass and fluorite adds a softness to Shelley's beads. It's so interesting to see 2 totally different perspectives. Love them both!

  3. I love what you made. So different from Shelley's. And loved hearing more about you.

  4. WOW!!! Thank you for sharing your story and the story behind your necklace, so beautiful.


  5. Extremely touching story, Rita. I knew you were a super special person! I, too was a child who longed for, and worked for justice. We must be kindred spirits! The necklace you created is so beautiful - well done, my fabulous friend.

  6. Nobel Laureate, or any other superlatives could be used to discribe your incredible writing skills. As for Lawyer? Well maybe not a licensed Esq, but you could certainly give any one of them a run for the money! Artisan? That goes without saying. Your bracelet is breathtaking!

  7. Here is another definition, from my personal dictionary :-)

    Beautiful: you, your stories, and your jewelry.

    Thank you for sharing! I am so glad I clicked on this link today!

  8. Rita! Never did I meet a person like you! You are such an inspiration with your words and with your lovely, lovely jewelry! Thank You!

  9. OOPS just realized I called your beautiful necklace a bracelet. So sorry, that's what I get for trying to get supper on the table while glued to the computer. Forgive me!

  10. What a totally beautiful story. I was the child that needed defending in school, the one that stuck out, that was a reader, while everyone else chatted.
    I love the story from the video game, and can truly see it in the necklace. The soft palette and style are wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing.


Gracias for your comments and for visiting! I appreciate every word :)
Namaste --