Apr 15, 2013

Focus On Life Week 7: The Beauty -- and the magic -- of Flowers

My Toltec Jewels icon is actually a photograph I shot for a review of Jewel School's leaf agate
 beads. The stunning blue and purple flowers were chosen by my spouse for the background. 

I adore taking photographs of flowers. By chance, attempting to photograph jewelry for reviews many years ago, I discovered that the wonderful soft shapes and vibrant, rich colors of flowers were perfect as backgrounds in photography.  My only digital camera was an old camcorder, and the flowers helped the lens focus on smaller, closer objects. I began to regularly use flowers for photography, and discovered my spouse not only enjoys buying me flowers each week, but has a brilliant eye for choosing just the right color and type of flowers for the beads & gems. 

Because of flowers, I discovered light. I learned that waking at dawn to photograph flowers in the early morning light, reflected off our pool's water, created soft and unusual reflections. I discovered the afternoon light cast a rich, golden glow. I began controlling shadow, photographing flowers for hours on warm summer days. I discovered the strength of mid-day light, softened by my umbrella table, allowed me to photograph flowers with no editing. By accident, I shot a photo of carnations against black velvet with lovely detail and soft edges, and felt I'd created my first ever true "art" photograph.

Years later, using the pink carnations photo as a Facebook profile picture, I was completely surprised and delighted when a friend, chain maille comrade and  jewelry artist extraordinaire, Ginger Garnitz* surprised me with a peyote beadwork pattern of my photo! "Some profile pictures are meant to become beadwork" she told me, sharing a wonderful and clever computer generated pattern, with listings for each Delica number/ color needed to transform the photo into jewelry art. I absolutely am so excited to create the pattern! Can you imagine how beautiful the experience? 

Today I have a Nikon camera with great macro and Corel photoshop. The very little editing I did back in Windows Paint -- resizing and removing occasional pet hair or white fuzzies from dark backgrounds -- has become more sophisticated: learning color balance & advanced photo editing. Flowers are no longer a background, but the focus of my lens.

Flowers have given me everything good. Photographing flowers was the beginning of all that would come -- connecting to the jewelry arts world, to bead artists and to chainmaille, to beadwork and peyote stitch and beading for meditation and spirit. Flowers opened the door to meeting artists like you readers, to blog hops, and jewelry swaps and Bead Soup Parties. 

Flowers hold moments forever in time. The flower above, photographed just before my daughter passed on, has become a symbol for her, a memorial even. As she is with me forever in spirit, so her flower is also eternal, timeless beauty. 

Bittersweet flowers made of moonstone teardrops, Czech daggers & opalite leaves
 Finland flower challenge & blog hop, "Korukopla" shortly after my daughter's death. . 
Finland flower jewelry challenge & hop, hosted by
 my Bead Soup Party 2012 partner, Margareta Saari of Finland.
Drusy Quartz  and Austrian glass wire wrapped flower focal.

*Meet my friend, Ginger Garnitz
Ginger Garnitz  is a wonderful chain maille jewelry designer. Her designs are inspired and skills honed by studying the tutorials and offered by Maille Artisans International League, CGMAille, SpiderChain, C&T Designs and by following the kind advice of the talented members of the FB Chain Maille group.

Toltec Jewels is an author by day, jewelry maker by night. Her literary work is housed by the San Fransisco MOMA and is published internationally in popular magazines, literary quarterlies, and university publications. She has won a number of awards for literary and jewelry arts. She is happiest making handcrafted jewelry with her entire family, snuggling with her doggies and grandkids, sewing, singing, reading, and learning jewelry techniques. She is the host of Jewel School Friends, a community of expert and emerging artisans taking inspiration from each other and Jewel School. Join her on Facebook for networking, fundraising for Beads of Courage, jewelry making challenges, contests, give-a-ways and of course, cool beads and jewelry!


  1. Your flower photography is just amazing, Rita. Incredible.

  2. I love these photos they are all beautiful!


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