Finding Inspiration - Etched Jewelry

The one downside to living in Costa Rica is that it's near impossible to get supplies here.  I have to order everything on-line, then have it sent to someone coming to visit or going back Stateside for a visit.  In other words, I have supply mules.  Shopping on-line is convenient, sure, but what I miss about living in LA is going downtown and just browsing beads and chain.  Going to the leather shops, engulfed in that leather smell, digging through boxes of scraps and feeling it in my hand prior to purchasing.  I miss going to the Fairfax flea market and thrift shops and finding random bits of jewelry that inspire me to disassemble them and create something new.  I miss heading to Santa Monica and spending hours in Ritual Adornment, looking at every single solitary thing and subsequently overspending because I wasn't able to pick just a few things!  

Basically, I miss being inspired by things I come across. 

I guess I've been feeling a little creatively stagnant lately.  Of course I love every little piece I make.  I don't mean to imply otherwise.  However, I'm learning that being the sole producer responsible with keeping my boutique stocked, if I'm not careful, I can fall into a creative rut that could end up feeling more like a job than art.  I wanted to try something totally new. 

But, again, since it's difficult to get supplies here, I had to be creative about being creative.  I love henna and mehndi tattoos and find myself doodling these sort of designs a lot.  Not as intricate, but lots of paisley type designs, dots and spirals.  I've done a few sheet metal bracelets with these designs using an engraver, but I was never 100% satisfied with the outcome -- I wanted something that looked "cleaner".  

I wanted to do chemical metal etching, but after digging around on-line to find out what I'd need, I was a bit discouraged because there was no way I could get the specific chemical solutions needed here, nor would anyone be able to bring them to me because of their toxicity.  Luckily, after a bit more digging around on-line, I found an alternative way to etch using chemicals that I can easily locate at the hardware store here.  Yiippeeee.!!

Needless to say, I've been experimenting with it for about a month now.  I feel like a kid with a new toy.  I love to work with sheet metal and so now this new addition just opened up a whole new world of possibilities and new ideas.  

That's exactly what I needed!  


Antigua, Guatemala

I was lucky enough to snag an amaaazingly cheap round trip ticket to Guatemala and decided to visit Antigua, which is about an hour away from Guatemala City.  

Antigua is an old Spanish style city situated between three visible volcanoes.  It's a blend of ruin-like and renovated old buildings, cobble stone streets, cafes, art galleries and street vendors.
Honestly, I didn't do too much research about the city prior to my visit.  I had heard through the grapevine that it was good place to visit, lots of art and good food, which sounds like my kinda' place.  So when I saw the ticket, I went for it.  
The city is visually stunning.  I love old peeling walls, brick and iron work doorways, and Spanish tiled roofs.  Antigua was the kind of place that kept me visually stimulated my entire visit.
I was surprised at the mix of new and old.  Not only just in the architecture, but even within the community.  There were hip, stylish cafes and galleries intermingled with indigenous (Mayan) folks walking the streets in traditional clothing.
There are textiles everywhere you look.  You cannot imagine the stunning array of textures and colors, all hand woven and dyed.  
Bartering is a huge part of the shopping process here.  I'm not a fan of bartering - it's not something I'm good at nor something I feel comfortable doing.  I'm a get to the point kinda' gal.  Tell me what you want for it and I'll decide if I want it.  But that's not how it works in Guatemala, which I learned.  If someone gives you a price and you say no and start to walk away, they will literally chase you down the street (in a friendly way!) offering lower prices.  Everything is already so ridiculously inexpensive for the variety and quality, that I feel bad bartering.  But, that's how it is....so you do what you gotta do.

In the center of town is a huge store named Centro de Textiles Tradicionales.  It's enormous!  So many different styles of textiles made into clothing, blankets, pillows, wall hangings, you name it - they sell it.  Additionally, they sell all sorts of other odds and ends.  Like these strange masks and dolls.
Not to mention this Jesus chair.  (???)
There is an ammmaaaaazing market where you can find just about anything.  The fruits and veggies are out of control.  Varieties I've never seen before.  It's such a shame you can't take produce on the plane.  I would have taken suitcases full!  And of course homemade pastries, tortillas....yum.
These buses are super funky, but be careful because the drivers are maniacs on the road! 
On my last day I strolled through the Museo de Santiago.  The building is gorgeous, it looks like a castle.  Inside there is a room which exhibits old torture tools, including an actual chamber where the torture used to take place.  If those walls could talk!
I only visited for 4 days and I felt that wasn't nearly enough time to linger the way I would have liked to.  I took so many photos - enough that it would probably be better to just do another post all together with additional photos.  I'm keeping my eyes open for another ticket bargain.  As soon as I see one, I'm outta' here!

Chicken Necks

A local chiropractor recently told me this story:

Years ago while traveling in Central America, her husband and her were in the back seat of a cab for a long distance trip from the airport to their destination.  The driver and his friend were sitting in front chatting back and forth in Spanish, assuming that the two Gringos in the back seat didn't speak any Spanish.

After a few hours on the road, her husband began to develop a migraine headache.  She asked him if perhaps he'd like to have a quick neck adjustment to let off some of the pressure. He laid himself across the back seat as well as he could and she quickly did a little wiggle, wiggle, snap with his neck.

The chatter in the front seat stopped.  

The cab fell silent.  

The driver's friend whispers out of the side of his mouth, "What the hell was that?!?!"  

The driver responds, "I'm not sure, but that's how I kill my chickens!!!"


Cows on the beach

Taking a lil' beach stroll with my doggie Lola, and encountered a group of cows...doing the same.  Lola was like "what the...??"


Honey, When I Saw This I Just Knew You Had To Have It

I spotted this fine souvenir in Nicaragua.  I'm really just not sure what to say about it but felt a photo must be taken.

From here to there....

Just about 40 minutes outside of town and the landscape changes to beautiful farmland and countryside.