My father loved elephants and he loved elephant sculptures. He collected sculptures of various sizes and colors, and he displayed them on the mantelpiece in the family room.
The elephants on the mantelpiece offer me a happy memory of my dad. They are beautiful objects in a place where beauty might be unlikely: a room that now is more full of memories than of people.
The image of the elephant connects me with my mom, as well. A number of years ago, my mom was given a necklace with an elephant pendant. Over time, however, my mom stopped wearing jewelry. One day, she gave me a whole bunch of jewelry. Most of it was costume jewelry, but, among that collection was the elephant. It was beauty in a likely place: a collection of jewelry.
I loved the elephant pendant, but I wasn’t quite as fond of the plain chain. To me, it seemed as if such a lovely pendant ought to have a different setting. I asked my mom if it would be all right if I restrung the necklace, so that I could find a different way of setting off and showcasing the elephant. My mom told me that the elephant was mine, now, and that I could reinvent it in whatever way I chose.
I wanted to create a necklace that would show off the elephant’s beauty. The collection of beads that I had when I was given the pendant were too brightly colored and they detracted from, rather than complemented, the elephant’s more subtle attractiveness. One day, however, I went to a garage sale and bought all sorts of beads and buttons for a very low price.
The beads and buttons were beautiful. So much gleam and so many shapes. I put them in a bag and… forgot about them. Recently, however, I found the pendant and, once again, tried to create a design that would attract attention to the elephant. I tried a variety of beads and then… in the collection of garage sale beads, found the beads that I was hoping to find. I had one Swarovski crystal and a bunch of copper-colored beads to add to the necklace, as well.
I enjoyed this project and, if I can find necklaces with interesting pendants that need to be spiced up, I will restring them, too.
For conversation below: What sort of objects have you managed to reinvent?