The making of ‘Over the Ruined Castle’

I had never enjoyed reading poetry..there were always too many hidden layers , but while making an effort to study my mentor’s writings..and some of  it came to me in the form of  poems(sigh!)…i believe I somewhere cracked the code. 

I read the poem ‘Moon Over the Ruined Castle’  (Koojoo no tsuki, 1901), composed by Rentaro Taki,  about 2 years ago.

Aizu-Tsurugajo

“Today, the midnight moon is over the ruined castle.
An unchanged light. For whom is it shining?
Whatever is left of the castle’s fence, only a vine clings upon.
And the only singing left to the pines is the mourning winds.”

These lines stayed with me for a long time. It would be a few months before I could interpret them visually…and in the way I wanted to. Sitting at my workbench after a gap of 10 years, this series would be challenging to conceive and execute.

The poem left me feeling sullen and sad . With heaviness in my heart… on the face of it…the ‘glories and successes’ of war: it really is the way of the world today… I read the poem again and again. Yet the very basis of  our moral fabric was woven with the lofty threads of peace…so I was told and so I was taught. Did a line ever divide the truth from the lie…was the Devil any different from the Buddha?

I had once determined to create value with my work.  I would make pieces that gave hope and spoke of strength. It was time to refresh that determination and maybe then the answers too would come.

I decided to change the ‘unchanging light’. Night would become starry night, the sun would shine through the clouds ’til it finally and gloriously emerged over the ruined castle; the glories and successes of the human spirit. There would be no war but a revolution.

solitary reflections
in a reflected light,
the distant stars
shed light-dim,
a crumbling downfall
or
a life lived gloriously?
disbelief in my heart-
its a cloudy day,
the sun emerges-
the glorious victor
ever victorious,
i burn.

Spring: the season of love

Riding on a cloud

Riding on a cloud

Moonlight in spring

Moonlight in spring

Moonlight in spring: earrings

Moonlight in spring: earrings

Sunshine in spring

Sunshine in spring

Moonriver

Moonriver

Spring breeze

Spring breeze

Two birds in the bush: patina colours

Two birds in the bush: patina colours

Two birds the bush: finished piece

Two birds the bush: finished piece

Love in the city

Love in the city

Love in the city: back

Love in the city: back

A collection of 7 pendants & 1 pair of earrings in sterling silver, brass, pearls

A Postcard from Spring

A Postcard from Spring

I love this season. It makes me restless and I wake up every morning with mixed emotions. The sun is finally out and the warm spring breeze- comforting…so is warming my hands on the toaster every morning.
There’s …a blossoming Simal tree outside my window….infact many where I live. Sometimes I go for a walk after lunch [yep...I can do that ; )]. Beautiful big red flowers, supple and voluptuous(hmm…definitly female), strewn all over the street. There are those who complain of the mess and the garbage bags nowadays are full of them [not the complainers : (..sigh]. In a couple of weeks, the flowers will give way to cotton balls, mercilessly aggravating my allergy. Itchy, breathless and teary-eyed, I continue to look to Spring, lovingly..longingly…afterall, it heralds the coming of my favourite season: HOT HOT Summer! : )

Mandala

Mandala, Brooch, 10 X 10 cms approx.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means “circle”. In the Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. Each gate is in the shape of a T.

An example:

shri mandala

The brooch is inspired from a generalised concept of the mandala using the square and the circle.
The corners of the square symbolise the 4 gates or directions: north, south, east and west. They lead to the inert, complete and pure circle, and thence to its core, led to by the 4 needles.
The gates are made of hollow pipes symbolising other passages prevalent, that maynot lead to the desired destination.
 

Mandala, brooch: Top view

 

The mechanism

 
  
Here’s how I got here:
 

initial thoughts: exploring through different materials (a)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

initial thoughts: exploring through different materials (b)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

initial thoughts: exploring content (a)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
initial thoughts: exploring content (b)

a clearer picture: exploring content (c)

  
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Lovebird Family

The Lovebird family: Front & Back

 The Lovebird Family ring is particularly dear to me, as it helped me make that ‘significant’ leap in the quality(maturity) of my work and skill set.

It has Mr. and Mrs. Lovebird sitting atop one side of a vine-strewn castle wall and li’l Miss and Master Lovebird on the other side. The ring is made entirely in sterling silver.

This ring is also the 2nd ring I made as part of the ‘Ring A Week’ challenge on flickr.

Here’s how it started…

the sketchy sketch

I developed the piece as I went along, without any accurate drawing. I quite enjoyed this rather unplanned process and have made many more pieces following this method since.

The engraved castle wall

 

Behind the castle wall

 

Almost done

 You can see all my RAW rings here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/studio605/sets/72157625799589384/

Beaten and weathered…O! but it’s new ; )

Textured and enamelled pure silver ring

 I made this ring some months ago, filed in the grooves and filled it with yellow enamel…an average run-of-the-mill smooth and shiny ring…not something I cared about too much.

so I decided to give it a texture and hammered it…

needless to say, the enamel cracked…the ring had also started to darken and take on a rustic worn down character…

and cracking the enamel was turning out to be…just fun! No intellectual reason there…just pure fun! I guess I hadn’t done it before and wanted to see what it felt like to see glass crack…

it was funny…I have a hand torch..and the splinters flew all over…I poured it with dirty flux..it made it crackle even more…and that made me jump higher each time!!! there were bits of glass left in the grooves of the ring..I hammered again…more fell out…

And then I just let it sit and age…

and that’s the whole story from about some months ago…

 it’s a heavy solid pure silver ring, weighs about 13 gms…it’s beaten and weathered…O! but it’s new

a ring for Viswakarma Day

iron clamp, red 'mouli'

no i didnt make this…it was supposed to be a brass electrical fitting..bt now…iron.

And it just sat there on my table for many days, weeks…

I made some ambitious plans for it…definately something fancy…

And then i heated it…the brass ‘coating’ was the first to go…leaving behind what looks like a cast iron clamp, particularly prone to rusting in Delhi‘s humid monsoon weather.

The plan changed..and i didnt mind it, since I really loved the rusted edgy industrial look.

I proceeded to seal it with laquer and tied the sacred red thread ‘mouli’ around it.

“a ring for Viswakarma Day”

Viswakarma is the ‘The Architect of Gods’, the divine engineer. He is worshipped in the month of September. On this day all the workers worship their tools and instruments in front of Him.
The red mouli(sacred cotton thread, usually tied on the wrist: used in many ceremonies)is tied in a knot around the electrical fitting and is an offering of cloth to the deity.

Now when i wear it, it looks like a sacred relic

I unscrewed it a tad bit so it could fit an average-sized Indian finger

iron electrical clamp, red thread 'mouli'

Winter Always Turns To Spring

Cherry Blossoms

I’ve been praying for the protection and good health of the Japanese people since the aftermath of the Tohoku-Kanto earthquake and tsunamis that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. At the same time I was wondering what more could I possibly do to respond to my Mentor and to the people of Japan.

On March 16, encouraging the people suffering from this disaster, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda (Buddhist philosopher), wrote “Never be defeated! Have courage! Have hope!”

I decided to make a piece of jewellery that spoke of hope and send it to my mentor in Japan.

In a letter titled ‘Winter Always Turns To Spring’, Nichiren Daishonin, a 13th century priest said to his disciple, lay nun Myoichi, ‘Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring…[The sutra reads] “If there are those who hear the law, then not a one will fail to attain Buddhahood”‘

the initial design

 I have made the ring in sterling silver. One side of the ring, which is bluish-black (winter), shows ridges in a criss-cross pattern, depicting the earthquake. On the top right corner, the silver spirals represent the tsunami.

the earthquake and the tsunami

On the other side, however, is a Cherry tree in full white blossom, depicting Spring.

 

Cherry Blossoms

This is also Ring 17 in the Ring-a-week challenge on flickr