Sunday, August 19, 2012

Animals and Obsidian

    Here are pictures of an owl, bird and a moth that are in my sketchbook. I used watercolor and cut out pieces of colored paper to make them. I have an entire stack of colored card paper and have been experimenting with different ways to use the paper in art and craft projects.

    I recently checked a book out from the library called "Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights" by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins. It is fun to skim through and is full of fancy topics such as trapeze, the pouf and carousels. One entry I thought was interesting was obsidian. Obsidian is black but when you hold pieces of it up to the light, it becomes translucent and you can see light shining through it. This is because it is not actually a stone but pieces of natural volcanic glass. Magical properties are attributed to obsidian and Aztecs believed that looking into slabs of obsidian could reveal the future. An English scholar from the Elizabethan age named Dr. John Dee was also fascinated by the seemingly mystical qualities of obsidian. He had an obsidian mirror which he used as his personal diving stone. It was a much coveted mirror and Dee was offered vast sums for his mirror by five emperors. But Dee rejected all offers preferring to keep his stone. Twice the honorable Queen Elizabeth visited Dee and both times he entertained her with his delightful and mysterious obsidian mirror. But Dee truly believed in the power of the mirror. He searched for specters and prophecies lurking in the black mirror but could not find them. He eventually met a swindler named Edward Kelley who said that he could decipher the prophecies in the mirror. Even though the foundation of their relationship was based on deceit, they became great friends. They were even involved in wife swapping after Kelley claimed the obsidian mirror suggested it.
    I like rocks and other treasures of the natural world such as obsidian. My grandma use to live in Arizona and she would sometimes bring me bits of obsidian when she visited me. She called them 'Apache Tears' and told me the story behind the name. The story is now foggy in my mind, but here is the basic gist of it according to my memory. Once there were two young Apache lovers. Their parents did not approve of their love and said they could not be together. Overcome with such grief, the young man jumped off a cliff because if he could not be with his love, he did not see the point of existing at all. The young woman saw what her love did and ran to the top of the cliff. She looked down and saw his body and began to sob. When her tears hit the bottom of the cliff, they turned to Apache Tears.
    I tried to find this story on the internet, but all I could find was a similiar story about a tribe of Apache warriors that fought bravely but were slain. The women were overcome with grief and sorrow and cried. Their tears turned to Apache Tears (Apache Tear Story found Here). I am wondering if my grandma made up the story about the two lovers or if somehow the story got confused in my mind. The Apache Tear story I remember is a bit reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet.

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