I have the honor of knowing a woman named Elise
, a poet and jewelry designer. I was wearing one of her necklaces today, and I was looking at it and thinking "This is so cool."
Elise's work is imaginative, playful, and experimental. She delights in playing with color, mixing beads of all different vintages, experimenting with new ways of twisting and forming wire to set off the beads. Even more unusually, her poetry has gotten wrapped up in the creation of her jewelry; she titles many of her completed pieces, names that are whimsical, evocative, imaginative. One long necklace I own is called "'Betrayed,' the Rose Queen cried, and Her Hand Flew to her Throat." Other titled pieces Elise has made include "Under the Waves was Her Home," "After the Dragon, She Learned to Love Her Body," "Galadriel in Her Wild Youth," "The Insolence of Leprechauns," "Dancing to the Rumble of Distant Guns," etc. And once you see the necklace, you understand why that title is exactly correct.
Another necklace I named myself (a lovely iridescent piece I called "Whispers from the Twilit Lands") but Elise sternly told me that I was only allowed to name one of her necklaces if I wrote a poem using the title, and so I did. She calls it one of her Artists' Challenge series: From her web site:
"For those of you who don't know yet, the Artists' Challenge involves the trade of a titled piece of my work for a copy of something you, the artist, create in response to my piece, plus a donation to the bead fund, which lets me create more Artists' Challenge pieces. Ask me at a show to tell you more, if you're interested, or check with various writers and artists, including folks like John Calvin Rezmerski
, who wrote a poem for the necklace 'Looking for a Good One,' who might be able to tell you more about the process."
Elise sells her pieces at galleries and private shows around the Twin Cities and at a few conventions--you'll find her booth at Minicon
, among other places. She delights in helping each customer find the perfect necklace to wear or to give as a gift for a friend. She doesn't call it "selling her work," she calls it "helping the piece find a good home."
I really admire Elise. She is generous, cheerful, always looking for beauty, kind and an amazing font of creativity. As a member of my writing group, she has been a very positive influence on the development of my fiction. An ideal critic, she possesses at once a lively sense of humor, a keenly critical eye, and a warmly human heart.
Here is a story that tells you the kind of person Elise is: she was celebrating her birthday in a local restaurant with a wide circle of friends. Elise, of course, was wearing one of her extravagant signature hats and generally holding court as she is wont to do, exchanging stories and laughter while enjoying a fine meal. Suddenly the waiter came up with a bottle of wine on a tray and said, "The lady sitting over there in the corner saw your party, and thought you seemed like such a bright happy group that she sent this over to help you celebrate."
Elise, being the kind of person she is, immediately bounced over to the tall, stately woman, thanked her effusively, and stuck out her hand and introduced herself. The woman smiled in return. "I'm Maya Angelou," she said. Elise, a poet herself, of course felt as if she had had an audience with the Queen.
That's the kind of person Elise is. She reminds me of the description that Aral made of his wife Cordelia in Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor
: she pours out honor like a fountain, all around herself.
Part of nurturing the creative life in oneself is surrounding oneself with other creative people, people who take great joy in their own work and nurture your own creativity in you. Sometimes writers and artists make the mistake of getting intertwined with bitter, unhappy people, who thwart and twist the creative impulse; that can be death to one's art. Elise, in contrast, pours out honor and
creativity around herself like a fountain. It is a privilege to know her. I think that she's an excellent model of living the creative life for me.
I just thought I'd say that.
Afterward: I found elisem
has a LiveJournal!