“Conceive what life would mean for us if every object from the smallest to the greatest presented itself immediately to our minds in all its attributes and relations. That would, indeed, be living a waking life in this world.” A.R.Orage
More than once people have stood at my market stall and been ‘wowed’ with the array of designs they find there. I enjoy their pleasure in inspecting my designs and their smallest details. I also enjoy their marvel that I would care to include the smallest detail in my accessories in a culture that increasingly neglects small details. Most especially I enjoy people finding something in my work, which has come to mean a great deal to them.
Creating visually appealing pieces is one of my clear aims. However, there is more to a Findi Flooshki than meets the eye. It is this that enables me to answer the 'barbeque stopping' question- 'in a world of gross inequality, does the world really need Findi Flooshki?'
Take, for example, my Fortune Teller Barrette:
The inspiration for this barrette originates in Caravaggio’s painting ‘The Fortune Teller’. It was painted in 1594 and is presently housed in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. If you look closely at the Fortune Teller’s collar, you will observe that the barrette mimics its fine gold detail and creased fabric and even the ragged edge of the painted ribbon…
I have been fortunate to visit and study this painting in person. I like its triangulation (his and her face with their hands; and his face and his two hands) as well as the protagonists’ postures- so deliciously representative of their characters. One of the things I most like about Caravaggio is his revolutionary insistence on painting from life. At his time, it was more common for Renaissance artists to copy established masters in order to establish their own credentials. Caravaggio’s work reminds me of my own inspiration from ordinary life- a walk to my letterbox reveals miniscule treasures flowering in my succulent garden; a daily drive past the school median strip reveals gorgeous spring grasses bristling with life; the exquisitely crafted gum nut under my foot shows up the limits of my dexterity!
The barrette is composed of polymer clay- a plastic-based modelling material that was first formulated in Germany prior to the Second World War. In Germany, the material was developed for doll making purposes (FIMO) whilst in America industrial manufacturers (unsuccessfully) tried to use it for insulating transformers and then produced it for toy manufacture (Sculpey). Polymer clay comprises various pigments, plasticizers and binders, which are polymerised by baking. Recipes vary between companies and products and have evolved over time to increase workability and deliver better colour saturation. I use Sculpey “Premo!” partly because it no longer contains harmful phthalates. Whilst polymer clay was first (and for a long time) associated with children’s craft and novelty hobbies, international sculptors, jewellers and designers have now established it as a serious art medium. Dedicated polymer clay communities have sprung up around the globe to showcase the dynamic potential of the medium and stunning craftsmanship.
Turning the barrette over, you will find a heavy gauge 80mm auto-lock barrette. This barrette was made in France, around 17000km away from my home in Australia. The barrette style originated in France and the French still contribute a world best standard in metal barrettes.
The barrette dates back to at least the 1870s when it was popular to wear hair in a plait or twisted braid gathered on the nape of the neck (the ‘Catogan’). Most 19th Century barrettes were made of metal, horn or tortoiseshell and were either rectangular or crescent shaped. The barrette underwent a decade-long decline in popularity, which reversed around 1895. During this time, it became an important accessory well adapted for showcasing art nouveau designs (most notably, ivy and sycamore leaves and curvilinear themes). The barrette continued to be fashionable well into the 1930s when small enamel and diamante barrettes were popular ways to clip hair on the side of the head. The popularity of the barrette again declined during the 1940s when shorter hairstyles were in vogue. During the 1950s and 1960s, the wearing of hats assumed the place of many hair accessories. Mass produced alternatives such as plastic combs and elastic bands, cheaper metal barrettes and decline in traditional care and craftsmanship have all eroded the place of the barrette in modern times.
The barrette can be used to fasten hair in many styles from a formal ponytail or chignon to a loose and casual up dos. A barrette can also be used to fasten a pashmina or scarf. In some countries, women use more decorative barrettes to adorn their handbags when not in use in their hair.
I expect a Findi Flooshki barrette to last many years because the French barrette is made to last and polymer clay is very durable once baked. Some chemicals can adversely affect polymer clay but if you observe the simple care and cleaning instructions that I include with every Findi Flooshki, the barrette will last a long time. I also offer a repair or replacement service for your barrette. If your barrette should come to harm please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do my best to repair or replace it.
More can be added to the origin, history, relations, use and future of the Fortune Teller Barrette! For example, I know nothing about its future owner- her appearance, her experience, her outlook or her values.
The point is not to painfully assemble facts about this barrette for her. Rather, I seek to encourage her to bring her own knowledge to it. More importantly, I hope she deliberately tries to simultaneously hold in her mind all she perceives about her barrette every time she reaches for it. I hope she feels the difference between first laying eyes on her barrette and then under standing it.