August 19, 2014

late summer / early autumn

This summer has offered the rare opportunity to disengage from my habits and routines in just about every way possible.  A more brutally honest way of putting that is to say that this has been one of the most trying seasons in memory, but I suspect those less positive feelings are impacted more by my personality than by the actual facts of my life.

A photo from one of the highlights of summer: my dearest dear friend Alyssa's wedding at the Botanic Gardens in Denver this June*

and another photo of me and Dave three(?) years ago at the blue house where we used to live, getting fake married for my friends' wedding photography business cards**.  We ourselves are getting married in three short weeks!  Sort of hard to wrap one's head around.  I love him a lot.

Anyone following or looking for Ay Marieke Jewelry here, obviously you've read past the top banner with the links, so you know where to look if you're interested in that.  I'll be postponing my fall collection by a month or two in order to concentrate on being newly married and dealing with some other behind the scenes stuff, but it will be out – likely in October, just in time for the holidays!

*Meghan Shaw
**Anja Verdugo

May 29, 2014

ay marieke ss'14 look book

A little over a month overdue, here is the look book shot by Anja, modeled by Amber and styled by me for my Spring and Summer 2014 jewelry line.  I wish I had more to write.  I'm very pleased with our efforts.

February 21, 2014

another green world look book

Last summer I became acquainted with the talented Talia Migliaccio via Instagram.  Talia was at the time based in Denver, making really cool psychedelic art and broached the idea of doing a collaboration with me.  It took many busy months to bring the project to fruition, largely due to my own slow moving, but finally last October I was able to hand-deliver some pieces of jewelry to Talia at her new home in Olympia.  She lives in a stunning space built into a forest hillside overlooking the Puget Sound which includes several charmingly crooked houses, beautiful old iron gates, two chicken coops and a greenhouse.  I would have liked to stay for a long time, but this look book of photos shot there prove a more than adequate souvenir.  I absolutely love the warm, natural mood of the images as well as the slight surreality brought out in the kaleidoscopic multiple exposures.  I am calling this series, "Another Green World" because this winter has been bookended musically with lots of Brian Eno, and because those three words to me embody the sense of place, near-but-far,  that I connect to when I look through it.

Images: Talia Migliaccio
Model: Joelle Friend

January 22, 2014

rider backs

A few card games during a getaway last weekend made me ponder the artwork on the backs of card decks which I had previously summarily ignored.  The deck we played with was the classic Bicycle Rider Back and a little research revealed an era when bicycle decks came in a number of styles.  I really love the scrimscaw, Edward Gorian quality to these illustrations; the impeccable detailing on tiny canvasses.  (Card images below, and more, here.)

January 16, 2014


I always enjoy the Rorschach qualities of picture agates, especially ones that seem to present an immediate likeness to something else.  

Case in point (ring from here):

January 14, 2014

excuse my vanity

Look book leftovers from a series photographed last November by Eric Rose for Eden and Eve in Eden.

I liked these in particular.  The first two didn't make the final cut, but I wanted to share them somewhere.

January 9, 2014

nooney brooklyn photographs

Really digging the photography of Dinanda H. Nooney highlighting homes and gardens (along with an occasional public space) of Brooklynites in the late 1970s.
(Via NYPL Digital Collections site.)

December 22, 2013

late december

Today, I sat for awhile trying to think of the last time that I felt motivated to write by something besides a complaint.  It's embarrassing to say, but I don't recall – the further back I go in my personal history, at least where writing is concerned, the more pain I seem to find.  Heartache thrown into letter-writing, self-medicating via diaries, lots of embarrassing poem sketches going back years, littered through the drafts folder of my email.  So many feelings!  There are two manically scrawled-on napkins in the exterior pocket of a handbag I sometimes carry: the first weak but clear piece of creative writing I felt motivated to do after years of quietness, of blogging.  I was sitting at St. Mark's coffeehouse in Denver last winter, now nearly a year ago, when a thought arrived.  I don't know how it is for others, but for me, creative thinking often feels like a disappearing act in reverse.  Open the door, nothing is there.  Close the door, wave a wand and say Abracadabra (or in my case, stare into space, stretch, go for a walk, do nothing.)  Open the door, there's the idea.  On this particular day, (maybe it was being in Denver,) my thoughts were unusually Kerouacian, and of course I had no notebook, not even a receipt to write on.  (I felt out of place enough, anyways; no one told me that now St. Mark's is all graying telecommuters instead of the striped stocking goth kids I expected to see.)  This year that handbag has been in steady rotation and when I clear it out to fill another, I take out those napkins and think of that moment – home, but not home, a little alienated from everyone I loved, Dave already en route to Portland.  Cold air and goose shit all over the sidewalks.  The strange homecoming sensation that causes one to feel possessive of everything that is familiar.

This morning, a text message whose words cut so clearly through the pretend-ness of digital communication:  I miss you.  I wished I could have seen you last weekend.  I love you.  The message came from a dearest, magical friend who always finds a way to say things like that when I most need to hear them.  Reading those words tore me open a bit but also set a peaceful, loving tone for the day.  The sincerity, the directness of those three sentences fills my heart amidst a long stretch of radio silence from many loved ones.  (Not to take a passive-aggressive, accusatory tone with anyone reading this; these are just my honest thoughts.)  Holidays bring up darker stuff for me.  I'd like to be a tinsel and eggnog girl but honestly, I'm just a big grump.  December in Portland leaves me feeling like the dried out, shriveled roses I see around town, soaked by winter rains.  (Santa, I want a SAD lamp.)  

This afternoon, punctuated by lots of rain and cold and errands, I stumbled into a secondhand shop and found a party dress that gives me some small degree of excitement for holiday parties slated over the next few weeks.  Allover pink fringe, a little loose but perfect for dancing.  Dancing.  The other thing that slipped away from me four years ago when I relocated to Portland.   Perhaps as a defense mechanism to everything in my life changing, I allowed aspects of myself migrate inwards.  Perhaps this lucky dress will bring back the dance mojo.  

Dave told me something yesterday that he read in a meditation guide: begin where you are.  The perfect complement to advice given to me by his sister Mary a year ago: meet other people where they are.  Sometimes it is impossible to do both.  Sometimes, wonderfully, it is possible.  Here's hoping that in the new year, it is always possible.

December 8, 2013

early december

Unseasonably cold weather and sunshine seems to come through Portland for a stretch every December causing it to feel (wonderfully) like a Colorado winter.  During this stretch of time both this year and last I have felt a compulsion to leave the house every day, even if the weather didn't break a high of 32°.  I'm beginning work on a new series of jewelry designs for spring 2014, trying to stay inspired and feeling something opening up inside of me.

Maybe the strange fuzzy sensation I'm having is a kind of nostalgia – the arid weather has me missing faraway friends even more than the holidays do.  I've been listening to a lot of music that college friends were partial to, getting really into some things I never gave a fair shake.  I wonder whether other people associate music with friends or circumstances in the same ways that I do or if the nature of associations is something like a fingerprint, specific and individual.  

A lot of my time lately has been spent ruminating about connection and what it means... evaluating past relationships and present ones, feeling grateful that I've made many wonderful connections in the relatively short time I've been alive.  I've been reflecting on lost connections a lot, too.  I don't yet know how to express my feelings in that realm.  I have a particular friend that I'm struggling to reconnect with.  Most of the struggle is even knowing if they want to be my friend anymore... and anyways, the whole thing feels so convoluted and makes me so, so sad.

This weekend I taught myself how to enamel on copper.  I am trying to figure out how to make abstract enamel pieces with color schemes that work in with the stones I've already bought for spring.  The "figuring out" part isn't really how to make them, it's which colors to combine or not combine.  My test pieces so far look pretty cool and the whole process feels sort of like painting with sand but as of day three I still feel like I'm all thumbs and really, I might be the only person who is into abstract enamel jewelry.  (But let's hope not.)

Another thing I've really tried to focus on lately is putting my energy into whatever I want to make (or do,) not what I imagine might be commercially viable or popular.  (Not to say that I have actively worked in the other way until now, just a running challenge to myself.)  I think my spring line is going to be weird and maybe everyone will hate it but I am ready to let go of caring what other people think... I really am (I think.)  I wanted to make note here of a running list I'm keeping of favorite things and inspirations for Spring:

• 90's-era malls
• Rothko
• elephants
• swans
Vesica Piscis
• the solar system
• Alexander Calder's jewelry designs
• Marc Bolan

My list of things to do (in no particular order):

• mail Mom and Dad's Christmas package
• sign up for that weaving class
• go to New Mexico
• order contact lenses
• save money for gold for Dave's wedding ring
• write here with more regularity.

November 25, 2013


This quote was passed on by a friend who read it in a Margaret Atwood short story, "Lives of the Poets," while camping with some friends.

"Marika was a peach-cheeked blonde, about twenty-two or twenty-three, anyway no more than five or six years younger than Julia.  Although her name suggested the exotic, a Hungarian perhaps, her accent was flat Ontario and her last name was Hunt.  Either a fanciful mother or a name-changing father, or perhaps Marika had adopted the name herself."

Apparently, (I haven't read it) this Marika has an affair with the protagonist's husband who spends much of the short story loathing Marika for pretending to be so fancy and of course, for having that affair.  I'm amused and strangely excited that a character named Marika exists anywhere (besides the song "Marieke,") and I think Atwood's description (minus the blondness) could pass as an apt description of me, and perhaps all other North Americans daughters named Marika.

(Looking at this after posting, and the page this is posted on, it is disconcerting to see "Marika"/"Marieke" everywhere.  One of those moments a word becomes unreal through repetition.)

Update: more Marika-related news! My newest music obsession: Marika Hackman, a 21 year old British singer (and former Burberry model) with a Sibylle Baier meets Beach House sort of style.

September 17, 2013

ay marieke fw'13 look book

Lest it seems like I have forgotten I had a blog, here I come again to talk about some more jewelry stuff (I promise a Marika-in-real-life style post soon, but this had to come first because frankly, it's the most interesting thing I've been working on and I am quite excited to finally share it!)

Effusive "I'd-like-to-thank-the-Academy"-style appreciation goes out to my friend Anja who photographed and helped manage so many details -big and small- for this project.  I feel so lucky to know someone as easygoing, smart, practical, funny/goofy, helpful and hugely talented as her.  Thanks also go to my lovely friends Angela and Amber (it was an 'A' sort of shoot) who modeled and did hair and makeup, respectively.  The finished result fulfills what I envisioned and I know it wouldn't have been possible without their capable, patient assistance.

Anja and I spent a long time over the past few months sending images back and forth to one another and dreaming up a dark, painterly concept to highlight the moody, mystic, heirloom-y qualities of my jewelry.  The primary influence is the Baroque-era oil paintings of Flemish and Danish masters, and right as we shot this we joked that it was just in the nick of time – this style seems to be of the Zeitgeist so if you like it, good news – you're about to see this style everywhere!  (Haha, but also not joking.)  That said, I am so incredibly happy with the result and I think it stands alone.

I so love old Romantic (as in era, not as in mood, but okay, also in terms of mood sometimes) style stuff and a challenge for me in terms of making and marketing my jewelry is the constant feeling that the design world is mindlessly cheering, "modernism! shapes! geometry! minimalism!" – beautiful stuff, but not my bag.  (Maybe it's my background in narrative writing that makes me want my jewelry to be slightly narrative, too.)  Anyways, long story short, it was a joy to do something that vibed so nicely with how I always want the world to look in my mind.

Everything about this whole endeavor – the materials and effort that went into the jewelry, the scope of details worked out long in advance for both the line and the look book – really challenged me, but I am very proud of where it has ended up.  I am very tired as I write this so I think I'll finish up with a meaningful quote that I came across in the flurried haze of website finessing tonight:

"I just want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares." -Saul Bass

August 31, 2013


Summer is nearing an end and having not accomplished much of which I set out to do (or told myself I would do,) it feels quite wasted.  The bare facts are that these past months haven't been easy.  A vacation to New York cancelled, stretches of long work weeks, stress over finances (always,) a death in the family (I was unprepared for this.)  Lest you read these words and feel pity for me (don't) it has shared an equal measure of reward, recognition, love and happiness. Work, relationships, the good and bad and everything in between feel (to me) amplified to a cacophonous blur.

Lately, I think a lot about actualization.  Four years ago, I knew that moving to Oregon would open doors, would allow me to make motions towards what I have now and those things I continue to work for. But being a planner means always looking towards the next thing and often agonizing over every single action taken.  The joy of having demand for my jewelry, the reality of being occupied seven days a week between a part-time job and the manufacture of that jewelry (and the budgeting, supply orders, promotion, etc.) forces me to look forward – when will eight stockists become sixteen?  When will I get to have two days off a week (and what balancing in my schedule – and where, exactly – will allow this?)

A new friend recently recommended making lists on the eve of full moons of things you wish to see happen for yourself before the next full moon.  I've done it two months in a row and have been satisfied with the results.  (I'll admit though I am drawn to the mystical, unexplainable elements of existence, I don't know where the line is between "I wrote that I wanted for this to happen and so it happened" and "this happened because I worked hard and put my heart and soul into it.")  That said, it is incredibly satisfying to make a to-do list and feel (at least in part) that the weight of accomplishing it is taken off of your shoulders because it is being left to the universe (is this faith?)

The second preoccupation of the season has been my own introversion (sadly, this bittersweet, difficult summer has caused no shortage of naval-gazing.)  Lately (with regards to the handful of friends that I really do enjoy,) I would mostly prefer to be alone at home.  Several times this summer I've noticed a little info-graphic that has been making its way around the internet which states, pretty simply, that introverts get energy being by themselves and become drained of energy in the company of other people.  That has always been true for me, and despite taking the Meyers-Briggs a few years ago and learning that I am an INFP (the rare personality unicorn of that metric) I never really considered that this was a concrete, fixed element of who I am.  (I suppose self-acceptance is a big part of happiness, another idea I've lately been fixating on and trying to retrain myself into having, believing, actualizing.)

I wish I had something more substantial, some answer to the questions asked here, to add to these thoughts.  It feels awkward to end this now, like half of an unfinished conversation, or a cut-off moment when you're having coffee and the person you're talking to decides to answer their cell phone while you are speaking to them about something that really matters to you (can we all collectively stop this?)  I suppose I could use some psychic advice, or the grand entrance of some fantastic life-changing news to finish me off and end this on an upswing.  For now it will be a hanging-off moment that ends nowhere and says not particularly much, except that sometimes, sadness and malaise seem to go with – permeate – everything, just as much as happiness and satisfaction do at other times, and this is one of the former.