The Beauty of Broken Things (Wabi Sabi)

At a show in Nashville one year I met a woman who told me my jewelry was lovely, but that she didn’t want to try anything on because it would just call attention to the thick scars I could see marking her neck and arms. She gathered her jacket close to her and tugged her cuffs down over her hands, and my heart went out to her.

I felt moved to tell her about the concept of “Wabi Sabi,” a Japanese aesthetic that finds the beauty in imperfection, holding that anything that has been broken, and then repaired, is more beautiful, unique, and stronger at the broken places, and more highly prized than a piece that is deemed “perfect.” This concept is especially manifest in the art of Japanese ceramic repair known as “Kintsugi,” which incorporates a lacquer seam colored with powdered gold, silver, or platinum to highlight an object’s repair.

But the Wabi Sabi aesthetic is not just visual, it is also a world view—an outlook that reconsiders the beautiful and the imperfect. As I talked on about this remarkable cultural view that understands more deeply what should be of value than my own culture’s sometimes ridiculous notions of multi-faceted perfection, the woman began to smile. She smiled and even laughed a little as she told me about her beautiful daughter, and how she was actually looking at jewelry as a gift for her. She asked for my card before she left my booth, saying I would hear from her.

I happily gave her the card, but all artists know that asking for a business card can just be someone’s ticket out of an artist’s booth, perhaps hoping to ease their unnecessary guilt at not purchasing something. I didn’t really expect to hear from her and was surprised when her name popped up a few days later in my email. She wanted to buy a bracelet for her daughter, she said, and some earrings for herself. But mostly, she said, she wanted to thank me for telling her about Wabi Sabi. She said she was beginning to think of her scars as medals for overcoming what had been a very difficult period in her life. And she said she would forever after be looking outside of herself, too, for the beauty of broken things.

After I read her email, I went immediately to my studio and designed this cuff bracelet along with a pendant and earrings you can see on this site. As I made them, of course I thought about what she had said, and I admit to being a little weepy (which kind of made me feel silly, and I promise I wiped off all the tears). It’s just that we all want to feel like what we do is important in some way. But sometimes the life I’ve made doing this can be very hard—the sore back, the ragged fingertips, the travel, the weather conditions, the uncertainty—and I consider giving it up for something easier, and more regular. But then I meet someone like this woman who came into my booth and allowed me to share something meaningful, which in turn became her gift back to me, and ultimately informed the creation of this jewelry–a symbol meant to carry its intention forward so that it might provide a meaningful message for someone else. And I guess for me, that’s really what it’s all about—to make something that can be beautiful and meaningful not just to me, but shared with someone else. This is why I can’t help but love my customers—they give me so much. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people doing this job, so thanks for reading this, and thanks for being one of them. See you at the next show! ♥


In conversation with a friend who recently experienced a dramatic physical transformation, she shared that in looking so much better she finally felt worthy of a loving relationship. I wasn’t startled by this statement, probably because of its familiarity. I’ve heard it expressed in some form by a number of my women friends and unfortunately, it isn’t surprising given the value our culture places on physical looks, especially and unfairly–a woman’s looks.

As she spoke, I was happy for her that she was feeling her best, but I also found myself reflecting on familiar archetypes, specifically Aphrodite (also known in the Roman pantheon as “Venus”). In ancient Greece Aphrodite was worshipped as the ultimate goddess of beauty, femininity, and love. She enjoyed a massive cult following. Even today she is arguably the best-known of the Greco-Roman goddesses, perhaps due in part to Botticelli’s famous painting of Venus/Aphrodite perched atop a scallop shell—an image that is ubiquitous in pop culture.

But Aphrodite was more than just a pretty face. She was a fierce feminine archetype secure in her own agency, and confident in the knowledge that she was beautiful, powerful, and completely worthy of the love and adoration she received. She didn’t hesitate to unleash her wrath onto men and women alike who did not pay her the respect due her. As the personification of feminine power, no one had to convince Aphrodite of her worthiness–she was born knowing it.

And so, with the spirit of Aphrodite in mind, I said to my friend, “I am really, really happy for you, but you know, you have always been beautiful and worthy of love.” I repeated, “You have always been beautiful and worthy of love.” And I’m pretty sure I said it once again, “You have always been beautiful and worthy of love.”

I’m afraid I am often given to repeating myself—forgive me. But as women, as humans, let that phrase be our mantra. You don’t have to look a certain way, especially to meet our society’s ridiculously unattainable standard of physical beauty. You don’t have to do anything or be anything other than authentic—the singularly original you. Trust that this is your birthright as a human: you were born beautiful, and you are worthy of love.

As is often the case when I give any consideration to an aspect of the human condition, I was inspired to create something to help me express it.  This piece is intended to remind its wearer of the Aphrodite archetype and to call on its healing and empowering energies when in need. Along with astonishing power, this goddess also encompasses the maternal paradigm (her counterpart in Tarot is The Empress), which in this design is represented by the fullness of Mother Moon, with the crescent and half-moon shapes as further tribute to her femininity. The form at the bottom is known as the Vesica Piscis, and is perhaps the most sacred and feminine of ancient symbols linked to this deity, symbolizing creation. My hope is that embracing the archetype of Aphrodite will encourage us to work on increasing the self-love that allows self-worthiness and self-confidence to blossom, ultimately creating a more beautiful and abundant life experience.

The symbol for female (♀) known as the “Venus symbol” is also the alchemical symbol for copper. “Aphrodite” is fabricated from recycled sterling silver and copper. The pendant measures one inch wide with a three-inch drop and will be available at the upcoming Kentucky Crafted Market to be held at Alltech Arena in the Kentucky Horse Park, March 12 & 13.

Three Moons

The night has crossed over into the wee hours, and the sky isn’t perfect for viewing. But if I look low and toward the east, I can spot just a sliver of the waning moon rising from behind a lumbering cloud. Hours ago it rained, but the welkin remnants can’t dim my excitement when I spy the thin illumination. Whatever her phase, Luna is always a comfort and company to me when she is visible, and like most, I use feminine terms to describe her. The moon is the quintessential feminal form, and when only a slim curve of it appears, I am reminded of one of the most ancient symbols associated with womanhood–waxing and waning crescents flanking a full moon–often referred to as the Triple Goddess symbol.

Dating from as far back as the 6th Century BCE, this lunar emblem is thought to have first been associated with the Greek goddess Hectate. It is also commonly viewed as a triad with the Roman goddess Diana in her huntress, moon, and underworld incarnations. But it has appeared throughout time in many mythological and religious pantheons and is often interpreted as the three phases of womanhood that all women will, should we endure, pass through: Maid, Mother, Crone.

Because so many women identify strongly with Luna, I’ve created many wearable pieces in her image over the years. The pendant pictured here is hand cut, hammered, and formed from the “moon metal,” silver (sterling), and features a radiant drop of Triple-A grade moonstone—so luminous it is as if it fell from the moon itself. It doesn’t show in these images, but with movement, the stone flashes a beautiful, iridescent blue. For the first time, I’ve suspended the symbol from a bar of hammered silver attached to a black leather cord. At 17 inches in length, it falls perfectly just below the well of the clavicle on most women. An inch and a half sterling chain extender at the clasp is included for those who prefer a little more room. I call her “Three Moons,” and she’s available for purchase here on my website. If this special piece becomes yours, I wish you all the myriad blessings of the Moon Goddess, including grace, compassion, and unconditional love. ♥