I have had the pleasure of meeting Elise Matthesen on several occasions and I have been an admirer of her textual and jewelry art ever since. Not only is she an fabulous writer and poet, she is an extraodinary jeweler. Every one of her pieces has a story within. Some are soft and sweet, some are whimsical, some are as subtle as a fist to the gut. I love all of it, even those pieces I would never wear.
What it extraordinary about all her jewelry is that authors, almost exclusively women, have writter the stories and the poems within them. Jo Walton wrote Tooth and Claw from a necklace called The Crowded Minds of Dragons. Sarah Monette's incredible short story "After the Dragon" was written from the necklace After the Dragon she learned to love her body. And then there was the pendant Nine Things about Oracles that fueled more than a hundred responses, including my own watercolour work. There are dozens of other examples like this. No exageration. She is that good.
Years ago, I think 2006, she made a host of small improvised pieces at Farthing Party, calling out "Who wants a story" and flinging them to the responding members of the audience. I got one. This unnamed piece, as Elise meant it, was full of wind. You can hear it when you hold it in your hand. Still, to me, it is also full of anger, turmoil and movement.
From it, I wrote the last chapter of half of my WIP novel 18 jours en juillet. The novel tells the story of a young construction worker that discovers that rooms and buildings are more malleable than what they should be. The last chapter, the last eponymous July day, is when he is finally confronted with those who wield this power over built space. The scene is full of wind, rain, sleet and screams.
Unfortunately, after his eighteen July days, I got stuck. I knew there was something missing from the story. I was not sure what exactly and it took me a long time, a few years in fact, to figure it out. My main character's story needed a counterpoint. A few months yet brought me to realize that this counterpoint needed to be a elderly woman. Even more reflexion led me to realize that this woman was a urbanized Innu born and rejected from her community from a hostg of personal reasons after a long stay in a residential school. I knew then that she was to have a parallel story during those same 18 days. But I did not know what that story would be.
Then late last year, Elise had a "Shinies Sale" as she has regularly. Among the pieces were this:
As is always the case with her jewelry, I am either delighted by it and happy to look at it, or I feel the rug pulled from under my feet. In the latter cases, I have to fight the urge to buy it. It has not happened often, but those of you who know me well know that I wear so little jewely that buying any is almost always a waste of money. In the case of Where the Story Was, I could not resist. I had to buy it. I had to hold it in my hands.
I have had it for nearly 8 weeks now and I think I know where the story of 18 jours is going. I think I have found the story that was in the pendant and that was waiting for me to flesh out. It might take a couple years for me to do that, mostly because my next sabbatical is in 2015-16, but the story of my Innu elder is in it. I know it is. I can feel it there.
Funny story: when I wore the pendant the first time, Chaton, who is almost four years old, asked me what it was. I said it was jewelry made by me friend Elise (she will forgive the shortcut). I told him it was called Where the Story Was. He immediately understood it. He pointed to the unpolished area, called it a hole from which the story emerged and settled into the book below. He then pulled on the chain, hard, to show it to my husdand and explain to him where the story was and where it is now. A couple days ago, I wore it again and Chaton once again pulled on it and asked me to tell him what the story was that used to be there. I told him I was not sure yet. I was looking to find out. He asked me to remember to tell him when I figure it out.
This brings me to alternate worldview. I think this is what I need for SNOD, the other WIP I'm working on. And I don't know what to do about it. I don't know if I should buy it, or simply work from it from the pictures Elise has put online. Then again, I just got a royalties check and I could use part of that to purchase it. Oh world, help me!