Mourning Jewelry is becoming quite a specialty of mine. I deal relatively well with death- I suspect because I’ve had to deal with it quite a bit. Additionally, I was raised Catholic where reliquaries containing holy objects or the bones of saints were a common thing. I was even lucky enough to spend some time studying abroad in Florence, Italy, where there were displays of some of the most skilfully crafted reliquaries ever created. As objects, they are incredibly intricate and beautiful. As a result, I’ve done a good amount of research into historical mourning jewelry, reliquaries, memento mori, and other memorial objects. All of this provided me with a start to my MA Thesis, “Telling Tales“. Not all the pieces in that show dealt specifically with death but did deal with loss and trauma and several were specifically mourning jewelry pieces. Those pieces are included below.
I’ve found that mourning jewelry & other mourning-related objects can provide comfort for those who’ve lost loved ones. Making them has certainly eased my own grief. Sometimes, even the act of viewing these pieces provides people a measure of comfort for the grieving. I am immensely grateful for being able to help people with such painful experiences.
Reliquary for Her Lost Child
One of the pieces from my MA Thesis. This piece was inspired by a friend’s miscarriage. It was difficult for me to do in the sense that I wasn’t sure it was my story to tell. I’m still not sure, truth be told. That said, though, I’ve had a number of women thank me for making this piece because they felt it expressed their own grief.
The Empty Pillow
On of the pieces from my MA Thesis. This is a piece I created for my mother in memory of my father, who passed away very suddenly from a heart attack. The photo inside is a very small version of my Mom’s favorite photo of him.
Goodbye, Sweet Lorna Doone
A locket in memory of my grandmother. Her name was Lorna & she was named after the titular character in the Scottish novel Lorna Doone. The picture is a photo of her as a girl and inside the two compartments are heather blossoms and crushed rose petals I saved from some flower arrangements at her funeral (the roses from the family bouquet and the heather from the bouquet from her “Club”, women she’d been close friends with since her high school days.)
This piece was created for the daughter of a friend after he passed away. While I didn’t make the locket itself, I created the container inside the locket. It contains a woven hair piece done in the style of Victorian-era mourning jewelry. It was my first time working with hair weaving and was very instructive, well as interesting. The locks of hair are from her father and mother as well as her two God parents.