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  • E L Y S I U M
  • JL Schnabel
E L Y S I U M

If you've found yourself here, it may be because you had searched for the writing that accompanies each jewel in E L Y S I U M, which I like to think of as their 'spirits', and found it to be unfinished. This is the first time in the nearly 11 years since I have started Blood Milk that I was unable to finish / feel good enough about my writing at the time of release. While the histories and associations and magics behind each piece are still forthcoming, I also wanted to share some of the back story of this collection here, now. I didn't want my work to feel lifeless to those of you who connect so deeply and with my endless gratitude, to the writing, to the worlds I create around my jewelry. 
The Underworld, specifically its Queen, Persephone, has been a touchstone for nearly all of my work across genres. She is rooted in death; connected to the cycles of life and nature, she moves between realms - she ascends and descends. She has always felt like the 8 of swords to me, a card I have connected with since I was given my first deck as kid. This feels like the natural flow of things, or perhaps to me, as a strange, awkward, over thinking, over feeling kind of girl who oscillates between wanting to blot myself out, to move into a cave with my library, and the need to be and feel connected to others and the world around me. Like Persephone, I move between realms, I withdraw, I emerge. I imagine this may be how many of you feel also, especially if you are bookish, introverted, prone to melancholia as I am. It isn't the easiest way to be on this timeline. I'm misunderstood or I'm brushed off by the larger worlds of things I love and have wanted to be in community with ( writing world, the jewelry world. ) I've been embarrassed by both my rage and my melancholy. I've felt like a shipwreck, I've made myself small, I've engaged in scarcity thinking. I consider these feelings and moods and states of mind to be my Underworld, and I work at it. I return again and again to books and stories for bearing and comfort: to the ancient archetypes of the Goddesses of myth: Medusa who's rage/gaze transforms her enemies/would be murderers, Hekate, who protects and guides the liminal people, Persephone who moves between the spirit world and the natural world. I have been on a quest to belong to myself, to make amends with the moments in my past that haunt me, to accept my shadow and all its horrific, societally unacceptable, and uncomfortable ways of being. I'm on that long, endless journey to be whole, to be healed, to do less harm and it sucks and feels unnatural most of the time. There are, much in the same ways as death and melancholy, romantic notions tied into this kind of work, but it is also brutal and raw and ugly. I don't expect to feel entirely healed, but that is ok. 
Can objects, can jewelry assist in this process ? Can they comfort ? Empower? Protect ? I like to believe so. Jewelry has existed since antiquity; used as currency, as bonds between people, as a means of identity ( Signet rings were used as signatures, their unique faces were pressed in wax ), and magically, as talismans and amulets to both protect and attract. I believe silver to retain memory - of the deep earth in which it grew, to the memory of the fauna I use ( in this collection, bats, snakes ), to the personal memories we imbue them with as we wear them against our skin, rub our fingers and thoughts over them. For me, as their designer, they are tangible representations of my inner landscape, my Underworld. It is my hope that they bring comfort to their wearers, that they become yours in your uniqueness as they had once only been mine, existing in my dreams before emerging into the realm of the 'real.'
Much of what inspired the physical design of this collection was a return to the genesis of my work, ( much of this was in process during my 10th year of business .) The Persephone's diadem ring has existed in one of my earliest jewel sketch books. The Medusa portals echo one of my first cast pieces, 'The Lily Dale Pentacle' in its shape, its boa rib bones one of the first molds I ever made. The use of bones in my work tethers each piece to the natural world, the wildness of the animal world, the acceptance of death in this world as a way of life. Bones have been used as a means of divination for centuries, as well as having been used in talismanic jewelry for equally as long. They represent the death/end. of these individual creatures, but they also live on ( eternal return ) in each piece of jewelry. In this collection, these bones have been manipulated to create shapes that were influenced by more traditional jewelry proportions, as well as by the elegant and fluid lines of Art Nouveau. In many cases, the bones seem almost 'hidden' in their design. 
Dear one - if one of these jewels chooses you, if you choose one of them, it is my wish above all else that they make you feel safe. That they may close up a small part of the gaping wound that lives within you. That they bring you strength as you face your shadow. That they bring you love and serve as reminders of your loved ones, that you know you are loved. That they connect you to me and to all the others that wear them like an invisible web of kindred hearts and minds. That they may assist in confronting yourself, in interrogating your patterns. That they may carry your grief. That they may be hands that help pull you up from the Underworld. 
Thank you for meeting me here. xx
  • JL Schnabel