Blood Milk Jewels
The Key to the Séance Room.
Blood Milk Jewels
The Key to the Séance Room.
In honor of our 14th anniversary I wanted to revisit some themes from the earlier years of BloodMilk. One of my first collections, Lily Dale, was inspired by a visit to the Spiritualist community of mediums in Lily Dale, NY after the death of my father, and which coincides with the birth of BloodMilk. His death was the genesis for this work as I was looking for 'mourning' jewelry that suited me as well as answers to the complex questions only grief and loss ask, can we carry on relationships with our dead? How do we do so ? Thus, the Planchette was born as a personal symbol for me, as a way into my grief, a way to navigate a lot of complex and difficult feelings at a time of loneliness as I didn't have a community then, nor as intimate of an understanding of the dance with grief as I do now. Over time I've made a number of planchettes and connected with many people through their grief and the planchette has continued to grow into a more deeply personal symbol for me, now 14 years later, we continue to make them and it has become a kind of house crest. I've imbued the symbol into moth wings, and now it's here in the center of this key, suggesting a way into the room where our ancestors are, the current where they 'speak' from, the hallway where we can visit them in dreams or in meditation or other channels. It's a liminal key for crossing thresholds into the unseen world, for joining hands in the Séance room.
Skeleton keys have long been an obsession of mine. My godmother is an auctioneer and took me along to auctions and estate sales. Treasure for me were always the wooden boxes filled with greasy and dirt caked keys, beautiful with their time earned patina, with their memories and silent stories. She has gifted me special ones over time; one I wore for many years around my neck and one especially meaningful Art Deco one I used as a size and design reference for this collection. As a kid, I imagined every beautiful key I came across no matter how small or large, belonged to a haunted house. Even the tiny keys that came with my school fair diary were special to me. Keys have that sort of resiliency that many other sorts of old objects don’t, they survive the wear and tear of misuse, they surface like relics from the muck of time.
Keys are an ancient tool, created first by the Ancient Egyptians in wood and modified by the Romans in metal and made small enough to be kept on a person, coined as the first ‘skeleton keys’. These were used, as now, to lock doors and boxes or 'safes', to protect precious objects and people. Thusly one of the mundane and ubiquitous tool has also come to garner potent symbolism over time and has been woven into a current everyday object that even digital technology can’t seem to make obsolete. At the time of my writing this, I still use metal keys to gain entrance to my apartment and studio; I moved out of a house in Philadelphia in 2020 in one of the oldest parts of the city that still employed the use of skeleton keys. Perhaps the key is an object where the old world and the new continually shoulder up against each other, no matter how much modern technology tries to replace them.
As a talismanic jewel the key is a liminal object representing a potent tension and duality as it can both lock and unlock, making the person who holds the key one on a threshold.
*For locking: Being able to lock something behind you will always give the power and feeling of protection, therefore keys will always have the symbolism of protection embedded in them. The first key I can remember owning was a tiny key that fit to a tiny lock that latched onto a diary I owned in elementary school where I kept all of my secrets. This consisted of all of the titles of the books I’d write, but they sounded like spells, things I desperately wanted to change about myself; revenge I’d like to take on bullies. These days, protecting my loved ones, my heart, and extending protection to those I can feels most important to me. Feeling safe and helping others feel safe in my presence is something I'm always thinking about, and the presence of a key against my body helps remind me of these tenants and makes me feel safe.
For unlocking: Keys as objects that can 'unlock' show up as symbols across cultures. It’s a symbol of gaining access: for some it's about knowledge and wisdom or about gaining access to higher or unearthly realms: Saint Peter was known to hold the keys to heaven while Hecate is known to hold the keys to the unseen world/ the gates of death. As an initiatory symbol, it suggests garnering levels of knowledge that lead upwards on your path, or crossing thresholds of the unconscious. It also suggests the ability of survival, of being able to find 'a way out', of reaching a place where you are able to unlock or solve an obstacle that was complex or troubling, such as a Sphinx's riddle.
- 33mm at it's widest
- 74mm from top to bottom ( including jump ring )
- Solid Sterling Silver
- Shown on Miguel with 30 inch chain
- Shown on Jess with 16 inch chain
- Both pendant and chain are hand oxidized to achieve our favorite shade of stormy gray and then highlighted to reveal the bright luminous silver beneath
- Last image shows all keys for scale
Each of the keys in this series was based on drawings made by my husband, Aaron Horkey, as I peered over his shoulder and requested my 'dream' keys, making them even more special to me.
This jewel is handmade to order, just for you, with care and focus. Please allow approximately 5 weeks for creation before shipping.
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