New Leather and Bead Project|Action Required


In my most recent CollaborheARTist group project, one participant suggested we make a wearable pouch to hold a talisman for each of us. The pouch would complement Studio Spirit, a project to be revealed later in 2015. I immediately volunteered.

I imagined a soft leather medicine bag holding small items representing me and each of the other four artists. After another of our members showed us her special necklace, I felt confident to proceed.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Medicine Pouch Necklace Example

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Medicine Pouch Necklace Example

In my excitement, I never considered the “how-to.” I merely raised my hand. What followed was a work of love, the name given to any project over which you labor, learn and love the process.

If you’ve not experienced paralysis, you’re lucky. I can understand in retrospect that paralysis exists for me when I’m faced with the creative unknown. Why else did I wait weeks to begin?

I researched the meaning of the talisman and came up with my own version.

A talisman is an object meant to aid a person in focusing and amplifying his or her power to help you in achieving the future you desire.

My Internet time presented lots of ideas such as this step-by-step process to make a magical talismanNothing.

Even after I pulled the turquoise leather from my bin and gathered bags of coordinating bead potentials, nothing happened. I drew a pattern, tore it up, drew another and continued to procrastinate. In the meantime, dozens of other creations were started and finished and still, I waited.

Finally I attacked the engineering problems I could not solve in my mind with action: with my fingers.

I cut into the turquoise pigskin leather using the third or fifth pattern I’d drawn. I experimented with sinew, braided leather lacing and fashioned larger hole beads into an attractive neckpiece. Somehow, I figured it out.

I added and subtracted over week’s time. Some of the beads I chose were not large enough to accommodate the leather. I simply chose again. After a few efforts I made thin, even fringe without pulling so hard the leather detached from itself.

The natural seed that forms the adjustable component on the back adds a perfect touch. Long ends, hand-formed fringe, and a swinging, beaded closure add to the special feel of the piece.

I presented my finished pouch this week to approving comments and generous praise.
Imagine my surprise when asked, “Will you be selling your pouches in the gallery?”

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Spirit Woman Necklace

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Spirit Woman Necklace

Will I sell these pouches? Maybe.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Spirit Woman Necklace collage

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Spirit Woman Necklace collage


I can imagine such an item as perfectly appropriate for 2015, or the Chinese New Year of the Wooden Sheep, particularly if the item could help catalyze action. Hmmmmm. What will I choose for my talisman?

Disclosure: CollaborheARTists is a group of five artisan women who joined together in 2012 to create projects and indulge artistic whimsy.