Rays of the Bear Clan

“When you are where wild bears live you learn to pay attention to the rhythm of the land and yourself. Bears not only make the habitat rich, they enrich us just by being.”

-Linda Jo Hunter

The ivory stylized bear, a gift from a studio mate, had lived silently in my stash for a couple of years. From time to time I contemplated using it, but nothing seemed appropriate. I reasoned this was a special bear that required definitive inspiration.

When my monthly creative group gave us the assignment for an art/nature inspired piece or project, I reached for the bear. His time had come. 

As a part of my assignment, I scanned great works of art to understand how painters had portrayed bears. The Met included “A Bear Walking” by Leonardo da Vinci that further piqued my interest.

Intrigued, I went in search of a felted piece I’d hoarded in my stash. Fatima Mensen-Potter and I had experimented with felting for a cuff bracelet (except that I never completed my end of the project). The light green felted strip seemed to be a perfect base color for my bear cuff. The green reminded me of a piece of leather in my stash. Again I delved into the trunk and found the dyed snakeskin. Ohhhh-la-la! Perfect backing. 

©2020, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Backing for Rays of the Bear Clan

Satisfied, I pulled a variety of beads, including different sizes of greens, golds, and ivory along with special shapes such as bugle beads, pearls and malachite bears. Malachite is deemed to project a positive energy pattern for the heart. (Given my fascination with all things heART-related, it’s not surprising that malachite appealed to me.)

Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian in “The Book of Stones” point to the enlightened leadership properties of malachite. It’s a fire element that strengthens our ability to take action in the world.

The malachite performed its action-oriented work, clearing the way for me to clarify my cuff vision: the sun beaming onto the mountains, highlighting a valley where malachite bear cubs frolicked. In the end my seven by two inch felting was completely covered in beads.

Bears symbolize protection in Native American folk lore. I think of them as power, magnificence and beauty. I choose to notice how easily bears move, how gently the bear cubs play and how naturally they fit the landscape. Magical.

Rays of the Bear Clan was quickly stitched together. I found an ivory bear charm for the closure and edged the entire piece with bead picot, a standardized grouping of three seed beads that form a flourish.

©2020, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Rays of the Bear Clan

What sweet satisfaction this completion provided. Not only did I close the loop with Fatima and let her know I’d used her felting, but I sent pictures of Rays of the Bear Clan to the group just ahead of our meeting date. 

Let the Bear Symbol Challenge You

Maybe you have a similar opportunity awaiting your creativity. Seize the magical moment. Using items that you already have in your stash, enjoy the fruits of your labor as you too let yourself be inspired by nature. 

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