“Half-DIY” Buddha Amulet Necklace

Do you know about the idea of half homemade food by Sandra Lee? You use ready-made things, and add your own twist as you put a meal together? Well it can also be applied to DIY, and I really like the half homemade idea when you want to be creative but you’re time-pressed. Or when you don’t have the skills to do total DIY. Or when the perfect ready-made thing presents itself to you, and you just want to add to it. That’s what happened to me.

Years ago I got this Thai standing Buddha amulet on eBay:


I wanted to make a multi-cultural necklace like the one below that I saw years ago, worn by Hanh Merriman of  Life in Travel blog:

Diversity in Jewelry by Hanh at Life in Travel

Very apropos, she named that post “Diversity.”

Hanh’s necklace above is by Kimme Winters, which I cannot afford, so I wanted to make something. Of course a Buddha amulet would be part of the necklace. I’ve traveled through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia (hopefully soon Myanmar) and am drawn to wats and Buddhas. I thought my Buddha amulet from eBay would be about 1.5-2″ tall.  But the seller must have used a macro lens just as I did in the photo above. Because:


Not impactful at all!

And this wasn’t a cheap amulet. Oh well. The Buddha sat in the jewelry box for a few years. I always had the idea to combine it with something else. Just needed to find the right thing. A few months ago, while stalking the jewelry-making aisles at Michaels, I saw stone pendants with big holes in them. Big enough for the Buddha? Yes:


And it looks like the Buddha is in a cave, very cool. So to make this half-DIY necklace, I added a few things to the pendant. Here are the supplies:


Well that was the first attempt at making the necklace, then a 20-lb cat decided to lean on my stuff. How do you push him away when he just wants to be a part of things? Here’s the successful DIY, in a hotel, so no crafty cat. There was better light for photos in the hotel anyway:


First to give the pendant hole a backing, I found round copper blanks from Vintaj. But the dark Buddha was getting lost on the copper color, so I applied Rub ‘n Buff in Antique Gold to lighten up the copper.

Then I tied the Buddha amulet to the copper circle with a saffron string, like the saffron robes that Buddhist monks wear. This saffron string came with the packaging of something I bought long ago, and at the time I thought it should be woven into something with the Buddha amulet. So now the Buddha is tied with a knot to the metal circle, and the Buddha hangs free within the pendant:


Then I glued the metal circle to the pendant with E6000 glue. For now I let the saffron strings hang free, a little bit boho:



Here’s how I styled the necklace the first time I wore it. I wore the Buddha necklace with another necklace I made with chunks of pyrite, and a necklace with a Mexican religious pendant. The combo has the multi-cultural spirit of the original inspiration:


This would need more beads to be closer to the original inspiration.

As is, I think it looks a bit more like this Kimme Winters pendant combo Hanh shared on her blog, which is more sparkly:

Kimme Winters Pendants at Life in Travel blog

Hanh shares some more jewelry made by The Woods with Buddha amulets on her blog:

Buddha and Naga Amulet by The Woods from Life in Travel

I love the style and am inspired to make more jewelry! I’m eyeing some antique coins from India on eBay right now to make into pendants …


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Is it Tassel or Tassle?

Someone else had the same question. It’s out there spelled both ways. Anyway, here’s a passel of tassels today …

So there was this bead in Santa Fe. This bead is calling out to me to become a pendant with a tassel hanging below it. So I’ve had a growing obsession with tassels on necklaces lately.

Here’s one that’s spare and elegant, by shopkei on etsy:

Tassel Necklace by shopkei on etsy

Via Stella & Dot:

Tassel Necklace by Stella and Dot

This Vince Camuto version has a slightly more global vibe and is good example of a tassel and pendant combo:

Tassel Necklace by Vince Camuto

A Rachel Zoe tassel necklace at ShopBop:


A little bit of leather, a little bit of color in this tassel necklace at Ella Georgia:

Tassel Necklace at Ella Georgia

Some opulence, from Blugirl, fall 2011 season:

Tassel Necklace via Blugirl

There was an abundance of jewelry in Santa Fe — and there’s an upcoming post about “Santa Fe Pompeiian” inspiration found there — but I have a goal this year to do more DIY. So I found some beads and some fixin’s and will be making a few pieces. One of them will surely include a tassel or two or three …

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Wishes: In My Suitcase to Wear in India

My daily wear in the U.S. is not at all showy. I can be downright Calvin Klein-ish with an aversion to bright color, big baubles and unusual shapes.

But when I go to India, that all changes. Another person emerges. Here’s what I would love to take in my suitcase (onboard of course because I’d never let these things out of my sight!). These are from two newer online shops that could easily get the UPS guy visiting our porch much more often: Jaypore and Pondicherry …

From Jaypore

This ivory bakelite and zircon bracelet, by Neelum Narang (love it, like a modern interpretation of old silver Indian jewelry):

This is a border-patterned handloomed towel, but if it is finely-woven, couldn’t it be a stole as well:

These coral and pearl earrings:

This red and pink cotton stole with Maheshwari weave, to cover my upper arms if I’m wearing a sleeveless long black dress:

From Pondicherry

Emerson Fry tunics, worn over wide flowy pants:

This natural indigo dyed cotton sheath dress, which I’d wear when I go photograph the Chola-inspired interior of a certain hotel in Chennai that I am stalking online. It’s a dress but I’d wear it over my navy linen pants with navy Ralph Lauren thong sandals (hmmmm I’m truly talking myself into this one):

I’d wear this navy batik bangle too:

How about this organic silk dress with long black or brown skirt or pants:

I already own these paduka toe plug sandals from Pondicherry Shop, love them:

An Amrita Singh bangle set like this, totally going in the suitcase!

In reality, I usually pack older slip-on shoes because shoes go off and on constantly, and they get dirty. I don’t take pricey clothes. I often sew long skirts and flowy pants with wildly patterned fabric yardage that I purchase whenever I see something I like. I take only clothes that won’t make me want to scream if they get faded or shrunk while being washed and dried (having learned from previous screaming experience).

So … maybe that India Traveler in me needs to make more appearances at home. Hmmmm?

***This is not a sponsored post! I just love the India-inspired products at these shops.***

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Paduka: India’s Fashionable Platform/Wedge Shoe

I’m thrilled that platform and wedge shoes have hung around for many seasons. At only 5′ tall, I love the height boost without needing pump heels, which with a size 6.5 foot, you can only wear so high before you’re walking on the tips of your toenails. Without platforms and wedges, seeing the world from the lofty (ha!) height of … 5’4″ maybe 5’5″ if the shoes are especially stable … would be impossible.

But for all of us reading here, this is just a fashion decision, and it’s a major luxury.

Huh? Isn’t it luxury to be talking about Hermes or Maison Martin Margiela shoes? Are Sofft and Nine West wedges luxurious?

Well, yes. Because for us here, this is fashion and personal preference. But in previous centuries, getting a boost above the muck on the ground was a necessity for health. Who knows what lived in the muck in the streets before proper sewage disposal. And when floods hit, all kinds of nastiness swirls in the waters. Still today, much garbage lies on the ground around the world.

Thus, people needed a booster shot — via their shoes — for their health. We’ll get to India’s paduka in a second. Lofty shoes could be found in many lands, and for the wealthy they were gorgeous …

Nineteenth century Turkish kabkab via Bata Shoe Museum:

Manchu platforms from China, via Bata Shoe Museum:

The Venetian chopine, gorgeous and not always practical:

So let’s now see some antique paduka from India …

These antique toe knob sandals from the 1800s, with bone and ivory inlay in sheesham wood, are available at Michael Backman Ltd:

These paduka, less ornate but just as pretty, are available via Laurie Maritime Antiques on Fleaglass:

Paduka such as these are associated with sadhu, or holy men in India, and venerated religious ceremonies. So they carry a meaning far beyond being hygienic.

Here’s another pair of antique rosewood paduka sandals (now sold), inlaid with brass wire, at Michael Backman Ltd:

From the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, antique ceremonial silver paduka with an ornamental gold-covered toe knob, from Jaipur:

These paduka shaped like fish — a symbol of fertility and plenty in India — are inlaid with brass, and part of the Bata Shoe Museum collection:

These are 20th century brass paduka etched with a lotus symbol, at the Bata Shoe Museum:

If you like the idea of toe knob sandals, you can get some for yourself. I recently got a pair of paduka, although they’re flat not wedged:

They’re made by Feesk and I got them from Pondicherry, which carries many Feesk and other toe-plug sandal styles (plus many more India-inspired wares — check them out — I’m not paid to say these things, just a happy customer sharing good finds with you). I wear these paduka casual as I’ve already had a wedding many years ago. But with the metallic threads and sparkles …

… these would be great for an Indian wedding, for the bride and guests.

Recently at the Art Institute of Chicago, I spotted a lady lunching there while wearing Feesk toe-plug sandals with a black outfit. Wouldn’t these paduka be nice with a long black knit column dress?

When we were in Chennai last year, rains flooded the streets for many days. (Visit the India Travel Stories page to see videos.) The same streets where garbage overflows the containers, and where animals live and do all their daily business. We would have needed 2-foot tall paduka to wade above those waters. Lacking that, we were very conscientious about not getting our feet into the water. Coming from the U.S. we lack some immunities and can get sick very easily in India. (That would never stop me from traveling to other countries, though.) So our car and rickshaw drivers would pull up to elevated driveways so we could walk into stores above the waters. We mapped our travels around streets that had better drainage. As a result, our feet never got in the water. It was a minor annoyance. But imagine if we had to think about that, all day every day, when walking outside? Yes we do live in luxury in many ways — we may not always see it because our bar of expectations has been raised so much higher today.

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