Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pearl Knotting and the Art of Being Present

Good pearls need to be knotted. With a surface hardness of only 2.5 - 4 on the Mohs Scale, having an appropriately sized tight knot between pearls keeps their fragile surface of nacre from wearing. The knot should be just big enough to create the space but small enough to be unobtrusive.

I do not like knotting pearls. Why? Because every knot is a potential problem. If, in the process of trying to tighten a knot against a pearl the cord slips off the knotting tool -- leaving a tight knot with space between it and the pearl -- there is no “undo.”

There is only start over.

And at what point in the process is this most likely to occur? Toward the end, of course -- because the motions have become routine. My mind wanders. 

I have ceased to be present.

So each knotting session becomes a lesson in being present, one I have ample opportunity to practice over and over.

The above is an example of a piece in my Ancient Splendor Collection that I redid 6 times. It’s an antique Mughul pendant with table-cut diamonds and red spinel cabochons that make up a seated Ganesha – on very lustrous cultured baroque pearls accented with 

18K meenakari* beads. The back of the pendant also displays meenakari work.

*Meenakari is the Indian art of fine enameling. Because a shallow layer of high-carat gold was used in Mughul pieces, and is therefore soft, the back of pieces were enameled to prevent the gold from wearing off on the wearer’s skin.

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