Tag Archive | art

DIY Seashore Themed Tutorial #1 ~ Crystal “Starfish” for Summer Weddings and Other Celebrations

Chain Reactions Interchangeable Jewelry Concept: Video Tutorial

Resisting Economic Oppression – The Role of Holidays as an Indicator of Social Domination


You can use your social media presence as a powerful form of storytelling and self-expression. When you post images or like pages on Facebook – or even when you use Twitter hash tags from ads or TV – you make a statement that contributes to the economy and world you live in. And you help advertisers enhance their ability to create a sense of deprivation and need – even when it does not exist. Case and point – forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving due to “consumer demand that stores are open.” Image source: Reason for the Season Facebook Community.

When you support a business that forces employees to work on this sacred holiday – which is intended to remind us of our blessings and abundance – you support and encourage a philosophy of economic oppression. Thank those who devote their lives to service all year round by not asking them to leave their families to serve you.

This practice is directly in violation of our most revered Constitutional right – freedom of religion – as it represents absolute irreverence for the concept of a holiday, or “HOLY DAY.” Irreverence for holidays is a form of social domination, which attempts to remove the very last vestiges of sacred and spiritual life. It is a historically devastating phenomenon, that has impacted the spiritual practices of cultures across the globe.

If people are forced to exchange the rituals and traditions of their cultural heritage and spirituality for economic stability, their connection with the sacred is slowly lost – and their Gods, customs and treasured memories are essentially confiscated and rendered forbidden. In it’s place is a “false idol,” or connection to a superficial, materialistic version of reality.

  • As colonialists in North and South America began their oppression of native cultures, certain social and psychological measures were used to dilute and eventually replace the belief systems of the “host” culture.
  • Over time, interest in one’s own cultural heritage becomes secondary to one’s interest in the dominant culture. Like a parasite, the entire system is diverted to benefit the predatory culture’s growth. When no longer of use, native cultures are cruelly discarded or cast aside – after they have surrendered all of their gifts, innovations, wealth and future generations – to sustaining their oppressors.
  • Those who conform are rewarded and praised – as well as given more status and wealth than those who continue their traditional practices. In this deceptive sleight of hand, it is never revealed that these rewards fall short of fairness – offering only a meager increase in wealth and status to a select few “exemplary individuals” in the native culture – using this arrangement to destroy the internal cohesion of the culture’s people. It is particularly effective when those who had high status in the previous, traditional culture are rendered obsolete, low-status, or worse, burdensome.
  • Because those who conform are favored with resources – including education, food and healthcare – natural selection will begin to favor culturally detached individuals. That is, human control of resources – including intangible psychological constructs like prestige, praise, and acceptance – may be used to induce the same adaptive shifts in survival strategy that are normally evoked through environmental, seasonal and geological changes. This manifestation of natural selection results from social and economic manipulation – artificially inducing an impetus to evolve or change – even though there is abundance rather than scarcity of resorces and social roles.
  • The leadership roles of the native culture are marginalized. Indivisdal yearning for power is used to overthrow “outdated” elders, usurp important social roles, and convince the host culture that the colonialists are far more qualified and capable of assuming leadership positions.
  • Those who have lost power are repeatedly assured of their fortunate position – told they are now “free” of the “burdens” and “responsibilities” of leadership and government – and that their lives are now in the capable hands of “experts.”
  • At later stages, valuable social roles and occupations are withheld from those who have been historically marginalized – especially women, minorities, and any remaining descendants of native cultures.

    Harvest Goddess

    One of the most disorienting effects of spiritual suppression is the marginalization of the divine feminine, or mother goddess. Ironically monotheism seems to have originally intended to emphasize that ALL gods are one god – not that one version is superior. And the trinity is the residual symbol of a divine family – mother, father and child (i.e., ALL people, not just some) – male, female, and what is create between the two opposite energies. Harvest Goddess – Alphonse Mucha – Art-Nouveau Painter who frequently depicts godess-like women enshrouded in interwoven natural motifs. His work was popular in advertisements and posters.

  • New rituals are invented, that make leadership roles sacred positions – beyond the understanding and abilities of mere “laypersons.” Certifications, degrees, permits, and other official documentation are used to disguise economic oppression and discrimination – reinforcing the superiority of anyone who has the time and money to purchase these positions. Training in advanced skills is only given at a high cost, and any stray individual who crawls up the ladder from below is burdened with crushing debt and psychological intimidation.
  • People are often taught mythology that claims they will be rewarded later on in an “afterlife,” which allows greedy employers and institutions to postpone fair trade indefinitely. Cultures tend to be more susceptible to this line of reasoning when they are suffering, and feel forsaken by God, country or the “higher powers” that should be protecting them.

If people are forced to exchange the rituals and traditions of their cultural heritage and spirituality for economic stability, their ability to connect with the sacred is slowly lost. In it’s place is a “false idol,” or connection to a superficial, materialistic version of reality.

As we begin another holiday season, please take time to consider how your habits as a consumer influence and shape the lives of others. And consider what we lose when we indulge in ourselves, rather than our communities and in those who really need our help.

And when you consider the diverse beliefs of others, try to suspend disbelief. Even if a female goddess terrifies you, consider the fact that nature is not organized as a monopoly or order of important versus unimportant things. If we are ALL in God’s image, then all are partially divine. In Bhuddism, every stranger is considered a possible Bhudda, and thus revered as part of a divine energy that we all share.

Thus, reclaiming our freedom and stability involves coming to terms with our exclusionary spiritual tendencies. Not just for the divine feminine, but for the myriad of faces, names, and representations used to breathe life into a concept that we all share… In an infinite universe, one or many are both the same number – and there is no beginning nor end – just observable cycles that appear to signify these concepts.


Somewhere Over the Rainbow…

Color trends will never again leave you stranded with an obsolete, outdated piece! With our interchangeable strands in 28 different colors (not including our seasonal and special edition palettes), you can adapt your color choices to correspond with any trend or color fad. And an extra bonus: You can match every stubborn magenta bridesmaid dress – without investing in a whole new set of jewelry pieces… How does this work? Well, because the chain base strand and charms are detachable, you only need one full set to create necklaces, bracelets and anklets. Thus, the more strands you buy, the more color options you have – and your look can never go out of style again!

A Fairytale, or Origin Myth of Clarissa Cupcake (AKA My First Burlesque Experience)


So sweet you will go into diabetic shock!

Once Upon a Time,

There was a graduate student named Natasha Lee Q-T. She wanted to share the most beautiful revelation of her graduate school life with her peers and professors, so she wrote the following tale entitled:

Bringing Sexy Back: “Joining” in Cultural Experiences

Spring 2012 115

Do you want it? I don’t believe you.

I first arrive at the Boston Babydolls Dance Studio, soaking from the heavy rain pouring outside. With trembling hands, I clutch my purse tightly to my chest as a flock of nervously giggling girls in leggings and high heels emerge. Everyone appears giddy with anticipation. At 8pm, the door to room 208 opens, revealing a small, mirrored dance studio where the course instructor, Miss Mina, welcomes us into her domain.
“Which one of you is Natasha?” Miss Mina asks.
I raise my hand sheepishly and walk into the room. The door closes behind me. Having had a personal interest in burlesque and gender studies, I have chosen to observe this dance studio as an intern in the cultural psychoanalysis program, but my intention of merely “observing” begins to change as the prospect of joining the dancers becomes more enticing.
Miss Mina hands me an attendance sheet, and I nervously open the door and ask all of the other students their names. Miss Mina turns on some music, as I stand in the corner holding onto my notebook for dear life. I really want to be in this class – to dance with the other students – to learn burlesque. But that idea seems so far from reality that the mere concept makes me feel faint, and my heart flutters as Miss Mina approaches me.
She asks, “Natasha, would you like to participate in the class with the other students? Most of our interns like to participate in the beginning burlesque class.”
I feel myself blushing as I consider the prospect of dancing. I remind myself that I am here as a researcher, but then again, “joining” is utilized as a modern psychoanalytic approach… to the distaste of many contemporary academic disciplines! While the most respected researchers in anthropology, sociology, and “modern” psychology only ascribe value to data collected through detached, empirical, “objective” observation, psychoanalysts believe that participant observation is still a worthy pursuit. Although experts in various fields insist that subjective research methods like this are “archaic,” “naïve,” technologically “primitive,” and “biased” by participation, I began to wonder… Could one also be “biased” by lack of participation – especially because the concept of “objective” empirical research implies a hierarchical, superiority-based privileging of observation versus direct experience? It simply assumes that a researcher is the superior authority on culture – rather than those who live within it! Standing there lost in my thoughts I realize that in order to truly understand the psychological dynamics behind burlesque theater, I need to immerse myself in burlesque culture. And I am absolutely thrilled, and terrified.
With an electric shiver of excitement mixed with fear I stutter, “B-but… I… I don’t have any high heels or gloves. Are you sure I can be in your class?” Being a studious young lady, I had read the class description online before attending – and I knew that gloves and heeled shoes would be part of the lesson plan.
“It’s fine,” Mina replies. “I have some extra gloves you can borrow for now.”
A moment of panic washes over me. I have always loved performance art and dance, yet I have little experience as a dancer, and sometimes, I find myself to be a bit clumsy. My hand-eye coordination is weak, and I feel ill with trepidation…
Somehow I manage to gather enough courage to forget every insecurity I have about my body and my ability to dance. I forget that I am a chubby, short girl, and I feel a bizarre empowerment wash over me. So what if these other girls see me naked? No matter what, I’m seeing them naked… And some of them are even chubbier than I am! Besides, burlesque dancers never take off all of their clothes anyhow – it’s really just the equivalent of wearing a rather skimpy bikini…
Still reeling with panic, I manage to mumble, “Okay, I’ll join you.”
Standing there in front of the mirror, I become hyper-aware of my curves, my facial expression, my posture. A mirror can really intimidate a novice dancer by echoing each of your mistakes on its surface and revealing every false move to spectators. I cannot meet my own eyes in the mirror. Again, I am trembling violently, and as the music begins, the pounding of my heart becomes a roar in my ears.
Adrenaline fills my body, energizing me for a “fight or flight” response to this tremendously daunting task. As we begin warm-up exercises, I feel my face turning pink as I blush – I cannot help but giggle almost continuously – and a huge smile appears on my face in the mirror.
Am I actually enjoying this? Yes, very much! In fact, I feel as if a new sense of purpose and vitality is entering my body. Miss Mina’s voice interrupts my racing thoughts.
Miss Mina states, “The first important move you will learn in burlesque is the “bump.” Imagine yourself holding a big bag of groceries and exiting your car. How can you close the car door with your hands full? You can use your hip – like this!” Mina rapidly moves one hip up to the side, creating a sensuous curve with the side of her body. The entire class mimics her movements, and to my surprise I complete the maneuver with ease. Beaming with pride, I pretend I am balancing groceries on my hip while I close my imaginary car door – blowing an exaggerated kiss to myself in the mirror to thank myself for being such a good audience!
Mina continues, “The bump can be performed in four directions: right, left, forwards and backwards. The forward bump is similar to the “pelvic thrust” in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It looks very suggestive – even lewd. But you will find that burlesque balances precariously between suggestive, erotic and sexual themes – as well as themes of innocence, coyness, and traditional female gender stereotypes. The perfect tease blend elements of both, hitting the “sweet spot” or harmony between two extremes. The result of this fusion is public display of female sexuality and eroticism that remains somehow veiled in a thin mist of propriety. Some of these dance moves – like the forward bump – are not what proper ladies do in public, but in burlesque they may be used sparingly to entice and insinuate. As women, we are told not to make such lewd gestures with our bodies, but I encourage you to overcome this social stigma to perform this dance move.”

{I am reminded of satyr plays… or satire. Burlesque, it turns out, is laced with the most addictive, decadent, rich and delicious satire – that I thought it only fitting to eventually name myself after my favorite sweet yet deadly desert… and Clarissa Cupcake was born. Unlike Venus, born of sea foam, I imagined myself born of frosting… and perhaps sprinkles! It was like an endless sugar rush without the cavities or health concerns}.
The “bump” move is easy for me to pick up, though the forward and backward versions of the maneuver were far more difficult to perform than the side-to-side motions. I laugh at myself in the mirror, realizing that I am effectively humping the air in front of me. It does not look particularly sexy to me, but my performance seems adequate. As we practice removing our gloves in various ways, I begin to feel more confident and poised, and I am amazed how well I can actually dance!
After the class, I glance in the mirror and find my own image smiling back at me. My cheeks glow with warmth, and I feel intoxicated with elation. As I look in the mirror I realize how long it has been since I have seen myself so confident and happy and wonder how I became so estranged from joy in my adult life. I feel alive, radiant, and absolutely ecstatic! Tired yet excited, I leave class with a renewed passion for gender studies and even more determination to expel gender prejudice through research.
Perhaps my experience offers the perfect example of the power behind “joining” as a psychological mechanism in group membership. If I had never allowed myself to join the burlesque fantasy, I would not have developed the strong relationship I now have with the Boston Babydolls. It just goes to show that even in the research world, you do not understand a person until you walk a mile in their shoes… or rather, in their favorite pair of glittery high heels (should they happen to be a burlesque performer)!
It is through this process of shedding my clothes that I began to understand what psychoanalysts refer to as “dialectics”, and Buddhists refer to as “the middle way”, and thousands of philosophers, poets, etc. etc. pay homage to in their great works.Spring 2012 119
And from this greater understanding of this awe-inspiring place – the verge, horizon, cusp, crossroads, transition, and edge between worlds and concepts, where borders merge and the haze gives birth to new and strange things – that the Chain Reactions concept eventually emerged. No longer afraid of change or fluidity, I became an obsessed devotee of modular and hybrid design.

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Summer Morning Dutch Baby Pancakes – A Necklace & A Recipe

Full Spectrum Fashion: Chain Reactions Signature Color Palettes

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