My chrysalis story
How it all began
I didn't see my first chrysalis until I was 23 years old. At the time, I was actually crushed that something so exquisite yet somewhat common had been kept from me all my life. In retrospect, I think those strong feelings--feeling that I had almost missed out on knowing such a beautiful thing about my world--helped push me harder to recreate it into an art piece.
After seeing my first chrysalis, which was thanks to my very environmentally savvy husband-then-boyfriend, I decided I needed to see it again reaaaalllyy closely. I mean, walking in a field and seeing one is one thing, but how many minutes do you get before you have to leave? No. I was determined to find a caterpillar. Thank goodness the stars were aligned, because now I know years later that finding caterpillars can be an art of its own. I have a feeling the butterfly spirits were on my side, for I found two lovely plump cats that first summer of my obsession and brought them home and named them Cooper and Diana, the latter named after the late princess, a passing that stills offends me to this day. I guess that places this story at 1997.
The caterpillars turned to chrysalis and hung happily from their container until they hatched. One hatched before the other and started to move and bat its wings. My cat India thought this was very exciting and toppled the whole container over with a crash. Thankfully I was home and quickly rescued the newly hatched butterfly.
But the other chrysalis was no longer attached at the cremaster and needed help. Well, the internet wasn't really around much at that time and I had no idea what to do. I instinctually felt the silkie part of the top of the chrysalis could handle my idea. I got a needle and thread and sewed it through the silk, feeling like the queen of the fairies the entire time. It was to hang in my morning glories, but beforehand I had my boyfriend take a picture of it up to my neck as a necklace. I kept telling him, "See? This is what I'm saying. It has to be a necklace!"
That picture took me through the early years as I auditioned different medias. Initially I was going to use jade, then glazed porcelain, and kept running into dead ends. But another wonderful bit of luck (or was it destiny?) landed me a job at a stained glass studio where one of the owners would melt glass on his off-hours. I was entranced by every little kooky glassy thing on his very full bench. The job was to build stained glass windows and my boss only agreed to teach me lampworking after I became very proficient at stained glass. No mean feat, I might add. So that's how it started. A very stubborn woman who simply would not give up on this idea. Not only could I see the piece in my head, I could feel it as a longing. It felt empty not to have it in the world and I couldn't believe I couldn't find anyone else who did it because frankly, there were times when I just would have bought their piece and been done with it instead of doing my own. I literally learned lampwork glass to make a chrysalis and there's quite a bit of a learning curve on that too. If you have a piece of your own, it's made from the inside-out, of American and Italian glass, with pure 24k gold permanently melted into it.
There's a little more to this story too that seems only fair to share. I think when a person first sees a chrysalis and really sets some time in their mind to contemplate what's happening in the physical transition from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, their mind gets a little boggled. Do you know that scientists still don't quite understand all that is happening inside that thing that manages to create a whole new being from the old? When there are still questions past the point that science can answer, then a person gets a little philosophical. I certainly did. My quest to capture the essence of this special point of metamorphosis created a series of events that actually morphed me. I changed from being a person who dreamt of being an artist to actually going through the inner and outer work to become one. I thought more deeply about nature itself and the lessons it has all around us, seemingly hiding, yet all in plain sight if we will only bother to look. It made me wonder if Spirit has those kind of purposes and miracles in mind for little insects, then what is the purpose of a human? And what kind of miracles can we do, if any?
Nowadays, people buy a chrysalis from me for many different reasons. And sometimes all those reasons at once. We all experience changes inside us that can transform us, hopefully for the better. People get one because their time in nature changes them, or maybe they get one because they are being changed by circumstances like cancer or weddings or graduation. I've even had people get one to represent their own spiritual awakenings, which tickles me since I really relate! Whatever the reason, know that I am still happy being at the beck and call of the butterfly spirits. I hope my art pieces send out more good change, good experiences, good healing energy. We all deserve that and much much more.