Weaving Stories through Craft – Sarah

My craft item is a seahorse carved from Australian Mother of Pearl from Abalone shell collected in Melbourne.

This is a very symbolic necklace for me, seahorses are one of my favourite creatures and this piece represents a journey I have been on over the last 12 months.

Shortly after Christmas 2015 I was unwell and in bed for a week which is very unusual for me. More alarming was that I was unable to concentrate to read, could not write, was exhausted all the time and could not think clearly or articulate myself and I was suffering from chronic pain in my joints and face. I was shattered even walking to the end of our drive way. I had been working through a psychology degree, looking after 2 young children, one with additional needs and running our home, and now could do very little. Because I could not read I was at a loss as to what I could do to feel some sense of purpose or relax.

I love the beach – its where my husband proposed to me, and one weekend my husband took my children and I to the beach. On the first visit I was able to walk from the car to the beach, and watch the boys play. They splashed in rock pools and then came and showed me all of their treasures – the shells and snails they had found.
We soon amassed a large collection of shells, and I slowly joined the boys looking for shells around where I sat. I continued undergoing tests to work out what was happening to me, and over the following weeks collected a number of diagnoses, from a mini stroke, to trigeminal neuralgia, a tumour in my nose, migraines and fibromyalgia. I was had a massive collection of medications all with side effects that made me groggy, gain weight, lose my self confidence, cancel meetings with friends and leaving me tired and miserable.

As the shell collection grew my husband suggested that I could make something from these shells. For a few weeks I ignored him – I could not concentrate to make dinner, how could I make something? But he persevered and I gave in and started to clean up shells, and he taught me to use a drill. I found that in my study I could ignore all the things that I could not do. I was spurred on by a quote I had seen “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” this became my new mantra, and I set about learning what I could do now, rather than focussing on what I used to be able to do.

This whole journey has taken me through 2016. I have new skills, learnt to use new tools, and battled my way through diagnoses and medications to understand my health. Whatever happened to me at Christmas I have been left with Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, and chronic migraines. I have learnt that I have skills I never appreciated, I have begun to pace myself better and am medication free learning to control my pain. A huge part of this has been the support of people I have met through my business, my customers at markets, the other makers I have met, the people who admire my jewellery, many of who do not know the story behind the beauty.
So when I look at the seahorse I see progress, a journey of learning and understanding and a new network of friends and a delicate beauty.

Additional notes:
Sarah trained in History and Archaeology at University, and on graduating became an Executive Trainee with HSBC Bank in the UK becoming a Bank Manager at 21. She travelled nationally and internationally with her role before her husband took a role with CSIRO which lead to a relocation to Melbourne with their 18 month old son Scott. Sarah worked as an office manager at Grace Church of Christ in Wantirna around having her second son Joseph, and returned to study to become a psychologist after feeling called to help others and being fascinated with neuroscience after her son’s diagnosis with Autism. Sarah is the founder of Earth Friendly Jewellery (previously Treasure of Tides) and takes her jewellery to local markets and is a stockist at Our Little Caravan, and is active in their creative community.