Celebrating Beauty in Aging

I had a friend my age die from breast cancer recently.  A friend who was such a wonderful Christ-follower…she was beautiful.  She was a wife, mother, friend, daughter, and sister.  She was so much beauty to so many different people in her life.  She created beautiful texture in the lives of those she knew.  The news of her passing was hard to take especially during this time in my own life as I age.

To celebrate this phase of life, this transitioning from earthly life to life eternal, I created a ring from the remains of asters after the petals have fallen and the seeds have been cast to the surrounding ground to grow their own roots and bloom and flower in another season.  Much like growing up your children and sending them off on their own.  My petals are fading, and my beauty is changing.  Instead of having the colorful petals, I’m left with beautiful texture, much like the aster remnants I used to texture this ring.

Midwinter Aster Ring in Sterling Silver, Open Band

I’m all about a woman’s natural beauty.  You know…no make-up, no frills, no hair-dye.  The beautiful gray tresses, the age spot freckles, the fine lines and wrinkles…the beautiful texture.

Mid Winter Asters in Sterling Silver Necklace 3

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I Live Where the Grass Grows Tall

I live where the grass grows taller than I stand.  I live where the wind whispers through the tall big bluestem grasses and the same grasses speak back.  Listening to their conversation, it is as if I understand their words, and I find inspiration.  I really don’t know exactly when I realized I was in love with the prairie.  I do know it was after I started creating my prairie grass jewelry collection.  Searching through the changing seasons and watching the grasses and wildflowers change created a desire to know them better.   I graduated last summer from docent training at the Konza Prairie Biological Station in Manhattan, Kansas in part to gain more knowledge of the prairie, but also to be able to pass down that passion for the prairie to my art students.  I teach middle and high school home-school students.

Big bluestem on Konza Prairie, Kansas

My daughter with big bluestem on the Konza Prairie

I’ve had a chance to take my students out to the prairie this past fall where we took photos of flowers. insects, grasses, and trees that inspired us.  A 1 1/2 hour hike took us almost 3 hours because we were so absorbed in what the prairie was saying to us.  We plan to go back this spring to catch the awakening of the first flowers of the year.  We’ll be carrying our nature journals under our arms and our cameras around our necks.

I’ve added the majestic, big bluestem grass, to my jewelry designs.  It is such an important grass to the prairie’s ecological system.  It also makes some awesome textures.

kansas big bluestem earrings in sterling silver-5

Big bluestem earrings in sterling silver

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The Least of These…Prairie Grass Seed Jewelry

A seed.  Small organic matter that falls to the ground from a plant that has died, but yet contains the very mystery of life within its being.  It holds the power to re-create.

praire grass jewelry by gayle dowell

The textures of prairie grasses and wildflowers have fascinated this simple mind.  I was looking closely at one particular grass, the little bluestem and wanted to capture it in a small pendant.  The grasses themselves are too big for this, so I was looking at the individual seeds.

prairie grass seed jewelry from Kansas

As I thought about seeds in general and their purpose and the life cycle of plants, I saw the powerful symbolism that they represent.  So small, the least of these, often overlooked or hidden, but hold the power of regeneration: a death, a new life, a fresh beginning.

These necklaces are dedicated to the seed-gatherers.  Those who work to help restore and preserve our prairies by harvesting seeds.

With the new year almost here, these are a great reminder of the fresh beginnings a new year promises.

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Bittersweet…a New Stage in Life

Bittersweet Buds (3)

Bittersweet.  A beautiful vine-plant that grows wild among the trees here in Kansas.  It sits quietly among the trees in the spring and summer only to shout loudly with its bright red-orange color in fall and winter when the trees are brown and bare.  As I reflect on my life this past year, I can see the symbolism in the bittersweet that reflects this time of life for me.

Bittersweet (2)

We graduated my youngest daughter from home school and she is now starting her college journey at the university.  Our oldest daughter married in September and will be moving across country next year.  Such a bittersweet time this is for me.  Hubby and I were living quietly with the heart-hidden knowledge that this time would come when our girls would move on in their lives, and now the time has come suddenly and the empty nest is shouting loudly to my heart.  A time of sweetness in the midst of the cold realization that my girls are no longer girls but women.

Not wanting to forget these mixed feelings of sadness and joy, I created some bittersweet jewelry to remind me of this time of life with a new realization…


mini-studs-sterling-bittersweet- earrings-gayle-dowell-6

A new season is coming.

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Taking a New Path Through the Prairies of Kansas

If you’ve joined me from my previous blog, “This Artist’s Journey“, thank you for following me here to “Along Prairie Paths”.  It has been a wonderful journey, and I believe that I’ve found where my heart belongs, right here in the middle of the prairie, creating from the inspiration I find in these hills.

konza prairie manhattan kansas-1

If you have just joined me on this journey, welcome friend.  I’m so glad that you’ve come along side me on this path.  My desire is to inspire you to enjoy what you see in your surroundings wherever you are, to let it inspire you in whatever creative path you are on and to enjoy the journey along the way.

I’ve come a long way from where I first started this journey.  Isn’t that the way of this life, learning new things along the way, growing in knowledge of your craft, and transforming your interests to find new inspiration?  These are the very reasons I needed to start along a new path with a new blog.  I’ve grown so much.  As this new season in life begins, I want to keep pressing forward and growing as an artist.  I hope you will join me.

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