The history of Valentine's Day is obscure and is associated with various legends. The roots of Valentine’s Day are in an ancient Roman fertility celebration. Pope Gelasius turned this pagan festival into a Christian feast day around 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day, to honor one of the three early Christian saints whose names were "St. Valentine”.
One legend has it that Valentine, who was in prison, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed "from your Valentine." The most likely story surrounding St. Valentine is one focused on Christian love rather than passionate love: he was apparently martyred on February 14th for refusing to renounce his religion.
In the 14th century this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love. It was the poet, Chaucer, who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance.
By the 18th century, gift giving and exchanging handmade cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England, a custom that eventually spread to the American colonies. By the 1850s, the tradition of giving gifts, typically chocolates or jewelry, became widespread in the United States.
***NOTE: For more detailed information, please see the comment below by Marie. There are apparently many different stories related to Valentine's Day and the saint the holiday it is named for. I appreciate Marie taking the time to write and I have adjusted my errors in language above. I took my information from a variety of online sources and it is a quick synopsis of what I found after researching the holiday.
Since I participate as an artist every year at FIL, I thought I would share a little bit of the history of this wonderful festival.
Did you know that FIL is the largest outdoor, FREE Francophone event in the U.S? Herman Mhire, a Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is the founding president of FIL, which began in
1986 as a community-supported, non-profit organization whose goal was to produce an annual visual and performing arts festival celebrating the French cultural heritage of southern Louisiana. FIL emphasizes the connections between Acadiana and the Francophone world; each year, musical artists from Europe, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean and the Americas come to Lafayette, Louisiana to share their talents with the community.
The original missions of the FIL were to enrich the community with a celebration of its native cultures through performing arts, educate the public of the achievements and artistic expressions of related global cultures, to develop culture and tourism, and to enhance economic development by expanding Lafayette’s reputation as an arts center and a destination for artistic events.
Originally primarily a musical event, FIL also now features workshops, theater and visual artists who are primarily members of the Louisiana Crafts Guild. The Marché des Arts, the FIL Fine Arts Market, showcases artists from all over the country. You will find handmade artisan jewelry, pottery, and many other handcrafted items.
In the Marché du Monde, FIL’s World Market, you will find commercial imports such as sculptures, art, clothing, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, photography, instruments and much more.
Click here to see the complete list of artists for the FIL2015 Marche des Arts (handmade art/craft): http://festivalinternational.org/artists-eats/marche-des-arts/
Click here to see the list of vendors for FIL2015 Marche du Monde (commercial imports): http://festivalinternational.org/artists-eats/marche-du-monde-hidden/
This link will take you to the complete musical schedule for FIL2015: http://lineup.festivalinternational.org/events/2015/04/22/
I was at an outdoor show this weekend and something interesting that happened there.
On the last day of the show, a well-dressed woman came into my booth with her daughter and a friend. After looking at my jewelry, she tried on one of my sterling silver necklaces. With the necklace on, she asked me if the necklace was sterling silver. I assured her that it was and she told me something that had happened the year before at this same festival. She bought a piece of silver jewelry that was supposed to be sterling silver. After a period of time of wearing and enjoying the jewelry, she noticed that the silver seemed to be "wearing off". Thinking that the jewelry was beginning to tarnish, she proceed to try to clean it using the typical methods (polishing cloth and, I assume, silver "dip"). When that was unsuccessful, she took the piece to a local jeweler who informed her that, not only was the piece not sterling, but that she had "ruined" the piece trying to clean it.
I proceeded to assure her that the necklace that she was wearing was sterling silver and that I was aware that sterling "fill" or "plate" became popular a few years back when sterling silver prices became prohibitive. She left my booth without purchasing the necklace.
After she left I continued to think about what I could have said to convince her that the necklace was indeed sterling silver. Probably nothing. Having done a little research, I have learned that there really is no reliable test for sterling silver as opposed to silver plated or silver filled. My piece was not stamped ".925" but that would not prove anything since I made the piece and could stamp it with whatever I wanted.
I am still left wondering what I could have said (or not said) that would have helped this potential customer trust me - that's what it comes down to, after all. And what about the jeweler who pronounced the piece "not sterling"? What was his interest in this? Clearly, he may have been interested in securing his position as the only "trusted" professional, thereby insuring that she would buy from him rather than "street vendors" such as myself or my fellow artists.
What a shame. Trust is everything in this business.
Perhaps no other geometric shape feels more ancient and all encompassing than the circle. A simple, perfect, closed curve, we see it in nature in the sun and moon, and in one of the greatest inventions of man, the wheel. The circle has held profound meaning for humanity since the beginning of time, and represents wholeness, eternity, completion and inclusion. It’s no wonder that the ultimate symbol of human union, the wedding ring, is a circle enclosing the fourth finger, which was associated in ancient times with the heart.
The circle is at the heart of both the Signature and Luxury jewelry collections. Chain mail itself is the intertwining of small circles to make an incredibly strong, resilient, and beautiful fabric-like weave. From sterling silver wrap rings to handmade silver earrings, to bangles and chain bracelets, there’s almost no limit to the circles you can add to your jewelry collection. With no beginning and no end, the circle radiates a sense of infinite symmetry and stability. Wearing one, or a thousand woven together, will bring you a feeling of strength and peace.
Ok, Bright Idea #3 ------ this is really the simplest of all, although you may have to go buy it; the very easiest way to clean silver back to it's "bright & shiny", like new form, is silver "dip". There are several on the market - easy to find. Jewelry stores & just about any place that sells jewelry sells this stuff & it does work great. HOWEVER, it can damage your silver over time so only use it occasionally. Hagerty's Dip and Spray Polish for sterling silver do a really nice job so, if you want to go the "dipping" route, pick up one of those products & give it a try. Go here to see the final suggestion for cleaning sterling silver jewelry with things you already have on hand!
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Bright Idea #4
This idea is an oldie but a goodie - good old baking soda! Everybody has baking soda around the house & it's good for cleaning all sorts of things, even sterling silver! Make a paste of baking soda and water, rub it GENTLY into the sterling silver piece you are trying to clean, rinse WELL and repeat as needed. You can use your fingers, a soft cloth (cotton is best - think old tee shirt.....) or a soft-bristled toothbrush. Same warning as with some of the other methods - baking soda, used in this way is somewhat abrasive so you don't want to use it often. Next tip includes baking soda but in an entirely different way. Look for it!
"Love your jewelry - how do I keep it clean?"
I get this question often from happy customers - over the next couple of days, I'm going to post about several really good ways to clean silver jewelry or anything else silver. I'll start with the simplest ways & move on to ideas that are slightly (but only slightly) more complicated.
Ok - Here is Bright Idea 1:
Wash your jewelry gently with warm water and soap now & then AND then use a really excellent polishing cloth often to keep the metal really nice & shiny. Personally, I prefer the Sunshine Cloth and here is the reason - it cleans all metals, not just silver. That's right - it cleans silver, copper, brass, even gold (even though you didn't know it was dirty!). You can purchase a Sunshine Cloth here. A free Sunshine Cloth comes with every bracelet or necklace purchase from Laura Teague Jewelry.
Ready? Bright Idea 2:
You can do a pretty good job cleaning your silver using toothpaste -just plain old toothpaste - you have some of that laying around, right?? :D Be sure to use non whitening, non gel toothpaste. Rub it on (and into all the little crevices with your rings, a soft cloth or a soft toothbrush, rinse, repeat as needed. Toothpaste, of course, is slightly abrasive, so you don't want to get too enthusiastic with this nor do you want to do it everyday. But, it does work - give it a try!! Nothing to buy, nothing to lose - see what you think & let me know your results in comments below! Go here for more information about caring for and cleaning your jewelry!
Laura lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and creates jewelry inspired by ancient and contemporary designs and motifs.