Thursday, November 29, 2007


Cucamonga. I haven't said it in a long time and thought I should.

It's the name of a California town that always reminded me of calls we had to each other as children. Meant to be mysterious and Native American-like as we crept around the swamp and palmettos that surrounded the house. All of us had our own particular signal. Megaline's was 'E-awk-kee', Tootie Middlebrook and my sister Lynda's signal changed depending on how drunk they were on Silly that particular day - the more dumb and doofus, the better. Bobby and Billy Tilly's sounded an awful lot like farts and burps, but we ignored them. Their red orange hair made it pretty plain where they were amongst all the green without a call. Mine was "Cucamonga".

I know I must have heard it somewhere, but it became my talisman against all things dangerous and nefarious when I was very young. It also reflected surprize and angst as in, "Your mama is whistling for you!"

"Cucamonga!" I'd say. The child's equivalent of, "Oh, shit!"

Talisman's are very important to us as adults. Many of us college educated and grown up folks don't think we need such things, wouldn't admit it, but almost to the one of us, we have them: Rabbit Feet, a lucky coin, our daddy's sweater or our granny's afghan, we're all attached to something physical as a shield Against IT at some point in our lives.

That's why I took to making Fetish Dresses for friends and special occasions. I start with a Dolly Dress (* see explanation below) and then decorate the hem or edges or seams or somewhere with fetish charms. As I make the dress and string the charms, I think about the person who will be wearing it and what I want for them. I want protection, a sense of specialness, health and security, full bank accounts, and mostly just love. Lest the men in my life felt left out, I've made Fetish Shirts, too.

There's a sort of alpha state that I get into as I work and bead and embellish. I often light a candle because I realize that this is a special ritual piece, just as important as any surplice a priest would wear or asfidity and bag a shaman would have. The pieces that go on the fetish are important. After the basic ritual garment is finished I sit in front of all my embellishments in piles of trays around me and think of the person, what they need, what would be most efficacious to them. The resultant choice often looks like there's positively NO rhyme or reason, but I know that there is.

I start beading and they just fall into place, making sense as they are placed next to each other like a sentence in a long paragraph. This works with an unknown person as well, when I'm just 'called' to make a piece and put it out THERE.

I've had people run across a lot crying with outstretched arms as if seeing a lost child or parent. They go straight up to the dress, remove it from the hangar and clutch it as if someone else might try to take it. This happened at a benefit art sale for a local feminist book store. "Her" story was that she was to go home and would see the father who sexually abused her for years. She was to testify at his trial for molesting another child. She had 'asked' for a special something to protect her when in his presence in the courtroom so that she could tell him and the world how he had damaged her life and sense of innocence. She didn't find it in a department store and she'd looked.

Her Fetish Dress was a serene peacock blue linen with handmade Celtic Runes sewn and painted on it around the hem. I used: FEOH- Protection, to hasten all affairs to their next stage; ANSUR- Education, communication, writing and debate; RAD -Safety in travel; KEN -Physical well being, confidence; JARA- Help in legal matters, YR- Protection, to remove obstacles, PEORTH- Legacies, finding lost things; EOLH- Protection against the evil thoughts of others; SIGEL - Health, physical strength and self-confidence, clear thinking; BEORC- Domestic, family; TIR -Recuperation, healing, victory; ENG -Successful completion; DAEG- Growth. Of course it was HER dress!

Now there is this new one for Tary Peace's birthday. She almost didn't get it because I lost her measurements and had to cut it from memory. When she finally got them for me, the dress was a done deal and I used them to check it. I was pretty close. I took two days to choose her talismans and bead it - I have to be in the right place to work on it.

What you're seeing above is the finished work. Even though she's a water sign, her soul is like fire. I thought that the one picture I took below expressed this best. I discovered on this particular blog that the fetishes don't like to be photographed. The last shot is what happened when I tried to clean them up. I feel like I'm getting the 'call' to make five more!! If it's you, could you please let me know your bust/waist/hip measurements and your height? It will help.

(Note* The name Dolly Dress is what I call the very free flowing, draping dresses with odd hems and gores, I've made for almost 30 years. They came from a dream I had where I was Dolly Parton in a room full to the walls with dresses of the most beautiful colors and fabrics. My Dark Man applauded approval in the dream, so I started making them. Women love them. Men think they're sexy because they just slip over the curves of a woman like a whisper.)

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