Friday, October 10, 2008

Jasia's Amber Collection

This is the second in a series of 4 articles I'll be presenting in honor of Polish-American Heritage Month. Each of these articles will be featuring Polish art pieces from my personal collections. Some are folk art, hand crafted in cottages throughout Poland. Other pieces are manufactured by skilled crafts people in small factories in Poland. They are but a small sample of the Polish heritage I am so proud of.

I have been collecting amber pieces for as long as I've been researching my family history. I'd planned to write a good history about amber in this post but when I got out my books on the subject I discovered that I would have to do an entire series about amber to really do it justice. (I just might at a later date if you ask me nicely. ;-) So instead I'm going to concentrate on a few pieces in my collection.

The largest deposits of amber in the world are found on the shores of the Baltic Sea and the sea coast of Poland is literally strewn with pieces of it. Walk the beaches and you can bask in it's golden glory and help yourself to handfuls of it, much as Floridians collect seashells. Amber is a popular gem but it is not a stone. It's actually ancient (but not fossilized) tree sap. It's organic. It is relatively soft as compared to a variety of minerals but with proper care it holds up quite well.

The first thing you'll no doubt notice about this sample of my amber collection is the variety of colors. While "honey" is the most common color associated with amber it is only one of over 200 colors that have been identified. Most people think amber is always translucent but that just isn't so. It isn't always "golden" either. Take a look.
Intaglio - Amber is easily carved in relief or engraved. Intaglio is an engraving process that makes beautiful jewelry pieces. Flowers are common themes. I have a lovely scorpion too (my zodiac sign).
Cherry Amber - Richer in color than "honey", cherry amber is like maple syrup with a red tint to it. It's one of my favorites.
White Amber - White amber is opaque with a soft warm tint to it. It often shows swirls and varied shading. Definitely one of my favorites!
Multi-colored and Mosaic - A variety of colors and shades all in one piece :-) These are favorites of mine because they provide a lot of visual interest. These wear nicely on all skin tones and almost all solid colored clothing.
Faceted - Yes, you can carve amber in a faceted style. And it looks lovely! It's more pricey that way though.
Black to Lemon - These warm shades remind me of sunrises and sunsets. You get a wide range of sunny colors with this combination.
Set in Gold - Amber is most commonly set in sterling silver but it can be set in gold as well. In fact, it glows when framed in gold!
Amber Egg - This amber egg sits on my desk. It's the size a real egg and makes a great worry stone. It also catches the sunlight coming in my office window (south facing) and casts a golden glow all around it. I often find myself caught in its beauty and spiral off into day dreams. OK, now you know the real reason I don't get more done! LOL!

Amber isn't just collectible in jewelry. I have many other pieces as well. Here are just a few.

The framed picture was sent to me by my cousins in Poland. They purchased it when they visited towns along the Baltic shoreline. Pieces of amber are used as leaves on the tree and on the ground. With its golden hues, it has a very autumnal feel to it. This piece is very dear to me.

The raw piece of amber is about the size of a small egg. While it looks heavy like a stone it is surprisingly light. What a difference from a polished version, eh?

The bottle contains Baltic Sea water and small pieces of amber that my cousins picked up walking along the beach. Wasn't it thoughtful of them to send it to me in its most natural state? This bottle sits in my curio cabinet and is one of my dearest treasures.

The candle is amber scented and has pieces of amber embedded in the wax and around the outside of it. Talk about a golden glow! Lovely!

I probably should have included my amber rosary and some of my green amber pieces as they are very striking. Truthfully, I could go on and on about amber. I love it! Just last night I was out shopping for amber scented soaps, lotions, and body sprays. It's the scent I wear all during autumn and winter. It's has an old, earthy scent to it as you would expect. Sensual.

I wear a lot of amber jewelry all year round but especially during the month of October to honor my Polish heritage. Throughout history, amber has been thought to have healing properties and sometimes magical properties as well. When I wear it I feel connected to my roots in Poland. It's magical to me.

Written for Donna's Polish American Heritage Challenge.

My series about my Polish art collections:
Polish Folk Art (Wood Carving and Wycinanki)
Jasia's Amber Collection

Polish Pottery and Crystal
Polish Christmas Ornaments