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The Symbolism behind the Vanitas Collection: A Guide to Reading the Signs and Motifs

The Vanitas Collection is full of symbolism. I wanted to use a combination of images and details in each piece so that you can connect with a design in your own way. Here is a guide behind the symbolism behind this Collection.


Shooting Star (star with tassels)

The shooting star always feels like a rare and exciting sighting and normally you make a wish when you see one. On a few of the pieces, I've included a shooting star on the reverse so that it's not obvious to everyone and instead feels more personal. The shooting star is meant to hold space for your deepest desires/wishes. The tassels will brush against your neck and act as a gentle reminder of your wish.


North Star (star without tassels)

The North Star, depicted in this Collection as a single star without tassels, is symbolic of an anchor. It brings comfort, familiarity, and recognition while on your true path. It can used as a guiding point on your journey and you can often turn to it for reference.


Green Parrot

The green parrot is the jewel of the animal kingdom and have long fascinated human beings with their ability to mimic what you say. In art, they have been used as a replacement for the human subject because of their speech. In this Collection, they represent beauty and whimsy and are meant to invite both of these themes into your life. While wearing the green parrot, they will whisper things of beauty into your ear and maybe even put a smile on your face when you need one.


Sacred Heart

There are many interpretations of the sacred heart but for this Collection, I felt like creating a piece to represent the sacredness of our emotions. Our emotions have been tested with this pandemic and I wanted to honor that we are humans with a lot of complex feelings and we've been pushed to our limits. There is something beautiful and special in realizing that and I wanted to share that insight with you in the form of adornment. Our hearts and our feelings are precious and they are valid and everything that we have been experiencing is not normal. We are living through massive changes and our hearts act as our guides through these moments.


Eye

The eye has many cultural and religious implications but with this Collection, the eye is meant to define clarity and focus. With the fast pace of the internet age, the bombardment of social media (and media in general), along with being overwhelmed with life, sometimes it's hard to gain a little bit of clarity and insight. The eye can help you focus and see things clearly. By bringing you focus, you can begin to see purpose and meaning from life's big changes to the everyday small joys or victories.


Coral (red or black)

This underwater gem provides food and shelter for many creatures. Humans have harvested coral forever and it is now affecting our ecosystems in drastic ways. In one pair of earrings, I painted red coral and with two other pairs, I used silver to imitate black coral. Coral is representative of life's delicate and fragile balance: you make one decision and it can negatively affect others, but if you recognize the possible consequences of your actions, you can choose to live more mindfully.


Moon

The moon has inspired human beings to push themselves intellectually, artistically, and spiritually for millennia. It is representative of our imaginations, we dream to know more about it and we have imagined possibilities outside of ourselves by using the moon as a tool and as a source of inspiration. The moon is all about tapping into our imagination and creating meaningful work.


Flowers

They bring happiness, hope, inspiration, joy, and beauty. May we always be surrounded by flowers.


Skull

This motif has always been used to represent death, but what if it just meant the death/closing of a life chapter so that we could move on to the next? The skull represents moving forward, the shedding of the old self, resurrection. There is power in letting go and moving on.


Three Granules

This is a nod to the old school paper maps which used to use three dots to represent a ruin or monument. Whenever my parents and I would travel (pre-internet days), my dad would pull out a map and sometimes plan our days around those three dots. The ruins or monuments weren't always popular tourist destinations but they'd open our days to adventure. The three granules represent being open to the possibility of adventure and staying curious about the road ahead.


Rope (twisted wire)

Ropes are symbolic of reaching new heights. You use a rope to climb a mountain, so instead of a physical mountain, what if it is your personal mountain? You have something that you want to accomplish or achieve and the rope is a simple tool that can help get you there. You see the rope represented in silver as a twisted wire around each gemstone.


Compass (8 gemstones)

The compass is represented by 8 gemstones as in the ones surrounding the sacred heart pendants. The compass helps to guide you home, or to where you want to be. The direction you choose is entirely your decision but you'll need a compass to get you there.




Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and for showing interest in my work. I hope that this blog post/guide helps you feel a deeper connection to the Vanitas Collection.


Take care,

Caitlin