the simple yet lovely necklaces Brooke made for me
Today I have the honour to introduce you to my dear friend Brooke and her work.
I met Brooke online through this blog about 6 years ago when she was still living in Alaska.
In the meanwhile she moved to Morocco and lives since two years in my neighbourhood, with her Berber husband and their six children. We became friends and if time allows (which is not as often as we’d like to) we sometimes have coffee together, do a little walk or simply meet to have some exchange from expat Muslim woman to woman.
Brooke is a homeschooling mum, a writer, a famous editor for Sister’s Magazine and a maker of beautiful things. Recently she came to offer me one sweet little necklace she created, alhamdulillah. Over the last fifteen years I haven’t worn any jewellery at all, except my simple straight sliver wedding ring. But I immediately felt in love with the boho-style piece she offered me and I wear it since then day and night. I liked it so much and really began to enjoy wearing a necklace that I even asked her to make me a second one – I think I became addicted to her wonderful work, mashaallah, I love to browse her etsy-shop or to visit her and go through all her tiny little beads, pearls and supplies; and I might even begin to wear bracelets and earrings though it still makes me feel like a decorated Christmas tree, but who knows, maybe this changes one day…
Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty – so why not beautifying ourselves sometimes a little more, just for the sake of beauty itself?
‘Id el kebir is coming soon and maybe you want then to offer some beautiful Muslim-made gifts for your beloved ones or offer something to yourself…
So here I invite you to read a little interview I had with Brooke and to have a look at the stunning pieces in her etsy-shop or follow her facebook page for special discounts, like this coupon for 20% off (enter FANDF at checkout).
Itto: Salam aleikoum dear sister, first I would like to know what brought you to jewellery-making?
Brooke: Aleikoum salam sissy, Hmm, I’m really not sure. My earliest memories of jewellery making are making fancy hair clips with flowing ribbons and beads, and selling them in the school yard. Maybe it was all that Camp Fire Girl crafting that looped me in! From then on I was always trying to make something, gathering up beads and findings, making a mess with glue and using a butter knife to set sequins into prongs on my shoes and clothes. In addition to jewellery making, I love embellishing- I mean adding little details to otherwise plain things.
Itto: what do you especially love about working on so tiny detailed things with your hands?
Brooke: It’s pretty amazing when you become so familiar with the materials and can do these seemingly complicated things that other people say, “Oh, I could never do that” but of course I think they could. And beautiful things- I love making beautiful things that please the eyes and the soul.
Itto: Many of your pieces are very colourful, in one in a different way, so what is your favourite actual colour scheme and style?
Brooke: This is a hard choice. My colour scheme ideas have pretty much exploded the last couple of years. I blame that on the influence of living in very colourful and artistic Morocco. But if I had to choose… ok I love grey striped/blocked with other colours, especially green, orange and pink.
But my favourite for these days I would have to say is blue with orange, especially paler sky blue like Amazonite, but brighter and deeper blues like Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli are also appealing. It’s a contrast that is both vibrant/warming and calming/cool at the same time.
Style is much harder for me to pin down. I like big chunky pieces because they really showcase the gemstones and beads… but… lighter pieces are easier for daily wear, so I also enjoy making delicate little things that add just a pop of sparkle to people’s adornment.
Itto: Oh yes, like the wonderful pieces you made for me, Alhamdulillah!
Brooke, you are also a Muslimah and dress fully covered; nobody in public comes to see the beautiful pieces you wear, so why do you think it is important for Muslim women to beautify themselves anyway?
Brooke: I have had many non-Muslim women make similar comments, such as “Oh, it’s such a shame no one can see your beautiful jewellery.” But the thing is, I don’t wear my jewellery for other people to admire, I wear it for me. I am a beautiful creation and Allah tells us to enjoy his creation and even adornments (with moderation of course), so I do- no guilt!
The things that I make are truly only reconfigurations of Allah’s beautiful creations. In a way they are little praises and definitely inspire me to ponder on His magnificence. Bracelets are my very favourite thing for this reason, they are easiest for the wearer herself to see and enjoy them. Though I have also started making long necklaces for the same reason…
Itto: Great, I think the next piece I order from you will be a bracelet, inchallah.
What do you think of the metaphysical properties of gemstones, metals and rocks? Do you believe they can help to heal or better the energy of a person? Like amber for example that is said to be able to help reduce the pain of a teething baby.
Brooke: I am really on the fence about this. I am very drawn to certain rocks, while others will have little or no appeal to me and I have to remember to use them as they may work with certain colour schemes, but otherwise I would never pick them up. There is also a hadith (a saying of the prophet) about a rock that interacted with the Prophet (sas) and another in which a tree wept for the loss of being able to view the Prophet giving his sermons… so this makes me wonder about the unknown with relation to what we have been told are inanimate objects. But, I also need to have a healthy dose of fear of shirk (worshipping others than Allah), so for now I leave off this aspect of metaphysics… but if any of your readers know more about Islamic views of these things, I would love to hear about it.
Itto: thank you Brooke, barak Akllahu feek for these insights, I really appreciate your faith–related thoughts and your careful Muslim attitude, mashaallah! May Allah bless and make successful your work and accept the Ibadat (divine worship) you wish to offer through it.
And thank you for the wonderful idea and recent efforts you’ve made to gather all the Muslim sellers on etsy. I think this is really a great idea and I hope it helps the Muslim-ummah to support each other and I hope it even acts as dawah and shows non-Muslims how incredibly creative, modern and stylish Islamic and Muslim art is.