Thursday, November 12, 2020

Here comes Krampus, come give him a hug, because he is definitely the mascot for 2020

 For about three years in a row, I would have this vague idea that I should create a Krampus themed piece. 

I would get excited, I would also be very busy, traveling all over the place and have very little time to even think straight. I would hunt artists friends who could make me a Krampus focal and then, inevitably, things would end there and another holiday season would be gone.

I guess it took 2020 for Krampus to "come through". As he does represent the dark side of things, it's indeed a good time for him to emerge out of my beady subconscious.

Of course not going anywhere due to a global pandemic, I had more time to plan for his beady existence and was aided by a talented, visionary artist, Dorothy Supri of Skyline Beads in my Krampus realization.

She made me the Krampus dominos that form the horned and fanged and furry center of this cuff.

When taking classes from me, I oftentimes tell participants to not bury their focals. On this I mean that everything that goes around your chosen centerpiece, needs to serve that centerpiece. You chose a worthy object to showcase in your artwork. A piece of jewelry, a design is art. Composition matters. If you have a focal, that is your starting point and everything you build around it should bring that focal to life. Too many colors and you bury it in a cacophony of  color and texture instead of building harmony with your focal as the theme.

Such advice to myself was a little hard to follow on this piece, but I think my intentions succeeded in harmony with lots of minor key progressions and the generous use of  tritone.

Before I go into what and why went on the bracelet though, I want you to get familiar with Krampus:

If you like horror and you have morbid curiosities, you know him from movies of the past decade. There have been books about him too, but interestingly the customs surrounding his part of the holidays never took root in this country's soil with immigrants arriving with their old ways from Europe. Maybe it's just really hard to sanitize the Christmas devil for a progress believing, forward moving society that is no longer rooted in the old ways.

I encourage you to google Krampus and his customs in different European countries.

 For now, let it suffice that for the Christian, mostly Catholic past, he has been Saint Nick's companion for a long time. Beyond that, he most likely is part of a much older past.

 Different countries have different Christmas traditions, and what I was subjected to, being born the last decade of the socialist era in Hungary, might be neither very traditional or very representative of how people think of him these days.

When I was a child, we celebrated Christmas on December 24th, in the evening. The tree would be decorated just that day and would usually stay up till Epiphany.

 Santa had absolutely no hand in Christmas: It was the LITTLE BABY JESUS- not His adult form intended for Easter , but the tiny newborn Lord with His pink toes; aided by heavenly angels who brought presents. The Baby Jesus and the angels then  would swiftly operate a tiny aluminum bell probably manufactured in the Soviet Union- in the room with the tree- to indicate that they are done, the presents are delivered and one can go and unwrap them now. 

Interestingly, much like Santa is never caught in the US, no matter how hard I tried to spy on the heavenly crew, I was incapable of ascertaining that I was told the truth about this occurrence and all questions regarding how newborns enter households in the winter all naked and wrap presents were thwarted for the first few years of my life by my religiously confused parents. Even though my mom was going through her most staunchly atheistic years, the tiny lord with his pink toes remained a thing on Christmas.

So what does this have to do with Krampus? Nothing. He comes on December 6th. This day is Saint Nicholas' day. Since Christmas was always a very private affair, I suppose this day evolved for more communal celebration. Much like Halloween in the US, December 6th, as we call it Mikulas- that is Saint Nick Day- we get candy.

Back in the day the candy would be in a small, dark red cellophane bag. The old cellophane bags split and shredded so easily, it was the most impossible gift wrapping method ever invented. But the bag was beautiful, and the torn pieces could be held up to one's flashlight at night to turn under one's blanket into a magical red cave. 

The new bags are more durable and less magical. Figures.

At any rate, the candy is symbolically  wrapped in red, for the color for the Man in Red and symbolizing the sack he carries filled with all the goodies. A child would get one of these bags from her presents, possibly grandparents and other relatives.  But not for nothing.

One would be very excited about Santa "watching" for a month by now. (Any longer, and the 5 year old loses focus, but it's indeed good practice to start scaring the shit out of them early November.)

Much like Jesus and God always watching, Santa, starts watching. This has given me real worries going to the bathroom for example, but I was assured that he watches if I am good and bathroom habits concern him little.

I was told he has special far seeing devices that allow him to observe me and every other child all the time to make sure I am good. So far, this is all good, right? Well, here comes Krampus:

If a child is not good, Krampus is going to take him. Because Krampus travels with Santa. He has his own sack or basket. ( This part varies.) He might have chains with him to chain you up too. One thing he always has is a broom. This is to better beat you with. And hence, the pretty red bag of candy comes with a small broom too.

Besides Krampus, there are other scary entities who have sacks and take children away mostly for feasting on them but they aren't tied to the holidays. There is Koko .

To him I already dedicated two pieces of jewelry. There is the Man with the Sack. From what I remember the Man with the Sack and Krampus cook children first, which stood out in my mind as more civilized than being eaten alive, so I was most scared of Koko, who eats kids alive, but this was a personal preference, really.Krampus was pretty scary in his own right.

Back to my childhood Krampus: He is Santa's helper, they travel together and they appear at your parent's office party, the school Santa party, the apartment building you live in has a Santa and a Krampus too, so some lucky duckies might confront Krampus 3+ times a season. And since adults love nothing as much as scaring kids into submission, Santa could have cotton balls for his beard and look entirely ridiculous, but Krampus acting always seemed spot on. 

The beating with the broom you got, it was sincere. The costumes were a lot better.No Krampus ever forgot the goddamn sack. In general, Krampus stole the show.He was far more believable and real. 

And so, to be good, one of the acts of ritual submission was  shining your boots. Given that I personally only ever had one leaky pair I worn every day, it's not like I had to pick one to shine. On the 5th, you got your daddy's shoe shine kit out, tried to get away with only shining one side, the one the little red bag of candy is going to go into, but you were told that you had to shine the other boot too, or you are not being good.  And then you went to bed and hoped the devil did not take you, and you woke up to candy in the boots.

And that is my childhood story regarding Krampus.

Now onto this bracelet and what went on it/into it.

Eyes. Two kinds of taxidermy eyes. I wanted the focal to stand out but I also wanted the whole cuff to be its own monstrous thing. So it has furry eyeballs, wart like Czech beads and vintage opal glass cabochons and red Swarovski crystal carbuncles.
Since it's the holiday season, it has lots of gold in the form of size 15 gold plated charlottes with an iris finish, and white opalescent beads lined with gold that glow just right. The red was a natural Christmassy choice too. The sooty, matte black is like the coal dust the devil always seems to be covered in.
A good Krampus bracelet needs personality. And it obviously needs good eyes to observe your behavior with so it can beat you, stuff you in the sack and eat you.

White spikes add further horn/tusk like textures, nicely complementing the tufts of eyeball hair.
The design is wearable, with a lovely heavy, substantial feel. A statement piece for sure.

 The red metallic Italian lambskin showing in the back, because of course the back needs to be as pretty as the front.

There. That is my Krampus story and Krampus bracelet. Shall this excite you, you can get one here while supplies last: 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/903206333/krampus-kuff-diy-bead-embroidery-kit?ref=shop_home_active_1









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