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Choker Necklaces

choker necklaces

An orange butterfly and gold angel wing rest on a leaf choker in a garden of flowers, feathers, and yellow dangling teardrop beads

Flower Garden
Whimsical Butterfly Choker 

Since college, I've spent most Christmas Holidays alone, so I was excited when my fun folk friends in Asheville, invited me to a Christmas party a few years ago. I was an island woman, living in a freezing-cold trailer. I spent a lot of time creating to keep my mind off how cold I was. One day before the party, I was digging through a box of fun trinkets I found at the Good Will and picked out a tiny gold crochet angel. It reminded me of my friend Diane who, dressed up as a Snow Queen for SantaCon, had looked like an angel. Diggin further, I found a tiny white dove. I glued it on the angel's head with a tiny spring of white tinsel and viola', her hat! I added gold lame fabric under her dress, to make her "bigger" (Diane always says "think BIG" when creating costumes for Mardi Gras), and added other fun details to the tiny ensemble. I glued the angel onto a gold straw coaster, acting as her halo, and finished by adding a string of long chunky white Mardi Gras Beads, making it a necklace for Diane, for Christmas. Once I get rolling creatively, I can't stop and I ended up thinking about each of my friends coming to the Christmas Party and making them individualized necklaces too. That really did warm me up. I made a pretty floral necklace for my farm-her friend, a felted heart necklace for my man, a silver spoon knife and fork necklace for my friend who's a fabulous cook and, I made a necklace with a spun-out guitar string, symbolizing both music and "the chattering mind", for a musician friend who used to be a Buddhist monk. 

After all of that, I wasn't finished. I made this butterfly choker embellished with everything spring, for me. It's a long faux fern leaf, crammed with flowers and leaves, feathers and beads, a gold angel wing, and a Monarch butterfly. It has warm colors, soft fluff, sparkle, and dangling teardrops. Always the teardrops. It has a whimsical fairytale quality to it that calls to the fresh pure, and blossoming essence of one's 5-year-old self and encourages her to dance with abandon, barefooted in a flower garden, in woodlands, or along a river, the fantastical world of the inner empress, in flight.

I wore it to the super fun party and there, my Buddhist friend tried it on and stole it. It was years later when I went to visit her at her new home, and I stole it back.

Well, really she mistakenly wore it home and, she actually GAVE it back, but a Christmas story about creating and giving gifts, fun, friendly and dramatic folks, a Buddhist monk, and thievery, is just a touch more ridiculous, aka "bigger", don't ya think?



Flower Garden Whimsical Butterfly Choker 
A periwinkle ruched fabric choker is upcycled from a purple dress, a violet flower, and teardrop beads

Royal Purple Flower
Whimsical Fabric Choker 

I was given an assignment when I first moved to Asheville after a hurricane wiped out the island I lived on. It was to create a costume, a BIG costume, all in one single color. Everything had to be in that color. Shoes, hat, jewelry, and bag included. I chose purple. It's the color of hope. The "guru", the teacher. It's a color that expands vision while simultaneously receding in on itself. And it's the color of royalty. And I was intent on getting my "Queen" vibe back.  Purple has always been my favorite color. Sometimes, though,  I've abandoned it for something more "fashionable", but that was when I was rebellious and young and dumb, in my "black" period in Europe, where I grew up as a teenager, and when I lived in NYC, in a sea of black working for the fashion industry in the '90s. I've always returned to purple. It's happy and it has mystery. And at the time of the Mardi Gras parade for which the costume was being built, my life was full of mystery, I had lost everything I had worked towards in life,  and the people around me were a much-needed, infectiously happy bunch. Playful, do-gooders mixed with a bit of raunchy and always a lot of sparkles! Creating that purple costume was the healing factor I needed in my life. I'd forgotten that I was "99% married to creativity" and that I was ever a costume designer. I had been making jewelry on-island for 20 years, and working BIG with lots of yummy fabrics instead of tiny beads, was a good balancing medicine, for mind and body. A return to a former part of self, with a big twist. Pun intended.

This whimsical purple fabric choker I created from a child's sundress, so it's soft and comfortable to wear. It has a regality to it, with its high neck ruched, in a cross-hatched design made of periwinkle elastic. Ruffles, on top and along the bottom of the choker, both frame your regal jawline and ripple softly around your neck. To be a true Queen, one must embody both, confidence and gentility. And while this flower choker is seriously beautiful, nothing my spirit creates anymore stays "serious"...and so I added the big violet poof of a flower on its front to hide the big snap closure beneath. From beneath, purple teardrops cascade onto your chest. They are plastic and upcycled from a kid's beaded curtain, and iridescent adding a bit of not-so-serious sparkling magic to your ordinary outfit or festival costume.



Royal Purple Flower Whimsical Fabric Choker
An upcycled choker necklace made with pink cotton lace, plastic purple teardrops, and raspberry yarn to tie it to the neck

Dressed Up In Pink
Whimsical Lace Choker

This whimsical pink lace choker is a statement, a calling to the fairytale princess buried deep within. "Bring her OUT", I say. Hold your head high, Empress! Let the soft pink cotton lace allow your throat to open and sing to your gentle heart of the fierce romantic feminine that is regal strength and self-love. Ignore those who slyly turn their noses up to your unique sense of style or your use of all colors, with their "well meaning" comments that imply that you are ugly, old, or out of date. Help only those who give back with the same integrity by which you give to them. Quietly and anonymously. And hold your ground when another demands that you give up the healing practices that lead you to the pearls of wisdom you KNOW to be your truth. Those are iridescent purple teardrops cascading from the choker. Drops representative of the sparkling wet tears that got you here. Purple is regal. Purple is the color of hope. Purple is the color portal through which both the inner and outward-seeing eye expands into the Ultra...violet.


Dressed Up In Pink Whimsical Lace Choker
A upcycled choker necklace made with blue cotton lace, plastic blue teardrops and tie-dye ribbons to tie it onto the neck
close up of tie closure on a blue lace choker

One way I've discovered of curing the blues is to play dress up. And wearing this whimsical statement necklace in a blue lace choker design might be just the ticket. It's like fighting fire with fire. Upcycled from the cotton lace of a periwinkle top and the iridescent blue teardrops of a plastic beaded curtain, this high-neck choker gives off the air of calm, cool, and collected, with a pinch, and a mischievous smirk, of silly. It's fit for a queen, and whether you're blue or not, it will have you singing your highest truths with confidence, Empress! Two rows of blue, green, and purple tie-dyed fishnet yarn are woven through the soft cotton webbing that hugs the neck. The cotton fishnet yarn is extra long so you can tie the regal choker on with big floppy bows that make the back look as fancy, and ridiculous, as the front.


Regal In Blue
Whimsical Lace Choker

Regal In Blue Whimsical Lace Choker
A psychedelic choker upcycled from purple crochet lace and a colorful chiffon scarf

Psychedelic Flower
Whimsical Lace Choker

The hippie language of love is "energy" "vibration" and "frequencies". We are feeeeelers first. But even if you think you're not a hippie or a feeler, this purple lace choker is STILL full of so much psychedelic flower power that it will open ya up, whether you feel it or not. ya know? I mean just look at it. Vibrant and colorful and full of POWer. it's quite a whimsical statement piece. A necklace upcycled from a chiffon scarf and a soft & lacey purple cotton top. Yum! It's fantastic to dance in too! I do it all the time. Grin. It opens up the throat and heart chakras with the flower petals fluttering lightly as your groovin' along in Jah flow. The yum of butterfly kisses. Makes it hard to sell. but ahh well, everything goes.  Plus, it's expensive. wink. and delicate. 


Psychedelic Flower Whimsical Lace Choker
A purple choker necklace made from upcycled purple pipe cleaners twisted up with raspberry Mardi Gras beads and ribbon ties
back view of a pipe cleaner necklace with raspberry bead and ribbon tie closure

Purple Frenzy
Whimsical Pipe Cleaner Choker

This whimsical purple pipe cleaner choker necklace speaks to me of clownin' around in fuzzy ridiculousness on 12th night a couple of years back.  Purple is my lifelong "most favoritest color". It's magic and silly and has the same energy as a spontaneous giggle.  It's versatile too. When meditating on it, it heals and since creating IS my meditation, I use it a lot, as you may have noticed. Wink. This big ridiculous necklace is one of those wearable art accessories that determines everything else you'll wear, including shoes. I love to twirl and whirl, when I dance, swim, doodle, AND... when playing with wire.  Each whirling pipe cleaner on this pipin' hot statement necklace ends with a shiny purple Mardi Grass Bead. Most are small, but I used a few gigantic raspberry-colored beads  -  for added gaudy sparkle. It ties around the neck with raspberry satin ribbons at the back, from where a lovely cascade of even more Mardi Gras beads, dangle. It pairs nicely with a few of my upcycled skirts.

Purple Frenzy Whimsical Pipe Cleaner Choker
vintage tatted lace and pearl choker necklace

Pearly Vintage Lace
Statement Choker

This pearl statement choker is not exactly "whimsical" but it is "upcycled" from vintage handmade lace. To it I've hand-stitched some freshwater pearls and some glass beads and, I must say, the choker is "ridiculously" gorgeous, so even though it's a more serious piece of jewelry, I thought I'd share it with you empresses anyways. 

I bought the vintage lace in the millinery district in NYC  thirty or so years ago. I'm pretty sure the business I bought it from doesn't exist now. Probably been replaced by a trendy merchant selling some mass-produced polyester yuck. I bought the lace because it reminded me of my grandmother and of the old-world grandmothers of Italy, where I grew up as a teenager. 

The grandmothers of folk my age, used to make their lace. The technique on this lace necklace is called tatting. I remember my own mother asking her mother to teach her the technique back when I was running around barefoot with "not a care in the world". I had to "get in the car" and go to the family-owned general store in town with them, to buy a tatting tool. It made me mad, because there were polywogs and other critters, down at the creek I wanted to play with. But once at the store, I took a liking to some colorful plastic beads. My grandmother bought them for me.  I didn't learn to tat that day, but I did learn to chain stitch a long gold necklace using tiny metallic thread and the gifted beads. I think it was that very day that sparked my fascination with beads and jewelry making.

Then in the late 70s and 80s, I spent my summer days in Venice. We only lived a 40-minute train ride away. I loved to people-watch. Italian fashion was gorgeous as were the people. I wandered around eating gelato, visiting art museums and palaces, and getting lost in romantic fantasies of gold-gilded lifetimes and, of course, boys.  Grandmothers with gnarly arthritic fingers sat in front of their ancient hole-in-the-wall lace shops and tatted away while waiting for customers. Most were dressed in black with lace veils covering their heads. I couldn't help but eavesdrop as I brushed my hands over their masterpieces of lace so fine and subtle. Some grandmothers quietly mumbled prayers as they tat, with ears open to God, and gossip. While other old lace makers yelled and waved their hands at hungover grandsons and cheap customers. Venice was part neighborhood, part carnival back then. Alive with local artisans and human emotion all of which became a part of the intricate tatting designs.

I am saddened by globalization. That the art of tatting has been replaced, like so many other human expressions, with mechanized lace-making that silences the ancestral talents of human hands. I hope these memories spark curiosity about the abilities of your own ancestors, empress, and what unexplored talents you may have that lie dormant in your own hands...and heart.


Pearly Vintage Lace Statement Choker
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