Windwalker, the Bear from our property

Another hazy summer morning in Muskoka. The fog lifts from the blueberry patches below the log house, that is home to artists Mi-Shell and Peter Jessen, as well as of Bearpaw Jewellery.
Bearpaw? Bears? The fog lifts and reveals a dark shape amidst the bushes, ! " Peter, look, Wind Walker is outside", Mi-Shell exclaims excitedly. Wind Walker is their neighbour, a female black bear that makes her den just beyond the blueberry bushes. " I wonder, if she has cups this year", Peter muses. " It would be her time; the last ones are 2 years old by now".
The bear always has been a powerful and inspiring presence for them as for countless humans before them.
Europeans as far back as 75000 years revered the bear Goddess as a protector of children and all growing things.
Even the name of King Arthur relates back to the old Celtic word artos , meaning bear.
Here, the indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America) recognize the bear as a Spirit keeper of the sacred circle as a teacher of strength, goodness, knowledge of self and healing through herbal medicines.
For Peter and Mi-Shell its time to turn their attention away from lore and legends to the task at hand. Make; create jewellery - pins, pendants, earrings. Their well established business, Bearpaw Jewellery ,is known for its realistic depictions of Canadian wildlife and their images of the transformation from animal into spirit into human, that is so often the essence of the native mythology.
The lower part of the log house is studio and workshop. But entering this realm does not block out the image of the bear outside its windows. Wind Walker walks with them in their minds and under Peter's expert hands the mental picture of her takes shape, changes into a technical drawing: the profile of a mother bear followed by her 2 boisterous cups is brought onto paper. Next a visitor would hear the rasping sound of the jeweller's sawing rhythm with Mi-Shell's heartbeat, as she saws the shape of bear and cups out of metal. Wind Walker will be sterling silver , her 2 cups - one copper , one oxidized brass.
Creation in progress: Minutes later the bears are to meet fire as they are soldered together and pin-backings are attached.
The next element to be braved is water: dipping the redhot piece into it, evokes the hissing , sizzling sounds of fire meeting water and the steam rising announces that the next step of creation is completed.
Wind Walker is to spend lunch hour in a pickling solution in company with other designs in the making: a couple of wolf-earrings , a loon, soon to be a pendant ..... each of these treasures affords a work process of 13-18 individual steps until completion.
Afternoon is the time for hammering , doming and embellishing the pieces .
Wind Walker and the wolfs need eyes , the loon needs a couple of cattails to hide in..... all pieces are domed.
Then they are ready for the first buffing.
However , it is decided , that Wind Walker needs fur , nice fur. So the engraver bites into the silver and a few deft strokes provide Wind Walker with a pelt worthy of a queen.
Peter than applies the last finishing touches with a cottonbuff and jewellers rouge and assembles the pin backing.
Done , finished - ready for sale? Almost.
Later in the evening , on the deck, in silky moonlight the designs are arranged on the spirit-blanket. An abalone shell is filled with sage , willow bark and cedar and the smudge is lit. A small column of fragrant smoke rises and is waved over the designs . A murmured prayer , an invocation to each one of the pieces to go out and bring beauty into a heart of a human being, Beauty and the magic of nature......
in beauty it is done,
in beauty it is finished,
may beauty be all around us
every day of our life.
Now it is done and ready for sale!
The 2 artists enjoy the time of quiet contemplations.
A bat dives through the moonlight , surely more attracted to the lingering mosquitoes then to the 2 humans and their day's work.
A bat???! That would be an idea for tomorrow......
Mi-Shell Jessen



pendant necklace mother bear with cubs
Mother Bear with cubs
size app. 40mm (app. 1 5/8 ”)
Sterling Silver, red brass
with free silver plated chain (choose between 16”, 18” or 24” length)
Price: C$ 60




all designs © Bearpaw Jewellery