Challenge of Music – The Gypsy Nomads

 Challenge of Music

Welcome to the 2nd Challenge of Music hosted by the creative goddess Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati. This year – the challenge: instrumental music.  In my opinion, this is much harder, trying to embody a piece of music in a piece of jewelry without the usual cues and visual symbolism we read via the lyrics. But it was also easy, as my favorite instrumental music is composed and performed by Frenchy and the Punk – formerly The Gypsy Nomads.

Their music has been described as “An energetic hybrid of European Folk roots, Punk attitude, World Beat eclecticism and traveling player theatricality.”Phil Brucato  They are guitar and percussion – hearing them you will find it hard to believe there are only 2 of them. Their energy is infectious. Their music is magical, and addictive, and captivating. The first CD I purchased from them – I honestly described the song as ” the one that goes  _______” since it was on a loop in my head!  They release their own CDs and tour the country from coast to coast  probably 11 months of the year, a grueling pace. If you EVER get a chance…. run, dont walk. 

Gypsy Nomads Thread & Stone

The song I selected is Track 1 on this CD “Travelin’ band of Gypsy Nomads” and you can hear a clip here.   (I am happy to know Scott and Samantha personally. I asked Sam about this song. It may have been the birth of the Gypsy Nomads – Scott, who wrote the instrumental, was performing and Sam decided to jump up on stage, adding dance and  percussion.With this collaboration, a new concept, and a duo was formed! ) I know I am influenced by the song title – but also by their lifestyle. Traveling the county and to Europe, instruments in hand, exploring and being inspired… The song conjures up a campfire, flames leaping, as a fiddle is tuned, a guitar strummed. Music freely played, dancers skirts twitching, tamborines jingling… and I see vardos aka Gypsy wagons. 


( I know this is a Romanticized version, even a stereotype of Gypsy life. I mean no disrespect to Romani culture. I have started doing research – if you are interested in the Romani people, the British Romanichals or the Irish Travelers there are many articles on the Web. )

The vardo shape was what I kept seeing, and the door. So I set off to make a hinged door pendant. Yes, you read that correctly. The good news: I have 2 that work. The bad news: After making 4 pendants I have no finished necklace for the hop… So here’s what took all of my time… Vardo pendant

The copper door, Door #1. A friend gave me scraps of 1/4 plexi and I wanted to use that inside to cover the image and add depth. You can see the diagrams I drew, planning hinges. The hinges are parts of the sheet rolled with pliers. The hinge is small tubing with a balled wire inside. The piece is joined with microbolts at the bottom and a tube rivet at top – that will be the bail. Three holes are located below for dangles. The image is an antique postcard, and the door has a curtain of sorts – resined paper circa 1880’s. I am currently working on  a silver chain and copper pin that will latch the door closed. 

 I am happy with the piece, a protoype of sorts – and see that hinges will be easier in the future now that I purchased bail making pliers! Its app. 1.75″ tall so its not too massive to wear. I am imagining a triple strand – 1 of sari ribbon, 2 of beads ( one seed bead strand, one gems). 

While all that was happening so was this: 

Keyhole vardo pendants

Teal keyhole shrine – Polymer pieces, built in bail, hand painted. Image under mica. The image is “The Fool” from an Italian Tarot deck of the 1800’s. The Fool card means free of burdens, worries; living in the now, setting off to journey, spontaneity… among other things. It seemed to capture some elements of the Gypsy symbolism I was working with …

Red keyhole shrine: Constructed as the blue shrine, the image will have resin or glaze over. I am thrilled with these results even though there were hours of fiddling to shape and then after curing, carve the door and hinge. I think the shape is also the most clearly derived from the vardos’ original inspirarion. The image (seen below) is Mucha’s Moon/cresent goddess. 

round pendant window

Round porthole window: Thinking on the painted pattern and designs on a Gypsy caravan… you see here (from L to R) the front window shutter, the center image and the back. The cover will have a tube rivet, and the piece will be simply hung on a large jump ring. The image is a Gypsy woman, also from Alfonse Mucha. These are the images I was considering: 

Image references - gypsy

(All images by Alfonse Mucha except the Tarot card images. )


So you can see I was inspired! But I still have quite a bit of work to do! I would love to hear your thoughts and preferences from the four… I will do a follow up post when they are completed. I look forward to traveling the blogs to see what my colleagues have created; the list is shown below.Thanks for stopping by! 

The Challenge of Music participants


27 thoughts on “Challenge of Music – The Gypsy Nomads

    • jenny says:

      Doors are a bit magical, arent they? What’s in there? What lies beyond? Possibilities, and adventures, and future…. 


  1. Sharon A Driscoll says:

    Jenny – A girl after my own heart. Those trailers are incredible. The color, the images, the portals. It’s just lush with inspiration. My “sort of” grandfather played the mandolin and told stories. Frankly, my grandmothers house was so full of patterns it was a lot like these trailers.

    I love your doors and you’ve been busy. I think my favorite will be the copper one but the the polymer ones rock too. I like the curved roof line to mimic the trailers and the imagery for the portals -they are good choices. It made me feel like a kid who wants so bad to take a peek in the window but knows she shouldn’t.


    • jenny says:

      Go ahead peek in the window! Bend the rules of propriety!Thanks Sharon! I do plan to do more – I usually use the challenge as an experimental period, and then create pieces to share/sell after the learning curve… Logical that I create ceramic shrines, and now my jewelry is catching up!I see the copper one with thinks on the door. Enameled? colorful snips of resin paper? Hmm. 


  2. Veralynne Malone says:

    WOW. that is all I can say! I love the doors and keyholes…I would love to have a teal one with the goddess. Takes me back to when I was a kid in the 60’s…hippies, make love not war, let it be, the gypsy life….You made my day!!!! thanks.


    • jenny says:

      Glad you liked it! I am going to work on this shape some more – but I hope to have some for sale at Beadfest in August… There. I said it outloud. Now I have to…. 


  3. Amy says:

    Hi Jenny – I just love the direction you are taking this challenge. I love the surprise image when you open the door…and well..I just love the door. It is neat to see your process too.


    • jenny says:

      The doors are fascinating to me! Thanks! I love the hidden image/message that you can keep secret or share with others – your personal space, your discretion. I figured I had better show process since it wasnt finished… 😉


  4. maneki says:

    Those fancy old vardos are just fabulous. I can see why you felt so inspired by them. Your pieces look great so far. My favourites are the round porthole window and the copper door. The door because I love copper and hinged pendants (and in general like metal more than I like pc). The round ones because of the colours and patterns — feels like it’s going to look fab when finished.

    (As a side note, I liked that you acknowledged that it was a little romanticized view of romani life and culture. I see so many naive people go on about this romantic idea while at the same time so many roma suffer from oppression — ranging from the subtle everyday racism to murder if you’re in the wrong country. Not saying we can’t take an interest in romani culture or that everyone’s racist for being uninformed, just that many seem to focus a lot of the fairytale of the gypsy or the american gypsy-as-synonym-for-romanticized-bohemian-lifestyle on one hand or the racist notion of the lazy thieves and filthy beggars on the other — and very little on the actual flesh-and-blood persons and real culture behind that exoticisim and stereotyping. I just found it refreshing to hear someone point out that they see the difference between story and reality, between seeing a small piece of a culture and seeing the whole picture. Sorry if this side note detracts from what the blog post is really about.)


    • jenny says:

      … are appreciated! I didnt feel I had the existing knowledge, or the space to speak to Romani culture. Its not my heritage, yet I wanted to acknowledge and respect the actual culture, not the generalized accounts we see in fiction and the media. I do plan on doing more research, for myself, as I find it inspiring. 


  5. Monique says:

    They’re all beautiful, but I am in love with the PC ones, Jenny! (Well, I AM partial to PC, after all.) I agree with your assessment of the music as “addictive”… I listened to a few more clips while at the linked CD site.

    I think it is better that you kept expanding on your designs rather than try to narrow it down to one “piece”. Nice job!


    • jenny says:

      On one hand I was a little bummed to not finish – on the other – I am thrilled with where these are going!  Thanks for your comments, and your encouragement!


  6. Molly Alexander says:

    Oh Jenny – these are magnificent! I don’t think I’ve ever used that word in a blog comment, but that is the one that came to mind. Your designs absolutely reflect the spirit of your music choice and the lifestyle surrounding it. I love doors of any kind, and these make me want to open them up and see what’s inside. Beautiful work!

    🙂 Molly


    • jenny says:

      Thank you Molly! I am flattered, and excited about these. There will be more. I may make a batch for Etsy. What do you think? 


    • jenny says:

      I have said COUNTLESS times I want a vardo in the back yard! I have a friend who built one! She works for an equestrian company and tours Rennaissance festivals!   A girl can dream! 


  7. Emma Todd says:

    This is fantastic! First the music, I love it! My brother’s most sucessful band was a sort of celtic rock and with nine musicians some times they were a whole lot of fun live. These two I can imagine as just as much fun but more intimate. Love the spontaneity of their start. Doors have been on my mind all week as a photo prompt – these are the details I was trying to find! So rich, I can’t wait to see the completed. The closed doors really draw me in


    • jenny says:

      … and posted the copper door pendant as my week this week for Sally’s 52 pix challenge. Havent blogged it – just Instagram for me. Keep your eye on the Frenchy and the Punk website. They play small venues all over! Glad you like them!!!


  8. Beth says:

    Your pieces are fantastic – I especially love the first door pendant – I can’t wait to see it completed. Your other pieces are stunning too!


  9. Emanda Johnson says:

    Wow, I love them all. I have been trying to screw up the courage to work with metal and make little doors. Love the inspiration for your pieces in the music and the images too. Love them all!


  10. Jess Green says:

    Wow, I would love to design around any of those pieces! The copper door especially, I am enchanted 🙂 That and the sunburst portal.

    You have perfectly captured the romance and mysticism of traditional Romani culture – I find it fascinating, especially their worship of Shakti, the all encompassing mother goddess.


  11. Lola says:

    I absolutely adore what you’ve created and the processes you used to get there! Your little doorways are so inviting and they mesh beautifully with your friends’ music. Perhaps they could sell them along with their CDs … another collaborative effort! =)

    Although I really love all of your designs, I am a bit partial to the teal keyhole shrine.


  12. Erin Prais-Hintz says:

    Miss Jen! I just love what you do. Your mind works in such intriguing ways and I always look forward to seeing how your inspirations will guide you. This is no exception. A truly marvelous direction that you are heading. I think it would be fun to have a studio play date with you! These doors are so great. I especially love the one with the keyhole of course! But all of them are exquisitely detailed with surprises waiting within. I love the colors and the artwork that you chose. I would love to see the finished project! But I am most happy that you joined me in this Challenge and I love work in progress pieces. It is about the journey not the destination, is it not? Thank you for sharing this great music, and your stunning art with the world! Enjoy the day. Erin


  13. Melissa Trudinger says:

    Jenny, you certainly were inspired! I love all of your directions here, but I think the doors — both variations — are my favourites. Love that you’ve used Mucha images too, I love his artwork and it seems somehow fitting!


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