Jewelry Designers, like artists of all stripes, draw inspiration from many sources but every once in awhile, you need to “top up” your creative reserve. Nature and travel are the most reliable sources of inspiration for me. Luckily, I was able to indulge in both on my recent trip to Spain. With six other women, I hiked 100k on the Camino de Finisterre, a pilgrims’ path dating back to the Middle Ages. We walked from Santiago de Campostela to Finesterre and then up the coast to Muxia. The trip was a blur of wild flowers, Roman Bridges and windswept coastlines. We traveled through the part of Spain just above Portugal called Galicia, with its own language, Gallego, a lilting blend of Spanish and Portuguese. The people were lovely and the food outstanding. Most of the meals were sourced from local farms and fisherman with home made cheeses, copious seafood and fabulous local wines.
Galicia was originally settled by Celts and there are still echos of Celtic culture in their local traditions and architecture. One example is the Queimada, a flaming cauldron of fruit and alcohol that is believed to cleanse the soul and chase off evil spirits. According to legend St. James brought Christianity to Galicia and was buried there after he was beheaded in Jerusalem in 44AD. Tradition says he is buried in the Cathedral at Santiago de Campostela, which became a pilgrimage site in the early Middle Ages. Many pilgrims continued on to Finisterre (End of the World) for their first glimpse of the Ocean, at the Westernmost point of Europe. Leaning into the wind, gazing at the limitless sea, it is easy to imagine you are teetering on the edge of the ultimate abyss.
I hope I can return to hike the full Camino. In the meantime, I brought home a full heart and many small details to fuel jewelry designs to come: The faceted cut of a candelabra, the iron work on an ancient convent door, the texture of moss on hand carved rock and the intricate pattern of lace woven by two ladies in a tin trailer at the end of the world.