Q303: Queen's Tiara of Useful Knowledge

Years ago at a Halloween Party we threw, I dressed in a flowing dashiki of gold satin and wore a crown I’d made. I called myself Sister Mother Madame Miracle.

Sometimes now I like to think of myself as Sister Mother Madame Miracle, the font of useful knowledge. Striking a pose with hands on my hips, I am 'she who must be obeyed' and this photo shows what would be a great crown, the 'Tiara of Useful Knowledge' I found at Planet Fabulon.

The description of this piece says that it is designed by By Jan Yager. Transforms into: 8 Brooches, 2 Stick Pins, Tie Tack, Pendant, Headband
The Tiara of Useful Knowledge
City Flora: The Philadelphia Series

The Tiara of Useful Knowledge focuses on the Importance of plants. It is inspired by The American Philosophical Society's charter [1743] “for Promoting Useful Knowledge,” and The Academy of Natural Science’s [1812] goal of “connecting people to nature.” It consists of portraits of 10 plants, an ant, and a pebble, made from oxidized sterling silver, 18K and 14K gold, and quartz. The Tiara transforms into 12 pieces of jewelry that can each be worn separately. [emphasis mine]

Tiaras are rooted in the ancient Greek practice of placing laurels upon the heads of victors, and grew into an icon of British royalty. My American version is modeled after plants in the vacant lots near my studio and home. I just assumed they were unique to the USA until I read about Invasive Species and Aliens replacing Natives. Many Natives are now described as Rare, Threatened, Endangered, Vulnerable, Extinct or - Extirpated, while others are labeled Nuisance, Noxious, or - Worst!

The Potato (I call it a French Fry Leaf) symbolizes the importance of biodiversity. It is modeled after a sprouted potato my 13 year-old daughter stuck in a bucket of dirt which rapidly grew and yielded 28 potatoes. Native Americans cultivated nearly 3,000 varieties of potatoes at the time of the Spanish Conquest [1535]. Only a few varieties were shipped to Europe, spawning the monoculture that led to the Irish Potato Famine [1845-1850].

Lamb’s Quarters is included for its dual identity. One plant can reportedly yield over 40,000 seeds capable of remaining dormant for 40 years. This makes it highly resistant to chemical herbicides so some researchers call it the “World’s Worst Weed.” But, because this plant Native to the Americas is one of the first to grow in disturbed soil, and is more nutritious than standard commercial crops, others list it as a “Plant for A Future.” One Hurricane Katrina survivor found this the only useful (edible) thing where his house once stood!

Switch Grass reminds us that important things are hidden in plain sight such as the renewable sources of fuel for our cars growing freely on the North American prairies. Sweet Clover, Crab Grass, Plantain, Rye, Prickly Lettuce were each selected for the food, shelter and/or enrichment of all sorts they offer animals, the environment – and us. The American Tobacco blossom refers to the powerful seduction of cash and addictive crops, and Common Ragweed the powerful and even deadly allergens, poisons and medicines, found sometimes in the same plant.

John Bartram, an early botanist, approached plants with curiosity and a profound belief in Nature. Thomas Jefferson embraced vegetation trusting it had virtues perhaps not yet known. Benjamin Franklin encouraged the pursuit of knowledge in diverse fields for the common good. These ideals - born in Philadelphia and worthy of a nation - celebrate diversity, foster tolerance, and focus our attention on Usefulness.
© Jan Yager 2007

I will admit I was going to talk about this piece from a distance, so to speak. I don’t wear jewelry and have never been much of a consumer of costume jewelry, yet alone fine handmade jewelry. I have a couple precious pieces a friend who makes jewelry gave me, otherwise – zip. I haven’t worn jewelry for the last 4 years either.

All that being said, I think this concept is valuable and soul pleasingly lovely. I hope Jan Yager does well with this beautiful work.

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