The Desert is a Woman



By Fran Fanning

The desert is a woman.
Those who do not take the time
Will never know her beauty.
Appreciate her heat.
Or comprehend her power.

If you come to learn from her
She will reward you with her ageless wisdom.
Share her warmth with you but not let you burn.
And show you the secret places where her beauty lies.

Coyote and javelina, reptile and bird
If she decides you belong to her she will nurture you.
And teach you her ways.
But be attuned to her storm clouds.
From dry riverbed to raging flood waters
She can sweep you away.

If you come when she is ready
She will bloom for you
Sometimes only in the dark of night
So like a woman
Content to blossom for her self-alone.

Come to her at sunset
And prepare to be awed by her resplendence.
From green to red and gold
Turquoise to azure
Her spectrum knows no boundaries.

Lawrence and O’Keefe,
Cather and Abbey
They sought to immortalize her.
But left such small homage to her wonders
Like infinitesimal kernels
Of her shifting sands.

Sonoran, Mojave,
Great Basin, Chihuahuan
She has many moods.
But it will be her silence and vision that will awe you.
Stand with her and feel her serenity.
Look out with her and see her depth.
Stay with her and learn her meaning.

The desert is a woman
And she will never disappoint.

Beaded Wampum Necklace $65 –

Feather Earrings $18 –

#southwesternjewelry #grandcanyon #zion #cowgirljewelry #handmadejewelry #amethyst #redrockjasper #wampum #phillymade  #desertchic #artsyjewelry #chestnuthillpa


Selfie: Vintage Meets Industrial

Vintage (the model AKA me and the clear faceted beads) meets industrial (aluminum tubing from Killian’s Hardware). The result is an easy-to-wear, dressy, sparkly statement that goes especialselfie with jewelryly well with a black plunging necklace and glasses that reflect a computer screen. A lesson is learned. Upcycling works and LookingUp works (for those who feel bad about their neck).

Now in the Etsy shop:

Mention this blog post in the notes to seller and I will throw in the tubular earrings I am wearing for free!

Soul & Spirit

Jewelry Inspired by Into The Mystic

Into The Mystic

We were borne before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
And when that foghorn blows
I will be coming home
And when the foghorn blows
I want to hear it
I don’t have to fear it and
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And magnificently we will flow into the mystic…

Van Morrison

Setting up shop

First thing I learned as I picked through my bounty from the sea, imagining the jewelry I’d be making was, QUAHOG DUST IS VERY VERY TOXIC! Yes, bad for the lungs; must wear protection. The glamour is worth it as Quahog clam shells are ready to design and create Wampum jewelry.   Quahog shell dust is toxic!
Quahog ready to design and craft into Wampum.



Hurricane Joachim blew in and The Pilling Jewelry Co. was born.

My husband and I drove “down the shore,” as they say in Jersey. He wanted to see the angry surf, being a former (and sometimes present), surfer dude.

“Wampum!” He exclaimed.

“Bless you,” I replied.

So he sat me down and told me about the North Atlantic Indian tribes and wampum.

Wampum are traditional shell beads of the Eastern Woodlands tribes of the indigenous people of North America. Wampum include the white shell beads fashioned from the North Atlantic channeled whelk shell; and the white and purple beads made from the quahog, or Western North Atlantic hard-shelled clam.

Before European contact, strings of wampum were used for storytelling, ceremonial gifts, and the recording of important treaties and historical events. After European contact, wampum was considered cash money.

After our contact with wampum, collected from the beaches of a Bay Head, NJ, wampum was raw material from which to make jewelry.

I love designing and making jewelry using a mix of natural materials and hardware and making my customers happy by providing them with a one-of-a-kind statement piece that compliments their little black dress, beach attire, wools sweaters or favorite denim shirt.

I often grab my sketch book to design my jewelry, inspired by the natural materials before me, the architecture I love, the colors of the shells and beads and the lifestyle my creations will enhance.

To finish a Quahog clam shell for use in jewelry making is a very time consuming process. Donning a mask and goggles to avoid toxic dust, I either use hand tools (files, saws, carving tools and lots and lots of sandpaper, or electric tools like my Dremel-like rotary tool with a variety of bits or my vintage hand crank grinder.

Before even beginning the hours of hand finishing, I have to harvest the source material. Walking the beach in Bay Head, NJ, looking for the unmistakeable flash of deep purple shell, interesting stones and sea glass is my favorite part. Hey! Someone’s gotta do it.

After a career in the corporate world, I’ve re-discovered by BFA in Studio Art. I hope you enjoy my creations as they evolve.