Friday, November 09, 2012

taking care of silver

Just recently, I was lucky enough to come into possession of an antique Rajasthan style waist belt. It's exactly the size I'd wanted, and the price was not ridiculous (when I say "ridiculous", I mean out of my reach - I know how expensive silver can be, but I also know what "overpriced" means). So I made a few some many sacrifices and purchased it.

When I finally received it, I was a bit disappointed and alarmed. It didn't look as silver as it was in the pictures. It looked yellowish, almost bronze-like. I thought I'd been duped. I could return it within seven days, but I decided to clean it, and some other silver jewelry, with baking soda and aluminum foil. The water residue of the belt was so ghastly and murky, but it was not enough. The belt still looked bronze and I was still worried.

But I was determined to clean it. And so after consulting The Great Interwebz, I ordered this polishing cloth. It came in the mail this morning and I just finished cleaning my belt.

Here are the photos.

The waist belt. 

The yellowy tarnish on the clasp was still there even after the baking soda and aluminum foil cleaning. 

Some rub using the polish cloth, and hello clean old silver. 

I'm comparing my contemporary Indian sterling silver bracelet with the antique waist belt, still uncleaned.

The bracelet, compared with the back of the belt's clasps that has been rubbed with the polish cloth. 

A comparison of the bracelet, a part of the belt's been cleaned, and the part that hasn't.

And after 100 minutes of rubbing and scrubbing and buffing (I was watching Lord of the Rings: Return of the King while doing this), look, look, look: it's silver. It's shiny, shiny silver. 

The belt and the dirty, dirty polishing cloth. 

Now it's time to store it so it won't tarnish in a short while. I bought these little zip lock bags

And anti-tarnish paper tabs. These work like silica gel. 

And they're all protected inside the zip lock bags. I place the jewelry that I wear often in a separate bag. 

Also, as a double (or is it triple?) protection, I place them inside this bag that's made of cloth that has R-22 to prevent tarnish. 

One last note, I also ordered  3M Tarni-Shield polish, but it will arrive next Monday and I just couldn't wait to clean the belt. There are still some deep parts that need cleaning and the crevices too deep to reach. I'll clean it again using the Tarni-Shield and old tooth brush. Perhaps it's wiser to clean it first using the Tarni-Shield (or whatever chemical polish) - if your jewelry piece has tarnished too much, so that it will make the job of rubbing and buffing a lot easier. 

All of these might seem excessive and too much, but consider this: you've spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars collecting silver or gold jewelry. I always see precious metals and stones as investments - their value most likely increases over time, so why not take good care of them? God forbid one day we have to part with them, but if the time comes, and they've been well taken care of, then they will sell for a price as beautiful as the jewelry themselves. 

Make time to clean your jewelry, at least wipe the sweat and oil off your accessories when you take them off and store them in the anti-tarnish bag or storage. 

Addendum: The Tarni-Shield has arrived and I used it to clean the belt with an old tooth brush to reach for the deep parts. It worked just fine, although I prefer cleaning my silver jewelry using polishing cloth.

The lower buckle was cleaned using Tarni-Shield and tooth brush and the upper buckle wasn't.

Also, I'm now going to wrap my silver pieces individually in acid-free white tissue paper and then store them in the zip lock bags and R-22 bags.

I'll do the same to my Assuits and I'll share how that turn out later. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

notes on performing ATS® solo

So, obviously I have tons of homework to be done (and I haven't updated my Pink in California blog for a long time now), but I just can't find the motivation to do so.

Although I like to multitask, I feel that I can do better if I work on one thing first (the one on the top of the priority list and work myself down - well, most of the time) and dedicate my time to it. And this blog entry has been waiting quite a while.

The thing is, whenever I'm back in Jakarta for end of semester vacation, I don't really have anyone to perform ATS® with, so I have to do a solo. At the end of every solo performance, though, I've always become sad because well, American Tribal Style® is never meant as a solo piece. No one told me this, but I used to believe the only person allowed to do ATS® solo is Ms. Carolena Nericcio. But then from time to time, I saw videos of FatChanceBellyDance® troupe members soloing when there're just two or three of them dancing together for a set.

Still, as much as I love performing, for me, ATS® solo was not something I looked forward to. It just didn't feel right.

That's why I'll always remember one recent Saturday when she said in class that even when we were dancing solo, we weren't dancing alone. We have the chance to engage the audience, to dance with them, to invite them in, to include them in our dance. And this can be done through our face and body angle. Always smile and not only with the lips, but also the eyes. Don't squint but slightly open your eyes and let your eyes smile too.

This was a great light bulb moment for me. And I hope this makes sense to you too.

I mean, yeah, I've heard of the concept of engaging the audience when dancing in a group - always maintain eye contact and smile and such, but this kind of falls into the wayside whenever I'm soloing. I didn't think of "dancing" with the audience. I always thought about dancing for the audience.

Speaking about engaging the audience, Sensei Kae also stressed how important it was to always engage the audience whenever we're dancing, even in a Dueling Duet formation when it's easy to be too engrossed in whoever's leading. We can do this by making eye contact whenever we pivot or do a Move or Step that faces the audience.

There's another important note. I've always thought the Arm Undulation (whether layered with Taxeem or not) and Body Wave were beautiful movements, but away from the stage, they could be really subtle, too subtle for a dramatic impact. Ms. Nericcio pointed this out yesterday. Dramatic slow songs (Stamena, Aicha, Arawan) instantly beg for level drops, turns, and laybacks, but that doesn't mean we can't do many of these when dancing to other types of slow songs. Use Arm Undulation (with or without Taxeem) and Body Wave for fillers, for transitions, for moments for the audience to breathe and clean the audience's palate, so to speak. And when you're doing these subtle movements, our body needs to be really articulate, and this means two things: clean technique and the knowledge of all the mechanics of the movements.

Then I remembered that one time I saw a video of my performance and thought how boring my Arm Undulation was, no matter how much I enjoyed performing it and thinking how good it must've looked. Haha.

I'm just going to close this blog entry with this awesome video (I think I put it on the blog one time, but it's just so good).

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