April. For many months the city has been swathed in layers upon layers of clouds. Muted tones of grey and silver; the pitter-patter of the rain. Now, under the bright new sun, the clouds have dissipated. Birdsong. And street after street, the city is blushing – so many shades of pink, from champagne to shocking, but mostly cherry blossom. These are our Sakura days. We celebrate the cherry blossoms and the arrival of Spring with picnics under the cherry trees, concerts, blossom paintings, and haiku competitions. I took in some of these events two weeks ago:

Van Dusen

Van Dusen cbf

Van Dusen  temple      Cherry Blossom Festival               Cherry branch       

What I enjoy the most is to walk around neighbourhoods, to track the blooms as they progress through the city, to revisit favourite spots or discover new ones.   

sakura walk

There are over a thousand varieties of cherry cultivars here in Vancouver, with names like Kanzan, Ukon, Asagi, Kiku-shidare-zakura ou Atsumori. Look at the English translation of some of these names: 

Shogetsu                     Moonlight on pine trees

Mikuruma-Gaeshi      The royal carriage returns

Ama-no-gawa             Heaven’s river 

Sounds a bit like a haiku, doesn’t it?

Two cherry blossoms

As Spring brings in more blossoms, streets turn pink and white, taking on a new identity. For a while, Graveley Street becomes “Akebono Street”:

Graveley Akebono 1

Some streets are lined with cherry trees so large they arch across and meet. With the sweet scent of blooms in the air and the warm late-afternoon light filtering through the canopy, it feels like walking through a cloud cathedral.    

Graveley arches 1Graveley arches 2

There is so much to experience: colours, striking compositions or patterns of petals on the grass – a rich source of inspiration that can be challenging to capture with a camera or a pen so I can revisit it later in the studio.

But then sometimes, Mother Nature does the designing for us. Fossil coral is a striking stone that, for me, encapsulates perfectly the beauty and the delicacy of cherry blossoms. I bought one a few years ago, a rectangular cabochon in subtle shades of pink, with a detailed flower pattern – a serendipitous find since I was at the time in the throes of one of my sakura walks. Here is a necklace I made with it :

D Brechault - Cherry Blossom necklace

D. Bréchault – “Cherry Blossom” . Necklace. Sterling silver, fossil coral, freshwater pearls. Fabricated, cast.

Fossilized or agatized fossil coral is formed from ancient corals which, over time, were replaced with agate; the cross sections of the coral branches form the flower pattern. It is actually a stone (agate), no longer a piece of endangered coral reef. It is found in various parts of the world and the oldest ones can be as old as 450 million years. This particular one, from Indonesia, is about 20 million years old. They range in colour from tan, to yellow, to pink, to black. With a hardness of about 7 on the Moh’s scale, it is not delicate, and is quite suitable for jewellery making.

Flower pattern on fossil coral

Flower pattern on fossil coral

With the fossil coral as a centrepiece, I wanted to make a necklace that would be as light and ethereal as possible – like blossoms landing softly on your shoulders as your walk under a cherry tree. The setting had to be minimal, discreet, so as not to distract from the intricate flower motif on the fossil coral. I chose a prong setting, which uses a minimum amount of metal to hold the stone in place: a narrow seat at the back and thin prongs on the front, to expose as much of the stone as possible.

Back of setting

Back of setting

The leaf motif is repeated throughout and provides a visual connection between the pendant and the strand of pink freshwater pearls that holds it. On the setting, a small silver branch acts as a claw to clamp the stone. The clasp is a small hook hidden under another branch, and there is a single leaf at the end of the chain on the opposite side that serves as a weight to make the clasp more secure.

Detail of clasp

Detail of clasp

7019 detail of leaf prong

Detail of prong

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just heard that Kiku-shidare-zakura is in bloom a few blocks away, a not-to-be-missed cherry tree with spectacular chrysanthemum-like flowers. I am tickled pink just thinking about it.

15 thoughts on “Sakura

  1. artdoesmatter

    Dominique, your neckpiece is exquisite. I love how you’ve incorporated the leafy motifs into the setting and the clasp/chain itself. I’ve never known about that type of stone either, (fossil coral) and the way you’ve complimented it w/the pink pearls is just beautiful. Lastly, I always knew you were a kindred spirit, as I have one of these cherry trees outside the window of my home. Thanks to you, it appears I can identify it now (finally!) as possibly of the Sakura variety. Thanks so much for such a lovely, uplifting post!

    1. metalandmettle Post author

      Yes, this stone was a great find, as most of them come in beige or grey.
      Patricia, it is such a joy to be able to share what inspires me and my passion for metalsmithing, through this blog – and most of all, to have found a kindred spirit.
      Thank you, I always look forward to your visits!

  2. drawandshoot

    What a gorgeous post, Dominique!
    That necklace is particularly beautiful. I collect fossils, too, as they are plentiful here (I love them!) but of course, they are not so delicate. Gosh, I love your work.

    1. metalandmettle Post author

      Thank you for your kind comments, Karen. I always appreciate your feedback.
      Do you have any photos of your fossils? I did not see any in your blog. I love your Seedheads Series, by the way. The seedheads covered in ice (April 19th post, pic. 1&2) remind me a bit of a fossil actually; the intricate glassy pattern makes them look like an ancient stone. Beautiful work, as always!

      1. drawandshoot

        Hi Dominique, sorry for the late reply (May is so busy!). I have posted a few fossils on my blog, I should really post some more – they are so interesting.
        Here is a post with some shelly fossils and tetrdiids, which are really cool looking, I think.
        Thanks for your kind words about my seedhead series, I’m glad you like them – I just posted a few more images from the leftovers that overwintered.

      2. metalandmettle Post author

        Thanks for the link, Karen. As someone pointed out, these fossils do look like ancient pictographs. Is it life imitating art? Or is it you the artist, through your camera lens, showing us how to see it as art?
        I’d love to see more!

  3. Bob

    Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
    Is hung with bloom along the bough,
    And stands about the woodland ride
    Wearing white for Eastertide.

    Now, of my three score years and ten,
    Twenty will not come again,
    And take from seventy springs a score,
    It only leaves me fifty more.

    And since to look at things in bloom
    Fifty springs are little room,
    About the woodlands I will go
    To see the cherry hung with snow.

    AE Housman

    Here’s beauty in kind for the beauty of your post, with its evocative words, enticing photos and exquisite necklace. Like spring itself, it lightened my day. Thank you…again.

  4. danielle renault

    Quel magnifique collier avec ses perles à l’éclat rosé si délicat qui s’accorde parfaitement au corail finement travaillé par tes soins, et le clin d’oeil aux cerisiers lancé par les feuilles d’argent; c’est chaud, doux, soyeux.
    Je ne savais pas que Vancouver était l’autre partie des cerisiers; que ce doit être beau.
    Qu’aurait écrit Charles d’Orléans devant ce spectacle lui qui rêvait au printemps dans sa prison anglaise :

    Le temps a laissé son manteau.
    De vent, de froidure et de pluie,
    Et s’’est vêtu de broderie,
    De soleil luisant, clair et beau.

    Il n’’y a bête, ni oiseau
    Qu’’en son jargon ne chante ou crie :
    Le temps a laissé son manteau.
    De vent, de froidure et de pluie,

    Rivière, fontaine et ruisseau
    Portent en livrée jolie,
    Gouttes d’argent d’’orfèvrerie,
    Chacun s’’habille de nouveau :
    Le temps a laissé son manteau.

    CHARLES D’ORLEANS (1391-1465)

    Mon cher Charles, tu parles comme Dominique : now, under the bright new sun, the clouds have dissipated, écrit-elle
    Eh bien pas ici en Touraine. Nous sommes dans un hiver qui semble sans fin. Dans ce froid, lilas et glycines n’exhalent pas de parfum. Bientôt peut-être…
    Merci pour cette belle contribution. Je t’embrasse.

    1. metalandmettle Post author

      Bonjour Danielle. Quel plaisir d’avoir ta visite!

      Le Cherry Blossom Festival est presque terminé (Nous avons eu du vent le week-end dernier et il « neigeait » des fleurs partout dans les rues). C’est une belle tradition que nous avons ici à Vancouver, commencée dans les années 30 lorsque les villes de Kobe et Yokohama nous ont offert des cerisiers-fleurs ; notre collection s’est bien agrandie depuis et compte maintenant 40 000 cerisiers !

      Merci pour ce poème printanier de Charles d’Orléans que j’avais oublié. Je suis désolée d’apprendre que le printemps n’est pas encore arrivé chez vous. Je vais donc laisser la parole à Charles encore une fois :

      Mais vous, Hiver, trop êtes plein
      De neige, vent, pluie et grésil;
      On vous doit bannir en exil.
      Sans point flatter, je parle plain,
      Hiver vous n’êtes qu’un vilain !

      Je t’embrasse.

  5. carla

    What a beautiful post! I’ve always loved cherry trees in blossom – and your exquisite necklace captures their delicate grace perfectly…

    1. metalandmettle Post author

      I am so glad you stopped by, Carla. It’s great to hear from you!
      What are you doing these days? Thinking about taking more classes? I hope you can find time for creativity or at least time to stroll under the cherry trees. Thank you for keeping in touch!


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