I am also slowly but surely getting ready for this photo collage that I want to make to hang on our wall. In my mind it will be a visual representation of the cancer journey that we've been walking. I plan to incorporate treatment photos and photos of more normal, everyday kind of things and then paua shell pieces. I want to use the paua shell pieces as a visual representation of the total number of days since diagnosis until last day of chemo. I know, call me crazy.
Paua shell pieces are quite special. It has the most amazing colours and they are so nice and shiny. Each piece looks a bit different and it is just so suitable as the representation of the number of days because let's face it, no two days were the same even if they sometimes had similar aspects to it, and let's face it, despite the challenges of our journey, we had many beautiful days too, we found many blessings along the way and so I think paua shell is just perfect.
Now for those of you who don't quite know what paua shell is, here is a bit of an explanation:
It is only found in the sea around New Zealand. This marine mollusk eats seaweed and lives clinging to rocks at depths of 1-10 meters, normally along the shoreline. Paua Shell is the most colorful of all the abalone shells. Most other abalone are pale in comparison.
There is no other shell in the world that has the colour like Paua Shell colour that varies from greens & pinks to purples & blues and even some shells with gold or crimson tonings.
The colour in the paua shell changes when viewed at different angles. This iridescence, similar to that of Mother of Pearl shell, but far more brilliant, is what makes paua shell so amazing as a gem material for use in jewellery. It is truly one of nature's marvels. Each shell is different in it's colour tonings, and in the patterns within the shell. The black patterns in the shell come from layers of protein that are laid down between the layers of calcium that make up the shell. The brilliant colours are from light being refracted within the crystal layers. The same effect that the iridescent colour found in Opals.
I want to give a big thank you to Paua World who assisted me with my request for paua shell pieces, they were so incredibly helpful, thank you very much!!!
I took a few photos of some of the pieces that I received from Paua World and unfortunately my photographic ability doesn't do much justice to just how strikingly beautiful and unique these pieces are, but to give you an idea:
So initially I thought if I order a duplicate set through CCF they could include my order in their next order of beads and then I could pay them for that, but they were not really keen for me to do this and incorporate it in this way. But that's okay. Even if they don't share the same sentiment about this project, it is still very important for us to mark the end of this journey, to have something visual that we could put on the wall and see at a glance where we've come from, what Bianca and us as a family had to go through to get here. After all this is what will shape our journey and our road going forward. It isn't something that we simply can get to the end of and say "oh good, that's the end of it, now let's forget it ever happened". It doesn't work that way. Our journey won't be finished when we reached the 11th of September, it will still be part of us for a very very very long time and now we'll have to make sense of it all and pick up the pieces and so I think it will be important to remind us of just how far we've come and how much we've achieved. And so this photo collage will be a way to recognise the challenges and to remember that it wasn't all sad and difficult and that despite the challenges we were blessed too.
So yes, I will still include beads in my project. It is a bit disappointing that I can't order them through CCF as they already have access to the colours and sizes, but I am able to find stock at places like Spotlight and other bead supply stores and I have just discovered that perhaps I am able to actually make these using polymer clay. It doesn't look too complicated (of course those may end up "famous last words"...) and I would be able to paint it in the relevant colours. And so once I have printed out all the photos I need to, I'll know just what size bead will work well with my project and then I'll have to put all the elements together and hope it looks the way I imagine it would.