meet the pacem medals.

pacem is the Latin word for peace.

while i don’t know much Latin, i do know a little bit about peace. i know that it’s necessary for a good night’s sleep. i know that it keeps blood-pressure down and sweaty hands dry. i know that it helps the mind think clearly and the heart beat gently. i know that we all want it. i know that we all need it.

i’ve been working on this small project for a little under a year. and now that i’ve just typed that last sentence i see how strange that is. why has it taken me so long to get these out into the world? it’s not like they’re an elaborate masterpiece. i guess the reason i took my time, was that i needed the words to be right. i knew what i was saying in my mind via these little medals but i didn’t feel confident in being able to properly explain where i was coming from. and i don’t do half-assed. i only do 100%.

let me back up a little bit.

in college i made a wooden box in the shape of a red cross- a medicine cabinet. inside it contained five little hand-bound books that described stories of mistakes made, lessons learned, and the healing process, written by each one of my family members. this idea (mistake-making, the aftermath, and the journey of recovery) has stuck with me over the years. i often crack open my cabinet, revisiting its contents. i imagine my parents as children and my siblings as adolescents, as described in their stories. i think about how, even though each of their stories were different, they all experienced fear and they all sought peace. last year i felt the urge to pursue this idea in a slightly different way. i wanted to make little reminders of the process that we all undergo in the pursuit of feeling whole and safe, secure and peaceful, and that it doesn’t have to look pretty and it certainly (at the time) never seems to be ideal.

this time i wanted to use the scraps, mistakes, and bad ideas that i’ve amassed over the last couple of years and form them into something representative of real living with a nod to the healing and inevitable growing that follows. each little blob of silver is comprised of misfit odds and ends that i melted down into a nugget and either flattened smooth or left craggy and odd. much like how we emerge from our decisions, slip-ups, or the errs of life. did we come out unscathed? maybe just a little rough around the edges? or are we cratered and pocked and unusually different than before? and maybe it doesn’t really matter because it’s all beautiful just the same. with all of our weird angles and funny shapes. we have become unique and changed and maybe even a little wiser than before.

but who did we look to? what did we need? how did we find the comfort we sought? we all have different cures but we all have to look somewhere for them. we gotta follow that exit sign, click the “help” button, find the white flag. this is where the red cross from my college project comes in. the red cross, as used in this small collection, is a protection symbol referencing the red cross that was created during the Geneva Convention. this symbol was one of the first humanitarian aid symbols, meant to signify aid and refuge during wartime with the assurance of neutrality. it’s a sign of safety.

each silver pebble is flattened just enough to hold a cross shape that i pressed into the surface. some of the little nuggets i smoothed, while some i left blemished and misshapen. each one is unique. the pacem pins are paired up with various fibers which i found to enhance the badge-like appearance. the origin of these threads are special. they belonged to my mother-in-law. since MS has afflicted much of her fine motor skills, she’s given up her needlepoint and knitting and passed along her materials to me. i think this use of her flosses couldn’t be more perfect. i also knew i wanted to incorporate the color red, however small, so i unearthed the tiniest red seed beads that i dug up out of my husband’s middle school crafting box (match made in heaven!). i love this detail. and i love its origin: picture a twelve-year-old boy stringing absurdly small beads to make a necklace. could you imagine something more sweet or a-typical!? and now those left-over beads are EXACTLY what i needed to incorporate that subtle flash of red that alludes to my red cabinet. the seed of this project.

i really enjoyed taking my time with these, making one here and there, slowly, gently. peacefully. i hope you find these little gems relatable and comforting and maybe even useful. wear them as proud reminders of whatever trenches you’ve trudged through. or wear them as signals to others, that you’re safe, that you won’t judge, and that you’re here to help. the international committee of the red cross was given the motto inter arma caritas, meaning “in war, charity”, but it was revisited years later and given a different one, which i like so much more: per humanitatem ad pacem, “with humanity, towards peace”.

find all 13 of these one-of-a-kind pieces here.

be well, my friends!

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