Warding off evil with the ‘eye’

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    A local resident creates jewelry adorned with a talisman that in many cultures is believed to help ward off evil. Several celebrities are already wearing her creation, including rocker Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

    By Betty Bailey/Special to The Malibu Times

    Malibuite Annette Wright wants to keep an eye on you … and Madonna, and Steven Tyler and everyone else who is sporting her new beaded bracelets.

    The bracelets are made of beads with an “eye” pattern, wrapped around a scrunchie-type elastic band, and they are showing up all over town. Wright calls her new product “The Look,” and has placed them in stores around Los Angeles.

    “I love them. I think they’re great,” says Natasha Pedersen, manager and owner of the Malibu Beach Club, a local apparel store. “You can use them for your hair, for an anklet, for a bracelet. They’re just fun. I bought a bunch of them and sent them to my friends overseas and in other states.”

    Wright, whose two children attend school in Malibu and who has degree in law, says she started marketing her bracelets to stores after people began admiring the one she was wearing.

    “I was wearing one of the scrunchies in Starbucks one day and this lady came up to me and pointed at my ponytail. She said, ‘That is such a great look.’ I pulled it out of my hair and said, ‘Here, now you can have your own look.'”

    Wright says the idea came to her while she was living in Texas.

    “We had a vacation home in Acapulco for years and no one ever paid attention to me until my third son was born. He was born with red hair and people would touch him and say ‘Ojo,’ which means ‘eye,'” Wright recalls. “Strangers would just walk across the street. They would go out of their way to touch him. They believed that when evil looks upon you, if you touch someone with red hair, it wards it off.”

    Wright says she was fascinated by the people’s behavior and wanted to know why they would repeat the word “ojo.” She began to research the subject and found that many civilizations have use some form of “eye” to ward off malevolence.

    “It is believed that the mystical, protective power of the eye will ward off evil and surround its wearer with positive energy,” she says.

    After reading about how various cultures seem to revere the “ojo,” Wright says she started wearing various items of jewelry that featured an eye. None would hold up to everyday wear.

    “I was determined to make some kind of talisman product that could always be worn on the body, either in the hair, on the wrist or on the ankle that would constantly surround me with the eye’s protective power and would not break,” she says.

    The next five years were trial and error, Wright says.

    “You should have seen us with beads all over the house,” she says. “We would pull and the elastic wouldn’t hold and beads would go flying. I had to have special elastic made for me. It has to be just the right thickness. I had to have a chemist make a bond that could fuse the ends together before they were crimped. And then we had to build a custom machine that could crimp over the bond to keep everything together. This was intensely laborious.”

    The beads are specially made to fit the thick, sturdy elastic. Wright imports beads made from Italian Muretti glass.

    “I wanted to make something that was beautiful and durable and there was nothing out there like this,” Wright says.

    When Wright was happy with her product, she tried them on Malibu school children and their parents. One of those parents was Pamela Anderson.

    My son and I ran into her at Starbucks one morning on the way to school and I explained to her about the protective “eye” and gave her a bracelet which she graciously accepted,” Wright says. “She put it on immediately and thanked me.”

    After reading in a magazine article about rock star Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Wright dropped off several for him at his office.

    “I knew he believed in the eye, because he had an eye painted on each shoulder before his concerts,” she says. “I brought them over and, two days later, he called me.”

    Tyler can be seen wearing several of Wright’s bracelets in concert photos, and on his Web site.

    “He called me on his daughter’s birthday to let me know that all of her friends wanted his “Look,” but he told them that there was no way they were getting them off of him,” she says.

    As a gift, Wright made Tyler a guitar strap and bootstraps out of her beads.

    Wright recently delivered some of her bracelets to Madonna.

    “I dropped them at her office,” Wright says. “She loved them and asked me to make them in gold for her, which I have done.”

    Currently her bracelets are on sale in a handful of stores including Jennifer Kaufman, Fred Segal, Kitson, Malibu Beach Club and Crush Boutique. Wright says she hopes to make her products available worldwide through other fine stores and boutiques. She also plans to market her business on the Internet.

    “My goal is to make sure everyone has one of these,” she says. “Now, especially, we need to surround ourselves with protective power and positive energy. We can’t have too much of it.”