Emily Bhargava

173 posts

Polka Dots

1/5″ x 1″, glass

I have some important research to do over the long weekend. I’m going to explore the connection between polka and dots.  Where did the term polka dot come from?  Was it connected to the dance? the music?  is it a case of convergent linguistic evolution and polka dots have nothing to do with polka?  For now, I choose to imagine these little dots doing a fun, bouncy dance.

Scarcity

3/4″ x 1/2″, glass and stone

There’s a special beauty to something that is scarce.  Today it’s the weather- a rare unseasonably warm day in November.  I’m trying to bask in the sun as much as possible between meetings.  This pendant shows a vein of shiny dichroic glass buried within its slate surroundings. the glimmer and the glint are more valuable because they’re surrounded by the dull gray of the slate.

Fuming

1″ x .75″, found objects

There’s a lot that I’m fuming about today.  COVID exposures, a broken-down car, a container that fell hard on my toe, the weather turning cold…but this little headlight bulb that blew in the car last week has the other kind of fuming, the kind that glass artists do on purpose, by sending metallic fumes into tubes and vessels to make beautiful swirly designs on the inside.  This bulb made the magic by itself. Maybe fuming’s not the worst thing.

Diwali

.5″ x 2″, glass

Today is Diwali and we’re on our way down to DC with a carload of fancy clothes, gifts, food and excited kids.  I love the colors of Diwali, the sweets and the lights.  I also love the excuse to wear over-the-top jewelry, but this pendant is an attempt to capture the reds and golds of good fortune and wealth in a new and simpler way.  Now off to eat sweets and see family!

Travel

1.5″ x 1″, glass and found objects

Oh, the good old days when we could just hop on a plane and travel the world with no second thoughts… well, other than how much it would cost, whether we could take the time off work, how many days of school the kids could miss, what vaccines we would need, how to deal with jet lag and how to pass hours on an airplane with wriggly little ones.  I’ve been missing traveling during these 20 months of pandemic, and I remembered that my coin collection, full of memories and plans, is a way to connect to places around the world that I can’t visit right now. This pendant features a Japanese coin, representing one of the many places I’d love to visit some day.

Wishful Thinking

1″ x 1.5″, glass

There’s been an unseasonably warm streak this week, and when I walk outside the moist air and the flowers that are still blooming trick me into thinking that it might be spring instead of fall.  But that’s just wishful thinking.  I pulled out some of springtime colors and cut them into springtime shapes to make this pendant. I even tricked myself into thinking that winter might not be right around the corner!

Circle of resistance

1″ diameter, resistors and LED

As soon as I made loops on the ends of the resistors and put them in a circle I realized that they look like all the illustrations of how soap works, with its hydrophilic and hydrophobic ends making a big bubble to carry off germs.  So there you go: yet another tech/art/public health pendant!  It’s my kind of resistance.

Beauty in the Negative

1″ x 1.5″, glass beads

After making a stained glass window for friends that used the negative space as an image, I’ve been looking for images in the space around things. It’s a visual exercise I haven’t done since elementary school, and it’s definitely a metaphor for how to look around the edges and behind all the negativity that’s at the forefront during the pandemic and the general state of the world.  This pendant is a play on carefully-carved white cameos, and is a reminder that what’s left alone is often the most beautiful.

Fall

1″ x 1″, glass

The air smells like fall and I’ve had to put on two sweaters, so I can’t pretend anymore that it’ll warm up soon.  I gathered together some of the dark gold tiles that I used for  falling leaves pendant a couple years ago and added smalti and dichroic glass to capture the colors of the late-blooming flowers and the leaves starting to wither and turn brown.

Fireworks on the Water

.5″ x 2″, dichroic glass

We went to a Riverfest celebration this weekend. There was music, and then as it got dark there were fireworks over the water.  The display was beautiful, but it was even more beautiful to see the kids enjoying it.  This pendant, made with dichroic glass, reminds me of the fireworks reflecting on the ripples in the water.

Olden Days

.5″ x 2″, found objects

It’s happening so often now that I realize there’s something from my childhood that my kids have never heard of.  Boomboxes, tapes, Baskin Robbins…and as things become obsolete they have a new value.  Not a practical one, but a nostalgic one.  I was at a yard sale this weekend and someone was selling a few pairs of cufflinks. When I bought one she was thrilled, saying “I’m so glad someone still wears cufflinks!”. But no one does in this household.  The front and the back of the cufflink both found their way into this pendant.  I gave them a new lease on life, and the necklace can be an intergenerational conversation-starter.

Honey-dipped

1″ x 1.5″, glass and found objects

It’s hard to think about anything that’s not a donut when I hear the words honey-dipped, but this week is Rosh Hashanah, the jewish new year, when we dip all kinds of things (apples, bread, cake…) into honey to bring a sweet year. The pendant is made from a variety of honey-colored materials, and I hope it brings sweetness wherever it goes.

Plowshares

1″ x 1.5″, found objects

I try to listen to the news in moderation.  There are some stories that I need to hear in order to be a good citizen of the world, but if I listen too much the bad news is overwhelming.  Because of one of my jobs I’ve recently been added to a trauma response list serve, and my inbox is filled with stories of dead bodies, homicides and warnings of armed and dangerous suspects. This week included moving day for most of the neighborhood, and we walked around to find treasures.  I found two bottles of ammunition for BB guns. I’ve done my tiny part with this pendant to turn swords into plowshares by turning the BBs into jewelry.

Storage

1.5″ diameter, found objects

The tiles and pieces of things the I’ve been collecting for art have gotten a bit out of control.  Containers and bins and bags are balanced on top of each other, and it’s not easy to find what I need.  This pendant uses a beautiful antique-looking (but new) locket to house a collection of my bits and pieces.  I like to think that now that they’re stored permanently inside the locket, they never need to be organized again!

Shine and shadow

1″ x 1″. foil-backed glass

Consider this a one-inch meditation on contrast and balance.  Each time I sit down with glass in front of me to make one of these tiny compositions I realize again that one color is nothing without another, and light is nothing without shadow.  It’s not just about contrast, but about balance and the way one affects the other. I’ve always loved those optical illusions where the same color is shown surrounded by two different colors and it looks so different each way.  I just finished a stained glass window that leaves a tree in the negative space, and this is the same idea.  It’s not clear whether the gold or the black is the foreground or the background.

Three-quarters

1″ x 2″, found objects

My daughter’s been doing a chalkboard countdown to overnight camp, and after a couple of pandemic-related delays, we finally reached zero! Now the house is only three-quarters full, and the rest of us have started the countdown until she comes home.  This pendant combines a clock face and a beaded pendulum representing all the count-downs with three-quarters of a glass tile.  The battery in what would be the empty part of the tile square represents all the energy that she carries with her, hopefully to be released in swimming, singing, canoeing and all the other wonderful things that exhaust campers.

Findings

.5″ x 2″, found objects

I love words that move between the different parts of my work.  “Findings” is one such word.  When I’m working on jewelry, findings are the metal pieces that are already manufactured; the wires, hooks, clasps, and jump rings that can make my own creations wearable.  And in my anthropology/public health work, findings are the data that we collect and compile through surveys, interviews, and all the other processes that go into research.  But in my studio and in my house, findings are the little pieces of things that get lost and then discovered under a chair, between cushions, on the floor near the trash can.  This pendant is made of the last type of findings.  I think most of these parts (a bit of a necklace, some ball chain, a zipper pull and some washers) were stashed in one of my pockets while I was cleaning.  And look how official they can seem when they’re combined!

NESTled

1″ x 2″, glass and metal beads, watch parts

There have been a lot of us in the house this week, and it’s been cozy.  We found two birds’ nests that fell out of trees in the last few weeks and the kids have set them up as “bird hotels” in our yard, so for them there’s the promise of more visitors as the days go by.  I like the idea that the more crowded it gets, the more nestled and protected we all feel. This pendant nestles one ring (watch backs and watch gears) inside another, with a cozy, protected gem in the middle and egg-like beads all around.

Re-use pendant

1″ x 1.5″, plastic tiles

This week has been full of re-use.  Community mosaic sessions with imperfect tiles from Artaic, a clothing up-cycling session to make pillows at Swap It, and installing the cutlery data sculpture “1,659” at its first location.  In honor of the week of upcycling, this pendant is made from the plastic tiles from a craft kit that the kids were ready to throw out. These little squares and rectangles have moved on to smaller and better things!

Tiny Rock Garden

1″ x 1.5″, stone and polymer clay Our neighbors down the street are putting in a whole yard of beautiful plants, including an amazing array of succulents.  It reminded me that we’ve been on a family quest for indoor succulents all year, since they’re almost un-killable, they’re beautiful and they have wonderfully funny names.  Even though my pendants are meant to be studies for larger mosaics, this one went the other way.  It’s a tiny version of a larger mosaic that I made a few months ago. Both use amazing polymer clay succulents made by a local Somerville artist (you can find her on instagram @theatomicgarden). Even if it’s not real, I like the idea of carrying a tiny garden around my neck.

Puddle

1″ diameter, glass and ink

It’s been raining and raining, which makes our baby plants really happy, but leaves me a bit melancholy.  The water is pooling and swirling and being beautiful as long as it stays out of our house and garage.  I had a chance to play with alcohol inks last week for the first time, and saw that they can make amazing watery swirls. I’ve been experimenting with them on different surfaces and testing ways to seal them.  So between the rain and my tests, this week you get to see not a mosaic pendant, but a pendant made from alcohol ink on a white glass nugget sealed with resin.  It looks to me like one of the many puddles along my street.  

Cosmos I

1″ x1″, glass and found objects

I taught a mixed media mosaics class at Snow Farm earlier this week and put together a couple of pendants as we played with Apoxie Sculpt and all of the bits and pieces that I had brought along.  The stained glass that I used for the background reminded me of the night sky, and the central stone is a ring from a gumball machine that I flattened and cut. A few days ago I came from Snow Farm to Taconic State Park, where the stormy skies have actually been as dazzling as the stained glass in the pendant. So this week’s pendant is a nod to the beauty of the Cosmos.   I’ve given it a name that implies it’s the first in a series because I have a funny feeling there will be more.

Pausing to Question

1″ diameter, glass and found objects

I heard that unprecedented numbers of people are quitting their jobs right now.  The pandemic made us all pause and take good hard look at what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.  While the process has been painful, it seems like the changes that it’s brought about for a lot of people are positive.  My family has been taking apart an old typewriter, and today I decided to start to use the keys.  Until I looked closely, I hadn’t noticed that the question mark and the comma were on the same key.  It seems like a message from the universe… pause, and question.  

How can you tell if it’s real?

 2″ x 2″, found objects

I’ve been holding onto this board for almost a year, waiting to put it into a pendant because it has a fantastic shine to it, and a great graphic quality.  But alone it was too new, too gold and green.  And the bezel with its fake gold color was too yellow.  Then I found the silver and black earring that’s now at the top.  With its patina of age it calmed down the piece and made it complete.  I’ll keep this one away from the silver polish and let the real precious metal lose its shine while the fake versions can glow and reflect to their heart’s content.

Bits and Pieces

1″ diameter, terra cotta and found objects

My studio is full of bits and pieces. The smaller I work, the harder it is to throw out what I sweep up off the floor.  When I finish a stained glass window I have pieces left for mosaic.  When I finish a wall mosaic I have scraps left for pendants.  And they’re all so beautiful.  This pendant is made from a metal washer that was on the floor and ceramic tiles. It’s so satisfying to turn something that was once garbage into something new.