Emily Bhargava

197 posts


1″ x 2″, glass and found objects

I spent hours as child looking at the oil slicks floating on top of puddles by the side of the road.  I loved the swirls and rainbows of colors, and the way they changed as I moved my head. Some things that I’ve learned about over the years have taken away the magic of what I see, but others just enhance it.  When I learned about iridescence and how it gives rainbow boas’ skin the same rainbow look just made it seem even more magical.  So now, when I find glass, which I love, that looks iridescent, which I love, it’s pretty slick.


1″ x 2.25″, gifted objects

This weekend at Open Studios I put my jewelry on display at the Armory building. Selling handmade work is strangely vulnerable, waiting for strangers to decide whether they like your style and your technique enough to own your work and pay you for what you’ve made.  Whenever the crowds would thin, the artists showing their work would try to see each others’ booths. Other artists look with a special eye, not for what we want to own, but for how the pieces are made and how the other person sees the world. At one point Sharon from Salamander Arts stopped by and handed me a treasure trove of materials. Tiny beads and strange metal bits, just the kind thing I love! She said she thought I could use them and she’s right! This week’s pendant was so much more fun to make because the pieces were a gift from her and not just “found” like so many of the bits that I usually use.

In Spades

1″ x 3/4″, found objects

It’s springtime and we’ve pulled out the tools for the garden.  For the most part they get used and then stuck in the dirt until the next time we need them, which means that every day as I walk to the door I pass a spade sticking out of the soil. That gives many reasons to think about all the spade-related expressions that I don’t fully understand.  My mom used to say “better call a spade a spade”.  I know there’s a card reference, but what’s the connection?  And why would something you have a lot of be something you have “in spades”? I know I could just google the answers, but instead I’ll wonder for a while longer, passing the spade in the garden each day.


1″x 2″, found objects

I’ve always loved library shelves.  Books with different heights and colors, textures and fonts, all lined up, spines pointed out, lined up and put in order. Ruffles and pleats, stacks of plates and folded sweaters all have the same comforting sense of multiplicity. Lots of the same thing, organized, but not entirely alike.  In this pendant the multiplicity comes from shiny and dull black circles, some empty and some full.  Iridescent beads that are so alike they’re clearly a set, but with their own quirky color variations and accidental angles.

Points for creativity

1″ diameter, wood

It’s not just the tiny size, cool shapes and neat textures that I love about scraps, but also the fact that they’ve been tossed aside.  If I can find a use for them it feels like I should get extra points, not just points for good environmental stewardship, but points for creativity. On a recent visit to our local fab lab someone was cutting detailed Moroccan-inspired patterns out of wood veneer, and the punched-out scraps were about to be tossed. I asked permission and shoved some of them into my pocket, waiting for a moment of inspiration.  Here they are!


1″x 2″, glass, stone and found objects

In the ongoing days of COVID I’m thinking all the time about how to shield myself and my family from the virus, whether it’s with masks, isolation or elderberry syrup.  But it’s not just the virus that I shield myself from. I find that my clothes are a shield, against the cold, against being judged as unprofessional or judged as too serious.  I like the crossover between shields and family crests too, where a shield can protect us and simultaneously broadcast our identities and our affiliations.  This pendants uses some of may favorite colors and materials to form a traditional shield shape. Maybe it’ll also ward off the COVID virus?


1.5″ diameter, found objects

Many years ago I learned to make hollow glass beads.  When they’re made with opaque glass they trick the eye, looking heavy but feeling light.  I learned this week about aerogels, which are a most extreme version of being mostly hollow and super light.  The holes in aerogels blur the boundaries of the substance, and the holes through this pumice dull the light bouncing off it, in stark contrast to the shiny metal surrounding it. I like the idea that things aren’t always what they seem. What seems seems heavy might be light. and what seems simple might delight.


1″x1″, found objects

This week was Holi, an Indian festival of colors that usually involves good food and throwing powdered pigments at each other.  We’re waiting to celebrate on a warmer day, since throwing colors isn’t a great indoor activity, but I still wanted to make this week’s pendant colorful. Nothing in India seems to happen without a gold accent, and there are no rules about which colors “go together” so the glass tile and the rings of colors are loving nod from puritanical New England where you can’t even wear white after Labor Day to loving colors with no rules.


1″x 2″, found objects

This week I was gifted a super cool alarm clock that was designed to look futuristic back in the 60s or 70s. It was called “Atomic” when atomic was cool.  I took the clock apart carefully, exposing all of the beautiful gears and springs and screws. This pendant is the first of a series that I’m sure to make from the clock’s inner workings, timely (no pun intended) because the world is once again bracing for nuclear war.


1″x 2″, found objects

I’m back home, settled in with the rest of the family for the remainder of a mixed-up quarantine.  Although I’m testing negative now and will probably not infect anyone, I’m so exhausted that I don’t want to be out and about.  This week’s pendant captures the bumpiness of the quarantine period, as well as the little gems of rest, calm and beauty that came from spending an extra week by the sea in Mexico and taking time to let my body heal.  I’ve used 40 pieces of bone to represent the traditional 40 days of quarantine.  Although the COVID quarantine period depends on where you are (5 days in the US, 10 days if you’re stuck in Mexico…) it seems like all together our family’s illness journey will take at least 40 days.


1″x 1/2″, watercolor

There have been a shocking number of ups and downs this week, unrelenting like the waves at the beach a few blocks away. I got sick, tested negative for covid, then tested positive, stayed in Mexico to recuperate, and am trying to balance my frustration and illness with some enjoyment of the weather. I didn’t bring enough adhesive for two mosaic pendants, but this watercolor and nail polish creation with the colors of ocean and palm trees will have to stand in for this week.


Snow or sun?

1”x 1”, found objects

As I sit in Mexico in amazing 85 degree weather, learning about concrete and swimming in the pool, I’m getting emails about a blizzard at home. I know where I’d choose to be right now! This pendant is made from pieces of a shiny pill package. Is it snow or sunlight glinting on the water? 

Less is More

1/2″x 2″, glass

I’ve spent this week at one of the local elementary schools, working with the art teacher to have every class help with a school-wide mosaic project.  When the kids aren’t working on the collaborative piece they’re making their own small mosaics with tiny vitreous tiles and sorting them by color.  As almost 800 kids have come through the room I’ve seen enough tiny tiles to make my head spin. But seeing the variety of designs they can create on a very small substrate is also exciting.  This pendant is a nod to what tiny vitreous tiles can do.  Even just a few can become something interesting.

Subtle changes

1″ x 1/2″, polymer clay and slate

These pieces of polymer clay, made originally by @atomicgarden, have such a richness from the mixing and folding of colors.  And slate has greens, blues, oranges, browns hiding inside.  I’ve been watching my skin age and I see so many new shapes, new tones, new colors.  I look at my grandmother’s skin and I see even more variety, the marks of 97 long years.  The changes are subtle and slow, but they create such an interesting palette.

Candy Clean-Out

1″ x 1″, glass

After Halloween one year we had a cabinet so packed with candy that it was falling out whenever we’d open the door.  We let the kids choose one night to do a candy clean-out, which meant they could eat as much candy as they wanted and then we’d throw out the rest.  The concept has now been expanded to baked goods, snacks and whatever sweets are the cabinet, and it happens a few times each season.  On the one hand, it’s not super healthy. But on the other, it makes them so gosh darn happy!  Here’s my square-inch ode to the candy clean-out.


1″ x 1.5″, glass and found objects

It’s not just that the winter is dark, but that it’s gloomy.  Even the brightest sunshine doesn’t make colors jump the way the summer sun can do.  And when the sun sets at 5 PM, all I want to do is curl up and go to sleep.  Appropriately, the lighting for this photo wasn’t behaving, but in the end it’s as dull and disturbing as the light outside.


1″ x 2″, stained glass and found objects

I’ve been spending as much time as I can with my grandmother, who has dementia and lives in a memory care facility.  Our hours together go best when she begins to look at photos of people she loves or talk about the house where she grew up. She’s lost all sense of time, but knows that she’s close to 100 years old. She marvels at her age, wondering aloud how she’s survived so long and why she’s still here.  All of her older memories are peeking out, clouded and rough around the edges, but still there. The passing of each hour is meaningless and it’s the memories that keep her going.


1″ x 2″, found objects

Some days I look at my calendar and there are fifteen things on there. Little colored rectangles that each represent a whole host of actual tasks.  Meetings, doctors’ appointments, project deadlines, and reminders.  They look like they just can’t be contained by the little day-of-the-week square. In fact, they often overlap each other so much that I can’t even read them.  Today I accidentally had two virtual meetings running in different tabs simultaneously, so as I listened to one conversation, comments from the chat in the other popped up on my screen.  It felt like my brain had landed on the monitor.  I made this pendant with the idea of representing the fullness of my days and my brain. I didn’t mean for it to be so literal, but when I saw the typewriter key that said “margin release” it just said it all.  If someone could just release my margins, I’d be all set.  Maybe a few more hours each day?  A brain that could hold just a bit more at one time?


1″ x 2″, found objects

As the pandemic rages on and we exist within yet another surge, all sorts of containment procedures have been put back in place.  Parents can’t enter schools, grandchildren can’t see their grandparents, and everyone’s behind a mask again.  In some ways the virus containment procedures are comforting, but when they keep people apart it’s hard to see them as anything but barriers. And, as this pendant represents, on each side of the barrier, it doesn’t matter how pretty your surroundings are, you’re still alone.


.5″ x 1.5″, glass and stone

I love the way that ice makes the world glittery.  If only winter could be icy and WARM! We’re on our way to a tiny house in the winter woods where there’s a huge window.  I’m hoping it’ll be the perfect combination, watching the beauty of winter while being toasty and warm inside.  This pendant combines white stone and crystals with fused dichroic glass.  It’s hard to capture in a photo, but in real life it catches the light and glints, with the silver of ice and the reds of flame.


1″ x 1.5″, glass

I’m building a glass and steel wine rack, my first welded commission, and it’s reminding me of the constant struggle between constraints and freedom.  On the one hand, I’d like to create exactly what I want, but on the other, the constraints of working to the client’s requirements and building something that they’ll love creates a welcome set of boundaries.  Years ago, running a teen center, I learned how much kids crave clear boundaries and the freedom to be creative within them.  Nothing has really changed.  Constraints make that which is created within them even more special.

Tiny treasures

1″ x .75″, found objects

I spent part of my birthday walking along the beach in Portland, ME, enjoying the gray skies and the amazing array of snail shells that were left on the sand during low tide.  Most of them were brown, but every 100 yards or so there was one tiny bright yellow shell hiding among the piles.  I put them in my pocket, along with bits of purple mussel shell.  As always, they lost some of their brilliance when they dried, but this pendant captures them in all their glory, with a clear coat of resin to bring back their shine and make them look as alluring as they did that day on the sand.

Symmetry and Movement

1″ x 1.5″, found objects

It’s been an intense week of a conference about racial justice and how to move the world and our institutions toward equity.  We talked about the discomfort of sharing power and challenging white supremacy.  I never leave these conversations feeling satisfied, but they’re a chance for introspection.  In all of my art I feel comforted by symmetry.  There’s something so calm and balanced about the two sides of an object being the same.  But there’s also something sinister about the mirroring of what’s already there.  I may not be ready this week to take the bold step of making a piece that’s not symmetrical, but at least I put a moving piece at the bottom. As it swings, it’ll throw off the balance just a little, making space for something that’s new, different, unbalanced, and very possibly better.


.5″ x 2″, glass

The kids and I had a long conversation today about how religious traditions often layer on top of one another, being combined and borrowed over the centuries to create new customs.  But one fairly constant tradition is to light candles in the darkest part of the year. I’ve been working with Tova Speter to create a collaborative traveling Hanukkah exhibit called Brighter Revealed, a huge lantern that’s bringing light and color to neighborhoods across the region this week.  Like the lantern, this pendant has eight sections to represent the eight nights of Hanukkah, and glass that reminds me of the colors and shapes of stained glass.  

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.