Emily Bhargava

87 posts

Testing the Marriage

1/2″ x 2″, found objects

It didn’t seem like a great sign when a glass bangle from our wedding broke into pieces this week, in the midst of being alone together in our house with two jobs, two screaming children and only a zoom chat or two to keep us sane. But I’ve taken the broken pieces, lined them up, and turned them into something that still has a sparkle.  The key element of the pendant is alignment, because social distancing has forced us to become a stronger couple by further aligning our schedules, our routines, our answers to questions from the kids and our rules about sweets.

Transformation

1″ x 2″, found objects

At the center of this pendant is the stone from an antique hatpin that belonged to my grandmother’s cousin, and then to her daughter, Sharon. I was recently given a whole collection of her antique hatpins, and I hope to turn them into beautiful and contemporary art.  But I found that everything in keeping with the hatpin looked stylish in the same old-fashioned way, so I’ll consider this a practical transformation (since we don’t use hatpins very much these days), not a modernization. I’m honored to have the opportunity to use the pins, and equally challenged by the difficulty of making something that can capture the memory and the spunk of the wonderful women who owned them before me.  Maybe the next one will be spunkier.  

Distancing

1/2″ x 2″, found objects

As we try to follow the advice to stay 6 feet apart from each other I keep remembering an exhibit that I loved at the Museum of Science when I was young.  It showed the size of the “personal space” that different cultures expected, and had circles drawn on the ground to represent the personal space from many different countries.  You could stand in the center of one and see how far apart people in England stand compared to people in Mexico or China.  Having lived in two different countries by then it made a lot of sense to me, and having moved around the world a lot since then I always think of it when people squish together on public bus seats or try very hard not to let their hand touch someone else’s elbow during rush hour.  This pendant is a visualization of the rings of space that we each have around us.  At the same time that it feels isolating, I’m trying to find what’s beautiful in defining our own personal space.

Glimmers

1″ x 2″, found objects

The beautiful thing about glass is that it looks so different in different lights.  This pendant is made from glass shards from broken bottles that I found along the Charles River.  They’ve been scuffed by shoes, buried in mud, and lost most of their glimmer, but in the sunshine they still catch the light.  Set in the black adhesive of the pendant they’re dull again, but tiny glass beads reflect the light even indoors, mimicking the tiny glimmers of light that helped me find these treasures along the river.

Stockpiling

1″ x 2″, found objects

In this strange time of Coronavirus preparedness, we’re being encouraged to gather enough food for two weeks of quarantine.  As I looked through my cabinets to check on our stores of dry goods and calculate how long they would last, I thought about the way that many Indian women wear gold jewelry as a way to own something of value that doesn’t belong to their husband and to keep it close and protected while also appreciating its beauty.  Here’s a current-crisis interpretation of wearing what’s valuable to us, made of beans, rice, quinoa and corn.

“Translations” opening March 8th

Instead of a mosaic pendant as usual, I wanted to let you all know that the show “Translations, a chain of painting, poetry, mosaic and assemblage” will be on display at the Gorse Mill Gallery in Needham from March 2-April 5 with an opening reception on March 8 from 3:00-5:00.  The ten pendants that I’ve made based on poems will all be on display as part of the show.  I hope some of you can make it!

And, as a special (unrelated) treat, here are a few of the pendants I made this week using Shel Silverstein’s illustrations and texts.  I love the rhythm of the poetry and the humor of the illustrations.

Honey-Makers

1″ x 2″, beads and glass

This pendant tries to capture a poem that held many ideas, but spoke to me about the treadmill that we’re on, and about how much latitude we might really have to choose what to create.  Like bees in a hive we’re all busy busy busy and then what we have to show for our work  can be sweet, can be nourishing, but is fleeting; food for the next generation.  While honeycombs are geometrically perfect, this one is not.  It captures the essence of the hive structure but was made by a very human hand, not programmed for the perfect architecture of the hive.   But when it moves it shines, and offers a different kind of gold.

Bloom Where You Grow

1″ x 2″, found objects

Captured in the lovely prose poem that inspired this piece is the overwhelming power and beauty of the bloom of life, and the equal, if less overt, power of the other stages; the seed with its potential and the memory with all it carries. The pendant uses  found objects to mirror the vibrancy and intricacy of the blooming “bejeweled” bottom with the delicacy and simplicity of the single gem shining above.  The continuity of colors and materials shows that the the top and bottom are are one and the same.  

Sprouts

1″ x1″ glass and found objects

Visualizing another gorgeous poem, these colors and shapes say spring.  This pendant finally offered me a way to use millefiori, the flower-shaped sliced glass cane, as flowers!  But my favorite part of this composition isn’t the flowers, the stones or the moon-bead, but the tiny lines emerging at the bottom like new sprouts from the earth in spring.

Homecoming

1″ x 2″ glass

This pendant responds to a poem that beautifully explores the many reasons that we feel compelled to move.  We travel far and wide to be safe and comfortable and loved.  All made with glass cane, the colors and shapes on the bottom are separated and searching for the place where they will be welcomed. 

Chocolate and Caramel

1″x1″, glass

I can’t believe I made it through a full year of health-related pendants without making a chocolate-themed one, but better late than never!  Here it is, in honor of the chocolate-making class that I get to take today!  Glass has a strange way of looking like chocolate. A long time ago I made a set of flameworked beads in the shapes of chocolates, and this pendant is like the raw material.  Split glass smalti looks to me like rich chocolate, crunchy peanut butter and caramel just waiting to be turned into a tasty treat.

Falling leaves

1″ x 2″, glass

This pendant is an interpretation of one more beautiful poem that will be included in the upcoming group show “Translations” opening March 8th in Needham (see events list for more details).  I chose the colors to reflect the hues of fall, with the reflective, glowing quality that the evening sun can give, and placed the rough-cut edges of the black glass up to show the irregularity and variety that I love as I watch leaves floating down to the ground.

Multiples

1″x1″, found objects

Everything is more beautiful in multiples, that’s why nature is so amazing,  unbelievable numbers of blades of grass, leaves, branches, berries…

Even machine-made jewelry findings gain a beauty and a rhythm in multiples.

Watching

1″ w x 2″ h, found objects

This pendant goes back to basics and just uses some of the beautiful antique watch parts that I’ve collected over the years.  Like the lead in a stained glass window, the black epoxy frames and separates each piece.

Moon

1.25″ x 1.25″, glass

A very dear friend of mine passed away recently.  She was a mosaic artist who collected wonderful tesserae, and I made this pendant out of pieces from her collection.  While this doesn’t look anything like her work, I know that by using her materials this piece will make me think of her every time I see the moon.

Cycles

1″ diameter, found objects

This week was my birthday, and I was so busy that I barely had a chance to pause to take a breath (or post a pendant), but being celebrated did make me take a few hours out to enjoy the people around me and to think about the passing year. This design made from seeds and clay beads is meant to reflect a calendar, with a colored bead marking each season of the year.

The Blues

1″ x 2″ glass and found objects

This pendant is a bit of a mish-mash with pieces of technology, beads, broken glass and pieces from polymer clay canes that I made when I was a child.  If “the blues” are things that make us sad, I like the idea of taking them all and forcing them into an itsy-bitsy frame where somehow, as a collection, they take on a new beauty.

Welcome

1″ x 2″, glass and found objects

As a nod to Thanksgiving, this pendant is one of a series that includes pieces of glass from a plate with the image of the brilliantly-colored turkey, the peacock.  A sign of welcome in some parts of the world, peacocks remind me of the irony that our country celebrates one immigration story while at the same time making so many new immigrants feel unwelcome.

Fiddlers Three

1″x 2″, found objects

This piece has a very different feel than the last few that I’ve made.  A response to another touching poem that will be part of a collaborative exhibit in March, the pendant explores the imagery, the cadence and the facade of joy that nursery rhymes carry.

Burfi

1″x1″, glass and found objects

One more pendant grew from this year’s Diwali sweets. The back side of glass that’s pressed with foil looks just like Indian burfi  with silver foil on top.  Cut into a diamond just like a burfi, this pendant will make me hungry every time I see it.

Patina

1″x 2″, found objects

Patina is the change on the surface of metal that shows its age. It can become darker, irregular and more colorful as it interacts with the chemicals around it. I’ve been watching how humans age lately, and thinking about how we also become more irregular and colorful over time. This pendant is a commentary on the passing of time that combines intentionally patinated metal, shiny beads that will never show their age, and antique watch parts, dark with patina.

Shine

1″x1″, glass and found objects

Sometimes the Diwali outfits at family celebrations are all about color, but this year they were all about shine. A little bit of metallic thread, a shiny mirror, a lot of rhinestones…and then simple fabric becomes amazing.  This pendant is about creating shine and eye-catching sophistication from less-than-perfect materials.

Pondering children

Based on a beautiful poem that explores individuality and the way that as parents we watch our children grow and become unique, this pendant uses found objects to represent a parent and three children.  The three children are similar, but their size, their perspective and what’s inside makes them each unique.

Silhouette

Glass, 1″x 2″

In the second of my poem-inspired pendants, here is “the tree, against the backdrop of the sky”.  You’ll have to come to our January opening to see the rest of the beautiful and moving poem.  I created the form of a tree by breaking a thick, frosted, mirror-backed piece of glass along the lines of a trunk, branches and roots.  The deep cracks are visible through the glass from many angles giving depth to what would otherwise be a flat design.  The colors and textures of the pendant sky, like the real sky, change as the light changes.