Emily Bhargava

294 posts

Metallica

1″ x 1″, found objects

I wanted this pendant to play with the contrast between shiny and dull, and the materials were easy to find in my stash.  A beetle wing for the shiny, and tiny pieces of slate to show off the beetle wings’ high shine.  When I looked at the wing pieces I thought the wing looked “metálica” and then I thought “I haven’t thought about Metallica since High School!”  And now, no matter how hard I try, I can’t look at the pendant without hearing Heavy Metal in my head.

Junk Drawer

1″x1″, found objects

You all know by now that I don’t actually think very many things are junk, and I tend to collect bits and pieces of things that look interesting or strange.  I like to sort them and organize them when I’m in the mood, but I also like the happenstance of things ending up next to each other in a pile or on a table of supplies. I see unexpected color combinations, I notice something about one texture relative to another, and the shapes play well together.  That’s the beauty of a junk drawer.  I can see each object in a new way.

Falling

2″ x .5 “, glass

It’s not fall yet, but it’s falling.  The weather is chillier, one or two leaves have landed on the ground, but next week will be warm again, and the trees haven’t turned.  I’ve plugged in my heated vest, and I’m  preparing.  This pendant is also getting set.  Warm golds and some darks, but none of the vibrant colors that we’ll start to see in a  few more weeks.

Skirting the issue

1″ x 2.5″, found objects

I’m involved in a lot of tricky conversations through my work.  Certain topics are hard to discuss, and one of the ways I like to use art is to create spaces where we can talk about hard things. But other times I’m just not in the mood to talk.  Head down, back to work. It’s nice to dive into something mindless and mundane, like sorting, carrying, and piecing, instead of chewing through community-level challenges.  The bottom of this pendant reminds me of a skirt, and of the skirting that people put around the bottom of a bed to hide all the dust bunnies underneath.  All of that dust is still there, but we can hide it for a little while.

Flight of Fancy

1″ x 3″, glass and found objects

I sat down this week thinking about the chill in the air (sometimes) and how close Diwali, Hanukkah and the Christmas holidays are. So it was with simple, easy-to-sell for the holidays pendants in mind that I sat down with my materials. But once again, the materials took me in their own direction. Didn’t this piece look Egyptian? Glass like scarab wings would look lovely with the gold. Ooh! There are holes. I’d better hang someting from them! And so, this pendant joins a collection that are just flights of fancy. No deeper story, just fun to make.

Awake

2″ x 3″, found objects

Since having COVID more than year ago, I’ve been struggling with fatigue.  When I’m awake I daydream about napping, and I sneak naps in between meetings, before pick-ups and even sometimes right after getting up in the morning.  I’m thrilled to say that I’ve made it through a few different days without a nap, and it feels like real progress.  This pendant didn’t start out being about sleep, but once that little circle went in the middle of what had been an ankh it became an open eye, a sign of hope for me right now.

Rainy Day

2″ x .5″, found objects

Hopefully this one speaks for itself.  A gray, wet day has some beauty, if only in the muffled sounds of cars passing on the roads outside.  I couldn’t get the focus right, but somehow that seems appropriate.

Somber

1″ x .75″, glass

I’m reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma after my daughter read it and convinced me to read it too.  What I’m taking away from it is that we’re messing up our world and our food systems in even more ways than I had understood, and that as we choose our food, unless we grow it all ourselves with only rainwater, we’re simply choosing between shades of bad. Beautiful things too, unless they’re temporary earth sculptures, are shades of bad.  This pendant is made with slag, the beautiful and variegated blue glass by-product of iron production in the forests of New York, and glass tiles, the even more vibrant and likely even more environmentally damaging result of glass production that’s using up our silica and requires mineral mining and exorbitant energy use.

Treasure

1.25″ diameter, found objects

I don’t think most people would think this is treasure, but for me, it’s gold.  The photo doesn’t even do this rusty washer justice. It has pits and valleys, rough spots and bright yellows and reds. And in the middle, some shiny green glass frit. These are the treasures you can find on the ground in a rainstorm with your cellphone flashlight at Snow Farm.

Rest

2″ x .5″, found objects

This tiny level came with a french cleat that I bought to hang a project, and I loved its size.  Fits in any pocket, and I found it was actually good reminder for one of my favorite goals, balance.  The idea of finding level is complex when it’s a life that has to be leveled and not a painting.  But even the tiny level in my pocket was rarely balanced.  I made this pendant to explore, once again, how it feels to be precariously balanced and to know that if just one thing falls out of place, the rest will come crashing down too.  But I found something to be true of this little guy that’s also true in my life. When it’s out and about, it’s never in balance, but when it’s resting, it finds level.

Lake

1″ x 1.25″, glass and stone

I have vague memories of going to a place called Lake Placid when I was a kid.  This week I’m teaching stained glass at a summer camp, and during the day the lake here is anything but placid.  Kids are swimming, screaming, singing and running.  But in the mornings and the evenings the lake is calm and beautiful.  It’s the centerpiece of the mural that my friend is designing with campers, and it seems to be central to the happy memories that so many people have of camp.  The stones in this pendant are from the lake, and the glass is scrap from campers’ projects.

Concentric

1″ diameter, found objects

These two washers struck me. In fact, every time I’m at the hardware store I look at them, pause, and then walk on.  Individually they’re nothing special, but I could see how they would fit together, their teeth nearly catching but leaving a beautiful space in between.  Together in this pendant they’re concentric, which is a lovely word and a lovely concept.  Sharing a center. Maybe not touching, but connected by the center that they share.

Golden

1″ x 1″, found objects

Something ‘s been making me work with warm colors these last couple of weeks.  Maybe it’s the heat? And this week my son also dug through my bin of broken jewelry, pulling out every last golden piece of jewelry to put on, turning himself into a temporary pharaoh.  My favorite part of the Egyptian art I’ve seen is the nature imagery and the curves, but it has an amazing geometric patterns too; the perfect preview of art deco and art nouveau.  So here’s my nod to Egypt.  I’m sure I’m the only one who can see the influence, but I’m making these to make myself happy, so that’s fine!

In threes

1″ x 2″, found objects

They say bad things happen in threes.  Last week the car died.  We’ve had disappointing news about money for work,  and yesterday my daughter’s flight was unexpectedly cancelled.  I think that means we’re ready for some good luck and good news now! I love the three wing shapes in the enameled circle at the top of this pendant. The way they’re intertwined and the implication of flying makes me think of them as the three problems that will just whirl away.  The gold piece at the bottom used to be an earring’s clip but now, it’s an arrow pointing to better things to come.

Uh-oh

1″ x .75″, found objects

As we drove from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania on Saturday we heard a rattling, grinding noise in the front of the car.  Soon after pulling over to the side of the highway the car wouldn’t start at all.  After tow trucks and research and many phone calls, it became clear that the car wasn’t worth saving.  And as we wrap up our vacation week I’m mourning the car, but also all the time and energy the car has stolen from us this week.  Now, to find a replacement…

Blue Skies

1″ x 1.5″, found objects

Does it count as a blue sky when there are storm clouds in the distance?  The skies have cleared and clouded, cleared and clouded all week, and it’s reminding me to enjoy the moments of blue.  This beautiful piece of raku-fired clay has the kind of misty, humid, gray blue that I’ve been seeing all week, and from a distance, the cracks look like hills.

Rough Terrain

1″ x 1″, dichroic glass and metal

It’s been a tough week for the people around me. There have been losses, surgeries, anxious waiting, and sad news. And I’ve been down with a cold, without the energy to check in and help in all the ways I’d like. There’s also been healing, a lot of baking, and some days of sunshine. This pendant includes a bit of everything too. Some rough surfaces, some bumpy paths, but also a shine and a few paths through the chaos.  

peek-a-boo

2″ x .5″, found objects

Last weekend I was at Snow Farm and the ground was speckled with holes.  Snakes? Chipmunks?  I know they both live there, but I didn’t get a glimpse of anything coming up and out while I walked by.  The holes on these little pieces of motors begged for something to peek out, so here’s a chipmunk path pendant for you to enjoy.

Symmetry

1″ x 1.5″, found objects

I’m designing a project for a local organization, and we had to decide whether to make two panels that mirror each other or two different designs.  I always lean toward symmetry.  But I like the symmetry of the handmade, the repetition that’s not a perfect copy, a sister but not a twin.  In this pendant, like in all handmade objects, there’s an imperfection and a balance that sing together.

Some things

1″ diameter, found objects

Some things never change.  Like the fact that I like to collect tiny things and keep them.  I might not call them collections anymore, but I call them “art supplies”.  These bits of tile in the center of the pendant are pieces of tile that had been tossed and smoothed by the ocean in Uruguay. I collected them when I was 4, and here they are, finding a second or third life. I was thinking about change and childhood because this weekend will be my daughter’s bat mitzvah, when she’ll become, according to Jewish tradition, an adult.  I’m so curious to see what will stay the same and what will change as she grows.

Drip Drop

1″x 1.5″, found objects

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful…until 6:00. Then all of a sudden the skies darkened and it rained on and off for the rest of the evening.  Wet grass, black clouds and an end to the happy blue skies meant I shivered in my spring coat. Now I’m watching the weather apps anxiously to see what the skies have in store for us in a week, when we’ll be celebrating my daughter. So this pendant, or “drop”, as my grandmother would have called it, aims to find the beauty in rain and puddles. Maybe a little rain on our celebration won’t be so bad.

Protection

.5″ x 2″, found objects

This week my colleagues have been talking a lot about mental health as they’ve been deciding what to focus their work on for the next 6 years.  And this week turned me into the parent of a teenager.  So between the two, protective factors and how to build them has been on my mind. How do we best foster resilience? How do we create caring relationships between young people and the adults around them?  How do we provide both skills and opportunities to youth as they grow? It’s a big topic, but this tiny pendant explores many types of protective factors: wrapping and blocking, learning to step forward, and connections.

Perfectly Imperfect

1.5″ x .5″, found objects

I spent some of today at an enormous antique flea market, looking for pieces for a project, and what everyone paid top dollar for were the old, battered, weathered objects that still hold together.  If it’s too perfect it’s probably new, and that crowd of pickers definitely didn’t want anything new.  As I made this pendant I tried to re-shape the bent sides of the metal piece on the bottom, and I tried to open the silver ring evenly, but neither one happened the way I’d hoped.  Fortunately, the two irregularities balance each other, and you can definitely tell the pieces I made it from aren’t new!

Donuts

2″ x 1″, found objects

It’s not that sweets are always on my mind (only most of the time), but this week I’ve been doing a carefully restricted diet suggested by a nutritionist, and all the wonderful parts of donuts are off the table.  No sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no chocolate… there’s not much left except kale and bananas. And so I’m moving through the world seeing everything as donuts.  When I chose each piece for this pendant I first saw them as wooden beads, metal rings, or glass, but as soon as they were together and I stepped back, it was clear that this was a meditation on donuts.  The rings, the donut holes, the colors. There’s really no question.

Pride

2″ x 1/2″, glass

It’s almost June. And even if it weren’t, both pride and rainbows should be welcome any time of year.  It’s been a week of rainbows. I’ve seen hats, scarves, shoes, and even a mosaic rainbow.  It made me think about how happy I am that rainbows were claimed by a cause as important as LGBTQ+ rights, how glad I am that I can wear rainbows if I choose to, and how nice it would be if we had equivalent symbols of pride for other things.  Maybe green and blue for pride in academic achievement.  Maybe purple and blue for pride in an ethnic culture that’s not European White.  So many possibilities!  I know there are awareness symbols,  like the puzzle piece for autism awareness, but awareness feels very different than pride.  (It made me chuckle that when I edited the photo of this pendant, the first option it offered was “straighten”. )