health pendants

178 posts

Memories

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.

Full-up

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?

Containment

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.

Glint

.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.

Constraints

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.

Brighter

.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.

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!