What’s New

211 posts

Jumble

1″ x 2″, found objects

My studio is a jumble, and my calendar is a jumble, with bits and pieces of the too-many projects that I would like to finish before the school year begins all spread out over my surfaces. Some have actual deadlines, and others have drifted to the top of my list only to make room for the projects that are already on my calendar for the fall.  I tried hard to sit down today to make a sophisticated pendant, but what came out was a jumble.  I suppose it only makes sense.  I listened to a podcast today about how our gut microbiome is intimately connected to our mental health.  I think the navigability of my studio is intimately connected to my artistic health.

Upward spiral

1″x 1.5″,  glass

Why is it that we always talk bout downward spirals and not about upward spirals?  I understand the physics of it, but emotionally, I think I’m ready to notice some upward spirals.  It seems like the summer workload is slowing down a bit, and there’s room for a bit of spiraling into learning and making and relaxing.  The heatwave broke this week and the air is finally brisk again. Maybe, for the first time ever, September and October will feel like an upward spiral into fall instead of a downward spiral into winter.

Sputter

1″x 2″, glass and steel

One of the things I love about my plasma cutter is the sputter it makes as the steel melts and bubbles before being blown away. These little treasures are cut-offs from a lantern that I’m making. You can see the metal that bubbled and dripped before cooling. I added cool colored glass to counter the heat implied by the metal and to add some sharp edges to the smooth melted steel.

Holes

1″x 2″, glass

If you read my post last week, you know that I was thinking about all the small gaps in knowledge that young kids have, and how those fill, or don’t fill, over time.  This week I’ve been spending a lot of time with my grandmother, who is struggling with severe dementia. I made this pendant bigger, to represent the vast knowledge that she’s acquired over 97 years, but I’ve left even bigger spaces between the pieces of glass.  The holes in her understanding are growing every day. Not sure where she sleeps, not sure who I am, she’s losing the big picture bit by bit.  As I put this together I struggled to leave the spaces.  In fact, after I took a photo of it I couldn’t help myself; I squeezed in more pieces to fill the empty spaces.  I wish it were that easy to re-fill the spaces in her understanding, but answers to her questions just fall away leave holes as big as they were before.

Marshmallows and other Martian treats

1″ x 1″, glass

We were talking recently about mysogyny, which comes up sadly frequently when we listen to the news, and someone jokingly piped up that it means someone giving massages. It made me remember the kids’ mistaken belief when they were very young that marshmallows must come from Mars. The pieces of glass in this pendant represent the fragments of information that we accumulate over time, piecing together an understanding of reality that sometimes still has small holes in it. The pieces don’t always fit together perfectly. As parents we have to hope that what we provide as the informational building blocks will be almost enough, and that we can teach our kids how to fill in the spaces with the right combination of humor and logic.

Precarious

1″ x .75″, found objects

I was going to make another pendant in the series “balance” since I’m still on a quest to find the perfect balance of time, jobs, energy and interests. But this week is special. It’s the week that 988 rolls out across the U.S. I worked for more than a year to help states and territories get ready for the roll-out of this new mental health crisis line. I helped them piece together new partnerships, assess their resources, and think about what it will really take to respond quickly and fully to someone in crisis. As I balanced my big red bead on its wobbly base, I thought about how precarious the sense of balance can be for each of us. It takes just the smallest jostle to go tumbling down, and the we find ourselves in a pile on the ground it’ll be comforting to know that we can call 988 to help us get back up again.

Strapped for Time

1″ x .75″, found objects

Someone told me today that if I was strapped for time, she’d be happy to take something off my list. It was such a lovely offer, and so respectful of what feels like a never-ending list of things to do. But the idea of being strapped for time made me take apart a watch (of course) and behind the face showing hours I found a dial with all the days of the month and an even smaller dial inside that one with the sun and moon. It made me reconsider my list. While it feels long when I look at it each day, when I take a step back and think beyond now and today, pull apart the layers of time, I have all the other days of the month, and time in the mornings and at night to get things done, and slowly I tick through my items, one at a time, until they’re gone.

Ore

1″x1.5″, found objects

Every yearn we spend a week at Taconic state park, exploring the woods, building campfires and swimming in the ore pit. I usually collect beautiful blue slag remnants from the smelting that happened here for decades, but this trip I’ve had my eye out for rusty metal. The bigger pieces can be welded, but this little bottle cap found a second life in a pendant, along with bright golden beads. They both make me think of the lifecycle of metal, including so much of it that happened here in this park: pulling stone out of the ground, turning it into metal, and having that metal slowly break down over time. (Thanks to my son for some expert photo editing help!)

Blue skies

.5″x 2″, glass

I still fall into the trap of thinking that in the summer things will calm down. There will be less to do and I’ll be able to swing in the hammock while sipping lemonade. But logistics get complicated in the summer, with camps changing every week, and keeping on top of packing lunches and spraying sunblock. Then as the summer draws to a close I always think everything will be easier in the fall. There’ll be a rhythm to the week, more consistency. But really, what distinguishes one season from the other is the sky. It doesn’t matter how busy things get in the summer, the blue skies make it all OK. This pendant is made from amazingly thin fusible blue glass from Paragon.

Cellular

1″ x 1.5″, glass

I sat with a friend last night and talked about the sciences. She’s a chemistry girl, and I’ve always loved biology. She explained that once you can place something on the periodic table, you know how it’ll act. I think I love biology for exactly the opposite reason. Even after learning the parts of a cell structure the fact that it all works just seems like magic, and once you get into larger structures like the brain there’s still so much that we don’t understand. While I certainly want science to move forward, there’s something beautiful about all of the questions left to answer. Look carefully at the patterns in and on the pieces of glass in this pendant and you’ll see what look like cell structures, all created by minerals in the glass.

Golden Snitch

1″x1.25″, found objects

It’s been a Harry Potter-filled couple of months here. It’s hard to leave for school in the morning because my son is scribbling down lists of spells, and it’s hard to turn out the light at night because he’s so absorbed in the stories. Re-reading the books has rekindled my love of the series, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the golden snitch that zooms around during Quiddich matches. I love the idea that we can each imagine our snitch differently. I actually made four snitch pendants this week, each with its own personality. This seemed like the right one to share.

Elegance

1” x 2.5”, found objects

The kids spent an hour last night cleaning off old rock samples used for a geology class.  Each one is labeled, and I recognized a lot of the names. Pyrite, mica, garnet, and many more. It started me thinking about what gives our stones value, and the funny cycle of rarity leading to value which leads to status for some stones and crystals over others. And then I thought about lowly glass, cheap and abundant, but shiny, translucent, and beautiful.  This pendant is made from beads and costume jewelry, all glass and cheap metal, but from a distance it could fool someone into thinking it’s elegant.

 

Tolerances

1″ diameter, found objects

A generous friend who knows I like little things stopped by this week with two boxes of black gears. Beautifully milled and with good weight they look nice, but apparently their tolerances were a bit off and they failed some QA tests.  The gears got me thinking about tolerances. Just how much can things be wrong and still function?  How do we decide when things have gotten bad enough to say enough is enough? One more school shooting added to a long list of others and still, all we do is sigh.  I think we have to adjust our tolerances. 

Compatibility

1″x1.5″, glass

I’ve been doing some glass fusing with two classes at the High School.  One of the key concepts in fusing is compatibility.  All of the glass that’s fused into one piece has to have the same coefficient of expansion (COE) so that it doesn’t crack apart as it cools.  Glass that’s compatible expands and contracts at the same rate, heating and cooling in synch.  I was thinking today about compatibility of people, and how it’s almost the same.  Friendships work best when everyone likes the same balance of activity and down time, the same amount of dancing and napping.  Of course, people can see past incompatibility and make friendships work anyway, but glass isn’t as forgiving. This pendant is made of stringers of compatible glass (all 90 COE for anyone who’s interested).

Slick

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.

Gifts

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.

Ordered

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!

Shield

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?

Substantial

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.

Holi

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.

Atomic

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.

Quarantine

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.

Waves

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.