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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!

NESTled

1″ x 2″, glass and metal beads, watch parts

There have been a lot of us in the house this week, and it’s been cozy.  We found two birds’ nests that fell out of trees in the last few weeks and the kids have set them up as “bird hotels” in our yard, so for them there’s the promise of more visitors as the days go by.  I like the idea that the more crowded it gets, the more nestled and protected we all feel. This pendant nestles one ring (watch backs and watch gears) inside another, with a cozy, protected gem in the middle and egg-like beads all around.

Re-use pendant

1″ x 1.5″, plastic tiles

This week has been full of re-use.  Community mosaic sessions with imperfect tiles from Artaic, a clothing up-cycling session to make pillows at Swap It, and installing the cutlery data sculpture “1,659” at its first location.  In honor of the week of upcycling, this pendant is made from the plastic tiles from a craft kit that the kids were ready to throw out. These little squares and rectangles have moved on to smaller and better things!

Tiny Rock Garden

1″ x 1.5″, stone and polymer clay Our neighbors down the street are putting in a whole yard of beautiful plants, including an amazing array of succulents.  It reminded me that we’ve been on a family quest for indoor succulents all year, since they’re almost un-killable, they’re beautiful and they have wonderfully funny names.  Even though my pendants are meant to be studies for larger mosaics, this one went the other way.  It’s a tiny version of a larger mosaic that I made a few months ago. Both use amazing polymer clay succulents made by a local Somerville artist (you can find her on instagram @theatomicgarden). Even if it’s not real, I like the idea of carrying a tiny garden around my neck.

Puddle

1″ diameter, glass and ink

It’s been raining and raining, which makes our baby plants really happy, but leaves me a bit melancholy.  The water is pooling and swirling and being beautiful as long as it stays out of our house and garage.  I had a chance to play with alcohol inks last week for the first time, and saw that they can make amazing watery swirls. I’ve been experimenting with them on different surfaces and testing ways to seal them.  So between the rain and my tests, this week you get to see not a mosaic pendant, but a pendant made from alcohol ink on a white glass nugget sealed with resin.  It looks to me like one of the many puddles along my street.  

Cosmos I

1″ x1″, glass and found objects

I taught a mixed media mosaics class at Snow Farm earlier this week and put together a couple of pendants as we played with Apoxie Sculpt and all of the bits and pieces that I had brought along.  The stained glass that I used for the background reminded me of the night sky, and the central stone is a ring from a gumball machine that I flattened and cut. A few days ago I came from Snow Farm to Taconic State Park, where the stormy skies have actually been as dazzling as the stained glass in the pendant. So this week’s pendant is a nod to the beauty of the Cosmos.   I’ve given it a name that implies it’s the first in a series because I have a funny feeling there will be more.

Pausing to Question

1″ diameter, glass and found objects

I heard that unprecedented numbers of people are quitting their jobs right now.  The pandemic made us all pause and take good hard look at what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.  While the process has been painful, it seems like the changes that it’s brought about for a lot of people are positive.  My family has been taking apart an old typewriter, and today I decided to start to use the keys.  Until I looked closely, I hadn’t noticed that the question mark and the comma were on the same key.  It seems like a message from the universe… pause, and question.  

How can you tell if it’s real?

 2″ x 2″, found objects

I’ve been holding onto this board for almost a year, waiting to put it into a pendant because it has a fantastic shine to it, and a great graphic quality.  But alone it was too new, too gold and green.  And the bezel with its fake gold color was too yellow.  Then I found the silver and black earring that’s now at the top.  With its patina of age it calmed down the piece and made it complete.  I’ll keep this one away from the silver polish and let the real precious metal lose its shine while the fake versions can glow and reflect to their heart’s content.

Bits and Pieces

1″ diameter, terra cotta and found objects

My studio is full of bits and pieces. The smaller I work, the harder it is to throw out what I sweep up off the floor.  When I finish a stained glass window I have pieces left for mosaic.  When I finish a wall mosaic I have scraps left for pendants.  And they’re all so beautiful.  This pendant is made from a metal washer that was on the floor and ceramic tiles. It’s so satisfying to turn something that was once garbage into something new.

Quirky

1″ diameter, stone and ceramic

This pendant is in honor of the new patio that’s taking shape in front of my studio. Today they placed the last stone to complete the brick spiral at the center, and it finally feels real. It seems like we always come up with design ideas that make contractors look at us like we’re nuts. But once they’re built we love them, so it’s worth being quirky.

Hidden Flowers

1.25″ x2.25″, copper and steel

This season the flowers are in bloom everywhere, under tress, around the pond, peeking out from beneath the welding barn where I’ve been all week…but this bloom was found in the scrap at the bottom of the plasma cutter table- steel and copper speckled with spatters from all of our designs.  It’s been a wonderful week, and this little guy is a reminder of all the fun with metal.

Snails

1″ x 2″, glass and found objects

It might seem like a bit of a leap from this pendant to snails, but let me explain…

We have a terrarium full of snails that we originally found in our yard.  We feed them scraps of food that would otherwise go in the compost, and every time we remember to dampen their cage, they lay eggs under the water bowl.  This week another batch of baby snails emerged from beneath the water bowl and started to slowly climb the walls and explore their habitat.  They start out as a mass of tiny little babies, like a pile of beads, and then they grow into rice-size snails and then into teenage beansprout-sized snails before becoming their mature, full coin size. This pendant uses millefiori massed like the baby snails, huddled in the spaces where they can hide until they’re ready to explore the world.  Our snails are cool, but they’re not as colorful.

Hammer

1″ x 1″, glass and marble

I cut these pieces using a hammer and hardie, a mosaic artist’s traditional tool; a blade set into a tree stump, and a hammer with a straight narrow end.  When you place stone or glass on the thin edge of the hardie and tap the hammer on top, the piece splits with almost no effort.  I like the way the tool focuses all of your energy on the task at hand.  I hope the process, and this pendant, can represent a new focus of my energy on each task at hand.

On the Cusp

2″ x .5″, found objects

Watching my daughter enter the pre-teen years makes me think about my own, with the trappings of childhood still filling my room while I longed for independence.  We just got her a sim card for an old cell phone so that she can call and text when she’s walking home from school with friends. It’s a real step toward independence, but with a string still tied to home.  This pendant is made from sim cards and my old brownie pin, new and old symbols of that in-between period.  I threw in some screws to hold the fragile balance all together.

Rocky

1.5″ x 1.5″, slate and glass

This week has been rocky, with huge ups and downs as the kids returned to school.  The ups have been wonderful and the downs have been tough. The driveway that will become a patio is still being filled with truckloads or gravel, and there’s a mountain to climb over if we want to reach the back yard.  But among the rocks there are flowers peeking out, and the ever-hearty chocolate mint is growing along the side of the garage, preparing to flower later in the summer.  This pendant sits at the crossroad between rock and flower, sharp and jagged if you look at it once, and soft and promising if you look at it again.

Spring rain

 

.5″ x 2″, dichroic glass

From a snowy Massachusetts we drove down to Washington DC, where the weather is warm and lovely. It’s a bit rainy, but in a way that just barely dulls the colors of spring and makes the light sparkle. This pendant captures some of the shine and the emerging colors of flowers, sunsets and all the other wonders that have been hidden under the ground or outside the bounds of the house all winter.

Calm amidst the chaos

1″ x 2.5″, found objects

At every scale, there’s a lot going on right now.  At the scale of our little household, there are painters, a back-hoe, carpenters in our yard, and even more construction at the house next to ours.  It’s loud, it’s exciting, and yet, we’re in here typing away quietly at our computers and having meetings while the kids are in school (!).  This moment, when the kids are in school, we’re still working from home, and the new variants haven’t yet hit our classrooms, is a pretty amazing little eye of the storm.  This week’s pendant has disparate elements.  Different shapes, patterns and colors all thrown together, but at the bottom is the black glass pebble, the eye of the storm.

Slate

1″ x 2″, slate

I’ve been a little bit obsessed with slate lately.  I love how it breaks irregularly to look like land masses. I love its subtly varied colors. I love how different it looks on edge and flat.  I love how it combines with glass and ceramic.  Our yard is being torn up this week and what did the first shovel-fulls find?  Slate!  It’s probably from a roof tile that fell off years ago.  I dug through the dirt pile last night to rescue the beautiful broken bits, and this pendant is made from some of them.  Straight-up slate this time. No glass, no ceramic, no distractions. 

Buried Treasure

1″ x 1.5″, found objects and fused glass

I’m having trouble being systematic and intentional in my pendants these days. Everything is about balance, but an off-kilter, about-to-fall kind of balance, like my week.  I put this pendant together by picking through my bits and pieces and finding things that shine (some dichroic glass that I’d fused onto black, some iridescent beads) and it has that look of fancy jewels just barely visible poking up from the mud.  I do love a treasure hunt, so this is how it’ll stay.