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1″ x 1.5″, glass and found objects

A friend is moving, and she’s decided to have a zero-waste move, throwing nothing out as she packs.  It’s created a tremendous amount of extra work for her, and taken so much time, but it’s a nice goal.  Last week she presented me with a tiny tin and a baggie of the last remnants of the move, the smallest bits of plastic and glass that no one else wanted.  So here a few of them have found a home. The central plastic ring, the tiny black cap, and both of the artificial gems are now finding a second life in this pendant.  (oh, and if you’re in the Boston area, come pick up some of these pendants at the Celebrate Newton holiday market this Sunday!)

Nestled II

1″ diameter, found objects

The first piece I added to this pendant was a gear. It fit perfectly, nestling into the outer ring. But there were spaces left between each tooth. I found beads that nestled right into the spaces, filling them completely. And with a little hunting I found beads and rivets to fill the space in the center, nestling the smallest rivet into the larger one. The pendant became my 1-inch version of feeling nestled and well-protected, especially as the weather gets colder and windier outside.


2″ x .5″, ceramic tiles

I spent this week at the enormous annual conference of the American Public Health Association. Thousands of people in a big convention center trying to rush from one end of the building to another to catch the sessions and speakers that they’re most interested in. Unlike in the regular world, everyone already speaks public health acronyms and believes in prevention, but still, there are surprising divides between the people who attend.  It feels like the tiles in this pendant, all made of the same stuff, painted the same family of colors, but different shapes and with some space still between them, all trying to line up straight enough to accomplish collective impact.


1″x  .75″, found objects

As you know by now, I love the natural patinas that materials develop over time.  Every time I used to go to Europe I’d remember that the time scale for buildings and roads and aqueducts was so different there.  The finish on the stones was more worn, the metals more corroded.  Then, going to India, the time scale jumped again.  Instead of decades old in the US or hundreds of years old in Europe, things that we still walked by could be thousands of years old.  This pendant combines an antique cuff link from the US with an antique coin from India.  Each is beautiful and old in its own way.  Now I’m watching my own body age at the same time I watch my grandmother’s 98 year-old body age.  The scales are different, and her patina of wrinkles and softness is more advanced than mine.


1″ x 2″, glass

I think a lot about what’s next; planning for the future and trying to optimize.  And sometimes the number of things I have to do each day feels like an over-commitment, filling every hour and making it hard to change course.  But the flip side of being so busy is that it keeps me grounded.  As long as I’m stuck somewhere good, maybe it’s OK to not be moving.  The tiny recycled glass tiles in this pendant are stuck in a green-tinted cement. As long as they don’t struggle against it, maybe it’s cozy to be stuck so tight.


.5″ x 2″, dichroic glass

I had some complicated thoughts about pendant designs for this week, but the colors of the leaves on every block are so vibrant that I couldn’t get them out of my head and they snuck into the pendant. I love the way the dichroic glass reflects the light and makes the colors glow just like the sun shining through the leaves of the very brightest trees.


2″x .5″, glass and found objects

In some small parts of my life I have all my ducks in a  row; I arrive to meetings on time, I prepare materials in advance, I (usually) stay up to date on entries to my public health job’s database. But in other areas of my life there’s just constant change, and it feels like the sands are always shifting beneath me. In person, this pendant shifts colors as the dichroic glass on the left side reflects the light around it. As it moves it changes.  And yet the small pile on the right stays in place, precarious but balanced.


.75″ x 1.25″, found objects

This summer brought a long drought,  but the rains have definitely come.  While I feel awfully down and dreary on gray, wet days, I’ve been trying to see the beauty in the rain itself and in the plants that grow in its wake. This raindrop-shaped pendant has four golden drops inside.


1″ x 1.25″, found objects

So much of my work is slow and plodding.  Step by small step projects come together, and prevention initiatives almost never show forward progress, usually just helping us avoid collective backsliding.  But sometimes I work on something for long enough that I can see a small change.  The piece at the bottom of this pendant is a cursive “L” from an old printing press.  I love the perspective of looking at it from the side; the whole bulk of the piece and the whole apparatus that stands behind it, just to support that tiny curvy raised surface touching ink and then the paper.  Such a big effort for such a small mark.  But when you put many letters together their power is tremendous.

Filling in the gaps

1″ x 1.5″, found objects

I was on an airplane this week, and at a party. I was even at two different outdoor meetings with real people!  There’s still a hesitancy   around handshakes and hugs, and we did get an email after one of the meetings to say that someone there tested positive for COVID, but it feels like we’re slowly filling in the 6-foot gaps that we’ve been maintaining for the last two years.  This pendant, made from super cool rivets that I found at a super cool creative reuse center in Seattle, shows the view from above as we start to move together inch by inch.


1″ x 1.5″, glass and found objects

As an alternative to crystal, the modern material to gift on a 15th anniversary is a watch, representing all the time we’ve spent together.  As we breezed through our anniversary in a  place where I could finally take break from looking at my watch and just relax, I decided that better than a working clock to represent our time together, would be one of the faces from the watches I’ve disassembled.  This watch pendant, with no mechanism, is truly timeless.


.5″ 1.5″, found objects

This week is my 15th wedding anniversary, and I looked up the material that’s supposed to be exchanged. It turns out it’s crystal, to represent “pure and sparkling love”.  I appreciate that this year’s sparkle is supposed to come from glass, not from a precious stone or metal.  And goodness knows I love working with lead and glass, so leaded crystal should be a shoe-in.  But what I found for the pendant is even simpler cut glass.  Costume jewelry is more my style, so this is a costume jewelry nod to our anniversary and a recognition that sparkle doesn’t have to come with a high price!


.5″ x 1″, found objects

We held a Harry Potter-themed birthday party yesterday, complete with some very yellow and gingery good luck potions.  That was all happening outside, while in the kitchen I had the makings for my favorite late-summer potion: fresh peach sauce.   I got a big basket of juicy, over-ripe peaches from the local farmer’s market and eyed them (and ate them) until I had time to cut them up and cook them down into the sweetest, tastiest sauce ever.  I have it cooling in jars now, but have already devoured almost a whole jar.  This pendant includes a shape that reminds me of the vials that Harry Potter and his friends store their potions in.  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a necklace with an ever-ready drink of peach sauce waiting for me to get hungry?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.