What’s New

121 posts

Heat Map

1″ x 2″, seed beads

This is a cross-over COVID and Thanksgiving post.  This week I looked at a heat map of the COVID cases in my city and the bright spots mapped perfectly onto the lower-income, immigrant-rich neighborhoods.  It wasn’t new news for someone like me who works in public health, but it still hit me in the gut to see it laid out visually.  So, for Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that I was lucky enough to be born where I was born, into the family that I was born into, and as a result, to live in the part of the city that’s green on the heat map.  I’m also thankful that my work lets me tackle the underlying racism and xenophobia that leads to such a stark difference in COVID risk for different people in the city. It’s a big job.

Mindful

2″ x 2″, found objects

I’m sure it’s hard to figure out why this piece and the title are connected, but I’ll explain.  This week my brain was on overload for a lot of reasons, and I didn’t have a chance to pause and think about a creative pendant design.  But I did find this amazing metal insect, and I had to turn it into something for myself. I sat down for a moment to fill the background with seed beads and I was lost in the task, my mind blank for the first time in days.  Yesterday I was watching a British cooking show and twice they called their tasks “mindful”. First when stirring batter and then while peeling garlic.  When I learned about mindfulness it was always based on an intentional meditation, but I love the reminder that peeling garlic or placing beads can count just as much.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire

2″ x 2.5″, ceramic and found objects

These aren’t the colors I usually reach for, but our smoke tree, which is a beautiful rich purple in the spring and produces smoky puff-like blooms that last  all summer, has turned into a fiery mass of leaves. The reds and oranges and yellows are gorgeous, and they remind me of the backyard fires we’ve been making with friends.  If you looked at the pendant from the side you’d see that to accommodate the copper ring, the ceramic pieces form a wave like the ones we’ve been riding these last few weeks.

Waiting

1″ x 2″, found objects and slag glass

We’re in a holding pattern with the election results right now, waiting for absentee ballots to be counted, waiting for the word on key states, and then probably waiting for a re-count in some of those states.  This pendant uses my favorite objects, watch parts, to represent the waiting that we’re all doing (and some of the machinations of our federal system). I’ve included slag glass, a colorful bi-product of the high heat of iron production, and a crystal that looks like a diamond, a beautiful result of ultra-high pressure.  I have my fingers crossed for a lot of reasons as I wait, and one of the things that I’m hoping for is that out of this pressure-filled mess of the covid pandemic, endemic racism, entrenched disparities and what might be a contested election, there might emerge something unexpected and beautiful.

Reflection

1″ x 2″, glass

This pendant is very special because it’s part of another chain for “Translations“, a project that I participated in just before Covid.  This week I received a poem from Maya, inspired by a painting by Tova, and this pendant is my response to the poem.  My pendant will be passed to Maria to inspire an assemblage. With themes of reflection and identity, the poem made me think about the way that the reflection of an object is distorted.  The distortion can make it look more impressive than it really is, or less. My fingers are crossed (hard) that in this week’s elections the country will vote based on what’s real and not based on a distorted reflection of reality that makes things seem better than they are.  The design represents a moon in a dark sky, reflected in the waves below.

Puzzle

.5″ x 2″, watch parts

When I look at my calendar these days it looks like the kind of puzzle that makes my head hurt.  Entries in six different colors, bumping up against each other and sometimes overlapping.  Zoom classes, work meetings, conferences, reminders, visits, soccer, webinars. Even the grocery shopping has to make its way onto the calendar or it’ll fall off the list.  This pendant is made from watch parts, organized like a complex puzzle that just about fits together.

MBTA

1″ x 1″, found objects

As a kid I would probably have written an ode to the MBTA.  Living by a T stop gave me easy access to the city and a freedom that most of my friends didn’t have.  As I’ve moved around the world I’ve tried to choose cities that have good public transportation.  But now the T is one more thing we’re avoiding during covid. And where would we go anyway?  But I miss it.  I’ve been wanting to check out the newly-cleaned Lilli Ann Rosenberg mosaic at Park Street station, but I’m still not riding the T.  Maybe wearing this pendant with its old token that’s been touched by so many hands will work like a charm to bring the day closer when we can all safely move around Boston again. 

Starting Fresh

1″ x 2″, glass and ceramic

There are a lot of transitions happening right now, and they all feel like a way to start fresh.  The Jewish new year just started, my mom’s preparing for surgery that should give her heart a fresh start, and my grandma’s pretty much starting fresh every few minutes these days.  This pendant has a lot of white to represent a blank slate and freshness, but it also has seams and stains to represent what’s come before.  We never start fully fresh, but build on our messy past.

Farmshare

1″ x 2″, glass

The weather is getting cooler and our weekly farmshare is getting darker.  One of the highlights of my week is picking up our fruits and vegetables from the mini-mobil farmstand that Farmer Craig sets up in our neighborhood.  While I relish the tomatoes and baby greens that come early in the season I actually like the root vegetables and heartier vegetables that come in the fall too.  This pendant showcases the colors of this season’s vegetables.  olive green, brown, dark purple and deep green, with just a touch of gold.

Screen Time

1″ x 2″, glass and found objects

This week the kids begin remote schooling, and all our limits on screen time are officially out the window.  with class from 8 AM to 5:30 PM it’s a long day of electronics.  I’ve been thinking about all the wearables and extra screens that people have been choosing to use over the last few years, and how perhaps having to do all of our learning and socializing through a screen is going to make them less appealing.  This pendant uses reflective glass, old electronics and wire to create what looks like an aged wearable computer.

Elemental

1″ x 1.5″, found objects

We went camping this week to try to fill some of the days before school starts (in some fashion) again. I was in the woods, sorting through beads for kids to use during their at-home learning, and somehow sitting among the trees by a lake with poison ivy and amazing caterpillars, the plastic beads just felt fake.  It was the metal ones that spoke to me, seeming more real and more comforting than the others.  This pendant is made mostly from an assortment of not-beads from the bead bin.  Metal pieces with no holes, a stone, and a chain.  My son says it looks like a bird, a person with hair or a mermaid, so hopefully it’ll speak to each of us in some way.

Scrappy

1″x 3.5″, spoon and scrap steel

Instead of being in my studio full of glass, I spent the weekend welding at Snow Farm.  After making a carload of large sculptures I used my last few minutes to gather smaller bits from the mountain of scrap metal and to pull out the pieces I’d cut from sheet metal with the plasma cutter.  This pendant combines a spoon and some hand-cut scrap into a graceful leaf-shaped pendant.  While eventually I’d like every weld of mine to be beautiful, for now I love knowing what James Kitchen, our amazing instructor, taught us, that although they’re imperfect, the welds are much stronger than the metal that they’re connecting. I like the idea that by being connected each piece becomes stronger.

Lace

1″ x 1″, found objects

This may not be real lace, but it’s lacy enough for me to count it for this week’s “lace” anniversary.  I found it at the beach at low tide, and my identification app tells me that it’s Coralline, a red algae that grows on rocky shores.    I’ve always loved fractals, and collecting shells, and this particular beach find hits both the marks.

Tooth

1″ x 1″, found objects

We’ve had some loose teeth in the house lately, and a couple of visits from the tooth fairy.  There’s also been a lot of hypothesizing about what, exactly, the tooth fairy might do with all the teeth she collects.  When I was a kid I insisted on keeping all of my teeth.  I had them in a little marble box, and I was fascinated by them, in the same way I was fascinated by gems and pinecones and glass eyes.  I think I might actually belong in the age of taxidermy and cabinets of curiosity.  But other people seem disgusted by teeth once they’re not in a mouth, so I was thrilled to find these stones that look an awful lot like teeth at the bottom of Tully Lake.  Here, to horrify anyone who thinks its real and thinks that’s weird, is my tooth stone.

Inspirations

1″ x 2″, glass and found objects

Today I installed a mosaic at a senior housing site in Brighton. The installation was inspired by a huge colorful sculpture of a flower that Lilli Ann Rosenberg had made with residents of the building 40 years ago.  Lilli Ann’s mosaics were also in Newton Centre, and I walked by them, explored them and thought about them every day as a kid.  Later, on my first trip to Philadelphia, I was amazed by Isaiah Zagar’s huge, colorful, playful mosaics.  I love Laurel True’s work too.  As I learn more about “real” mosaic and the rules of andamento I don’t quite know how to place the mosaics that are so free-form and broken-looking within the bounds of the art world’s constraints, but they still make me smile the most.  This pendant, like the artists I like the most, breaks all the rules.

Stress reduction

1′ x 2″, Amazonite

The week just got ahead of me. It’s 9 PM on Thursday, the pendant I wanted to post isn’t dry enough to photograph yet, and I can’t even manage to write my thoughts down.  So instead of the pendant I spent time on, you get to see the simple pendant I made on Tuesday with a few pieces of Amazonite.  Something spoke to me about the stones. They’re one of my favorite colors, and they have that nice smooth polish that feel relaxing to touch.  I read about the stones after making the pendant and learned that they’re good for stress reduction. Since it feels right now like everything got tossed up into the air and hasn’t landed yet, I think I’ll keep this stress-reducing pendant close.

Risk

1′ x 2″, glass beads and lead

So much of my time is spent weighing and managing risks right now.  How risky would it be for me to stop into the grocery store for more milk?  Is it riskier to leave the kids outside for a minute than to bring them in with me?  It occurred to me this week that so much of the risk management that we have to do for Covid is already second-nature to me from working with lead in stained glass for decades.  When I work with lead I have to be aware of when I’ve touched it, wash my hands well before I touch my mouth or nose, wear a respirator when I’m doing anything that would make it airborne, and keep the dust contained.  N-95 masks are already in my studio. I know how to turn on the faucet without contaminating it and how to make sure there’s good air circulation.  In a strange way I feel lucky to have had so much practice. This pendant is made from a lead weight, lead came, and glass beads.  Knowing the risks, I’ll probably be the only one brave enough to wear it, but I know how to do it safely.

Bubbles

1″ x 2″ fused glass and found objects

I realized that bubbles are missing from this summer.  Even though we can blow them in our own backyards, there aren’t the toddlers squealing with delight as they chase bubbles in playgrounds and fields.  Yes, there are bubble machines that you don’t have to blow into, but it seems like we’re not the only ones who haven’t switched over to mask-friendly bubble technology.  This pendant combines some “bubbles” of fused glass that I made during this week’s driveway craft camp with glass beads that have the shimmer and shine that I’m missing.

Corona

1″ x 2″ found objects

Working in prevention, I’m acutely aware of the increased use of alcohol by adults since the pandemic began, and of the potential for increase in misuse of other substances as the pandemic and its aftermath unfold.  Increased isolation, increased stress and economic instability can all contribute directly or indirectly to misuse, dependency and overdose deaths.  I was shocked that liquor stores were considered “essential services” when most businesses were shuttered.  This pendant balances the cheerful colors of the glass beads on the edges with the now-ominous words “corona extra”, and carries the extra layer of foreboding that I feel when I see bottle caps and alcohol ads.

Pup

1.5″ x 2″, found objects

Here’s something a bit lighter.  Out of the same box of trash that I found last week, the pieces for this little guy emerged.  I don’t know if it’s the paw patrol that the kids sometimes watch, or all the faces on waffles that I’ve created recently out of fruits and nuts, but everything seems to have eyes and a tongue.  Maybe he came along to make us smile and forget about the news for a little while.   Also, everyone I know seems to be getting a quarantine puppy, so this can be a small, less needy substitute.

One Man’s Trash

1″ x 3″, found objects

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a tendency to re-imagine things.  There’s nothing I like more than looking through yard sales for junk that I can turn into special treasures, but right now coronavirus has made yard sales almost impossible, and more people are putting things out on the street for free.  This week’s finds included this assortment of hardware which was in a box along with a whole pound of solder!  As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  

Roses

1″ x 1.5″, found objects

I asked my grandmother what her favorite flower is.  She immediately said “rose”, then paused and said, “I’ve never actually thought about it before. No one’s asked me”.  But now she’s on record as a rose lover.  She’s trying to clear out her apartment to move to a smaller space and is working hard to keep what she loves while not cluttering the new space.  The enamel rose in this pendant was part of a necklace that she gave me to take apart. To highlight the part that she loves without cluttering the piece, I’ve balanced it with a blank triangle and some small pieces of copper.

Silver Lining

1″x 1″, glass

I’ve always been torn about the idea of finding silver linings.  It can help to find some small joy or comfort in what’s otherwise awful, but it also seems like a way to dismiss reality.  Maybe tarnished silver linings are a bit more balanced.  There have certainly been small joys in the time we’ve been forced to spend at home as a family because of coronavirus.  Extra snuggles, time-consuming baking projects, watching the garden grow and sitting in the hammock.  Maybe there’s a silver lining to George Floyd’s murder in the increased awareness of and response to pervasive racism, but the many deaths that it took to get here have certainly tarnished that silver.  This pendant is made from   silver-backed glass, giving it a silver lining, and the bezel is real silver, which will tarnish over time.  The silver is imperfect, and each piece of glass is a different height, making it much less uniform than it looks in the photo.

Sustenance

1″ x 2″, glass and found objects

My days revolve around food, trying to balance the timing and the nature of what I eat with what my body needs.  But food isn’t the only thing that sustains me.  Colors, the glowing greens of new sprouts, the sky as it changes throughout the day, the piles of mosaic tiles that are spread out on my work table and the patchwork of color in our home all feed me too.  I feel lost and small in a white room.  The “plate” in this pendant is the back of a watch, the “food” a color wheel of glass.  The tiny fork, knife and spoon have been floating around my studio for as long as I can remember, just waiting for the right project.

Day by Day

1″ diameter, found objects

Although the hours at home are creeping by, the days do pass, and it’s shocking to look back and realize that the school year is about to end.  The circle with numbers on this pendant is the date dial from a watch.  Like the upside-down numbers here, my days of the week and my days of the month have gone topsy-turvy. I can’t keep track of where we are anymore.  But the days march on and I know that soon enough the summer will also be over and we’ll see what next year brings.