Welding doesn’t exactly lend itself to small jewelry work, but at an amazing welding class last week at Snow Farm with James Kitchen I salvaged these bits from the scrap pile and turned them into a pendant when I got home.
Based on a beautiful poem that explores individuality and the way that as parents we watch our children grow and become unique, this pendant uses found objects to represent a parent and three children. The three children are similar, but their size, their perspective and what’s inside makes them each unique.
Glass, 1″x 2″
In the second of my poem-inspired pendants, here is “the tree, against the backdrop of the sky”. You’ll have to come to our January opening to see the rest of the beautiful and moving poem. I created the form of a tree by breaking a thick, frosted, mirror-backed piece of glass along the lines of a trunk, branches and roots. The deep cracks are visible through the glass from many angles giving depth to what would otherwise be a flat design. The colors and textures of the pendant sky, like the real sky, change as the light changes.
1″x 2″, glass and found objects
I’ve been handed a wonderful project by my wonderful friend Tova Speter. As she creates new work this year she’ll send it along to a poet friend of hers to create a poem inspired by her painting. Then I will use each poem to inspire a tiny mosaic. Here is my first piece, inspired by the beautiful words of “cold moon”. Consider these a sneak preview of a show that we’ll hang in Needham in January where you’ll get to see the whole chain of inspiration.
1″ h, 3/4″ w, found objects
I found a bug (might have been a bee but it was black and very large) dead on the path that we were walking along. It’s wings were iridescent, with all the colors of the rainbow. I took the wings to find them a new home in this pendant. Looking at the size of the wings makes me think about the enormous distance that we flew to get here. Imagine flying across oceans and continents on wings this size!
1″x 2″, found objects
It seems strange that even being here in India, where the colors are intensely bright and varied, my pendants have been subdued. But the flavors are definitely not subdued. There’s such an amazing array of spices that nothing ever tastes dull, except, of course, the food that we cook ourselves. This pendants uses beans, mustard seed and cumin seed to make a dense (and delicious) pattern.
1″ x 1.5″, glass and found objects
After the British conquered India, Hyderabad remained an independent princely state. It wasn’t until 1948 that Hyderabad became part of India. Walking through the streets of the bazaar that surrounds the now empty Chowmahalla palace, the colors and sequins and beads and sounds are brilliant and somewhat overwhelming. The stalls of glittery border ribbon and clothes call your attention, but among the stalls was a man quietly selling old coins, including this coin from the Hyderabadi princely state. In this pendant the coin and its history are central to design, lending a color scheme and guiding the form, but the glitter and gleam of the beads that surround it threaten to overwhelm it. Like looking for the older history amidst the hustle and bustle and color of present-day Hyderabad, you have to look closely.
1″ x 1.5″, found objects
A swim in Lake Dennison helped break the heat yesterday, and at the bottom of the lake was a beautiful clam shell with a big hole through one side. The clam was missing, but little fish were still swarming to eat the small bits of meat that were left inside. Once it had been cleaned by the little fish I took it home to enjoy. I always feel like I’m on a treasure hunt at the beach. With this pendant I’ve taken the lake’s treasure and turned it into my own. The design is also a mosaic nod to the long tradition of Wampum in Massachusetts.
1″x 2″, beads and found objects
It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea of things that are super small or super large. I had a conversation with my daughter yesterday about the idea of atoms. She said “you can’t kiss an atom because it’s teeny tiny” and then proceeded to kiss her hand, saying “I’m kissing lots of atoms”. We talked briefly about the size of the universe, but moved quickly on to people sizes, a relatively small range of tall people and short people. This pendant is my nod to our imaginary travel through scales. If I were on the Magic School Bus, maybe kissing an atom would look something like this.
1″ x1″, glass and beads
Maybe it’s officially summer already, but the weather this spring was so cold that the growing season is delayed and we’re still getting spring green mixes in our farm share. This pendant is a color study of spring greens. Not the dark greens of late-summer collards, but the bright spring greens of pea shoots mixed with the glimmer of new sun.
The littlest kids in my family spent the last week collecting treasures in every corner of Toconic state park, and I did too. This is made from branches, stones and pieces of slag, a blue glass that’s a by-product of the iron smelting that used to be done in the region.
1″ diameter, found objects
I’m starting a new series of pendants, about travel, exploration, and the wonderful things that you can find along the way. This is the first, a compass that will guide me. Now, without any actual cardinal directions or a needle, the path it takes me on is going to be a winding road. Come along for the ride!
It’s been a whole year. A pendant each week for a year, exploring the meaning of health, the components of health, and the practical things that make me feel healthy. From ice cream to organization, they’ve been varied. Above all, I’ve confirmed that making things is good for me. The act of transforming one thing into another, the chance to play with ideas, and the calm and concentration that making each pendant required was healthy. At the center of this pendant is the word “make”. It’s a command, a reminder.
Each of this year’s pendants has been a small statement and a short exploration that may grow into a larger work over time. Now I have to decide what next year’s making project will be…
1”x2”, stone and glass
Every corner of the city has police directing traffic and half the streets are closed off to make space for construction of new train stations. It feels chaotic and hard to get from place to place. But at the same time I’m forced to explore new parts of the city and look around as I drive down streets I’ve never traveled. The detours will take more time, but maybe they’ll bring me somewhere exciting. This pendant uses stones to create a long, winding barrier. The smooth surfaces around them, made of iridized glass, are the exciting potential of the unexplored.
2”x1”, found objects
Music flows through our days. Every person in our family uses music in a different way, listening, playing, singing, dancing to it, drawing it. There’s a beauty in the music and all of the connections, release and expression that it allows, but for me there’s also a beauty in the silence that follows. This pendant captures both the music, through chain and antique watch parts that suggest the form of a guitar, and also the silence, through dark spaces in between the elements.
Maybe it’s not a mosaic, but it’s still a health pendant…
Literacy and the impact that it has on health has been poking its head out again and again this week. I talked to a class about political murals and the way they’re designed to be “read” quickly and easily by using symbols instead of letters, I thought about the work I did at La Alianza Hispana on health literacy and the drawings I made in Guatemala to help low-literacy teachers collect data about their preschool students’ health. All the while I’ve been watching my 4 year-old begin to piece together letters and connect sounds to each one. He’s so lucky to have the time and the support to turn his curiosity into strong reading skills. The pendant is made from a hologram of letters cut from the front of an old brochure. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but different letters appear as the hologram turns and catches the light in new ways.
1”x.5”, vitreous glass tile
In honor of tonight’s display of breast-pumping photos and stories at Somerville city hall I’ve made this breast-like pendant. Milk is sustenance. Milk is life. Milk is hard to produce (I can tell you I needed a LOT of donuts each day that I was lactating) and hard to store. And we don’t talk about it enough. There’s still a long way to go before working women in the U.S. have the support, space, time and encouragement that they need to continue to breastfeed after returning to their jobs.
1”x .5”, found objects
It might seem like sadness couldn’t be part of health, but every emotion has a flip-side, and feeling them all is healthy. This pendant is shaped like a tear, and the green ceramic tile that sits at its point echoes the same form. With beads placed in lines that sweep away from the tile’s point, the design takes on an art nouveau quality. Beauty in sadness.
1.5” 1”, glass and found objects
Almost all the way through a whole year of pendants (this is week 46 of 52), I’ve been amazed at how much the seasons affect my health, by mood and my connections to other people. Snow might be beautiful, but it definitely makes it hard to manage playground meet-ups. Spring and summer are far too short, but at least the seasons march around and swing us back toward spring each time the snow thaws. This pendant has a gear at the center, symbolizing the turning of the seasons, and around the edges are some of the colors and textures of each season, from the icy whites and shiny blues of winter at the top through the bright greens of spring, the flower hues of summer and the rusts and golds of fall.
1”x1”, glass and found objects
Maybe it’s a little too literal for a pendant about health, but after having the flu for a week all of my glass looks like germs. A few weeks ago I ordered the kids a bottle of lotion that glows under UV light and we used it to practice handwashing. It’s pretty scary to see what a 4 year-old leaves on his hands when he “washes” them, and it reminds me why I’ve been getting sick so often. The left side of this pendant is some germy-looking glass with a silvered finish, and on the right is the flip-side of the same glass, with a brighter, healthier looking shine.
1” diameter, found objects
Last week the kids and I watched a Magic School Bus episode about recycling and reuse, and it showed the way the world would be if we didn’t recycle. Piles of garbage, playground equipment turned back into the bottles and cans that it had been made out of, and no more trees. I found this earring in my salvage pile, beautifully made by another artist, but broken. Instead of throwing it out I’ve turned it into a pendant and given it a second life.
2”x 1/2”, found objects
Food itself is just sustenance, but the experience of eating, like the experience of so many other things, becomes special through the objects that we use. If we serve on beautiful platters and use silver spoons, we elevate the meal and enjoy it more. Decoration serves no purpose but to make us happy. The central part of this pendant is made from an aged spoon handle, silver-colored, with a pink patina and an elegant, if old-fashioned, floral design. It’s bordered by iridescent seed beads to give it a little bit of a contemporary twist.
2”x1”, found objects
Political decisions are so mired in the present that no one is taking a moment to balance short-term wins with long-term implications. Even though I’ve never been a big fan of science fiction, it’s future-focused, trying to imagine how everything will play out if we change a factor or set something in motion. It seems to me that that’s what we’re missing right now at the highest levels, a little bit of imagination and forethought. This pendant uses cast-off pieces of technology to create a form that looks like a transponder…or a spaceship…or whatever futuristic gadget you can imagine.
2″ x 1/4″, glass
Without being a skier and hating the cold as intensely as I do, it’s hard to get outside in the winter, but today was above freezing, and it gave me an opportunity to open the garage door on my studio and get a breath of fresh air. The winter air is cold, but still refreshing. This pendant uses blue and green glass with a metallic back to combine the sparkle of snow with colors that remind me of the grassy smell and blue skies that come with fresh air in other seasons.
1”x1”, found objects
It’s so satisfying to find the right place for something, to put it back where it belongs. When the things around me are organized I feel calmer, but that doesn’t mean that I want to have less things or to have less variety, just that each thing should have its ‘right’ place. This pendant makes a series of perfect places, an array of interesting objects. Using jewelry findings as dividers, the objects in the pendant vary in texture, color and form, making a beautiful, and organized, collection.