Thursday, September 15, 2011

Handmade paper jewels

Some of what I've been working on recently: handmade paper jewels. This first one is cattail paper made by a friend of mine, augmented by silver leaf and linen thread.

And this pendant below is made from paper I made from a squash vine that I grew in my garden last year. Fiber, sterling silver leaf, and a bit of cotton thread.

It's a good example of how setting something aside for a while and then looking at it later with fresh eyes can give you time to get new perspective. The squash fiber was the first one I made, several months ago actually. This first batch of paper had not turned out very beautiful by most standards-- too fibery and very wobbly and warped and too delicate, it looked, to be honest, like a clump of dead grass. I was frustrated with the whole endeavor, and when I made this piece, my frustration colored my opinion of the result. I set it aside as a failure.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I decided to wear it. I fell in love with it and decided that I should definitely make more pieces using my handmade paper. Alas, I had thrown out what remained of my ill-fated squash fiber paper. But I have a cache of handmade papers I had made years ago, plus some samples my friend Kay had given me of her plant fiber papers. So I have something to play with while I learn about what sorts of Arizona plants will be good papermaking fodder.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hello, Tucson!

We relocated! We're now planted in sunny (and hot) Tucson. Things are still very chaotic here, organization-wise, but I'm getting back in the studio and developing some new designs.

Having a bit of trouble with some of them, actually. A timely reminder for me that a good part of this thing I do is problem-solving. It's particularly a battle when my desire to use my favorite materials-- paper, resin, thread-- collides with the desiderata for wearable jewelry. Sometimes they don't look all that impressive, frankly. It's a problem, now-- How I can make it 'special' enough, yet still appropriate to the piece? The easy way out is to throw it on a chain and be done with it. And sometimes that works. Other times, not so much. And I have to risk facing the fact that I may have to set it aside or scrap it completely until I come up with an actual solution. It's particularly frustrating when the centerpiece is done and it's the details-- what you think of as the background architecture, the closure, the neckpiece-- that are the source of the trouble. When done well, they are harmonious with the focal point. But when the solution is wrong, they jump out at you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm scanning the third letter now. This one is from my grandfather to my father. In 1943, Dad would have been 23. With no further comment:

"Dear Vernon: Why haven't you ans. my letter? I wrote some time ago...You may be busy but you can spare a few minutes. I am ok. (...) Everything is the same here."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The book of letters is coming along, slowly. I did the first section, sewed it up, and then didn't like how it laid when flat (namely, it didn't lay flat)-- learning the hard way a lesson in how to make nice folds so all the nested pages will line up right and act nice when folded. So now I'm going on to the second letter, trying a new layout, and hoping this one will be a keeper so I can get on with things (and redo the first section the new way, if it all works out). I'm hoping I don't get all the way to the end, ready to bind it up, and discover there's another technical issue I hadn't planned on that will require a major rethinking. But, if there is, there is-- such are the hazards when one teaches oneself something like bookbinding.

The first two letters are from my grandmother, Edith Taylor (originally Roberson). Here she is:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On we go

It's been a while. I'm still here. The following happened to contribute to my bloggerly neglect: 1. I forgot to renew my domain name and now it's gone, gone, gone, and that left me uncertain about what to do with this space if people can't find me as easily; 2. the business side of things has gone on hiatus as we prepare for a cross-country move this summer. Also, yes, there's a toddler in the picture now. But I'm still here, still thinking about and making things when I can. Lately my energy has been going into bookbinding. Lots of thinking, and some of the thinking is turning into doing. I have a collection of letters to my father from his family and friends, dating from the 1940s through the 1960s; I've decided to make them into a bound book. The letters are at points somewhat banal in tone; in that way, they're charmingly timeless. But still they tell a story-- a meandering story many of whose various plotlines go unresolved within the letters themselves. I haven't even sat down and read them all in order yet, but I hope it'll turn out to be an interesting project when all's said and done. There are 38 letters from the first period, 1943-1947. I'm planning to copy each letter and sew them to a larger page, with a stab-binding. The larger page in turn has two fold-outs, up and down like a letter itself. This packet will be bound into a concertina, I think. Each page with its included letter replication and fold outs is quite bulky; I think the concertina will be best, but I'm not certain. I'll post pictures as they become available.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scrub oak leaf earrings

I remember these leaves from growing up in Florida-- the humble scrub oak, bent and twisted from the ocean breezes. I'll be adding a matching pendant soon, so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Redbud leaves

The redbud tree is easy to spot in early spring with its lovely soft purple blossoms. But in summer its leaves are beautiful, too-- heart-shaped with radiating veins. This new pendant celebrates the summer redbud!