Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm off a-traveling for the holidays now-- don't expect much action here over the next week or so.

A safe and happy holiday season to you all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I don't usually make representational pieces, but I've been really into creating these little pear pendants lately. There's just something about pears-- the archetypal fruitness of them. I think it's the shape-- so many fruits are just sort of round, so more difficult to represent abstractly-- pears, on the other hand, are always recognizably pears (even when you've painted them blue). And they're classy in a way that many other fruits are not. Compare pears with, say, bananas. A pear necklace seems reasonably elegant in a way that a banana necklace just would not. (No offense to the banana lovers out there).
These guys are still in process-- they need a couple more layers of finish before they'll be ready to go.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Solaris Gallery

I have a new gallery to add to my list! My work is now available at Solaris Gallery in Califon, NJ. So if you're in New Jersey and have a need for mosaic earrings or wabi-sabi necklaces, by all means pay them a visit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Having one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments. As you might guess, I have a lot of paper to store-- most of it in very large sheets that don't fit anywhere very conveniently. I have some of it hanging clipped onto pants clothes hangers, and most of it sort of piled around in an of-course-completely-organized manner.

Just read an article by Judith Jaimet Bainbridge in the new issue of Bound and Lettered, giving considerations for calligraphers when choosing papers. She suggests the ridiculously simple yet effective solution of taking two large pieces of acid-free foam core, taping them together on one side, and using them as a giant folder.

Eureka! Bless you, Judith Jaimet Bainbridge.

Incidentally, I was also happy to discover that we share the same favorite calligraphy paper: Arches textwove. Not always what I use for dyeing, but for lettering on, it can't be beat (though Hahnemuele Copperplate is definitely in the running).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Today, a little anecdote providing evidence that Vindaloo, bless her heart, is just not as smart as Ballyhoo.

They each eat different foods, and we try to ration them out to them a couple of times a day. Thing is, Ballyhoo loves to eat Vindaloo's food, and will shoulder her out of the way and tuck into her bowl with no resistance from her if we don't stay to monitor the situation. Last week we tried putting his food on the floor and then feeding her up on a small table a couple of feet away, the idea being that maybe he wouldn't find it worth his while to jump up there. Well, we did this for several days. Vindaloo never did figure out that her food was now being served on the table. We'd feed him, put her food in her bowl, show it to her, and put it on the table, and she'd just look confused. We kept having to pick her up and plunk her down in front of it. By day 3, Ballyhoo was jumping up there and helping himself (so much for our plan), but poor looloo never did get the hang of it.

Ok, she's cute, but when a food reward for a simple action fails to result in learning...well....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some questions about jewelry

The questions I keep coming back to are:

Why put text on jewelry?
How can text work harmoniously with jewelry?
How can I balance the needs of good jewelry with the needs of good calligraphy? (For example, need for daintyness vs. need for space to write a meaningful stretch of text)
What sorts of texts are appropriate? How far can it be pushed? What doesn't work and why?

There are layers of interrelationships: between the text and the text's writer (who wrote it and what they meant), myself and the piece (why I chose a text and put it in a particular form), the piece and the wearer (what it means to them) and the piece/wearer and the viewer (what someone viewing someone wearing a piece thinks it means for that person to wear that piece of jewelry, made by me, with a certain text on it). How can these interrelationships be made to work harmoniously? Should I be equally concerned with all of them? Are there more that I haven't thought of?

None of these are a second-guessing of my task (the first question might come across that way), but they are not; they help me do what I do. I have not yet made that piece that is the culmination of all these things, but I hope that someday, I will.

All of the above have to do with how I implement text on jewelry. There's a bigger question, sort of the research question for my body of work: I believe the function of jewelry is first to allow the wearer to express their identity. Usually this means a gendered identity: it makes you look pretty in some way consonant with your social class and values. So jewelry is a tool of communication. What else can it communicate? What other aspects of identity can it express? What are the limits of this? And back to my earlier question: how can text be employed in this?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A new pendant listed in my shop:

This one uses a nifty resist technique I came up with-- I spread wheat paste on the paper, then take a calligraphy pen to it-- in this case, my crowquill. Then let it dry, or not, then dye as usual. The part where the paste has been scraped away leaves a pattern, and the background is a lighter shade of the same colors, so it all blends nicely. That's how I did the wavy pattern on the left of the pendant. The 'curious' is handlettered in ink.
The color is a sort of periwinkle-- I think that's a flower, right? But when I was growing up, the only periwinkles I knew of were the little mussels that lived at the waterline at the beach. They'd burrow in when the waves came up, and burrow back out again when the waves receded. Up, down, up, down, all day long, ticking your feet if you walked on them. They come in a range of colors, but not very many in periwinkle blue, and I always wondered why the color was named after them. Guess you could say I was curious. :)
I've started another blog, The Cracked Teacup. Why on earth do I need two blogs, you ask? Well, it would really be better if I could keep this one a little more closely on the topic of jewelry, calligraphy, and my artistic process. All this cooking and gardening and the occasional other subjects I occasionally stray into need to be elsewhere (the cats stay here, though). So, I give you elsewhere. It's not much to look at yet (I haven't even made a real post yet), but check back soon.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In case anyone was wondering whether I'm still doing any proofreading over at Gutenberg, yes, I am. Tonight I found myself drawn into "Paper-Cutting Machines". How could I resist? A history of the paper-cutter. I'll be danged.
As an early Christmas present, what should arrive in my mailbox yesterday but a copy of Bound and Lettered!

It started last year with a subscription to Letter Arts Review. I had had no idea that such magazines existed, then somewhere or other I saw a reference to John Neal Books, looked into it, and discovered what may be my favorite magazines of all time. Letter Arts Review contains calligraphy-- that sounds simple, but it contains the kind of calligraphy that keeps my eyes on the prize-- what calligraphy can be when it's done by artists. Absolutely inspiring. If you're a letter artist, the best thing you can do for yourself (apart from tossing the fake parchment and buying some serious paper) is get a subscription to this magazine.

Bound and Lettered is also very well done, featuring book arts and a dollop of calligraphy (this issue, a feature on Denis Brown, whose work boggles my tiny mind). The new issue has a tutorial for a "Turkish Map fold" book, and features the work of several book artists. Beautiful pictures, and much food for thought. Again, if you're a book artist, you could do worse.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Vindaloo, being immensely helpful on Thanksgiving. She was, er, keeping my strawberry plant warm. Believe it or not, the plant survived this treatment. (I admit that it is a delightfully Vindaloo-sized planter, why she only so recently figured out that this plant afforded sitting-upon is beyond me).
Whenever I have a show, I seem to be unable to blog for a week or so afterward. You can consider me back now that I've had my mandatory break.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm at the Brown County Winter Art and Craft Fair today, just past Nashville on Hwy 46, at the Seasons Lodge conference center. Drop by and say howdy if you haven't already! I'll be there till 6. You know you don't really want to go to the mall, anyway. I sure know I don't-- I'm going to try my best to avoid it this year, after all the craziness yesterday (the trampling, the shooting. Sheesh).

The holiday season is handmade!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


It's finally here! Altered Paper Jewelry by Jenn Mason, featuring lots of nifty projects and an inspiring gallery section that includes one of my pieces! This is the first time my work has been in print, so I'm pleased as punch.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday cupcake blogging

The philosopher is having one of his periodical parties to lure fresh-faced young graduate students to his Experimental Epistemology Laboratory. I have done my part in helping to entice them by sending cupcakes. To be specific, I sent them pumpkin spice cupcakes with caramel cream cheese icing!

I used this recipe in cupcake form, but found that I had to add about 2 cups of powdered sugar to the icing to get it to a non-runny consistency. It worked out well in the end. Mmm.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This week's language, Bengali (Bangla), spoken by scads of people in Bangladesh and India. I cheated on this one, I put both words on one pendant, mainly because I liked they way they looked in parallel. So I still owe Bengali at least one more piece, or up to 4 more if I use each of the two other forms of the imperative for each word. The form of the imperative varies depending on who is addressing whom-- you use one set of forms for juniors and close peers, another set for a parent or someone close but older, and another set for addressing with respect (think grandfather-in-law).
Anyway, I love the script and will be coming back to it again soon. Many thanks to Traci Nagle and Anupam Das for the translations and help with the script!
Why is the picture sideways? Ask Blogger, not me. I have uploaded three versions of it all with small tweaks to layout and different file names, and it puts them all sideways. I refuse to let this ruin my afternoon. If you turn your head just right, you will see [Son] on the first line ([S] is pronounced like English 'sh'), 'listen', and 'bol', 'tell (me)' on the second.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pumpkin bread

Good smells throughout the kitchen this morning. I'm drying onions, and baking bread, and the combination of smells is wonderful, even though it's a sweet bread I made, not an onion bread (that comes on another day, when the onions are dry). What I made today was a pumpkin-cinnamon-cranberry-pecan bread. Yeah, you heard me.

So, there's this book I got for Christmas last year, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It has revolutionized my bread baking-- from intermittently performed with machine to semiweekly by hand. Basically, the trick is to use a wet dough-- you don't have to knead it, and it stores in the fridge for 5 days- 2 weeks, depending on the recipe. You stir together your liquids and yeast and flour, let it rise for a couple of hours, then stick it in the fridge and bake up a chunk whenever you want fresh bread. No kneading. It really is that simple, and the bread is FANTASTIC. Crusty French breads, sandwich breads, pizza dough, etc etc-- all good, and easy as anything. Way better than anything I ever got from my bread machine. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Anyway, the bread I made today is a recipe I came up with by riffing on the general principles given in the book.

1 c. lukewarm milk
1 c. pumpkin or winter squash puree
1/2 c. honey
1 Tbs white sugar
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbs salt
! 1/2 Tbs yeast
1/4 c. oil
3 eggs
6 cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, stir everything together. Cover loosely and let rise 2 hours (it's very dense, it won't rise much, but don't worry). At that time you can put it in the fridge and keep for a few days, covered loosely. Or proceed to the next step:

Lightly flour your hands and pull out a grapefruit-sized chunk of dough (the remaining dough can be stored in the fridge for a few days). On a floured surface, roll it out into a large rectangle, about a 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle it with brown sugar, dried cranberries, and pecans (about a 1/4 cup of each or more or less to taste), and sprinkle with cinnamon and ginger to taste. Roll it up and tuck the ends under so it's loaf-shaped. You can bake it in a bread pan or flat on a baking sheet. Let it rise 30 min (or an hour if you're using dough that's been refrigerated). Again, it won't rise much, but don't worry. Slash the top with a knife before baking it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

The leftovers make great bread pudding, by the way. And you could probably turn the same recipe into a cinnamon roll recipe by just slicing it into cross sections instead of rolling it into a loaf. Then frost. A sorghum molasses glaze would be tasty on it, I bet! Gotta try that next time...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I just finished my Best Necklace Yet. I call this one 'Fragmentation'.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I recently watched a documentary about a font: Helvetica. It was surprisingly good! I mean, I like fonts, so I knew I'd be interested, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how interesting it really was. I had no idea of the history of this now-ubiquitous font-- its creation as the pinnacle of modernist typographic principles, its role in revolutionizing mid-20th-century design, and the sharply divided opinions about it amongst typographers and designers. And listening to these people talk about fonts is gloriously insightful and funny.

All of that, of course, is what the makers of the film were going for. For me it also highlighted an issue I hadn't thought about too specifically-- the difference between calligraphers and typographers. Now, I'm not formally trained in either, I just do what I do. I'd always assumed that medium was about the extent of it-- calligraphers work with paper and ink and gouache and so on, and make wedding invitations or cards or books or art objects, while typographers/ font designers might draw an initial version of their alphabet, then do whatever digital stuff it is they do so you end up with a font. I imagined there was lots of overlap, and of course the fact that many typographers are also accomplished calligraphers did nothing to disabuse me of this notion.

I also assumed calligraphers and typographers have a similar sense of how letterform effects your understanding of the text. And that assumption held up, but what became clear is that what typographers see fit to do given that observation can be dramatically different from the choices calligraphers make. Here in this film are these legendary modernist designers, saying that fonts should not convey additional information; they should fade into the background and leave only the message. They should not be a message in and of themselves. I guess this is a characteristically modernist perspective, but it surprised me to hear that so many typographers take themselves to be doing something that is diametrically opposed to what I try to do as a calligrapher.

Maybe I'm just postmodern at heart.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Belated cat blogging! I'm not sure you can tell from this picture, but Ballyhoo was giving Vindaloo quite the experimental coiffure here-- all the hair on the back of her neck groomed to stick straight up. She looks ridiculous.

And afterwards, he settles in to the little valley he had made by clearing all the hair out of the way.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ink making lesson #1

I was making up a couple of batches of ink yesterday from my new pigments-- Mars orange (love those iron oxide inks) and bottle green. I put some of one pigment in a bottle, then the other pigment in the other bottle. I added the right amount of gum arabic to one bottle, then to the other bottle. I picked up the first bottle again and started shaking it up. Then I noticed: Why is the gum arabic turning my orange ink green? Or is it turning the green ink orange? Then I galnced at the remaining bottle: it was full of gum arabic, no pigment. I had just mixed the two batches of pigment together. With a lot of colors this wouldn't be so bad-- orange and green, though, yech.

Actually, it isn't so bad. Kind of an earthy greenish brown. Still, be warned, O Novice Inkmakers: mix only one batch at a time, from beginning to end.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Eek, I've been tagged! BY JMWJewelry! Eeek, I say again. Well, ok, here goes...

* Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
* Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
* Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their name as well as links to their blog.
* Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I wear size 11 shoes. Actually, at this point it's more like my right foot is size 11, and my left foot is 11 1/2. I used to not wear shoes except when absolutely necessary (sometimes not even then) and when I was a teenager I would often walk the mile or so to the beach in the summer on hot pavement without shoes. My mother always told me this would make my feet wider, and I think she may have been right.

2. I've studied 6 languages in a classroom setting: Latin, Russian, German, Italian, Arabic, Yoruba, and Swahili. Swahili is the only one I can actually speak now, though. I'd still like to learn a Turkic language (Uzbek, anyone?), or perhaps Wolof, but I'm afraid that I'll lose my Swahili if I do since I don't get enough practice with it these days.

3. I used to raise mosquitos for the USDA-ARS. It's a long story, but it involved on a regular basis a) plunging my hand into a vat full of larvae; b) plunging my arm into a cage full of adult mosquitos (10000 or so); c) putting cow blood into a lambskin condom; d) chickens. There were also field trips to the cemetery, and lots of counting of squiggling things. I worked there for 4 years, and then moved on to another section with army worms, cabbageloopers, and eventually grain pest moths.

4. I don't like onions and peppers that are the least bit crunchy. Caramelized is best.

5. My ears are not pierced and never will be, no matter how many pairs of earrings I make for the world.

6. I once gave Marilyn Manson a superball. It was at a club in Daytona, in...1992? 93? He was still with the Spooky Kids. It cost $7 to get in. I came up to him after the show, handed it to him, and said, "I want you to have this". He accepted it and said, "Is it a Superball?" I said, "Yes". He said, "Thank you". Then I left. I still love superballs, but I'm not such a fan of Marilyn Manson anymore. Some people have heard this story several times alredy. To them I say: Sorry.

7. I'm an INTJ.

I've tagged Sandra, Kim, Dana, Carolynn, Elizabeth, Alice, and Abbi.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The philosopher bought me a brand spanking new book on the history of writing, Amalia Gnanadesikian's The Writing Revolution. It's a very accessible book, probably destined for lots of good use as an introductory textbook on writing systems. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the history of writing. I just started it yesterday, so I'm still at the beginning in Sumer, when that first system, which was logographic (that is, using symbols for ideas, not to represent language directly), was slowly being transformed into a syllabary (a system using symbols representing pronunciation of syllables). So many of the symbols from earlier cuneiform took on additional meanings.
One that really caught my attention was the symbol 'gi'. At first (3000 BC) it just meant 'reed', and looked like a reed. Over time, it also came to mean a homonymous word meaning 'render'. Eventually it was used for the syllable 'gi', perhaps as a part of words having nothing to do with reeds or renderings. But it's those first two meanings that caught this calligrapher's heart-- reeds being the tools those early scribes used to press the symbols into the clay, and the result being a rendering. I just had to do something with this, so here's my ACEO of 'gi', done with my coke can pen and handmade ink. I just love the rough look resulting from adapting a pen to this writing form that wasn't ever done with pens at all.

And here's the symbol for 'ka', meaning 'mouth' and a whole host of ideas associated with mouths: teeth, tongue, language, speech:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One thing I've never been too good at is planning too far ahead. Left to my own devices, I think about a month ahead at most. No, it's never served me very well, and it's a good thing people usually nudge me when I need to do things sooner.

A month out won't do it in the art biz, either, alas. I have to apply to shows 6-9 months in advance, and now that it's noticeably fall, it's high time I start giving serious thought to my spring colors. I'm just now getting used to the idea that winter is coming, and I'm supposed to think spring colors?!

Thank goodness for Pantone. I certainly don't follow their suggestions slavishly, but it's very useful for getting my art on the right color paths when my mind is still lingering months behind in the present. What colors have I chosen? You'll have to wait to find out, I'm afraid...I will not inflict unseasonality on my unsuspecting readers. (In this respect I choose the moral high ground over retailers like our local Hobby Lobby, who had Christmas decorations out in August. That's just wrong!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Venue

I'm delighted to announce a new venue for my work: The Venue. It's a brand new gallery here in Bloomington, located right next to Soma and the Laughing Planet, across from the Snow Lion restaurant. They opened in early October, and carry a mix of local artists' work, including wall art, turned wood, pottery, and jewelry.
They'll be carrying my alphabet necklaces and asymmetric, dangly mosaic earrings; once we figure out how best to display them, they'll also have some of my wabi-sabi collection. If you're in the area, do stop in and check them out!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Poets Laureate were amazing! The two of them got up there are took good-natured potshots art one another for a bit, then read their poetry. It was like a cross between standup comedy and..well, a poetry reading. But minus any pretension. Kay Ryan was particularly willing to interrupt herself and make jokes at her own expense. I liked her poetry before; now I officially consider myself a fan.

Best of all, Billy Collins read 'Tension', which is my favorite of his poems, because it is a study in aspectual adverbials and their coercive effects on event semantics. These poets, give them an adverb and they really know what to do with it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What a beautiful day! The weather is going to be in the 70s, a precious occurance this time of year in Indiana, I'm playing with the new pigments I got from Sinopia a week or two ago, and there's a general sense of optimism in the air for some reason. And I get to go see Poets Laureate Billy Collins and Kay Ryan at IU this evening!

We were driving home from Memphis the other day, going through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and the afternoon light was just right on the trees turning for autumn. I think something has changed in me because for the first time I thought about the tree's colors like this: "Red earth, green earth, some ochre and burnt umber. Mars orange. Iron oxide."

Saturday, November 1, 2008


This week, I give you...Tariana!  It's an Arawak language, spoken in Brazil by fewer than 100 people.  This language is uncomfortably close to extinction, though some revitalization efforts are underway.  I think it's a great example of why I for one don't like to see languages going the way of the Dodo-- Tariana has so many interesting things going on grammatically, so many expressive possibilities that, though these ideas can in principle be expressed by any language, the way this language organizes them and codifies them in the grammar leaves open poetic possibilities that just aren't there in other languages.  

Ok, I have to reveal the true depths of my language geekdom, here. First of all, Aikhenvald's 2003 grammar of Tariana is one of the best written grammars I've come across so far. Such clear descriptions! It's really a joy to read, if you're the sort of person who gets joy out of reading descriptive grammars.  

Second, Tariana itself is fascinating.   You like nouns? They have a mixed noun classifier and gender system! Plus tensed nouns! You like verbs? They have recent past, remote past, and evidentials!   And a whole host of aspectual markers. And things like the 'frustrative', an affix that indicates that the action of the verb was, well, frustrated-- failed or bound to fail. A pessimist's suffix if there ever was one.

Still with me?  More relevant to Project Panglossia, Tariana has nine imperative forms.  Do it here, do it now, do it there, do it later, do it for the Gipper, please try and do it, let's do, please do, and my personal favorite, the 'detrimental'-- "fine, go ahead and do it then, if you don't give a darn what I think about it, and just see what happens!".  If only English could adopt new inflectional categories, I'd lobby on behalf of the 'detrimental'.  

So here's the jewelry:  nuna pikalitehna, 'please tell me':

and pihimathara, 'please try and listen' 

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday cat blogging

My philosophers. Ballyhoo likes to groom us every once in a while; apparently we aren't tidy enough without his help.  Once he gets started, it's difficult to get him to stop.  Mainly because he's so cute when he's doing it. Plus determined. Cute + determined= unstoppable.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've been remiss this week! I guess it's a bit of a habit. Sorry.
I've spent this week mostly restocking, making new items to fill the gaps that the fall has happily made in my inventory. I mailed some fresh earrings off to Braithwaite Studios, so if you happen to be in Dayton, Virginia, do go take a gander.
Tried a new thing with resin on recycled soda cans, and discovered (are you listening, resin artists?) that resin does not necessarily stick to aluminum. I made all these cute little earrings with hammered wire and resin domed on the grey side of a cut piece of soda can ('pop' to some of you, you know who you are), and discovered that if you try just a little, the soda can will pop right away from the resin once it's cured. AND (this is sort of exciting), it's shiny. Not matte. The result is kinda cool-- hammered silver embedded in clear resin--I'm sure there's a way to do something interesting with it, but not for me, not this week. Anyway, one morning's worth of work temporarily out the window.
I love to experiment, but it's irksome when the experiments don't work out. Yes, I know it's a stepping stone to bigger, better, more interesting things, but right now, it just feels like a minor setback, and it's still annoying. Phooey.
On the bright side, I'm having great fun expanding my wabi sabi line. Here's some eye candy for you. It's green and gold-- I guess we could call it wasabi wabi sabi.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I just have to show off this paper I dyed the other day-- the colors make me swoon every time I look at them. I've already used up almost half of it, mostly on earrings. Sage, antique plum, and rust, and a dash of olive, of course. (I just made up the 'antique plum' color name-- but that's how it looks to me).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Today's installment of Project Panglossia: Dakota. Dakota is closely related to Lakota and Nakota-- for exactly how they're related, check out this dialect map. All of these are currently endangered, though there are some revitalization efforts in progress. Here's a page of links to more information on the Siouan languages.

You'll notice the little dot above the g in the first photo-- that's not a smudge (I never make smudges! No, never) but a dot indicating that the g is pronounced further back in the mouth than the English g. Also, notice that long serif dropping down off of the n at the end? That's not me being fancy-- that's a letter representing a velar nasal-- a sound like at the end of English 'sing'.

The 'ye' is the particle that makes it an imperative verb-- there were a few choices, actually-- for singular or plural, and for command or 'entreaty'. I'm not much of one for entreaty, personally, but the book I consulted recommended that women use this form 'for propriety's sake'. Since I'm just a visitor here, I followed their advice...

'listen (to me)'

'tell me'

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Adventures in persimmonry

It's persimmon season here-- not the big grocery store persimmons, but the little American persimmons that are beloved of Hoosiers. Today when I saw them everywhere at the farmer's market, I decided that it's finally time (after living here for 6 years) to learn what to do with them. So I bought 2 quarts and headed home with bright ideas.

Pudding is the traditional thing. Pudding or cake or bread or fudge. But you know, I'm a fan of preserving, so I decided to make jam.

What I learned:
1. You have to puree them, but they have big seeds and ugly skins.
2. It takes a long time to press two quarts of persimmons through a strainer.
3. A food mill will not be able to deal with the seeds.
4. You can use a juicer, but if you don't use the presser thingie to press the persimmons into the spout, seeds will ricochet all over the kitchen. Wear safety goggles.
5. Two quarts of persimmons makes 3 cups of pulp.
6. Persimmons smell a bit like oranges.
7. If the one recipe you found uses an additional liquid like orange juice, use it. Don't skip it just because you don't want to go to the grocery store. Honey and extra lemon juice will not be enough liquid.
8. Apparently, jam can actually turn out dry under certain circumstances. Who knew?

Anyway, for all it's faults, it's very tasty.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

The philosopher is off this weekend to, of all places, Nebraska, where he is philosophizing. Who knew they had such good taste in philosophy in Nebraska? Of course, you might not have guessed it about Indiana, either, yet here we are. Anyway, the upside to his absence is that I get to decide which of the foods I love but he dislikes I'll have for dinner while he's away: it's a tie between sauerkraut and bratwurst, cabbage and smoked sausage, or collard greens, black eyed peas and ham. Mmmm. Decisions, decisions.

Good news, cat fans: I finally caught the cats in the act of being cute again. Here's Vindaloo, disturbed in the midst of her afternoon nap time. She's in her favorite spot, as you can tell from all the cat hair on the sofa (sigh).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another pendant from my new line, all fresh and sparkly!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I just discovered the Amazon Universal Wish List! Very exciting! You just right-click on
my store to your wishlist. Go ahead, enable your friends and family to spoil you properly!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Speaking of pumpkins, the ones I grew this year are ready. I've already harvested two. They came off of two different vines-- the one on the left basically looks like a fairy tale pumpkin, and the one on the right is the mystery pumpkin. Maybe I ended up with a hybrid? No idea. These are all seeds from pumpkins I bought at Kelp's a couple of years ago, and they don't have anything there that looks quite like this. Here's the other, with my hand in the photo to give you an idea of the size. Looks kinda like a butternut, but it's much bigger.

The other two shown below still on the vine are definitely cheese pumpkins. Very good for pie! You can see from the high grass around them how well I prepared the soil beforehand-- yet I still ended up with pumpkins, so it's all good as far as I'm concerned. I read yesterday that pumpkin leaves are edible, too-- fix the tender ones like any green, and use the bigger, tough ones for wrapping things in. I'll try it and let you know how it goes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I haven't officially welcomed fall until I visit Kelp's Pumpkin Patch in Brown County, on 46 just east of Gnawbone. At that time I indulge my mania for winter squash. This year I didn't have to buy cheese pumpkins or fairy tale pumpkins, since those appear to be what I have growing in my yard (along with another variety that I still can't identify), but we had a good haul anyway. And yes, I will do my best to eat all of them before the winter's over!

Kelp's has the widest selection of squash and pumpkins I've ever seen. I don't even mess with the standard Hallowwen pumpkin these days-- boring! Give me green, beige, red, warty, lumpy, and tasty. We were a little late getting there this year, so the pallets are a little less abundant than they were a week or two ago.

My pumpkins in the wagon below: two Blue Hubbards, a big warty Red Hubbard, a warty dark Green Hubbard, a Cinderella (under the warty red hubbard) , and a couple of butternuts.
We also got a German pie pumpkin, which has lovely dark green and cream stripes. Why so many Hubbards, you ask? Well, they look fabulous, for starters. And also they are consistently the tastiest squash.
I can eat them plain after roasting, they're so sweet. And since one of my favorite breakfasts in the fall is warm pumpkin puree with sorghum molasses, this stand-alone tastiness is important. Try doing that with canned pie pumpkin. Blah!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I found this site that contains links to the official policy on the arts from the presidential candidates. Not that we don't have other things to worry about these days, but they're worth a read.

Find the McCain-Palin document here, and the Obama-Biden documents here, here, and here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here's what I've been up to lately... took me a while to make sure this would work and finish a few nice pieces. I wanted to highlight the paperiness (papertude? papertudinousness? papericity? Ok, I'll stop) of the paper-- rather than paper that doesn't especially look like paper (like most of my work), I wanted to make something that did-- and yet was still strong. Strong yet delicate-looking. Getting to highlight some metalwork and metal leafing is a bonus. Nice textures, and a wabi-sabi aesthetic.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I noticed that someone googled 'dixie lily grits' to find my page, so I thought that a follow-up was necessary as a public service to those also seeking decent grits. The long and short of it is that no, Publix in Florida no longer carries them (why, Publix, why?). You can buy them online if need be. But by a stroke of luck, an Indiana mill was at the farmer's market one week with both yellow and white corn grits in a functional two-pound paper sack, and I stocked up for the year. It's a coarser grind than Dixie Lily, and you have to cook it for about 15 minutes, but the result is nice and creamy.

So if you have to mail order, I recommend Wib's Stone Ground Grain of Odon, Indiana. They didn't put their phone number on their bags, which seems like bad planning. I'll see if I can dig it up for you. Their mailing address is 11645E. 1625 N., Odon IN 47562.

Update: Last time I went back to Florida (Dec 2008), I did find decent slow-cook grits at the Winn Dixie (of course! Why didn't I think of them earlier?). Not Dixie Lily, but a fine substitute, Dixie Mills. So if you're in FL, go to Winn Dixie and they'll hook you up.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I had a great weekend at the Carmel International Arts festival, but it feels like it's taking me the entire week to recover! Maybe it's the onset of the fall-like weather, but I just want to crawl under the covers, drink a cup of tea, and read a book.

Speaking of tea, I got some new things to try: currently drinking a Bao Jun oolong; it's very good, but I'm not sure it's better than my usual Spring Dragon.
I also got a new horizontal tripod, which should let me take pictures of my larger necklaces from directly overhead. Now they're in better focus than they were when I was trying to photograph them holding the camera in hand and trying to stay veerrry still, but I'm still figuring out the trick to getting the lighting right. So no fabulous pictures quite yet, I'm afraid.
This week's Project Panglossia installment is South Efate, an Malayo-Polynesian language of Vanuatu. So I kinda got the tropical colors goin' on for these. The tilde over the 'p' means that the sound is not your usual [p], but a labio-velar; in other words, it's a sort of simultaneous [k] and [p]-- the tongue closes off at the back of the mouth where you'd make a [k] at the same time as the lips are closed to make the [p]. I've always been a fan of labio-velars-- I first encountered them when I took Yoruba lo those many years ago. But that's another story. Meanwhile, here are the South Efate pendants:

'tell me'


Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

Finally, I was able to catch the cats being cute again. Good thing-- their public was beginning to become disgruntled. And we don't want a disgrunted public.

Here they are in their window, with a good view of the birdfeeder and garden, a group nap coming on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

List of Retailers

For your reference, here is a (growing!) list of shops that carry my work.

Environmental Realists
336 Hwy 179, #A107
Sedona, AZ

Given to Gauche
4 Daniel St.
Milford, CT

Basile Studio Shop, Indianapolis
Gallery by the Green, Nashville
Offerings, Vincennes

The Venue Fine Art and Gifts
114 S. Grant St.
Bloomington, IN 47408

Wandering Turtle Art Gallery and Gifts
116 W. 6th St. #110
Bloomington, IN

221 North Cody Road
LeClaire, IA 52753

New Hampshire
Lara's Theme,
16 Proctor Hill Rd.
Hollis, NH

New Jersey
Solaris Gallery
56A Main St.
Califon, NJ

North Carolina
Light Years Jewelry
101 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill

North Dakota
4955 17th Ave. South
Fargo, ND

The Artisans
Langley Shopping Center
1368 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA

State of the Arts Gallery
500 Washington St. SE
Olympia, WA

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm in full swing with my fall pallette these days. I'm crazy about olive this year-- it blends beautifully with a surprising range of colors, and I'm mixing it with everything.

I've also got these new mosaics, using funky asymmetrical forms. I think the balance is nice-- the palette is muted and sophisticated, but the shapes are a bit daring. I'm also really into the contrast between the straight lines in the paper tiles and the organic quality of the gemstone chips.

And these earrings! They're so light and bouncy. I'm delighted with this look.

Only one week until the Carmel show! Anything I can get started today will be ready for next weekend, so I'm going into overdrive to make a few more of these in time. Right now I only have this one pair of earrings completed, and that just won't do.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Well, it's about time for another update on Project Panglossia. This week's offering (actually, it's from a couple weeks ago: I'm behind on posting as usual): Irish Gaelic.

inis dom, 'tell me'

Eist, 'listen'

By the way, if anyone notices me getting anything wrong in my translations, I'd like to know. Obviously, I don't speak all these languages-- sometimes I get translations from native speakers or second language speakers who know the language well, but mostly I use reference grammars and dictionaries to generate the forms. I do my best to get it right, and I'd like to think that if it's a well-written grammar, I will arrive at a correct result, but of course things aren't always that simple-- there's always room for error. So please tell me if you find one.

Friday Pirate Blogging

Arrr, today be 'Talk Like A Pirate Day'.

Ye know how ye can tell the difference betwixt a real pirate and the lubberly wretches what try to sound like pirates on this day each year? There be two true tests:

A) Them lubberly b*stards don't know how to tie a bowline knot and
B) They all say "Arrgh" instead of "Arrr". They be puttin a velar stop at the end of the word where no true pirate would ever put a velar. Whether there be or ain't a velarrr there is what we true pirates call the Shibboleth of our seafarin kind.

If yer lucky, ye'll be able to catch 'em up on the 'Arrr' and put the mangy curs to swabbin' the deck before they get the chance to screw things up with their lousy bowlines.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I recently joined the website to help me reach retailers. I'm off to a good start, I'm pleased to say! Once I get their orders in the mail to them, I'll have two new retailers to announce here.

Because of this move, though, I've had to make some adjustments to my Etsy site. I don't want to compete online with stores who are selling my work, so I've taken a few of my collections offline-- no more buying mosaics, Zowie polkadots, or alphabet pendants online from me directly, I'm afraid. I'll add a list of retailers here soon to help you find other places to access these collections. But don't worry, my Etsy shop will still carry one-of-a-kind pendants and earrings, Project Panglossia pieces, and (for now) floral pendants. Plus my ACEOS and 2D work.

I'm also brainstorming a few new lines, both for wholesale and just for my Etsy shop...stay tuned.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another great day at the farmers' market art show here in Bloomington! The forecast called for rain, but we lucked out and it quickly became sunny and breezy-- and it was time to pack up and leave before breezy turned into outright windy. Nice! Only one more Fair of the Arts left for me this season, on October 11th.

I've added a list of my upcoming shows over to the right there. I may have a couple of more dates to add to it before the year is over with, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

I remember.
I remember you, pilots and passengers. Tower-toilers, rescue workers.
I remember.

But I've forgotten what September 10th felt like.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I don't know how I developed this tea obsession I have. It started when I was a teenager. I think it stared with my tendency to want to exhaustively explore variations on things, especially culinary things -- the same urge that led me to plant 11 varities of mint this year-- combined with a standard-issue sense of Anglophilia and a dollop of naive romanticism. Later, I stumbled upon an early version of the Upton Tea newsletter (in Factsheet 5, of all places), complete with their then-modest offering of quality tea, and my imagination was captured. I went to Europe when I was 21, and returned home with fond memories of the breakfast Assam I had taken to drinking in Ireland. Tracked down a decent ctc Assam at a local Indian grocery, then remembered the Upton Tea newsletter and finally placed an order. It was all downhill from there. My first apartment was lined with National Geographic maps, and I would sit and stare at them and think about the faraway places and the tea they grew and drank there. I wanted to taste it all.

I still drink Assam in the morning-- I'm pretty picky about this, I don't want Keemuns or Ceylons in the morning-- I like bold single-estate Assams, the maltier, the better. Right now it's Zaloni Estate, but my all-time favorite is Nahorhabi (followed closely by Boisahabi). In the afternoon I go for a Yunnan, when I can get it, or Spring Dragon jade oolong, or a good quality sencha. A second-flush darjeeling if I'm having a snack, first flush if I'm not. Or in the summer, iced tea (sweet, please, and this is one time I'm not too picky as long as it hasn't gone off). At night, white tea or a light jasmine or After the Snow Sprouting or Moroccan mint, or a champagne oolong. In the fall, Lapsang Souchong or a Pu-erh, or sweet, milky chai. I don't much care for Earl Grey anymore.

Right now I'm drinking some white tea to which I added a liberal pinch of my homegrown spearmint (actually, apple mint and spearmint both-- I have an abundance). Pretty tasty. Hits the spot.

Monday, September 1, 2008

When I was in my late teens/ early 20s, I worked at a used bookstore that belonged to a friend’s mom. I worked for books. I would help shelve things and organize things, and I often got first dibs on lots she got from estate sales and so on. I made a lot of excellent random discoveries. It was a good deal, working for books.

One of the books I got then was Richard Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar. It became one of my favorites. Every few years I have to reread it. I just reread it over the last couple of days, and yeah, it's still one of my favorites. When I read something I like, I begin to write like the author, at least sentence-structure wise. It lasts a day or so, until the post-reading glow disappears. That is why I'm writing in these weird short sentences now. I just finished the book last night.

One of these days, I would like to read another of his books.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday is farmer's market day! Stood in the corn line for another dozen ears today-- at this one family's stand, there's always this really long line this time of year. People new to the area see us waiting and ask, "what's so great about this corn? Why is everyone standing in this line?-- it's not as if they're the only corn vendors there. Well, then one day you get there early enough that the line is short enough, and you try it to see what the fuss is all about. Then you see. It's the sweetest corn at the market. I buy extra every week so I have 4-5 pounds to freeze to hold me through the winter till the next summer. In mid-February, it tastes even sweeter.

It was also pear and plum week at the one fruit stand I like-- Olde Lane Orchard-- I like to make jam/preserves and give it away at the holidays. (And also eat it myself). I've already made several jars of peach jam, which I do every year (this year, it's triple lemon peach: peach infused with lemon verbena, lemon thyme, and lemon zest). I haven't made pear preserves yet because the pears are always too good and I end up eating them all. I got 2 boxes today, hopefully that will be enough. This time of year I live on watermelon, peaches, pears, tomatoes, and corn.

Lately I've been a bit obsessed with the idea of doing some 2D work-- in particular, dyed paper, mosaic, and calligraphy on gallery-wrapped canvases. It was a bit of a puzzle since I know nothing about things 2D -- such as whether paper will stick to canvas, what to coat it with to protect it, etc. etc. Did some research and finally I bought a little canvas and gave it a try. Dyed paper affixed to a stretch canvas with wheat paste, then coated with matte medium and acrylic varnish. Here's the result! I think it's promising.

My experiment in rust and midnight.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging

I know, it seems like every other day here is Friday Cat Blogging. It's an anchor that provides some discipline to this enterprise. I'll do the obligatory kitty picture, then add another post not about cats soon. Really.
I have no stories to tell about the cats this week. They resent their strict feeding schedule. Vindaloo has taken to nesting on my computer desk. Ballyhoo is making some progress on his book. He likes to work on it out on the deck, under the bench.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Well, the vacation really threw me off my schedule for Project Panglossia. I'm so far behind now, it isn't funny. And realistically, I'll fall behind again. Spending hours every other day trying to figure things out in a totally new language is unnecessarily stressful, resource-intensive, and would probably lead to dumb mistakes sooner or later. Besides, I'm willing to bet that nobody cares about the timetable but me. Therefore I reject my arbitrary timetable of one per day, and am going to stick to a revised, more manageable schedule of one language (2-3 pieces) per week.

Now that that's taken care of, here's Somali! In desert colors for our friends in the Horn.

ii sheeg = 'tell me'

dhageysan= 'listen'

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here's the calligraphy piece I did while on vacation. Not bad for not having any art supplies on me. That coke can pen thing is the best trick I've learned in a while (well, apart from the trick with the spork and the penguin, but I think that goes without saying).

I love this poem.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday cat blogging

I'm back! And slowly getting back into the swing of things. I'm not very quick at recovering from travel. I never did give my friend the calligraphy piece I made for her-- I didn't have any appropriate packaging for it, and didn't have time to acquire any before the wedding. I'll ship it to them eventually (but not before taking a picture of it for here!).

One of my stops on the visit was with my mom in Florida, and her cat, Hunter. He's so named because, um, he hunts. A lot. Which is bad news for the small fauna in the vicinity. He's also a very snuggly fellow. As you can see.

What doesn't come across well in these photos is just how BIG he is. He's even bigger than Ballyhoo, who usually elicits "Wow, that's a BIG cat!" from people meeting him for the first time. Hunter is enormous, with very short hair, and muscular. He's reminds me of a greyhound (except, he's a cat.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

I ended up making a decent 9x12 calligraphic version of ee cummings' 'love is a place' for a friend who's getting married this weekend.  

Later today I'm off to the wedding: Gainesville via Orlando. I haven't been back to Gville in some time, and am kinda looking forward to it. Hope to score some Dixie Lily grits, which Kroger doesn't seem to carry, whether it's the Indiana Kroger or a Tennessee Kroger. I'm hoping Publix still carries them. One needs one's grits.

My cold has progressed apace-- now in the coughing phase. Hope I can get my head cleared out before I have to get on the plane (ugh).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm in lovely Lake Luzerne, NY this week, which is near Corinth, which is near Saratoga Springs, which has horses. 

I managed to get a cold, and have a nice sore throat today coupled with foreshadowings of a runny nose to come. I blame the airports and all the people at them.

Not content to simply relax (or rather, when you're an artist, relaxation and work match up rather nicely), I bought some nice paper and gouache at the art supply store in Saratoga. Now I just need to make me one of those soda can pens, and I'll be good to go.  The art supply store was actually in the back of a ghastly tourist sundries store, which had the most spectacularly ugly hats I've seen in some time. But the art store portion itself was remarkably well stocked, and arrayed like a good used book store-- some digging was necessary, but treasures were there to be found. Nothing makes me quite as happy as shopping for art supplies.

Also popped into a couple of galleries, and bought a pair of mugs by Marge Margulies.  Mine is green on the outside and aqua inside, and has no handle. The philosopher picked a dark red one with a handle.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Next language up: Crow, an endangered language of southern Montana. My first try at a Native American language.

Have I mentioned that I'm loving this project? I think I have, but it bears repeating. I get to play with what I love about language, see what kinds of cool things different languages have in their grammars. All just for the joy of it. This love of language variation is what got me into linguistics in the first place. Now instead of writing papers on it, I get to...hmm...write it on paper. Hmmm. And wear it on my sleeve for all to see, instead of having like, all of five people ever read what I've written.

Enough! On to the jewelry, performed for you today in Crow....

'dissikisshih' I'm translating as 'dance your heart out'-- 'disshi-' is 'dance', and the '-kisshih' part is the 'sportive' suffix, meaning to do something with energy and a spirit of fun.

And here's 'listen', diikukkuh.
Of course, I also did 'tell me', and of course, guess what Blogger did? Yep. Turned it sideways. I retook the photo and tried to upload a whole new file, to no avail. So weird. Sorry to keep whining about this but it does it EVERY TIME I upload photos. And that makes me whiny.
You can see the other one here.

Friday cat blogging

One of the things to remember to do when working with resin is to cover the pieces up until they're cured. They stay sticky for a long time, and the last thing you want is bits of dust or small flies or who knows what getting stuck on them. So I cover the tray I the pieces are on with an extra one of my display frames (a picture frame with screening on the back that I can hang things from), and cover the whole thing with a towel. It's been working pretty well, until the last three days when it seems that SOMEONE has decided that that little towel-draped platform in the back of the dark garage is just the perfect place to hang out, watch for bugs to eat, and get away from the pressures of everyday life.

So far two of my frames have had the screens pulled away from the edges form the weight, and I've had to sand the heck out of a few pieces to remove the grid impressions.

I think I know who did it. The only question is, could she have thought of this herself? Or are both cats in on it?

(Actually, the real question is, where can I move the trays to now that this behavior is becoming a habit...?)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The IN Crowd's July drive to donate a portion of our online sales to flood relief in Columbus has ended and was a great success! I don't think we have a final tally yet for the whole group, but I'm happy to say I was able to donate $35. A drop in the bucket given the extent of the flood damage, but haba na haba hujaza kibaba*, as they** say. A big thank you to everyone who purchased from me in July!

* 'little by little fills the pot'
** The Swahili

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


First a correction-- when I wrote about the 'biaaa' ACEO the other day, I incorrectly said that Kisi was spoken in Tanzania. Well, there is a Kisi spoken there-- but not the one I'm using. Apparently there's more than one. This Kisi is spoken on the other side of the continent, around the three-way border between Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.

So here are three Kisi pieces:
[Look! Blogger did it again. Picked my favorite piece and turned it sideways. AAAUUUGGHHH!
I'll fix it later if I can.]

tuei 'listen'

dimul ya 'tell me'

bakala-bakala, an ideophone meaning the sound of big, fat raindrops.