Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Hausa pendants are done. I'm very pleased with how these turned out.

'tell'; 'listen'

That little backward curl on the 'd' is no mere calligrapher's whimsy, by the way-- it indicates that the 'd' is implosive, pronounced with the air sucked inward rather than just flowing outward the way that most English consonants do. And the marks above the vowels indicate tone-- think of it as voice pitch. Many African languages use tone not only to change the meanings of words (like Chinese does), but also to mark grammatical stuff, like tense. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, and I agree. That is supercool!

Doing the translations for these has proven to be quite the challenge. Hausa is pretty well documented, so wasn't so bad-- other languages, I'm learning, have grammars but no dictionaries, or dictionaries but no grammar (by 'grammar' here I mean a written description of the language's structure-- of course, all languages have grammar in the 'internal structure' sense). Sometimes I have to browse through an entire book's example sentences just to find the words for 'listen' and 'tell'. Then I still have to figure out what appropriate grammatical forms are to make the words say what I want them to. I've found it can take several hours for each language.
I've been having a lot of fun with the clasp-in-front style of necklace lately. Sometimes the bead itself is the loop for the bar to pass through, as in this one:

And sometimes I do something a little fancier, as in this new piece below. This style is meant to hang off to the side, a little asymmetrically-- but it still looks balanced. Very cool! Didn't use dyed paper for this one, as you can see-- just a natural cream, with a scattering of 24k gold leaf and sterling silver leaf.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday cat blogging

Mid-afternoon snugglefest. There's really nothing for me to say about this. I'm glad my cats get along.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Project Panglossia

Upon further consideration, I decided I could give my language project a more exciting name than "Language Project"-- a little brainstorming with my philosopher (who is a punning genius) yielded a winner: the project shall henceforth be called "Project Panglossia". What the heck is Panglossia, you ask? Well, after Doctor Pangloss in Voltaire's Candide-- the overly optimistic fellow (the "all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" guy). And also, when you break it down, 'pan'= 'all' and 'glossia' = 'languages'. Yeah, appropriate, huh? I thought so.

Today's offerings again from Swahili. 'niambia= 'tell me'.

And 'sikiliza'= 'listen'

I've got one more Swahili piece in the works, and after that, it's on to Hausa.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Finally got some decent shots of the Chekov necklace, although for some reason (possibly for the sole purpose of driving me mad while wasting tremendous amounts of my time), the photo of the full necklace will not load properly-- it keeps rotating sideways, and when I uploaded it to Flickr and rotated it, Blogger won't link to it. Apparently Blogger REALLY thinks it looks better sideways. So if you want to see that one, click here. Go ahead, it's worth a look.
Anyway, did I mention that I'm really proud of this piece? Here's the full text, from one of Chekov's personal letters:

"My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love, and the most absolute freedom-- freedom from violence and lying (...) This is the programme I would follow if I were a great artist."

The clasp, a paper tile plus hammered sterling toggle:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Language Project

Apparently 2008 is the International Year of Languages, so declares the UN. The folks over at Language Log blogged about it a bit today, and left me inspired. Yes, language is a bit abstract a subject for art, but hey! I'm a calligrapher, and I already have a bit of a language theme going on in my work, and wouldn't mind riffing on it a bit more. I think I'll have a go at it. I like a challenge.

Here's my plan: one new piece per day for the rest of the year in another language. I'll aim for one or two new different languages per week. I may do a number of words and phrases for each language, depending on where my whim takes me, but for each I will at the very least do pieces featuring the equivalents of 'listen' and 'tell me'.
Yeah, I know, a tall order! I'll have to go do a little research to figure out how to say those things, since it's a little more involved than just looking them up in a dictionary. Sounds like fun to me (I welcome any excuse to go hang out in the library and study languages). If you happen to speak another language well, I'd love a helping hand with the translations. And I'm game to do non-Roman scripts, too-- though anything non-alphabetic might require a little (um, or a lot) of coaching.
Up first, my favorite second language, KiSwahili. To kick it all off, I'm listing these earrings in my shop this afternoon. 'Amani' and 'imani' are KiSwahili for 'peace' and 'faith', respectively.

Asante kwa kusoma na karibu tena!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Pumpkin Blogging

The pumpkins are coming along nicely-- quite large now and starting to send out vines. Lots of flowers forming, too!

Some violas still going strong, planted in with my rosemary and volunteer lemon basil:

I finished the new necklace, but can't seem to get a good photo of it. I do decent macro photography, but can't focus perfectly when trying to take pics of larger pieces. And there's always glare, too. It's quite frustrating.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Had another nice (though wet, followed by steamy) morning at the Bloomington Farmer's Market art fair yesterday. One thing I love about doing art fairs is getting the opportunity to hear customers telling others about my work-- not just because they're usually saying nice things, and that makes me feel good, but also because people see my work in many different ways, and listening to how they explain it to others helps me see my own work in new ways.

Yesterday I overheard someone explaining to her friend that I put 'inspirational' words on my pieces. Now, I don't really think of what I do in quite that way. It's a case of "what you bring, you find" (as Longfellow put it). What I do is search for words and phrases that resonate when combined with color, shape, and viewer-- when a piece hits the right resonant frequency with a person, the meaning is amplified and very clear to them, and they respond-- sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. For some people, it's an inspirational frequency. For others, it's something else entirely.

Often people find shades of meaning that I did not anticipate. Words and phrases that don't really resonate for me do for others, and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised when text that I think is maybe a little idiosyncratic and that perhaps no one but me will ever like ends up being very meaningful for someone else, too.

That interplay is what my jewelry is 'really' about, for me. It's a composition that I start, and you finish.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Remiss on the Friday cat blogging again today. I took pictures of the pumpkin plants, but not of cats! They've been very boring kitties lately.

I finished the necklace today! It's wonderful, if I do say so myself. I'll post pics of it asap (too dark now to shoot, alas).

Tomorrow: the Fair of the Arts at the Bloomington Farmers Market, in Showers Plaza 8am-1pm. Come say howdy!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I'm working on a necklace this weekend-- a big, elaborate affair it's going to be, hopefully it will be an example of what I imagine myself to be capable of. The tiles are an assortment of trapezoids, very asymmetrical overall. I'm going to mosaic it. I just need to find the right text. So I'm reading some more Chekov today, trying to find the right bit. Found a collection of his letters, some good bits there. Probably not itself something I'd put on jewelry, but this section really struck me:

An artist observes, selects, guesses, combines--and this in itself presupposes a problem: unless he had set himself a problem from the very first there would be nothing to conjecture and nothing to select. (...) You are right in demanding that an artist should take an intelligent attitude to his work, but you confuse two things: _solving a problem_ and _stating a problem correctly_. It is only the second that is obligatory for the artist.

For a while now I've fancied the notion that I should have a sort of research question for my work-- call it a little leftover conceit from all my academic dabblings-- and it tickles me to find that Anton Chekov beat me to the idea by 120 years. (There are probably a whole host of artists who have done so, I realize-- but this is the first quote I happen to have come across that speaks to the notion directly).

Friday, July 4, 2008

I've started working with resin recently. It's a bit tricky (resin stays sticky for much longer than varnish, which opens the door to all kinds of trouble), but I think I'm liking it. One thing I can do with resin that I couldn't with varnish is make durable magnets much more easily-- the resin makes a clear dome over the dyed paper. I'll be offering my first few sets at the Bloomington farmer's market Fair of the Arts on the 12th, and may add them to the online shop if they're well-received. Here are my first 5 sets:

Some blues and purples...

This next set is my favorite so far. A) they're asymmetrical, and b) they just look cool no matter how you arrange them together.

Friday Cat blogging

Happy 4th of July! This is how me an' Ballyhoo wanted to spend it:

Unfortunately, it's been a bit rainy today, so we're doing our lazing around mostly indoors rather than out.