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.