Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I keep coming back to the torn paper look. So fragile and ephemeral in appearance-- I love capturing that and rendering it permanent. Here are a pair of earrings along those lines that I completed recently-- again with the green earth and silver, another combo I can't tear myself away from right now.

Friday, March 20, 2009

These earrings have actually been available in my shop for a while, but I noticed that I hadn't blogged them, so here we are. Large leaves striped with rich purples and blues, hand-lettered with 'amani' and 'imani', Swahili for 'peace' and 'faith'. Sterling silver ear wires, as always.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The ink book, by the way, has turned out to be fabulously boring, little more than a compilation of every time someone in antiquity mentioned the existence of ink. We do get some tantalizing statements like:

"One [black ink formula of the eighth century] in particular is worthy of notice as it names (blue) vitriol, yeast, the lees (dregs) of wine and the rind of the pomegranate apple, which if commingled together would give results not altogether unlike the characteristic phenomena of "gall" ink."

Yeast? Pomegranite juice? Wine dregs? What do you do with them to turn them into ink? But the author, alas, does not tell us.

Where is this all going? I can only guess. I'll keep on with it a bit longer but may abandon ship if it doesn't pick up soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I finished a new necklace this week. I call it "Balance" since I think it instantiates very well the contrasts I was talking about earlier.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Introducing the Amara Collection

I'm finally ready to show off my newest line! I'm very excited about this one-- I've been working on these for over a month now. First, a little about its reason for being.

As you may know, I have a small connection to East Africa-- in grad school, I had a minor in African Studies and in my linguistic work, specialized in African languages, especially Swahili (ambacho ninajitahidi kutopoteza sasa). I was lucky to be able to study Swahili in Tanzania for a couple of months in 2003. What I've learned has enriched me in all sorts of ways, including in my work as an artist. I've always kept in mind that I'd like to give back when I find the right opportunity.

Recently I've heard a couple of stories on NPR about the toll of the conflict in the Congo on the women and girls there-- it's been hard on everyone, but particularly horrific is the way that rape has been used-- for the first time documented, the rebels have been using it as a weapon (as opposed to a mere byproduct) of war. I won't go into the details-- you can read some here--suffice it to say that it leaves women and by extension entire villages and regions physically and emotionally ruined.
One hospital working to help these women with their surgeries, physical rehabilitation, and counseling is Panzi Hospital of Bukavu. I decided that I'd like to find a way to donate to them to support their work. I discovered that the way to help them is through the Stephen Lewis Foundation, a Canadian organization that relies on regular folks-- not corporate donations-- to fund a number of initiatives that are in turn conceived of and run by locals (not Western 'experts', who have helped enough already, thank you very much). They're all-around excellent, I can't say enough good things about them.

The line of jewelry I've created for this purpose is inspired by African fashion and design--
if you've ever seen photos of East African women, one thing you probably noticed is the way they mix and match their clothing. Two or three brightly colored kangas (wraps) each with different colors and patterns, a different colored t-shirt on too. To celebrate this, my new line has a wonderful mix-and-match aesthetic with bright colors, repeating geometric motifs, and a batik look. Actually, it's funny about the batik paper-- I developed a technique for making designs on paper that looked a lot like batik but did not involve wax-- then later learned that the technique that I had 'developed' myself was also a very standard process used for handmade African batik textiles. That made me very happy to hear! As they say, great minds....
Anyway, I call it the Amara Collection. 'Amara' is Swahili meaning 'urgent business', 'assistance', 'aid'. These beads feature my batik papers with my original designs. They're accented with hammered sterling silver flourishes, and can be converted into either earrings or pendants.
Best of all, they're mix-and match! I've been asked several times in the past year whether I offer mix-and-match earrings. Now the answer is finally YES! Mix shapes, patterns, or colors (or all three if you're really bold) for a completely custom set. You can even get an earring trio-- one more earring gives you three different pairs.

So far the Amara pieces are available in three colors (mocha, moss, and sun), three patterns (fern, spiral, and wave), and 4 shapes in 3 sizes. (If you do the math on that, you'll see why it took me so long to get a good initial selection made-- 3 x 3 x 4 x 3= 108). Mocha is pictured here, and you can see both the fern and spiral patterns in the first picture. More photos of the other colors and patterns coming soon!

$1 per piece (thus $2 per pair of earrings) sold will be donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation to support Panzi Hospital.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The other day I was completing yet another show application, this one allowing more in the way of an artist's statement than most do, so I took the opportunity to revise my older statement a bit. Among other things, I wrote about my wabi-sabi line:

In this body of work, I explore the contrasts between organic and geometric forms, natural and manufactured materials, transience and permanence.

I stopped there for the purposes of the application, but after looking at it for a few days, I feel the need to elaborate. Just a little.

I don't start out with these principles in mind, I make what pleases my eye during the process. But in describing the resulting objects after the fact, these contrasts do comprise the guiding aesthetic in these pieces. Organic and geometric: I've got torn edges, crumpled forms, and rectangles and straight lines of wire connecting things up. Natural/manufactured: paper made of cotton fiber, earth pigments, with resin. Silver and nylon. Transience and permanence: again, paper, crumpled and worried, but set in a form that will last a while with the help of the resin.

I think these contrasts are especially powerful expressed in jewelry. Here's where jewelry as art has an advantage over other mediums, as the contrasts expressed in the jewelry are echoes of the contradictions of our human bodies themselves and our attempts to preserve, beautify, and modify them. Even the very act of wearing jewelry is a part of this system of contrasts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In my pokings-about on Project Gutenberg yesterday, I randomly came across a history of ink. "Forty Centuries of Ink", it's titled. Excellent. I'm going to try reading it-- it seems like the sort of thing I should read. The author claims that "the bibliographical story of "Ink" is replete with many interesting episodes, anecdotes and poetical effusions", so I expect to be entertained.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Environmental Realists

I'm pleased to introduce the latest gallery carrying my work: Environmental Realists of Sedona, Arizona, located in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. It's a beautiful shop-- do stop by if you happen to be lucky enough to find yourself in Sedona!