Monday, March 23, 2009

thing a week eleven:

this is a Thing not yet fully realized.

i've been thrilled by the changing season, by its tender budding life and growth. spring is erratic here in portland: this week has been alternately chilly and wet, bright and warm, sunny and rainy at the same time. this is the time of year in which i long to have a garden, have my hands in good black earth, set down roots and reach for the sky. it's also the tentative kick-off of bike season, at least for those who aren't hardcore winter warriors. it's been lovely these last few days to feel the muscles in my legs working hard again, wheeling by bright streams of crocus and daffodil. i feel good, fresh, ready for the beginning of something new. huzzah to spring!

the piece i've been working on this week attempts to translate that feeling into beadwork. not so much for the edification of others - i doubt that anyone would look at this piece and think, "ah, spring!" - but for my own self, a touchstone of sorts to fix this fleeting moment in time.

i'm using herringbone stitch, a technique which i seldom employ. it's slow going, especially since i've had other creative projects simmering this week. once again, i started working without knowing where the piece would go or whether i'd like the final results. i'm pretty pleased so far. it's a work in progress at this point: pictures to follow in the next post.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

thing a week (embarrassingly) ten: dolmuş!

it's been far too long a time since i updated this blog. rather than feeling flustered and ashamed, i'll quickly gloss over the lack of updates. i learned that lesson from college - not finishing the assignment is not a sufficient reason to skip class. it only puts me further and further behind while making me feel worse about not working. so: i'm back in the saddle (so to speak) and have a new piece to talk about.

i've worked in many different creative disciplines over the years, achieiving at least a moderate level of competence in each one. i've done metalwork, strung jewelry, beadwork and wirework; i made glass beads (lampwork) for many years; i dabbled in precious metal clay; i'm a hardcore knitter (though that's just a 'hobi', as the turks say). rather than abandoning each of these skills as i moved to the next, i think of each of them as being tools in my kit. i do regret not having a lampworking studio at the moment - i miss working with glass and fire - but there's something very deeply satisfying about small needles and tiny beads.

since i spend so much of my time around yarn and fiber, i've been thinking about ways to incorporate it into my work. with these earrings, i've used needle-felted wool as an armature of sorts. when done in layers, right-angle weave is self-supporting - adding new beads is like adding bricks in a wall being build from the ground up. rather than create such a rigid structure, i made the beads in these earrings as empty ovals and stuffed them with wool to give support and a flash of color.

you've probably eaten or heard of dolma - rice and herbs rolled up inside grape leaves - but the word 'dolma' refers to anything stuffed. in turkish cuisine, stuffed peppers, zucchini and eggplant are all called dolma. the 1950s cars which have been tricked-out to accomodate more passengers are called 'dolmuş' because they're stuffed with people. the green of these beads makes me think of grape leaves and peppers, so:
dolmuş earrings. they're not my favorite pieces of jewelry - i'd like to take this idea further - but it's good to have something completed and recorded.

thing a week ten
: dolmuş earrings :
3.8?.09 - 3.12.09

fine silver Thai beads
size 10 Czech glass seed beads
nedle-felted hand-dyed wool
sterling silver findings
stitched together with Fireline and size 12 beading needle

next week: black and green. earth, growth, rebirth. the start of something new.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

thing a week two: wool and coral ring

this project percolated for several days before i poured it out. as with all new designs which eventually become production pieces, the planning took significantly longer than the making. i knew that i wanted to make something out of my large collection of coral beads. i was drawn to the idea of wool felt; Nepalese gold necklaces are traditionally strung with wool spacers to protect the soft gold beads from wear. i considered making a large, heavy necklace with wool beads between the coral.

when i was last in Turkey, i photographed some antique Ottoman belts stitched with coral and silver coins. they were on display along with many breathtaking pieces of jewelry from Gönül Paksoy's personal collection. she made many of the pieces with old beads and findings, while others were objects that she'd collected and displayed as found. the exhibit coincided with the first (and probably last) Istanbul Bead and Beadwork Conference.

i liked the negative space between the coral beads on the belts, and the fact that they were tipped over on their sides. i played around with the idea of a rectangular wool and coral pendant, but preferred the look of it on my finger.

thing a week two
wool and coral ring
1.12.09 - 1.14.09

antique coral beads
fine silver Thai beads
wool felt handmade in Nepal
stitched together with Fireline and size 13 beading needle

antique Ottoman coral and silver / coin belts from the Gönül Paksoy collection

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

week two: done.

this thing is far simpler than the last - sometimes it's the idea which takes a week to come to fruition, rather than the actual labor. i like this one and imagine i'll be wearing it quite a bit. pictures / description to follow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

individual mythology

as i worked on my first Thing a Week, i did a lot of thinking about personal mythology. everyone seems to have touchstones - lucky numbers, colors, songs which are deeply personal, objects of significance. when i was younger, i used to carry around personal talismans. sometimes they were interesting stones or shells, sometimes pieces of metal. often they were books. i still collect physical objects - i have boxes full of evil eye beads, chinese spirit locks, metal findings from antique jewelry, lucky swastikas from the 1920s, kohl pendants from india, chalcedony, coral, bone, ancient glass. i hope to photograph and catalog the most interesting of these.

what's most fascinating to me about objects with history is not their physical beauty, but rather the significance with which they were imbued. i don't believe in auras or 'vibrations' - an object on its own is inert - but objects which carry a cultural meaning invoke a response in the observer. a gold and diamond ring says nothing unless one is from a culture which values gold and diamonds. in the US, that ring means wealth, commitment, fidelity; to the socially/politically aware, it may also indicate armed conflict, poverty, greed, mercury poisoning. the ring doesn't speak, but meaning is communicated nonetheless.

i'd like to know about your personal talismans, objects or more abstract concepts of import. why are these things meaningful to you personally? i'd prefer to learn about idiosyncratic ideas rather than concepts with a broader cultural importance (such as lucky pennies, rabbit's feet, traditional 'totem animals' or religious charms). thanks in advance for your responses - i don't anticipate many at this early stage in my blogging career. "we've played to bigger, of course, but quality counts for something."

Monday, January 12, 2009

autobiography of

this piece had multiple sources of inspiration. i'm half-turkish, and in Türkiye, the evil eye is everywhere. many cultures share this tradition; the evil eye - generally seen as a bead or amulet - is pinned to babies' clothing, hung above doorways and worn as jewelry. it should rightfully be known as the anti-evil eye, as its intent is to draw the evil eye (jealousy, envy, ill will) away from the intended recipient and to itself. if one's baby is especially beautiful or one's house particularly well-appointed, many envious eyes may that way turn. the evil eye provides protection and insulates the bearer from those who wish to possess or harm.

Türkiye also has a beadworking tradition, mostly (now) practiced by prisoners. you can find beaded amulets proclaiming 'maşallah' ('allah has willed it,' or more colloquially, 'how wonderful') hanging from the walls of restaurants and on the rear-view windows of taxicabs. my baba bought a maşallah amulet for me when i was in high school, and it hung on my wall for many years. this piece became a wall hanging largely because of my affection for that style of beadwork. anatolian turkish knitters have traditionally stitched gorgeous geometric patterns into their stockings, and the main motif of my piece was adapted from a pattern in Betsy Harrell's _Anatolian Knitting Designs_ (now sadly out of print).

i wanted to make a piece which used only the colors red and blue, inspired by the personal mythology of a friend. i don't generally use primary colors in my work - i tend toward the tertiary - so liking this piece was a bit of a struggle at first. but i'm ultimately quite pleased with the result. i started stitching with only the vaguest idea of what i wanted to make, and the piece took shape as i worked. the photos aren't excellent; i'm still learning about blogger and will probably convert them to thumbnails at a later date.

thing a week one:
autobiography of

1.01.09 - 1.09.09

size 11 czech white heart seed beads
fine silver thai eye charms
stitched with fireline and size 13 beading needle

Friday, January 9, 2009

week one: done.

first thing a week completed. photographs and description to follow. now: onwards and upwards.