Why make objects: Proust

Untitled, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and so effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognised their voice the spell is broken. We have delivered them: they have overcome death and return to share our life.

And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.

Proust, Overture, Swann’s Way

If objects are this powerful, what an important undertaking it is to make them.

working on the cowlick

working on the cowlick, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

One of the things that I didn’t anticipate
before working with wood for the first time
is how crucial the direction of the wood grain
is to the form that one is trying to carve out.

It is not that the direction of grain
makes certain things impossible,
only sometimes difficult or awkward.

The closest analogy I can think of is
when someone has a cowlick in their hair.
You can try to cut it or comb it any way you please,
but it has a stubborn nature,
and things work out much better
if you try to work with it rather than against it.

Wood grain is like that.
With such a complex form,
I knew that every part could not run
nicely ‘with the grain.’
Some parts would not be well-oriented
and would therefore be more un-cooperative and tricky.

That bit, the concave surface leading into the tail?
That’s the cowlick of this piece.

project outline here
full photo set here

giving the credit card a workout

Supporting the arts with plastic….

click through to Flickr for details.

Lately

searching-for-the-perfect-s

re-organizing

sock2

ghostbridge

coffee-and-a-bookcold-again

feeding-my-brain

Working on resolutions #1 & #4.

WIWT: from the beginning up to now, more or less

WIWT: 9/30/08 A, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

Wearing and thinking about some of my oldest pieces made me realize that I’m haphazardly compiling a story of my jewelry making life. So I decided to start another set on flickr, this one in rough chronological order.  I’m only including pieces which were made by me and which represent some sort of phase or idea that I played around with for a while. I’ll put a link to it on the ABOUT page (tab above) so you can go back to it later, as it grows, if you like.

WIWT: why this project? why now?

WIWT: 8/30/08

  1. It gets me wearing jewelry. I find that, working a day job, when I am stressed and tired, it’s all too easy to skip putting any jewelry on in the wee hours when I drag myself off to work. Deliberately wearing jewelry makes me feel better about things.
  2. It gets me thinking about jewelry. I found that one of the unexpected benefits of the one-a-week project was that it gave me something to mull over during the day, on my commute, while doing tedious tasks. It focuses my daydreaming. It’s not a substitute for studio time, or good quality inspiration/research time, but it’s better than nothing. It helps me feel like I’m still in the game.
  3. It’s easy. The day job change is still new and I’m still pretty brain dead most evenings, but this level of project commitment, I can do.

The piece above is a perfect example of how I’m hoping this project will help me re-gain my momentum. I’d made these glass components about a year ago, but just lost steam. I wanted to show you some more recent work, so I finally put things together with the cord so I could wear it to work Saturday. Voila!!

So far I haven’t missed a day. You can see each day so far here at Flickr. Click on each day’s photo for notes on the pieces or if you just want a quick overview, you can watch them as a slideshow here.

A New Project: What I Wore Today

I’ve been thinking about this potential project for a while now. It’s inspired, in large part, by several co-workers who have really great collections of jewelry and the enjoyment that I have gotten over the years seeing what they wear every day, recognizing old favorites, knowing when they’ve got something new, or seeing something old that they recently dug out again. I realized that, for me, it was the same enjoyment I get from following someone’s flickr photostream or reading someone’s blog; an ongoing, ever-unfolding of their personality and their story.

I want to keep this project simple, without too many constraints and without deadlines or timelines. I’ll just take a photo of the everyday jewelry that I wear, on the day that I wear it. I may not post everyday, but the date the photo refers to will be documented when it is posted. If I don’t wear jewelry or if for any reason I don’t take a photo on that day, there simply won’t be anything; I won’t go back and ‘stage’ any photos of previously undocumented days. I don’t know how often I’ll end up doing this, or for how long. I decided that I just want to jump in and keep it loose and see what happens. I’ll post all the photos on Flickr along with notes about the pieces and where they came from or why I wore it that day. Perhaps I’ll post a periodic update or summary here along with more general thoughts about the project as it goes along. Stay tuned to see what happens….

One-a-Week: Material Considerations

Continuing on the mental work for the one-a-week challenge from Annie over at Imogene:

One of my favorite things about Project Runway is watching the designers go through their process, even if an exciting idea ends up not working. This grocery store challenge really appealed to me because it forces me think about materials in a fresh way, discarding old limitations and accepting new ones. For me, that’s an essential part of craft: love of wrestling with the materials. So in the spirit of that, here’s some things I was thinking about in my brainstorming at the grocery store:

  • visual appeal: what catches my eye? interesting shapes? colors? what about visual texture? opaque or translucent?
  • physical qualities: does it already have an interesting shape? can it be strung on thread as is? can it’s shape be manipulated: cut? sawed? pierced? drilled? bent? carved? is it brittle or flexible? hard or soft? dry or moist? sticky?
  • ephemerality: how will it’s qualities change over time? will it dry out? fade? become brittle? will it’s color change? will it rot? mold? smell? dissolve?
  • structure: how can I create a jewelry structure given it’s physical properties? can it be worked like metal? paper? fabric? rubber? will I need wire, thread, or any other jewelry findings to allow it to be worn? Are there other items I can buy here which could replace those findings?
  • evaluation of concept: how wearable will this piece be? will it change over time? how long will it last? will it cause the wearer some discomfort? how easy will it be to put on? what trade-offs am I will to accept on these points for the sake of an exciting idea or compelling material?

I have to run to work, but if I have time tonight or tomorrow, maybe I’ll share some of my prototype experiments (like the PR designers doing a ‘muslin’) and some of the materials that I rejected and why. Thanks for the challenge Annie, this is fun!!

Here’s to brighter days ahead….

tugboats, snow, Mississippi

snow, tugboats, Mississippi

ikea PS one  linked candles