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.


La deluge

flooded island, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

As I whittle away, the Mississippi River flooded for the first time in the nine years since we moved here.  I’ve heard that it floods about every seven years, so it is a bit overdue.  It crested about a week ago and is on its way back down again.  We are all safe and dry.  Can’t help but think about the outside panels of  The Garden of Earthly Delights and some other works of his depicting “the flood.”  The project at hand becomes the frame through which we see the rest of life. Isn’t that how it always is?
More pics and video at Flickr.

Carving out inspiration

So, you may have gathered that I have a wood carving project in the works.  A bit unprecedented?  Perhaps.  But ever since the One-A-Week project (can it really be two years ago already?!), I’ve been trying to be less glass-centric, i.e., only restrict myself to glass as a medium when it seems appropriate.  Lead with an idea, not a medium or technique, so-to-speak.  Which has been a bit of a challenge, since my past experience in shows and sales always led me to play up the glass, since that was what was unusual about my work.  But never having had a BFA or formal craft/design education experience, I never really had the chance to approach things more broadly.  Now that sales-driven shows have been set to the side for a while, it seems like the right time to play around more.

So, why wood?  Why carving?  Here’s a few clippings that have been floating around my workspace for a while…

Prada, Vogue, July 2006.

Prada, W Accessories, February 2008.

Stella McCartney, Elle Accessories Spring 2008.

And, lest you think that what I really want to do is give up jewelry to carve shoes (not that the idea of shoe making hasn’t distracted me for a millisecond or two, once or twice, o.k. maybe three times…)  Here’s some wooden jewelry (and other stuff) that has caught my eye:

Something’s hiding in there


Christine J. Brandt

You and Me, the Royal We

Yii designs

Ports 1961

Dorothea Pruhl

Peter Schuyff

Luzia Vogt

and yes, one more shoe example:  I really, really, really would like some of these.

Sometimes progress is silent







Wow, away so long!

But things flickering and growing. Slowly, beneath the surface.  Ripening.

More soon.

Outside my Window

Day 2: Le Grand Chapiteau, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

If there’s anyone who doesn’t already know, (I feel like I talk about nothing else lately!) Cirque de Soleil is setting up right outside my window. Like a little kid, I am super excited! We’ve been taking some time lapse films of the tents going up, which you can see at Flickr. Yay!

Recent Provocations

new book Calder Jewelry

I was incredibly excited when I came across this article in Tmagazine about a new book on Alexander Calder’s jewelry. It would be just too wonderful if I could travel to see the accompanying show in Philadelphia or New York, but the existence of the book alone makes me giddy. Sometimes the universe seems to throw just the right thing in my path to keep me going. (Yes, of course I still want the out-of-print one. Coveting as a spur to creativity….)

Just now came across this dialogue from MNartists.org about art and mental illness. I found it to be extremely resonant with my own tendency to see “wrangling” my brain as a significant part of my creative struggle. If you tend to believe in the “divine madness” model of artistic genius, prepare to have your ideas about it challenged.




If this isn’t the devil trying to get me to spend money I don’t have, I don’t know what is! I didn’t even find it on the internet. I was completely passive. The brochure CAME IN THE MAIL! How diabolical! Glass + botanicals + invertebrates + drawings + artistic process = I am such an easy mark!

I saw a few pieces from this collection when I went to Corning to take a workshop a few years ago when I wanted to start working with borosilicate. It really just whetted my appetite to see more. Alas, a trip to see the exhibit is out of the question, but maybe I can rustle up some change for this book. I’ll have to see if I can find a few images of the pieces to scan and share with you.

Click on the thumbnail to the left for details of the publication, or here for more info on the Blaschka glass flowers and invertebrates.

My stats page informs me that today I have had my best day ever, in terms of visits. Thanks to everyone that stopped by from Martha’s and elsewhere!

On Not Wearing


In an earlier post, Anna commented that she doesn’t wear jewelry much, which got me thinking. About not wearing jewelry, both by jewelers, as well as non-jewelers. And the more I think about it the more I suspect that not wearing can inform and illuminate jewelry making just like wearing can. Rather than trying to think this all the way through to some conclusion, I’m just going to jot a few thoughts down and hope that you will chime in with anything that occurs to you as well.

  • Anna mentioned that jewelery gets in the way at the work bench. And I realize that I too, tend to remove my watch and a bracelet that I otherwise always wear. It becomes part of my settling-in and getting-down-to-business ritual, along with the donning of the overalls, leather apron and other protective clothing. I also wear four silver rings which are simple variations on a plain band, but they they stay on at the studio.
  • My “day job” is food related and thus, I am required to wear a uniform. In addition to this, there are certain restrictions on jewelry. The watch and bracelet have to come off, but because the rings are plain bands, they can stay on. I am required to wear a head covering and a uniform shirt and apron. Because of all this “uniformity,” I start to feel like I am not looking like myself. Like I am all covered up. I think that this is much of why I wear earrings and a necklace almost every day, to rebel against the conformity and assert a little individuality. But there are still practical limitations. There’s no wearing anything that could get caught or come undone, or get in the way in the midst of running around and working. Between the uniform shirt and the apron, there’s not much neck/chest area for a necklace, which I think goes along way to explain my current tendency to make necklaces that sit up fairly high.
  • In the Western, European guild-based tradition of jewelery-making/goldsmithing, jewelers were pretty much all men, I think. And at least in more recent stages of this same cultural tradition, men don’t wear as much jewelry as women. So, in fact, jewelers not wearing jewelry might be more the norm. This makes me curious about other traditions around the world, and in different time periods. Were there other cultures where it was the norm for wearers to make their own jewelery? Perhaps in traditions where the tools, skills and materials involved were more easily obtainable than in cultures where gold or silver smithing dominated jewelry?


An ever expanding universe

Being without my camera for six weeks made me ponder what I’m doing in having a blog. Because I just have a hard time posting without a pretty picture to go with it, you know? A by-product of being a visual artist, I suppose. And every entry has to be a nice, well-composed piece of writing too, don’t you think? But then, here I am with all these self-imposed expectations of well-presented thoughts and images, and yet…not so much time to work on it. In addition to not enough time to make work. Do we see some themes here?


However, it seems clear to me that

  1. More Time will not be materializing in my schedule any time soon. And
  2. The chances of me letting go of my own notions of perfection anytime soon are slim. And
  3. Having a high expectations of how I want to present my work and my writing is not a bad thing in the end. But
  4. I don’t want to let this blog languish. But
  5. I need to LOOSEN UP! So what to do?


I’m sure I’m not the only one with a tendency to try to solve problems by taking on another project. It’s a paradox, isn’t it? But really, I think this will work. BECAUSE:

  • A tumblelog is simple in structure and intention. A scrapbook rather than a journal.
  • The idea is to share things without commentary. No chance to get overly wordy!
  • I’m thinking of looking at this as an opportunity to share what goes INTO my brain, rather than what comes OUT of it. A much simpler prospect indeed. I will still write about inspiration here, but it will be more a matter of sharing something that has gelled a bit and started to come out in my work.

So here it is: fodder: food for the brain.

Thanks to Jenny for the idea, by starting her tumblelog. Go look!

(I love how bullet points and numbered lists give the illusion of a well-thought out line of reasoning, don’t you? 😀 )

(Hey, look, I posted without a picture!)

The world in a cell

cell pendant, originally uploaded by UNIFORM Studio.

One of the core ideas that motivates me to make jewelry is that childhood memory of finding a small object: a button, or a toy piece, or a bit of the natural world; that is so amazing and fascinating that you want to keep it with you always, so you put it on a string around your neck.

This cell necklace by Martha hangs around my neck, and a whole world of things grow and connect in my head:

cell is to leaf as link is to chain

The quiet meditation of a favorite painter who shares my birth date: the afternoon spent discovering him at museum more than ten years ago: the idea and the thing being one

fingerprints: white clay :: brush strokes: white paint

letting go of worrying about Art vs. Craft: dedicating oneself to quiet thoughtfulness

An artist, both filmmaker and sculptor whose work touches on both the artistic and the natural creative act

luminous white-ness as pure sculptural material: the raw stuff of which things are made

Philosophical discussions from my years in college: tumbling down the mental rabbit hole of trying to get past the object to the primordial stuff of which it is made

A new favorite book:

It is not possible to separate art from non-art; there are only things of various sorts, functions, forms, and meanings….

As soon as there is form, there is message. It is impossible to dress in such a way as to convey no meaning. Every fabric, color, and cut has socially and perhaps even biologically determined meaning….

There are no art things. The aim of something has always been communication. There are only communicative things.

Thinking with Things, Esther Pasztory

Too many words! Things can speak for themselves. Go see the beautiful, delicate, new things that Martha is working on….