Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Because blogger was, well, being stupid yesterday, I want to show the basket I made:

It's small, maybe a little bit bigger than a good-sized fist, but I like it, as an experiment. Working on it was soothing, and I found myself thinking a lot about Native American basketry, and basketry in general, as something that for many years was so neccessary to living. As an actual piece, I see it more as an experiment; I'd like to make something a little less representational, a little more pod-like or weird in form.

My boss at work has been collecting these paleolithic (I think) spearheads, which I have fallen completely in love with. I don't know why; maybe it's the slight heft in the hand, the way they sound when they clink against each other, the delicate tracings of age. Inspiration for something, maybe large wall pieces. We shall see. For now, they are marked in my mind.

I've been thinking a lot about my work, and how it is so vastly different now from two years ago. I learned that I cannot work anymore when my life is in chaos. I cannot work when I am upset, or stressed, or depressed. This was not always the case. When I was younger, full of teenage angst, I used that hurt, that anger, to fuel my work. My work was emotional, often taking the form of books, filled with my writing. I do not write any more. Even when I was living alone and in college, I could work. Certainly my personal life was hectic, but I think the structure of school helped.

When things changed...well. It surprised me. Certainly I think my inability to work while going through a difficult time was owed in part to being out of school and not knowing what to do with my life. But another big part was simply not being able to be alone with myself enough to work. I am not, nor do I want to be, a tortured artist. I like my life to be calm, simple, routine. Having a loving and supportive partner is huge.

This scares me, though. Life is uncertain. What if I lost all that I depend and rely on tomorrow? I like to think of myself as tough, strong, but I learned more about my own weakness a year and a half ago than I ever want to see again. (No, I won't get into it. Just general life shit. Life goes on.) Am I so dependent on a relationship and routine that I can't work if I don't have it? I'd like to think that I can. (knock on wood. I am SO not inviting bad karma here.) It's been two years since I've been out of college; it's been a year since my bad period. I've learned an incredible amount of myself and what I want in both my life and the people I surround myself with. Time to go harvest more coffee filters. My studio smells like a roasting plant.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

These vessels/pods/baskets are finally coming to fruition after two years. The idea began to germinate when I was living in a tiny studio apartment and began working with coffee filters from the coffee shop across the street. I dried them in my stove; my apartment perpetually smelled of coffee and cigarettes. I began experimenting with staples, rust, gut, and handmade paper that had been dyed with indigo. I was excited.

All this and much else got put on hold for two years, originally put on hold to move in with my then-boyfriend, then put on hold while dealing with the aftermath of a relationship that should never have been. I moved, found a new love. Two months ago, I got a studio, and the ideas I had been so excited about before suddenly grabbed hold of me again.

The materials are simple; the construction, down and dirty. Staples. Industrial used offee filters, stiffened with rabbit skin glue. Staples. A stapler. Rusting agent, both bought and created. The bowl above was my first attempt, darkened with walnut ink and coated with wax. A basket next, spun out of coffee filters and sewn together with linen paper cord.

The constructions are getting larger; they are becoming larger vessels. I think of them as cairns. I have two larger ones in progress; this is the first one.

They are deceptive; the staples, the patina give them a visible heft, but they are feather light. Making them is physical, especially the larger ones I am working on; the stretch of the arm to staple grows tiring. The amounts of coffee filters harvested and stiffened are overwhelming at times. But they are cairns, markers of a path in some private, as yet unrealised way.