Wednesday, May 27, 2009

would these earrings work?

I am avoiding any new big projects until I get another silver pour done, but want to add a few lower cost odds and ends to the pour.

I started some bamboo earrings similar to the ones above, but with a wood frame encompassing the two vertical bamboo sticks. I had already rough-shaped the two vertical sticks out of hard wax on a lathe, but after making a quick frame, realized the scale of the sticks, along with a frame and stone setting, would be too bulky for earrings. I decided to go with a larger pendant prototype, but could not get comfortable with the 3-D depth of the whole thing. It just did not work. I started remembering trying to do the same thing in the past and not succeeding.

I then decided to try an earring design with two horizontal bamboo sticks along with the two vertical sticks and foregoing the frame -- with or without the jade stone setting. (See above sketch.) I vaguely remember trying this in the past also, but cannot remember what the abort factor was, so I plod along.

I spent some time with hand tools trying to get the machined look from the four bamboo posts. I am going for a look halfway between an Oriental drawing, and real bamboo. There is a decent cheat factor, as I was looking at images of bamboo on the web, and it varies greatly in shape and scale.

If I can get the four 'bamboo' sticks to look OK, I will split them and hollow out the insides. This should eliminate most of the weight. When I work on elaborate cast earrings, I shoot for 3.5 grams total weight for each earring, once cast. Much over 4 grams and the earrings are considered scrap, and the time wasted. It takes time to get used to the difference in wax mass, compared to sterling silver. Wax models have to be painfully thin and fragile before they are candidates for casting in sterling silver for earrings. When you have thinned the wax sufficiently it is very similar to working with a thin potato chip: don't breathe too hard.

Without the jade stone setting, the earrings would be a pretty quick make, once I get a good rubber mold. The jade setting might not scale without a frame; another consideration. Not a well-planned design so far, but I think they might work for less expensive, charm type earrings.

...2009/06/12 update

Looks like the project is back to a pendant instead of earrings. I used the four larger hollow pieces of 'bamboo' to make a square frame. There are two solid, but thinner bamboo stalks within the frame, with leaves at the top and bottom.

Monday, May 25, 2009

where monsters lie

Amy, (my wife), came into the living room yesterday, photocopies in hand, "See what pretties you used to make -- see the colors and swirls and gentle natures -- don't you want to make pretties again?"

Your heroes cannot even make a living with the stuff you work on.
See - no scratches on the DVDs you rent, no knocks on the door.

The photocopied jewelry is so serene.

It's inspiration came from a drive to the coast; a short stretch of road along the way, to be exact. As you drive down the hot summer road, nearly to the coastline, you run into a wall of cool sea air; a tiny haven between the oppressive summer heat, and the harsh wind from the ocean. Alongside the road, a bog condenses the atmosphere into a pool of half-solid, half-liquid, surreal green pleasure: exotic plants adorn decaying logs, and frogs consort with mermaids that expel sweet, chilled air in long breaths.


...I am still concerned Dr. Bard will die in the land of no-where. No trips to the coast, or walks in the park--surrounded by gentle swirls--can pull him from the lost land of his making. I cannot help him.

Gregor Samsa's insect body will probably not morph into the butterfly pendant, lying gracefully on the throat of the girl working in the coffee shop. Laika will not return peacefully from space. And re-animated mindworms will soon disgust all but the most stolid of patrons.


Amy is my lighthouse, if not my anchor, but monsters lie in the cold dark waters beyond the continental shelf, and their grip is unrelenting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

on pacing and cheesy hula skirts

This re-adventure into the land of jewelry-making has been the same familiar creative process that I have been accustomed to all my life; building and destroying, building and destroying, layers and scratches and layers and torn pieces and layers slowly built to a finished work; a slow, methodical extraction of the mundane and chaotic from the mundane and chaotic.

What has been different this time, as I remember vividly, or perhaps vaguely, earlier, or maybe in another lifetime has been the absence of the hour upon hour, irrespective of time, toiling, until something--often less than something--lay trembling and gasping for air in front of me. This grueling pace has, so far, not again allowed me into it's graces. Whether from age, or some other new force at work, I am slung from my workbench at the slightest revelation, "a small addition here, and maybe here, then away with you."

This new phenomena has created an inner voice that screams, "You are quickly becoming old and senile, and your inspiration is evaporating, and your shaking hands will certainly be useless by tomorrow."

Pandering to this frenzied voice produces jewelry that looks and tastes like mall food; not the greasy, pungent, curried food from the back-corner vendor that refuses to stay in it's assigned plate cubbyholes, and smells like passion, or love, and tastes like both; but the well-wrapped, precisely portioned, tasteless and popular food that is offered with too much paper and soft drink.

It seems that the only way I can get any new work done is by indirection. Being springtime in Oregon, the garden is appreciative of any non-jewelry work I can muster, so I spend a decent portion of the day there--a ruse of digging and hoeing--until I catch the anti-muses nodding; I then carefully creep back into the workshop, a snip here, a glob there, until I hit upon something that seems to work, the guards start at their posts, and I am handily tossed from the room.

My current project, now way over-budget, as they say, is a pair of earrings to go with Dr Bard's first real adventure through the garnet door. My intent is to give the earrings a floating jellyfish (slash) hot air balloon (slash) pen-and-ink drawing look, similar to the illustrations one would see in a turn of the twentieth century children's book. The relationship between the top cap, bottom cap with tentacles, and the center stone bead has been troublesome. The bottom cap with tentacles should be my last hurdle; finding that middle ground between looking too much like a real jellyfish, and looking like a cheesy hula skirt.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dr Bards infamous trip to nowhere

- a foolish, foolish man
- into your own mind you did send.
- a foolish, foolish man
- now death is your only friend.

Translated, yet unheeded by Dr. Bard from ancient Tupooli-Mooli

Dr. Bard's notes shortly before his trip to nowhere:

"What is the nature and limits of the door? I have moved forwards and backwards in time. I have traveled distances unimaginable by merely wishing myself there. I have seen otherworlds, and have witnessed our own world altered through chances of fate and manipulation. A few of these changes I have effected; others I do not understand.

"I now ask, what if I chose to travel to a place that does not physically exist? Or travel before time itself? Is the door powerful enough to cause reality itself to spring into existence? Could I go so far as to alter the fabric of the universe? These thoughts may seem grandiose; the ravings of a madman. I am not, however, referring to my own power to inflict such changes, but questioning whether my mind might serve as a rudder, leading the door into chaos, with reality itself in tow.

"How could I set up an experiment to measure the doors ability to generate reality, without distorting the reality that we know and live in? Perhaps a journey into ones own mind would show the boundaries of the door. I have learned that by concentrating on a given time and place, at precisely the moment of opening the door, I can often control the otherwise random point and time to which the door opens. I question whether, if I concentrated on a place within my own mind, a dream perhaps, would I be transported into that dream world?"

Not long after penning these notes, Dr. Bard decides to put the door's limits to a test. Past experience has taught him to prepare a 'survival kit' for a journey beyond the door, since he cannot be sure of what conditions might lie beyond the door. A few days food and water can allow one to explore a time or place where such necessities are not readily available. Due to the peculiar circumstances of this experiment, he opts to forgo these normal preparations.

It is a short distance to the door structure from Dr. Bard's makeshift laboratory on the tropical isle of Tu-pooli. When Dr Bard arrives at the ancient door structure, a light rain is dripping from the tree canopy above. He stands apprehensively in front of the door, for this experiment is unlike any other that he has attempted. After a moment's pause, he grabs the decrepit door handle, and clears his mind of all else but the time and location that he wishes to visit. In this instance, he does not focus on a real place and time, but to a pleasant dream of childhood. He then pulls the door open. Peering through the door opening, it appears to open up to the same rain-soaked forest. Dr. Bard, however, is well aware that looks can be deceiving when entering an otherworld. Dr Bard steps through the doorway...

part two: 'a journey into Dr. Bard's Mind'

(2009/05/17 revision)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dr Bard's first real adventure through he garnet door

In a previous post I wrote of Dr. Bard's first glimpse of the world beyond the garnet door.##

Few records have been found as to what he saw on his first brief visit. We know he walked through the door, took a couple of bewildered steps forward, then backed out the door, and shut it behind himself. His first real adventure began upon re-opening the door, and stepping through a second time. (The reader must remember that this was before Dr. Bard learned to control the door, so the 'other side' was a seemingly random place and time.)

From his brief notes concerning the first quick journey through the garnet door, the 'first world' that Dr Bard stepped into was at least earth-like; not so the second trip. Dr Bard's explains in his diary:

"When I opened the door the second time, a slight breeze blew upon my face from the other side. The air was cool. There was a sweet, slightly metallic odor. Just minutes before, on my first brief entry through the door, the air had the scent of tropical dampness.

"The sensations of smell were soon forgotten, for what I saw with my eyes was surely the most outstanding thing any man has ever seen. It was so beyond any other experience that I now have trouble recording it in a way that a reader might understand.

"The sky. What a marvelous sight. Light was coming from the entire expanse above me at an even intensity; reminiscent of an overcast day, but brighter and with no hint as to where to sun might lie. The sky rising from the horizon directly in front of me was a luminous pale peach color. As I continued looking heavenward, the tint of the sky gradually changed, until, when I looked behind me, the sky was a bright, turquoise color.

"I was able to look back through the door from which I had entered. The wooded area beyond the door could be seen, and appeared as a flat, out-of-place painting. The greens, browns and azure sky of the forest clashed with this pale, pastel world that now framed the door.

"At the blinking of a eye, and without the slightest sound, the door closed. I say it closed, since one moment the door was opened, the next moment I was staring at the back of the door. So quick was the transformation, it was if I had been mistaken that the door had been ajar. Once closed, this opposite side of the door was an exact replica of the side from which I had entered, down to the last detail.

"At this point I felt that somehow the door was affecting my wits; that what I was experiencing was a concoction of my own mind, prompted by the mysterious garnet door."

(Years later, Dr Bard made an entry at this point in the diary "I still wonder if all the worlds, and times and experiences through the door would not be better explained as the ramblings of an unsound mind.")

Back to diary:

"As my mind adjusted to the wonder of this new world, I was able to take in more details of it's absolute wonder. I say 'new world' for this place, if real, could not possibly exist on Earth; that I was certain of.

"From the distant horizon, where sky met land, all the way back to where I was standing, a pale white haze lay where one would expect solid ground. The effect was similar to morning fog crouching in a shallow valley. Looking down I realized that my legs were buried knee-high in the fog. The ground, which I could not see for the fog, felt not so much like solid ground, but yielding and spongy. Occasionally I could feel the ground contract and shudder beneath my feet. I had the sense of standing on a living being.

"When I first entered the world I saw dark objects in the sky that I took as large birds. I now realized that this first assumption was impossible, for the objects were floating in the sky, rather than flying. The lighter than aether objects drifted slowly on unseen currents.

"Looking to my left, one of the creatures was quite close to where I was standing, and drifting closer. I do not know how it could have taken me this long to notice it, for it was immense. For sake of a better comparison, the creature resembled a gigantic black jellyfish suspended in the air. Below it's black, slightly flattened body, translucent tentacles of all sizes tested the air.

"As it came closer to where I was standing, it eclipsed nearly a third of the sky. I say the creatures drifted, although once through the door there was not the slightest breeze that I could detect. The billowy creature would dip down until the tip of it's longest tentacles would disappear in the fog blanketing the ground. The tentacles probing into the fog seem to move with more purpose. I noticed that, not long after the ground below my feet began a mild tremor, a slight shudder would emanate up through the tentacles and into the dark body of the hovering creature. Was it feeding? Communicating? One could only guess.

"I do not know how long I stood and watched the graceful creature as it slowly passed in front of me. I saw no indications that it noticed my presence. I later came to realize that if it had sensed me, it would have more than likely viewed me as a small insect; the difference in our size rendering me insignificant.

"So wondrous was this world, that only then - for the first time - did I give heed to my predicament; once closed, could I return through the door, and safely back to the familiar world I had departed?

"The structure of the door still stood beside me. I walked over to the door, and apprehensively opened it. To my relief, I was able to walk right back into the woods from whence I came. Once back through the door, I was startled by the volume and variety of familiar sounds in the woods. The sound rushed upon me instantly as I crossed the threshold of the door. How different from the eerie silence I had just left. I do not recall hearing the slightest sound while in the other world."

~End of diary entry.

As was mentioned at the onset, Dr. Bard eventually gained more control over his travels through the door. This wondrous land of silent floating giants, however, was one of the few places he was never able to find and visit again.

Some have speculated that the 'floating jellyfish world' only existed in Dr Bard's mind, similar to Dr Bard's infamous 'trip to nowhere'. This, they argue was the reason he was never able to return to the world. It is unlikely, however, that the story, with it's minute, other-worldly details could have been gleaned from the mind of someone living in the late 1800's.

## This previous post was actually the very first occurrence of our Dr. Bard. I have been running on less sleep than I need as I struggle to keep Dr Bard from fading into nothingness. This nearly happened here. Eventually he will have a large enough story, and be in enough people's memory that I will not have to constantly write him into existence.

Friday, May 1, 2009

i nearly destroyed the world yesterday

I surely do not need to tell you how a single act can destroy the world as we know it.

A misspoken word. A forgotten embellishment on a piece of jewelry.

Yesterday, I held in my hand what I believed to be a finished wax model. The world was gay. Birds chirp outside the window, and all seemed well with the universe.

Fools we were, for the most essential piece of the pendant was missing; the door handle to the garnet door. A simple enough mistake, however without the handle, nothing in heaven or on earth could pry the door on it's hinges.

Dr. Bard could never have entered the door. He could never have gone back in time to June 28th, 1838, to the coronation of Queen Victoria, and removed an embarrassing square of bathroom tissue from the heel of her uncle, King Leopold I of Belgium. (He accomplished this by discreetly stepping onto the revealed edge of the tissue as King Leopold stepped away.) This simple act averted disaster, as the errant tissue would have been a public scandal that would have ultimately destroyed the alliance between Belgium and England. WWI would have started nearly fifty years early. This would have made the original 1914 conflict we know of as WWI, WWII; and the original WWII, WWIII. This final conflict would have left the world a smoking cinder.

For want of an extra shoe the tissue wasn't lost.
For want of a shed tissue the alliance was lost.
For want of an alliance the world was lost.