Sunday, August 25, 2013


I hadn't planned to do another post before heading up north, but I was reading a great book (Escher on Escher)  consisting of writings by M C Escher, and I came across a wonderful quote that seems to me to relate to the kind of geometric beadwork many of us do, and I couldn't resist passing it on. It's part of a letter, and he's talking about the difference between an illustrator and a graphic artist.  Here it is:

   " The restrictions finally forced upon us by graphic techniques. . . are unknown to the illustrator.  He can, of course, restrict himself, but he does not have to.  The graphic artist, however, must. . . .  He perhaps even chooses his technique because he consciously wants to set himself very definite limits, because he prefers discipline above the seduction of multiplicity and chaos.  In fact, simplicity and order are, if not the principal, then certainly the most important guidelines for human beings in general.  The urge toward simplification and order keeps us going and inspires us in the midst of chaos.  Chaos is the beginning; simplicity is the end."

Isn't that great?  I've had a copy of the book Godel, Escher, Bach on a shelf for years, but haven't had the  intellectual  energy yet to wade in.  I think I may have to try now.

Art Festival

Just a quick post.  No beadwork or weaving on this one.  I just wanted to say that, if anyone is in the Detroit area, I'll be showing my beadwork at the Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Royal Oak, MI on Labor Day weekend, i.e. this coming Friday thru Monday.  I've been working hard on getting good pieces ready for the show.  I'd love to talk to any of you who could come by.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Before and after

    I was talking in the last post about using a photo to look at a piece in a new way, and see a problem with it.  Cindy Holsclaw (  and I talked a bit more about it, and it got me thinking about another piece.  This was one I recently finished that was based on the cage idea, but instead of repeating a single structure in a single cage, it was a looser version, with various seed bead shapes that are sometimes enclosed by and sometimes act as links between larger oxidized copper scaffolds.  I made the piece pictured on the top, and I really liked it a lot.  I worked hard to get a good picture of it, and have already used it as a jury shot once. 
    But the more I looked at the picture, the more I thought that right in the center front, where you want maximum impact, I had a blue shape that was so dark it didn't contrast much with the dark cage.  Also, it was completely encased by the cage.  So this morning, I took the blue piece out and replaced it with a pale pink and red one that extends beyond the frame of the cage.  I think it's a big improvement.  The second picture isn't as good--I like the lighting and the camera angle better on the top one, but that's easily fixed.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cage pieces 2.0

 I find that when I'm trying out a new idea, I usually start out with a very regular, often symmetrical, piece.  Sort of like what they sometimes call a "proof of concept".  As I get more comfortable with the idea, the pieces lose a bit of that.  In mid-June I showed some new work I called cage pieces, with a bead structure loose inside a cage which was an octahedron made from tube beads. I wanted to make 3 changes for my 2nd version of the idea.  First I wanted the inside structures to be brighter, for more contrast with the dark gray cages.  Second, I wanted the cages to be less regular.  And, third, I wanted to eliminate the cages st the back, because they poke into your neck just a bit.     My first try at this was the picture on top.  Mostly it achieved what I wanted.  However, in making the cages irregular, I also made them smaller.  That is
because the original cages, which were regular octahedrons, were made entirely from 1" tubes.  In order to make the cages irregular I substituted 2 or 3 short (1/2") tubes in each cage, which inevitably made the overall structure smaller.  More importantly, though, the 1st piece used 1/2" tubes between the cages, and I forgot that and used 1" tubes in the 2nd one.  So the new cages were both smaller, and more widely spaced.  I didn't really notice the difference till I took a picture.  When I looked at the picture, there was just too much empty space.  So I took out the 3 middle cages and redid them, with much closer spacing.  That'e the bottom picture.    I think it was an improvement (although until now I didn't notice that the necklace in the bottom picture isn't centered properly in the picture).