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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


Every autumn, I look at the tan grasses, blue sky, brown branches (and sometimes, touches of green) and think: I must make a bead (or beaded embroidery) in this colour scheme. —Someday I'll do it. I may get in a rut with regard to colour, but seldom am at a loss. Judging from the number of articles I've stumbled across over the years, this is a problem for other people, so allow me to re-iterate the advice the pundits give in these situations:


If the simplifying the colour combos all around you is a bit daunting, one way to excerpt is to look at pictures of things. Advertisements are popular (especially if you want the latest ‘in’ colours) but any photo that strikes you will work, though, again, if you're feeling overwhelmed, you might want to stick with some that have two or three basic colours: in this case, lime green, black/charcoal/white (which is just desaturated and really desaturated black) and lime green, turquoise and coral (slightly pinkish, muddy orange). (Obviously, I am all about lime green. It's my fave, couldn't you guess?)

In both cases the photographer has really simplified the job for you by selecting images that have very few hues. (Bonus: great patterns as well.) From my point of view, I suppose what this exercise illustrates is that I should make pieces without lime green. Usually that tends to happen when I'm creating art for someone else.

As with today's piece the first in a series of miscellaneous kumi. Sorry folks. I'm so disgusted with the anti christian-charity/nation-of-immigrants/thanksgiving hatred and bigotry going around I can't even find it in me to finish the intros. For kumi. But hey, it's foreign. And the braids featured were either made for foreigners OR made in a foreign country. The horror. Blergh. See you next week, mebbe. Oh, and have a nice Thanksgiving!/end sarcasm.


How much the world changes in a week!

Recently, I've found the way to do the webpage thing is to find some theme, write a batch of 5 webpages on it, and possibly queue up the intros for at least the first couple. For this batch, I had the perfect link all picked out for today's...then the paris happened, and it seems all so petty now. Even within the sf community, the world fantasy statuette controversy it seems so small to talk about somebody's book tour.

But, otoh, it was the perfect leadin for today's page, the last in my series about a bunch of pictures I took of Lisa St Martin's beads. So, on whatever, Scalzi explained that it's kinda petty—more than kinda—to ding someone on their book reading attendance.(1) since this happens to everyone, him included, of course. The commentariat duly chimed in with examples ranging from, iirc, Stephen King to Nancy Pelosi. Of course, inevitably some folks wondered why anyone would bother attending a reading, let alone getting their book signed.

Well, for one thing, the author can indirectly admit he kinda wrote himself into a corner for the last third of the book. That happened to me, once, and I was pretty chuffed at having my suspicion confirmed. It's also—again as someone eventually pointed out—a great memento—memory aid—of the reading, meeting the author—the experience. I'll forever treasure the time I got to sit right next to my favourite sf&f author and listen to her read from what has proved to be her funniest book.

And that leads into, why collect beads?

Well, like autographs, each is distinct. (Unlike autographs, they generally cost money, but as art goes, they're very affordable.) They're small; they can even be worn, if desired. Even for artists whose work changes only in the most subtle of ways, they also can document their evolution as an artist. And, for beadmakers, they can obviously serve as inspiration. And my collection does all those things.

But ultimately, I've come to realize that they represent, first and foremost, my connections(s) to other bead artists; and to a lesser extent, how both I as well the glass bead movement itself, has grown and matured over time.

It's been pretty rewarding, honestly.

(1)The inside baseball on this, if you care, is that the author Mr Scalzi is supporting in this context is a major sad/rabid puppy, which is a very different idealogical camp than Scalzi's own.


I had kind of a long day yesterday, today and likely will tomorrow. So, today's link is a sciency one, an explanation of how epigenetics work (and also how people fail to understand the mechanism, i.e. cite it to support woo hogwash stuff that it has nothing to do with). Which has also a very cool link to the current xkcd cartoon.

Or you can check out the fourth and penultimate post on my series about taking pix of Lisa St Martin's work.


I don't try to constantly post semi (or completely altogether) depressing stuff; it's just that my sense of humour is so sadly stunted. Anyway. I found something hysterically funny about a kid who innocently thought she'd struck gold with an unknown sequel to her favourite movie. At least I thought so, because I could just imagine my kid doing this, and in fact, said child reports committing similar to this story (just to some other set of parents).

In other news, this is perhaps the apogee of the series, in which I explain how I shot this bead complicated by complex surfaces not to mention silver bearing glass frit melted on top of dichro. It was something of a challenge.


Dear NPR, thank you for a) existing b) having some literary cachet and c) reviewing Bitch Planet. This meant our local library's comic section curator felt comfortable enough to order this book, despite the title, and I am so pleased, because right now, this book is my top choice for comics in 2015 (why yes, I am looking at you, hugo awards.)

It's obvious to see where Kelly DeConnick got the idea for this: hey, let's put those women in jail sexploitation films under a strong third wave feminist lens, mix in some futuristic dystopia, add a dash of nostalgic pulp sensibility, and stir. Voila!

Given its themes—pervasive sexism and racism, especially as they intersect—and its noirish heritage, it's hardly surprising that I found the book depressing, to the point where I had to resort to a) cheating the end and b) reading in batches. But oh my goodness, what delicious, vicious criticism of the patriarchy, racism—and spy culture, the latter of which is usually observed from, let's face it, an upper class white male perspective (e.g., Bruce Schneier, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Larry Lessig, Cory Doctorow—Chelsea Manning is the only exception that comes to mind, and note how much people have erased her sex.)

Its over-the-top origins allow—or perhaps disguise—just how savage this book really is. The collection I have comprises issues 1–5. It opens with a number of women being ‘processed’ into an offworld prison facility for assorted crimes (including one who ‘volunteers’) which we soon come to learn mostly boil down to resisting the horrible Margaret Atwood Handmaid's Tale-ish patriarchy US culture has become in the 2020s, in which women must be small, slender, beautiful, blond, sexually available and submissive; the story details the effort of Kam, an uncompromising, highly athletic black woman, to resist the various prison abuses while (reluctantly) assembling a team to fight in a free-for-all style tournament. She knows, going in, that the odds are heavily stacked against her, and that her opponents will cheat at every opportunity; but she has (some) measure of success, simply by being so much smarter, tougher, and all around meaner than them.

Alternating with the regular storylines are backmatter in oldstyle comics format (taking off on the classic old sea-monkey adds and ‘I-was-a-98lb-weaking’ sort) that allow the creators an alternative way to reinforce the various storylines—the first of which illustrates why black feminists have so little patience with ‘white women's tears’. Whew! There are a number of other ‘everyday’ (non-feminist) women sprinkled throughout, who are obviously attempting to cope with an extremely unjust world; and often doing so in very damaging ways.

However, I don't wish to imply that it's all intersectional feminist bones with a thin layer of story draped over—the characters are engaging, as is the story. It's pulp, after all, with plenty of action (and snark). How will Kam and her team overcome their extreme prejudice (heh)? Can they? And what about the mysterious volunteer, and that board of directors...?

I can't wait to find out. So far, this is the best comic I've read this year.

And here's today's bead/photography post, in which I begin.


I spent a goodly portion of last week helping out with a Lisa St Martin class (which is one reason I didn't make many posts.) One of the things I did was shoot some photography for her, and since fitting it all on one page soon became kind of long, I decided to break it up and make it this week's featured series.

Today's post contrasts the sort of thing I shoot regularly with St Martin's work, which has differing emphases.

If seeing the work of two talented beadmakers just doesn't do it for you, well, a while back I finally got around to listening to a podcast about how Google makes work suck less. I found it pretty interesting but the teal deer version, if you haven't time to listen to 30–45 minutes of a couple of guys yacking, is that the power-that-be shifted the power balance from the manager (i.e. boss) to the supervised by splitting hiring and evaluative functions away, leaving only what I consider the most critical part of the job left: enabling and cohering and managing the team.

This has some other advantages, as well, such as forcing bosses supervisors to work with what they've got, even if those folks might be different culturally. (One of the reasons minorities such as women and PoC have so much trouble breaking in is that they're perceived, culturally, as not fitting in [i.e. what, you watch basketball instead of football? Oh noes, how will we have shoot the sh*t conversations? —Thus, fear of the unknown discomfort with difference can have subtle impacts on hiring, advancement and other decisions—the so-called structural sex|racism, even if there is not active prejudice.)

They're also very interested in breaking that ‘go along with the crowd’ decisions to which we social apes are really prone and which can have really bad consequences. They want a facilitator rather than a dictator at the inevitable meetings, and by not allowing the boss supervisor to write evaluations, hope that lower folks on the totem pole will more likely speak up when bad ideas (as they inevitably do) rear their head.

I'm not a corporate type, but it sounds pretty reasonable to me. Even when I was a peon, the bosses that really impressed me were ones that respected my opinion, and worked with me, rather than dictating from on high. Google's evidently been doing this awhile, so I gather it's been field-tested. As someone who feels everyone should be respected, this approach seems closer to the egalitarian ideal to which I, personally strive.

Oh yeah—yummy beads! By two talented beadmakers! Check ’em out!