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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


cropLet's meet again in 5 years: a romance —with a pragmatic underpinning. Most fictional love stories just bug me, because of the silly, stupid stuff people do. If only they would just talk to each other and address things sensibly...! —Of course, when the wizard asked me to marry him, my response (thought very harsh at the time by several people I told the story to) was: not yes, nor even no, but ‘Can I think about it?’

I didn't think I was being mean at all. It was a serious question, and deserved a careful answer. I hadn't thought we were that far along, so I had put off thinking about making our relationship permanent so I could just enjoy the pink haze of being in love. —Now I had to examine things critically. Yet my answer wasn't a totting up of pros and cons, or anything rational like that. After about a week of still not really knowing, (& being a little frustrated about my indecisiveness) I was standing in the yellow bathroom of my parents’ house, tiled in ogee tiles, a shape I still love (my kitchen backsplash is done in them, for example), idly considering stuff, and a thought went through my head,

When we do [something I almost immediately forgot] in ten years’ time...Oh. I guess if I'm planning a decade into our future that means my answer is ‘yes’.

And so I asked if he was still interested in getting married, I had an answer to his question. It doesn't sound terribly sweet, but 30 odd years later, we're still together. Practical and romantic. And that's why I like this story about a couple who decides to check in 5 years hence, to see if they're still of a mind to get together.

And of course, I'm finishing up the week with the last in the series of designer hearts. Enjoy.


cropSome day I'll get around to posting the single-needle right angle woven David Chatt designed amulet bag I made to hold f2tY's birth cord. It's made in red and turquoise, to echo the colours of the combs I used to help with pain management during the birth, pretty basic symbolism.

Far more awesome is this dad's textile representation, in the form of a two-colour knitted blanket encoding the child's sleep-wake patterns. He spent 300 odd hours alone on the knitting; there was all the prep as well (i.e. gathering the data, formatting it in a chart, creating a ‘go-anywhere’ accessible web page, etc...Via bb. Now that's true love for you!

But hey, if you're wanting a more mundane expression, here's a batch of those modern hearts I promised yesterday.


cropI had been seeing a lot of favourable buzz on the new Little Women film, so when my friend P asked me to see it with her, I readily agreed, and yes, the movie is up to the hype, though it's not going to be enjoyed by people who loathe non-linear storytelling or hate assembling timelines, because despite fairly careful cues on the part of the film-makers, even I, who enjoys that sort of thing, sometimes had a bit of difficulty following along.

The core of the story—as in the book—is the deep and abiding love the four sisters have for each other and their parents, especially their mom (their dad is absent for most of the film, fighting for serving as ...um, a chaplain ? for the union in the Civil War.) Moreover, the cinematography, costuming and oh my goodness that gorgeous golden light shot on location, is splendid.

But many other people have already gone into far deeper or better reviews, I'm sure. Part of my enjoyment of the film stemmed from reading a Vanity Fair interview with the costume designer, who talks about playing with a trunk full of Victorian outfits some reasonably well-to-do relative sent her from their attic lumber room. These things (vintage unto antique clothing) aren't precious to me, the designer explains, revealing a level of privilege that's hard for me to encompass. This woman cut this stuff and played dress up with it: that is, from childhood, she used these materials fearlessly—thoughtlessly. That is an amazing gift, but also one that appalls me.

And yet...I too have a bit of that, because I was buying silver and gold-filled beads and findings back in the late 80s through about the mid 90s, when silver was in the $5/oz range. What I bought in 100 pc lots now come packaged in 10pc amounts, and there's this appalling new thing called...silver-filled. Ugh! —I'm still coasting off stuff I bought a quarter century ago, and not looking forward to paying modern prices when I finally run out.

Anyway. The designer talks about a moth-eaten victorian cape that some worker spends three days carefully dissecting and appliqueing onto new fabric, and if you look closely you can spot this item in the film; I never had the privilege of playing dressup with Victorian era clothing but I have encountered a few pieces, and the bare spots of plain black fabric did look a bit off. (Also, while jet beads, fringe and embroidery were certainly associated with Queen Victoria, she would have only started wearing black in 1861: at which time, the custom was for dull fabrics and little trimmings... So would velvet and beadwork have been proper mourning by the late 1860s? Or would that come a bit later, say the 80s? [I don't know, and don't have time to research the topic properly.]

—In a similar way, I wondered if a character shown painting in impressionistic daubs was really period, since the Impressionists didn't really get going till the 70s. But after doing some research, I realized that Impressionism was really more of an outgrowth of the earlier Barbazon and other en plein air movements of the mid 1800s made possible practical by the invention of screw-top paint tubes than I think is generally recognized. Soooooo...I'm thinking it pays to remember that just as now, folks back then were probably a lot more varied and outliers than we currently assume;) That is, yes, more adventurous painters were daubing away by the late 60s, and likewise fashionable young women no doubt were pushing the boundaries of properly dull, un-ornamented mourning dress as well.

(Another discovery I made about this film that kind of tickled me was the way on-set portraits of the characters were shot, using old technology: the photographer made tintypes, using the old collodion (wet-plate) process. Ha! When I took a studio photography class a year ago, I was amazed at how many of the (young) students were rhapsodizing over shooting film. This takes that fascination with old technology a step further. The photographer not only used old processing, but an old lens as well (though he had to mount it to a newly constructed camera body); he noted that all the imperfections that we find so fascinating, people of the time would have dismissed (correctly) as poor technique. But with the average cell phone able to capture tack-sharp, perfectly exposed selfies, all those accidents become an intriguing mark of authenticity.)

Anyway. It's a nicely done film, and I recommend it. Or, today's image is the last in the series of of 12 (rather than 120plus!) year old heart pendants, and what's interesting to me is what things have changed and what have stayed the same. But that's a discussion for next time.


cropYet, as someone who is also rather pragmatic about the whole romance thing, I can't help feeling a certain level of joy in recommending a book I read recently, Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith's Open Borders: the Science and Ethics of Immigration. It's a nonfictional manga, making a case for a political dream close to my heart: open borders, or the freedom to move.

I had the vague suspicion that while it would be expensive to open our borders (especially initially) the benefits—particularly to others who have so much less, and with whom it seems only fair to share—however difficult to measure, (kindness and cultural exchange not lending themselves so readily to metrics) would be more than worth it. —I also had the suspicion that over time, that cultural exchange would be tremendously valuable.

Well. Caplan, an economist, makes the case that even poor, unskilled immigrants— so long as they arrive relatively young —will add to our economy. —As well as to the poor countries from whence they came, since they send money home. (I knew a guy slightly who fit into this paradigm exactly: he sent money home for his mom and daughter [specifically to send her to school, btw], while working his buns off here as a green card holder married to a US citizen.) It seems to me that young people are by far the ones most likely to risk the uncertainty of relocating to, learning to cope with the language of, not to mention finding a job in a strange culture of a new country. There are a lot of articles and tables and whatnots cited throughout, and I'm very happy to see my vague hopes confirmed, but really, love is about being open-hearted, and taking risks.

My ancestors immigrated here back in the 1800s, back when our borders were effectively open; I'd like to extend that same opportunity to everyone else. (And of course, if the rest of the world was lifted up, as I believe it would be, why then, I'd have more people with which to share my joy in beads and jewelry, such as these heart pendants.)


cropThis is Valentine's Day Week, and I know a lot of people are so not into it—because they haven't a (romantic) partner, or because of the blatant commercialism; but I've always liked the holiday, because as a child, we all innocently exchanged valentines, or made them for our parents (especially mothers); and I adored the lace edged red foil heart shaped boxes fancy valentine's day candy came in, though I was far too poor to buy such a thing for myself.

Perhaps one reason the holiday was never spoiled for me was that I never felt at all obligated to purchase (or demand) Valentine's day candy or flowers (or even a card, though I sometimes made quite elaborate ones) let alone jewelry; I like hearts, romance and lace, and in my quest to enjoy the holiday, prefer to extend its celebratory power to everyone, not just lovers.

But if hearts aren't your thing, I guess you'll just have to skip this week;)


cropSince today is Friday but I'm still on the graduated dottie kick—in fact, this page is sort of the culmination, with all the colours, the fugly bit can be about a dirty practise: how money is laundered.

People tend to focus on the obvious ways they're cheated: being shorted on a paycheck, or overcharged for a service. But the real money is much less directly stolen, in these sorts of schemes. In the millions, billions, ...probably trillions. It's kinda teeth-grinding, really, because without all that greed and fraud, there'd be enough cash to feed, clothe & send to college (or trade school, or apprenticeship) every person on the planet.

That's my idea of a beautiful rainbow.