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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


cropGood artists borrow; great ones steal.

Plagerism is kind of a big deal for creators, but I have to admit that I'm kind of baffled by accusations of self plagerism. Unnnnnh? (I guess, presenting it as completely new work would be bad, but then it's pretty easy to get into the weeds about how much anything really is “new”, at least for artists [as opposed for, say, academics funded with other people's money] who tend to call that srot of thing ‘working in series’. Certainly I'd be in dire straits if I couldn't revisit my old ideas...)

I suppose I will get to the point of just letting all the old cruft and unfinished pages go, but I'm not there yet, and so this week is gonna be a bunch of reworked stuff. This page was originally a rough draft for what eventually became some ruminations to accompany this beautiful [and IMNSHO] inspired tribal bellydance performance.

IOW, I used the various Raqs Sharqi links, but not the associated Tyler Swift twerking ones (left behind on this page). Well. As it turns out, my mild wouldn't-it-be-fun and making-the-outfits-would-be-fab interest in danse du ventre was kickstarted by the need to do some sort of not-yoga exercise, because instead of the six weeks it should've taken to heal, my broken collarbone took years to recover, and as of 2014, down dog felt beyond me. So I took up bellydance, there being a local troupe that taught it; and I got some pushback over it from someone I consider a little further along the wokeness scale.

I tend to obsess over stuff when I get into it—kimono, bellydance, quilting(1)—and the research often far outstrips my explorations. I haven't done any bellydance for years. But I also circle back to stuff: right now, I'm working on dance outfits again, for that very person who gently questioned my interest years ago.(2) “I have to give you a pass on the bellydance,” she said [I'm paraphrasing], “because now I do twerking. In my defense,” she continued, “a black girl taught me.” This was in the context of some IG or similar post she'd seen of an amazing [black, big](3) practitioner who could do at least three different styles.

As a dancer herself, she could really appreciate this artist's technique and dedication. One of the reasons I liked the Tyler Swift video was that she too clearly appreciated the many styles of dance she incorporated, while also making it clear that she herself was not expert in any of them (except perhaps the all-around cheerleading kind); and I think that homage is why Swift had her defenders (as well as detractors, to be sure) amongst women of colour.

I don't see these arguments discussions going away any time soon; but it does seem to me, that, however unevenly, painfully and slowly, progress is being made. —This is a week of looking back, and it's sometimes painful to realize how little I've progressed in some ways; but in others, to realize that no, I haven't completely wasted my life.

That is to say: I could be doing stuff that really needs being done, instead of wasting spending my weekend trying to clean up old posts. Buuuuut, since there still isn't a lot of new stuff yet, and I figured everyone was tired of the endless giftwrapping (or dead mice, which will no doubt will be returning distressingly soon) I rationalized. Here's a picture of a barn. Which, however imperfect the photography, sentiment or artistic merit may be, is indubitably part of my midwestern heritage. Enjoy.

(1)All three of these artforms are associated with marginalized communities (in the US, that is.)

(2)I'm back to the yoga, but I still need some low-impact, aerobic activity; and of course, now I would like to make dance outfits for myself, too...

(3)One of the things I appreciate about the dance forms—those associated with Black women and Raqs Sharqi—is that they are much more size accepting than dances associated (in the US, at least) with white people, such as ballet.


cropI think I've mentioned I tend to batch process these posts, a week at a time. Yesterday,(1) therefore, I went out to dinner to celebrate with my oldest friend, who is having a very difficult time right now; yet was keeping up her spirits despite a possibly permanent handicap that would have me laying on the floor with despair. 2020, we agreed, despite global warming (and it is, we've been having weather I associate far more closely with spring than winter, which is supposed to started, not be ending) & the trashfire that is US politics, would be a good year. If nothing else, at least we didn't have to worry (too much) about global thermonuclear war (which was my 20-something's self worry, as opposed to the f2’s concerns about Anthropogenic Climate Change.)

Ah, silly us...

I need some cheering up. So, some pretty purple flowers.

(1)Yesterday, in this context means, the 3rd Jan.


cropYesterday, I tried to have a slightly more upbeat intro—here's another one, via Making Light (that yay, had a new post up!) —on how to organize. (I have personal reasons for starting to gather these sorts of resources, owing to a local increase in noise pollution that is unlikely in the extreme to go away. Unless someone decides to do something about it.)

Certainly, there's no question that this sort of thing is going to be important this year. —And I've encountered, more than once, that most activists in the trenches, because they are doing something, are less depressed over the dire state of whatever. (& unfortunately, there's a lot of whatevers in dire straits.)

Anyway. A chilly-themed gift to go with our too-warm winter.


cropSo many of the links I save tend to be on the discouraging side, so I thought I'd take a break from that with this one about an Iditarod competitor (at least, I assume, since he's been mushing dogs for over a decade, and that's the big race...)

The click-bait title is ‘How to keep your cool [specifically, in dangerous outdoor environments]’ —not so much how to keep one's temper (which is what I thought it would be) but rather, how not to give up. This is of course life-saving while mushing dogs in Arctic cold, but it's pretty important for not whiling & whittling one's life away to everything but regrets, too.

A hard thing for us timids! Art is, perhaps, the place where I feel most free to take risks, but even then I still need a kick in the pants, sometimes: the project I'm working on now needed the dual stick (a deadline) and a carrot (assurances from the recipient that it needn't be the ur-uber-most-transcendent 3 strand version, 2 would do—might, in fact, be even better) to get me out of a months-long stall on it. Plus, of course, a big enough block of time without a ton of distractions to actually focus. And, once I did, (after a couple of false starts) things started (ever so slowly) to fall (or string) into place.

The teal deer takeaway is really pretty basic, and not gonna come as a surprise to anyone who's thought about these problems: don't panic; focus on the resources you have at hand, rather than the ones you wish you had (a biggie, but no, that fancy tool [probably] will not solve all your problems); do some post-crisis analysis for next time; and keep some basic all-around tools in your go-to bag. —My eldest brother thru-hiked both the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails, and he said much the same: a mental toughness is the single most important item of gear to bring along. My esteemed mother, who has travelled all over the world: have patience, keep calm, keep picking at the problem, and eventually, you'll figure something out.

So: I wish everyone enough joy and assurance in 2020 to follow these precepts (one reason depression is so vile is that it strips the very resources most needed to climb out of the pit.) Namaste.


cropI truly wonder how long it will be before the average person detests noise and light pollution the way we do the air and water kind. People are starting to notice, slowly, that this is a problem.

I will say, the modern LED streetlights are not as depression-inducing as the old sodium vapor ones from my childhood: I hated that weird orange colour, but I would gladly trade all that nightime light in any spectrum to be able to see the Milky Way on a regular basis. Not at all surprising therefore, that how night-life (literally) affects people who live that cycle on an ongoing basis is not at all well documented. (My theory is that some folks seem to have internal clocks that predispose them to that life, but even so, are the weird colours of, say, sodium vapour lights really the best thing? After all, if green light can make people feel better it follows that its near complement could make them feel worse —it surely did me.)

Well, it's still giftwrapping. Eventually, I'll have some other stuff, but I just read somewhere that the christmas season doesn't officially end till Candlemas, which is Feb 2. Goodie. That gives me some time to slot these in, till I get some other stuff done/made/scanned...


cropToday is the 12th day of xmas, so I'm showing a picture of my tree:)

This is likely to be of interest only to me (possibly some family members), so here are some perhaps more interesting links...One of the things I really admire about Tim McCreight is that he's so totally not a snob (as many truly secure artists are not). I could imagine, if he were a painting instructor, instead of a metalsmithing sensei, him delighting in this charming technique of using a ball chain to spread paint (really, the paint and pour folks have a lot of fun techniques). In a similar vein, these swirled holiday cookies are a marvelous variation on marbling, one I'd really like to try someday.

At the other end of the spectrum, this exhibit of beautifully made objects looks just splendid; that some of them are scientific objects makes it that much yummier. I wish all tools could be beautiful, but let's face it, when trying to solve a problem right now, aesthetics in my studio go out the window just as fast. And I could be using ceramic beakers to hold water, but plastic quart containers are a lot lighter, more translucent & stackable. The beautifully made stuff tends to show up after the initial bugs have been worked out of a tool or process.