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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
2020 beads
BLM, covid , fire and the election...

2020 was a particularly stressful year for (nearly) everyone in the US, not least because of covid, which since the wizard is retired[1] was much easier for us than most. But the absolutely inexcusable mishandling of the pandemic by 45’s administration, not to mention the slow slide galloping ride towards fascism (a result of the corruption and desperate efforts to cling to power, especially after the election) were very emotionally difficult. [2]

1st batch of beads, made photographed 16nov20. effetre & cim glass, made on either 13 or 15nov2020. The one in the lower left is a nod to the president's iconic hairstyle.[3]

My client asked me specifically to incorporate 2020, #BLM and COVID into this year's iconography. As the coronavirus is a sphere helpfully covered with triangular spikes, that part was easy. Well, except for shaping the spikes, which I jettisoned after 2 or 3 largely unsuccessful experiments. I figured if graphic designers, who certainly have an easier time making slightly poufy triangles in their vector graphic programs than I do with glass, which always wants to go round, could get away with this, I could too.

obverse of the #BLM 1.5 lentils, lain upon studio sketchbook.

Patricia B specifically told me she didn't want ‘BLM’ written out, so of course that's exactly what I did, but I promised her it wouldn't be super obvious, and I don't think it is: I used a swirling calligraphy reminiscent of curliQs in general and the henna series I made for her three years ago in particular. It's quite different than the typical blocky ‘Black Power’ font, but one of the things about modern social justice movements is that, ideally, everyone adjusts their contributions as necessary. The important thing is the message, not the font it's written in. (Besides which, it would've been difficult to render in glass...)

Big beads:) shards and trailing on pressed lentils, largest 2"/50mm

I felt to match some of the earlier strands, I needed some beads with real drama, i.e. that were big; hence this batch includes a 2" (50mm) lentil press, with orange tabs on the sides you could be forgiven for thinking were wings. And they could be interpreted that way, though I think the other 1.5 lentil from this batch is pretty obviously a sun. We mostly weren't affected by the dreadful wildfires that burned in CA, but they were still a big enough deal that the sun over our midwestern state turned a rosy orange—in the middle of the afternoon. I have never seen it that colour, and certainly not at that time of day.

another lot, with subtle election references, and, of course yet more covid beads. Photographed 26nov20

By the time I made this last lot, I felt a reference to the election —which was memorable not only for its level of civic engagement, but also, unfortunately, the unconstitutional games the president and his minions played (& the GOP assisted), would not go amiss. For iconography, I went with a subtle nod to the flag, the trailing to represent the stripes, and the star (made with a mini-press on top of a dot), the stars on our national flag.

I wasn't completely happy with the beads I'd made, but the project was already 10 days overdue, and I had yet to begin stringing. If ever there was a year of lowered expectations, 2020 was it.

[1]and f2tE volunteered to take over nearly all of our shopping

[2]I was afraid I might never see my mother alive again, and so my deep thanks goes not only to the researchers and medical personnel who have battled against covid, but also cancer—the success against which is what these bead strands represent, after all.

[3]I kind of lucked out, I guess, in that he uses orange makeup on his face, and dyed his hair yellow for most of the year, since that was my colour scheme....