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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Sun, flames, covid
heat makes its way in the 2020 strand

Every year, on the occasion of living to another birthday[1] , my friend and client, Patricia B, celebrates with a new bead curtain strand. Usually, I just incorporate whatever iconography I want, but this year, my client requested some specific things, which, since our politics and life philosophies broadly align, received very little argument from me. I discussed these yesterday, in the page about making the beads.

laying out the beads. 15dec2020

Usually my goal is to make a visually pleasing rhythm to the piece, with the most dramatic focals broadly going in the middle. (since this is the part of a bead curtain that's front and center, literally.)

another visually dramatic view of my beadboard:) Front and center, (& reading R to L) we have covid, covid, covid, BLM (front and center in this shot), an orange warmup bead, the star/stripe, and then the Donald. The bits already strung are to the left of the ruler; the long covid sequence, up next, parallels it on the right. Frances helpfully contributed a number of spacers on a visit earlier this year:)

This year, however, I had a chronological narrative to consider as well: I wanted to put the little Trump bead at the bottom (he had been by this time defeated in the 2020 election, which both of us considered a major victory.[2] Thus, the bead representing the US as a whole/democracy, as represented by the star and streak bead, is immediately above, as you can see in the layout.

Took a couple of days off (to make some more beads, I think) but here I'm back at it, on the 18th dec.

This beadcurtain strand is 36" (three feet) long with a six inch leader, and since there's so much long repetition with the many covid beads, I figured I'd need three major “phrases.” I started at the top, incorporating the physically largest sun/flame beads, which have a sort of dual positive/negative meaning (kind of like a tarot card):

On the one hand, the sun represents the victory of not only a free and fair election, but one in which our desire for liberal values—as represented for the support for science, social justice, democratic values—prevailed; on the other, in September, the sun in our midwestern afternoon sky turned an eerie orangey pink I have never in my lifetime seen, a result of the California wildfires thousands of miles away.

layout for the year tag. I did an absolutely crappy uneven job of cutting out the edging, as you'll see in the final photos. I thought—very briefly—about redoing it, but very quickly went with ‘done is better than perfect.’[3]

You can see in the prior photograph my efforts to forge copper hooks (I'm evidently out) but I also needed to come up with a year tag. Usually I make small, discreet copper ones, but I had these brass disks lying around, and they just seemed apropos. Plus, laziness/wanting to get this done. I've marked the bits I plan to punch out in order to make yet another representation of the coronavirus.

25 dec, lumixDMC LX100, with lumopro. 1/50sec, f11, +0.3ev.

This year's strand was dreadfully late. Though initially my client had asked for me —just this once—to get it done early, bythe time her birthday rolled around, we were all deeply stressed by the various election shenanigans, and her comment later on was ‘no stress.’ Meaning, whatever. I breathed a sigh of relief.

same as above, but showing my signature in the form of the 3ki/mori/ kanji. (Click to see.) It's not beautiful engraving, but I'm glad I practised on a scrap, or it would have been completely illegible.

Despite this being a hellish year for many, it was our first full year of the wizard being retired, and our savings were unaffected by the pandemic. My client, however, had mostly been unable to work. I felt bad about being so late, and rationalized it with,

I should just give it to her.

And so I did, on Christmas Day, even though she's Buddhist and I'm atheist.

[1]Nov 16—I keep forgetting the deadline, so this little note is for me.

[2]I go back and forth on populists, which strikes me as a reasonable descriptor for the current president's supporters, and one that more broadly covers this currently world-wide phenom. I get that people wanna stay where their friends and family live, and resent that their particular situation isn't being given the resources it needs. Nevertheless, one of the selling points of the very first new car we bought was that, if we lost our house in the 2008 recession, we could sleep in the car and travel cheaply on its fantastic gas mileage, looking for work like the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath. My ancestors came here from Germany, as did the wizard's from Great Britain/Scotland, in search of a better life; my parents moved hundreds of miles in search of theirs; we were prepared to do the same, and I have always realized that if I were displaced to a foreign country, the first order of business (after supporting myself, of course) would be to learn the language. I look at the resilience, bravery and grit of the average Black person living in the inner city, or Latinex struggling to work here & send money home, and their fortitude amazes me. Where's these folks’ pioneer spirit?

[3]It's that kind of year...