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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Annual Orange Beadcurtain
the 2017 strand

So I have a friend who celebrates her survival of cancer by purchasing a beadcurtain strand every year on her birthday. This year's was a bit rushed, because my little one month dyeing project turned into a 3 or 4 month dyeing project, with interruptions into other fairly involved textile projects—most of which still need to be documented. This meant instead of the leisurely month or more to work on her project, I had about 4 days. And I hadn't even turned on my torch since September.[1]

Pressed lentil bead. 2" press (bead didn't quite fill); effetre scrolling on clear colourless transparent. Photographed 28jan2015 on S4 (phone)—I really happen to like this picture, btw, as it shows off the transparency of the glass well.[2]

One of this customer's friends, who is also an artist, had made beads many years ago, and came over and watched me make some (none of which ultimately made it into this strand)[3] but what interested me is that this was the second out of town friend who themselves liked ‘the wonky ones’ and assured me that P. would too.

There's something of a tension there: I wanted, for personal and professional reasons, to deliver my best work, and while wonky beads can be quite interesting from a stringer's perspective,[4] they're also a glaring admission of poor (or out-of-practice) lampworking technique. One way I resolved the issue was to practice with my off-hand, something I've been doing with some other physically demanding media, as a way to spare my hands; then my ‘best’ would be, er, wonky.

Practice beads, largest 1.25" Lentil pressed. (Attempts at) orange floral henna-style trailing on 069 yellow effetre. These were made 14 or 16 November, & ultimately none were used for the strand, as the customer liked my other designs better. I could hardly blame her!

Ultimately, however, I simply ran out of time: I gave my friend mehndi for her birthday, but promised the strand by her party (giving me a crucial extra couple of days) and I simply had to make do because of time constraints. Most interesting was during the stringing process, during which I tightened up my layout to get it to the 36” limit—but even when making the last lot of beads (that day!) I could feel my mind exploring ideas—being forced to be creative because of the time limits.

beadcurtain strand: 3’ plus 6" leader. Glass: lampwork, czech, swarovski, chinese crystal, Bali (or Indian) silver s-hook[5] ; strung & photographed 18nov17.

So, is this my best work? Um, I don't know.[6] It does have some interesting (to me, at any rate) emotional resonance: the mehndi patterns incorporated in my favourite bead, the large, bighole round; the bighole beads themselves were the result of having a bunch of mandrels up and ready to go, along with confidence from making such beads from an an earlier project[7] ; the little heart/star ‘dots’, which have a special significance to the receiver; the circular trailing on the last lot of beads, courtesy of the out-of-town friend, whose mehndi I made to follow her tattoos. None of this would be obvious to the casual observer, but they add an extra layer of meaning to us.

I didn't actually manage a true in-progress shot: this is what my work table looked like after I finished the strand—the remains/aftermath, if you will. LumixDMC-LX100/2017LX100/20171120LX/P1070407.JPG

When I was younger, I thought there was one, perfect, ur-way of making a piece of art, of telling a story; as such you couldn't have these personal variations. One of the joys of getting older is learning to love variations, delight in (slightly) hidden meanings, the kind you get for having a shared history.

[1]And then only once or twice; before that, July.

[2]I probably made this bead with P in mind, but using that giant press is still difficult, and it took a couple of years to be ready to give it up:)

[3]Though I did give the friend her fave, not to mention I desparately needed the warmup...:)

[4]note the diamond shaped orange bead in the lower left.

[5]Cuz I ran out of time to forge a copper one; so I rationalized this purchased one, seeing as it was a ‘significant year; the other option would've been to swipe one temporarily off one my own strands, but even that would've taken too much time: I arrived 10 minutes late as it was

[6]Surely not if you count all the boiled glass, which is very very obvious if click for the full-size version...

[7]for a different friend, that project being the reason I had all those bighole mandrels lying about—the big orange dottie in the upper left came out of that series, and given the nice shape and colour, I saved it for P:)