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Three Hairpin Lace Squares for The Violet Protest

Posted by C Scheftic on 2021/04/04

Another creative yet meaningful thing I did in 2020, one that just happened to end up taking place during the pandemic shut-downs, was to volunteer to make three squares for the Violet Protest project.   Personally, I am not happy with the way “politics” is handled by “social media” (and by others, but all that is for yet another discussion) so I don’t tend to say much about political topics online.  (I am not apolitical!  It’s more that only occasionally do I wear politics on my social-media sleeve.)  But this seemed like an idea that people from either / any side could support, which is why it interested me. Because I do believe that we have to stop talking at each other and re-learn how to converse with each other, to stop emphasizing our differences and start making progress for the future via the interests and goals we do share…

So what is the Violet Protest?

In short, makers from across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all American territories—without regard to their own political inclinations—are joining together in using their time and talents to make 8” x 8”  fiber and/or fabric squares using equal parts red and blue. These are, first, being exhibited in Phoenix, AZ; after about six months, the show will be taken down and the squares will be distributed to all members of Congress, of all parties, to ask them to find ways to come together too.

“Focused on the values we hold dear as Americans, rather than any political beliefs, the color violet symbolizes the literal combination of red and blue, long held as symbols of our nation’s differing ideologies. Our common goal is to send a physical message of friendly protest through this … visual expression to demonstrate that if we as citizens are willing to come together, so then must our elected officials.”

For more detailed information, you can check the project’s website, at violetprotest.com

Why did I decide to make three squares?  

Some people volunteered to make just one; others, scores!  The website is set up for you to easily choose to make one, or else multiples of five, but it was possible to assign yourself a different number of contributions.  I offered three.

Since the idea is that, at the end of the museum exhibit in Phoenix, the squares will be packaged up in groups and sent to each of the current members of Congress, I figured that, even though the pieces given to each recipient would be assigned at random, the fact that there were three people supposedly designated to carry my voice to congress (one regional state representative and two state senators) meant that three would be a good number to make. 

(Also, I made that commitment early in pandemic, when some supplies were scarce and lots of stores were closed to the public.  I did have a few small skeins in appropriate red and blue colors (among several I had “inherited” when the mother of some friends died a few years ago). I knew those skeins would provide enough to make three squares, but I really wasn’t sure if I could squeeze any more out of that stash!)

What Is Hairpin Lace?!

Before I explain the why of my design choices, let me show you a little bit of the construction process.  

The technique I used is called hairpin lace because, in the past, delicate, lacy designs were made by looping and then crocheting very small, fine threads on actual hairpins!  While I do dabble in a bit of miniature artistry at times — various kinds of clay, both ceramic and metal, being my favorites — I am not into working on mini fiber projects (though I have seen some made by others that have been truly stunning!)

I’ve used a larger-scale hairpin lace process to make, for myself and as gifts, a number of winter scarves and hats, and even one large blanket (with a second one that’s turned into a perpetual UFO…).  Most often, I will choose three complementary colors, or three different shades of a hue, and work with them in various pairs.  So I’ll use a big crochet hook and two strands of yarn at a time for each “row.”  I will make each one just a little bit longer than my final goal (because I find it easier to pull out a little bit if it seems to be shaping up to be longer than planned than it is to add a little more at the end.  The latter is possible, just not as much fun!)  Then the individual strips are hooked together to create the final piece.  Picking up an equal number of loops from the strip on each side will yield a flat piece, while differing counts will produce curves.  (And for more advanced designs than I’m showing here, you can also vary the width and counts within and across strips.)

What the process photo shows is this:  five complete rows already woven together, and a sixth complete strip that’s ready to be taken off its hairpin-substitute “loom” and added to those.  

The weaving together is what will tweak the size, both length and width, of the final piece.  Not a problem with a scarf where exact sizing is unlikely to matter, but trickier when your goal is to end up with a square that is exactly 8 by 8 inches!  The photo shows Melting Pot where I did hit it exactly at the 8-inch width but, yikes!, this first of my squares ended up being only 7 inches long.  

I set it aside to make the other two.  Lessons learned, I got those to come out to just the right size from the start.  In the meantime, continued forced closures of public gathering spaces meant the the exhibition dates for the Violet Protest show were pushed ahead by a few months.  Instead of opening just before Election Day in 2020, the museum show would launch soon after Inauguration Day in 2021.  I had plenty of time to fix up the size of my third piece and, when complete, I sent them all in!

My Thinking with These Three Designs

But why the three designs I chose?  Now that you have at least a little idea of how the rows are made, and how they interact, let’s take a look at my three offerings, from left to right, and I’ll describe the symbolism I feel in each one:

Top, left: How can anyone imagine simply staying in their own red or blue lane (even if they try to do so with civility and respect) when ALL OUR LANES ARE CONNECTED?

Center, bottom: Rather than divide by red vs blue, why not combine creativity, courage, compassion, and compromise as we all aim our efforts to be for THE COMMON GOOD?

Top, right:  Can politicians from across our country model, not selfishness and division, but consideration, collaboration and compromise … for all people but especially for the children of our great MELTING POT?

Would you like to join the Violet Protest?

As I write this, you still can!  A few photos from the exhibition can be seen online at https://www.violetprotest.com/vp-at-phoenix-art-museum.html.  It has been open for in-person viewing at the Phoenix Art Museum since March 10, and will remain open though September 5, 2021.  Squares can still be registered (in advance, to get the required exhibition tag!) and sent in.  Submissions will be accepted and added to the display through August 1. 

After the show ends, all the squares will be evenly (and randomly) divided up, packaged, and sent to every member of Congress.  I sure hope that some of them get the message!

Do you think any / many of them will?!! Please leave a comment!

(Well, that is, please leave a comment that (even if it is controversial) shows respect, kindness, compassion, candor, and, perhaps, also creativity; any that do the opposite will be removed.)

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2017 Martinis with Monet

Posted by C Scheftic on 2017/07/06

2017_MartinisWithMonet_CranberryTownshipsLogoForItFor the second year in a row, the Cranberry Township Community Chest (CTCC) and the Cranberry Artists Network (CAN) are partnering on a show in the Cranberry Municipal Building in conjunction with the Cranberry Township Community Days.

Now the Community Days outdoor festivities will be on July 13, 14, and 15.

But that all kicks off with a special evening on Wednesday, July 12, with the opening reception for the art show, Martinis with Monet. From July 13 through August 10, admission to the show will be free. Three Rivers: When Sun Breaks Through The Clouds (with ruby trillion at The Point) But the opening reception serves as a fund-raiser for CCTC, and a limited number of tickets are available in advance for $10 through their web site or at the Municipal Building Service Center (with just under a week now left), or for $15 at the door that evening.

And I’m thrilled to have had two pieces accepted for this year’s show!

One of them is another piece from my latest round of Three Rivers pendants. I didn’t make this one specifically for this show but I had been thinking what I might enter during a discussion of the movement and light in Monet’s art. My original design for this piece did include the movement of rivers with the sparkly light of the faceted ruby. But it was the surprising gift from my kiln, of the dappled surface-coloring hinting at sunshine and passing clouds on the ruby-side, that made this piece seem an obvious choice for this show! Because of this side, I’ve titled it, When the Sun Breaks Through the Clouds.

Three Rivers: When Sun Breaks Through The Clouds (the side without the ruby!)More colors from that kiln-gift are shown in the small, plain photo of the “other” side of that piece. Bronze firings can yield a wide range of surprises: sometimes the results cry out to be polished to a gorgeous, high shine everywhere, while other times they yield a stunning range of colors in random patterns (like this, with an upside-down rainbow in the midst of a crimson field). Though some people report that they find that unpredictability to be off-putting, for me it is part of what makes bronzes so addictive to work with!

The Artist's Impression Of Warm BlanketsThe colors in the other piece I had accepted for this show come not so much from the firing, but from the underlying colors of various metals, stones, and glass of the piece.

I made the focal bead, the one that generated The Artist’s Impression of Warm Blankets as the title of this necklace (Monet –> impressionism: get it?!), several years ago. It’s a large, hollow bead, with layers of copper wrapped around rose bronze wrapped around yellow bronze, all with various woven textures. It was originally made as part of a series of exercises exploring the various shrinkage rates of different metal formulas in the construction of hollow structures. As I built it, I was thinking far more about those issues that about its actual design but, as soon as I pulled it out of the kiln, I saw myself pulling a (tiny…) bundle of freshly-washed blankets out of the dryer!

Most of the focal beads I made remain just that, the focus of attention, with little to nothing else to distract the viewer’s eye from them. I strung this one on some beading wire, added a clasp, and wore it myself a few times, thinking it needed something else and waiting for it to tell me what it wanted. At a recent bead show, I saw both the stones and the chain, and they immediately reminded me of the features at a cabin I shared years ago with friends on a series of late-autumn trips, where warm blankets were much appreciated as the temperatures dropped at night, and that was it: I’d found what I needed to complete this piece.

I sure hope that one or both of these pieces will find someone else’s heart to warm now too!

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Well, it’s been one of those months….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/03/31

No crises, just one extra thing after another. Computer problems, car problems, dental problems plus more than the usual number of aches & pains elsewhere, friends & family needing help, looming deadlines, and more! No time left for writing here. Hopefully, eventually, I’ll manage to report here some of the metal-clay accomplishments buried in there. For the moment, however, here’s something I did last weekend: the return of Spring brings the return of Orienteering season too.

Orienteering is a sport where entrants gather at a specific site (usually, but not always, a public park) and receive a map with a series of “control” locations along with a score-card. You head out in search of the controls and, as you reach each one, you mark the scorecard appropriately to verify that you’ve been there. (This differs from searching for geocaches, where folks use latitude and longitude with GPS devices. Orienteering uses actual maps and compasses….) There are several basic types of meets: in one, your goal is to find all the controls and the results are ranked by how quickly you do so; in another, your goal is to return to the base within a specific time and the results are ranked by how many control-points you are able to earn in that time. (There can be all sorts of other variations: courses or controls ranked by difficulty, penalties for various things (like returning late or for missing or mis-recording a control), but I’m not trying to write a complete description here.)

Although the obvious question for the first photo here is, “What IS Alexis wearing?!” (and, since he’d set the course for this event, that should have been a clue of what we were about to be in for!) (plus, it’s a shame that Jim’s paper is hiding his nice orienteering club sweatshirt), the reason I include this photo is to illustrate what a “control” looks like: Note the White & Orange “flag” with its dangling red “punch.” That is what one is trying to find!

The first event for this year was a “score” event, and was limited to 150 participants. Two friends and I went out as a team in the 3-hour version, to see how many controls we could find. There was a 6-hour option too, but we decided against that one. We are part of a variable group (different ones of us manage to make different meets) who attend these for fun, as pleasant exercise. We try to keep up a reasonable pace, but we are not among those who “race” the course. If someone wants to stop and take a photo, that’s fine. If someone needs to stop and rest a bit, that’s OK too. For us, it’s more important to enjoy the day in the country than it is to win the meet. Local meets are fairly inexpensive: the entry fee covers the cost of the map and a bit towards maintenance of the necessary supplies. Rarely are there any actual awards other than the personal satisfaction of seeing where you ranked.

This course had 50 controls, 10 each worth 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 points, spread across a park that covers around 7,500 acres. We set ourselves a route that included a handful of 10 and 20 point controls that we thought we could complete in the 3-hour slot: we could see that they were relatively close to the base, and we figured they wouldn’t require too much scrambling to reach.

All I can say is: Control #5 should have been worth more than 10 points!!! Yeah, it wasn’t that far from the “base” site, but it was a challenge to even spot and, once identified, a real scramble to get to. We reached 20-point controls that were far, far easier!

The second (small) photo shows a crossed pair of trees on the side of a path, and a hillside that’s farther off. It shows NONE of: the drop-off beyond those crossed trees, the stream, nor opposite bank one had to cross before starting up the hill. It DOES show Joan punching our scorecard at this control. You say you can’t see either her or it?

That’s my point!

For a clue where they are, I include a slightly larger image on which I’ve added an orange arrow pointing to the orange and white control flag, and a blue arrow pointing to Joan who was wearing a blue jacket and purple pants. Still can’t see either it or her?

Yes, that’s my point! (You can click on the photo for a slightly larger version, but even that won’t help much. They are _just barely_ visible on my high-res original photo, which I used to add the arrows … because I knew exactly where to look for them, but they almost disappear on web-resolution ones.)

Control #5 should have been worth more than 10 points!!! The 20-point controls we did find, ones that were only slightly farther from the base, were far easier than this to simply see, let alone to reach… We found out that many other entrants either gave up looking for this one or, having seen it, figured they’d still do better by just moving on to another control. Since we weren’t that concerned about points, however, we decided to take it as a challenge: could we get those particular ten measly points. Despite my having pulled a hamstring ligament simply trying to find this one (which led to all sorts of complications the following week, though at last it seems to be on the mend), and with a big THANKS to our youngest member, Joan, we did! (Technically, only one team member has to actually reach the control and punch the score-card. Since Joan’s age pulled us down into a younger category, she was kind enough to volunteer to punch this one while we kept an eye on her for safety.) Every one we spoke with who did find that one agreed it was far and away the most challenging of those in its category. Since we didn’t even try to reach all of the 20-pointers, I can’t compare it to those with any authority; but, compared to the ones we did reach, I’d say this one should have been worth 30! Changing that point-value would not have changed our team’s ranking, so I’m arguing its value on principle only.

We did manage to come in second in our category! This last photo shows our prize!! I note it because it’s the very first actual prize I ever got in this sport!!!

And, yes, it’s “backwards” in this photograph. But there was only one ornament per category: Barbara got our “official” one, while Joan and I got ones that have the wrong label. But that’s OK…

We actually each got a prize! Silly as it is, I’m delighted. Now, it’s time to get back to claying and blogging and such. And, ummm, with knee on the mend, hopefully to my little, urban garden too.

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