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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.)

Posted in Diversions, Events, Misc. Musings, Visual Triggers | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Which Direction?

Posted by C Scheftic on 2020/05/14

Sometimes when I make a piece I have an idea, a theme, a story in mind, from the very beginning. Other times, I make a design, a geometry, and then let it tell me what it’s saying. Early this year, in January, BCO (see note 1, below), I had an idea for the piece I wanted to make for this year’s Art All Night event, a reversible pendant in steel and bronze. Then the pandemic struck and, DCO, it took me a while to get started on it. And the Art All Night show that’s usually held in late April was, first, postponed until the fall and, later, rescheduled yet again as an online event in mid-May. The piece discusse here is what I ended up making. It still exhibits my original idea, but is it now saying what I’d first been thinking, or something else … or both?

Let’s consider this side first. What might it represent?

  • Many people local to me here in the Pittsburgh area (2), and beyond, will read it from right to left, seeing the design as a confluence: where two major rivers flow along until they join together to make one that’s even stronger.
    • Please note that while one can hope that together+stronger means better, that is hope talking, and we should act accordingly!
  • But others (from here or elsewhere) will read it from left to right! In that case, it could represent a path that reaches a fork, where you must make a choice, or pick a side, and go with that. In some cases, the decision can be between right and wrong, while in others, simply a divergence where each one is neither is better nor worse, even though it will yield a very different outcome in the long run.
    • From this vantage point, at this scale, and as so often happens, it feels impossible to be sure where either path leads…

Now, consider the other side:

  • For a very special Pittsburgh event, this sort of art deco design could be an homage to many of our lovely older downtown (3) buldings built during that era, with the golden-bronze element in the center of the steel design reminiscent of the logos of US Steel and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    • It could also represent the light at the end of the tunnel (4).
  • In general terms, a brilliant star in the swirling darkness could be there to help us see our way forward, whether we are traveling downriver amidst strong currents, or standing at a crossroads trying to make the right decision for ourselves and for all those we care about.
    • Alternatively, it could be the light of an explosion hurtling towards us, potentially signaling our destruction if we don’t muster adequate defenses.

For me, one good thing about Art All Night going online this year is that it suddenly become easy to display both sides of my piece together! Here is the collage I created for my entry this year:

What do you see in these images? Do you see what I’ve seen here? Do you see a confluence or a crossroads? Do you see yourself uniting with others to make something stronger, or choosing a path that could go beyond the point of reconciliation? Do you see the star as a beacon of light to help guide you forward, or as an explosion signaling potential destruction speeding towards you? And … what might you do with that understanding … of yourself, or of your reaction to others being faced with the same choices? Or do you see something else?!

And … what might you do with that understanding … of yourself, or of your reaction to others being faced with the same choices?

It’d be great to read your thoughts on this:
Please respond in the comment section below!



~~~~~~~~~~
Endnotes:

  1. BCO –> Before Covic-19 Outbreak;
    DCO –> During Covid-19 Outbreak.
  2. Here, specifically, the confluence is when the Allegheny, down from the north, and the Monongahela, up from the south, flow together to form the Ohio, which later joins the Mississippi River that flows the whole way to the Gulf of Mexico.
  3. Locally pronounced dahntahn, of course!
  4. Though the shapes don’t match, one interpretation of that note is another local reference: traffic congestion in both directions on the interstate at either end of dahntahn Pittsburgh is common since many drivers slow down as they approach the (Squirrel Hill or Fort Pitt) tunnels, and seem only to get back up to speed when they can see the light at the end….

Posted in Events, Visual Triggers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Phipps Conservatory: Textures and Designs

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/08/24

Well, the weather has gotten much more “reasonable” lately, but now I have a number of other things on my calendar, so I still haven’t had a chance to make any more jewelry lately.

But it’s not as though I haven’t been thinking about it when I have a few spare moments. I went to Phipps Conservatory on Saturday and, in addition to the blooms and butterflies, and the special exhibit items of gargoyles and grotesques, I found myself thinking of jewelry textures as we strolled past the multi-layered Torch Ginger and the intricately-twisted Fig.

I have a few thoughts on how I might incorporate those designs into future pieces. I’m a little less certain of how I might interpret the whitewashed conservatory windows. Despite that, I liked the look of them, so I include a photo. And your suggestions are welcome!

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Weaving a Saddle Shape

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/03/10

But of course, I’m easily distracted from the earring challenge. The Bead Mercantile show came to town last weekend. As I approached the Talisman booth, my attention was immediately captured by these beads:

I cried out “Ooooh!” as I grabbed a strand of them. Several friends from the Western PA Chapter of the PMC Guild were there too, and they commented that the beads were interesting. But none of them said it with the sort of enthusiasm that I clearly felt.

For me, that is, it wasn’t just the beads. Yes, I like them, but the exclamation was because I knew I was going to leave the show and go figure out how to make a piece like this from metal clay:

At this point, they don’t quite go together. I like the shiny silver (a bit more muted in the photo than in reality), but the pendant needs a bit of a patina if it’s going to be strung with those particular beads. I just figure that I’ll wear it like this for a few days, to see what kind of reactions I get to it as a solo piece, while I give a bit of thought to how I might modify the construction process I devised so that making a whole series like this might be reduced to a reasonable amount of effort.

Once I’ve had a chance to make several more, then I’ll figure out which one(s) to patina and string with the beads that inspired them, and which to just hang on good chains all by themselves. Some final results should appear on this ‘blog eventually!

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Winter Textures

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/02/16

One of the things I like about working with metal clay involves the textures you can work into your designs.

I’ve always liked textures of various sorts, for both their look and their feel. Not just in jewelry and artwork, but also for my garden, on clothing, in food … the list could get rather large. I’ll leave that for another time, though; for now, my point is this:

Tree Bark - Facing Uphill

A friend and I went hiking in a local forest over the weekend. Mid-winter, there was lots of snow on the ground and few leaves still holding onto the trees. Which drew my attention even more than usual to the textures on tree trunks.

I kept stopping to look around and around, noting even the differences from one side to another on a single tree.

Tree Bark and More - Facing Downhill

I have no clue how or when any part of that look may crop up in my adornments. But those (phone-camera) shots did seem worth including in this online notebook.

What do you think of these images? Feel free to leave a comment!

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