Saturday, March 27, 2010

Deconstructing Pipas

My nearest and dearest are pretty unanimous about the fact that I've got an inherent tinkering gene - I can't ever leave well enough alone. This holds true for cooking, for music improvisation, and also jewellery.

This is also usually a recipe for some sort of disaster. Just so you know.

Many moons ago, when I was starting to learn that there is this thing called WIRE! which you can play with and shape, I got to know Corra of De Cor's Handmades. I was - and still am - in awe of her abilities to PWN wire with the best of them, and bought a couple of her tutorials to try and convince myself that maybe I could reach that level of skill.

One of the tutorials was called the Pipa Knot. My first attempts at it resulted in this mind-numbling embarrassing -thing- which has since been mercifully consigned somewhere out of sight except in photos:

The sheer magnitude of shame kept me from pursuing the Pipa Knot any further, until my mother's silver earrings two years ago. This time I stuck (more or less) to the original tutorial, and things went (more or less) just fine. That is, if you don't count the many wire breaks I had to hide due to my inexpert handling of the silver wire, and a misplaced belief in my ability. I gave them to my mother with the disclaimer that, should she ever lose them, I'll never make another pair. Cracked, bleeding fingers may have had something to do with this proclamation.

Yesterday, some demon of perversity drove me to revisit the Pipa Knot once more. Except this time, I decided I was going to deconstruct it and see what I could come up with, using more or less the same technique. This time I didn't refer to the tutorial, I just went on a vague sense of memory and lots of glue, hope and sunny cheer that it would turn out SOMETHING resembling ok.

The results are...still somewhat embarrassing due to the fact that I mucked up part of what I thought I remembered. Note to self: USE TUTORIAL next time, memory at my age is a bad gauge of accuracy. I'm sure this would ensure better results.

(I told you I was a tinkerer. I never said I was a GOOD one.)

Behold, the Deconstructed Pipa - just for you, Corra, for old times' sake!

Deconstructed Pipa: 20ga and 28ga artistic silver wire, fire-polish Czech glass beads, amethyst bead. Approximately 1.2 inches (3.5cm).

I tried two new wire-wrapping techniques that I'd seen but not used before, and I think they turned out fairly decently:

The Whole Shebang in Close-Up Technicolour, hanging from something:

So...I still have a long way to go to master this gorgeous knot (so Corra won't kill me when she sees how badly I've butchered her beautiful design.) However, looking (and shuddering in horror) back at what I -used- do to in the name of art, I think I've improved some and that, at least, is worth the embarrassment of keeping old photos.

If nothing else, I've learned to handle a camera better at least!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eternity and the Eternal Watchguard Against Impurity and Poor Morale

If I appear to have vanished off the face of the known radar blips of existence, well, I have. For a time at least. Creativity has been practically non-existent, struggling and gasping in between work, rehearsals, recording, frustration, and chafing at the non-productiveness of it all. I've been very close to giving it all up because I'm just so tired of fighting the malaise.

But then, Life decided to have a say and I had to listen.

My 98-year old grandfather passed away on 13th March, 2010 at 6.40pm.

I'll write about this some other time. There's too much that's still churning around inside at the moment, from the abruptness of it to the mixed feelings. Another time, yes.

The Sunday after his passing, I felt the urge to pick up my wires and play again after months of anguished, disgusted inactivity. The end product didn't matter; what was important was the process. And so, with a little inspiration from a good friend's jade Alchemical out of the White Wolf Exalted game, this little bit of nothing coaxed itself into being.

Eternal Watchguard: 18ga and 28ga artistic silver wire, fire-polished Czech glass beads, aluminium washer. Approximately 1.5 inches (close to 4cm) in height.

I've been aware for a while that my wire-weaving skills are on pair with an elephant attempting to dance a tango in stiletto heels, so this was something of a practice piece. You can see where all the kinks I mucked up made for uneven little bits in the wrapping. Perhaps I'm overly paranoid, but I've seen far too many diatribes on how most self-styled wire artists can't handle wire worth several tons of crap, and many complaints on how most people shouldn't call themselves 'artists' if they can't master their material. Well. I'm an artist in -progress-. I'm not an expert, and that's why I don't write tutorials, and will continue to refuse to do so. I'm my own worst critic, which is more critical than most hard-core critics anyway, so here's my disclaimer: if there's going to be comments on how badly that wire's kinked and out of control, and how the wrapping is shite, please rest assured that yes, I know it already, and thank you. I'm not going to be selling this piece for obvious and some not-so-obvious fundamental reasons, so I won't be cheating anyone of their hard-earned money either.

Ahem. Just had to get that out of my system, it's been brewing for a while.

This isn't a work of staggeringly heart-breaking genius. But I'll always believe that perhaps, just perhaps, it was my grandfather's last gift to me - that spark of inspiration to -do- finally, after so long.

And for the people who've kept on believing faithfully in my abilities, despite me being incredibly doubtful, thank you. You have no idea how much it means.