It was 1989 and my friend Robin Hiteshew asked if I wanted to attend a poetry reading by Seamus Heaney at Swarthmore College. I was familiar enough Heaney’s work to jump at the chance. Later I got to meet him, but was too shy to do anything but mumble and shake his hand.
Thirty years later, at the opening of his show, “Portraits of Irish Writers” Robin compared a photo portrait of Heaney he took during that visit to Swarthmore with one he took almost a decade later in Cambridge where Heaney was teaching at Harvard. In the first photo, a slightly disheveled Heaney struck a casual pose under a tree on the Swarthmore campus. In the second picture, Heaney was wearing a tailored jacket “Look,” said Robin pointing to the first picture, “his trousers are rolled. That’s before he won the Nobel prize and the game got more serious.”
Robin Hiteshew has been photographing Irish writers (and musicians) for more than forty years and it has been a labor of love. His portraits are personal and revealing in a way that is truly beyond the words. And he has a story to go with each one.
Robin’s new show, “Beyond the Words: Portraits of Irish Writers” will run until June 26 at the McNichol Gallery which is located in the Thomas A. Bruder, Jr. Life Center at Neumann University. Admission is free. For directions, press here.
Colored porcelain jewelry elements waiting to be bisque fired.
Experimenting with different textures.
Colored porcelain pinch pots.
The cracks can stay
I work on fabric or canvas
The polymer side of the table
Making fish (taught by Amy Sutryn at May meeting of Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild)
One lazy Bluefish
I was going to write a post a few months ago about a wonderful visit I made in July 2019 to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. But one thing led to another as it usually does. The Penn Museum post went into the drafts folder and I went on to other things. I recently returned from Southern Spain(Seville and Granada)where I was overloaded with Spanish Baroque interiors. They are beautiful, but after awhile, you feel like you’ve eaten too much birthday cake. (At least I did).
“Where do you get your inspiration?” is a question I sometimes hear. And while I will not be making a Spanish Baroque wedding cake any time soon, I find inspiration pretty much everywhere. Which brings me back to the Penn Museum. There is certainly enough to inspire anyone who spends an afternoon (or better, the whole day) there.
The Mesopotamian jewelry collection is outstanding. Here are some pictures, but it’s better to see the collection in person.
The Near Eastern pottery collection is also very interesting. These pots are from Iran.
I was so taken with the pot shaped like an Erlenmeyer flask that I decided to make my own version using the tar paper technique, Here’s where memory and inspiration clash: I remembered the shape upside down.
But I think I love the Mexico and Central American collection best because it contains some striking Mayan artifacts as well as jewelry and pottery.
I love that turtle (I think) vessel and could see myself trying a colorful terra cotta version.
Where do you get your inspiration?
The Marionette Museum in Lisbon wasn’t mentioned in any of the guide books or web sites consulted before the trip. But my friend Rachel, who had recently returned from Portugal, raved about it. That and I have a penchant for traveling with Le Mutt who is the creation of puppeteer Francesca Hoerlein. How could I resist?
The Lisbon Marionette Museum houses more than marionettes. Its collection contains hand puppets, shadow puppets, masks, props and, of course marionettes from all over the world.
Puppets have been around for thousands of years. There was a puppet theater in Greece in the 5th Century BCE. And puppets might even be older than that.
We all remember puppet shows from our childhood. But puppets are more than dolls used to entertain children. Puppets tell stories, sometimes subversive stories, that live actors would not be allowed to perform.
And puppets are are made from every material imaginable. The Museum houses creations made of cloth, wood, class, metal and clay. I am sure there are 3D printed puppets out there.
Be sure to visit the Marionette Museum if you are in Lisbon. It’s not a big museum-you can see the entire collection in a couple of hours-and you will be glad you did. Here are some more pictures.
Jeweler’s Row is a Philadelphia treasure the future of which is being threatened by potential unbridled development. Jeweler’s Row, located on the 700 block of Sansom Street, was not always the seat of the Philadelphia jewelry industry, having been home to the printing and engraving trades before morphing into a jewelry district around the 1880’s. Many jewelry store proprietors from the Delaware valley and South Jersey made weekly trips to Jeweler’s Row to drop off and collect repair jobs, replenish their stock and to meet with their fellow jewelers to talk business.
A developer sold a brace of buildings to Toll Brothers Builders in 2017 and Toll Brothers got permission to tear down the buildings to erect a high-rise apartment building. There was plenty of opposition from the neighborhood and community groups but in the end it didn’t matter.
Last week, I got to tour 708 Sansom Street which is one of the buildings slated to be demolished. It is a cavernous four-story building with tin ceilings and ornate hardware. As I walked from floor to floor, I could see that the tenants, the majority of whom were manufacturing jewelers, were in the process of moving their equipment out of the building and finding new space for their businesses and studios.
I imagine that 708 Sansom Street supported many families over the years and that its tenants were a close-knit bunch. Now it is like a ghost town.
Most of the former tenants have found new space but it has not been easy. Many of them have had to relocate away from Sansom Street.
While it’s true that the only constant in life is change, and that the face of the jewelry business is changing, there is still room for places like Jeweler’s Row. These business districts and manufacturing centers still serve a purpose. But then again, you never really miss something until it’s gone.
Fiona Abel-Smith also has an incredible video where she demonstrates how to construct a 6-sided polymer box and how to cover it with a geometric cane pattern that she explains in great detail. She has a number of other fascinating looking videos that are on my must watch list.
On another note, I recently came back from a trip to Spain and Portugal and my head is swimming with all the beautiful tiles I saw in both countries. I’ll post more on that later.
You never know when a stuffed animal will make you a new friend. Our traveling companion Le Mutt broke the ice when my husband and I dove into a Nepalese Restaurant near our Lisbon hotel seeking respite from the many fish and potato meals we had in Portugal (where the people are lovely but the food not so much. This is a contentious subject.) If you are ever in Lisbon, drop by Himchuli
This is not the first time Le Mutt has made friends in a foreign land.
And on the way to Lisbon . . .
More to come!
I decided to enter the repurposing challenge on the Art Elements Blog. The reveal date is April 30. As of today (April 29) I do not have a list of participating blogs thru an Internet snafu but will post them when I get them. Hey! I wanna see everyone’s work too!
Repurposing is the first and last refuge of the poor artist. I’ve been using repurposed materials in my art for a long time. In honor of the repurposing challenge, I have added a new item to the menu area of my blog that contains a selection of posts where I have repurposed or recycled materials. Just in case this does not post as scheduled, you can access it here.
And now for the challenge. The cuff bracelet base is made from a piece of brass hardware that in another life was part of my mother-in-laws dining room chandelier.
The silver corrugated section had another life as a butter knife in my Grandmother’s house.
A friend gave me her deceased father’s enameling supplies. There were a number of copper switch plates. I cut one up and that comprises the copper section.
When I got married, I bought a set of brass charger plates at a house sale imagining that I would use them for entertaining. Screw that. I am annealing them and cutting them up one by one and making jewelry out of them. That’s where the fold-formed element comes from.
All the sections of the bracelet are riveted together (except the brass fold formed part is soldered to the copper beneath it.) with rivets made from stripped electrical wire.
Some older pieces
I challenged myself to make a necklace completely out of materials I found on the sidewalk. The above necklace is made of drilled stones, a twig, electrical wire, and a cable from an old window.
This shield pendant is made from the body of an old lock I probably picked up at a flea market. I soldered some jump rings to the back after some attempts at texturing and patination. The chain is from another piece of jewelry.
Here are links to the participating bloggers and to the Art Elements Team.
Evie & Beth
Lesley Watt - Artisan Elements
We had a few vintage items this year. Not everyone at Clayathon was familiar with the work of Mike Buessler who specialized in landscape canes. The pin you see below is a cane and it is the exact reverse image on the other side. People have made landscape canes since the time Mike retired his tissue blade, but he was the first and the best.
I am not sure if Carolyn Potter is still working in clay. Her work was certainly beautiful as this mosaic pendant attests.
Lindly is still working in polymer, teaching, writing, and she taught a very popular class at Clayathon. I warned her that one of her pieces from the 1990’s swaps was going to be in the auction.
Barbara McGuire is still very active in polymer as an artist, teacher and writer. It’s hard to retire when you have so many great ideas.
Pier Voulkos retired from polymer more than 20 years ago. She set standards of artistic excellence for everyone.
Michael and Ruth Ann Grove were artists who became involved with polymer in the early days who no linger work in the medium. The earrings above are a good example of their work.
If you want to learn more about the early days of polymer, go to the
Polymer Art Archive.