Black Ceramic Chain

Technology is wonderful. Especially when bright but otherwise bored people say ‘Hey, these zirconium ceramic ball bearings and whetstones are nearly as tough as sapphire. I bet we could make jewelry out of this stuff!’

Jewelry wonks are already familiar with Cubic Zirconium, the relatively cheap and readily available diamond-substitute gem, usually faceted and sold either clear or colored to mimic other gemstones.*

Zirconium powder can also be purified and melted with binding agents into a tough, hard, opaque ceramic (the aforementioned ball bearings). I’ve seen the jewelry results in pieces from David Yurman ($1500) or Jona ($5000).

Recently, Fire Mountain Gems got some black and white zirconium ceramic jewelry components in stock. When they had a deep sale on the 29x16mm and 13x10mm oval links, I bought. That yielded 12 of the big links and 2 of the smaller ones. For less than I’d pay for a good cheesesteak sandwich at my local deli.

Combined with matte-finished black #11 seed beads in ladder-stitched links, fire-polished Czech faceted ovals, and black nylon thread, the zirconium ceramic links made this minimal 20-inch necklace with toggle clasp. I like how the polished ceramic links have the black glitter of hematite, but much less weight. (It’s as light as a fiber art piece, honestly, with more weight from the glass.)

*About 30 years ago, when Cubic Zirconium gems (CZ) really came onto the hobbyist market, there was a mail order scam trade run by several ‘jewelers’ who would convince people they’d ‘won’ a free CZ faceted gem, for a minimal shipping fee. They even had soap opera celebrity spokespeople, which should have been an instant warning.

Sometime between 1985 and 1987 I got a mailing from one of the companies. (I’ve taken it off web links because the owner’s apparently just got out of prison on racketeering charges, with a side of witness tampering. Typical GOP businessman, alas.)

Back then if you accepted the stone and the ‘cash winning opportunity’, you’d get hounded to buy their other products. I had a pretty good idea what was really going on, so I said ‘Sure, Redacted Jewelry Company, send me my genuine fine diamond simulant!’

What I got was a pretty nice 1 carat white faceted stone for the shipping cost (not much), and a massive sales pitch for their crappy gold or silver plated jewelry settings. Because most people even then weren’t silversmiths, or knew that real silver and vermeil (gold plated silver) findings were easy to come by and easy to set with a few basic tools. Redacted Jewelry Company and I had some more go-arounds while I talked them out of a few more CZ gems (Hey, cheap CZ!) before they finally gave up on me.

What to take from this? I love technology, and I really like this necklace. Also, every new product or service has scam potential…but if you know what’s happening, you can have a hell of a lot of fun with the scammers.

 

Blood Orange and Jasper Magic Wand

Or: faux inlay technique on wood.

I make artifacts and jewelry, along with book art and a ton of other largely useless but fun things. I belong to a loose-knit group of like-minded souls who, upon occasion, will make Harry-Potter-inspired magic wands as props and cosplay pieces.

This newest piece is made from a Blood Orange tree twig woodburned and painted, with a lanyard of braided waxed blue-gray polyester cord strung with Picture Jasper and Blue Lace Agate beads. The stick is about 14″ long and .75″ at its widest.

I’ve had the twig for 15 years. It came from a Blood Orange bonsai attempt that died at two years old. The corkscrew end is part of the root, and shows the stress on the tree. (I am never starting another bonsai again. It’s cruel, the tree equivalent of foot-binding.) I kept the dried-out little trunk because it was beautiful in its frozen misery, and a stern reminder of boundaries I shouldn’t cross again.

When I decided to make a prop wand from it, I stripped off the bark with a Dremel sander tip, then polished with successively finer sandpapers up to 600 grit. 

I did the spiraling design on the twig freehand with a temperature-controlled woodburning pen with a chisel tip. That allowed me to sink deep, precise marks along the wood. The resulting resins got scrubbed off with 90% alcohol and an old T-shirt. This cleaned off the soot and oils that could otherwise retard paint and varnish. The stick looked like this…

Painting time! I mixed a blue/turquoise/gray acrylic paint slip and worked it into every burned line, then painted a layer over the whole stick. That got to dry for a day. I chose blue-gray because it’s a color out of a fantasy series I’m working on, and I want do do some book covers in this look eventually.

(I can imagine that an earthwitch out of my Lonhra Sequence books might use a version of this thing.)

orangwwood wand detailWith another old T-shirt and more alcohol, I rubbed off most of the paint, until the buttery-yellow bare wood showed and the burned lines were filled with blue-gray paint. Once that dried for another day or three, I sanded again with fresh 600 grit black wet-dry paper.

This leaves a general effect of bare wood + colored inlaid lines bordered with the dark brown burned edges of the design. Covered with an oil-based or clear resin varnish, the effect looks even more like inlay. I use this technique a lot on wood book covers, because it adds subtle, precise surface detail.

The lanyard is Gray 4-ply waxed polyester cord from Maine Thread Co, in a triple-strand braid. The tan/cream/brown Picture Jasper rectangular tubes came from a $4 thrift store necklace I found last week. From The 30-Year Stash, I already had tumbled nuggets of Blue Lace Agate with the right mix of gray-blue and white banding and tan matrix.

On pyrography: Some folks do woodburning on leather (I don’t like the smell, or the result, but that’s only my take on it.) You may not get as deep or as controlled a brand line as you might on wood. Be careful when scrubbing/sanding off the top layer, as you can ‘suede’ your leather accidentally.

If you want to try this look, you can use the regular hobbyist single-temperature ‘soldering iron’ type of woodburning pen. I’ve found that my variable-temp professional pyrography unit with multiple tips is an amazing drawing tool. It’s more than paid for itself in the decade-and-a-half since purchase.

What am I going to do with this wand? Hang it up to look at for a while, maybe sell it later. It’s a proof of concept. The value for me lay in the crafting, so I can apply the look elsewhere.

Pussyhat Legionnaire Cap

It’s done! It looks like this:

PussyHat Legionnaire Cap Marian Crane www.cranehanabooks.com/blog

It started from an old beige cotton Dorfman Pacific Legionnaire Cap, bought at Popular Surplus when that was still around in AZ.

Around 2003, for a Halloween event, I put the cap into a salmon-pink dye bath. Then doodled some red fabric paint on it, and stitched a raggedy bit of cotton fringe to the bottom. The same fabric, salvaged from a thrift store woven skirt, made part of the hatband decoration. It was intended to have a vaguely fantasy/tribal/ethnic feel.

And then it sat in the costume stash for a decade or so. I picked off some of the more extravagant decorations for another project. I almost donated the cap last summer to Goodwill.

And then Trump won. Pussyhats became a thing. Now, I can’t knit, and my crochet was barely up to hat-level for the two lumpy pink hats I sent to the Phoenix Women’s March on 1-21-2017.

But I’m a costumer. I can sew. I remembered I already had a pink hat.

A couple of ear patterns later, some Beacon Fabric Adhesive, a lot of thread, beads, handmade tassels, more salvaged fabric, and many needle stabs later, I have a ridiculously glorious flaming beacon of a Pussyhat.

Which I will be wearing in public, thank you. Maybe I can draw fire for some younger revolutionaries.

I’m also very happy with the Rebel Starbird applique on back, in seafoam green ultrasuede with coral-red glass bead accents.

 

We miss you, Carrie Fisher. #Resistance

***

If anyone wants a pattern, I don’t have a complete one – I had to change my patterns so much I’d have to re-engineer the ears.

I can tell you that sewing the ears separately with some stiff interfacing inside worked really well. Just sew inside-out while catching the very edge of the interfacing, flip right side out, turn in the bottom edge, and sew some reinforcement seams. Fold the ears to get the shape you want, then tack half an inch or so along the lower edge of the ears to lock that fold in place.

Then use Beacon or another ‘permanent’ high-tack fabric adhesive to baste the ears into place. Every cap will have a slightly different brim/crown geometry, so the curled-into-the brim look of mine was a happy accident.

After the glue has set, come in and secure all seams with same-color thread worked through the cap fabric. (I never rely on glue alone.) I frayed some bright pink linen strips to line the ear bases front and back, to give more hot-pink tones to my salmon pink cap.

Marian Crane Pussyhat Legionnaire Cap

There’s a long-term advantage to designing around and between trends. Certain themes/colors surge and fade in the fashion world. An ice-pink dress I made nearly 20 years ago? Now back in style as a wrap, with a few tweaks. This vivid salmon/red/turquoise theme, that I started at least 13 years ago? Had a flare-up about a year ago.

I’ve seen these Cici Espadrilles from Maurice’s before, but my local thrift outlet got a pair my size for much less than the $24 retail price. They’re a perfect match. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t design the Legionnaire Cap around this very colorway, based on murky memories of the Cici shoes from over the last year or so. And it doesn’t really matter. Added to the salmon pants and shirt I already have, I’ve got an absurdly bright outfit.

Cici Espadrilles, Maurices, salmon multi

Toddler Grandma Insurgency, anyone?

Of Shade and Soul: A Touch Trilogy Novella

My friend A. G. Carpenter and the great people at Falstaff Books have released ‘Of Shade and Soul’, the second novella in her Southern gothic ‘Touch’ trilogy.

Delaney Green might be dead, but she don’t mean to stay that way. As she searches for a way back to the realm of the living, and the man she lay down flesh and bone for, Percival Cox and his team investigate a series of deaths and stolen souls. But Percy is not the man he used to be. If Del can’t find a way to stop him from waking his past, he could destroy everything, including himself.

This is a powerful continuation of the first book (I was honored to read both in their beta stages and final form). The final product is worthy of a Poe award. If you like moody Southern gothic, horror-fantasy, magical realism with a languid air of magnolia and burnt blood…this is your trilogy. Come read it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Shade-Soul-Touch-Trilogy-Novella-ebook/dp/B01MZE2D64

Dragon Batik, a PussyHat, and the Tax Day March

A test piece from circa 1991, made with scrap linen, plain old paraffin wax, acrylic dyes, a lot of cheap paper towels and a thrift-store iron, and a design borrowed from Balinese carvings and an amaaaazing Chinese celadon vase (Thank you, ASU West Library).

I’m posting it because it’s fun, fierce, and there’s only so many times a day I can poke at Donald Trump.

Although…

While I was digging this piece out of storage, I ran across another old hall costume orphan: a cotton muslin Legionnaire’s cap with backflap. In a fit of madness one year in the Aughts, I dyed bright salmon pink for a Halloween stunt, then stuck a camel’s worth of fringe and beads on it. A few years later, some of the adornments came off, to be stitched on something else. I almost donated the piece to Goodwill last year.

“Hey self,” I said while eyeing the cap’s possibilities. “It’s PINK.” I have fabric in matching and complementary shades, and another camel’s worth of more fringe and beads. I have a whole outfit the same color, heh heh.

I think it can be turned into a spectacular PussyHat, and I can make others out of the scraps.

There are rumblings across social media, that, since The Donald seems afraid to release his tax returns; that the Women’s March on Saturday seemed to really piss him off; and that many of us just like banging on cages…we might be aiming to march again on Saturday, April 15, just before the US Tax Day.

Earlier in March (TBA), a lot of angry scientists are planning a march of their own.

Will you join us?

Well, that worked

The first necklace with my mini-landscape pendants on stone. I might be playing with gold-filled chains for an even more (for me) minimal look. But for now, this will do.

Materials: black stone pendant, black polyester waxed cord, Toho glass seed beads, India lampworked glass beads, acrylic paint, bronze leaf, varnish.

Necklace adjustable from 15″ to 26″.

Selfie with a shell scarf

Painter 17, Alien Skin filters, and a fast snapshot of me trying on a recent creation.

 

I like how well Painter’s new Impressionist brushes work, and mimic how I’d do this in physical oils or acrylics.

While I still think it’s sort of ‘cheating’ to doctor photos with digital filters and sell the result, I can see why photographers do it. The processing power is so cheap and efficient now, that all you’re really out are your printing and framing costs.

Where digital filters really work for me: setting up physical paintings and mapping out brush strokes ahead of time. As I’ve mentioned before, having even a rough map cuts down on hours spent trying out one brush pattern over another.

 

Painted rocks

 

A few months ago I scored some carved black stone pendants. A little research into painted shell and stone (resulting in a LOT of humility), I had a film hardener recipe for acrylic paint. And many ideas.

These are the first test batch with bronze leaf accents. Each is about one inch high. Once I decide how to string them, the finished necklaces will be for sale on my page at SaatchiArt and another platform.

I’ll do an Etsy Showcase soon on how the real professionals paint miniatures on stone and shell.

New version of Moro’s Price coming soon!

 

My debut novel MORO’S PRICE, a M/M space opera erotic romance, was first published in 2012. I’m pleased to announce that a newly revised version will be coming soon from NineStar Press.

If you liked the original version, I think you’ll love this one.

If all goes well, you’ll also be seeing the direct sequel to MORO, as well as a spin-off M/M novella featuring two side characters.

Thanks for your patience and support!

2016 year in review

I could almost get away with the stub listing ‘It sucked’.

The many and varied ways 2016 achieved maximum suckage will be studied in later history (if there is anyone left alive to study it). I’m not raising my blood pressure detailing those slings and arrows tonight.

Instead, I want to talk about good things.

I’m still alive. Most of my family and dearest friends are still alive. A very good friend survived serious career and health setbacks. I am loved and cherished, which is awesome and humbling.

I eased away from one publisher this year, and gave another new one a chance. In art, one venue I thought moribund is actually turning lucrative, while I’ve dropped another before it cost me too much to recover from. My writing struggled out of a lazy plateau and improved dramatically. I have a wealth of art, jewelry, and writing projects to address, and just enough skill to reach them.

I have goals for 2017, and far less fear about them than I would have thought, a couple of safe and happy years ago.

So for my readers and anyone stumbling onto this post: I hope you have a sane, healthy, happy, productive, humane, and triumphant new year.

Endure. Live. Thrive. Resist.

Cobalt Arc Necklace

Many years ago, a wonderful little bead shop called ‘Another Bead Please’ had some gorgeous pieces of multicolored cane glass beads on commission.

I was lucky enough to score two massive curved glass beads, each in two-tone triangular cane glass: one clear and teal, and this one in cobalt and clear glass.

Since I have a stash of glass beads, I was able to match the clear/cobalt with some great coin beads, some dark cobalt pony beads, and tassels with a scattering of cobalt and metallic bronze beads to pick up the copper glass highlights in the coin beads.

It’s strung on heavy duty waxed black polyester cord, and is adjustable from about 15″ to 20″ lengths.

It’s more minimal and modern than the bead work I usually do, but no less fun.

This piece will go up on SaatchiArt Online in the next couple of days.

Added 12-26-2016: It’s live at SaatchiArt now.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Seabird Necklace

This used to be a different necklace, but I sold one of the components separately a few years ago. A different chain, a little Deco style, and here’s a new necklace!

Materials: sterling silver, amethyst, ametrine, rutilated quartz, clear quartz (rock crystal), smoky quartz, labradorite, iolite.

Concept: in a layered 3D filigree oval, a cast silver bird flies over curling waves with a 2.5mm iolite bead hanging from its beak. Filigree scrollwork dangles accent faceted smoky quartz nuggets and a teardrop cabochon ametrine with a distressed mirror backing.

Chain: gemstone beads and filigree lilies, linked by wrapped silver wire.

Chain alone: 18″ Commercial toggle clasp.

My ‘MC’ insignia on the back.

White Walls, Ghost Ship, and the arts in America

While we’re looking at the economic and social issues coalescing around the Ghost Ship fire, we need to accept that exploitation of creatives is so common it’s basically a tenet of American culture.

The vanity publishers I talk about in the ‘Filigree’s Rule’ section of this blog? They’re only one of the more-blatant tips of a big iceberg, culminating in our President-Elect.

Coded into bedrock American culture is the idea that art is frivolous or a luxury, that artists are second-class citizens who don’t contribute much to the greater good. ‘Safe’ art gets a nod from the powers-that-be, while ‘unsafe’ art gets tagged as unsavory and socially dangerous. ‘Play’ is never as worthy as ‘work’, even though play has been shown to be a common behavior among smarter animals, and a core practice of many genius-level humans.

I can hear any number of civic boosters, art professionals, teachers, grants committee members, and charitable foundation members yelping ‘Not so!’ if they read this. While they are all tirelessly working to fight upstream against the very attitudes I just mentioned.

Ask yourselves how much better your jobs would be, if Americans truly valued art and creativity?

From the San Francisco area comes this update on a story I first heard about years ago: the saga of a hip gallery called ‘White Walls’, a grifter called Justin Giarla, and the artists who ran afoul of him.

I was in the art supply retail business around the time White Walls became really famous. I remember seeing the glossy magazine ads for the space. I can see how artists got seduced by the pitch.

Quoted from the first story: “He did this intentionally to people, and bullied them when confronted,” Soukup wrote. “He hid behind the threat that he could ruin you if you spoke out against him.”

Quoted from the second story: When street artist David Young V, also known as DYoungV, saw Harman’s post about Giarla, it inspired him to go public with his own story. “It’s been public knowledge that Justin has been either stealing from or attempting to steal from artists for years,” DYoungV wrote in a public Facebook post. “Yet artists heard all the warnings and continued to work with him anyway. It’s almost like nobody wanted to believe the ‘rumors’ until it actually happened to them.”

Anyone who has been in the art sphere for a while has met a Giarla. I’ve known several, and yes, lost money and art to them. That artists, musicians, and writers have a tendency to shrug off such misadventures as ‘part of doing business’ is a sad but necessary fact of our lives. When any gallery exposure might be the lucky break we need to become famous – or even just solvent – we gamble.

The Giarla story at least has some merit, now that other artists beyond the initial whistle-blower have come forward to admit being scammed, too.

So if you’re a new artist trying to get your big break, what can you do? Here’s some tips I’ve learned from 30 years in the trenches:

It’s a business first, friendship second. Don’t believe anyone you work with, when they call your relationship ‘a family’. The more they emphasize ‘family’, the more you should silently add ‘dysfunctional’, and plan accordingly. Be nice about it, but protect yourself. While you’re at it, don’t completely trust your fellow artists, either – they’re all subject to the same temptations and shortcuts, and you might become a handy patsy or scapegoat.

Get everything in writing. Do not rely on handshake deals, since they can fall apart like wet toilet paper. Even the most well-meaning gallery owner can fall off the wagon, or even the map. Getting terms of your business relationship on paper may help bump you up in the line, if it comes to litigation or bankruptcy courts.

Never risk more than you can afford to lose. Accept that every single painting, sculpture, manuscript, poem, or song you produce in that relationship is subject to theft, in one way or another. Gamble – but spread out your risk factors.

Very rarely is ‘working for exposure’ worth your time. Any time someone asks you to volunteer your labor, materials, and time for free or a pittance, make sure the ‘exposure’ is actually worth something on your CV.

If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably either a filthy lie from a scammer, or the nonsense from someone too airheaded to survive in business.

 

 

Artists, protect yourselves

The lessons are piling on from last Friday’s horrific ‘Ghost Ship’ fire in Oakland, California.

At least three dozen people died.

To recap: The Ghost Ship was an urban warehouse illegally and shoddily converted into cheap work-live housing for artists, musicians, and other creatives. Electricity and water were siphoned from neighbors, and frequently didn’t work. Pre-fire images show a cluttered maze-like space called both ‘beautiful’ and ‘horrible’ by ex-tenants. It was a tinderbox waiting for a spark.

City and county officials explain they’re too overworked and disorganized to effectively deal with the hundreds of other illegal ‘work-live’ sites in their area.

Neighbors explain they called officials numerous times about the infamous warehouse.

The building owners claim they had no idea it was being used as a living space, or that the interior was hideously not up to safety codes…even though they were cited numerous times.

The building manager has shrugged off repeated warnings about fire safety and health codes, and even now seems to be trying to whine and bluster his way out of blame. He’s making those claims about ‘we’re all a family’ that we’ve heard from other exploiters.

Urban artists explain that the economy and affordable housing shortages force marginalized groups to seek ‘Ghost Ship’ types of often-illegal and nearly always exploitative communal housing. That governments and social groups have to step up to protect those vulnerable communities.

You know what, creative snowflakes? That’s feelgood Obama-era bullshit. You are on your own.

Most cities and states don’t actually care about artists, because most artists are not a lucrative enough tax base to be heard. Cities may make ‘We support the creative class’ noises, but seldom make solid promises or follow-through on safe housing and workspaces. We have a few good examples in AZ, but we also have our share of Arty Slumlords and boom-to-bust art neighborhoods.

Most civic leaders don’t want to encourage ‘alternative’ artists in any genre, because those artists have a bent for critical social commentary. In a Trump America, artists need to acknowledge they are now resistance fighters instead of cash cows. Trump himself, with his rants about comedy shows and Broadway musicals (and his own horrible taste in art!) has shown he doesn’t get that art *should* be able to challenge comfort zones.

In Trump America, there will be fewer regulations facing businesses, so don’t look for help there, either.

Why do we artists gather in cities? More opportunities, and often more safety and self expression than our heartland hometowns…especially now. Even for those of us who previously shied away from activist art. We no longer have that luxury.

The good news is we CAN protect ourselves. We can learn some basic science and safety measures. Make friends with (and pool our resources to PAY) electrical, construction, and plumbing specialists. Up our critical-thinking skills, so we can recognize deathtrap housing and megalomaniac site management when we see it. We can take logical steps to make our live-work spaces as safe as possible.

We need to think like doomsday preppers, and plan to be artists in zombie-apocalypse dystopias, where our survival depends on the choices we make. No one else is going to rescue us.

 

Painter 17 teaser art

Corel’s new digital arts platform Painter 17 is out now, and I’m fiddling around with it this week.

I finished this teaser art piece for the new version of Moro’s Price in about 30 minutes, and that was because I was slowly playing around with some of the new Artist’s Favorites brushes. I should have been able to do it in 15 minutes.moro-diamond-for-blog

Of course, I’d already photographed the emerald-cut diamond myself, and long ago designed the palm tree insignia. But now it’s a useful bit of art that may or may not end up as a cover design, once I fiddle with it some more.

Painter 17 so far: gorgeous. Controls are more integrated and intuitive. Customizing brushes, filters, etc is much easier. The help menus make sense. Corel seems to finally be listening more to its coveted base: artists who have some real-world skill with drawing, painting, and mixed media, and who want to recreate those looks in digital media. (And go lightyears beyond!) I’m not alone in my esteem.

If you’ve ever waffled about buying Painter as an actual, real, not-Photoshop digital arts platform, this version is probably the best entry into the Painter world that I’ve seen in 20 years. It’s not cheap, but if you are a student, you might be able to score the more affordable Educational Version.

 

Narrow Shore

(Soon to be an artist’s book.) For a couple of years, I’ve been taken to task by well-meaning folks who want me to make only positive, light-hearted, beautiful books that affirm life and hope. And I do – I’ve got a lot of those on the workshop table, or in development.

But being a nihilist, I also embrace the darker possibilities.

Almost to the point that I understand what, in a fantasy world, goes into the making and meaning of a cursed object. How beauty and craft can be slanted into devious turns and outright horror, charged with subtle or overt poisons meant to game one outcome or another.

No, I don’t have to accept this ‘new normal’. No, I’m not going to bother to ‘make peace’ with people – even my own blood kin – whose fear, laziness, and entitlement led them to vote for the distilled worst parts of the American psyche: a conman, swindler, chronic tax cheat, science denier, bully, buffoon, and rapist. I don’t have to pretend manmade climate change isn’t happening, because like a gamma ray burst, my lack of belief does not shield me.

‘Narrow Shore’ will be a dark little book, but not the darkest in my CV.

Narrow Shore

 

Every year, the universe pulls away.

Every year, it darkens as the first light fades.

Those who saw the Earth from space

Are growing old.

Their children traded thoughtless lives

For easy gold,

Trapped along the threshold

Of this narrow shore

Between the howling desert

And the uncaring deep:

Too weak to linger,

Too spent to leap.

In memoriam: Sherri S. Tepper

I had to ponder this one for a week, because it hit home. I may be adding to this post over the next few days.

Sherri S. Tepper was a powerful author and outspoken activist, who happened to write science fiction and fantasy.

I first ran across her work in 1983, when my best friend Kathryn shoved King’s Blood Four into my hands and yelped ‘You gotta read this!’ I did. It was damn good.

That started my long and varied experience with Tepper’s work. Like that of Tanith Lee, some of Tepper’s writing was painful for me to read. To paraphrase a certain Discworld witch, it didn’t do ‘Nice’, it did ‘Right’.

Tepper’s decades as a feminist and ecological activist made her fiercely uncompromising on certain principles that younger and weaker writers would never dare reveal in public: women’s rights, abortion and birth control, euthanasia of severely-brain damaged individuals, internally consistent portrayals of alien viewpoints, the importance of reason and logic, and the harsh equations of survival that pit planetary collapse against human activity.

Tepper’s writing could be painful in its honesty, hilariously sly, or shockingly beautiful. Some of it, I couldn’t stand. Other pieces are favorite re-reads. The ‘Mavin Manyshaped’ trilogy links into her ‘True Game’ books, but those books are hallmarks of what can be done with extremely short novels. They’re worth looking at, in this era of bloated best-sellers.

I stole some of my core concepts about the Lonhra Sequence cosmology from her ‘True Game’ books and from Grass. I’d always meant to ask permission to showcase one or two heartbreakingly gorgeous humanist passages from Beauty in an artist’s book, if I could figure out how to present them…and now I’ll have to ask that of her estate, not the lady herself.

I’m still wondering if she was the woman who bought one of my beaded and embroidered tapestries at a Phoenix convention in 1992. The woman looked a bit like Tepper from across the room, but I never found out for sure.

She was a fellow Westerner, Colorado-born, and lived for many years in New Mexico.

If she believed in such things, I’d hope she walks in human-hallowed Baskarone at this moment…and I hope to hell she was able to vote before she died.

***

I found a couple of the passages from Beauty (a hard and lovely book that pulls no punches). The first is worth revisiting, and I hope that showing it here falls under Fair Use and an earnest homage:

What shall I write of Baskarone?

Everything that was lovely of the world when men came into it is here. Everything that men made beautiful while they were in it is here. None of the dross, only the glory. Some gardens. Some monuments. There is even an entire town, designed by a woman of great artistry. I had seen a film on it in the twenty-first. It was built early in the twenty-first and then destroyed by the nationalist terrorists in the Great Reunification War of 2043, the same war that killed all the people in Ireland, North and South, and half those in England and Scotland, as well as sinking the lands of Ireland forever beneath the sea.

In the long run, it didn’t matter who destroyed the city. Fidipur’s ocean farms now cover the place it once stood. If the terrorists hadn’t bombed it and thereby started the war, Fidipur would have razed it anyhow. Mortal man is mad.

There are a handful of marvelous mosques in Baskarone, serene and beautiful. An Egyptian temple is here, crowded with painted columns. A mud fortress is here, its walls glistening with bright murals in tiles. There are structures in Baskarone from Ecbatana and Susa. There is a building from Troy. There are two from the States of America, quite small ones, sculptural houses which look as though they grew from the earth.

Cave paintings are here, fleeing horses and lumbering bison. African carvings are here, and so many things from the Orient I could not see them all, including a city from China, lacquered all in red and gold with dragons upon its roofs.

And all these things are set in gardens and woods and forests and prairies. The flowers that bloom in those gardens are the loveliest that ever grew. The trees in those woods are tall and straight. The grasses on the prairies have never been cut, and the little peeping birds run about among their roots.

There are people here as well. The woman who designed the city, the men who built the fortress, the carpenters who carved the dragons. All those who made beauty with their lives, they are here. Those who climbed. Those whose names ring, like a wine glass in a cupboard, hidden but sounding nonetheless.

The dreams of the men who tried to reach the planets, before Fidipur took everything, they are here. I don’t know how they are there, but they glitter like sequins in the shade of that place.

 

Christmas in October: Ebony and Horn

My quest to create miniature books around jewelry platforms…continues!

After contemplating my woodworking tools (and how much work went into a single mammoth ivory needle), I decided to outsource the jewelry forms. Find people who make stunning pieces from the start, and build on those beginnings.

The latest experiments start here, with five exquisite buffalo-horn rings and one ebony bangle bracelet, from the workshop of talented designer Que.

horn-and-ebony

It took many Google searches and several weeks to find her.

The 2-tone horn ring tops are roughly 1″ square, and perfect foundations for more mini-books. I’m casting around now for page/theme ideas.

The bangle is going to be a 4-in-1 book, with textblocks bound on each flat rectangular face. I’m thinking a ‘Four Winds, Four Directions’ theme.

Check out Que’s shops and drool over images of her stunning horn, bone, and wood necklaces, bracelets, pendants, earrings, and combs. (Those combs!) Horn is relatively soft (just keratin), but it has its quirks, and is sometimes not easy to work. You’ll looking at the products of masters, from Que and her shop artisans.