Compound eyes

This was a week of contrasts, of suicide bombers and gems, art and armor. A rich week of brainstorming and artstorming and talk, one that brought home the value of new and shared perceptions.

My cousins visited, on leave from Afghanistan. They talked shop and experimented with different ways to improve military equipment (there are times when my knowledge of moldmaking comes in handy, which is fun).

Jeff’s brought back some amazing gem specimens from his travels–emeralds, pyrite, lapis lazuli, carnelian, rutilated quartz, beryl. He and Robyn spoke of volleyball-sized lapis and aquamarine crystals as thick and long as his fingers.

I hauled out my collection of gems and stone beads and gave them a kind of identification crash course. While I was at it, I finished Robyn’s Christmas present (above, left), made from silver, one of my cast pendants, and faceted carnelian. I gave her a choice of eight cast pendants in different colors and transparencies; not surprisingly, she picked the only one in camo.

They went back to work Thursday morning (take care, guys, and be safe). Three hours later I met up with my friend Rinee, in town for a couple of days to play with glass, molds and art.

Rinee’s great to hang out with and an artist whose work I very much admire, in part because it’s a 180 from mine. She’s gone back to school for a very demanding degree in graphic design and packaging, and I envy the heck out of her. (I always envy people who get to do art on purpose, for a living)

Her art is rich with found objects and type, and she builds collages that swirl and play and inform. We hit up the usual glass artist places–Clines and Georgies and Stephenson’s Pattern Supply–dropped into a reception at the Bullseye Resource Center, had Dalo’s Kitchen’s usual excellent Ethiopian food (if you like spicy meat, their kitfo is to die for).

Through it all, Rinee saw things I didn’t: A pattern made by an advertising circular. The artistic possibilities in a cheesy Valentine’s Day card. In a display of glassmaking supplies, we’d reach for different things, and I was continually struck with the divergence of our visions.

I could look at a homeless guy and see expression, facial volumes, the relationship of body to emotion. She saw color, pattern and mood. She’d point out things that made me stop and look again. Because of Rinee, I found more in my surroundings than I would ever have done alone, and I broadened my own vision just a little bit.

Maybe the best way to see is in concert with others. I know I learn more by arguing with the opposition than I ever could agreeing with friends, so perhaps it’s also wise to listen and try to look through another artist’s eyes once in awhile.

I do know that this week, I’ve gained a new, ground-level perspective on war and color and line because I was, for once, smart enough to shut up and absorb somebody else’s point of view.

All this shared perception stuff has given me a huge yen to collaborate. More on that later.

I also gained an unshared (and maybe unwelcome) perception: I just tallied the last six months’ receipts for glass and crystal and clay and silicone and plaster and wax and tools–gulp. I compared it with sales, probable sales, and show acceptances for my work, and realized something: I’ve got an incredibly expensive hobby that can’t pay its way.

I’ve been sculpting for maybe 30 months now, and it’s amazing how much I need to do it. But maybe I don’t need to do it in glass. Maybe all those (successful professional) artists who insist I should be working in stone and clay and bronze have a point.

Bottom line: 25 pounds of clay is a heckuva lot cheaper than 25 pounds of glass. I think I’m gonna go hunt me up a class sculpting with clay and stone, and see how I like it. Then we’ll take it from there.

At least for now, though, I’ve got a mold to finish.



  1. Rinee September 8, 2014 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Hey This post came through today. I remember that day! I love how you see things and I so remember that day! how is it that we haven’t had another day like that? So maybe we should do a collaboration? or even just talk?

  2. Rinee January 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    You are so sweet but I am the one that is learning to see differently. (and I love it)

    ps I am going with the game theme…on the endside of the box because the goldfish live in the sea. Ok not quite like we discussed but close enough. Whats funny is that the teacher mentioned he thought board games would be good before I even presented it! Thanks again for your idea! I’ll email you a copy if it turns out!

  3. cynthia January 19, 2010 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Lovely compliment, Sarah. Thanks! And thanks as always, Kathleen. I certainly won’t stop working in glass, but just acknowledging reality a tad before I’m up to my ears in wax and glass sculptures… 😉

  4. Sarah January 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Collaborating, looking through the eyes of others, is all helpful. Still I love your red sculpture. I think it’s beautiful.

  5. Kathleen Krucoff January 18, 2010 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Many of your posts strike home with me, but this one does especially. Over the course of the past 6 months, I met an artist who has become my friend, teacher, mentor, and sister. She has shown me so much, a new vision. What she sees vs what I see. Just like your friend Rinee, my collaborations/sessions with my friend Lexi have opened my horizons and I’m a different artist today…I’d like to think I’m a better one too. I entered the world of metalsmithing 6 months ago. I don’t think I can give up glass completely, but I am trying to work in glass and metal now. I’m happy for you and your new found perspective….it sort of becomes ‘self-aware’ in a good sense!

    I’ve always admired your glass work. It’s truly phenomenal in my opinion. I just think it’s great that you are going to explore another medium, because my experience in doing that has been enlightening and rewarding. I hope you experience that same joy. I know you’ll keep us posted! 🙂

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