31 May 2011

Verse & Vision: Whiskey Light

"Night time is really the best time to work. 
All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep."  
~Catherine O'Hara

This is the fourth and final post about the pieces I created for the Verse & Vision show on now through June 25th, a collaboration between Wisconsin poets and the Gallery Q artists. You can read about the others here, here and also here.

I do my best work at night.

I often call this my "9 to midnight" job. And although I would love for it to be a full time gig, it is really more of a hobby gone wild. While my most fervent wish is to have daylight hours to create, I am certain that even if I had them, I would be doing most of my best work at night.

So when I read the poem by Josh Wussow called "Whiskey Light" I had this immediate image of the moon in my head. The sort of moon that hangs low in the sky like a big orange ball of light. The kind that is so close you can touch it, so real you can taste its creamy coolness.

I love the way the full moon paints the world with a touch of titanium white and a softer blue gray of the shadows. The trees look taller in moonlight with their limbs stretched out reaching over hills and valleys to touch each other like so many people holding hands.

But it was the last line of this poem that grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I knew that there had to be a lunar reference in this piece, but that last line begged to be incorporated as well. Full of double edged meaning, yet brimming with possibilities.

I thank Josh Wussow for penning these lines and for allowing me the honor of sharing them with you.

Whiskey Light
by Josh Wussow

The restless moon
has drawn me
into the calling dusk

My dull
whiskey light
a haze, etched in amber
hovers thick and
over yellowed streetlamps
and empty roads

I taste its essence
in the quiet air
dash of dreams
pinch of sin
the tacit scent
of things
best done
by night

{Whiskey Light}

I am very proud of this piece. But it almost didn't happen.

This being the very first Verse & Vision collaboration, we had only from early February until mid-April to complete our art. That wouldn't be too terrible of a timeline if I didn't have traveling basketball, dance recitals, a trip to D.C. and the launch of my new 'simple truths' pendants happening at the same time. Not to mention all the dancer necklaces I did during those few weeks. 

I completed the first three and got them to the photographer for the book layout well before the deadline of April 20th. I just didn't have time to complete what I wanted to do for this one. 

I had sketched a design that looks nothing like this. With the mention of the 'haze, etched in amber' I had grandiose plans to etch a copper moon, add a bezel and then add some resin tinted amber to that focal. And that never happened. 

I was in the Gallery to pick up my pieces the first week in May to be sure that they were tagged and ready for the Gallery to hang them, when one of the committee members came to me in a panic: the poet would be there to read his poem that night and if I didn't make the art, there would be nothing to show for it. Would I still make the piece? Could I do it in time? That was Wednesday. All the pieces had to be logged in by Friday. 

I had committed to doing this piece but I had failed to make it a priority so that just about shattered me. Wearily, I said yes, I would do this. 

I went home that night and sketched a new design, one that wouldn't be etched and bezeled but that would show that I could completely fabricate a piece from start to finish.

I started with circles cut out of copper. I hammered texture and added some round bubbles to make the disks represent the phases of the moon. From just a sliver of the moon to full, you can see them all if you look closely.

But flat just wouldn't do, I wanted it to have a sculptural sense, and also movement. I had been studying the works of Calder and spirals are very prominent in his work, which was influenced by primitive artifacts. The construction of Calder's works are so kinetic. I wanted to attain a freedom of movement in my design. So I started with spirals of copper wire connecting each link through a riveted hole. Why not just leave the holes punched raw? That small rivet in each hole is a detail that puts a polished touch on the piece.

I crafted the swirl clasp to connect to a similarly embellished copper washer. I wanted no pre-fab parts to this design.

The central focal is a crescent moon with the last line of the poem 'things best done by night' and a solitary rough faceted carnelian drop in the perfect shade of whiskey. That stone is the only thing I didn't craft by hand.

Someone at the opening was interested in the piece and questioned why it was priced so high. It was then that I explained that I cut, filed, textured, stamped, riveted, dapped, coiled, hammered, patinaed, tumbled, polished and sealed every single piece on this necklace. From concept to completion, I did it all. I think she walked away with an appreciation for what I did that went beyond admiring it. And I also said that even if this wasn't the one for her, I could certainly apply those skills to something custom just for her.

I worked on this two straight nights working from 9pm to 2am. At 1am on the second day I almost thought to ask for an extension until Saturday so that I would have the extra day to finish, but then I decided that I was so close and I just kept going. I was beyond exhausted when I finished. But the important thing is that I completed it to hand in to the committee by noon on Friday.

They were stunned at what I created. But truthfully, so was I.

I guess it is true that I do my best work at night.

So, now it is your turn...
When do you do your best work? Are you more capable in the morning? Does your creativity ebb and flow throughout the day? Or are you a night owl like me?
Have you ever completely hand fabricated something? Do you bake from scratch... plant from seeds... or grow amazing kids? How does it feel to be the creator, the originator, the guiding force?
Do tell!
Enjoy the day!


Lorelei Eurto said...

i definitely do my best work in the early morning. this necklace is gorgeous. i am enamored with your patience to make all of those disks. the coloring came out perfectly. and how the heck did you do the wire links. wow.

Anonymous said...

Erin that piece is amazing! I am such a moon lover, I go outside at night even in the dead of winter and marvel at it up in the sky. I absolutely love the phases of the moon you included and awed with the amount of research and skill you put into this piece. Just gorgeous.

For some reason last week I felt compelled to grow a sunflower. The only other sunflower I have ever grown was when I was about eight years old. I remembered its huge sunny face, maybe that's what propelled me to by the pack of seeds. I planted a few and two days later I had a sprout, I've been marveling at it every day. Even from morning to night there is growth. I wish every day could be like that. :-)

Barbara Lewis said...

A beautiful piece, Erin. I remember when I took painting in college, my best work was always the last few minutes of class when we had to hurry up to finish! Amazing how that works! I'm a morning person, so by 3 p.m. I'm looking for chocolate or for Judge Judy to slam dunk some jerk! How's that for the finishing touch to a perfectly good day! LOL

Janet said...

What a feat wiring them together and so precice! A really dark and beautiful piece Erin! Im sure the woman has a new light of understanding on this gorgeous pc you made!

SummersStudio said...

Oh, Erin, this is stunning. Those links are amazing and ties itself so beautifully to the poem.

Gardanne said...

I'm with you, I was in the studio until midnight last night. Then I had to fondle my enamel pieces until 1am ( ha scared you for a minute didn't I).
I think my late hours has more to do with distractions during the day than when I do my best work.
I love your necklace! The inspiration is great, I rely on visuals for a jump start, how interesting to think of verse.
Like Lorelei I love the way you connected the discs, I imagine it moves beautifully.
Great job Erin.

One Kiss Creations Beaded Jewelry said...

i am so taken by this i am wordless. i fell in love instantly. i am a night owl, prefer the moon to the sun, and whiskey is my drink. i bake from scratch, grow my own veggies, raise my kids, and never thought of what it meant until i read your questions. i am sure the questions will be in my thoughts for days to come, but right now, all i can think of is how much i want to touch this exquisite piece of jewelry you created.

Jennifer Cameron said...

Oh Erin! It's gorgeous and so fitting for the poem and the display. I am with you as for working hours. The days when I am able to and encouraged to do work during the day, it doesn't happen. I simply cannot make anything worth showing anyone. But late at night, creativity and ideas seem to burst open. If I could consistently work those hours, that would be ideal. But if I did, I would never spend time with my husband. LOL! Yesterday I worked on re-organizing my studio. It was such a mess I couldn't function at ALL. Heck, I could barely walk into it. By 2am, I was about to shut it down when I saw a couple things still sitting on my bead table and they were CALLING out to me. So I had to. I finally climbed into bed around 3:30am having completed 1 cuff and nearly completing a necklace (need to make a few beads for it first).

Anonymous said...

Erin! I am truly rendered speechless by the STUNNING necklace. It is a beautiful and amazing work of art!
I have to say that I do my best work at night and that I get awaken with my best ideas early (2am) in the morning!
Have a wonderful day!

(I am having issues with Blogger even though I use it for my blog so you may see two comments from me.)

sandi m said...

Erin, Beautiful, love what you did with this - the words, the copper, the spirals. (Love that Calder guy.)
Yes, I've found when you explain how you craft a piece people do walk away with a better understanding and appreciation.
When do I do my best work? probably night. There's something about the quiet that allows my creativity to flow.

SueBeads said...

I'm best in the morning as well. It's amazing, this piece. I really love this concept and am so amazed at your vision!

EB Bead and Metal Works said...

Absolutely stunning piece, it is breathtaking Erin! I work better in the morning, I think that is from my time in the Army, I like mornings. I have had to fabricate pieces from scratch in my metalsmithing class and I loved and hated it at the same time.

Jewelologie said...

I'm speechless! What an amazing bracelet!

I do my best work before noon. I guess it's my age (65) but my mind goes into brain freeze after dark! :-) I do garden some, but my best acomplishment was raising 3 wonderful daughters.

Cheeseboy said...

Really, really cool. Night works for me too.

And thanks for the awesome comment on my post today. Might be one of the best/funniest comments I've ever received.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing such a lovely poem... I think your stunning piece really made the connection.
I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.
Take care.

Heidi said...

I too am in awe of the links. That necklace is seriously amazing!

Michelle Mach said...

Gorgeous! What a terrific idea for a show, too!

I am definitely a morning person, but it can be hard to save that time just for me and not use it on a project for someone else. I do think night people have the advantage--fewer people will want to hang around them and bother them at night!

Judy said...

I too am a night owl, I am not sure when my best work comes out but I do like working late.
Your piece is just amazing....a wonderful work of art! I love the poem, especially the part..."a pinch of sin".

Designs by Dawn Marie said...

Erin, this is a beautiful piece of art. Love the copper and the lunar feel. So glad you were able to finish it even if it was after dark!

I have inspiration strike often at 3 a.m. which requires immediate action, or all creative thoughts will be lost by morning. Then follows a nap the next day.

Hope your week is superb!

Patty said...

Erin you have knocked it out of the park with this one! The symbolism throughout is noteworthy, and I admire your commitment to handmade components. It's a real work of art, and you should be very proud. Nothing like a deadline, huh?

My most productive times vary, depending on how tired I am. For sure most of my ideas flow when I'm in bed, either at night or early in the am.

Cindy said...

Erin, I truly enjoyed reading all of the details for this piece....what a story! I can truly appreciate all of the time it took to make each component by hand, and how it really did take all of those hours for 2 consecutive days. You must be so focused when you set to work! This is stunning, you must be so incredibly proud of the end result. All of the jewelry that you made for the Verse & Vision show are such one-of-a-kind pieces of art. You did it! How you did it ALL, I'll never know. Even as a fellow night-owl, I can't seem to squeeze it all in (and look at the late hour of this comment!). :-)

Davinia said...

Just stunning.....the piece compliments the poem so beautifully and like everyone I'm in awe. I'm a morning person and struggle to keep my eyes open past 9.30 in the evening.

Malin de Koning said...

Erin, everyone has already said it, but I just have to repeat:
This necklace is so fantastically beautifully stunning and wonderful. So unique, so well worked in every detail, so beautifully designed.

I love it!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

The above comments have already described this necklace quite well! I'd say it has to be one of your many "best"! What really blew me away is designing in all of the moon phases, too much! A bio-feedback machine indicated that I am most creative during the full moon and the new moon! So I'm attracted to this gorgeous piece in that way, too!

Lisa said...

Absolutely incredible! I hope the poet was as 'blown away' as all of your readers have been! I love your interpretations of all your work. You are, most definitely, an inspiration to me.

I have always been a 'night owl', and married a 'morning person'(go figure!). I love growing things and will have to say, have two amazing children. My husband and I have been blessed beyond words with our children.

swopemelmel said...

WOW!!!!!! I wish I had more words but all I can say is WOW!!!!! Brava!!! swopemelmel@aol.com

Alice said...

What a gorgeous piece! Unfortunately my creativity seems to be at its best when I am the least available to take advantage of it; driving, showering, in church, etc. I'm neither a morning nor a night person--which I am ashamed to admit. I work best under pressure.

Brandi said...

Erin, I'm absolutely blown away. This necklace is phenomenal!! The design is amazing, and the colors and textures are superb - you should definitely be doing this full time, definitely.

And I'm naturally a night owl, too - my brain wakes up after dark.


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