Three little ones – about 2×4″ – and one working on getting bigger – 4×8″
I’m figuring out how to draw the laser cutting lines right on the stitched material, so I am working in response to the stitching I have already done instead of carefully sewing the places I know will be cut out later. It is a small distinction, but it lets me work more fluidly in the early part of the process, with fabric and thread.
I made this yesterday, and it took me two years, plus an afternoon.
It has been two years that I’ve been thinking about the ways I could make use of laser cutting in my work. It has been two years of getting a grip on the software and concepts, the capabilities and limitations of the tool and the materials it could cut. Each time I learned something, my vision of what I wanted to do got clearer.
And so I can make things like this now.
I feel like I am balanced at the top of whole new mountain – gathering my courage to descend into a valley full of ideas and projects.
I distracted my father yesterday by taking him to find the people building a boat in Granby. It inspired some writing, that may or may not be poetry:
In the arch of the shed built for her
ribs reach up, inverting and echoing the arch of the roof,
built truth of the suggestions on paper
each one a balance of ideal line
and the reality of the materials at hand
balanced on her keel, propped by trees
from the woodlot behind the house,
and more of these trees, neighborhoods felled for this
form the bellied center, the eager bow, the solid and comfortable stern
planked only part way yet, the final outline is visible
even to an untutored eye
In answer to his questions, the man replies
"38 feet, two masts, ketch, gaff rig"
to my father who cannot remember if he asked,
or what the answer was
From this I can sketch in the rest of this boat,
imagine her at sea, sails tall against the sky,
masthead pennant streaming
and in one short leap I can helm her,
I stand there in my minds eye, confident, relaxed, delighted
and feel some ease I had not before
"38 feet, two masts, ketch, gaff rig" he says again,
a look askance at me, is this right? his eyebrows ask
I nod, and answer in turn
"38 feet, two masts, ketch, gaff rig"
leaving him to return to work, to make this skeletal dream
a floating surging reality
You can see their progress at Acorn to Arabella – they describe each step, and put out regular videos showing progress, and things they’ve learned. The person I spoke with was exquisitely kind, even though I was distracting him in the middle of something, and he was patient with my Da’s repeated questions. We admired the progress and slipped away again into the blustery day to find some lunch, but it made a huge impression on me.
UMass has a Sunwheel. It is a tiny astronomical henge designed and built by Dr. Judith Young. She installed one, and it was mowed over, then she and some students installed another and it was … modified, and finally she filed paperwork and got another department onboard and chose the driest piece of swamp she could find, and installed the third, which stuck, and eventually she added much larger pieces of Goshen stone to the outside, and it is quite delightful.
In non-pandemic times, there are faculty presentations at each solstice and equinox. This year there was a filming of a presentation, and us peons milling about in the background.
The thing about an equinox that is very different from a solstice, is that the sun is changing rising and setting locations, and times, at maximum velocity. The equinox has to be attended at the date and time established or you have missed it. The place the sun will set tonight is about 4o south from where it set last night, so catching it means something.
For one 24 hour stretch, everyone around the world had the same amount of daylight and darkness. For everyone, the sun rose properly in the east, and set as precisely as possible in the west. It is nice to think about, when everything else is on fire.
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so. After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns, we ourselves flash and yearn, and moreover my mother told me as a boy (repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored means you have no
Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no inner resources, because I am heavy bored. Peoples bore me, literature bores me, especially great literature, Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes as bad as achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me. And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag and somehow a dog has taken itself & its tail considerably away into mountains or sea or sky, leaving behind: me, wag.
Programmers and authors know for certain that some problems that feel intractable yield readily to being described to an interested observer. When an interested observer is unavailable, they can, and do, describe the problem to an inanimate object in their vicinity – a rubber duck, a stapler, etc. This is a known phenomenon, and many people have sympathetic ducks or other (toy) creatures on their desk for exactly this reason.
I am having what I am fairly certain is a rubber duck problem – I have finished two pieces using the same palette, and the same techniques, and I think (I think) one is kind of a hot mess, and one is a really solid piece of work. OR… it could be that one is a step towards more intricate work, and the other is too simple. OR … you get the idea. They could both be doing interesting things in different ways?
The biggest issue with my rubber duck, is that she doesn’t say much.
Those are the second 100. 135 is AWOL but I am certain it is on my table, but shuffled under something. I have not yet gotten the pin backs on 171-200, when I do they will go on the next cork board.
I’m not certain I ever talked much about why I am making these, or why I am still making these. I started the project January 22, 2020. I have, in the past, made a fabric postcard every day for a year(2007)and five years after that a circle every day for a year(2012). I was trying to do something like that for 2017, but I simply couldn’t. Too many things were wrong, with my own life and life in general.
I continued to make things, of course, because that is a huge part of how I define myself. I built a boat (! that still surprises me, and I still love it) and continued to make art, but I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for anything every single day. I know from experience, and from encouraging others to take a piece of time to make something daily, that there have to be rules, and doing it in some kind of community helps. I have been a vocal cheerleader for Daily February projects in the last several years, for exactly that reason.
This year I signed up for the Creative Project’s 100 Day challenge. It started January 22, and I began with 1. Between numbers 1 and 100, COVID-19 shut down most of the world. When 100 came, on the last day of April, it seemed that if the pandemic was not over yet, I maybe shouldn’t be either. So I kept going. My stated project; “one small embroidery, finished and framed in a 1.5″ square frame” was easy enough to keep exploring, and I have more than enough materials and time to continue. So I did. The numbering, N/100, helps me remember that I can stop at any time, because I have fulfilled my original pledge. It also continues to amuse me.
Having reached 200, exactly double the number I originally set out to do, I still feel like I am documenting something, or keeping track in some fashion. Counting up, I realized we have less than 100 more days til the US election. So my plan now it to keep going til then. That will be another 86 pieces. I’m not sure what will happen after that, although some additional counting provides the answer that Inauguration Day happens 164 days from now, and only two days short of a full year.
Our friend Alice graduated from U. Mass. this May with a degree in Geology. Alas, she was not able to have a proper graduation ceremony, so her sibling, Aerin, decided to organize a small ceremony in the backyard today at 1:00 pm. The three of us Vertses grabbed various robes, ceremonial accoutrements, and masks and drove over to Northampton. Bill brought a speech he wrote before he got up this morning.
Upon arrival, Bill dressed up in full academic regalia, RJ put on high school robes, including a mortarboard trimmed with dangling wooden mammoths, and I declared that I was an Audience, so I didn’t have to get dressed up.
Someone went upstairs and woke up Alice, the star of the show. Al and Aerin put on their academic robes and shoved some robes at Alice. Al added a speaker on his chest so that he could play “Pomp and Circumstance” as he walked.
Bill, Al, RJ, Aerin, and Alice lined up and processed around the backyard, while the Audience, Jared, and Lee applauded. Bill, as the only honest-to-gosh U. Mass. faculty member around handled the graduation speech. I include the exact speech in total (Bill read the numbers, too):
1. Thank you to Irrelevant Authorities 2. Welcoming Remarks 3. Stupid Joke (wait for laughter to die down) 4. Introduction of Other Irrelevant Authorities 5. Generic Congratulatory Remarks 6. Comment About Weather 7. Reference to Special Nature of Current Class 8. Thanking of Faculty 9. Thanking of Parents 10. Personal Amusing Anecdote 11. Obligatory Reference to Antonio’s Pizza 12. Long-winded and Boring Tale of Self-Sacrifice that Nobody is Interested in. 13. Homily about Doing Well in the World 14. Welcome to Ranks of UMass Family 15. Reference to Alumni Association and Donations 16. Will Graduates Please Stand 17. Conferring of Degree
At this point the graduate’s mother, Lee, handed Alice her degree which had been mailed to Alice. We all cheered.
18. Singing of Fight Song (nobody knows words) 19. Go UMass! 20. Under Your Seats you will Find a Pin
At this point, Bill tossed the U. Mass. pin at Alice (social distancing) and she picked it up off of the ground.
21. Please Stay in your Seats while Platform Party Exits (ignored) 22. Random Milling About
We milled around. Lee asked Alice if she felt any different after our ceremony and Alice said, “Yes, the diploma feels more real.” We sat in the shade, wearing our masks, and visited. Chris showed up fashionably late, but brought Lindor Truffles, so we forgave her. A good afternoon.