Monday, June 20, 2011

Apple Earrings

I've now lived in my current apartment for just over two years, the longest I have lived in one place since I left home to go to college. In that two years some things have stayed the same (the general awesomeness of the view, below right, the nightly ruckus from the downstairs neighbors), while others have changed beyond recognition.

Our street cuts diagonally across a hill so steep that several blocks are split into double boulevards by sloping medians. When we moved in the medians in front of the house were overgrown amalgams of Himalayan blackberry, parked cars, and abandoned furniture. Then last year a team of tireless neighborhood volunteers transformed the flattest section into what is now a jolly patchwork of thriving gardens. Earlier this year, the less hospitable section directly in front of our apartment began to get the same treatment (below left).

One morning before work I was eating breakfast and enjoying the view when I glanced down at the old apple tree out front. To my horror, I saw one of the gardeners looking it up and down, a chainsaw waiting at his feet like a muzzled rottweiler.

If you've seen my blog, you know my art depends on the cutting down of trees. But I generally prefer them alive, and I especially like this one. It's weird and hunched and totally asymmetrical; it grows beautiful blossoms and thousands of tiny, terrible apples. Birds nest in it.

So I ran outside in my jammies like a flustered hen and demanded that Mr Gardener tell me just exactly what he planned to do to that tree with that chainsaw. In my head I rehearsed calling in sick to work in case I needed to bind myself to the trunk in protest.

It turned out that he had consulted with the city arborist and was planning to selectively prune some damaged branches in hopes of reinvigorating the tree.

Well, ok then.

The next day the pruned branches were out for garbage collection so I helped myself to a chunk. I sanded down a couple of thin slices, and voila!: locavore earrings. I love that the flaws--the greenish tinge along the bark, the central starburst of stains, the punctuation of insect holes--are all records of the tree's trials and tribulations. And I love that the cross-section reveals a couple of rings that embody two years of the life I've shared with a man, a cat, and a neglected apple tree.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Upcoming "Intro to Kitchen Table Jewelry"

Intro to Kitchen Table Jewelry

4 Wednesdays, 6 July - 27 July 2011, 6pm-9pm

University of Washington Experimental College

UW Main Campus

details and registration

Want to make jewelry without investing in an expensive setup? Learn how simple tools and safe materials can turn your desk or table into a productive jewelry studio. We’ll cover sawing, texturing, drilling, polishing, clasp fabrication, chain making - and more! Create professional - looking pieces to wear or give. Starter materials for each project included in course fee; students supply personal tools (shopping list provided; most basic kit starts around $25) and additional materials as desired.

As always, please feel free to spread the word to anyone who might be interested, and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions!