While in Haida Gwaii a few years ago, we were on a sailboat, approaching a village which had been named after the eelgrass that grows in abundance there: T’aanuu Llnagaay. Haida ancestors knew the importance of eelgrass and named a village after it--this thought kept moving around in my head, thinking about the implications of giving a place a name. Why was eelgrass important? I studied up.
Eelgrass is home to young and old creatures of the sea, providing food and shelter. As the ocean’s nursery, eel grass anchors eggs of many species, keeping them moist and creating shade at low tide for small fry to hide from predators. Eelgrass prevents erosion, and even filters polluted runoff. I became inspired to make a necklace honoring the eelgrass as a universal nurturer.
I found side-drilled aquamarine cylinders ranging in color from yellow and green to blue. They speak of water and seagrass, and I love the shapes they create when strung together. I used peridot and citrine gems for the "bubbles" and inlaid micro-mosaics in each of the double-sided components.
Nurture features imagery of sea stars, a crab, sea snail, flounder, seahorses, and of course, eelgrass.
The suite consists of a necklace, earrings, and a bracelet/necklace extender.
Once in a while I am asked to make wedding rings. It is a great joy for me to help others celebrate their love, often in unconventional ways. Each time, I design a ring specifically for them, not based on anything that already exists...so it is an honor for me to feel the trust bestowed in my abilities.
This ring was very special. It was to replace a wedding band that had worn thin. To bolster and combine history into it, I was given three generations of rings: mother, daughter and grandmother's rings became one. Please enjoy the process in this video I took along the way.
The Stonington Gallery has put together an exhibit for December of skateboards and paddles. It's going to be a fun one! Link to their website at the bottom of this page. The video below is the making of my entries...
I began weaving 11 years ago...amazing how weaving has changed me. I don't sit still well anymore; if I have some wool and water I'll be keeping my hands busy at the very least. I see patterns differently, I build and mix repetitive textures without thinking about it. Weaving analogies abound in life's structure; it's hard to believe that there was a time in my life that I didn't weave, and even harder to fathom that I had zero appreciation for weaving. Weaving was the part of myself that was missing all along, and I didn't even know it.
When my husband and I were engaged, I began weaving a robe for him. I spun yarn for nine months, then for nine more months wove the yarns into a robe. The result is a representation of our lives twining together. The act of weaving, of spinning wool into yarn, and yarn into regalia, is creation and destruction. It is transformation from one form to another. I was thinking about the word "unravel" and was puzzled to realize that "ravel" is not necessarily the opposite of "unravel" ....
As a weaver and a metalsmith, it would seem there is little connection to these two forms I create within, and yet, my mind and spirit seem to work well in both formats. The hard metal, the soft fibers, the rigid chemistry and the fluid tension are at odds yet very much alike. I think these paradoxes are part of creation in any medium, the alchemy that makes it all work is the magic in the human element. Surprises and formulaic precision blend into something new.
I am wandering in my thoughts, and that brings me to my newest works.
Adding texture to the back of my metal work is a puzzle: too much weight and it becomes unwearable, too little weight and it can't hold the inlay safely. Too much time involved and I can't justify a price. I wanted some texture that says "woven", or "fabric", so I've been thinking about how best to approach it.
Meanwhile, real life is speaking to me, pushing me to say something in my work. Seeing some of the worst our society has to offer, uncovering more and yet more of it every day...it is easy to feel disgusted. Yet somewhere in that disgust I started accepting that we are moving forward. Painfully, slowly (too slowly), we are speaking out and acting out, no longer allowing things to slip past. Hatred, bigotry, racism, environmental destruction, misogyny, tyranny, and on and on...they are being uncovered, called out. The nastiness that humans are capable of is unraveling. And in its place we are waking up, we are taking back and exhibiting our strengths. The best things in life are coming into greater clarity for many of us. The truth in our equality is worth fighting for. I have spoken to friends about this, and we've commiserated on how difficult this unraveling is, but how very essential...
With this in mind, I began to twist argentium sterling silver wire into rope. It was interesting, but much more satisfying when I cut it in the middle--just a bit--frayed it, teasing the twist apart. It is a positive act of destruction, transformation.
Is it fraying apart or knitting back together? I have an overwhelmingly positive outlook.
We are knitting together community, and twining our lives together.
The above necklaces (and a brooch and hairpin) each have a different personality to me, a different twist. The top left: "Overspun" speaks to me of complications, of frantic pace and difficult situations unraveling. A good friend has this one: she is the ultimate multi-tasker, a woman working in a field of good old boys, a mother who is constantly moving between work, family, hobbies, and finding balance in unlikely ways. Next down is "Untwist", she is much more relaxed in her twist, laid back and teasing her strands with aplomb, letting the nature of gravity work for her. "Loose Ends" is burning at both ends. She has balance and strength, holding her own in the middle while finding new ways to connect from all sides. The bottom two "Unraveling" remind me of synapses...knitting together while releasing negativity. Weaving is a metaphor for life. I will have more of the "Unraveling" necklaces available soon in my shop.
Reflections: the Collaborative Work of Scott Jensen and Courtney Lipson
An exhibit at Stonington Gallery in Seattle, WA, November 2 - December 3, 2017.
The video above is a documentation of one of the works in our exhibit. Scott has taken many expressive photographs of Southeast Alaska’s shoreline; often at times of low wind and no current, the reflection of land on water is perfectly mirrored. The symmetry of the landscape leads us to ponder the symmetry in the art forms that the First Peoples of the coast developed. In our life traveling the coastline we’ve found pieces of driftwood and rocks that are formline in nature. In the sense of fractals, we imagine the rocks along the shore expressing formline. This idea is one that Scott has wanted to express in a literal way in his art, so together we worked out a way to combine realism with the abstract.
Last year while in Hoonah, AK, friends took us on an evening hike through a beautiful forest, crossing streams to overlook a large open meadow with more trees in the background. All of a sudden we could hear a strange huffing sound which seemed amplified by the open spaces, and reflected back from the trees. We realized we were listening to whales breathing in the bay beyond the forest. That sensory memory, as well as other times gathering cedar bark, berries, and moss for dyeing, were present while painting this box.
Information about us, written by Stonington Gallery:
"Scott Jensen is regarded by artists and collectors as a living master, and spent much of last year recreating a totem pole for an Alaska Native village whose original pole had succumbed to the elements. Now, he brings his formidable knowledge of indigenous oral tradition and history, and his technical prowess to a joint exhibition, creating the sculptural forms onto which Courtney inlays micro-mosaics. (His website is www.SpeakingCedar.com)
"Courtney Lipson is known primarily for micro-mosaic jewelry, a process involving smithing of frames in gold or silver, and the setting of tiny, individual glass seed beads in elaborate patterns. She has expanded that practice to include micro-mosaic “paintings” on panel, using beads of different sizes and textures to render a scene as if painting with the beads.
"In a dual ceremony in 2010, Courtney and Scott were married, given Tlingit names and adopted by Fred Saat kaa and Ivy Gunalshowaxeex Fulmer. Scott was adopted into the Chookaneidí Eagle, Brown Bear and Porpoise Clan and Courtney into the T’akdeintaan Raven, Frog and Black Legged Kittiwake clan."