Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Sand Sweeper - Completed

The Sand Sweeper, version #1
The Sand Sweeper, version #2
As an abstract artist, one thing I sometimes struggle with is getting too literal. This unfolding saga has exacerbated this problem, especially if I name a piece before it is completed. I then agonize over making the piece fit the title. With this one I had partially built the vessel and hung a "tassel" from the keel, including the "brush" and the quartz crystal, and this had led to the name.

Now, how to complete it! I got stuck until I got frustrated and angry (ok, I got mad!!) and that's when I'm able to throw caution to the wind and just play "what if?"

I find I tend to set problems for myself, simply because I get a lot of satisfaction from solving problems. In this piece I had created a very strong asymmetry. With jewelry one has to establish not just visual balance but also physical balance - you don't want this thing swinging around as you walk and hanging on an angle, especially since I had restrained the asymmetry with very symmetrical links going up to the neck. The kinetic (yes, it spins) polymer clay "wheel" sitting at the stern of the vessel increased the "weight" on the left side, but continued the visual line up from the tassel, so it "felt" good there. 

I needed considerable physical weight to balance the right, also I needed something relatively dark and not too small to balance the visual weight. I chose a large fossilized shark's tooth, discovered on a beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida, during one of many times my family exiled me to the beach to dispel my depressive episodes (I have over 6,000 shark's teeth! Maybe that says a lot about my state of mind at that time! See, I need the beach - it keeps me sane!)

The effect was that of an anchor, but it created a problem - it visually takes your eye down rather than up to the face, and that's not good in jewelry.

Furthermore, the piece hung too low for such a relatively large focal point, so I enlisted the eye of a fellow artist (my younger daughter - I knew all the difficulties of raising children would pay off someday!) and the decision was made that the piece had to hang higher, which meant the two mokume gane beads had to go. 

The shark's tooth "anchor" was exchanged for a heavy, dark glass bead bracketed by two heavy copper endcaps to bring the eye up on the right.

The three white seaworm casings  with swarovski crystals at the tips are very kinetic and also move along the black wire, creating a strong, light focal area as well as eye-catching movement. They also add a feeling of fragility to an otherwise substantial piece.

Detailed images follow:



  1. Hi Vickie,
    That Sandsweeper came together beautifully. I really like the "feel" of the whole thing. It just 'works'. Maybe you should get mad more often. The patina of the wire gives a nice warm glow to the overall look. This necklace has many stories to tell. Too bad the sharks tooth didn't work, I like it. Would that (shark tooth)be for sale? Or one like it(with the wire and links)?
    I think I'll meditate on these pictures and let the Sandsweeper weave a story, just for me.
    Take care, Jay

    1. Hi Jay,
      This one is giving me a bit of trouble. I'm feeling that I "copped out" and am trying to live with it to see if it continues to bother me. I felt the shark's tooth was right for the piece, but I'm not totally happy with it and that means I'm now second-guessing other decisions, like the recycled leather straps. Hmmmmm, I should move on to other work and let some time pass.
      I could put the shark's tooth on a chain, but I think it may work better on 3 mm black buna cord, close to the throat, sort of like a surfer's choaker, with a handmade greek hook clasp. If so, I would have to put finer gauge wire on it(the copper is 18 g and was selected to go with the copper vessel), maybe blackened steel or silver (antiqued), or gunmetal. What do you think?
      Take care, Vickie

    2. Hi Vickie
      I can see how this would give you second thoughts. I didn't even realize those were leather straps. I thought they were very long black beads. They are hard to see in the pictures. The idea of the sharks tooth hanging down the back crossed my mind, but I don't know.
      The surfer choker sounds great and any of those wires would look very good, in my opinion. That copper you use is my favorite. I really like it. Did you make those thick copper links/rings above the sharks tooth. I've never seen any that thick. Maybe 14 or 16 gauge? I'm sure what a greek hook is, but I do know guys like very simple necklaces.
      Lay the Sand Sweeper flat and put the tooth in the center. Ask it to tell you where it wants to go, if anyplace at all. Then sleep on it.
      Good luck, Jay

  2. This is truly a stunning piece, Vickie. I like everything about it. And you've even given it the perfect name. Your descriptions and names are so wonderfully evocative. Were you every a writer?


    1. Hi Ernie,
      So nice to hear from you, and, thank you for your nice words. I'm enjoying this story that's growing in my head and so glad you enjoyed these snippets. So much of this is retrospective, coming from memories of my childhood in Norway, so I guess I'm getting old! Isn't that when we start telling stories?
      Your paintings are beautiful, by the way. Your use of colour is very appealing.
      Take care,

  3. Love it mom! You still do have quite the imagination.....think you could pass some on down? lol <3

    1. Hi Lillegul,
      Thank you. I can see that I already have passed it down. It's very gratifying to me to see your creative growth as you explore the edges of your own unique imagination! By the way, since Gamla has made it into the Skald, don't be surprised to find Lillegul there as well (ps. I can be bought!)

  4. Hi Vickie,
    Did you see my response on the 17th above?