Saturday, June 03, 2006

Process: clean, commit, consider the consequences

7:30 a.m. My new favorite dollar store mug, small soup bowl sized, filled with coffee. Yesterday’s braids, neatly pinned up in a grown-up hairstyle, slipping their moorings. Blue velvet housecoat, almost vintage by now. Bare feet. I’m brandishing one purple glove.

I hold my gloved hand with my fingers spread, studying its construction. The gusset under the thumb, the shape that covers the back of the hand. I wonder if Sears has lady’s gloves in stock, it being June and summer gloves being a kind of antiquated fashion – like cucumber sandwiches or playing croquet. I’d like a left glove. No stretch. Preferably black. Fat chance.

I’d like, really, to take back the moment where I blurted out the word, “gauntlet,” yesterday, during a studio visit from the Director of a Gallery. My work was being considered for an exhibition in January, Haute Couture Avante Garde. The challenge for the artists participating was to create something spectacular, something they normally wouldn't tackle. “Gauntlet,” I said. I was so thrilled to be invited.

I was thinking of the wrist and arm portion of a gauntlet…a kind of extended beaded cuff. But afterwards, checking the image bank of Google, I looked at pictures. Oh. My. God. Fingers. The damn things have fingers. My 150 hour project balloons to…the rest of my natural life? I print antique patterns for gauntlets. I print photographs. I’m stocking up so that I have sufficient scare-material to keep me from every sleeping again.

Save yourself, I think. I decide to eliminate fingers. It’s fashion for the love of god, not actual war. Covering the top of the hand will do – with a…what? Strap to hold it in place underneath? Suede underside? At 11:00 p.m., past my bedtime and theirs, I consider emergency calls to friends who make costumes. I’m looking up articles on plaster to Paris. After all, it will have to display on something. I’m eyeing the pieces of broken bus shelter glass I’ve scooped up into a jar and thinking those might be an interesting addition.

What makes me glibly agree to such things?

I blame it on a clean house. The day before, I’m dusting light bulbs. I’m changing the foil burner protectors on the stove. I’m nearly at the point of vacuuming the air, just in case. The Scorpio laughs at me. “She’s not coming to check your housekeeping skills, you know.” But I have to do this. I have to buy a decent cream and sugar set and a second bunch of Astromeria. “You never know,” I tell the Scorpio. You never know. What if she saw spotty burner protectors and fled in horror and no one ever asked me to be part of an exhibition again and I had to live in a cardboard box and hold out a Tim Horton's coffee cup begging for spare change?

But bloated with the confidence of having a clean house, grown-up hair, and matching cream and sugar set, I feel capable and professional. “Gauntlet,” I say. I could just as easily have said, “beaded tuxedo and matching shoes,” the cleanliness and order had so distorted my sense of my own capability.

The good news is that this dangerous cleanliness is unlikely to happen again because my personal deadline for this project is the end of August – well before hell season hits at the day job, before I start teaching. And there won’t be time to change burner savers or vacuum the air. Or sleep.

Maybe if I hadn’t dusted, I’d be making a nice set of buttons. A brooch.

Thanks for the training, Mom. I’m expecting a little help from the other side while I’m doing this. It’s the least you can do considering the lecture entitled "it isn't clean if you didn't scrub underneath it."


beadbabe49 said...

Great challenge to yourself, lj! And, trust me, doing the back side of the hand and NOT the palm or inside of the fingers will speeed it up considerably! (and since this is fashion, you could also consider incorporating vintage sequins...tres cool and very european!)

LJ said...

Thanks BB! I have a friend rummaging for leather gloves and black isotoners as we speak. Thank the gods for friends who are willing to go cold-handed for their friend's art and then drive over in the pouring rain.

And PS - the drawings show that there was a strap across the palm and just below the wrist, so I'm not playing with historic design unfairly here.

Pause. Weedy arrives with leather, isotoners and one gym glove.
Now I'm cutting lining out...and fingertips off. "Fashion" I remind myself. And I would actually WEAR this thing (I cannot stand jewelry or accessories that are so arty they can't be worn)...and would not want my fingers gloved. Yep. Yep. This might be possible, I figure!

Wish me luck, BB!!!! Here goes nothin'!

beadbabe49 said...

good luck and please consider posting pics as you go for those of us who will not be able to get to the exhibit!

Lhonez said...

Hello LJ. You have an outstanding blog. The "Director" was coming to view your art, not to judge your cleanliness. Besides, if your blog is any clue as to the caliber of your art and your studio, you have / had nothing to worry about.

I wish you luck with your exhibit.

LJ said...

Thank you lhonez. Very kind of you...

BB - When I have anything postable, I'll post, for sure.

Katie said...

LJ, I'm sure that you will do great. This is such a cool thing! I am sure that once the stress passes you will be very excited.

It's funny how we feel when we have a clean house. I know when I get done cleaning our house I feel liberated or something. Like I could take on any task that comes my way after wielding a vacuum and mop. I don't know what it is about it. Anyways, good luck witht the exhibit. I'll be looking forward to the pictures :)


LJ said...

Thanks Jamie! I've been cutting up my friend's gloves and making little stabs at things all day. SO exciting. And yeah - what IS it about cleaning that does that? Like you've put the world in order and now you can go out and create world peace? Laughing. Maybe our mothers knew something, huh? Power of the Mop and Broom. I Am Woman Watch Me Dust.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow - that is SO exciting! You can do it, even with the fingers. Just break the task into discrete, quantifiable units, and then set your schedule. You can do it. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Mary said...

Very very exciting, LJ. So pleased for you. You know you deserve it don't you. One bead at a time, remember.

herhimnbryn said...

This sounds great. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE post some pics as you go.
Good luck. Who knows, you may set a fashion trend and this time next year we will all be wearing our one gauntlet as we do the weekly shop!

LJ said...

Thanks so much, everyone! I have some ratty pictures of my first attempts at making the pattern on my bead blog. I have since ruined some backing and ultrasuede, as well. Now I'm slowing down and thinking somemore. PF - thanks for the faith. Fingers, though? Have you taken a good look at a glove lately? The icky things. And yeah, Mary. One bead, one bird at a time.