Thursday, April 29, 2021

Roots Project: Passive Jewelry Piece #3


Strand of assorted root beads

This third passive jewelry piece in the ongoing Roots Project is, perhaps, my favorite. Note that "passive jewelry" involves the roots doing nothing more than growing. I then harvest them and use them to make jewelry. In the upcoming collaborative jewelry series, the roots play a more active role in actually creating the piece.

The grasses growing hydroponically in my front windows

These root beads began as a byproduct of earlier roots jewelry making. When I had scraps of roots left over I couldn't bear to discard them and started rolling them up into beads—which is more challenging than it sounds. As I grew fond of the beads themselves, I started to harvest root batches more intentionally to create more, and my beading technique grew more refined.

Lovely, lovely root beads

What I found particularly intriguing is how distinctly different each type of root appears in bead form.

Root beads and root strands

The final necklace includes an assortment of all of the types of native grass roots I have been growing.

Root types

Artifact from a culture that never existed

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Roots Project: Passive Jewelry Piece #2


Courier necklace made with Reed Manna roots

For background on the greater, ongoing project, which involves various art experiments with native grass roots, see Roots Project. I have come to think of this second passive jewelry piece as an ephemeral courier necklace - an artifact from a nonexistent culture. I envision lithe, delicately limbed messengers wearing these fragile neckpieces running hither and yon, delivering the messages written within the rolled up paper beads.

The native grass root used here is Reed Mann, the roots carefully teased apart into long separate strands. The beads are made from Chinese good fortune paper.

Artifact from an unknown civilization

One more passive jewelry piece will be posted shortly. Then, with any luck, the active jewelry collaborations in which the roots have control and creative agency will enter their harvest phase.

At this point in the project, I realized I was on the right track when I woke up one morning with the urgent thought: I need to grow a pair of earrings!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Roots Project: Passive Jewelry Piece #1

Bamboo root, Reed Manna root, bone

This Passive Jewelry series is the second stage in a series of experiments involving native grass roots (see The Roots Project). I have used the term "passive" to distinguish this series from a collaborative series currently in progress. In this passive series the roots are simply serving as materials; they play no active role in working collaboratively to create the jewelry.

This first piece was one of those happy accidents, introducing Lucky Bamboo (dracaena) root to the mix. I realized one of my Lucky Bamboo stalks had become root-bound in its container of water. I experimented, cut the lower portion of the stalk with the roots off entirely, and put the old stalk back in a fresh container of water (where it is surviving happily and madly sending off fresh roots). So - it turns out you can sustainably harvest Lucky Bamboo roots!

Lucky Bamboo (left), and Reed Manna 

The first step involved carefully teasing apart the Reed Manna clump into separate strands.

Reed Manna root

The Lucky Bamboo root had grown into a swirling circle in the confines of its water container, and this shape triggered the inspiration for the rest of the piece.

Lucky Bamboo root

Below, you can see the longest, strongest  Reed Manna roots teased out into workable strands. The ball, which was formed from shorter, weaker roots, was set aside for a later piece of jewelry. 

Necklace materials

It was possible to thread long strands of Reed Manna root onto an embroidery needle and stitch/loop it through the bamboo from either side, and then string on little tiny beads made out of bone, picked up long ago, somewhere or other.

Close-up: Roots and bone

And that brings us to the end of our narrative on this first root jewelry piece. Stay tuned.

The first root necklace

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