Dark Metal

                    

 

After the holiday shopping season, like many retailers, I slow down for a rest. (Or perhaps what is more accurate is that I catch up on accounting and prepare for the tax season.) January and February are notoriously slow periods for all retailers, but for artisan crafters the sales/craft show circuit comes to a veritable stand still.  And this is a wonderful thing. 

For two months, while the rest of the northern hemisphere battles brutally cold, dry salt-powdered air, I (and many other artisans) happily lock ourselves in our studios for hours catching up on production, and pushing our craft further.  For me there is one aspect of winter that always weaves its way into my awareness no matter how absorbed I am in what I am doing.  That is, light, or better put, its absence.

We are wired to love sunlight.  Anthropologically speaking this makes sense.  Sunlight brings warmth and planting seasons and food.  Yet, long after the reliance on planting seasons has been an issue in North American society, we continue to struggle with the annual loss of sunlight.  But perhaps what we really struggle with is the cultural disconnect with winter and the darkness it brings. 

100 years ago, winter meant starvation, hardship and death.  To combat these psychological blows, we created a cultural response to winter that in effect helped define us.  It is a good thing that we have nearly erradicated the suffering of winter, but we inadvertently threw the baby out with the bathwater.  As a society, we have come to dismiss winter, and in doing so we have created a culture that has lost the ability to accept pain and darkness as integral parts of our humanity.

I am always a lover of lost causes, so over the years I have come to love winter and the darkness it brings.  Winter has always been the most productive period for me creatively.  This winter I have started to work with "dark metal" or silver that has been oxidized to a darker color.  I use the dark metal has as a partner for the more colorful polymer canework, and an expression of the beauty of winter's darkness.  

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