Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shotgun Wedding

When I got word that Jock Reynolds, director of the Yale University Art Museum, decided to purchase and display two of my beach plastic necklaces together and call the combo “shotgun wedding” I laughed out loud. 

Why hadn't I thought of that?

Needless to day, I am thrilled to have my work in Yale’s growing collection of contemporary jewelry that features acquisitions that deal with issues relating to the environment and recycling/reusing.

From my email to Yale University:
My husband, Richard Lang and I collected each piece of plastic used in the creation of my jewelry as part of our project One Beach Plastic, now in it’s twelfth year.  All of the plastic was collected from a 1,000 yard stretch of Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Collected one piece at a time. The brightly colored bits are "curated" from the wrack line of debris washing up on to the beach.  In the studio they are cleaned then sorted into color and kind and become my "inventory." Sometimes an unusual shape will spark a design reverie. Sometimes the rich surface, the sea-buffeted patina will incite the creative process. Sometimes the recognizable part of a something (a piece of a comb or a juice lid) will evoke the question - could that have once been mine?

It’s important to me to keep the things I use close to what they look like on the beach. To have the impact I’m looking for, I want them to not reference anything else but themselves.

I am thrilled that you have selected my Sabot necklace for purchase.

The name Sabot  (rhymes with ago) stems from a confusion on our part. A true sabot is a casing to enclose a bullet. These are used to enable a smaller caliber projectile to be fired through a larger caliber rifle. They look very similar to the plastic florets we find on the beach, but the sabot have much thicker walls. I think the problem stemmed from the fact that I like the name Sabot, and I like the etymology of the word. Sabot comes from the wooden peasant shoes and clogs worn throughout Europe. In times of revolutionary fervor, sabots were used as weaponry. Hence the word sabotage and like a foot fitting into a shoe, the projectile fits into its casing.

What we have been finding are wads. Wads are used to encase shot inside a shotgun shell and are one of the most pernicious pieces of plastic that Richard and I find on the beach. We have thousands of them in our collection. The walls are much thinner, protecting the pellets from the charge restricting the shot pattern to a more coherent pattern. They shoot out of the gun and remain in the landscape long after the ducks and the hunters are gone. They float their way down rivers, from the wetlands to the sea. We have never been to the beach when we don’t find these in great numbers. Historically they were made of compressed paper, but with the advent of cheap polypropylene, they are now made of exclusively of plastic.

Since “wad” isn’t a very lyrical title, and not something you would want to wear around your neck, the new working title for the piece is Duck!

I am happy to have been on this hunt—I now know more about weaponry, gunpowder and the history of revolution—your interest has sent me on an unexpected etymological journey. Accuracy is a hallmark for the work we do.

Another email to Yale University:
Here is the photo of my tampon applicator necklace. Each of my necklaces is a unique creation made from plastic that washes up onto Kehoe Beach. The applicators have been sanitized by days at sea. Because so many of the applicators are now washing up on beaches everywhere- to avoid the embarrassment of speaking their true name, beachcombers now call them “Sea Whistles.”

Back in my day, tampons were made from cotton batting with a compressed cardboard applicator. Since I am years past my last use of a tampon, I decided to search the Internet to learn more about the technical improvements and the features that make the tampon with the plastic applicator so popular. http://www.tampax.com/en-US/Products/Products.aspx

From Jock:
Yes, do purchase this necklace for YUAG, display it along with her other one, and please use Judith’s wonderfully descriptive and humorous language when you create the text labels for showing our new “his and hers” Beachcomber jewelry – the two necklaces now form a  true “shotgun marriage” of flotsam and jetsam.

My gratitude to Jock for the idea of displaying the necklaces together and for his good humor. I love the "his and hers" and the "shotgun wedding." Hilarious...I wish I had thought of it!!!