On The Reading Shelf

How Alice in Wonderland Saved My Life

It was the spring of 1971, and I was close to failing high school geometry.

I had started the class armed with ruler, compass, number two pencils, plenty of notebook paper, and enthusiasm. The nun who taught the class was young, personable, and fun. I did just fine until Spring rolled around. On nice days, we headed outside to sit on the grass under a budding tree while she explained the latest proof and drew on notebook paper to illustrate her point. Everyone loved it, including me.

Imagine it for a second. The sun is shining, a breeze is gently rustling the new green leaves, Sr. Mary Mary is holding forth on Euclid in all his glory. This is what is going through my head ……Euclid….blah…… blah……blah….oooh look at that big spider …..hypotenuse….blah…blah…..blah…..this grass is tickling my legs…….. blah……….blah…..therefore we can say that………..did that spider just crawl up my leg?……….everyone got that?      Um, what?

I was lost.

Near the end of the semester, desperate not to have to go through this again, I asked for an extra credit project and, given a choice of several, I chose to do a paper on the logic in Alice in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll, real name Charles Dodgson, was a mathematician and logician with strong opinions on the subject. Math and logic references are frequently found in his works, as in this exchange from Alice in Wonderland:

`I couldn’t afford to learn it.’ said the Mock Turtle with a sigh. `I only took the regular course.’

`What was that?’ inquired Alice.

`Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,’ the Mock Turtle replied; `and then the different branches of Arithmetic– Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.’

`I never heard of “Uglification,”‘ Alice ventured to say. `What is it?’

The Gryphon lifted up both its paws in surprise. `What! Never heard of uglifying!’ it exclaimed. `You know what to beautify is, I suppose?’

`Yes,’ said Alice doubtfully: `it means–to–make–anything– prettier.’

`Well, then,’ the Gryphon went on, `if you don’t know what to uglify is, you ARE a simpleton.’

I’d never read Alice before that class, and I fell in love with the book for all its outright craziness and convoluted logic.  I loved Alice for being curious about it all.

“Curioser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for a moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).

Maybe the story fit right in with my teenage brain trying to make sense out of a world that sometimes seemed nonsensical. The illustrations by John Tenniel were perfect companions to the text and will forever be what I think of when I envision Alice in Wonderland—a little crazy with a hint of terror lurking at the edges.

alice-and-cards

I hope you’ll be tempted to open Alice and enjoy. There’s a wealth of information online about the math and logic problems in Carroll’s works if you want to be curious yourself.

By the way, I passed geometry class. Thanks, Alice.

There is another connection with Alice and that will be in my new line of literary jewelry.  Stay tuned for updates on that project coming soon.

On The Reading Shelf

On Reading Vogue

A subscription to Vogue Magazine is a requirement for the Build a Line Challenge sponsored by B’Sue Boutiques. I haven’t read Vogue since my salad days. When the first issue arrived, I couldn’t wait to dig in. I sat in the comfortable Lazy Boy covered with a warm blanket armed with red pen, highlighter and a myriad of little arrow Post-It notes. The first thing I did was rip out all the perfume ads. Love those.

I wasn’t quite sure what the objective was in requiring the subscription, but I was ready to begin. I took my time exploring and examined each page carefully, highlighting jewelry, writing comments on the photos, dog-earring pages. What was I seeing? What did I like? What was speaking to me?

I was inspired. No… I was fired up. I went into my bedroom closet and took a good look around. I saw imitation Uggs, baggy yoga pants that have never come in contact with a yoga mat, heavy wool sweaters, bulky socks, and not a Jimmy Choo in sight.

And then, I got into the car and headed to the local upscale lifestyle center. Jimmy Choo was calling and I answered. The blue suede Vixen with its perfect little bow at the back longed to be on my feet as did the Hitch in that oh-so-lovely orchid shade. A pair of black stilettos were added, and I was done.

And then, I headed to Dolce and Gabbana. That green striped cardigan with the jeweled pineapple embellishment was just the spot of brightness I needed. Those black cuissard boots and the cordonetto lace sheath dress in black begged to come home with me; and not being one to resist, I let them.

And then, I headed to makeup. It was time to get new. So I went with everything Chanel. Just the sound of Poudre Universelle Libre made me feel beautiful. Of course, I also bought some perfume.

And then, with no butler in sight to carry my purchases and bring the car around, I searched the massive parking lot for my car. And searched. And searched. And searched.

And then I woke up.

And put on my imitation Uggs and the baggy yoga pants. Pulled on a coat over my two warm shirts and stuffed my fingers into a pair of gloves followed by a pair of mittens. I opened the side of one the perfume ads and rubbed it all over my jacket.

And then, I went outside and shoveled four inches of snow out of the driveway.

Exploration · Raw Materials

Raw Materials

Sometimes I wonder if making things is just an excuse to gather things. This is what is on my jewelry work table right now.  Pretty cool, huh?

glass-bits-and-bobs

I can’t stop running my fingers over these glass pieces. Their satin surfaces invite touch, and I hold them up to the light to peer through them with squinted eyes. How can I use these? Will I wire wrap them? What color wire will I use? Will I use them as a focal or as something else?  That skinny cobalt blue piece looks more like a closure for a book.  I’ll move it to the book work table.

brass-stampings

And then there are these brass stampings. Out comes the magnifying glass to examine them. How will these surfaces catch and hold colors applied to them? What parts should I emphasize? How will I make these uniquely mine?

Do I need to keep that beetle for me? I think so.

paper-post

And what about these papers – a minuscule part of what I’ve collected. Will these be useful in my project or should I put them aside for others? Do the textures play to what I want to create?

resined-tags

I like these tags; some have been filled with resin. Can I use them for this project? How?

When you buy something handmade, it’s easy to see the raw materials that were used but impossible to know all the decisions that went into making the piece.  And the most difficult decision of any project is saying “This is where I’ll start.”

For today, I’ll choose one of those spotted blue pieces of glass in the top photo.  It’s going to get two holes drilled into it.  Maybe it will be a bracelet; maybe a pendant.  This is where I’ll start.