Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Homesick Locket Story

In 1992 I was living in Boston and, apparently, homesick. At least that is what it says inside a small microcassette case that I used to wear around my neck - "HOMESICK. DECEMBER. 1992."

In art school I had taken a color photography class, and I had always been fascinated by the outtakes, misses and scraps of imperfect images that I generated each time I printed a photo. I couldn't bear to throw out most of them.

My favorites had always been the contact sheets. There was something about those miniature images - slightly askew on a shiny black background, rows of little ovals and tiny numbers running along the edges like railroad tracks - that was so exciting, mysterious and brimming with possibilities. I knew I could do something with them.

For a long time I did nothing with them but pack and unpack them as I moved from one apartment to another.

But, in 1992 I finally turned them into my "Homesick Locket." I don't actually remember making it. I remember being in various places over the years and HAVING it, or opening it to look inside. But the memory of actually creating it is lost to me.

What I do have is a very funky necklace: The main part of the locket is a microcassette case (remember analog audio?), another small item I couldn't bare to part with whenever I replaced my answering machine tape. I finally cut up a bunch of the images from one contact sheet - from a roll of film I'd taken while home on a fall break during the year I took the color photo class.

I cut up a plastic sandwich baggie and folded up the photos inside it (I wish I had known then what I know now about archival materials). Then I cut up a Victorian wall calendar that I had saved despite it being from a previous year - the artwork was too pretty to throw away - folded it to fit inside the cassette case and punched holes so the case could close around it. On the piece of the calendar I wrote the memories that each photo conjured up for me. Then I folded the whole thing and closed it.

I had a long black cord-style shoelace to hang it from, but as this predated my knowledge of jewelry findings, I was at a loss as to how to attach it to the cassette case. Eventually I found exactly the right thing - a length of speaker wire twisted together with a fine gauge wire. The finer wire went around the width of the case, and the speaker wire around the length and I stripped part of the plastic away on the bottom to be able to twist the whole thing closed. It also had the nice effect of looking like a little tassel at the bottom of the necklace. At first it seemed like a design flaw, but I quickly found it charming that I would have to untwist this wire and remove the entire microcassette case in order to open the "locket". The finishing touch was a small grommet at bottom of the cord, to keep the necklace from spinning around.

So why am I writing about this odd little piece of jewelry?

I found it recently in my craft area of the basement. In the past 2 years haven't been down there for more than the time it takes to find some stickers for a kid's birthday present. And there it was hanging from my metal bookcase. Again, I don't remember putting it there. But I was really happy to see it.

It was probably the last thing I made just for my own enjoyment, just because the thought occurred to me, just because I thought of a use for something I was saving...just because.

I have schlepped the same art and craft supplies with me from one home to another and then from one part of the house to another for 20 years!!! When am I going to use the rest of them up? Some I can't bear to look at anymore - some I already threw away when I moved my craft area to the basement. But most of them have been sitting, waiting.

I have been waiting to use them for something really good that I can sell. Well, it is probably not going to happen - I don't have the time to start a business and I've never met a permanent adhesive that didn't give me a headache.

So I've decided to just use up the supplies I have for whatever comes to mind. Just because. It won't matter if it is marketable or functional. It just has to be beautiful or interesting or delightful. Like my Homesick Locket.

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