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note #6

The essential basic element in my jewelry is the cotton cord. After experimenting with various brands of twine, I finally settled on a cotton cord manufactured by the William J. Graham Co. (Gramco) of Lowell, Massachusetts. It was the right thickness for my purposes and had a compact twist, was very flexible (unlike the stiffer string used for loops on casings), knotted easily, and took water soluble dyes well. I bought a bulk quantity. When my life changed directions and I phased myself out of jewelry making and into graduate school for Egyptology in the early 1990s, I still had a quantity in stock. This was fortunate for my recent return to jewelry making, because Gramco has since gone out of business. After searching the internet for them, I contacted the folks at the American Textile History Museum (Lowell, MA, http://www.athm.org) who told me that the William J. Graham Co. apparently ceased operation in 1991 after approximately 50 years in business. That was a disappointment, and I have yet to find a comparable product available on the market today. For the present I'm working with my back stock.

The various methods I use to construct collars always leave excess lengths of string that are trimmed off in the finishing process. Over the years I saved these "string ends" in bags sorted by color. When, in 1988, I was invited to submit several pieces for an exhibition coinciding with Convergence '88, the international biennial fiber arts conference hosted by the Handweavers Guild of America, I decided to

 

make one piece specifically for the show. At the time I was beginning to play with asymmetrical assemblages and the one of a kind collar named after the sea goddess Ymanja in shades of seaweedy greens, greys, and blues with frosted and opalescent glass beads was the result. Finally a use for all those bits of lovely colored string. Recently, my good friend Helen asked me to create something similar for her. Since Helen looks good in tawny colors we decided to go with a lion's mane as the theme. The collar is a combination of shaggy mane ornamented with dangling metal beads and a patterned section made up of various colored glass beads reminiscent of African baskets.


1) One of a kind wearable art collar (Yemanja) now in private collection.
2) One of a kind collar (unfinished when photographed) now in private collection.
3) Selection of dyed cotton cord.
4) One of a kind wearable art collar (Lion's Mane) custom made for Helen Highwater, vocalist and bass guitarist for the Strolling Scones and webmaster and aesthetic consultant for wadibijou.com.
5) Labeled box for Gramco twine.

 

Seaweed

StringCollar String Lion'sMane
GramcoLabel