Custom Made Gifts for Inspirational People / by Renata Pugh

How often does someone suddenly inspire you to make an art piece that represents what that person means to you? For me, it's a pretty rare occurrence, but last year around this time I decided to make a surprise birthday gift for my boyfriend's mother, Claire. These days, the word "amazing" tends to be overused, but for me and others who truly know her, Claire is simply an amazing person. She's crafty (in the good sense of the word), hardworking, a fantastic problem-solver, passionate about social and environmental issues, outspoken, generous, positive, full of energy, AND a Gemini. She also sews for a living, so I felt that the "stitched" solder I incorporate into my work expressed this fact about her as well. As always, I set to work first on choosing the colors, and I was especially excited about it because I felt like I had the liberty of creating a more unusual and bold palette. Naturally I chose an assortment of bright spring colors that I had in stock: a light grass green, a sky blue (Gemini is an air sign after all) a Kokomo lemon yellow with semicircular swirls, and another one of my favorites, the clear "Chopstix" glass from Bullseye. If you look closely, I put 2 glass gems next to each other to represent the twins, and in addition to the glass gems I always incorporate to serve as accents, I also picked out some fuscia agate slices to offset the lighter colors and give it the bold and passionate quality that I associate with Claire. For the base, I cut strips of clear glass with rows of beveled squares, and, as you can see in the pictures with the bulb switched on, lines of light radiate out around it. It's a great choice for a base in that way.

As a last minute idea I decided to put a patina on the solder and make it charcoal black. I knew it was a risk because it would change the look of the piece dramatically, but I did it because it I felt it needed to be toned down and given some contrast. Also, Claire is a bad-ass, and nothing says that like blackened metal! In the end it turned out very well and Claire was very touched. Even though the piece itself is only about 7 or 8" tall, it's very striking on her bookshelf (pictures to follow). For me, it got me thinking more about how each lamp has it's own personality and can complement the person who has it in his or her home, expressing their attributes and interests in an abstract manner and radiating them outward, as people are wont to do.

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