Friday, 1 March 2013

Challenge of Music reveal

Hi folks! I’m a bit behind but will have a post up to share some musical inspiration and so on later today

Update! I was going to be ready well ahead of time and somehow I kept putting down my piece since I wasn’t feeling the “fun”.  Of course this kept up until last night when I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open after spending the morning at the spa (this is at least partly Erin’s fault – more details tomorrow).

Cue the music!

Let me start by apologizing for the sound quality, I really wish it was better.  This is the fourth time I’ve joined Erin Prais-Hintz for her wonderful challenges.  I always have so much fun discovering new things or looking at familiar things in a new light.  When she said we were going to stick with the music and music only I thought that made good sense, but didn’t have a clue where I would start.  I must have had Trinidad on my mind from sharing my Uncle’s garden the other day.  I was trying to think back to some of the first instrumental music I knew – steelpan.  I can picture the album cover now.  I don’t have a record player in my home so it didn’t make much sense to borrow it, and it would be hard to share that way too.  So you get the next best thing, a live performance.

If you aren’t familiar with steelpan (or steel drum) wikipedia gives a great run down. The take away that comes to my mind: this is a modern instrument, various places reporting it as the “only instrument of the twentieth century” and that has a nice way of falling in line with polymer as a brand new art material also.  I searched and searched for a piece to really move me specifically and while I did so I was at the workbench creating the whole while. This page has some great clips from various events and the clip above was my favourite.  It’s really like performance art, so much energy and movement I don’t think it is possible to not move to this music.

I’m not sure of the correct terms but, I find while I hear the variety of all the notes being played there is also an overall din that feels like one tone to me. So I created a colour – from many – but without mixing the whole way so you read the overall as a steely blue but close inspection will show a whole variety of blues, whites, silver and a couple pinky shades.


From this mass of polymer I made a variety of beads and components, not sure of how they would come together in the end but hoping for a pan shape, and some movement.  I wired the pan shaped beads with some magenta wire and knew they would make a mass of dangles… aha I’ll make a lariat!


I tied some faux suede cording to a donut that I constructed as the focal with another bead and ruffled disc tied to it.  Two more of these discs are tied on up the “side” and then the long dangles are a collection of the pan beads and some draped tube beads at the ends.  I would cut the cords right there after the knots.  But I’m not happy with it yet to be honest.  I seem to just have lots of weight and not so much of the movement I was after.  I think I could improve this by actually attaching them to chain. 


I kind of like how it looks like this, but gravity doesn’t agree with this arrangement.  The easiest thing would probably be to take it apart completely and start fresh.  I just couldn’t face it last night and thought, nope, I’ll keep it fun as Erin insists and just show you my general direction here.  I’m sure the day will come to complete this [If I knew anything about music I would joke here about someone’s unfinished symphony].

Thanks again to Erin for letting us all join in the fun! Please join me in checking out the wonderful music, inspiration and creations I’m sure everyone else has come up with

The Challenge of Music participants Erin Prais-Hintz
Alenka Obid
Ali McCarthy
Alicia Marinache
Amy Severino
Amy Grass
Carolyn Lawson
Cece Cormier
Cynthia Riggs
Ema Kilroy (bowed out)
Emanda Johnson
Emma Todd
Erin Kenny
Evelyn Shelby
Evie and Beth McCord
Gerd Andersson
Holly Westfall
Jennifer Justman
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jess Green
Judy Campbell
Karla Morgan
Kay Thomerson (bowed out)
Kristina Johansson
Lola Surwillo
Lynn White (bowed out)
Malin de Koning
Mallory Hoffman
Mary K McGraw
Melissa Meman (bowed out)
Melissa Trudinger
Michelle Escano
Michelle Bourbonniere
Michelle Heim (bowed out)
Michelle Mach
Molly Alexander
Molly Schaller (bowed out)
Monique Urquhart
Niky Sayers
Pam Farren
Rebecca Anderson
Sally Russick
Sharon Palac (bowed out)
Sharon Driscoll
Susan Kennedy
Tari Kahrs
Tracy Stillman (bowed out)
Veralynne Malone


  1. Hey Emma! I love the idea of the many colors in one/many notes in one tone idea. And the wire picks up the flecks of color fabulously. I wish I could see it on - you say it hangs weightily... I am sure you will brainstorm a solution with time. Glad you posted the WIP!

    1. Thanks Jenny! Nope, too embarassing to share a pictue of it on, unless of course you enjoy a lariat as a chocker with a long set of dangles (it's actually comfortable like that, but not at all what I had envisioned) something will come about

  2. The colors are beautiful!!!! I think it's a very creative piece!!

  3. Hey, Emma, I finally got to check you out. I LOVE steel drums... it is one of those sounds that you instantly associate with the Caribbean. I probably first heard them in Harry Belafonte recordings as a child, I'm not 100% sure. These musicians were really rockin' out! It must really fill the air and rumble the ground when experienced in person.

    As I fully expected, you have put your clay through its paces for the sake of art, girl. Oh, yeah! I love the effect of the pan shape against the suede cord, 'cause it looks organic, like it grew out from a stem (don't mind me, it's nearly 1:00 am here LOL). On the other hand, your musing about a chain intrigues me, cause I'm thinking you will get that gentle tinkling sound which will be reminiscent of the steel drums. Keep us posted if you subject the clay to further experimentation, Emma!

  4. Love the whole concept behind your piece - love the colors and pop of the magenta color!

  5. My first experience with steel drums was at the World's Fair in 1974. The way you describe the layers of sound and then interpret them visually in the clay are just right. The color is beautiful - one of my favorites - and I love the lariat idea. All of those little bells seem ready to start music of their own. Great job!

    :) Molly

  6. Oh what a fun piece you created to go with you steel drum music.

  7. Ah, steel drums make me remember growing up on the Oxford Road in Reading where this is a vibrant Caribbean community :) Love your bell shaped beads and how the mixed-colours-as-one represent the unity to be found in that rambunctious sound!

  8. I think it's a really fun piece and I can see how the music inspred you!

  9. Polymer is my one of my two new to-do's! You did a fabulous piece! The music you picked sounds a lot like some we heard in South Africa. I can see the inspiration in blend of blue color with the musical "bells" you created. It doesn't look unfinished at all!

  10. You are right! The cacophony of sounds that a group of steel drums makes really does sound like one! It reminds me of my time spent in Jamaica. There is a high energy to this sound that reverberates in your whole body. You can't help but dance to get the sound waves out! I love the direction that you are taking and I also love that you are having FUN with this (as that is the only rule ;-) I am happy that you shared your work in progress because it is more about the journey than the destination for me! Thank you for sharing your music and your art with the world! Enjoy the day! Erin

  11. Oh, I haven't heard steel drum music in a while. As a kid, we listened to a lecture by a man who went to the West Indies, fell in love with the steel drums and became a drummer himself, going around the country selling his album (which we bought). So this both bring back memories of his music and -- as this music always does -- it made me happy. It's music that makes you wanna dance. And it's music that speaks of tropical islands and warm nights.

    I love your necklace: the textures, the colours, the shapes. It looks fab! Gravity can be a real downer sometimes, dulling a design that seemed so perfect or so cool in the head. I hope you'll get the inspiration to make it just right soon.

  12. What a great style of music, I have heard it before but only in bits and bobs. Such a cool performance and I LOVE the piece you created, I think it suits it beautifully (lying down at least lol). I would love to see what you do end up doing to it when you re-do it. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  13. Emma, I love your direction here, the beads are fantastic and I like how they are not just blue but a blend of colours just like the music. I hope you can get your piece to work how you have been imagining it, sometimes that's the hardest part isn't it! I'll look forward to seeing these beads again.

  14. I love love love the drums! And your piece is fantastic. Those beads are gorgeous! What a wonderful blue:)


I'd love to hear what you think, thanks for taking the time to join in the conversation