Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today was the shortest day of the year here in Stockholm. But let me assure you, it was sunny. Winter break is here, and I leave you today with an example of how The One Working at the North Pole is using modern technology to spread holiday cheer and communication. Please, enjoy what I found in my spam folder a few days ago:
Happy holidays. I'm off to find a reindeer sausage. Mmmmmm!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

playing catch up

Here are the past three green pieces...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

more wax, more green

More Green

I've decided to not focus on sunrise/sunset anymore....but i can tell you that the sun hasn't been around for days now. It's ok. Gray is a nice color too.

watch these videos

Duracell (Klaus vom Bruch)

Kustom Kar Kommandos
(Kenneth Anger)

Monday, December 1, 2008

personal reflections

This seems very cliche to do, to reflect about my life in a blog format. But I think what I have been discussing with a classmate is interesting, and I would like to open it up to those reading this, and maybe start a conversation that way. I have been having a lot of mental blocks here at konstfack, and have been trying to pin-point the source of the block, the sources of stress and frustration, so that i can hopefully move away from these negative feelings and begin to feel better.

At first, I felt that I was very homesick, and this was the reason I was having trouble working or making anything that i either liked the result of, or enjoyed the process of making. But when i thought about the prospect of moving back to the bay area at this point in time, that didn't make me feel better either. In fact, it made me feel worse, because i knew that the problem didn't lie there, and it would be a temporary solution that wouldn't make things better in the long run, it would put me back at square one, which was feeling the need to experience something radically different than what i have been experiencing.

Next, i tried to convince myself that i am not really interested in jewelry at all, just ideas and their physical manifestation. this isn't necessarily untrue, but then i had to remind myself that one of the reasons i came here was to experience a completely different paradigm. europe is so different than north america, in its' culture of course, but in the jewelry world, it is completely different. i do not know this world yet, not really at all (sorry I can't really illustrate the differences here), and it makes me feel awful. so now i am going to research more about that.

A problem that remains for me in my department is that few people seem to be engaged in or curious about theory or art history, and nobody seems to be questioning the institutions of (one of my most hated terms) "art jewelry", and that makes me sad, because I feel like some ranting alien if I try and talk about it with people. i don't have heated debates about the validity of the gallery or discussions about the why of anyone's work. this is ok though, because there are others at the school i do have great conversations with, and that feeds that part of me. there is a geeky philosophy/theory reading group we are starting here, and i think that will be good.

back to focusing on right now though: i now realize that the material experiments they are assigning me are just other ways of saying they want me to develop my formal aesthetics, which, in my opinion, leave a lot to be desired at this point. why?!?! how could this be, i wondered. why is working abstractly and 'freely' so difficult for me? WHY am i so uncomfortable and frightened? why do i feel untalented, like i can't develop this side of my work? a classmate of mine pointed out that she and i both come from cultures that don't have aesthetics like europe. Bingo. it's not that we don't necessarily have the potential to do work that is communicative and exploratory the way people seem to naturally do here (i think her work is amazing, though she is not happy with it), but I certainly come from the paradigm of media, representation, appropriation, conceptual works, multiples, etc., while ALSO coming from a background of traditionalism in terms of craft and craftsmanship. these two main backgrounds don't really engage themselves in the same approach and creation of aesthetics that i am experiencing out here. this is not a bad thing, this is not a good thing. it is a thing.

To conclude: I have been feeling like an outsider and fearful about approaching art and/or jewelry in this way, coming from my background. Now that I have accepted and acknowledged this, I think I can begin to let go. So here I do you feel about the different schools of thought and art making? And have you seen the film 'Conceptual Paradise'? go see it. it's not really related to the european model of contemporary jewelry, but it is a great, glorious, gorgeous documentary on the history of conceptural art. yum yum yum.

sorry for the crazy and long rambling post.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sunrise: 7:54 AM..........Sunset: 3:12 PM...........Total Minutes "Lost": 4

Green Object No. 4

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sunrise: 7:52am..........Sunset: 3:14pm..........Total Minutes "Lost": 4

Green Object No. 3

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Green Object No. 2

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunrise: 7:50am..........Sunset: 3:16pm..........Total Minutes "Lost": 5

Green Object No. 1, two ways:

Seeing Green

I have an assignment here. For the next three weeks, until Christmas vacation, I will make an object that is green (as in the color), every day. I thought it would be interesting to post them here, day by day, to see how (or IF) they evolve and change. The only restrictions for these things are that they have to be some shade of green, and they should be made within 24 hours.

Also, I will begin posting the sunrise and sunset times, which I think are fascinating. We are entering into the shortest days of the year here in Stockholm, and the rate at which the sun disappears day by day is quite dramatic. I already mentioned the sunset yesterday was at 3:18pm (or 15:18 if you live here--confusing!), and the sunrise was at 7:47am.


Today, I was checking the weather before I left the house, as usual....and I want to point out that the sunset time for today, November 17th, is 3:18pm. WHOAAAAAA!! California people, please send me some extra sunshine in a box!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Collaborative 'Research Through Practice' Class Final

Hej there. Today we had our final project presentation for our interdisciplinary class (meaning a class with all the first year master students). I must say, I am very pleased with the outcome, especially considering the time constraint of two weeks with a complicated assignment. You can read about the project here, and here you can find a video of the piece (much thanks to Willow for documentation!) here. This is a new format of working for me, one which I hope to explore a lot more in the near future...Bye for now!

xx Beth

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


this artist makes my obsessive nature look like a goddamn joke! Tara Donovan, a 2008 Macarthur Fellow...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

first piece of the season

Hi there. I finally finished (almost finished) my first piece out here. It is made of wood and plastic, thus beginning my odyssey of working with materials that are not metal. It isn't a big deal of a piece, just a sort of warm up. It is meant to evoke the general interior spatial feeling of what I have experienced in Stockholm thus far, and perhaps to be a cliché of the "essence" of Swedish aesthetics. Alright, enough preamble already, here it is (extra points if you can figure out the inspiration of the middle part):
So that's it...It might end up being a brooch, but it also may become a secret randomly placed object in various places and photographed there. In that case I'm going to call it an "environment growth" or "wall weed" or something...Not entirely sure yet. In any case, I'll document it and post it here. Now it is late and I'm glad that I have (almost) accomplished something, despite the 8-hour-a-day theory class I've been in for the past four weeks. Oh yeah, I got permission and passed the health check-up for the plastics room. Toxic resins and epoxies, here I come. I'll leave you with a beautiful scene from my kitchen window, looking down onto the courtyard of the apartment building I live in. Behold! Autumn!
Sweet autumn dreams everyone,

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Major Slacker

Hi Friends,
I know I haven't updated in a while. I have been very very busy with my 'Research Through Practice' course--a theoretical inquiry about the relevance of research in the world of art/craft/design etc etc. I am also working on a couple of pieces that are most likely becoming brooches, which will hopefully evoke the typical Swedish interior landscape, or, to use a more simple word, "floors". Ah yes, language and the games it can play...but doesn't "interior landscape" sound more elegant? Elegant, hopefully like the brooches will be eventually. I am also working on/have already made some/ pieces that are sound based. I have been working with a few people, most notably Jan , who is in the "experience design" masters program here. He is an electronic music composer, sound-collector, and generally amazing person. I hope that we can continue to work together and teach each other more about our areas of specialty, so that we can later begin to combine them more and more. One of the goals I have this year is to overcome my techno-phobia, so I am in the middle of learning, little by little, how to take apart electronics, re-wire or add circuits and buttons, and solder it back together...stuff like that. I'm becoming an even BIGGER nerd, basically. Soldering glasses, please!

Speaking of nerdiness, I leave you with a flippin' awesome link of my newest favorite artist (thanks to Jan again):
Gilberto Esparza (Mexico). And finally, in love and mourning for the beautiful farmers market near my house, which has now closed until the middle of spring, I give you these:(thanks Maki for the photos!)

Kram Puss Puss Puss,


ps. Don't worry, I'm getting out and about at night...that's probably the main reason I haven't been updating this here blog. Tonight I am seeing Of Montreal! be jealous people, very jealous ;) xxxxoxoxoxoxooxox

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Milking Cows/Amsterdam

Hej Hej,
Jah, it's been a little while since I have updated. So much has happened in such a short time that I will split it up into 2 posts. Last Lördag-Fredag (Sat-Fri), I went to the Netherlands, primarily for a five day experimental/group therapy-esque/other? jewelry workshop in the idyllic Dutch countryside, put on by my professors (Karen Pontoppidan and Ruudt Peters), with all the Master-level students, years 1 and 2. All together we were 17, and I think one of the objectives of the workshop was to break down our personal defenses and get to the gooey mess inside, and from that mess, start making objects ("from the guts!" was a frequent refrain). The theme of the workshop was "Fuck You", which, without thinking too much about it beforehand (a problem I have a lot), took it as a light subject. In reality, it dredged up a lot of repressed thoughts and feelings from everyone, I think, which was good to acknowledge, and cathartic in nature to be a starting point for making. We began with taking our pre-assigned seats at tables made of doors on wooden saw-horses (for those of you that have participated in MAKER, I don't know how to convey the amount of dread I felt looking at those things, although they are like flimsy popsicle sticks compared to the indestructible yellow beasts and 80lbs doors we use). We were each met with a large quantity of material specifically tailored to something we would never work with, given a choice. So what was I given, you might be wondering. I was given a huge pile of balled up thread-thin natural fibers. ummmm...yeah. They got me! They really knew what I wouldn't choose to work with. It was a great experience though, that first exercise, and the rest of the workshop. Every morning we rode cute bikes to the studio, about two miles away from the farmhouse we were staying at, on the flattest roads I've ever seen, worked till lunch, had lunch, sometimes a short break, more assignments till dinner, then dinner, than sleep. Ruudt Peters, whose studio we were using, hosts a similar workshop every summer. If you have the means, I would try and take it, it's a once in a lifetime experience. Did I mention that there's a sauna and outdoor shower there as well? That was a highlight for me. Also, I got to help milk a cow at the neighboring dairy farm, possibly one of the cows pictured above. Oh, and we took a little day trip to a very famous metals gallery, Gallery Marzee. That was both inspiring and too much for me at the same time. There was just so much stuff, and I got overwhelmed and queasy with everything towards the end, if that makes any sense...

Now for the photo tour of Amsterdam! Saturday I arrived a day early for the workshop to hang out with Feiko, (see first photo in this post) the red-haired viking as some of you from California may refer to him, and some ladies from the Master's group .We meandered around town and talked and ate good food, first from a grumpy man with a chip on his shoulder and a mullet on his head (i saw TONS of mullets in Amsterdam, and un-ironic mullets at that, what's the deal??), and then, from a guy who was so hospitable it was a little awkward. We walked around a lot and Feiko took great pleasure in all my wonderment and photography of things he usually took for granted, like the amazing buildings, tons upon tons of bikes, and all the beautiful waterways.
Central Station, Amsterdam:2. This is a nice view, ishn'tttt it?I'd live here:
Bikes bikes and more bikes:
Metal Geek Moments (crucial!):When I got to Amsterdam, I found this crazy event taking place: Yes, it is the homeless world cup. football teams are formed in various towns by homeless people, and this is their moment of...glory? Those crazy Dutch. Loved the flags though. I wonder what position he plays: Tulip Market. I could live here too:

When the workshop was done, I had big chunk of a day left to do whatever I wanted. I met a really cool person at the workshop, Matt Stone, who had been at Konstfack last year as a "special student" (kind of like an extended artist in residence) and is now an MFA student at the School of Visual Art in New York. He wanted to do the workshop again so much that he came again this year, which says a lot about the workshop experience, I think. Since he was staying in Amsterdam for a few extra days, we decided go see the opposite of what we had just done and witnessed at the workshop. We wanted meticulously crafted, academic, ultra-traditional Masterpieces, and we found all we wanted and more at the AMAZING(!!!) Rujksmuseum. I have never seen Vermeer, or Rembrant paintings that close-up. Or all the elaborate metal work, woodwork, and most of all, ink drawings-on-oil-painted-panel of English-Dutch navel battles. Those navel battle scenes, on that scale, with such perfection, took my breath away. I think you could spend your whole life doing just navel battle scenes of that magnitude, with that precision and beauty. Screw jewelery, screw sculpture, screw comtemporary art. I just want to draw navel battles. Epic navel battles are the new tennis!! I'm back in Stockholm now, and next post will cover a night out on the town...Miss you all.
P.S. I GOT A BIKE AND IT'S A CUTIE!! photos to come soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

vecka tvo

PREVIOUSLY....on "Beth in Sweden"...
Here are some of things I was talking about last week...My super cute keys:

The typical Swedish light switch, ooooooh:

A typical Swedish bathroom...well not exactly, since it's an art school, but I've never seen anything like it in the states. Notice how the doors go further down to the floor, and if you can see, notice the non-stick floor! I feel this to be more typically Swedish:

Hallå! It has been quite the ride this past week or so. I am starting to feel more comfortable here, and more homesick at the same time, if that makes any sense. I have begun work on random things at Konstfack, nothing planned, just spontaneous 3-D "sketches" in materials I found in the many recycling bins here. Everyone in my class was asked to just start making something, in order to begin feeling comfortable in the workshop, and also to warm up for our upcoming, much-anticipated/much-dreaded super-experimental workshop on a farm in The Netherlands, which starts this Monday.

I went with some classmates of mine to see a gallery whose members have been very helpful to and supportive of me over this past year, LOD gallery, a jewelry collective, located in the Kungsholmen neighborhood of Stockholm. The six members share the responsibilities of the store front and the well-equipped studio in the back, and the sense of individuality balanced with unity presented in the space is very inspiring. If you are coming to Stockholm, I highly recommend checking it out, and having a chat with whoever is working there at the time. They are enthusiastic about their work, and it leaves you with a positive, motivated feeling. Maybe it's a model I can look forward to participating in one day.

Today, I went with some classmates (do you see a pattern here? we move around in a blob, I think) to the original Ikea, since none of us really have much furniture. It is kind of shaped like the Guggenheim in New York, in that it spirals down, down, downnnn....if you think the Ikea in Emeryville is confusing, you haven't seen squat. This Ikea is twenty times more exhausting than the one back home. Although many scorn Ikea here, most still shop here. I managed to get some shelf-things, so now I can keep my clothes nice and organized. Super-woman Lisa was nice enough to drive all of us! The car was very roomy, as you can see here:

What else...I did laundry for the first time here and managed to wash my monthly transit pass, which was pure genius. I ruined it, and I had to go to the transit authority, called the S(tockholm)L(ocal Traffik) Central to get it replaced, and get a student-rate card at the same time. Thanks, Sweden! I wanted to make a note about the laundry system here, as well as systems in general. Someone I know recently had a rather unsettling, even scary confrontation with someone in their apartment complex over the laundry. In Sweden, every service tends to have a methodical, logical system to regulate it, and make everything fair. Again: thanks, Sweden! I really appreciate this, having experienced countless times waiting to get served at various places back home, having people cut you in line, or be really rude and selfish about their turn. In the laundry room, or "tvättstuga", you have a chart that you sign up on, for a specific time and date to do your laundry. It looks like this:

Every person gets a number, and then takes that number token and signs up for laundry, one day at a time, so, in theory, it's completely fair. that way, nobody is allowed to monopolize a certain time, and everyone gets a time that will work for them. It's actually very nice to plan ahead and set aside time to do your laundry.

That's about it...Saturday I'll be in Amsterdam with my friend and classmate Roberta, who is from Brazil. We will see Feiko, whom I met years ago when he was an exchange student at CCA(C). I can't wait! Till then...

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Hej Friends n’ Family!
Where do I even begin? It is early afternoon on Sunday, my 4th day here in Stockholm. I arrived late on Wednesday night, otherwise known as “mini-weekend” to some here, which means that while I navigated the subway (I shouldn’t really say that I navigated it, since my awesome flat mate, Heidi, guided me) at 10pm, there were crowds of people out and about, socializing and partying in, around, and on the tunnelbanan. There are so many wonderful things I have experienced here so far, from the crisp fall weather, to the sights and sounds, to the transit, to the aesthetics, to the sense of logic inherent throughout the city. My apartment is a dream! It’s a two-minute walk down the street to the subway station, which I will value even more when the winter comes (for now, I’m trying to walk outside as much as possible). It’s located on a really cute major street, perhaps the equivalent of Fillmore and Valencia mixed together, or something a bit busier and more bustling, called Götgatan (note: “gatan” means street, and in Swedish, many short words are strung together to make one really long-sounding word, so basically several streets, especially large ones, end in “gatan”), in the trendy cool bohemian-type neighborhood called Södermalm ( “söder” means south in Swedish, and “malm” is an old-fashioned word for place, so I live in the “south/ern place”, in relation to the “old” part of town, which means like original 1600/1700s Stockholm). The building is adorable and old, with funky cool details that are very Scandinavian to me, like wooden floors that are stacks of zigzags. Everything about it is charming, from the old-school elevator and wide staircases to the large heavy windows, to one of the keys to the front door of the apartment itself, which is a skeleton key. It’s a large living space, not just by “Stockholm standards”, but by Bay Area standards too. My room is definitely big enough to accommodate at least two more people comfortably…so come visit me already! You immediately get the sense that everything here is very well made, made to last, and made to be extremely functional, while being cute and stylish simultaneously. It feels like Swedish culture as expressed through everything material around you. The light-switches, for example, are largish squares, and are very easy and pleasant to turn on and off. They also blend into the walls much more gracefully than the type we are used to. The washing machines I’ve seen in the basement of my building are really big and work really well. The dryers are nothing like I’ve ever seen before. They look kind of like a cross between a metal clothes armoire and a film dryer. There are horizontal bars that swing out when you open the doors, which you hang your clothes over, swing it back into the cabinet, choose your settings (in Celsius, look out!) and then let ‘er go. Not only does this dry more efficiently since the clothes aren’t touching each other, but it also prevents most wrinkles. Lots of things here have made me go “duh!!” in the sense, as I mentioned before, that things are so logical and lovely to use. In the Tunnelbanan for example, there are many flights of stairs to get into the station. On the right-hand side, there are metal tracks going all the way down the stairs, with a small strip of stairs exposed in the middle. I was a bit perplexed when I saw them the first time, but then I saw them in use—a woman with a child in a stroller simply rolled the stroller wheels onto the tracks, popped a wheelie with the stroller, and walked down the stairs while rolling the stroller effortlessly down the metal railing-ramps. Genius!! Why do we not have these clever things?? There are, of course, elevators available to use, but this way is seamless and so much faster, and more importantly, integrated into the general public. I have seen this other places in Stockholm as well, and sometimes it looks like one railing is for one specific thing, such as a laundry cart etc, etc. Everyone uses public transit here, young and old, hipsters and nerds, every walk of life people. People take their dogs on the T, and many young children ride the T with their parents, which brings me something else I’ve noticed and delighted in: the young children here seem really engaged with the world around them. Their parents or caretakers are always talking to them and encouraging them to ask questions and experience life. The children all seem very happy, and it is just as common to see a dad joking and tickling and hugging and pushing his child around in a stroller as it is to see a mom doing that. Today I saw a grandma and her little grandson on the T, and they were talking up a storm. It makes me smile and feel good about life to see this, especially in sharp contrast to what you sometimes see on public transportation in the bay area, which is largely about telling your child to be quiet, or worse. However, Heidi and her friends have assured me that children throwing tantrums and being sternly told to be quiet and calm happens all the time. I guess I just haven’t seen it yet.
Ladies and Gents: if you like clothes like I like clothes, or if you like anything at all, I encourage you to save all your spending money for your inevitable trip here, if you can stand it. Pack a very small bag of stuff when you come, and then put that bag into a much bigger bag, because you’ll want to buy stuff here and drink and eat and party. There is crazy stuff here that you can’t find anywhere in the bay area.
And now for my school! Konstfack itself is amazingly huge and up-to-date. The facilities for each department are incredible. It’s ridiculous. There are so many machines and tools and stuff I’ve never seen before, so much room, such encouragement and luxury to create, create, create. I don’t get a studio to myself, but I do get a general workbench with storage, a jeweler’s bench with storage, a torch (metals geek moment: it’s a torch you supply the oxygen with by blowing, whoa! They have other torches, don’t worry, that’s not all there is) and a shared flex shaft. I’m officially starting to work there tomorrow, so I’ll keep you updated on that front. There is a full kitchen and hangout area for metals/ceramics/glass/textiles students. Each person has a nice-sized bin for food, and there are pots and pans and cutlery and dishes and mugs and glasses and two dishwashers and a stove and an oven and three refrigerators and storage…so basically there is a real culture of just cooking all the time, which for me is great. Also, people are always having “bars”, where you just set up and sell drinks to raise a little money and be social. I don’t think it’s officially legal, but people do it all the time, even on the streets. At this point, I need to get some batteries for my camera so I can stop trying to describe everything and start showing these little differences. Keep in touch! If you need my address or telephone number, just email me. Don’t worry, these postings won’t be so long in the future. Miss you all!
Kram och Puss (hug and kiss),