9.15.2010

an elusive silver


When my mother died, most of her art supplies and tools found a new home in my studio. Among the pencil stubs, pastels, paper and jewelry tools was a jar of graphite powder. Its presence deeply comforted me. Some of my earliest memories of toddling around my mother's studio were of the little plates of powder set on her worktable just at my eye level and the stern admonishment to keep away from them. When she sharpened her drawing pencils she'd save the graphite scrapings and use it and the jarred stuff to brush soft veils of grey onto her detailed drawings. My current work uses lots of graphite, but my mother's jar is unusual. The powder within reflects a silver gray rather than the velvety black found in my own jars.

The silver tantalizes me in the same way certain shades of blue found in the sky do. My eyes are simultaneously hungry and full.

Despite the draw for this particular shade of gray, I've been unable to bring myself to use it beyond a tiny bit of experimentation without knowing I can find it elsewhere and let this particular jar stick around. Yes, I'm a sentimentalist. Is it truly Sennelier graphite as the label suggests or a rarer shade of thousands of pencil shavings? I've looked a bit from time to time without luck for the same shade of silvered grey, until a few weeks ago when an artist I spoke to mentioned Kremer's Pigments carried powdered graphite of differing shades. They do have something labeled silver graphite and it's on its way here. Perhaps it's what I'm looking for.

2 comments:

diva in training said...

I often reserve the use of things because I'm afraid I can't replace it. Mine comes from my inner pack-rat and multi-use mentality. However, I don't own anything as cool as this...

Erin Curry said...

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. One of the reasons I choose not to make art with found materials is because too often it seems like later I might have a better idea for it. And so it sits and waits forever. What I do now is collect a lot of common or semi common materials when they catch my attention AND suggest some specific use, then use them as time goes by. My hoarding slows when I have no space and have to implement the something comes in, something must go rule.

I love this thing, it's one of my favorite things of Mom's partially because it represents potential growth rather than forgetting or imperfect remembrance. It's a fertile thing.

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