My Art

Like most boys, I wrecked shit with regularity.

In my case, it was usually more a result of bad luck or carelessness but that’s not to say I didn’t wreck shit with intent either.  Suffice it to say I’ve thrown my share of rocks in directions they should not have gone – but my swath of destruction was not always malicious.

When borne by curiosity, some might call destruction “science.”  I just wanted a free Super Ball…

I don’t recall exactly from whom I heard that baseballs had a rubber ball at their center – but I distinctly remember finding the perfect ball to find out for myself.

It was beyond ragged.  The leather was badly worn and peeling back off the ball, easily coming apart at the seams.

I honestly don’t remember ever having a brand new baseball as a kid.  We found most of the ones we used and they all had their blemishes – some more significant than others.  Most found-baseballs were treasured for their intended use and quickly found their way into a neighborhood game.

It took a lot of damage for us to pass over a found-baseball.  If we found one that couldn’t meet our low standards, we’d toss it up and knock it over the fence – real or imaginary – back further into the bushes from where it was found.

But not this ball.

THIS ball was donating his remains to science!

As I grew older, I learned that what’s at the center of a baseball is actually rubber-cushioned cork.

It looked like a Super Ball but it bounced like shit.

I have no idea how long it took me to lose it or lose interest in it.  I probably knocked it into the bushes too.

The rest of the scattered remains of the ball were garbage to me.  There was a lot of yarn.  It was a rusty orange.

Weird.

Yarn in a baseball.

In the garbage can in went.

***

I heard years after I had her, that my 3rd grade teacher suffered a nervous breakdown.

She taught us to do nice things for others and rewarded us with “Warm Fuzzies” – colorful little yarn balls that she made at home – and scratch-n-sniff stickers, when caught in the act of do-goodery.

Deftly risking a “Cold Prickly” – the Bizarro alter-ego version of the Warm Fuzzy – we let crickets loose in the classroom and put chameleons in her desk while she wasn’t looking.

Pretty sure I even put a tack on her chair once.

Fortunately for my classmates and I, we caught her on the upswing of her career.  It would take years of chameleons and tacks before she would succumb to Cold Pricklies.

She was still on her game in 1979 when she sent us home with some homework my 8-year-old brain could really get behind.  She told us to find a flat, round or oval shaped rock and bring it back to class the next day.

As mentioned above, I had a special kind of affinity for rocks as a kid.  Hell, I still get a little twitchy when I see a nice, round rock and a mailbox.  This was an assignment I couldn’t fail!

When I arrived at school with my rock, I was surprised to find out that it was for a Mother’s Day present we’d be making for our Moms.  Always up for an art project, I eagerly dug-in.

It’s a bit hard to explain it, so I’ll just show it to you.  My Mom proudly displayed this in her kitchen since Mother’s Day, 1979 and I’ve had it since she passed away 30 years later.

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3rd Grade Mother’s Day project where I learned to braid

We painted faces on our rocks, cut and glued hands, legs and feet, glued on the border and plastic flowers – and braided the hair out of yarn.

Mrs. M. prepped all those materials, sewed 30 tiny dresses – and taught us how to braid.

I never forgot how to braid, so years after I performed my first Super Ball-ectomy on that ratty old found-baseball, my mind turned to all that yarn that was wound around my not-so-bouncy prize.

I was in high school.  With three strands of yarn harvested from another donor-ball, I braided myself a simple necklace.  In college I made myself another one and wore it regularly for a year or two.

It was back then that the idea of making jewelry out of game-used baseballs first popped into my head – but not entirely happy with how my necklaces looked – there it stayed for 20 years.

In 2014, this idea of making necklaces from game-used baseballs came back to me with a vengeance and I discovered the Kumihimo braiding technique that produces high-quality, rope-like braids.  I bought my first couple game-used baseballs and began producing simple 8-strand braids using only the yarn from the balls.  I only made a handful before I’d table the idea once more, to start another “more grown-up” business.

Today, I’m focused on my art and expanding its scope.  I’m incorporating other materials into my work and learning how to make much more than necklaces.

In addition to my baseball textile art, I enjoy watercolor sketching, painting, and trying out just about any other artistic medium there is.  I’ve found art to be a very meditative practice.

It’s back in my life to stay.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

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