Getting to know the Lemniscaat

My first impulse would now be to hit the laser cutter. Both the Lemniscaat and the analemma have a strong symmetry, that a digital drawing could interpet with ease. Instead I decided to work very directly on paper. Simply black India and and white paper.


It is pretty satisfying to take a fresh sheet of paper, and just see how many ways you can fit this shape in the parameter. No one drawing is special at all, but I enjoy the gestural hand-drawn quality.




Different media, different substrates start to take over the room. It is very hard to draw a perfect Lemniscaat. It reminds me of working on carving plaster sculptures with my students. Every year a student wishes to carve a perfect sphere. (“It’s the earth, the sun!”) We have a conversation about how the elemental shapes- the “primitives” are the hardest to make convincingly. Everyone has the perfect form in their mind, and they can compare what you have made to that. A flat spot will be noticed.  This can work for and against your advantage.IMG_4173

Students usually end up carving an organic form. One thing I learned about the Lemniscaat is that it turns out best when you put your whole body into it. If I move through drawing one side, and then re-start at the top and form the other side, they turn out best. Your body has stronger and weaker areas and that is reflected in this form.


When I was installing my Achter der Ramen exhibition, I also took some paper into the window space to try out the media I was using in the install. The tools are rough- but they generate unexpected forms. Remind me of the exhilaration that Dale Chihuly probably felt, working outside with big swaths of paper with a full size broom dipped in paint!


Back when I was in undergraduate school, I took a trip to Europe. I had seen a gorgeous catalog by the Dutch jeweller Peggy Bannenberg, and it help formulate some of my early thoughts and aesthetic interest in jewelry. I can’t remember if I saw the catalog at RISD or Interlochen, but I was seeking my own copy! I made my pilgrimage to Galeria Ra, but Paul did not have a copy. I never found one in Holland, but when I got home I wrote Peggy and she told me I could have easily found one from Charon Kransen in NY- unknown to me in those dayspeggy


After arriving in Amsterdam, I let the FvdBosch Foundation know I would be interested in meeting Peggy. I was delighted to learn that Peggy has embraced new forms of digital fabrication, and was “in residence” two days a week at a sort of sustainable- green-makers of the future festival on the island next to mine called Europe by People. I hoped on by bicycle and went over to this festival to meet Peggy in “Fab City” and see what was going on.



Apparently different iterations of this festival have happened in Europe. This one in Amsterdam lasts for 2 months (May-Jun2016) and was funded by the municipal government among others.


I found Peggy in the Fab City where she is in residence Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Different kinds of makers/up-cyclers/designers are working in this building and Peggy had constructed a large scale 3D printer. She was involved in printing a large scale Madonna out of recycled PET plastic filament in collaboration with a Brazilian group and the filament was sponsored by the Dutch design firm Better Future Factory (which also has some amazing recycled plastic projects worth looking into.)


In addition to doing the collaborative project, Peggy had some examples of her 3D printed jewelry. The nuanced colors of her pieces were gorgeous, she uses a different Dutch 3D printing company (not Shapeways) and has developed her own deep indigo and greyish lilac tints.



Peggy has some rings that delicately interlock- metal and plastics. Her w 3D printed work is compelling as she has the sensibility of a practised goldsmith, something I often find missing in the  ubiquitous 3D printed jewelry that seems easily dashed off.


(Peggy’s large printer as well as composite plastic being created by an Italian artist, Alessandro Iadarolanext to her out of plastic bags.)


The rest of the festival is also fascinating. Students from across Europe are in residence during the first month, and the fair is more open to the public during the second. Old caravans were converted into offices, there is a cafe that makes and sells food from ingredients grown on site, the ubiquitous pre-fab modular houses, and I loved the plastic recycling stations and pressed concrete road tiles that create pathways to channel rainwater. There were areas that were addressing the issue of new immigrants arriving in Europe and making their transition a positive one.


I have been to a number of such expositions in California, New York, what was unique about this one as I passed through the different areas was that many designers and dreamers were working on the future problem of running out of bike storage. I sort of love a city where this is one of the main problems they are grappling with!

The Man in the Blue House

Do you know “International Yves Klein Blue?” I was overwhelmed by it when entering the stately town home, but had to ask owner Ruudt Peters to be sure that it wasn’t a special  Ruudt Peters Blue…He confirmed the ultramarine was Yves’ shade.


Ruudt Peters is a super-star in the art jewellery world and I think we have all been following his series of works, always accompanied by an interesting catalog and unique exhibition display, for many years.



Ruudt was generous enough to invite me to his home right before leaving on an epic adventure to Japan. His Amsterdam house is right in the middle of everything, he and his partner got it 20/30? years ago for a song when the area was run down and people prefered to live in the ‘burbs . Unlike most of us jewellers with tools/collections/knick-knacks everywhere, Ruudt has a cool , modernist, colourfully curated home that was inspiring me to take selfies and Ruudt selfies everywhere.


Ruudt has a number of different working spaces. He has one bright white room with tables, (all artists dream), looking out on the street for thinking and drawing. His large workshop is separate and faces a leafy exterior. Up more stairs one reaches the living spaces, white walls, a skylight, colorful sofas, rugs and lovely tableaus of arranged objects. I have always had my eye on this Hella Jongerius sofa, – and I think it suited me and my outfit today!



Ruudt loves colored laminate as much as I do. What an amazing surprise to see the insides of each of his kitchen cabinets:



The best part of the visit to Ruudt’s house was the viewing of his extensive collection of art jewellery.




Ruudt has taught and had contact with jewellers from all over the world, many of whom are represented in his collection. As a side note- Ruudt and Liesbeth den Besten are working on a foundation that celebrates and gives exposure to collectors of contemporary jewelry, an important aspect of our field that deserves recognition.


Ruudt said his collection felt masculine in nature, and I would have to agree. His jewellery nook had an almost altar like feel, custom black drawers set off the pieces loosely assembled by color.IMG_3188IMG_3187IMG_3197IMG_3193


I have been thinking alot about “contemporary camouflage”, and seeing Ruudt’s collection and trying the pieces on his solid color purple shirt and my neon patterned blouse helped me crystalize some of my ideas. What a treat to get to handle, (and check out pin backs!), on some of my favorite, only-seen-in-photos, pieces! Three favorites on Ruudt:


Thanks Ruudt!



CODA and Evert

CODA Museum in Apeldoorn is beloved by jewelers worldwide.They have a world class collection of jewellery, and their director, Carin Reinders, makes acquiring and displaying contemporary jewellery one of her main focuses. We travelled to this museum today to hear Dutch jeweler  Evert Nijland give a talk and walk through of his solo exhibition currently going on at the museum.




The talk was in Dutch, as sometimes happens here, so I enjoyed looking at the images ! )

Evert seems to work in series, highly worked, detailed, a bit gothic, often made from luxurious materials. Some works were stronger than others, my favorites being this series of blown glass objects that were mirrored inside.




Evert worked with the director Carin to curate a show that placed his works among other pieces of contemporary art from their permanent collection, and form a dialogue. I think this worked amazingly well, and I thoroughly enjoyed walking among the diverse pieces and finding my own connections. Here a are a few highlights:



Can you believe the trains back to Amsterdam were cancelled for many hours due to rain? I would have thought the train service would take rain into account as this is shaping up to be one of the rainiest places I have ever lived in. (Rivalled by Halifax of course~) The indefatigable Ela Bauer and Andrea Wagner got us back to Amsterdam anyway!





Isn’t she a beauty?



The Lemniscate has gotten me into slippery slope of research. Wikipedia provides it usual  clear synopsis supplemented by a few choice photos, and I am going to try to push past my artistic inclinations and look at more than 5 equations on a page.

Lemniscaat comes from the Greek for a hanging cord (dutch translation), or from lemniscus, which is Latin for “pendant ribbon”. It can stand for:

The dutch wikipedia has a beautiful animation of the leminiscate being drawn here.




If you are wondering about the equation the Bernoulli first described in 1694, you’ll find it here:

The lemniscate is a polar curve whose most common form is the locus of points the product of whose distances from two fixed points (called the foci) a distance 2a away is the constant a^2. This gives the Cartesian equation


credit for the equation can be found here as well as a wonderful rendering of a spun 3D lemniscate that would make an excellent 3D printed bracelet!



Pondering  the Cartesian and parametric equations, its symmetrical polar coordinates, makes me want to understand how one could draw or graph this form. It would be nice to sit down with a mathematician who knows her stuff, my high school math training feels very far away.

Youtube helps and in addition seeing B&W renderings of the graph, I stumbled across a digital version of historic tools drawing these curves:

Mathematical Devices

my favorite:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 8.22.49 PM.png

A fascinating aspect of these videos are the (simple) hand tools that were used to create the lemniscate and other curves such as the: trammel and the Watt’s Linkage. The trammel can also be a woodworking project that makes a satisfying endless elliptical movement, often called a “do nothing machine”, which of course reminds me of the solar do-nothing machines that The Eames created and filmed.

Different and similar. The lemniscate is perfect, symmetrical, infinity embodied. A mathematical formula can represent it and it can be definitively rendered. The analemma is also an endless loop, balanced, but asymmetrical in one direction. It charts movement of the sun and shows movement of our earth, though it is “too crude to navigate by”. Still my time in Amsterdam is navigated by these forms.


Searching for Infinity

Before I know that an analemma was an analemma, I thought it was an infinity symbol. I discussed my interest in the infinity symbol before leaving home, and found that everybody has their own relationship to it.


My colleague Barbara Lounder let me know that The Metis people use an infinity symbol on their flag.The Metis nation are people of North American indigenous and European ancestry who coalesced into a distinct nation in the northwest of Canada, particularly Manitoba,in the late 18th century. ( I had a student at NSCAD who would take off a week of school every year to go on a hunting trip with her family which I appreciated, (even through i’m vegeatrian~).



This flag was flown as early as 1817, and is still in use today. It reperesents

  • The joining of two cultures
  • The existence of a people forever

I believe this gorgeous flag would pass design muster with Roman Mars.


In Amsterdam I am using the infinity symbol and the analemma as a way to travel/experience the city.


In my first days of walking, I found good examples almost daily.




Perfect symbol as Hunkemöller appears to sell alot of bras and bikinis. Glimpsed on the main shopping street.



One day I wandered the various “islands”, (fingers of land that are jutting out into the water), in the Eastern docklands where I am staying. There are numerous boats tied up in the waterways everywhere from the pirate ilk to functioning barge.The ropes on the left were wound in a perfect infinity pattern- so satisfying; I can imagine doing the movement to wrap them. I like the infinity as a practical connector as well. The ropes on the left are in an unsatisfying disarray. (perhaps those pirates were just too busy?~) Update- two real life sailors have let me know that both these ropes are good. The one on the left is commonly used as a temporary mooring, the one on the right has pins that secure the ropes from turning.



At a second-hand store my eyes went right to these volumes. Though large, these books seemed to be epic stories for kids and I bought one that had to do with early pioneers. The publisher of these volumes is called Lemniscaat , and they are located in Rotterdam. I showed the book cover to a couple Dutch people and everyone had a wistful reaction. Though no one had ever paid attention to the symbol, these “mom and pop” publishers had produced many of the beloved books of their youth. This research let me know that my infinity symbol has a name-Lemniscatewhich I will explore more in my next post.




Horrible Colors


Today I learning the hard  way that if you are cycling to a free lunchtime concert at the Concertgebouw,and you are a minute or two late- you will not be admitted. Never mind- it turns out the Concertgebouw is the the Museum area, and with my trusty Museum card, (€59), I can enter any one of 400 museums here for free. Today was the Stedelijk Museum, one of Amsterdam’s homes for contemporary art.


The jewelry pieces collected by the Françoise van den Bosch are housed here, and some excellent examples are on display. Highlights were Helen Britton, Ruudt Peters and Dinie Besems piece above that exhibited a number of silver neckpieces, with the measurement of her lady friends engraved on tags. The final neckpiece showed the “ideal” woman.



“Living in the Amsterdam School” had a sort of odd-ball poster, but I must say I was really delighted by this exhibition. I love it when I am truly surprised by something new in the arts, and I knew nothing about the “Amsterdam School” era of design and architecture. Not arts’n’crafts, not Futurist, not Biedermeier, definitely not  De Stijl- sort of a whimsical expressive, but sometimes heavy moment in design. The exhibition brought my attention to some amazing buildings in the city I am happy to know more about. Their massive clock collection was a treat. Apparently the curators found more clocks than all else from this era- as it was the design item most people could afford. Seeing this distinct “school” also helps me to get closer to putting my finger on what is unique about Dutch design.



Check out my paper clock I made at the kids table!


All was going smoothly until I stumbled into the “Memphis Style” room- ouch!



If you aren’t familiar with Memphis Style, it’s worth a Google image search. When I was younger I found this brief design era in the 1980s deeply repulsive, and I always wondered how these objects/furniture had snuck into the museums. I teach color theory among other things at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, and now that I am deeply involved in properties of color, color families, relationships, I have  a renewed appreciation for these palettes that truly break all the rules. The forms used in Memphis Style also elemental, squares, poles and zigzags meeting a circle. Patterns are aggressive and jarring, much like the phenomenon of Dazzle camouflage I have been studying for a few years now.


I got into a downward Google spiral one night researching Memphis Style and came across this amazing site PRINT ALL OVER ME that I would like to have everything from. You’re welcome ! )


Rotterdam is an amazing place, much of it rebuilt after the war in exuberant architectural styles. They even have a town slogan, “Make it happen‘, and they aren’t kidding around.


Rotterdam has a big city feel, but the streets and walkways are generous and wide, and everyone cycles around here like they seem to everywhere in Holland.


On this occasion I was going to meet my (step) uncle and cousins, and I must say that I am really delighted to have these warm and creative people as part of my extended family.




Pedro and Mischa live in one of the most wonderful houses I have been in, and not just because of the wall of plate glass looking over a secret garden or their soaring ceilings that make for an amazing space. There house is filled with art, lamps, carpets, paintings, flea-market finds, from many creative people in their lives. Mischa is a woman after my own heart, and makes interesting tableaus and assemblages throughout their house that bring delight each time you discover a new one.Here are a few:




real feisty bird!


Plus an an amazing object that I told them I hope to inherit someday !  )


Their boys made a delicious vegetarian sushi dinner for us and we had a lovely evening together. Bittersweet to get on the train back to Amsterdam…

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kringloop winkel or Vlugge Japie- I’ll take it!

During my first days in the apartment, I realized there were a few things I still needed- and I like it when I actually need something and can then go on a search for it. It is good to have focus here in Amsterdam, this city is filled with excellent shopping temptations. I needed a toaster and a hair dryer. I love second hand shops, junk stores and flea markets in everytown. I believe these places are excellent cultural indicators- they show what people have valued enough to save. I asked Jantje if there was a shop near me along the lines of Salvation Army or Goodwill, and she said, “Oh sure- just Google ‘kringloop winkel‘ and you’ll find some. Glad I asked- would not have thought to Google that.



“Juttersdok” was a great second hand store, I found a toaster, some vintage photography chemical trays for sorting my pieces, and found the willpower to pass up on these awesome overalls!

Going into the supermarket is also quite an adventure for me. Albert Heijn seems to be the biggest chain, and it its filled with an excellent selection of white asparagus (right now), dairy products and $4 bottles of wine. At least that is what I took note of. Some products remind me of living in Germany (like ‘Quark” and eggs kept on the shelf, not the cooler), and some are brand new.


I was totally confounded by this packet of Vlugge Japie. It was in the bread/cracker/cookie/granola area. I had hummus- would this be a good match?? It sort of reminded me of the compressed dark rye bread with a super-long shelf life that we had in Germany….I was intrigued and the bread products around this one did not offer too many other clues. No thanks also to Google translate- “Swiftly Japie” also does not help. I sure hope my sister’s friends who are working on a universal language translation app are successful soon. Taste test results? It is gingerbread!

I find the Dutch language intriguing and confounding all the time. Spoken Dutch is far easier for me to understand than written, all those extra ‘j’s throw me off. When I was in India, I knew for sure that I did not know Hindi (or Oriya, or which ever region we were), with the exception of an occasional “Challo!“. I know English and German, and often I think I am fully understanding Dutch until a slew of inexplicable words and sounds are interjected into the conversation.I would really like to scratch the layer of understanding, and if I had more than two months I would definitely enrol in a language class. Everyone I have met thus far speaks perfect English.