Hi Val, 

The human body is a sophisticated organic machine whose abilities are often under-appreciated or misunderstood. Taken for granted while operating normally, the body becomes noticed when it shows signs of failure or need. Vulnerably often accompanies thoughts of proximity and exchange; however, there tends to be desensitization within repeated exposure. How do we define comfort? What makes us pay less attention to the imperfections or the unexpected? When does a surface and the marks that adorn it become less noticeable and more familiar? What assumptions are made about sites of intervention before we have knowledge about the cause? Shared experiences enhance insight and value through the act of exchange, the submission to vulnerability, and recurring exposure. Over the course of 7 days provide 1 image per day, thoughts on levels of comfort, awareness of self and other, and collect dialogue.

Day 1: Getting to Know You

[Living Room, sitting on the couch]

The piece to some extent made us aware of ourselves (not to an extreme amount). It hits on the stomach, at the core right at or above the belly button. The details began to stand out: the silver bezel and rivets, the raised points of the back, the monochromatic nature of the piece and the material set in the piece. The curved metal on the string alludes to comfort and ease of wearing and in general, the piece feels like it serves a function outside of being jewelry.

Highlighted Quotes:

V: Do you feel very aware of yourself in the piece? C: No, but you are handling it a lot, but that’s something you do in general.  V: I feel very aware of the piece when wearing it. Because it’s so long, when you’re walking with it, it comes out from the body. C: Here, you feel like that though?
V: Yeah.
C: Why are you aware of it when no one’s watching? V: I don’t know. Because its like a foreign object. 

C: (talking about wearing art jewelry) Something feels good about it. It boosts your confidence. I’m totally fine with just walking around with it. V: I think that has something to do with who is wearing it.

Day 2: Showing Skin

[Kitchen Table, post-coffee walk]

We began the exchange, taking our new jewelry out on our staple weekly tradition: getting coffee.

Starting to grow more accustomed to the work, it’s worth noting that it felt weird without it on because of wearing it for a longer period of time.

We really took note of the duality of the front and back of the piece. Is there a right way to wear the work? Is it important that there is a front and a back? How much agency should the wearer have versus the pendant?

Highlighted Quotes:

V: When I gave it to you, I kinda felt weird without it because the first time, I put it on for a second, but now I wore it for a longer amount of time. So, it felt like there was something missing as soon as I took it off. I guess I wasn’t expecting that.

C: I put it on, and wore it potentially the wrong way, but that’s my choice. I'm the wearer. V: Do you think that there’s a wrong choice, what makes you say that it’s the wrong way?

C: I feel like the idea is, do you feel comfortable with the skin and your skin, is it different that it’s skin that’s not on the body, and what’s your relationship with your skin?

V: Is it because of the skin that you feel you don’t want to share that part of it…
C: I think it could potentially be part of it, and maybe I’ll grow more comfortable with it, but I just like the other side more visually.

C: It’s centered around this skin, this surface.

V: How does this skin start to integrate with the whole form itself…If we’re looking at this like a body...This piece really makes me think of the interior and exterior, not that we can see the interior, but all we can see is the surface of the skin.

C: Do I want the world to see that I’m wearing this pendant? Am I concerned with showing my skin?
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Day 3: Nuances

[Living room, on the chairs, daytime, soft light]

Stood out right away as having changed in tone or appearance, perhaps because of the light and atmosphere in the room. Subtle spots in the work seem to darken when held at a certain angle. Can the environment we’re in affect our connection to the piece? This led to unbearable curiosity: how is the skin material made? Where do the marks on the surface come from?

Also, interesting to note that our mood and daily tasks influenced our perception.

Highlighted Quotes:

C: I’ve been curious about what the spots are…
C: You can kind of see through it almost.
C: I remember it being closer in color.

V: Your visual perception is shifting just based off of the light and that’s telling you more about the surface of the piece. C: Yeah, it’s kind of drawing me in.

C: At this point, I’m more prone to look at the details in it, rather than the piece itself and where do we take the piece and what does the whole thing make me think of? V: You’re focused on the nuances within the piece.

C: Does your mood or mindset affect or make a change in what you bought that day?
V: I don’t think I’ve ever thought about that. I’m always championing the initial visual perception of something, but I think that makes a lot of sense. But it’s like people: you’re not going to get along with everyone every day.

V: Maybe you’re not changing how you feel, but you’re learning new things about it.

V: I’d love to actually to hear from Kelly what the process of making the skin is, because telling people what this material is has been challenging. I don’t want to say it’s something that it’s not. C: I’m sure she gets asked that constantly V: I feel like I’m asked constantly, and we’ve only had this piece for a few days

C: Maybe that’s why she has created this excercise, to get people past the initial shock of the skin.. and the detail..

V: I think how it got to this point is important.
C: How it was made?
V: Yeah, it was grown, it was created out of nothing. 
C: Growing a pendant

V: How something was made influences how…

V: I don’t think of it as phallic, because I look at it with the back and there’s these two separated shapes, and it looks like if these kept expanding, that’s what it would turn into. C: Do you think that’s intentional? Is that some kind of statement about growth?
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Day 4: Thinking about Blinking

[Living room, sitting on the couch, evening]

Cole started out noticing how the sensation of wearing it felt similar to the beginning, but now noticed it even less. I had a different approach because I had been wearing the piece more frequently during my everyday tasks.

The idea of marks occurring on the surface of an object is so intriguing to both of us. Marks are so important to the history of an object. We both questioned what would happen if this piece became worn or scattered over time, how that would change our relationship to it. The skin itself holds so many marks. Is this something that will shift over time as well? How do marks help us grow closer to an object?

Highlighted Quotes:

C: The physical sensation is the same. Exactly the same. I’m becoming even less conscious of wearing. Like there, I struggled to even come up with any kind of feeling that it gave me because I’m used to putting it on at this point. V: But I think there’s a point to that, that it’s not the same. But it’s different because you don’t notice it now.

V: We’ve been thinking about this piece in it’s own entity, but when thinking about it as a part of the body and wearing it, at least maybe in my own body, when you put it on, it is something that you notice because it’s abnormal. It’s an object, not abnormal. It’s a foreign thing.

V: The way that it moves is very pendulum like. It has this big kind of swing to it, the way it comes off the body. I can’t decide if I’m noticing the piece more or less. I’m still trying to figure it out and I think it really depends what I’m doing. C: It’s like thinking about blinking. Like when you think about blinking, you automatically don’t blink anymore? But eventually you forget, and you just keep blinking!

C: Like if you wore this everyday... if you wore this everday for a year, I guarantee by the end of it, you would absolutely stop being aware of it.

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C: I guarantee she knows if the color changes over time and I would be so happy if I was the one person in this experiment that notices that it’s subtly getting darker almost everyday. V: I don’t know if it is. C: Do you think it is? Do you think it’s any darker than when we started? V: I feel like you keep telling me that, so my brain is thinking it.

C: Is anyone else doing this?
V: No, it’s just us.

C: I think it would be really interesting to really brutalize it, or wear it in a way that wasn’t concerned about keeping it nice for a show. V: I really like how marks collect and gather on surfaces, and I know that this piece has marks on it just in the skin part, but i wonder what it starts to look like when it does get scratched up (not that I’m planning on doing that).
V: As soon as more scuffs happen on it, you get more comfortable with the shoe (talking about buying a new pair of shoes) or the object. C: That’s why I won’t let you polish my rings.

V: I don’t really feel like this getting dinged or scratched up would enhance it, unless the marks and this skin material get darker or deepen over time. That’s something I’d be really curious to see. The skin surface is the more vulnerable part of the piece. C: You keep touching it. I never touched it.

V: If this is something that gets more marks over it, if this acts like the human skin itself…

C: Maybe we’re supposed to cut it and see if it bleeds? V: Oh no, I don’t think we should do that
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Day 5: Gnawing on Your Goods

[Living room, sitting on the chairs, evening]

This was probably our most playful conversation so far. The sliding nature of the pendant we haven’t really dug into yet and Cole especially enjoyed wearing it as a “bolo tie”, for no particular reason other than maybe it was a striking new way of interacting with the pendant. Are we so used to this piece that we’re digging for things to talk about? The idea of trusting jewelry came up, in reference to talking about fidgeting and putting jewelry in your mouth as a form of comfort.

On a more relevant note, we started to compare the comforts of wearing a mask everyday with wearing a piece of contemporary jewelry everyday, even comparing this piece specifically as it references medical devices and is also worn on the body.

We ended on discussing the ceremonial aspects of this experiment and questioned whether or not we were doing the directives right. How much control should we have? What is open for us to interpret? 

Highlighted Quotes:

C: Val’s wearing the necklace bolo style, this is a major breakthrough that we have to document.

C: What day is this?
V: Day 5

C: I feel like you should have it on tonight because you’re fidgety. Should we talk about that? That you’re very prone to... gnawing on your goods. On your jewelry. V: You mean putting my jewelry in my mouth?
C: Right, which you have not done with this.
V: No, I have not put this in my mouth.
C: Respect. 

V; The highest compliment a piece of jewelry can receive is when someone puts it in their mouth. C: Right, it’s primal .
V: Well not just that, it’s a comfort thing .

C: Do you think the marks make you subconsciously comfortable with it? V: No, I think overtime you just get more used to it... maybe comfortable isn’t the right word. As marks grow over the surface over time, it becomes more your own. I don’t think a lot of people recognize that.
V: You wear something enough that it’s so yours, that you can then put it in your mouth.

V: I’ve been playing with the sliding nature of the pendant today, but only now realize that this may be a way of playing with how the piece is worn.

V: When we got back from having coffee, and you had your mask on the whole time. C: I’m just comfortable with it at this point. V: But that’s such a good segway into talking about this as something that might be related to a medical device!
V: I think there’s something there with the comfortability of wearing a mask and the comfortability of wearing a piece of jewelry for the first time, especially a contemporary piece of jewelry. It’s something that you have to get used to.
C: Is there a right way up? V: In the diagram, it changes. If you look at the people wearing it, it changes. C: This is huge. Is this what it was supposed to be about? 5 days, and we’re only just talking about “Oh! And you can flip it upside down!”
C: It’s every which way. It’s a clue!
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Day 6: Moving Out

[Coffee shop walk, sitting on the stoop, daytime]

We decided to have our conversation on-the-go today, walking to our favorite coffee shop and having our discussion along the way. It was a much more distracted conversation with the traffic, movement and conversations passing us by. At moments we pointed out halloween decorations and killing lantern flies. We hadn’t noticed before how devoted and secluded our conversations to this point have been. Has walking made us more or less aware of the work?

Our talk felt more tense, bringing up hypotheticals on how we actually feel about the piece and what would happen if we were to encounter it outside of these discussions. Do we only feel “comfortable” with the piece because we’re constantly talking about it? Can this piece be something that grounds us while wearing it out in the world, Thinking back to these conversations and the moments of focus and attention they bring? How has COVID affected this experiment?

It’s important to note that as we departed each other (Cole was leaving for the weekend) he left the piece on without realizing and ran back to give it to me and keep it safe.

Highlighted Quotes:

V: I see you’re wearing it backwards.
C: Well I’m wearing it what I call “Cole Style”.
V: We should stop calling it front and back.
C: It looks very good with the table! So when I sat down I clonked it on the table... Maybe I’m not as aware of it as I thought that I was, because I just sat down without thinking about it.

V: How do you feel about wearing it while doing your daily activities? C: I feel fine, other than talking about it while we're walking, I probably wouldn’t even be thinking baout it.  V: I wonder if you would be more comfortable or less comfortable wearing it, if you had been wearing it more consistently throughout the week. If you would be more or less aware of it... or if it’s just this meeting that we have everyday, that’s when you’re comfortable, but if we weren’t talking about it, would you wear it around? C: Like if I just had it somehow? V: Not necessarily, just if you were wearing it not in one of these set discussions, how do you think you would feel?

V: Would you wear it to a friend’s house? C: I don’t know, probably not. That to me would not probably be part of everyday, it's not from... I just don’t want it to take... V: Take what? C: Like have it be a whole thing. My friends aren't very savvy to the art jewelry world, so it would be like if you had a new hair cut or something and you would just talk about that.

V: I guess we just haven’t figured out what kind of relationship, or maybe we have and that’s why it is a little bit more uncomfortable, to wear it during daily tasks, because so far it’s been set up as ‘this piece that we exchange and talk about during specific time for that’, you know?

C: Well, we can construct some kind of narrative about this. Part of this exercise is really looking at this piece of jewelry in detail, but when you’re wearing jewelry out in the world, there is a lot going on, and it’s a lot less likely to be at the top of your mind. V: Well I think everyone is coming from a different place. Like, I’m  coming at it from a very biased place, because I’m a jeweler myself. So that definitely changes the kind of comfortability I have with the piece to start out with. I’m just curious, because you’re someone outside of that realm, how or if that’s changed for you over the course of this week.C: I would say I’m very comfortable wearing it publicly, but I don’t think that’s changed much from the very beginning. V: Yeah, but public is a huge realm, so I guess I’m just trying to compartmentalize.
C: Public, as in people you don’t know, the general public.

C: I don’t like to make a fuss. I like to wear a cool pair of sneakers that’s from a specific era, and I don’t really want to talk about them with anyone. I just want to have them on and feel good about the sneakers. I just want to have them be a part of my day and enjoy it. I don’t like when people make a fuss about it.

C: I would just want to wear it (talking about the piece), and I do think people would talk about it, and I don’t really want to. V: I just wonder if that has anything to do with your levels of vulnerability with it. C: Yeah, maybe I’m justifying it, but I don’t think I’m grasping for straws or anything. 
V: Do you feel like it’s a little show-boaty to wear contemporary jewelry? C: I think for me it would be, or it would feel that way.

V: If everyone started wearing these pieces and kinds of work more often, it would be more normalized, and it wouldn’t be this thing that’s always mentioned when someone is wearing it. C: Well so whose responsibility is that?

C: The piece is more important to me now. I feel engaged with it, I feel part of its existence. V: You’re a part of the story it’s developing.
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Day 7: From the Gut

[Living Room, afternoon]

Final day! This last discussion was filled with reminiscent notes on our experience with the piece so far. This piece has started to become second nature for us (so much so that we sort of felt like naming it at one point). We both found ourselves handling the piece more than usual, tracing the skin on the surface and the silver bezel and protrusions on the back.

The focal point however was much more personal. Why are we so keen on talking about the piece? There's a special connection to the way the object was made and how we perceived the care and comfort in this outside of our initial interpretations. Our own artistic practices and habits were brought into the convo as well. We were both concerned that we wouldn’t have enough to talk about the work, but each day created a ritualistic and reflective time for us.
Thank you Kelly!

Highlighted Quotes:

C: You’ve grown attached to it? V: Yeah! I don’t know if you noticed, but I had it hanging on my jewelry wall. C: Just to enjoy it? V: Yeah. I had it hanging there the whole time you were gone, that you were away. It was nice. It felt like it was part of the crew.

C: Do you think the eyes are the most important sensory experience of this piece?
V: For me, it’s been wearing it, which is physical and about touching. C: You have become more comfortable, you put your thumb on the skin and you weren’t really doing that before... When you have a piece of jewelry, that becomes second nature to you. You’re not wearing it like a gem or special thing you don’t want to get marked up.

V: I really love tracing the silver bezel. I find myself doing that a lot.

C: This would have to overcome a lot to become an everyday piece for me. V: Don’t you think it’s interesting that this has become an everyday piece for us beacuse we talk about it almost everyday?
V: You’re playing with it more now too! C: That was totally absent minded. I was not thinking about that at all.

V: You walked to your car because you were leaving, and you forgot you were wearing it, and I thought that was just such a nice moment of forgetting you were even wearing the piece, and you had to run back and give it to me. C: I think I just forgot I had it on.
V: I know, but doesn’t that mean something?

V: Any concluding thoughts or feelings you have about it? C: I think it's a cool experiment. I definitely became more comfortable with it over time.

V: How do you get to a point with an object where you stop talking about the object and start talking about whatever flows from it?

C: Clearly this brings out some kind of deeper meaning.

V: You can tell looking at an object or piece of jewelry that it was made with care, or conversely, if that object was cared for over all. Even if it is a mass produced object that someone loved and cared for. This is something you and I both really connect with because you go thrifting all the time. That’s not a trend for you, that's your way of life and it's the same reason I love making things and I love making jewelry. It's because the care and time put into making these objects and the relationships people have with these objects.

V: Without even hearing about the work or knowing the deeper meaning of it, we have a little bit of context for what Kelly’s work is about, but at the same time, we’re just getting to know it. You can just tell when something was cared for in the making of it and that’s something that’s special with this piece. C: Absolutely. From the very beginning.

V: All jewelers who make in that way want their work to be loved and cared for in that way.

V: I do think we were talking about it more selfishly (in the first few days), talking about the very visceral response. This is what we like about it, and the shape, and the material and how we’re feeling about it. I feel like over the course of the past week, we have developed a deeper connection to the piece.

V: Can you cultivate a deeper relationship to something when maybe you’re averse to it from the start?

C: Your use of details does not have to be their detail. That’s where the emotional relatability comes from, is you talking from your own experience, and even if it’s not the same as somebody else, they can project what it’s like to be there with their own details.

C: Maybe we’re not supposed to understand the skin. Maybe it’s just supposed to be...
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