Start. Stop. Start again. Writes designer-maker, Karen Whiterod

Karen Whiterod

Written by Karen Whiterod

31 August 2020

What can I say, as for so many people this global pandemic swept aside my plans. We went into lockdown two weeks after the short launch exhibition for Balanced-Earth in March. Advised by the NHS that I should shield, for a month I had difficulty focussing and my asthma worsened with the tree pollen emerging.

Then my Balanced-Earth project re-activated me. I recalled conversations and my ideas following the launch. A plan emerged. An online shop. This had always been intended as another strand of how I might sell, but now it is the one and only!

I love my large, multiple vessel plant mobiles and have enjoyed making them, adding one more stainless steel branch and another vessel, watching how the balance alters and the whole structure moves. For the online shop we are offering a beginning – a single suspended vessel. When my friend suggested I make a single one, I didn’t like the idea, as the movement and balance of many delighted me. However the poise and elegance of the suspended solitary vessel has converted me – less is more!

I designed the B-E plant mobiles so they will come apart. The vessels lift out of the frames. The handle of the frame unhooks from the stainless steel branch, each branch unhooks from the one above. This enables transporting and reassembling at home – very much simpler than a flat pack!

The online shop will offer a vessel, frame and stainless steel branch as a set, so once the foundation for suspending the first vessel is in place more can be added as and when space is available, money available or the desire to expand the plant mobile prompts.

There are three possible ways to suspend. There’s the oak bracket. I make these using offcuts from the local sawmill. From ceiling hooks with a hooked straight stainless steel rod, which brings the plant mobile into a lower position. Twisted stainless steel wires form a thin, strong “rope”, which go over curtain poles, and a plant mobile can be hung from this. I have all versions in my home.

I’ve also made alterations to two of my vessel shapes by carving into the plaster molds, so now they have wider rims. These ones rest in the disc frames – aluminium and CDs. I will write more about the paperpulp vessels in my next blog post.

Now I’ve put down my tools and I’m building in a different way as I put the online shop in place on this website. The shielding is paused, but I shall continue to be very careful as I feel vulnerable due to my existing health conditions, I am home most of the time. However I have so much to do, this shop won’t build itself and I have to make the stock too!

A little aside, but following a vegan diet has been an unexpected pleasure. I challenged myself in January to try this and once in lockdown, I thought I shouldn’t be too strict with myself so if I fancied cheese or eggs then I would have them, but I didn’t. It has been fascinating trying different foods and substituting cheese and eggs in my favourite vegetarian recipes. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed all my food, proven by having increased in weight (or is that the weight of my now long hair)!

I have been fortunate in not being bereaved due to Covid-19. My deepest sympathy goes out to those who have experienced a loved one dying of this terrible disease.

Karen Whiterod

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