May 10 • 12M

happy dappy ringtime

*in springtime

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What’s this?

Content outside of the usual programming on Material Feels, an art materials podcast I produce each month. This newsletter is recorded, too; I voice it one take as 1) audiobook narration practice and 2) an anti-perfectionism exercise.

As a fun extra, I create a playlist that runs parallel to each edition; the musical lineup helps me think about the topics I cover in new ways.

The title of this month’s newsletter is a throwback to the early 2000s, when my bestie and I were manically singing showtunes, as one does, and he improvised new words for a number (I think from Pippin?) about springtime. I have just realized that for twenty years, every time spring comes, I hear his voice in my head: “In spring time, in spring time, in happy dappy ring time!” In fact, this rewrite is so infections I just refer to springtime as “happy dappy ringtime” in my head. So, now you’re in on it too. You’re welcome, and I’m sorry.

This month’s menu:

  • Word of the Month

  • Current Obsessions / Watch it, buddy

  • Happenings

Word of the Month

sieve (n.)

"a device for separating wanted elements from unwanted material; an instrument for separating the finer from the coarser parts of disintegrated matter by shaking it so as to force the former through.”

Two weeks ago, I cut off most of my hair. I have dark curly hair that’s been longish for most of my life. I’ve had the same haircut my entire life in the sense that “Please take off as little as possible” was my constant refrain with hairdressers over the years.

My curly hair had a lot of power. It was the first thing people noticed about me and the one thing they remembered most (or so I felt). It was complimented, lusted after or othered. My curls were… cute, angelic, cherubic, girlish, then wild, sexy, exotic (ew), then quirky, bold, somehow brave? Or they were frizzy, knotted, unkept. I also nursed a lifelong (fatphobic) belief that the bigger my hair was, the skinnier I would look. My hair had it’s own personality, complete with a pedestal…. and I was over it.

I was over the time it took to take care of my hair. The decision-making energy and money spent picking out hair products. The thought put into when the best time to shower was. The approval I sought, trying to keep my curls looking nice.

I was over it.

My hair hasn’t been this short on the sides and back since I was born. Halfway through the cut I asked my hairdresser if I could run down the block outside of her studio real quick. I couldn’t wait to feel the wind and sun on my head. It felt amazing.

I asked her to put the hair she sheared off me in a paper bag. It’s sitting in my closet right now, flat and limp, deflated looking. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. When I look at it, I just see a whole lotta labor.

The moment she buzzed away more than half my hair, my eyes filled with tears, but I wasn’t upset.

I was overjoyed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How do you let go of things that don’t make sense anymore?

How do you sift out what you want to take with you and what you need to leave behind?

How do you filter away

distractions, unwelcome noise, unnecessary work, unhealthy guilt, unvoiced resentment, excess pressure, erratic flyaways…

I want to let go, but I don’t want to let go of everything.

As usual, my imagination helps.

I imagine I am

fluid and lush like a canopy of leaves, filtering fog into droplets that nourish the forest floor.

soft and grounded like soil full with rain, bringing nutrients to seeds within.

light and durable like the fine mesh sieve that lifts my tea leaves out when I’m ready, keeping bitterness at bay.

Current Obsessions: Watch It, Buddy!

Last month I talked about taking a break from listening to stuff and I’ve really been… easing back into media consumption.


Yeah no, I’m binging TV like crazy while avoiding listening to serious things and only reading within a strict binary: I either read for projects (so, art materials, physics and psychology) or pleasure (space stuff, cartoons, the captions of stand up comedy).

Back to what I watch. I’ve recently discovered I am a “film & tv buff.” Perhaps “freak” is a better noun than buff, because what I lack in expertise I make up for with passion. I never identified as one of these because, a) I almost exclusively watch movie trailers and hardly ever commit to a full length movie and b) I thought… everyone… liked movies and TV. But this was a foolish assumption on my part. I met someone recently who told me she “didn’t like watching things.” I had to take a minute to figure out what to say next, because all that was left in my social battery was media-flavored critical analysis and joyful love letters to the shows I’m currently obsessed with.

Luckily I have YOU on the other end now, so here goes. If you’re looking for the next thing to watch…

What do you want to say to yourself?

  • “This makes so much sense!!!” White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch. Watch this documentary about the pitfalls —well, fuckery — of Abercrombie & Fitch. Hang in there: I personally thought I would hate it. I came of age in The Danbury Fair Mall, the largest mall in the tristate area (I come from a small town, actually a village, in New York State. Our mall was a point of pride). I have vivid memories of the impact that A&F had on my psyche. I remember what it smelled like. I remember the “hot” people standing around making me feel very out of place. I remember, even as a 12 year old, walking in with my skinny, excited, “guys are hot and I love shopping” friend, knowing that nothing in the store would really fit me right and even if I found something, I couldn’t pay for it. I like this documentary because it lays out the discriminatory workplace practices and problematic brand identity of the company using a range of interesting sources, analysis of societal norms and plenty of 90s throwbacks.

  • “I wanna do that!” The Great Pottery Showdown. After about 50 people told me to watch this over several years I finally started, and they were all right. I love it. This show features earnest, talented, kind people, and of course, my first love, clay. It’s very affirming to hear the narrator explaining concepts nearly verbatim to the ways that I explain things to my students — about the material, the history of the craft, or the physics of throwing on a potter’s wheel. I’m also so inspired by the way these artists push themselves and the show makes me want to expand and explore and try all the things! There’s so much to learn with the infinite possibilities of ceramics, and this show is a beautiful reminder of that.

  • “In my day, we couldn’t just Google our sexuality…” Heartstopper. Are you a queer millennial scarred by biphobia and weary of online dating, ready to guzzle a cathartic queer teen romdrom or two? I inhaled Heartstopper, and (bonus rec) Young Royals within a week of one another. Catching an immobilizing stomach flu from your nephew is a great way to catch up on shows if I do say so myself. Both of these storylines focus on the inner lives and relationships of high schoolers; Heartstopper is sweet and charming, centering on a particular friend group, a particular boy and his crush, who is on the rugby team. I used to play rugby in college and that’s how I fell in love with my first girlfriend so, THIS WASN’T RELATABLE AT ALL. Young Royals is a bit more dark and raw; it’s about, you guessed it, a young royal; he attends boarding school and falls for a certain someone. Turns out, I, um, also went to boarding school AND NOTHING GAY HAPPENED THERE, SO THIS WAS ALSO SUPES UNRELATABLE. Jk, it was relatable as hell. Except like, the prince part.

Do you have any show recommendations for me? I’d love to hear them! To remind of you of my impeccable taste, past recommendations have included Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Only Murders in the Building and It’s Okay Not To Be Okay.


I have a lot going on in May and June and I wanna tell you about it!

I’ve got four art events coming up, three of which feature Waveform Ceramics - part classroom, part shop: I teach in my garage and sell audio-themed art like the radio planters pictured above.

Come say hi if you’re in the area:

  1. May 19th, 4-8pm, Craft Fair @ Low Bar. Enjoy yummy cocktails and peruse pottery, sculptures and more!

    The studio at Merritt Ceramics! @merrittceramics
  2. June 4th, MerrittFest Open House, 11-3pm @ Merritt Ceramics. Merritt recently opened up a shop in addition to their amazing studio (where I’m a member). Come to the open house, meet the members, play with clay and check out the amazing new supply shop!

    Follow @soundscenefest for more info!
  3. June 4th, An interactive installation at Sound Scene, an audio festival June 3 - 5th at the Smithsonian Hirschhorn in D.C. The project is called Conversations with the Material World, featuring four sculptures and soundscapes by five queer, nonbinary makers. Contributing artists include myself (clay & voicing), woodworker Dominique Tutwiler, glassblower Deborah Czeresko, fiber artist Selena Loomis and sound designer/musician Elizabeth de Lise. Register here if you can go; If you’re not in DC and can’t make it, don’t worry, I’ll be releasing a few virtual versions of the project on the Material Feels feed, and there may be some opportunities to show the work in the Bay Area!

    The team at BSB <3 @brownsugarbotanicals
  4. June 10th, Pop-Up with Brown Sugar Botanicals, 5-8pm @ Waveform Ceramics. BSB, a shop for herbal CBD products, is launching a new product :) come hang out, try it and enjoy some art on a Friday night!

Thanks for tuning in and going down a few rabbit holes with me. I hope you find your version of a sieve this month.

C (they/them)