Posts Tagged ‘sweeping changes’

Honeysuckle Dreams

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

(honeysuckle, honeysuckle roots)

Sweeping Changes

I am doing another entry right away, since it was a long break, and I’d like to get all the work done.
This might be my favorite broom.  It is wild and sweet, and reminds me of her.  When I look at it, I see her dancing.  She used to love to dance, and even when she was in her chair, she would twirl and glide with music sometimes.  I still get at least a tear in my eye when I hear the Avett Brothers song, Swept Away:

Well you send my life a whirling
Darling when you’re twirling
On the floor
Who cares about tomorrow?
What more is tomorrow?
Than another day.

I am also going to use Rae’s own words for this one, again from Master Sweepings:

Southern women, tough strong, stubborn.  Mothers, grandmothers, not genteel, but wild, bodacious – dancing thru life – not ramrod straight, but laughing, courageous women who know how to bend.  Spinning, rocking, vining, rooting.

Each of the brooms could almost be considered a love letter to women, but this one is specifically to my grandmothers, who are the ones that taught me to love being a woman.  My grandmothers danced through many dramatic, sad or normal times, and each of them has given me an alternative picture of what older women are.  Wise, strong and outrageous in their own right, they worked hard, laughed, and argued with each other.  They taught me resilience.  The honeysuckle is resilient: cut it back or dig it up, and it comes back.  The honeysuckle is considered a flower by some, an invader by others, little better than a weed.  Like the honeysuckle, my grandmothers cared little for outsiders’ opinions, but grew in their own manner with their own belief system intact.
Poor women, with little education, they were anything but invisible or worthless.  Many old women live alone, cut off from affection, sexuality and life, but not these women.   Each of my grandmothers carried her own name  proudly.  They were short little women who were majestic in their stature, righteous in their anger, humorous and stubborn.  Never would these women sit meekly by and allow someone to dictate their lives, nor did they encourage their granddaughters to.  This broom is a message of reclaiming in that I want each of us to dance into our own power and catch/make our own dream.  This is the clearest message, maybe the only clear message, other than the importance of tenacity, that my grandmothers gave me.    The broom was also an acknowledgement of the skills and love of making that I got from them.  Each of my foremothers is an artist in her own right.  My great great grandma MacDowell was a weaver and a quilter, who lived to be 99, and held my oldest son in her arms.  Great grandma Nancy made quilts, hooked rugs and dolls, and raised literally millions of birds in her house and barn to sell to pet shops and bird houses.  She lived with a man for almost 30 years, and laughed about their great sex until he died when she was 74.  Grandma Dora was a seamstress and baker and the quietest of the lot, but she married her second husband at 72.  All of their art would have been considered craft  they define it as such themselves  but it is not just domestic objects that they made, used, gave away, traded and sold  it was something from the heart, made with attention and intention.  This was their gift to me.
The broomstick is made of the heavy branch of honeysuckle, cut in half and fitted back into itself so that the shape emulated an elegant classical “S” curve so often associated with women and their posture.  Grace and posture is a presumption all rural southern border state women must deal with.  My grandmothers did often tell me to stand up straight  but there was such grace, comfort and strength in their own easy posture it was easier to emulate.   I used honeysuckle because it has a relationship to the south.  I think it is the word itself that I respond to.  “Honeysuckle” rolls off the tongue, and has a sensuous sound.  We had Honeysuckle Queens and honeysuckle parades and festivals that had nothing to do with the plant.   The flying skirt of the broom is made of roots to give credence to my belief in the importance of roots as a nurturer of the strength to build the self.

Ghost Broom

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

From Sweeping Changes

Available!  $200

Driftwood, willow, silk
The Ghost Broom was Rae’s tribute to the craft of making brooms.  When she did the research for her MS in Related Art, it was clear that many of the old broommakers were worried their craft was disappearing.  While looking for what Rae said about this broom, I opened up her Thesis, Master Sweepings, and found this section on the Ghost Broom:

Something lost and drifting away.  Lost symbology.  Fading away, broom  ghost of what it used to be…

As a small child each of us may have played with, danced with, or imitated a parent cleaning with a broom.  How many of us learned from a broom about the relationships of space, extensions from our body, and moving in unison with something else? What happens now with electric brooms, vacuums, and carpeting? The broom has been replaced now by a baseball bat kept beside your bed on scary nights.  Who leans on their broom on the back porch, watching the sunset and relishing another day gone and the work accomplished?  When will we walk into another hardware store and see a flower bed of brooms sprouting up from a wooden rack, and watch the magic of a woman picking out her new broom?  What is our relationship to broom, to this artifact of culture being lost and replaced by technology and plastic? Why is everything domestic devalued?
One of the most moving experiences that really solidified my ideas about Ghost Broom happened in Chicago at Blindskills Distributors, a suppliers warehouse.  The neighborhood was rough and deteriorating and the owners were as well.  They welcomed me in, gave me ice water and stayed right there, but worked through the entire conversation, lifting and toting in oppressive heat and dust.  They supplied brooms to Shriners and Moose clubs and other organizations for fundraising projects.  The brooms they supplied to these organizations were from collectives/factories usually run by or for the blind.  They lamented that plastic brooms, brooms from overseas and even the loss of community organizations that ran these kinds of “down to earth fundraising projects” were seriously affecting these collectives.  (It didn’t affect their business  they were really suppliers of industrial carpeting).
Several of the broom factories I visited also had an impact on my concept of loss.  Mark Quinn of Quinn Broomworks, Greenup, Illinois, showed me his broom factory in progress with many people working, each making as many as 25 to 40 brooms a day.  He was animated and excited.  At each station, he showed me different aspects of broommaking  washing wrapping, sorting, dyeing, etc.  Much of the equipment he had was older, worn, and even rusty, but he had great pride in it nevertheless.  We then went to a different section of the factory, where it was very quiet, no thrumming of vises and clamps or busy voices.  There was a large machine (sitting idle) which, with two people to run it, would make 37 brooms in an hour.  According to Quinn, the greater capacity was needed because plastic brooms fall apart in maybe a quarter of the time that a “good corn broom” did.  When he spoke about the machine and how he needed it because so many folks wanted those plastic brooms, he lost that schoolboy enthusiasm.  The tactile quality of making a broom was gone: another tradition being lost.
I found a piece of honeysuckle driftwood, grey and white, bleached by the water and sun.  It carried in it a sense of loss, decay, and mournfulness.  I went into the piece with rasps and sandpaper to accentuate that sense, to cut away rot and expose hidden faces and craggy places.  I then found about 20 thin pieces of corkscrew willow to use as exposed bones of the broom skirt.  I stripped the bark, bleached them using the sun, vinegar, and bleach, and they began to take on that same weathered aged look of the broom handle.  I then drilled holes to precisely fit each stick to the broom handle in places that would encourage the illusion of the broom being one piece, such as little dimples in the wood, holes, and bumps where small branches had been.
I wrapped the piece with unspun silk, stretched sparingly about the broom to give it the look of cobwebs, disuse, deterioration, something abandoned in the corner of an old house.  I mounted the broom on a narrow rod that caused the broom to quiver whenever anyone walked by.  Many of the viewers of this broom seemed to respond to this sense of abandonment, because it was one of the brooms that people stood in front of, holding their hands out as if to touch it, to hold it, to make it better.

The broom itself has aged and transformed, is more of a ghost than it started as:


Sunday, March 28th, 2010

From Sweeping Changes

willow, witchesbroom, soapstone, hair, grasses, fiber

PreGeneration was one of Rae’s pieces that was up for the Sweeping Changes show, and because of its configuration and size, and the lack of space to store things, was dismantled and now gone.  All that is left is the woven “spider web” from the branching on the top of the piece.

Rae wanted to use a piece of “witches-broom”, a condition appearing on a woody plant, often a tree, where the natural growth pattern is interrupted, and instead of a single branch, many are formed at a node.  The result looks like a broom or bird’s nest.  You can often see these in stands of willow growing near a stream, and that is where we found the stick for this one.  But instead of turning the branches down, and using them as the skirt, she kept it upright, and added a skirt that is more of a grass skirt, or roots, coming off the stick very low, and flowing out over the pedestal.

Within this skirt were small soapstone carvings of animals.  This piece represented an origin story, the generation of life.  It hearkens to the old explanation of “spontaneous generation” that was offered long ago as where certain creatures came from.  Like fire that will appear without a match or spark if fuel-soaked rags are left in an enclosed space, it was believed that trash and detritus would generate bugs and mice.

I have searched, but not found any of the small carvings that were in this piece, perhaps Rae gave them away as gifts, or left them as a physical libation in nature somewhere.

Sweep of the Milky Way

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

from Sweeping Changes

Cosmos Sequence, Wild Wood, dyed broomcorn.

Collection of Bankston-Thomas, Milwaukee

From Sweeping changes, and also appearing in Women, Domesticity, and Objects of Power, The sweep of the Milky Way is a subtle, beautiful interpretation of the night sky as a broom.  Rae had the stick, a found sapling with characteristic spiral caused by growing with a vine entwined around the trunk.  This wood cried out to be made into a broomstick, as so many similar sticks find their way into craft brooms at Art fairs and festivals.

She stripped the bark, smoothed the wood, and painted it flat black.  Then airbrushed and daubed pearlescent white paint for stars spiraling around the stem.  To make it glow, a clear coat of lacquer was applied.  The result looks like it could be floating in space, slowly turning with the eons and circuits around the galaxy.

The base is dark brown dyed broomcorn, tied with black cord in 5 bundles, making a star pattern.  The broom sits on a square of chamfered wood also painted black.  This is very much a Witches Broom.  Powerful and magical in appearance and energy.

Inspirational Simplicity

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Quilted Maple, Broomcorn

Available!  $600

From Sweeping Changes

This piece is probably the closest of any of Rae’s brooms to a “traditional” broom.  If it were not mounted on the iron tripod, you could easily sweep the floor with it.  One of the few pieces Rae turned on a lathe.  She didn’t really like doing lathe work, too much flying debris, noise and dust, I think.

The skirt was modeled after a craft broom she saw in a shop down south, with the broomcorn stalks still attached, and woven in a circular pattern, making a besom rather than the standard flat broom.  Robert Burns wrote a poem/song to the besom.

The wood is a piece of quilted maple, part of a larger piece that Rae bought from BVC hardwoods while Larry was still in the business.  The rough-sawn wood did not reveal the deep, lustrous, curly grain until it was polished with several ever-finer grades of sandpaper, and finally fine steel wool, and then a simple clear oil finish made it glow.  I could lose myself in the swirls and ribbons of its grain.  That stick takes the broom from its otherwise simple appearance to a transcendent glory.  Or so I’ve always thought.

Click for larger image

Serpentine Sheddings, Visceral Wisdom

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

From Sweeping Changes.

Ironwood, pig gut

This process of putting Rae’s pieces in this blog, of presenting them with as much of their stories as I can, has been a healing one.  It also has brought me tears, frustration, and joy.  One strange thing is the deja vu.  I am certain I remember writing about this piece in detail.  But I cannot find anything, and now I must draw the conclusion that I either described it in a dream, or told the story at either her memorial/birthday party or some other gathering of folk.  Ah, well, here we go again.

Rae had a lot of fun with this piece, from the rather simple design to the very complicated implementation.  I found a snippet in Rae’s Master’s Thesis, which I quote below.  For Sweeping Changes, she wanted a snake, shedding it’s skin, the skin becoming the skirt of the broom.

From her MasterSweepings manuscript:  “The first step of this breathing out is the process of thinking.  Thinking isn’t limited to intellectualizing — for me it implies a whole brain involvement to convey something that is felt, seen, and thought about.  This is followed by finding, which is a free ranging and instinctual process — and an allowing and a trusting that what I need will be found.  An example of this can be seen in the broom Visceral Wisdom / Serpentine Sheddings, for which I needed a snake handle that was shedding its skin.  My process was not to think, “now I need a 6 foot stick” — it was more like: “now I need the snake” — and then I waited/sought the snake, and accepted it when the right piece of wood came.  Then I begin the act of making — not just constructing an object, but responding to the construction and materials while “thinking” is engaged.”

The stick was a found piece of ironwood, with bark beetle grooves in it.  The skirt, to emulate snakeskin (she had no desire to either buy or collect enough actual snake skins to do it) was hand-painted pig intestine.  Yes.  Pig gut. (“visceral” wisdom…)

You can get pig intestine from a butcher shop, usually used for stuffing your own sausage into.  It comes in about 60′ lengths or longer, in a brine to preserve it.

We lived at Eagle Heights when she was making this piece.  We went outside with the gut, and stuck a bicycle pump into one end, and pumped.  It inflated like an insane balloon-animal, getting longer and longer but not thicker.  She then tied off the ends, and we strung it up like a clothesline to dry.  It shrank and flattened when it dried.  Did not hold the air very long, but long enough to make it ribbon instead of string.

Rae cut this 3/4″ – 1.25″ ribbons into even lengths of 4 feet.  She painted them with one of her favorite paints, a “Pearlescent” set of pastels that fairly glowed.  The effect was a magical multi-colored semi-transparent ribbon that did look a lot like a colorful snakeskin.  The ribbons were folded in half, leaving the fold at the top, and a colored string used to attach them to the stick.  Originally crisp and fluffed out, moisture form the air and time have left them more limp now, but still just as colorful and inspiring.  The same colored paint was used to trace the grooves left by the bark beetles in a crazy, random meander around the stick.

Sensuous Successions

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Tulipwood, flax

Available! $450

One of the 13 pieces in Sweeping Changes, and not included in any shows since, I think.

This simple broom was an exploration of shape and texture.  A very hard wood, it took a lot of carving to get the spiral worked into it.  It also took the light oil finish well.  Not a lot to say.  Within the design and its interaction with the viewer are possible associations and stories.  I know Rae, as a weaver and spinner, liked to work with flax.  The raw flax in this is quite different from linen.

What do you see?


The Witch is Free

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Sweeping Changes Series
Glass, Acrylic

The Witch is Free, the glass broom, was the culmination of many trials, many failures and restarts, to make a broom from Glass.  Rae loved the Glass studio, and was particularly drawn to sandcasting and slumping.  She wanted to make a glass broom, and tried many times unsuccessfully to do one in a sand mold.  She learned a lot about the technique in the process, and did make some other glass pieces in the mold, but what she tried to do for a broom just never worked out.  The process she was trying involved taking wet olivine sand and 2 boxes.  sand was put in one box, a cut off broom was pushed down most of the way into the sand, more sand and the other box placed over that, with waxed paper along the seam so that after tamping down the sand, the two boxes should have been able to separate, so the broom could be removed, leaving the sand forming a negative impression of the broom, and a hole to pour the molten class through.

Every attempt ended up with the sand collapsing, refusing to hold its form, possibly because of the size of the broom, or the fact that the individual broom straws would mingle with the sand, pulling it apart as the mold opened.  In any case, she gave up that attempt.

While in class, she learned of the “Witches Ball”  often found in glass factories, and also sometimes in breweries and other places.  The idea was that witches sometimes spoiled the work in the annealing kiln or vats, and that the shiny glass globe would capture her interest.  In the version Rae found the Witches Ball had a hole in the bottom that the witch’s spirit would fly into, and not be able to find its way back out of.

So the only time Rae actually did work with molten glass was to make the top of the broom you see here, tantalizingly shaped so that no witch could resist it.  Attached to a 1 1/4″ thick stem of class for the handle, all that remained was to attach the skirt.

The skirt, since it could not be a cast of a real broom, posed some problems.  She tried taking glass rods and heating and drawing them out.  Too tedious, and too regular.

Steve Feran demonstrated how to create glass tubes and rods, by grabbing the end of a ball of glass fresh out of the oven, and running out the door with it, getting as far as possible before the glass cooled, and began to break into sections.

For the Sweeping Changes show, Rae did a combination.  She had some irregular glass rods made in this way, some glass tubes and pipettes from a lab supply house.  She heated the ends and made them curl at the top, and curve like broomstraw would.  Held piece by piece in place with a dab of silicone caulk, and clear nylon cord wrapped around the bundle.  The whole thing was beautiful, and fragile.  Many rods broke in transport, and the whole skirt was eventually replaced with acrylic rods, which still sparkle, but do not shatter and cut.

The piece is now in the collection of Casey Heinzel.

In Honor of Cinderella

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Click for larger image

Porcelain, Lace

This piece was inspired by the Cinderella story, and many other tales of with a female protagonist.  Rae saw many of them with a common element, the story was told always from another’s point of view.  The protagonist herself is silent, even silenced.  Hence the woman with the long neck in this piece has no mouth.  Her neck might even be elongated from the pressure of the things she wants to say but cannot.

This was one of the few pieces Rae tried in clay, though she used clay for the molds for some of her glass pieces.  It is fired porcelain, with an iridescent glaze.  The skirt is many, many yards of lace, which she was delighted to find in a bargain bin at a local fabric store just in time.  This piece was claimed shortly after the Sweeping Changes show by Beverly Gordon, in whose collection it now resides.

From an interview by Amy Bethel, Rae had this to say about the piece:


Yeah. um, from a lot of the things that were a challenge or traumatic about my early life. And I decided to make a broom that was called “In Honor of Cinderella.” And it’s a broom that’s made out of ceramic with over 500 yards of lace as the skirt. And it has a head at the top that’s very realistic, that Deb Trent helped me make. And it has a really long neck. The neck is about 3 feet long. And there’s no mouth. And the skirt–the lace skirt comes up and there are these seven little ribbons tied around the neck, as well as being [], and it’s done in a real light colored pearlescent fashion–I mean, glaze. And it’s real pretty, you know? In this sort of bizarre way. And what it is is–it is about the heroine that so many of us grew up with is this woman who never complains or shares her pain or talks about the abuse that’s been heaped upon her. She just holds it all in. So her neck just keeps getting longer and longer because there’s more and more stuff tangled up down there. And it never comes out because she has no way to speak it. And in essence that’s me, because in my early years there was a lot of pain and there were things that happened, and I was never allowed to speak them. You’d be told it didn’t happen, it isn’t true, you know , etc., etc., etc.  And everything looks really pretty. You know, everything has that sort of white bread feel to it. That everything is chintz and lace and roses and it just wasn’t. You know? It just wasn’t. It was just swallowing it. It was just swallowing your pride, it was just holding back the words, it was just biting your tongue. And that piece was acknowledging that that is an experience that I had and that stories and media and Walt Disney and our parents and society as a whole really wanted me and everybody else to respect, love, cherish and buy the video of that victim. You know? And that was about healing. And that was about articulating that that’s what that piece was about. That culturally women are, you know, supposed to live these froufrou lives, but we don’t. That’s what we’re supposed to present to the world. And we don’t–you know, we don’t have that option to suddenly find a voice.”

And from her Master’s Thesis, Master Sweepings:


(ceramics, ribbons, lace)

Little voiceless victim, sweeping cinders.  Dancing the ball with silent broom princes.  Homage to voiceless women who survived.  To loosening the silken bindings.

This piece was very problematic for me.   I knew what I wanted to say and portray.  I wanted to place Cinderella on a pedestal  not as a princess, a woman (girl) worthy of attention by a prince and a fairy godmother.   No, I wanted to honor and expose what I see as the secret truth of Cinderella  Cinderella as victim.

For that is what she is.  She is not just the victim of an “evil” stepmother and step sisters, but also of the brothers Grimm and of our culture.  The brothers Grimm set down a version of a fairy tale in which a young girl seldom talks.  She does not try to defend herself or even attempt to escape the abuse/situation.  She is a “good” girl, who stoically waits for rescue, or relief or what  death?

And our culture has picked up on this idea  of the good girl waiting to be rescued.  We’ve made myths, stories, movies of this archetype: whole theories regarding women’s powerlessness have been named for her.  This is really interesting considering that the story theme in Cinderella is universal.  Many countries and cultures have story themes of young women left alone and abused, but many of these stories reflect young women who run away, speak out about their abuse or refuse to be abused.  Characters such a Caporushes and Tatergood are good examples of this alternative view.  (need references here, further explanation) It has become apparent to me how much Cinderella’s voicelessness is like my own voicelessness as an incest survivor.  The voice that could have let me save myself was cut off.  The words that could have revealed the secrets were silenced.  The challenge for me with this piece was how to make Cinderella recognizable and still portray her as a victim.  The plan was to create a head on a stick   a kind of puppet figure.  This would symbolize the collection of unspoken words.  The skirt would be made up of layers of lace fabric and bound with ribbons, symbolic of femininity, layers, tangled webs, Cinderella’s rags and her ball gown.  The skirt would be wrapped with rings of ribbon to represent the acts and circumstances that had “caught” the words in her throat.  Culture, life, abuse had all left their mark upon the victim.

I decided to make the stick out of clay.  Not only is clay incredibly pliable, but it is both fragile and durable (fired clay can last for thousands of years).  The surface of the clay is not smooth, it is banged up, it shows life experiences  like a survivor.  A clay face, the head of a woman who had survived, a tribute to survivors.

I made many heads that did not work.  What I wanted to create was a face that had no mouth, to further represent the voiceless quality of Cinderella, and for this to be successful, it needed to be a realistic face.  I wasn’t able to create a face/head that “read” well and that looked believable without a mouth; after three heads I was appalled at my creations, which ranged from abstract aliens to mouthless death masks.   About this time the hand of fate stepped in.  First a friend with skill to help me with ceramic realism moved to town, and second, all three of the heads in my studio were broken, probably by a tremor from the street.

I sought technical assistance from two ceramicists, Deb Trent, the friend, and Elaine Shear, Professor at the UWMadison.  We discussed exactly what I needed, the symbology of the final piece and why I wanted things a specific way.  Deb and Elaine were concerned by my desire to have the stick be one piece, and how would it survive the firing.  With the input and work of the three of us,three new heads/handles began to materialize.  The first head took on a coloring book appearance, with a long braid down the back becoming the broom stick.  Another seemed too young, and did not have the eyes of a survivor.  The third was very simple and smaller in scale, more like a fireplace broom.  At first I was drawn to the coloring book piece, which I thought might be the most recognizable.  But the third really gave me the sense of victim.

I designed and directed the faces, but Deb was instrumental in shaping them.  I joined the faces to the stick, and then worked closely with Elaine on firing processes and glazes.  The head needed to be very stable, and we created a number of sample tiles.   I also had to create a specialized stand for this piece, one which had to be created while the clay was still wet and pliable.  A stand of steel and wood was developed and the ceramic neck had a hole that allowed a long dowel to fit into the head.

I decided on lace ribbons rather than fabric for the skirt.  Ribbons would allow for a closer association with broom, as well as reflect the tattered quality of Cinderella’s life and world.  I wanted to portray the aspect of a spider web, the sense of trapped-ness.  But lace has other qualities, it can also draw one in,  people are fascinated and intrigued by it and how it was made.  It can look soft and inviting and yet be scratchy.  It has a tactile quality, in both feel and sound.  The lace skirt in my broom thus draws the viewer in, and like a survivor, invites one into her space, shows her wish to be touched  nicely, while at the same time the expresses her retreat due to fear and memory.

I used over 500 yards of lace, and over 100 yards of ribbon in the skirt.  With the assistance of Melanie Herzog it was wrapped in five layers that got systematically higher and smaller.

The whole piece was a catharsis for me on many levels.  This was an act of making something that honored me, my past, and the pain that many of us had experienced and survived.  It also came at a time when I found out that my sister (a woman who lived Cinderella’s life fromsociety’s point of view) had been a victim of the same abuse I had experienced.  And finally, the piece allowed me to experience my belief in art as a collective creative process.

I had worked with Judy Chicago on the Birth Project and, like many, experienced a great deal of disappointment and even loss.  I loved the idea of women coming together, and I came into the project with a romanticized idea of a feminist art “quilting bee”, complete with process, political correctness and consciousness raising.  For the most part I was disappointed, for it was not really a collective process.

Now I had the opportunity to work with women on my own piece, to thoroughly discuss the process, the piece, the motivation behind it, etc.  I was not disappointed by the support and graciousness of my advisors.  Each gave freely of advice, help, skills, knowledge, and talent.  Each seemed clear on the collective process, yet aware of the integrity of the piece as mine, growing from my creativity.  This experience allowed me to better understand the Judy Chicago experience, though I still had personal issues with Chicago’s style.  Working with the Deb, Elaine, and Melanie was also not a feminist quilting bee, which is itself a romantic notion.  It became one of those proverbial growing experiences, in which I learned more about the collective process of creativity, about art not being made in a vacuum, and about trust and generosity.”

Witches Broom Borealis

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Found wood, painted honeysuckle vine.

This broom started as a beautiful piece of wood with a natural spiraL created by growing together with a vine.  The skirt is honeysuckle, like that in Honeysuckle Dreams, but with each piece painted with pearelescent paints.  
The  stick was also painted,first black, then with subtle highlights of sparkling color.  The inspiration for both was an astronomy picture of a nebula called the Witches Broom.
Nothing hidden, no subtle symbology in this one, just a cosmic flying broom.

Wi5ches Broom Nebula