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December 19, 2007 > A hand-warming act: Lost gloves seek mates in Pittsburgh

A hand-warming act: Lost gloves seek mates in Pittsburgh

By Jennifer C. Yates

PITTSBURGH (AP), Dec 01 _ It's like an online dating service for long lost gloves.

No, that's not a typo.

A Texas native who experienced her first snowflakes in Pittsburgh last year was miffed by the lost gloves she spotted all over the city last winter. Whom did they belong to? Wouldn't they want them back? Why were people just walking past them?

So Jennifer Gooch, who is pursuing her master of fine arts degree at Carnegie Mellon University, started in an effort to reunite dropped gloves with their mates _ and in the process spread some goodwill.

One of her first ones was a moist, lambskin glove that someone had propped up on a ledge on campus. She was worried about taking it at first. What if the owner came back to claim it?

In its place, she left a small rectangular sticker. A drawing of a black glove is scrawled on it and says, ``Missing a glove?''

Gooch displays the gloves on the wall in her basement art studio at the university. There are 21 so far, each tacked up with push pins. Small yellow Post-it notes and slips of scrap paper hang there, too, chronicling where each was found.

One reads, ``Found by Shaun Tuesday, Nov. 20 Penn Ave. between 29th & 28th.'' Below it, the finder drew two gloves _ one outlined in a solid line, its mate outlined with a broken line.

Some appear to be expensive, others not so much. All so far are adult gloves, including a woman's white fingerless combination glove and mitten that was found outside the campus bookstore. There are multiple black knit gloves _ none appearing to be a match to each other, though.

On her wall, a beige, left-handed woman's glove hangs, with a dangling, sparkling rhinestone charm. It was found outside the university's Newell-Simon Hall.

``That's a great glove,'' Gooch, 29, beamed Friday. ``It's leather. It's got bling, but it's so useless now.''

She affectionately calls the gloves ``lumps,'' because that's what they look like when they are found, she says. And really, they are no good without their better half.

Gooch, originally from Dallas, photographs each glove and puts the picture and information on her Web site, where people can report found gloves and request stickers. She hasn't made any glove connections in the two weeks the site has been live, but it's OK if that never happens, she said.

``It's kind of whimsical and bittersweet,'' Gooch said. ``It makes you feel there's this opportunity for benevolence.''

Gooch would love to see One Cold Hand projects sprout up in other cities. She's working with Kati and Erich Pelletier of Brooklyn, N.Y., to start a similar effort there. They hope to have up and running soon.

``I like the sense of what stories are behind those gloves, sort of the community that you never meet but you see scattered about the city,'' said Kati Pelletier, a librarian who met Gooch through a mutual friend.

Pelletier hopes people get a little smile from the Web sites, and also get a little taste of how technology doesn't necessarily have to keep people isolated and apart.

``I'd like this to be proof that it actually brings community together,'' said Pelletier, whose husband is a project manager for a streaming media company.

Gooch got support for the project from a small grant from the Pittsburgh-based Sprout Fund. She's talking with local businesses about creating glove dropboxes all over the city where people can leave their fabric finds.

In the spring, she would like to show her photos in a gallery.

Like socks that disappear in the dryer or plastic grocery bags that fly away and get in trees, Gooch believes there's something about gloves that is universal.

``If I have one person find their glove, then the entire thing is totally worth it,'' she said.


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