Listen to the road

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Heads up...

I followed the sound of tapping on the bird feeder to see this (not my photo) acrobat using
his tail to keep balanced. As large as a crow, the woodpecker kept up that tapping until
he finished snacking. He's been here all week tapping. When creatures unexpectedly
walk into my life I listen for their message. This seems like 'a heads' up to me. A reminder
to listen and share.

I've been quiet for some time and still read other blogs. More deaths have happened and the
shape of my world has changed. A broken toe has rearranged my freedom and I have turned
60. Rather than be depressed (much) I've listened harder and now feel more certain that story is the center of my process of making.

While being quiet I've been reading found  some excellent blogs...

Terri Windling opens a gate leading to shared stories of the world. She's a talented artist. Her
blog reminds me of how connected we and our world stories are under all else.

Jude Hill shares her story in a quiet, powerful way. I follow her with deep respect for how she
honors the road of making.

Gillian shares her story as an artist who listens as she draws and paints. I relate to her
perspective on work. She inspires me to make time for making. I love her work.

Lynne has a wide open spirit when it comes to nature. I like that she visits trees and dances
under them barefoot. Her drawing/paintings come alive for me and she inspires me to listen
more while drawing...also to go barefoot.

This artist is going to make you laugh. Her adventures with hardware
store stuff alone made me a fan. I love plumber epoxy, tin cutters, drills, abrasives, etc.
She has some wild muse living in her studio. She is a huge talent and a generous person.

As I list these artists I realize they also share another quality. They aren't fixed on selling and
making with an eye to what will sell fast and furious. With curiosity about materials and process,
pushing past safe results, they are clearing a road for other artists. There are more blogs I'd
like to share and will do soon. Happy Winter solstice and, as Lynne says, "more light"!!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Just thinking

Modern life? Thinking about why I continue this blog.

The inspiration I get from others' blogs, sharing sources and ideas, ability to connect and
encourage others and get the same back, these are great reasons to continue. But, I'm not
sure that a blog is the only way to do this. Artists who sell their work certainly gain from the
exposure. People with political/social goals can connect. Has the regular old garden variety
blog expressing small discoveries in daily life just become too self involved?
I've shifted my attention back to here and now. Watching the energy of making rise and ebb
in a natural cycle. Balancing my time inside/online and time outside breathing, looking
and listening. Spending more time offline with friends and animals.

Thinking about balance lately,

and spending lots of time in the studio.

Tiny book pendants, 1 1/2 inches. Micro book binding!
Filling the freezer from the garden

Planning free demos at Plantiques in Newport News.
This morning hearing the first gunshots of my least favorite time of the year...
hunting season. Why, why, why do people think this is fun?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shut down

It's been a sad summer. Two of my favorite people died.  Two very good folks who make me
smile just to think of their voices.

I shut down for awhile. Went inside. Then I saw this cloth Jude Hill made. It woke me up.

I can't explain why but it opened me up. Took my camera outside and caught the
sunflowers in various stages of opening, following, closing and dropping their heads.  Nature
again leading me back to balance. Someone making art that opens another from grief.

 Getting back up a little wiser to how important others are-before it's too late to tell them.

At my friend, Laura's funeral looking around at the greying heads of our contemporaries. Of
my community, where I live, people she linked and laughed with and cared about.

Walt's smiling face next to his wife in a photo.  Real good folks. I'm so happy to have them
in my life. I'll hold their laughter and voices in my heart forever. And I'm going to go outside
and open up a little more.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


After 13 years our peony bushes have bloomed! I had read they were persnickity about depth,
soil, water, etc but had no idea how long they would take. Kind of like those long dry spells when
my hands forget how to make. I'm in the middle of one of these long spells with time and opportunity
but no momentum. Wish I could just follow steps a, b and c to get back in the groove.

I was in the sun room last week when a female titmouse slammed into the window. I went out
to see if I could help and she was lying on her side grasping a small rock. Her mate was nearby
and making a crisis type of sound. So, I picked her up and sat with her at the table, gently stroking
her back and speaking soothing words, hoping to will her back. Her mouth was open and eyes not
blinking, perky little head tuft back. Her mate and I waited until she blinked, closed her mouth
and put up her tuft before flying away. I can't describe how happy this made me!

Being unable to work is kind of like being stunned or in a daze.  When I'm in it I feel I'm wasting
time when I could be making. I just want to get back into that place where my hands know what's
next. I guess it's like flying or blooming...beyond words or instructions.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What the...?

This showed up on the security camera today. I think it's a female cardinal looking for nesting
places (the camera looks like a tree with a hole in it). Very strange image.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

More, please?

This cardinal has been walking on the long window sill occasionally bumping the window this
dreary morning. I could swear he's asking for the feeder to be filled!

Monday, April 22, 2013

This weekend's work

This is one of the mixed media I'm working on now using old photos and Lynne Hoppe's
tutorial as well as several other books. I was telling a new friend this morning that for each of
these old photo folks I put a copy of  the photo, info on the back, etc, into a sketchbook. Then I
'visit' these people as I add layers of expression, listening to stories that come to me. Some
cultures prohibit photos of people as it 'captures the spirit'. I believe it does.

 I recommend the Pitt artist pen (marker with a nice pointed tip that makes organic lines).
I found the more 'perfect' (zig, for example) markers' line doesn't work as well with my other
 random marks.

Here are some of the finished Kami/Santos with local bird friends perching on them. Lynne's
techniques were a great resource in the glazing/layering of expression on these guys. The
ugly guy holding the earth in the middle is Uranus, Gaia's consort. She's much taller but
headless in this photo.

There she is top left, next to the Mariposa (butterfly) Madonna. Gosh, the surfaces could use
some matting down even tho I used matte acrylic. Today's to do list....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The great liberation

For about 30 years I've hoarded collected vintage photos. My life was semi nomadic for several
years, settling into a small apt above my craft shop in 1994. I learned to collect small things if
anything at all. Buttons, old photos, lace, etc. Treasures I could move in my car. Lately I wonder
at all the shifting of stuff I must do just to keep the floor clean. It's like being chained to the earth
by boxes of stuff. So....

Opie and I are going thru all of the boxes of photos and saving about 1% of them for drawings.
The rest I'm sending out to friends who'd like them and selling lots on Etsy. If you're interested,
I'll be listing them in the next week or so a few lots at a time.  I'd really like them to fly off to
new homes.

I have a very small box filled with the photos to draw and paint. These folks have lived long
enough in boxes. They still have stories to tell. And I'm left with this precious box of stories.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kami coming to life

I found Lynne Hoppe's tutorial on painting faces which inspired me to finish these figures.
Out here in the country I feel the spirit of this place. Kind of like Kami in Japan - spirits
of nature.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


This IS the first day of spring here in southeast Va. This is what's happening outside this afternoon!
(Actually, it's NOT first day of spring-it's the second, thanks, Mom).

I'm participating in another wonderful online workshop with Jude Hill , "What If Series". 

We're exploring the color white.  I was thinking
that this snow today is different from the heavy, freezing stuff we get in winter.
Thinking about the different kinds of snow and how these could be described in a nine patch

There's a funny urban legend about the different names for snow. Check it out and say the
words out loud.

Monday, March 4, 2013


We have sheep (not for food) who graze out back on about 3 acres. We see Bluebirds every
year about this time around the nesting boxes we put out on fence posts. Bluebirds
only eat grubs, which we have aplenty out in the back. Every year at the tail end of winter we
have the Bluebirds checking out these nesting boxes. Sitting of the wires, two sets of birds
checking out one house, like potential buyers.

The necklace above is listed in my Etsy shop.  On the back I've added "Bluebird" in old
typeface. This is a good time of the year out here.With all the dark things going on in this
world the earth continues in her cycles where we leave her alone. I do wish we would leave
her alone.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

And now for something completely different

This past summer a good friend visited to make Santos together. I ended up sawing the top
off mine and starting from scratch. Suddenly these figures began to multiply in our house in varying
stages of the process, all drying.

This book, Papier-Mache Today, has more real information about the process than any other
book I've seen.  I've been making my own adjustments along the way.

Like the way I wired drilled dowels to the torso so I can make gestures with the arms before
I freeze them with marine epoxy putty.

 Can you see the tall wooden candlestick I used as a base?  These guys develop their own
personality before my eyes.

This is the next to the last stage before painting. I used wallpaper paste (just mix a small amount
and keep adding warm water as it thickens) and white tissue paper which dries with an interesting
wrinkled surface.

I love the darkness of night behind them. Wonder what this guy's holding-a pizza? I think it's time
to make dinner.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stretching, mounting needlework-part 3

OK, so the mounting board is ready. One more press with a medium iron and light starch spray
around the edges of the applique.

Center and pin/stretch top edge across the top of fome backing.

Flip back the fabric and measure/cut the Stitchery Tape, press down the top side then
remove the carrier tape. This product worked great. When you first  press fabric down
you have a bit of time where it can be repositioned.The directions say it's permanent after
48 hours.

I stretched the top, then stretched/pinned left side and taped/positioned the right side.  Worked

around to the bottom and up left side.

I applied Stitchery tape underneath the back edge, stretching fabric edges in toward the frame.

Then, folded each corner and tacked down with a lightweight staple gun. I'm pleased with how
the back looks. This is on its way to a new home!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stretching, mounting applique-part 2

After dinner went back to work on this.

Next the background fabric. I measured, sewed a hem and trimmed the
fabric to be wrapped around the foam core. Measured the edge of the hem to end right next to
the frame edge. Pinned/machine stitched first the top side then the bottom. (not stretched tight as sewing down the applique will take a bit of extra fabric length.)

***Note, later in this process I realized the fabric stretched more than I thought it would and I had to make another hem.   This is a learning experience as well as a sharing one ;)! Next time I'll probably
just leave extra fabric and hem later on.***

At this point left the sides with raw edges to be measured, cut and hemmed after the applique
was sewn down. Less chance of distortion then. Now back to the applique.

Trimmed/pinned the batting sandwich and hand sewed it to the back of the applique in a loose whip stitch with quilting thread.

I began sewing in the middle and worked out to each edge. This helped keep the stitches from
wandering off course and the tension smooth. The batting was sewn around all four edges, (I kept checking that the 'sandwich' looked smooth from the front-no rippling or distortion). Top, then bottom, then the sides.

Next centered the sewn applique/batting sandwich on the backing cloth.

First centered the top edge along the top edge of the hemmed backing fabric. Double checked that the edge of the backing fabric's hem would wrap and end at the edge of the frame on back.

Using a tiny running stitch, I sewed  the applique to the backing, (from the center out). Top edge first, then the bottom edge, last the sides.

These very tiny stitches showed on front so I changed thread colors to match each area of color.

 This is where I am this morning with the applique sewn down and the backing cloth stretched over
fome core backing with pins .

If I have time later on I'll show how this mounting tape works. Think I'll practice on
a sample first. I usually don't like glues and adhesives if I can figure out a sewn way.
Any suggestions? I don't like the look on the back with the edges sewn together.

It's supposed to be acid free/archival. I bought it in the 1990s and hope the sticky factor is
still active. Has anyone used this? Any warnings? I appreciate any information before
I use it. Online comments about it are positive. Off to see mom.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stretching, mounting applique, Part 1

This is an applique I made for my Temple. It's based on the Parable of the Herbs in the Lotus Sutra.
I think this is my favorite of all parables in the Sutra. Lately I've been worried about my parents'
health as they are both in their 80s. I try to live with gratitude each day and hope to have the grace
to be aware of how I can help. I made this in gratitude for all the support I get from my Sangha
and my practice.

I actually finished this a couple of weeks ago. While driving and doing errands lately, the process of
how to mount and frame this has been in the back of my mind. Yesterday I took the plunge and
began the process using bits of what I've learned online and changing that a bit. I hope this helps you
make decisions on how to adapt this process to individual pieces.

I cut four sheets of fome core board about 1 1/2 inches wider and deeper than the applique. Then
I used double stick tape to make a sandwich of all the boards.

Just happened to have a frame from the thrift store the right size for the back of the fome core, about two inches smaller.  Used wood glue to attach the flat side of the frame to the back of the fome core.
Left it overnight with books on top for a good seal. The front of the applique is fragile with beads so
I attached hanging hardware at this point.

Next, I cut three layers of cotton batting (a bit smaller than the actual applique) and sewed along the outside edges using the
longest stitch setting. I want the applique itself to have a bit of padding and will position
this behind it when I sew it to the backing fabric.
I thought the background fabric would be a tough decision.This cloudy sky pattern jumped out
of the cabinet 2 minutes after I started looking. Love it when that happens!

I'll keep track of the next steps and post notes. It may be a few days. Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Vintage shisha mirrors-source?

Does anyone know of a source for vintage shisha mirrors? (I put the oval in the photo to show
the difference between these lovely hand blown mirrors and the perfect ones available in craft stores). I just began a large wall hanging and
will need about 100 of these. I deeply appreciate any direction as these are very hard to find.
Thanks in advance for any leads!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello New Year

Hope you've had your black eyed peas, a Southern tradition to call good luck for the year.

How about resolutions? Do you make them? Mine are generally to try to help and appreciate the
people in my life. I'd like to sharpen my skills and continue to protect my time in the studio. The
past year I stuck with my goal to make studio time and work a priority. I also began selling some
excess supplies on Etsy. Had much more success with supplies and small antiques than jewelry.
This year I didn't work at all other than teaching. It's been one of the happiest years I can remember.

My dad is an engineer and a talented carpenter. My first living memory is of bathing in the
kitchen sink because he and my granddad were soaking a boat keel in the bathtub. I remember when I
was a little girl hanging out in the garage by his work table. He kept a box of wood for me to
hammer and build stuff. I inherited his love of making things. Anyway, when
dad decided to downsize their home I asked for his work bench. He decided to make me a new
one that was 'nicer'. We picked it up this weekend...
I've been doing metal work on a gate leg table with only one spot I could hammer over.
This baby is so sturdy it'll hold up under any work I want to do! Can't think of a better present.
Thanks, dad!

Last January my goal was just to make stuff and also buy groceries. The past year I've met
several remarkable people at just the right time. My old friend, Verni, and I transformed a room
in an antique shop, Plantiques, into a teaching studio. Our January schedule is posted on the
new Artful Adventures blog here. There's a very large room upstairs with potential for larger

This year I'll be focusing on teaching and learning new skills, meeting new friends and
practicing gratitude in a big way. Resolutions work better when they are to do what one loves.
I hope this year you'll find what you love and be able to take time for it.