Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sentient Being of the Week -- Veiled Chameleon

She lives in a pet store in a very controlled environment, and because she is so high maintenance I don't think it feasible to take her home.  But, oh, is she not beautiful and fascinating?   She's a veiled chameleon.
Her eyes move 360 independently, so you just have to think what this one's sensorium is -- I believe you can say that what we see is actually not fully dimensional and that our vision imposes the limitation of perspective on what we see, which, when you think of it, is only a way for us to build a manageable visual reference to a field is actually much more complex. So, if we could see out of one eye looking behind, and the other, forward, what would the picture look like to us?  It would be what this beauty sees, I guess.  How marvelous.  I just can't imagine how two separate views come together in the brain -- but watching long enough to see her capture dinner on the wing tells me that she is a hunter to be reckoned with.  Slowly she moves, swaying in a sort of stop action frame by frame progress, deliberately the wide mouth opens, and, in a blur too fast to see, she nabs the hapless fly.  I could watch all day.  And, think of this, if you were able to travel back far enough in time, you could meet our common ancestor.  We are remotely related.  We both have spines.  Some of us even eat bugs, too. 


Friday, December 17, 2010

A Visit to High Camp

Scottish Lakes High Camp is a wonderful retreat at 5,000 feet just over the pass on the eastern side of Washington, deep in tall alpine fir and snow.  It's a very fine place to get away from what I call "sillyization," with a Finnish style sauna, and cozy cabins heated by wood stoves, and there's no sense in planning elaborate meals either, unless you can pull it off on two propane burners.  Strictly soup and cheese, and that's enough, with heaps of serenity all around.  There life is just so sweet with little effort, just the honest basics, all the rest provided by nature and gracious hosts, who'll keep you stocked with firewood and kindling, even a mint on your pillow.  You get there from US 2, leave your car in a gated parking lot, and Don comes roaring down the mountain in a huge ol' Chevy to ferry you up 4 miles to mid mountain, and then the adventures begin.  From mid mountain you travel by snow mobile with all your gear bungied under a tarp on a sled towed behind.  It was my first snowmobile ride, but it couldn't compare to the ride back down 2 days later, with Sarah as a pilot, who is getting more expert since her first drive about Thanksgiving time -- we are talking downhill, big bumps, bat outta hell, throttle wide open wowie rides!  When I got home from that one, I found the last boiled egg nestled in the butter tub.  That was my second snowmobile ride.  And not my last, I have to get back up there -- it is such a treat to step out the door onto perfect trackless snow without  having to hump gear up those extra 3,000 feet on foot.  All day snowshoe trips with views, yes, or a morning trip, an afternoon nap, and another trip in the late afternoon to catch the sunset and clouds.  Ahhhhhhhhhh.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

The First Snow & What To Do About It

Well, here it is in Suburban Seattle, West Side of the Cascade Mountains, elevation 500 feet, and it is snowing, a whole week before Thanksgiving.  It is snowing vigorously in the mountain passes (above 3,000 feet), traction tires and chains required.  We have a good snowpack predicted this year because of La Nina.  The current event down here in the burbs is clammy and cold and coming down in big, fluffy, wet blobs.  Not sticking, as we say around here.  Not much good for enjoying the phenom, I'd say, so I am indoors in my workroom doing some R&D.

After a recent run of recycled silk sachets I have a pile of small scraps with lots of enticing tatters.  My motto is "no scrap too small," so I am trying out these small patchwork dolls, calling them Pagan Babies -- a friend once told me that the best speller in her parochial school got to name a pagan baby, so that's my takeoff point here.  When she told me that story, I was rolling around on the floor with the dust bunnies -- sometimes ethnocentricity is so ridiculous that all you can do is laugh, and fire up your imagination.

 I love the flavor of small flashes of delectable color, texture and straggling whisps of fine silk, layered and stitched by hand and relayered and restitched, until the original patterns are not quite there, and I am also trying my hand at unapologetic imperfection and immediacy.

These pagan babies are from somewhere long ago and far south of here, perhaps a high desert.  Were they buried to keep company with a sacrifice?  Found in the remains of a palace reduced to rubble?  Dropped by a pilgrim long gone?  Just another magical, mystery trip for a snowy, colorless day . . . remote sands, dry winds, ancient travel routes, not quite lost to time.   Today I don't know if  I will ever get to visit Urumchi, or the High Andes, but my imagination has plenty of frequent flyer miles.  It's a nice way to travel on a snowy day, and you don't have to worry about the snoopy body scanner, either.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Rockn' The Noir Scene

'So honored to join this team of truly Noir and makers of fabulously sensuous art.  We've got everything from bustiers to door knockers and other things you may not have thought about, or in your dreams, maybe. We have a new bloggie at and of course you can link to it in my places to explore column over on the right, too.  Go for a visit and get your senses supercharged.  What really tickles me about this whole little experience, and the invitation is, well, I didn't know I was Noir, I just thought I was, well, a little different, you know . . . more shall be revealed in future posts.  Many thanks to our fearless leader, Capitaine Tattered Rouge.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Anxious Anticipation & Black Friday

 I've been working (some might call it puttering) in my studio for a regular 40 hour work week (work I love) preparing for the famous "Black Friday."

Now, I am not one to celebrate the rampant materialism and gimme spirit that has besmirched a perfectly good Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas or whatever you celebrate or don't holiday, but it is the time of year people pay us artists and craftspeople a bit more attention, so it does get my attention as well. 

The Etsy shop again gets a bit of a dust off and new things get made and listed.  I have to admit though, I would make these things anyway, and keep on with it, until I crowded myself out of my own nest.  Such a dilemma:  it takes a market to support us, but too much concern with the demands of a market is a sure-fire way to kill off our creativity.  What's an artist to do? 

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm Published! It's ADQ

I am so happy to report my piece "Bottle Baby" was accepted for the Milieu Challenge in Stampington's Art Doll Quarterly.  You will get to see the poor tyke in the Winter issue.  What a treat for me to be amongst so many fine doll artists -- I truly appreciate it.

The inspiration of this piece came from deep down, with the thought of how much of who we become starts in infancy, remembering Georgia summers that made babies sweat, glistening in their tiny fat neck in rings and gummed with red clay dust, and eavesdropping the conversations of mothers at morning coffee.  Those babies not breast fed were "bottle babies," and considering how some grew to be so intimate with the bottle, as the piece developed, a message came through, but I hope, one of compassion along with irony.

This piece features all kinds of goodies:  an old gessoed, metallic painted cedar box (still fragrant) that I think is a shop project; a candy tin, a tatted medallion, antique lace, a tattered doily, scraps of a last-gasp ball gown, a candy mold, old text, tin type frame components, old costume jewelry, 19th c. marbled book end papers.  The baby doll is very small, handmade (by me) cloth body (old wool jersey sweater) just like the very old cloth body dolls were made long ago, with paper clay head, hands, and feet -- and a little old face all scrunched up, ready to let 'er rip!  It isn't always easy being a baby, is it?

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Own Private Dias de los Muertos

Since I couldn't get down to Oaxaca this year to join Michael deMeng for his workshop during Dias de los Muertos, I have been celebrating at home, on my own, in my workshop, inspired by listening to corridos, especially those of Chavela Vargas, and especially the tragedy of la Llorona, a woman whose soul was consumed by toxic passion, amor perverso.  This is my evocation of the story, a demi-parure of necklace and earrings.  This will be part of my costume for the holiday, my own, private Dias de los Muertos, to set aside a day to commune with my own loved ones who now live in my heart and, in my hopes, in another dimension, at one with the Universe.  And also to pay my respects to la Paloma y el Sapo, whose great, passionate love and great, passionate art have enriched my life.

The necklace is made of rebar tie wire, a medicine bottle, a milagro of la Corizon, the glass lid of an old mustard pot, a yak bone mala bead in the form of a skull; sweet, rich red African pottery beads and betel nuts; the earrings are an evocation of Carl Jung's gift to Frida, the silver hands depicted in her self portraits, and made of desert-blasted rusty tin. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Found Object Dollies

These are clothespin dolls made for the holidays.  They started with the cranky faces of toddlers from carte de visites -- I find the ones of children especially fascinating, even more when the baby Victorians pout -- irresistible!  The clothespin dolls make a good project to use up those bits of fabric that seem too nice to throw away but too small to use.  And the wings came from my secret stash of rusty debris out in a coulee in Eastern washington.  I decided not to use the cans with bullet holes.  Peace!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time Capsule Found Object Necklace

 An old watch case, a glass vial of watch parts, a bit of steel wire, beach glass, galvanized tubing of unknown purpose, a leaf skeleton, and the image of a pouting child long grown and gone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quick Before It Melts

Just one more 'shroom shot before the snows really fly -- this one found just before we reached the summit meadows of Mt. Persis in a grove of hemlock and heather.  There was a short bout of snow above 3,000 feet last Thursday.  Couldn't resist a snow capped mushroom, at all -- wouldn't want to fry it up to prove it, but I think this is a King Bolete.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mushrooms in the Fall

A bonus day of sunshine in early October, just above Snoqualmie Pass in Washington state, and the woods seem filled with treasure.  This time, after a hot, well watered summer, and recent rains, the treasure is mushrooms -- popping up rapidly, some appearing after we have passed by and found on the return to our trail head.  I think these are Amanitas and they make me think of boiled eggs, but don't eat them!  The lore of mushroom edibility is variable and not something that can be passed along in print -- it really takes a teacher and long-time familiarity with an area and a species, since the mushrooms are often hard to identify, and mistakes  can be fatal.

Above, as she emerges from the forest duff, and below, fully emerged.  Possibly an Amanita; what a pretty name, and beautiful lemony color with cottony white "gems" that make me think of meringue.  But also possibly quite poisonous.

I'm not attracted to them for food, but they have the most wondrous shapes and colors.  And I like to think of them as what they are, the fruiting bodies of a wide-spread, subsurface mycelium, popping up just to spread the spores of the organism.  What follows are more pictures, of more unidentified treasure, maybe poisonous, maybe not, but beautiful nonetheless.

They bring to mind all sorts of myths and symbols -- fairy rings, toadstools, the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland, made all the more entrancing if you get down to visit with them eye to eye.  Many have distinctive aromas, ranging from fetid to sweetly earthy.

And as for  morphology, they are so richly varied and variable that it could consume a lifetime of study and fascination.  What governs their shapes?  How is the shape adapted to environment; is it an adaptation?  What advantages may a shape give; for that matter, is there any sort of competition amongst the mycelia?  Perhaps quite ignorance-governed questions of a layperson, but they reflect that there are still broad areas of mystery all around us, if we will only look and question.

 For my part, I can look and look and wonder, and know that some time, somewhere, a mushroom is bound to pop up in my art work, a banner of the mysteries below, the ones hidden behind the ordinary  ground where we walk, the trees that shadow our way, so secretly wide-spread that one is considered the largest living organism on the planet.  Don't you just love it?  We can never, never, never know it all!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thy Fearful Symmetry

I have been interested for some time in substituting printed cookie tin metal and other metal scrap for the silver sheet metal I once used -- the imagery can be wonderful and can stand as enameling might, rather heraldic.  So here's my first piece using a cookie tin, old leather bookbinding, antique school book pages, cobbler's linen, iron binding wire, rebar tie wire, an ormolu escutcheon, old Chinese coin, and a glass inlaid shirt button, which all came together under the tutelage of the artist I call Maestro, Keith ("No Glue") LoBue, and what-ho, no glue (or soldering) in this piece.  That day of lessons from Maestro was a real turning point for me, or more like the cairn you place when your trail makes a big turn headed to another mountain entirely.  The cookie tin was illustrated with knockoff imagery from Le Douanier, Henri Rousseau, who was thought to be a primitive in his day, but as so many "primitives" prove to be, was actually a visionary, and its title, of course, refers to the famous Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright, although in this case El Tigre is actually a jaguar, but you can see how Le Douannier understood the thing we project upon this magnificant wild animal.  This piece takes a bit of the form of a hand mirror, as though you saw El Tigre when you held a mirror to your face.  Wild Thing, you make my heart sing!  Can you dig it?

You make everything 

Wild Thing

I think I  love you ...