The Studio This Week


I now have three Safe Houses made. There are tiny bits of gold leaf in each one. I think I am going to keep making these for a while and then find a way to let them go.  The clothes line in each one seems important to me. Making more might show me why that is so.  Here is where my Art Group comes in. They are so supportive and questioning full of observations that I have not seen. And they are encouraging on the work that is hard to talk about, hard because it is a bit raw yet.

Also in the studio is the In Search of Lost Time parts. They are waiting for me to find the time and inclination to continue. I think one reason I don’t go on with some of these pieces is simple. What do I do with it when I am finished? Where does it go? How much more space can I give it to just hang out in the studio to show to students and Art Group? And who in the world collects things like this in a day of preferring to just have something “pretty” sitting there? Who wants to think about what an object might possess in the way of meaning?




There are lots of clock parts here so I really do need to get back to assembling them. I bought horse shoe nails to hook over parts to nail into wooden bases. They don’t call them “horse shoe” nails anymore, now they are fence post nails for wire. They are so handy to have in the studio for keeping things in place when using wooden parts.

And speaking of wooden pieces, here is an installation in the making that has hung out in the corner of the studio for some time waiting for me dig out the rest of the parts that go into it and then get down to business.


It is called, “What Was She Thinking?” There are a total of five of these old balsam hat forms that I have saved for many years. Each will be perched upon one of these large weaving spools. I am thinking that the failed bowl turning of my son’s in the center here will mount onto a shorter spool with the “girls” all gathered round. In their heads I will take advantage of the right and left brain thinking processes. Holes might be carved into their heads with chain attached books that can be examined but only returned to that side of the brain. Some of them may have connections to brain in the middle of their grouping, some may prefer to opt out and stay with their own thoughts. I was recently given an old clear light bulb which will be mounted to the top of the brain in the middle….an idea source of sorts.

I need the distraction of this kind of work. Like all of my close acquaintances the election here in the states has given us pause as to what kind of people we are. How little other people’s rights really matter in the face of seeking our own comfort zone. It is a telling time for all of us and I am willing to wait it out in my studio and give support when and where I can to those feeling the pain of what our country has done.

And here is another picture of something in the studio. A reminder that it won’t be long and I will be winging away to Australia again. Such comfort in that!




Thanksgiving Week


This is the week of Thanksgiving. We are to think of all that we are grateful for and I am working on that. Now that we are nearing the end of 2016 it feels like we have weathered a storm much like this boat above. I looked through my images of all the boats I have made to represent safe places, safe from turbulent seas surrounding them. I don’t much care for water but am quite partial to boats. Probably because they are designed to keep one out of the water. I should build one large enough to just sit in, put it in a corner of the studio, toss in a couple of pillows and a good book. Tune out all the things that either are out of my control and the ones I don’t want to control any more. It has been quite a year, a good year to just climb aboard.

I am back in the studio and working on those houses. Right now it is the beekeepers place. I like putting the roof on an open house. When I fix that roof into place it makes everything inside safe….even though the whole front is open, the things inside are safe.

I will show more boats below. Boats that were never intended to go near water, made to be part of a bigger picture, a bigger story. I wonder if that is the reason I am finding it hard to stay focused in the studio. Have I run dry of good stories? It seems everything I do has a story, a reason it is there. The story comes first and then the work. As we age do we run out of stories or the energy to tell them?  I should get into one of these boats and go off on an adventure in my mind. Then bring back stories of where the boat took me. This is a good idea. In the meantime, here are some boats .


Return Voyage that holds our memories that are connected with thin golden threads.


Different Road that sits with its painting in a private school in South Carolina inspiring students to make up their own stories about it.


Shifu Boat I that probably will sink the minute it sets off dragging its anchor of memories. Paper boats are not that safe.


Land Boat I completely cannibalized this boat for its parts. And it was my most favorite one of all so far. That rock for an anchor and an oar of roots that just want to tap into the soil, and branches pretending to be sails. When I first made the under structure of this boat it was to have a horse in it for Lyle Lovett. It was an ugly horse so the boat went off in another direction.


Sampan Book I liked building in the negative spaces, constructing sampans throughout this book. It was inspired by the sampans I saw in China. Closed it is made to look like a rope from a boat hooked to a dock.


Navigations is work done in graduate school about masculinity. The silk phallic bodies are wrapped in the text of what was passed down to them on what it takes to “be a man”. They drag their testicular anchor bags full of small stones through waters of feminist text. Their boats are all iron axes, hatchets and the like. No chance of survival for these men in their present circumstances.


Cooperation This was part of a series done in undergraduate school about the patriarchal system I grew up in. Here the old man patriarch is teaching the next generation about cooperation. Keep the compatible end of the oar in the water….work together.


And finally a detail of a catamaran made of bamboo roots and willow. All it takes to anchor this boat is a feather attached via shifu paper thread with a story of connection written on it.

Better stop here and get back to the beekeepers house. His clothes line should be dry by now and I can put him with the others. And in another hour company is coming for the week. A celebration is in order. Happy Thanksgiving.  I am going to be thankful for boats and stories and single malt.


Rough Week


Not much to say this week that has not already been said. Thanks to those who were consoling in our shared grief.  Our country has shown colors we never knew we had. Each day gets better because we are at least together in wishing for the best. Today is Art Group here and we will get angry together one more time and then retreat to our studios. Our private sanctuaries where hearts and hands work together to make something, anything to express how we feel.

Below is a piece I did over twenty-five years ago about our divisiveness.


Next week I will be back on track….promise.

Collector’s Boxes


I am back in the studio distracting myself from this horrific election. So glad we sent in absentee ballots a couple of weeks ago. I do not think I could face the voters who seem totally incapable of critical thinking. There are some acquaintances that I will not be able to keep as close as I used to. This has been a costly time for us here in the United States, and I am sickened by the short-sighted frustrations of those unable to consider the reality of our times.

So the solution is just keep my head down and go to work.

I dug out some old stamps that I made during undergraduate school, so some of them are over twenty years old. Next I pulled some of the gelatin plate walnut stained prints from the string line in the studio. Turning them in various directions, I settled on sort of a theme….The Collectors. This lets me put some bits and pieces inside with them. It lets me make a house for them to keep their collections. A person and crows make the selections and I willingly give it to them….too much stuff anyway.

Here are some of things beside imagery that is being picked over.


And here is the first house completed. I made a hole near the peak of the roof with my Japanese hole punch so that if it is hung, it hangs tight against the wall.


These are appealing to the mixed media artist that is easy for me to fall into. Again I think that is because we gather things that look interesting and then for years have no idea what or why we have it. And there are those lovely little bits of Nature that all remind me of a particular place and season.  And I can wrap or stitch threads here and there. Maybe even stitch into the next panel before it is fixed into the house. Both pieces so far have clothes lines in them. I think this is an influence of recently stringing one up here at home….first one since we moved to North Carolina in 1992.

I have missed the building. Every so many years Lee and I have built a new place. But not any more. This is where we are and will stay. At this point in our lives it is best to be around the familiar and not become confused with change.

So for now I will make these little houses. I used to make so many. See below.


Next week I will post more pictures of new houses for the little collectors. In the meantime, wish us luck tomorrow.