A Good Week at Websters

Friends I have known since 1988 arrived this week. Ed hiked the Appalachian Trail with a group each day and I collected Carlene to work with me in the studio. I wanted to get started on my piece about my travels in Australia and she needed to work on some assignments in embroidery studies.

First off I made the prints from the etched plates and only used fabrics colored in Australia. They are four different images of my shadow on the land there. Then I collected all the etchings that I had done there or at home using photos of gum trees as inspiration. Next came the pile of botanical prints made on paper while at Beautiful Silks last March and some of the handmade papers I made in Claudia Lee’s class last July. The palette was exactly what I was looking for.

Several pieces of Thai kozo had to be pieced together as I wanted the work to measure one square meter. Above is the first strip of pieces placed together. The botanical and dry point etchings had to be sanded down to make the papers more pliable. I added scraps of rusted papers done by a method I learned from Adele in Australia. It was like putting puzzle pieces together and Carlene had such a good eye for helping with the placements.

These are my “walkabout” tracks across the land into the country. The problem was that I needed to cover the pieced seams of the kozo paper and placement was not where I would have wanted it. So, logically I changed the size from one meter by one yard, using both measuring systems as it is about my being there and dragging my own sensibilities with me.

I pinned it to the wall on Wednesday just before a dinner party with several friends.

And here is the table with loads of BBQ ribs and veggies.

And Lynda’s kale salad that was the best!

The feed back was good from the textile women who were there as well as our artist neighbor who had been watching my progress with the piece I have decided to call, “Walkabout”.

Here are some details:

I intend to use the spun paper shifu threads that have been colored with the soils of Australia and some of the watercolors made from pigments gathered there to work in older tracks onto the background. Not sure about that yet as right now it is all about the stitching my own tracks into place. Keeping with the theme of being there I am punching the stitch holes five millimeters apart.

And of course the thread I am using was purchased in Hobart at Wafu Works. It is a lovely loosely plied cotton with a nice sheen that slides easily in and out of the holes.

So today I will punch and stitch the last of the six tracks in place and begin thinking about the tracks that came before me flowing over the ground below.

Til next week…..and I really hope it goes as well as this one, full of friends, food and fibers.

Just A Good Ramble

It is that time of year again. Things are fading. Going away. Finding other directions. Personally I am going for the “other directions”. I am going to alter the way I do things. It is time to change a little.

New works in the studio are going to be based on the Driveway Messages from a couple of weeks ago. There is something appealing about how much story (narrative) can be built in a piece made up of separate sections. And how those separate pieces cling to each other with a seam forcing them to stay there. It is more about the relationships than design and color juxtapositions. It is about relationships and dependency to be complete or at the very least agreeable to the whole.

So I will show another of those Driveway Messages that have got me to thinking.

The next one will be a long horizontal landscape piece with not only etchings but drawings and/or paintings using watercolors made from soils. I think even woven patches of spun papers. More plates will need to be etched. More fabrics with some sort of history will have to be printed onto. Like whenever I start something new, I see it in my head and then just go there until it is done. But what I am attempting is collage and to do that I need lots of the parts strewn about to pick up and hold next to each other.

Which makes me think of so much of the collage/assemblage work I see today. If you look at them, what makes them appealing is not any sort of narrative but how lovely the parts are and how well they go together. Let’s say a Japanese themed piece. You can’t go wrong with this. Just some Japanese script, some beige, preferably some torn bit of corrugated cardboard, smear of gesso, a bit of jute string tying something rolled up. Slip in a bit of black cloth or paper somewhere and there you have it! Lovely!

All you need is the stuff to make a design with. No need to tell a story, just hint at some magical message in the Japanese writing, which could be saying almost anything. It could be from a grocery list to some private correspondence. But one thing is for sure, it will sell and be easy to offer workshops on how to glue it all together.

Sorry about that. There really is some good collage out there….just not enough that speak of the maker more than the materials.

And admittedly I am so much more interested in the makers point of view than a bunch of lovely bits and pieces artfully arranged.

On another subject, my husband Lee turns 80 years old this week. And by the end of the month we will have been married 50 years. Such large numbers that I never even considered when we started out together. And of course always the question, “Where did the time go?” Over that time I was at least ten different people while he stayed the same. He adjusted to my changes and I was glad he was still there. I suppose that is marriage in a nutshell….adjustments and joy.

Here we are at about 30 years in. A detail of the large quilt-like piece using our clothes.

And part of the pieces now as we adjust to his dementia.

It is strange how some work never goes beyond the makers need to create it. I think of Lin who I wrote my last blog about. Her stunning neck pieces of well placed found objects will probably be on many bodies, be quite visible and commented on. But the hard wrought work about the old testament stories told with tattered dolls will likely forever be in boxes. She might be remembered artistically as a very clever designer while her statements on war and religion remain still. But she made the work. It mattered enough to her to make the work.

And that is my inspiration to continue in the studio. Have something matter enough to make it.

In the meantime Lee and I are off to a brewery for a beer and lunch with friends. More friends taking classes at the folk school pop in this evening for a good catch up. Tomorrow I head back into the studio intent on making more pieces to assemble into a larger work.

Corrugated cardboard and scraps of a Japanese ledger will not be part of it. That I am sure of.

Til next week with new pictures.

Remembering Lin


We met in a workshop I taught about ten years ago on placement of memory. After that it was private time here in my studio to work on the things she needed to express through her hands and materials. So many things arrived with Lin, rusty bits, antique dolls, foundry molds, papers, leathers, bibles, paints and pens and tools.

Every bit of space in my studio that could be, was cleared to accommodate Lin and her friend, Shay, who came to explore her own ideas visually or in writings. They were heady times starting as soon as breakfast was over and going often into the night with only brief breaks for lunch and dinner. We would stop at four or five in the afternoon and I would bring out my legal pad to see how closely they were adhering to their plans for the time here or were they getting sidetracked, seduced by materials, losing interest. We drank wine and ate medjul dates stuffed with walnut halves and talk about the importance of what we were doing.

For Lin the work was either about war or putting stories from the Old Testament into sculptural forms using dolls and found objects. Often we would have to travel to antique shops to find just the right doll from the period of her childhood and before. Mostly we came home with even more rusty things that in Lin’s hands became the perfect addition and necessary part of her visual stories so easily recalled from her childhood.

When not working on these pieces that were carefully rendered and resourced with the passages often written on their bodies, Lin worked on statements about war.

Lin worried about how the work would be interpreted if shown in a South that had strong views on religion and patriotism. As far as I know it has never been shown….only the artist books or works that could easily be sidled next to other people’s artwork.

I photographed the work before it left the studio. Most were hard to get a good image of but at least she had a picture of how they were to be put together if ever there was an exhibition. I gave her a cd of the images I took so she could have them for reference later.

The only “later” we had was about six weeks ago. More work on war. And like all the other work I helped her pack it into boxes to put into the car and take home. And there it would join the rest unopened and unseen.

Work does not need to be exhibited. It is the doing that matters. Lin’s last words to me were that here in my studio, doing her work, is where she felt most alive. It was the same for me having her here, lending a hand, a tool or just the right piece that she did not happen to have in her vast stash of materials. There is nothing like seeing something that matters come together guided by your own hands. Then stepping back and saying, “That’s it!”

Over the years there have been absolutely countless pieces completed by her hands here in the studio. Even recently with the cancer treatments taking her sense of touch, Lin still managed to make her work and tell her stories. Many of those stories were about God always being at the table while she and her brothers grew up in a religious household.

I would really like to think she is now in his household making something from whatever caught her eye on the way there.

I bought some medjul dates and walnuts the other day. Later I will have an Australian red and some of those in a quiet time in the studio, the studio where she will be lingering for some time to come.


This Is A Catch Up Post

Here is the snake monster finished!

And his frightened victim about to be bit in the face. Something fun in the woods by the driveway.

I went to Asheville this week and stayed over with a friend. We shop and then we stop at the Grove Park Inn for a drink at the Edison bar….mainly for the view.

The drinks are of course over priced and often we will have a bit of something to eat…just a snack. I think that there can be a problem when chefs are left unchecked. Would you believe that they removed a decent home made potato chip plate with cheese, served warm, only to replace it with complete confidence because it is now printed on the menu, tepid stale homemade chips with chopped beets that appear to have mayonnaise stirred in. The mound of purple and pink sat in the middle surrounded with limp chips. I think we are going to find another place to have that drink.

The view from my bedroom yesterday morning looked like this.

From there off to Trader Joe’s when it opens at 8 am and then home by 10:30. I took a bucket to put bottled water in so I could fit in lots of flowers from TJs. Here they are on the table and should hold up through the art group meeting here on Sunday.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing that lifts spirits like bunches of sunflowers and Eucalyptus.

The latest work on Driveway Messages are now framed behind glass and ready to show Art Group.

Also this week I returned to the Specimen Journal….Here is a catch up on that as well.

This last page appears to be some sort of record keeping of a hatch happening near the water. So the next several pages will be about the things he spots around the water….including some of my favorites like the water bug.

Now I am headed back into the studio to make the leather journal covers for a class in Australia. In Asheville I found the best worn looking pig skin for them.

I think that is enough for now. Back to work.