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.


Just This Morning – And Just This Week

This was the sunset a couple of days ago. It happens about the time I go to bed….7:30 pm. If I don’t go to bed ¬†that early I won’t make it up to head to the gym by 5 am. And I won’t get the steps in that I require of myself every day. This week in a five day period I almost made it to 75,000. That’s a lot.

On Saturdays I can sleep in. So last night from 8 pm to 6 am. Ten hours of pure luxury!

Now it is 10 am and this is what I have finished this morning.

Filled the fish pond with water, moved the sprinkler three times, trimmed some dreaded forsythia bushes back so Lee can see out a shop window, finished three loads of wash, vacuumed the porch, cleaned up the kitchen, helped Lee wash the porch chair cushions, changed the sheets on the bed, fed the fish and the cats, checked my emails and just now took a look at facebook and was reminded again just how much I despise the present administration.

On the bright side I am hoping that our neighbor gets back to working on this.

Originally they thought they would turn this downed pine into a pencil….but everyone is doing that! I suggested since we see it as we drive up our driveway that it be a monster-type snake attacking something that just poked its head out of the ground. It is very long and now has good stable legs propped underneath….plus his other thin ones. The snakes eyes will be bigger and likely he will attach the diamond shaped thick boards I had handy to give him some fins. He will also have banded stripes along his body. The stump’s bark looked like flowing hair and with some judicial chainsaw cutting he now has an open mouth in full scream.

He just needs to get some googly eyes and a nose. I am sure that the neighbor wishes this pine fell on our property and not just over the line on his. But he is taking my suggestions well, being a good sport about it. But he goes to bed a lot later than me and gets up a lot later.

If he kept to my schedule he would have at least two of these monsters chainsawed by now.

In the studio this week I have returned to the specimen journal and completed the framing on the Driveway Messages. I think I am going to now work on a larger piece using the etchings on cloth and more of my contact prints of leaves. Since I went to using the sewing machine it has increased the possibilities of what I want to say about correspondence.

Earlier in the week I made a trip over to my under graduate school, Western Carolina University. I talked to the book arts students about my work, showed some of my books and left a couple of cartons of books from my studio library to add to theirs, and donated almost all of my personal artist books that were either collected, purchased or made and exhibited by me. It will be a good home for them. After Christmas they will receive my collection of over ninety pop up books.

Also this week the trip to Australia has been finalized with a travel agent. I now know what I am doing and where I am going to do it, not to mention when! Now just keep the dialogue of ideas going with the students….my favorite part is the planning with them way before we meet over tables and tools.

More next week after an overnight in Asheville and having a bit of scotch at the Grove Park Inn. And Trader Joe’s on the way home with a bucket of sunflowers and a box of wine.

Til then.

Driveway Messages – Resolved – for now

Remember that I did not like the work I had done the week before. It did not have the layeredness that I wanted. That idea of receiving messages while pursuing messages. So I took all the etched plates, inked them up and tried different fabrics and papers.

The tiny plates of asphalt patches went onto several types of cloth and paper. I liked the cotton ones made from rusted bits from here at home. There also was this sheer fabric in a pale blue and soft burnt sienna. I have had that cloth for years thinking it would make nice overlays in books. It was one of those lovely things you touch because it was rolled up and tied with a pretty ribbon and popped out of a barrel in a shop called Pettygrew or something like that. All very charming and successfully staged toward purchasing something….anything.

The etchings of tree shadows and my own shadow were printed on more odd bits of cloth and paper. On the right are the scraps of an Egyptian cotton that I made pajamas out of. On the left is just plain tracing paper. Center is more of that rusted cloth. I even found some cotton cloth that I demonstrated earth pigment coloring on using soils from here….actually the driveway… very appropriate.

And after they had all dried on the print line I took them down and began cutting them up and piecing them together to get the layers of mixed messages. And in the middle of putting bits and pieces together, especially the shadows of leaves, I remembered the samples of contact printing done in workshops as demonstrations of documenting place. These too were added into the piecing.

At first I tried hand stitching overlaps of the pieces with black thread. It looked way too “loving hand look.” So I had gone from the coldness of using just scanned images of etchings overlaying shadow photos to fabric with hand stitching. They were one hundred and eighty degrees from each other and neither one was looking like what I wanted to say.

But because it was a day for mending and the machine was sitting there waiting for something else to do, I started stitching the paper and cloth together like I was a piece quilter.

I ended up with four finished pieces that now have newly delivered frames. Here is one of them.

I like them. They are the messages of leaves, shadows and marks that I step over daily on my way to find other correspondences in my mailbox.

The challenge of working with a limited palette on such a variety of materials was good for me. Then how to finish the backs and mount them….more challenges.

It was surprising how quickly I went through most of the etched cloth that hung on the line just to get these four. I would like to do more work like this. But in a book form? I think that will have to be made of something else.

For now I have cleaned the studio and just plan on stitching into the dementia shawl. Funny how those same stitches look fine on the cloth shawl and perfectly lousy on these little pieced Driveway Messages.

Til next week.