A Bit of a Break

Our son came down to spend time with Lee. They stay in the shop or at Lowes Hardware store getting things to use in the shop. Lee loves it because they can get back to making glasses out of wine bottles.

After the glass is cut and polished Patrick will put a food grade epoxy in the stem and turn some exotic woods for the bases. Sometimes they will put some frosted design on them.

Patrick will go home tomorrow and Lee and I will get back to doing nothing in the shop because I am so afraid he will turn on a power tool. But he will spend a few days vacuuming any dust up and asking when Patrick will return.

Last night I had the fixings for spring rolls laid out for our dinner. This is easy and I will do it more often because Lee likes it and it is easy!

I did get away for an overnight in Asheville. Some shopping, a lunch out and good views and visits. I leave long before my friend gets up so I can take in Trader Joe’s on the way home. I decided to buy several frozen meals there to make dinners easier for me. By dinner time my energy is pretty much depleted. And because their red and orange peppers were only a dollar each, I bought several to make meat stuffed peppers for Lee and a vegetarian version for myself….all now in the freezer.

This morning when I went out to get a shovel to bury the forgotten piece from funeral the other day I found this little fellow in an over weed-filled  garden.

There is no way to keep up with the weeds so I have let them go. The deer have chomped down some azaleas in the front yard and later this fall I will just pull them up.  A lady who wandered into the driveway a week or so ago told me of a friend who bought a house here in the area because she just loves it here…..and then turned around and sold it because there is no one willing or able to do work whether it is in the gardens, yards or house repairs. I understand but need to keep Lee in the place he is used to for as long as I can.

Winter will come and then everything will die off….the ultimate weed control.

But I did bury the last little thing this morning and covered the place with the last of my collected soils for watercolors and laid out all the sweetgrass on top of that.

I like this picture and may use it for the cover of a book of notes on letting go.

And in the meantime I will finish the framing of the textile/prints pieces and then what? Not sure. Maybe start to do something made up of lots of small stitched parts….a quilt of sorts with paper and cloth and threads.

This one is a wood engraving I did with antique Japanese cloth patches stitched on.

And a woodcut of an owl I did years ago with textiles.

I am hoping to find a shop that will take them.

Anyway that is enough for now.

Til later.

Final Resting Place – Finally!


Today the grave digger came. He brought a worker to help with the clearing and luckily for me carried all the pieces and assisted with the laying in.

For a while in my artist imagination I thought I might dress in black, carry an umbrella, lean over the hole with sadness…..maybe even have a fellow artist help me with the placement. But no, this was better. I took the helper aside and said, “Listen, you have to do this in a certain order. It matters.”

His response, “Yes, Miss Sandy.”

How perfect was that!

Here he is laying down the cloth in the fresh dug hole.

Then the houses are placed. Tony, the helper does all the carrying down a slippery slope and hands the work to Steve who dug the hole.

Then all those patriarchs….so glad to be laid to rest by men they would have appreciated.

Lovingly collected earth pigments mixed together and tossed over.

The war works get laid next and I tell the boys to be careful as these represent the suffering…lay them down softly.

Then the Expedition to Elsewhere pieces go down.

I toss the collection of Artist Group Meeting notebooks into the center of the pile.

Once the boat gets laid on top with all the specimens inside, they cover it with the banners.

My final view. And then the dirt goes back.

Pack it all down.

And then it is done.

I turn and find a small piece from the Expedition to Elsewhere….it was just a small basket made to fill wall space in the exhibit. I will bury it with the rest while the dirt is still soft enough to get it underground. And I will scatter the rest of the soils on top of that and cover it all with the sweetgrass. Just not today. It is hot and humid out there.

My outside studio space is empty again. I can’t remember when there was not a pile of things out there waiting for something to happen.

I will go read a book….another good book.

I tried to not read too quickly the book by Paul Howarth titled, Only Killers and Thieves, but yesterday it wouldn’t leave me alone. Like a Cormac McCarthy the writing draws you in with the writing of place, descriptions of people….but like McCarthy, not for the faint of heart. I have to say I loved it and hope that he writes a sequel. It reminded me in no small part of McCarthy’s first of the Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses.

So now I have dug out a book that a friend in Australia gave me to read on the plane coming back home. I saved it to read when I had just finished another Australian story and was not quite ready to say goodbye.

Then I am sure it will be back to some other mystery from the Brits to get lost in.

And just a couple more remarks about Australians. I miss them. I miss that I am not on the roster to teach this coming year. We mostly keep in touch and they will let me know who the lucky tutor is that will have them in a workshop. They are the best students ever and will push themselves to get the most from whatever is on offer.

And you know what else. They will call each other, “gorgeous”. I love that they use that to compliment each other and no one checks to see if that person really is “gorgeous”. I miss being called gorgeous, but last week I came close.

The Hispanic waitress at the diner looked me right in the eye and said, “You are very beautiful.” And all I did was order my usual pecan waffle. The word “beautiful” is lovely in a Spanish accent. Made me feel gorgeous just hearing her say it.

Til later.






It Just Takes One Thing

I picked up the long (51″) stitched piece this week and hung it where I wanted it….over the small couch where I stitch upstairs.

I sat under it and looked across at the TV with all the NZ flax baskets hung around it. Where to put them all where the cats won’t get to them…..the only cat who jumped up here to race across the cupboard tops was Spooky….now gone. Patches and Sadie can’t even show an interest.

Next fill the now empty wall with all the pictures, well almost all the pictures.

Prints by Lucious DuBois hang together on a side wall…..these here are mostly egg temperas that wrap the corner to the right and hung with watercolors to the left.

And the cow painting from 1984 ended up here. Lee always loved the cow.

Just one thing added to a room and everything else looks “off”. Now it is loads tidier.

I bought this book because I could not resist the premise of it. Losing words in dictionaries that have to make room for others that have nothing to do with Nature.

Irresistible illustrations and thoughtful words by Jackie Morris and Robert MacFarlane respectively.

I love these big sweeping pictures that know no bounds….they just run out of paper.

Here is what is left of the lotus in the kitchen window.

It still seems to be making an effort so can stay another day before I find something to do with its remains.

And a follow up on going to the framers to have mats cut for the pile of stitched prints. Did you know that it costs $7 per cut for a mat plus the cost of the mat board? Then the cost of frames! So my framer encouraged me to return home and frame them up myself the way I always have. Three hundred dollars later all the sizes of frames I need will be here by the end of the week…..and that is buying mostly in bulk.

Some I will paint with the lovely gritty grey that Home Depot quit carrying a few years ago but would order it for me if I bought a case…..I have several cans left.

Now I will cut the size mats to mount each print on and order the glass when the frames come in.

My framer was right….costs have gone up! And she has twenty-eight orders to fill.

Now all I need is a place to sell the framed prints so I can recover some cost and keep on going.

For now I will carve some more wood blocks and stitch more slowly on the resulting prints. The stitching part is closely watched by my couch friend, Patches.

I just started a new book….unfortunately on my kindle and not in page form to mark up margins. I read the first page to Lee….read aloud it is even better. The author is Paul Howarth and the name of the book is , Only Killers and Thieves. It is set in 1880s Australia.

Howarth writes like a poet would…..like Cormac McCarthy or Peter Matthiessen.  The descriptions put you right there waiting to breathe in the next sentence.

Like my stitching, I am going to read it slowly, very slowly.

And one final thing….the book makes me want to write so today I may be able to take a bit of time from watching Lee to do just that.

Til later.

More On The Wood Block Experiments

I always loved these two pieces by famous wood block printer Fannie Mennen. I bought them years ago when they came up for sale out of the collection of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild and had them framed together. The quote by Christopher Morley is perfect for me and even more appropriate now when I get so little time in the studio. And isn’t her owl wonderful! There is a glare as these are behind glass and there was not much I could do about the reflections.

So this is the progression of what I started last week. First the plain block prints.

And pulling out an older small block of a similar scene.

Next I tried chine colle on some of them.

Then I stuck on some fabrics because I knew it would shift too much if I tried the cloth as a chine colle.

Notice the mottled paper used on some of them. It is the paper that I hand marbled using my earth pigments from right here at home. It is a simple process.

First get your pigments into a fine powder by sifting. Then put some in a jar with boiled linseed oil and add enough mineral spirits to make the solution very watery. After you have all your colors in separate jars and have put in a feather or group of tied grasses/sticks into each jar, then prepare a large open container like a deep cookie sheet or lasagna pan by filling half way with a thin solution of corn starch (or corn flour as it is called in Australia) and water. It should be a very thin paste so make it about one part corn starch to eight parts water.

When the corn paste is level in the pan splatter with the earth pigments by flicking your brush. Do not try to mix them around to make a pattern as it will only muddy them. Just be happy with the spots inside spots.

Then lay a piece of paper on the mixture starting with one corner and carefully dropping it as to not trap air. Pull up, rinse and let dry. It may take a while for the linseed oil and mineral spirits odors to evaporate, but the results are worth it.

And finally the stitching.

These were fun to do and I think I might just have them framed. The paper I printed the blocks onto is a thai kozo that I use to spin paper threads. The threads were one third of the six threads in embroidery floss. And oh yes, because I wanted to reinforce the paper after stitching I backed it with an iron on facing used in sewing.

Bits of my old pajamas were used in that top one.  Pajamas I made from fabrics I bought from a local warehouse that only handled scraps from textile industries that have long left the state of North Carolina. The man who managed the old barn of a store had the kind of a southern accent that could readily read southern novels and make you glad he did.

Anyway he said that there was no telling what the fiber content was and we were to just take our chances. These felt like a smooth Egyptian cotton so I could not put the cloth down once I held it. Besides it was super cheap.

You could also use a large scoop to dip into an old washing machine full of assorted buttons at a dollar a scoop. I still have so many of those that I would carefully dip my scoop around to fill up with more of what I liked.

The framer called me today to say that the frame for the long travels in Australia piece came in with a crack in the wood. They are sending a new one and I won’t get the finished work til next week. No worries, I will get it eventually.

Not much else new. Except this from the makers of Saunders Malt Extract.

Good Morning Sandy, Thank you for your email,

Unfortunately we do not export Saunders Malt, so it sounds like you have been very lucky purchasing from Amazon.

I am sorry I cannot be of more help so you can continue to make your delicious Cookies.

Regards, Angela.

Personally I think Angela could have just sent me a case but no, not happening. I have put my name on a list at Amazon in case some of this wonderful elixir comes in.

Til next time.