Good Grief!

This is an old collage I made about how the black bird brings bad news. Here I am in my safe house and the bugger arrives.

I should have been paying better attention to the crazy crow slamming himself into his reflection in the window downstairs. Who ever said that crows are smart. He has now covered his rival with excrement…..good grief!

But the bad news is this. Flooded studio.

It pours through the floor and wall corner under loads of stacked shelves and filling every carton of saved soils for pigments that are stored under the shelves.

But that water that does not make it down the outside wall to flood that storage floor fills the ceiling and runs through selected pockets by the drip….continuous drip.

And then goes down another outside wall to flood the floor in the corner near the work table in the corner.

And of course dripping through ceiling lights along the way.

And dripping continually onto my work table in the center of the studio.

But here is the good news…..So far only the ceiling will need replaced.

So in the last few days all I have done is use every towel except for Lee and my bath towels to drop along the small lakes on the floor, pull up the soaked ones to put only two in a garbage bag to take upstairs a few steps at a time because they are so heavy. Lee is not much help here as his leg seems to be crook.

The sound of the haul upstairs is like this: SPLAT (tossing the bag up 2 steps) and then Clomp, Clomp as I follow along. That takes whatever seventeen divided by two is….my brain is useless right now.

Then a haul out to the laundry room, lift with everything it takes to get the bag of soaked towels onto the dryer so they can be manhandled out into the washer for a good spin and then toss them into the dryer. This is repeated every two hours except when we stop and head to bed only to see the large lakes in the morning.

So far I am seeing little let up. Our fixit guy came over on Friday when I noticed the lakes and said that I had neglected to shut the valve to a cracked outside spigot to the “off” position after filling the fish pond and with the very cold weather, it froze. He will eventually get around to replacing the pipe that he has now taped securely to the “off” position. Likely he will do it all when he has to come back to replace the ceiling.

In the meantime I am looking at this as the crow telling me to get rid of everything in the studio that is not essential.

I am reduced to taking direction from an angry, stupid crow.

Be back when it dries out here and that crow kills itself!

Oh, and one more bit of good news. Our daughter has ordered an automatic deer feeder that is solar powered and can be timed as to when it sprays corn for forty feet. This is because she does appreciate the brace of cool air at dawn with buckets of feed in each hand while navigating the slope down and up.

It is one of those generational things….different ideas of what gives us joy!

 

Dreary Days Make Me Think Too Much

Just a bit of snow the other day. If those grey clouds are going to hang around and block out the sun then they might as well do something besides rain, rain, rain.

The grayness gets to me. It gets in my head and I have enough in there already.

My hands continue and I am now on the third one. Lee stopped driving to the dump/garbage/recycle place here in the area. And I think with his increasing leg pain every time he feeds the deer and birds at dawn that the chore will fall to me as well. Recently I just had to remind him but now I will load the pails and head out and climb the hill myself. I can do it. They count on feed being there and it gives us such pleasure to watch them.

Second hand filled in and the start of a new one….garbage bags and reading menus.

And I finished the long scroll of the bits of things around the studio to put in a wine bottle.

Here is what I wrote at the end of the scroll.

 

These are the things that

lay around my artist studio.

 

I am older and do not

rely on them so much anymore

to inspire,

assist,

and fill my hands with desires

to give them a place

in my work.

 

So I leave them for you

in the only way I can.

 

Listen to what

they can tell you.

S. Webster 2019

 

It was a fun thing to do and now the scroll is rolled very tightly to fit into the perfect bottle neck. I am thinking a single malt or chardonnay….and then of course, an ocean.

Yesterday I ordered some new clothes. It is the only way I can shop now. Order online and then send back if they are not what I had hoped for. I will spend some time at the sewing machine as well, altering and changing up some of my own clothes. It won’t take much to fill a small suitcase for March’s trip to Australia.

I would like to take a cab to Havana Blue while in Melbourne. Something about all those drapey linens and stunning neck pieces might just warrant a closer look. I will pass on the hats that make all their mannequins look like mushrooms. Also I need to get to Melbourne Etching as a trip to that town is not complete without picking up the latest Imprint magazine and more small vinyl etching plates. And they might just have a tool that I will think necessary.

Today is a good day to prepare the next scroll for a bottle. Maybe a short story this time. A friend posted a picture for me on facebook and before I could stop myself, a whole story about who lived in the cabin set out in the middle of a paddock starting fermenting. Maybe I will put that bearded red-haired man and his loneliness in a bottle for someone else to figure what to do with him.

I am finding it hard to shut my mind off at times. Funny that my brain muscle does not wear down with age like the rest of the parts I rely on.

Here’s another picture of the snow from the front door.

We are so looking forward to tiny green buds on those trees.

I was going to wait to post this one….but why bother. Here it is.

Til next time.

Weaving Grasses

In attempting to clean out storage areas two months ago I came across bundles of sweet grass dating back to the early eighties. Back then at the Michigan basket conferences some Native Americans from Maine would arrive selling their sweet grass. The smell of this was simply divine. I used mine very sparingly on small coiled baskets or inserted into inner and outer rims on splint baskets….especially those having to do with sewing.

In the above picture are two coils of my attempting to ply the sweet grass into cordage. Both thumbs protested after about one hour in the tight gripping and twisting action necessary to hold a good ply. I used the shorter of the sweet grasses that I harvested myself in Michigan or out in Washington state many years ago.

I found another bag full of this shorter one tucked into the studio near some shed snake skins. What in the world am I going to do with those!

Anyway, Here is one of the small sweet grass baskets I made from looking at a Native American sewing accessory. The ring fits over the wrist so that the “ball” that holds the yard is not dropped. The thread to be used is kept inside the ball that is latched shut. The thread feeds out the small hole in the upper part of the ball.

I had braided the sweet grass to use as the weaving element over cane spokes. The rims are lashed with cane as well. I think cane must have been the only small pliable material I had back then. Native Americans used ash splints for their spokes/lashing.

A loop of braided sweet grass came off of the rim from one half of the ball and looped over a knot of sweet grass on the other half to keep the sewing ball closed. I thought this was a rather ingenious way of keeping small balls of threads/yarns close to what you were crocheting/knitting/wrapping. I made only one….who would ever need more?

Here is another small basket I wove with the sweet grass.

You can tell it is small by the anise pod on top for a handle. It is a wonky little thing but I am sure that at the time I was more than a little pleased that I could make a lid that fit over the top.

So it is the eighties remember, hay day of craft experimentation.  Here is what good coiling is supposed to look like. The Gullah baskets of Henrietta Snype. This one I bought from her during a demonstration she was giving on Gullah work.

She uses the sweet grass harvested on the coast of South Carolina and it is much coarser than the sweet grasses of the northern United States. The darker parts here are pine needles for contrast and the palmetto fronds are prepared and sized to be used as the lashing material. She gave me some to try back in 1992 when she was demonstrating and I still have them!

The lighter sweet grass in the picture below is the sweet grass from Maine and was the one I used for the small sewing basket and coiled piece. It is on the left and one and a half times longer and more uniform in shape and size than the grass harvested in Michigan and Washington.

I would also use these grasses in baskets made on the loom.

That one in the top picture from an article I wrote was woven using a popular overshot pattern…Johann Speck’s #33 to be exact. The pattern weft was the sweet grass. The warp was a fine mercerized cotton. The rims were hand peeled ash from log pounding with a tribe native to Michigan. Finished it is 24″ x 16″ x 16″. It smelled wonderful.

Here is another small sample of using the grasses on the loom.

And the last one done about eight years ago going all out making connecting covers for a “Nature Journal”.

Collected grasses from here, pine needles saved from the nineties and palm inflorescence.

When the sweet grass was dampened the smell was wonderful. My grass and my nose are older. When I finished due to sore thumbs the other day, my fingers looked like I took up rolling my own. The stains are still there.

If I could I would pack the whole lot up and take it to basket making friends in Australia. But I can’t. I don’t know many basket makers any more so maybe I am stuck with warping up the loom in the studio and making a very long table runner.

It most certainly will not be warped at twenty plus threads to the inch….my eyes have aged at the same rate as my thumbs and nose.

Here is how all the hand peeled spints ended up.

Sure I used up all the splints and more, but I still have the eight foot boat. I am not sure I have got the hang of downsizing. Maybe a match really is the answer.

Til next time

Just Thinking, Just Talking, Just…….

The silver point drawing did not work….the surface is too rough. But the watercolors hold a line on the gessoed surface. I am just picking up things at random around the studio. Things small enough to sit in front of me. This is the first twelve inches and so far stick of willow, a rock, a cork, an awl that I use for etching, an irresistible little bamboo brush and a stone clothed in cane toad hide with a strip of rawhide. I had to tell myself to stop or the whole five feet would be filled in one day.

When I finish this strip I will roll it up into a bottle and cork it with the addition of wax. Then I will have to find someone to put it in the ocean for me. It would do little good to drop it in a creek or body of water in western North Carolina where it would smash against a rock and ruin the images as it returned to paper pulp. No, I need the ocean. I need to know it took time to get somewhere.

But in the meantime I will keep making these scrolls of the bits of things of my life…my artist life. And one day they will ride a wave to shore and someone will see a bit of me when I needed to remind myself of who I am.

And, please do not tell me that the ocean is full of the unwanted already. I don’t want to hear it. The wine bottle will turn into beach glass and the scroll of images will feed the imagination of the finder. There will not be any contact information on the scroll, but maybe a story of why. It is the one small piece of magic that I can do for now. Isn’t that enough for anyone?

I put that picture in there because no one wants to just look at words. And I needed to change the subject.

Here is a message and my response from this week regarding the last blog.

 “You write so beautifully. I feel like you’re just talking to me.”

 “Thank you, actually it is because I really do not have someone on a daily basis to talk to so the blog helps me have a conversation on what it is I think about or remember, or need to say “out loud”. And besides there are no interruptions when I am talking…a one way conversation! If someone is painfully “listening”, I do not see it on their face….I don’t see them waiting to get a word in edgewise.”
And here is another thing I wrote this week in response to Robyn Gorden’s post of poetry and pictures.
The poem:

When the things you did not ask to happen
have placed a heavy burden
on your heart and mind
it is okay to take time
to rest and to breathe
practicing the art
of surrender,
the bravery
of trusting,
for this, right here,
is peace in uncertainty.
It is not acting as though
the unknown does not exist,
but it is finding freedom
from the fear
and disturbance of it,
knowing well within the soul
the unknown is still unknown,
but it has no hold on you
it has no hold on the present moment,
you are still free
to rest and breathe here.
– Morgan Harper Collins

And my response:

 “I wake early and at 4:30 in the morning I read this post, these words, see these pictures. Already fresh from bed, I try to breathe and rest. Then I glance into my rear view window and see me there, standing on the side of the road, the me that was me just months ago, and find it hard to speed away. I want so bad to go back and give her a lift. More rest and a breath away from such longing is hard to do. But thank you for a place to start.”

It has been a contemplative week. The dreary days, the waiting for something that I have no idea about, the looking up the driveway and then wishing I hadn’t. We all have days like that. And if we don’t, we should. Someone needs to just remind us once in awhile that we need to just rest and breathe, rest and breathe.

And more pictures for the patient reader while I get on to planning my trip to Australia and thinking of their bright warm sunny days and sunny students. I need to get on with applying for my visa to teach there. I need to check on my hotel in Melbourne. I need to get a box of interesting things in the mail to Australia to avoid having to haul them through airports.

I am good. I have a smile on my face now. Here are some pictures as promised.

Til next time. Now off to share a beer with Lee.