Making Choices

Here are all the notebooks from twenty some years of art group ready to go in the hole. The grave digger stopped by the other day and we picked the spot. Now I just wait for the window washers to come and go next week and bundle up the dioramas to pile up outside.

The studio is looking more organized.

Now all my wood blocks are in one place and closer to my press. The only Curiosity Box I kept is the tall one on a pedestal leaning against the wall.

Before the Expedition to Elsewhere work I spent a few years making these boxes. I did research on the origins of “collecting”.  All but this one box was either sold or donated to art auctions at Penland or Arrowmont. The following is my artist statement when they were exhibited.

Curiosity Cabinets

Artist Statement

I like to think of these boxes and the accompanying painting as “theaters of memory”.  They are staged presentations of the small things we collect.……things that require further inspection. So we bring them home, tuck them into drawers, place on shelves or discover in pockets. These pieces are my way of honoring the things I found irresistible at one time or another.

Each box has its theme set with the background of an inked collograph made on an etching press and cut to fit. Compartments are constructed within the box to fit not only the collected items but handmade books, hidden drawings and watercolors. Some things are removable, some are not. There is just enough space left for the owner to add a bit of their own collection.

You are seeing the last of mine.

Sandy Webster

I included my bibliography.

Suggested readings on the subject of collections:

To Have and to Hold by Philipp Blom

The Hummingbird Cabinet: a rare and curious history of romantic collectors by Judith Pascoe

On Longing: narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection by Susan Stewart

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler

The one I kept is second from right middle row.

Philipp Blom said, “The objects in a collection connect us with something far away.” I really love his book and still have it.

Susan Stewart said, “The collections’ space must move between the public and the private, between display and hiding.” And I still have her dog-eared book.

So in the sorting and cleaning of the studio and trying to decide what my situation can handle in the way of “making” I have chosen more papers and fabric scraps and threads. And paints and prints.

All will be sewn in bits and pieces to small contact print papers that frankly are less than exciting but somehow at the time were “wonderful”.

I plan to work on small collages of scraps of things. Nothing too large. I want to use up the few frames that I have left for them or for new wood block/linoleum prints.

And make more tiny white line prints using hand made watercolors in the stitched pieces.

I liked adding the bits and pieces a few years ago so would like to return to it because it is something I can do upstairs sitting with Lee.

So I have gathered up the parts and made a place for them next to my seat in the den. There is something very soothing about holding them together and then moving them around to just the right arrangement. It is a very tiny way to keep order in my life.

Keeping things simple is where I am now. Here are some things that I came up with to help with that:

When removing the kitchen garbage bag, make sure to put several more in the bin before opening up the new one.

Lay out Lee’s underwear before going to the gym so when he takes his shower they are right there and I don’t return to find him still searching for them.

Fill the sink with soapy water right before serving dinner and put the cooking things in. Finish eating first so you can get the rest washed and dried so that you both leave the kitchen at the same time. (My kids used to get aggravated because I was always hovering over them to grab their plate, but all that practice has paid off.)

Make sure that you can find everything at all times. Be the one to take it out and be the one to put it back.

Keep bills paid in advance when possible and make sure that there is cash on hand in a hidden place.

And just yesterday I treated myself and the cleaning lady by ordering a brand new vacuum cleaner for downstairs. I simply can’t carry the upstairs one down and back and the cleaning lady would like not to.

Today is our day to meet a friend for lunch at the brewery and I am taking her granddaughter some fabrics for her and her friends to sew pincushions when she returns home. Bravo for them!


Til later.

Clearing Out Books and Finishing Australia Panel

Last week this many books went to a Friends of the Library in Georgia. Today these four boxes went to Friends of the Library in Hayesville, NC.

And these three boxes will be dropped off to the Basketry and Weaving Studios at the Folk School. Two more cartons are waiting in the guest room for a friend to peruse and then pass on. The amount of dust on these books was testament to how much I really do not need them. Many more books that all related to book making, basket making and other crafts went to a school in Tennessee a year or so ago. Should have packed up more back then. But now I am down to just what our kids may want and then another call goes to those Friends of Libraries.

And this week I am in search of a framer for the finished Australian panel. It is 48 inches long and 6 inches high.

The beginning is going to Australia and landing in the bush.

Then it is all the bouncing of ideas in workshops and being with the basket makers in Tasmania.

And out to the Northern Territory and Uluru and the Kata Tjuta.

Next is the flight out to where Burke and Wills perished.

And finally flying home.

As you can see I always want to make the plane turn around but end up back home regardless.

Little emu tracks follow me across the panel. Maybe I can take a picture of the whole thing in its frame. I think I will hang it right over the small couch that I sit on while stitching and watching television with Lee.

The following is something I wrote after flying to Hawaii just to visit Australians many years ago. And it is still so true today as I remember that  it was just a couple of months ago I started this stitched piece in the company of dear Australian friends using cloth and thread I bought with another.

What is it about the Australians

What is it about the Australians that seems to

bring out the best in those of us who are not?

In their company I am not a stranger

but pulled into their raucous interior.

Inhibitions and hesitations fall away.

They seem to hone in on the interior of a person

and do not see or hear how we are seeing and hearing.

To them we are all an equally appreciated

part of their whole.

We feel we belong

and belonging to an Aussie group

of fun-loving friends is definitely a good feeling.

Even when parted you will smile at the memory

of being together.

And you will hear them laugh

and feel their arms around you.


I will bring them out later in secret

when my own kind neglect to see inside me

and think I am someone else.


S. Webster


I am smiling now.

Til later.

The Works of War

This was a hard day. I had not seen this work for some time and reading the letters brought so much of the sadness back. But tomorrow the final bundling of War will be over.

This first one is one of the letters I sent the reporter for USA today and then his response back to the original letter I wrote asking about one of the victims he reported on, a young girl named Marianne.

These are copies pasted to the outside of the small coffin that holds every single newspaper image of those suffering in the Bosnian war….over four years of collecting them because I simply could not throw them away.

Here is the coffin.

The wild flowers were still in there with the pictures.

Here are the four coats with the grave blanket.

They will be bundled in the quilt titled, “Lost Peaces”.

The large photo will go into the bundle as well. I actually turned the quilt over before folding the coats in. Here is the quilt, now removed from our office wall.

Other letters I wrote, some to President Bill Clinton and his response.

And a letter to leaders in the former Yugoslavia.

Also wrapped today was a gourd with the first busload of children taken out of Sarajevo. My work of collecting started with these children.

And finally all bundled up is this small hand tied quilt of dry point images and lino prints of the story one Chechnyan woman surviving the war and finding her son on the battle field so she could bring him home. Nothing left for her but memories. I was struck how the mothers went to the Russian generals and asked for permission to reclaim the bodies. There was a brief cease fire to comply with the mothers’ wishes. In undergraduate school I made this small piece while learning various ways of printmaking.

It is physically hard to wrap this work up so I will finish wrapping tomorrow and then take a break before digging into all those specimens from Expedition to Elsewhere: the Expedition.

That will certainly be lighter in mood. But looking at how this is all stacking up, it is going to be one heck of a hole!

Til later.


This is Absolutely the Last of the Men/All About Masculinity

Finally the last box of those men! These poor navigators had the burden of boats that would sink if ever put in water. Their phallic forms made of silk are covered with the text of what accounts for “masculinity”. They drag their own testicular anchors along with them through a sea of feminist text.

Here are a couple of details.

And really the best part after twenty years is how true the feminist text is. So good to read that I copied it off from the silk waves and put most of it below. Definitely worth the read. I wish I had kept track of the authors as well, but they are all somewhere in my research books on masculinity….and some of those are long gone.

I will wrap all these “boys” together with their bags. But their boats would be better served given to one of our window washers who does amazing art works with old metals.

Feminist text

“Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns.”

“Accepting a version of female experience that sees us solely as victims, as the dupes of men, enables us to ignore both the violence we do to other women and children and to less powerful men.”

“What made Friedan’s book a best seller was her detailed and sympathetic documentation of the malaise of the middle-class housewife, a woman who had been educated to expect, if not a career, at least something more challenging the search for a matching mitten.”

“Decisions to cut aid for the terminally ill, for the elderly, for dependent children, for food stamps, even school lunches, are being made by men with full stomachs who live in comfortable houses with two cars and umpteen tax shelters.”

“At a time when women, with good reason, are asking men to make known their most guarded feelings, when we want them to love and raise babies and remember our birthdays, it is also required that they be the ones to rescue people in a burning building. And startle the dragons when they are heard in the dark.”

“Considering the extent to which masculinity as it is socially constructed within patriarchy encourages males to regard woman’s words, woman’s talk as without substance or value, or as a potential threat, individual women cannot hope to effectively communicate feminist thinking with male relatives, companions, etc. without carefully considered strategies.”

“Feminist works that focus on strategies women can use to speak to males about male domination and change are not readily available.”

I find the fourth one down so true as I watch a Republican dominated Senate force their choices on women…..some things never seem to change.

Anyway, I am off to wrap these poor fellows up so they can compare notes and their struggles for survival in perpetuity.

Til next time when I tackle war with loads more sheets and shellac.