So Many Directions – Remembering Arlene


Sometimes I feel like the person depicted on this wonderful assemblage. It was given to me as a thank you gift from an older woman named Arlene who was in a mixed media class of mine at Arrowmont about fifteen years ago. She had a knack for just picking things up and sticking or tying them down. I keep this piece in plain sight in my studio as inspiration about what I should be doing as a maker…..just make. But more often than not I will have to think of the reason I am making something. I wish I could be more like Arlene…..just do it. Here she is in another one of my classes there at Arrowmont working on a box making class titled, “……Placement for Memory”. We were making containers like books and baskets to put our mementos into them as well as boxes. She did not want to make a box when she had “a perfectly good cookie tin” with her.


Arlene did some very serious work about her family gatherings as a child. She had an old table cloth that became the background for a large wall hanging with the china plates attached and something akin to place cards as I remember. There never was a question about how to do something with Arlene. Just do it. Just care enough to get on with it. Get it done and move on. No wonder this many years later, and now into the decade approaching her eighty years at the time we met, I feel inspired all over again by Arlene. Below is the seventh decade panel in the Textile Scrapbook I am slowly working on.


This one is like the sixth decade one only more travel to France and Italy and of course,  more Australia. Arlene would have loved this project and heaven knows she would have had the ephemera of memories to tie and stitch into place. There is lots more stitching to do on this one but it is nice to open the box I keep them all in and remember.

Aside from this work there is a batch of gelatin prints hanging on the wall in the studio this week. My friend came down to work in the studio and we made gelatin plates and then went about making the prints. I decided to keep mine to walnut ink and some black printmaking inks.



This larger image is one where I plaited pages that have been sanded to a velvet surface into another image with the inks dripping through overworked gelatin prints. Turned one way it the trees and upside down it is a path going into the woods. There is something about them that intrigues me for drawing into, turning into images for books or poetry. In the above images there is a set of three that cry out for wood block prints of crows worked into them. Many possibilities here.

Tomorrow three students come to the studio for a day of chemical rusting. I will be able to resupply my pages to add images with graphite. Next week I will draw and talk about another project going on.  There is nothing that I am doing that requires too much thinking nor too much time. I feel a bit like a BB in a box car as we used to say. Bouncing and ricocheting from one thing to another.