30 December 2008



Finally, an explanation (although incomplete) for the oddness of Jacopo Tintoretto's 'Nativity' - what is now a horizontal painting of the beginning of Jesus Christ's life used to be a vertical painting of the end of his life. Still unexplained is why Tintoretto cut up such a large piece and reworked it, apparently a couple decades after completing the original.

Here is an article about the discovery and film of a moment of restoration (or almost a moment anyway, isn't a moment 40 seconds?).

If you click here you can see the parts of the crucifixion that were remodelled into 'Nativity' by comparing the painting to the x-ray. If you zoom the slider up to the x-ray end and click 'show lines' then push the slider back down to see the paint you can see how he cut and re-arranged the pieces of canvas into the current, very different composition. Now, to find the missing pieces!

29 December 2008



I'm forging leaves and swirls for some jewellery and an assemblage book. The bits of wire sticking out will be removed as the rivets go in, and I am starching pieces of lace to be stretched between them.

Cutting up the lace, even though it is damaged, is hard - I love making things but have a very hard time breaking something rather than restoring it. Friends have told me I'll get over that someday, but it hasn't happened yet and occasionally I think about going back to school (again!) because I'd love to do restoration, especially on textiles.

Finally I got to see who has been dropping clouds of pigeon feathers from the jacaranda and leaving wings to flutter down at odd times. This is the first time I have seen one of these in the fountain, he had three watery baths plus a sun bath because that water is cold!


26 December 2008



As a kid I heard many different explanations of what Boxing Day was, here is all of what I was told, plus some.

24 December 2008



A date palm symbolizes planning for the future because it grows very slowly so the children of the person who planted it are the ones to harvest the fruit.

23 December 2008


While I was trying to fit some pieces for an assemblage book together this morning without altering them much I was reminded of how Andy Goldsworthy challenges himself to use materials he finds on site and with minimal modification. I love that he intends many of his creations to be ephemeral, like Tibetan Buddhist mandalas. The mandalas in person are so different from their photos, the visible height of the layers and the sound of the scraping on the sand delivery cones, seeing Goldsworthy's work in person must be even more different, the sounds and smells and breeze would add so much to the experience. Except the the smell of the dead heron he plucked the feathers from for one piece, I don't mind missing that.

20 December 2008

clock beetle


I'm letting this piece sit for a while until I figure out where to go with it. I spent much of today drilling tiny, tiny holes in wire which I will rivet tomorrow, also experimenting with odd-shaped rivets of various materials.
Last Saturday was a day of coincidental meetings. At the show (which was in another city) I ran into the lovely woman who was my neighbour for the last seven years until she bought a house this summer. Later, at dinner in a Peruvian restaurant, it turned out that the woman sitting next to me had been in the same Chinese (language) school that I was in, for the same three years, but we had never met before this. Two friends on my left told us they ran into each other on a sidewalk in New York last month, neither knew the other was planning to be there.

16 December 2008

must have

Science Museum/Science & Society PictureScience Museum/Science & Society Picture

This is the best tea-maker I have ever seen and, dangerous or not, I wish this was a photo from my kitchen! Here is the blurb from the Science Museum, where I will have to visit it until someday I make my own:

The original design of this machine was built by Albert E Richardson, a clockmaker from Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. The patentee of the machine and maker of this example, Frank Clarke, a Birmingham gunsmith, purchased the original machine and all rights to it from Richardson for an undisclosed sum. It was heated by methylated spirits which would be lit by the automatic striking of a match. This action was initiated by the sounding of the alarm clock, which rang again when the tea was ready. A wooden base holds the alarm clock, kettle tilter and methylated spirit stove. Although ingenious, the heavy reliance on the match being lit at the correct time made the machine potentially dangerous. Made by the Automatic Water Boiler Co.

Quick, get the teapot:

Science Museum/Science & Society Picture LibraryScience Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

11 December 2008

yet more Antikythera Mechanism

Since I linked to Tony Freeth's video on the Antikythera Mechanism a couple months ago, and it was so lovely, I assumed I wouldn't be revisiting that bit of ancient technology here so soon, but between Michael Wright's reconstruction on Youtube (I am totally weak for that kind of thing), and the release of Jo Marchant's book (I've enjoyed her articles in 'New Scientist' and 'Nature'), here we are again. Ms Marchant's book will be available in the U.S. January 2009, or you can order it now from Amazon.co.uk.

04 December 2008



Pearls are so beautiful and strange, the way they reflect light is fantastic.

This is the last thing I finished today, then I went to dinner with friends and met the wool-pusher’s father, who is visiting from England. Miss P herself is easy-going and endlessly generous, with an incredible array of talents ranging from dancing and fiber-art through managing singers and teaching. She and her dad are full of funny stories about their lives, crazy wolfhounds, and adventures all over the world - they are the kind of family you want to be adopted in to, and it was a great ending to a good day.


01 December 2008

30 November 2008

28 November 2008



Hmm, this appears too cool on the blog. I like the warm original better (the photo was taken with sunset light coming through smoke).

27 November 2008



On request, here is a picture of one of the legs next to two acorns so that the size is clear.

26 November 2008

flotsam and jetsam


These are some of the bits that consumed my day.


25 November 2008



This is the beginning of a little shrine I started this evening after I got tired of making bug legs (below). The figure was a gift from the always generous kats in the belfry, who just opened her etsy shop.


24 November 2008

23 November 2008



Rock and metal are so beautiful together. I did not work with either today, instead I ate and drank with a large group of friends in the garden. I need to remember to have more work ready next time a bunch of people are here, it might distract from the chaos in my workroom.

Tomorrow, besides pretending to be a lumberjack for a few hours I will be carving a compartment out of a book for an assemblage. First I'll go to the library - I need a good audio book for that kind of job.

22 November 2008



I am out of tiny old bolts, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for more or age some new ones.

I almost never accept commissions because I have no sense of time. I can't tell if 20 minutes or an hour has passed, so often I set a timer for an hour repeatedly while I'm working to remind myself to look at the clock. There are things I can ask other people, like how long it will take to get somewhere, but I forget to add time for signing in, finding a seat, etc. To be minimally organized I keep a list of tasks and constantly revise it to move priorities to the top without writing in times or dates. When I try to estimate what I can get done, say in the two hours before I am going to leave, I am generally way too optimistic, and find myself in the middle of something when I should be walking out the door. Very frustrating, but I work around it so others don't have to, and only accept requests from a couple people who know me well.

21 November 2008

20 November 2008

endive and pear salad


What a perfect day - metal work for the assemblage in the morning, gardening in the afternoon, and French food with good company (and great conversation) in the evening.

I'm not liking my leg building options for the beetle I'm building today, it's big and I need to figure out a new type of joint.

*I did not kill the little guy in the picture, I found him dead on my workspace one morning. His antennae are adorable.


19 November 2008

graphite pencil


Sometimes I get frustrated by the slow rate at which I work. I guess I'm embarrassed that I don't work in a furious, driven frenzy of creativity. I walk my dogs fast, climb rocks fast, drink pots of tea fast, but I write slowly and I create slowly.

When an exhibit of Vija Celmins's work came around a while back I was thrilled when they urged people to come see it because there might not be another retrospective during her lifetime since she sometimes takes up to a year to complete a drawing. I don't know if that is true, but it did make me happy.

Actually, everything about her work makes me happy - the waves, the detail, graphite pencil. What a brilliant woman.

18 November 2008



These are a couple preliminary sketches for the bookplates. There is a crow flying away right outside the frame in the one above, I haven't decided whether to put it in the trees or not.

When I'm in the first stage of creating I'm excited by a thousand ideas and have a hard time winnowing the number down, the second stage is me loving the piece I'm working on. As soon as I get near to completing a project I suddenly don't like it at all, and when I finish I can't wait for it to be gone. I never have a problem with falling in love with my work and not being able to let it go.


17 November 2008

ex libris


I have been commissioned to create a series of bookplates, so I am casting about for direction. My first thought was a book curse and I was irritated to see that the one curse included in the Wikipedia entry is not from an ancient book, but was made up as a joke less than 100 years ago. It is funny though.

I love bookplates, small private works of art, I can see why people collect them. As I understand it the group of people collecting world-wide is so small they pretty much all know each other. I bought an old book recently and someone had carved the bookplate out of the front cover instead of steaming it off, maybe it was leather, apparently those are hard to remove. I made a few metal ones recently, etched on copper foil, for a friend.

*For those who didn't see the comments to this post, Mr Jaffe, a collector for over thirty years, gave the link to his bookplate blog, which has many beautiful and interesting images: http://bookplatejunkie.blogspot.com/

16 November 2008

not in the garden


I mapped out today's post in my head last night, it was long and intricate, and I was going to to flesh it out during the endless hours I was planning to work in the garden today - it linked orchid hunting in Irian Jaya with everyday life and I needed to somehow make all the philosophy clear. Atmospheric conditions changed my plans, instead I worked with metal all day and I'm so tired that botanical and philosophical musings are beyond me at this point. Plus my ears are ringing. Maybe I'll write abbreviated version of that post later in the week. Or maybe not.


15 November 2008

coleopteric gifts


I am surrounded by generous friends. An example of this is in the little bottle to the left in this photo, the latest carcass Maltagirl brought me. This summer she went to great lengths to put aside several of these lovelies for me, saving them in a jar in her kitchen even though it turned out on occasion that one or more of the critters was not as dead as it had originally seemed and was later found hiking across the tiles making for the back door (*all revived fig beetles were released into the wild to die another day). She sacrificed upper shelf space in that unlikely room because her adorable youngest calls these beetles his ‘family’ and insists that any live one be captured to cuddle up and watch movies with him - seeing bodies in a jar might have proved traumatic.

Another example above to the right, also green and beetle shaped, is one of many gifts from Ms Creativity herself, who has been generous not only with these and other small bodies, but is raising my apprentice with lovely manners and great cooking skills. She is also 100% responsible for me starting this blog and several other rewarding pursuits.

14 November 2008



Happy chaos. A wider view of my workspace would show more of the same. Only pieces that are in the first stages of creation are ever visible since after that first bit the construction goes faster and faster until they are finished, then they leave immediately before I can reconsider. There are usually many bits laying around that are 1 - 5% finished, as their numbers increase they get combined. Not methodical work, but fun.

13 November 2008

not sisters


This map is so beautiful, I was happy to hear that more investigations at the site indicate its true status. Mr Hitchcock has compiled some articles on it here, he also has a page of hoaxes, including Piltdown Man, a childhood favourite of mine.

Years ago I visited a house outside London that had a display of silver and other items that had spent years in a closet because they were forgeries. The family decided that besides being beautiful, the stories of the hoaxes were interesting, so they revealed all, a bold move.

I loved the Voynich Manuscript the first time I saw it, even though I was sure it was a fake. Besides its beauty, the fact that it is a forgery makes it fascinating, I keep wishing more information would turn up.


12 November 2008


dsc_0348adsc_0351adsc_0346a1As is probably clear, even though I haven't posted many photos of my work on here (I will, I swear), I am of the salvaging-type persuasion. Sometimes something out-of-the-ordinary turns up which starts me in a new direction artistically, but today's find (above) has me imagining I am staying here aa and planning in the next few months to explore a bit here picture-89ja before returning to do some archaeology with my permaculture friend from yesterday's post (who, when I met him, was involved with antiquities at a major museum).

I was happy that the canvas cover had managed to stay with the suitcase all these years, and that it is all in such good shape despite the canvas being wet.

11 November 2008



This is the person who got me interested in Permaculture - he is always finding massive amounts of useful information and is wonderful about sharing it. A brilliant man, he has used what he's found to make great changes on his farm, unfortunately it is in a country I can't visit. He also paints and recently sent this photo of himself, which tells you something about his sense of humour.

10 November 2008



These were some of the things sitting on my worktable tonight while the power was out and neighbours were visiting.