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.


09 November 2008



Basho nowaki shite
Tarai ni ame o
Kiku yo kana

A banana plant in the autumn gale -
I listen to the dripping of the rain
Into a basin at night.


08 November 2008



So many bits, so little time! I am getting a bunch of little pieces ready for sale and there just don’t seem to be enough hours in each day to get everything done. Halloween night I met a woman who said she thought the whole ‘Big Love’ situation would be cool if you had fun wives to share your work with. She was telling me this as she was giving me ‘Junior Mints’ out of her candy basket (she had a stash of ‘Almond Joy’ for herself), and she was such a blast, I was kind of bummed that we met randomly and I wouldn’t see her again. Besides being hilarious I love people who are immediately so open.


07 November 2008



Even though a huge variety of bits and pieces covers the shelves and fills the drawers of my workspace, of course this morning I needed something that was not here. And somehow whenever I have to run errands the whole day disappears. I hate that.

I’m listening to ‘People of the Book‘ while I work and the narrator, Edwina Wren, is fantastic. I love science and history (and books) in novels, and a map that reflects the story is always welcome, so I’m looking forward reading more of Geraldine Brooks’s work. A few dramatic bits in this narrative are predictable, which makes those parts slightly less enjoyable, but she carefully, casually puts in unusual details to make the different historical and geographical scenes distinct which make people's motivations clearer. The part that is playing now is painful, listening to wartime hardships and the awful choices people are forced to make is so difficult.

Another good, challenging story along those lines is ‘Still Life With Animated Dogs‘. Fierlinger tells his story in an unusual and effective way.

Although it was sad hearing that Studs Terkel died last week, it has been great listening to clips of his stories and interviews on NPR. What an interesting man - I love how open and aware he was, like in this StoryCorps recording. ‘Hard Times‘ was the first book of ‘oral’ histories I ever read, I loved it.

06 November 2008



I’m doing one of my favourite things - experimenting with something I’ve never done before. I love having a problem to solve! I’m putting together a gift for a fairy-loving child, so I am trying to make an eggshell cradle for a tiny fairy baby that I just finished (thought I’d make sure I had a baby before I made its bed). I’m not aiming for something that will stand up to rough play, but it must be usable. An omelette supplied two eggs to work with, so I’m scheming and getting flower petals and other materials ready as the shells dry.

This crow is a detail of a larger picture that I now think should be something else (i.e. not ink on paper). He’ll sit around for a while until I try him out in a collage, assemblage, or on some pottery. Maybe I’ll etch him onto metal, but I’m having trouble getting my hands on copper and nickel. The local sheet metal places don’t have anything I can use right now.

05 November 2008



I think I'm going to have to do a hundred sketches of the various layers before I'm happy with this beetle.


04 November 2008



The original of this is about an inch tall, it is part of the assemblage that I was making wings for yesterday.

03 November 2008


Some of these are for an assemblage I am working on. A steampunk beetle will join them, so today I am experimenting with various wing types - linen over wood, parchment over rebar wire (thank you, Mr. Lo Bue!), gauze with bamboo splinters. Connections are tricky, and prone to being unwieldy.

02 November 2008


I just got back from a long walk with the hounds, so dog bodies are strewn all over the rug and they are ready to let me work on this crow. When I was little and visiting my dad’s relatives in New Mexico I loved their tiny old adobe houses and the beehive ovens outside. That was the first time I saw a crucified Christ figure, which had quite an effect on the drawings I did at the time. The pottery had a longer influence though, the full shape of the pots and bowls, the limited colour palette, and the animals and designs all filled with fine lines.