Restacked Mantel Wood

July 23rd, 2017

Our neighbor gave me a pair of columns that she had been using as part of a table. Each column is 29″ x 8.5″ x 9″ and solid concrete.


Columns on Hand Truck

Before placing them in the garden I made a couple of decisions. The first…the bottom should be the top.


Left Side Was How The Columns Had Been Used
The Right Side is the Proper Orientation

The thin section at the bottom will not be visible. So, the only thing that bothers me is the tulip-like doodad. Just too fussy.

Column Doodad

When I began converting the courtyard form exotic plants to drought tolerant plants, one of the first decisions was to remove the wallpieces and to paint the walls grey. It is difficult to tell from the photos taken in my studio, but the columns were too stark, too bright even in the shade.


The Whiteness of the Columns is Emphasized When Placed Next to the Grey Wall

Originally I wanted to break off some hunks before aging them, but thought I would wait to see how they looked with a found wood mantel. I snagged some ash from a friend’s actual fireplace to use, if I decide to fix the columns up a bit more.

Column Fixed Up

For 4 days, I had 3 pieces of wood stacked on top of the columns to help me decide if three boards had enough visual weight to work with the top of the columns.

Mantel Wood

The boards are not quite as wide as the columns. And they could not sit against the wall because of the wallpiece/trellises. Each layer will have two pieces of wood to make the proper width, with a 2″ overhang in the front.

Planning to strap the wood together with metal…aluminum or copper shim. I can patina copper, but the current appearance of the materials is a bit too clean for my typical gritty surface work. The width of the metal will probably be two thirds of the section at the now top of the columns.

When I was making my morning cocoa, thought I would take one last look before cutting the wood.

This is what I found–

Mantel Wood

The wood is nicely stacked in the opposite order it had been stacked on the columns. Lucky that the stack did not break plants or the stone defining the space for the hearth.

I phoned my husband to inquire if he had moved the wood. He had not. He seems to believe that an animal could have been responsible for the restacking. His best guess–opossum. We did catch a couple opossums over the years in our humane trap when we were attempting to catch squirrels.

This was the most recent captured opossum.

Opossum in Trap

And after it was released–

Released Opossum in Trap


Opossum After Release Stayed in the Wisteria for Several Hours

I restacked the wood on the columns and attempted to reproduce what I found this morning. Every time resulted in a messy stack.

Mantel Wood

So what did happen? Did an animal (opossum) drop down from the oak tree and cause the restacking?



The reddish brown stalk is from a volunteer that I think is a variety of mullein. It is nearly ready to harvest.

I have been fond of mullein since I used it in my Greta piece, part of my MFA exhibition.

An additional note…the garden was sloping when I began planning for the faux fireplace. I leveled it by adding soil that I removed from the now rock/succulent garden. I also added gravel under each of the columns. I had to build up the right side with nearly 4″ of gravel more than uncer the left column.

I leveled the garden area, each column, and the columns together. Then I placed a single piece of wood on the columns and leveled the lot. Pretty sure the faux fireplace will appear level and straight when it is completed.

Can’t wait to see it with snake plant (Sansevieria) inside for faux flames. I have wanted to use snake plant for flames ever since I viewed Blue Velvet.

Blue Velvet Snake Plants

A Quick Screenshot From the Film Blue Velvet

My plan is to plant the snake plant directly in the garden inside the faux fireplace. The weather is so mild, for the most part, on the California Central Coast. And since they will be protected, they should thrive.

May be Paeonia californica not Paeonia brownii

July 19th, 2017

I thought that when I collected seeds from Paeonia plants during a hike in SLO California, I originally thought they were Paeonia brownii. Recently I have come to believe that I made a mistake and the plants were actually Paeonia californica.

This is an image of the seeds I collected.

Paeonia Seeds

I went to the Jepson Herbarium to check it out.

Paeonia californica

Paeonia brownii

Currently there are a couple of Paeonia seedlings growing in my succulent garden.

Paeonia Seedlings

Paeonia Seedlings


California Native Plant Society

Crassula and Hydathodes

July 15th, 2017

I am currently reading Fred Dortort’s book, The Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World: A Comprehensive Reference to More than 2000 Species.

The book is filled with interesting information and loads of gorgeous images of plants. I was curious about hydathodes. The description from the book follows: their leaves are dotted with hydathodes, a kind of pore that enables wet-growing plants to expel water, but which dry-growing crassulas have reversed, turning them into water-absorbing organs.

I can visualize, but what do hydathodes really look like?

When I was editing photos for a previous post, I noticed what appeared to be pin pricks on the leaves of my new addition, a Crassula capitella Red Pagoda.

Red Pagoda

Example of Hydathodes on Crassula capitella Red Pagoda

It is exciting to read something interesting and then to see an example of it in person.

Two More Echeveria Plants

July 15th, 2017

Plants 1 an 2

Echeveria nodulosa
Plant 1

Plant 1 Detail

These were found in the pot of the above plant.


I potted them up.

Echeveria runyonii topsy turvy
Plant 2

New Succulents–Crassula and Echeveria

July 15th, 2017

Purchased two succulents for my new rock/succulent garden from the Cal Poly students at the Farmers’ Market.

The small pots nicely in the car’s cup holders.

New Succulents

New Succulents on Drive Home.

New Succulents

Crassula capitella Red Pagoda

New Succulents

Echeveria Black Knight

New Succulents

Waiting for New Home

More Ants on Flowers

July 14th, 2017


Ants on a Pandorea jasminoides Flower

Noticed a few pods, so I snagged them.


Previous posts on Pandorea jasminoides pods use as an art material–

Accustomed to Being Invisible

Invisible Stitched



Misplaced Shoes

July 13th, 2017

I have been thinking about compiling a series of misplaced shoes…those single shoes found in odd places.

When I was in the grocery store parking lot I saw this pair of brown shoes.

Misplaced Shoes

I like a nice oxford. The shoes look like they would be comfortable. I would definitely wear them. Wonder if the owner of the misplaced shoes attached the orange strip of plastic. But, why would someone do that and then leave them behind?

To see one misplaced shoe is odd, to see a pair is peculiar.

Milkweed and Ants

July 12th, 2017

I visited a friend’s garden on November 1, 2016 to look at his milkweed plants covered with Monarch caterpillars.

Monarchs on Milkweed

While there I collected milkweed seed pods.

Milkweed Seed pods

On November 3, 2016, I popped some of the seed in soil and today two of the plants are blooming.

Ants on Milkweed

Curious why there are ants. Need to take a better look. It doesn’t appear that there is some other insect activity which is often the case. Ants are known for herding aphids for their honeydew.

My hope is that the milkweed can help the Monarch population. Recently I saw a sign posted at a local nursery that stated the exotic milkweed should be cut to the ground in the fall to prevent protozoan infection by Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE).

To read about the possibility of attempting to do something good that could have unwanted consequences, check out the Monarch Joint Venture site.

Post Written on Day of Planting

Casemaking Again

July 5th, 2017

I am in the process of making a trellis for the courtyard wall. It will be similar to the trellis on the wall that wraps around the corner. I needed a piece of 1″ fence to use as a support for the vertical bamboo pieces.


I found a piece of fence that was to have been used in a project with cotton twine. The cut bits are sharp unless they are ground down, so the edge was taped until a border was attached.

Taped Fence

When I flipped the piece of fence over, I noticed casemaking moths attached to the tape. For insects that are supposed to be particularly fond of animal fiber, they sure seem to show up on loads of surfaces.


Not sure if they are alive. Seeing them did remind me to try placing items that may have been exposed to casemaking moths in the trunk of the car. An entomologist that I met while hiking, mentioned exposing the casemaking moths to the heat in the car over a period of a couple of weeks. He seemed to think the exposure should kill all forms of the casemaking cycle.

I do not like killing anything, but the casemaking moths can’t seem to stay outside, away from my studio work and sweaters. Frustrating, but not the bane of my existence.

The Peach at the Bottom of the Bowl

July 5th, 2017
Peach Mold


Peach Mold


Peach Mold


Peach Mold

Fragrance–Essence of Peach

Peach Mold

The syrupy liquid is smelling a bit bad and the peach is beginning to collapse.

Peach Mold


Peach Mold


Peach Mold

Second Monday

Peach Mold

Second Tuesday

Peach Mold

Second Wednesday

Peach Mold

Wednesday Increased Luminance to Show Detail

Peach Mold

Wednesday Zoomed In and Increased Luminance to Show Detail

Peach Mold

Second Thursday

Peach Mold

Second Thursday View 2

Peach Mold

Second Friday

Peach Mold

Second Friday Detail


Second Saturday


Second Saturday Detail


Second Saturday


Second Sunday


Second Sunday Detail
Curious if the small blue patch will increase in size.


Third Monday


Third Monday View 2


Third Monday Detail


Third Tuesday


Third Wednesday


Third Wednesday Detail


Third Thursday


Third Friday


Third Friday Detail

The folks I live with decided it was time to remove the peach from the kitchen. Apparently, it was too fragrant for them. I had hoped to keep it until it became totally dry. When I flipped it over there was a lot of dampness surrounding the stone.


Third Friday Evening


Third Friday Evening Detail


Third Friday Evening Detail, Last Image Before Recycled

It may seem peculiar that I am documenting a molding peach, but it brings to mind the types of glaze surfaces I used on my work in the 80s and 90s.

This is a piece that I made while in undergrad at Ohio State University in the 80s. I was delighted to find actual lichen living on the piece. Surprised, but delighted.

Lichen Glazed Piece

The pieces can be arranged in a couple of different ways, but this is how it has been positioned for over twenty years on our upstairs deck.

Lichen Glazed Piece

As was my process at the time, the piece was glazed multiple times. The base glaze was a lithium blue. It was followed with multiple red lead glazes. Yep, that was red lead with chromium dioxide.

When I was using lichen and lizard skin glazes, I was not looking at moldy peaches. Because I have used those glazes, I now look at mold growth.

Often people assume that a piece references something that is not part of the content. I believe that the reason this happens is because we view things through a filter of our experiences. The viewer’s interpretation may not be correct, but it is a way for them to access the piece.