Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

Palm Nuts Work In Progress

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

I have a great stash of palm nuts. Different sizes and colors. I was wondering what to do with them. Kept looking at them. Touching them. They are such beautiful little bits of nature.

Containers of Palm Nuts

Sunday I drilled holes vertically through the nuts, inserted wire. I bound four together to make a frame.

Palm Nuts Frame

Even if I used patina on the brass wire, I still don’t think I will like wire with the palm nuts.

I stitched a 9×9 using brown Egyptian cotton. The thread is barely noticeable, but when it is, looks natural.

Palm Nuts 9 x 9 Mat

Last night I drilled holes in 240 nuts. I need 218, but always make extra just in case. Tonight I will begin stitching them together with the Egyptian cotton.

Palm Nuts and Egyptian Cotton

There will be 99 connected little frames with a mirror in the center of each frame. Yep, I am making a grid using palm nuts.

I am not sure if the cotton thread will be strong enough to support the weight of 218 palm nuts and 99 pieces of mirror. I will address that problem if it becomes an issue.

Of course there will be a coded message. This time the message will be: another mirror held up to me.

First Harvested Palm Nuts

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

On January 25 I was given some palm cuttings. This is one of the small cuttings.

Palm Cuttings

Over the weekend I harvested the first of the palm nuts.

Palm Nuts Detail

Palm Nuts

So many possibilities. I could use them for coding. I could stitch them together. Have want to try using a water soluble stabilizer to hold bits together for stitching. Or I could use straight pins to attach them to a surface to make fabric.

Work In Progress–One and a Half Years

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

I was diagnosed with Pernicious Anemia several years back. Each month I receive an injection of B12. I have been saving my B12 vials and syringes thinking that they might become art materials. Now, maybe some of the vials have found a place.

I was working on a design for a woven piece to cover a bathroom window. I looked at several materials that would be the least likely to mold. While looking through my materials I ran across the B12 vials. Unfortunately, I did not have enough for the window design. Got to thinking about the importance of those little vials, each vial represented a month in my life.

For whatever reason I tend to use certain numbers: 3, 5, 9, 11, 18, any grouping of 3 or 9. When I looked at coding the word life, I could use 18 vials. Each vial would be bound in a square that 9 spaces by 9 spaces.

One and a Half Years Layout

Recently ran across the Medieval Mosaic embroidery stitch and liked it quite a lot, but it is four long, 4 short. Not one of my numbers. I added an additional to each.

Slightly Altered Medieval Mosaic Stitch

The stitch would cover nicely if I had not planned to use waxed linen. This is a work in progress using waxed linen.

Waxed Linen Stitches

Waxed linen didn’t feel right with the vials. so, got out a skein of cream wool. I laid in a background of a zig zag stitch, then added the Medieval Mosaic stitch over it. This is the result–

One And A Half Years In Progress

And a detail–

One And A Half Years Detail

There needs to be more of a difference between the yarn color used for the dots and dashes. I have some lovely bamboo yarn that might work better.

I suspect that when the border code is completed the current yarn binding the vials will be more apparent. The border code will be: One and a Half Years. The code will start at space 17 on the top, and procede clockwise each space a dot, dash, or spacer. The rest of the border will be stitched in cream wool. There is also a 3/4″ border that will either be bent and stitched to become a frame or bent the opposite direction to elevate the piece from the wall.

When the stitching is finished, it will be time to age the piece.

Some information on pernicious anemia:

Johns Hopkins Medicine

National Institutes of Health–National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

New Potentail Art Materials

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

My neighbor trimmed his palms. The cuttings were on the way to the dump. Instead, some will become art material.

Large palm nuts:

Large palm nuts

Stored in my greenhouse:

Large palm nuts bunches in greenhouse

Small palm nuts:

Small palm nuts

The palm nuts will be a great new material that I can use for coding.

Lichens found on an olive branch:

Lichens on Olive

Interesting information found here:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Corporate Document Repository: Date Palm Products

2015 January 1

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

One of my few traditions is to visit the beach on the first day of the year. Today was a great day–sunny, warm, and no snow to be seen.

Looking for holey rocks–

New Year 2015

Holey Rock

It was low tide so critters could be seen–

Critter 1

Critter 2

The sea grass would make a great art material–

Fire Starters Then and Now

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Two years ago I made fire starters for folks who have woodburning fireplaces. I used pinecones from my garden, cedar shavings (result of running cedar planks through a planer), wax, twine, and cinnamon sticks.

Firestarters 2012

This year I thought I would try something a bit different. I have boxes of dried plant materials from my garden. I collected and dried them to use in my work. I haven’t found a need for them. I had thought about tossing them in the recycle bin, but decided to use them for fire starters.

Firestarters In Progress

I lined some old muffin tins with cupcake papers and filled them with dried materials and cedar shavings. Then used cotton twine for wicks. The wicks are bound around cypress pods. Then the lot was topped with paraffin.

Firestarters Detail

I also made a few pinecone fire starters.

Firestarters In Basket

Placed the fire starters in baskets lined with tissue and filled with cedar shavings. Everything can be used for starting fires, including the baskets.

I was curious how the fire starters would work, so, I set some alight.

First a cupcake fire starters–

Firestarters Cupcake 1

Firestarters Cupcake 2

Then a pinecone–

Firestarters Pinecone 1

Firestarters Pinecone 2

Firestarters Pinecone 3

I had more fun watching them burn than making them!

Some Great Pods

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

While visiting family on Christmas, I scored some great pods.


Apparently the large pods are from a type of Cassia tree. It is also known as the Golden Medallion tree. It was nearly dark when I took the photo so difficult to tell what it really looks like.


This is an image from the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute site at Cal Poly.

Cassia Tree

Detail image of the pods–

Pods Detail

The pods are beautiful! They have little woody shelves for the seeds. And according to the Urban Forest Ecoosystems the Cassia seeds are poisonous. That is so great. Another material to use in my work!

I snagged these Cassia pods during Thanksgiving. When I hung them in my studio they were green then, now they are not.

Pods Studio

I also collected some pods from a vine that grows on the wall around the pool.

Pods Vine

The flat interior piece brings to mind an African shield.

In the process of completing a series using these pods. “Change” is the working title of the series, but that could change.


Leaning toward constructing concrete structures for the pods to live in.

I have been making concrete tests to determine if that is the correct direction.

These are a few of the test results. I used concrete and hypertufa mixtures. Then cast them in silicone molds.

Concrete Cups

My hope is to find a nice concrete mix that works for me. Then to use some of my ceramic aggregates and oxides to add texture and color.

Also constructing mixed media panels that will be coated with concrete, then aged. If I find materials that work well with a concrete mix I will construct a structure for each of the pods.

Panels for Concrete

This is just a fun thing that I noticed in my studio. I had been using wax to made fire starters and candles to give for gifts. A seed from the pool pods landed next to a drop of wax.

Wax and Seed

Black Bamboo and Other Finds

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

This morning I went to visit a friend who offered to let me take some cuttings of his black bamboo.

Black Bamboo Detail

The cuttings are nearly 9′ long.

Black Bamboo

I found loads of cypress pods.

Cypress Pods

I found a piece of mesh that has pant parts growing through it.


And a piece of twisted wood.

Twisted Wood

I also found some cuttings from a cypress that sustained storm damage. I am thinking that it would be fun to shred the wood and bind it to the exterior of a box.

New Materials

Then I noticed a cypress was weeping. It was sad, but lovely. And a bit sticky…

Weeping Cypress

On the way home, stopped by to see the goats. They are working goats. They have been tasked with clearing a field near the airport. Apparently it was break time.


One of the goats wears a bell.

Goat Wearing Bell

Today there was even a watch dog. He gave a long deep howl.

Watch Dog

Now it is studio time.

A Forgotten Work–Little Bronze Bowl with Magnolia Pods

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Today while looking through boxes in storage, I found a box labeled “early work”. Each piece I unwrapped brought memories of the time when I made it. Then I came to the little bronze bowl with magnolia pods.

Bronze Bowl with Magnonlia Pods

This wasn’t actually an early piece. I made it before attending grad school. While looking at it, I had mixed feelings. What would have happened to my work had I not gone to grad school? I could have stayed in the Bay Area and continued to make work. Instead I went to grad school and wasn’t permitted to use the foundry until near the end of my second year. It was a complicated situation that I have tried to forget.

The is a detail of the interior of little bronze bowl with magnolia pods.

Detail Bronze Bowl with Magnonlia Pods

After the piece was cleaned up a bit, I bound it with wire. I then applied some of my low-fire glazes. Then fired the lot. I knew that the wire would oxidize and the blue glaze would be matte, the other glaze would be oozy white.

Detail Bronze Bowl with Magnonlia Pods

The bowl is now sitting next to a couple of pieces–a dagger and a poison cup. The dagger was made in the late 90s and the poison cup was made a few years back.

Bronze Bowl with Others

Stone Church and Earrings

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

I recently returned from three weeks in Maryland. I was visiting my sister and her family. While I was there I attended a holiday bazaar at the church near their house. The exterior of the church is stone, has a slate roof, and was founded in 1784. It also has a great cemetery.

Exterior of Church

I was hoping that the interior of the church would be as interesting as the exterior. I was a tad disappointed that the interior wasn’t stone, but there were some great details.

Just inside the front door there is a narrow door that spans the wall to the ceiling. The curious person that I am; I opened the door. I found a rope. Yep it is the rope for the bell.

Church Bell Rope

I bought several things from Jim St. Germain at the holiday bazaar. He makes jewelry from found metal bits–typewriters, hang gliders, sewing machines, radios, computers, VHS tapes…

These are a few of the earrings that I purchased–


Sewing Machine Parts


Hang Glider Parts


Radio Parts

I like that Jim used found objects and gave them a new life.

I am always on the lookout for potential art materials and tools. Also at the holiday bazaar I found copper cookie cutters and a large bag of vintage yarn. The lot was a steal for $5.00.