Baby Shoes

After my husband’s family cleared out their parents’ house these baby shoes remained, unwanted.

Baby Shoes

I have a difficult time with them because they are leather and the baby shoe syndrome, but there is something about them. I couldn’t leave them, or let them be donated, thrown away.

My husband and his siblings wore them.

Yeah, I still am not good at discarding things.

Cleaning, Clearing, and Great Finds

I recently wrote a post about finding Casemaking Moths in my studio. Finding the moths was rather perfect timing. I had planned to eliminate some of my stuff. I knew that would be a difficult task because I have the habit of collecting loads of “potential” art materials for “someday.”

After reading several posts about lessening chaos and removing clutter on Zenhabits and Discardia, I liked the idea of photographing unused or sentimental items and then discarding them. That was until I began looking through and touching the past.

I was able to remove 17 boxes of books from my shelves. The shelves didn’t stay empty. I now have a clean place to store some of my small completed pieces.

I found a folder of newspaper articles that was labeled, “Odd.” The first article had the headline, Chicken With Prosthetic Legs Mauled by Dog. The other headlines were just as unusual, hence “Odd.”

There was a folder of items about artists. I made a pile of articles on artists that I liked quite a lot to google. A couple of favorite artists–

Marsha Pels’ Solstice still excites the heck out of me.

Marsha Pels Solstice 1993

The article about Kate Hunt’s work had an image of Marriage (For Todd) Torrington dated 1997. She made newspaper and bailing twine into something beautiful. When I visited her website I found Trophy.

Kate Hunt’s Trophy

The piece has the addition of steel, encaustic, and boat building epoxy. I wonder how it smells?

Back to cleaning and clearing–an interesting thing occurred. I am from the generation when you had stacks of slides to document your work. What should I do with all of the slides that I haven’t digitized? I am thinking that it would be a waste of time to digitize most of the really old work. Potential art materials?

I have always been a compulsive note taker. I have all of my notes from all of my art classes that I took and taught. Whenever I start a new series I spend a great deal of time researching. I have binders full of notes.

I use composition books for sketchbooks and go through them rather quickly. I always index the books but trying to find a particular sketch or code takes some time. I thought about scanning the sketchbooks and notes, but thought better of it.

Pretty sure that I am going to set up a camera and shoot them. That would be just like how folks of my generation shot images from books to use in class and for papers.

A Perfect Environment for Moths

I suspected that at some point, I would create the perfect environment for some type of insect. When you have loads of dried plant materials and fiber it is rather likely some critters will move in.

Moth 1

This is a detail of a work in progress. It would have been a cup made of wool and rayon that I just couldn’t manage to finish. The head of a straight pin is in the upper left of the photo, and the tip of a pin is next to the casemaking moth.

How Did I Find Moths?

I read an article that stated empty birds’ nests should be removed from around your house because casemaking moths might take up residence. I had a collection of nests containing little vignettes in my studio. When I checked them, I found casemaking moths. After the shock wore off, and the sinking feeling that everything in my studio might be destroyed; I methodically started the hunt for the critters. I discarded materials and several works in progress.

I did a test to see if I can save a piece if it is found to have moths. I soaked some works in progress that had been attacked by moths in vinegar for a couple of days, rinsed in water, and laid them in the sun. My hope is that if there were eggs, they were killed.

The vinegar soaking changed the appearance of the pieces. I bind fiber onto washers for use as coding components. The bottom row was soaked in vinegar. The washers are not the same type, but they have a similar composition. The fiber is wool that sustained a color change due to the oxidation of the metal. The change in color of the cream wool is not to my liking, so the solution would be to age the washers, then bind them.


If the same or similar result occurs the next time I use a vinegar bath, I’m pretty sure that I will use the technique in the future to age some pieces. It is simple and non-toxic.

I found the casemaker moths–

  • on the back of a framed piece
  • on older books, the bits facing the wall
  • in the bottom of a bowl that contained components for projects
  • in baskets of materials
  • on woven pieces
  • around baseboards
  • behind doors
  • under furniture
  • even inside a spare pair of work shoes

Some insects are attracted to a particular color, fragrance or pheromone, or a location. I did not find a pattern or consistency in where they made their homes.

Moth 2

And it does not seem to matter if the fiber was impregnated with wax or shellac. It may be too early to tell, but I do not think that they took up residence in or on any of my work that was treated with salt.

This is the edge of a piece of foam core that I used for a photo set-up.
Moth 3

For More Information From Reliable Sources–

Casemaking Clothes Moth AgriLife Extension Texas A&M

Clothes Moths by Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture

Clothes Moths University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

My “Real” First Comment

I received my first real comment on one of my blog posts from Dinah at Discardia.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day cleaning my studio space because of the moth scare. I decided to clear out the truly unneccesary “potential” art materials. Throughout the day I kept asking myself, “What would Dinah do?” At the end of the day, there was her comment.


Uncertainty about my choices faded; I felt validated.

I did have a weak moment, one in which I felt a bit overwhelmed with the task at hand. To calm my mind I typically do one of two things–read or bake. I opted for baking chocolate chocolate-chip cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

Vegan of course.

The recipes are based on Jennifer McCann’s book, Vegan Lunch BoxTriple Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Vegan Buttercream.

After a cupcake I went back to my studio refreshed and ready for the task. I needed to stop addressing the cleaning and clearing in a random, willy nilly way. I needed to be methodical.

I started with the first set of shelves where loads of small open containers of bits are stored. Interesting that the boxes of jars that I was keeping for someday came in handy.

Box of Jars

Yeah, I am pretty sure that I am not going to make snow globes.

And lids will keep out unwanted critters.

Stuff in Jars

Nathanael “Big Baby” and “Queen” Nora appreciated your comments too.

Big BabyNora

A Possible Change

I am a mixed media artist and have a habit of gathering and keeping “things” because I might need them “sometime.” I tell myself that most of my “stuff” was accumulated as potential art materials. And eventually I do use a lot of the materials or offer them for use by other folks.

Recently I happened on Discardia and found some great advice on how to possibly clean up my life. For me starting small and working a bit at a time is much better than trying to do everything at once. The completion of small jobs will offer me a sense of accomplishment rather than failing to complete everything now. I plan to set a time limit to prevent becoming annoyed that the task is taking time from enjoyable activities.

My first task was to give away recently received gifts that I didn’t want or need. They are perfectly nice gifts for someone else. Check that one off of the list.

Then I read the post, Letting go of our back pages which addresses the issue of too many books. While I was attempting to be rid of some of my books that I had not manage to read for whatever reason, I found myself reading one. Now I am half way through and thinking that I might pick up the next book in the trilogy.

Maybe clearing out the computer books will be an easier task.