When is a Piece Done?

I thought that I completed “Preservation and Collection” at the end of 2010. After the work was returned from a show at Western Nevada College, I hung it in my office, above and slightly to the left of my monitor. I specifically hung the piece so that it would loom in the periphery. That it could seep into view when my mind was on another task.

Preservation and Collection

A few days back I realized that the piece made me terribly uncomfortable. It was hung a tad higher than when it was exhibited and didn’t have great lighting, but I couldn’t see what was inside the cups.

Preservation and Collection

I spent loads of time making the cups and the bags filled with poison plant bits. But there was too much distance from the cups to experience the work the way it was intended.

I liked the idea of the 3×3 format–its reference to a nine patch quilt, but the result wasn’t right. I removed the cups and shelf from the wall. I will make new homes for the cups, but I haven’t yet worked out the details. Pretty sure that the cups will be happier hung together, in several separate and open shelves rather than in their original presentation.

Hanging pieces in close proximity was a great lesson I learned from Sharon Tetly. Sharon teaches at Western Nevada College and offered me the exhibition in the College Gallery. My work is rather small and intimate and the space is long and narrow. I was concerned that the work would be lost. Sharon grouped pieces–which I felt emphasized the intimate nature of them wihtout the loss of their autonomy.

Preservation and Collection

Sharon’s presentation of my work offered me a new viewing experience.

The photos were taken by Sharon Tetly.

Might Come In Handy Some Day

I have been accused of being a pack rat. Sure there is a tad of truth to that description. But I should think that most mixed media artists know–collected materials for use “some day” could mean exactly that.

Many of the pieces that I had in a show last year had materials I saved for several years. For example, the pit fired cup was a demo piece from a teaching gig over 10 years ago. The metal bits I snagged when my brother-in-law was clearing out his warehouse of construction materials.

At Risk

I wanted this cup to appear more goblet-like so I drilled a hole through the bottom to attach a carriage bolt for a stem. The stem has two types of washers that are filling in for the dots and dashes of Morse Code.

The stem has the word “mourning” in code. It is a play on the homophone “morning” as in morning cup of tea. The small bag inside the cup has poison plant bits–not material appropriate for a tea ceremony.

Mourning Cup

The wood for the sides of the next piece came from an old swing that I rescued from my parents’ burn pile. That was more years ago than I care to remember. The bronze bit on the rosary is a piece of a dried fig that was spin cast in the late 80s. I couldn’t find a home for it until this piece was made. The rosary has “Cleanse Your Palate” and “Forgive Yourself” in code.

The thing that was most fun about constructing this piece was how the cast soap cup came into existence. I made a slew of woven and fiber cups that I meant to cast in bronze. I never managed to get them gated and cast so they were stored away. When I ran across them I realized that I really didn’t want to cast them any longer. So, I made silicone molds for casting soap and sugar pieces.

Forgive Yourself

Rarely do I first glimpse a material or object and know precisely how I will use it. Often materials make it known where they would like to live and with whom.

When I was sorting out the stuff in Dad’s barn, I collected materials to ship home. This is some of what I collected.

Metal Bits

The metal drawers have been nicely oxidized from mice living in them.

Metal Drawers

So many possibilities…

Quipu or Khipu…

I freelance for a software company that produces products for speech therapy and learning disabilities. I am currently making my way through a database of words to be included in some apps.

I collect words and phrases to use in my work. I integrate them by using Morse and Tap Code. The code isn’t straight forward I refer to the code by substituting color, a variety of knots or stitches, and metal or plant bits.

When I ran across the word quipu I liked the visual structure of the word. According to Wikipedia, “Quipus (or khipus), sometimes called talking knots, were recording devices historically used in the region of Andean South America.”

The image is from the wikipedia site. Can you see the code?


I find the piece visually beautiful. But it is so much more. I recently listened to a Richard Feynman recording in which he discussed the difference in the way people appreciate nature. When I view the example of Quipu I think that it is lovely as an artifact, then I wonder how does the fiber feel and smell, what kind of fiber was used, how were the knots made, how has the work survived… And after thinking about those qualities I think about the context. Then I view the piece differently, but I still find it quite beautiful.

For more information-


Frank Salomon Pages, Dept. of Anthropology University of Wisconsin

Gary Urton & Carrie Brezine, Khipu Database Project

Just a Trim…

I don’t enjoy the whole hair salon experience so I typically don’t have my hair cut very often. My hair had been cut in layers and as often happens, a section in the back was noticeably a few inches longer than the rest. I tied my hair in a very loose ponytail and asked my husband if he would trim the long section to make it even with the rest. I followed that with cut a little at a time. You can always trim it again.

He said sure. Then I heard the crunch of my ponytail being cut off followed by the shock of this on the bathroom counter.


The shock wasn’t about the current length of my hair. Hair grows. It was, where in the definition of the word “trim” could something like this happen? How many times do you believe that you are communicating with another person only to find that while the language is the same, the words used are understood differently? Or when describing something, the image you have in your mind is nothing like that of the person you are talking with?

What is the solution to these misunderstandings? Perhaps it is to ask more questions and really listen to the answers. And don’t blame the other person for the misunderstanding. Two people were involved in the dialogue.

Valentine’s Gifts 2012

I like to make fun holiday gifts for the kids in my family. I gave felt a go and realized that I am not one with it. The same was true with buttons. I use binding, embroidery, weaving, and knot techniques in my work so I decided to use some of those techniques to make Valentine’s gifts.

I have been collecting rocks to send to my nephew to add to his collection. This rock is quite heart-like, so I bound it with red rayon embroidery floss for a necklace, or to hang on the wall.


I have been binding washers to use for code components in some of my pieces. This is a detail of a piece titled, Make Your Own Luck. I used two washer sizes. The color of the washers replace dots and dashes and the smaller bound washers the spaces between letters within words and between words.


This is a detail that has the washers without binding for spacers and with half binding or full binding to correspond to dots and dashes. The Piece has the full text, “See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil, Do no Evil”. The border is coded, “Not to know is bad, not to wish to know is worse”.


A couple of years back I saw this blog post at using washers to make a necklace based on the work of Anni Albers. This is a photo from the blog post written by Sarah Neuburger.


Here is the link to see her great instructions.

So, I got to thinking about binding washers with embroidery floss and then stringing them together with a braid. This is what I came up with. It isn’t chocolate but I think the my niece will like it.


I made some Shrinky Dink bits to use for greeting cards. Realized when I was binding them to the cards that if I made the cord a tad longer the lot could be worn as a bracelet.


Some of my work can be viewed at GirlArtist.

Eating Crow…

Do people actually eat crow?

Crow Times

While I was in Ohio staying at my parents’ house I found it necessary to search through the local phone book. It is hard to believe that some people still have dial up and a connection so slow that leafing through a phone book is quicker than attempting a Google search.

In the phone book between Human Services and International Calling is the Hunting Guide. I grew up with a father and uncle who hunted, but was still shocked to see the approved list and times for killing animals.

I couldn’t keep myself from scanning the list for the dates acceptable to kill rabbits. Most of my adult life I have shared my home with house rabbits.


After the initial shock, I noticed a couple of things that seemed especially odd. The words muzzleloader and primitive in context with killing deer and the schedule for unlimited crow killing.

According to some hunting sites, it is possible to kill 10 to 100 crows in a single morning. Even though recipes for preparing crows are posted, crows are described as tasting bitter and gamey. They are also viewed as carrion feeders making them undesirable for consumption. And they don’t taste like chicken.

A couple of additional things come to mind when thinking about crows. The first is the documentation of crows using and making tools to access food.

Another thing is the idiom “eating crow” and humiliation. And then there is the association of crows transporting the souls of the dead to their next realm.

There are some crows hanging around our neighborhood. They roll walnuts around on the roof to break open the shells. If that doesn’t work for them they throw the walnuts off the roof breaking them open on the concrete steps.

New Year 2012

2012 January 1

The tradition continues with a trip to the beach on the first day of the new year. It was a gorgeous day. The temperature was 75º so the scarf, mittens, and hat I received for Christmas was left at home.


I do love my straw hat. My brother gave it to me when we were in South Carolina for our sister’s wedding in September of 2001. The scarf has been with me even longer.

This year the search for holey rocks continued but the search broadened to include smooth rocks without holes and textured rocks.


My six year old nephew has a collection of over 130 rocks. For Christmas he sent me some of his artwork.

Will's Art

As a thank you, I am sending him some rocks to add to his collection.

Box of Rocks

Going to need a larger box.


1 January 2011

The Beach Tradition


My one tradition is to visit the beach on the first day of January. Take a photo, rather like those yearly school photos. See nature at its best, the dichotomy of creation and destruction by the ocean. And perhaps most important, the search for holey rocks.

Holey/holy, and the superstition that a rock found with a hole in it brings the bearer good luck.