Monday, November 29, 2010

New Stuff!

At the last Open Studio, one of the gals suggested making placemats in the fashion of my question books.  I thought it was a great idea because it will prompt interesting dinner conversation.  I decided that they must be washable, so the top is vinyl.  And the bottom is felt to protect the table.  They are in lots of colors, some with original prints and others have my digitals.  Here are three sets:
Oh yeah, most of them have feathers or other surprises in the collages.

I'm hoping to have coordinating coaster sets as well.

The weeds outside were calling as the showy fall leaves blew away because they have such glorious and interesting seed formations.  I found myself collecting seeds, and then the fronds, and pretty soon they became a Pass It On Gardener's Gift.

It has some of the 14 plants in the arrangement.  All the weeds have been sprayed with hairspray so that they don't fly around!  in the drawer are 14 envelopes with pictures of the plant in summer, a short note about the plant's habit and personality, and the seeds collected from my garden this fall.  In the top compartment is a small book with pages to write your impressions and ideas about the plant with small envelopes to collect seeds.  I think of the book as a Pass It On idea, as you can give the book to someone else with the seeds from your garden next year.  Of course there are plant stakes with the height and growth requirements. 
I've made three Toys for those with Desks.  They're cubes that spin around showing you 4 small books on one side and a drawer on the other.  The books have jumping frogs in one, quotations in another, questions in the third, and Jacob's Ladders in the last.  The drawer either has shiny things or blanks to make more frogs after people wander off with them (they do!).  Here's one.
I believe in fun...and work needs to be fun!
Today I'm working in leather making wristlets that light-up and folios with my epoxied prints on them.  I'm not sure I'll let any of them go because I think they're gorgeous as well as fun.  I'll post them later in the week.

And because my feet were cold this weekend and my back hurts today, I made up a whole mess of rice bags. So if you come to the Open Studio, stock up!  There are lots of shapes and sizes. 
Hope to see you this weekend between 10AM and 4PM.  Whatever is left I'll put up on my website at http//

Enjoy this glorious season.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Accessibility Ramps

We built a ramp at our house and one at my Grandmother-In-Law's house.  In a weekend. This is a great program because they will come and take the modules away and reassemble them at someone else's house when you're done with the ramp.

We made it a family project. Everyone learned to use power drills and a circular saw.  Our decking crew was 12 and 14 and they did a spectacular job.  The way Allen and I split the work was that he hung each section and I got them built.  Hanging means leveling and some big carriage bolt screws.  Earthwork.  I ran the saws and the drills making each module.  Our crew was done early and we then rearranged the existing concrete by using a sledge hammer to break it up  and then make a mosaic 'landing pad' at the bottom.  It beats the cost of garbage to reuse concrete.  And the young men love using sledge hammers!  A wheelbarrow is a godsend, as they all want to carry heavy concrete pieces and that's not a good idea.  My mother-in-law is delighted to have a wheelbarrow left over from  the project.

We have a ramp because it's easier for so many of our friends to come visit. Those who use walkers, canes, or are just not completely sure on their feet, are grateful.  I would have loved a ramp during the days I was spraining my ankle regularly.

And idea. Use it if it makes sense for you. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Here's my friend Cass who was with me the whole way. And a rare moment when we weren't swamped with people.  I was thrilled to win the People's Choice Award.  Thanks to all who ventured to see me.  It made a huge difference to see my friends and family amid the other art lovers.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay is my favorite poet.  I accidentally stumbled across a copyright free image of her on the web....and couldn't help giving her a crown of flowers.  Isn't she lovely.  Click this link to read Renascence:

Or there's always First Fig:
"My candle burns at both ends,
it will not last the night. 
But ah, my foes, and oh. my friends,
it gives off such a lovely light."

And Second Fig
"Safe upon the solid rock
the ugly houses stand.
Come and see my shining palace
built upon the sand."

Portrait by a Neighbor
"Before she has her floor swept
or her dishes done,
any day you'll find her
sunning in the sun.

It's long after midnight.
Her key is in the lock.
You won't see her chimney smoke
before 10 o'clock.

She digs in her garden
with a shovel and a spoon.
She weeds her lazy lettuce
by the light of the moon.

She walks up her walk
like a woman in a dream.
She forgets she borrowed butter
and pays you back in cream.

Her lawn looks like a meadow,
and if she mows the place,
She leaves the clover standing
and the Queen Anne's Lace!"

That's who I want to be when I grow up!  Enjoy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Cooper's Hawks have fledged.  The babies are two girls:  the size of crows.  That's why Mom, who usually feeds on song birds, has been taking squirrels and rabbits from our yards to raise these glorious hunters.  On Thursday Mom abandoned them! Amid four yards, all with bird feeders.  If you can't get lucky there, hmmm.  

And before you think your bloomers are beautiful think about taking your first flight from a 50' tree!

Here's what Mom is modeling:

Bon appeitite.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's time for Rose Conserve.  I captured the first rose petals today.  If you haven't tried it, do. It is absolutely amazing.  A great gift for those really difficult guys...even the biker guys.  It tastes like rose honey.  Can't describe it adequately. 

The recipe is the rose petals in your yard and an equal amount of sugar. Put in an air tight container and turn every six weeks if you think of it. Forget it?  No problem.  It is done right around the holidays. I'll put up my rose wafer recipe then...very fancy. Only for your best women friends and curious 10 year olds.

And if you are not growing fragrant, winter-hardy-in-Minnesota roses, try these folks.  Ours don't need fussing and bloom 6 or more times a year..once after Thanksgiving. And they are so fragrant!


Saturday, May 22, 2010

I went for a walk with my niece, Pamela, in the Wapsipinicon State Park this week.  The wild flowers were beautiful.  There were lots of Jack in the Pulpits and wild geraniums and wild phlox.  There were also lots of ferns -- all types.  Here are a couple of photos from that walk...with a little extra.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Snow Drops

What a month I've had since I last posted. Almost an entire year has elapsed as we went from winter to spring to summer and now the north wind hints of winter again. I love our seasons. They keep me out of a rut both mentally and in activity. I've resisted pulling the winter mulch blanket off of the gardens not wanting to shock the plants with more dryness and night freezes. The early flowers could care less and others are poking up their heads anyway reminding me that they are late spring bloomers that have to get ready. I got out my trusty camera to shoot the changes. The snow drops were so white against the dull dried leaves that they consistently overexposed. You can see how much fun this overexposure can be in Photoshop from the my new print called Magic. And I finally digitized my late prints from last fall, perhaps just in time to open all the doors and start this year's prints! I got some different colors and blends by working wet on wet toward the end of the year. You may notice the difference in my prints, like the one above. The fact that my art is a stream rather than an even pleases me. I never know where it will take me -- though lately I have been certain it is not going to take me to the box that is the receipts, forms and data that is my taxes. Are taxes grounding or just annoying? I'm glad to pay my share because I value the parks, cops, and bridges they support. And I'm really glad for the moves of late to support the poorest of the poor. My friend Phil is of that group. It amazes me that he is alive every time I see him. He's been a friend for more than 20 years and was homeless for a good percentage of that time. I can't get my head around some of the far right who insist on not paying taxes, carrying guns, and saying they are "Christian." Taxes support the collective good. Guns kill people. And I thought Christ was all about the former and not the latter. These days I'm afraid those guns will be used to kill the poor to guarantee that everyone can keep "theirs." It's such bad karma. And that karma draws similar karma. These are trying times for the individualist culture we've developed. Such a hard edge. One of my favorite activities is to do something that improves the well being of someone else without wanting anything in return. I then sit back in my observant mind and watch that positive energy go out into the community. Sooner than later it comes zinging back to me as a grand gesture to help me by someone else. Spirit energy is so concrete...and amazing. The example of late is that I was going to apply to be one of the artists at the Loring Park Art Fair in August. The application needed to be done by March 15. It required a photo of my booth. Well, I don't have a picture of my booth because I'm so new to this art thing. My Dad and Allen were helping me put the pieces together. Even with all of that, it felt like I was pushing a river. Eventually I decided to do it next year instead of this year because we'd have the photos next year from the other fairs we're doing. The very next moment after I decided to wait, our phone rang. It was my sister-in-law (hmm, I bet that title is why she calls me sis) calling to ask if I would make my niece's bat mitzvah invitations. I was flattered to be asked. And that same afternoon, when I was at my bank depositing a check, they asked me to put my art up there again. I again flattered to be asked back. Since then I've had nothing but encouragement from the spirit plane as people find all sorts of ways to tell me they value my work. My Dad showed his coffee klatch a small book I made of my prints. A couple more purses have found their way to new owners. Friends have introduced me as an artist. Loved ones who have been given my cards have told me again and again how much people have liked the cards. And one of my big prints sold on Friday at the bank. I'm definitely on the right track. Now for those darn taxes!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fiends in the Woodshop

We went down to Zumbrota on Wednesday in our continued collaboration with my Dad on lamps and tables that hold my prints and light up from inside. The next lamp is about six feet tall. So here are Allen and Dad surface planing a six foot board. It took two of them to get it throught the planer squarely....and I did hear a "hmmm. It's thicker on one side than the other. We'll just run it through again and take off a scosh." Allen learned about the planer. Where was I you ask? They always take off when we first get there to do 'guy stuff,' so I bring book. And a camera. Stay tuned for the lamp.
I need to pick a couple of images for the publicity piece for my show at Crossings at Carnegie in September. Any favorites emerge? The Yellow one looks like a dinosaur to me! It's actually a print made from knot grass! Or should I go digital? I'm leaning toward the Dandlion leaves and one of the purely abstract pieces at the top. Hmm. A lampshade might resolve the whole issue. I've never been good at choices and have used the excuse that I need a whole pallet to be fully functional.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Size does make a difference!

I made this bag for my darling husband to schlep his stuff back and forth to school. It has all the features he likes: padded computer space, a gorgeous brocade lining, extra pockets for paper and small items in velcro attached vinyl, a large outside pocket, and a print he really likes and secure handle and straps. Well! It fits my computer, but not his! We both forgot that he got the super delux version of the Mac laptop. It's too big to fit. It was part of being an economist doing detailed analyses -- two full pages can display on it at once. He got out of economics and is not in school to be a counselor at the Adler Institute. Brave and I'm very proud of him. So now I have another completed bag. And a new design for a back pack. Not only does it fit his laptop, but also his lunch and cup for tea. If it's a good bag I'll make one to hold water bottles. I love it when problems allow the space for creative solutions.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Collaborating with my Dad

Well! Amazing and unthinkable a year ago. My Dad is an amazing wood worker. He built this side table that frames my prints. My job was to cut them down to his beloved (and clunky in my opinion) Aristotilian rectangle. In this case he agreed it was a clunky lamp, and was delighted when I suggested a table. That gave me my other task, buying plate glass. Dad lives in a small town where you get everything the day you think of it. He couldn't understand why it took me a week to find a good glass cutting company we can develop a relationship with here in the big city. The wood is walnut cut off our cabin's land. And I'm surprised how well it sets off the teals and meadow greens of these spring time prints. He's just completed a second one. And that will probably be that as he likes to solve new puzzles. The project I'm sure he began yesterday is a six foot tall lamp with three tiers of prints that will light up that dark corner we all have in our homes. It will have maple uprights and walnut horizontals. Cool huh? I'm busy putting epoxy on 12 prints! No small feat! Any ideas on how much to charge for these in the fairs this summer?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wash that Gray Right out of the Landscape

I took a walk with my camera to catch the last evenings of this glorious winter sun. It is a pale yellow surrounded by a warm grey. The summer sun is honey colored surrounded by pinks and oranges brought to us by air pollution. Last week I was cursing that darn groundhog because I would love another month or two of deep winter. Today I've gotten more comfortable with spring. It could be these puddles. Or the new light. Or the songs the birds are singing. It is a time of discovery. My Dad called to ask if it could be the Norse god of mischief and shapeshifting, Loki, could be responsible for his misplacement of his wallet and glasses. Of course! Monday had incredibly strong new moon energy --- I started six purses and didn't finish anything! And it's the spring energy -- east. Loki is from the East. Gotta get back to Norse mythology again soon.
The trees will soon have some leaves. Hmmph. I do like surprising the squirrels with my gaze. The Bald Eagle in Zumbrota has been cleaning out her nest. She's always sitting on it before the leaves come out on the trees. I so love their shapes without their leaves...kinda like black coffee....great on it's own, but a bit of sugar is nice too. I got a shot of the snow melt around the tree trunks. It's always proof to me that they are starting to move their energy upward. So it's time to enjoy the day as it is rather than as something it isn't... So I dyed a bunch of T-shirts I'd used Shiva Paintsticks on. And a whole bunch of my grandmother's linen tablecloths and napkins. Next blog will be those gorgeous colors and shapes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bags Bags Bags

Allen went to Texas and I've been in the studio for 24 hours every day he was gone! Tired... and supremely satisfied. Such a lovely notion, being satisfied. There's a Sanskrit word of a similar meaning, "sattva." I have definitely not been in sattva, which also means balance and moderation. Ca va say the French. Now, about these bags. I finally finished the buckskin bag for my friend Cid. It was the first bag I attempted...many months ago...and have ripped out various parts of more times than I can say. My trip to visit the guys at Tandy solved the problem. Now I have to go back and buy more rivets! The other two bags are of hand painted gaffer tape! Allen's briefcase has a gorgeous brocade as a lining as well as a secure laptop pocket. He also wants a white board in it so I added velcro to the bottom and made a couple of vinyl pockets that have velcro too. All will stick to the bottom. The last bag is mine...not selling this one (sold 4 this weekend!). It's big enough to carry lots of stuff. And the gaffer is stamped with tjaps from Bali...carved in pear wood 100 years ago...that's not a typo.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I have been struggling to attach hardware to some of the bags I'm working on. I've tried eyelets, glue, tape, even staples. There is nothing that fixes firmly to this epoxy. So "Aha!" the smarter and less stubborn part of me said to the frustrated part of me holding a hammer, "the leather people use rivets. Maybe rivets would work." Well, the stubborn part took that to the internet and ended up at the Tandy Leather site. Oh my! Lots of toys. I just didn't know what they were all for. So in desperation, I trotted over to the Tandy Leather Store on Portland. "Amazing" chorused the two part harmony in me. Three very knowledgeable men who took my problem seriously and explored all of their powerful glues and rivets and wow! I am home this morning pounding rivets happily and not so loudly as I'm using a wooden mallet -- on steel. It's so Fun! And even better, Larry, one of the fabulous men at Tandy, used to work at 3M in adhesives. He wasn't in the least bit surprised that the power glues at Tandy didn't work. He pushed me to reveal that it's not really epoxy I'm playing with, but instead a polyamide. And the best bit was he surmised that there would be a flexible version of this polyamide that will work better in bags and lampshades while the stiff version I'm using will continue to be optimal for lamps and tables I'm building with Dad and Allen. So. If you're struggling go see the wonderful men at Tandy. I'm trying to think of a reason to stop back over there today!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hat Artist Trading Cards

Our Artist Trading Card meeting is tonight. The topic is Bonnets or Hats. One of the gals has suggested we wear one! Perhaps. I'm not into Easter so the bonnet thing didn't resonate. The Kentucky Derby came to mind, but how to get it on an ATC! And I've been into sewing and fabric lately more than paper, so I decided to play at being a milliner. I used more glue than I bet those gals did, but the materials are otherwise those that they used. My Great Grandmother Susie was a milliner. So I covered some buckram with velvet, silk and brocade. And then it's a collage isn't it. I made the organza roses by rolling up the center and making a couple of stitches at the bottom to hold it. I then fold the ribbon backwards at a right angle to make the first petal. Wrap it around the center roll. Again tack the new petal at the bottom when you get it where you'd like it to be. Continue making petals by folding the ribbon backwards and tacking at the bottom. Indeed you'll end up on the opposite side, and of course you'll make it your own as you go along. Clearly I don't stay inside the lines as these ATCs will show. The lace on the one with the blue flower just above this text is from my grandmother's wedding veil. The feather at the top is from my friend Carolyn's head strong Sun Conyer. My husband is beginning to understand why I have "one of each". It's times like these ATCs that I need a full pallet.