Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Twice a Week


When I first started blogging 2 years ago, it was mainly to share my transition to being an artist on Lopez Island and only intentioned to be for one year.  At the one year mark, due to loving comments from my readers (and probably perhaps because after one year it had become a habit), I decided to torture you with another year of random thoughts, trivia, striking fancies, and more new beginnings of island inspired art.

At this beginning of the third year, a change is needed.  While I don't know exactly what the content will be, I do know that I will post only twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.  (A caveat is already needed here.....twice only, unless something absolutely marvelous happens or is found and I simply must share.)  So no more slower and simpler Sundays....those tidbits will be included in the regular blogs.  This Thursday is the start of the new venture.  (I really wonder just how many mornings I'll show up at the computer and start blogging until I realize I don't need to do so?)

Mainly I'm trying to free up time and space for working on my book.  It has been mired and nearly lost in my present schedule.  This blog certainly isn't the only culprit, but simply one of several changes I need to make.  So I'm seeking to make new habits that will encourage a shift in my daily priorities.

Thank you, faithful readers, for your constancy.  I don't want to lose you.  Please have patience as we redefine our relationship!  Or put another way, if blogging is a journey, we need to change directions occasionally, reorient our compass.

As always, feedback is welcome!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ancient Stories in Contemporary Materials

Finished one final piece for our upcoming show in October at Chimera Galley:  Ancient Stories - Woven and Felt. (I have several other new pieces completed but ready for finishing touches only.)   This one, simply entitled Ancient Story, was a test of a new lashing material for me.

Needing to move away from my usual waxed linen, which insinuates itself into the design with its color, I wanted a lasher that "disappeared" for the pattern.  I used fishing line.  I bead with it, why not weave with it?  Which simply opens up so very many more possibilities!  And of course, as with all lattice twining, the reverse design is on the inside.

Hmmm, I know, this one isn't elegant.  But its functional, and for those that have seen it, it has a little charm all its own.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Slower & Simpler - Creating with Your Hands

Simpler living encompasses not only day to day living, but also expressing oneself in some very basic, traditional and creative ways.  The following article clearly describes our human urge to create....and what is more simple than to live how our ancestors lived? (Just another excuse for me so spend my days weavings!)


Handicraft: The Ancient Tradition of Creating Things with Your Hands

handicraftAnyone who’s spent significant time creating with their hands – whether it be painting, carpentry, knitting, carving, building – can appreciate the distinctive satisfaction it evokes. (I’m using the term broadly.) Handicraft, as wide a spectrum as it can encompass, isn’t about routine chores or fix-its. There’s a difference between grudgingly doing your own home repairs to save money and savoring the experience of meticulously renovating your own home. It’s about the love of the craft on some level. Not everyone would put it in those specific terms, but the people I know who practice handicraft acknowledge they’re drawn to what they do on some subconscious level. Picking up a familiar tool feels comfortable, even calming. The balance of its weight in your hand feels sure. Spending an hour at one’s own workspace (e.g. basement studio, garage workbench), however plain or disheveled, feels like time in a secluded oasis. It’s in the craft that you find focus – flow even. The brush or needles, chisel or knife, spade or hammer become an unconscious extension of self. The mind devises, but the hand itself thinks, designs, knows. In its fullness, we lose ourselves in the full physical experience of craft – in the sensory nuances, in the emotional associations, in the intuitive energy. I’d venture we’re the happier and healthier for these endeavors.
We live in a society enamored by passive entertainment and increasingly invested in the virtual experience. Fewer of us have jobs that show us the tangible results of our efforts. Rarer still are full claim on a project or creative license in our work. It leaves a gap, I think, in how we live – in how we exercise the innate physical and creative abilities that make us human.
Although we tend to think of our pre-Neolithic ancestors as living a life stuck in the dirt with no sense of the arts or any other “refinement,” we’re far off course in that assumption. Artistry is indeed an anthropological indicator of modern behavior, but evidence of these inclinations date back tens of thousands of years before the Agricultural Revolution. Our Paleolithic ancestors were creating jewelry from eggshells and bone fragments. They were sewing clothes with animal sinew. They formed vessels and wove baskets. They created paints and dyes. They chiseled spear heads from metal so brittle few of us can even imagine the deftness required. They meticulously whittled shafts for the most aerodynamic, accurate spears. They designed vast stretches of nuanced cave art.
As anthropologists suggest, these inclinations toward craft and artistry were selected for. They increased the survival chances of individuals and their communities. A skilled spear maker added obvious value. Yet those who could design jewelry or other adornment introduced “material metaphors” and “social technologies” that enhanced kinship relationships and community identity as well as expanded the terms of inter-band negotiation.
Artistry then was usable if not practical. Today, Western society has largely segregated art to an aesthetic corner. It may represent life but doesn’t intersect much with it. However, individuals still practice crafts handed down to them by family or community members. Likewise, many traditional societies continue to pass down the art forms and crafts as “collective wisdom” that help define their distinctive cultures.
A recent study (PDF) conducted by the University of California Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities recently highlighted “the link between traditional artistic practices and mental and physical health.” Although examining such an association isn’t a simple or clear cut task with the methods of standard research, interviews suggested traditional handicraft bears positive impact on measures like “interconnected mind-body awareness,” “spiritual and emotional growth; physical vigor; strengthening of personal and community identity; and mitigation of historical trauma” as well as therapeutic “distraction from illness” and “enhanced respect for elders.”
Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the Center for Reducing Health Disparities, explains that several “protective factors” are at work here. The practice of traditional arts, particularly as they’re handed down within a cultural community, affirms “intergenerational involvement” and “community engagement.” As Amy Kitchener, executive director of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts,notes, cultural practices are “embedded in everyday life, in ceremonies and family rites of passage” for many traditional groups and have long played a meaningful role in the concept of personal wellness. According to the researchers, traditional handiwork also enhances more individual-based factors like “resilience” and “self-efficacy.”
The study, I think, underscores far more than the power of acculturation. Many of us partake in handicraft arts with only personal interest or perhaps familial, but not necessarily cultural affiliations. Nonetheless, there’s still a gratification that comes from its connection with tradition. We understand that we’re one in a long line of individuals who have practiced the art for decades, centuries, even millennia. The urge to create – what is useful and tangible – is deeply human. There’s something about it that releases stress and brings us back to center.
We develop a reverence for the craft and even a relationship with the tools themselves. They can become more personal than the items we build or create. For those of us who know or have known a craftsman/woman, we honor that association. We pass many things on through the generations. What means the most, however, are the things that our forebears used and made. A decorative item reminds us of a great-grandparent’s home, but a tool or even a baking pan that we saw a grandparent use over the years makes us absorb his/her very presence. We see the years and feel his/her hands in the wear of the item. Likewise, in the creations they made, we preserve a glimpse of their creativity, a parcel of their lifetime. In our own arts, we enjoy and undoubtedly share the same.

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/handicraft-the-ancient-tradition-of-creating-things-with-your-hands/#ixzz3EWk41aMq

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Zentangle Revisited

You know I love doodling and Zentangle.  If you've never tried it, or even if you have, you may want to check out  http://tanglepatterns.com/2014/09/sharpen-your-line-drawing-skills-with-six-lessons-from-simone-bischoff.html.

Clever, fun, and easy.  And it is so soothing and meditative.  Here is just one of the lessons:

Friday, September 26, 2014

At the Mercy of the Ferries

The reality of just how much island dwellers are at the mercy of the ferry system has finally sunk in.  While there is always a romantic connotation to ferry travel, the actuality also is sobering.  The new fall ferry schedule only gives Lopezians ONE dedicated ferry a day to travel to the mainland, as opposed to the four that we had during the summer.  (Dedicated means it is solely for our island and can take up to 139 cars.)  Non-dedicated ferries only reserve varying quotas and numbers of spaces for us, from 20 to 59 cars, with the rest filling from the other islands of the San Juans.  That really isn't very many, once you consider those that commute to the mainland, have medical appointments, visitors (especially around holidays), etc.  Instead of zipping down to the ferry landing at the last minute, more planning is involved, longer wait times (getting there right after the previous ferry leaves), and crossing fingers that you will get on the next one.

Then yesterday a ferry broke down, so there was no travel for half of the day to and from the mainland. (Thankfully the repairs didn't take too long.)   I was traveling the inter-island ferry to Shaw Island for our basket day, but even that was late because of the disruption in service of the mainland ferry, which also carries some interisland traffic.  I am relieved that I had made my monthly trip to the mainland the day before for appointments, shopping, and filling up with gas.

Am I ready to pack it in and leave?  Not at all.  It's just serves as a strong reminder how important the ferries are to us, and disruptions in service are felt by all.  Appointments off island are made with the realization that they may be broken.

Ah yes, acceptance and patience for what comes our way is part of this way of life.  Not necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Extreme Beading

This was shared among my seed beading group (affiliated with Northwest Bead Society).  Oh my.  There are simply no words!  It is well worth a look.

Artist Spends 5 Years Covering Entire Kitchen in Millions of Glass Beads

You might think you know what patience means, but American artist Liza Lou clearly has a bit better understanding about what meticulous work really is. Her first large scale work Kitchen took 5 years to complete (1991–1996), and is, as the title suggests, a life-size replica of a kitchen, covered entirely in millions of glass beads. Liza placed each of tiny beads separately using a pair of tweezers, and that way created an amazing mosaic surface to every single item in the room, from walls to newspaper to a bag of chips.
In 1999, she was back with her new Backyard project, where she used over thirty million beads! Most of them went into creating 250,000 blades of grass around the picnic table. In 2013 Liza presented her last project, called Color Field, which will on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego through November 3rd. Color Field is meant as a tribute to the grasslands of South Africa, where Liza is currently based.
The artist says that her work was inspired by traditional African bead crafts, which are still very much alive in the local culture. She cooperated with local artisans, who passed her the secrets of this medium that they have been working with for generations. Check out the mesmerizing results!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Embracing Life

Some of my friends have expressed lately that they are bored, or have little direction in their life, especially those that are retired.  Oh my.  Personally, I'm a bit overwhelmed with all that needs to be done, that I want to do, and that I dream of doing.

While realizing that not everyone has been blessed with the gift of finding and living their passion (weaving on an island, for example), I still have trouble visualizing myself being bored.  I've always kept busy crafting, crocheting, reading, learning new "domestic arts" as they used to be called, volunteering (sometimes....and still....too much), writing, drawing, playing music, photography....heavens, it's hard to name them all.  And it's a different list for different people - what intrigues me obviously may not intrigue other people, but they could have their own list of many and totally different things.

So just what is this gift of embracing life??? Is it optimism, a personality trait, or something learned?

Sorry if you were waiting for some astounding insight or wisdom.  I simply don't know. All I can do is ask the question, and be thankful - for whatever reason - that my life feels so full.

But the word gratefulness does come to mind.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Becoming Obsolete

Yesterday I received a notice that it was time to re-order my daytimer, but I realized that I simply no longer use it because of Workflowy and Outlook linked to both my phone and computer.  (I still love jotting notes on a paper desk blotter though - where else to scribble quick notes while on the phone or a website.)  I definitely use my studio log book.  But I got to wondering what else was becoming obsolete?  Of the list that I found below, I'm still guilty of preferring bills in the mail....but I'm ever so slowly adapting.  Perhaps that might be an excellent goal for 2015??  Save those trees and become "Paperless"??

JHaughwout on Feb 12, 6:38 AM said:
Some of these are more obsolete than others:
1. Cassettes -- gone in all cars but used ones
2. PDAs - The concept is still there, but now assimilated into smart phones
3. Paid email - Gone
4. Dial-up - Almost gone
5. Film development - Virtually gone
6. Movie rental stores - While many are going bankrupt, but will be around for a while (especially for non-techies). I given then 10 more years (OnDemand TV is still not enough, downloading to computers is still to non-TV for many)
7. Maps - Still used outside the US, if smart phones kill GPS, they will still be used (try getting interactive maps on your smart phone when you are out of coverage). If GPS evolves form factor and smart phone integration, maps will die
8. Newspaper classifieds - Still on life support (at much cost) probably about 10 more years until complete death
9. Landline - It will take 20 years for complete death. We need more broadband penetration and VoIP that is as easy for SMBs to setup (and as trusted from reliability and fraud perspective) as landlines (http://lpoint.me/gau1vQ)
10. LD Charges - Going out with the landline, albeit faster on a revenue rate thanks to VoIP and mobile
11. Payphones - Almost gone
12. VCRs - We will soon see on 'Antiques Roadshow' "This was one of the original TOP-LOADING VCRs..."
13. Fax machines - Being assimilated. The concept is still around in many SMBs. Check many doctor's offices
14. Phonebooks, dictionaries, etc. - Dying. It will be interesting to see which stop printing entirely
15. Calling 411 - Telco fees vs. smartphone simplicity = swift death
16. CDs - Almost gone
17. Backing Up to Floppies - Not even possible on most PCs
18. Bills in the mail - We will have this for 20-30 more years. Both businesses and all generations of people need to make the change. We are not there yet
19. Buttons - The end is beginning.
20. Losing touch - I think you will see people pull-back from sharing due to privacy concerns and use social to keep a connection (but other ways to truly connect). I am already seeing 10x more people using privacy filters on social than I did 12 months ago.
21. Boundaries - Yes and no -- Egypt just showed both. Try surfing the net in Saudi
22. Paper - This will be around a long, long time. Electronics are simply not easy enough to use yet and still not trusted. Look at medicine (even eClinical has paper as he primary source for all drug discovery info). Tablets will lead the way, by enabling "Augmented Paper" It will be fun to be apart of this (http://lpoint.me/ffoe3o)

Great article. Good food for thought.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/22-everyday-things-made-obsolete-this-century-2011-2?op=1#ixzz3E9AaM3Xz

Monday, September 22, 2014

Celebrating the Autumnal Equinox

Tonight marks the Autumnal Equinox, at about 7:29 p.m. here in the West.  And its as if the weather knew that.  We've had warm, sunny days....right up until this morning.  Today is cooler and overcast and simple "looks" like autumn.  How do I plan on celebrating?  1)  Since it's a time of restoring balance, which just happens to be my word of the year, I'll reflect on where I need to restore balance in my life, health, work.  2) Take a walk with my camera to try and capture a photo of the essence of fall.  3)  Decorate the house with leaves and autumnal accents.  4)  Toast the exact time tonight with some sparkling cider.  Celebrating the equinox just seems "right", and in tune with the earth and its rhythms.

Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23 and a half degrees, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly, according to EarthSky. There are equinoxes twice a year – spring and fall – when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun.
*The name "equinox" comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night).
*The day of an equinox is a good day for finding due east and due west from your yard or other favorite site for watching the sky, according to EarthSky. Just go outside around sunset or sunrise and notice the location of the sun on the horizon with respect to familiar landmarks.  http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/09/autumnal_equinox_tonight_--_as.html

Customs and holidays around the September equinox

The September equinox coincides with many cultural events, religious observances and customs. It's also called the "autumnal (fall) equinox" in the northern hemisphere and the "spring equinox" in the Southern Hemisphere.
September Equinox Customs
Mooncakes for Chinese Moon festival.

Ancient Greece

In many cultures, the September equinox is a sign of fall (autumn) in the northern hemisphere. In Greek mythology fall is associated with when the goddess Persephone returns to the underworld to be with her husband Hades. It was supposedly a good time to enact rituals for protection and security as well as reflect on successes or failures from the previous months.


Aboriginal Australians have, for a long time, had a good knowledge of astronomy and the seasons. Events like the September equinox, which is during the spring in Australia, played a major role in oral traditions in Indigenous Australian culture.


In China the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated around the time of the September equinox. It celebrates the abundance of the summer's harvest and one of the main foods is the mooncake filled with lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg or dried fruit.


Higan, or Higan-e, is a week of Buddhist services observed in Japan during both the September and March equinoxes. Both equinoxes have been national holidays since the Meiji period (1868-1912). Higan means the “other shore” and refers to the spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana. It is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves.


The Christian church replaced many early Pagan equinox celebrations with Christianized observances. For example, Michaelmas (also known as the Feast of Michael and All Angels), on September 29, fell near the September equinox.

Pagan celebration: Mabon

On the autumnal equinox, many pagans celebrate Mabon as one of the eight Sabbats (a celebration based on the cycles of the sun). Mabon celebrates the second harvest and the start of winter preparations. It is the time to respect the impending dark while giving thanks to the sunlight.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Slower & Simpler - If You Love It, Keep It

By reading all the time about how to simplify, sometimes it feels that almost everything is extraneous and should be tossed.  But I love some of my things!  Hence I truly appreciated the following article.  Well that's simple - giving myself permission to keep what I really do want......

If you love it, keep it!

if you love it, keep it
I’m a firm believer in the concept of simplifying and eliminating distraction. But some things need to stay.
I talk a lot about decluttering, but you don’t need to get rid of everything. The whole idea is to get the less important stuff out of the way so you can really appreciate the things you value most. So, appreciate them!
When you find something you love, hold onto it! And don’t believe people when they tell you there is no value or happiness in “things.”  Not true.
Are people more important than things? Sure.  But there is tremendous value in physical objects that you love.
Without a doubt, some people are too attached to their possessions and they are weighed down and limited. In those situations, it’s good to learn how to part with attachments.
But I’m concerned that others feel guilted into getting rid of things that they truly value in the name of “simple living” or “minimalism.”
  • If you value those 5 boxes of keepsakes from your grandparents attic, keep them!
  • If you find joy in covering your wall with hundreds of random snapshots, do it!
  • If you want to have 15 different coffee mugs, you can have them!
  • If you want a tablet just because you like playing with gadgets, go for it! (assuming it’s within your budget)
If you love it, keep it! Even if the only purpose it serves is bringing you joy. Sometimes, the strangest little things can make you happy.
I have this weird blanket that I love! It’s huge and lightweight-but-comforting. It is perfect for early morning coffee times or evening movies. Perhaps it’s tied to some deeper psychological meaning. Who knows? But I really like it!
So I’m keeping it.
How about you?
Do you ever feel pressure to get rid of things that you love?
What objects come to mind when you read this? Are you gonna keep them?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Birthday Club & Daniel James Brown

Yesterday was a full day on Lopez.  In the afternoon I was invited to be the speaker at the Birthday Club at Woodmen Hall.

The Lopez Island Birthday Club was formally organized in 1922 by Mrs. John Tralnes, Mrs. Philip Fagerholm, and Mrs Leason.  In the spirit of friendship and celebration of birthdays, these women had parties where hand-work was made and sold or given to anyone in need.  Families also received Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas boxes from these kind women.  In time, it became apparent that an organization of this type was needed and so the present Birthday Club was formed.  It is open to all women on the island interested in the fellowship of serving the community.

I showed examples of my past and present work, along with slides of my journey in basketry. It was just interesting to be a part of a 92-year-old philanthropic organization.  Oh, and yes, I did join and become a dues-paying member.

That evening my friend visiting from Bainbridge Island and I returned to Wookmen Hall for a sell-out speaking engagement by Daniel James Brown.  He read parts from his bestseller book "The Boys in the Boat" (see blog of August 28th) and talked about how he came to write the book and his views on the major themes in the book.  He is a delightful and thoughtful speaker, with a pleasant voice.  The depth of his research for the book is impressive.

A day of varied gatherings and island community life certainly provided a sense of belonging in a lovely setting.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Now wasn't I just talking about peace and quiet yesterday?  Not so much today...;.I detest having the wild turkeys up on the deck - their droppings are messy and huge.  So out I run, yelling and flapping my arms to get them to leave the porch. (If I just ask them quietly, they totally ignore me.)

Probably providing entertainment for anyone in view, too.  Stupid turkeys.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Just Be

Tired from traveling, yesterday and today I'm seeking to rest in the gentle hands of the island....a bit of rain, no traffic, no rush and hustle, just peace, quiet, and rejuvenating sea air.

Well yes, I'm still unpacking, and dealing with the accumulated email and paying bills. But simply breathing in the sense of calm is restorative.

I am definitely an islander now.  I need to "just be" for a time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An Honor

Finally home from my travels to a well-cared for Sophie, but she obviously is delighted that I'm back.  All is snug in my island abode.  Now to address the emails, mail, and packages that have been delivered in my absence.  And I'm sure the birds will be happy to see the feeders refilled.

One delightful surprise that is such an honor:  my Madrona Swirl basket received the HGA Award at the Washington State Fair.  To receive this award twice in 4 years is thrilling!

HGA Award  

Handweavers Guild of America
The HGA Award honors outstanding exhibited works of fiber art, specifically handweaving, handspinning, dyeing, basketry, felting, and related fiber arts. It is a prestigious award and may be presented only to work which clearly demonstrates excellence. This award is not given for demonstrations or contests. If no entry meets the outlined criteria, the HGA Award must be returned to the HGA Award Chair.
The HGA Award includes a certificate of accomplishment and a handwoven ribbon. Award winners receive further acclaim through publication in Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, HGA’s quarterly award-winning magazine, and an opportunity to have their work appreciated by an international readership of fiber artists, enthusiasts, and collectors.

Award Criteria

  • Must be limited to a work of handweaving, spinning, basketry, dyeing, or related fiber arts.
  • Must embody a unique interpretation; demonstrate a fresh, individual approach, and express personal creativity.
  • Must exemplify a complete understanding of both aesthetic and functional considerations.
  • Must demonstrate excellence in technical skills.