Monday, December 20, 2010

Fall Colors and Collecting Acorn Caps

The fall colors weren't as showy as in some years, but what they lacked in brilliance they made up for in subtlety. The sun on this chartreuse spirea surprised me one day on the way to the greenhouse. By the time I came back with the camera, the sun had gone away. The light had softened, but the leaves glowed. The bush is one of the first to bloom in the spring with tiny, white, fragrant flowers, and this year it was the last to show color.
All fall, I collected acorn caps. I felt like I did when I was a kid looking for sea shells on the beach in Florida. A few caps were nearly flat, others were deep and vessel shaped. Each one was slightly different. As I gathered them in my hands, I noticed how the smaller ones nested inside the bigger ones. This gave me an idea ...
and, added tiny red beads that look like wild, barberry berries.
Kitt helped by showing how they moved when they were hung up.
There were a few exceptions to the limited fall palette. Japanese maples peak after the rest of our New England foliage has fallen. My friend Dawn grows a few exceptional ones. Walking around this speciman was quite a heady experience. (To see a few more fall photos click here.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Inspired by a Montana Landscape

The idea for this basket started with looking at the colors in a friend's photo and a postcard of a dried, grass meadow in Yosemite. I was intrigued by the transitions from peach to indigo, and immersed myself in the colors and clouds. I played with the dyed reed as a painter would play with paint, and used more than 15 dye lots, a few of which were decades old.
As I wove, I started thinking about about the darkening sky, and stars. The stars would be woven into a dark, inner basket. Weaving a double-walled construction seemed to be the solution. People ask if I design each basket before I begin, here was a case where the whole concept changed mid basket. (A photo of the "stars" is on my website.)
As I wove a not-quite-big-dipper constellation into the inner basket, I remembered a sci-fi movie I saw where a woman woke up one morning and saw two suns in the sky and realized that she wasn't home anymore. While my hands are busy weaving, my head is free to indulge in making up stories. All I need is an idea to start with, then the curiosity, patience and perseverance to make it happen.
The title for this basket is "An Alternate Starry Night." For more information and a photo looking into the basket, click here. The basket measures 10.5" x 10.5"
Last year I wove a basket inspired by a painting by Leslie Baker.
Here is the other basket inspired by the same landscape in different weather. The soft colors were the inspiration. (Having Kitt show up and be a part of the photo, was a bonus.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flowers, colors, pattern and architecture

I don't weave as much in the summer as I do in the colder months (or update this blog). I get distracted by being outside; exploring the wild areas, watching plants mature and become gardens, and photography. Things change on a daily basis: color combinations, textures and how they all work together. If I don't go out and look everyday I might miss something. The camera helps me remember the vignettes that take my breath away. The photos give me a way to share these glimpses with people who are busy doing other things.
I've been thinking about how my life and art intersect, specifically how my love of animals, architecture and basketry overlap ... Because I have to find the words in order to tell you about this, it may take a while. I started this blog so I could share a few of the thoughts I have, but I am really far more comfortable weaving than writing. I will be back to continue this.
This is what my front "yard" looked like in July.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bittersweet and Remarkable

It's been a time of loss, new beginnings and change. In the last few weeks I learned that 3 of my friends will be moving away by the end of the summer. (This also means that Emma will loose her 2 best dog friends.) But, we've been adopted by a less-than-a-year-old cat, "Kitt." He walked into the yard and decided to stay. Emma was nearly instantly charmed by the wee beast, who was never overly concerned by Emma's 94 pounds. He purrs when I talk to him and likes to hang out in the garden while I prune and weed. I've had cats before but never one who likes people and trusts dogs. I think he may just be a gift.
I also had to face that oldest tree in my garden was dying and had to be cut down. I had to dig up a densely planted part of the yard so that the bucket truck could reach the giant maple. The tree's leaves covered the whole of the back yard and created a protected, shady environment. (The photo above is what it looked like last year.) Now the challenge will be to redesign the exposed space and work with the sun.
I've been pruning what's left to rebalance the strange new openness. Working with the paths and larger bushes, has been a challenge. Thirty years ago the garden started as a collection of plants I couldn't resist. Then I moved to bushes. I've been editing and moving things around, but it had gotten pretty wild. People politely called it a "cottage-garden." I've been simplifying, adding structure and creating vistas. Change is hard for me, but the back garden is going to look better than it did before!
Then, a week ago I went to a remarkable Garden Tweet-Up at the home of Margaret Roach. Gardeners and friends of gardeners came from CT, NY, NJ, NY, NH, MA, PA, TX to meet and talk together. I'd been tweeting and reading blogs by half of the 20 people I met there. Although I'm not a garden designer, or garden writer (most of the people were) I am a serious gardener. We all shared an interest in plants, color combinations and in creating spaces using them. Most of the group also shared an interest in photography and social media. It was fun for all to spend time, and get to visit with real people.
*The photo of me looking more relaxed than I've felt in weeks was shot by Lynn Felici-Gallant.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The theme is "green."

In my last blog post, I talked about being able to work with color. I love it. Color excites and motivates me. It inspires new work when I reach a stumbling spot. Add to this, the joy of watching colors emerge and grow in a garden and you can see why I weave color into my work and live in a temperate jungle (a polite way to refer to my cottage-gardening-style). Tomorrow I want submit one of these photographs to a garden blog competition where the theme is the color green. All shades are included, from chartreuse (a favorite) to the blues greens in my hostas. I'd love to hear which of these you'd pick, because I can't decide.
I decided to enter #2 the chartreuse and blue-green hosta leaves, to Gardening Gone Wild's April contest. The link is here. There are over 60 other "green" entries, go take a look. (The results are in. My work wasn't chosen, but you can see how green was interpreted by the winners here.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My display at Craft Boston and a peach flower ...

Craft Boston is finished. Between having a wonderful place to stay (with a friend and her 2 dogs), lovely, upbeat neighbors to pass the days with, a group of baskets I was proud of (including the one I made for the Fuller Craft Museum which they had on display) and my sister's help at the end of the show, I sold a few baskets and made a couple of good contacts for the future. It was a good show.
On the way to the show one morning, I saw a flowering quince and next to it, an almost painfully-beautiful, peach-colored flower growing between a driveway and the brick wall of a rough building. The delicate strength in the flower and its color, haunted me for the rest of the day. The unexpected, vulnerable color reminded me of why I work with color. I love it, and I can immerse myself in this passion when I weave baskets. By surrounding myself with gardens, I get to celebrate all the color and textures when they appear in nature. I was asked if I'd gotten a photo of the flower, but I hadn't. I don't think a photo could live up to the impact that color had on me. I feel very fortunate to live the life I do. (And then there's the new cat who has adopted Emma and me, but that's another story.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm off to Craft Boston later this week

After spending the last two months working on the double-wall for the Fuller Craft Museum, I wanted to weave smaller pieces where I could play with color. Here are three little "hairy pots" I've woven for Craft Boston, April 9-11 at the World Trade Center.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bee and Crocus - true signs of spring

I almost missed these. They burst into bloom with the first, full, sunny day after days of cold rain. Bees were everywhere, celebrating the floral explosion. (The weather lured me outside out and I couldn't help but rake and search for new growth. These were one of the rewards.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"High Meadows" a double-walled basket for the Fuller Craft Museum

After almost a year of thinking about, sketching, and weaving mock-ups, I have finished the commission awarded me by the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA. The challenge was to create a basket over and beyond what I had done before, yet exemplify the best of what I am known for.
The decision was to weave a double-walled construction, using both tapestry and "hairy" techniques to create the design. There were many firsts to this piece. The most significant was that this basket was woven off center so that it would sit at an angle. Also new for this basket was the use of short "hairy" pieces in the inner basket. (Usually, I weave this technique on the entire outer surface of a basket, and not just in small areas.)
The idea for this basket was inspired by the the linear elements of cultivated fields off-set by the wild outcroppings I saw in a Google map. The current basket has taken the idea of nature's geography one step further, into stylized texture. The chartreuse "field" (in the inner basket) holds the promise of spring growth. I was thinking of wild mustangs, and reindeer left to roam free for the summer. (The Google map was of Montana where I'd read about mustang gatherings and I'd been thinking about walking with reindeer we saw in the mountains in Norway last summer.) Weaving this basket was a way to honor the animal spirit and natural beauty I love.
By clicking on this link, you will see twenty photographs documenting the basket's progression. I have written detailed captions for each photo explaining the steps. The basket is 12" tall on the high side, 8.5" on the short side and is 19" in diameter. The material is dyed rattan reed with encaustic medium. (and yes, marbles were added at the last minute for weight, interest and sound.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Photos of the finished basket coming soon!

Tonight, I wove together the inner and outer baskets for the Fuller commission. It's taken me a lot longer than I expected, but I'm really pleased. I still have some work to do before I add the encaustic medium to it, but I wanted to invite anyone reading this to come back (at the end of the week) to see photos of the finished basket.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Champagne Ice"

I got up early one morning to catch the ice crystals before the sun melted them. It was in the low teens outside and the sun was just hitting the arborvitea. An hour later the details had blurred and the magic moment had disappeared.
p.s. I entered this photo in an online photography contest called "Winter Light." The juror, Roger Foley gave me a Silver. Click on his name to see his website! Getting an award from him is quite a complement.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The museum commission is in the works!

After a few months of sketching out design ideas and weaving small maquettes, I started work on the commission for the Fuller Craft Museum's permanent collection. They want their piece to be a personal statement representing and topping off, the work I've done to date. I'm weaving a sculptural, graphic, double-walled construction which will incorporate my "hairy" technique in the inner basket. The above photos are details of the basket. (I enjoy photographing these almost as much as I love weaving/creating/problem-solving the actual baskets.)
Double-wall construction baskets are woven in two sections, an outer basket and an inner basket. I have finished most of the weaving/work on the outer basket, though I may rework the colors, or alter their placement as the inner basket design evolves. Working photos of the outer basket are posted here. More photos will follow as I work on the inner basket.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Fireworks over Bergen ~ Happy New Year to All

2009 was a year filled with challenges and a lot of intense learning. I look forward to a bright and creative 2010 filled with magic and mystery for all of us. (The water, color, graphics and smoke in this photo, appealed to me. It was shot by a webcam in Bergen, Norway a few minutes after midnight.)
I've been thinking about what is important to me, what I want to pursue, and what I want to change. (This blog has been good practice since writing isn't easy for me. I'd rather weave or build something.) I want to do it all. I want to spend more time weaving, playing with color, photographing nature and exploring the riches of social media. For the last few months I've been wrapped up in trying to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can about the internet, but the more I learn, the more there is to know. Since I haven't discovered a way to clone myself, I need to find a balance.
I've been working on ideas for the Fuller Craft Museum's commission. Now that my broken finger is nearly functional, though a bit crooked, I'm looking forward to starting in on that! I've missed being able to weave. The basket will be a double-walled construction, with a garden color scheme. I will post photos of the piece as I work on it. Please come back to see how it evolves.