New Articles about my work

Hello all,

There is an interview about me and my work on the Arts Business Institute website published today. Also, the upcoming issue of the NBO’s Quarterly Review will have an article about my journey as a basketry artist.

I’m very excited to have my work go out into the world in this way.  Many thanks to Carolyn at ArtsyShark for the ABI interview, and to the editors of the Quarterly Review and the National Basketry Organization.  Support from organizations like these is vital to working artists today!

Spinning plates and Spring’s horizon

We all have so much going on in our lives and it’s hard to keep track/keep up with everything.  I have a spreadsheet with the different projects I’m working on, broken down into manageable steps to help me keep everything straight.  But, it seems every week a new challenge, project, or task arises and I need to rethink my strategies for handling it all.  A lot of the time, I feel like I am managing spinning plates.

When I was growing up, I saw a juggling act on TV where they would spin several plates on thin poles.  It was exciting and scary and that image pops up every once in a while when I feel overwhelmed. (There are a few videos of this on YouTube as well as images and cartoons online—Google ‘spinning plates video’).  What seems most appropriate to me about this image is that the plates are breakable.  Most of us talk about juggling tasks in our lives, but thinking about juggling balls doesn’t really illustrate what we’re feeling; balls don’t break if they’re dropped, but plates do.  In our anxiety, every task seems fragile and breakable and keeping them all spinning seems perilous at times.  And sometimes it is.  If we take a moment to step back from the panic, we can look at all we are trying to do and, hopefully, think more clearly about what is a precious porcelain task and what is a paper plate.  Most of our tasks fall somewhere in between, but you get the idea.

Getting back to my spreadsheet, I learned when I was in graduate school that the only way I would make it is if I quite obsessing about how much I had to do, how many books I had to read and annotate, how many project notes I had to write up.  If I looked at what I had to do TODAY and only today, to map out what I had to do THIS WEEK, I could function.  Not only did my anxiety level go down, but I actually accomplished more.  Multitasking actually works best when you do several things a day, but only one thing at a time.

I don’t have the heavy deadlines and outside expectations I had then, but I do have self-imposed deadlines and long term projects I’m trying to work on.  I have nine anthropological research projects going right now in addition to my coiled and loom studio projects as well as a reading list that will take me another 150 years to complete. I also teach anthropology at the community college when they need me, teach weaving and basketry in the community and volunteer at a non-profit bookstore that supports our local libraries.  Lots of spinning plates.  The spreadsheet really helps!

Spring’s Horizon

Another thing that helps is taking time each day to smell the roses.  An old cliché, but an apt one.  I do this by following the turn of the seasons.  Being an odd duck, I don’t subscribe to the seasons the way most people do; spring does not start for me on March the 21st.  Thinking of the movement of the earth around the sun works a lot better for me.  I think of the calendar and the seasons as a circular round we travel.  March the 21st is the spring equinox, a point on the circle but between the spring equinox and the winter solstice is a midpoint that I think of as spring’s horizon, a point we pass around the 6th of February.  In this round, as in the orbit of our planet, the equinoxes and solstices happen at different points and their horizons are equidistant between them: Feb 6, May 6, Aug 6, and Nov 6.   This probably works better for me in the desert of West Texas than it would for those of you living further north, but I have noticed in the many years I’ve lived here that nature starts waking up around this date.  Over this past week, the birds have begun their mating dances and have started gathering materials for their nests.  The sun’s angle has begun bringing more and stronger sunlight into my northern windows.  When does nature wake up where you are?   When does the sun come in more strongly in your windows?  Take a moment each day to note where the sun is in relation to your home, where you work etc.  Begin to track its yearly round. 

I hope that each of you has developed some way to help you cope with your spinning plates.  Decide what each of your plates is made of. Find a few plates that don’t need to be spinning right now, but make a note of when you need to spin them up again.  And, most importantly, find a way to take a deep, calming breath each day and watch the seasons in their round. 

Peace be with you.

Happy New Year!

I haven’t been very good about blogging regularly but I hope to do better this year. My goal is to write at least once a week.  We’ll see how that goes!

I’ve been struggling with getting good images of the piece, Nascence.  It’s the largest piece I’ve ever done and I can’t get good perspective with it.  Usually, I put the open vessels onto my backdrop on the floor and shoot them from above, but that isn’t working.  All of my walls are textured and full of holes and marks—not to mention finding a large enough blank space—so I’m probably going to have to do something on one of the garage walls.  It’s not ideal but if I can get good images that’s all that matters.

Here is an in situ view in my studio:nascence-cropped-brightened-wm-72-pix

Not bad for a snapshot but not good enough for an exhibition entry.  This piece was originally destined for a basketry invitation this spring but that was cancelled so I’m going to enter it in at least one show this year.

That’s all for this week but I have some good blog topics planned for the next few weeks. 

Stay tuned!

And my best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy, healthy New Year!

The spark within us

In each (person) is a spark able to kindle new fires of human progress, new light for the human spirit. …  When enough of these fires are burning, they create a new dawn of spiritual understanding; the flame of a great people is formed.

 -– Charles A Lindbergh in Of Flight and Life


I have been trying to put how I feel about what happened in the US last week into words, to find some way to move forward after the election.  It’s not that I object overly to a Republican President—though I think the Founding Fathers were correct in their concerns about a strong two-party political system.  We are certainly seeing the effects of that.  But the anger and hatred and denigrating speech that are now, to some people, legitimized concerns me greatly.  I hadn’t planned to write about this here, but I can’t pretend it did not happen, either.  The quote above, which I read this morning in my daily meditations book*, sums up better than I ever could what I would like to be a part of going forward. 

We cannot rely on one person or one institution or any outside force to create the world we wish to live in.  As Gandhi said, we must be the change we wish to see in the world.  I try to do that in my small way through my art practice.  I believe that the energy we feel and which we share in every moment of our lives with those around us affects the very energy and atmosphere we live in.  Each moment is an opportunity to change the world through the choices we make, in how we live each day, and how we interact with others.  The spark, the fire we carry within us can light the world and make it brighter and more beautiful … or it can destroy everything we hold dear. 

I began this blog as a way to share my perspective on the positive aspects of art and art practice, to share what I do with a larger audience because I believe that we each need to do our part, in whatever way that we can, to counteract the anger, violence, hatred and aggressive energies which seem to permeate the world today.  I call on those of you who read this to add your light to the sum of light, to help bring about change, peaceably through cooperation and understanding.  A lot of what we have seen in the past year has been building for a long time and it is a reflection of the ways many feel left behind in our society.  We must honor those feelings and find ways to bring people together to find solutions that work for everyone, not through mandates and top-down policies, but in our communities, in our neighborhoods, one relationship at a time. 

I don’t have the answers.  I only know that we need to do something, so I’m doing what I can and I hope it helps

May peace be with us all….

*Gifts of the Lotus: A book of daily meditations 1974 Compiled by Virginia Hanson Published by The Theosophical Society.


Hello all,

Yes, it’s that time of year again–time for holiday shopping!!  

I am having a sale on my website.  All available pieces are 20% OFF!!!  

Just send me an email about the piece you’d like, and I will send you a PayPal invoice–you don’t need a PayPal account to make a purchase.  And, as always, FREE SHIPPING within the USA!

In other news, I am putting the finishing touches on the piece I have  been working on and will post images and final thoughts in a few days.

Until then….

Almost there!

Well, this piece is now about 18” in diameter and I have only a few inches to go, but it’s still a long way from the end.  Around the 16.5” diameter mark, I had completed one half of the total linear inches for this piece.  Yes, when you’re coiling, the farther you go the longer it takes.  But, for those of us who love it, the time and effort is worth it!

I had a few setbacks since my last post—a couple pesky health issues, nothing serious, just annoying and some reworking to do on the piece because…

Sometimes, you just have to rip it out!

As I was working along, I realized I didn’t like the way one section of the darker green was working, particularly when looking at where I wanted it to go later on.  I tried just working over a few stitches—which is OK when you don’t have too many changes, but realized that the white area there wasn’t right either.  So, I started taking out stitches.  Since this covered a pretty large area, I decided to do it in stages.  I redid the white area first, adding another row and reshaping it; then I redid the green.  The difference may look slight in these images, but the overall effect will be much better when the piece is done.  This took me a couple of weeks, particularly since I haven’t been able to get in the studio as much as I’d like.  My 20 to 30 hour a week goal is still in place, but it’s more a dream than a reality right now.

Here are the images for the changes I made…


The areas I wanted to change are the white area on the right side here as well as the dark green next to it toward the left and the darkest green next to the red/rust at the top in this image.  



Here, I’ve removed most of the white and restitched it, adding white over the green, so there are six rows of white here instead of five.



You can see some of the new white area and now I have taken out the green–much more extensive removal here!



Here’s the after picture.  There is now more of the darkest green outline and merging with the darker green.  Much better transition and interconnection of these areas and the white area has better balance with the medium green around it.  

There might be a few other tweaks as I get toward the end–mostly smoothing out curves which are hard to manage on a curving surface–they distort in unexpected ways and ‘read’ differently than they would on a flat surface.

Hope all is well with you as we enter fall–not so cool yet, but getting there!


The Issue of Time

My current piece, Nascence, is almost 13” in diameter now—15” on the convex side and about 1/3 finished if you are counting linear inches around each row.  [I have a little equation I use to estimate this]

Here’s what it looks like now….

0816161140a crop

I’m much more conscious of time in the studio right now because I am working on pieces that will be part of an exhibition in the spring.  The deadline for delivery is 1 February, which sounds like it’s a long way off, but I have to finish this piece and one or two more by then.  I can stitch 12 to 15 inches in an hour—right now I’m at 12 because of the frequent color changes in this design—but on a piece that has more than 1000 linear inches…well, you do the arithmetic.   So, for this piece, I have wrapped and stitched about 400 inches and still have about 872 linear inches or about 75 hours of work to go for the projected 24” diameter. It takes more rows to achieve this desired diameter when creating a curved piece because the diameter of the core overlaps a bit from one row to the next. Right now, I’m only working an hour or two a day, so I need to step that up to get these finished. 

Here’s a side view of the piece which illustrates the curve.  I am beginning to flatten the curve out now, so the diameter will increase more again with each row.

0816161203 crop

You may ask, as others have, why I work in a medium that is so slow and time-consuming.  Beyond the fact that I love the feel of the fibers and the direct contact I have with the piece I’m working on—no brushes, shuttles or other tools between my fingers and the fibers—I revel in the slow, meditative, relaxed pace of the work.  People say, ‘you must have such patience!’  My short answer is, this teaches patience, which it does, but the longer answer is that I need this slow, relaxed work as a balance against the pace and pressures of our contemporary culture.  I often get antsy and want to hurry up, but I take a deep breath and appreciate what I am experiencing as I blend colors in the needle, wrap and pull each stitch, tighten and shape the core with each inch of stitching. 

I don’t focus on time while I’m working because it’s important to work in a relaxed manner.  The stitches need to be tight to make the vessel strong and firm, but I need to stay relaxed to keep the shaping smooth and even. Knitters know about this—if you are tense, your stitches will tighten up and affect the overall size and shape of what you’re knitting.

And, I believe by working in this way I bring a measure of peace into the energy of the world—a little bit, but every bit helps.

New Beginnings

In this blog, I’d like to talk about a number of things—art as contemplative practice, the joys and challenges of working in the fiber arts, using weaving and basketry techniques to create contemporary art. 

Today, I thought I’d start with what I’m working on now.  This piece is one of three that started as a commission proposal which fell through.  I decided to do the pieces anyway because I really liked the designs.  All three have swirling spiral shapes in shades of greens or blues.  The finished pieces will be 24” in diameter and around 2” deep.  They are worked on a single strand core of 3/8” manila rope—thicker than I usually use for added strength in the larger piece—more on that another day. The yarns I’m using are mercerized and unmercerized cottons.

Early stages of the piece on my worktable

At this stage, I was testing color combinations to get the values I wanted in the piece.  I’m blending 6 strands at a time in the needle so I have a lot of color combinations available!

Here is a close-up of the yarns I’m using. 

Yarns for new piece.


Here’s an image of the original design.  It’s only an approximation; it’s not possible to fully map out a coiled piece because the design has to be continually adjusted to the continuous spiral and the curves of each row.

Pistachio color sketch
Design for current piece.


And, this is where I am right now–around 8″ in diameter.


So, that’s where I am right now… I’ll show you more another day. 

Until then, be well!



Flora Folkloricolo resI believe the visual arts should move us in the same instinctual, non-verbal ways that music moves us.

My coiled and sculptural vessels are experimental explorations of the interactions of color and the melodies and counterpoint of different design elements.  Like music, each piece is intended to move and engage at a deep internal place below/beyond language.

I believe that grace and beauty have great value. 

The goal of my work is to create objects that emphasize, that express grace and beauty, and bring a measure of contemplative stillness into our cultural plain to provide a small measure of calm and restfulness.  Each of my pieces is created with this belief in mind. The French dramatist, Jean Anouilh once said, “The object of art is to give life a shape.”   The question then becomes, “what shape do we want life to take?”

I believe that life’s shape should be quiet, peaceful, graceful, and beautiful, grounded in a place away from and beyond the fray allowing us room to rest and strengthen ourselves for our interactions with the larger world.

I seek balance within each piece I create and for myself within the world and  I hope that the quiet stillness I seek permeates the work and takes those emotions, that centering spirit into the world with it to touch and enrich the lives of others.

Welcome to my new website!  I am not tech savvy, so bear with me.  I hope to have all up and running in a few days as I get the hang of a new system…