Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holidays and Helpers

I've hired a studio assistant, who is turning out to be more like a Girl Friday and all that goes with.

Perhaps eventually I'll be able to start writing again.

It looks hopeful.

The circus train is moving.  We have shaken some dust.

Hoping you are having a good entering into of the insanity that is winter holidays.  And all that goes with.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I have run away to join the circus.
Will send postcards from the road.
Happy Halloween.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Story Chair

   I took some video of the box sculpture and then it turned into this --

I learn new things every time I make a video short.  It's fun being at the beginning of something again.  Brain is happy.
And I fell in love with this image, so made it into a print:

I have to say that it works because of the music of Calexico.  They are astoundingly talented and great company in the studio.   More on John Convertino and Joey Burns of Calexico.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Leaves and a Queen

  I wanted ferns for a box sculpture.  I looked around and found these silk holly leaves.  The fabric shading  looked like it might work.  I took out the plastic spine (it just peeled right off) and used a very sharp Xacto blade.  Here are photos of that and where I used them.  The box will be traveling to the World Fantasy Convention in October.  I won't, but plan to be there next year.

finished leaves

VERY sharp blade only

Sculpture boxes are bigger inside than out.
The box is titled "Books are Magic"

This box measures about 9 inches tall.  I'm a little concerned about shipping, but I installed layers of thin, dense foam around the inside panels and usually have good luck shipping glass. 
And I made a Red Queen for Autumn


Friday, September 13, 2013

More About Holes

  The hole.  I started calling it that sometime in the blurry past.  Somewhere back there, I remember learning that was Nora's word for it.  Nora is my friend I rarely see anymore.  I have a few of those.  It happens.
  The hole.  Right.  Found one, fell in.  It was a long, slow fall.  In fact, I was already falling when I realized what was going on.  Before that was a clusterfuck of migranes, with a toothache between.  Even that seems blurry now. 

  But not summer.  No, summer is as clear as a bell.  No.  Not like a bell.  And not clear. 
More like a siren  through smoke. A squeal of tires  on asphalt.  A train bearing down.   The desert summer is always harsh, but this is an ugly heat, it  locks us indoors as sure as a snowstorm but  doesn't feel like nature. This isn't the desert I know.  This heat feels WRONG. 

Too much bad news and suffering among humans.  Too many oblivious, selfish dumbfucks. Sometimes I'm one of them.

I can't look at the sky.  It begins to look like a ceiling. It presses down.  My heartbeat - if I looked at my chest, I might see it just so faintly.  I don't look.  I've seen it before.  In my head, it's cartoony - a heart shape pounding against my shirt, stretching it to breaking. My skin prickles,  my hands sweat,  the floor tilts.  
 Then I hear it, in the wind or the whooshing pattern of a fan or the dishwasher's rhythm.  "Wake up human.  Wake up.  Wake up human wake up.  wakeup  human wakeup human wakeuphuman. It's late it's late itslate itslateitslateitslate. 

 I don't look at the sky because it is a ceiling.   I squint my eyes and look.
Ohhhhhhh. Un-see that.
  I can do this.
 I close my eyes and breathe.  I know what to do.  I have SKILLS.
 Breathe.  C'mon, girl, breathe.
 All is quiet.

There.  There, it's over.
there its over
there its over
there is no ver
there is no door
There is no door.
There is No Door.
The sky is a ceiling and there is no door.

Aw, shit.

  And I'm falling.  Falling, falling, falling.
It's not so much that darkness closes in.  It's not so much a darkness descending. 
It's more like the light receding.
I'm falling.  Damn.  And I forgot my tiny umbrella.

It's awfully quiet in here.  And so dark. Outside are monsters.

I could sleep all day.  Outside are dragons.
Everything I love is out there too. And not in here.  And I could sleep all day.

  Possibly we fall into these holes simply because we lean over and look into them.  There are dark places, probably best avoided, but then,  never looking in seems too much like denial.
  It's not the one thing that gets me, usually.  I can take the tragic news story, financial struggles, relationship stress or illness.  The anxiety.  It's the one-two punch - the combinations - that leave me feeling vulnerable, powerless and useless.

  Most times I avoid holes. I work stuff out in the work.  But this time I couldn't work.  Couldn't write. Couldn't hold on.  So I fell.  Thankfully, I had support and understanding at home.  And a gentle doctor still trying to convince me I'll always need Chemicals for Better Living.  Otherwise - and it has been otherwise before - I'd have stayed a lot longer.
 It gets awfully comfortable down there where we can just give up.

You are not alone, fellow traveler.  And neither am I.
We all fall down.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Gloom needs Grey

   I've begun to make October poppets.  It's a practical thing in that it gives collectors time to plan.  I have to think about what I spend my money on and plan ahead.  I get that, wholly.
  But it's also a thing of the spirit.  I've said time and again that this desert summer is hard on me.    I start to dread it in April and it never lets me down.  This year was no exception and even harder.  The air got so hot that I couldn't save my little garden, even with shade and water.   The brutal desert summer. Yes, I'm still in it and it won't begin to cool until late September (if then.) 
  But at least I can now imagine relief coming and my October work leads to October thoughts, which are like a cool blanket of comfort against the oppressive heat.

  I want clouds!  I want rain and grey and gloom!  Because against a steel sky, an idea shines like a bright yellow balloon.  You see, it's not that I have anything against the sun.  I have something against too much sun.  Like too much of anything,(rain or snow) it can have us begging for relief.
Humans need change.

And those of us who feel sadness or fear don't feel so alone in grey as we do in an over bright place filled with leather skinned tourists in pastels.

The summer sun.  That stone I talked about last time that for me has become permanently linked with my worry about the environment.    I mentioned that sometimes I wake with this fear.  Sometimes I take it to bed with me.

  Coping with our fears isn't easy.  You're probably sick of hearing me say I'm writing a book about it.  I'm sort of sick of saying it too.  I want to get the thing done!  But the truth is that this is easier said than done and I chip away at it as I can, trying not to let the frustration of no-time-after-the-day-job make me give up.
  But that's another issue.

  I told you that when I wake up with these fears - fear for the planet, for us silly humans, fear of aging and dying - I talk myself down, make a plan for the day and focus on that.
And on other people.  Something to do and love.

What do you do?  When you're down, when you get discouraged, depressed or anxious.  What are your very best coping tools?  This is a good time to share.  Let's help each other out.

What works for you?  No answer is too silly.  I promise.  There are those who read here that could use the help and friendship right about now.  (Those who write here too.)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Stone in the Desert

I wake with a stone of fear in my gut. It's a familiar stone. Hello stone, I think. It doesn't answer. The stone is a metaphor. But the fear is real enough and I'm not happy at its return. I don't know what time it is, but I can tell by the light it's earlier than my 9am Sunday alarm. I haven't moved yet.

I take a quick inventory of what hurts. My jaw, mostly. But not too bad. Four hundred, so far, saved for the cure that costs nearly two thousand. I can live with that most days. Once in awhile it will keep me in bed until I can get to the dentist with every 'extra' dollar I can earn from now until then.

Today seems to be one of the days I can live with it. That's good. There's a cat at my feet. I can feel it, but I can't tell which one. It makes its fuzzy way to lick my face. Hello Soosi. And there's still a cat at my feet. That would be Shoni. These two work as a team.

As soon as I get up, others will come running and for five minutes or so I'll be busy opening cans and wondering stupidly once again at how I ended up with this herd. Then I'll make coffee and start on the list I made last night of stuff to do. Poppets that must be sculpted, or painted or packed. School paperwork for Orion's new year. Notes on judging a podcast competition. Something to do is good. Takes my mind off the stone.

I open the back door to let a cat out (and another in) and hot air rushes in. I get a quick glimpse at my failed garden. This year, the shades didn't save it. Once the air gets to a certain temperature it eats everything. And the soil bakes the roots. Maybe if I'd spent more time... but there wasn't any to spend.
Maybe I'll try again in fall. But likely not, because this is the year we focus on leaving the desert. And that means simplifying.
The stone. I know it so well. The fear has been with me since I can remember. I seem to have always had this sense that things were going horribly wrong with the world. I managed to distract myself most of the time – mostly with trying to make good art, but sometimes with screwing up my own life and cleaning up the messes.
So finally, it seems I've at least learned not to make new messes. There's that, but I've also learned that this desert has become toxic to me. The heat is too much. I can't help but think that eventually it will be inescapable. And the wealth. Too much here. So much blind materialism. So much vanity. I want to be with people like me. By like me I mean well-meaning idiots, more interested in learning than acquiring.
I want to be with other kids who see the monster. Or at least I want not to be surrounded by aggressive denial. Where are they? I don't know. There may be others here in the desert but I can't find them. I'm too blinded by the heat. And the bling. And dentists with leather couches and marble counters who won't take half now and half later.
In the meantime, there's only one way to deal with the stone:
Things To Do and Love for Others.
I don't know which one this entry is. Possibly both. Possibly neither. But I do want you to know I'm thinking of you. I thought it might be worthwhile to let you know what's going on with me.
Tell me what's going on with you. Are you afraid sometimes? Do you have a sense that humans are on the brink of royally screwing themselves? Are you hopeful? Busy with your own dental issues?
I haven't forgotten you. Things have changed since I was writing here every day. I've never fully recovered from Ye Olde Great Recession. So I spend a whole lot more time working and, unfortunately less time writing, even though I've begun to figure a few things out.
I'm still here, being your artist. And wondering how you're getting on
Out There.

Friday, July 12, 2013


             Summer in the desert is hard on me.  This year is no exception. True enough, I'm your classic introvert, so long stretches of quiet time at home suit me.  It's different though, when it's too hot to go outside and the light is blinding and the air is oven hot.  Yesterday was thick with dark clouds.  Even though it was humid, it was cool enough for Pete, Orion and me to get out for a bit to plunder some thrift stores and get ice cream.  We found a few treasures and butter pecan ice cream is always good for a lift.

       I made this image by photographing a small poppet sculpture against a painted background and softening up the edges with photoshop.  It makes me think of other creatives 'out there' working in relative isolation.  It's not a bad thing at all that technology allows us to signal to each other.  Sometimes that's all I need.  I'll know when it's not and I'll head out somewhere to dream and conspire with others like me. 

 This is my choice, to be what some refer to as 'self-contained.'   Most of the time it works fine.
It might be your choice too, or you may find yourself isolated for the moment by circumstances.
Either way, this is me signaling to you that I'm here and I know you're there. I hope you find a bit of inspiration today.

Sometimes, that's enough.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pick my Brain, please

It's been weeks and weeks of head-down, focused hard work in the studio.  Not the painting room, but the dirty, dusty, messy room where casting, carving and sanding take place.  And not the "difficult" work of metaphor or story lines but the "hard" work of chemistry and physical labor.  Because that's a lot of what being a sculptor is.  Chemistry and physical labor. 

And it's been good.  Mostly.

  My hands don't look great but my mind is clear.  I've told you before that sometimes this job doesn't seem like a job at all. Sometimes this job is a couple of hours of thinking while floating on a raft in the pool.   But other times this job is a thirteen-hour day in my own personal sweat shop, doing repetitive labor.

But oh how, after all these years, I am an expert at what I do.  On all sides.  From conception to execution to managing to marketing.
And everything in between.

And no, I haven't been here.  I think sometimes, that I've already said everything I had to say on this blog.  Other times, I think whatever I have to say will be better said in some other format - like books.

Mostly I don't think that much about it.  When I have something to say, I put up a blurb on FaceBook and have done with it.  Because it's easy and fast.  There's immediate gratification of "likes" and comments.

 It's not the same as writing here.  It's sort of like the difference between reading a book and reading an electronic version of a book on Kindle.

The satisfaction of reading a paper book and writing here is deeper.  Somehow.

So yes.  I'm a well of information on the limited subject of being a sculptor, being an artist, making a living at it and managing to find inspiration to keep it all going.

   I can tell you how to avoid air bubbles in a mold, how to pull an idea out of thin air, how to cope with depression, how to skin a catfish or grow squash.  How to create a profit and loss statement.  How to sell prints at a convention.

I'm coming up on 25 years.  Twenty five.  Of making art and making a living at it.  Of finding meaning in it. 

Ask me something. How can I help you?  I want to, if I can.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Two weeks sick.  Ten days in the proverbial hole.  Ten.

Now the sun has come and the artist has climbed back to the surface.  Just in time for a change of scenery before the heat really sets in.

It lives.  I meant, me.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tonight's Little Table

This is tonight's Little Table.  

I'm not at it.

 I'm having some silliness
with Orion.
  A good way to spend some unplug time when we can't swim.  Orion has a cold and it's been windy for days on end.   The punch ball isn't heavy enough to break anything.  We are, but we try not to get too out of hand.  The object of the game is to cooperatively keep the ball in play and off the ground for as long as possible.  Just as in the pool.  We call this game "Laws of Physics," because they do apply and can surprise us.  Chaos factor, you know.
 Tonight, there's an added feature. This is an old house with lots of rough edges on the ceiling.  We play knowing that it's only a matter of time before the ball meets one. 
Mostly we play for the laughing.
Now Pete and Orion have gone to pick up Chinese food and I'm saving photos for Aubrey.
And as I look at these happy photos, I'm haunted by images of
smiling people in the news, who are now gone.  Children. I can't truly imagine the loss.  I don't have the courage to try.
Or to embrace the anger that will follow.
And I'm haunted (as always) by the other times I've been sickened by violence.  Each incident brings with it the horror of all the ones before.
These memories are strung together like beads.  Some of mine are quite vintage.  My earliest was made as I sat in my Little Red Rocking Chair.    I see this memory in black and white because mostly what I recall is pictures on the screen. Terrifying pictures of war and mass graves.
These things happen and they tear away any sense of peace or well-being.  Gradually, we gather those comforts back around us.  Until the next time.
We are the lucky ones - myself and you, reading here.  We have time between the violence to regroup and forget a little.  Many others don't.  They live with violence daily.  And the victims don't, or their families.
How then, can I be part of the solution?  What can I possibly do to help?
Good question. I don't know the answer.  For now, The best I can do to honor those innocents fallen is to live an honorable life.  To be informed and to vote.   To remember them and to deeply appreciate my own life  and  family and all that goes with.  And to make art.  To be one more person doing what she loves.
Still, tonight the anxiety creeps in at the edges.  I glance at the time.  How long have they been gone?   I resist these feelings.  I get moving.  I start some laundry, tidy up in the den and prepare to  enjoy dinner together.
This weekend I'll catch up with Aubrey, Alison and Phillip, and other family and friends. I'll not hesitate to tell them that I love them.  Or you.  Because I love you too, fellow traveler.
I'll gather my peace about me again eventually, but I won't forget.  And yes, I fear for humans. That one never goes away.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Walk the Walk

You can't really write something well unless you know it.
And you can't really know something well until you live it.
Sometimes you've gotta just get in there.


Thursday, April 11, 2013


  I miss my parents.  I lost both of them many years ago, before I had an inkling of a clue.  I know them - though the information is translated from a sort of teen aged perspective.
  As I remember them best, they're about the age I am now.   Once in awhile, I have an interesting conversation with them in my head.  I can make reasonable guesses at what they'd say, but without the surprises, which was where the laughing came from.
  There was always laughing.  Yeah.  I'd like to talk to them now.  Not who they'd be after another 30 - 40 years here, but as they were then, in the seventies.
   They grew up with mechanical gadgets  - some marvelous and some already unrecognizable to many of us. 
   My coffee maker died today,finally, despite many attempted cures, surgery, some pleading, threats and a couple of resuscitations.   It was a long, protracted death.  Probably would've been kinder to shoot it.
I kept the filter.  I put a candle in it.  As a maker, I might use it for something else.  However,  Mr. Coffee will go to where all the other complex electronic appliances go to be 'recycled.'  Even in the best case scenerio, at least some of it will become poison.  Humans might find a better way.  Something like manufacturing beyond the outdated mechanical object d'art, and the short-term-designed-to-break electronics that humans are epically failing to dispose of.

   I imagine a world where little is wasted.  Where fewer possessions are fine and cherished.  Where knowledge is valued over material wealth.  It's a world where basic needs are met and acquisitions are made with forethought, for lasting quality and enjoyment.

 A few humans embrace this  life already.

More often I imagine the waste-free world as one where humans struggle on the edge of survival, where nothing is wasted because nothing can be. Where acquisitions are hard to come by.

Many humans live this life already. Right now.

Technology is changing faster and faster.  In a short time, my coffee filter might be obsolete and eventually, unrecognizable.
It might be recycled, ground up as filler.  It might be buried to slowly break down into the soil.  Or it might be found and up- cycled, or kept as a novelty.

  We look at objects through filters.  Filters of history, imagined futures and assigned values.  Sometimes though, we hardly look at all.

  I was in a chain store recently and overheard a conversation:

So many goodies!
I want them all. 
 I know! 
 I'm running out of closet space.
Me too!

  Humans absentmindedly gather trinkets the way we absentmindedly snack on empty foods.   Neither nourishes  past the fleeting satisfaction of gathering.  The trinkets and the snacks accumulate as fat and clutter.

One way or another, this will change. Because this behavior creates an untenable situation.  It has to change. 

 I don't think it's going to be an easy process.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Hermit

As of today, I've completed ten of the Major Arcana.  The Hermit doesn't offer opportunity for the kind of detail that some of the others do, like The Devil or The Heriophant.  But I know this one, this hermit, and as I worked, I talked to us, and something was understood.     I sat for awhile yesterday and just listened to the wind.  It sounded as though it meant to carry the world away with it.  And it did, to a point. It scoured away the surfaces, redistributed every small thing that wasn't tied down and left everything we possess, both inside and out, covered with a layer of fine sand. All our efforts at a shiny clean living space are undone.  Most of our citrus blossoms are torn away.  There will be few oranges this winter. Art, bowl, bed and book all covered in dust. No seal can keep it out.  Dust tells us that all that we make, in time, will be undone.
These desert storms are always humbling.  They remind me that I'm only a visitor here.
 I own nothing. 
 They remind me that, like The Hermit, the best I can do is explore this space and try to understand what it is that lasts.
That, I can and will continue to do, some days better than others. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

How to Make a Small Paper Umbrella

Start with a circle.  I used a large hole punch but you could draw a circle and cut it out with scissors or an Xacto knife.
Fold the circle in half.  I use a flat, smooth tool called a "bone."  You could use a marker or knife handle or other .
Repeat the folds

Until you have 8 sections.

I use a smaller hole punch to trim the edges between sections.  You could do this with scissors or a razor knife. 
Make a cut along one of the folds from the edge to the center.

Overlap two sections and glue them together.  Now your umbrella has 7 sections.
Cut out a smaller circle for support.

Glue it into the middle on the inside.
Then cut a tiny "x" in the middle of the circle underneath and another at the apex.  Push a handle (I used a toothpick here.)  Before painting, I like to brush on a coat of white glue over the whole umbrella.  It makes the paper stronger and makes a good surface for accepting paint.

Voila!  Tiny Umbrella.