Friday, October 31, 2014

Phenomenal Leaves, No Kidding

These four leaves are all from the same tree.  The whole tree was full of leaves going through this pattern as they turned from green to brown.  I've never noticed leaves going through a pattern like this.  I have no idea what kind of tree it was, either-- just a medium-sized sidewalk tree lawn kind of tree in downtown Asheville, near the corner of Walnut and Broadway.  Astonishing!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Restaurant People and a Little Mojo

 P and I are sitting in our current favorite neighborhood restaurant and I spy two guys at the next booth having a good conversation.  Here they are, leaning in close.  Every now and then they burst out laughing, then they lean in close again to talk.  Across from them is a group of three, but the only person I can get a good look at is a woman who steadily chomps on chips.  SHe has an interesting face, eyes that look like they stare into the sun all day long.
Across from us a family arrives, and their little boy looks like and acts like Nate.  I can't resist trying to draw him, and he moves constantly of course.  He has darker hair than Nate, not quite as crazy, but his expressions and features and voice are so Nate-like that I feel a huge urge to jump on a plane for Newark.

When we get home I paint a little voodou doll that my friend E gave me a few years ago and that I keep in my studio.  I like the way the body is made of string, and the forlorn little bell on top of the head.  Good mojo for sure.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Architecture for Time Release

Drawing seed pods has taught me something about pod architecture:  it seems to be designed for time-sensitive release of seeds.  I don't know if this is true, but evidence points towards it.  On the left here is a blasted open pod from a yucca plant.  The shiny black seeds are stacked like checkers in neat columns in the sections of the pod.  The pod doesn't fall to the ground, but instead it splits open along lines of dehiscense and the seeds fall to the ground near the base of the parent plant.  The same seems to be true of the Japanese iris pod at bottom right.  But the beautiful pink and orange berries that were on a bush contain their seeds inside.  These tiny seeds remain inside the ripening berries like any other fruit.  Probably birds eat these berries and carry the seeds away from the parent plant where they drop them in their poop.
The hosta pod on the left works like the yucca and Japanese iris-- dehiscent pod splits open at a certain point in the drying out of the pod (and maturing of the seeds), flat seeds float and are maybe carried on the wind a bit before dropping.  We all know how it works for maple wings with their elegant little helicopter twirling down. 

But the lumpy black walnut at bottom right is the most interesting to me right now.  I found this one in the woods today in a perfect state of transition:  the outer hull, which contains astringent and bitter-tasting tannin, has almost completely rotted away (also thanks to the tannin) now that the squirrels and other nut gatherers have gone into hibernation.  The hard inner shell is now safe for the winter, until the longer days and warmer temperature and moisture of spring trigger the growth of the tiny seed inside.  When the seed begins to grow, the enormous force generated will crack the walnut shell open along dehiscent lines, and the seedling will grow into one of the ten thousand black walnut trees that we spend all summer trying to eradicate from our gardens and yards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mindless Doodling

At book club this evening I drew a small portion of the plethora of things in E's livingroom.  I could have sat there for a few more hours very happily drawing, but everyone else was leaving so I did, too.  Clockwise from the left are a silky pillow in bright colors, a painted but chipped plaster face hanging high up on the wall, a planter or bowl made of what looks like marble but might be glazed ceramic faces, a little man statue sitting in front of a small vase of late zinnias, one of E's fuzzy sequined house shoes, and a cyclopian dog doll that was reclining on the floor.

Someone asked how I could draw and still be part of the conversation.  No problem as long as I'm not thinking about the drawing as it arranges itself on the paper.  If I were to start judging it (not a good start, bad proportions, etc) everything would freeze up, and then I would NOT be able to  pay attention to the conversation.  But that rarely happens these days, 3400 drawings along the path to 10,000.  One of the good things about this practice is that it makes drawing flow without much (if any) mental interference.  I'm always pleasantly surprised at how things come out. 

Monday, October 27, 2014


Here's a little collection of milagros,  religious folk charms used for healing or other favors in some cultures.  Typically you can buy a milagro at a shrine or nearby market.  The theme of the milagro is not exactly fixed:  sometimes a heart might represent a wish or prayer for healing a heart ailment whereas at other times it can be used to help a romance.  To me these look like (from left to right) a prayer for a rounded or humped back or just a generic petition made while kneeling down;  a heart;  a hand or forearm;  a little girl maybe;  eyes and nose, maybe even sinuses?  My collection came with little tatty ribbons tied to them.  They're made of silver. 

I have some other, larger milagros (also called ex votos, dijeos, or promesas) made of tin.  I have several hearts and one large flat baby Jesus.  I bought these tin ones in Italy;  the smaller ones in the collection drawn here came from San Antonio.  Once a friend who lived there sent me an arm milagro when I was having a nasty bout of poison ivy with its epicenter on my arms.

Last Extant Sand Candle Found Living on Jones Mountain!

J and I set out late yesterday to do a little exploring on Jones Mountain.  At the base of the Ruins Trail he found this small collection of fungi-- ghostly white,  crisp on the edges, and glowing in the dusk-- growing inside the hollow of a tree trunk.   Across the trail we found a larger trunk, also splitting open, but this one with a termite-eaten center, the remnants clinging like lace curtains in a haunted house window .
 When we reached the overlook the first thing we noticed was an odd lumpy rock-like-but-w thing balanced on the log that people sit on.  J had no idea what it was, especially since it had an eye-like part with a black dot of something.  Parts of the surface were gritty with the red clay that covers much of the surface of the overlook.  All of a sudden I had a memory of a similar object sitting on a windowsill under a macrame spider-plant hanger in our house in NO in the 70s.  A sand candle!  The eye part was a stub of a votive candle , the black thing the burnt wick.  I gave J a brief lesson in sand candle making (dig hole in sand, bury a wick or a candle wick-down in hole, fill with melted wax-- preferably dyed with lurid colors from powdered tempera paint or food dye--, let it cool and harden, remove waxy gritty lump, brush loose crumbs off and there it is).  He was not interested in making his own.  This one is more properly described as a clay candle since the hole was dug in the red clay, and that's what was clinging to the waxy surface.

Then this morning we were up at 7:00 in order to go out to the hill behind our house and watch the sunrise.  On the right you can see J huddling down on the slope taking pictures as the sun came up behind the mountains.
We stayed out there in the chilly breeze for nearly an hour, long enough for thorough documentation of a gorgeous sunrise.  On the left you can see J at bottom center down at the bottom of the hill and a gaggle of geese flying by like a ribbon.  The colors were pinks and apricots and lavenders as you can see on the right.  Be sure to check J's blog for his post about the sunrise.

Friday, October 24, 2014

After a Day in the Bardo, Relaxing with Jesse

Really,  one of my least favorite days is the day when I have to get a new phone-- all the transferring of files, synching of things, learning a new phone even when it's supposed to be "really just like" the 4S, only the minute muscle movements are different and nothing really feels the same.  This day is not exactly equal to a root canal day, but I would put it equal to an airport day with four close connections, one of them Newark, and it's stormy. 

So after the day in the bardo,  it felt great to unwind by making a big pot of chicken soup/gumbo and some cornbread.  I used some of the gumbo file that I made from sassafras leaves from one of the little sassafras trees in our back yard woods.
Jesse smelled chicken and came loping into the kitchen.  On the right he's sitting on a stool at the counter watching carefully.
Later he came over to my drawing table and settled in to do some grooming.
Then his head grew heavy, and it sank slowly down onto his paw. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Watching a Performance of the Digestive System

Last night we had the fun of watching Maya's class present their unit on the human body.  She goes to an arts-based public charter school where the curriculum is learned through the arts.  For this unit each small group of kids researched and presented one of the body systems, and Maya's group did the digestive system.  They wrote books in which the protagonists were pieces of food going through the alimentary canal, drew diagrams and large maps of the systems, composed and performed music and dances in order to present the many aspects of this study.  Here are quick rough sketches that I made during the performance:  Maya waving to us before the performance started, a couple of the exotic instruments used for the music, a boy reading part of a story, Maya and some friends on stage playing drums, and a girl dancing.
Tonight I went over to my friend L's studio so we could parallel work on some projects.  One of my projects was drawing, so I drew two of her antique dolls, one looking startled and the other terrified.  And on the right is a green-but-maybe -starting- to- ripen fig from F's tree.  We picked it today to bring it inside in hopes that it will ripen in the house since a frost is predicted for tonight.
This gorgeous orangey red rose hip was hanging from a rose bush on the side of the road we were walking on.  This must be the kind of rose hips that people make jelly out of.  There were a couple of roses left on the bush-- variegated pink with a sweet sweet smell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


First thing this morning 13 turkeys performed an impressive passagiata in our front yard.  All the babies are adults now, and a very handsome family it is! I spent the rest of the day carving little eraser blocks to use with a big woodcut, and here are proofs of them.  I cut them using my drawings of water plants as reference.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RIP Old Keens

Yesterday was one of those days , and when I got home around 9 PM I could not face the computer.  So here are yesterday's drawings:   a scattering of tabletop objects from a meeting of my journal group.  Two of these are new tools-- a new kind of water brush by Caran d'Ache (and if this brush is as good as the densely pigmented crayons they make it is really worth looking into), and the other is a micro-fine Prismacolor pen.  Both are on my list of things to track down.
Today began with my discovery that two of my favorite objects are irreparably broken.  On the left is one of my Keen hiking shoes.  I've had Keens that lasted so long the inner soles compressed and became rock hard.  I have never had a pair that actually gave out on me.  But this nice lightweight pair that I've probably had for 6 or 7 years has turned belly up.  I had laced it up and was ready to head out when I noticed that the entire sole had separated from the upper part of the show, and green mold had grown all over the part of the toe that is usually covered by the tip of the sole.

Well that was sad, but I found another pair of hiking shoes at the back of the closet.  Worse was when I went into the kitchen to make my regular morning smoothie and discovered the blender had broken four out of its six wee plastic teeth that engage with the motor.  Very cheap construction!  Beware of Braun blenders-- check to make sure the bottom of the top part engages with the top of the motor part by means of a metal assembly before you plunk down your money.  These little plastic teeth have been chipping off at the rate of one every few weeks, but this morning there was only one full tooth left, and it was just not up to the whole job.
I rounded out this short series of drawings with a sad face carved out of what looks like some kind of lava.  It's a lovely little face, about 5 inches from hairline to chin, and so minimally worked-- just a few passes with a chisel.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Joining the Leaf People on Craggy Pinnacle; Acquiring a Poison Ring

J and I ventured out along the Blue Ridge Parkway this afternoon along with hundreds of tourists seeking autumn colors.  The trail up to the top of Craggy Pinnacle reminded me of visiting the Uffizi in Florence-- forced march, not enough time to linger and enjoy any of the paintings/trees.  inally we found a side trail and a little outcrop off of it.  It was below the pinnacle itself so we missed the crowds up there and had a quiet spot to sit for a couple of hours and talk and take pictures and draw.

On the left is a view looking down on the valley and at the mountain range in the distance.  On the right is the pinnacle as seen from below.  The foreground, which I did not draw, was a grassy high meadow and relatively flat.  The elevation was a little above 6000 feet, a 400 ft climb from the parking lot.
I met J to go hiking downtown at the Jewish festival where he had been able to find poison rings, something I had found when I was at the festival a couple of years ago.  I have regretted not buying one when I was there before;  so while I sat in the car in an illegal parking place, J ran back to the festival with some cash and bought one for each of us.  His has a tiny drawer under the bezel (top part with a small onyx stone) that pulls out.  Very nice.  Mine has a hinged bezel with a Celtic knot design.  I've never gotten over my fascination with decoder rings from the 50s, and an old silver ring with a secret compartment is right up my alley.  A good place to carry pin numbers among other things.  I checked out a history of poison rings and learned that date back very far, to the Middle Ages and earlier, and were used to carry poison, obviously, but also holy relics, locks of hair, secret messages, perfume, and even tiny portraits.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Packaging =, <, or > Food

 Maya and I were exploring the aisles of the new Whole Foods, one of our favorite places to go looking for interesting package design and new foods to try.  In the produce section we found a strange, deep red, spiny/hairy fruit labeled "Rambutan from Indonesia."  It looked so improbable and so unapproachable that we bought one to see if it tasted as strange as it looked.  It looked like a sea creature on the outside, and on the inside was a single gelatinous round ball that looked even more sea creaturely.  It had been easy to peel open.  The pale translucent ball of jelly-like stuff quivered a little.  I poked it with a finger and then tasted my finger.  Not bad!  I scooped it out and took a bite-- really nice!  I popped the whole thing into my mouth and discovered a hard nut-like seed in the middle surrounded by lots of soft sweetness.  Definitely better to eat than to look at.  Package < food.
Then this afternoon I was in a different market looking for some trail snacks.  I really liked the plain tan waxed paper wrapping of the Energy Gem.  I had never tried one of these, but its homemade-looking label attracted me also.  It seemed to say "All our attention is on making a great food thing, not on luring you in with slick packaging.  We just wrapped this up in a piece of old-fashioned sandwich paper and slapped on this unpretentious label."  I unwrapped it when I got home and took a little taste.  Pretty dense and serious.  Definitely not as enjoyable as a dark chocolate almond and sea salt Kind bar, but very earnest and healthy-seeming with all those sprouted seeds and a big squashed cranberry on top.  As dense as a hockey puck, it will take a few miles of hiking to work my way through this thing.  Package= food I think.
Well the Energy Gem might be dense and homely, but it tastes okay-- in contrast to this poor thing.  Last week Maya and I caved and bought not one but two new-to-us energy bar things because we loved the sheep drawing on the package.  The bar was called something like "Lamb Snack" and it tastes like what I imagine bird suet would taste like-- greasy and seedy and gamey as well as unpleasantly minty.  The white streak that runs vertically is congealed fat.  The thing smells like a dog treat.  So  Maya and I carefully peeled away the great packaging and washed it for future use.  The bar itself we offered to Jesse, a square quarter- inch- sized piece.  Being a cat with very catholic tastes, Jesse gobbled it down but didn't ask for any more.  Definitely packaging > food in this case.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Little Blue Farm Stand

 F and I were walking in her neighborhood after work today and we came across this tiny blue stand by the side of the road.  We opened up the front doors and found a handful of pretty green beans  and a can for money along with prices for tomatillas and a few other items.  There was no price for beans, but I put a couple of dollars in the can and took about half the beans.  F said the stand belongs to a neighbor's child and it's an honor system operation.  Very sweet!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shrinking Mountain

Driving with a friend to Burnsville in the mountains north of here this morning I watched a tall mountain in the distance apparently shrink rapidly before my eyes.  The mountain was ahead of us and slightly to the left, framed by some distant trees.  As we climbed in elevation, the mountain seemed to shrink relative to the framing trees.  It moved very quickly, like a flip book.  It reminded me of how the moon rises and falls and rises again when you watch it from a car while driving in mountains.  Nothing is what it seems to be, right?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


P told me early this morning in response to reading my blogpost from yesterday that when he was around 12 years old he went to the drugstore with his friend and they bought a bottle of tannic acid to use for boosting their feeble suntans.  I couldn't believe it!  I had never heard of such a thing, and I thought I knew all possible ways that kids in the 60s improved their pasty white skin.  So I got carried away with thinking about and researching tannins today.  All the objects on this page contain tannins:  a corn chip, a hazel nut, an autumn oak leaf, and blueberries.  There are so many more.  Tannins are everywhere and used for more things than you would ever imagine. We all know they're used to preserve and waterproof leather.  But just what is it about them that makes them good for preserving leather AND curing cold sores and making ink and curing rashes and hemorrhoids and also having antibiotic properties?

I can't begin to tell it all here, so go to Cornell University's tannin page .  Here you'll find more than you ever wanted to know about tannins, and you'll have a new appreciation for how much smarter nature is than we are.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Walnut Ink and Recipe

This was the easiest and best walnut ink batch I've ever made.  If you're interested in making your own, read the directions written on each of these three pages.  If you have any questions, ask them, and I'll do my best to answer.  As you can see, this is not only not rocket science, but it's also not even elementary school science either!  No measuring, infinite variations, lots of options.  You can stop in the middle of simmering, turn everything off, and start again when you have more time.  Actually, you can stop anywhere you want for a pause, and the pause can last hours or even days.  If things start to get a little stinky, just throw in a little acetic acid (vinegar) or rubbing or denatured alcohol.  If the extraction of tannin seems to be taking too long, dump in about a half cup of baking soda to speed things up.

One time when I made walnut ink with a class we forgot it on the stove and the water all evaporated.  When I found it just in time to avert a fire, the pot was full of burnt walnut hull remains.  I didn't have time to start over so I simply added water to the carbonized stuff and simmered it for a little while.  The resulting ink was lovely, blacker than usual, silky and smooth.  (But I would NOT advise going off and leaving your pot on a stove without setting a timer in the room where you can hear it.)
This is a yummy batch.  A fine mesh filter is necessary because there are lots of small particles that need to come out.[]
]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]   (Jesse's comment) I use a plastic coffee filter that is flat on the bottom.  I bought mine in the grocery store.  You can see it in drawing 3335.  If you can't find this kind of filter, you could also strain the ink through two layers of old pantyhose stretched over the mouth of a jar. 

I also researched tannin.  As I suspected, tannin  in plants functions as a protection from predators as well as an aid to decomposition (without which a seed could not get out of the protective hull and have a chance of sprouting).   I've made oak gall ink with galls gathered from gall oak trees in parts of Italy and southern France.  The tannin in the galls must protect the wasp eggs within the gall and then help the gall decompose so the little insects can escape.  Tannin is acidic;  hence the bitter taste if you accidentally get a piece of walnut shell in your mouth.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dense on the Ground

You might recognize these drawings from a few weeks ago-- water pickeral seed pods from Beaver Lake swampy place.  I redrew them today in preparation for a trip to the copy center tomorrow where I will enlarge them slightly for use in a woodcut I'm working on.  I expect the real pods have by now disintegrated and sunk to the bottom of the marsh where they'll hunker down in the ooze for the winter.
Meanwhile acorns are so thick on the ground in the woods near our house that walking on them is like walking on a spilled bucket of marbles.  I scooped up a single handful this afternoon while we were walking and dumped them on my drawing table to draw them.  I used the last of some walnut ink that I made a few years ago to start this drawing.  My bottle of ink is quite stinky now but still works well.  However, the walnuts are as dense this year as the acorns are.  So I just went out and gathered a bucketful (from an area of our garden around 6 feet square) and put them in water to soak.  Tomorrow I'll boil these black gunky hulls down to ink.

On the right side of the page is a piece of staghorn sumac with a slightly magnified seed.  Nit a very exciting post, I know, but tomorrow I'll document ink making and post a recipe!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What's Your Favorite Mojo?

One of my daughters-in-law posted on FB that she was getting a flu shot this year because she's afraid of ebola.  I asked her if a flu shot protected people from ebola;  and she said "a flu shot is effective against unreasonable fear."  Now that makes sense to me.  Personally, I've never gotten a flu shot and don't plan on getting one this year.  But I have my own mojos to protect me from unreasonable fear;  and I'm sure  mine would sound as useless to flu-shot believers as flu shots seem to me.  So I started thinking about various mojos that people use.

At top left is a conker or buckeye, long considered a good luck charm (and what does a lucky charm do if not protect the carrier from fears and dangers?).  A friend told me yesterday about children who live near her and sell buckeyes at their family's farm stand as lucky charms. They do a brisk business. Next to the buckeye is a mala, a set of beads used by Hindus and Indians to keep count while reciting, chanting or mentally repeating a mantra.  A friend who had lived in India for ten years gave me the mala, and I imagine it is comforting to hold, just as my grandmother's rosary beads soothed her when she was terrified of a thunderstorm or hurricane.  At the bottom of this page is a flu shot, which imparts, along with whatever it's shooting into the person, a kind of security similar to that given by the mala and buckeye to those who believe in them.

On the right is the Real Deal:  a bottle of genuine Lourdes water.  My French Catholic voodoo grandmother would have cherished a bottle of this, believing as she did in the efficacy of holy water.  Lourdes water is not only holy water but it comes from the spring in Portugal where the Virgin Mary is believed by some to have appeared and worked miracles.  Thousands of pilgrims make the trip to Lourdes every year to bathe in the waters that continue to flow from a little spring near the grotto where the lady appeared.  The same friend who gave me the mala made a trip to Lourdes out of curiosity, and she brought me this bottle of Lourdes water.  I'm not sure if it's one of my mojos, but I have been keeping it for a very long time.  I am curious to note that in all these 12 or so years it has not shown any stagnate water signs but is as fresh smelling and looking as it was when I got it.

And at the bottom is part of my favorite voodoo pacquet, not really mojo for me but still nice to have around.  I suppose my trusted mojo is the Chinese herb and the probiotic-rich yogurt I faithfully take every morning, along with my daily trek in the woods.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Roots Like Caterpillars; Stumps Like Little Bowls

A and I went for a long hike, over 4 miles, this morning, through fields, woods, along the river, and into a grove of giant golden bamboo.  We sat on the soft damp forest floor and drew bamboo roots and stumps.  What a pleasure to have a drawing buddy as obsessed as I am about these things!  (She  is the friend who got me into this 10,000 project with her quote in the first place.)  This grove is home to Owl Man, who has now been moved to face away from the river and has had his leg repaired;  but his foot is missing and the missing part is covered with leaves.  He also holds a small troll doll in his lap.  I may turn Owl Man around again the next time I go there so that he looks out on the river from his perch under the bamboo.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Flying Bags

Five bags from around the table at the BPAC meeting tonight.  Number 3313 is actually a short stack of two bags.  All seem  to be flying or gliding.  The Hunters'  Moon outside is full and glorious, no longer blood red but wreathed in a thin layer of clouds.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Endless Pods, Seeds, and One Sleepy Cat

 Oh when will these seed drawings end??  Every day I decide to draw something else, but then I find myself with a pocket full of great seeds that cannot be resisted.  At least today F's cat Montana got herself drawn, such a great still cat who sleeps with her head upright and never moves while I'm drawing!  The astonishing seeds are rose hips from, I believe, knockout roses;  dehiscent pods from a euonymous (sp??) bush, so fluorescent pink and orange that they look like cupcakes that you would buy from Sam's Club;  and a flat, maroon pod from a purple version of a scarlet runner vine.
Above is a gondola-like scarlet runner bean pod, emptied out and with the three beans that were inside lined up beneath.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Crazy Hair

Everybody loves my grandson N's crazy blond hair.  He looks like The Little Prince with his flaming hair ablaze all the time.   I have never seen it combed or plastered down ever.  Here are two sketches done from photos of him.
Tonight P and I arrived at a restaurant in pouring rain.  P had on a hooded rain jacket, and when he pulled the hood off and sat down his hair looked like N's.  N looks a lot like P anyway, but P's hair is usually all combed and spiffed up.  I like it like N's, crazy and wild!  So here's a drawing of P, reading the menu and then chomping on chips and salsa, with his crazy hair.  I had to draw super fast as he was NOT posing for these;  hence they're (all four) only approximations of the people, but the hair is right for sure.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Little Seeds Magnified

J and I went for a short time to the bird sanctuary this afternoon, and I collected some of the many seed heads in the pollinators' meadow.  The biggest surprise was the pokeweed plant, which had, in addition to the usual glistening purple berries, the seed heads that form from the berries.  They look like miniature blackish-gray truck tires (see drawing 3239, top left).  I don't know the names of the other plants from which these seeds came.  They were all in the stage of dispersing seeds, though, and fascinating in their geometry and clever trap doors and dehiscent seams.  At top right is a print from an eraser carving that I made of one of last week's buckeyes in its case.  It's pretty flat compared to the drawing, looks more like a stack of pancakes with a pool of butter melting on it.

And here's a print from a carving that I made of that little moon from Chiusi Citta, chiesa di San Francesco.  Love it so much with its sneer and its droopy eyelids!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Curious Seedless Persimmon and Other Saturday Things

So after learning last week that persimmon seeds are used by some people to forecast the winter weather, I went to Whole Foods in search of some persimmons of my own to see what the seeds look like.  This morning Maya and I cut both of the two persimmons in half, and found exactly nothing---  seedless persimmons!  They did have eight grooves arranged in a nice pattern around the whitish centers, but not a single seed.  Apparently there are seedless persimmons just like seedless grapes and seedless watermelons.  Is this a GMO thing?

After our failed seed exploration, we did some drawing and rubber eraser carving, making a sheep logo to put on the tags we're making for our teething sheep.  We've decided to call our little teething toys project Chompos.   Maya drew and carved and printed this one. 

At the bottom left of the sheep page is an opened pod from Japanese iris;  and next to that is a armed goddess figure, this one African and made of bronze.  It hangs from a bead necklace that I bought at the NO Jazz Fest from an African booth, probably in the early 80s one time when we went back for Jazz Fest.

Friday, October 3, 2014

More Armless and Two Powerful Ones

Here are two more blobby little kiln goddesses from the armless posse, one based on the stiff white [death] goddess and one sort of Venus of Willendorfish.  This second one actually has two slashes across the tops of the breasts for arms, but no legs and no features on the face or even a real face.  
These bottom two are voudou pacquets, power figures based on African and Haitian ones that are in the Brooklyn Museum as well as the Met.  I made them along with a few others a few years ago and keep these two and one other in a ceramic boat that I also made.  I love these figures.  I had never made anything like them before, although I was born on a tiny street near the banks of Bayou St. John in New Orleans and grew up a few blocks away, also near the bayou.  That bayou was a place where voudou rites were held, and it was also an escape route for slaves in earlier days.  My own French Catholic grandmother sprinkled holy water every night while facing north, south, east, and west so that all family members were protected no matter which direction they lived in.  I can remember being splashed with water when I spent the night with her while my grandfather was away on a business trip.  I had no idea what she was doing, but she walked over to a window and said prayers and sprinkled holy water while I peeked out from under the covers.  Then she paraded to other windows to do the other directions.  She kept her holy water on an alter in the bedroom.  I think she would have liked these pacquets.  They're filled with stones, bones, other materials. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I have a large collection of armless goddesses.  They aren't actually a collection, but more of a posse that has gathered over the years on a shelf in my studio.  What's the deal with armless goddesses?  Only one of these is a reproduction of an older figure, the one on the right which is a Cycladic stiff white goddess reproduction.  The others I either found abandoned in studios or I made over the years.  Tomorrow:  more armless women.  What are they saying?? Why do I like them so much?