Monday, June 30, 2008


I can’t believe that I have done 13 posts and not yet mentioned our beloved dog, Luka. She was a gift from Jerzy on my 40th birthday and now she is approximately 9½ years old. We got her from the SPCA and she is a cross between a Husky and a German Shepherd. She is the sweetest and gentlest dog you could ever meet and she still loves to play like a puppy. She is a wonderful companion and we can’t imagine our lives without her. Here is a photograph of Luka on a favourite hike of ours at Misery Bay on Manitoulin Island. Luka in the moss…

Sunday, June 29, 2008

vellum pieces

Commonly, the most interesting work comes from a "mistake" made. My mistake was accidently dropping a sheet of vellum into a sink of water. It kind of drooped and I wondered if I could mould it over a bowl shape. It worked, so I thought I would try something that might work with ATCs. I did an afternoon shift at Mouche Studio Gallery on Friday and it was a slow day so it was a good time to experiment with the vellum. I brought along some tools that I thought might be helpful and the best tool seemed to be a stylus. I created small creases with my fingers and then accentuated these with the stylus by working it against one side of the crease and using my fingers to exert pressure on the other side of the crease. In some instances I placed an object under the vellum and formed the vellum around it. Sometimes the vellum would rip but I just incorporated the tear into the design. As they dried, I had to place a book over them so they wouldn't curl. I like the results. Great texture. Organic looking. I love the way the tool marks are evident on the vellum. I intended for these to be next month's artist trading cards but as they dried, they shrank, and now they are not regulation size! So I will do some more today. Maybe I'll find some new ways to work the surface...

Saturday, June 28, 2008


So much to report on today that I think I have to do two posts! And I missed a post yesterday. Just as well. If I try to do one every day without fail, and put stress on my perfectionistic self to do it, it may just take the fun out of blogging.The vernissage at Mouche Studio Gallery on Friday evening was great. Anne and Melissa have really done a great job of setting up the gallery and making it an interesting and welcoming venue. Those who attended were so lovely, many of them friends or fellow artists, that I abandoned my wallflower ways for the evening. My friend Monique attended with her husband, John. When John first saw my reliquaries in December 2007, he remarked that he had collected a few things that may interest me. He surprised me by presenting me with a bag of the following objects. What treasures! Stay tuned to see what I do with these treasures!

fossilized sharks' teeth

various seeds and seed pods

the trade!

Today was ATC (artist trading card) trade day in Dunvegan. I brought fellow Mouche Studio Gallery artist Joanna. She is a painter and jewellery designer here in Hudson. It was her first time at an atc trade so that made it even more fun. For us, it was a 50 minute drive from Quebec into Ontario and through the lovely rolling terrain of Glengarry County. The trade is held at the local community hall. Despite the rain today, there was a good turnout - 15 to 18 people. This is our process. We each lay our page(s) of ATCs on the table and spend time perusing one another's cards, admiring, and asking questions about technique or inspiration. Then the trading begins. Ronna usually announces the start of trading and then there is a flurry of frenetic trading which is over in about 10 minutes. A short period of refreshments and socializing follows and then we all leave, happy and content, returning to our regular lives. This whole process rarely exceeds an hour. And then we come back the following month and do it all over again! Actually, I left out one important step of the process. At least it is part of my process. Sitting down with a cup of tea and inspecting and sorting all your new cards when you get home.

My cards this month were watercolour experiments. I have never used watercolours before and this was a fun way to try them out and mess around a bit. These are the cards I traded today.

This is the second sheet of cards I made to trade.

And these are some of the cards I got in the trade!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

prickly pendant

I will be attending a vernissage this evening at Mouche Studio Gallery. The last Friday of the month they have an open house so people can come, meet the artisans who show in the gallery, and partake of wine and nibbles. I show my work at the gallery so I will be there, although probably hovering in a corner somewhere, being the introvert that I am. My art is a bit like a security blanket. If I stick close to it, I can always talk about it and avoid those stressful "small talk" situations. I think I will wear my prickly pendant. It's an ice breaker for sure. Or is it a warning to stay back? I made it in a silversmithing class I took a while ago. Not sure if I could make another one now...

As I was posting this I was struck by the similarities between my pendant and the photo I've recently chosen for my desktop. It's a dandelion that I photographed while I was in Poland in May (Wałcz to be exact). It's beautiful.

the story of the wings

Even though we had a hot, rather steamy day in Hudson today, I was reminded of winter after visiting Ronna's blog and then seeing Jo's latest post. I want to tell the story of the wings. I acquired them on a crisp day in May that felt like winter but was actually a typical spring day in the arctic. I find these wings magnificently beautiful. They are prized possessions of mine and have a home in my studio where they lift my spirit. In May 2007 I was delivering some training in Akulivik, a small community located in the Eastern Arctic in Northern Quebec, and came across 2 Inuit women happily plucking snow geese on a rock outcrop. What struck me was the utter joy that they expressed in doing this. They were having fun! I showed interest in the feathers and they kindly offered me two whole wings, severed using an Ulu (a knife traditionally used by women). They told me that these wings were good for sweeping when you are “out on the land” (camping). Below are photos of those women. A very special moment for me. One of many on my visit there…

Akulivik in May

Cutting with an Ulu

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

new windows

For the past several days, we have had workmen in our home replacing all our old windows. It's very exciting and will hopefully ease our heating bill during our cold Canadian winters. I will miss our old windows, though. Rotting and drafty as they were, they had character. And, as I have a hard time letting go of things (and see art materials everywhere!), I salvaged some of the hardware.

Each window had these little toggle-thingies that kept the window up when you opened it. To me, they are very vertebrae-like. I will certainly hang onto these and find somewhere to use them!

Hardware from our kitchen window. I will miss them.

These decayed wads of paper were found stuffed in beside one of the windows. They are lovely objects on their own, but I may use them later for collage. They are very fragile and tear easily, but I managed to ascertain that the biggest wad is from The Montreal Daily Star, Monday, May 9, 1949. Our house was probably built around that time. A post-war house: small and simple.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

tool tuesday: awl right!

Happy St-Jean-Baptiste Day (only celebrated here in Quebec)! I was reading a post on ro bruhn's blog where she mentions (and proudly shows off) a wonderful array of screwdrivers and a dremel bit kit that her husband bought her. We artists love our tools! The boyfriend of an artist friend of mine gave her a dremel tool on their first Christmas together and she was positively overcome with emotion (and that could be one of the reasons she ended up marrying him). As a wedding gift, I gave them a gift certificate to Canadian Tire [hardware store known to all Canadians!] and a roll of duct tape and they were thrilled! Another artist friend of mine practically salivates when she describes in detail the newest metalsmith tool she has acquired. I am regularly seduced by all kinds of tools I see in the hardware store or metalsmith journals or artist books, and half the time I don't even know what they are meant for. We are attached to our tools. We have relationships with our tools. We have favourite tools. Sometimes we use our tools in weird and unexpected ways. I thought it would be fun to keep Tuesdays aside to highlight tools. I could certainly wax poetic about my own favourite tools but it would be interesting to hear from others. Please email me a photo of your favourite tool and tell its history, why you love it, how you use it, what you make with it, and anything else you'd like to share. I will try to post one tool every all its glory. Spread the word! Below are my collection of awls to start things off (and may I apologize for my terrible awl pun in the title...I couldn't resist).

"Awl: A pointed tool for making holes, as in wood or leather."
I hadn't realized that there were so many different types of awls. The one on the far left is a carpenter's awl. The two with the silver handles are craft awls, often used in scrapbooking, although I use them for preparing paper for sewing or wire insertion. The cheapo awl with the red handle is a tailor's awl and purchased in a fabric store. The other two are made of sturdier stock and are possibly bookbinding awls. I bought the one on the far right for that purpose.

This is my favourite awl. I found it abandoned on the side of the road so I took it back to the studio and gave it a home. It's a perfect size for my hand, has a sharp point, and is rusty. I love it for these reasons and for its mysterious history. I use it mostly for piercing paper but it's always on hand for any poking, prodding, prying, scraping, jamming and all-around puncturing needs I may have.

These are two artist trading cards that I made using washi paper, thread, guessed it... an awl!

Monday, June 23, 2008

...and more seeds

I am very much attracted to these wild cucumber seed pods which I find growing on vines in my backyard and around the area where I live. When they first come out, they are a fresh green and seem to burst with juiciness. But I like them best when they have withered and are shedding their skins. The outer skin is a bit fragile as it decays (although it has protective pricklies) but the inner pod is quite sturdy and you get a glimpse of the dark seed nestled inside through a transluscent web of skin. Delicate, mysterious, protectors. They look fascinating from all angles. I obsessively collect them even though I have no real plans for them yet. I've used a few of the inner pods in my reliquaries. One was just a skeleton, having lost its membrane. A wisp. A few years ago, I compressed a bunch of them in a shadow box with a glass lid. They look quite interesting like this. Beautiful but disturbing. They seem to be crying out with open mouths.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I wasn't sure what I would blog about today (and the day is coming to a close...) but then I visited Jo's blog and was inspired by her poetic seed associations and her beautiful seed works. Since my camera has a dead battery, I pulled out some old photos of some works I did in a collagraph workshop way back in 1997. Seed related, of course. I often burrow down into my own seed bed, where I lay fallow for awhile and wait for the darkness and despair to lift. And then, inexplicably, a seed appears from somewhere and...miraculously...I burst with new life and creativity. Sound familiar...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

simple things...

My partner, Jerzy (he's the gardener in the family), brought in a beautiful rose this morning. So fragile and delicately fragrant. He put it in one of our favourite glass vases. I made this vase many years ago at a glass-blowing workshop and it is very clunky and not at all a finely-crafted object, but I love the blobs of glass stuck to the sides. Somehow, it's me! I decided to photograph it for the blog so I took it out onto the porch where I discovered the wonderful way the light passed through these blobs. Below are the photographs, capturing the sensuous glass and its interplay with the light. Simple things are so inspiring!

Friday, June 20, 2008

remnant reliquaries

Last night I was adding some photographs of my latest pieces to my website, and while I was dragging them around the page they happened to end up in a clump resembling a grid pattern. It occurred to me that they looked very cool like this, so I am posting them all here in grids. I love them all together!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

scavenger hunt

I got my local paper,Your Local Journal, this morning and was pleased to see a blurb on a "Scavenger Hunt" birthday workshop I did last Saturday. It was a ton of fun with a delightful group of women who were flexing their creative muscles and having a blast doing it. We started with a short power point presentation on assemblage art, and then hit the garage sales, scouring for treasures that we could use as art material. We then went back to the studio and spent the afternoon creating our masterpieces. The gang brought wine so that fuelled our creativity even more! Here's a taster photo! For more photos go to my website.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

first post

This morning I met with Ronna, the editor of ATC Quarterly, and was photographed (at least my hands were photographed) doing my favourite oil pastel/ink scratch technique for the next issue. Here are some examples of that technique - part of my wonky chair series. You'll have to wait for the issue to find out about the technique! While she was at my studio, we talked about her blog and it inspired me to do one of my own, so here it is!