August 8, 2019


Yep, that's a new yoni, front left. I've committed to another year of yoni, one piece per week for 52 weeks. In my enthusiasm to get started, and remove as many barriers to continuation of the practice, I cut 30 or so base triangles out of the felt I had on hand. Low light, high heat (i.e. sweating profusely), bad eye glasses, and impatience to finish conspired to make the triangles not so great. In my haste, I convinced myself that I found a new, efficient way to cut identical equilateral triangles without the fuss of measuring and marking. Um. Not so much. They are not only not equilateral, they are not remotely identical, and they're not the desired dimensions. Womp womp. Reminder to self: that rule you have about not employing bladed tools in haste nor after enjoying even a single adult beverage? It's a good rule. It prevents wasted material and accidents.

In other studio movement, I bit the bullet and replaced my computer. Yay and boo. Boo because, of course, none of my software is compatible with the new operating system. And none of the software I rely on is available any longer for one time purchase - it's all subscription based. And that doesn't fly with me. So, I am in the self-inflicted morass of learning to use all new (to me) freeware. Yay for freeware. Boo to my plodding learning process. Which means, bad phone photos here until I find and learn a free image editing program that works for me.
What you're looking at above is a squirrel. Or what's left of a squirrel. Fur, bones, and connective tissue. I surprised myself by tamping down my queasiness long enough to peel it off the pavement (wearing gloves!) and bag it. I want those bones. But I have yet to summon the fortitude to complete the decomposition process. It's been sitting in a ziplock on the mudroom floor for weeks now. If you are at all intrigued, I found this (un-illustrated) tutorial for preserving road kill bones informative and entertaining.
pages from This Woman's Work © Julie Delporte, translated from the French by Helge Dascher and Aleshia Jensen
On the book front, I am loving This Woman's Work by Julie Delporte. It's kinda like a sketchbook / personal journal combo. Amongst many delightful insights and ponderings, it's a feminist dive into the messiness of our cultural assumptions and expectations about gender. I picked it up at my favorite bookstore here in Philly, Joseph Fox on Sansom. It's a small shop with a wonderfully curated selection of titles. I indulge myself with a purchase every time I visit. Because: 1. I always discover something that I've never heard of before that looks amazing, and 2. I want the store to stay in business so I can continue to discover new gems. I just began reading Motherhood by Sheila Heti, another book I discovered at Joseph Fox. So far, it reads to me like a window into the narrator's squirrels in the attic regarding the question whether or not to have children within the framework of her life as a professional creative. Squirrels in the attic is the term my friend A. and I use to describe the brain's running commentary, the ego driven crap that trips us up, the second guessing, the not so useful stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. I picked these titles after finishing Ani DiFranco's memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream. I recommend all three titles if you, like me, want to steep in strong feminist artistic creativity. It's divine.

July 5, 2019

Make Art Like It's 1999

Well, wouldn't you know it. Just as I start to get back into the rhythm of posting here on a regular schedule, my old, tired, limping computer finally called it quits. Not a surprise, but a bit inconvenient at the moment. So, please forgive the poor quality of the images that follow. They're the best I could manage with my phone. OK, embarrassment assuaged, let's get into my eye-opening plunge into sketchbooks of years past.
sketchbook notes, 1999
This week, my friend Albert and I have been trying to remember all the art museums we have visited together. We've come up with 33 we agree upon. This fun trip down memory lane inspired me to list all the other art museums and galleries I have visited, ever. Which led to my bookshelf of old sketchbooks, to jog my memory. I was floored to discover the above page from 1999. 

The words that fold over the right side into the gutter read:
"memory of past strength/power, goddess, nature, blood past, history, hanging seed pod/vulva"
I have absolutely no recollection of this. None. I cannot remember contemplating seed pods as vulvas before this past year. And that sketch in the center, I now recall, is a partitioned drawer that I used to have. I obviously was thinking about lining it with fur and turning it into a wall-hanging shadow box, to contain a hanging seed pod vulva and a small box holding "single vulva/pod." 

What absolutely blows me away about this is not that I completely forgot these notes, but that I have been thinking that I am currently embarking on new artistic ground for myself. (See this post) Hah! Not so. I am right in line with what has always motivated my art making. Only now I am actually following through on the shadow box idea and the vulva pod idea. As the following 2019 sketchbook page shows.
sketchbook notes, 2019
I find it interesting and reassuring, comforting even, that when we feel like our creative voice has become unfamiliar, like we're learning a foreign language, that we're actually mining what has always existed within us. The notions that seem new or crazy or coming out of left field, they only feel that way because we are newly learning to express them. The ideas themselves are old ideas that have been biding their time, waiting for the right time for our creative selves to be able to fully realize them. Or so I believe.
sketchbook, 1999
sketchbook, 2018
One more comparison I can't resist sharing:
from 1999: "create symbol for female/goddess/strength/power, reproduce 3-dimensionally" and a tattoo sketch, in the inverted triangle, sacred symbol of feminine creative power/yoni (which little tidbit I definitely did not know at the time). Followed by a page from 2019, doodling symbols that represent exactly what I charged myself to create (and promptly forgot about) 20 years ago.
sketchbook, 1999
sketchbook, 2019

June 20, 2019

Unsticking & Momentum

Tah-dah! Completed 3-D pod experiment. I still have no idea if this little pod wants a flotilla of friends (what better way to engulf the patriarchy than with an armada of vaginal shaped pods based on mother nature's designs!) or if it's a stepping stone to something else. And, still, it doesn't matter to me. The important thing, the ONLY thing, was to DO! DO as in stop thinking, agonizing, procrastinating, obsessing, perfecting in my head and just MAKE. Get started. Follow through. DO!

That's definitely my sticking point: getting started. But once I do start - something, anything - the momentum of doing carries me along and ripples out into other do-ings. So simple. So seemingly obvious. But vastly HUGE in effects when I put it into practice.

What I have found immensely helpful is to conceptualize the things I am avoiding - for one reason or another, with an unhealthy dose of justification and redirection in the mix (oh the ego trickster / chatty squirrels / monkey mind! Do be quiet!) - I conceptualize these areas of avoidance as stuck energy. Rather than cajole myself into washing the dishes, folding the laundry, getting in the studio, whatever, I think about tackling the task as unsticking. Unsticking the stagnant energy around it. Unsticking the self-recriminations that avoidance generates. Unsticking the icky feelings that arise from not doing the task. Because starting something is the biggest hurdle for me, I don't really think about it as "starting" any more. I am unsticking.
The momentum generated by unsticking leads to more and more unsticking. Working on the pod after months of avoidance carried over to unsticking a garden project that's been on the agenda for over a year. While digging in the dirt with the Hubs to install garden edging for erosion prevention, I unearthed the mega rusty pictured above. I have no idea what it once was, but it's heavy, hefty, and about 18 inches long. It's going to dye a lot of fiber, yes indeedy (which in itself is an unsticking of my studio practice).
The momentum from those unstickings carried into wanting to revive my Year of Yoni practice. I'm in the process of prepping the base triangles and plan to cut smaller triangles and circles to have on hand to facilitate / remove barriers to beginning one whenever the whim strikes.

And while the iron was hot and the cutting wheel was at hand, more unsticking ensued. I tackled t-shirt makeovers that have been languishing for 3 years or more. Seriously. I've had all the materials on hand, just no mojo to actually do as planned. Unsticking the pile of unwearable shirts with fun designs, turning them into wearable shirts (that actually fit me properly - after shortening them by 3.5 inches), was the biggest unsticking yet. Not only have I been avoiding it the longest out of all recent unstickings, my feelings around the project and my body were super negative and downright sludgy. Having unstuck the physical project, the burdensome weight of my negativity unstuck as well.

Seeing the physical unstickings, feeling a sense of accomplishment, enjoying the results of the work, all of it conspires to release the sludgy emotions, elevate the soul, and open the heart. What I am struggling to describe in my over-zealousness, I think, is what I mean by spaciousness. This unsticking and clearing, lightening and releasing, doing and momentum, what it all adds up to is spaciousness.

June 6, 2019


My word for 2019 is spaciousness, in all possible meanings, as applied to physical space and the body, emotional well-being and mental health, interpersonal relationships and relationship with self, creativity and the soul. Mind Body Soul Spirit. It's all connected. As such, I've been addressing all these aspects, from different angles, with different techniques, with the goal to clear years of clutter, muck, and stickiness.

One such angle was the wonderful e-course Your Soul Speaks, with Susannah Conway, 15 glorious days of prompts and tools to (re)connect with inner wisdom / intuition. One tool, collaging to unlock / tap into / release inner wisdom combined fluidly with another angle new to me this year, keeping a moon journal. I'm using this one to journal daily, following the moon cycle rather than the arbitrary passage of time recorded by the monthly calendar. Cyclical time vs linear time appeals to me, especially since diving into Leonard Shlain's book The Alphabet Versus the Gooddess - but I digress.
The moon journal pages devoted to creating a new moon mandala are a perfect time and place - every 29th day on the new moon - to use the intuition tapping collage technique to reveal my focus for the next moon cycle. The mandala collage then prompts specific intentions, written down on the next page, related to what the mandala collage reveals.
The first couple of these collages I made were very much directed by my conscious mind. But with practice, the two most recent, pictured here, revealed surprises (but not really). They surprised me in that they are in no way the result of conscious choices, the images and words seemingly picked themselves without my direction. The collages are not surprising, though, in their content. What they reveal are thing I KNOW. Things deeply known by my inner wisdom that intuition surfaced for my conscious mind to work with. I am loving these tools and techniques.
What are your rituals or techniques for tuning into your intuition / inner wisdom / soul? I'd love to hear them in the comments.

PS Another daily journaling / doing / prompt that I'm digging this year are the exercises presented in A Year to Clear: A Daily Guide to Creating Spaciousness in Your Home and Heart by Stephanie Bennett Vogt (hey, lookee, it's still offered as an e-course. Who knew?)

May 21, 2019

Feeling Rusty

I've been feeling very rusty in this little ol' art practice (or not practice, as the case may be) of mine. Figuratively rusty because:
  1. I'm working in new (to me) media
  2. I'm creating imagery rather than recording on film what already exists in reality
  3. I'm learning to think in 3-D
  4. I'm at the mercy of my learning curve for:
    •   Acquiring the necessary dexterity and craftsmanship skills for textile work
    •   Figuring out how different physical materials behave and won't behave
    •   Considering how 3-D objects will inhabit a space (dangling from ceiling, protruding from wall, sitting on a pedestal, etc)
  5. I'm creating my own visual and symbolic language 
And that's just the list I've pulled off the top of my head in this moment. I'm sure there's more. Of course there's more.

I'm mentioning these things because I've been beating myself up for not producing mounds of work, not producing exhibit worthy work, not spending every free moment in the studio working. I know I'm not the only one who gets down on myself for these things. But. It's just plain silly and counterproductive to beat up on oneself. For me, it stymies my creativity rather than open it up. I've been reading this advice from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse over and over again lately as a reminder to get out of my head and just do something, make something, anything. To cultivate and ride the momentum generated by simply doing.

So. A shift. I took feeling metaphorically rusty and turned it literal. I pulled out my collection of rusty shit and dyed tiny torn strips of muslin. (Am I the only one who sees these fabric strips as slabs of marbled bacon? The iron stains as muscle, the white fabric as the fat.)
I dye with rust/iron specifically because it's the iron in our hemoglobin that causes brown and rusty  blood stains. With my rusty fabrics and threads, I hope to suggest associations with blood. Regardless, I need a few more strips of rusty fabric to finish an experimental pod thingie that has been languishing for months. I worked on it for the first time in ages while over at a friend's house last week for a craft night date. Thank you Adrienne! Riding the momentum generated by those few hours of stitching carried over into more dyeing...
I even love the threads that shed from the frayed edges of the torn strips.
When these babies dry, some are destined to finish this pod experiment. What's it for? What's its destiny? Not a clue. And that's OK. It's teaching me things I need to know.

January 6, 2019

Altered Altar

This is the floor of my studio, right now. Yesterday, with the solar eclipse and new moon as motivators, I decided to get started on making an altar.

An altar. FULL STOP. I couldn't have contemplated such a thing or even said such a word a couple of years ago without a full body cringe of squiggy discomfort. An altar? Me? In my home? What? Since then I've read a lot, thought a lot, questioned a lot, worked a lot, stretched a lot, relinquished a lot, embraced a lot, and changed a lot, as one does.

My altar is not an altar of or to any religious faith (although it will contain a Ganesha figurine and possibly a Buddha head), it's more accurately a display or vignette of items that hold personal significance to me. My altar will serve as a personal touchstone, with elements of beauty and symbols that encourage and remind me of how and who I am and want to be.
This gorgeous, aged, chipped, carved wood frame will become the container, the altar, for my rotating collection of objects and symbols. I've had the frame for years, but haven't before now figured out how to use it or display it. The flat interior edges (the rabbet) are two and half inches deep. Perfect, I think, as a little shelf for special, little objects.

I'm going to add a shelf midway-ish up the height of the frame. And since I have no way to determine just what is in the paint and finishes that remain adhered to it, I'm going to gently clean and then seal the surface with polyurethane. It pains me to do something that isn't reversible, but I'd rather have any potential carcinogens and lung irritants safely sealed in place.
This is such a magnificent frame. I am over the moon with happiness that it will finally adorn my wall and serve a purpose other than just looking really friggin' cool. Creating an altar feels like an apt way to begin the new year. It will certainly include elements of my word for 2019, spaciousness. Sorry for the abrupt ending, I'm out of practice writing posts. . .