Monday, March 25, 2013


The carpet-ground shall be with leaves o'erspread,
And boughs shall weave a cov'ring for your head.

Virgil, The Pastorals  (translated by Dryden)

Years ago a friend asked me how to start decorating her home.  It was the first time I ever really thought about it as my life has been based on recombining the things I already own.  But, when I had to say something about what is important in a room I was quite certain it was the carpet first.  Every room I have ever admired in a shelter magazine has hardwood floors and a beautiful oriental carpet.  (I am not considering art in this category as I don't consider it decoration.)

The chair for Luca Ghini, sitting on top of the Herbarium, had less presence without a carpet under it.  His rug is the wonderful kind of fabric that changes color when it moves.  In this case it is a combination of  green and orange.
The theme had to be botanical so it is covered with leaves and grass and a red poppy button.  Many things are sewn onto the rug but other things are mobile and can be rearranged so it never gets boring.

There is a feather rug in the first Bird Temple in the room and there will be other carpets for the floors in upcoming temples.

The most recent rug is a pochoir (stencil print) called Forest Carpet, created for a portfolio assembled by the Muskegon Museum.  I have not done many prints since I graduated with a master's degree in printmaking and it was something of a struggle to accomplish a work I was happy with.  First was a woodcut which didn't work.  Then there were three or four designs for pochoirs based on other completed drawings and that didn't work.  Finally, while driving the car, a regular incubator for ideas, I decided on a new image that would be put together the way I do my drawings, one thing at a time.  It is not the normal way to do a print but it is the way I am most comfortable working.  The basic composition is a stencil built of dried ferns, then sprayed with acrylic paint.  Grasses were added as fringe on the ends.  One stick, 2 butterflies, vines, and numerous leaves were added till the image looked right.  It was an interesting experience and one that may lead to doing pochoir images in future books.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


"Any questions or compliments?"

Mona Weisser (Age 8, upon finishing the reading of her paper at the Fernwood Montessori School Science Fair.  May 2012)

I have always regretted not keeping a diary but it is not within my talents.  Recently I rediscovered and read a book Donella Vogel made of Email letters I wrote to her in 1998.  When she gave me the present I was pleased but now I am thrilled to have it.  It is amazing  how many noteworthy things happened that year.  I would never be able to reconstruct those events at this point.  The reason for this blog is to keep  notes on the construction of the different aspects of the installation before I forget them.  Once I have finished a project and I am on to the next one, I shed old information promptly.

I wish I had kept a record of the people who have already visited the Cabinet because that too will get mixed up or forgotten.

During the latest cleaning and reorganization of my studio, I found a shabby old ledger from our early days in business when my father set up and monitored our bookkeeping.  That was well before average people were using computers for accounting. That book has morphed into a Guest Book for the Cabinet.  The outside and inside of the two covers are now decorated with collages.  In keeping with my idea of using what is available in my house as much as possible, the images come from over-run pages from my books, bits of old projects and papers in storage.

The original ledger paper will act as sign-in pages for guests.

I am proposing three different types of entries for future guests to choose from.
The first and simplest is a signature with a date - comments if the person wants to are fine but not required.
The second option is to sign and also draw something in the book or send something back to paste into the book such as a poem or picture.
The third and perhaps final option is for the person to take over a whole page to draw, write or paste on.  That paper might be a plain sheet if the person doesn't want their work to be mingling with ledger lines.  It can be taken away and sent back.  I am not good at creating under pressure or watchful eyes and understand if others have that same problem.  Since it is a ledger it can be opened and paper rearranged as needed.

Viewing of the cabinet is by invitation or can be arranged upon request.   There will be open house days arranged in the future.

Monday, March 4, 2013


SEE \ DY. adj. [from seed.] Abounding with seed.

Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755)

On the "List of the Unexpected" Dr. Arno Klein's masthead for his website ( must rank somewhere.  It is a line-up of head shots of 11 years of his Halloween costumes.  These, coupled with his work labeling the human brain, make an odd but not disturbing combination.

The costume that I am concerned with is that of Seed Man - a far more benign looking persona than Dog Food Man. With the help of his costumiere, Deepanjana, Arno was topped with a hat of acorn caps, seeds were glued to his face, and a garland of acorn caps was strung around his neck.
I have admired this portrait for several years and decided to add it to my Herbarium wall between Green Man and Moss Covered Me.  Normally I don't work from photographs but in this case I had no choice. When the drawing was almost complete I came to the opinion that it looked like the photo but somehow had gone boring.  After pondering the problem I realized my only hope for rescuing the image might be to paste seeds on part of it.

The combination I use of watercolor and color pencil is confusing to many viewers who can't identify the medium.  This work takes the problem a step farther by combining the real with the unreal yet blending them so that at a slight distance everything appears unified.

The frame for this drawing is from the collection of my cousin Carol's husband, Lee.  In the four corners I glued glass acorns which have real acorn tops - another unexpected combination.