Mineral School Artist Residency

Mineral School Artist Residency
Daydreamer's Journal – installation at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lessons in Dyeing

Thank you Velma for telling me about the bedstraw–the red lines are exquisite. I owe you!

It seems ironic that when my mother died in December I suddenly was ready to bulldoze forward to experiment with dyeing paper–nearly 3 years since Velma taught me what to do! It's just two words that sound the same, but a funny coincidence none the less.

I am finding the contact plant dyeing process extremely rewarding. It is one more expression of lessons learned from the plant world. My life long passion for plants is largely due to my grandmother Alice - my mother's mother. When my grandmother died, through a last act of my grandmother, my slight interest in plants was suddenly transformed into something meaningful and vitally important. 

I don't mean to imply that now plant dyes are connected to my mother–just interesting timing with the words dying and dyeing. If anything, my connection to plants feels much more directly experiential and not sentimentalized. Some years back, when I wasn't paying attention, a great transformation happened. I no longer needed the plants to keep me close to my grandmother. Rather, I can be close to the plants for the the simple appreciation of the plants. And I can feel my grandmother without the plants to help me.

And when it come to people, I see these papers and think of Mary, Velma, and many other friends. I especially think of, and give thanks to, my sweetie Billy who works along side me in the creative process.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Learning from Velma

Right before I went back to school (a few years ago now), Velma Bolyard (Wake Robin) made a visit out West and we did some paper making and dyeing with plants. Finally, I have put her teaching into practice.

I will admit that I can be a slow learner, or at least slow on the action. When I buy or am given new clothes to wear they often sit in my closet a few months and then suddenly they are my favorite thing to wear till it falls apart.The same with a new dish or some beautiful piece of paper. It takes time for me to integrate something new into who I am.

Recently I made small pieces, just testing out different plant material.
But already, a moon book in the making. On the right - dandelion, a small violet, and grape hyacinths. Thank you Velma!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


My mother died in December, but from somewhere she still seems to follow my blog.

When I first started my blog, I thought I would—could—say anything. But being honest and vulnerable was harder than I expected when my mother became a follower. It was far easier to have strangers read my words than my mother. The irony was that I always wanted to be close to my mother. I wanted a mother who asked about my thoughts and my love life. But this was not how my mother was, at least with me.

My mother death was sudden, though her health had been poor for a while. I am still feeling the raw edges of her passing. And I still keep her number in my cell phone, not that I expect her to call, but how can I remove her from the most important list of names I carry? And now, seeing she is still following my blog, how can I not keep posting? How can I give up hope that the words I am afraid my mother will read, she will somehow read anyway, and that in spite of her need to keep a distance and my fear of being seen by her, something good will come of it?

My mom had a really big secret! It shocked us all, though our aunt and uncle both knew, all the older generations knew. Like most secrets, the longer she avoided telling us the harder it seemed to be to tell us. I understand so much more about my mother that I couldn’t comprehend before and I am still hoping my mother and I will move toward a relationship with more intimacy. I would like to be following her and hearing her thoughts and feelings. I don’t expect her death to stop us from a having a growing understanding or closeness.

One setback may be that since she died, the ringing phone just doesn’t have that same insistent tone that forced me to answer, no matter what I was doing. Quite possibly, Mom and I are going to have to find another way to communicate.