a lighter approach

The faintest hint of autumn is in the air.  Cooler mornings and the pale wash of light that seeps into the garden at a particular hour are indications of the seasonal change.

My approach to autumn has been a bit lighter this year, as evidenced by some of my recent creations for Somerset Life’s Autumn 2015 edition. Evidently, I was not the only one drawn to a lighter palette. Tucked inside the magazine are photos of Kathleen Beyer’s beautiful and bright Oregon home, Lisa Rode’s delightful treat bags, and Kristen Robinson’s lacey holiday cones.  

May your autumn, too, be lovely and light.

Images:  Somerset Life Autumn 2015 Copyright © 2015 Stampington & Company, LLC


fearing to dream

Do we craft a life from our fears or our dreams--or perhaps a little of both?

A collage for a charity auction is nearing its completion. This time, it was an image I captured in Amsterdam that intrigued me.


the stuff of life

One day when I was out and about picking up household supplies, I overheard a young boy remark to his friend, “Let’s work some more, so we can buy more stuff.” His remark was made as he was making his way to the cash register to purchase the stuff he had in his hands.  His comment both amused and saddened me, because I occasionally think the relationship between work, life and stuff can get easily skewed—this from a woman who is in the middle of a major “stuff” purge.

I like stuff, but I think I’ve accumulated too much stuff in my lifetime. No, wait—I know I’ve accumulated too much stuff. My closets and pantry could attest to this. At times, they’ve resembled WALLE’s storage container, even after bouts of purging and reordering. Where does all that stuff come from, and why is it so hard to let go of?

In the last few years, I’ve noticed that when I’m actively engaged in creating, I buy less stuff. I suspect the joy of one replaces the pleasure of the other. So . . . what items am I currently relinquishing? They seem to fall into the following categories:

-Decorative items I purchased to try and make my home “the home” (which really wasn’t my home)
-Items I settled for when my heart advised otherwise (I should have waited or did without.)
-Materials for projects that never materialized or failed miserably
-Items that were once appropriate to my life but are no more
-Objects I’ve tried to save just because they once belonged to someone I love

I’ve always found the purging process difficult, because I’m creatively and emotionally attached to many of the objects, as well as the memories they invoke. But when I find myself taking something out of a donation box, immediately after placing it within, I tell myself there’s probably someone else that will find a similar joy in its ownership, possibly creating what I never could.

There are a few things that have escaped every purge and always will. Other people might find them quite ordinary, these little bits I’ve been given or salvaged from the nooks and crannies of our family farm. Some I’ve recycled for use in my studio, including a sugar dish I formed into a pincushion and a lemonade bottle I filled with vintage buttons. Other gifted pieces I simply keep near for viewing-- lovely, light feathers retrieved from various locations, natural treasures from  family hikes, and  smooth, braided strands.

During this most recent purge, I’ve told myself I’ll have to do more than eliminate and donate. I must make a commitment to being more conscious of my choices, separating items that offer fleeting pleasure from those that provide daily sustenance or a lifetime of meaning and joy. I hope to better recognize what is truly “the stuff of life”.



“I’m not a teacher, but an awakener.”- Robert Frost

Recently, collage work has occupied much of my studio time. I’ve been preparing pieces for an upcoming art show and fund-raising event. It’s become apparent that my visit to the Low Countries has taken center stage.  Photographs and memorabilia from my trip abroad have merged with an assortment of vintage papers and miscellany.

When I approached the completion of this collage, I started searching for a particular tone to better balance a section of the piece. After experimenting with a number of items, none of which seemed quite right, I started sorting through some French vocabulary cards. I selected one after consideration of its definition and hue. This choice led, in turn, to the addition of a French/Dutch book page I acquired in Amsterdam.

Shortly after beginning this piece, I started reading Russell Shorto’s Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City. A friend had suggested it after hearing of my fascination with the city. (Actually, she mentioned it before my visit, but trip preparations took precedence.) Interestingly, the evening after the aforementioned text pieces were set into place, I came across Shorto’s description of Willem of Orange’s 16th century call to “awake”- a verbal urging focused on ending Spain's persecution of the Low Countries. Evidently, Willem, like so many other liberators, was an “awakener”.

The multi-faceted relationships between a collage’s layers are seldom clear to me at their inception or even their conclusion. As such, I must be patient and listen, so I may be awake to whatever unfolds before me.


creative cultivation

Summer has arrived, but the extreme temperatures that usually accompany the season were delayed until recently. I am most thankful. My little patio plants have thrived as never before.

Although I tend a small patio garden, my gardening skills have never rivaled those of other family members. However, I believe their beautiful gardens have influenced my creative work, as demonstrated by these little creations that are included in the current edition of Somerset Life.

From the soil, my family crafted their brilliantly colored flowers and sweet, fresh fruit. With paper and paste, I have crafted mine.

Images:  Somerset Life Summer 2015 Copyright © 2015 Stampington & Company, LLC