Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Yucca and new pieces

Banana Yucca

Curly yucca leaf fibers 

Here are some new multi-media pieces.  Ive been working with clay a lot lately.
Micaceous clay with spun paper weaving

Fox's horsehair basket, with Dana Swisher face bead.  His body is plaited and twined cedar bark, birch bark, and waxed linen.

Work in progress, ceramic bowl with coiled plant fibers

Finished bowl/ the top 4 rows are fibers that I processed from yucca leaves.  The dark blue is hemp cord, and the bottom layer consists of fibers from a plant called cordyline.  It is a relative of the yucca plant.    

What do you think? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Into a new realm

I usually don't make art w/ a message.  It's not easy to put words or pictures on a basket, and make it be meaningful.  It can be done.  There are several basketweavers who do a great job at it.  One of them is Shan Goshorn. Look at her work, if you are heading that way artistically.

In the past, I've done this a few times, by writing on my sticks, or on the paper that I spin and weave.  But lately, I was more motivated. I've been thinking about this woven piece for several years, trying to come up with a visual representation of my reaction to the horrific school shootings in the U.S.  Then, when the shootings at Marjoriy Stoneman Douglas High School occurred, I figured it out.

In ancient Aztec, Japanese, some Native American cultures, knotting on strings was a form of numerical bookkeeping.  They each had a systematic way of tying knots, or by color, or spacing to signify certain numbers.  So I have adapted this visual counting method to show the ages of the victims. 

My initial plan was to have the strings with no names, but then I realized that I needed to honor each victim by identifying their individual names and ages.

So here is Parkland Memorial. It's about 21" across.  The weaving is paper yarn and other yarns. It will be hanging at Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene, OR. May 25th until June 22nd.  Sadly, next week is the twentieth anniversary of the shootings at Thurston High School in nearby Springfield.  20 years later, and our children are still not safe in school. 

Please come and see us at the Opening Reception on the 25th, or our Demo on June 16th.  We'd love to see you!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Aug. Workshop 2018

Bloom! Yachats, OR.
Aug.4 Melon Basket, currently full, but you can get on a waiting list.
Aug.5 Meditation Rocks
Contact Sandy for more info.

Aug 18 North Coast Land Conservancy, Seaside, OR.
Coiled Basket with a variety of natural materials .
You can register right at their website, and support a great cause.

Summer Workshops 2016

July 27  Cannon Beach Arts Assn. evening- Knotless Netting wire projects
July 28 Sat. Coiled pendant around a stone


Saturday, February 24, 2018


 Momigami means kneaded paper in Japanese.  Washi paper is treated with konnyaku starch (root of devils tongue plant) and then kneaded. Konnyaku is actually a food item in Japan.  It's also called glucomannan, and comes in a powdered form.     

                              .Amorphophallus konjac CBM.png

Paper treated with konnyaku called momigami (kneaded paper) or kyoseishi (strong paper) is made both stronger and more flexible than untreated paper. Because the papers pores are coated it also becomes more wind and water resistant as well as having improved heat retention while still remaining breathable. As a lining for clothing momigami has often outlasted the textile which it lines. Paper treated with konnyaku can be crinkled up until it has the feel of cloth. The treated paper can be sewn on a sewing machine or by hand, to create paper pillows, wall hangings, and even clothing.

 You can buy konnyaku powder online at several sources.  However, since I didn't want to spend a lot of money, I purchased a small package of glucomannan powder from

I also bought some Thai unryu paper from our local art store.

I used a recipe from, scaling down the original measurements to a manageable amount. What I ended up with was a gelatinous mess, even with following the directions.  I somehow managed to spread the goop, which reminded me of both jello and rubber cement, on one side of the paper, and then put it outside to dry.  After drying, I re-heated my goop, and spread some on the other side.  (Yes, I did try adding more water, and re-heating the goop.  I added up to a cup more water, and it was still thick and lumpy.  I used my whisking tool and the electric mixer, still lumpy.)

This is how the paper looks before crumpling.  I managed to brush those little bubbles off.

When both sides were dry, I followed the crumpling up process that is described below.

So before you run to the internet for more information, I can tell you that there are several websites that give instructions for momigami paper, but they are using vegetable oil or tapioca starch.  The oil, I can't understand, because you just end up with wrinkled, oily paper. Tapioca is close (cassava root), but not the same.

Momigami      Yes, it sheds water. 

If you have had better luck with the powder recipe, please let me know!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Meditation Insight

You told me about your cancer diagnosis this fall, and I was devastated.  I had hoped to someday visit your remote part of the world, and see some of the beautiful places that you have been photographing.  I wanted to spend more time with you, since I felt a connection to you when we met.  

You have the most amazing attitude towards this insidious disease.  You say that you've lived a wonderful life, but when I read your post on your birthday, it filled me with sadness.  You said that you started off the day taking morphine for the pain, and then vomiting.  And yet, you asked for no sympathy, so I read many positive and uplifting words from your friends. You are a friend and a teacher.

I went off to my meditation group.  While I was there, I practiced metta meditation, which is repetition of a Buddhist saying,  "May all Beings be happy.  May all Beings be safe.  May all beings be at ease.  May all beings awaken to the light of their own true nature.  May all beings be free." (Or a variation of this.)  You say it directed to yourself, then to a loved one, and a person who you are neutral about.  Then you can direct it to someone you are experiencing difficulties with, and finally, all beings.

While I was thinking this, you came to my mind, as needing some recognition.  I then realized that I could also make the phrase tangible through a combination of my art practices.

At home, I went through my decorative papers, and found a piece of calligraphy paper that I had decorated with a Japanese marbling technique called suminagashi.  It involves dropping small amounts of ink from a paintbrush onto water in a tray.  Then you lay a piece of paper on it, and the paper absorbs the ink in a variety of patterns. 

I wrote a metta dedicated to you on my suminagashi paper.  Then I prepared it to create a paper cord.  I cut the paper into a continuous strip, softened it, and then spun it.  Just so everyone knows, commercial calligraphy paper isn't the best for spinning.  (At the art stores, it comes in a pad or roll.)

The metta paper cord is now part of a little basket.  The bottom portion is bamboo fiber 'paper,' which I love because you can see little flecks of the bamboo sheaths or leaves still in the paper. Also, some parts of the bowl are translucent.  The upper portion starts out with waxed linen, then the metta paper cord, and ending in waxed linen again.  It's all done in knotless netting.

So this piece is dedicated to you, and all others needing some healing.

In gratitude, Donna
I've also written this saying on other woven pieces, like the one below.

                             You can see part of the writing on the top portion of the leaf.

How do you incorporate compassion and caring into your art?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Empty Boats

"There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him.

At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening. Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster.

He begins to yell, "Hey, hey, watch out! For Pete's sake, turn aside!" But the boat just comes right at him faster and faster. By this time he's standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat.

This is the classic story on our whole life situation. There are a lot of empty boats out there.

We're always screaming and shaking our fists at them. Instead, we could let them stop our minds. Even if they only stop our mind for one point one seconds, we can rest in that little gap.

When the story line starts, we can do the tonglen practice of exchanging ourselves for others. In this way everything we meet has the potential to help us cultivate compassion and reconnect with the spacious, open quality of our minds."

Pema Chodron 

Empty Boats-micaceous clay, shifu (handspun paper yarn weaving)




Monday, August 28, 2017

Micaceous Clay

I purchased a small Weber charcoal grill for a little experimenting with clay.  Thanks to the internet, there are instructions galore!  Here are 2 mini pots I made.  They are tiny because I didn't want to make larger items that might break during the firing.  The pieces below have been polished with  a smooth stone. 

Mini pot and stone polisher

After a week of drying, I loaded the grill with charcoal and cooked these guys for about 45 minutes.  Here's how they turned out, with more polishing. (They were only covered with more charcoal.)
This one turned completely black.  I wrapped it in 2 layers of aluminum foil.  I like how you can still see the mica flakes.     
I made this larger piece for coiling:
Then I took it to Georgie's in Eugene for the bisque fire.  Here's the finished item with additional polishing, coiled with Midwest sweetgrass.  The pottery is smooth to the touch and smells good, too!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sou'wester Lodge

On Sun. evening, I started an artist in residence at the Sou'wester Lodge, in Seaview, WA.  Yes, this is my second visit there.  Last time was in March 2016, so I won't bore you with the details.  However, here is a link to their fantastic artist in residence program.
We had lovely weather; sunny and in the 70's for the first 3 days.  I was able to prepare some bark for those of you signed up for one of my Labor Day weekend workshops at the Sou'wester: 
If you haven't signed up yet, there's still time!

I also made some new trays, which I instantly added to the decor of my beach cabin.
Inner willow bark, reclining on a whale rib!
Curly filbert twigs with assorted twines, hanging and reclining.

Whale vertebra; no osteoporosis here!

The other workshop is my Japanese basket purse, or kinchaku kago, which was featured years ago in Belle Armoire magazine. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fascinating Fiber Finds at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

I spent last week visiting Doug at Mesa Verde.   I went on his Long House tour, and then my physical body went on strike.  I think it was a lack of sleep, high altitude, anemia, and heat.  Anyways, I'm not going to go into details, but it wasn't a fun situation.

However, I did enjoy my visit to the Chapin Mesa museum.  Now that I'm home, I wish that I would have arranged a study visit with the museum staff.  Oh well maybe next time.  Here's a little teaser of what you can see there.  (I concentrated mostly on the yucca and hair pieces.)

a new friend

The best private view, stayed here for 2 nights.