Ten Cent Worth

June 29, 2019

My brother and I were talking about the time when, at the tender age of 8, I took 10 pennies from his coin collection to buy a candy bar. I innocently took the first ten pennies, which I learned later are the oldest and most valuable. I made this piece, Ten Cent Worth after our conversation. In the process of making it, I realized I had a lot of shame about that incident. I think he’s still a little peeved, but I forgave myself. 😉

ten cent worth

Ten Cent Worth

I became kind of obsessed about these sort of “pigtails”, which I had used on other pieces in the past. They suggested “girl”, but also suggested hypervigilence, like antennae, which one sprouts when the youngest of 4 in an alcoholic household. A body of work followed.



I made “Maw” incorporating the “Basquiat” face as though on this character’s t shirt. A pensive little angel, recalling a quote from something I was reading at the time, “in every happy moment, pulled into a maw of loss and fear and shame.” Connecting “maw” with “Ma”, along came Imperious Palace, a piece about the ideas of standards and taste one inherits from her mother.

imperious palace A

Imperious Palace

This is how I riff—how one piece leads to another. The patterns on the little “heads” are like china patterns. Blue and white china reminds me of my mother. And china patterns led to the creation of my China Dolly Wallies.


Darkness, darkness

June 29, 2019

basq collage

This is another section of the collage mentioned previously. The main image here was supposedly a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, or perhaps it was just inspired by his work. I lost the caption. In either case, it was something I associated with him and it has a lot of energy for me. I related to it on a feeling level (chaotic, disassociated, uncentered, vulnerable), but also intellectually challenged, my interest piqued, and tried to bring some of this into the clay piece it inspired, below.

basquiat box

The tangled guy is like a different aspect of the problem. He’s so preoccupied with being tangled up in his rope (in his head), he doesn’t see anything else. In the process of making the piece in clay and string, I realized I had the power to take that rope and wind it up in neat loops and set it aside (or use it to lasso another idea).



Ravenous Heart

June 29, 2019

Ravenous Heart reshot

My clay work often comes out of collages. The collage is a reflection of the psyche. It invites the unconscious to reveal itself, like a dream. Like dreams, the images come in service to health and healing.

The girl with the heartberries was the central image of my collage. It was the first aha in the collage-making process.

This piece, Ravenous Heart, was one of the first images I made in clay in response to the collage. It’s a massive understatement to say that it was (and is) very revealing! My teacher, Coeleen Kiebert, always said, and I’ve echoed through the years, it’s good to get these things out where you can look at them! I hope the title tells the story.

Heartberries: it starts with a collage

June 29, 2019

This is the center section of the collage: A girl in pink with huge goblet full of strawberries. She holds one. She stares into space, contemplating, daydreaming, imagining. She contemplates each one of these berries then puts it into the big woven basket. Each berry represents an idea, something worth considering, perhaps something to represent in clay. One at a time. Hundreds of them.

Behind her is the open red door, the way to and from the mysteries and histories of her heart. She has come out of the open door; she contemplates berries; she will go back inside with a little more understanding.

I encountered the name “heartberries” some months after making this collage, reading a book of the same name, then encountered it again in a wonderful book called Braiding Sweetgrass. Both books are by Native American women; strawberries are heartberries.

The door is in the basement of a church. This I recognized from a dream. The basement of a church is where the work gets done. It’s all hands on, a foundation for what’s upstairs. It’s for people who maintain things, make and share food, take out the garbage, teach the children. Authentic spiritual work.

From here, “Heartberries” take several forms, both in collaged images and clay pieces over a period of months.heartberry collage

Story Shirt

July 24, 2018

story shirt

Another piece that originated in the March workshop. See blog post of 3/27/18. The piece is 29″ x 15″ x 12″.


July 24, 2018

Listen tapir bird

Here’s the piece that started with the collage from the March workshop. The bird is an Oystercatcher. It’s sitting on the baby tapir’s back, whispering in its ear. 20″ x 16″ x 9″

Looking Back, Moving Forward

April 22, 2018

Looking back moving forward

The threat is passed, but not forgotten. She’s still alert to dangers. Her trusty instinctual steed can be counted on to move her forward even as it steps off the log that bridges “then” and “now”. See the sketch for this piece on “Image Journal” post.


April 22, 2018

ferrying 2

This is the last of the “Foreign Bodies” body of work. Two tigers ferry the remains of the invaders as new life springs forth from them.

ferrying detail

Renewal Rabbit

April 9, 2018

This piece, “Renewal”, started out as my demo rabbit during one of our Maker Monday studio classes. I decided to make it part of my “Foreign Bodies” body of work, which I did by bringing in the labyrinth motif and bird skeleton images again (see previous post) and pulling image inspiration from my humungous c-diff collage, shown below. The collage chronicles my illness from pain and disruption to renewal and rebirth.

3 c-diff collage-accordian

Point of Departure

April 9, 2018

Departure turtle bottomDeparture turtle top

“Departure” is another piece from the “Foreign Bodies” exploration of my c-diff experience. The turtle or tortoise is a reliable vehicle to transport the bird skeleton, which could represent the soul, and certainly expresses vulnerability, as it is stripped down to its essence. On the bottom of the turtle there’s a labyrinth, a path for contemplation. While sick I realized there is just no hurrying these things; I was forced to surrender to the process of the illness and recovery.