Asheville Skies

Just finished the final bronze "gilding" on this sweet vessel.  Visitors continually remark about the glorious skies in Asheville.  From early morning dawn to our spectacular sunsets, we are blessed each day with this incredible blue, white clouds scudding by.  Beautiful golds and purple caressing our mountains.  

So this vessel with the brown mountains on the bottom and spilling up the sides and the blue, white and gold in the skies is a tribute to Asheville's beauty.


...or embellishments.  Before the final coat on a window panel, vessel or lamp, I use organic material to add a bit of intrest.  I usually head to The Villagers on Haywood Road in West Asheville.  Bits of beeswax for flowers in a field, chopped oat straw strewn across a pasture, dried rhodiola branches for light dirt.  

But I was stumped on this large commission piece.  The clients wanted fall leaves and a path (needing "darker" dirt.  And that's the fun of doing commission work....listening to the clients and capturing their vision in fiber.

Then one morning I'm out in our garden, deadheading, and voila!  Strawflowers and marigolds for the leaves and magnolia leaves for the dirt!  Pick a passel of those and dried them on my years old drying screen and they are perfect.

I feel like Dorthy, "...there's no place like home."!


Talking Art...A Follow Up

Another day of "talking art"  and demonstrating what I do is in the books.  Saturday at Mountain Made Gallery in the Grove Arcade, I was painting a sunrise and talking to people all the different fibers I use in my, wool, mohair, and bamboo, to name a few.

Downtown Asheville is quite the place for people to visit when coming to our City. I talked to folks from Fort Meyers on vacation.  A couple from South Carolina try out their new motor home.  People from Arizona in town for a nephew's wedding.  A lady from Austin here for a conference.  People from Winston-Salem, PA, MA, VA.  All over the place.

My two favorites, though, were the ladies from Charleston, who were there as "Art Appreciators" and the high school junior from MA who proudly showed me here collaborative entry into a state-wide competition.  It was a very remarkable portrayal of the Cliff Dwellers.  The kids signed that piece with their handprints, much like the artists of long ago.

So a big thanks to all the people who stopped by.  And if you are visiting our City, or if you live here, when you see a working artist, feel free to step up and chat! 

Below is a close up of a smidge of sky in one of my vessels.

Talking art!

One kewl thing about the Asheville art community is the joy we artist feel in sharing the "why" of what we do.  This past Wednesday, I went to the Summer Solstice Celebration at Eco-Depot Marketplace.  Lots of folks stopped by from the Community, but there were many artists there, too. 

We shared our "whys" and "hows", and our joys in where we are at in our respective journeys.  Amazing stories from open and creative people.

Tomorrow I'll be Downtown at the Historic Grove Arcade, at Mountain Made Gallery demonstrating what I do and talking about my personal "why".  For me, it's all about Gratitude, and that vision of a vessel I had while having radiation therapy.  Folks alway ask how I came to creating fiber vessels, window panels and lamps.  So many, upon hearing the story, fall into my arms, telling me about their personal stories, or the stories of a friend, sister, mother.  It is a humbling experience.  And it is so much fun talking with kids about art!  So many of them love art and share their projects with me.  Believe me, I have so much Gratitude for these events.

So please come down tomorrow and chat.  The Arcade is beautiful, and there is always something going on Downtown!  I'll be there from 11:00-4:00.  Hope to see you there!

The largest piece....

...I've ever done!  The pic below is of what, will be, a large bathroom window.  It is the commission piece I've had so much fun doing!   The left side show a finished panel.  Just the sewn fibers.  The right side is after a first coat of resin has been applied.  The blue tape indicates the placement of the dogwood grove and the rhododendron shrubs.   

Once both panels have two coats of resin and  painted embellishing here and there, I'll do two more coats of resin.  In between those, I'll set in the organic elements:  oat straw, beeswax, rhodiola branch, and a little magic!  Trust me, when these pieces are mounted, they will look like stained glass!

This is the trill of creating a commission piece:  designing for a specific space in a home or business, with the hobbies and interests of the about "to be owners" in mind!

What an Artistic Weekend!

Asheville is a well-known center for the arts.  I like to think of it as a "vortex of creativity"!  Seems like that vortex is concentrated in the renowned River Arts District.  I'm one of those artists.  Last weekend was the Spring Studio Stroll.  

Talk about exiting!  Studios are open, with many of use doing demos and talking to all sorts of folks about "why we do what we do" and how we do it.   I was at Eco-Depot Marketplace, working on the first layer of paint.  The piece I was painting is one half of the largest commission piece I've done to date!  Asheville sky and clouds, mountains, and my beloved French Broad River. 

Then I made a huge mistake!  Like spilling emerald green paint on on corner. I was frozen for a moment, but then quickly scooped it up.  I started blotting, but there was soooo much green.  When I got back from washing my hand, there was Shelley, the owner/artist of Eco-Depot calmly blotting it out.  In my frazzled state, I just stepped away.   Shelley kept working.  Buy the time I got back, not a trace of green!

The point of this story is that one of the best parts of being a RADA artist is the collaborative spirit among the artists.  I'm look forward to working with a couple of artist on joint project soon.   

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A work in progress.....

Yesterday, I scoured the Goodwill for glass vessel to "up-cycle" into art.  I found one...plain, straight sided.  Clear.  Perfect.  But nothing to write home about.  

I'm covering it with my fiber art, using loose silk and wool, representing the ever-changing skies around Asheville.  The first pic is the base piece I'll use on the glass piece.  The second piece is how it will look after layers of paint and resin.   


So here's why I do what I do....

My Artistic Evolution

Let me tell you a smidge about how I became a working artist in Asheville, North Carolina.  I create fiber vessels, window panels and lamps.  Each creation has multiple layers of paint and resin.  People say they look like stained glass.  And several folks have said I’m the Chihuly of fiber!  

I grew up in Southern California.  My Grandmother taught me to sew, and that began my lifelong love affair with fiber.  I still enjoy picking  needle, thread and fabric and creating art quilts.  Back in the day, I learned to surf and make surfboards.  After a stint in the legal field, my husband and I had the brilliant idea to move to his family's farm in Ohio with our two small children.  We became Angora goat ranchers, producing high-quality fiber for hand spinners.  After the kids were grown, I went back to the legal field, working at a local Legal Aid program.  

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  I underwent radiation treatment, and I'm fine.  During that treatment, while lying on my back with tears running into my ears, I was overcome with how fortunate I was to be alive.  How even in that situation, my life was filled with blessings.  People and things to have GRATITUDE for.   A vision came to me of a colored vessel filled to overflowing with blessings.  

My husband and I moved to Asheville - the City we have loved for over a decade a few years ago.   The colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the trees, the rocks, the magnificent French Broad River - that abundant beauty spoke to my soul and the artist in me.  The first time I saw that River, with the late afternoon sun shimmering on it, I knew I was home!  That beauty of nature - that quiet yet powerful beauty -  is part of the statement that each of my pieces conveys.

So, for me, that idea that came to me in that horrible time, was a Holy thing, something I had to take up and join with the Universe in creating.   Blew off half a year trying to find directions or someone to teach me.  But in the end, it came down to me.  To join the vision I had been given with the skills from my past to make that first vessel come to life.  I used my Grandmother’s sewing skills, and some of that beach surfboard-making knowledge to accomplish this.  Dogged persistence, failures, and doubt.  My thinking?  If you have been given a vision of where to do with your life, receive it with utter Gratitude.  Listen to yourself:  you’ll know the answer to transforming the vision into reality.

Daily, I have such Gratitude to create an art form.  My hope is  that these pieces may bring a memory to someone who has seen the beauty of our Blue Ridge Mountains, to remind them that life is a blessing  As an artist, that is a awesome path to be on.  

I still have that first vessel here in our little bungalow.  I scribble daily blessings on snippets of paper and add those to the vessel....of people and things I have Gratitude for.

So I ask you:  What do you have to be thankful for now, even in that hard or scary place we can all go?   What are your blessings?  What blessings will you note on random slips of paper to fill your vessel with?  

With Gratitude….

Getting it done!

Below you'll see the two window panels that make up a portion of the commission I'm working.  The French Broad River.  One panel for each of the two side by side bathroom window.  This has been a delightful set to work on, and an artistic challenge!  The next step in the process is to paint and resin (three or four layers of each!)  Wait to you see it then!

Thoughts On Creating Commission Pieces

I find so much joy in doing commission work.  As the artist, I get to develop relationship with the clients.  If they are local, I even get to design the piece for space, considering the colors, geometric aspects of the site and seeing the furniture and other art work the clients have.

Currently, I'm designing three window panels for the greatest young couple.  There house is quietly elegant, without being stuffy!  Full of stunning pieces.   Because the couple are here in Asheville, I've had a chance to actually check the windows for how the light will come through, which really is exciting for my artist's mind.

It has been so much fun adjusting the approved sketches to the actual size, to source the various fibers (wool, silk, and bamboo), and to work on the layout.  Stretches my artistic "muscle".  

There are large pieces.  The first two are a rendition of our majestic French Broad River, done in two section.  It's 24x40!  Below is the "first draft" of the left window panel piece.

Wonderment Wednesday!

I like to post in "Wonderment Wednesday" about wonderful things I see around Asheville.  Believe me, there are so many!  But today, right in my studio, I'm overwhelmed with wonderment!  

Most of the time, I make pieces I like, inspired by the beauty of nature in my "neck of the woods". But I really love doing commission work.  It's fun to create pieces for a specific window or space, taking into account the likes and thoughts of the clients.  If are hikers, I'll make a trail, and embellish it with chopped wild cherry root.  Pastures may get a scattering of oat grass.  I find this enormously creative and fun!

I've chosen local North Carolina wool, beautiful hand painted bamboo, and silk fibers.  

I've just started on three large window panels. Two are 24 x 39, and the third is 27 x 36.  Huge for my wee studio! Two are The Asheville home they are going to is so beautiful...full of meaningful art that is special to this couple.

I met with the clients last weekend, and on Monday, began sketching out the first two pieces.  They are so big I had to move to the kitchen and sketch on the floor.   Now, I make many "French Broad Rivers" in pieces.  It such a mighty river!  But this is such a huge river, it took me all afternoon to get it right.  Allowed for sweeps and swirls in the River.  The banks will have bit of oyster shell and sand.  Blocks for the rhododendrons and pine trees and an oak grove.   And a trail...the couple love to hike!  

These will take a couple on months, but I'm so filled with Gratitude to have the opportunity to take their vision, my vision and create!

Again, with Gratitude!

Last weekend I started a "Spring Makeover" of my space at Eco-Depot Marketplace.  Bless my spouse, Patrick, for helping out.  Let me tell you, what I don't know about electrical things is, well, a lot!

Looks soooo much better.  

Folks, if you haven't been to Eco-Depot, stop by soon.  It is on Depot Street, in Asheville's River Arts District!   There are over 50 local artists showcased in a marvelous old brick building.  

Just Sayin'

Over the years, I will admit I've probably driven my family crazy, saving this and that.  Those items that I "might use in a project".  Lots of fabric, from wee snippets to a yard or two.  Broken glass and tile.

In my studio is a box labeled "Organics".  What is in that, pray tell?  My collection of elk hooves that will some day, in my spare time become a wind chime.  Crushed walnut shells for dirt.  Crushed almond shells for lighter dirt.  Bottle caps...never know when you'll need those.   Tickets.  May want to incorporate those in a painting.  There is more.  It's an eclectic collection.

Today, I'm working on a window panel.  Now these are all sewn fiber that is then painted.  I needed sand for the bottom area of "Koi Pond".  Yep!  Right there in my "Organics" box is sand.  And it was just perfect!

So ya never know when you need just the right thing.  I'm going to have to get a bigger box!


Busy in the studio today. And it is such a small studio (12x10)!  

We've set up three worktables...on for sewing, a wet table for painting and resin work, and an all purpose table for works in progress.  I've been working in all three areas, and am now leaving the studio....there is wet stuff, some very sticky, drying all over the place!   The vessel below is "Dawn Sky Over Asheville".

Dawn over Asheville

Close up and personal!

Today, I'm messing around with this website to add Eco-Depot Market Place as a venue where my art fiber art can be seen and purchased.  

This is such an exiting concept!  Recycled, repurposed items that are transformed into stunning art work.  Quilts, jewelry, yard art, paintings....oh my!  For me it is stunning to be working with so many talented artists.  I really believe Asheville is a "vortex of creativity"!

Whilst looking for a couple of pic, I came across this one of a close up showing the colors on the rim of a vessel.  I love these colors!  And when the light passes through?  Like stained glass!

Eco-Depot is located in Asheville's River Arts District, at 408 Depot Street.   Stop by and check it out!

Some thoughts on the process...

People often ask me when I am demonstrating "where do you get your ideas?".   So many come to me from what I see around my beautiful city of Asheville, NC.   The water flowing in the French Broad River is a favorite.  I love making the white stitching and applying the silver beads representing frothy water cascading down the Blue Ridge Mountains!  Close to my house is Carrier Park.  I often stop when out and about and walk a couple of miles.

The French Broad River, Carrier Park

The French Broad River, Carrier Park

Then there are the sunsets!  And the sunrises!  When I was imagining our life in Asheville, I envisioned having those views from a porch.   Well, I see both from the wee bungalow we restored.

Walking at the Botanical Gardens one day, I was captivated by the complex colors and textures on the ground.  Rocks, evergreen needles rhododendron leaves - all with a smattering of sunlight glinting through the lush canopy overhead.

And my garden is full of ideas.  This past spring I made "Poppies" and a "Peony".   

So I guess I see inspiration everywhere here in Asheville....even in my own back yard!

Wonderment Wednesday!

Martha, my bestest buddy, is my heart-sister here in Asheville.  We meet once a week for "Coffee Class".  That's where we solve world and family problems, talk politics, spirituality and books, among other things.   Today we shook things up on our "Spring Field Trip" to Weaverville.  Just about 15 minutes north of Asheville.  

First stop was the Miya Gallery, which has amazing wood, pottery and jewelry. Strolled down the street to Magnum Pottery.  What talent!  It is a working studio.  The artists use local cray to make vessels, plates, cups, bowls.  Glazed with magnificent earth tones.   Today we got to see the kilns, both electric and gas.  They are huge!  


Next stop was The Crucible Glassworks.  Hillary kindly showed us around the studio and explained the process of using "canes" of glass to make the various shapes.  The ones we saw were only about 3/8 of an inch in diameter, but can be crafted into such marvelous shaped pieces.


Here's a piece we both liked, based on the shaped of Hopi Indian baskets!


We meandered along the French Broad River up to Marshall.  I'd never been there, but we were both charmed, just charmed.   From the Courthouse with plaques commemorating the local men killed in the Civil War to a marvelous restaurant (forgot the name!).  This restaurant has "Zuma Chocolate Cookies".  Those are the best cookies I've ever tasted.  We talked to Nancy the baker who created the recipe and says those cookies allow her to "live the Dream", which I totally understand.   Luckily, they are stocked the the Ingles Market on Merrimon Drive here in Asheville!

We ended the day at "Flow", a cooperative gallery.  Superb furniture, jewelry, paintings and pottery all made by local artists.  I've simply got to go back there!