Monday, March 5, 2012

Collaborative Owl Project with Kim Fields

Two years ago, after the February Tucson shows, Kim Fields stuck around for a few days for us to play in the studio.  She left behind a small black and white owl, which sat in my studio, untouched for months.  Right before the Bead and Button show, I added bright color and detail, and turned the very beautiful owl into a bright fantasy version.  Kim's work made such an interesting canvas to paint- so many more little textures and details!

So, after that first owl, we decided to do more.  This small batch of 9 owls have a combined total of close to 4 work days between the Kim and me, and I think they definitely show it.   While I don't tire of insect-related content, stepping into the world of other winged creatures sure was fun!

A few of these are still available for purchase. Contact me for details.

Collaborative Projects: Fall 2011 with Calvin Mickle/ Calm

Playing with friends is fun.  Working with friends is fun.  Playing and working at the same time with friends is even more fun.  With that simple fact in mind, I have been embracing the opportunity to play with friends.  Certainly the most significant, and long-term collaboration has been with friend and local artist, Calvin Mickle.

I posted an album on Facebook with far more photos, but here's what I wrote about that album:

A few months ago, Calvin asked me to be his partner in an upcoming Flame Off (Glassroots Art Show, November 2011). “You know I’m a soft glass bead lady” I replied. Instead of reconsidering and finding a boro-working chick (as I kind of expected him to), Calvin grinned, and responded: “You won’t be any more.” 
In July (2011), Calvin and I started working together. Every once in a while, Calvin came to my studio to practice. We decided early on that we’d be adapting some of the bee/honey/ honeycomb theme glass I’d been working on in soft glass to a larger scale, but how that all played out was still wide open. So we worked, not just on bee stuff, but on lots of bug-themed things, keeping in content with which I was familiar, helping me to get more comfortable with boro as a medium, and getting both of us more comfortable working together. For most of our collabs, Calvin worked on the bulk of the structure of our pieces, and I on small details. I’m still learning, can’t begin to keep up with his talent, speed, and versatility as an artist. That said, I have far more ideas than my current skill level with borosilicate can accommodate. With that in mind, much of our collaborative time took the shape of lessons- many of the components that I was to make I could do at other times, so when we were together, I watched Calvin work, and learned. Always patient and calm (I know, I know, how appropriate), Calvin didn’t judge or diminish my bead-lady sensibility or my bumpy road of learning. We had fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate/ teacher / friend. 
Working with boro has been soul-feeding, humbling, educational. That’s not to say soft glass couldn’t, or already hasn’t, facilitated these same ends, but this year, boro wins the prize in my book. Soft glass has been off my bench since August. Though I continued to teach soft glass beads all summer and fall, it’s been boro going into the flame from my torch. I’m stoked about glass again, and I didn’t know that I needed a re-stoking until it was in motion. With the bigger canvas, different technical considerations, I am as far from white page syndrome/ writer’s block as I could possibly be, overflowing with ideas, some of which I can’t implement fully because I haven’t yet learned enough. That is a magical place to be as an artist. Each seal, each connection is better than the one before it, and those little steps are so exciting. I’m far from done with soft glass, but I’m done choosing one or the other. I’m more deeply rooted in a path of exploration in glass, and for that, I’m more grateful than words can possibly convey. So to Calvin, dear friend, you were the catalyst. THANK YOU. Our collaborations have resulted in pieces that I am more proud of than just about anything I’ve made before. And, we won kilns! Thank you.

And without further ado, here are a few photos: 

Garden Project Continues...

Last September, not long after my most recent (ugh, I know I'm bad at regularly updating this blog) blog post, I expanded my veggie garden.  By adding 3 more units of raised planters, I nearly quadrupled my available growing space, and hopefully allowing me to grow year-round, and to grow all the odd varieties of seeds I stumble across.  My awesome Mom and Dad helped out, and this project would not have come together nearly as well without their help.  Dad and I hauled nearly 3 tons of compost from my driveway to fill the planters, and Mom helped me plant seeds.  On this same visit, she also taught me how to make pickles and jams, so I can take full advantage of every morsel of veggie goodness this garden makes.

This garden has been full of lessons, many of which were unexpected.  I've learned plenty of the Botany that I missed in college, of course, but the two unexpected opportunities for learning have been in non-attachment, and in keen observation.   In a garden (and in life, for that matter), things don't always turn out as expected, sometimes for the worse, and sometimes, for the better.

My winter garden definitely didn't turn out as I expected.  The bulk of these planters are along a north-facing wall, and many of the plants I put in last fall just haven't produced as enthusiastically as I'd hoped.  My mistake was in not remembering how sideways winter sun is here, and how much that wall would block the sunshine so many of these veggies need, especially in cold winter weather.  Six months after sowing, my cauliflower is just now starting to make a flower head (now that the sun is high enough), and my beets are just starting to make the bulbous roots I've dreamed of since September.  Nothing was lost entirely; they're just going slower than expected.  The plants in full sun, however, took off- and I have become an expert in cooking broccoli rapini, because my garden produced enough to feed half of southern Arizona.  In the first warm week of February, the rapini bolted to flower, bringing me a late winter dose of beautiful yellow flowers, and a ton of very happy bees.

Until this winter, arugula was a special treat.  Now, I'm ok if I don't see it for a little while.  One 3 foot row of arugula gave me more than I could possibly need.  The bitter, peppery leaves went into salads, pastas, and finally (to use up gobs of it before it bolted too) into a neat pesto recipe.  I mixed it with garbanzo beans (following the suggestion of a garden blogger whose link I can no longer find), parmesan reggiano, garlic, and olive oil.  It mixes beautifully with yogurt or sour cream to make a nice spread for sandwiches or a dip for well, anything.  As long as you like arugula.

A month later, the rapini has been delegated to the compost pile, the arugula thinned substantially, and the early summer garden plants are now in the ground: tomatoes, tomatillo, a pepper plant or 2, squash, herbs, melon.  Beans will go in next month, as will a few more chili plants.  All in all, counting the flowers (sunflowers, echinacea, hibiscus) that can be used for tea, the herbs, winter veggies, and summer veg, I have over 80 varieties of edibles growing right now.  I'm eating something out of this garden almost every day.  (Last night, my dinner was blessed with tender carrot thinnings, salad greens, Scarlet Globe radishes, beet greens, and chard.)  Two years ago, I only had broccoli and chard.  Not bad for forward motion.

I know not every single one of those 80 varieties of edibles will be prize-winning champions, but I'm excited to see how this spring and summer garden goes.  I know I shouldn't hold on too tightly to the notion of feeding myself and my neighbors off this garden, but...  A few dreams of heirloom caprese salads, stuffed squash blossoms, and Hibiscus tea can't be a bad thing.   Stay tuned.  There will be more garden reporting soon.

the quiet winter garden, sometime in December '11

the Rapini that took over the world, February '12

early Feb, right before cutting down the rapini and planting the spring garden seeds