Wednesday, August 25, 2010

mad about woad

Bleu de Lectoure's famous pastel blue shutters -- image source

I've never really embraced the color blue...not for clothes, furnishings, and especially not exterior house paints. But that all changed recently when I stumbled across the story of Denise and Henri Lambert who purchased an abandoned tannery, Bleu de Lectoure, in southwest France in 1994. The couple triumphantly revived the tannery's centuries-old natural dye-extraction process using woad plants (isatis tinctoria) growing in abundance on the property. Woad dye production was halted in the mid 19th century when Indigo and synthetic blue dyes became commonplace.

To get the fullest picture of why I've fallen so hard for woad, I invite you to watch this beautiful video -- you won't be sorry!

Parting thoughts: I'm not sure what I love more: the exquisite color of woad blue or the fact that the Lambert's were able to resurrect an artisan craft previously heralded during the 14th and 15th centuries. What I do know is that I will buy a few of their products, including some pure woad pigment to dye some of my ivory hemp/organic cotton fabric as well as a tube of handmade oil paint for a series of new paintings.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

the sketchbook project

A dear friend and fellow eco-artist Rikkianne and her business partner Ursula of Chakra Pennywhistle recently turned me on to Art House Co-op's The Sketchbook Project. I'm thrilled to announce that my mom and I will both be participating. Won't you?

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

"A sketchbook is a place to put your heart and soul. Let it out into the wild; we'll keep you connected." - Art House Co-op

This project invites people from across the globe to share personal artwork in a sketchbook based on any one of a variety of themes. Completed sketchbooks will then go on tour (be shipped around the country to various art galleries) for public viewing. I'm super excited to learn that my hometown of Seattle has just been added to the official tour!

When the tour ends next summer, all sketchbooks will be permanently housed in the Brooklyn Art Library. Since each sketchbook contains a barcode with a unique number, artists will be able to track real-time statistics about his or her sketchbook during the tour and for years to come (e.g., number of times the sketchbook is viewed).


I sure am eager to get started. My sketchbook is officially in the mail and I've chosen the theme "If you lived here..." From time to time I'll be posting photos from my sketchbook here on my blog. I'm curious about what I'll end up with come January and I'm confident I'll enjoy the journey even more. Knowing my sketchbook will go on a tour alongside tens of thousands of others across the US is just icing on the cake.

A little more about Chakra Pennywhistle

I couldn't leave without including a few images of these beautiful handcrafted organic pillows and recycled moneybag wallet from Rikkianne and Ursula. I had the pleasure of getting to know Rikkianne last year in a previous business life (I'm lucky to own one of her Little Modern Birds tea towels).

Folks who are familiar with the handmade movement and online sites such as Etsy, Poppytalk, and Cosaverde need no introduction to these pioneering ladies. I'm proud to say that I share their values for organic farming and choice of natural materials. I hope you consider choosing eco-friendly artisan goods like these the next time you are presented with a gift-giving occasion or simply want to spruce up your own place.

Next artist highlight: Liane of enhabiten.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

dorothea lange

Dorothea Lange. Circa 1936 - image source

My recent look at the Great Depression, specifically the rural poor affected by the Dust Bowl, led me to Dorothea Lange's extraordinary collection of photographs. Ms. Lange worked for Roy Stryker's team of photographers and the Farm Security Administration (FSA) from 1935-1939 documenting the lives of displaced farmers, sharecroppers and migrant workers. Here are just a few of her photographs that have moved me:

Migrant Mother (age 32). Circa 1936 - image source

Penniless family. Circa 1936 - image source

Fairbanks family tent home. Circa 1939 - image source

Nettie Circa 1938 - image source

On a related note, I'm anxious to dive into "Heartland New Mexico, Photographs from the Farm Security Administration 1935-1943" by Nancy Wood that features Ms. Lange's photographs of Mills, Bosque Farms, and other resettlement areas in New Mexico. My paternal grandfather was a coal miner in nearby Raton, NM, and Ms. Wood's book revisits places depicted in the Ms. Lange's photographs.

Friday, August 6, 2010

their smiles say it all

Our recent trip to Colorado brought miles of smiles to my daughter's faces. Can you guess why? Horses, of course! To say my girls are horse crazy is an understatement (thank you Nana and Pomper for making all the arrangements!). The girls spent time feeding and riding these beauties in the town where their father grew up. Their cousins also joined in on the fun. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

beaded canning jar lanterns

The girls and I had a blast with this project. We can use these mosquito-fighting works of art now that summer has finally arrived here in Seattle.

  • canning jar (any size - we used wide-mouth)
  • citronella candles
  • florists wire for making the handle (approx. 24-gauge)
  • beading wire
  • beads
  • sand to stabilize the candle (we used recycled glass sand)
  • wire cutters
  • glue (for those who lose patience with beading + want to still add a little bling)