Blackfoot River



Back in July, J and I took a long-awaited trip to Montana, a place I have been wanting to show him for a long time.  I've looked forward to returning ever since I spent a summer there in college - at the time my university's Forestry program included a 7 week field school at an out of state location, and Montana was the destination for my class.  This post just includes one stop off on the trip, along the Blackfoot River just east of Missoula.  We spent an afternoon sitting by the river, exploring along the bank and observing the various things that grow there.  Unfortunately, the weather was not warm enough to make us brave the frigid water for a swim-- next time.

I'll make additional posts from this trip, hopefully in the near future.  I haven't been blogging much lately, because my time has been monopolized by creating artwork.  This is a good problem to have, but I'm hoping to start writing more again soon and balancing this space of inspiration, reflection and updates with my art making practice.  Until then...

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I was really excited to discover what I believe to be showy milkweed along the river bank!  I had just begun my project, Missing Pieces, at the time and milkweed was pretty much on the brain all summer long.  What a beautiful plant!

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Wolf lichen is incredibly fascinating to me.  Driving along mountain roads up north, you'll come around a bend to see a dead tree just covered in fluorescent yellow fruticose lichen, one of those things that I'm amazed is real.  Wolf lichen has inspired some of my work this past year, both that I have shared as well as another project that I haven't posted about.  That one will likely stay under wraps for quite a while, but check out my wolf lichen wall hanging.

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Another type of lichen to inspire my work recently has been pixie cup.  I've knitted some pieces inspired by these for my shop, including terrariums, holiday ornaments, and a wall hanging.

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Tube lichen is especially fascinating - the texture and colors, the fruiting structures.  I recently created a piece inspired by this type of lichen for Cultivating Craft, an exhibition at 108 Contemporary in Tulsa that opens in December.  I'll share more on that soon.

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North Cascades Fungi || Part 1

Back in October, J and I visited a couple of dear friends in Seattle for a few days.  While on our trip, we drove into the North Cascades and hiked the Lake 22 trail in the Mt. Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest.  This day was really one of the highlights of my year, and I'm still feeding off of the inspiration and beauty that we beheld in the Pacific Northwest.  I know I say this a lot, but I really can't believe things like this exist.  It's mind blowing, really!  The hike up the mountain took about 3 times longer than the trek down, because of constant stops to observe and gawk (and photograph) about once every 20 feet or so.  I know it's excessive, but when the opportunity arises you just need to take these things in, you know?  Here is a sampling of the fungi I observed that day.  This will be a two part post, since it's pretty photo heavy - and there's part two to look forward to next week!  Can't wait to go back...


I started to go through my photos from our trip out west and got a little overwhelmed, so here are just a few from Seattle.  Our friends that we stayed with live in Ballard, just down the street from the Locks so we took a walk down there on the first day.  I'm told that we arrived just as the rains began, so the weather varied between mist, clouds, and intermittent sunlight.  I can't say I was bothered by any of it; the landscape is so lushly green and covered with huge trees, ferns, moss and lichen that would probably not thrive were it not for that temperate climate.
This is pretty much the extent of my urban photography on the trip, as most of my photos are pretty much of the aforementioned incredible landscape, the North Cascades in particular.  One great thing about visiting in the fall is the abundance of fungi, which I must admit is the reason I became overwhelmed when starting to go through photos.  So many different types!  I would love to share them all with you.  It will take a while, but I'm going to break them up into a series of posts over the next several weeks -- small pleasures.
I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween and a lovely weekend.  More knitted fungi is coming next week!


 J and I just returned from a trip out west to celebrate our third anniversary - we spent about a week in the Seattle area staying with some friends, and spent a lot of time outdoors.  My friend Sharalee took these photos that I thought I would share since I have not had the chance to upload my own yet.  The middle one is a pretty typical scene on hikes with me!  I will share more soon about what caught my eye on our adventures.  There's nothing more soothing than immersing oneself into wild places.





Materials: yarn, dried vine, wire
Dyed-in-the-wool is an installation that I recently created for Rare Earth, an exhibition at Plug Projects in Kansas City.  Rare Earth "features work that borrows materials and figures from the natural world to reevaluate the nature of nature and examine the many landscapes we all inhabit. Geodes, lichen, wind and water, fungi and fauna explore the possibilities of symbiosis, the interventions of pollution, and imaginatively refigure the terrestrial through painting, photography and sculpture. Considering human mediation into all of the ecologies we encounter, Rare Earth offers viewers new modes of seeing the world around them."
It is said that there are three ways in which to add pigment to a garment - after it is woven into its finished form, after it is spun into thread, and before it is spun - when it is still a mass of raw fiber.  The phrase "dyed-in-the-wool" refers to fiber that has been subjected to pigment - raw fiber - wool that has not yet been manipulated into something else.  Applying this idiom to human existence ties it to our foundational beliefs and ways of our nature.  What we were melded into before we dumped experience on top.  How our upbringing shaped us.
When I was considering a title for this installation, the idiom "dyed-in-the-wool" struck a chord with me not just because of the obvious literal connection of a fiber sculpture that was quite literally knitted with wool, but because it conveys exactly my perception of vegetation in an urban environment.
Do you ever walk by an abandoned lot or an alleyway and notice the vines and herbs that have sprouted through the cracks in the pavement, clung to the brick of an adjacent building, and in a way seem to have reclaimed the space?  It's remarkable that despite the extremely harsh environment we see in our urban areas, this flora still perseveres.  They are, after all, engineered for survival.  We eliminate the growing conditions conducive to coexistence with plant life, and yet they still find a way.  They are "dyed-in-the-wool" growing machines and will continue to thrive in very little soil volume with poor soil fertility, little water, an abundance of contaminants and air pollution.  Yet, how often do we walk on by without giving it a second thought?
I do want to note that I am in no way discrediting the huge problem that invasive plants have become in natural areas surrounding our communities.  Native plants and wildlife have been displaced due to this issue and I recognize that it's a very serious matter.
This piece is my effort to point out the wonders that we are surrounded by, how remarkable they are and that this beauty can exist despite the challenge of urban conditions.  It can be so moving to take a moment to just observe the growth and life around us.  A moment of encouragement, replenishment and hope.

Kansas City

Left side: images from my installation.  Right Side: images from around KC

This weekend was a great experience, and I can't wait to share some photos from my finished installation at Plug Projects.  The Plug crew was incredibly hospitable and kind, and they were great to work with.  I was blown away by the talent of the other artists in the exhibition, and feel honored to show alongside them.  Not to mention, we had a lot of fun while we were hanging out - great people!

If you are in the Kansas City area over the next 6 weeks, I encourage you to stop by the Plug Projects gallery to see all of the artwork in Rare Earth.  I will work on processing my installation images and post them on Wednesday.

Fungi of Southeastern Oklahoma

  Here are some more observations from our trip to Broken Bow, OK last month.  I also posted about the plant life a couple of weeks ago.  It feels like I haven't looked at fungi in forever, mostly because I've been working on another project which you'll find out more on soon.  I'm pretty excited about multiple things that are happening in life right now, and hopefully I can be a little less cryptic and let you in on these things in the very near future.  Until then... fungi!


New Decomposition Installation + Weekend Away

This weekend my husband and I rented a cabin down in Broken Bow, Oklahoma (the southeastern part of the state) just to get away for a few days and enjoy being out in nature.  We planned the trip over a month ago, and since that time I've been busy working on these pieces for my fifth installation for the Decomposition series.  You might recognize them from the 52 Forms of Fungi project, since I made a couple to use as form number 5.  Check back later this week to see the installation--- I'm really happy with how it turned out and can't wait to share it with you!  In the meantime, here are a few more photos from the weekend.  You'd better believe I'll have posts out the wazoo (do people still say that?) depicting all of the awesome fungi and things that we spotted while hiking.

... and Emma got to come too.


Holga || Roll 1

I bought a Holga toy camera with Christmas money a couple of years back, and finally just got around to having the first roll of film I used with it developed.  I'm used to 35 mm, but the camera I bought uses 120 film.  To be honest, I wasn't sure how these were going to turn out because after a certain point the numbers do not seem to be showing up correctly as you wind through the film - it seems like I remember them starting to count backward at some point?  Anyway, it was exciting to get these images back and see the imperfections created by my well meaning ignorance of the thing, in addition to the characteristic light leaks, etc.
Most of these images are from our trip to Marfa, TX and Big Bend National Park in February 2011.  I played around with double exposure a little bit, which you can see in a couple of the beginning photos. The frames are off on the majority of these (well meaning film winding ignorance), but I think I like it.  It gives some of the photos (such as the one below) a bit of an "opposites" contrast.  The very last photo is from the condo we stayed in for our honeymoon in Costa Rica... I think I changed the film after taking that one.  Now I need to finish the current roll so I can see what kind of quirks/character the frames from that trip will have!
Do you use toy cameras?  I'm interested in trying out other kinds; let me know if you have a recommendation for what I should get next!
On another note, I miss the desert.  Looking over these REALLY makes me want to go visit south Texas again.


Sacramento By IPhone

I recently visited Sacramento for a few days to attend a conference.  In my down time, I made a point to walk around and explore the downtown area, and found a lot of beauty there.  I will post some more photos from my DSLR in a few days, but in the meantime here are some things I saw and shot with my phone camera using the Instagram app.  Sacramento is known as the "City of Trees" and they really do have some nice trees.  Make note of the blue ones below - I'm going to put together a post about that project soon as well.


Photos from Portland

There was one last location on our trip that I have yet to post photos from.  I didn't take quite as many in Portland as I did elsewhere, but I think there are still some that warrant sharing.  This is definitely my kind of town...  the nature shots are mostly from the Hoyt Arboretum.  We stayed at the Jupiter Hotel which is where the room photos came from, and the others are just some random things from around town.  The last photo isn't from Portland, but since I didn't write a post on the wedding we went to it got skipped over.  It's a great photo of Jason and I though and I wanted to share it (because that doesn't come along very often).


















Time to Go Home

Last night I slept in the mist amongst a graveyard of cedar trees, a mere 100 yards from the ocean. It smelled of burning cedar logs on the campfire and sounded like crashing waves.Earlier in the day, we ate smoked mussels and clam chowder, and then embarked on a hike into a temperate, fern covered forest to find the perfect spot for Phase I of my Decomposition fiber art installations. I can't remember the last time I felt this creatively fulfilled. (Photos to come upon our return home). The previous night: we joined with friends old and new and enjoyed great food and conversation. Even away from home we have found great community and bonded with New friends who also reside in Oklahoma. Earlier that day: wandering around Portland (lost, but we got to see a lot of it that way), visited and purchased from the kingdom of books (Powell's) and hiked at Hoyt Arboretum beneath redwoods, spruces, firs and giant sequoias. Might have snagged some spongy sequoia bark to take home... Along with some street side succulents bits that afternoon... All this since in Portland. Since I last posted we geeked out in the towns where Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure were filmed in WA. Snoqualmie (Twin Peaks) was really developed and had very little of the character left in it (what can you expect after 20 years). Roslyn, however, (Northern Exposure) is still very remote, quaint, quiet and AMAZING. We hung out in town for a bit and then headed out to the river where we pitched our tent 10 feet from the bank, shared a bottle of wine, watched a beaver swimming around and saw the most beautiful night sky. The wedding in Oregon was in and of itself a blast, and it was set in a gorgeous landscape - a meadow atop a mountain with forest all around. I had a blast seeing one of my best friends marry a beautiful, amazing woman and the reception was one of the most fun I've been to, to date. Overall, we love it here. I'm ready to see my critters at home and be in my house, but we have loved every moment of this trip. Enough blabbing now, here are some Instagram photos from the past week. Sorry again for the size and quality, I'll prepare a series of photo posts from the shots I took with my camera after we are home


Texture || City Stripes

While in Kansas City we checked out the Performing Arts Center and some of the art around the Grand Ballroom.  I couldn't help but be impressed by the combination of textures between these beautifully designed buildings along with the artwork on display around them.  The sculptures below were done by Jun Kaneko, an artist out of Nebraska that J is a fan of. From the City of Kansas City's press release about the project:

"The courtyard's surface is designed to represent flowing water, referencing the building's aquatic motif. To achieve this, the artist produced a design that incorporates tinted concrete to create a banded pattern that is mirrored in the head-shaped sculptures."
It was interesting to look across the courtyard and see the same banding pattern in the architecture of the  performing arts center across the way.  It doesn't tie into this textures post, but I wish I had gotten some photos of the landscaping surrounding the PAC.  In addition to trees and prairie grasses on one side, the parking garage was also designed with a green roof.

Kansas City

We visited Kansas City this weekend for a friend's wedding, and I have to say the city is way more interesting (and beautiful) than I had anticipated.  I've only been there once before, which was for a soccer tournament when I was 11.  I can't remember much, and I think the tournament was in Overland Park so I doubt we actually even went into the downtown area. We had a great time exploring - the architecture is beautiful, the culture is unique and I've never felt safer walking around any City's downtown at night as I did there.  We're already looking forward to our next visit, and can hopefully spend a little more time exploring.

The last two photos are of some items I purchased from Hammerpress, an amazing letterpress and design studio.  I fell in love with the shop upon walking in, and basically squealed with glee when I found Woodcut out on display.  If you remember this post about Bryan Nash Gill's prints using tree cross sections, you understand my excitement.  Now I have my own copy of the book (happy early birthday to me!).  I can't wait to go through all of it!