Sunday, January 31, 2016

Navigating worlds and finding inspiration

Last post I promised to try to do better keeping up with my blog in 2016. Hmmm. In an attempt to post at a minimum of once per month, I figured I better write today...the last day of January.

I've been pondering how it is we navigate the various worlds
we inhabit, the challenges and the inspirations we receive
from wandering through.

The political scene in the U.S. at the moment seems at times
like a fantasy or horror film depending on your perspective. I'm guessing many directors would find the script so
incredible that they would not be willing to take it on. 
Certainly it provides  plenty of fodder for late night comedy
shows and cartoonists.   Yet, of course, it also provides a
deep insight to the varying passions and opinions which
coexist in the United States.  The challenge is to figure a
way to actually listen to different opinions without dismissing off hand preventing any sort of deeper understanding.

When asked why I incorporate eyes in my work, I often
mention my belief that each of us "see" the world through
our individual perspective, life experience and filter.Sometimes
those filters are so opaque that is is impossible to see or
listen to others who don't see things as we do.

January is when from a show perspective, I venture into
a different world than the usual fine craft scene. As I have done
in previous years,  I participated in the art show and had a table in
the dealer room at Arisia, the fantasy/sci fi convention held
here in Boston Jan. 15-18.  I love seeing the care and flair visible in
the  costumes attendees wear and their comfort in their various

Certainly my customers have a bit of a different look than those at other shows.  I feel close to my costume designer brother who died years ago when I look at details. I was set up next to Cloak and Dagger Creations who sold corsets cloaks, googles and more.Although I've never been interested in wearing a corset, it was fun watching all shapes
sizes of folks trying them on. (Wired undergarments were one of my brother's specialties.)
It is different, and yet wonderful to be in an environment which is open, accepting, and "safe" for expression of creativity and exploration of identity.  There is a lot of fun, music making, gaming, film watching, listening to panels with a literature focus, etc, but likewise many panels exploring images of gender, sexual orientation, discrimination, racism in literature, games, films and society.  The teens have their own unconvention and determine what topics they want to discuss.  Like most worlds, there are strong opinions, conflicts and disagreements...and yet it seems like a place that encourages listening and trying to understand another point of view.

I am always intrigued to see the impact knowing I'm participating in the show has on my artwork.  I don't specifically create for Arisia, but items I see or pick up there from year to year find their way into my work.  A number of items (like kindle
and ipads covers and checkbooks with eyes) were the result of
orders at Arisia. Last year I became fascinated with roll playing
game dice and began using some in figures.  This year, a species of
Rpeggies showed up to dance on my table. ...each incorporating an
RPG in their heads and holding a removable one for playing.

Wandering in worlds which are on the edge of my comfort zone stirs
up creative juices, challenges me to sort through my opinions, and
if I am lucky ends up presenting new materials.(Next post I'll
show images of a couple new leather dragons incorporating items picked
up at Arisia!)

May you wander in new realms this year - both physically and in spirit
and see what opens before you.

Adventure on.  Wendy

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year end reflections & thoughts for a new year

Here we are once again reflecting on the past year and contemplating
the turning of the new.  It's been a year of challenges, celebrations,
confounding occurrences, and blessings.  Through it all
my blog postings became erratic and absent....My apologies to
followers for that.  I'll try to do much better in 2016..

 Starting with the positive:
   We survived the most snow filled winter in Boston records.
I felt very lucky to have my studio inside my home.  Also
fortunate to be only a couple blocks away from where I helped
with an after school program (when school wasn't closed.)

    Our four children and their families all gathered in Brooklyn
to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary....coming from
Virginia, Ecuador and Brooklyn to be there. 

     In September, our 7th granddaughter was born...rounding
out our grandling number to 8...two for each of our children.
All healthy  and coming into their own in beautiful and
amazing ways... a blessing not to be taken for granted.

     Shows continued to offer inspiration. Being surrounded by
creativity of others always pushes me. Exploring new locations
worked out well - especially my last show, Chicago One of a Kind
where I walked down memory lane. My years there as a
child contributed majorly to my love of cities and the path to
becoming an artist. Interesting how just 5 years can lead the way.
The One of a kind show succeeds in getting a large and
diverse public to attend. Response to my work was very
enthusiastic with brisk selling.  I have signed on to return next
year. Wish it was a little closer, but hope to convince my hubby
to drive with me again next year. I would like to explore the
public art in Chicago more next year. 

Challenges and future plans:
   As I posted earlier, Sam Sadd the director of the
Hawthorne Youth and Community Center where I have been
artist in residence for the past several years, died in January.
She died the day the concrete was poured for the new energy
efficient expansion of the long enough to know
her expansion dream would be a reality.  Grief and loss are
processed by each of us in our own ways. Her absence was
a shock and challenge on various dimensions.  I ended up
helping keep the  after school program going until the end
of  the year - 35 hours/wk instead of 2. (blog posts tended
to slip through the cracks.) The experience reinforced how
much I enjoy working with children, but also challenged me
to figure our what hours and ways made the most sense. 

   The center rehab is largely complete, but HYCC transition
has been difficult financially. To date no replacement director
has been  hired and no regular programming for youth is
going on there now. A real saddness for me especially as
First Night roles around.  For the past several years, neighbor
artist, Lisa Lee and I have facilitated a First Night parade
project which gathered youth and broader community to
participate in the parade on New Year's Eve.  It was an
important way to connect neighbors and past participants
at the center and to make everyone feel a part of Boston.

   In July I led art workshops for the multigenerational inclusive
organization , Families Creating Together.  Neighborhood
places and stories was our focus.  Being in a larger environment
and one with good support staff was awesome. I hope to work
with them again.

   I'm still trying to figure how I will work and interact with youth
in 2016.  Helping youth feel they are "seen" and cared for seems more
important than ever as we face the uncertainties of an unpredictable

What will 2016 bring?  I wish for thoughtful debate, action, and
agreement on important issues on the political front - an unrealistic
dream? perhaps...but the world will indeed be a dark place if
dreamers don't dream on.

I heed the words of Michael Coady's poem "There are also Musicians"
shared by Brian O'Donovan on his WGBH radio program and
at the end of the  Christmas Celtic Sojourn performance we attended.
  "Though there are torturers in the world
  There are also musicians." is our role as artists to continue to lift up the beauty and joy
that persists in the world while we work hard for justice and peace.
When attendees passed by my booth at the Brooklyn Museum show
this past November, I saw many visibly relax and smile....prompting
a smile and breath may just be my job right now. 

May creative energy flow in 2016 encouraging problem solving,
listening to each others stories and celebrating life.

Adventure on.  Wendy





Thursday, August 6, 2015

Inspiration from other artists and varying venues

Is it just my imagination, or does time move faster as we age?
Here we are already in August, although after the almost golf 
ball hail ice storm day before yesterday,  I wonder what season
this is.  I've been  busy leading workshops and updating my
website,but didn't want to ignore sharing some images from 
Spring shows as promised in my last blog. So in another attempt
to catch up - Here's a quick summary of artists and their work and
settings that inspired me April to June.

In  April I participated in the new Art of American Craft in 
Hartford,  CT  linked to the Hartford Wadsworth Museum. I hadn't 
been in a CT show in a while, so why not see what can happen.
Attendance was low, but sales reasonable for me and lots of customers
asking us to hang in  there since Hartford needs a high quality fine craft
show.  It was worth  it for me to meet Gerard Ferrari and see his series 
of orphaned teapots and other work.  Definitely cool, edgy, and inspiring. 

I was pleased to see that Gerard will be in Northampton at the 
Paradise City shows in October.  I look forward to reconnecting 
with  him there. Come on out Columbus Day weekend to see for 
yourself! He's being chosen as a featured artist. 

Speaking of Paradise City Shows -  I returned to Northampton for 
their May Memorial Day show.  I was curious to see if May brought
a different customer base from October.  Although there is overlap,
I connected with folks I hadn't seen in a long time and new customers
as well.  Sold lots of small work which was a wake up call for the
volume of inventory I will need for the December  One of
a Kind Show in Chicago that I have decided to do.  OAAK/ Chicago
gets 40,000+ folks in attendance!!!

In Northampton, I was drawn in by the smooth, restful lines of
David Talley's furniture His business name: Dharma Design 
Furniture shows his orientation. 

Although Chris Williams sculpture  -  avian rather than dragon 
this year, is always a draw for me.  (This eagle flew off to a client by
the end of the show.) 
And I returned home with a new creature - thanks to Dale Rogers.
I've loved watching Dale grow and evolve into the amazing sculptor
he is.  It's fun to have a mini Rogers creature in our garden. 
In June - a new venue for three of my winged sculptures. I participated
in the"Inspired Art" show at Boston Symphony Hall - a collaboration of
Discover Roxbury with the Boston Pops Gospel night performance
including the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama.  Three of my winged 
sculptures were included. 

(The dressed up young lady in the photo is the daughter of one of
 the other artist and one of the children who attended the after
school program where I worked this year. Multi-generational 
cultural events are wonderful!) 

Speaking of multi-generational - my next post will be about the
workshops I helped lead in July for Families Creating Together.

Have a great summer everyone....Adventure on!     Wendy   

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making cuddly pillow to process grief

  Lately, local, national and world events have made me do a lot of
pondering about how we  process grief and help others do the same,
especially children.   It seemed an appropriate time to write up the
pillow project I led in February.

  How to help the after school group of children understand and process
the the grief of losing someone who had been such a consistent
presence in their lives for so long?  That was the challenge when Sam,
director and surrogate grandmother/friend to all of us died in February.
We had told them she entered the hospital and explained it was serious.
They all wrote her sweet cards of love and appreciation with favorite
memories which we took to her. We reported back to the kids how
pleased she was to receive them and how it helped the hospital realize
how much Sam was loved. We didn't encourage get well quick cards.
We then  moved on to letting the kids know that she was not going to
be coming so many other times...and yes was dying.  Then
told them  when she died.  We let them be sad, show emotions, show
grief as they all needed to. My challenge was to help them process in an
additional  way.

  Zina Worley( Z's Fashion and Accessories) had donated lot of  fleece
scraps to the center and I had picked up additional textile materials at
the  Extras  for Creative Reuse Center  in Lynn when I went up
gathering  materials for the First Night workshop. Making large
pillows seemed a  good way to go....lots of soft materials to handle.
Just laying  them all out on the table the day Sam died seemed to help
even the most emotional of  the kids.

  As with most HYCC projects, we did not rush...worked one day a
week (or a bit more sometimes) The  project took about a month -
planning, choosing colors, designing, and hand stitching. It is
informing to see how many kids have never worked with a needle
and thread and which ones have. As they were working, they
continued to talk about Sam and process the loss.

As you can gather from photos the final results varied beautifully.
The only consistency was general size.  I had purchased 20x20
inserts to put inside the pillow covers the kids we had a
basic shape and size to aim for.  I figured an insert was definitely
the way to go. We machine stitched three sides with kids involved
in that as well; then each learned to do a blind stitch to close up the
fourth side.

It was sweet to get reports back from the kids and their
parents after they finished and took the pillows home. A few said
they slept better than in a long time.  In retrospect, I wish we had
extended the project to adults - board members and others who were
processing Sam's loss.  It might have been useful during this difficult
period of transition. Often kids are a lot more resilient than adults.

Next post....back to art and shows.....

Adventure on.   Wendy

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Resurfacing after a long winter and neglect of blog

Last weekend I participated in the Paradise City Arts Festival in
Northampton.  A young woman came by to make sure I was still
alive and well...She'd been  checking my blog and saw it had been
a very long time since I posted -Dec. 2014!!!  I apologized to her
and now to everyone else who has been wondering just where Wendy
was wandering...and in what universe.

I'm happy to relate that I didn't disappear under the 100+ inches of
snow we had in Boston this winter, nor fall to some dreadful disease.
My life just became complicated by an extra job. Sam, the long time
director of Hawthorne Youth and Community Center  where I was
teaching art workshops once a week went into the hospital in January
and died in  early February.  She had led the organization for over 40
years, working  often 80-90 hours a week up to the day she entered
the hospital. Needless to  say the sense of loss to the organization
and community at large was significant.  Processing  loss and grief
on the part of the children and adults was difficult. Someone who
knew the after school children was needed to fill in every afternoon
from 2-6. Since I live only a couple blocks away, I was the logical
choice...especially considering the conditions which prevailed in this
record  breaking Boston winter.  There certainly have been snowy
winters before, but usually the snow melted between storms.

It has been good to be there for kids and adults, but has impacted the
time I've  been able to spend on some  aspects of my art business like
my blog.  For the next few weeks I'm going to try to catch up  on that
front....reflect on some of  my art making, the art of others, and some
of the projects I've done with the after school children.

Now that it is actually warm in Boston,perhaps I can look back with
a smile  at  this winter... and what emerged from under the snow.
I created the traveling  librarian pictured above during the February
blizzard names "Juno" - thus their title "Juno and Julz".  It seemed a
bit like we were living in Alaska. Juno's snout was one of the stones
I picked up in the caves of the Bruce Peninsula - see my blog post
from last September 19

I continued my series of traveling librarians this year and printed up
a small 8"x8" book with images of  them, a couple poems and
description of our daughter and son-in-law's library and literacy
non profit From Words to Wings. I sell the book  on behalf of their
program in Ecuador. ($25 paperback,, $30 hardback).

In February, I participated  in the Baltimore American Craft Council
show.As always I was inspired  by the creativity of exhibitors...
including their creativity of finding ways to actually make it to the
show.   An example of the extraordinary work at the this show is this
sculpture by  Jeffrey Raasch, title "Brick Treehouse". It stretched
my concept of tree houses.
I've been in awe of Jeffrey's work for many years.  Be sure to check
out his website: to see photos of his spectacular work
and his story.
    One of my favorite puppeteers, Don Becker was also there:
Don was going to participate in the New Orleans Jazz Fest this
spring.  Have to check in with him and hear reports.  I'm sure
his sales were spectacular.
    Sometimes connections are made at shows via folks who see
your work and are sure who else will like it.  That happened for
me this year at Baltimore.  A couple came by and immediately
thought of a friend of theirs who is a dragon collector and gave
me his contact info.  Turns out he has more than 20,000 dragons
in his collection - but only two leather ones.  I said we had to do
something about that....This spring I made him up one of my
Dragon Names books - with now 465 different names of dragons
in it:
Understandably he doesn't have room for my 4 foot or 10 foot dragons,
but has ordered a 12" leather dragon sculpture.  It's still in the hatching

    I'm continuing to work with children after school until the school
year ends, but don't have any more spring shows so hope to be able
to post on a regular basis...catching up for this year.

   See you back here soon...and thank you for your patience.

   Adventure on.    Wendy

Friday, December 19, 2014

Inspiration at shows in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Boston

   Happy Holiday Season everyone.....
Before I'm off to share the holidays with family, I wanted to end the year
highlighting a few of the wonderful artists I encountered at my final two
shows: American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn  and CraftBoston along
with a trip to St. John the Devine cathedral to take in Xu Bing's 100
foot long phoenixes (shown above)

The Brooklyn show (Nov. 22-23) produced by American Art Marketing
at the Brooklyn museum was beautiful. Better attendance than last year.
Attendees were very enthusiastic and it has all the marks of growing
into the awesome show we know it can be.  The quality was excellent
and range of work exciting. This show is part of a new series of  AMA
shows with museum connections. Look for more of the series in 2015.

I really enjoyed talking to Zaliah Zalkin  about his  luminary vessels in
carved alabaster .

The beautiful vessels have a quiet spiritual presence

Infused occasionally with a sense of light humor.  Zaliah said 
he created the vessel below when his wife was pregnant:

Check out Zaliah Zalkin website: to learn
more about this second generation sculptor and his process.

On the funkier side - Barrie Rust  was there with his
Great Plains handmade musical instruments

What fun a band would be playing these:

One of my favorite artists/sculptors, Reina Mia Brill , was also
there adding funk and fun.. Reina took off a little time to
give birth to and begin the fun/creative challenge of raising
twins.  Now she's back with more energy than ever with an
added cool twist to her work  reflecting her situation as
an enthusiastic and occasionally crazed co-parent:

Valerie Gladstone of Brooklyn Dollworks  was there,too. It is rarer
and rarer to see dollmakers at these shows, so I was  glad to meet
Valerie and see her work.

The figure below was purchased by the same collector with whom
my Canoby, the canoe paddling librarian found a new home. I trust
they will get along famously.

As I mentioned above, I made it over to St. John the Devine to see
Xu Bing's amazing phoenixes after the show.  I missed them at
Mass didn't want to miss them this time.  They will be
there until the end of February...If you haven't had a chance to
experience them and learn the story behind their creation,
try to manage a trip to the upper West side of Manhattan. It's
definitely worth it!  The use of recycled materials from the Chinese
construction site is  masterful....look closely:

and the setting is spectacular:

If you can't make it to the cathedral, here is a link to a good video piece
on the story behind the phoenixes:

Finally - a couple mentions of artists at CraftBoston, Dec. 4-7.
Best of show went to Sang Joon Park.  His work is
exquisite, I appreciate  his recognition of the bowl as art.

His design approach to his beautiful place settings is strong, simple yet

Finally - artist choice went to contemporary metal worker
Michael Rossi.

We especially loved his airplane shapes:

Happy Holiday to all. May yours be filled with warmth, music,
good food, friends, family and story and the new year be filled
with wondrous adventure!

Hope to see you down the road.....2015 is looking like a busy year
of shows for me beginning with Arisia 2015 Jan. 16-19 and the
American Craft Council show in Baltimore Feb. 18-22.

Adventure on!        Wendy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Traveling librarians -process and completion

As mentioned in previous blog posts.. Inspired by the program
From Words to Wings which our daughter and her husband founded
in Ecuador, I've been making a series of traveling librarians...even
tried my hand at a little poetry to accompany them. 

          Traveling librarians

Some children cuddle at home
To share a book, hear a story
Some children walk down the street                                             
To find a book, hear a story
Some children go in a car or bus
To search for a book, hear a story
Some children go online 
To discover a book, read a story
Some children turn on the tele
To see a book, hear a story

Some children dream and wait
For the traveling librarians
     Who come by jeep
     Who come on horseback
     Who come by canoe
     Who come by skiff
     Who come on dragon’s back
      Who bring books
      And stories 
      And  wings

It's fun to see them emerge in the studio...
Here are some process photos:

A dragon librarian...basic armature:


A little further along...polyester and thread
around wire..and designing spokes.

Muslin hand stitched over stuffing....
(small creature in front ended up a winged dragon
named Majestis) 

Next leather....

Patina added to leather....and rawhide wet-formed
spokes (and books) added:

Completed Pageante and Roland

Head of another creature...which I thought was going to 
be a dragon...but she had something else in mind

Beaded leggings were definitely requested.

And a basket just perfect to fit between legs and hold mini books..
including a mini dragon book, of course

As I said, thie creature had her own ideas.. These rawhide wings
seemed much more appropriate than dragon wings... and 
Skreeraugh (aka Peggy) came to life..

But it is not just creatures that can bring books...Remember
that wood from the old dock in my last blog post?


As I thought it became a skiff with library on

Loofe, the librarian enjoys taking a break to read one
of his books...

Other Star Wandererers prefer to arrive by canoe:

Canoby enjoys paddling  along with books in tow

Next destination for the librarians is the Brooklyn Museum....where
I'll be participating in the American Fine Craft Show, Brooklyn
Nov. 22-23.

There was a fun article by Jenifer Eberhart  on the show  which
appeared  last week with responses by myself and four other 
sculptors to various process and life questions at

All my figures  are looking forward  to greeting folks in
Brooklyn....and sharing the booth - #49  with a new species of mini
creatures called  Taradiddles...(more about  them in a future

Hope to see some of you at the Brooklyn Museum!

Adventure on!   Wendy