Tag Archives: crochet

Timeout for Art: Using Up



I have always loved to make something out of nothing.

Give me twelve skeins of new yarn, all from the same dye lot, and I am uninspired. A bag of bits and balls of mismatched yarn, though, and I’llĀ  create patterns for gnomish hats or gypsy slippers, and crochet all night. It’s the same with fabric, papers or any other raw materials. I’m drawn to collage for the chance to create from things that are trash, but beautiful for the character and patina provided by their history.

In my studio right now, I have one hundred and eighty squares cut from painted papers and patterned with the little shapes that are cut from packages, so that the package can hang on a hook. I’ll assemble the squares in a grid formation on a large board, then finish the piece with a series of glazes. It’s working title is “Going Nowhere.” A companion piece is made up of horizontal ribbons of painted papers topped with little cutout triangles. Like arrows pointing, they zip to the left in one row, and rush to the right in the next. I named that one “Fast.”

In shadow boxes, I am assembling row upon row of little rectangles of handmade paper of varying thickness. I like the subtle shadow play and color changes.

My plan this winter is to use stuff up though, to make room for new work and new ideas. It seems that everything I do creates more, not less.

For instance, I have several small paintings underway. One technique I use quite a bit is to apply paint to the canvas, lay a sheet of paper over it and rub, then lay that paper onto another canvas to deposit the excess paint on it. Though I use the same sheets of paper over and over, it still generates quite a stack of painted papers. To use them up, I’ve been contemplating some kind of weaving. I imagine a large, closed basket form, made of painted papers and old drawings. Yesterday I did a little internet search of woven papers. It turns out, there’s quite a movement out there, for making baskets and other items out of paper. There are hundreds of videos on it!

My first thought was one of discouragement: Are there no original ideas yet to discover? Still, I was intrigued. Papers are rolled into tubes, which can then be woven into bowls or boxes or baskets. “Make about a million, to start,” was the suggestion of one crafter. Well, I did have a big mound of painted papers. Maybe, if I made a bunch of tubes, an idea would present itself as to how to proceed.

I made about fifty. They are pretty simple, and quite pretty, I think. Where to go from here, though, I don’t know. Maybe if I’d made a million of them…



dec 19 and 21 086

I looked up, in a dream last night, and was looking directly into my little kitchen at Charbridge Arbor.

And – in that dream – I was suddenly changed: the eyes I was looking through and the mind that was racing were those of my younger self, when I lived in that place.

There was the divided counter with the entrance between, separating the kitchen from the dining area. A simple corridor kitchen with a window on the far wall that looked out to the parking lot. The sink was in the left bank of cabinets, the harvest gold appliances on the right. From my position, I faced the window. I had used heavy cotton twine and a pattern for a rectangular filet crochet doily to make a window covering. It was stretched between two tension rods, softening the view with the floral pattern.

I moved into Charbridge Arbor just about forty years ago, weeks before my youngest daughter was born.

Out of the “Lake House” where the floors tilted and the curtains moved with the wind outside…where the mice ran rampant up the pipes from the Michigan basement and into the metal cabinets of that small kitchen…where the only truly warm spot was right on top op the floor grate that brought the heat up from the furnace. I moved out of the “Lake House” that we’d had such ambitious plans and high hopes for, but never quite enough time or money to accomplish them.

I moved out of the “Lake House” with my husband and my toddler, and in to a townhouse in the brand new Charbridge Arbor complex. New gold carpet matched the appliances. A basement had hook-ups for washer and dryer. Two bedrooms (so large! with real closets!) and a bathroom were upstairs. Every single thing worked, from light switches to windows and doors! The complex was unfinished, so our view out the sliding glass doors in the living room led to a little patio with a sweet little woods beyond. It seemed like the answer to a dream!

It was into this home that I brought my second daughter home, making our little family complete.

It was from this home that I taught myself how to cook Chinese food, started taking college classes and began painting.

I’d walk my daughters to the park – so often in warm weather that they thought it was their own – and to visit friends and relatives nearby.

My sisters visited me here, and – surprisingly – even my Mom and Dad, who were not prone to visiting, stopped by.

When my older daughter started kindergarten, we walked to her school together.

This seemed in many ways like the ideal place for us.

It was only Beaver Island, with all of the memories and hopes and dreams wrapped up in that place, that pulled us away.

I left Charbridge Arbor in 1978, and didn’t look back.

Until last night.