Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day lilies

Here on the cusp of June, day lilies begin to bloom.

This variety is named Border Lord.

Day lilies are a nice edible. Raw they taste like a sweeter version of lettuce. Buds make an impressive hors d'oeuvre stuffed with a cream cheese mixture and the Chinese use day lily buds in stir fries, calling them Golden Needles.


Text Charms - May 2009 Charmster Swap

My initial exposure to Yahoo groups came about as part of my Artfest experience. There is a Yahoo group for people attending Artfest, which is a valuable source of information when preparing for this 5-day event.
It is rather amazing the many ways attending Artfest has impacted my life journey. Had I not done the Artfest thing 4 years ago, I rather doubt this blog would exist. Back in December, the founder and mastermind behind Artfest, Teesha Moore, posted a description of how to start a blog on her site. With the assist of my 20-something daughter, I slowly got the hang of the process.

But I digress, this post is supposed to be about text charms.

The yahoo group Charmsters currently has 75 members and hosts a variety of charm related swaps. There are various Round Robin projects and multiple themed swaps. In a these swaps there is a general theme with guidelines set by the hostess. There is a sign up date. After sign ups are completed participants make multiples of their charm(as many as there are participants) and send them to the hostess by a specified date.

The hostess then sorts the charms, so participants get one of each and mails them back.

The most recent swap hosted by Maureen Baranov involved wire, text and resin. They were in a style popularized by the jewelry artist Deyrn Mentock. Deryn's work was featured in the Winter 2009 edition of the magazine Belle Armoire.

As Maureen said in her instructions:
I don't know how she does it, so that's something we'll have to figure out collectively! That's part of the fun- figuring out HOW to do something.

Never having worked with resin independently, I may have cheated a little, or lets just call it creative problem solving. Rather than mixing a two part resin I used Plaid's Folk Art Papier Glass Finish in clear. It is also available in sepia and antique.

My inspiration was the idea of a compass and south sea travel by boat in an earlier time.
I used brass wire rather than steel as frequently used by Deryn. Brass speaks to me of spy glasses, compasses, sextants and the fittings on sailing ships

I started by shaping my 20 gauge brass wire over a discarded wooden finial. Then I flattened my shaped forms using a small sledge hammer. They needed to be flat in order to encircle the resin properly.

Flattened forms were placed on a large page from a National Geographic Atlas of the World (publishing date 1975) purchased in damaged condition for $1.00 at a Friends of the Library sale. Next the glass finish was poured.

As you can see above, there was a little problem with leakage or over pour, but most of the excess could be cut away with a really sharp little titanium scissors once the liquid hardened.

I placed the forms to maximize coastline.

Cut loose from the map and with a blue bead wired up top and we're almost done.

Last, but not least, is the packaging. There is after all, a certain standard set by previous swaps. Here I used copies of an acquaintances Granddad's pictures of his tour of duty during WWII on a Navy ship in the South Pacific.

On Friday the sorted charms arrived in my mailbox. Here they are slightly unpacked.

Close ups anyone?

Participating artists used a wide variety of texts, foreign languages and sheet music.

The next charm swap I'm in is hosted by Rena Dein has a pink flamingo theme.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Beatrice Coron Speaks at Bookworks

Thursday afternoon an e-mail from Laurie at Bookworks in Asheville reminded me that Beatrice Coron was presenting a slideshow and speaking from 7:00 to 8:30 on Friday.
Somehow, I had overlooked the initial announcement.
Beatrice is a contemporary papercutter and sculptor. She is originally from Lyon France but now lives in Manhattan. She was at Bookworks teaching a 2 day papercutting class titled Fresh Cuttings.

Check out her extensively linked website at

The left brain part of my head said "Hey, you were just gone four days for a long weekend to Charlottesville. There are things you need to do at the house."

Photographs tell a story of which side of the brain rules .... at least this time.

Beatrice had many examples of her smaller works. They were quite varied in size and format, but above all her fondness for word play and subtext was evident. She enjoys exploring the relationships between the French and English language as well as experimenting with metaphor and image.

The picture above shows a clear link between photographic image and silhouette.

While listening to Beatrice speak, I learned that the word silhouette comes from the name of French King Louis XV's highly unpopular Minister of Finance. In an effort to balance the budget Etienne de Silhouette cut so many budgets that his name became synonymous with slashing paper.

Furthermore, the black paper shadow profiles were a simple and less expensive alternative for people that could no longer afford more expensive portraiture.

Below are some snapshots of student work from the first day of class.

In the next three, I love the use of velum to create the intermediate shade of gray and create that sense of depth.

Obviously, there were some talented artists taking part in this class.

I'm glad the right side of my brain won this discussion and I made the drive to Asheville after work on Friday.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Congratulations - University of Virginia - 2009

On Sunday May 17 under threatening skies 6,200 University of Virginia graduates gathered to celebrate passing final exams and turning in their last term papers.

Armed with balloons and wearing mortar boards they gathered in front of the rotunda...

flowed up the steps....

and over the colonnade.

Here is where we catch a first glimpse of our graduate.

For 30 minutes they kept coming for the ceremony on the lawn where 30,000 friends and family members and almost as many umbrellas waited.

As events of this size can be, this occasion proved to be less well organized than this participant and her spousal unit desired. We bailed part way through the pageant and ate lunch at our girl's dorm room, rejoining the about-to-be-graduate at the departmental diploma awarding ceremony.

Check out the smile on our girl seated with fellow Sociology undergrads inside Old Cabell Hall.

And as a proud mother, I must mention that she received an engraved pewter Jefferson cup and cash award for the best undergraduate Sociology paper for the 2008-2009 academic year.

In the obligatory pose, looking proud and a little stuffy.


As I requested she made this list entitled:
And, some things I learned in college.

I don't hate tofu as much as I thought.

Ramen can be spruced up.

Volunteering is a great way to spend your time-- you get to know people, and you feel as if you are making a difference.

Moving is an absolutely miserable way to spend one's time.

Studying abroad is invaluable. It is a great way to learn a language, learn about a culture, and learn about people.

You have to define yourself in a way that suits you. No joining an organization just for the prestige or the networking-- it has to be something that interests you.

How to study creatively and effectively.

The value of knowledge.

There is valuable knowledge to be gained from working with a variety of people with diverse perspectives.

A reaffirmation that boys are nothing but trouble.

All in all, not a bad way to spend the weekend.
(Proud Mom)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ach du lieber - The German Iris - Sie blühen sehr ziemlich

The Rain

Sheets of rain run sideways,
pitter patter pools,
above my umbrella gray clouds loom,
iris blooms as full as coffee cups

Cloud burst and lighting strikes,
recycled rain from the beginning of time,
the earth drinks it in,
reclamation new but second hand

Splish splash the rivers fill fast,
as rain drops beat on tin roofs,
windshield wipers dance to the beat,
as a hole in my shoe begins to weep

Thunder claps to the performance,
as trees bend in their balance,
the earth seems refreshed and quenched,
raincoats wet in the mud room

The air fresh as washed anew,
and nature seems to bless and say thank you

Myrtle Thomas

I've always called this variety German iris, but technically I believe they are tall bearded iris.

Most of ours came from divisions given to my spouse by an elderly woman.

They are gorgeous and I am glad we can continue what feels a bit like a legacy.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Identity Confirmed

When posting back in April, I did not know the name of this little woodland iris growing in my backyard. It was given to me a few years ago by Marty Masker.

Since then, Marty has gotten in touch to let me know that it is a Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata). This iris blooms on the previous years growth, explaining why it took a little while to settle in here and become notable. The plant likes shade and good drainage making it ideal for dry, rocky ground that Marty has at the cabin. It makes it in my yard, secondary to drainage provided by my sloped terrain and the water thieving ways of all those tree roots.

Iris cristata is a native to the southeastern US and can be found extensively in the Smoky Mountains.


Sunday, May 3, 2009


Okay, they say confession is good for the soul, so I may just as well go ahead and admit it. I am a library addict, a junkie that jonses for her next fix. At no time is this as evident as when traveling. Vacations must include library visits. Oh sure, I say it's for the public access computers and internet access, but now you and I know better. Somewhere there is a 12-step program for people like me, but if loving libraries is wrong, I don't want to be write. (With apologies to Homer Banks)

Combine this admitted addiction with a certain fondness for revolutionary architecture and bravado and you may understand why the central Seattle Public Library makes me weak in the knees. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and the team at OMA, the new library opened in 2004 to mixed reviews. Paul Goldberger, a New York architecture critic called it "the most important library to be built in a generation, and the most exhilarating." Meanwhile, some Seattle residents worried that the library might amount to nothing more than an expensive greenhouse for the homeless.

After using this architecturally unique library many times and finally going on a tour lead by a docent, I assumed that Rem Koolhaas was this famous, big-deal luminary. That may describe his status now, but research shows that for a long time he was better known for his theories and his writings than his completed projects. Earlier in his career, Koolhaas had a series of bad-luck projects that were canceled due to changing political circumstances. His firm OMA, Office for Metropolitan Architecture almost closed down.

Remmert Koolhaas began his formal education studying scriptwriting at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam. And before studying architecture in London and at Cornell University, he worked as a journalist for the Haagse Post. Published in 1978, his first book espousing theory is titled Delirious New York : A Retroactive Manifest for Manhattan. The book looks at how the combined ideals of material honesty, human scale and carefully crafted meaning put forth by urban design and architecture fare in a world that seems to value material economy, machine scale and random meaning.

It is only perhaps in the last decade, as more of Koolhaas's projects are being built, that the world shows its readiness to embrace his vision.

From the outside the Library suggests nothing more than a a variation on the big glass box, perhaps one constrained by an odd corset. It isn't until you get inside, use the facility and contemplate details, that it becomes evident that many clever people thought long and hard to achieve this melding of form and function.

Nonfiction books are organized in a book spiral. A four floor ribbon runs the Dewey Decimal numbers continuously from 000 to 999. This floor slopes gently around the perimeter of the stacks on floors 6 through 9. The Dewey Decimal numbers are clearly visible on the floor. Searching for nonfiction books becomes more intuitive and the sloped ramp accommodates wheelchair use.

As the shelving system is continuous and the floor markers movable, specific areas can expand to meet changing needs and display more books without major relocation logistics. Shelving capacity is designed to hold 1.4 million books, many more than currently in this area.

There is a very interesting use of intense color within the library. Fourth floor public meeting areas are an all encompassing red. The floors, the walls, ceiling and even stairs, red.

For me there was something very visceral about this setting, like being in a womb or maybe a heart. I felt sort of squeezed, with an accelerated heart rate and breathing.

Escalators, elevators, staircases and large transition areas are bright yellow which serves as an aid to navigation.

The men's restrooms are chartreuse green, a shade that is supposed to discourage loitering. Restroom doors are deliberately located within the direct sight line of staff work areas to prevent illegal activities such as drug dealing.

When building this library was built, sustainability served as an organizing principle for both architects and contractors. Multiple features and elements endeavor to lessen this buildings energy and environmental impact on planet Earth.

Site Selection
  • Built on the site of the previous library, erosion was carefully controlled during demolition and rebuilding.
  • Over 75% of the demolition and construction waste was recycled.
  • The library is located on major bus routes and has ample bicycle parking.
  • The landscaping and exterior design work to reduce the buildings "heat island effect".
  • Automatic lighting controls minimize electrical consumption and reduce light pollution.
Water Utilization
  • Landscape plantings include many drought tolerant groupings. When watering is required, it is delivered through an efficient drip irrigation system using an on-site 38,500 gallon rainwater collection tank.
  • Interior water use is minimized through the use of metered faucets, no-flush urinals and low flush toilets.
  • Mechanical equipment was selected with an eye toward efficiency.
Energy Efficiency
  • The library was engineered to outperform Seattle's fairly ambitious energy code by 10%.
  • The air conditioning system uses alternatives to chloroflurocarbons-based refrigerants.
  • There are no halon gases in the fire suppression system.
  • In areas that receive direct sunlight, expanded aluminum mesh sandwiched between plates of insulated glass deflect 90% of the suns direct rays. Areas not exposed to direct sun contain triple-glazed insulated glass.
  • Computerized control systems monitor and maximize the efficiency of HVAC, water use and energy performance.
Building Materials
  • Significant quantities of recycled materials were utilized in library construction.
  • More than 20% of the building products used in constructing the new library were manufactured within 500 miles of Seattle. This supported the local economy while reducing the impact of transporting supplies and materials over long distances.

And to finish up the tour

The fiction book section has an area entitled the Floor of Babble. Designed by Ann Hamilton, this hardwood flooring contains in raised letters, the opening lines of books in the foreign language collection. The letters lay backwards, appearing as they would on a printing press.

400 public access computers are located within the library. The majority are located on Level 5 in the Mixing Chamber. Computers can be reserved for up to 90 minutes per day and a library card is required for Seattle residents.

Luckily for us out-of-townees a guest pass can be obtained.

So maybe, just maybe, it is about the computers and internet access after all.


Attributions - My personal photos from the library were less than adequate for this post, so some have been borrowed from Flickr. My thanks to Jeanine Anderson and Scott Larsen. The Rem Koolhaas photo is by Domnik Gigler.
Research and facts regarding the library came from multiple sites. If you need specific citations contact me via the comment section.