A Beautiful Spoon

Friends Charlene and Richard in Forest Grove let me sleep in their Garden while I was attending Aikido Summer Camp. They have converted their one-acre suburban lot into a beautiful permaculture garden and food forest that not only feeds them (and a local Latino family that uses part of it for their own market garden), but has also given them the means to develop an interesting educational program. They had talked to me about teaching spoon carving up there, so one evening they showed me their collection of spoons and kitchen utensils. One jar of spoons they had gotten from a friend who had traveled the world collecting beautiful things.…

Some wooden bowls & spoons

So about a year and a half ago, I built a foot-powered lathe for turning bowls. It’s a very rough structure that works really really well. Power comes from your leg, pushing on a stick, which is tied to a string, which wraps around a mandrel, which spins a chunk of wood. Sticks, string, and two fixed points create the axis of rotation. Apply curved blades (on stix) to roughly round chunk, dig out a void until it’s smooth and beautifully hollow, remove a bowl. I still love carving wooden spoons, but there is something about the lathe. The design goes back thousands of years, originating with the spindle that gives us fire, and the spindle that gives us thread for weaving.…

Low-Relief Mudwork

I cut these low-relief directly into wet mud smeared on sheetrock panels. After they are finished (and dry), I apply colored washes, which also make the surface more durable. Click on the thumbnail to see the entire image, uncropped. They range in size from about 16 x 24 inches to the big mural, which is about 8 x 20 feet. All were part of an installation/show at the Bush Barn Gallery in Salem, OR, in 2004. Note the wall made of temporary gallery wall panels that we assembled into a gateway, covered with cardboard, and then plastered with mud. The finger pattern was copied directly from a photograph of an actual African wall, in the book Butabu, about west African earthen building.…

more images of wooden sculpture

more images of sculpture: The reddish leaf pattern is one of a pair of relief pieces in earthen plaster, which were done to decorate side panels on one of the performance stages at the Kerrville folk festival in Kerrville, Texas. It was a shared project that came out of a decorative plasters workshop at the Texas Natural Building Colloquium — many folks took part, all drew up various ideas, and the group chose this pattern, which is one I’ve been working and re-working in various materials and various settings for several years. This is the biggest!

Wooden Sculpture

The tall cedar piece I just finished for a friend who had experimented with growing wheat; she asked for a vertical sculpture to fit a space in front of her house. All the grasses were just coming up when I started, so my model was a very early stage of growth when the first leaves are just unfurling. I started w/out drawings, which meant that when I needed a second look, the grasses had advanced to a completely different stage, and I had to work from memory and imagination. The piece of cedar was probably cut from an old snag by a local homesteader, sometime in the early 1900s, and split into a post that held up a barn.…

waterglass for binding earthen surfaces & pigment

“Waterglass” for protection & paint Waterglass has become my preferred binder in places where it’s needed. The chemical name is sodium or potassium silicate. It’s an inert mineral compound similar to window glass, but under heat and pressure, it’s soluble in water. I beauty get it from a ceramic supplier for $9 a gallon. It’s clear, viscous, and pours like heavy cream. It dries into a clear, brittle substance cheap jerseys that crushes to a fine powder, wholesale mlb jerseys but it has significant binding power, and is used in some refractory cements, as well as numerous other industrial applications.

I’ve only discovered it in the past few years, so I’m still learning, but it has made murals possible in less protected areas where I might not have risked it before.…