Sometimes I pick up pods

found pods arranged in starburstI am–and have always been–the person picking up pods from the corner of the playground while others race around or jump rope. I am the mom arranging stones on the riverside while the other adults are…well…not knee deep in mud. One of the down sides of being creative is being conspicuous. I remember a friend I went to see one time in Toronto telling me to “quit picking” as I scoured the beach.

The other day, I was waiting while the children played on a playground, and I spotted a big piece of styrofoam. All around it were these. These pods. I was impressed by the diverse patterns and colours present in the wood, all from one tree. Teal, black freckles, gray lines, brown patches. The insides of pods that had been fermenting there all winter. I had to bring them home. I had to explain to a new acquaintance why I was carrying a pail of musty pods.

podsIt’s because I’m an artist. Sometimes I pick up pods.


lace and embroidered handbag

Day 19: Ornamentation

I found a couple of examples of ornamentation during a busy weekday. The beautiful lace sleeves of my 19th century period costume at work, and a handbag that I made about ten years ago.

I remember how frustrating it was to sew that handbag! I don’t know if I’ve ever told you the entire story. I had the vintage handles and designed the purse using a secondhand suit jacket. I had borrowed my mother-in-law’s sewing machine for a little while, and had a habit of breaking quite a few needles while I had it! It was quite difficult sewing the little angles in the bottom and making it look somewhat straight. To make matters worse, the cat we had at the time in Vancouver actually decided to urinate on a piece of the cut fabric on the floor! Of course I laundered it but it was not very fun.

People often ask me to make more items like this, and I think I’ve learned I am more of a designer than a producer. I like making things once. I like making the prototype.

This was Day 19 of the artsy forager instagram project, #artsydefined.



sketchin CMYK gouache

I had this design brewing in my mind over the last couple of days, and tried sketching it out a few times. I imagined it in realistic colours, but when I went to paint it I decided to use cyan, magenta, yellow and black gouache for fun. After all, that is what this sketchbook is all about – experimentation. My original design is a longer rectangle, so there should be at least 3 full circles in the bottom segment – having just two makes it look like binoculars. Perhaps I will try this again with a totally different look another time.


I took the day off today, just to spend more time with the kids, so of course I had to paint this while the kids were painting nearby. Note to self: that doesn’t work very well. I didn’t get a picture of my two-year-old, but he was wearing green pajamas and an apron, and had painted both hands and part of his face green. I did get a picture of my four-year-old:

painting a Christmas tree and a crab using ideas from a book.

And she took some pictures of me.

me painting

Reuse, recycle, redesign!

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky, Densfield Oil Drums #4, Hamilton, Ontario, 1997

Perhaps inspired by my daughter’s field trip to the recycling depot last week, I’ve been more conscious than usual about things we reuse. The depot itself reminded me of the film Manufactured Landscapes, and the related photography of Edward Burtynsky. I was in art school when I got to see Burtynsky’s exhibit and watch Manufactured Landscapes, and I was awestruck by the beautiful images created from man-made materials and waste. If you haven’t had a chance to see Burtynsky’s photos, you have to check them out!


Reuse #1 – Reclaimed wood shelves

We’ve had a crafty sort of autumn around our place. My husband made these lovely shelves out of reclaimed wood, which we have been thinking about doing for a couple of years since we bought our house. I love that he figured out a way to put them up without the shelving support being visible. And I love that we were able to reuse wood that had been discarded when Fort Langley’s walls were replaced last year.

New shelves and recovered chair

Reuse #2 – Old furniture

We recently acquired some used furniture from a friend Рin fact most of our furniture is reused. I discovered that reupholstering chair cushions is something a regular person like me can do Рit just requires math and precision Рwhich are not my fort̩, but possible if one really tries, and watches a few youtube videos.

In the process, I learned a thing or two about zippers: for one thing, sewing a zipper into a cushion cover is not that difficult. And secondly, I fixed the zipper on my Smoking Lily skirt that I’ve been wearing with safety pins for a couple years (with a slip, just in case). I spontaneously attempted fixing it last night and succeeded.

Reuse #3 – No qualms about used clothes

I have rediscovered the joy of thrift store shopping. Some of my favourite clothing pieces are from thrift stores but I haven’t really had time to shop in them since the children were
born. I’ve picked up eleven items this fall for a fraction of their worth. We also have no qualms about reusing children’s clothes and passing them on to others.

Reuse #4 – Dust rags – they make great puppets.

antique items

A few of my souveniers from the farm

Reuse #5 – Old photos and “stuff” for artwork.

All this to say I love reusing things! Next challenge: reduce acquiring stuff in the first place. One look at Burtynsky’s recycling images in China, and you’ll understand why. A lot of the stuff we recycle ends up in a pile somewhere.