Trip to Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum, Part two

November 23, 2015

There are as many ways to define Artist Books as there are people (artists, curators, collectors, critics, librarians, lovers of art…) involved in the Artist Book phenomenon.  Rules — there are probably a lot fewer rules than there are definitions because frankly, my dear, the artists don’t give a damn.  Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts & Rare Book Curator at the University of Washington, said in her lecture — “Breaking Boundaries: the Hand as the Cutting Edge of the Mind” — that she refuses to define “Artist Books”.  Smart lady.

The current show at the Whatcom Museum “Unhinged, Book Art on the Cutting Edge” is a curatorial effort to demonstrate the wide variety of approaches to making Artist Books.  Now one good thing about this show is that it is in a museum, giving gravitas and credibility to a movement little understood in current culture.  A bad thing about this show is that it is in a museum, with most of its items under vitrines. Only one of the offerings was touchable.  And as Sandra pointed out, most Artist Books are to be interacted with, touched, manipulated in some way.

Casey Curran "Test Drive"

Casey Curran “Test Drive”

To grasp the meaning of Casey’s book, it is essential to turn the crank to activate the waves and the swimming shark.  I love Casey’s wry commentary on our current world: “It’s a big ocean out there, and we should all learn how to play nicely with each other.”  All this overlaid on books on ship protocol and “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

If you click on the names in the captions, you will be taken to pages that show more of these remarkable works.  If you click on the pictures, you will get enlargements.

A good number of the other books in the show were practically jumping off their perches begging “touch me, turn my pages”.  (Don’t worry, Oola is well trained and she resisted her inclinations.)

Sandra told of her conviction that the books talk to each other.  And that points to one of the beauties of this show: that the works are chosen and arranged so that they can speak in chorus as well as individually.  And the group speak is more that the sum of the parts.  For example,

Sun Young Kang "To Find the One Way" (detail)

Sun Young Kang “To Find the One Way” (detail)

Islam Aly "The Square, Al Midan"

Islam Aly “The Square, Al Midan”

Sun Young Kang’s book/installation begins in the personal — the death of her father.  In what becomes a ritual floating in timeless light and shadow, she uses incense to burn the Korean text (Until we meet again, I will be trying to find the one way) into 1080 small pieces of Okawara paper.

Islam Aly’s work begins in the public and the political, the uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011.  Arabic Kufic script (The People Want to Bring down the Regime) is laser cut into each page and it has a burned look.  There are many more parallels and telling differences.  But take just one metaphor common to both — burning.  It speaks to the intensity of the underlying emotions in each case.  Additionally, in the conversation of the two books we come to hear the individual in the throng that brought down a tyrant, and we consider the universal loss of a parent.  In other words, the two books reinforce each other and lead the viewer to new considerations.

Book artists use a variety of approaches. The most common undertakings are constructing a book and altering or repurposing a book.  But some artists like to just redefine bookness.

Doug Beube "Border Crossing: in the War Room"

Doug Beube “Border Crossing: in the War Room”

In “Border Crossing: in the War Room” Doug Beube has taken pages from an atlas and sewn zippers on them.  Presumably one can adjust the book to many formations.  Further, it is a visual commentary on territorial borders and leads one to thoughts of our current immigration woes.

While Doug is creating his “versatile codex” Susan Porteus is doing something completely else.

Susan Porteus "Gandhi: A Pictorial Biography" "Gandhi on Non-violence" "The Essential Gandhi" "Lead Kindly Light: Gandhi and the Way to Peace"

Susan Porteus “Gandhi: A Pictorial Biography” “Gandhi on Non-violence” “Past Masters: Gandhi” “The Essential Gandhi” “Lead Kindly Light: Gandhi and the Way to Peace”

Susan has taken spinning as the main metaphor in the life and teachings of Gandhi.  Repurposing books about him she has spun their pages into new artist books giving specific form to his work and meditation.

Many book artists use non-traditional materials to construct their ideas.  I saw one book, by Ellen Ziegler, made of tar paper pages. (Wonderful, but too difficult to photograph adequately.  You can see it at her site-link above.)

Donald Glaister "Brooklyn Bridge: A Love Song"

Donald Glaister “Brooklyn Bridge: A Love Song”

Donald Glaister uses a fairly traditional codex form here, but the pages are made of aluminum which gives a special sheen that makes his subject matter sing.  It is visual poetry.

(Parenthetically, I read a pundit who made the rule that artist books need words.  To this both Oola and I say “poof”.  An artist book needs words only if the artist book needs words.)

It is fairly common for book artists to repurpose books into carved and scalpeled  forms.  One robust example in this show is:

Long-Bin Chen "Liszt" from "Portraits of Cultural Icons" series

Long-Bin Chen “Liszt” from “Portraits of Cultural Icons” series

This piece is remarkable for its monumental quality.  My first thoughts went to memories of the marble head of Constantine the Great.  Or Mount Rushmore.  “Liszt” is not that big, but he gives one pause.

Many Artist Book makers use their art to make personal response/public commentary on the state of our world, environmentally, politically, culturally, socially, spiritually.   A beautiful, evocative, sad example of this impulse is:

Rachel Mauser "Mountain Top Removal: The Tragedy of the Holler"

Rachel Mauser “Mountain Top Removal: The Tragedy of the Holler”

She calls it “an elegy for the mountains”.  This book is especially disturbing when you see it lie flat and mimic the ravaged earth.  There is not much more of value that one could say.

One of the qualities I enjoy in Artist Books is the delicious geometry that develops, sometimes purposefully, sometimes just as a part of the process:

Adele Outteridge "Thinking of Sol II: Stuff of Dreams"

Adele Outteridge “Thinking of Sol II: Stuff of Dreams”

Deborah Greenwood "Re-creation"

Deborah Greenwood “Re-creation”

Lest the show get too ponderous, the curators included Deborah Greenwood’s gentle memory of childhood toys and a call to relax and re-create oneself.  To my mind, an Artist Book needs to surprise the viewer.

Indeed, one of the qualities I wanted to see more of in this show is a sense of fun and humor.

Charles Miley "Shock Head Peter"

Charles Miley “Shock Head Peter”

Charle’s one page popups are built on 19th century children’s cautionary tales by Heinrich Hoffmann. They are humorous in an Edward Gorey fashion.  Something that might frighten adults. (I couldn’t find a website for Charles, but the Facebook page which I am almost certain is his, that page has a great collection of visual and verbal commentary on recent terrorism.)

I was delighted to see a work by Lisa Kokin, masterful observer of ludicrous humanity.

Lisa Kokin "Fret"

Lisa Kokin “Fret”

Lisa Kokin "Fret" detail

Lisa Kokin “Fret” detail

“Fret” is from her self-help books series.  It involves book spines sewn into an eye dazzling but comforting quilt.  It is sly humor and double meaning, and a stretching of the bookbinding metaphor.  Both beautiful and surprising, it is an object to contemplate and enjoy.

Circling back around to the idea of books talking to each other.  There is another “quilt” in the show.

Clair Dannenbaum "Coverlet: A Lover's Discourse"

Claire Dannenbaum “Coverlet: A Lover’s Discourse”

Each of the “Coverlet’s” quilt rectangles is made of crumpled pages from Fragments d’un discours amoureaux by Roland Barthes.  Claire’s book evoked my childhood memories of making “leather” by distressing brown grocery bags.  That is the technique she has used to make the coverlet look and feel like flannel.

What is the conversation about between these two quilts?  Maybe it’s for us to lend an ear.

Whatcom Museum

Whatcom Museum, the Light Catcher Building,  street view

I’m always skeptical of the words “cutting edge”.  I feel that if you can see the cutting edge you are viewing it from behind.  It has already passed you by.  But I like the double meaning of “the hand as the cutting edge of the mind”. In any case, the artist book makers are giving us a new venue for visual thought.

The museum is metaphorically on fire.  There is much to mull.  It is time to travel home.

There are 70 spectacular pieces in this show by 61 artists, including most Artist Book luminaries, from around the world.  There was time and space to mention only a few of them in this post.  If you are at all interested in the making of meaning I highly recommend this show.


Until January 3, 2016,  in the Museum’s Lightcatcher Building

250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA

Wednesday – Sunday, noon5pm;
open Thursday until 8pm; open Saturday at 10am

(360) 778-8930

Members: Free
General: $10
Students/Military(with valid ID)/Seniors (62 +): $8
Children 2-5 years old: $4.50
Children under 2: Free

Every Thursday is $5 admission!

Public art on Flora Street: Weston Lambert “Our Time” granite and glass

Trip to Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum, Part one

November 21, 2015

Last Sunday there was a break in the weather so Oola and I headed out in Mom’s Memorial Prius to a show we had wanted to see in the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham WA — a very important and, as it turns out, memorable show of Artist Books.  We also wanted to hear a talk by Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts & Rare Book Curator at the University of Washington (UW).

You can click on any image to see it enlarged.


I say there was finally a break in the weather.  But both Oola and I were ecstatic about the snow in the Olympics — which we claim as our back yard.

Oola reveling in snow

Oola reveling in snow

Warm in the car, we drove to beautiful Port Townsend where we caught the 9:30 ferry.

the Kennewick

the Kennewick

Oola had never ridden on a ferry before and was fascinated that this one has a helm in the front AND in the rear.  It never has to back up.

Here we are, packed in and watching the Cascade mountains in the rear view mirror.

Port Townsend to Whidbey Island

Port Townsend to Whidbey Island

Farther up Hwy 20 is a bridge that connects Whidbey Island with Fidalgo Island.  Beautiful and scary, built with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps in a time when cars were both smaller and fewer.

Deception Pass Bridge and Oola

Deception Pass Bridge and Oola

Deception Pass Bridge detail

Deception Pass Bridge detail

The water is deep; the current can be very strong and very dangerous here.  And the whole area swirls with stories.

For example: why the curious name?  Oola is so glad you asked because she looked it up.  In 1792 George Vancouver, British captain of the Expedition to map the northwest coast, thought that the water swirling out of the pass was a river.  Understandable, as this is how it was described by earlier Spanish explorers.  After a couple of tries, sailing master Joseph Whidbey discovered that the pass led not to a dead end but to Skagit Bay and the Saratoga Passage. (see map above)  This was BIG.  And Vancouver was so delighted he named the island, which they had thought to be a peninsula of the mainland, after Whidbey.  Vancouver named the deceptive passage Deception Pass.  Of course, he could do that because he had just claimed the whole Northwest for the British Crown.

Another legend tells of Scotsman Ben Ure who smuggled drugs and illegal Chinese laborers.  The story goes that he and his partner, Pirate Kelly, would tie the men into burlap sacks to make it easier to toss them overboard should they be seen by U. S. Customs.  He eventually got caught and admitted to his evil deeds.  His island, just inside Deception Pass, still bears his name as does Deadman’s Beach where many of the bodies landed.

In the 1920s, before the bridge was built, if you wanted to get from Whidbey to Fadalgo Island you would hit an old saw with a mallet. All five feet of Berte Olsen would show up,  then she would either collect your 50cents and ferry you across, or not, depending on the turbulence of the water.

But I am getting off the track here.  For more about this fascinating place see

Oola advises that this post is getting too long. She is sometimes very practical.  I will work on the Bellingham part tomorrow.



Shop Fox

November 7, 2015

Mr. Wildcard can make more than guitars.  For those book makers out there who are interested in having a press clamp, here’s a honey-do the Wildcard recently did for me.

Press clamp

Press clamp

We bought a “delux press clamp” from Grizzly Industrial for $70.  The Wildcard scrounged up the off-fall from a maple butcher block counter top and some scrap walnut which he had stored and moved for the past several years.  I found the perfect breadboard of Black Acacia at our local big box store for $20.  Some nuts and bolts. Y voila!  A press for the book construction process, something I had always wanted but not put high on the list because I thought them too expensive.

He found he had to make a couple of small modifications: 1) sand the oil off the breadboard, and 2) add a cross piece near the center of the breadboard to keep it from spinning.

No more “heavy” art books to weigh down projects.  Maybe I can jettison Janson.

Thanks, hunny.

Singular Artist Books at Robert Graves Gallery

September 26, 2015

Last week, Oola and I mounted a show of my artist books in the Robert Graves Gallery at Wenatchee Valley College in Wenatchee, Washington.  Oola has weak arms but an indomitable spirit.  We survived the adventure thanks to all the help we got.

View of Artist Book show at Robert Graves Gallery

View of Artist Book show at Robert Graves Gallery

I made a new book called “Conversation with Stones” for this exhibition.  It grew out of my admiration for the shapes and colors of river stones I have found in abundance in my new place on the planet, and from the thoughts that occurred to me about them.

Conversation with Stones (front view)

Conversation with Stones (front view)

I made the drawings of the dancers digitally and printed them on transparent film.  The “stones” are of handmade paper, shamelessly painted to refer to the mystical qualities I find in them.  The words and phrases from the stones are gathered up into a poem which is posted on the back wall of the installation and near the end of this post.

Conversation with Stones (view from back)

Conversation with Stones (view from back)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

A small fan to the side of the installation gently moves the pages and gives an animated quality to the hand.

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail)

Conversation with Stones (detail of drawings)

Still Life: Ocean With Rock

you are both the memory of a brook and
a message from the stellar stream.
You are
the life of mountains,
firm, solid air,
rigid wind
and …
you are resistant to authorization.

You are
as unquestionable as wild apples,
as verifiable as the mocking bird,
as indisputable as the moon,
you are undeniably obscure.
You are a history of torrents substantiated by passion,
you are the intent of small nows.
I am heavily seeking your eyes in my dreams.

You are
Demanding as an obduration of lilies,
Formidable and tough as portending high noon.
You are a condensation of lizards, grim swallows,
and difficulties of praise.
You are the tough austerity of stubborn distance.

You are
the solidified lives of dragonflies,
hardened moss,
compacted fireflies,
a density of stars,
compressed stirrings of fury.
Unbreakable joy,
you are heavily verified
and …
a painfully proven gnasher of ships.

You are adamantine laughter,
the strong, stony scent of earth
and the unyielding hooves of dreams.

You are
inflexible dust and impenetrable musings.
You are thunder from the sierra,
the clatter of the daily grind and the hiss of gradual loss.
Joy … and pain,
you are the waterfall and the river bed,
and the record of a marriage.
You need not speak of past difficulties.  They are written on you.

You are worn out, rounded energy,
sanded intensity,
polished integrity,
eroded ego,
abraded ambition.
You are the crusher of ecclesiastics
and the one who grinds away the fiction of time.
You are
the sermon of abrasion,
the exhaustion of permissions,
and the diminishment of uniforms.

You are all that is durable of dreams.

Your language is long and slow.  It takes two rocks and a river to say “clack”.
Your language is communal and patient.  It takes many rocks and an ocean to say “clatter…hiss”.
I am an impediment to your sequel.

You are
You have journeyed from the center of the earth.
YOU are between the rock and the hard place.

You say to me,
“I used to be a boulder but now I am a color singing in the river.”
You say,
I am the survivor stone,
the remnant”.
You say, “The rock that was rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone.”
You sing how
you once destroyed a monster with a loaf of your bread,
and how you fed a village with a bowl of your soup.
You teach me how to prop open a door.

Heavily verified and
painfully proven,
you are a labor of leavening and profoundly wild.
You are the history of friction,
a cascade of attrition,
an abrasion of assurities.
You are the dwindling of certitudes,
the decrease of truisms.
You are the geography of erosion.
You grind down the hard nut.
Wear it down.
Wear it away.
You weather the choices.
You are a distillation of lessons
and a tutor to endurance.
You are the bones of the ridge.

Music of the commune, you are the cloister stone – river stones and water.
You are a lessening of mountains,
the moments and the ruins of a search.
You cause the loss of rough edges.
“Noli te bastardes carborundorum” say the young. “It has happened” say the rest.

There are two old stones in the shallows.  Together they watch over the new generation of salmon.
Cla-  -ack
Return to the universe.

Some of the other works in the exhibition:

“Dirt” and two scrolls from “Homeless Furniture”

“Dirt” and “Woodswoman”

Waterbook as installed in Robert Graves Gallery

Waterbook as installed in Robert Graves Gallery

The show will be up through Oct. 30.  If you are in the area, you are welcome to visit.

Robert Graves Gallery
Wenatchee Valley College
1300 5th Street (The gallery is more easily reached from the 9th St. entrance to the college.)
Wenatchee, WA

Gallery Hours
Mon – Fri:  11am to 3pm
Sat – Sun: Closed
Or by appointment
509-470-7844 or 509-633-1001

Artist Book Collection at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

September 22, 2015

A few weeks ago Oola and I headed for beautiful Bainbridge Island to see a show of artist books in the jewel-like Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

Bainbridge Island Museum of ArtWe had made reservations to hear Cynthia Sears talk about the work in a show called
“Artist’s Books Chapter Five: Women, Now and Then” in the Sherry Grover Gallery.  When we got there we found to our dismay – then to our enchantment – that the speakers would be artistbookmaking/calligraphy collaborators Carolyn Terry and Annabella Serra.

They are working with painstaking fervor on an alphabet book both dark and delightful.

click on any image to see more detail

Carolyn Terry and Anabella Serra

Oola immediately fell in love with Carolyn’s earlier books with its drawings, paintings and carvings of insects, other animals, and other surprises.

Oola is captivated by one of Carolyn's accordion books.

During all of this we were surrounded by a display of awe inspiring books — technically first-rate, content impressive, pushing the boundaries, and mostly just downright heartrendingly funny.

Take for examples:

Summer Hat with Flower by Diane Jacobs

Diane Jacobs' hat

Strips of paper printed with all the insulting terms that have ever been applied to women and woven into a hat which when worn protects the wearer from the ill effects of the offensiveness.

What She Needs by Sande Wascher-James with text by Sophie Tucker

“From birth to age 18 a girl needs good parents.
From 18 to 35 she needs good looks.
From 35 to 55 she needs a good personality.  And from 55 on she needs cash.”Sande Wascher-James

American Breeding Standards by Ellen Knudson

In this book Ellen takes the rules for breeding good horses and applies them to the female human.Ellen Knudson, Female Standards

The gallery was lighted perfectly for displaying books.  Not so great for taking pictures.  We crave you indulgence because something really special happened after the lecture and the looking.

Cynthia Sears came back into the gallery with a package, which turned out to be the newest addition to this book art collection.  And Oola, who loves anything like Christmas, was watching it all.


With evident delight Cynthia unwraps JoAnna Poehlmann’s  Cancelling Out, an accordion book of famous final words. JoAnna Poehlmann


I have been told that there will be more activities surrounding this outstanding collection beginning in October.  Ami Goldthwaite, the book room host, is available Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 – 2.

Amy Goldthwaite, at your serice

Check out the BIMA’s website for the  most current scheduling.

The WildCard and Malcolm Clark

August 6, 2015

Sometimes, that which you are looking for just shows up at your front door.  Yesterday blues player Malcolm Clark arrived at WildCard Guitars.  They sat down to play, and will probably be doing more of that in the near future.  Click here to be taken to a video of them playing “Born on a Bayou” on the front porch.

The WildCard and Malcolm Clark

The WildCard and Malcolm Clark

Steve is playing his Dionysian model solid body guitar.  Here’s one he made made for a client in the past, inlay by yours truly.

solid body guitar

dionysian model

Trip to the Northernest Westernest

July 30, 2015

Yesterday we decided to find out what extreme North West in the L 48 looks like, land’s end.  So we took a 70 mile drive from Port Angeles along Hwy 112 and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Cape Flattery in the west, all in Mom’s Memorial Prius.


Please click on any photograph to see an enlargement.

Roadside Wildflowers! At first the vetch was in full riot mode.



Then as we moved farther west we encountered Fireweed.

Even late in its season it fills the roadsides.  I saw it blanket a large swath of forest clear cut looking determined to defend and heal the land.

More and more wildflowers everywhere the eye landed.  Most of the names I do not know. A joyous extravagance!

Our first stop was a tiny town called Joyce with an old but well maintained general store/post office and – again – a love of colorful flowers.

Joyce general store and postoffice

Joyce general store and post office

There I noted two curiosities.  First a nearby building that advertized “Frozen Ice”.  Oola pondered: could there be another kind of ice?

Frozen Ice

Frozen Ice

Secondly, there was a small but closed museum.  In the museum yard there is a huge – I mean monstrous huge – tree stump with tackle.  The tree was eight-hundred-plus years old when it was cut down.  On the road I encountered dozens of lumber trucks, none of which held any logs that compared even minutely in diameter to this old stump.  The lumber industry cuts stuff down and ships it out on an industry time line.

stump and tackle

stump and tackle

The white tags say the tree was this old when the general store was built.

Not far down the road we saw this.flagAnd considering events since the recent Charleston shooting it’s probably best to leave this a quote without comment…other than to say that there are folk in this area who like to go out into the woods and play survivalist games seriously.

Farther along the road we took a short turnoff to

Great beauty, and as elsewhere along this highway, invitations to solitude and contemplation. UNTIL one looks up and sees this travesty at the top of the hill that creates Pillar Point:

Clear Cut

Clear Cut.  The lumber industry insists that this is the only way they can make enough money.

Oola opined that the fog was looking for its missing trees.

Farther up the road we entered the land of the Makah Indians including Neah Bay.  I loved driving through their forest filtered light.

Forest light

Forest light

We stopped at a burial ground.  It was sad to see so many American flags.  So many have died as veterans of American wars.

Makah graveyard sculpture

Makah graveyard sculpture

Soon we were almost to the goal of our trip, land’s end.  One small problem, my knee was reliving an old injury, and as it turned out, I could not walk the last half mile of Cape Flattery to the Pacific Ocean.  Here is a google picture of how it looks from the air.

Cape Flattery as seen from the air

Cape Flattery as seen from the air

It was sore disappointing not to see the caves, waves, and spectacular ocean rocks, the photos of which I had viewed on Google maps.  But when the knee heals I will go back.

Our consolation prize was to gently drive the Cape Loop Road to the tranquil Waatch River

Waatch River

Waatch River

and back into Neah Bay where we were too late to see the Makah museum.  It was time to go home but there was one more adventure waiting for us.

We saw the first falling of leaves and realized that yes the days are getting shorter — back to the lengths we were used to at lower latitudes.  Just east of Neah Bay I stopped the car on a bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the Snow River.

Snail Rock at the out point of the Snow River

Sail Rock at the out point of the Snow River

We were viewing the scenery when I observed people from the nearby car gesticulating and pointing cameras in the direction of the kelp beds below.  I asked what they saw and they said “a great big whale”.  Sure enough, Thar she blew! A big, languid, lithe, grey whale exercising her baleen in the shallows.  She was so big that even at our distance on the bluff we could hear the wind of her exhalation with the spray.

Whale spray

Whale spray

There was no hurry in her.  In fact – truth be told – she reminded me of those big, dramatic, brown slugs I used to find in the garden.  But she was magnificent.  My camera’s memory disk decided it was full, but there is one more picture.  Wish it were a video.

Grey Whale feeding

Grey Whale feeding

It was regrettable but we really had to make tracks.  And yes that really is a 9% downgrade – my favorite!

The road home

The road home

Wildcard Guitars, PA

June 13, 2015

Four years ago Oola and I traveled to the tiny luthier shop of Wildcard Guitars in Oakland, CA.  Since then Wildcard (Steve Card) has moved to Port Angeles, WA ( where the world is clean, quiet, friendly, affordable, spacious, polite, smart, beautiful, uncrowded, capable, curious…) and he opened his shop there.  Here’s a peek.

Wildcard Guitars storefront

Wildcard Guitars storefront

Wildcardguitar's show room

One corner of  Wildcard Guitar’s show room/Pickin’ Parlour with a couch and magazines for weary guitar widows.

The Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce welcomes Wildcard Guitars to PA

The Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce welcomes Wildcard Guitars to PA

Here’s the other side of the show room, with Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce doing a ribbon cutting.  Oola was fascinated by those big sharp scissors.  No one seemed to mind.

Wildcard Guitars flowers in the display window.

Wildcard Guitars flowers in the display window.

One of Steve’s Canadian neighbors brought by a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne in welcome.  The champagne was soon polished off, but the flowers seem to catch the eyes of passersby, so Steve continues the habit.  People like their flowers here.  Hard to grow tomatoes though.

Moving right along, there is much more room for Steve to work.

Wildcard workshop, north side

Wildcard workshop, north side

Wildcard guitars workshop, north side

Wildcard workshop, south side

Wildcard workshop, South side

Above is a neck and fingerboard for a new commission.  You see the slot carved out for the truss rod.

Humidity room with Go Bars for gluing

Inside the humidity room

Because of the rain and humidity Steve built an 8ft. x 8ft. “box” inside his workshop to keep his wood from distorting, and to get good glue joints.  He demonstrated how the Go Bars might be used to glue a bridge to a guitar top (you have to imagine the top).

Steve has so much space now he calls it “Palatial!”.

If you ever travel to the area, you can find the Wildcard shop at

111 N. Oak St
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Call for an appointment and Steve will be sure to greet you in person.

(360) 504 2961


May 20, 2015
How to Develop a Healthy Immune System

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System – back view

There are artists who can work under the restrictions of a theme.  There are some who prefer to muddle about and try to make sense of what happens.  Well — it’s more complicated than that, but I am definitely one of the latter.

Once some of my students and I went on a field trip to the studio of Neda al Hilali.  To one of their questions she replied “My studio is the only place in the world where I can do whatever I want.”  Bless her, and I ask “why would I want to dance to anyone else’s tune when I am in my own studio?” So when I read of a challenge to artists and poets from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington concerning the U. N. International Year of the Soil, I surprised myself by responding.

The results are two small books reflecting some of my understandings and feelings about soil, the “skin of the earth”. They are constructed with a modified concertina binding developed by Heidi Kyle.  The first is How to Develop a Healthy Immune System.  I’ll let the book speak for themselves. To read more easily, click on the picts to enlarge them.

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System – front view

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System

How to Develop a Healthy Immune System – text page

The second, How Soil Becomes Dirt, is based on something that has bothered me for many years.  There is a lot of construction going on in my neighborhood.  I am both fascinated and repelled by the huge machines and the crushing noise; by the stripped-bare tactics that seem to be part of the mentality of heavy construction, prisons, forestry — you know — the usual list.  I took some picts and combined them with biblical quotations to make this.

How Soil Becomes Dirt

How Soil Becomes Dirt – text page

How Soil Becomes Dirt

How Soil Becomes Dirt – Front view

How Soil Becomes Dirt

How Soil Becomes Dirt – back view

I was nervous about sending these out (because they break from my long established creative process). But I was very pleased to get a encouraging letter of acceptance from the jury.  The books are included in the show “Dirt: Scientists, Artists and Writers Reflect on Soil and Our Environment” at the Collins Memorial Library of the University of Puget Sound.  If you are in the area, please visit the show which will be up from August 6 to December 4.

Collins Memorial Library
1500 N. Warner St. #1021
Tacoma, Wa 98416


Lake Crescent on Hwy 101

March 11, 2015

On a recent drive to somewhere else I stopped to admire the scenery from the edge of Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park.

I heard the sound of giant wings pushing against the air and then the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  Looking up I saw a splendid Bald Eagle.  He flew over the lake, presumably looking for lunch, and then he graciously returned for this cameo shot in the movie I call My Life.

Bald Eagle over Crescent Lake

Bald Eagle over Lake Crescent

It was awesome in the fullest sense of the word.  Oola was struck speechless.

A little later she recovered and resumed her chin-wagging with other travelers she met on the road.  One of them, Sparky, was warmly dressed for this cold morning.  Oola politely agreed, Yes, it really was VERY COLD.

Oola and Sparky The Dog

Oola and Sparky Theee Dog

As my eyes wandered across the water I was reminded of all those student hours in the darkroom flipping negatives to make mirror images.  And all the while, here it was.  Who Knew?

Crescent Lake, Olympic National Park

 Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Crescent Lake, Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

It was a remarkable morning — one for the records.


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