We interrupt the blog post we were working on for this message . . .

I just got an email from Lora Murphy, the genius behind Painting with Fire. She’s going to be featuring one of my workshops this Wednesday, which is a couple of months before it was scheduled.

Here’s the info:

This mini-workshop combines Spirit figure construction with encaustic surface design and a bunch of other fun stuff. Remember the toilet paper rolls that I’ve been saving? Here’s how to use them! Gauze, Paper, Plaster, + Wax is a 45-minute treasury of techniques and inspiration (if I do say so myself.)

It’s kind of a prelude to my other workshop, which comes up in 2023 on Painting with Fire, called The Shaman Spirit in Paper and Wax.

If you have been thinking of joining Painting with Fire, do it now and you can see the Gauze, Plaster, Paper + Wax workshop day after tomorrow. Plus, you’ll get the Shaman workshop and about a zillion other workshops by a zillion other fantastic teachers in encaustic and mixed media.(A zillion = 26)

Some of the other teachers are Roxanne Evans Stout, Crystal Marie Neubauer, and my Enso Circle partner, Michelle Belto. Subjects include things like eco-printing and large-scale pouring and found object inclusions and — well, it’s a very cool program. And you don’t need a ton of new material and equipment to participate. Heck, in my class this Wednesday you just need some wax and a toilet paper roll – and a few other things. Actually, here’s the short materials list.

I know I’ve talked about Painting with Fire before, but the email from Lora remind me to remind YOU that you can register any time. Class started April 27th but since these are prerecorded videos, you get instant access to the already released classes when you sign up. Classes are delivered each Wednesday approximately 12 noon EST as prerecorded video and once they are available you can watch whenever you wish. You get lifetime access to all classes.

Here’s that signup link!

OK, now back to my other blog post in progress – it’s about provenance and the soul of objects. I’m enjoying writing about that and will post it soon.

 

Descanso: art and healing

I am sharing this story with you without additional commentary other than the plea that we all hold in our hearts the healing power of art and our profound gratitude to those who make it.

DESCANSO:

A cross placed at the site of a violent, unexpected death, in memoriam.

A state of quiet and re-creation

A pause, a rest, a haven

The Email Conversation, June 22, 2022

Lyn, I wanted to share the piece I created using the “Paloma” face I purchased from you some time ago. I created the Santa Madre Guadalupe altar “descanso” to remember all children who have died-victims of violence. It is dedicated to the little angels killed at the Uvalde school shooting. The “milagros” represent the kids. The hearts represent the broken hearts of their moms/dads. ~ Enid

Enid, this is beautiful and bittersweet. I would love to share it on my blog with your permission. Uvlade is so close to San Antonio and all of here are still mourning, as is the rest of the nation. Would you tell me a little bit about yourself as background? Would it be OK to share this with others as a healing gesture? Art heals in so many ways. I am very grateful to you for sharing this, and the little milagros speak louder than words could. ~ Lyn

The Response and the Story, June 23, 2022

I am 72, and an adult survivor of childhood abuse, neglect, maltreatment, and violence, I have been involved with, engaged in some form of PTSD recovery therapy for more years than I can count. While providing some small relief benefits, traditional talk therapy failed to help me move forward, to move pass the trauma. Taking my well-being and mental health into my own hands, I started to create art as an outlet to gain insight into my childhood experiences and to speak my truth.

It’s been 2 years now since I started creating my “healing art”, and I am just starting, just learning how to use healing art to express emotions too difficult to say or share while building inner strengths and developing inner emotional resilience.

My creation, La Santa Madre, expresses my deepest emotions in a way that words could never express and reflects my culture, religious upbringing, world views and values. Lyn’s clay art woman faces have been part of my artistic creations and personal journeys to mental, physical, and spiritual well-being for some years now. I start out every journey by holding and talking to the faces, asking,” Who, what do you want to be?” I listen and wait sometimes for years to hear the faint voice.

On May 24, 2022, I heard Paloma-Lyn’s creation, say to me, “I am the mother of the angelitos of Uvalde and of all children-victims of violence.” That day, I started creating La Santa Madre Guadalupe Descanso . The children milagro charms represent the many children who have lost their lives to violence. The corazones represent their parents’ hearts, broken and too often buried with their children.

One milagrito is my son Billy who died in 1992 as a result of a driver’s poor judgement. One milagrito represents me and the childhood I lost.

Enid Sepúlveda Rodríguez
New Mexico
6/23/2022

Thank you, Enid. You have touched many hearts today.

Lyn

The Spirits of Austin

Sometimes the timing and the place are exactly right for creating together. The two-day Spirit Doll workshop in Austin was one of those times, shadowed by the Uvalde tragedy, inspired by the wish for immersion in making art as spiritual healing.

There were ten of us in the workshop and by the time it was over, we were a bonded community. Some came from Austin, some from Dallas, Houston and other places, but the Austin School of Fiber Arts was our heart-home for the weekend.

Lynne Brotman, director of the ASFA, has a wonderful space available for workshops in the newly-arty southeast section of Austin.

The first day, we worked with the basic spirit doll armature construction.

Everyone talked about how the word “doll” connotates a toy, but figures like these are ancient and profound. No one had a better word, however – it’s always problematic describing this art/craft genre of figure-making.

We all completed our figures, all started the same way, all finished in different ways reflecting the intentions of the makers.

On Day Two, we broke out the plaster and the air-dry clay and built armatures using a different method still with sticks and very basic, natural materials – like our toilet paper rolls!

Patrice put feet on hers!

 

At the end of the second day, we looked at all the spirits we had created. They mirrored the community that we had made over the weekend – a group of like-minded people coming together for a purpose that revealed itself most clearly at the end of the process. I am so grateful to each of the artists in the workshop for teaching me lessons about ingenuity and generosity.

I’m inviting you to share in the workshop experience by watching this video of how we started, what we did, and how we finished.

Link

I’m planning another Spirit Doll workshop in San Antonio in July. Let me know if you might be interested and I”ll put you on the email list. In times like these, we need all of the good spirits we can get!

Thanks for reading SHARDS – take good care, and stay cool.

Grateful Spirit

Ah, Spirit Dolls – they were the inspiration for my shard faces which solidified my return to earthenware in 2008 as my personal healing medium.

When winter days approach, there’s nothing more comforting than to settle down at my workbench and get my hands into some clay. After the clay has dried, I watch the earthenware pieces come out of the kiln, vitrified and transformed at 1900F, and marvel at the miracle of earth and fire. It never gets old.

Part of what keeps this exciting is connecting with the diverse world-wide circle of Spirit Doll makers and their creations. As you probably know, I have an Etsy shop called Earthshards, which is visited by doll makers, assemblage artists, fiber artists, and mixed media artists for the small Shard Faces that I make. Sometimes in their Etsy reviews they send photos of how they use the faces – what a delight!

Here are some inspiring pictures from the last eight month. I’ve credited them using just their buyer names for privacy, but I wanted you to see what I get to see as feedback!

Jan


Bada


Beloved Lake


Brita


Cristel


Cynthia


Elizabeth


Holle

Judie

Kelly


Metis


Rachel


Tess


Torpor


Viki


Wally


Wendy

______________________________

Thanks to all of these creative makers for sharing their work.

If you want to make your own spirit doll after seeing these and need a little inspiration, here is my free Spirit Doll instruction booklet.

Now go cultivate your grateful spirit!! Give a little spirit doll to a friend as a thank-you. It will warm your heart – and theirs – this winter!

Provenance

I’ve been negligent about posting to SHARDS for several reasons. I wanted to change the look of the blog, and work on some website redesign as well.  So I’ve been busy, yes, but that’s no excuse.

Have you ever felt that the longer you go without doing something you should do, the harder it gets to do it? My brothers and I are of the generation that got swats on the bottom from our dad when we were little and did something REALLY bad. Daddy would let us choose the time for our swat, but would tell us that “the longer you wait, the harder it gets.” Sigh. The anticipation was worse than the swat, of course. Sometimes you just have to get it done and move on 🙂

But I digress – today I want to discuss “provenance,” a word that refers to the historical origin of a piece of art, or really any object. As an assemblage artist, provenance is hugely important to me. I believe that an object’s history can be sensed in some weird way, kind of like a shard of clay gives a clue to its history.

I’ve been working lately on a series of wrapped and bundles figures inspired by the Peruvian Chancay Burial dolls. Here’s the Chancay doll on the right and my interpretation is on the left.

Part of my process involves selecting specially-curated objects to wrap into the form. Here is another example:

Below are several little objects I want to wrap into the next figure – two seed pods and a feather.

No one who sees the finished doll will know about the provenance of these objects – they could be just some stuff I picked up anyplace. But the seed pods came from my Pride of Barbados tree which seemed completely dead after the snow disaster this year, but manages to come back gloriously despite the trauma. The feather came from the construction yard at SAY Si where they are building a wonderful new place to share art with the youth in San Antonio who really need it. So all three of these objects have a special “provenance,” a story of rebuilding and renewal.

As I said, no one but me knows about the provenance of these objects, but somehow they carry an aura of their story with them, and that infuses the finished piece with a sense of inexpiable mystery and meaning. You can do this with objects, with paper, with fiber.

When you have a choice in your own work of using something that has a special provenance even though it may not look quite as bright and shiny as something you bought at a craft store, consider the source, and go with what your heart says.

If you look up “provenance” as it relates to collecting art, you’ll find that it refers to the trail of ownership of an art object, or the history that got it from there to here. But every object has a history and a story based on where it is found. As an artist, you can incorporate those stories to give richness to your work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shards and Santos, Clay and Collage

Happiness is teaching in Taos!

A week from tomorrow, I’ll be at the Taos Ceramics Center working with students in my Shards and Santos Workshop. The class takes place on two consecutive Saturdays – here’s a description.

In this workshop, we will create personal assemblages inspired by these iconic figures of Santos. In the first class, we will construct handmade textured slab-based clay components such as heads, bodies, and enhancements. We will also learn to make hand-crafted clay press molds. These components will be fired once.

Here are some examples of assorted assemblage components that I’m taking with me – honestly, working in assemblage is just like working in collage, only a bit more dimensional:

Continuing the workshop description —

The next week, we will build our figure, incorporating found objects such as bones and shells and bleached twigs into the final assemblage and perhaps include cherished objects and hidden words. We will explore the limitless possibilities of cold finishes, such as metallics and beeswax, to enhance the surfaces of the unglazed earthenware.

These santos, below, are in progress, and I’ll use them to show how the components are put together.

Since we will not be glazing and re-firing the shard components, I’ve been experimenting with cold finishes for fired clay for the last couple of weeks.

One of the most successful combinations I’ve discovered is Pearl Ex powder by Jacquard mixed with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium.  You can control the translucency and the color saturation, then buff the wax finish. It’s exciting to see how well it works on bisqueware.

 

Another technique I’m playing with is tube acrylic paint mixed with a bit of cornstarch to dull the finish.

In the sample below, the acrylic mixture mimics the look of Gilder’s Paste at about half the cost and with less potential toxicity.

This kind of experimentation is part of the fun of planning a workshop. And then I get to share with new people!

I’m grateful to the Taos Ceramics Center for inviting me – and at this writing, there’s just one spot left, so if you need a quick get-away, come on up to the mountains of New Mexico!

 

Wendy’s Nature Spirits

A weather note : I started this post on Monday morning. The post (and normal life) has been interrupted by two days of power outages and snow here in South Texas, and there may be more to come! Yikes!

So, before the power goes out again, I want to warm your heart (and mine) by telling you about Wendy Larsen of Nevada.

Normally, I’m shy about writing my buyers to ask how they are using the faces the purchase from my Etsy shop, Earthshards, but Wendy had ordered quite a few of the Celtic Forge faces and I was curious. I emailed her, and she graciously told me about her Nature Spirits.

Celtic Forge faces from my Etsy Shop, Earthshards

Wendy wrote:

“I use all natural materials, and your faces are beautiful addition to my art. I was going to create my own Etsy shop one but the works weigh a lot as I use petrified wood and agate rose quartz . So that makes them quite heavy to ship, but I do have some in a crystal shop in Lehi Utah that carries my art, and I’ve done quite well there over the past few months. I’m currently doing a few commissioned pieces.

It started when I was at a cactus nursery and saw some Choya wood and decided to use it to create a beautiful piece of art. Little did I know they would be such a success! They are inspired by nature. Everything used on them is natural except for what I used to keep them in place. They they all have an energy that lives within each piece. I use a lot of raw crystals, pine cones, living moss, and natural stones as well as the Choya wood and your beautiful clay faces. I’m typically inspired to do a piece by what the face tells me.

Here is a picture of the first piece I ever did — and it’s history from there – LOL.”

Wendy’s Nature Spirits are packed with intricate detail and precious objects – tiny silver lizards, clusters of crystal. Here are some others. You can see the care and love that she adds to each one.

Thanks so much, Wendy, for sharing your wonderful Nature Spirits with us!

Before I close (and before the power goes off again!), I want to remind you that the Early Bird pricing for Painting with Fire is still open if you want to explore a year of Encaustic techniques and processes by 26 teachers (including me!) for less than $10 a workshop — pretty cool. Or hot.

Click here to visit Essence of Mulranny .

Please stay safe and warm – and take good care,

Lyn

Barbie and The Spirit Women

Spirit Woman, Barbie Koncher

I get to meet the most amazing artists through my Etsy shop. In the last post, you read about Brita, and now – meet Barbie!

Barbie Koncher lives in Hawaii and uses banana fiber as an element in creating her Spirit Women. Indigenous materials add authentic magic to her creations. She sent me some photos of her work along with some great notes:

Hi Lyn,

I’m happy to share my techniques. I have always shared ideas with fellow artists. Inspiration and sharing is critical to artists. I am working on shaping some banana fiber for a Spirit Doll who will inhabit it. I am using this instead of a stick body, using your techniques in my own way. This banana fiber has been soaked overnight then cut to size and scrubbed clean. You can only cut and shape when wet. Then I’ll wax with encaustic before I begin to build my doll, Shaman or Spirit woman. You have shown me an entirely new path!

There’s a lot more to know about this remarkable woman:

I have been creating jewelry for 35+ years and am best known for my large bead creations and fused glass jewelry (20 years). I designed for Saks Fifth Avenue, numerous cruise ships (traveled with them as a guest artist), and my glass was sold at the Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.

But wait, there’s even more!

I also had a 25 year career with the Department of Defense and capped that career working at the Pentagon and State Department.

I am a certified Art Clay instructor and am toying with the idea of making faces with bronze Art Clay, if I can keep it light enough. I also torch fire enamel on steel beads or copper screen. I am retired in Hawaii and 75 years old but I can’t stop creating. I am an active member of the Kona Palisades Artists and the Las Vegas Artisans Guild.

I just made some lovely cheese cloth painted fabric! I’m having so much fun with the Spirit Woman series.

In this last photo, Barbie accents the Spirit Woman with a cracked glass Christmas ornament and some sea glass. There’s something mythical about it all.

I love Barbie’s work. Many thank to her for permission to use her photos and her thoughts. If you’d like to get in touch with Barbie, you can email her here: koncher@msn.com

It’s such a pleasure to see how the Earthshard faces travel around and inspire so many fantastic artisans. So, now I have the words to “It’s a Small World After All” running through my head!

Happy Holidays – and dare it say it? Happy New Year – yay!!!!

The Blanket People

Yesterday I took six orders for earthenware faces from my Etsy shop to the Post Office. They were going out to six different states – Washington, Kansas, Maryland, Illinois, New York, and Texas. As always, I wondered how the faces would be used and whether they would inspire the people who ordered them.

Every so often, I get an answer to that question from someone whose work really lifts my spirit. I wanted to share this one with you.

Brita Rekve

Hi Lyn,

I’ve been thinking about you and how your faces have prompted an whole new direction for me in my work. I have enjoyed the ride and hope it continues. It seems I started with stick figures that came with stories then there was a slight morphing into heads on a stick, very nature based and now I’m creating what I refer to as blanket people…I am so in the groove when this is happening it’s a holy experience. ~~ Brita

Brita sent some pictures with her note, pictures showing wonderful textures and colors:

Brita Rekve

Brita Rekve

I asked her if she would send the Blanket People story that accompanies her soft-sculpture. Here it is:

Blanket People
She lived with sheep and would sit for hours in the field watching them. Named them after cowboys and mountain men. Doc and Wyatt, two of her favorites came to her for chin rubs and endearments and she marveled at the way the sunlight caught in their eyes and offered a glimpse of something ancient. She wove blankets from their fleece. It was such a comfort to bring the blanket to her nose and breath in the spun sunshine and sweet grass, feel the softness of the wool, the gentleness of the animal. Wrapping herself up she felt safe and protected as if all her grandmothers had circled round. She yearned to give this very same feeling to anyone with a sad and weary heart or the suffering of broken dreams. A wrap in the offering of the animals, a circle of grandmother arms, the  comfort and peace of safety and love.
The Blanket People story makes me feel all warm and comforted, even more so when she added:
There is a backstory I will share with you. Prior to the plague I was teaching process painting in my studio.  That’s what the studio was set up for. When we needed to shut down in the spring I started playing with sticks and fiber. It was around the time of a granddaughters high school graduation and I thought I’d make her a Spirit doll to hang on her wall. One thing led to another. Someone told me about your faces. My studio is a birthing room. I’m blissed out on the people who come to me, some with stories, some without. They come alive and I feel them…  This is a spiritual walk.
PS – Doc and Wyatt moved on to the great pasture in the sky. I’ll always miss them.
Brita is from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and if you’d like to know more about her Blanket People you can contact at Facebook her under her own name, Brita Rekve, or email her at  fourwingsstudio@gmail.com.
There are some amazing connections going on – right after Brita wrote, I heard from another artist, Barbie Koncher, who lives in Hawaii and does beautiful work using non-traditional methods and indigenous materials. I’ll write about Barbie next.
Stay warm, stay connected, and take good care.
♥Lyn

Imaginary friends, bossy inspirations

Human faces and figures, ancient or contemporary, fascinate me as summaries of life stories in the moment. The longer I work as an artist, the more focused my work seems to be on interpretations of those themes.

Clay, paper, beeswax, and fiber are my instinctive, beloved media, all of which lend themselves to representations of faces and figures as small sculptures, spirit dolls, and earthenware faces.

Below are two of the latest little figures (sticks, clay, found objects) which I just dropped off at Marta Stafford’s gallery in Marble Falls. They are called “StarSeason” (top) and “Pastime” (bottom)

Creating an assembled piece related to human form is different from creating an abstract painting – there’s still a lot of intuition, technique, and trust involved, but these small sculptures seem to function as creative “guides.”

It’s easier to tell what element a figurative assemblage “wants” than it is to tell what color a painting “wants,” at least to me. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird.

I discovered this when I started teaching Spirit Doll workshops a decade or so ago, and then re-learned it in the latest Spirit Doll workshop, now up on Teachable.

If you look at the second lesson in the Spirit Doll workshop (which is a free preview) you’ll see how a bunch of stick almost pull themselves together to become something with strong opinions and a personality! It’s really fun to be involved in that process.

I remember when I was putting this piece (below) together a couple of months ago (it’s kind of a cross between mixed-media sculpture and Spirit Doll), I felt strongly guided on what to do next. For example – when it came time to represent the hair, she wanted horsehair.

I didn’t even know I had any horsehair, but then I remembered that a friend had brought me some a long time ago at my old studio. I finally found a hank of pale, coarse horsehair in a buried Ziploc, and used it. The sculpture/spirit doll was right! Nothing else would have worked!

Then there’s Mojo Woman, who wanted everything but the kitchen sink – I listened to her, too – not sure about this one 🙂 See how smug she looks with all that stuff?

Anyway, join the new Spirit Doll workshop if you need a new imaginary best friend who can be a bit bossy. But if you don’t like having somebody telling you what to do, you may regret it!

Take good care,

Lyn