Lost in a sea of materials

I haven’t gleaned in a few weeks. It has become very clear that I needed to take a break from gleaning to actually make art with the massive amounts of materials that have accumulated in a corner of my studio. Now I am in art making mode, spreading out my materials like a messy little mouse making a nest in her house.


So, here I am currently lost in a sea of materials. I am making lots of art, but I feel a bit directionless at the moment. My instinct is to explore and play with the materials, making components for my sculptures, sewing, embroidering, stuffing polyfill into things, and sewing more. I’m feeling unfocused about where the sculptures are going and what they are going to be, which is pretty normal for me.  I’m taking it as a sign that I need to lose myself in the process. I am trusting that I am meant to let the materials guide me right now. I always think of Jackson Pollack as the ultimate example of an artist who can lose himself in his materials and process. Sewing is not as given to immediacy as is painting, but I’m trying to channel my inner Pollack in my stitches. I’m trying to stay loose. 


Here I am wearing some of my sculptures. Sometimes you have to wear your sculptures when you work in fiber even if they are not technically meant to be worn.

A monument to fleshy, intimate moments…


20160314_134803I found this bathroom shelf stand on my very first Glean. Dan took the glass and I was intrigued by the frame. The couple who dropped it off seemed nice enough. They were undergoing some kind of renovation, dropping off various construction debris and this metallic bathroom shelf, shiny and structured. The piece was in decent shape, a little wobbly, metal finish deteriorating in spots but otherwise, a usable piece of furniture that could have been rehomed.

I started thinking about this bathroom shelf and all of the intimate moments it has witnessed. The bathroom is a place of ritual where we perform our ablutions, relax in privacy, think deeply. In many ways this bathroom stand is monument to our fleshy needs, our ablutions, our private release. It stored the objects used for ritual cleaning, healing, decorating faces and bodies.

When I started this project, I was excited about finding stories embedded within things, transforming their value. The more I sift through the pile at the transfer station, the more I am convinced that the reason one reason why we waste so much is because we lose sight of an object’s story. For me, thinking about this bathroom stand as a monument to fleshy, intimate moments, has given it new found purpose and life.

I’ve now begun the process of transforming the piece. Honoring the story that I have gleaned from this object, I have sewn flesh-toned fabric and polyfill to the “bones” of the structu20160324_124645re. It is my objective to eliminate the hard lines and structured geometry of the piece, softening it with fleshy curves. I’d like to leave places where one can peak inside the piece, inviting the viewer to gaze into this intimate space.


The wonky, red crate


Let’s just talk about this sweet, little red crate I found at the transfer station on my first day of gleaning. Little beauty, right? The cherry red color caught my eye and I thought it would be a perfect base on which to build a sculpture. It’s a little damaged and crunched, which creates a lovely curve to usually straight box lines.

Since I’m collecting stories from the objects I Glean, I decided to ask my almost 4 year-old son the story of this crate. Without any hesitation, he informed me that this crate was a banana box that has been shipped in a large truck. Apparently, the truck got into an accident and a bad guy came along and turned it into gold. Then a good guy showed up and turned it back into a red crate. Finally, it has reached its destination and we will turn it into art soon.

Before it gets to be art, this crate has enjoyed a second life as a wonderful plaything for my son. Since it’s recent arrival at my house, it has been a cave, a boat, and a mountain to climb. For my children, this crate is a magnificent object with endless possibilities. If only we all saw stuff with children’s eyes, I think our waste troubles would be behind us.

Story-full objects


Yesterday, I gleaned for the very first time. There is something breathtaking about standing in front of a giant pile of unwanted items. I couldn’t help but wonder why so many of these things had been deposited at the transfer station instead of being spruced up, rehomed or freeboxed. Some of the items were clearly damaged or broken, bits of things once whole. However, a large percentage of the stuff seemed to be in decent working order. There was so many good things that with a little love or cleaning could be used for years to come.

My heart kind of breaks for these orphaned objects. I can’t help but wonder about the worlds these objects left behind, their lives before being trashed. Part of my glean project is to find the stories within these discarded objects and share them, giving them life and value. It is my hope that as I transform my trash orphans into sculpture, the stories will reveal themselves.

All the serious stuff aside, what fun it is to get to search through this great mound of interesting, story-full objects! I have already gleaned a bunch of wonderful items that I can’t wait to share.