Cedar Wing

Cedar Wing

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Art In the Woods 2010 - A Self-guided Studio Tour - Nov 12,13,14

Large Canoe Bailer-style Vessel of Cedar Bark and Root and Driftwood

Cherry Bark on Stones
The Cultural Arts Foundation NW is once again sponsoring a tour of 19 Studios in the North Kitsap area, featuring 49 artists.  I will be in #16 - Sterling Studio, 20487 Indianola Rd NE, Indianola, WA 98342.  Sydni Sterling's Gallery is across the street from the Indianola Club House, as you enter Indianola.

For a brochure and map please contact: http://www.cafnw.org/

Two Cedar Bark Boxes

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cedar Bark and Iris Fan

This cedar bark, Siberian iris, and handmade paper fan, demonstrates the beauty found in familiar, ancient forms.  I'm grateful to Linda and David, for giving me the opportunity to create this piece for them, using materials from their beautiful garden.  (37”tall x 24” wide x 2” deep)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Northwest Sweet Grass – Basket Grass – My Favorite Grass

No matter what name it goes by: Northwest sweet grass, basket grass, three-square, beach grass, common three-square, bulrush, three-cornered grass, scirpus Americanus, or weaver’s sedge - I always enjoy gathering, drying, organizing, and especially, weaving, with the grass that now goes by the botanical name: Schoenoplectus pungens Palla.

I’ll refer to it as NW sweet grass because of the sweet smell it emanates as I work with it. I recall many seasons of gathering with friends at low tide, many kayak trips into beautiful estuaries, paddling to remote beaches where young seals, river otters, fish of all sizes, and multitudes of bird species seemed hardly to notice our presence.

These are vital wetlands, where the rivers meet the sea, where fresh waters and salt waters converge and mix to create the most bountiful conditions for living creatures. It is mind-boggling to consider how less than ten percent of the original wetlands along the Puget Sound shorelines remain. Over 90 percent of these important flood-mitigating, water purifying, insect, reptile, fish, bird, and mammal feeding nurseries, have been lost, through human-activity, in just over a hundred years. Thankfully now, the few remaining intact estuaries in the Puget Sound Region are protected.

So how can a Puget Sound basket weaver continue the art of weaving with traditional materials if we can no longer gather in the wild?

Hopefully, weavers and their friends will follow the example of Jo Hart, of Wilderness Basketry in Seabeck. Not only does Jo teach fantastic basket weaving classes in her spacious workshop, she has had great success growing NW sweet grass in her own garden. This salt and moisture tolerant sedge, thrives in rich, composed soil, with full sun. Jo says she doesn’t even give it extra water. And now after six years of growth, the grass is getting, "a little out-of-hand", as she told me recently.  It is now spreading into her other garden spaces, so she has NW sweet grass  to share. Look up Wilderness Basketry for her contact info if you’d like to inquire about getting some starts.  Thanks Jo.

Jo's NW sweet grass plot, harvest late August 2010.

Here’s my humble patch of NW sweet grass. It is planted in a buried pond liner. Since I live in a canopy of tall trees, and much less light is available, I may never produce as much as Jo, but I’ll always have enough for my own use.

The tan-colored fine-material in this Chisel Pouch and Purse is NW sweet grass,
with cedar and other assorted NW materials. 

These are the basket examples for an upcoming class I'll be teaching August 4th-8th, 2011, at North Cascades Institute, on Diablo Lake in the North Cascades.  info@nci.org

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lauren Likes Her New Hat

An artist is never happier than when she/he is encouraged to create.  This encouragement comes in very practical forms, such as commissions from those who appreciate the art we practice.  Thank you Lauren for this opportunity.

Lauren wears her Cedar Hat well!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Art on the Trail – Messages From the Land Exhibit – Oct 1 to Nov 1, 2010

Once autumn slips its toe in the door the days quickly shorten. On the beautiful, crisp and clear fall days, there is still gathering to do. I’ve yet to collect cattail leaves and the stems of nettle and fireweed. The sweetgrass I grow at home, was gathered weeks ago, and is now dry. Rainy days like today, give me pause to review the summer and to think ahead.

What does Your Eye See?
This past July, along with nine other artists, I enjoyed interacting with the public on a trail in a beautiful park on Bainbridge Island. In a partnership between Bainbridge Arts and Crafts and the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, the ten artists participating that day will also contribute work for an exhibition this October, where 100 % of the proceeds will be donated to benefit the work of both organizations.

The Artists’ Reception and Exhibition opening is Friday, October 1, 2010, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Please come if you can. For more info: www.bacart.org.

I created the following two pieces for the Messages from the Land exhibit.  It is an honor to have my work in an exhibit with nine other artists who so creatively express their relationship to the Puget Sound landscape.

Precarious, Madrona, Willow, Ivy, Hazelnut, (approx: 28"x 24"x 22")

Nest #2, Willow, Ivy, Hazelnut, Handmande Cedar Bark Paper, (approx: 22"x 27"x 9")

A Hazelnut Branch "Eye"created for Art Along the Trail


These young weavers were very helpful!

Friday, August 27, 2010

North Cascade Institute's Summer Art Retreat On Lake Diablo

Here are the students from my "Weaving From the Northwest Landscape" workshop at the NCI retreat in July.  They are all awesome individuals who each have inspired me in different ways.  Be sure to check the North Cascades Institute web site for other fantastic classes.  They offer scholarships too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recent Work - Images by Donna Souter

How grateful I am for the wonderful photographers who bring my art out from the studio into the public.  Wally Hampton, Jerry McCallom, Art Grice, and now Donna Souter.  This is Cherry Bark on Madrona. (28"x12"x7") 

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010 Harvesting Grasses and Leaves

grass fan   28"x20"x2"
Summer has peaked in the Puget Sound area with temperatures in the 90's, clear skies, and gentle breezes from the North. This is the time my thoughts flow to the harvesting of foliage from the many long-leaved plants and grasses I love to use for making cordage for weaving.

From our garden, or with permission from the gardens of others, I harvest handful-sized bundles of leaves and grasses, keeping in mind to leave behind plenty of leaves and seed so the plants may continue to be nourished, and able to reproduce. I use rubber bands for holding the cut ends together, and I hang them over a clothes-line strung up under an eve of the house, out of direct sun-light to dry. I could use the sunlight if I wanted to, for bleaching out the color, but I tend to go for the natural greens. As the days shorten, and the grasses and leaves begin to loose their green, going towards pale yellows, tans, and rusts, I continue to harvest handfuls as the colors are changing, capitalizing on the quality of that change producing a range of colors for the cordage I make.

Siberian iris, crocosmia, Yellow flag iris, cattail, bulrush, common rush, and NW sweetgrass are a few of my favorite leafy, grass-like materials, as well as crocus, daffodil and other spring bulb foliage. Some compost-rescue materials available now through Autumn for cordage include corn husks and leaves, and onion, garlic and leek leaves.

After the materials have been cured, or dried, they can be stored until ready to use. I recommend storing them indoors, in a heated area, out of direct sunlight. Before you use them moisten them only enough to make them flexible. If you think ahead, lay them out on the grass the night before you use them. The dew from above, and the moisture from the earth, are just right for making them flexible for use.

I relish the sounds of the grasses and leaves in the gentle breezes as I gather. There are usually birds hiding in these moisture-loving places. Bugs abound, and wonderful scents are adrift in the swamps, bogs, lake edges, and estuaries where these precious plants help to purify our waters, mitigate floods, and provide habitat for creatures of all kinds.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Melinda Joy West Welcomes You

cedar box   (5"x4"x4")
Welcome.  As a contemporary sculptural artistist, I've been exploring the traditional art of weaving with plant fibers since 1985.  Through the artistic process, I enjoy sharing lessons I've learned from my teachers with students of all ages.  I gather materials in a respectful manner, recycling bark off of trees that are being cut down, pruning selectively to encourage the growth and health of plants, and replanting at every opportunity.

Being a hands-on, low-tech type person (that is, non-computer savey), I will do my best to make weekly postings, or every other weekly, about the art I'm creating, learning projects I am working on, and suggestions for what the seasons may have to offer those, who like myself, desire to learn more about the natural world.