A morning surprise

Boaz and RuthFrom the book of Ruth:

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floorand did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.

When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet!

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a guardian-redeemer[b] of our family.”

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”

14 So she lay at his feet until morning, but got up before anyone could be recognized; and he said, “No one must know that a woman came to the threshing floor.

I did a drawing of this scene in November and then got the idea to sculpt the scene in relief.  It was all white clay, (old formula Premo! which I’d been saving) over a base of bulk white Sculpey.  The sculpted and textured surface was antiqued with burnt umber paint and wiped away.  A friend thought it reminded her of “stations of the cross” images.

2016-01-12 11.34.50

If you read between the lines, Boaz must have been a fair bit older than Ruth.  She was commended for obedience and for following the family conventions of Naomi, her mother in law.  For her faithfulness, Ruth became one of the Gentile women listed in Jesus’ ancestry.



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Posted in artistic life, painting, polymer clay, spiritual life

being brave

I’ve studied a lot of art history in my time.  Last year, I was fortunate enough to visit Rome and Florence on an anniversary trip with my husband.  Many times over the trip, I got all choked up thinking that if you’d told my 19-year-old self in Survey of Art that I’d actually see those paintings and places in person, I wouldn’t believe it.

Something that has always sat on the edge of my artist’s consciousness is that it seems to me to try to paint something divine takes either ultimate courage or ultimate arrogance.  I realize that in Renaissance times, the church was the main patron of art and if you were scared to paint your vision of God or Christ, then you weren’t likely to be employed much.  But as I looked up at Michelangelo’s The Creation of Man on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I wondered if he was ever daunted.  (and did he know that image would form all our ideas about what God looks like?)

Well, a few years ago I took a leap into the divine subject when I sculpted crucifixes for my family.  Over the last several weeks, I have been working on my vision of a Resurrection.

resurrection color scan

It is a mixed media including collaged printed papers, colored pencil, acrylic paint, and stamps.  It was painted for my church, to use the b/w on the bulletin.

Happy (soon) Easter


Posted in Uncategorized

inspirational valentines

I’ve been having fun making hearts.  I combine patterns, my trademark leaf prints, a little bit of silver, and bible verses about love and hearts.


I just finished listing these on Etsy.  Go check them out!! I used a lot of OT verses, especially Proverbs and Song of Songs.


Share the link with ones you love and want to encourage this Valentines Day!  Thanks!


Posted in Uncategorized

Open Studio!

studio tour iconThis Saturday, a number of Ames area artists are opening their doors to the public to share their art, their process, and environment.  Come out and check it out!

I will be participating.  I will have some metal pieces to process.  Lighting stuff on fire always gets a few oooh’s and aahh’s!  I will have lots of clay to play with and if you want to try your hand at canemaking or such, feel free!  And I’ll make some cookies!

Here’s the website for the tour where you can see all participants and get the map

One major note, the bridge just south of my house on North Dakota Ave is under construction  (we’re now a cul-de-sac!).  You must come around the county line road/Cameron School Road detour and come from the North to get to my studio.

Hope to see you!


Posted in artistic life

Display ideas

As I mentioned earlier this week, it’s been more than 4 years since I’ve done a craft show.  The Reiman Gardens show allowed applicants to pick an indoor or an outdoor booth.  I chose indoor!  I won’t have to worry about the weather.  But I am needing to develop some new display ideas.  Here’s one new one I took to the Bead & Button show a couple weeks ago.

IMG_4674I took a fat snake of Sculepy Ultra Light, not tinted or blended or anything and pressed it into a serpentine shape.  I inserted 7 or 8 large gold paperclips (Staples) and textured the whole thing with the medium ball stylus tool.  Easy earring display!  Now to come up with some necklace pieces to match….


Have fun,


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Posted in artistic life, polymer clay


At the Bead & Button show, I debuted some new products for clayers.  I am currently offering 8 texture plates hand made from my original low relief sculptures.  There are several leaf or flower designs as well as some art deco ideas inspired by William Morris.  I’ve made them available on my Etsy page.  Here’s one of my favorites and an example of it in use:

IMG_4667This one is called “3 Ring Circles” and here’s a sample using it with white clay and a tinted Liquid Sculpey wash:







Check them all out!  Have fun!


PS.  Coming soon, metal clay bails and earring kits to dress your polymer pieces up…



Posted in clay, polymer clay

Garden Art Fair

For the first time in several years, I’m going to do a retail art fair again.  If you are in town, come see me on Sunday July 13 at Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State Campus.


Hope to see you there!!

Posted in artistic life, polymer clay, silver jewelry

Lent and Christmas entwined

NOTE:  I first wrote this post several years ago.  It has become my tradition to re-post it for Holy Week each year.  I hope you enjoy it!

The feast of the Annunciation fell on a Sunday this year.  (March 25)  In the Catholic church, its a Holy Day regardless of the day of the week it falls on.  But my family, being Lutheran, weren’t so familiar with this feast day as I am.  So we had some discussion about holidays and Holy Days of the church year.

My pastor’s sermon that day focused on the ironic juxtaposition of the anticipation of the Savior’s birth during the time of Lent.  We are in a period of repentance and remorse as we follow along Christ’s last days and his journey to the cross.  Yet the Church’s attention is suddenly shifted back to the beginning, to Mary, a virgin simply saying, “may it be according to God’s will.”

As I sat in the pew that morning, I was taken back to another time in my artistic life when I experienced this juxtaposition.  I told this story several years ago, but I’ve revised it to share here again.

Six years ago, for Christmas, I sculpted crucifixes from polymer clay for each of my 3 kids.  For about 2 weeks, I worked on them a few hours each day while they were in school.  I made sure to put them away by 3:00 to keep them secret.

I had made one several years before that hangs in my foyer, and my younger son touched my heart when he looked at it one morning and asked if he could have one in his room.

{That first cross was a story in itself…  let’s just say my husband expected a Protestant, pretty cross when we talked on the phone that afternoon and I told him what I was making.  What I really meant was a crucifix –a cross with the corpus or body on it (former Catholic, you see…).   I took him by surprise when he got home from work and was admiring the finished base and I said, “But, it’s not finished!  Jesus’ body is still in the oven.”}

Anyway, making the three together and spending so much time on them was a very moving experience for me.   I felt disoriented about the time of year I was in.  It was Advent, anticipating Christmas, I was shopping and baking, and all the usual.  But for several hours each day, I was spending my time meditating on Christ’s passion.

I recalled everything I’d ever heard about the physical and medical horror in understanding of what happened to a crucified human body.  As I was working, I would think about the weight of a suffocating torso straining  against the tendons of the arms as I tried to sculpt that.  I looked at illustrations of muscles on line, held my own arm at odd angles and looked at it in the mirror, etc.

I remember somewhere hearing that there’s debate about where the nails actually would be placed–in the palm or the wrist… and if his arms were tied to the cross with ropes as is sometimes described…  The hands are delicate and the bones and tendons would tear from the pressure and the weight.  My hands are important to me, they are my livelihood.  My fingers involuntarily clench into fists at just the thought of the pain.

I looked at many examples in painting and sculpture before I began.  I decided that at age 30, a carpenter wouldn’t be a skinny, wimpy guy.  So I gave my Jesus well-muscled shoulders and chest.  His legs are sturdy because he walked miles everyday.  And I tried to sculpt a face that might be convincingly Hebrew,  rather than a blonde, blue-eyed Jesus.

But I struggled with all the questions and issues I imagine all artists have struggled with as we’ve dared to present the crucifixion.  The consensus about many of those issues have become artistic conventions, not reality.  For instance, we know Christ was stripped and the Roman’s didn’t make concessions to modesty or dignity.  But we wrap his waist with a cloth.  We know he was beaten and bruised, but we sculpt a smooth, whole body.  I’m sure he was covered in dirt and blood everywhere, but we clean him up.

Even as I followed those conventions in the sculptures I made, the reality was brought home to me.  As I dabbed a little red paint here and there and smudged some gray for dirt, I knew better.  I knew there should be cuts and blood and bruises all over his body.  Of course, I didn’t want to make something gruesome and shocking to give my kids.  But isn’t the reality of our God becoming human and dying on a cross for us gruesome and shocking?  It should be.

Even today, as I look on any of those four crosses, I recall the experience of confronting the  “cleaned up” conventions about Christ’s passion and trying to imagine the true reality.  It was and still is humbling to recognize the depth of his pain and the breadth of his love that made him accept it.

My wish is that you remember the depth and breadth of Our Lord’s love for you this week.  Have a blessed Holy Week.


Posted in artistic life, spiritual life

the sweater project

Some of my close friends and my family know that I have an annual tradition of making my husband a handmade sweater every year for Christmas.  It’s been going on for quite a while and word has even gotten out among his colleagues and our church family as whenever he is complimented (usually by a female) on his sweaters, he proudly gives me credit.

I’ve been asked a lot lately how long my tradition has been going.  I wasn’t even sure myself looking back when it started.  We’ve been married for 25 years, but I know I didn’t start right away.

So this week, my daughter helped me empty my husband’s closet and document them.  We piled them up like a Dr. Seuss heap on the bed.  We couldn’t put them all in order by year, but I have a general sense of some which came before/after others…IMG_4332

I’ve made 19 sweaters and vests.  I know the tradition started in 1994.  I have a photo of my husband and myself on the occasion of my graduation from grad school with my Ph.D. in 1994. In the photo, he is holding our baby son and wearing the first sweater, a green, pale yellow, and black vest with a fair isle pattern round the waist.

Here is the gallery:


Wow! Most of the sweaters are original designs I created without a pattern.  The few times I follow a pattern, I interpret the term “follow” quite loosely.   18 of the sweaters are knitted.  Only this year, the vertical wavy stripe pullover is crocheted.  Most are wool or cotton and a few are even a silk blend.  I usually begin sometime in october or november.  Some years, the sweater might have been a few days or a week late.  Most years, he’s worn it for NewYear’s at least.  the 2012 sweater wasn’t finished until Valentines Day 2013 because I miscalculated the pattern and had to rip it out back to the armpits and go again.

Kevin tentatively suggested that he might have enough sweaters and that perhaps, since my son’s are pretty much full grown, that I should make sweaters for them for a few years.  We’ll have to see.



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I made 18 pens yesterday!  One of my galleries let me know they’d sold all their inventory and needed more.  So I figured I’d make plenty to send to several galleries before the holiday season.


These were lots of fun and I was able to make so many in a day as these were using up bits of old canes.  Many were just enough for one pen, or two.  So I accomplished two things; inventory and some housecleaning of the cane drawer!  Recognize any canes?  A few are the leftover bits from the caning book.  Many are leftovers from projects requested by Polyform Products.

My daughter grabbed the one on the left side and pointed out that it didn’t really “fit” with the others…  She’s right.  That one was a leftover chunk of translucent cane I did to simulate watermelon tourmaline.  I layered a translucent flower on top.  It turned out nicely, but it really does have a different aesthetic than most of my work…

Have an awesome weekend.



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Posted in polymer clay
June 2023
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