Monday, 28 March 2016

Bringing Nature Into Your Home: Week 5

I'm a little late this week because I've been down with a cold. With all this time indoors lately I started noticing that most of the pictures and paintings in my house are of landscapes. I've been unconsciously bringing nature indoors for years!

These days I don't have to go very far to be surrounded by nature but that wasn't always the case. I spent many years living in big cities surrounded by concrete and small manicured parks, far from the wild places that my heart craved. I decorated my small apartments with pictures, posters and artwork that took me outside to the places that I loved. I remember vividly this one poster of Cathedral Grove that I bought when I was in University. Cathedral Grove is a forest of giant Douglas Fir trees on Vancouver Island, some more than 800 years old. It hung in my kitchen for years, providing me with a window when I didn't have one. That image made me smile and brought me peace. I'm planning a trip out to the coast this summer, maybe I'll finally make it there after all these years.

Take a look through your photographs, maybe there's one that's worth framing? Or maybe you can pick something up at a local art market? I got this one of Oak Hammock Marsh from a photographer in Winnipeg.

Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba 

Tobmstone Territorial Park, Yukon

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Mountain Made Spring Fair

I've been busy getting ready for the Mountain Made Spring Market this Saturday in Canmore. Here are a few of the items that I'll have with me. 
Reclaimed Wood Wall Art

 Reclaimed Wood Wall Art

  Wooden Necklaces - Made from salvaged  branches

Wooden Necklaces - Reclaimed hardwoods 

Glowbox - Zen and Camping

Wintertree Candle Holder - Made from the roots of a tree

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Why I Love Making Land Art

I love making land art because it happens outdoors and for me it's the ultimate creative challenge. When I set out on a walk in the woods or along the beach I don't know what I'm going to encounter along the way. Will there be ice on the creek or colorful rocks to work with? Will the weather cooperate?  Will I be able to get a picture of my artwork before the wind takes it away? The mystery of it all keeps the process exciting.

The weather is probably the most important factor. Often the gloomiest days produce the nicest lighting and best pictures. Even snow and rain can be beneficial at times but nothing destroys a piece of land art like the wind. This winter I also learned about the challenges of working in the cold. I found myself with freezing fingers on many occasions because in order to move the ice, rocks or leaves where I wanted to I had to take off my gloves. The gloves made me feel clumsy. I remember vividly putting my bare hands into the creek and gently sliding them under a piece of ice. The water was so cold and the ice was smooth and thin. I managed to push up on it and crack off a beautiful piece, which I then carried up the riverbank and into the forest. I did this four more times before starting to build my ice sculpture.

Taking a great picture of my artwork can also be very challenging. It might take two hours to build something but I've only got two minutes to take a picture of it before it disappears. This often involves lying on the ground or balancing on a branch. When I do manage to get that perfect shot, it's very rewarding.

The last thing I want to mention is the impermanence of it all. I know that everything is always changing and that even a painting on canvas won't last forever but when I'm making Land Art it speeds all that up. I don't become attached to my art because I know that within minutes or days it will be gone. There's a sense of freedom in knowing that. I simply enjoy the process and when I walk away I feel at peace and intimately connected to that place.


Land Art Challenge: Week 5

Willow Loom

I made a willow loom so that I could weave grasses and flowers. I hung it from a tree beside the beach.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Bringing Nature Into Your Home: Week 4

Happy Spring everyone! These nature garlands look beautiful hanging from a curtain rod or strung across a doorway or mantle. I used driftwood, birch bark, sticks, branch blocks and half eaten pine cones. The next time you're out for a walk in your neighborhood bring a bag and gather some items for your own nature garland! If you don't have a way to drill through your materials then simply tie them on with some hemp rope or jute.

 Nature Garland 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Land Art Challenge: Week 4

Forest Fairy 

I made her from dried grass and leaves. She's sitting beside a mossy stump, watching over the forest. 

Monday, 14 March 2016

Making Wooden Jewelry

When I was a teenager I liked spending time in my dad's workshop searching through his bin of offcuts looking for pieces that were small enough to turn into beads. I loved the idea of making jewelry out of wood. Back then I didn't have the skills or the tools to shape the beads but that didn't seem to bother me. I cut and drilled the wood and strung them on a piece of rope. I don't think I ever wore my creations but I had fun making them. 

I rediscovered my love of making wooden jewelry a few years ago. While I was cutting branches to make building blocks for my sons, I noticed how beautiful the wood was. I wanted to wear this! 

I'm often surprised when I cut into a plain looking branch and discover purple or yellow swirls. Some of my favorites are maple, black walnut, apple, lilac and silver buffaloberry. My process starts when I go out for a walk in the woods or even around my neighborhood. I salvage sticks and branches that are lying on the ground and bring them home. In some cases I remove the bark, then I cut and sand them. At that point, I might paint them or just finish them with bees wax and linseed oil.

The environmentalist in me likes making jewelry out of salvaged wood. The artist in me is inspired by the beauty of the wood and enjoys wearing unique pieces of jewelry. 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Bringing Nature Into Your Home: Week 3


It's that time of year when they days are getting longer and warmer and I start getting excited about my garden. Since it's still too early for us to start planting outdoors, I thought it would be nice to plant a garden indoors. Terrariums are beautiful and simple to make. We stopped by the thrift store to pick up a variety of glass jars and found everything else at our local garden centre.  Each terrarium cost less than $8 to make. 

Here's what you'll need:
  1. A glass container (with or without a lid)
  2. Cover the bottom with about an inch of small stones
  3. Add a thin layer of activated charcoal
  4. Add thin layer of soil 
  5. Add your plants
  6. Add other decorative items  

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Land Art Challenge: Week 3

Driftwood Flower on Ice

I went out early this morning to make this flower on the lake near our house. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Bringing Nature Into Your Home: Week 2

Heart Shaped Rocks

We love rocks, especially heart shaped rocks. They're lots of fun to look for and I smile every time I see one lying around the house. Have a great week!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Land Art Challenge: Week 2

Flower on Moss

I made the petals with pine cone scales that were lying on the ground. The centre of the flower is a piece of sap from a pine tree.