if the shoe fits

“For the last 25 years, papier mache has my main artistic mode of expression. I started from the very basics and gradually mastered the technique in my own peculiar way, exploring its endless possibilities." Nives Cicin-Sain

nives cicin-sain is a croatian artist making one-of-a-kind sculptures out of recycled paper using the papier-mache technique. masks, theatre props and a gallery of shoes that manolo blahnik should envy. his might be the height of style, but hers? they are magical. the lucky woman strapped inside looks ready to be transported to another world. oh my. i want to go too. i do.


autumn automata

"Some of the tableaux are automated with the movement hidden inside the piece and some are static. I like the element of surprise that happens when you discover a small handle, that when turned brings the piece to life. Many of the tableaux sit on top of a box which has a printed interior. The boxes are not obvious at first, but when discovered, can become secret hiding places for personal artefacts." Melanie Tomlinson

an automaton is a mechanical toy or sculpture. undoubtedly, mechanics meets art in melanie tomlinson's animated printed-tin scenes, but she takes her automata one step further with a curious twist: the autumnal scene pictured above is actually a box with a secret hiding place. inspired by human life and nature, the folklore characters that feed her imagination seem to be suitable muses. a-musing.


double duty

"My collections are unique hand-constructed accessories and hand bags. Most pieces have transferable use as fashion accessories (bag/purse) or as interior accessories ( box/decoration). Each piece is individually made from folded leather or moulded leather." Aiko Machida

leather pocketbook. ok. treasure box? maybe. both? yes! aiko machida hand molds, folds, forms and stitches colored leather - constructing completely functional items that look like origami. i've got it - new word folks: leathorigami. yup, that's it. great stuff.


dinner is served

“I enjoy the challenge of finding innovative solutions to the centuries old problems regarding functional ceramics. I am inspired by the fact that despite thousands of years of pottery making, we can still leave our studios today having created something new. The idea of form following function still rings true, however; I believe that function can, at times, be persuaded to follow sculptural form, thus creating an interesting dialogue between utility and sculpture.” Eric Van Eimeren

eric van eimeren's five dishes with spoons and a central covered jar that rotates on a lazy susan base is a complex design. octopus? sea urchin? alien robot? i can't figure out what it reminds me of, but i do know that his teapots, condiment drawers, bowls and spoons are enchanting and well executed. a fresh spin on ordinary dinnerware. delicious.


character traits

"I like characters. The dancer in the back row not paying attention… the punky girl with the blue hair at the checkout counter, an old Italian woman at the airport with black on black and a beautiful red umbrella. They are everywhere and yet never seen. They are life’s little stories being told all over simultaneously and without a big commercial. The ongoing circus act of humanity." Laura Balombini

aura balombini celebrates the human condition. balombini's whimsical teapots and handwoven wire vessels capture the playful, quirky character traits in "the ongoing circus act of humanity". wearing curious looks and colorful cloaks, harlequin-like polymer clay figures sit atop handwoven wire baskets. each finely detailed vessel has a distinct personality and i never get tired of looking at them – feels like visiting fanciful characters in a well written story. she describes her work as “devilish fun”. i describe it as a beautiful marriage of wire and polymer.


gut instinct

"The slick organic material of gut presents a real challenge since I use the shoe in my work as a metaphor for various aspects of life." Carol Durham

for a woman who prefers running around barefoot, i enjoyed the shoe posted yesterday enough to share another shoe story today. this fanciful pair were made with one of the earliest fiber media - animal intestines. yes, carol durham makes shoes from hog gut, embellishing them with scenes that often make a social commentary. wonder what this one says about us?

have a good weekend!


in her shoes

"The materials and techniques I use are important to me because they help me tell stories. In artwork, we see reflections of ourselves, refracted by our own histories and the perspective of one point in time. What I really want people to see is how connected we all are, how the threads of our lives intertwine." Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher, writer, storyteller. donna kallner weaves her life as gracefully as she weaves the fiber of her baskets. she created 'grass slipper' after reading japanese basket maker hisako sekijima's reflections on rice straw slippers. sekijima wrote, "cultures that depend or have depended on perishable materials like grass, rice straw or wood instead of longer-lasting materials are likely to develop different values, especially those concerning labor and possessions." there is a lesson there for all of us...


carnival glass

"The meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away." Emilio Santini

murano, italy is steeped in a centuries-long tradition of glass blowing, and today it continues to turn out the finest glass artists in the world. emilio santini comes from a long line of master glass blowers, including his father mario santini. he began learning this ancient art at the age of eleven, studying under legendary modern glass blowers and eventually making a name for himself with his flamework sculpted-stem goblets. today, his name is synonymous with the famous island where he was born. santini moved stateside several years ago and now teaches his techniques all over the united states. you can see some of his delicate goblets and a glimpse of the master at work here.

the masked mardi gras-esque figures above look poised and ready for some serious carnivale fun. indeed, the work of a master. bravissimo emilio!



"My spoons are sculptures; my sculptures are spoons, not spoons to stir the soup but spoons to stir the soul." Norm Sartorius

nature is a never ending source of inspiration, yes? i am drawn to the gnarled shapes and craggy textures of roots. i study them. collect them. play with them. my studio is home to roots of all kinds and i often reference them when i'm making a vessel.

spoon artist norm sartorius is another source of inspiration. he crafted the handles of these beauties from roots, and the bowl of the spoons from the burled grain that lives just below the ground. sartorius has been creating fine wooden spoons for more than thirty years, using rare and unusual wood to shape the unique sculptures. woodwork magazine has a lovely cover article about this gentle soul and you can peek inside his workshop here. wow, it's no wonder his work is in eleven major museum collections - i'd say the man's got muscle.



“My current work is in silver, sculptural hollow forms with embossed and punched surfaces. The imagery I use is drawn from weathered stone surfaces, megalithic rock carvings, and landscape in all its moods.” Pamela Rawnsley

when i think of perfume bottles, i think glass. i think atomizer. i think antique. not anymore. simple forms, strong lines, soft curves and boldly textured surfaces define pamela rawnsley's silver hollow-ware vessels. this u.k. based artist embosses, punches, prints and adds color to her perfume bottles, vessels and jewelry, achieving stunning effects.

coco chanel once said, "perfume is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure". hmmm...i think it might be time for me to accessorize. what about you?


sensual wood turnings

"These two bowls swirl around each other, touching and separating, sometimes whirling like dervishes and then slowing down. Eventually their dance ends and they rest in tender embrace." Sigfried Schreiber

siegfried schreiber's art offers a deeply gratifying experience, appealing to all of the senses. i find his vessels captivating. had a difficult time deciding which of his works to highlight here. maybe the kinetic vessel universe, with grooves and metal spheres that orbit at different speeds and in opposite directions? or meditative vessel? it hides a secret which can only be discovered by placing it on your lap and exploring it with both hands. but then the lazy bowl that cannot stand upright teases so playfully. hmmmm...decisions, decisions.

i settled on the lovers, because it reminds me of my parents. their love was a beautiful dance. "eventually their dance ends and they rest in tender embrace." yes, this.


shape of a woman's life

"Some "Women Forms" stand alone, either in strength or in sorrow. Others rejoice in the company of other women - daughters, sisters, mothers, friends. They gather strength from their community. Each one is a visual collection of passions and griefs, joys and pains. Her form contains and is shaped by her layers of experience." Jackie Abrams

i was moved by this collection of baskets. quite striking. both the idea and the articulation. even more so when you realize that jackie abrams crafts her "women forms" from paper and wire. paper. and wire. while she incorporates fabric and beads from her travels, these magnificent baskets are primarily paper. and wire. abrams poetically explains that each basket contains the shape of a woman's life - a lovely play on words.


talisman of grief

"Life is change and cannot be contained or it will stagnate. This vessel is symbolic of this letting go or flowing through of life. Let it remind you to be open and to move forward." Betty Helen Longhi

north carolina metalsmith betty helen longhi believes that crying is a cleansing experience. she created the 'vessels for tears' necklace (shown above on a beautifully crafted stand) as a way to offer comfort and while the open design does not hold liquid, it does act as a gentle reminder that tears must flow through us to wash away the pain. wear it. hold it. feel it.



"I began to experiment widely with technical and philosophical alternatives to folding paper as a model making activity. I wanted to make people ask 'why?' rather than 'how?', and to make objects that were aesthetically pleasing, not just clever." Paul Jackson

origami artist paul jackson's pleated bowl is folded paper sculpture at it's finest. before folding, he hand colors each sheet of paper with charcoal or dry pastels and seals the paper to create a surface with a matte lustre. i can still remember miss heimer's fourth grade lesson on how to fold a paper cup. it sparked a life long appreciation for origami and more than a decade of practice. i still make a mean jumping frog, but i don't think jackson has anything to worry about.

curious about plicated?


zip it!

"My new sculptural work suggests a narrative; a view of human nature expressed through a plaited form. The story is the same - we have a tentative hold on life, wanting to appear all together but always aware there’s a thread ready to unravel." Joanne Russo

"zip it" - did your mother say that to you when you were a kid? mine did. "susan, stop talking to your brother while he's trying to do his homework, just zip it already." it was a gentler time.

joanne russo's sculptural vessels are lighthearted and thought provoking. they give the illusion that they have have been stitched together, like a piece of clothing. many, like her 'zip it' basket, look like they are functional...but they aren't. how did she do that?


hot stuff

“Applying the hair has to be done bare-handed because we wouldn’t have enough dexterity with gloves on. It’s hot work. The hair is applied by grasping a couple strands of hair with one hand and, with the other hand and a twig, we lead the hair first to the bottom of the piece and then lead the burning hair up or across the surface. The whole process is usually done in than three minutes or less.” Ken Larson

ken and pat larson pull pots like this one from their 1500 degree kiln and drag strands of hair (yup, i said hair) across it, burning it onto the surface. the hair burns into ash, leaving tiny deposits of carbon and smoke that are absorbed into the porous clay, creating a permanent design on the pot.

the larsons use both horse and human hair to create what they call 'horse hair raku'. the end result is more delicate than true horse hair pottery and their twist on this ancient technique is breathtaking - some of the loveliest i've seen. hot stuff.



“I am often asked, "Why purses? Why don´t you make figurines or sculptures?" The reason is because a figurine or sculpture just sits there collecting dust. You aren´t supposed to touch it. But because these purses are functional, you are supposed to touch them, caress them and examine them. Your life is enhanced because it´s wonderful to carry beautiful things around with you and use them. And that is what I want my creations to do.” Kathleen Dustin

o.k. i admit it. i'm drawn to unusual things: people, art forms, points of view. polymer clay is one of those unusual things. around only about fifty years, the medium is now getting the recognition it deserves. a handful of polymer clay artists have emerged (along with the support of a growing polymer clay community) to catapult the medium into the realm of fine art. watch closely folks, this is history in the making.

it is easy to see why kathleen dustin is one of the world's foremost polymer clay artists. her purses are on the cutting edge of wearable art. almost all of her exquisite evening bags incorporate haunting images of women which she sketches and then transfers to the clay.

i've seen her work up close and personal. held a purse like this one. examined it. turned it over in my hands. opened it. closed it. the craftsmanship and artistry is superb, but please don't take my word for it - see for yourself.


pinch pot peekaboo

"Long before there was a potter's wheel, a person manipulated clay by pinching it to form a simple bowl. Today, this technique is called Pinch-Pot. To me, the fascinating aspect of working in this way, is the dance; the relationship between the clay and the maker. Without the tool of the potter's wheel, the dance becomes simply about what the clay wants and what the maker wants." Kristin Doner

i'm a curious person. can't help it. and besides, lidded vessels beg to be opened, revealed, exposed. yet ceramic artist kristin doner's massive pinch pots don carefully bound lids, making them just a little bit out of our reach. they bring to mind the mystery of ancient culture and ritual. what lies just beneath that lid? don't you want to peek? i know i do.


teapot treasures

"Having grown my own gourds from seeds and preparing them after harvest, they represent to me the development of a living thing into a work of art through the application of special processes and materials. They are, in short, a union of art and nature." Bill Colligen

you might not be able to pour tea from this richly colored teapot, but i can easily imagine it as a place to stash secret treasures and life-lists. bill colligen's gourd vessels and teapot designs boast intricate engraving, verdigris patinas, inlays of gem stones and gold leaf. this arizona artist is serious about gourds. me? i'm serious about life-lists. i make one every few years, tuck it away somewhere safe and then happen upon them months or years later. nice gentle way to check in with myself and see if my life is on course with my desires. try it.


pistachios revisited

"My current body of work focuses on transforming mundane materials into something extraordinary. I draw from my own vocabulary to create interesting patterns and textures from various materials used in repetition." Lindsay Ketterer Gates

i love pistachios. love, love, love them. this contemporary basket, created by lindsay ketterer gates, is adorned with hundreds of pistachio shells and tiny glass beads sewn onto stainless steel mesh. fascinated by mundane objects and repeating patterns, gates transforms ordinary materials into sophisticated baskets. she's on my 'watch' list. now that pistachio shells have been elevated to fine art, i don't know if i'll ever throw them in the trash again. i see trouble ahead...


dusting destiny

"I derive an enormous amount of personal satisfaction from knowing that the wood in the piece I'm creating was most likely destined for the dump" Edric Nalani Florence

i would like to live in the hollow of a decayed tree (hey - i never said i was normal). my boyfriend has gotten used to the yipping and squealing every time we discover a fallen tree in our beloved hudson river valley. treehugger. that would be me. no, really, i've got the pictures to prove it.

i want to climb in, curl up and take a nap in edric nalani florence's english yew root hollow vessel. a self taught wood turner for 26 years, florence only uses wood he picks up from the ground. he pays homage to the dense woods of his southwestern pennsylvania roots by turning each decayed piece of wood into an elegant vessel.

oh edric, how about a lifesize vessel? pretty please?


ocean moods

"I like to take the traditional idea of a seascape and bring it into contemporary glass." Caleb Nichols

the coastal shore's rocky edges, fog and frothy sea are changeable and moody, but oh-so-beautiful. caleb nichols developed a technique that traps an illusion of the ocean's images in the sloped walls of his fused and hand blown sinks. they are mesmerizing, captivating, and dangerously hypnotic. you are getting sleepy, you are getting very, very sleepy...