blind spot

“Modern as it is in some ways, my work also harks back to the kind of dignity and pride that were possible for a craftsperson before the Industrial Revolution’s mass production methods obscured individual skill and ingenuity” Rob Dobson

venetian blinds, plastic strapping, tyvek envelopes, metal tape measures, garden fencing. these are just a few of the found materials
rob dobson uses to craft his unusual baskets. his inspiration? the human ability to improvise. he enjoys the thrill of the hunt as he searches for materials almost as much as he enjoys watching disparate elements come together and take shape. his work is edgy, fresh, with a decidedly urban feel.


harvard grad

"My farm house and much of the furniture inside was made entirely from lumber cut from the surrounding woods. During the winter, I was warmed twice. First by the act of cutting and spitting wood, then by burning wood for heat." Tom Harvard

tom harvard is a farmer first. though talented artist comes a very, very close second. farming since the 1970's and turning wood since 1997, he carves and paints each piece with the same quiet, patient determination that kept his farm alive for years. the verdigris ikebana vases above are quite clearly a labor of love. beautiful.



"I am inspired by earthy imagery. Vegetative growth such as tendril, flower, fruit, seed connects my work with the traditional uses for baskets as they have been used daily in agricultural and domestic life over many millennia. Traditional bronze baskets are a very ancient mingei form and to me have always simultaneously evoked the primitive bronze age and the refinement of apprentice-based craftsmanship in the Far East. I see my baskets as a contemporary manifestation of these age-old crafts." Ema Tanigaki

ema tanigaki's rebirthing basket seems to be symbolic of the rebirth she experienced when she finally healed from an illness that limited her mobility for an extended period. originally a jewelry artist, her newfound health has allowed her to experiment with larger pieces like the basket pictured above. she combines her skill in traditional techniques such as crochet with modern materials to create graceful, lovely baskets.


6000 poppy seeds

"How can anyone possibly imagine what 6000 of anything looks like, let alone people. What would 6000 names struck from the pages of a phonebook look like? What would it look like in terms of their handprints, their footprints, in terms of the number of people that miss them? It's like nothing we can imagine. This was my attempt to imagine." Bird Ross

i like the way bird ross thinks. and the way she interprets ordinary materials. in 2001, as we grappled with the impact of 911, she set out on a path to try to understand this enormous tragedy and her profound 6000 project is the result. on the opposite end of the spectrum, her grapefruit skin vessel series will make you smile and the paper vessels that she makes from maps will make you wish you were back in school (well, almost...). yes, i like the way bird ross thinks.


journey to destiny

"What do I do? I put a soul into every piece I create. I don’t make objects; I create characters. If the viewers can pick up on that soul, I’ve accomplished it. Creating figurative and abstract imagery on delicately pierced wood vessels opens the doors for me to share my life and interests. There was a period of time that I looked through the window and asked myself the question, "What is it like on the other side of that window?" I then just let my imagination go." Binh Pho

binh pho tried four times before successfully escaping from vietnam in 1979. he is no stranger to perseverance and persistence - attributes that served him well as he studied woodturning in his adopted country. the painstakingly etched and painted details on these vessels tell the stories of his life. they are an original fusion of traditional asian and contemporary art. intriguing.


inanimate objects

"Making baskets isn't something I "want" to do, it is something I "have" to do. The elemental nature of baskets, thinking about what can be placed in the basket, what gives life to the inanimate object of the basket, informs my work. the basket is the container of things needed to maintain my life. memories, mementos of my own life process, are kept in the baskets that I make." Marilyn Moore

noted for her color blending technique, basket artist marilyn moore weaves multiple strands of fine wires and threads, adding one new strand at a time. her technique is labor intensive, requiring a great deal of patience and mental energy. the practice is reminiscent of a meditation exercise. the result? iridescent baskets that seem to capture the light from within.


pandora's box

"It is that serendipitous coming together of the unexpected . . . a tiny orange mushroom on the forest floor, a flash of silk caught by a branch . . . I believe in Enchantment in her highest form. Not as an escape from reality, but as a window into what is possible in that fertile and complex world of imagination." Marilyn Radzat

the rich, sumptuous colors and textures of marily radzat's assemblage dolls invite you into a world of fantasy and surprise. antique beaded fabric, tiny mirrored tiles and shells adorn this unique doll, but wait! pandora is a vessel. yes, a vessel formed from a gourd, and what is that hiding inside? the seven deadly sins. good way to check in with our temptations at the start of a new week.



“I really like the permanence of what I do. That something I do today draws you in and keeps you there a long, long time. I like things that float…I can’t help it! Hinges, doors waiting to be opened, things that make little shaking noises. After all, where’s the fun if you can’t play with your jewelry?” Chihiro Makio

chihiro makio’s ‘tea for two’ is a playful, surprising piece of holloware and a 2006 saul bell award winner (second place, holloware). In 2003 makio also won second place and with work like this, i have no doubt that she’ll be back in the winner's circle in years to come.

thanks to judy dunn for bringing this gem to my attention. dunn is also an award winning artist. if her polymer clay vessels were miniature, they would fit right in with makio’s tea party: pear and apple shaped boxes replete with colorful embellishments and dunn's original drawings. (see below) they are, um, well…delicious.

judy, judy, judy

"My inspirations for a piece may be a pattern or design that sticks in my mind, or something blooming in my garden, or the symbolism of a crane or koi. As the piece unfolds, there is an element of surprise for me, and many choices to make along the way....from pallette, to backing for a piece of jewelry, to what will layer over my drawings. I find that the piece guides me." Judy Dunn


walking tall

"The sculptures are, for me, a way of celebrating life and the secret wonders of burls and roots in the South of France." Alain Mailland

alain mailland is a woodturner who specializes in hollowing, sculpting fragile pieces of burls and colorful roots from his beloved french countryside. at one time a carpenter, mason and roofer, several years ago he turned his attention to art and now teaches and exhibits worldwide. indeed, his work is otherworldly. in a good way.


rose bowl

"As a lampworker and artist, my interests currently are in two directions. One being technical lampwork, represented in my work by thin, classical, wine glasses and vessel styles influenced by the Venetian tradition. The other is a strong interest in large scale sculptural and architectural art." David Willis

david willis' joyful glass botanicals offer a riot of color and the graceful curves of the real thing. with titles like 'life has enough thorns' and 'looking at the world through rose lenses' you get the sense that this widely exhibited glass artist is thoroughly enjoying himself. look a little closer and you see the delicate details that reveal a master at work.



"I love Mid-Century design. Objects and materials from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Things like linoleum flooring, Formica® table tops, and Fiesta® dinnerware. An Eames chair, screenprinted rayon textiles and Bakelite® jewelry are all favorites." SL Savarick

perseverence and persistence payoff. take a look at sl savarick's finely crafted, highly detailed polymer clay inro and purses and you will quickly see what i mean. impressive. it is evident that he has spent years studying, practicing and experimenting. multi-layered silk screened images are an elegant surface treatment for these beauties. they've got pursonality, don't you think? savarick will be unveiling a new line of work just in time for the new year. patience my dears, patience.



"Glass has always intrigued us, especially the material's ability to convey pure color. Some of our current series take advantage of the pure color of glass in the form of shard drawings. Shard drawings are basically abstract assemblages of colored glass shards, cane, stringer, and murrini. The vessel's form becomes the canvas upon which the shard drawing is displayed." Bob & Laurie Kliss

bob & laurie kliss' are having fun creating colorful blown and fused glass vessels and it shows. their collection of 'bobtanical' bottles are playful, graceful and sweet. they look like they are having a conversation, don't they? yes, yes, i know they are glass, so they can't really be having a conversation...but...but...can they?


pearly whites

“In every step of my jewelry creation I combine the Eastern traditional boundaries and the Western modern boundaries, reaching the realm of where objects adorn the body using contrast, tension, absence and presence.” Kiwon Wang

there is no shortage of imagination at work here. new york based kiwon wang is an accomplished jewelry artist who strives to bring us the best of 'east meets west'. this wearable vessel, which opens to release and catch two perfect pearls, is part of her jewel containers series. outstanding. i also adore her furniture for pearls. hmmm...i could use some new furniture.


as the wood turns

"This bowl shows my recent fascination with extrusions. The first piece in this series sold quickly to a chemical engineer who kindly explained some principles of fluid dynamics to me. Armed with some knowledge of how the polymer clay is traveling down that cylinder, I’m anxious to experiment further." Cynthia Tinapple

well known polymer clay artist cynthia tinapple combines her talents with husband blair davis' to turn out elegant bowls waiting to become the centerpiece of any table. he turns the wood, she inlays the polymer clay. brilliant. the bowl pictured above won best of show last year at ohio's high road gallery fall show. see cynthia at work on a bowl here (scroll down the page a bit).

we are anxious to see more. maybe if we ask nicely? i've got a new word for you today that might help: tinlay: tinapple's delicious inlay. come on cynthia - may we please see more tinlay?

pretty please?


carpet burns

“My ambition is to have a happy team of carpet-burners working together to divert carpet waste from landfill and change the way the carpet industry operates.” Kelly Atkins

yesterday's post started me on a roll with sustainable design - here's one more:

i've done it. you've probably done it too. ironed on the floor when you couldn't find an ironing board. when kelly atkins was in college, she left the iron on the floor and burned the carpet. she didn't cuss (like i would have done) or cry (maybe like you?). instead, she became fascinated by the hard, plastic feel of the burned carpet and she spun that happy accident into three years of research, a line of products and ultimately a desire to change the world. she holds the european
patent on a material that keeps faulty and end of the line carpet stock out of landfills. part of a growing trend in green building and sustainable design. check out the pocket books, magazine holders, planters, trays, coasters and other items made with the material here and here.


container of light

"The classical forms of vessels used for feasts and perfected over centuries by craftspeople of India are the inspiration for these containers now holding light" Linda Benglis

scientist dr. anand sarabhai heads one of the many design companies today that focus on ecologically sustainable products. using scrap material like coconuts, newspapers, fabric and tin, eatit world manufactures delightful, functional products. based in india, sarabhai collaborated with american artist linda benglis to create the lovely vessel lamp pictured above. this line of lamps is made from recycled paper and bamboo. i like their description: containers of light or spiritual nourishment.


come home

"I approach my work intuitively, which often adds an element of surprise. I begin with a rough sketch, then I let my senses carry me through the process of creating each piece. Not until a piece is complete do I consider its meaning or source of inspiration. It is at this time that my intellect kicks in to interpret my 'creation'." Peggy Cochran

before discovering metal, peggy cochran was successful carving wood, making furniture and sculpting clay. but when this talented metalsmith touched metal, she felt like she had come home. check out her one of a kind wearable vessels - and don't be surprised if you feel like you want to take one home with you...


absolutely nothing

"War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again: War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.War. It's nothing but a heartbreaker. War. Friend only to the undertaker. War is the enemy of all mankind. War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing." B. Strong & N. Whitfield

remember that song? powerful stuff. i can't think of anything war is good for, but i like the idea of melting all of the plastic toy soldiers to make unique bowls - and a statement of sorts. this one from steve mosley and dominic wilcox. make art, not war.


take a chance

“As a relative new comer to basket making I would like to think that my motivations are simple. Chief among them is a strong craft background. Process, scale, material, and function, whether it is real or implied have been major issues. My choice of materials hopefully addresses the issue of the status and validity of an art making material.” Stephen Johnson

just what constitutes a 'proper' art medium? are staples office supplies or art supplies? what about paper? and i thought shoe polish was, well, for shoes. then i saw stephen johnson's modern baskets and i understood. he staples hundreds of raffle tickets together and forms elaborate, sophisticated baskets - and everybody is paying attention to his art. for a kid who always got in trouble for playing with the stapler (ok - so i wasn't perfect, but that's a story for another day) it feels like vindication. you rock stephen!



“The ocean and the sense of peace I feel when on the water helps to center my being and bring out the creativity from within. I catch my own albacore and use their pectoral fins along with monofilament to create my vessel forms. In working with the bones, I feel I am weaving life back into the fish, experiencing their migratory path throughout the world, and sending them on a new journey as another form. This, in turn, sends me on travels of remembrance of the joys and tribulations of each adventure at sea.” Gerri Johnson McMillin

fishbones. gerri johnson mcmillin makes delicate, gossamer baskets using fish fins and monofilament. take a look, they are just lovely. maybe not seaworthy, but certainly see-worthy. i would like to be a fly on the wall of her imagination for two minutes. enough said. fin-ish.


form and function

"My passion for enamelling is the result of a journey of exploration with various media. The materials and processes involved in this magical art allow me to express and reflect my personal experience and concerns with growth, balance and cohesion. Making individual, complex pieces, sometimes with a combined function, allows me to fully explore the medium." Annie Appleyard

i like functional art. just makes sense to me. annie appleyard gets it. the sterling silver box pictured above has a removable lid that is both lid and enamel brooch. beautiful. and it makes sense, doesn't it? check out this ring - it holds perfume. like i was saying...


bubble bath

"My work is a series of experiments done in pursuit of knowledge Each piece constitutes a small experiment which tests my ideas. The ideas can be visual, emotional or political. The true goal of my work is to increase my understanding of myself and the world around me." Walter Lieberman

glass artists walter lieberman and james mongrain combined their considerable talents to design sleek floating stemware as tempting as the liquid they contain. originally created to be used in the bath, their romantic champagne flutes give new meaning to the term bubble bath. a stunning example of collaboration at its best. inviting. hmmm...might even invite collaboration of a different sort.