my journey, as a weaver, from "AH" to "KA", on the eternal path we call "Life"

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Looking East


Volcan Mountain Foundation recently acquired 23 acres on the eastern side of the mountain,  overlooking the San Felipe Valley.

Joel and I headed out there earlier this month, for my final day of gathering botanical materials to weave in honor of the mountain, and the Foundation’s effort to preserve and protect — along with a number of other public and private agencies — as much land as possible on that 15-mile long range.

“Looking East” is a woven bouquet of chaparral plants that I have been familiar with for years, plus some I’ve not encountered until that day.  Bush mallow and rabbit bush, penstemon spectabilis and oh....I don’t know all your names, but I love you anyway!

I would like to close my blogs about my precious time on Volcan Mountain, courtesy of the Volcan Mountain Foundation, with a big “THANK YOU” to Board President Eric Jones and Executive Director Colleen Bradley.  Your kind and enthusiastic support in finding my way about the mountain, and readiness to answer my queries made my time working on this project that much more delightful. 

Friday, September 18, 2020


 One of the most notable facts about Volcan Mountain, is that it is home to the headwaters of both the San Diego River and the San Dieguito River.  Two distinct springs emerge from a western slope to form the source of each of those rivers.  

These two springs are within easy walking distance from each other, and one morning I took the time to gaze upon each of them and their surroundings in turn, mesmerized by the sublime sight and sound of water emerging from the earth. Mmmmmm....

I chose three prominent plants from those springs for this botanical weaving: cat-tail (T.latifolia), western bracken (pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens) and crimson columbine (aquilegia formosa). Their unique forms came together quite surprisingly for me as I was weaving this piece, so distinct are their qualities of form and texture.  

Here are photos of the springs, and photos of the weaving (17”x27”) in which I attempted to depict the movement of the water as well as to display the delicacy, toughness, and wonder of the plants.

Once again, thank you Volcan Mountain Foundation, for giving me this opportunity to explore the mountain as well as my craft.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Touching the Sky





 After making my way though a long, tunnel-like thicket of ceanothus, I emerged into a small clearing near the top of the trail. Ah!  The swirl of fresh air, sunshine, and blue sky! And a bonus smattering of wild yarrow, reaching their slender stalks upwards, touching the sky.  How to convey that experience?  In a botanical weaving, naturally!

I wove the yarrow stems in with a few asters, which I gathered a bit further along the trail, into my weft, as usual.  But they simply had to be oriented in their natural upright state, so as you can see from the photos, I hung them from the weft rather than my usual method of hanging the weaving from the warp.  

Thank you “tresmarie” for the design concept of how to attach the top frame to the weaving.

And a big THANK YOU to Volcan Mountain Foundation for supporting me in my craft.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Along the Sky Island Trail

While I was weaving this piece, the joy I felt while hiking along the Sky Island Trail came back to me in force.

It was a perfect summer morning, slightly cool at first then growing in warmth, as I walked among the flora, marveling at the charm and diversity of plants, so many of which were new to me.

My progress was slow, since there was much I wanted to take in both literally and figuratively.  As always when I am gathering materials, I plucked only a bit from any one plant.  

Since that outing and during my preparation for this piece, I recalled a quote from the renowned naturalist, Loren Eiseley:  “One could not pluck a flower without troubling a star.”  What he meant by this is that Everything and Everyone in this universe is connected — interwoven.  How wondrous and beautiful and terrifying that is!

And it made me think: does it matter with what intention one plucks that flower?

I say yes, it does.  If we “pluck” with reverence, conservatively, and with love, the stars shine brighter, and so do we all.

Thank you to Volcan Mountain Foundation, for affording me the pleasure of hiking and weaving “Along the Sky Island Trail”....woven with reverence, love, and joy.  22”x31”.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Wee Weaving

 Greetings!  Now that the heat of summer has set in, I am thankful that I had gathered together a tremendous selection of botanical treasures during my three outings on Volcan Mountain when the weather was cooler.

I let these darling purple lupine stalks be the subject of another weaving, since they kept jumping out at me from the midst of all the rest. 

This wee weaving — 8”x 10.5” — was woven on my tiny ArtCraft loom in the space of a few deliriously happy hours last month.

Thank you Volcan Mountain Foundation for giving me this opportunity to celebrate and honor your stewardship for our beloved mountain preserve, “Where Purple Flowers Grow”.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Sacred Ground

My second foray onto Volcan Mountain was an immersion of my senses into the sights and sounds and smells and textures of the forest and beyond. My senses, and also my heart.
It was a relatively cool morning.  The first sound I noticed was the deep cooing of an unfamiliar bird. I stood still and watched for it...caught a glimpse of it among the treetops...what was it? I have yet to know it’s name.
Then I turned my attention to what was underfoot.  Soft, dark, sweet smelling earth, duff layered with rocks, leaves, pine needles, katkins, seedlings, pine cones, twigs, branches, and bugs.  What a fascinating mix of colors, shapes, growth, sustenance, and decay!
I started gathering them. Not all, just some.  Oh! This twisty twig, this bouquet of leaves, these delicate oak frills, this spray of incense cedar, this sprig of something....
Three hours later, having deposited my first round of botanicals in the back of my car, then proceeding to hike the trail up to the Sky Island Pipe Scope and back again, gathering more materials along the way, I paused before heading home.
My “takeaway”:  this mountain, this 420-plus acres of the Volcan Mountain Foundation land, combined with adjacent county- and conservancy-preserved land of 31,000 acres, is sacred ground.
What do I mean by “sacred”?  Blessed, a bestower of blessings, worth preserving, valuable in and of itself, soul-nourishing, life-nourishing, worth knowing and appreciating and enjoying and celebrating and adoring.
These are my memories and thoughts and feelings, as I wove “Sacred Ground”.
Here are some scenes from the mountains, as well as the weaving.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

To the mountain we go

Dear Friends,
How our lives have all changed since my last post of March 3!  My wish for all of you is that you and your family are well, and that the pandemic and all it’s ramifications have steered you in a direction that is at least manageable and at best to your liking.
A quick recap: We were in Canada visiting friends at the time the lockdown started.   We returned home on March 18.
Mission Trails Park closed on March 16.  All the artwork was shut inside the visitor’s center until the end of May, when I was able to pick up what was left of my botanical weavings. Several I delivered to their respective new owners, a few I brought home.
It was a successful show: half of the weavings sold, enabling me to send a tidy sum to the California Chaparral Institute, after the Park had taken it’s commission.
Two of the remaining weavings are currently on display at the Borrego Art Institute in Borrego Springs: “Beyond Summer” and “Where Rabbits Run”.
I received good news right after we returned: I was one of two artists chosen for the Volcan Mountain Foundation Marjorie and Joseph Rubenson Endowment for Art and Science at Volcan Mountain in 2020.
Such an honor, for which I am deeply grateful.  And excited!
The purpose of the endowment is “to promote public appreciation of Volcan Mountain and its beauty and environmental diversity through art or scientific activities...”. The endowment provides for an artist “to visit the Volcan Mountain Range in Julian, California to create original works of art ...that would enhance the public appreciation of the mountain, its unique beauty and environmental attributes.”
Now you know why I chose “To the mountain we go” for my blog title!
I’ve been to the mountain twice already, and have completed the first of seven botanical weavings for the foundation.
My first impression was of bright bright sunlight amongst the tall oaks and conifers, and the sound of the wind in the trees.  Then I spotted a plant that clearly called out to me to be woven: horsetail fern.  There are masses of this equisetaceae growing alongside the creek near the VMF Nature Center.
Once I finished the weaving, as I was pondering what title to give it, a poem arose in my mind.
It sums up my total feeling of being on the mountain, the comfort and solace that being among such massive trees and on such firm yet fragile ground instilled in me.
The following photos are a first peek into that precious place.
The poem, as the weaving, is entitled “Hush”.

Be still
Hear the wind in the trees

Rest a while
The rush of the cities
Never ceases

Rest here
All is well