farm pig farmstead home decor timberbronze wallowa

Bronze Home Decor — The Functional Artistry of Timber Bronze 53

farm pig farmstead home decor timberbronze wallowa

Farm Pig, home decor bronze doorbell from Timber Bronze 53 of Wallowa, Oregon

The next time you open the kitchen flatware drawer, take a look at the drawer pull.

Is it shaped like a Morel mushroom? Or possibly a mule deer antler? Life doesn’t have to consist of round knobs and square pegs, and for Garrett and Beth Lowe, owners of Timber Bronze 53 in Wallowa, OR, it doesn’t.

morel mushroom bronze home decor drawer pull timberbronze wallowa oregon

Morel Mushroom bronze home decor drawer pull by Timber Bronze of Wallowa, OR.

“We hand craft solid, cast-bronze hardware and decorative accessories for log, timber frame, and other rustic homes,” says Beth. “We’re presently developing a line of farmhouse and rustic chic decor for a growing market.”

Timber Bronze Home Decor

A fifth-generation Wallowa resident, Beth moved back to the area with Garrett five years ago, and the couple looked for a business they could develop and expand in addition to their day jobs at a commercial fueling business in Wallowa. When they discovered Timber Bronze 53, a then ten-year-old company catering to the fast-growing home decor industry, they knew they had found their niche: a blend of art, home design, intense craftsmanship, and potential for continuous advancement.

There was also a huge learning curve, because hand crafting items in bronze — from doorbells to drawer pulls, from custom drapery posts to hat hooks, is not for the dilettante. The couple inherited an inventory of more than 60 different doorbell and knocker styles, plus 80 styles of door and drawer accessories for kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Quite fortunately, the original owner — who put the Lowes through an intense training period covering the processes he had developed over the years — was also extraordinarily organized:

“He included Excel spreadsheets that had everything from a customer’s birthday to how long it should take to put a screw in a hole,” Garrett says.

Wayfair, Amazon, Houzz

pine cone bronze home decor doorbell timberbronze

Pine cone bronze home decor doorbell, handcrafted by Timberbronze of Wallowa, OR

Within a short time of taking over the business, Beth and Garrett secured contracts from Wayfair, Houzz, and Amazon, the result of what Garrett calls a combination of chance and social media.

“Our oldest son was messing around with Twitter, I think — maybe Instagram — and somehow whatever he did caught the attention of one of the senior buyers at Wayfair. It wasn’t long after that that Houzz called, and not much longer after that I got a call from Amazon,” Garrett recalls.

“We’ve been quite fortunate.”

But fortune is only part of any human’s story, and Garrett and Beth, the latter who holds a degree in Kitchen and Bath Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, juggle everything from production to shipping, from marketing to artistic design. Originally housing their business in an old hardware store — “complete with bats, creaky sloping floors and LOTS of character” — the couple presently manufactures out of several former farm buildings, including an old milking barn that also used to house pigs.

antler bronze home decor drawer pull timber bronze

A side view of handcrafted bronze antler drawer pull by Timber Bronze of Wallowa, OR

Creating Bronze Home Decor in an Old Dairy Barn

Oddly, it hosts the perfect temperature-controlled setting, Garrett explains, to create the lost wax castings that are the first part of a multi-step process requiring 5-6 weeks to complete. After creating the cast for a specified item, the couple takes the mold to Valley Bronze, a world-class bronze foundry 25 miles away in Joseph, OR. There begins an eight-step, three-week process to pour the design.

The couple then transports the newly bronzed units back to Wallowa, where they apply a decorative patina adding a deeper richness to the golden hue of the bronze. A protective coating ensures that the items successfully endure heavy or outdoor use.

In addition to selling through Wayfair, Amazon, and Houzz, the Lowes handle increasing orders for reproduction work — pulls for antique furniture — as well as custom design.

“We recently finished a job for a woman in the Midwest that included custom refrigerator, freezer, wine cooler, and dishwasher handles,” Garrett says. “That order also included 8-inch custom-made twig handles and about 100 pine cone knobs.”

Functional Artistry in Bronze Home Decor

So the drawer pull on your kitchen flatware drawer has the potential to not only be useful, but beautiful as well, a functional artistry that adds a unique touch to everyday life. For Garrett and Beth, providing such functional artistry is their unique, customized niche, and they fill it in a signature, distinctive manner.

“I think that just the fact that we strive to work off of solid business principles — not grow too fast, not spend money we don’t need to — things like that help set us apart,” Garrett says.

“We have products that fill a want, need or desire for the client, and we are continuing to branch out and step out somewhere into the unknown. We’re not afraid to tackle new things.”

 

Wenaha Gallery

Garrett and Beth Lowe of Timber Bronze are the featured Art Event artists at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, July 16, 2018, through Saturday, August 11, 2018.  The Lowes will join two other artists, Batik watercolor artist Denise Elizabeth Stone and Joyce Anderson Watercolors, at the Summer Celebration Art Show Saturday, July 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free Artisan Treats will be provided, as well as a free Steve Henderson fine art note card to each visitor. 

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

two parakeets wood carving sculpture tupelo jerry poindexter

Carving Birds — The Creative Wings of Jerry Poindexter

two parakeets wood carving sculpture tupelo jerry poindexter

Two Parakeets, original bird carving in Tupelo wood by Spokane artist Jerry Poindexter

When it comes to carving birds, accuracy matters — a lot. Size, shape, color, the creature’s unique attributes — achieving these elements takes a blend of artistic skill and the scientific mind, the willingness to observe, take measurements, record data, and check and recheck the facts. And that’s before the very first cut is made on the wood.

bird carving tupelo wood sculpture jerry poindexter

Bird carving by Jerry Poindexter, woodworker artist from Spokane, WA

For artist Jerry Poindexter, who has been carving birds for more than 20 years, the success of the final sculpture depends upon this preliminary research, and before he embarks upon a project, he gets his hands on some study skins: actual birds, many killed by hitting windows or being hit by cars, dried and preserved, sometimes stuffed with cotton but other times not. Generally not mounted, the skins are stored in trays at places such as Eastern Washington University in Cheney, where Poindexter has spent hours drawing, measuring, and drafting patterns for carving.

After nine years, Poindexter  compiled 50 of these measured drawings, complete with coloration notes, into two books, Songbirds I and Songbirds II.

Drafting Patterns for Carving Birds

“The thought of publishing the books started in 2002 when I carved my first bird for the Ward’s World Championships in Ocean City, Maryland,” the Spokane woodcarver says. “It was after seeing the way people were carving their birds, some of which were too big, and others with the color not even close to the actual bird.

quail tupelo wood carving sculpture Jerry Poindexter

Quail wood carving in Tupelo Wood by woodcarver artist Jerry Poindexter of Spokane, WA

“Carvers had been asking me for my measured drawings at classes that I taught, and at the time I was giving them away.”

Poindexter attracted the eye of the carving world early on, when he entered a bird that no one had seen before at Ward’s, an international event which focuses exclusively on bird carvings.

“The bird was a Varied Thrush, which is well known in the West, but not in the East,” Poindexter says. “I did a half size and was awarded third in the world.” He was also approached by Wildfowl Carving Magazine, which took him on as a regular columnist addressing paint notes and bird measurements.

Judging Carvings as Well as Creating Them

For many years Poindexter has also served as judge at various shows throughout the Pacific Northwest, and is both a regular juror and contributor at the Columbia Flyway Wildlife Show in Vancouver, which attracts fish, wildlife, and bird carvers from throughout the Western United States and Canada. He has sold work to private collectors in Canada, Germany, Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

snowy white owl bird carving tupelo wood sculpture jerry poindexter

Snowy White Owl wood carving in tupelo by woodcarver artist Jerry Poindexter of Spokane, WA

One commission he did for a collector is especially memorable. At a carving show, a man asked how much Poindexter would charge for carving a half-size barn own. Poindexter quoted a price, the man nodded, and walked away. Well, that’s that, Poindexter thought.

“One day, there’s a knock on the studio door, and here was the man holding a piece of firewood. He wanted to have the owl placed on the wood so that he could rotate the owl for different presentations.”

Before leaving, the man pointed to a hole in the firewood and said that he wanted to see a mouse coming out that hole, and the owl appearing to see it. Poindexter agreed, mentally running over the added complexity and difficulty that this would add to the piece.

“When he arrived to pay and said, ‘How much?’ I told him that the owl was now free, but the cost of the mouse would be the original cost we had discussed.”

parrot wood carving tupelo sculpture jerry poindexter

Parrot wood carving from tupelo wood by artist Jerry Poindexter of Spokane, WA

The man not only agreed to the price, but commissioned a second piece.

Carving for Work and Pleasure

Carving started for Poindexter as a hobby, something to do after retirement, and in his early years he created Santas, bears, deer, fish, and even Nativity scenes, but once he discovered birds, he knew he had found his niche. It’s the motion, the texture, the variety and the coloration that draws him to  the world of birds, and it is a place well worth being. There are so many birds, so many projects, that he never runs out of something to create.

“If I kept a count of the number of birds I’ve carved, or the amount of time I’ve spent carving — something I did once and will never do again — I might have quit.

“But carving for yourself is pleasure.”

Purchase Jerry Poindexter’s art online at this link.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Jerry Poindexter is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, June 18, 2018, through Saturday, July 14, 2018.  

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

bracelet colorful bead jewelry mary calanche dayton

Beads, Beads, and Beads — The Jewelry of Mary Calanche

bracelet colorful beads jewelry mary calanche dayton

A selection of bracelets, beaded using various techniques and beads, by Dayton jewelry artist Mary Calanche

It sounds like one of those alarming math story problems people avoid if they possibly can:

“How many beads — of all sizes, shapes, and colors — fit into a 12 x 20 storage shed, with room left for the artist to work?”

finger weave jewelry beads blue bracelet mary calanche

Finger weave bead bracelet with blue and aqua beads, by jewelry artist Mary Calanche of Dayton

Beading artist Mary Calanche of Dayton, whose studio is in such a shed, doesn’t have the answer, but she does know this:

“It’s stuffed full!”

Insulated, wired, and lighted, Calanche’s unique workroom is a place for intense concentration, meticulous attention to detail, and now and then, judicious use of the vacuum with a nylon stocking over the nozzle — one of the best ways to remedy the calamity of a flipped tray of tiny, tiny beads.

“If you haven’t ever dropped beads, then you’re just getting started into the craft,” Calanche, who has been creating beaded jewelry and other items for 25 years, says.

beaded necklace blue green beads mary calanche dayton

Beaded necklace by Wenaha Gallery artist Mary Calanche of Dayton

Beads, and This n That

Under the business name, This n That, Calanche fashions earrings, necklaces, and bracelets using  a variety of techniques: stringing beads onto wire or thread, weaving, wirework (which involves coiling, looping, and twisting wire that holds the beads), and bead embroidery (using a needle and thread to attach beads to a surface like fabric, suede or leather). She also experiments with finger weaving, metal work, and kumihimo, a Japanese technique of braiding silk strands to create colored cords.

“This is why I chose This n That as my name!”

Calanche started her foray into beading shortly after marrying her husband, GrayEagle. Watching him do projects for his dance regalia, Calanche decided to give it a try, with her first project being a flat, beaded rose. It remains a favorite piece because of its leather backing, which came from the last deer her father shot.

“It took a long time for me to finish,” Calanche remembers. But from that point, she was unstoppable, poring through books and magazines for project ideas and teaching techniques. There is no end to potential projects, Calanche says.

blue beads necklace bracelet earrings jewelry mary calanche

A selected of blue beaded jewelry by Wenaha Gallery artist Mary Calanche of Dayton

Beads of Every Shape, Size and Color

“New beads of every shape, size, and color come out constantly,” she explains. “You can take an old pattern and change it up. Or you see a new project and change it into something of your own.” Sometimes, if enough time and learning curve has gone by, she revisits something that was once impossibly difficult and discovers that, somehow, it’s not so impossible anymore.

“My favorite project is whatever I am working on! It doesn’t matter if it is a new project or one I’ve done before, I just love to bead!”

The process is soothing, she adds, describing her time in “the shack,” with the family Corgis to keep her company, as crucial me time. Even when a tray of beads drop, or she must undo an “oops,” or the beads on a project are so small that it’s difficult to see the holes, it’s simply an opportunity to practice yet another skill — patience.

“Patience is something I need to practice, and beading is a marvelous instructor.”

black white beads bracelet mary calanche jewelry

A black and white, patterned beaded bracelet by Wenaha Gallery artist Mary Calanche.

Beads around the World

Calanche has entered her work in the Columbia County Fair, and maintains inventory at both Wenaha Gallery in Dayton and Divine Serendipity Spa in Walla Walla. She has sold her creations to buyers as far away as South Korea, Australia, Scotland, and Thailand. When she isn’t beading or learning a new technique in beading, she continues to tackle her storage shed studio, which she describes as being in a state of turmoil ever since she took it over.

“I have painted, changed the tabletops, built shelving. In between all that, I have tried to organize and tidy things up — I think I will get it done in a few years.”

Or . . . not.

What matters is that there is room for the beads and all their accoutrements, and time to transform them into something unique and beautiful. Story problem or not, it’s not the number of beads, but what you do with them, that counts.

To purchase Mary Calanche’s jewelry online, click on this link.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Mary Calanche is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, May 21, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, June 16, 2018.  Calanche will be in the gallery in person during a special Art Show Saturday, May 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., as part of Dayton Days.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

farmhouse winter country quilt landscape catherine little

The Quest to Quilt — Fabric Art by Catherine Little

farmhouse winter country quilt landscape catherine little

Farmhouse in Winter, a country landscape art quilt by textile and fabric artist Catherine Little

Many people, when they undertake a project unlike anything they’ve ever done before, prefer to go gently, starting small, picking up skills, and learning from little mistakes that are quickly fixed.

ocean fish placemats quilt textile fabric art Catherine Little

Ocean Fish Placemats, art quilt home decor by textile and fabric artist Catherine Little of White Bird, ID.

And then there are those who take a flying leap over the crevasse, convinced that one way or another they’ll make it to the other side. Quite often they do, even if they had to spend a few tense moments dangling over the abyss, feet flailing and hands clawing the edge. It makes for a memorable event.

So it was for quilt artist Cathy Little who, long before she was a quilt artist or even dreamed of becoming one, dabbled in drawing and painting. With marriage, work, and kids she set these aside and focused on sewing: clothes for her daughters, curtains for windows, and pillows for the couch.

The First Quilt Was the Biggest Quilt

“After the kids were grown and gone, I thought about painting again, but then my oldest daughter convinced me to make a quilt for her as a wedding gift,” says the White Bird, ID, textile virtuoso.

It wasn’t just any quilt: California king-sized, and log cabin style requiring hundreds upon hundreds of inch-wide strips, all of which had to be cut, arranged, and accurately sewn to fulfill the design. Oh, and it was quilted by hand, spread out on the living room floor inside of a giant embroidery hoop.

rose beige crib quilt vintage fabrics catherine little

Rose and Beige Crib Quilt, incorporating vintage 1930s style fabrics, by White Bird fabric artist Catherine Little

“For a first time quilter, it was quite a challenge.”

Understatement is the first word that comes to mind.

But apparently, Little enjoyed the leap, and arriving on the other side she saw the possibilities:

“More marriages and many grandchildren later found me making lots of pieced quilts, using various blocks and patterns,” Little explains. “After 9/11, I began making small memory quilts for children who lost a parent at the World Trade Center or Pentagon.”

Applique and the Art Quilt

It was while making these memory quilts that Little discovered applique, which opened, in her words, the sewing room door to a technique that developed into art quilts, many of them focused upon wildlife and the landscapes it inhabits. Living out in the country, Little takes photos of her animal and bird neighbors, transfers the photos into drawing form, then creates a unique, original design resulting in a one-of-a-kind wall hanging or home decor, embellished by permanent fabric paints and machine embroidery.

sage grouse bird wildlife art quilt catherine little

Sage-grouse, art quilt by fabric and textile artist Catherine Little of White Bird, ID

One noted project, commissioned by a couple who are avid hunters, is a triptych featuring every game animal and bird found in Idaho.

Another project, Picturing Idaho’s Past, took first place in a quilting competition and incorporated objects, pictures, and books,  all related to Idaho’s history. Little created a fabric hutch, patterned after furniture that belonged to her husband’s grandmother, and then appliqued the historical images within.

“I did get a bit carried away with that project, and hand wrote on the back of the quilt a history of Idaho using the state shape to outline the text in permanent fabric ink.”

Fabric, Fabric Everywhere & Just Enough Space to Quilt

Adding to her repertoire of textile skills, Little learned to freeform quilt on her sewing machine, and complements the quilting to the applique. Using primarily batik fabrics for their vivid colors, she turns out wall hangings, coasters, placemats, hot pads, memory quilts, and tea cozies, as well as pieced-block baby quilts in 1930s, vintage-style fabrics. She especially enjoys special order commissions, as the final project is markedly unique to the client requesting it.

Loving what she does, her only complaint is the size of her sewing room.

“With boxes of fabrics, shelves of patterns and books, drawers of threads, three sewing/quilting machines, and an old dining room table to sew on, there is barely enough room to get around.”

It is a definite improvement, however, to folds of fabric spilling out all over her living room, and a long ways forward from that first ambitious, grandiose, California king-sized quilt. Well worth the leap, Little’s willingness to cross the crevasse, was a big — not a little — jump forward and beyond.

 

Wenaha Gallery

Catherine Little is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, April 23, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, May 19, 2018.  

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

autumn sunflower floral mixed media photographic art gay waldman

Digital Revolution — The Enhanced Photographic Art of Gay Waldman

autumn sunflower floral mixed media photographic art gay waldman

Autumn Sunflower, mixed media photographic digital art by Spokane artist Gay Waldman.

The great thing about the digital revolution is that Gay Waldman can now wash clothes in her laundry room.

For years, the Spokane artist — who creates digitally enhanced photographs through Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter and Nik Software  — set up a darkroom in either her bath or laundry room so that she could build collages and enlarged images of her abstract/representational fusion art.

autumn gold trees woods forest digital art gay waldman spokane

Autumn Gold Sentinels, digital photographic art by Spokane artist, Gay Waldman — celebrating the world of nature with an abstract twist.

Leaping into the Digital Revolution

“I am very fortunate to have taken the leap into the digital world in 1994,” Waldman says, explaining that she build upon computer skills in marketing and bookkeeping to  achieve prowess in photo-restoration. As the Internet improved, so did her abilities, to the point that she eventually built her own computer to meet the unique digital needs of her art. She also dismantled her physical darkroom and turned to professional photo lab processors for her printing needs, allowing her to focus exclusively on multimedia photomontage that integrates the light, color, texture, and form of natural images.

“My photographs record reality and are the starting point of all my images,” Waldman says. “When I depress the shutter, the image is captured, and I will use it at a later date as a component in a new work of art.”

Digital Art: More Than Pressing Buttons

It’s much more than pressing a button or clicking on a few keyboard keys, she adds, with even seemingly simple images requiring a good eye, technical prowess, and experience stemming from years of exploration and experimentation. Originally trained as a painter, Waldman also employs traditional media such as colored pencils, pastel, acrylic paint, and oil to add detail and color, resulting in a mixed media melange that encourages the viewer to pause a moment, absorb the image, and make a connection with form in color, line and shape.

women's medical center gritman moscow idaho gay waldman digital photography art

In the reception area of the Women’s Imaging Center of Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, ID, four of Gay Waldman’s digital photographic artworks add a glow of color and form.

“My artwork making is a never-ending, intuitive journey of my fascination of the relationship between organic object and man-made objects,” Waldman says. “I love the intricacy of leaves, tree patterns, flower petals, vines, how light falls everywhere, shadows, horizons, water, and all sorts of growth.”

Endless Ideas

Never far from a notebook to jot down ideas which exhibit no sign of stopping, Waldman draws upon a vast collection of photographs taken through the years to develop concepts expressing an appreciation for design.

“Art making is my addiction: I crave the exploration and the creative process of manipulating images, and my passion is to push my photographs into images that expose my originality.”

why we live here public art installation spokane convention center gay waldman

“Why We Live Here,” Gay Waldman’s public art installation at the Spokane Convention Center.

Waldman sells her work through galleries, her studio, her website, and at Northwest festivals including those in Boise, Seattle, and Coeur d’Alene.  A permanent collection of 24 of her works hangs in the Women’s Imaging Center of Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, ID. Additional public art includes “Celebrate Our City,” a five-panel installation at the Wells Fargo Building in Spokane, as well as “Why We Live Here,” an 85-foot wide by 20-foot tall mural at the Spokane Convention Center.

This latter project, which Waldman identifies as her most notable to date, involved a two-year process of applying, presentation, designing, and engineering, and the benefits have been enormous. Most gratifying is when individuals enter Waldman’s booth at an art festival and recognize her work from a public installation.

“When they meet me, it provides them a connection between the art and the artist.”

Samba garden floral flower digital photographic art gay waldman spokane

Samba Garden, a digital array of flower blossoms and petals by photograph enhancer Gay Waldman of Spokane, WA

An Artist before the Digital Age

Like many highly creative people, Waldman has wanted to be an artist for as long as she can remember, and has never forgotten her kindergarten teacher’s comment on a report card — “Gay might be a great artist one day!” Her unique niche in photography came about because of a lack of time: upon graduating from the university and working many, many jobs to get by, Waldman found time and money short for painting. When she was approached about exhibiting her artwork at a special show, she supplemented paintings with photographs she had taken with the intent to paint someday. The next gallery show was all photographs, incorporating mixed media and collage, and a career was born.

“At that time, I didn’t realize photographs would be the foundation of all my artwork.

“My artwork and I keep growing with every exhibit, festival, and commission.

Pleasantly Busy

It’s a lifestyle that keeps an artist consistently but pleasantly busy, and while there may not be enough time to fold clothes in neat, organized piles, it’s nice to know that they don’t have to share space with bins of liquid chemicals. And while any given day looks remarkably different — from photographing to interior design consulting, from providing custom framing services for other artists to participating in an invitational, juried show, it’s all about art — and that’s worth spending time on.

“I am completely captivated with making art, because it’s the only thing in my life where I have total control of the outcome.”

Wenaha Gallery

Gay Waldman is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, April 9, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, May 5, 2018.  

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

two kittens cats snuggling family pet ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Simple Living and Joy — The Watercolor Art of Ellen Heath

two kittens cats snuggling family pet simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor painting

Two Kittens Snuggling, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of life with our pets.

Much of life’s most profound philosophy shows up on dish towels.

crab apple blossoms spring flowers simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

Crab Apples, watercolor painting by Dixie artist Ellen Heath, celebrating the simple living of springtime blossoms

Most of us have seen a sunny little potted flower image on fabric, with “Bloom Where You Are Planted,” written in script underneath. But with wisdom reduced to one-liners, it’s easy to overlook perspicacity.

There are people, however, like Dixie watercolor painter Ellen Heath, who get it. With or without reassurance from the kitchen aisle at the local box store, Heath understands, and lives, the simple life that adds depth to our existence.

“It would be great to travel to exotic places, but I don’t need to,” Heath, who focuses on floral paintings, wildlife, and domestic animals, says. “I look around me, right now, where I am.”

The Profundity of Living Simple

From her home and studio in the foothills of the Blue Mountains outside of Dixie, Heath finds an abundance of inspiration and ideas by doing nothing more than looking through her window, where mother deer show up with their fawns to eat and play under two ancient apple trees. A country walk with her husband Cliff results in more deer sightings, along with owls, squirrels, and the occasional bear or cougar.

doe fawn wildlife animal spring simple living ellen heath dixie watercolor

A doe and fawn, by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple living of wildlife in the country

On another outing — with the purpose of viewing newborn twin baby cows — a kitten stole the show when it bounced in their path and arched its back.

“He looked so brave and tiny that I took lots of pictures, which I used as reference for ‘Kitten Attack.'”

Heath sells her original paintings, as well as prints and boxes of note cards, to clients who love color and the allure of country life, and she is especially pleased when she hears that a work has been hung in a spot where it can be readily seen and often enjoyed: one couple hung the commissioned painting of their kittens right above the box where the cats sleep. Another purchaser showcases in his hallway a painting of his father’s favorite fishing spot.

Simple Living, Beauty, and Joy

“I want people to catch a glimpse of the beauty and joy that I see in the world around us,” Heath says. “I know all is not this way, but I hope people get a warm, good feeling inside when they look at my paintings.”

leafy bridge country rural forest woods simple living ellen heath watercolor

Leafy Bridge by Dixie watercolor artist Ellen Heath, capturing the simple country life of the rural woods and forest.

It may not sound deep and artsy, she adds, but her primary subject matter revolves around happiness.

“I don’t want to spend my days probing the dark and deep depths of the world.”

Heath, who retired from teaching elementary school a year and half ago, transformed an extra bedroom in her house into a studio. She credits her mother, still active and dynamic at 95, for inspiring her from childhood to do art — “She was always painting, creating things, sewing, cooking, and more. There were art supplies, beads, ribbons, yarn, pressed flowers, cards to make.”

Through the years, Heath has studied art at workshops and college classes, and acknowledges Walla Walla painter Joyce Anderson as the major influence toward her decision to focus on watercolor, which is anything but an easy medium in which to work. But the difficulties, Heath adds, are also the advantages.

Watercolor: Anything BUT Simple

“The challenges and benefits of watercolor for me are the same, as in the rest of life,” she says. “It seems that those things that are the most difficult also bring the most joy.”

cat family pet animal simple living ellen heath watercolor painting dixie

Cat, watercolor painting by Ellen Heath of Dixie. Simple living is normal living for our house cat friends.

Watercolor paint doesn’t necessarily stay where you put it, she explains. It can sink into the paper, creating  darker or lighter spots, or it can flow with the water. Sometimes, this results in colorful, swirling images, but other times — not planned and certainly not desired — the hues turn into mud.

To take full advantage of the translucent, exquisite color of the medium, Heath builds a painting in layers, starting with the lightest colors, and often leans the incomplete picture against the wall to dry while she reviews the areas of light and shadow.

“I’ll put it up again and again, sometimes waiting a couple of days in between. It may be a couple of weeks or even more before I’m finished.” And even then, she admits, it’s tempting to go back and “fix” it up after it’s matted and framed.

Simplicity, Tranquility, Clarity

But there’s no reason to overwork things, to add complications where they are not needed, to fret and fuss and brood — ultimately, the image itself announces that it is done, and ready to be launched into the world. What matters is the joy, the beauty, the invitation to the viewer to step into a world of simplicity, tranquility, and clarity.

“I paint things that make me happy and relaxed, either because of the bright colors of the subject matter.

“I hope others will also find a smile or a bit of joy in them.”

Wenaha Gallery

Ellen Heath is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, March 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, April 21, 2018.  

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

 

bottom blue fusion coral glass bowl art gregory jones pasco

Glass Fusion — Vintage Wave and Coral Bowls by Gregory Jones

bottom blue fusion coral glass bowl art gregory jones pasco

Bottom Blue, a coral glass fusion bowl by Gregory Jones, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Pasco, WA

While the question, “What is art?” isn’t about to be satisfactorily resolved anytime soon, what it takes to make and be an artist is less ambiguous:

Determination.

Curiosity.

And the willingness to make a lot of mistakes.

“I am self-taught, and stubborn,” says glassmaker Gregory Jones of Pasco, who works with new and recycled glass to create bowls, plates, and platters using a technique called glass fusion.

orange glass wavy bowls gregory jones costalota glass

An orange glass wavy bowl, with vintage form fused to modern color choices, by Gregory Jones of Pasco, WA

“The technical aspects of working with glass have been a long and interesting process,” Jones adds, explaining that he began working with glass in the 1970s as physical therapy for his fingers after a hand injury. He started with stained glass, but eventually settled on fusion, which involves joining two or more glass pieces together under high (think 1100 to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit) heat, and often shaping it over a mold.

Calling the three kilns in his studio the heart of his creations, Jones spends a lot of time in the shop attached to his house, with the result that, “I don’t have to far to go to lose myself in my craft.

“I have no day job — I’m retired, and am loving the freedom to create my art.

“Art is so much better than a real job.”

Vintage Wavy and Coral Glass Bowls

Using both new and recycled glass, Jones creates artistic, yet functional wavy glass bowls with a vintage yet modern feel, as well as coral bowls, which look like what they sound like: coral reefs from the sea.

“Nothing inspires me more than the beautiful ocean — with all of that life under the seas, on the beaches.

periwinkle coral blue glass fusion bowls gregory jones pasco

Three Periwinkle blue glass fusion coral bowls by Gregory Jones, glass artist from Pasco, WA

“Coral bowls are proving to be a great challenge and very labor intensive, taking a number of days to make a single piece. I have been inspired to make these by my diving and exploring the Pacific Ocean from Southern California to beautiful Hawaii.”

It’s a process indeed, requiring the laying of glass strips one over another, firing the shape at a temperature far higher than what’s needed to bake a cake, and then annealing — or allowing the hot glass to cool slowly to strengthen the final piece. Then the artist can add more strips and fire again, followed by another annealing. In the final firing, the artist sets the shape over the bowl-shaped mold, often made of stainless steel to withstand the heat, and fires it all up again.

Of course, writing it out in one paragraph grossly simplifies the matter, and a series of sentences does not begin to describe the potential for the unexpected, which happens so much with creative glass making, experimentation, and the continual learning curve that it’s . . . almost expected.

Experimenting with Glass

“It has taken a lot of trial and error to get the pieces I like, and a lot of errors have ended up in the landfills,” Jones says.

yellow fusion glass coral lace bowl gregory jones costalota Pasco

A yellow glass fusion coral bowl, filled with the treasures of the sea, by Gregory Jones from Pasco, WA

“I’ve never been to a workshop — I’ve always been self taught. Maybe that’s why there have been so many errors, but there are also many beautiful and unique pieces which make a lot of people smile.”

For Jones, making people smile is as important as creating the artwork itself, and whether he sells his work or gives it away, success lies in the reaction of the person seeing, and holding, his art. For years, Jones has been creating and gifting the Jewish Star of David to synagogues throughout the Pacific Northwest, out of deep respect for what the symbol means in his family heritage.

“A lot of times I make things just for the love of making a piece and seeing the smile and joy on a person’s face.”

The Challenges of Recycled Glass

When it comes to using recycled, vintage glass — which is increasingly difficult to find — Jones looks for old windows in old buildings, explaining that the bubbles, waves, and imperfections inherent to vintage windows translates into fun and exciting patterns in the final piece. Several contractors in the region keep him in mind when they are dismantling structures, and Jones is constantly up to the challenge of working with a material that is eminently unpredictable.

blue wavy fusion glass bowl gregory jones costalota pasco wa

Blue fusion wavy glass bowl, a touch of vintage, a touch of modern, by Pasco glass artist Gregory Jones

“After several years and lots of effort, I have developed a workable process that has been very rewarding.”

It goes back to that determination, curiosity, and willingness to make a lot of mistakes.  The result — beautiful artwork and the beautiful people who are drawn to it, is a winning combination indeed.

Meeting People

“My art is a unique way to meet so many people,” Jones says. “There is no boundary as to the type of people you can visit with, and hear the great stories of their lives.

“I think that might be the best part: the people you meet and interact with, and who knows? You may have a new friend.”

Whatever the definition of art, that sounds like an important component.

Wenaha Gallery

Gregory Jones is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, February 26, 2018, through Saturday, Saturday, March 24, 2018.  He will be at the the gallery Saturday, March 3, showing his glasswork and chatting with visitors from 1 to 4 p.m.  Joining him that day will be artist, writer, and historian Nona Hengen of Spangle, WA, who will be speaking on the Native American/U.S. Government wars at 1:30 and 3, and watercolor artist and musician Roy Anderson of Walla Walla, who will play live music in between Hengen’s talks.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

artisan natural soap azure botanicals dayton wa

New Year’s Resolution: Enjoy Artisan Soap from Azure Mountain

artisan natural soap azure botanicals dayton wa

A selection of artisan soaps, handcrafted in small batches at Azure Mountain Botanicals in Dayton, WA

The New Year’s Resolution has been around for a long time. Purportedly, ancient Babylonians started the process 6,000 years ago with promises to their gods to return borrowed items and pay off their debts.

bubble bath salts truffle azure botanicals dayton wa

Bubble Bath Truffles, the perfect soak after a New Year’s Resolution workout, made by Azure Mountain Botanicals in Dayton, WA

Julius Caesar finessed the New Year’s Resolution when he renovated the calendar and created a January 1. And now we’re full fledged into it — for the first two weeks at any rate — with promises to eat better and exercise more. And while there’s no guarantee we’ll finish our year’s gym membership with the gusto with which we begin, Art and Brenda Hall of Azure Mountain Botanicals can ensure that we emerge clean and happy when the workout is over.

“Our main focus is cold process soap making,” Brenda, co-owner of the Dayton-based, artisan personal products store, says, “but we also make balms, butters, soaking salts, and bath bombs.” Soaking salts have been known through time to relieve pain, inflammation, and sore muscles, Brenda adds, and a little indulgence after hard work is never amiss.

Artisan Soap, New All Year Round

“We focus on small, local, and handmade,” Brenda says, explaining that smaller batches of soap, butters, balms, and salts ensures greater control over the quality. “We also locally source ingredients as much as possible. For instance, our Dumas soap is made with Dumas Station wine, and has grape pomace that is collected, dried, and ground.

artisan handcrafted natural bath truffle azure botanicals dayton wa

A handcrafted, artisan bath truffle — the perfect solution after a New Year’s Resolution workout, by Azure Mountain Botanicals of Dayton, WA

“Apple Ale is made with Chief Springs Apple Ale that includes cider from Warren Orchards.  Peachy Keen and Strawberry Cream Ale is made from Laht Neppur Ales.”

Making soap from beer, wine and spirits requires simmering the liquid until no alcohol remains, closely monitoring the mixture because high sugars intensify potential reactions. Other liquids the Halls have incorporated into their creations include tea, tisanes, honey and goat milk along with essential oils that add fragrance as well as skin nourishing properties.

Inspiration from Artists and Clients

With a soapmaking canvas that is “limitless,” the couple seeks inspiration — and gives credit to — customers and clients whose observations and requests spur a design: “Deer Slayer was inspired by a local young hunter,” Brenda says. “Anne’s Mystery Mountain Mint, Hippy Up, Sarah’s Earl Grey, Honey Hemp, and Winter Cocoa are all people-inspired soaps.”

handcrafted soy candle azure botanicals dayton wa

Handcrafted, artisan soy candles by Brenda and Art Hall, owners of Azure Mountain Botanicals

Artisan bath products are not the only items that are locally inspired: the Hall’s shop, located in the historic Dantzscher building on Dayton’s Main Street, reflects the skill and work of regional artists, with the outside sign and inside shelving created from reclaimed wood by Dayton craftsman Yancy Yost, who also fashioned the bubble-emitting clawfoot bathtub set before the store’s entrance. The worktables, deliberately open to public view, were built by Leroy Cunningham of Waitsburg’s L Design Reclaimed, which specializes in repurposing vintage woods. The logo, as well as the color palette of the studio, are the brainchild of the couple’s daughter, artist Liz Whaley of Liz W Fine Art.

“We are quite proud of using local artists and resources at our studio,” Brenda says.

The Couple That Makes Soap Together

The couple has been making soap together for more than ten years, beginning in college when Art took an organic chemistry class from a professor who believed strongly in hands-on, practical experience.

artisan handcrafted wooly soap bars azure botanicals dayton wa

A selection of felted wooly soap bars, handcrafted artisan personal care items from Azure Mountain Botanicals

“They made things like biobricks, biofuel, and soap,” Brenda remembers. “Art brought his soap class project home and wanted to make it again — I thought it was too plain and insisted that we add something to it, like lavender essential oil and ground rosemary.” Friends who enthused over the results encouraged the couple to show the soap at an event at Dayton’s historic train depot, and the response to that encouraged the couple to further explore fragrances, essential oils, natural additives like clay and oatmeal, and color.

Despite holding down “day jobs” — Art is a property Manager for General Services Administration in Richland and Brenda is a registered nurse — the couple opened the doors to their store in 2015, and in that short time their artisan products have found homes as far away as New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, and California. They are constantly experimenting with new blends (“Soaps that misbehave often still turn out nice”) and the major challenge the couple encounters has nothing to do with running out of ideas, but more with keeping up with them.

Year-round New Year’s Resolution

“Sometimes, there are so many soaps and other products I want to make that it is difficult for clients to choose from the selection — or, they buy something and tell us it is too pretty to use!”

But that’s a good problem, Brenda reflects, one that blends well with their business and life goals:

“We both have a strong work ethic, believe in customer service, and do our best to provide the finest product possible.”

That’s not a bad New Year’s Resolution, one to keep day in, day out, all year round.

Wenaha Gallery

Brenda and Art Hall of Azure Mountain Botanicals are the featured Art Event  at Wenaha Gallery from Tuesday, January 2, 2018, through Saturday, January 27, 2018.  

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

harvesters two sisters children picking autumn grapes steve henderson

Community Giving — All Year Round

harvesters two sisters children picking autumn grapes steve henderson

What is a community, really, but a family of human beings who share their resources? The Harvesters, by Steve Henderson

Life happens.

And while there are other, more expressive ways of voicing this observation — some singularly  inappropriate for the family newspaper — the intimation is the same: people lose their jobs, get sick, or have an accident, resulting in life not going on the way it did before.

art of peel chef painting ken auster

Food is a celebration, a necessity, and a gift. Art of a Peel by Ken Auster

When we learn of another’s pain, our common response as decent human beings is to feel a sense of sympathy, sometimes going beyond this to see what we can tangibly do to help our fellow humans in their distress. After all, we realize, the unexpected blows of life can hit any of us, at any time.

But sometimes, in our effort to keep our own world secure and safe (because who wants to feel that we can be hit, randomly, by a meteorite?) we probe and parse the issue:

“I bet he was texting too much at work. Maybe a little alcohol problem there, too, eh?”

“I heard she smoked a lot when she was younger. It was lung cancer, wasn’t it?”

“All those kids in the car making noise — it’s a clear case of distraction and not paying attention. Distracted driving is against the law in this state.”

We Are a Community of Family, and Families

And then, once we imagine a possible cause unlikely to mirror any in our own experience, we’re off the hook when it comes to feeling compassion, because, really, the person sort of deserved what they got. It’s tempting to assign a mental number to the tragedy — with 1 accorded very little sympathy because the person acted foolishly and really should have foreseen the consequences and 10 scoring high because this tragedy was in no way the person’s fault.

candleman winter fantasy snow james christensen

Things seem bleaker, and colder, in the winter, especially after the holidays. Candleman by James Christensen

But there are problems with this natural tendency to sort through our world and makes sense of it by classification, notably,

  1. We are not gods, and never, ever know the full situation, and
  2. Because we are not gods, we chronically, consistently, and masterfully make very human mistakes, many of which frequently do not — fortunately for us — result in our getting the desserts we “deserve.” But sometimes . . . they do.

A wise person once said that the criteria we use to judge others will turn around and be used thusly on us ourselves, and if this is so, it is sensible to approach the misfortunes of others with compassion, understanding, thoughtfulness, and empathy — reactions we ourselves embrace with relief when undergoing our own trials.

Supporting Our Community

It is with this awareness that Pat and Ed Harri, the owners of Wenaha Gallery in Dayton, started an annual canned food drive at the gallery, with everything collected during the month of January dedicated to the Community Food Bank in Dayton.

“We purposely chose January, because during the Christmas season, there is so much focus on gift-giving and celebration that once you are over the seasonal holidays, people are almost burnt out,” Pat explains.

Canned food community drive wenaha gallery

It’s a sculpture of canned food, representing the bounty given by community members to the Dayton Food Bank

“But when it comes to helping people, this is a need that exists all year. And January can be a very cold, bleak month.”

Entering somewhere around its tenth year (Pat isn’t sure), the Annual Canned Food Drive regularly brings in some 500 pounds of food, spanning everything from tuna fish and diced tomatoes to artisan chocolate bars and organic sugar. The gallery collects it through the month and creates an artistic display, one that changes as new items are dropped off.

Having Fun Giving Back

“We’ve had several  people through the years who really get into the spirit of the giving,” Pat says. “They go shopping especially for our canned food event, and ask themselves — ‘What would I buy to put in my own cupboard?’ and that’s what they bring.” Others burrow through their pantries and gather largesse. All leave off their wares with a sense of satisfaction and joy.

It’s fun — and humbling — to see what arrives each day, Pat adds, and by the end of the month, what starts out as a trickle winds up as a flood. Before food bank volunteers arrive to cart the food away, the gallery staff enjoys setting up the totality and taking a photo, adding with it their own warm wishes to fellow community members who are going through a tough time.

“The cans of food that people bring in are gifts — gifts to people in our community who are having a hard time and need encouragement from others,” Pat says. “I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of the people in this area.”

Wenaha Gallery

The Annual Canned Food Drive is the featured Art Event  at Wenaha Gallery from Thursday, December 28 through Wednesday, January 31, 2018.  During this time, for every can or non-perishable item of food brought into the gallery, the giver will receive $2 off their next framing order, up to a total of 20% off. Additional cans brought in after the 20% maximum will apply toward a subsequent framing order.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

 

tea towel aprons by sewist kathy snow

Sew Happy — Fiber Artist Kathy Snow Creates the Perfect Gifts

tea towel aprons by sewist kathy snow

A series of decorative apron towels, to be used in the kitchen or worn by a doll, by sew happy sewist Kathy Snow

Santa Claus could use a person like Kathy Snow on his staff, and not just because her last name fits well into his company theme.

Nor is it because the Dayton sewist  (a recently coined term that combines the words “sew” and “artist”) creates doll clothes to fill the dream wardrobe of every child who owns and loves an 18-inch American Girl style doll.

holiday themed nostalgic hand sewn aprons by kathy snow

Holiday themed, hand sewn aprons with a nostalgic flair, by sewist Kathy Snow

Snow’s prowess with the sewing machine, and her ability to transform fabric, notions, lace, and buttons into intricately sewn items of art, approaches a proficiency that borders on wizardry, a level of achievement in line with what St. Nicholas demands at his North Pole shop.

Appropriate for the correlation, Snow discovered the magic of hand sewing as a 9-year-old child, fully launching into the craft in 7th grade, when she took a sewing class and decided to never stop.

The Sewist in the Studio

“I have made LOTS of things in my lifetime,” Snow says. “Dresses for myself, dresses for my daughter when she was growing up, costumes for her and my grandchildren. I have made many many things through the years that I have given away to family and friends.”

Snow’s present passion focuses on dresses, coats, nightgowns, jackets, slacks, skirts, and blouses for those 18-inch dolls, which she purchases on sale at box stores and decks out in fashion for every season. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have time to create a multiplicity of items from fabric, ranging from kitchen tea-towels that look like old fashioned aprons (and fit, incidentally, an 18-inch doll, should you happen to have one on hand) to quilts, from full-sized 1930s style aprons for full-sized humans to Christmas stockings.

quilted christmas stockings by sewist kathy snow

Quilted Christmas stockings by sewist Kathy Snow, sewing holiday happiness of which Santa would approve

“I  get involved in making other things that steer me away from the doll clothes,” Snow says. “I tend to start too many things at the same time, but I do  manage to get things done, just not as quickly as I once did.”

Business Is Sew Good

After all, she does this for fun, although like many endeavors we start, fall in love with, and get really proficient at doing, Snow has turned a lifetime love into a business, and operates a regular booth at the Village Shoppes in Dayton. After retiring four years ago from her position as a pharmacy technician, she finds time to spend in her basement sewing studio, complete with the ironing board that is supposed to easily fold away, but never does; a wall peg board loaded with thread and other notions; and a prominent sign that announces, MY HAPPY PLACE.

“And of course, I have cupboards of fabric and lots of totes full of fabric — Imagine that! Sometimes I wonder if I will get all of this sewed up into something.”

matching doll and girl frilly dresses by sewist kathy snow

Frilly, matching dresses to fit a doll and her girl, by sewist Kathy Snow, sewing good cheer throughout the year

And while Snow has been sewing pretty much all of her life, she’s managed to tuck in a few unexpected experiences between the seams, so to speak, offhandedly mentioning that she used to sing professionally, notably in California with the Doodletown Pipers, an easy listening group of the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as The Kids Next Door group at Walt Disney World in Florida, in 1972. After her daughter was born, she left the music business, but that’s when she discovered the County Fair:

“I entered several items I had made and won several First Place, Second Place, and Third Place ribbons.” If she wasn’t hooked on sewing before, she was now.

Sewing Happiness

But actually, it’s all about the sewing, whether the work sells (it does) or whether it wins ribbons (how can it not?). The items Snow creates in her Happy Place spread a message of joy to whoever buys or receives the final work, and in these glad tidings, Santa would be pleased as well, because Snow’s mission statement closely parallels his own.

“This is something that I choose to do for fun, and hopefully if I sell some things that make others happy, that makes me happy.

“That’s what I want to do: make others happy with the things I create.”

Wenaha Gallery

Kathy Snow is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, December 4 through Saturday, December 30, 2017.   

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.