Pinecone Shoots!

Here is a shot taken during the first photo shoot of the completed “Pinecone Dress”! It was about 45 degrees outside so it was pretty cold! Here I am taking a break with my hat and scarf while we wait for this dramatic “cross” shadow to pass so we can continue the photo shoot. Special thanks to Colette Fu and Jennifer Sanchez for their assistance.

And here is a shot from the second day of shooting. I am pretty imobilized once I am in the dress, so I am dependent on the artistic judgment of the photographers to document the project. Here they are really going for it! Robert is in the background, while Colette is kneeling to get a good angle, and Ian is lying down on the job…

Pinecone Dress in Progress

Let the obsessive compulsion begin! I have scrubbed hundreds of pinecones and begun the labor-intensive process of attaching them all to the wire dress form I have constructed…

MacNamara Foundation, Westport Island, MAINE

During October/November 2006, I am staying at the MacNamara Foundation Arts Residency on Westport Island off the coast of Maine. The seven artists here are housed in a beautifully renovated barn from the 1860’s, where we are served gourmet food 3 times a day! I feel very spoiled, although it has been a bit of an adjustment getting up at 7:30 every morning for breatkfast! Here is a shot of me, Jen and Ian enjoying a typical East Coast lobster dinner…

Cinderella of the Woods!

Maine is called the “Pine State”. and the first settlers here were impressed with the gigantic white pines, which they called “King’s Pine”. There are still pine trees all over the state, as well as along the coast and on the island where I am staying. So, after deciding on pinecones as the material for the dress project in Maine, I discovered that pinecones are only produced by the white pine trees every OTHER year, which, unfortunately for me, was last year. There are still cones to be found on the forest floor, if I am choosy and inspect them for rot and insects. Better still are last year’s cones still clinging to the tops of the trees. We just had a big windstorm here that blew many down, so I was able to collect them. Then the scrubbing begins! I feel like a character from a fairy tale as I sit outside for hours scrubbing pinecones….

Willow Creek Dress, the final swim

Just when I thought the project was over, Karina inspired me to throw the dress back in the creek upstream, and videotape it as it floated back downstream. We figured it weighed about 300 pounds or so, and it is a large and awkward structure to maneavuer, so it took the help of all these folks to get it out of the water, carried across the property and back into the creek. (From back left, clockwise: Lynn Reeves, Robyn Art, Karina Hean, Mary Jane Edwards, Michael Genung, Donna Edwards, Karin Schiff and Jade Fieldgrove). It floated for about 15 minutues until we pulled it out again. The biodegradable structure was then laid in the sun to dry, and it will be thrown into the “burn heap” on the property, where it will eventually be “cremated”.

Completed Willow Creek Dress, WY!

My favorite shot of the day, taken by Karina Hean. I like the twin snake hills in the background that are always in view here, and are such an important visual element at Jentel. I am very satisfied with the project and extremely grateful to the Jentel Foundation for hosting me and making this experience and work of art possible.

A little help from my friends…

I could not have documented the piece without the brave souls who climbed into that cold water with me. Other resident artists (top photo, from left: Robyn Art, Karen Schiff and Karina Hean) donated their talent and got wet and chilly to help me out. Bottom photo: Karen frames a shot with my camera.

Almost ready…

Getting ready to launch! “Willow Creek Dress” is in the water and anchored down. Here I am weaving willow branches into the frame.

Here is the final dress with fresh branches woven into the willow frame. There was a heat wave while I was making it, making all the cutting and hauling of material sweaty work, with sunburn, scratches, wasp stings (one got caught buzzing under my bandana and stinging my ear!), and snakes to contend with (I encountered so many that I took to singing/whistling as I entered the underbrush to warn them away). Then a wind storm hit the night before the photo shoot, and while the dress survived in tact, the temperature dropped dramatically from over 100 degrees to around 65 when it was time to get in the water. It was chilly, but fun, and I was so happy to be completing the project that I didn’t mind goose bumps and shaking a little in the cold.

This is the sheltered location I found, in a little inlet in the creek. The current was too strong for my anchors everywhere else. Even here, I had to bury the anchors in the sandbar under the dress to hold it in place for the three days it took me to work on it.

In the studio…

I have decided to create my Wyoming dress with the abundant willow that grows along Lower Piney Creek on the Jentel property. Willow is a very pliable material for sculpture, regenerates quickly when cut, and the cut branches will even grow again if you stick them back into the ground! I am creating a dress that will float on the creek, Ophelia-style. Here I am in my studio at Jentel, building the bodice and connecting willow branches with biodegradable twine to form the massive skirt.

WYOMING Jentel Artist Residence

I arrived at the Jentel Artist in Residence program on July 15th and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the surrounding land and the luxury of the accommodations. It is absolutely beautiful here. I feel extremely spoiled! The Lower Piney Creek, which circles the property, is very inspirational, and I am thinking of creating a floating dress using the willow that lines its banks.