Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This is the time of the year that I am at my creative best. Autumn and Winter in South Africa are my favourite seasons. It is warm carving outside in the courtyard .... unlike the scorching days of Summer. There is snow on the far reaches which means our nights and early mornings are pretty chilly but when the sun is out the days are bliss.

I've been observing the moon with Donna ...... finding my natural creative rhythm ....... and reconnecting with my "creative vision". It has been a wonderful period of experimentation.

"When we allow ourselves to experiment with the moon's timing the stress level is reduced and a sense of being in the flow is elevated." - Donna Drozda.

Between carving totems I have been trying out different ideas on small wood offcuts. Somewhere in the middle of these experiments it occurred to me to create a wooden quilt ..... a slow quilt, inspired by Jude's spirit cloths. Slow, in that I am just going to let it happen when it happens. The little wood samplers will accumulate and when I have enough I will join them somehow. It might just be a matter of glueing them to a board ... or stitching them together like a patchwork quilt ..... I'm playing with ideas and enjoying the dance.

"I really appreciated coming to recognize that there's no place to 'get to' as an artist, as an expressive being, there's simply the dance." - Donna Drozda

I finally managed to locate a copy of Etcetera by Sybella Court and I'm wallowing in the glorious pages. I'm inspired to photograph weathered tools and bits of wood ..... mine ..... and new found treasures.

I was very chuffed to find an old patinaed folk art doll in a junk store.

Meet Jasper, the visiting Burmese from next door. He's taking a chance with Ben and Bella around, but he's pretty wiley and swift on his feet.

I've just completed a totem I've called Prayers for our Daughters in response to Soraya's post about the genocide/gendercide in India.


  1. Oh if only I had a smidgen of your talent! A quilt is a lovely idea. I have the book 'Etc' and am constantly swooning over the pictures, although my passion is the tattered textiles. I look forward to seeing what you do.

  2. Thoughtful.....lovely post.

    ...and I love the patchwork pieces too :-)

  3. Robyn---We are in the midst of a heat wave so enjoy the cool evenings! The new totem is very cool and makes me think that maybe there is hope in numbers. Maybe. Have you found out anything about the doll? Cheers!

  4. Oh Robyn! You can't possibly imagine my surprise (and gratitude) to come to the end of your post and discover your totem (Prayers for our Daughters)...It is simply stunning! I love the symbolism and the...form. It is just beautiful!I can't thank you enough for bringing attention to this atrocity.Thank you-from the bottom of my heart.
    About your wooden quilt-I can't wait to see it! How fascinating. xxx

  5. robyn, Is this the doll we talked about ? she is wonderful. I'll see what info I can find here! love your slow quilt idea a good thing to do when you want to work but arent sure what to do! and I love the box of family!

  6. Robyn your latest totem is wonderful...I love that little grouping of wooden figures.
    And your spirit cloth in wood. Wonderful concept and I look forward to seeing all of your wooden patches. I love the element of 'slowness'. These slow cloths sort of allow you to take your creative time. (I love the carved tree you have done.)

    Jacky xox

  7. Love your weathered carvings and I'm glad you found Ecetera, it's still one of my favourites.

  8. I get a very deep sense of honoring and serenity from you here Robyn. thank you...

  9. Your work is stunning. Absolutely and completely breathtaking. True and real works of art. Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. I was reading not long ago about another country that was heavily gender oriented toward males (I think the country in the article was China, but am not certain) and had systematically removed females through abortion or other culturally accepted methods. The article was exposing the fact that, now that the majority of the population was male, they are having a difficult time finding wives because they'd done away with so many females.

    Many cultures seem to favor males and will go to great extent to chose male births over female...the sacredness of the female as the bearer of life is completely ignored. However, as that article (and common sense) points out, without us, there shall be no births...and no continuation of the culture.

    Your totem is beautiful, and a wonderful representation of women as the bearer of future souls.

  11. I just want to put some thoughts down on the Female Genocide issue. Not much is spoken about it here.

    Sometimes I wonder if these girl children are better off dead rather that go through the humiliation they are put through when they are given life.

    This phenomenon happens as much with urban educated city dwellers as it does in the villages. So obviously something is very wrong with the mindset of an entire nation.

    Read any matrimonial column in an Indian newspaper - the men think far too much of themselves and the women too little.

  12. this post was wonderful! all YOU and your work, and I adored it! your wooden quilt idea is fabulous and your Prayers totem is just amazing. I am still looking for that blasted book!! i am sure it will turn up one day!! and your new treasure is great lovely patina! and the joints are so very cool!
    oh and isn't Donna great!?

  13. one of the most important foundations for a creative life
    giving yourself that permission to play...

  14. Yours is such a a tactile world Robyn...i drink it all in...the wood, the shavings of wood, the patterns on things, the discovered pieces,the tools....!
    If I walked into your work and living spaces I would probably be running my fingers over all these things and absorbing them long after I'd left.
    The references to Donna on the moon had to be explored. Many years ago I became very partial to well written books on astrology . The symbolism was rich and the ideas seeped into my mind and gave me a stronger appreciation of the cultural inheritance across time and place and how saturated past cultures were in understandings about things like the Moon. One title I recall that spoke to me was "being a lunar type in a solar world. 20 years ago that seemed to speak so loudly... but tides have changed and one does not feel the world is so solar now nor I so lunar.
    Interesting to be taken into those thoughts presented by Donna.
    Thanks for a lovely post Robyn,

  15. Wonderful post! I look forward to following the links and especially to seeing your quilt progress. Thought I'd pass along Leroy Setziol's name. I imagine you are familiar with this Pacific Northwest carver's work. He had a very long and productive life. http://www.dougmeyer.net/setziol/. I wasn't too successful finding photos online of his installations but there are many in public and private spaces throughout the Northwest and beyond. Thanks for your wonderul blog! Gloria

  16. Prayers for our Daughters brings tears to my eyes. That's what art is about.

    Consider the power of a social mindset.

    And art has power to say "really look at this. is this what you really want?"

  17. Robyn, the idea of the "wooden quilt" seems like such a natural outgrowth of your last post where you were "sewing wood." I've been working with panels that I join together after accumulating them. For me, the idea is very much related to the notion of a journal, each block being a day--or a period of time. Do you think your quilt & the progress of accruing blocks is tied into your observance of the moon? All very wonderful and it makes me want to head right up to my studio.

  18. I love the idea of a quilt - especially with your wooden stitching, but ouch - my fingers hurt just thinking of all that pulling wire!

  19. How wonderful to see your process and work.. I love that folk art doll-- would love to find one too... glad you got ETC.. I go through it often too.. and I love your art piece-- so imbued with meaning and emotion.

  20. Strictly splendid idea, the wooden quilt.Eager to see it, when you get started.
    Love your find of the doll,,and
    Prayers for our Daughters is just awesome,,both the piece and the title.

  21. that i would love to see robyn, the wooden quilt especially coming from you.
    the totem is grand, and talking about the genocide i agree with priya, and the truth is that only the women themselves can make that change.
    they need to stand more for themselves and above all else learn to be independant.

    and oooooh look at jasper's eyes.

  22. Robyn
    This is such a thoughtful and tender post...I love seeing your work in progress...the juxtaposition of hard and soft is evident both in the beauty that you bring as well as within the comments/responses...carved wood and quilts: one wouldn't usually consider those two to be connected and yet look at what you are imagining. So powerful and feminine.
    The topic of female genocide...killing the soft and nurturing side is something we often do, albeit unwittingly to ourselves...and to one another. The world shows us where we are as individuals and as a collective, no?

    I have found, as an artist, a wonderful gentle power in following the moon...not as a science, per se, but rather as a metaphor...as a creative symbol dancing about in the heavens.

    Let's look up. And let's imagine that we are each looking up. And let's imagine that we are each finding our way: through the work of our hearts and our hands and our community, to balance the hard and the soft. To love what we can share and to help share that love...
    As you do each time you bring your brilliance to us all...thank you Robyn.


  23. I love the idea of a quilt out of your cut offs. That is how quilts used to be made, from leftovers of sewing projects. I can envision these cut offs "sewn" together with rusty wire. I can't wait to see it completed. This totem is beautiful yet sad because of what inspired you to do it. A wonderful tribute to those lost souls. Autumn is my favorite time of year too. Have fun.

  24. Many wonderful ideas you have shared. I was very touched by your positioning of the little armless doll. That image is very powerful. Endearing and distressing.

  25. It is a pleasure to read your post Robyn and to learn something of your artistic philosophy - I find it very inspiring.

  26. Another fabulous post full of thoughtful responses as well...women do indeed censor and restrict themselves because many have only that as an example of how to be accepted...I love the wooden quilt idea and the totem is tender and strong...

  27. You exemplify what being an artist is all about. I am one of your biggest fans.

  28. like so many others I know your quilt will be powerful! Can not wait to see this evolution.

    Love your totem for the daughters--for so long for so long. When will it Stop?!

    I enjoyed the moon link. I don't know much about moon cycles but the moon is beautiful and so affects the tides so it must represent energy the universe touches us with too. Like u I am most invigorated creatively in Autumn and winter. The cool opens me the heat lulls dreaminess and sensuality of feeling wind water sun shade etc. I am going to read more of the link. Beatifully written there as always is here. A post full of Thanda thanda.

  29. Such a lovely post, Robyn. I feel the rhythms, and surfaces of the wooden carvings. I love the patinaed doll and your totem "Prayer for our Daughters". There are so many layers to this post; I could spend quite some time enjoying....thand you for sharing so much with us.

  30. Jo, you have more than many smidgens of talent!!! Actually ...delete smidgen and replace it with buckets. I know what you mean about the swooning over Etc. Gorgeous book!

    Chris, see how we influence each other?

    Toni, it's a limberjack doll but I'm not sure of the age or even if it IS American folk art, but I love it the more I look at it.

    Soraya, I've thought so much about it since you first mentioned it a month ago and thank YOU for making us more aware.

    Lyle, yes this is the doll I mentioned. It's similar to the dolls on Lost Found Art. I wrote a post a few months back with a photo of their limberjack dolls. Thats when I fell in love with them and couldn't believe my eyes when I walked into the junk shop and there she was hanging from the rafters.

    Thanks Jacky. I realized at the end of this post that now more than ever we are influenced and inspired by each others blogs. Blogging is an unexpected gift. I had no idea of the impact it would make on my life.

    Ro, such a great book isn't it?

    Karin, I'm feeling very serene at the moment .... loving the slow carving.

    Thespa, thank you so much!

    A Creative Dream, women as the bearer of future souls .... I love that! Thank you.
    The situation in China has worried me too. Its mind boggling that people still think like this.

    Priya, I've been wondering what you would say about such a situation, knowing of course that you would have strong feelings against it. It is incredible that it is not spoken about that often and as you say the mindset has to be changed. It's something that really has weighed heavily on my heart so I can only imagine how Indian women must feel.

    Cat, if we can get Etcetera here in South Africa I'm sure you will find it soon. I would love to know how many copies have been sold. Surely it's a best seller! Yes, Donna is wonderful! Do you receive her newsletter?

    India, that is for sure! Permission to play!

    Sophie, thank you. When i was a child I remember the farmers talking about planting according to the moon and it has stayed in my mind since then ..... but I'm wondering what took me so long to find out more about it because I'm finding it so interesting.

    Gloria, thanks so much for the link. A new artist for me and I'm bowled over by Setziol's work.

    Leslie, considering the power of a social mindset brings tears to MY eyes. How do you fight against a mindset?

    Hannah, reading Donna's posts about the moon phases has certainly given me plenty of food for thought. The last three posts have described exactly how I have been feeling about my work so perhaps it IS all tied in with my work. Very interesting!

    Heather, I think I will have to use less wire and more twine ..... or glue? Glue doesn't sound so exciting though does it?

    Donna, I'm very surprised you don't have a collection of folk art
    dolls since we share so many passions. Looking into your home is one big sigh of recognition.

    Babs, thank you.

    Megha, it must be very daunting to try to change such a mindset but how else if not from the women themselves.

    Donna, whilst I was carving that totem I felt so strongly connected to the women of India.
    Yes, lets look up and imagine that we are all looking up and connecting and finding our way. A powerful thought, Donna.

    Thanks Lisa at Greenbow, nothing is wasted in my offcut box!

    Terry, yes the armless doll .... a symbol.

    Thanks so much Weaver.

    Lrc, exactly .... women do indeed censor themselves because they know no other way.

    Zappha, :-) :-) :-)

    Mansuetude, I am imagining the full moon's reflection in your beautiful river. Thanda thanda ...

    Maggie, thank YOU for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts.


  31. A post all about you and your work...magic! Easy to love the spirit of 'Prayers for our Daughters'.
    I have been following Spirit Cloth for ages and find her site sooooooooo alive and whole and creative.
    We await the 'quilt' Thank you for this sharing.

  32. Very very inspiring. I love the new totem.The quilting idea is fantastic and I am waiting with anticipation to see it.

    regards Dave

  33. such deep exploration and unfurling happening here in your creative soul work...may you always find your sacred rhythm within the changing face of the moon.

  34. I am so inspired by everything I see here. And along with the wonderful artists you highlight here, it is good to once again see your amazing work. I cannot wait to see the quilt completed!

  35. I'm loving your work!
    I'm coming back to be inspired again very soon. I have a carpenter in the house, so "wood is good" as long been a mantra. We particularly love old wood, reused or weathered. So i adore the idea of stitching it.
    See you again.

  36. So lovely to see so much of your work here Robyn! I'm lapping up every bit! Love the idea of a wooden quilt, it's sounds like it would be strong and protecting. I adore your totem too, you've got such a unique gift and we're lucky you share it with us!

  37. it's always a treat to see your talented works featured... everything you do is unique and inspiring and i never tire of seeing your stunning creations. i know your quilt will be a magnificent work of art when you finish. love the totem.. the colored beads around the neck and the symbolism...
    we visited bullies last week...one pup and 8 adults.. we were in heaven..such funny characters they all were!!

  38. Robyn, you always inspire me greatly. The daughters totem is so emotionally touching, an exquisite piece. I've been going through the same sort of exploration phase that you have, but I think you're getting to the fruition part of it before me! Your quilt idea is exciting; it allows you to play, and then possibly make something of the results. I can't wait to see how this idea plays out! keep following the moon, Donna's advice is excellent, always!

  39. Down with a cold after my inland adventures so only just catching up. Posted something to you on Friday, hope it doesnt take for ever!

  40. Hello Robyn, Just catching up on your posts. I loved reading about the symbolization in your gate carvings and I can't wait to see your wooden quilt. Keep dreaming and creating. Chris

  41. Thank you for sharing your great art .
    I am so impressed of your carving and are looking foreward to se the wooden quilt !
    So happy for you to find the doll, it is so nice, I wish to find a doll like this !

    Have a creative flow !

    Best from Liv :-)

  42. First of all I must say how much I'm impressed by this folk-art doll. I think it's unfinished, because there're no places prepared for the arms. I find it absolutely suitable for puppet theatre - the jointings of its legs seem perfect. What an exciting find!
    I like the idea for a wooden quilt very interesting and, obviously, inspiring for you! What wood do you use for the offcuts? It's interesting to know whether we have it in Bulgaria...:-)
    What about the "enjoying of the dance" - I understand the phrase pretty well. This is the process of creating, not the final result. For me these are the rehearsals - sometimes too heavy, sometimes extremely pleasant, but always exciting. The process of "making" things, "giving birth" to them. Oh, how sweet it can be!

  43. Robyn, this piece is so wonderful. I love the color of the wood. I have so much admiration for your work. I really love wood in all its forms. I am happy to see your new work.

  44. Love that your creative juices are bubbling. Also love that folk art doll! I was so intrigued with the last post and the idea of sewing the wood. Isn't the idea of wooden quilts divine? I've recently considered a similar technique for a large wall that is at the end of my garden. It would be a planned piece-in-parts. I've also considered something similar to what you are thinking, I think... something more spontaneous, pieces built as individual pieces and ultimately put together with others... more random. Sounds like fun, Robyn... good luck with it!

  45. Adding my prayers to those voices already uplifted...

    Please continue to share your dance...

  46. love that you have new ideas and fervor :) looks like a beautiful start robyn!

  47. I really like the thought of a wooden quilt Robyn. Very unusual. I look forward to seeing what you do with it. Prayers for out Daughters is a beautiful totem. I will go over and read the post you refer to.

  48. I enjoyed reading about your creative process. The weather is a big factor in my sense of well being too. When the sun shines and the air has a bit of nip in it, I feel so alive and energized. Our summer heat gets to me in a negative way. I just want to stay inside and avoid everything that makes me sweat. I love the idea of a quilt. It takes the idea of sewing wood a little further. Can't wait to see more of your work in progress.

  49. Your creativity is magnificent
    and overflows across the world to me here....
    Beautiful post,
    the squares,
    your new totem "prayers for our daughters"
    the exotic green eyed cat
    and your finds.
    I have ordered Etcetera,
    but it is coming all the way from Germany
    I wish you magical days of wood carving
    and cool nights of your south African autumn...

  50. Wonderful



  51. Mary Ann, I enjoyed taking the photographs and then the post just fell into place.

    Dave, thanks so much!

    Laura, the way I'm working right now is very relaxing. Exploration and unfurling ... I like that.

    Thanks Seth.

    Dirty Dolly Design, yes, wood is good :-)

    Lucky Dip Lisa, thanks so much. I feel lucky to be a part of such a generous, sharing comminity.

    Thanks Lisa. Aren't they funny characters and all so different. I can't wait to see photos of your new bully when he arrives.

    Sharmon, I'm just as interested to see how the quilt pans out and am trying to let it just happen without too much planning.

    Penny, hope your cold clears soon. Thanks so much for sending the "something" :-)

    Chris, it seems like months since we chatted. Hope you are well.

    Liv, thank YOU for stopping by. I'm also impressed with your beautiful work.

    Rossichka, hope you got my email.

    Miki, thanks so much. Time is flying by and it seems like such a long time since Refresh.

    Virginia, we will have to compare notes furthjer down the line :-)

    DJ, how are you? We need to catch up!

    Paula, it's great to be back in the flow!

    Cathy, the idea has been brewing for a while but just lately I realized I already had quite a few "patches" and the idea is taking off again.

  52. Stevie, oh boy, summer heat makes me feel negative too so I'm really making the most of this glorious weather.

    Roxanne, I was so surprised (and thrilled) to see Etcetera had arrived in South Africa because so many people in different parts of the world mentioned it was difficult to find. You're in for such a treat when your copy arrives.

    Skizo, thank you!

  53. I know I invariabley just say Thankyou for such grand posting, but I do really mean it.

    Have spent most of my day sorting out the chaos in my studio! So, to come in and read this has bean heaven sent!

    I am now going to seek out the book. Your totem is beautiful and very touching.

  54. Robyn....l just love your work..thank you for sharing it all with usx Lyndax
    http://tryingtocreatearteveryday.blogspot.com my art and craft blog
    http://chocolatelifeandjaxx.blogspot.com daily photographic blog
    enjoyxx lynda

  55. arh! wonderful idea! can't wait for the result! I hope you use the stitch idea somewhere, but what ever you do, it'll be great!

  56. A very special new totem. Your patchwork idea is neat. I know that will turn out well. I'm also a moon follower. I can sense that the body reacts to the different phases. On full moon, I like quiet and stillness.