‘Tis the Season

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s kind of hard to escape the fact that today is Christmas Eve. The stores are still bleating at us that it’s the last day to shop. Carols are still assaulting our eardrums wherever we go (some of them quite wondrous, and others truly insipid). Our email boxes are overloaded with offers to deliver whatever we order by tomorrow.

Being a fan of movies, I am reminded this year of the last scene of a Bill Murray film called “Scrooged”, a modern version of Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”. Bill makes this wonderful declaration after having been visited by the three ghosts: “It’s Christmas Eve. It’s not too late. It’s the one night of the year that we act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we share a little more. For a couple of hours of the year, we are the people we always hoped we would be. It’s a miracle.”

In this season of light, however you choose to celebrate, I wish for you a little wonder and magic, the love of family and friends, and maybe a small miracle.

Peace and many blessings, my little chickadees. Larkin

Another UFO (UnFinished Object)

Here’s another lovely little piece from the UFO pile. This one only needed binding, and was ready to move on. In this case, it is a gift for the woman who made the ceramic face, my friend Sarah Jane. I called it “Imagination” because SJ is so full of creative ideas.

“Imagination” by Larkin Jean Van Horn
“Imagination” (detail) by Larkin Jean Van Horn, Ceramic Face by Sarah Jane

For those who like to know these things, the background is fused fabric collage in hand dyed and commercial cottons, and the shattered circle is hand dyed silk organza.

Be well, my little chickadees!

Exhibit at Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Art Museum

Serendipity is a wonderful thing! I recently had a delightful conversation with Amy Green, the Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Art Museum in LaConner, Washington, and took along my “Peace” series to show her. As it turned out, she was in need of something to hang in the first floor Landmark gallery for the holidays, and the series is now hanging until January 18, 2020. The opening reception will be December 7th from 3 to 5 p.m., and will coincide with the museum’s annual open house, where there will goodies and activities for everyone. Visit the museum website for more information: www.qfamuseum.org

I plan to be there for a good chunk of the day, and will hope to see you there! I am absolutely thrilled that these small pieces will finally have a chance to be seen. The piece below includes a ceramic medallion that was made by my friend Sarah Jane.

Peace and many blessings, my little chickadees!

Make Art, Make Peace

From the UFO Pile

Among other things, lately, I have been working on some small treasures from the UFO (Un-Finished Objects) pile. This piece only needed minimal beading, label/sleeve/binding, and was quickly done. Why it landed in the UFO pile is another story, and I couldn’t really tell you exactly when I started it, but the label will say it was finished in 2019. The title is “Woman at the Wall”, and the beautiful porcelain face was made by Diane Briegleb. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Wishing all my little chickadees a very happy Thanksgiving. Be good to yourselves, and travel safely.

Peace, Larkin

Woman at the Wall
Woman at the Wall – detail

Summer Work – Part 3

Today I am sending photos of the third category of 3-D work from this summer – boxes and reliquaries. Now at first glance, a reliquary might look like any other box. (Not necessarily, and if you want to see some really interesting shapes, just do a search on the word Reliquary!) What distinguishes it is not it’s outward appearance, but it’s purpose and contents. If a vessel is anything that will hold or contain anything else, and a shrine is anything that commemorates or memorializes a person, place, or event, a reliquary combines the two: a container that memorializes.

Historical Note: Traditionally, reliquaries were used to house some relic from a saint or other holy person (Saint Someone’s knuckle bone, or the hair of Saint Somebody), and were held to be holy by association. One thing they all had in common was that the exterior of the container was extravagantly embellished with gold leaf, jewels, ivory, or whatever was precious. By contrast, the interior was plain and ordinary, to denote the humility of the saint.

I have made quite a number of boxes over the years, and a couple of them fall into the category of reliquary. One was created to hold a necklace that was made of crystals from a necklace belonging to my paternal grandmother. The other was created to commemorate my 60th year, and contains small beaded artworks made each month during that year. So, without further ado, here are a few from this summer. Enjoy!

Treasure Box 15
Treasure Box 13
Leave Them to Heaven
Internal Energy
Sometimes We Weep

Summer Work – Part 2

This next collection of photos falls into the general category of vases or vessels. I like the term vessels because it doesn’t carry the idea that a vase is something that holds water and is used for lovely bouquets of summer roses (as much as I love summer roses). A general definition that I like is that a vessel is anything that will hold or contain anything else. A couple of examples I use would be a leaf holding rainwater or a pot that holds pencils or paintbrushes. Certainly these fabric vessels would hold a bouquet, but would need a glass sleeve inserted first to avoid the inevitable leakage. These are a few from the summer’s work. Enjoy!

Octopus and Sea Stars
Sunshine and Rain
Save This
Falling Fast

Summer Work – Part 1

The next few posts will be mostly pictures of the work I did to get ready for my week long class at the Grunewald Guild this summer, as well as a few pieces that got finished during that week. I had six students who had lots of great ideas, enthusiasm, and dedication to the work at hand. It was a wonderful teaching experience, in a beautiful place, with a group of new friends.

This first batch is four shrine forms. No matter where we all stand on the subject of religion/faith/spirituality, there is a basic, bare-bones definition of a shrine that rings true for me: A shrine is anything that memorializes or commemorates a person, place, or event.

I wish you all well on this Labor Day weekend, and hope you will find some peace, quiet, and refreshment as we head into the hectic back to school – back to work – end of summer routines. Enjoy the last of the summer sunshine this month as you prepare for the beauty of fall. Be well, my little chickadees!

Guadalupe in the Shadows
Be At Peace
Black Madonna
Old Wisdom (Sculpture by Eloise Krabbenhoft)


Some people love them, and some hate them. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with deadlines. I tend to respond well to those that I impose upon myself, and get a wee bit testy about those that others try to impose upon me.

Having curated several shows myself, I understand the need for deadlines. You need to have all the entries in at a certain time in order to give the jurors time to do their job. You need to receive the accepted works in time so the exhibit can be hung on the appropriate date. And if you want to submit a piece of art to an exhibit, you need to get the thing finished early enough to get it photographed and the paperwork completed in time to send the application. These are external deadlines, set by someone else, which you agree to abide by.

Then there are those deadlines that we impose on ourselves. After several years off the teaching circuit, I will return next week with a class at the Grunewald Guild in Leavenworth, WA. I set a goal for myself to create a number of new samples for the class, and just this afternoon I put the final touches on the last one. Some of the samples will be completed work, and a few will be in various stages of completion for demonstration purposes. The thing is, I could have finished a week ago. On my work schedule, I knew I had tomorrow penciled in for photography. So, what did I do? I put off finishing the last piece until today. What’s with that? I have no idea, but I tend to do it a lot. Rather than finishing early, I dawdle until the last minute and then get it done.

And why did I schedule photography of these class samples before leaving for the teaching gig? Because I learned the hard way that if I take all these new pieces with me, there is always the possibility that someone might want to buy one, and I would come home without it, and therefore not have a photo for the archives. Lesson learned. Anyway, here’s a quick snapshot of about half the new finished pieces waiting for tomorrow’s date in front of the camera.

Waiting for Photography

Summer has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. New things are blooming almost every day. The raspberries are ripening and delicious. Wherever you may be, and whatever you are doing, please take a moment or two every day to enjoy a wee bit of nature.

Be well, my little chickadees!


Sketchbooks, Journals, Etc.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I started being bombarded by people telling me that if I wanted to be a REAL artist, I had to carry a sketchbook with me everywhere, sit on park benches and draw lifelike pictures of what I saw. Then the journal people told me that in order to be a REAL artist, I had to keep a journal with lots of details about my personal life, my studio practice, and how I felt about all those things. And even though I had been carrying a notebook in my purse for years, that wasn’t good enough. I had to have dedicated sketchbooks and journals. I already had a sore shoulder from carrying too much stuff around, so I hesitated.

But since I hated to dismiss something just because I had never tried it before, I gave it a shot. I kept a journal on my night table and carried a sketchbook in my purse. The journal was the first to fail. I would go for days and then weeks without writing anything. Now, I have kept travel journals in the past, when there was something I considered worthwhile to write down, but how often did I have anything of note go on in my day to day existence? Not very darned often. I got tired of writing: Got up, had three meals during the course of the day, spent some time messing around in the studio, took a walk, read part of a book, fed the dog, went back to bed. That was the end of journaling for me.

The sketchbook was a little more successful, though I sat on very few park benches drawing people walking their dogs. It was more likely that I would notice some pattern on a tree or rock or driftwood and see if I could capture it. Or I would draw some ideas for a future work and make a few notes about it. But mostly the sketchbook became a place to write down peoples’ phone numbers or email addresses. Or make lists of things to do, stuff to get at the grocery store, birthdays I’d better remember, appointments to be entered onto the calendar, and such like things. When the sketchbook was filled up, I would go through it, gather anything I didn’t want to lose and file it in the right place, and tear out any sketches or notes about possible artwork and drop them in a box for future reference. Then I would recycle the rest.

Eventually, I got tired of digging through the box, and bought a big scrapbook, tidied up the scraps of paper, and glued them into the book, which now looks something like this:


Don’t get me wrong. I have great respect for people who love to sketch and keep journals. They are doing things I just couldn’t wrap my head around. I guess I’d rather just dig into the fabric and make something. So no matter where you are on that continuum, I wish you joy in what you are doing, and great creative leaps, and much peace.

Be well, my little chickadees!


Work In Progress

Before my cataract surgery, I was hard at work on samples for my week long class at the Grunewald Guild. I need not only completed work, but also some pieces that are partially finished so that I may demonstrate the process for students.

The class this summer is called Fabric Collage in 3-D, and we will focus on structures, containers, and whatever the students may design. This afternoon, I set my camera up for auto-focus, since my eyes are not quite trustworthy yet, and took pictures of three pieces that are, literally, in pieces.

The first is one side of what will be a five-sided vase. The blue fabric was dyed in the microwave earlier this year. I found the ceramic octopus at Shipwreck Beads.

The second will be the top of a box, and is collaged of an assortment of fabrics and embellished with a metal tree charm and glass beads.

The third will be the back wall of a small shrine. The face was created by Diane Briegleb. The bead embroidery section was done on a separate piece of Timtex and then mounted on the fabric collage background.

I am very much looking forward to being able to see well enough to thread a needle again. The second surgery is next week, so things are moving along in the right direction.

Be well, my little chickadees!

Peace, Larkin