Last Saturday

Remember those awful essays we had to write during the first week of school after having almost three months off? The title was always “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”, and it was required that we all stand up and read ours to the class so the more well-to-do among us could brag about their trips to Italy (or whatever), and the ones unfortunate enough to break a leg (or whatever) could play for sympathy. Yuck!

That’s not what this blog post is about. It’s about keeping your eyes open and noticing what’s going on while you are on your way to or from somewhere. This is what I saw last Saturday:

  • Bright blue sky, interspersed among heavy grey clouds
  • The first rainbow of 2020
  • Snow geese, both in fields and flying overhead
  • The flooded fields of the Skagit Valley
  • Several redtail hawks in trees along the roads, neatly spaced about 1/2 mile apart (they tend to be rather territorial)
  • Great blue herons hunting for lunch in flooded ditches
  • The Skagit River, running high and fast
  • Horses standing in muddy paddocks
  • A fabulously colorful sunset behind Camano Island
  • A large bright white full moon in a deep blue sky

And where was I going to and from, you ask, that I got to see all these marvels? I drove up to LaConner for the opening of a new exhibit by the Whidbey Island Surface Design group (WISD). I was a member of WISD when I lived on the island, and couldn’t pass up a chance to see their new show. And it was great to see some friends and do a little catching up. No photographs permitted, so I don’t have any pictures to show you, but I was blown away, not only by the quality of the work, but also the amazing diversity of style, content, and techniques. For more information, visit the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum website:

That’s all the news for now, my little chickadees! Stay warm and dry, but also take some time to get out there and see what there is to be seen. It can change your mind, your attitude, and your perspective.

Peace, Larkin

Back To Work

It’s nearly the end of January, and time for me to get back to the studio in a more serious way. My exhibit in LaConner has come down, and I have three pieces in the new exhibit on the ground floor which is called “Birds of a Fiber”. If you are in the LaConner area, be sure to drop in at the Pacific Northwest Museum of Quilt and Fiber Arts. I was there while they were hanging the show, and got a preview. There is some truly wonderful work to be seen.

But the fact remains, that I have work to do, and I have been taking it rather easy since Christmas. Partly this is because I got a truly rotten cold in early December that had me coughing day and night for weeks. But also, I tend to take January pretty easy, doing some catch up reading and hanging out with friends (and if truth be told, avoiding driving in the snow. I know, I’m a wimp!).

The work I have to do is part of a series I am working on for an exhibit scheduled for late summer 2021. I have finished the first few, and am pretty happy with the results. The further I go into the series, the more complex and interesting they get. But the early ones were inspired by a simple line drawing in an old sketchbook, that finally had a chance to make it to the work table.

“Trinity” by Larkin Jean Van Horn

Be well, my little chickadees. Stay warm and dry, and mind your health. Peace and many blessings, Larkin.

‘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:

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!