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


No pictures today. I can’t see well enough to go searching for them. You see, I had cataract surgery on Tuesday morning on my left eye. I’ll have the right eye done on the 23rd. I went to the drug store yesterday to get some reading glasses, but they don’t really help much since I need one level in one eye and a different level in the other eye, and they don’t sell them that way. Oh well. All should be back to semi-normal by the end of the month.

I hear from my tech guru, Christina, that my blog posts will now be going out to you every week, if I have, in fact, posted anything. I’ll try to do better next week and find some photos for you. Prior to the surgery, I was working diligently on some samples for my class this summer at the Grunewald Guild. If I set my camera up for auto-focus, perhaps I can get some pictures of that work to post.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with a quote I ran into a while back, from Nietzsche:

“We have art so that we shall not die of reality.”

Be well, my little chickadees! (So glad I learned to touch type all those years ago! Hoping spell-check did it’s job and fixed all my errors!)

Peace, Larkin

Spring Has Sprung

Here in the Pacific NorthWet, we expect spring to be chilly and drizzly. But for the next few days, at least, we are expecting warmer than normal temperatures and clear blue skies. This is a great opportunity to get out in the yard, take a long walk, visit the zoo – anything outdoors. Because we know in our hearts that the rain will return.

At the top of this blog is a row of photos of my work. On the far right side is a large neckpiece called “Spring Rain”. For me, one of the surest signs that spring is on the way is the appearance of the lowly crocus. They can run the gamut of purples, white and yellows, and are cheerful little hints of good things to come. They are popping up all over the place, and they inspired the color choices for that neckpiece.

Meanwhile, while digging around in the basement (aka studio) I ran into a box of beaded pieces that were finished, but had never been photographed. Not for a moment would I profess to being a good product photographer (Van was great at it and did all my photography until he got too sick to handle it). And sometime down the road, I hope to get some lessons from my brother about set up and lighting. But for now, here are a few not-so-great photos from the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time box.

Winged Mystery
Ice Storm
Amber & Pearls

That’s all for now, my little chickadees. With any luck at all, everything will work so that you received this in your email in-box.

Be well, create beauty, and enjoy springtime (whenever it gets to you)!


Snow Days

Recently, the Pacific Northwest suffered one of the worst snow events in recent memory.  I heard that they had to go back to 1949 to find a worse storm on record.  Now I understand that we don’t get the winter weather that is found in other parts of the country, and believe me, I sympathize.  But the truth of the matter is, Seattle and environs are just not prepared for serious winter weather because we simply don’t get it very often.  There are lots of hills around here, and lots of transplants from other places who don’t know how to deal with our particular mix of wet, heavy snow and underlying ice.  The best approach is to get everyone indoors, and stay there until things start to get better.

Which is what we did.  My approach was to watch some old movies and binge-watch some favorite old TV shows while catching up on some handwork.  One of the projects I picked up to finish had actually been hanging around since 2016.  I know this because at some point in the construction, I actually signed and dated it with my sewing machine.

This is the latest in my Treasure Box series, and is about 6″ square.  I love the color scheme of the fabric collage, which was exuberantly free motion stitched.  The top was beaded by hand, and the wonderful ceramic face is by Diane Briegleb.

I worked on a few other projects during the snow, but none of them got finished except this one.  By the way, the signature is on the bottom of the box where no one will see it unless they pick it up and look.

Winter isn’t over yet, so stay warm, dry, safe, and healthy, my little chickadees!



Something of a Challenge – Part 2

Back in December I wrote about a challenge idea that was floated on the QuiltArt list (see December 21, 2018 post for details) and promised to keep you up to date on my progress and thinking.  So, here’s what I have so far:  the background collage of an assortment of yellows from my stash.  This is not pieced, it is fused collage.  All the pieces were cut with scissors, not a rotary cutter, so they would be a bit wonky rather than perfectly straight.  It is currently a rectangle, but I am thinking I might cut it down to a square when all is said and done.  The circular space is yellowish beige, but will probably not be very visible when I add the next layer.  I just wanted to give myself some parameters to work with.  I just noticed that it looks really orange on this turquoise background.  (Please forgive me.  I haven’t had my lesson on color correcting yet, but that’s on the agenda.)

Background collage – yellow by Larkin Jean Van Horn

Elsewhere in the studio, I have been working on samples for a class I will teach this summer at the Grunewald Guild.  Here’s the direct link to class information:

That’s all for now, my little chickadees.  Be well, stay warm, and do a little something creative every day!


Everyone Has A Story

A few days ago, I received a lovely email from someone who had seen one of my exhibits at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook, Oregon.  One of the pieces in the exhibit was called “Everyone Has A Story” and was comprised of a bare manzanita branch covered with a lot of very small beaded dolls, ranging in length from 1-1/4″ to 3-1/2″.

The artwork moved this viewer to write a poem about it, which he wrote to share with me after he rediscovered it and typed it up.  I asked his permission to share it with you here, and he has graciously agreed.

Everyone Has A Story to Tell
by Ryan James

Whispers from the beaded dolls hanging on the tree
“Look closer,”
Stories hinted at
Love, Joy Laughter
Forest, Green Man, Growth, Rain
From Darkness to Rebirth – Forgiveness – Healing
Ocean walk, mist rain, sand
Sun, warmth, light
Moon, womb, life
Whispers from the beaded dolls hanging on the tree
“Look closer,”
Everyone has a story

Thank you, Ryan, for sharing your poem and allowing me to use it here.  I am always delighted to hear what people think about my work, even if their interpretation differs from mine or they just flat out don’t care for it.  Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone is entitled to an opinion.

And so, my little chickadees, if you have seen something that moves you or inspires you, consider telling the artist about your reaction to their work.  Even though we might not really like to hear that you think it belonged in the rubbish bin, at least we will know that you thought about it – that it moved you in some way.



On The Twelfth Day of Christmas . . .

when our true love sends us a truly bizarre list of gifts, we come officially to the end of the Christmas season.  (If you haven’t heard the Allan Sherman version of that song, do yourself a favor and find it someplace.  Talk about a bizarre list!) For some, this is called the Feast of the Epiphany, the day the three wise men arrived at Bethlehem.  For some, it’s the last day to get the holiday decorations back in their boxes and stashed away for another eleven months.  For some, it’s time to add up the bills and start preparations to pay taxes.  (Ugh!)

And for some of us, it’s time to take stock of the year just past and think about the year to come.  I don’t make resolutions, but I do list some goals for the year.  Some involve studio work, learning more about this thing called a blog, making smarter decisions in some areas, doing a little traveling, and trying some new things.

But most of all, to focus on things about which I can actually make a difference – to show more compassion and kindness, to be generous to those who need a wee bit of help, to stop feeling guilty about taking time for introspection, to find a more peaceful way to go about my days.

And so, my wish for you, my little chickadees, is to find peace and hope in the new year, and a way to reach some of your own goals.