Archive for the ‘Her Art’ Category

The Yurt

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The Yurt began it’s life as a concept, and as a Tipi.TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

The concept was the circle.  The sacred circle, the circle of life, the ritual circle.  Rae’s Tipi was at the end of its useful life, but the goddess figures from its interior were mostly still OK.  The Tipi was a home and a sacred space.  Living and worshiping in the round fascinated Rae, and she was drawn to the yurt concept even when she was working on the Tipi. She collected pictures and articles,  looked for details of construction, etc.  Rae bought a book in 2003: Tipis & Yurts: Authentic designs for Circular Shelters.

She considered buying a Yurt, or a Yurt kit, but the expense was considerable, and we had most of the skills.  Rae wrote to a yurt company for info, and they sent her a sample of their construction of the khans, the latticework that comprises the frame of the yurt.  It was made of clear pine 1 X 2, riveted with large aluminum rivets.  Most of the do-it-yourself instructions had either traditional string/twine, or 1/4″ bolts (which leave a lot of ends, can work their way loose, and added up to a LOT of bolts.
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So we found a place that sold rivets wholesale, took our sample, found a match and bought 1000 plus an industrial rivet tool.  1 x 2 lumber is very seldom clear, but you can find 2X6 that is fairly knot-free, so we figured out the ideal width for the rivets (about 5/8″), and ripped a mess of them from 2X6 Douglas fir, set up a jig to drill the holes in exactly the same place in each piece, and riveted them together.  For ease of storage, we divided the khans into 2 parts, connected with bolts.  The calculations for where the holes went, were complicated, had to take into account the height we wanted (finished size with the roof had to fit into a standard room with 8′ ceiling), the circumference (she chose a 13′ circle, of course) minus the door, etc.

Black canvas was found for the walls, and sewed into 6′ by 37′ panels, one for the inside, one for the outside.  A waterproof top was found, and made into a form-fitting dome by cutting a wedge to the center, and having that heat-sealed by a local boat-cover maker (Marine Tops Unlimited, thanks Steve!).TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

We devised a method for rafter attachment at the center, non-traditional since no smoke hole was needed, added a track lighting setup, and attached a couple of hundred eye-hooks to the underside of the rafters, to hang  small plexiglass mirrors, cut into random shapes to represent broken stained glass, representing the “stained glass ceiling” limiting women’s roles in mainstream religion (picture below).  The door frame and door were designed and decorated, the 5 individual goddess figurines attached to the canvas, and it was ready to go!
yurt_open yurtgoddessmirror  glassceiling

 

The goddesses all had upraised arms, forming crescents around a circular mirror in place of a face.  each piece is special, and has a story.  Earth,  Spider, Fire, Water, and Buffalo.  They include stuffed-work, embroidery, bead-work, shells, and felting.

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The interior floor is also canvas, with a painted pentagram, and religious symbols from multiple traditions stenciled around the edges.
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This was Rae’s largest piece.  We are considering taking the 5 goddess figures and mounting them separately on frames, and offering them for sale.

Celtic Totem

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

OK, so one more Broom, then perhaps I’ll turn to some of Rae’s other  themes, especially if I start getting more feedback.  Any requests?  Cabinets, Cauldrons, Mirrors, Weavings, Copper Electroforms?  Eventually I’ll get them all.

Celtic Totem

Celtic Totem

The Celtic Totem, I think, was the first piece Rae did in Basswood.   She also used broomcorn that we grew in our garden plot at Eagle heights.  (The poor raccoons, who usually got most of the sweetcorn folks planted there, were so confused, it just kept growing taller, and never had any ears to steal!)

It was the most complex carving she did to that date, too, because it was to tell a story.  One that she related many times, unlike most of her other pieces, where if she told the story, it was to an individual or small group, and seldom repeated.

The story is a retelling of one she heard as a child, from her Irish ancestry.  As I recall it:

“Long ago, Ireland was a cold and rock island.  The cold, the poor soil, and the weather made it hard to live there.  The women cried because their children went hungry.  “

Base to Celtic Totem

Base to Celtic Totem

The base, with the homegrown broomcorn, carved to represent a rocky, mountainous island.

“Their tears fell through cracks in the earth and woke a Dragon sleeping there, who then heard their cries.   Out of compassion, she used her fiery breath to warm the land from beneath, making the island lush and green.”

“The women learned the power in their bodies,  had many children, and learned from the island.  They learned to grow food, to raise families.  They grew numerous.dragon-woman

From the wolf, they learned about community, about sharing and protecting each other.  And so they lived their lives well till they died, when the Raven took their souls back to the Earth.”

Celtic Totem top

Celtic Totem top

The broom “stick” is one large piece of basswood.  Rae drew the design on a large strip of paper, transfered it using carbon paper t the front, then flipped both wood and paper to do the same on the back, (just the outline), then sketched in the things that would be viewed on the back.  on each side she did similar sketches, then started removing large chunks of wood.

The carving process

The carving process

At some point, I remember coming up with the idea to mount the piece vertically, so we created a set of braces with “lazy-susan” bearings, and used a small pneumatic jack to tighten the whole thing up against a ceiling joist in the garage.

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Rae was very proud of this piece.  She liked her Irish heritage, the symbols all had special power for her, and she wanted to do a Sheela-na-gig ever since she first came on them in her research.  A review of her show by a reporter from a Madison newspaper, I think, called it a “broom for a god”.