Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Mild Obsession or Two

If you know me, you know that I love houses. Especially old houses with lots of personality. If they still have their original details all the better.
The root of this obsession goes back to my childhood and my other obsession, reading.
Reading was and is an addiction I'll happily have for the rest of my life, and when I was old enough to hold a book on my own it was fairy tales, ghost stories and mysteries that held my attention...if the story had a house in it it was golden!
I had a favorite book of fairy tales I believe was called "Fairy Tales From Around the World" that I read so often I wore it out.
My favorite story was called, "Baba Yaga" and I read it so many times I could practically recite it word for word.
As an adult, I have done a lot of research on goddesses, witches and wise women and have found none as mercurial and ambiguous as Baba Yaga.
There are many, many stories in the Slavic culture about Baba Yaga, who is portrayed as a witch, a goddess, a villain, a protector of forest and wildlife, a cannibal, a rescuer of children, a child stealer...the list goes on and on. What is a constant in all the stories is that she is fierce and powerful.
As a child, in my little world with my one story about her I was fascinated.
She scared the hell out of me and I loved her at the same time.

What I thought was especially wonderful about Baba Yaga was her house.

She lived in the forest in a house that had chicken feet. Yep, chicken feet! That did it for me....a house with chicken feet?!! Coolest thing ever.
Perhaps it's rare when a person realizes and remembers a passion when it's born, but that was one of those moments for me.
When I was a teenager, my friends were all reading "Tiger Beat" magazine and I was trolling over those house plans magazines, learning about floor plans and traffic flow and kitchen foot prints.

As an artist,  many of the things I make are centered on or around the theme of houses. And I am as curious about what is in or around a house (like libraries or gardens) as the stories about the folks who live in them.
When I make a house, there is usually a story that inspired it. Most times they are something from my imagination, but much of what inspires me are real houses that I've seen or been in that evoke a feeling or spark something off and away I go. One of those houses is the one I live in. It's a rambley old Tudor with a big wild garden and it's filled with many hundreds of books. A constant source of inspiration for me.
Sometimes my houses have feet......

(This one also serves as the header for my's one of my favorites)

And are made from polymer clay.

Some have taken the form of house shaped shrines,

Some are cards or chunky houses.

Sorry about how blue this one is. Some of these pics are old and i didn't know much about taking pictures way back when!
(I still don't know much, but I've learned some)

I make a lot of precious metal clay jewelry and houses play a big role in my designs.

Recently, I've been in a bit of an artistic doldrums and have gained a lot of inspiration from wonderful artists like Jane Davenport, who inspired me to draw this girl who I've scanned into my computer and begun to play a game with. I put her in many projects in as many different ways I can think of. Kind of my own 'Where's Waldo?"

This is the original drawing;
You can see her in a couple of different applications Here and Here.
Another artist I find inspiring is Mary Jane Chadbourne whose workshops on the  Artful Gathering Retreats
have done a lot for getting me out of my artsy slump. The previous post, Lady Divina's Cupboard and a little bit extra  has a couple of pics at the bottom of houses inspired by Mary Jane's workshop, Tinytopia on Artful Gathering Retreats. (see link above)

Another huge inspiration for me was a recent visit to the UK. My husband and I took a glorious three week trip to England and the architecture, age and character of the houses and buildings there gave me such a lift, (the city of York and the surrounding area especially captured my heart) I haven't stopped working since we got back.
Here is a very bad picture of a very messy work table and some work in progress.

These guys are part of a collection I've begun making since our return from the UK. 
I've turned almost exclusively to wood as sadly, I've become sensitive to polymer clay and can only work with it occasionally now. I have to say that although I miss the flexibility of the clay, I'm loving the sturdy permanence of wood and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.
Seems like the traveling bug has bitten and all my houses are on the move!
Well, that and my fascination with Baba Yaga has never waned, so houses with feet or wheels?
Coolest thing ever.

It's been fun indulging in my house obsession and I thank you for visiting and sharing some of it with me!


Sande said...

My jaw is on my dropped in awe of your houses. My oldest daughter and I love houses. We first got hooked on birdhouses and I could have a whole room of them.

All of them are just amazing and adorable. I love the second one with the boots on and would die to have one.

Wow...just wow.!

Val said...

I'm going to have to Google Baba Yaga now. I love your houses with feet - what a brilliant idea! Yes, the buildings in the UK have such character, and so do your little houses.

It's a shame about not being able to use clay anymore, but sometimes it's fun to be forced into trying something new. Plus, wood has such character. I'm sure you'll do some amazing things with it!

Holly M said...

What first brought me to your blog was your Babba Yaga House. That has been a favorite book at my house for a log time. I share your passion for houses and shrines. Your blog brings me much joy and inspiration. Today's post is undoubtedly one of my favorites. Thank you!

Shannon Cooper said...

The elegance of your work repeatedly moves me. Thank you for sharing your talents.