Two Mirror Shirts

October 30, 2008

Three new items to wear this winter, decorated with shisha mirrors.  I went a bit wild with them, since I get all kinds of comments on my weird clothes anyway.  One of the benefits of being “too strange for the Village” (Daniel Deardorff’s words in his book, THE OTHER WITHIN) is that you can wear whatever makes you happy, since everybody will always know you for a freak, even if you are dressed like Them.


LEFT:  Flannel jumper with a flannel shirt.  The jumper has a black band embroidered with red and white just above the hem.  The motif (teardrop/feather/pomegranate seed?) matches the fabric. 

RIGHT:  The black cotton shirt is to wear under the labyrinth dress that I finished a couple of weeks ago.  The dress is shown here:


Copper Pod Knife with Amber

October 26, 2008

This folding knife was made on commission.  It is the same design as my pod knives except that the “pod” or blade keeper is made from recycled copper tubing, slit and polished, flared at the end, and given a slight decorative hammer texture.  The knife (blade and pod) is 3.5″ long.  The rivet is sterling silver.  The chain is copper with tumbled Baltic amber chip beads.  These beads are becoming increasingly difficult to find due to tighter export regulations. Most Baltic amber now enters this country in finished silver jewelry, rather than as the rough pieces or strands of beads that used to be readily available. 


Tiny Cat Claw Knife

October 24, 2008

New today:  Tiny cat claw knife amulet with sterling silver wire and antique African iron bead.  Total length of the pendant is just over 2 inches.  Very nice on the leather cord as a choker; also looks good on woven hemp cord. 

Datura Diversity

October 23, 2008

Three species of Datura enliven summer roadsides in the Southwest. All are low, shrubby annuals that grow only on recently disturbed ground. They have tubular white and purple flowers, prickly seedpods, and leaves that are more or less triangular in shape.  Where I live, the three species are separated by preferred elevation, though there is some overlap.  D. wrightii is the largest and showiest, and tolerates a wide range of elevations from desert to oak woodland.  D. discolor prefers desert grassland, and D. quercifolia grows in grassland, chaparral, and oak woodland.  Of the three, D. discolor is the most similar to the Jimsonweed or Thornapple (D. stramonium), which is the only Datura that grows in most of the eastern U.S.


LEFT:  Datura quercifolia – Oak Leaf Datura:  Flowers 1″ in diameter with pale purple edges.  Deeply lobed leaves.  The oval pods have several very stout spikes of different lengths, and remain upright as they ripen.

CENTER:  Datura discolor – Two-Color Datura:  Flowers 2″ dia. with purple center.  Scalloped leaves.  Round or heart-shaped pods have sturdy spines that are all the same length; pods turn down as they ripen.

RIGHT:  Datura wrightii – Sacred Datura:  Flowers 3″ dia., may have purple edges.  Wavy or slightly lobed leaves.  Spherical pods have many tiny prickles that are all the same length; pods turn down as they ripen.

Copper Cat Mask

October 20, 2008

Just finished this hammered copper cat mask as I begin to prepare for Tucson’s All Souls Procession on November 2.  This procession to honor the dead is an annual event that grows bigger and livelier each year, with a mood somewhere between Mardi Gras and Burning Man.  There are hundreds of people walking (many dressed in skeleton costumes), some of them pulling carettas (wheeled shrines) or carrying giant puppet heads.  Also in the noisy crowd are drummers, dancers, musicians, incense-bearers, and others, turning Tucson’s grim, ugly downtown streets into a chaotic urban gate to the Underworld.  The grand finale is the burning of the Urn, a giant vessel filled with people’s prayers, photos, names of the dead, and other things to be released from the previous year.

The official Tucson All Souls Procession website:

The mask is 6 inches wide and carefully designed and shaped to fit me so I can wear it in the procession or while visiting neighbors on Halloween…and it looks cool hanging on the wall, too.

Mountain Lion Tracks

October 18, 2008

Today we hiked in a sandy wash, shaded with canyon hackberries and desert shrubs among desert grassland hills not far from our house.  Someone else walked here just before we did, probably at sunrise:

These are mountain lion tracks – there were two cats, one slightly smaller than the other, and we followed the footprints for a long time until they disappeared – presumably the cats had wandered into another wash, since these hills are dissected by a maze of narrow, meandering little rocky canyons.  We continued to walk up the one we had chosen for today, hunting stones and ferns, and feeling (and even smelling) the cats who were never far away.

Night Blooming Cereus Fruit

October 17, 2008

Today, while hiking a dirt road on the bajada among prickly pear, yucca, and shrubby mesquite and acacias, we spotted a red glow under a mesquite tree. 

It’s the fruit of a night-blooming cereus, the twiggy cactus that is practically invisible for most of the year except on the night it blooms.  Here’s the fruit and the grayish-green stem up close in the late afternoon light:

It is famous for its glowing white, heavily-scented flowers, but the fruits are rarely photographed. Peniocereus greggii is rather rare and easy to overlook, and I’ve only seen a few wild plants.  They always seem more significant than might be expected from their appearance, perhaps because the thin stems, otherworldly flowers, and ephemeral fruits all spring from a large brown tuber that spends most of the year resting quietly in the desert earth.  A mysterious plant with a strong, undeniably feminine presence.  Photos of the flowers, taken at Tohono Chul Parkon several “Bloom Nights”, are here on my cactus website:

Labyrinth Dress

October 14, 2008

Just finished this loose-fitting cotton jumper/pinafore dress, embroidered with brass, copper, and aluminum shisha mirrors along the hem, a labyrinth with a brass sun on the front, and a reverse labyrinth with copper moon and aluminum star on the back.  It’s meant to be worn over a gray or black t-shirt or a natural white long-sleeved shirt.  The fabric is a Japanese-inspired faux patchwork print that required extra work to match the pleats and seams, but it was worth it – I love the soothing earthy colors and subtle patterns, and am looking forward to making an embroidered shoulder bag with the leftovers.