Tinkaminks!

I have 119 Tinkamink prints and drawings so far and it looks like nothing!


Tinkaminks – so named by Ashwin, conceived at Friday Harbour Labs where they had these great paper key chains, and solidified by a fantastic book on Plankton. This is going to be an installation of perhaps a thousand keychain organisms. Today was all about printing Cephalopods, jellyfish, dinoflagellates and acantharians. Plankton contains plants and animals, from single cellular to embryonic and juvenile life forms. It is endlessly fascinating! Today I began printing some Tinkaminks using the most rudimentary printing techniques; carved rubber stamps and stamp pads. Who needs a Vandercook anyway?

Jellyfish Tinkamink

Hand drawn Tinkaminks. It could take a while to get to 1000!

My Small Tribute to Joe

I have had a tough month this past October but there are only a few people who know this, so I’m just going to put it out there. It doesn’t feel right to go on with a blog about pottery, without first acknowledging this big thing in my life. My ex-husband, Joe Rabel, passed away on September 27th, 2018. Out of respect for him and his family, I won’t go into the details, but I want to talk about this loss. I think that many might believe that an ex won’t be missed by their former partner. Our marriage dissolved right? Why would I still have feelings? In a way there isn’t a place for an ex-wife’s grief. Those who knew us as a couple 20 years ago, know that I still have strong feelings for him, but I walk around in a new environment now. There is no one to talk to in my daily life who knew him, or cared for him. Sometimes I just want to be with those who knew and loved him, but they are in Massachusetts, not in Chicago where I live. It feels strange to know that he is gone, that his family and friends are sorting through his things, getting ready to sell the house we bought together. He has lived many years without me, but they are still sorting through old pictures of our vacations, our record collection, and perhaps our old Christmas ornaments. Maybe they are giving away the framed T.S. Eliot poem that I gave to him as a gift. That was my life too.

Joe and I reconnected at the beginning of the year. He contacted my sister and her husband, and for some reason I felt very strongly that I wanted to talk to him. We emailed and texted through the year, talking on the phone only a few times. We patched up a lot of things, reminisced about shared experiences that no one else can share, and I had the chance to say I’m truly sorry. We sent music and quotes and book recommendations, but the thing that I will hold in my heart forever is poetry. Joe was a poet, and he wrote poetry for me. I know he wrote for others as well, but the poetry he wrote for me, touched my heart and made me find the love I had for him again. He said I was his muse, and perhaps that’s true, but I know I was certainly his audience and sounding board.

Perhaps Joe would feel uncomfortable with this, but I know he would have liked to have been recognized as a poet, so I will share some of his best. He even inspired me to write some of my own. We were just kids, but we were together for 17 years, and those were very formative years. I will always hold Joe in my heart. I joked with him earlier this year,  telling him he could have one of the larger ventricles. I hope he knows that he has some very valuable real estate! I have to save some room for my lovely husband, Venkatesh, and child, Ashwin (not to mention friends and family!). 🙂 Without them I would be lost.

Some day

In the clouds

Our thoughts

Will mix and intermingle

The true you

The true me

For everyone to see

And you will know the true me

And I will know the true you

And we will share that

With a million other souls

Floating aimlessly

Amongst the clouds

Joe Rabel  2/2/2018

I find my words in everything

In the leaves

The changing colors of Fall

The lack of them inWinter

But you bring me Spring

And new blossoms form

But still I yearn for Summer

When all comes to fruition

And the circle is formed

Such is life

And the circle turns

Until we ourselves are done

But then we are gone

Though we can’t see it

The seasons carry on

The circle never ends

Joe Rabel. 1/29/18

Like bonsai

I hurt myself

Not to be more beautiful

But to be more refined

The pruning is that of the soul,

Removing the small branches

And keeping the strong ones

That are old and twisted

But can take the weight.

A cleansing

Of that which is no longer useful.

With new eyes I see the world,

And I learn to look inside for beauty.

I glance your way

And you seem to glow.

Joe and Mardy  3/11/18

Niagara, Canadian Side

Looking down from the top of the horseshoe falls on the Canadian side, that turquoise water that forms on the edge is stunningly beautiful. From this angle the power and the force of this water is unmistakeable. I do believe the view from Canada is the best – you can view the American falls from directly across and walk from there to the Canadian horseshoe falls.

American Falls, Niagara


The night before traveling to Niagara was not a good one. My husband holds a green card and he was worried about crossing the border. He had dreams of border checks and helicopters flying overhead. We argued and he barely slept. With the current American political climate I don’t blame him. Nightmare accounts of separated families and body searches are all over the news. I grew up thinking the U.S. and Canada were practically the same country -how did we get to the point where we we’re nervous crossing a bridge into Canada? Is it possible to turn around and go back if you cross the bridge by mistake?

Once we crossed the border we no longer worried about getting back into the U.S. The Canadian side is built up, with noisy restaurants, haunted houses, wax museums, go carts and Ferris wheels. We walked through a Hard Rock Cafe and Rainforest Cafe arcade to find a bar with free beer samplers. I don’t even go to those places in Chicago. Afterwards we found an Indian restaurant that was quiet and the food was good. Then as we walked along the falls, we realized how nice the view from this side is. There were lots of people, but the strip of walkway lined with gardens was so big, it never felt very crowded. We walked for hours, then we retired to our room at the Sheraton, where we had a perfect view of the falls and watched the fireworks. 

Old power station with lights for the falls


Early the next morning we left for Chicago, driving on the Canadian side to Detroit. It was smooth sailing the whole way – much better than driving through Ohio. And though the border guards are far from cheerful, we didn’t have any problems. Oh and we had to pay five bucks to get back in. What a rip off!

Cephalopod

Below is the finished drawing, with watercolor, of the octopus at Friday Harbor Labs. His name is Enzyme.The next drawing is a work in progress, a Prismacolor drawing of the octopus named Silence. I was feeling a bit frustrated with it on my last day in Friday Harbor, but now that I am going back to it, I think it’s okay. So I’ll keep plugging away at it.

Inspiration for my next project is below. It’s going to be an installation piece and I’ll give a hint – Plankton. I’m quite excited about it, so much so, that I couldn’t fall asleep the other night, but had to get up and order supplies at 1 a.m. 

Octopus Obsession

I spent yesterday drawing more octopus and today I finally used a large sheet of D’Arches 140 lb cold press watercolor paper. It has been a while since I’ve used anything besides handmade paper, and I forgot how well a nice sized paper takes watercolor. After all the sketches, I was very happy with the final results. I’m hoping to make one more large drawing today – thanks to the Whiteley Center and Friday Harbor Labs!

Almost finished


I was given the opportunity to feed one of the octopuses tonight. Silence is a bit moodier than Enzyme and he usually hides and changes color a lot when I watch him. Tonight, after some coaxing, he grabbed the crab from my hand, latched onto me, and started pulling and exploring. It was so amazing and a bit unsettling. He is very strong and I had to tug a bit to get him to release my hand. I’m going to be very sad to leave these octopuses after tomorrow.

Progress

My studio mate and I have been making great progress. We spend hours in the studio, and yesterday Ashwin even went out to sell his wares. He made enough to buy a Lego mini figure. I’m still trying to figure out what works best for the octopus drawings and will begin a large one over the weekend. This afternoon we are going on a whale watch, but Ashwin and I already saw a pod from the shore on the West side of San Juan Island. I’m hoping to see some up close today.

 Below are some results, the good the bad and the ugly. Please let me know which one you prefer if you have a moment!

The drawing on the left is by Ashwin, it reminds me of Hundertwasser.

Day is done. I put some pages up for people who peek through the door.

Arkham at FHL

Meet Arkham, he is a bit larger than the other three octopuses at Friday Harbor Labs and he is a bit bristly. He is the main man in the study being done in Gire Labs, where they are studying navigation and sensing. Because he is a bit darker and moodier, he is more reclusive, but when I manage to take a photo he is quite dramatic. He uses something called papillae in his skin to make the dramatic horn-like bumps.

While here, I have also been given a studio.  Ashwin and I spent hours in the studio yesterday, where I draw and he writes in his journal. I knew I would want to do some sketching here, but somehow ‘a place of ones own’ makes all the difference. Now I may want to buy some big paper and go larger! I can’t wait to get back to the studio again today, it’s bright and airy and smells of fresh wood.


In between sketching sessions we go down to the water to scavenge for treasures, the shore is full of driftwood that we take up to the studio. I know I want to draw octopus, but I think I could also get swept into drawing pieces of driftwood, or printing the grain. I’ll just have to come back again for round 2!

Former scientific study specimens – now dinner