Library community art project

Center square of the Woods Hole Quilt 2007

Every summer, the Woods Hole Public Library sponsors a community art project, inviting patrons of all ages to create a work of art, working separately and using a common medium. In previous years, materials such as discarded books, retired chairs from a local restaurant, outdated nautical charts and even horseshoe crab shells where used. The completed works are then auctioned off for the benefit of the library. A few years ago, I made “Paige Turner” (pictured below) using pages from an old book that was going to be thrown out. And this year, I’m offering 3 items for the auction.

(Find out about the Woods Hole Village Quilt (2007) pictured above here)

Paige Turner from a previous Woods Hole Public Library community art project

This year’s project features cards from the library’s now decommissioned card catalog. Remember those little wooden drawers that recorded each book in the library, along with their Dewey decimal classification? While combing through the thousands of cards, a volunteer came across the ones made for the 2 books that Judy Richardson wrote and I illustrated. She gave the cards to Judy who asked me if we could participate in the project.

Judy had the idea of decorating the library cards and offering signed copies of our books, The Way Home and Come to My Party for the auction. So, I got out a needle and thread and embellished the cards with stitches and beads. Here we are in a 1991 promo picture for The Way Home, posing with Bella the elephant at the Barnstable County Fair and more recent photos. I wrote about making the pink dress I’m wearing here.

Judy was kind enough to dip into her safely guarded supply and offer our books for the auction.These hard cover books are out of print and very hard to find, especially unused and in perfect condition. Both of us signed the library cards and the title pages inside the books.

The card for Pocketful of Posies was also found, so I decorated it, too. The auction will go live on Sat. July 25th and run for 2 weeks. You can link to the auction from the library’s website here.

The Woods Hole Public Library is a treasured institution in our village. They’ve adapted to the Covid 19 restrictions and are serving patrons via an outside window. When I dropped off the books, a writer’s workshop was being held outside, with everyone sitting 6 ft. apart in a circle.

Since libraries have gone digital, those old oak drawers need to find new homes and sometimes you can find them for sale. I love my set, which was passed down many years ago from my biology professor grandfather, who used it to catalog his personal library of science books. Now, they hold boxes of beads. So, if you have lots of little things to keep organized and accessible, I recommend getting a set!

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Introverts have the advantage

from “Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures”

In this time of physical social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, introverts have the advantage, plain and simple. Putting aside the widespread disruption, financial hardship and increased anxiety, being told to stay home hasn’t required much of an adjustment for many of us who are already quiet, introspective, and enjoy the pleasures of domestic life.

I suspect that many of you who follow this blog have those traits, too. Further ahead in the post, I share my own story about living as an introvert in Confessions of a Homebody.

from “You and Me: Poems of Friendship”

Introverts are not all the same, but the general thought is that they are prone to exhaustion from too much social engagement, whereas extroverts are energized by being around people. So, for some, the stay at home order can seem like a reprieve from all the hubbub, while others feel as if they’re being sent to their room for punishment. No matter your personality type, we are all confronted by the seriousness of the virus, both individually and collectively. These dire circumstances are forcing everyone to face themselves and reflect on what they value most in life. And during this time when we may not like staying home for weeks on end, I think about the wisdom of this saying, “The place to be is where you are.”

Penikese Island, Massachusetts

I think that artists and introverts in general will get through this period of home confinement better than some, because they have an independent streak and already choose to spend time alone. Personally, I would not be able to make art if I had to be around people most of the day. Even for someone like me, who is cloistered in her studio 7 days a week, the idea of everyone staying at home all the time seems eerily unnatural, like we’re living in a dystopian novel. It takes all kinds to make the world go round and many people who thrive on social interaction are struggling as they try to navigate through this extraordinary time.

I marvel at the human capacity to adapt and innovate within a set of constraints, to get what they need. And if there ever was a time for creative problem solving, this is it. A person can’t really change their personality, but they can strive for a balance between people time and alone time. Just like I’ve had to push myself to engage socially, I hope that more extroverted people will take this opportunity to stretch themselves in the other direction and exercise their independent and contemplative side. However you look at it, people are looking at themselves, reflecting on their lives, and thinking about what’s important. The question is, can we all learn something from this experience that will benefit ourselves and society?


Confessions of a Homebody
I grew up in a family of introverts — mother, father and 3 kids. You could say that we excelled at parallel play. Just look at this photo of me with my siblings – we are either engrossed in art projects or staring into space, not looking at each other or talking. We were all creative, with rich interior lives. Our family connected with each other and our wider community through art, music and dance. It wasn’t until later, when I married a more socially balanced person and we had children of our own, an extrovert and an introvert, that I realized family life could be anything different. From a young age, I have grappled with how to interact with the world outside of home in a way that didn’t become overwhelming. Being a classic introvert, there was only so much socializing that I could take, before melting into a puddle. The length of a school day was about my limit. I enjoyed school and my friends, but enough was enough. After the Woods Hole School let out, I’d carry my empty Flintstones lunchbox, along the path through the woods to home, where I could recharge for the next day. I remember being horrified when a friend of my parents described living in a Kibbutz where the children were raised communally, all together all the time. For me, living in such an environment would have been exhausting, but for my more outgoing son, it would have been heaven.

Woods Hole School 1965 – Salley in middle row, 2nd in from the right

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, a friend called after school to ask if I wanted to come over and play. I remember fingering the cord of the 60’s wall phone in the kitchen and telling her that I couldn’t because I was grounded. I’d heard about other kids getting grounded, so I must have thought it sounded plausible, as well as a good excuse to stay home. I’m sure that I lied other times to get out of things, but I remember this conversation, because the idea of a goody good like me doing anything that would warrant being grounded was preposterous. It just shows how desperate and awkward people can be when they pretend to be something they’re not, just because they don’t want to look like a weirdo.

Self-Portrait detail, 2007

Over the years, I’ve built up a tolerance for social gatherings and can even pass at being moderately gregarious, but there is a limit to how long I can keep it up. My husband Rob knows “the look” when it’s time to leave, before I do the grownup version of melting into a puddle. I’ve come to understand my needs and have learned to communicate them better. And in doing that, I’ve found out that there are an awful lot of other introverts out there!

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the Greta effect

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Ever since learning about Greta Thunberg, the 17 year-old Swedish environmental activist, I’ve wanted to make a wee folk version of her. But, the idea of making such an inspiring public figure into just a cute little doll with braids didn’t seem like enough to do her justice. Greta symbolizes the upcoming generation who will experience climate change much more profoundly than people my age and they must be heard. I kept thinking that the real Greta would not like being turned into a passive fetish object, without her strong message and a call to action. So, I figured out a way to both depict her likeness and quote her, while also supporting the issues she is calling attention to.

After making the Greta doll, I set out to photograph her outside in a natural setting. The aim was to take a photo that would have room to incorporate one of her famous quotes. So, on a recent beautiful day, Rob and I went around the corner to Woodneck Beach. The conditions were perfect! The low tide created an interesting landscape and the late afternoon sun gave off the kind of warm glow that photographers can only wish for. The result was the image below, which we are making into prints to sell as a fundraiser for climate science research.

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8.5″ x 11″ archival print for sale to benefit climate research

BUY PRINTS and NOTE CARDS and support CLIMATE SCIENCE RESEARCH:
The image of Greta Thunberg with her quote is available for sale in my shop HERE. All profits will go to the Woods Hole Research Center, a leading source of climate science that drives the urgent action needed to solve climate change.
____________________________________________________________
Set of 4 Note Cards – $10.00 – Buy here.
Set of 10 Postcards – $10.00 – Buy here.
8.5″ x 11″ Archival Print – $15.00 – Buy here.

Woods Hole Research Center is an organization of renowned researchers who work with a worldwide network of partners to understand and combat climate change. They have been focused on climate change since it first emerged as a pubic policy issue 35 years ago. Headquartered in Falmouth, MA, they currently work in more than twenty countries around the globe – from the Amazon to the Arctic. World-class science is the foundation of everything they do. They share their learning with scientific colleagues, lawmakers, private sector leaders, and the public in order to turn knowledge into far-reaching action. For more information, visit whrc.org


The Greta Effect Animation
During the process of making the Greta doll, the partially made pipe cleaner body sat on my work table, looking at me in an intense way. I thought, we have to film her doing just that! So, Rob and I made this short animated film, “The Greta Effect”.

The following photos show the process of making the Greta doll and the video:

To paint a likeness on the round wooden bead, I referred to photos of Greta. In this small scale, I was limited to a few brush strokes to make her face recognizable.

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With the exception of a few added details, the Greta doll is made with the same basic techniques that are taught in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.
After painting the face, I glued a felt wig to the bead head and let it dry. Then, I stitched embroidery floss hair to the felt, which provided something for the needle to grab onto. It was fun to make her tell-tale braids.

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This photo gives you an idea of how her hands were made.

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Partway through the process, we filmed the Greta doll sitting on my work table, turning her head to look straight out at the viewer, as if to say, “I’m looking at you!”.

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It took 2 tries to do the animation because I messed up the first attempt by kicking the tripod. We started over the next day.

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Even though the scene is only 11 seconds long, it took all day to animate. In addition to my turning the doll’s head incrementally, Rob manually rotated the camera and moved it along the slider, one frame at a time (24 frames per second). It brought back memories of our year in the basement, filming Liberty and Justice.

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Then it was time to make her clothing. I made her pants and shoes and…

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a zippered anorak out of pink felt….

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sewing it in place, so that it’s never coming off!

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Who knows if the real Greta will ever see this, but if she does, I hope that she approves of using her image and quote to support climate science research. Again, prints and not cards may be purchased in my shop HERE. If you live in the local Falmouth, MA area and want to avoid having the print sent in the mail, please contact me via e-mail so we can arrange a pick up time.

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To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Paige Turner

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The Woods Hole Public Library is having an exhibit titled “Renewal” this summer. Patrons and friends were invited to make something out of old books that would otherwise be thrown out. A couple of months ago, Margaret, the head librarian asked me if I thought this idea would be supported by the community. I said, “definitely yes”. But, I wasn’t even sure if I would have time to make something for the exhibit. Last Thursday, I found myself caught up with tasks that need immediate attention and devoted the afternoon to making a little doll dressed in clothes made from the pages of a book. My contribution, Paige Turner was just delivered to the library via bicycle.

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Before we brought her to the library, Rob and I had such fun setting her up in different bookish scenes at home.

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Paige and the other artwork made from recycled books are being offered in a silent auction to benefit the library. If you’d like to make a bid, please send the library an e-mail. Bidding via e-mail ends on July 31st at 7:00 pm (EST).

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Ryan and Lael wedding dolls

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Ryan and Lael will be getting married next month in Woods Hole, so I made them a pair of dolls as a wedding present. They met here as children, when they were Woods Hole summer kids.  And this wedding will join two families that have been coming every summer for generations.  I’ve always been a bit jealous of the summer people, who seem to appreciate their time in Woods Hole more than we year-rounders. For them, it’s special and magical, like summer camp, where you play and socialize, without the regular responsibilities associated with your “winter” home.

It was clear that a conventional white gown and tuxedo would not represent this couple’s theatrical leanings and spirit of adventure. Since the bride and groom have more than a passing interest in medieval history, I dressed them in period attire. Their costumes were so much fun to research and figure out how to make.

As with the Glen and Susan dolls, these figures use some techniques, such as wig-making, that will be included in the new edition of Felt Wee Folk. Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures will be coming out in the spring of 2015.

Ryan-Laeldetail

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram

it’s foggy today

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It’s relatively warm today (in the 40’s), but the snowy ground and ocean water are still chilly. Sometimes that combination creates a thick fog and today it lured us outside. After lunch, Rob and I grabbed our cameras and drove around Quisset and Woods Hole to take photos. This section shows another view of our seaside village, from a floating dingy surrounded by ice to the dormant communal garden behind Challenger House. Even in winter, Nobska light’s fog horn sends a warning out to sea.

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Woods Hole July 4th parade

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The Woods Hole 4th of July parade is a reflection of our community, with its mix of tradition and a characteristically unconventional celebration of freedom.

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A grandmother and her two grandsons were armed with suds for bubble blowing.

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july4FGraduate students from the Marine Biological Laboratory’s grass lab paraded down Water St.july4JOur own burlesque troupe, the Brazen Belles donned swim suits and bathing caps for the occasion.july4I

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july4HAssistants from the Children’s School of Science celebrated the school’s centennial by impersonating the the Class of 1913.july4G

And we even had a classic car! It was wonderful to see everyone out and about.

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House boats before their summer migration

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The Woods Hole house boats spend the winter rafted up together in the shelter of Eel Pond. Last week, while eating supper, it occurred to me that they would soon be migrating to their summer moorings in the shallow parts of Great Harbor, so I said to Rob, “This might be the last chance to take pictures of the house boats before they’re towed out through the draw bridge passage.” We’ve been looking at them all winter, in their snug corner of the pond, under the shadow of the Woods Hole school, where I spent grades 1 to 4. The houses are a mishmash of owner built structures, which have been fancied up over the years. A friend of ours owns the one with the turquoise door, which serves as a wonderful get-away cottage on the water.houseboats2

We quickly finished eating and rushed down to Eel Pond. The winds were calm and the evening light cast a flattering glow over the village. I’m glad that Rob took these pictures, because wouldn’t you know, the next day a group of house boat owners moved them out, officially beginning the summer season. See the house boats in full summer mode here.eelpondboat2

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After the snow storm

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Last weekend’s storm brought about 10 inches of snow to our end of Cape Cod, but other parts of New England had 2 to 3 feet! The public was instructed to stay off the roads during the storm. On Sunday, we went out in the early morning sunshine and took photographs.

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We headed down Sippewissett Rd. toward Woods Hole. The houses along the road had a story book look to them.snowfeb13d

We then turned onto Quissett Harbor Rd., passing this house on our way to the water.

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At Quissett harbor, everything was covered with snow.

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In the village, we stopped in front of the Woods Hole School, which I attended in the 60’s. It’s no longer a public elementary school, but houses head start and a day care in the winter and the Children’s School of Science in the summer.

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Further down Water St., I stood in the cold wind to get this shot of the draw bridge and Woods Hole Community Hall.

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Even in winter, there are boats and house boats in the sheltered Eel Pond. Some summer houses are boarded up and still…

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while other houses show evidence of people at play.

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