I had a marvelous month as artist-in-residence at Petrified Forest National Park. I learned so much about myself and making art, and was reminded again how much I love wandering around the desert. This place was perfect for that. I know many of you can't imagine not having trees, but there just aren't any there except in the bosque. That means you can see forever, and if you're paying attention, you can't get lost. So I walked and walked wherever I wanted and always found my way home again before dark. That also meant that any time I was near the bosque (where the water is when it rains), I scanned the cottonwoods incessantly for sleeping porcupines. One of the biologist interns saw three one day and I was determined. But alas, none were found by me.
You can read my other posts about my residency at these links:
I did a lot of hiking and drawing. I took so many photographs I'm not sure how I'll sort through them. And I did some weaving--not as much as I might have liked, but some every day nevertheless.
I wove one tiny tapestry each day as a sort of diary. I found the practice quickly addictive. I will post the entire collection of them soon. In the meantime, here are most of the last ones along with some photos of their inspiration.
Day #20. This was Thanksgiving day and I was at my parent's house. I grabbed some handspun I was weaving another piece with and I made this little pick and pick piece. It turned out so badly that I hesitated to post it, but I think it is good to know that everyone has a "Learning Experience" tapestry from time to time. And before another lot of you tell me where to learn how to do pick and pick (thank you to all you helpful Instagrammers though not one of you told me to consult my own online classes), I do know how to weave pick and pick.
Day #21. There are fossils at Petrified Forest NP. Lots of them if you know where to look. I didn't, but then a ranger whispered about a little hill and some whole clam fossils eroding out of the bank. Found 'em! I know this looks a little like a pickle, or perhaps a hot dog, but it is the cross section of a fossilized clam. I just really wanted to use those greens that day. The photo top right is most of a whole, closed clam I found. The bottom right photo is the cross section which inspired the weaving.
Day #22. John, one of the repeat volunteers, told me about some petroglyphs he had found the year before. It took me three times to find them. It turns out his directions were pretty far off, but once I found the panel, I couldn't believe I had missed it in earlier trips in this area. Later I found out they are called the Flatiron. While climbing around looking for more glyphs, I found more lovely layered rocks which inspired the days weaving.
Day #23. On this day I went for an 8 mile ramble on the desert with two volunteers who have spent a lot of time in the park, Connie and Gary Grube and two of their friends. It was a pretty rough day weather-wise, but I didn't want to pass up the chance to have someone take me new places. We saw some of Bill Parker's "alpha stumps" and some really really long logs. We made it to The Monument just about the time it started snowing. I wove a little tapestry to remember the four people I went hiking with that day. Remember that these tapestries are 2 x 2 inches... and cut me a little slack for this one.
For weeks I thought The Monument was a big butte. Turns out it was this large cairn built quite awhile ago but lacking a solid story. I never would have found it without Gary... it marked the snowstorm quite well.
Day #24. It snowed overnight. I walked down on the desert early in the morning. I was afraid the snow would melt quickly and I wouldn't see the painted desert with a white finish on it. I needn't have worried. It was the worst weather of any day I was at the park. Early in the afternoon I put on my long johns and bundled up to go for another hike, but I only made it about 10 feet outside the car. High winds, low temperatures, and snow. I have some pretty good hiking superpowers, but some days were meant for weaving. I went back to the casita, turned the heat up, and wove this little piece along with a bigger tapestry. The photo was definitely not taken on Day 24. It is a detail of a beautiful petrified log near Agate House.
Day #25. I drove to Flagstaff to pick up Emily this day. I stopped at La Posada in Winslow and sadly, did not eat there (it was a celiac disease thing--despite the vast difference in food quality, Chipotle is safer). I did see the artist-in-residence work from 2015 which was being shown. I wove a simplified image of the casita to remember the amazing little adobe where I stayed for a month.
Day #26. Emily and I had one whole day in the park. I showed her some of my favorite spots. Martha's Butte, Jasper Forest, the keystone log and Blue Mesa, sunset at Pintado Point... I wove this little bit of the Chinle formation.
Day #27. This was the last day. I washed the casita laundry, Emily did most of the cleaning (bless her), and we went for one last hike to one of my favorite spots with beautiful views of the desert, many potsherds, and some excellent petroglyphs. The weaving came from one of the simplest potsherd designs.
It was a most astounding month.