Monday, October 22, 2012



When I started this blog several years ago I decided that it would be about art .... particularly my art. I wasn't very interested in sharing what I had for breakfast or which movie I saw last weekend. This post is slightly borderline to me but in making the above label I think it definitely falls under art.

So here's the story (it seems like there is always a story). This past summer, as an experiment, I grew basil in my 1986 Honda Civic Hatchback.... some sweet person gave me this car for $1. Actually it was longer than just the summer because I harvested the last of it today on October 22. As you probably know basil likes heat and sun and sometimes living in the Pacific NW we are a little shy of one or the other of those two ingredients. I decided to use my car as a greenhouse.

I planted two basil plants each in a large pot and put the pot in a large deep saucer to catch any runoff water. I monitored the temperature in the car and would raise or lower the windows as needed. In the evening I rolled the windows up and by the next morning when the sun came up my basil plants were already in a heated space when the outdoor plants were just beginning to warm up. By doing this I think my plants generally got 2 to 3 more hours of warmth a day than if my plants had been in a raised bed in the garden. On really hot days I would occasionally have to open the hatchback to keep the basils from wilting. When I did that I had to pay attention because of the many deer that live in Port Townsend .... they would love snacking on the tender leaves.

Here are some advantages to having a car greenhouse.
1) My car smelled delicious everyday.
2) There was no dust .... bugs of any kind .... or bird poop on any of my basil .... I didn't even have to rinse it.
3) Me and my basil got a lot of attention where ever we went.
4) The leaves and stems stayed very tender. I don't know if this was because the plants didn't have to fight the elements outside like the wind or if it was because I harvested the basil many times over the summer. I have loads of pesto in my freezer.

The label came about as a result of wanting to gift my oncologist with some of my pesto. She had been quite intrigued with the idea of growing basil in a car. I like the result of the label .... and so do both of my sisters .... they want a poster!

I'll try this again next year. It sort of makes me want a mini van .... just think of what I could grow then.


OK....this is my last post about the barn sale for this year but I just wanted to share the wonderful article that was published in our local newspaper...THE LEADER. A big thanks once again to Jenny Westdal for writing this.

(click on any image to see a larger version)

Artists' community gathers at GreyBird Barn
Six artists featured at annual studio sale

By Jenny Westdal Contributor

Under a canopy of Douglas firs, artists, their families and friends are transforming the GreyBird Barn, draping lights and banners in preparation for this weekend’s fourth annual studio sale. Hay bales out front offer cozy seats for reminiscing over mugs of hot cider, pumpkin bars and cookies.

Homeowner Shane Miller’s 1952 Farmall Cub tractor and 1952 Dodge pickup truck rest in the yard, ready to be explored by the children.

All of the participants agree that “fun” is the event’s main focus, as well as emitting some positive “energy.”

“It feels like a party with lots of friends stopping by,” said featured artist Diane Gale. “People hang out, like at a big family gathering.”

Taking place on Oct. 13-14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the GreyBird Barn, 11 Carroll Ave., in Glen Cove Industrial Park, the studio sale is sure to celebrate the changing of the season, the artists themselves and the community in which they thrive, said Miller.

The idea for a collaborative studio sale originated with Miller and Linda Jarvis, a friend and fellow artist, four years ago. After the first event drew more than 300 visitors, the pair deemed the event a success and vowed to turn it into a yearly affair.

On Saturday, the familiar faces of Gale, Jarvis and Miller are going to be joined by those of newcomers Diana Cronin, a potter; Lynn Anju, a metalworker; and mixed-media artist Donna Snow.

Scaling down

First to greet visitors arriving at GreyBird is a life-size,steel garden sculpture featuring a bear, a woman and a man dancing together. An alligator holding the mailbox comes next. These creations are examples of Miller’s early works. More recently, she has scaled down and is focusing on making smaller, more delicate and detailed pieces.

Combining her skill for etching on metal (an electrolytic process that uses a car-battery charger and a saltwater bath) with her attraction to vintage photographs, Miller creates jewelry and narrative boxes embellished with images that evoke memories and reference myths, she said.

Depth, shadow

Jarvis’ mixed-media paintings, assemblages and sculptures generally include elements of nature and exquisitely rendered wildlife. Her work has been displayed at venues throughout Port Townsend for many years. She said she’ll often cut out different figures and raise them in the frame, sometimes extending the shape of the animal beyond the borders, to create shadows and add depth to her work.

“I like to tell a story with a touch of humor, but also convey my reverence for animals,” Jarvis said.

Kiln community

Gale, a potter, utilizes wood-fire and gas kilns, introducing soda ash or salt during the firing to create a unique glaze and enhance the surface of her creations.

“A wood-fire kiln is unique for a couple of reasons. First of all, it requires people to watch the coal bed and load wood into the kiln 24 hours a day until the firing is complete,” Gale said. “Secondly, the ash from the wood is the glaze. Those green drips on the pots you see are the pine ash that got so heavy, it actually turned to glass.”

A firing may take anywhere from two to nine days, so the process creates a community, she said. “Who’s bringing dinner can become very important.”

Five pots a day

Whereas Gale’s pottery is primal and substantial, forged of mud and fire, potter Diana Cronin’s work is light and brightly colored. Her pieces are porcelain covered with simple patterns in vivid colors.

Originally drawn to photography and printmaking, Cronin found that her artistic propensity changed after three events occurred simultaneously: finding a 1970s ranch house in need of improvements, discovering a book on handmade ceramic tiles and reading an ad for a small kiln in the newspaper.

Cronin bought the kiln, but quickly realized that she knew nothing about its operation, so she started taking classes at the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery and kept an eye out for workshops.

“The way you learn to make pots is by doing it, so I made five a day,” she said.

A full-time potter for more than 14 years now, Cronin owns and operates Egg and I Pottery in Chimacum. And, yes, she did remodel her bathroom with beautiful, handmade tiles.

Medieval inspiration

Lynn Anju worked as a ceramic artist for 12 years until a fascination with surface design led her to become a graphic artist. This path prompted her to learn metal etching as it combines both surface design and texturing.

Anju has been working in this medium for 10 years now, making jewelry, switch plates, lampshades and clocks – all of which feature etched metal. Her inspirations come from the natural world, medieval European tapestries and armor.

FISH BLIMPS (detail) a mixed media collage by Donna Snow

Asian aesthetics

Friends of Miller and Jarvis for many years, Donna Snow and her husband are frequent visitors to the GreyBird Barn and regularly attend the annual sale – a social gathering that both greatly enjoy. So, when Snow discovered that there was room for one more artist this year, she happily joined in.

An artist her entire life, Snow has been working solely on collage and mixed-media pieces for the last 10 years. She said that she is drawn to Asian aesthetic themes, which are expressed in her collages.

Her piece titled “Lute Boy” depicts a kimono-clad youth playing a lute surrounded by large flowers. The colors are bright but soft, similar to drawing styles found in Japanese block prints.

At the studio sale, she’ll be offering small cards and prints, miniature collages and some larger pieces.

Turn at the alligator

To find GreyBird Barn, drive south on Highway 20 out of Port Townsend, past Jacob Miller Road, turn left on Frederick Street, turn left on Otto Street and keep an eye out for Miller’s sculptures. Admission is free.

For more information about the sale or participating artists, call 379-5421 or visit Miller’s blog at

Jenny Westdal has been a resident of Port Townsend since 1982. She enjoys cruising around in her vintage MG TD, snooping out art news.

Friday, October 19, 2012



Well we lived through it .... our 4th annual studio sale at GreyBird Barn....and all agree that it was a grand success. Having the sale in October instead of in June is something I'm sure we will try again. There was some magic in the air .... the crisp fall mornings .... the apples on my trees .... the beginnings of color in the landscape .... just a general vibe of well being as we celebrated the shift of light that we call fall.

An event like this doesn't happen without a lot of pairs of hands and a bunch of willing hearts. I have many people to thanks for their tireless energy and willingness to help. My friend, Carrie, is not only the principal of our local high school but is our cookie and pumpkin bar maker. This is her 4th year to bake for us and I know it was a challenge this time with her busy schedule. We so appreciate her for her talents in the kitchen and also for just being who she is. Her partner, Ari, has also been an integral part of our barn sale for all 4 years. She takes care of traffic and the parking of cars in my yard. It can't be the most fun job but she does get to boss people around .... a small perk. Wendy is the sister of Linda Jarvis .... one of our participating artists. She, too, has helped us for 4 years and travels down from Pender Island off the coast of British Columbia to do so. I'm not sure how we would manage without her energy which is usually spent refilling the apple cider pot and cookie trays .... running any errands .... and being the trouble shooter for any and everything that needs attention. Rick is the husband of Lynn Anju .... another participating artist .... and this year not only made two dump runs for me as I cleaned out the barn but he also was the responsible party who put out and picked up our numerous sandwich boards from along the highway and streets. Rick, also, along with Bob Snow .... husband of Donna Snow, another participating artist, helped us do some much needed yard work on the Sunday before the sale ... much raking .... snipping .... trimming .... and wood stacking was accomplished. A huge shout out thanks goes to Jennifer Westdal who is responsible for the wonderful article about GreyBird Barn and it's artists that was published in the Port Townsend Leader, our local newspaper. Megan Claflin, the arts editor for the Port Townsend Leader, gets a round of applause for making Jennifer's article possible. So three cheers for everyone listed above and a huge THANK YOU for supporting us. And a big THANK YOU for all that came to see and purchase our art.... old friends .... new friends .... we are so glad you came.

Here are a few random photos from the week end. Some are mine .... some were taken by Linda Jarvis .... and some by Diana Cronin.

Lynn Anju is probably explaining her etching process.

That's me talking to a customer.

Diana Cronin's BEAN STALKS AND MAGIC BEANS lined the path to the barn.

A throng of onlookers checking out the work of Donna Snow.

Linda Jarvis doing a happy dance!!

Diane Gale showing us how big her dinner plate is going to be that was so busy at times that we all forgot to eat lunch!

Me, Shane Miller, having a serious art discussion with an old friend.