Friday, October 30, 2009

9. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 9.

Well, I was going to skip the whole “do you coil clockwise or counterclockwise” question, but am shamed into it. Carol, I should have known better. I have now been working on this post for a week, and still have not worked out my samples to completely explain this, and figured out everything I want to say. So I am going to have to deal this a glancing blow, and then hope that I can come back to it another time.

This is something that most people don’t even think about. Right handed people tend to coil in a counterclockwise fashion, that is, to the left…with the bundle of pine needles going to the left, so the left hand can feed the bundle. (As Tony mentioned in his comment the other day.) This is generally faster and easier because one does not have to put down the binder to feed the coil.

Of course, this means left handed people, using the opposite hand, tend to coil clockwise, to the right. If you have tried both ways, you will find that, for most people, it is easier when the hand doing the most moving around is not near that open bundle of fibers. I said MOST people, Carol. Carol, being a self-taught coiler, is a left handed person, but coils counterclockwise (to the left.) Go figure. It works for her. Again, do what works for you.

It really behooves you to be able to coil in either direction, because when it comes to sculptural coiling, sometimes to execute a particular form, it is necessary to go in the opposite direction from what you are used to. Case in point, this really amazing sculptural pine needle piece by TV McArthur…maybe we can bring him out of the woodwork, as well. TV used to be very active in the Pine Needle Group, but has drifted away. And I am sorry…he is simply the most imaginative sculptural coiler I have ever seen in my life, and a wonderful correspondent to boot. It would be really great to hear from you again, TV!

Does it make sense that:

Coiling clockwise and putting your needle in from the front

is the same as

coiling counterclockwise and putting your needles in from the back.

You with me so far? It is just a matter of which side you are looking at the basket from.

Then you need to realize that there are actually two different spirals in every basket.

There is spiral #1, of the core, going round and round,


spiral #2 of the binder, going around the core, that which we think of as separate “stitches” (marked by different colors,) but is actually just one long spiral.

(I really needed some diagrams here, and that is what has taken me so long….i hope they make sense!)

So, even though we have named stitches and are describing what we think is the same action, the stitch will look different (sometimes very different,) depending on which direction your core is spiraling and which side of the basket you are entering your needle on.

Each stitch has, 2 “faces” (the front and the back, ) and there are 2 different core directions on which they can applied (from the clockwise side or from the counterclockwise side.) This makes 4 different “looks” for each separate stitch.

If you study geometry, you might talk about Archimedes and the tangent of the spiral. But I am not a mathematician. All I know is that the two spirals in the basket (the core spiral and the stitch spiral) intersect at different places, depending on all the different interactions. When you add in the tension applied by the sewing needle, holding the spiral to a certain point, it gets even more complicated.

So, for now, suffice it to say that it is NOT the same stitch when you choose to put your needle in from the opposite direction that you usually use…though it might be CALLED the same stitch. It is NOT a mirror image, either.

This is PART of the “answer” to the oft-asked question “why can’t I make a stitch that looks the same, front and back?” Because it is a spiral, NOT a circle.

Enough about stitching direction…now that I have completely confused you (or intrigued you?) I will return to my original blog series….

Next post we are going to talk about using binder, back to what I had intended…that is, if I did not chase you all away with this extremely confusing discussion! Once again, I would LOVE to hear what you have to say about coiling direction! Thanks

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Aside

Before continuing with my series on Three Considerations for Faster Easier Coiling, another aside must be created....

i was wrong, in my last post, when i said, "one does not purchase round sinew..." Evidently, one does. Just not THIS one (LOL.) I have been informed that Judy Mallow carries round sinew on her website, Prim Pines. So there. Sorry, people. I told you this series was about opinion...not fact. Thanks, Annejala, for figuring that out, and answering your own question about where to buy round sinew! Do not assume that you can just flatten out the round sinew, it might be twisted, like thread. Braided sinew is also available.

And, since Carol has brought up the issue of coiling direction (clockwise/counterclockwise,) in addition to needle direction, i will be considering that next...which has necessitated my pausing in this series for a few days, to get all my little ducks in a row....diagrams and such...hold onto your hats!

Also, wanting to answer Tony, who commented in the post about front/back coiling, "When you say "front" does that equate to "outside" vs. "back"/"inside"? Using the terms I am used to then I stitch inserting my needle from the outside of the basket to the inside." Yes, i can see i really was not clear. The thing is, to me, the "front" is always the side facing me. Meaning I am pushing my needle away from me, as opposed to pulling it.

Sometimes i make the side facing me the outside of the basket, and sometimes i make it the inside. But that, to me, is a shaping decision, and individual to the basket. When making something tall, i make the front, or side facing me, the outside of the basket, because i do not want to be trying to place my needle on the inside, particularly if i am going to narrow the neck a great deal. If i am making a more open, shallow basket, i usually make the inside the "front," because that is the side that is most often viewed, and the side i want to work from.

So when i say "front to back" i mean putting your needle in on the side facing you, and exiting it on the side away from you. Putting your needle in on the back, means it is entering on the side facing away from the coiler, whether that be the inside or the outside of the basket....geesh, i hope i have not just muddied the waters even more!

In the mean time, i have new sinew colors in my MakeABasket etsy shop...for a limited time only (until i remove this annoucement,) when you purchase both a basket base and ANY SIZE sinew, get $1 refund on your purchase. Please mention this blog offer to redeem your refund. I also have made little thread swatch cards to help you figure out what color thread to buy to coordinate with your project.

I still would like to post photos of baskets made with these bases, but sadly, have not received any more photos...i guess i will just have to wait until Ruth Danger coils some more, she is pretty prolific, and wonderful about sharing her pics!

Thanks again!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

An Aside from My Series, and Beautiful Basket by Ruth Danger

These two beautiful baskets are just a taste of the long line of extraordinary coiling produced by Ruth Danger, of Zephyrhills, FL.

Ruth purchased both the bases for these baskets from one of my etsy shops. Basket bases were previously offered in my Bazketmakr etsy shop, but now are available in the MakeABasket etsy shop. Bazketmakr now carries only finished work, such as horsehair baskets, pine needle baskets, and other fiber creations. MakeABasket is where you can find bases, in addition to binders, tools, and kits.

If you have made baskets using my pottery bases, please send me pictures! I would love to publish them...if you bought one at NCBA convention, at the teacher's market, or took a class from me there, i would love to publish your basket here as well.

Having received an email from Annejala, i will address this as an insert to my series, "Three Considerations to Faster, Easier Coiling":

Annejala writes: (Pamela wrote in her blog) "Sinew is also adaptable in that it can be flat (like raffia) or round (like upholstery thread and linen.)" Where do you purchase the round sinew?

well, here is another case of me thinking i have said something, when i really didn't.

one does not purchase round sinew. It is the same -one kind- of sinew that can be either flat or round.

if you wish it to be flat, run your thumbnail across it, and this flattens it. this is useful when threading a needle, for instance

for round sinew, roll it between your fingers. this is useful when putting on a bead

sinew should never be wetted - as when people put it in their mouths
because it ruins the waxy coating

it should be either:

  1. flattened
  2. rounded
  3. trimmed (with very sharp scissors)

in order to achieve tameness.

to find more baskets made with these pottery bases, click on the label pottery base below


8. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 8.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our discussion in the previous post. I appreciate Donna's insight into why she uses a gauge. It is exactly this type of reasoned adaptation of technique that everyone should strive for...the development of work routines from reasoning, not simply the product of habit.

It is also interesting that Vincent mentioned the "plane of pine needles." This, also, is the look i strive for...some people prefer a highly defined, rounded individual coil, and we will need to discuss the way to achieve that at another time (maybe someone will remind me, or i will digress, and we will never get this topic finished?)

Continuing contemplation of routine practice, or HABIT…

Do you put your needle in from the back? Again, I don’t know WHY all the books I have ever seen instruct to put the needle in on the back. No one has ever been able to explain WHY.

Coiling from the back is hard on your body. It is hard on your hands, wrists, fingers, and your neck. In order to place the needle properly, the work must be completely turned over with every stitch, or you must grope for the placement on the back of the work. The hand holding the needle is at an uncomfortable flexed position which contributes to repetitive motion injury. The progress is slow.

It makes much more sense to put the needle in from the front. I heard that a famous coiler from California paid a specialist to analyze his coiling, and the one tip that I heard passed on was: coil from the front. It is more ergonomically sound than coiling from the back.

Trying it “from the front” may take some thought, but it is worth trying. Because you are placing your stitches on the side facing you, it is also faster. If you tip the basket downwards it is possible to see where the needle is exiting without turning the basket over all the way.

I would love to hear about your direction of preferred coiling, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read!

In the next post: adding binder!


(shown at the top of this blogpost: Carol Miller, long time PNG member and self-taught coiler from Montana!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

7. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 7.

The last post saw lots of commenting! Thanks to Patti, Vincent, Annejala and everyone for their comments. It sounds like everyone has their own formula to “get it right” in terms of moisture.

Tony, it is hard to say for sure what your needles are, but if they were at least 10 inches and in bundles of 3, you probably have Southern Longleaf pine needles. They were originally very common here in eastern NC, but since Weyerhauser paper company logs the entire area now, longleaf is harder and harder to find. It is very slow-growing, and the new trees they plant are faster growing, but shorter-leafed. A nice Southern Longleaf Pine tree is a treasure around here nowadays.

Sounds like Vincent and Clay have very similar styles. I am very interested in your results. It sounds like you had a long time to perfect your technique, and that it works really well. When I soak needles that long, and then pull very tightly, it tends to break the needles. So you must have a trick up your sleeve that I am just not getting. I would love to learn it. Both of you make baskets that are amazing!

Thanks to Vincent for sharing his chicken story, too. I just love that story ( not the dog part.)

Still reflecting on our habits…

Do you use a gauge? Some people think they cannot coil without a gage. This is unfortunate and perplexing to me. Gauges have been used to hold straw when coiling bee skeps, and this is quite understandable. Straw was bundled in massive coils, and was falling out all over the place if a gauge (a cow horn) was not used. Pine needles are very different. Coilers who use gauges say they are doing so to keep the coil uniform. It does keep the coil uniform, but this is more easily achieved, in my opinion, by watching the ends of the pine needles as they run out. The gauge makes adding pine needles more difficult, which adds seconds to every addition. Lose the gauge, and see what happens. (i am SURE we will have comments on this opinion...come on....)

"Oh my gosh, my coils will be all different sizes!” Not if you pay attention. And I have news for you. I often taper a coil to a smaller size when I am going around a very sharp corner, or build it up when I am trying to make a sculptural shape. I have NEVER had ANYONE say to me, gee your coils are so many different sizes. NEVER.

What is your preferred coil size? A very tiny coil size builds slowly. Think toothpicks and popsicle sticks. Which one will build a wall faster? If you make larger coils, you will build a basket faster. I like to keep the coil about the size of my pinkie. This coil size builds the basket fairly quickly, while not being so large it is hard to get the needle through. You will find, if you try to make a coil as large as your index finger or thumb, that it is harder to get the needle through a thicker coil. To make a larger coil, it pays to add more pine needles in clusters, as opposed to singly. I have added whole pine needles, fascicles intact, to the center of the coil when i wanted to build it quickly.

Another easy way to increase coil size is to add a "rod," such as reed or a vine, to the center of the coil to make it build faster. This is a technique practiced by many native American people, as can be found by reading Sarah Peabody Turnbaugh's Indian Baskets (Schiffer Book for Collectors,) or one of the older editions of the same book (listed by Turnbaugh & Turnbaugh.) The technique is called "rod and bundle" coiling.

I would love to hear about your coil size and fluctuation considerations, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

The next post will be about direction of coiling.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

6. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 6.

Thanks to Annejala and Tony, who made some great positive comments yesterday! I loved hearing about both your coiling experiences, what did and did not work for you. Don’t miss Tony’s blogpost about his coiling at

Now to the nitty gritty. The last of the three things I want you to consider. They are your habits. Again, you will have to have an open mind. Some of these things you may have believed were required to coil…so sorry…not.

Do you use wet needles? Why? The only reason I ever used wet pine needles is that I want to turn some very close corners, where dry ones will break.

Wet needles hold a great deal of moisture. The moisture in the core also is picked up by the binder, and this makes the binder more fragile. As the basket dries, the pine needles shrink away from the binder, and the coils are loose. Many basketmakers combat this by using a “finish,” such as shellac or polyurethane, to try to stabilize the basket after it is thoroughly dry. This is somewhat effective, but does not make the coils truly immobile. Over the years, the fine glass-like shellac coating stresses and ages. In places, it breaks away, and the binder is loose from the coils. When the coils begin to rub against the binder, the sharp edges of the individual pine needles are just like little saws, and they shred away at the edges of the binder. This is what has happened to many of the very old raffia-bound pine needle baskets you see in antique shops. You will notice that most of the time, damage is where the raffia has broken away.

If you live in a dry climate, or your pine needles are very stiff (coulter, for instance,) you MUST use dampened needles. If you must use wet needles, try to use as little moisture as possible. Instead of soaking in boiling water, try wrapping in a moist towel until the level of flexibility REQUIRED BY THE PROJECT is reached. Some projects require more flexibility than others, and this means reasoned assessment every time. Another alternative might be to soak only the first 2-4 inches of the pine needles in water. It will take time and patience to discover the MINIMUM moisture level required, but this effort is well worth the trouble. As with anything else, experience is key, and only you can discover what works for each project.

If you must use a “finish” consider wax, which not sharp and does not become brittle with age. If a basket you have finished with wax becomes overly dusty or dull, placing it in the sunlight or applying a little heat to the surface for a few minutes (with a hair dryer or placing near a heat vent,) and then brush with a soft toothbrush or boar hair bristle brush. This will remove surface dust, and deliver a soft sheen to the wax finish.

Coil with as dry needles as possible, all the time.

If you live in a dry, arid environment, you will need to experiment with this a great deal. Especially if you are using needles like Ponderosa or Coulter, which are sturdy, stiff, and tend to be brittle.

If you live in a humid environment, like the southeastern US, you may find longleaf pine needles require no added moisture for almost all applications.

If you travel to a new place, or try new needles, you may need to change whatever your regular method is.

Many people swear by glycerinized needles,(instructions for glycerinizing) which are moist and bendable.

I would love to hear about your experience with moist/dry materials, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

The next blogpost will continue with habits, specifically gages.

(as an aside, all of the images used in this blog were given to the Pine Needle Group and permission given to use on site. If one of these photos is YOU and you do not want your image used any longer, please just let me know. On this page is: Vincent and Ethel, D. Fritz basket repair, Gloria Jones, Leigh Adams.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

5. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 5.

Yesterday, I talked starting talking about tools, we covered pliers/grabbers/thimbles. Thanks very much to Annejala for her comments. I would love to hear about other tools you all use!

Still considering #2, Tools, today we will consider binder, which as i said before, is technically a material, because it is used up, but for our purposes, we will cover it under tools....

Binder. Binder should work with you, not against you. For this reason, I feel that raffia and upholstery thread are not binders for beginners. They should be used by experienced coilers only. The binder I recommend for beginners or for those struggling is artificial sinew. It is also called waxed nylon. This binder is very strong, and because it is waxed, the drag through the core is reduced. It also allows the stitch to remain where placed with much greater accuracy. The stitches are not sliding around all the time, or losing tension. Waxed linen is the second choice, but I think should only be attempted by those at the intermediate stage. If you are having trouble, I recommend switching to artificial sinew, whatever your experience level. Sinew is also adaptable in that it can be flat (like raffia) or round (like upholstery thread and linen.) It is responsive and adaptable, and can be split into many different widths to accommodate your project.

I would love to hear about your binder adventures, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

The next post will move on to your habits, consideration #3.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

4. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 4.

Previously, we began to look at #2, Tools.

Thanks to Annejala for leaving a comment about sewing needles.

Continuing in this thread…

Pliers. Most coilers find it beneficial to have a set of needle-nosed pliers handy to pull through a difficult stitch. I highly recommend this as backup. However, there are other finger aids that can be worn that most of the time work as well as pliers; and because you do not have to put them down and pick them up, they are faster, too. As with any tool that is worn, it takes a little time to become used to using them.

The Skin Thimble, is a leather thimble reinforced with a steel disk in the pad. It is like having a coin inside a soft leather case. The thimble is used to push the needle through the coil. I specifically like the Skin Thumble, which is worn on the thumb. A thumble allows me to actually push the needle, instead of having to grasp and pull in all the time. Much easier on the fingers, as well as faster!

If you don't want to buy a Skin Thumble, you can make your own leather thimble, thanks to KJ Hartsog and Kathy Awbery , Pine Needle Group Members, who have posted DIY thimble information online. Click on their names for their pages to load. I have also seen thimble made simply of taped paper towels... Whatever works for you!

Another tool I consider a must-have is a Needle Grabber. Pamela Zimmerman’s Needle Grabber is a series of rubber tubes that fit on the ends of the fingers of the coiling hand. They are available in several sizes, and can be worn on the index finger and/or thumb. These allow for ease of gripping, and are so comfortable for many people they forget they are wearing them. (Needle Grabber Duo at left.)

I mix them up, usually wearing the smallest grabber on my index finger, and the Skin Thumble on my thumb. Others have told me of cutting the finger portions off of rubber or latex gloves, or using the little finger cots sold for first aid protection; or the banker’s fingers sold in office supply stores.

Some people find they need more support in order to coil. Many people use gloves, either to keep their wrists straight, or or provide support to the fingers, or to protect their skin. (That's Toni Best, coiler extraordinnaire, coiling the famous California Gourd Society's Traveling Gourd, at right, with her gloves on!)

Next, we will continue with tools.

I would love to hear about favorite grasping tools, and what you use to support your hands please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read!

Thanks very much to those of you who have recently looked at and purchased pottery basket bases in my MakeABasket shop on etsy...i have more bases coming, please bear with me, it takes time to photograph and list them.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

3. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 3.

Yesterday, we introduced the three considerations and talked about number one.

Today we will begin #2, a look at tools, a very important part of coiling.

Common tools used by coilers:

• Scissors
• Sewing needle
• Pliers or grabbers
• Binder (actually a material, because it is “used up,” but we will call it a tool so I can cover it under #2!)

Scissors generally should be small and sharp. Embroidery scissors are good. Sawing away at whatever you want to cut takes extra time and leaves ragged ends in your work. If you are using scissors to prepare your core material, they should probably be large and very sharp. Sharpness is key. Find a scissors sharpener, or buy new scissors. Blunt scissors are hard on your hands, and take extra time.

Sewing Needles. I don’t know why a #16-18 blunt needle is the most often used needle for coiling, perhaps because the most popular book says it is what is to be used. Perhaps it is because it has a large eye, which will accept raffia and other broad binders. I suppose the blunted end is SUPPOSED to push the pine needles aside, rather than piercing them and making raggedy snarls on your basket. But, in my opinion, the #16-18 blunted needle far from the ideal coiling needle.

If you are coiling normal sized baskets, and using something like pine needles as a core, you should be using the largest possible needle for speed and accuracy in coiling. I use the biggest needle the project will allow, and really love for them to be at least 2 inches long. A larger needle is ergonomically sounder. It is better for your body. It is easier to grasp and to find when pushing through the coils (on the other side of the coil.) This both saves time and it saves your little clenching and clasping muscles. You may not be having trouble with them now, but eventually, almost everyone does… read>>>>repetitive motion injuries: carpal tunnel, etc. Also affected by aging and joint deterioration.

Using a large needle also means you can either grasp or push your needle more easily, with less damage to the needle. This is important. I like YARN DARNERS for my work. They have a sharp point, and an eye large enough to accept yarn (hence the name.) I still try to push my needle in between the pine needles, I try not to just puncture them all. But the larger smooth needle goes through the pine needles more easily, and allows for faster coiling.

If coiling miniatures, the needle should still be as long as possible, though fine so as not to tear the core. I prefer quilter’s golden eye basting needles, which have a large eye to accept many binders, are slender enough for miniature projects, and are still about 2” long.

Sewing Needles should be sharp and not corroded, to reduce drag. The exception to this is when you want to specifically use a blunted needle, because your core material is very fragile. In this case, buy and use a blunted large needle, don’t use a sharp that has gone dull. There is a huge difference.

I also recommend the use of curved needles when a needle will not "reach" where you want it to go. Curved needles come in all sizes. If you inadvertently bend one of your favorite straight needles, don't throw it out! They make great curved needles.

I would love to hear about your favorite needles and cutting tools, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

The next post will continue talking about tools.

New Bases Fresh from the Kiln!

For those of you who have been patiently waiting, new bases have just been taken from the kiln, and are being listed in my shop! Get them while they are hot! I will be continuing to list throughout the upcoming weeks, so watch for your favorite motifs! Thanks for all the suggestions on facebook, I have listened to what you requested! ~ Pamela

Friday, October 16, 2009

2. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 2

Thanks to those who read my rant yesterday and to Donna, Jan, Tony, and Cazcat, who made positive comments. It sounds like we have a bunch of like-minded coilers out there. So, on to the three things I think you should consider if you want to be able to coil faster and easier:

1. Your Attitude
2. Your Tools
3. Your Habits

Yes, it is all about YOU. No accusation. Just: What works for YOU. Not for your teacher, or your friend. People are different, and you need to figure out how things work for YOU and only YOU.

The first thing to examine is your attitude: are you open minded? Or are you “by the book?” If you learned “from a book” and are still doing everything exactly the way the book showed you, then you are conforming to another person’s idea of the “best” way to coil. Don’t get me wrong. It may be that the book’s way IS the best way FOR YOU. But only YOU can determine this. YOU determine by trying different things if you don’t think what you are already doing is working. But first, you have to be open-minded. You have to be willing to consider that there is more than one possible way to do EVERYTHING.

The next post will be about YOUR TOOLS.

I would love to hear about your learning process, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

Thursday, October 15, 2009

1. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post Number 1

In this series, hope to address how to make coiler faster and easier. If you are already content with your method of coiling, and your skill level, you may disagree with my philosophy. I understand this, and I acknowledge your right to be different from me.

The people I would like to reach are those who are struggling with coiling. Those for whom the methods already tried seem cumbersome or just “not quite right.” People who love the idea of coiling, but cannot seem to make things work YET. If you are one of those people, this is for you. If you are not one of those people, you are also welcome to join us. Positive-toned comments are welcomed, as this is meant to be a helpful thought process, and not a debate on “the way to coil.”

In my opinion, coiling is a very personal thing. It matters how your body is made, what you are comfortable with, and the overall goal of the activity. I coil for relaxation, and for personal expression. For me, what WORKS is the most important thing. I do not believe in rules, I do not believe in “the way things are done.” The only thing I care about is what works for me. You should only care about what works for you, too.

I have heard teachers say, “That’s just not done.” This, in my opinion, is a cop-out. If you cannot articulate a specific reason why something is not done, then it is “not done” just because you don’t like it. That may be a good reason for you to do something a certain way, but it is not a good enough reason for me. I want to know WHY. I think students should ask WHY whenever a teacher says “we don’t do that.”

I want to make it very clear: I am not advocating large scale rebellion against teachers everywhere. When taking a class, always remember you are paying to learn the teacher’s expert technique. Obviously the techniques she is teaching work for her, and for others who have learned from her. You have to give it a “good shot,” and do your best to learn the methods she espouses. If you are in a class, you should make every effort to do what the teacher teaches for the duration of the class. Then, after you have gone home, sort out what works for you…keep what works, and don’t worry about the rest.

So, this series is written primarily for the self-learner, one who is learning from the internet and reading books.

There is nothing quite like learning on your own. A person who has “reinvented the wheel” through self-learning is a wonderfully educated person. She may not have as many perfectly finished products as one who learns with the guidance of a teacher, BUT the self-learner knows what does and does not work for her. This is very valuable learning.

When I first started reading Judy Mallow’s book, From Forest Floor to Finished Project, I was enthralled! I could not believe the beauty of her baskets, and it sounded so easy! Then, when I began trying to duplicate what I saw in the book, I thought, “What’s the matter with me? Why can’t I do this?” My baskets looked nothing like hers. My stitches did not spiral, my baskets were ill-formed, the pine needles refused to lay flat. I was very disappointed. I really needed someone else to talk to about this! But I couldn’t find anyone living near me who coiled.

That is how the Pine Needle Group was born. The Pine Needle Group is an online circle of cyber friends. We are based on the yahoo group email list at . This is the place where I learned that I was not the only one who could not do things “by the book.” Through the years (eleven years now) the Pine Needle Group has served as my sounding board, my teacher, by companion to learning. They are an amazing group of people. The yahoo groups’ companion website is . Please join us, and enter our continuing conversation….we focus on coiling. It is because of this website and this group that I have grown from an all-thumbs loner learner to an emerging artist and teacher. I think you will find it a nurturing environment, too!

The next post will introduce the three considerations for faster, easier coiling.

I would love to hear about your learning process, please leave a comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

Woven Architecture

Ah, the wonders of the internet. Woven structures are not new…and here are two amazing woven bridges….

One as nature wove….

One as man imitates….

Both amazing! Would you dare walk them?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A new Path for Artists and Patrons and find out what is happening
within the Arts community of the Inner Banks. This Month:

A lovely article, not just about what is happening on the Inner Banks of North Carolina's art scene, but remembering the Public Works of Art Project that helped bring relief to artists during the Great Depression, and highlighting InkStone Gallery.

InkStone Gallery's feature for October includes feature: Weaving Transformation about artist Pamela Zimmerman (hey, that's me!)

Escape Window

Just when I thought perhaps I needed a new perspective, I found a new window

I am reminded of sunlight through trees in the forest, shadows and mysteries. Vines are creeping through from the other side, and pulling me in….aaaaahhhh! I will make a coppery vine basket while resting there.

I am so honored to be wearing this marvelous work of art! For more of them, check out Down to Earth Pottery on etsy.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's That In My Shoe?????

OOOOHH! Something is in there....

Can you see it? (click on the photos to see them larger) My dog was chasing something, and suddenly there was something VERY COLD in my old leather sandals, pressed up against my arch...I hobbled to the door to hollar for my camera. It was a chilly little anole, one of the cute little lizards that live in our yard. This one was resting somewhere and my dog must have caught it. They normally will not move when they are that cold, except to creep out to bask in the sun.

I let him nestle his cold little body against my foot for about 10 minutes, hoping to help him out. Finally, i slowly removed my sandal. I was pretty sure he was okay, but still crossing my fingers i had not crushed him....

he did not move when i slipped my toes out.
...and there he is. I knew he was okay. He little sides were heaving still, and his left eye was rolling all around, looking for that dog...I set him up on the railing of the deck, where the dog MIGHT not go (she is pretty agile) and looked more closely.

You can see where he was warming against me, his back is turning green.

About 10 minutes later, when i hobbled back to check on him, he was gone....
Perhaps this is him, peeking out from the shutters? So glad he got away! Since then, I have rescued 2 more from inside my house, in addition to a large tree frog! I suppose our windows are not tight enough, and we have them open, to catch the wonderful autumn air! Thank goodness for quick & gentle hands, we haven't lost one yet!