A gift, a perfect gift.

Bees have buzzed into my life. They are in my mind, my art, my sunflowers, and now I have a piece of their creation in my studio. Sweet fresh honey is dripping and sticky on my art table.

Women friends have brought the bee in my life. Esther would only have beeswax candles in her house. I could see why – they have a wonderful scent and a beautiful glow. Now I too have these in my studio.

Susan Friedman taught me how to coat paintings and sculpture in beeswax, using the encaustic process. It is one of the most lovely smelling mediums to work with, and so fun to dip, pour and paint with the translucent hot wax.


This week Linda Hettle introduced me to Skye Taylor – the creator of  the Temple Hive. I attended my first hive opening with these wonderful women. It was an extraordinary experience to be in the presence of the sacred buzzing beings. Skye prepared the smoker with sumac, pine needles, while Linda held a rhythm on a drum with the 6 sided hexagon shape drawn on it. Skye pulled out the top bars to reveal beautiful honeycomb. Five of us surrounded the hive and felt completely safe without protective suits.


At the end of the hive inspection, Skye gifted me with some honeycomb. The smell of wax and honey made out of pollen, permeates my studio. The light and shadows play with the translucent perfect hexagon structure – a mini bee temple. I have no words to fully describe how much I am enjoying it.

Ocean inspired art creates healing environment at Alta Bates Hospital, reception 5/10


I’ve created five new sculpture pieces which will be displayed at a show called


Included in the show are:
Photographs by Jamie McHugh
Photo art by Tara Gill
Collages by Susan Adame
Sculpture by Judy Shintani

May 10 – July 10, 2008
Always open

Artists’ reception Sat. May 10, 5-7 pm

Community Art Gallery
Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
2450 Ashby Ave, Berkeley

This show offered some interesting parameters for me. 1)Fit an ocean theme – which is not too far fetched for me, as you may know if you have seen my work 2) The pieces had to fit in plexiglass cases that are 29 x 29 x 29 inches and on 43 inch pedestals 3) The work could not touch the top or sides of the cases 4) The content of the work could not be political in nature or contain nudity.

I typically do not like too many guidelines in my work. Much of my art just appears – it tends to be very intuitive. But this time, why not go with it, I thought.

I decided to let the parameters guide me. I took advantage of walking down to the beach for my materials. The searching and the gathering was very meditative and actually fun. I wanted very much to touch each piece that I would use in my work. I wanted to select each and every sea shell.

Working with the shells also became a meditative process. Very much like putting together puzzle pieces. What shapes fit? totemsNot only the contours of the shell, but also the thickness had an affect in how the total piece felt in my hands. I created these fetish pieces to represent and create a bond with the Ocean Spirit. They remind me of African and native totems and also milagro wooden crosses. I wish the pieces could be picked up and experienced. The shape and smoothness of the mosaiced driftwood has a very soothing and pleasing feel. They have a very grounded nature about them.

I thought about how each shell has been tossed and turned in the waves of the ocean, day and night. How she has nurtured the fragments for me so they could come together to form a piece of art which I think has a different sort of beauty. Art created from the broken pieces, the skeletons, the pieces of an ocean creature’s outgrown abode.

hanging shells

The hanging piece has a stillness and delicate nature to it. Each hanging strand of shells is made up of nine pieces. The strands are suspended from a wire chair that I salvaged from my friend Chip’s yard. The shells are reminiscent of the way that oysters are hung as they are growing. This is a tip of the hat to my ancestors who were oyster farmers in Washington. I enjoy the shadows cast by the shell strands intermingled with the wire structure. Shadows can be so beautiful – I often look for them in my work. A wonderful surprise happened when I took the piece outside and the wind interacted with it. A wonderful swaying and movement occurred, and with that also came a delightful tinkling of the shells. The motion
reminded me of the rhythm of the waves.

shellbellyLastly, I created a piece that I’m not sure I will get to show. This is because of the nudity issue. I created a beautiful Venus like creature. She is put together with shells I gathered in Half Moon Bay, ones Ander and I picked up on our camping trip to Deep Ravine, and mostly shells collected over the years by my friends Charlene and Joan. Their shells are from their trips to Mexico and the Caribbean. I felt honored to have received their shells for my birthday, to use in my work. They are especially precious since Joan just recently passed away. All the joy and fun and wonder with which these shells have been collected, come together to be used in a piece which incorporates the female form. The canvas is the body of a mannequin. A NUDE mannequin! So we will see if this beauty will make it into the show. If not there, I’m sure she will show up someplace else soon!

What I am really hoping is that my process comes through to the viewers at the Hospital. I hope they will ponder and fantasize about being at the beach picking up all these shells while hearing the waves as they come in, the seagulls flying overhead. I have not seen all the work of the other artists, but we will bring the healing nature of the ocean to the gallery lobby for a couple of months. May the patients and the employees enjoy it.

Go with the beeswax

I found this wonderful beeswax candle shop in Santa Fe and brought some candles back to California. I really liked this family owned and run business and learned a lot about the benefits of beeswax. I share some info from their website http://www.santafecandle.com/ below:

Most candles: toxic leftovers.
Most commercial candles are made of poisonous chemicals. Paraffin is petroleum industry waste that is bleached (adding dioxin and other poisonous chemicals) and texturized with acrolyn. Stearic acid, a byproduct of the meatpacking slaughterhouses, is added as a hardener. Often candles are highly scented with artificial, synthetic oils and marketed to “freshen” our precious air. Of course they don’t actually freshen or deodorize anything, they just mask smells with chemicals stronger and dangerous to our health.

“Aromatherapy” candles may be some of the worst, and marketing takes advantage us using nice names like “harmony”, “rejuvenation” and “bliss”. Some companies use good quality essential oils and the focus our attention on that fact, but they are in a paraffin candle. This makes no sense to us, and we trust that intelligent people will see through all the nonsense, however poetic and “spiritual”.

According to the American EPA, paraffin candles are known to release carcinogens like benzene and toluene. When burned, they spew choking toxins and black soot as harmful to our health as second-hand tobacco smoke that coats our walls, our art and our lungs. Just try breathing directly over a lit paraffin candle and you’ll know immediately how poisonous it is.

The American Lung Association says “Refrain from burning scented or slow-burning candles that have additives. This is such a serious issue that the insurance industry is issuing stern warnings – and policies.

More and more candles are being made with vegetable waxes such as soy and palm.
This is a great improvement over chemical candles in all terms, but as an aesthetic matter, they burn at a very low temperature and give off a cold, eerie light. Also, though quite clean-burning, they do not possess the same magical qualities as beeswax.

Beeswax: made from flowers by honeybees. Solid sunlight™.
Beeswax is different: all natural, non-toxic, non-polluting, non-allergenic, and with a delicious honey-sweet aroma. A perfect, renewable resource, beeswax is made by the female worker bee for honeycomb, which safely contains their honey and the Queen’s baby bees.

To produce one pound of beeswax, the worker bees eat about ten pounds of honey (yum), fly 150,000 miles, and visit 33 million flower blossoms! Beeswax is precious stuff.

Pure beeswax is healthy
Beeswax produces negative ions that actually clean your air of odors, pollens, smoke, dust, dust mites, viruses and other allergens and hazards – the only known fuel to do so. As does a rainstorm, beeswax candles leave your air fresher and cleaner – they are a true air purifier. They are the only candle for anyone with chemical sensitivities or allergies.

Increasing negative ions in the air and on the body, such as when one bathes in water, improves mood and sense of wellbeing.

With increased negative ions, studies show:

  • Improved air quality
  • Improved sleep
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Relief from hay fever & allergies
  • Less severe asthma attacks
  • Improved concentration
  • Balancing of hormones
  • Natural detoxification
  • Sense of wellbeing

It achieves a very efficient and complete burn (mostly to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor) and thus burns brighter, hotter, cleaner, and longer than any other wax. When properly made and burned, beeswax candles are smokeless and dripless. Measured by burn time, beeswax candles are usually a better value than boutique paraffin – even when they appear to cost more.

But beware: because of lax labeling laws and consistent lobbying by chemical candle makers, a candle may be labeled “beeswax” if it contains as little as 10% beeswax – the balance is probably paraffin. Also be suspicious of labels simply stating “natural”. If the label doesn’t say “100% beeswax” or “pure beeswax”, it almost certainly is not. Buy 100% Beeswax!