Sculpting With Wool: Debie Deaton, Mixed Media Artist

Bird, bug and goldfish made from felt

Crow, bug, goldfish and tealfish wool art waiting for new homes

At Chimneyville Arts Festival in Jackson last year, one stand was a Shakespearean comedy, full of colour, reverie, laughter and life. Was it just in my imagination that Falstaff, Feste, Caliban and The Man In The Moon cavorted with felt acrobats, goofy-looking puppets, elves, Pod people, birds, bees and bugs?

A lady dressed in a bright jacket sat quietly by the stand, rising to greet visitors with a Duchenne smile. This was Debie Deaton, a member of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi. Continue reading

Bird House Refurbishment And A Hauntingly Lovely Journey

Brightly coloured birdhouses on wooden poles with a white picket fence

While I was in Mississippi, we were passing Suzie Cranston’s house when a ball of energy with a beaming smile bounced out of the driveway, exclaiming “I’m painting them! You must look! And I’m really enjoying it!”

She’s the lady, some of you may recall, with perhaps a hundred birdhouses in her garden.

Polka dot birdhouse with tin roof

Waving us down the path to her workshop, she pointed out the detailing of the ones she was working on. Any bare wood had been painted over with cheerful colours. Continue reading

Playing With Wool

Bug with pink nose and cute expression

Wool and metal bug by Debie Deaton

Debie Deaton sculpts with wool, creating colourful, upscale toys and puppets like this little bug. I met her at Mississippi’s Chimneyville Arts Festival earlier in the month and was immediately taken by her lovingly made, character-infused creations. A whole booth of these animated figures, each one unique, but all united by her humorous house style, is a carnival.  Continue reading

Crafts Style Wrought Iron Tree Gate

House gate with ginkgo shaped leaf pattern

Our landscape architect friend, Rick Griffin, says that the best way to add personality to a house is by doing something a bit special at the entrance. I like visiting Shrewsbury – I’ve written about it before – but of all the wonderful places there, the one I’d most like to receive an invite to is this private house. I know nothing at all about the people who live there, but by looking at their gate (plus a few peeks over their garden wall) I’ve formed an impression about them.  Continue reading

Life In Clay: Mixed Media Artist, Harold W. Miller

Wind figure by Harold W Miller

I’m a fan of Harold Miller, a contemporary sculptor, who works in mixed media with a focus on clay and ceramics. His largest works are staged on 3D surrounds that have more in common with a theatre set than a traditional frame. Heads and figures, often embellished with tin or jewellery, emerge from textural backgrounds made from clay, stone and/or beautifully stained driftwood.

These two smaller figures show Harold’s technique and storytelling ability. The figures look self-contained, but their silence is lyrical. The man above is one in a series of wind figures wearing stylised, windswept cloaks. It’s almost impossible for the viewer not to imagine the story of his life, as if the clay could have its own history.

Woman by Harold W Miller

But when I first saw Harold’s work exhibited at Chimneyville Crafts Festival, it was this lady, captured in prayer, that I admired most. Her slim frame seems vulnerable and she is rapt in her faith. Though she is made of clay, she overflows with humanity. I can’t tell you her story, but I seem to feel the strength of her heart.

Continue reading

Suzie Cranston’s Birdhouse Garden

When Suzie Cranston’s world was rocked by the death of her son, Peck, a sign saying ‘Peace begins in the garden’ inspired her to create a garden that would celebrate his life.

Beautiful at any time of the year, my sweetheart and I often pause to admire it on walks through our quirky little neighbourhood, Fondren, in Jackson, Mississippi. More than twenty years after starting the garden, Suzie is eager for others to enjoy it as much as she does. She welcomes visitors with a broad smile, pointing out things they may have missed: flowers, garden art, a new birdhouse and, in particular, things that Peck would have loved, such as the tortoises which appear everywhere.  Continue reading

Keepsake Box with Bead Blessings

Peace, contentment, prosperity, tranquility written in beads

The weekly challenge asks us to share something tiny. If you’re viewing this on a phone, you won’t make out the messages on this keepsake box – blessings, exhortations and affirmations – so I’m writing them out for you:

Peace · Joy · Lucky · Contentment · Devotion · Prosperity · Happy · Laugh · Tranquility · Fun

Picked out in beads on a keepsake box at the Attic Gallery, Vicksburg, MS

Every city should have an Attic Gallery – it’s our communal loss that so many of them don’t. You can travel for miles before you’ll find anything that truly compares. This long established, family owned gallery specialises in southern contemporary art and fine crafts. Their reputation and instinct for seeking out regional talent has helped them gather a definitive collection of work.  Continue reading