Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Ooo La La La Cascade

I am heading back to France this summer, to take part in my second workshop with Dayle Doroshow at La Cascade. While I’m away, I’m posting some of the entries from my time in France in 2009.

Enjoy this re-post which introduces you to La Cascade. When I return I’m sure to have hundreds of new pictures and many new stories to share.


With several hundred photos to review and edit, I thought I would begin by introducing you to La Cascade, the lovely home owned by Gwen Gibson in Durfort, France. Gwen is very generous in opening up this little slice of heaven to artists so that we, too, may experience the joys of the area, indulge our senses, and release our inner muses. For more information on La Cascade visit this page.

Come On In

Come On In

Let’s start with the interior: the kitchen, dining room, and family room:

Where we gathered for breakfast and where meals were prepared by Neesa

Where we gathered for breakfast and where Nesa prepared her delicious, artistic meals

We ate several meals in the dining room

We ate several meals in the dining room

The Family Room or Gathering Room

The Family Room or Gathering Room

La Cascade is not only beautiful on the inside, but on the outside as well. Behind La Cascade is a soothing river and waterfall. Even on cool nights we kept our windows open slightly so we could be lulled to sleep by the wooshing sound of the waterfall.

The patio where we ate several meals and relaxed

The patio where we ate several meals and relaxed

Our bedroom windows; small windows are the studio

Our bedroom windows; small windows are the studio

La Cascade waterfall

La Cascade waterfall

River running behind La Cascade

River running behind La Cascade

And the studio where we awakened our muses:

Original stairs to the third floor studio

Up the original stairs to the third floor studio

Viola! La Studio

Viola! La Studio

Along with the door knocker shown at the beginning of this post, La Cascade also holds lots of sweet little niches and decor.

A Scrolly Metal Railing

A Scrolly Metal Railing

The Bell that Called Us to Dinner

The Bell that Called Us to Dinner

Loved This Cutting Board

Loved This Cutting Board

A Little Niche in the Patio Wall

A Little Niche in the Patio Wall

Curious: A key or something else?

Curious: A key or something else?

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of La Cascade. It truly is a special place.

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Monday Reflection: We Just Don’t Know

When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure,
we don’t know what’s really going to happen.
When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know.
Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.
We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know.
We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall.
When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story.
It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.
Life is like that.
We don’t know anything.
We call something bad; we call it good.
But really we just don’t know.

-Pema Chodron


Snapshots and Memories: An Adventure in Artist Trading Cards

After I return from France, I am embarking on a new art project: Snapshots and Memories from Langeudoc – Rousillon. This art project will focus on the creation of artist trading cards (ATCs) using encaustic medium and polymer clay. The theme for this art project is capturing the essence of the Langeudoc – Rousillon region in France.

ATCs are the size of trading cards and can be created from just about any medium, including felt, polymer clay, paper, fiber, or some combination of mixed mediums. You can read about the history of ATCs here.

This past week I delved into this project by creating two prototype ATCs. This was my time to practice my approach to creating the ATCs, practicing with the encaustic medium, and generating ideas of what types of images I’ll be looking for in France.

Below are pictures of the prototypes.

Le Tournesol "Sunflower" ATC

Le Tournesol ATC Detail

Le Tournesol was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: Napkin, encaustic medium, polymer clay, oil paint, alcohol inks, mica powder, metal stamp letters.

Le Chat Noir ATC

Le Chat Noir ATC Detail

Le Chat Noir was created on Ampersand ATC Encaustic board. Materials: French dictionary page, found images, encaustic medium, polymer clay, alcohol inks, oil paint, metallic rub-on, texture plate.

The ATCs will be mounted on wood in single, double, and triple layout.


Oh The Tangled Webs We Weave

It is another rainy day here in Central Massachusetts. In between downpours, I spied this spider web while meandering in our front yard this morning. Looks like Charlotte spun her web between my the stems the hot red bee balm, of one of my favorite perennials.

Dewy Spider Web

In this next edited image, I decreased the vibrancy and increased the saturation.

And in this final picture, a completely desaturated version.

I love when the serendipity of nature presents itself as it did this morning.


From Inspiration to Creation: Taking an Idea & Making It My Own with a Little Help from My Friends

I’m always on the lookout for sources of inspiration as I work on my new line of work with polymer clay focal disks. A recent source of inspiration came from Ford and Forlano’s O’Keefe pin.

O'Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin - The...

O’Keeffe Pin: Steven Ford and David Forlano: Silver & Clay Pin – The… (clipped to

I love the shape and construction of their pin. I thought to myself “Self, that would make a very cool focal disk.” And then I thought “How the heck did they do that?”

My intent was not to replicate Ford & Forlano’s O’Keefe pin. There is no way I could do that anyways. Rather, I wanted to figure out how to create a similar shape with my own style.

The shape and design reminded me of a ribbon. So using that as my starting point I rolled a thin strip of clay and wrapped it into a rose-like shape resulting in experiment #1.

Experiment #1 "Toothy"

Ribbon Disk Experiment #2

Uhm, well, those are interesting but not exactly what I had in mind.

Scratch head, look at picture of pin again, and give it another go.

Rose Disk #1

Rose Disk with Striped Tentacles

Okay, this is a slight improvement but the walls are still too high and I think the clay strips still too thin.

Time to call in the posse, er, my friends. Another set of eyes (or two or three) can be helpful. Maybe they’ll see something I’m not. I ping the folks on Polymer Clay Central. I talk to Dayle and Paula, Karen, and Judy. Everyone has different interpretations but also some similarities in the construction. This is good because I’m getting insight from folks who work in polymer clay, pottery, fiber and mixed media.

Out comes the clay again to experiment. We experiment together with the clay, commenting and making suggestions on how to manipulate the clay. Ah ha, I think we’re on to something here.

Purple Focal Disks

Oh yes, this is much closer to what I had in mind. Thank you dear friends for your input and suggestions.

Since those little purple disks were created, I’ve been experimenting even more, adding my own spin on things, letting the clay lead me and including texture, protuberances, and, of course, faces.

Untitled Striped Disk




I can’t wait to pair some of these disks with encaustic backgrounds. It will give them a completely different look. Stay tuned!

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Monday Reflection: Listen to the Words

Learning itself is an art.

When we listen with a still and concentrated mind,
it’s possible to actually be responsive to what the words are saying.
Sometimes deep insights come in a flash, unexpectedly.

-Joseph Goldstein