Tag Archives: tokeland

Made in Tokeland

Made in Tokeland 2

Greetings all~

Since my last blog entry I have been to Los Angeles to display my work in a show that included a roster of highly talented craftspeople, including jewelry makers, fashion designers, mixed media artists and vinyal deejays. I enjoyed the casual, friendly vibe at the show, made some sales and promising  contacts…and had a great time at the after show party.

creative warrior display 5 Yes those are disco ball reflections!

When I returned home, my good friend and neighbor Jeff Uitto stopped by.  Jeffro makes furniture and sculpture from salvaged wood found on local beaches and rivers. I have known him since he was a young kid growing up in Tokeland and  living with his grandmother Jan, a wonderfully feisty lady who rode a pink Harley with ape hangers. Creative to the bone, Jeff forages beaches for redwood, cedar, and maple, seeing the possibilities in grain and shape, later milling the largest pieces into slabs. He can become ecstatic over a “gnarly root ball.” His yard is filled with stacks of drying wood, some pieces he has had for years, waiting for just the right project. His shop is called Knock on Wood.

eagle2 crossing currentsRiverteeth01


Since we’d last seen each other, Jeff and I had both done shows in major cities. As we compared notes, in the best Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney tradition we said  “Let’s put on a show.” We would invite some of our artist friends who live in the area and put the word out via postcards and Facebook. It would be an opportunity to show and sell recent work in a relaxed  non cyber setting. A real place in real time.

The historic Tokeland Hotel and Restaurant, Washington state’s oldest resort hotel agreed to host the event in their rustic lobby and even offered a special rate for guests that weekend.

hotel www.tokelandhotel.com

We invited some of our favorite artists to show with us: photographer Marcy Merrill, miniature furniture maker Mark Murphy, and  photo journalist/writer  Erika Langley. Here are some examples of their work:

Mark Murphy  is a master craftsman/maker of miniature furniture, specializing in 18th/19th century pieces with a special focus on arts and crafts movement and Japanese designs. His work can be seen in museums in the mid-west and private collections world wide. A graduate of the Philadelphia College of the Arts, Mark resides in Astoria, Oregon.

mark desksetchair mark 4chairMark japanese 

(all pieces are one inch in scale)

Marcy Merrill is a photographer who specializes in alternative photo processes, including wet plate collodion photography and pinhole photography. In addition. to offering state of the art digital imagery, she also has a pink- tiled dark room in her North Cove, Washington studio. Besides being our close friend and neighbor, ( and my son Raleigh’s godmother) Marcy is the go-to person for excellent studio work. Many of the artist photos on this page (and my website) were shot by Marcy. Here are two wet plate collodion photographs.



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Marcy will be world premiering pintoid photographs from a recent journey across Canada and the US. “Pintoids” are pinhole cameras made from Altoids containers.


To learn about the wet plate collodion process and see more images, go to Marcy’s website:http://www.merrillphoto.com/index.php?id=50

Erika Langley is an internationally recognized photographer. A native of Arlington Virginia, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design, has worked for newspapers in Virginia and was the recipient of three Virginia Press Awards before moving to Seattle, Washington in 1992. Her book The Lusty Lady, documents the years she spent dancing and photographing behind the scenes at Seattle’s notorious Lusty Lady. Currently Erika divides her time between Seattle and Northcove , Washington, photographing and blogging about the rapid erosion of nearby Washaway Beach.

MLK day by Jenna Steffenson MLK day by Jenna Steffenson

To visit her blog go to: http://www.washawaybeach.com/gallery/index.html

Here is a teaser from Amazon.com about her book, The Lusty Lady:

When Erica Langley approached the female management of Seattle’s Lusty Lady she was told that to photograph the peep show dancers she would have to become one. Through photos and texts that are both candid and affectionate, humanizing and humorous, readers see behind the impenetrable armor of naked dancers, documented by one of their own. Complete with extensive interviews which allow the people to speak for themselves, Langley’s work juxtaposes stage personas with real people, showing the love, humor and boredom behind the scenes, and the humanity behind the stigma and shame.

lusty lady Erika will be signing copies of her collectable book…

There may be one or two other surprise artists and musicians at our event, for updates check our event page on Facebook, Made in Tokeland. (or just show up!)

Before closing this, I want to include some photos of a collaboration between Jeffro and myself. The piece is a cedar burl bowl with etched copper embellishments. It is pretty large, about 28 inches across. It will be part of the exhibit…

cedar copper bowl cedar copper bowl 4


I hope this has piqued your interest in our special part of the world. and the varied art of those who live here. It is our intent to offer a return to the handmade, authentic and one of a kind.

You are cordially invited to attend Made in Tokeland on December 14th-better yet, why not spend the weekend?
Wishing everyone a holiday season to treasure!


Good Morning October!



It’s been awhile since my last blog post..September has come and gone and with it, the summer season. When you live in a beach town there are definite signs of the season ending beyond the obvious (shorter days, cooler temps)  My neighbors for example- most are summer people, who spend the blissful season here in vintage cottages and deluxe RVs. For about a week or so in August a flurry of activity goes on: cleaning rain gutters, pressure washing porches, scrubbing moss off the roof with bleach, mowing lawns and killing gorse…. All this while I am lying on a beach towel in the back yard reading Yes I Can by Sammy Davis Jr.  I am soaking up sunshine for my internal solar battery. This is an essential part of winterizing for those who live here year round. We wait to clean out gutters, maybe the patio never gets pressure washed, but we are tanned!

We know IT (IT meaning the rainy season) is coming and we face it with a strange sense of surrender and relief. Yes there will be rain and more rain (more on that later) but there will also be peace, solitude, a beach with no footprints….the drama of storms (more on that later) the coziness of evenings spent feeding a fire….

For me, the days are especially great now that the kids have started back to school. Raleigh is a 7th grader, and Sophia is a freshman in high school this year. Both are running on the cross country team and both play in the school band. We spent a lot of time together over the summer and I treasure it. But I am also treasuring these long days alone at home, back in the studio, returning to projects that have been in my mind for too long. Keeping a balance is never easy, but right now there seems to be a good balance between surface level living (keeping food in the house, chopping firewood, picking up the kids from practice everyday) and below surface level~the deepest place of creative dreams and manifesting them.

We’ve already had a walloping three days of rain and wind blow through here. Nearby Astoria, Oregon reported ten inches of rain for September and 75 MPH wind gusts were clocked here over the weekend. Let the games begin!

What follows are some photos taken today in honor of October. It felt great to get out on the beach in between rain and hail showers…

046        025 salmon fishermen

023    020 new cuff I just finished

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Fifteen minutes later a hail storm. Seen from inside my studio….light is from a fishing boat

053  after the squall…sunshine feels extra good!

Hope your fall season is a time of positive transition~I will keep you posted!

Something Old and Something New

herband billphoto by Marcy Merrill

Wedding rings are a great example of jewelry with meaning. Chosen with care to represent both individuals and their union to each other, it is always a great honor for me to work with a couple to custom design the rings that will signify their commitment  and love.

Recently I made the wedding rings for my friends Herb and Bill, from Astoria, Oregon. They have been together for nearly twenty years. On March 4, 2004, they were legally married in the state of Oregon. The rings they used in that ceremony  were made by a  Hopi silver smith, purchased on a previous trip to Sedona,  Arizona.

Eight months after they were married, same sex marriage was repealed in Oregon. It will go back on the ballots in November 2014. Although same sex marriage is now legal in nearby Washington state (yay!) they choose not to get re- married there.They are going to wait for it to pass ( again) in their home state.

Herb and Bill asked me to design some new rings for them, using parts of their original wedding bands. They really liked the organic texture and form of my reticulated silver bands.The idea was to incorporate a piece from each of their rings into the design. Herb’s ring had four bear paw prints across the top, in gold. The bear symbolizes healing, protection, power and strength. Bill’s ring had a four part  wave motif in gold. The wave symbolizes continuous life and love.

I started preparing the metal during a full moon in April. Lots of positive thought and intention went into the process. It was a bit of a challenge to work with elements that were not completely of my own making. I really hoped that the stylized and polished Hopi designs would mesh with my funky free form organic silver bands….

When the rings were finished, I called Bill and Herb.

They planned a trip up to my studio in Tokeland. (Coincidentally, it was during another full moon.)

They were more than delighted with the look and fit of their new wedding bands! We drank a champagne toast to their new rings and continued happiness together…something old and something new.


Making it a romantic weekend, they stayed at the historic Tokeland Hotel. Built in 1885, it is the oldest resort hotel in Washington state. They invited me to be their guest for diner that night. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and great company, in the rustically charming dining room, wood stove blazing brightly as the rain came down outside.




herb and bill22

Here’s to you Herb and Bill, all the best and many thanks!!!

places and traces


For over thirty years I have lived in this place called Tokeland in Washington state. It has been the longest lasting relationship in my life, not counting my family-none of whom live remotely close to here (but they do enjoy visiting in the summer.)

I came up here from Southern California when I was in my early twenties and found a way of life in a small rural community that continues to evolve. Sometimes I am in love with this place. Other times it is a test of endurance. Fourteen years ago I became a mother. My children, Sophia and Raleigh have enriched my life beyond compare (more about them in a future post.)

Somehow I am managing to raise my two children and still serve the needs of my muse (she is sort of a bitch if I don’t!)

I do love a challenge.

Here are a few pictures of places that inspire the jewelry I make…

IMG_5387    king tide, November 2012.

IMG_6357    IMG_6364


The highest tides of the year are called King Tides-we get them in roughly Fall and Spring. This was an 11.5 ft tide as seen from the beach where I live on Willapa Bay.

About three hours by car to the north, on the Olympic Peninsula,are rocky beaches that play host to all kinds of sea creatures. I love the shapes, colors, movement and life on display in salt water pools.As a child I was fascinated by tide pools-still am.

IMG_4899                              ane3

tide pool, Ruby Beach, WA                                                            sea anemone ring

 JUNE 2012015

Salt water rings on a kelp bed-photo by Marcy Merrill, my very special photographer friend who lives in the neighborhood.But more about Marcy in a future post!

Salt Water Jewelry

A beautiful, clear sky this morning in Tokeland. Days like this are too rare for studio work.or computer time…but before I head off for the beach, I would like to share a few very recent pieces of new work with you.


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All of these are made with sea glass found in the UK. The shapes of the glass are used ” as found”.That means, no reshaping of the sea glass has been done. That makes finding a piece that is suitable for jewelry and has a unique shape a real score!

I love heart shapes.In this pendant, a tiny pale green heart is surrounded with textural silver layers and a rich pink sapphire dangle.

The burgundy red sea glass in the ring is set in 18KT gold, with a small diamond sparkling off to one side.The shape of the sea glass is suggestive of a heart (maybe it’s the color) or a shield- is there a metaphor there?

IMG_6375   Salt Water earrings: I could see  Aceta, the Nereid of the Shore in ancient Greek mythology taking these earrings off and leaving them on a rock to go for a swim….especially on a day like today.

May your day be full of wonder!