Category Archives: Shows

In the Thick of It


I am in the thick of creating new work for a solo show in July, Branching at Foster/White Gallery. Time is ticking away as it inexorably does and I am fighting to stay above panic every day. I just finished three pieces, got them photographed, and wrote my artist statement. It seems early for all this but the gallery needs them to be able to promote the show.

I’ve discovered that the great thing about writing an artist statement so early is that it becomes a mission statement for the work to come. Of course, yesterday I started some new drawings and immediately worried that they didn’t fit my statement. But that’s okay, too. I can revisit it once I get further into the work and add a few lines if needed.

I feel clear on the overall theme though. It is broader for this show than the last two solos I had at Foster/White. Branching refers to trees, yes, but also to the fractal patterns that make up our world: the way a river bed splits, the way our lungs are a mirror image of the trees shape but upside-down, the path of the lightning strike and the neurons in our brains, and the cracks we step over in the sidewalk. Even on the surface of Mars we see branching patterns of ancient river beds. The pattern travels further, into the language of technology and the way we speak of our family trees.

IMG_5698For now, I’ve been drawing lots of pictures of rocks. On my recent trip to Mexico I stayed on a beach where a rocky headland met the sea. This location yielded many hours of contemplation as the waves crashed and receded, and many photographs. My family is amused by my preoccupation with taking close-ups of rocks and ferns, leaves and driftwood. I am drawn by these natural patterns. They feed me and inspire me as much or more than the broad vistas.

When I am back in the studio, I sigh over the photos I took of of blue skies and the sea, and the happy relaxed faces of my family. But it is in the detailed images of rocks and pattern that I find my compositions. Today, tomorrow, and for the next 12 crazy weeks, I will be deep inside these images. I will be chasing and trying to grab onto those ephemeral experiences to fix them onto wooden panel or into a three-d sculpture for everyone to see.


In a Whirlwind

IMG_4492Last Fall I figured the time was right to expand Whirlwind Hand-Dyes by taking on a business partner and expanding into on-line sales. Since then I’ve been hatching plans with my wonderful former intern from the UW, Arisa Brown. Arisa and I get along great and work together wonderfully. I bring my current product line of hand-dyed fabrics and accessories, Arisa brings her experience in retail sales, and we split the labor of producing the hand-dyed products.

Arisa has already set up an Etsy shop for my hand-dyed scarves. Look for WhirlwindHandDyes there. It’s been slow to start but it’s giving us time to figure out how to promote and run it. On-line offering of the fabrics will be coming in May.


Straight out of the washer.

This past week Arisa and I dyed, washed, ironed and packaged over 100 yards of fabric for an in-person sale at Lorraine Torrence’s Retreat in Gold Bar this Friday. Arisa is coming with me so that I can introduce her to Lorraine’s students, who have been terrific supporters of my products and become friends, too.


The Jewel Tone Collection in brights and pastels before ironing.

We have simplified our color options but added a second fabric to the product line. We now have a crisp mercerized cotton broadcloth that takes the dyes beautifully along with the Kona cotton I’ve been using, which has is thicker with a softer drape. We have eleven color ways in both bright and pastel values in two different fabrics–so 44 options all together PLUS what’s left over from previous sales.


All the kids came to the studio while we worked this weekend, Toby, Frankenstein, and Eden.

I’m excited for this new venture. I’m also looking forward to the Whirlwind passing by, and getting back to my studio work for this Summer’s upcoming shows.

Let me know if you are interested in our products or have feedback about fabrics and color ways. Even though we don’t officially have on-line fabric sales going yet, I can hook you up.

All ironed and ready to package.

All ironed and ready to package.

It’s a New Year!

The studio, all cleaned and organized and ready for a new year!

The studio, all cleaned and organized and ready for a new year!

It’s the new year, a time to look back and a time to look forward.

2015 was a tough one for me as an artist. I spent most of it stuck, still spinning from the mental exhaustion of my 2014 installation at Burning Man. Every call-for-entries resulted in a NO, and I just couldn’t seem to finish anything. In retrospect, and from talking to friends, I was also processing the transitions of my daughters leaving the nest. My older daughter flew off to college in the Fall of 2014 and my youngest is a Senior this year. It’s a big, this change, and if you are going through it I advise you to be gentle with yourself.

Even though 2015 wasn’t the most productive year from me, there are some highlights.

I taught a lot of Batik Scarf Workshops, this Spring through Side Tour and this Fall on my own. I also continued developing inventory for Whirlwind Hand-Dyes and Accessories. I really enjoy having people in the studio and meeting them at sales. It’s nice to make some money, too. The biggest challenge is still getting the word out. It’s yet another hat to wear.

Francesca working on her scarf inspired by an Indian textile design.

Francesca working on her scarf inspired by an Indian textile design.

Returning to Burning Man this August was a big step in getting back to my more productive self (you can read about that trip in my blog post, Burning Man Revisited). September saw me reenergized with the resolve to just git ‘er done.

I deepened my relationship with the Surface Design Association, both through continuing to write for the Surface Design Journal, and through attending and presenting at Made/Aware, an Intensive at the Arrowmont School of Art and Craft in Tennessee (see October blog posts for more on that adventure). I am now a “staff writer” for the Journal, compiling previews of upcoming exhibitions for a new feature called On Display. SDA provides a terrific way for me to connect with other artists and curators working in fibers both at the national level and through our local group.

Somehow I extracted myself from my navel gazing long enough to finish up seven new pieces in time for a December show at Foster/White Gallery (deadlines really help). That work has led to scheduling a solo show for August 2016! I’m also firming up plans for an installation in the Bellwether Sculpture Exhibition in Bellevue this Summer.

Sequim and Ozette

Sequim and Ozette

Looking ahead to 2016:

Solo show in August at Foster/White Gallery. I’m drawing, planning, looking at images, testing out new surface design techniques, and actively thinking about composition and color for a new body of work.

A week-long trip to the southern tip of the Baja Pennisula in Mexico in February for inspiration, relaxation, and dose of sunshine. Some family trips in the work, too, perhaps Washington, DC and a wedding in California in October.

More teaching (see Workshops page for information on upcoming Intensives).

Expanding Whirlwind Hand-Dyes with the help of my former intern and delightful studio assistant, Arissa, to an on-line store and more in-person sales.

Continuing working with the fabulous Marci Rae McDade at the Surface Design Journal.

And most importantly, getting out of my own way and creating more art!

New wheeled fabric organizer for easy access.

New wheeled fabric organizer for easy access.

StashFest 2015!

8 "fat eighths" in value gradation

8 “fat eighths” in value gradation

Things have been a little quiet here on the blog lately. I can’t really explain it. I’ve been busy, yes, but I’m always busy. If you know me, you’d say I never run out of things to talk about. I guess I’ve just gotten out of the habit of writing. But I’m still here in the northwest corner of the country, working away at dyeing fabric, teaching, and making art.

The next big thing is Stash Fest 2015. It’s a benefit for the La Conner Quilt Museum on Saturday, April 18th. I’ll be vending there for the first time, selling my hand-dyed fabrics and scarves. Last year I started selling fabrics at Lorraine Torrence’s Retreats in Gold Bar. Lorraine was kind enough to invite me and it gave me a low-key way to get my feet wet as a vendor. I love connecting with people face-to-face when they are buying something that I made. It’s something I miss when I work through a gallery. For StashFest, I’ve dyed over 100 yards of kona cotton. The fabrics are packaged in one yard packs of color and value collections and also as individual low-water immersion dyed “fat quarters” of mixed color. I also have over 100 silk scarves dyed with a variety of surface design techniques.


detail of a low-water immersion dyed “fat quarter”


shibori and batik silk scarves

I am primarily an artist. I don’t want selling products to become my full-time job, but I really enjoy getting out and meeting people. And it’s nice to make something that people can buy for under $30 or $50 rather than over a thousand.


a selection of the 30 yards of fat quarters I’ve dyed for StashFest

The other thing that’s been taking off is the Side Tour Experiences. I offered four classes of Batik Scarf Dyeing in early March and they all filled with new students. I can teach, but I’m just no good at marketing! Working with Side Tour is going so well that I’ve added 10 more sessions in April/May/June. I’ve had inquiries about offering longer classes and will probably add a “Dyeing for Quilters” workshop soon.

So, if you come to StashFest, look for me and Whirlwind Hand-Dyes and Accessories but come early . My former intern, Arisa, will be there all day, but I’ll only be there until 11am. My BFF Corey is getting married that day and I’m the Best Person! Life is rich and full and there is so much to celebrate!


One yard fabric packs in color and gradation collections


There and Back Again

photo 1Wow. I am proud. I am humbled. I am filled with gratitude.

Peter Weston and me, the proud parents, with the central banner of Playastan.

Peter Weston and me, the proud parents, with the central banner of Playastan.

It’s hard to put into words the experiences of the last few weeks. Playastan Crossroads was a huge success, not only for how it looked, but for how it created a sense of place, an intimate space within the huge spectacle that is Burning Man.

Sunrise at Playastan Crossroads

Sunrise at Playastan Crossroads

visitors watching the sun rise

visitors watching the sun rise

Many things happened at Playastan Crossroads: art tours, weddings, deep conversations, weary sleep, shelter during whiteouts, and at least one late night dance party. Books were read and added to, love was proclaimed, and apparently there was a blow job, or least one was recorded in the Journal. The stories and images are still filtering in through a haze of dust.

A dusty day in Playastan

A dusty day in Playastan

the Journal, made by Anna McKee

the Journal, made by Anna McKee

young yoginis

young yoginis

a father and daughter take shelter

a father and daughter take shelter

For now we are cleaning, washing, and putting away. The future of the project is unclear. Peter is making repairs, touching up paint, and making ready to put the structure away until it is used again. The banners are clean, though faded, now. The corners are  tattered after the beating they got from the wind and sun. The colors are not as brilliant, there is residual dust beaten into the seams, but they are beautiful still.

IMG_3070Today I’m going back to the studio for the first time since the long hours I was putting in before I left. I’ll be ironing the banners, and all the ties and socks that covered the attachments. Ironing is therapeutic for me, there’s something about pressing out the creases, reexaming the marks, the colors, and the imperfections that is calming. It is a kind of meditation to put things right, to carefully put them away.

And it’s a good thing I enjoy it, because there’s a whole lot of it to do.

There are more photos of the build and the event on the Playastan Crossroads page on Facebook. I also have a Cameron Anne Mason art page on Facebook that I update more often than the blog. And I love to hear from you, my audience, either here on the blog or on Facebook.





Almost There


the playastan rug shop/aka my studio

We are almost there. The banners are painted, steamed and washed. Ann, Cassie and John are finishing up the sewing. Katha is creating a graphic “Field Guide” to the banners. Anna is making the Journal. Medallions are strung. Signs and compass rose are painted. Tickets finally arrived, thank goodness.

the last banners being painted

the last banners being painted

Still to do is packing the vans for the first crew’s departure on Tuesday, pressing and rolling the banners, ironing  scarves, delivering art for a show at the Whatcom Museum, a trip to Costco, groceries, packing up my clothes and toothbrush. Organizing and packing the trailer. Figuring out exactly what the kids are doing while we are gone. Oh yeah, and renewing my drivers license which I just realized expired on my birthday in July.

the proud parents

the proud parents on build day

But it’s close, tantalizingly close. Our test build was a great success. Peter has done an amazing job. Not only is everything beautifully made, but the main structure goes up in a couple of hours. Each element is first class, no corners were cut, nothing is just “good enough.”

I’m starting to get really excited. It was a thrill today when we listened to the description of Playastan Crossroads on Burning Man’s Audio Tour to the art. You can listen here:

Given how much there is to do before we hit the road early Wednesday morning, this may be the last blog post before our sojourn in the desert is over and we are back in Seattle. If I can find a wifi connection while there I’ll post update from the build on my Cameron Anne Mason Facebook page.

Think of us there in the Nevada Desert, the banners of Playastan Crossroads snapping in the breeze,  the silk glowing in the late afternoon sun, the light gilding the curves of the Pavillion and shining on the beautiful, dusty people of Black Rock City.


We’re Going to Burning Man!

Playastan Crossroads Perspective 2 02-12-2014I found out this week that my project for Burning Man, Playastan Crossroads, was greenlighted for funding. I’m so excited!

It’s a big project for me — small to medium size for the event. My team is fabulous. You know it’s going to be good when the first person you ask gives an enthusiastic, “Yes!” The team has already worked so well in putting the proposal together that I have no doubt it will be a fulfilling and successful process. Peter Weston is our lead carpenter/designer, Charlie Caddock is solar engineer, Ed Wachter did our architectural drawings, and I’m lead designer,  project manager, and textile artist.

There’s a long road of hard work and many logistics to figure out between today and August 25th but we’ve got many offers of help and the energy is really, really good.

So just what is the Playastan Crossroads?

The idea is in response to this year’s theme of Caravansary. I immediately thought of the remarkable textiles of the Silk Road. It’s also a way to bring what I do, work in soft materials, to the harsh environment of the playa. Below is the text from the Burning Man art grant application for a full explanation.

I hope you can join us this year on the Black Rock Desert to watch the wind play upon the rippling silks, rest a while in the shade, add your story to the lore of the Crossroads, and see this vision become a reality.

Playastan Crossroads Statement:

Viewed across the playa, an oasis of color and pattern emerges from the dust. It is a place to take respite among large-scale moving silk banners, each hand-painted with traditional textiles designs from along the Silk Road. This is the Playastan Crossroads, where the traditions of the past meet the visions of the future. Powered by the wind and the sun, it is a resting point, a crossroads where travelers can share their stories and experience a moment out of time.

Physical Description:

Five interconnected elements come together to create the Playastan Crossroads: a forest of painted silk banners, an elegant central wooden structure with seating, journals in which guests can add their thoughts and stories, an ambient soundscape powered by the wind, and a decorative lighting design to entertain nighttime visitors and provide safety.

EPSON MFP imageBuilt on an octagon aligned with the cardinal directions, concentric circles of large-scale silk banners will be planted in the playa surface creating four “silk roads” that lead to a central wooden structure. The thirty-three banners, each one unique, will be hand-painted, using a modified batik process, with traditional textile designs of the peoples who lived along the Silk Road. Four sets of eight banners will range in size from 2-10 feet tall by 4 feet wide and be hung on bamboo poles 12-18 feet in height. In shades of violet, deep red, and golden yellow, the banners will gradate in both size and color from the outer ring to the center of the wooden structure, where a golden banner will rise 21 feet above the Playa surface.

The open octagonal wooden structure is 17 feet in diameter and 13-foot-6-inches tall and, in its skeletal form, references the tents of the desert nomads. The curving shapes of the structure are inspired by Islamic arches. The wooden ribs of the structure are made from two layers of nine-ply Baltic plywood joined with a series of cedar blocks to create girders with enhanced strength. These girders will be sealed with a clear finish to show the beauty of the material. Panels of richly patterned upholstery fabric will provide shade without masking the graceful arches of the structure. Eight interlocking wooden benches will provide seating around around a central octagonal table.

Playastan Crossroads Plan 02-12-2014The central table will be inscribed with the cardinal directions to orient travelers. On this table, visitors will find Journals and pens (all tethered to prevent MOOP). These Journals will be hand-crafted books with with weathered pages, snippets of stories, and drawings. Here the citizens of Black Rock City are invited to add their stories to the growing lore of the Playastan Crossroads. On the highest central pole of the structure, a wind spinner provides additional motion and the music of chimes to supplement the soundscape created by surrounding wind chimes.

At night, an EL wire sculpture will glow in the center cupola of the structure. EL wire will also emphasize the graceful curves of the structure, providing an ambient glow through the night. Solar panels wired to deep cell batteries will provide lighting for safety and to add nighttime interest.

Playastan Crossroads Site Plan 02-12-2104


I Need a Spreadsheet!

Amidst, detail

Amidst, detail

It’s been a great week.

My piece, In the Beginning, was one of 54 pieces selected for the Miniartextil Gea 2014 show in Como, Italy. It was selected from over 350 entries from all over the world. I think the show is going to travel to other European cities. It’s a little hard to track all the details because all the info I’ve gotten is translated from Italian.

I was also invited to participate in a show at the Alden B. Dow Museum at the Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan. The show is called Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture. I was originally invited last October and they asked me to send them some shipping costs. Then, I didn’t hear anything more and forgot all about it.

Now, I’m scrambling a bit to find work for it. I have work slated for the Summer for the NWDC 60th Anniversary exhibition at the Whatcom County Museum and also am doing a two person show with Larry Calkins at the Aljoya Thornton Place. Right now I’ve got 5 pieces out to be considered for a sculpture show in Bellevue. I’ll hear back from them by mid-April and, even if I get in, they won’t take all five so some of those will be available.

It’s kind of an embarrassment of riches.

Thus, the need for a spread sheet. I’m not quite sure what is where and what’s available for which show. I need to pull everything out of my basement and studio storage, do an inventory, and take photos of everything, and put together a comprehensive list. I’ve been putting this off for years. I am ridiculously organized when it comes to producing work but terrible when it comes to paperwork.

And I obviously need to make some new work!

The Next (Small) Big Thing

IMG_2041 It’s the calm before the storm — or not. I’ve been working hard at putting out proposals and now I’m waiting to hear back.

The biggest thing I’ve got out there is a proposal to create an installation for this year’s Burning Man Festival in Nevada. I’ve applied for an art grant and should hear from them by later in this month. If we get funded I don’t know if I’ll be more excited or terrified. It’s a small project in the scheme of art at Burning Man, but for me, it’s big. By my calculations, it would be at least 8 weeks of full time work to create the banners I’ve envisioned. Fingers crossed.

I made a piece for a call for entries for the exhibition, Minitextil, in Lake Como, Italy. I should hear about that one by the middle of March, too. I don’t usually make pieces specifically for calls but I’ve been thinking about making really small pieces for a couple of years. It seemed that this was a good opportunity to follow through on that. It was a push but I finished and photographed the piece on the day of the deadline (phew!).

I’m  pleased with not only the piece, but also my photos. I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to be able to take good quality photos of my work. I love my photographer, he makes everything look so sexy, but I can’t afford to have every piece shot. I end up not submitting pieces for shows because I don’t have good images. I really need to get good documentation of every piece I make, so it felt good to be able to do it myself.

I also sent some images out for the Bellwether Sculpture Biennial and will hear on that one in April. I got a “no” from Fantastic Fibers in Kentucky, go figure. I’ve been the show twice before, and even won a prize there, but it goes to show that you can never predict what a jury will decide. I’ve read that if you’re not getting rejected, you’re not applying for enough things.

I will be having a two-person show June through September with Larry Calkins at Aljoya Thornton Place. Yes, it’s a retirement home, but they have really nice shows with established artists (like Alden Mason) and I’m thrilled to be doing a show with Larry. I love his work and we’re friends.  His work has a primitive aesthetic while mine is more refined, but I think there are more similarities than differences in what we do.Obviously the curator, June Sekiguchi, thinks so, too.

This blog post was meant to be a quick update about what I’m working on in the studio but it’s been hijacked by everything else that’s going on in my mind. It’s a bit chaotic up there these days. I’m kind of longing for a big project that I can really get absorbed into, rather than trying to keep all of these balls in the air. But for now I’m keeping my hands busy with some small, one could say mini, projects.

While working on the piece for Minitextil, I mocked up three other designs. This week I’m working on finishing those. They are kind of precious but pleasing, like working on doll furniture. My challenge is to make sure they don’t get “cute,” a problem at this size. less than 8 inches. Below are photos of the piece I made for Lake Como.

So it’s off to the studio to make some stuff while I wait. Think I’ll do some juggling.

seed front

seed back IMG_2037