Carol Law Conklin Making Batiks Part III

June 19th, 2016

In this third video of Carol demonstrating how she makes her batiks, Carol shows us the second to last step of her process.  She’s working on a batik she started a few days ago.

Instead of dying the whole piece, Carol is painting the dye on just the areas she wants it to go.  But you can see it for yourself in the video….

Carol Law Conklin, Making Batiks Part II

June 19th, 2016

In this video Carol is demonstrating the second part of her batik process.  She’s dying the wax drawing of the horse she drew in the last video.

And the process has really just begun.  Carol will go back and paint more wax and do many more dyings before this piece is done.

Carol is showing and selling her work at the Bedlam Farm Open House this coming weekend.  You can also see more of her original work and reproductions on her website Amity Farm Batiks.  You can also contact her there if you have any questions about her batiks.

Carol Law Conklin and her Batiks at the Bedlam Farm Open House Part I

June 18th, 2016

I spent yesterday afternoon at Carol Law Conklin’s house and studio. They’re really the same thing, her house and studio.  Her work is everywhere you look, some hanging on walls, some piled up in corners,  ready to go to the next gallery or exhibit.  And her studio takes up space  not just  inside her house, but outside as well.  (she keeps her dye baths in her yard)

Carol’s started making her batiks in the 1970’s.  She stopped for many years while she and her husband Dick dedicated their lives to their Dairy Farm.  But her love of nature and animals, especially horses and cows (although now she has a llama who prances around her yard) can  be seen in her batiks.  She’s also drawn the the mythical side of animals and the earth and that informs her work also.

I took four videos of Carol demonstrating her batik process.  I’ll be posting them over the next few days.  I was enthralled watching Carol work, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.    The video above is the first in the series.

Carol also has a blog and reproduces much of her work as functional art on scarves, trivets, notecards  and in a bunch of other forms.  This makes her art more accessible to more of us.  Her website is Amity Farm Batik and you can see it and more of her work here.

Hanging a New Clothesline

June 17th, 2016
Photo by Consuela Kanaga "New York Tenements in the 1930's"

Photo by Consuela Kanaga “New York Tenements in the 1930’s”

I looked out my open Studio door, trying to think of something else to say to my mother who I was on the phone with.  I saw the clothes blowing on the new line I  put up earlier.  The old one broke I told my mother, I got a thicker rope so this one should last a while.

Clothes smell so good when they come off the line, she said.  Then it was as if the memory of the smell brought back another memory of clothes lines, one she hadn’t thought of in years.  A memory I had never heard her talk of before.

The tenements were four or five stories high my mother told me, halfway between the backs of the  buildings there were poles as tall as the tenements.  They had rungs coming out either side, she said, or something like that.

And men would come and climb the poles to hang clothesline. They would climb them so quick.  And  they would call out to the people in the tenements, and if they wanted a line hung, the women would lean out  their windows and call back.  It was a kind of song the men called, but my mother couldn’t remember the words.

After I got off the phone I tried to find that “song” on-line.  I found some photos of  clothes lines in many cities and even a piece about  the clothesline of New York tenements from the Museum of the City Of New York. (My mother lived  in the Bronx from the 1920’s to 1960’s)   But no one mentioned the men who hung the lines and their “song”.

It made me wonder how many stories like these are forgotten and lost.  All those jobs that no longer exist,  that me, in my time and life would never have even imagined.

I thought about the men yelling out their song, like hotdog vendors at a baseball game. What did they say and did people recognize the call because of the way they “sang” it, even if they didn’t understand the words.

And I felt like, for a few moments, as my mother remembered and told me her story, that I was experiencing the memory with her.  I know I wasn’t seeing and feeling the same thing she was.   I was creating my own memory from hers.   And from her telling it to me.

And I feel that it shouldn’t be forgotten.  That’s it’s really these kinds of stories that make up our history, as much as the stories of  wars and disease and money.  The everyday stories of everyday people.

My new Clothesline

My new Clothesline



Jackie’s New Book Of Poems “Gone to Ground” On Sale Now

June 16th, 2016
Jon showing Jackie the portraits he took of her

Jon showing Jackie the portraits he took of her while Fate and Flo having their own conversation.

Jackie came by today with 20 copies of her new book of poems and essays, Gone To Ground.

Jon already had in mind the portrait he wanted to take of her.

And as soon as he got the one he wanted he posted it on his blog writing beautifully (as he does) about Jackie’s book.  He knows how important this moment is. The publishing of a book.

And I’m just so happy about it all.  I feel it low in my belly like something sweet and satisfying.  A new creation to go out into the world. To live its beautiful and meaningful life. To touch who ever reads it.

You can  see Jon’s portrait and read his post about Jackie and “Gone To Ground” here.

You can buy Jackie’s new book at the Open House, Battenkill Books and Amazon.





Marilyn Brooks and her Paintings at The Bedlam Farm Open House

June 16th, 2016

Marilyn starts with a photo then, using oil paint creates her very own vision of that image.  She moves trees around, adds buildings where there were none and let the process of creating dictate the weather conditions.

At some point the painting tells Marilyn what it wants to become and she follows its lead.

Most of her landscapes are soft and inviting.  Yet they seem to be trying to  reach beyond the familiar.  Leaving space for the unknown.

I spent a good part of the afternoon editing the video I took of Marilyn talking about her paintings.   It’s over five minutes long, longer than most people spend watching a video.  But, there was a technical glitch I couldn’t figure out.    And in a way I’m glad, because now you get to see Marilyn unedited, so you can get a better feeling for her and where her work comes from.

Marilyn will be showing and selling her work a the Bedlam Farm Open House June 25th and 26th.  For more details click here.

Three Sisters Garden

June 15th, 2016

three sisters garden

I get about a bag full of junk wool each time the sheep are shorn.  It’s the really dirty wool from around their butts and legs.  I always feel bad just throwing it in the garbage and sometimes I dump it in the woods hoping some animals will used it for their nests.

I had a two bags in the barn from last year and after planting my Three Sisters Garden, I  remembered that someone  once told me it makes good mulch.

I  had enough wool for most of the garden and plan on using the junk wool from this June’s shearing to cover the rest.  It looks a little strange, to see the garden covered in wool, but I like the idea of it so much, I know how it looks will grow on me.

And my garden seems to be thriving.  Not all the beans came up, but there’s corn on each mound and the squash and pumpkins are getting big leaves.  And dare I say it… so far, the chicken wire  (with a little help from the cats) is keeping the bunnies out.

Chicken Soup and Blogging

June 15th, 2016
Fate and Fanny

Fate and Fanny

Jon’s up and blogging now, so I know he’s feeling better.

But he spent most of the day sleeping, one minute shivering, the next sweating.  I’m not much of a cook, but  I even made chicken soup. (I do like to chop things up, so chicken soup is easy for me).

He was so out of it, I came in from my studio every couple of hours to check on him and take his temperature.

When I came in a little while ago from watering the gardens and new trees, I peeked in Jon’s office and saw him sitting at his computer.  For me , that’s the best indication there is that Jon’s feeling better.




What I Saw In The Woods, Hope In Bear Scat

June 15th, 2016

living tree stump

Like a  stage or the perfect bed to nap in, I came across this living tree stump in the woods.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  The branches and leaves growing in a circle from the place between the wood of the stump and the bark.   The place where water and mineral are transported up and down the tree.  And the soft bed of dry leaves at its center.  Even a passageway, a break in the circle to come and go by.  I wish I were small enough to curl up in it to sleep and dream.

wire a d tree

There are wires throughout the woods.  Old fencing used to keep the grazing animals in when the woods were pasture.   Sometimes  the tree grows right over the wire, pulling it into its trunk  making it invisible.  Other trees get choked by it.

I don’t know the story of this dead tree I saw in the woods.  But I found it beautiful.  A sculpture of mixed materials.  The rough organic form of the tree and the circling, looping line of the wire.  The wire hangs loose on the tree, circling around it’s back and coming again to  the one spot where the tree absorbed it.

bear scat

Bear scat growing seeds.  Wonderous evidence of how the natural world works.  Bear eats the seeds then makes his rounds through the woods, depositing them in a bed of rich poop so they can grow and thrive.  I saw this scat soon after it was first dropped.  To see it blooming weeks later, I felt the hope that comes with new life.

Ed Gulley and His “Junk Art” at the Bedlam Farm Open House

June 14th, 2016

Ed Gulley is an Artist and a Dairy Farmer.  In between milking and all the other demands of Bejosh Farm, he makes art from the stuff he finds around the farm.  My years of art school tell me his art is called Found Object Art, but Ed, who never went to art school or has any kind of training in art calls it Junk Art.

And I’m not going to argue with Ed, because he’s always made art, so I’m sure he knows what it’s called.  Anyway, Junk Art sounds better and it’s uniquely his.

His most recent piece is a creature made from half a giant saw blade, tire irons an old chain and washers.  He calls it Mahonga Heila.  Ed says the name comes from an old cartoon he used to hear his friends talking about when he was a kid.  He never saw the cartoon because he was too busy working on the farm, but the name stuck.  Mahonga’s wife Sheila Heila, made from the other side of the saw blade, is in the welding shop as I write this.   And it looks like the happy couple may already be sold.

But I’ve said enough.  Ed can talk for himself.  And he does. Along with his wife Carol they have a blog called Bejosh Farm Journal.  On it they invite us all to the farm to see what being a farmer is really all about.

Carol takes the videos, which are as warm and honest as she is, and writes as The Farmers Wife (although she’s as much a farmer as Ed, they’re a team of two)   Ed is a natural storyteller, his distinctive voice ranges in subject matter from the price of milk to childhood stories on the farm to the saga of Mr Blockhead (one of his ongoing art works).

Ed will be showing and selling his Junk Art at the Bedlam Farm Open House June 25th and 26th.  And Ed will be there to give a talk and answer any of your questions.

Click here to see  Bejosh Farm Journal.