The Bowl of Remembering

Close up view of The Bowl of Remembering showing the wonderful carving work the worms did to help me with this bowl. #bowlofremembering #ninthwavedesigns #wormholes #woodenbowl #butternut #bowlcarving #wormybutternut #wormswerehere #handcarved

I recently finished a project that involved carving the first of what I hope will be many hand carved wooden bowls. I developed an interest in carving wooden bowls through the process of learning to carve wooden spoons –  carving the hollows of the spoons is a very satisfying process for me for some reason. This interest bloomed into full-blown inspiration after discovering the bowl carving beauty of David Fisher’s work through his blog: David Fisher, Carving Explorations. This first bowl is a very humble offering compared to Fisher’s grand and graceful creations.

Bowl carving started for me after I came across a small piece of very wormy butternut at my local mill – and while thinking about what I could carve from the curious piece of wood the idea came to me to make a bowl, but with holes. Somehow that idea transformed into a metaphor for memory – or more the lack of memory that I experience as part of getting older – and then I had the concept in place for the Bowl of Remembering.


Before I started adding the texture of wrinkles of the brain I first had to carve the outside of the bowl to the smooth shape I wanted – leaving it a little thicker than usual to allow for the depth of the fissures.

After I carved the wrinkles, I shaped the small handles and I added a carved key on the bottom.

Outside view of my recently completed hand carved wooden bowl - The Bowl of Remembering - showing the key carved on the bowl bottom. Carved from a piece of wormy butternut. I carved the outside of the bowl to look like a human brain with the worm holes perforating the bowl. I made it as a sort of talisman against the forgetfulness that has become my new normal since turning 50. #warmwood #brass #skeletonkey #wormswerehere #wormybutternut #bowlcarving #bowl #butternut #woodenbowl #wormholes #brain #memory #bowlofremembering #ninthwavedesigns #key

I scraped the inside of the bowl smooth and sanded it. Then I began the process of cleaning out the worm holes using a combination of dental picks and those tiny dental brushes to get them clean. I finished the bowl with walnut oil and beeswax which made the wood darken up considerably.

Inside view of my recently completed hand carved wooden bowl - The Bowl of Remembering - carved from a piece of wormy butternut, with an antique brass key accent. This butternut darkened up to almost as deep a shade as walnut - the worm holes perforate the bowl but that is hard to capture in the photograph. #ninthwavedesigns #wormholes #woodenbowl #butternut #bowl #bowlcarving #wormybutternut #wormswerehere #skeletonkey #brass #warmwood #bowlofremembering #key

The final touch was to add a small brass key I found at the local antique marketplace. This represents the lost memories, and a physical holding of the intangible thoughts that might otherwise slip through the sieve of the wormy wood. In this way, the main idea behind the Bowl of Remembering is that it serves as a talisman against forgetfulness, and a visual incantation in support of improved memory function.

That, combined with a few good nights of sleep, just might do the trick!





The Marriage Shield


I recently completed a wood carving project to create a Celtic inspired semi-heraldic Marriage Shield as a gift for my spouse. The design incorporates symbols that represented the joining of our two houses, and since we both come from predominantly Irish ancestry, I wanted to create a shield with symbols that were designed in an early medieval Irish manuscript style. It was my intention to complete this project in time to mark our fifth anniversary, one that is traditionally celebrated with gifts of wood, which occurred in January of this year. This obviously was not the case, but I am happy to have it done before our sixth anniversary arrives!

I finished the actual carving of the shield last summer, but I spent a long time working out the details of how I wanted to paint the finish. I have been working to find the right combination of paint and medium that will let me apply color in a similar manner as the watercolor paintings I do on paper. I was finally able to get the results I wanted on another project I completed in the beginning of the summer, so I began the process of painting the shied this fall as soon I was able to find a block of time to devote to finishing the project. I am very pleased with the final results, and hope my spouse agrees it was worth the wait!

This project is one of the more personal things I have created of late, and the process and reflection that went into selecting the design elements and designing the symbols in a way to capture the complex feelings that a marriage represents has been some of the most satisfying creative work I have done. Symbols, when thoughtfully chosen, can speak more clearly at times when words are not enough.

If you are interested in having me create a wood carving to represent your marriage, I am available to take commissions to create custom order marriage shields – please use the contact form in the top menu under the “About” heading to find out more.

Below is a gallery of images taken during the process of making the Marriage Shield:



Alchemy Notebook Artwork Now Available as Archival Prints


I have recently updated the Ninth Wave Designs Society6 art print store to include images taken from several pages from the Alchemy Notebook. Society6 offers gallery quality Giclée prints on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson K3 archival inks. These prints are available in multiple sizes, have the option to be purchased framed, and some are available as canvas prints as well. Free worldwide shipping is available on orders over $50.

Click HERE to access the Alchemy Notebook print collection on Society6.

See Celtic inspired artwork prints available HERE.



New Carving Project: Triple Raven Tele-Style Guitar

I recently started working on a new carving project that has me very excited – carving this lovely mahogany wood Tele-style guitar body shown below. I’ve had this carving blank for a little over a year now, thinking about what I could carve that would do this gorgeous piece of Honduran mahogany justice.

I went through a long process of sketching thumbnail drawings, of looking at what other people are doing with carved guitar bodies for inspiration, and drawing out even more ideas, before I landed on the visual concept I was after. I decided to base the carving on my original Triple Raven painting, shown below.


The original Triple Raven design is around 4 inches in diameter, so I did some mock-ups in Photoshop to work out how to layout the design around the guitar’s components and see how well it would translate to the larger format of the guitar body. I used the mock-ups as the basis for a full scale pencil drawing on graph paper – a selection of which is shown below:


I photocopied the drawing to use as a template and used the copy to transfer the design to the guitar body:


Once I completed transferring the design I drew it onto the wood surface using an easily erased drawing pencil – a vintage Eagle Draughting 314 pencil that I find is the perfect pencil for woodworking:


The following photograph shows the carving progress after about ten hours of work. The carved areas still need a lot of refining and the rest of the design needs roughing out, but you can begin to see how the design will translate into a low relief carving on the body of the guitar.


The woodcarving I do is all by hand – I don’t use any power tools during the carving process. The photo below shows a selection of the tools I am using for this carving, with the carving bench in the background. It’s a very peaceful and satisfying process – I don’t think I have ever carved a more pleasant piece of wood.


I will post more photos on the NWD blog as the carving progresses. You can also follow this project, among others, on my Instagram account HERE, or my Facebook page HERE.





New Carving Gallery Now Available

Detail of Viking inspired dragon carving in mahogany.
Detail of Viking inspired dragon carving in mahogany.

In addition to the new home page on the NWD website, new images have been added to the carving gallery – accessible through the navigation menu at the very top of the page, or by clicking HERE – of wood carvings completed from 2012 to the present.  This new gallery is listed as”Wood Carvings” in the menu, and the previous gallery can now be found under the “Other Carvings” heading. Enjoy!


It’s nice creative work, if you can get it.

It’s been a year since there has been a new post on the blog – certainly not my intention – but I felt it was certainly time to post an update and perhaps explain my absence.

For the last five years I have been working full time, which has been a big change from being a self-employed artist. During that time I moved from a rural setting to an urban one, got married and bought a house, among other life adventures. It has been a rich and rewarding time of change but it has also meant a change in my creative time and process.

I enjoy my work, and I also have the good fortune of working for an employer that believes that personal development can also enhance professional development. I was awarded a fellowship in the summer of 2010 and used the funds to purchase a set of professional wood carving tools. The carving project I did as part of this fellowship led to a commission from my employer – enough carving work to keep me busy for the next five years.

I am documenting this project on my website: SPS Form Plaque Project.  Click through and have a look at the carvings I am currently working on.  These carvings are a recording of the events from a given school year, and I am working on carvings for 1991 to the present to bring the project up-to-date.  I am the fifth carver to work on the project since it started 93 years ago and also the first woman. The carvings collectively form an illustrative timeline of the history of the school going back to 1858, the first year students graduated – 203 carvings total prior to my beginning work. It is an unique and particular kind of work, a compelling tradition to participate in, and a privilege to have the work.

I still expect to find time every now and then to continue my artwork on paper – the Alchemy Notebook, Celtic inspired designs,  and other woodcarvings – but they will definitely be fewer and farther between while I work on the plaques over the next few years. It has taken most of my creative time over the last two years to get this project up and running, but I am beginning to feel the rhythm and pace of the work and am hopeful that other creative projects will find their time too.

Tree of Stars Alchemy Card

I found a little bit of time last weekend for artwork and created this very little painted card.  The card itself measures 2.375″ high by 1.625″ wide. The frame, shown below, measures 3.5″ wide by 4.5″ high and is 1.25″ deep. The card is made from 4 ply Strathmore 500 bristol board and it is painted with acrylic inks, watercolor pencils and metallic acrylics.  I floated the card against a background of antique marbled paper.

I love the idea of this symbol – a tree with stars for leaves – and it serves as a visual reminder in my mind, bringing up a feeling of potential for the transformation it represents.  The six-pointed star is traditionally a symbol for mercury – combining upward and downward pointing triangles that represent mercury’s role of uniting the sun and moon in the alchemical process.  The tree is also a symbol used to represent a similar kind of unity – between heaven and earth – with the branches in the sky and the roots planted deep in the ground.

This original small framed painting is available for sale in my Etsy store HERE.

The Alchemy Notebook Tormented

It has only just now come to my attention that original images from the Alchemy Notebook were used, without my knowledge or consent, as part of the Torment online puzzle game that has been active since April of 2007.

This is a screenshot of the ‘childsplay‘ page from the puzzle:


And this is a screenshot of the ‘nevermore‘ page from the puzzle:

The continued use of my artwork in the Torment puzzle game is in direct violation of copyright laws.  It is unfortunate that someone with the level of creative ability needed to design such a puzzle, and someone who labels their own creations with copyright statements, does not have the integrity to respect the copyrights of others.


Diving the Depths of Communication

This most recent piece, called Diving the Depths of Communication, is a collage done on Strathmore 500 bristol board, using maps and engraved illustrations from old discarded books. The media used includes liquid acrylic inks, Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils, Prismacolor watercolor pencils, and Pitt artist brush markers. The image is 5″ by 5″ square.

This collage process has developed in response to having less time to devote to create endeavors.  I wanted to find a way to explore my artwork in similar ways as before but in a less time-intensive way.  Using collage elements combined with the immediacy of the brush markers has been working well for me lately.  I’m sure, as time allows, I will still pursue other creative process, such as those I use in the Alchemy Notebook, but for now this is providing me a quick way to keep my creativity moving forward.

Breaking the Silence


I just updated the “About” page by adding an artist’s statement.  I haven’t shared much in the past about the creative process behind my work – my general thinking being that the work will create its own dialogue.  This is an experiment in adjusting that approach – let me know your thoughts.

The image above is a detail from a larger painting completed in 2003 called Quadrature of the Circle.  I will be updating the gallery with the full image and adding more artwork soon.