My friend once said her objects are not separate from her. They are like her skin.

Why do we collect things? Why does the human animal crave adornment, simple or intricate? Why do we sometimes find objects that we long to keep with us in our homes, our pockets or touching our palms?

 How, while walking down our gravel driveway to the mailbox, does a stone catch my eye and spark my heart. I have picked up the entire drive way and brought it home over years of checking the mail. Occasionally I take the piles from the inside and throw them back into the outside so that we won’t have to slosh through mud in winter.

 I have a painting that you see when you enter my home. I knew it was a part of me because it looks like the way I dream.

 I keep string that has come from packages that brought love into my world.

 Sometimes sticks or stems or roots dry up in ways that to me are keys for unlocking doors into the belly of life; the places of secret alphabets and universal language.

 The apricot trees in the yard drop fruits who rot and leave behind curvaceous pits. A season later the pits split open and look like eyes. The eyes of seeds who have lived in the potentiality of darkness and who now have surrendered expectations. I keep them in glass  jars so I can see them because they teach me about surrender and they protect me from my own blind spots. They tell me to look into the unknown to find what I know...

 I once spent my entire checking account on a bedspread from India, the palest blue with more stitches on its body than I would at that time have had the patience to create. I knew that waking up inside that sea of beauty would give me more pleasure than the groceries or the luxury of gas in the tank for the rest of the month. That blanket poured its heart into me while I slept, again and again, and torched my affinity for stitching. I didn’t know it at the time, but sometimes we don’t know what we know until it’s time for the knowing to be born.

 Why do I collect things? So many things? Mostly tiny things (beads, buttons, bits of brightly colored paper, remnants of fabric from favorite dresses, things that other hands have created, stones, shells, pretty objects...

 Perhaps because when we connect with something in an emotional way, that thing is born and like a seed in our own body, it grows. Perhaps so that when I draw or stitch or interpret creatively, the materials that I use will have been infused with life. Perhaps because learning to communicate with the things that move us is our greatest gift and our most potent medicine.

 I love that my collections provide both inspiration and materials for the art that I create. I love that I’m beginning to feel comfortable enough with the vulnerability of sharing my own skin with you.

Another friend once told me that before he died, he wanted to become comfortable in his own skin, like a favorite pair of jeans.



  • Another collector, farther down the lane, sets his collections free- into new hands, my friend the driveway.

    El Pater
  • Feathers, I collect feathers—I have a hummingbird feather and a wild turkey feather, and every size in between. I put them in different colored glass vases and stand them on the windowsill in the kitchen. Perhaps it is a longing to be closer to birds, who cluster my bird-feeders, sip from the bowl of water I leave on the deck rail—looking at me with bright black eyes—and fill the woods around our labyrinth with song. thank you for the beautiful rumination on collecting, on gathering.

  • I grapple with this. Alternate between clutter of things collected like a crow. Placed here and there, specifically and randomly. When I move I try to “pair down” but the witch crow in me always starts up again. Feathers, stones (always stones), sticks, dead flowers, pods, hair from my daughter’s haircuts, marbles, green things, fabric. And yes, I like that – maybe it’s my SKIN. xxx I love RiseandBloom! Keep going…

    Cami Dreyer
  • No collector I, but I would love to own one of your Embroidered Forest collection. Would you sell one? If so, what would it cost?

    Lydia Mann
  • The response to this page has been so incredible. I’m grateful for all the engagement, connection and positive feedback. It makes me want to give everyone a fancy bauble or a brightly colored trinket to hang on your rear view mirror so when you look behind you, the happiness you’ve given me will reflect back at you directly in your line of vision!

    Caline Welles

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