Tulsa, Ink.

Last Summer (2015), I led the staff of the Multi Arts Center in Stillwater to renovate the front lobby into a professional rotating gallery space.  The gallery transformed from damaged blue carpeted walls to an elegant and refined charcoal gray with natural light suitable for a large solo or curated group exhibit area.  The purpose of the space was inline with the mission of fine arts education for the community in bringing new and exciting work to the Stillwater area.

As an opening for the renovated space, I called on Michelle Martin, the Assistant Professor of Art, at the University of Tulsa.  Michelle is a long time friend and mentor with an exception education background and involvement with the National printmaking community.  Her students produce competitive works and exchange them with work renowned printmaking artists and students at Ohio State University.

The gallery opening for Tulsa, Ink was an incredible success with over 75 attendees crowding the space.


Article from the Stillwater Newspress on “Tulsa, Ink”

Michelle Martin Print of Kelli Foshee

Michelle Martin Print Featuring a Mutual Friend and arts educator, Kelly Foshee

Michelle Martin Linoleum Cut

Michelle Martin Lithograph

Nicki Wood - Tulsa Ink Gallery Talk with Michelle Martin

Michelle Martin Gallery Talk

Teaching Beads, Buttons and Notions in Clay

Both of my sisters had an interest in creating handmade original beads and buttons out of clay for the jewelry and purses they make. I can’t imagine a more perfect accessory to wear! Any seamstress, textile artist or knitter needs to let me teach them how to create one-of-a-kind notions to add to their pieces.

As a family, we got together one Saturday night with my Aunt, two sisters, and friends and for the next 3 hours played with texture and created wearable art. The artist gene runs strong in our family and making small objects came naturally and laughter made the night special. Ceramics has a way of bringing people together like no other medium can.

If you are interested in a 2 day class to learn how to make your own clay buttons and beads, please contact me!

My sister Jennifer, her friend Penny and our Aunt.

My sister Jennifer, her friend Penny, and our Aunt.

Our Aunt, Me, my sister Linda, her friend Lavonna,  Lavonna's sister Marci, our niece Mallory, my sister Jennifer and Penny.

Our Aunt, Me, my sister Linda, her friend Lavonna, Lavonna’s sister Marci, our niece Mallory, my sister Jennifer and Penny.

Clay pieces ready to clean up and dry.

Clay pieces ready to clean up and dry.

After the pieces were fired, we started glazing.  This is my two sisters sanding the edges off a few pieces to smooth them out.

After the pieces were fired, we started glazing. These are my two sisters sanding the edges off a few pieces to smooth them out.

We used Spectrum Low Stone glazes for a earthy natural look that is stable and non-toxic for beginners.

We used Spectrum Low Stone glazes for an earthy natural look that is stable and non-toxic for beginners.

The first firing came out beautiful.

The first firing came out beautiful.

Detail of some of the buttons and texture.

Detail of some of the buttons and texture.

Don't you love these colors?

Don’t you love these colors?

Osage Orange


Since moving back to Catoosa, I have had my eyes peeled looking for a tree that grows near East Admiral Boulevard that I have admired every Summer growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma.  This time of year it has giant glowing chartreuse globes covering it.  Several years ago, I stopped and grabbed one of the brightly colored green globes on my way to my mom’s house.  I was in graduate school at the University of Tulsa.  I took the green globe to the ceramics studio and used it for it’s brain-like texture.  The clay I squished it into has stayed with me as a precious sentimental reminder of my home.  The memory of that tree and the texture left in the clay have traveled with me to three cities and halfway accross the country twice.

Today, driving home from Broken Arrow on the Creek Turnpike in my brother-in-law’s truck, I yelped excitedly “there they are”!  On the side of the highway, I saw several trees loaded with giant green globes that looked neon in the hot Oklahoma Summer sun.  Unfortunately, they were on the wrong side of the fence and I am not young and courageous enough to scale a barbed wired fence in two feet of prairie grass.  The thought of finding a rattlesnake or being attacked by chiggers was unsettling.  Regardless, I still wanted them.  All of them!

My kind brother-in-law drove down a dirt road to look for more trees that were easier to access.  Disappointed, we turned east homeward bound.  There they were!  Just where I remembered.  Admiral Boulevard had been under construction due to the new Creek Turnpike and to lay water pipe since I last took a green globe from my tree.  This tree was loaded, but they were all on top!

While we walked through prairie grass and pulled at limbs in the 99 degree Indian Summer heat, my sister sat in the truck air conditioning to google “hedgeapple”.  We managed to get six or more of the brilliant green globes that were sticky with white sap.

Driving home, we learned the tree is an Osage Orange that is historically used as a barrier for cattle before barbed wire and fence posts were invented.  They grow dense enough to keep bulls and hogs in or out and horses from jumping them. Growing in hedges as large as twenty feet high, but sometimes up to forty feet, they are a member of the mulberry family named for American geologist William Maclure. The name Osage Orange was coined by the Osage Tribe and incidentally smell slightly like an orange and in South Central part of Oklahoma in the Osage Mountains the color matures to bright orange in color.

In Indian Territory before statehood, hedges of the Osage Orange tree ran throughout the state for land barriers.  The wood from the tree was later found to be termite resistant and used for fence posts and ship figureheads.  

However, the trees are not prized for home shade trees and have fallen in popularity for many reasons.  With the invention of barbed wire in Indian Territory in 1874, the use for the tree declined. The female trees that produce the fruit have long large thorns that can cause flat tires. When the fruit falls like bowling balls from the tree they are considered a nuisance in contemporary landscapes. Cows and livestock have been known to swallow the fruit whole which becomes lodged in the esophagus and causes death. And finally, the fruit are not edible by humans and produce a sticky sap that often causes an allergic reaction.

Although the fruit is inedible, it is highly marketable online at www.hedgeapple.com and in some flea markets. Why you ask? The Osage Orange is prized for it’s ability to repel insects.

Many swear that Osage oranges chase away bugs. The claim is to set them in cabinets, behind furniture and in chicken houses. The fruit and wood of the Osage orange tree does contain tetrahydroxystilbene, an anti-fungicide that may deter insects.

My purpose for the Osage Orange was quite different, but I discovered an unexpected history. I am an artist and plan to make a plaster mold of one fruit. This will enable me to make multiples and tell the historical reference in a different way. I see them for their unique beauty, color and significant part in the landscape of my childhood home. Now, I have the story of the six Osage Oranges that led to an adventure and revealed the historical and scientific context of a mysterious tree native to the state of Oklahoma.




Osage Orange Tree and the  Blue Summer Sky

Osage Orange Tree and the Blue Summer Sky


Our Haul of Osage Oranges

Our Haul of Osage Oranges


The Brain-like Texture that Lures Me In

The Brain-like Texture that Lures Me In


Yesterday, the first Saturday of August, I was the “mARTketplace ARTist of the Month”.  I have temporarily made my studio in the orange room.  The mARTketplace is a community of independent artists that choose to sell handmade together.  They categorize themselves as somewhere in between fine art and craft.  As attitudes have changed in the last 10 years of what is fine art, I prefer no category regardless of my Master’s degree.  My work stands alone with inspiration coming from Mexican Folk Art, California Funk and feminine craft forms.  Sometimes, I want to make something that would never enter a gallery’s showroom and may be for the purpose of exploration.  These ladies follow a path of love for what they make as I do.

For example, I made knitting bowls this week.  I love to knit.  I have friends that love to knit.  And these cuties, serve the purpose of holding your skein safely and your unfinished work on needles with no chance of your cat pulling all your stitches loose.  All knitters and crochet enthusiasts need one.  It is a must have for your living room end table.

My day at the mARTketplace started off disorganized  unloading a kiln that morning at my Aunt’s house and rushing around to get everything placed for display by 10 am across highway 412.  It seems every artist that morning had the same scattered stress.  I blamed it on the full moon.

Throughout the day I demonstrated throwing bowls on the wheel while patrons walked through enjoying the friendly and welcoming environment.  Some customers had learned to throw in high school and some always wanted to learn.  I gave out my business cards and entertained my interest in teaching lessons within the mARTketplace studios.  It seems there is a valid need for an art center in rural areas like Catoosa, Oklahoma.  Many people do not want to drive into the city after work.  It is just too far.  And, I agree.  Meeting all these new folks gave me much excitement and I hope they find time to contact me to arrange lessons.

The mARTketplace had every opportunity for arts enjoyment including culinary arts.  It has been my goal everywhere I have been employed as a teaching artist to bring all arts to the audience.  I believe in a cross-disciplinary mix.  It heightens every sense and creates a joyful environment for inspiring ideas.  Celebrate the arts in your community!  Create a place! Support all arts!

Those that live in the Catoosa and East Tulsa area should inquire about wheel throwing or sculpture lessons.  I can offer a well-rounded teaching session that includes all materials to see if you would like to commit to a six week session of lessons.  I am completely flexible and interested in teaching anyone that wants to learn.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Find the mARTketplace on Facebook and Twitter @mARTketplace for for event updates and open studio Saturdays.

The "mARTketplace" lobby and lounge for meetings

The “mARTketplace” lobby and lounge for meetings

My favorite bowl thrown on Saturday

My favorite bowl thrown on Saturday

Save your old gift and hotel key cards, they make the perfect rib and clean up tool in the ceramics studio

Save your old gift and hotel key cards, they make the perfect rib and clean up tool in the ceramics studio

Me, in the "Orange Room of Clay"

Me, in the “Orange Room of Clay”

My sister, Linda, learning to throw on my wheel

My sister, Linda, learning to throw on my wheel

Knitting bowl drying

Knitting bowl drying

A tile made in a mold of my parents old bathroom linoleum

A tile made in a mold of my parents old bathroom linoleum

Tulsa is an inspiration of Art Deco tile and I have a secret obsession with creating more like these

Tulsa is an inspiration of Art Deco tile and I have a secret obsession with creating more like these

Buttons, beads and goodies

Buttons, beads and goodies

And, at the end of the day.....

And, at the end of the day…..

VisionMakers 2013



cake detail
full view of cake
Sarah's Cupcakes
Whitney and I

large turnout
Cake Detail 2
whitney and my piece

Last year I was fortunate enough to be in the Brady District’s “VisionMakers” exhibit at 108 Contemporary in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  To my surprise, my University of Tulsa Graduate School Ceramics Professor, Whitney Forsyth was also in the show.  Our work was chosen to be shown next to each other.  It was a show I will not forget!

Oklahoma Arts Council’s Leadership Arts Class of 2013


Quartz Mountain and Lake Altus


The Coleman Theatre

I was selected to be included with 29 other people across the State of Oklahoma for the Leadership Arts Class of 2013.  On the first meeting at Quartz Mountain Arts Conference Center, we discovered we were all like-minded individuals with the same cause.   At the next meeting one month later in Miami, Oklahoma, we had already become fast friends and supporters of each other.  Together, we learned how to analyze the assets of our community and use that to add to the quality of life and arts in our own communities.  I learned more with this group than I have in any other conference.  We are a diverse group that continues to spread the infectious love for art in our towns, cities and state! The Oklahoma Arts Council commissioned me to make the trophies for my graduating class.  Against all odds, I managed to finish the trophies with help from Bonne Brown and Steven Phillips.  I had kept the trophies a secret from my class mates the entire year.  At our graduation ceremony, the Leadership Arts Class was so moved that I had been chosen to make their trophies.  Being a part of this group has sincerely changed my life….we are soul touchers!   11381_10151519701391095_1223897434_n   261295_10151579376456095_1316484336_n



Oklahoma Woodworkers Association in Beaver’s Bend State Park




Bonne helping me make the Leadership Arts Class of 2013 graduation trophies

photo 1

photo 2

photo 4

photo 3

photo 5







If I had to describe this year to anyone, it would be a year of progress and community filled with valuable new friendships and professional progress.  I have been in two important exhibitions.  The first was the University of Tulsa Graduate School Alumni Show at Zarrow Art Center and the second, was VisionMakers at 108 Contemporary.

This was the first time I have shown my work professionally in Tulsa and I was thrilled to find out it was with my University of Tulsa Graduate School Professor of Ceramics, Whitney Forsyth.  A full color catalog was published and our work was side by side at the show! It was a special reception for both of us in the new Brady Arts District.  Many familiar faces came to the show and all my cupcakes were sold.  Time to make more cakes!

108 contemporary Visionmakers 1

108 contemporary Visionmakers 2

108 contemporary Visionmakers 5

108 contemporary Visionmakers 4

108 contemporary Visionmakers 3

108 contemporary Visionmakers 7

108 contemporary Visionmakers 6

When One Door Closes, Another Opens

Everyone hates this phrase while they are going through an unplanned transition, but when is anything truly planned? Another old saying goes, “Nothing good lasts forever”. These seem to apply to how I arrived at where I am. I will try to make a long story much shorter.

My students and friends helped me pack and move, it is still in the top ten worst days of my life.  We cried together.  I left the lifestyle I had always wanted and the studio I had designed and facilitated from a filthy roach infested eyesore. What seemed like the perfect life ended.

I believe I have many gifts, but one of them is, “things that fall into place” (you have to love this one). Those windows of opportunity that are hard to reach, never seem to pan out. The ones that come easily, are the ones that were meant to be. It seems all of my hard work, blood, sweat and tears seem to have paid off. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (another one of those phrases we use to mask horrible times).

The truck was packed and my new Fiat was attached on a trailer.  My three cats were safe inside their crates.  I set off to drive 1,600 + miles alone in a giant U-haul.  They say, these things “build character” (another one).

Those that know me, know I have picked up and moved across the nation more than once.  I have been told I am such a brave girl.  In retrospect, I did what I to do.

I would not say I have reinvented my career, but that I have added to it.  Curator was on my list of things to do.  You never know where life will take you (yes, another).

After being in Ardmore since November, I know this change in career was for the better.  I have been welcomed and proved to be an asset to the community.  I have had my, “15 minutes of fame” (You can thank Andy Warhol for that one), on KTEN News and multiple articles in the Daily Ardmoreite newspaper.  I will be teaching ceramics again at the Goddard Arts Center Studios and have plenty of space for a home studio.  Surprisingly, Ardmore is a thriving cultural area I never knew existed.  In addition, the excitement of learning collections management and having the freedom to plan events tops all.  I should add, I have a boss that appreciates and supports my idealistic nature.

I can never replace my friends in Florida, but within a short amount of time I have found many more.  In fact, all of the classes and conferences I have attended have introduced me to a new group of Oklahomans.  I am a lucky girl.  I have the best of many worlds.

It is with a bruised heart that I write this and dedicate it to those friends that helped me through the worst of times.  You know who you are, even if I could not find a photo to place here.
















Like so many artists, I have a variety of influences.   There are a few I go back to for inspiration over and over again.  Luca Della Robbia (1399-1482) is not an artist that my peers would probably think of as one of my creative stimulators.  On a student trip to Washington, DC , during my tenure in graduate school at the University of Tulsa, I gasped when I saw Della Robbia’s terra-cotta round Pieta at the National Gallery of Art.  It was the same thick pasty turquoise and grass-green glaze that caught my eye and the serenity that held it.

No matter how many reproduced images you see of art, nothing prepares you for the real thing.  You never know what your reaction may be.  The true meaning is what you glean from it, not necessarily the artist’s intention.

When I started working on “Sarah”, I was not thinking of Della Robbia, serenity or divine light.  Her terra-cotta body was fueled and inspired by the real Sarah Jean Clark’s untimely death.  I felt she and everyone who loved her had been robbed.  After many years of thought, sketches, photos, starts and restarts, I knew how I wanted to represent the day she died.  However, the terra-cotta “Sarah” had her own agenda.

Creating a life-size figure in clay is something of a miracle.  I find, that the figure becomes so real that I am talking to her and in some ways she talks back.  Using my own body as a model, she became alive when I had my entire arm stretched inside the neck to adjust for the attachment of her arms and head.  We, “Sarah” and I, had a dialogue each day about how she was exactly like I envisioned.  She told her story perfectly in gesture, no words were needed.

Similar to the Latin term used by the Dutch painters, “momento mori”, terra-cotta “Sarah” was to remind us of our own mortality and how short life is.  As always, I employ some humor in my work and adore the philosophy of horror films.  The oversized knife behind her back serves as a reminder, you should never expect things to be what they seem .

Like I said before, terra-cotta “Sarah” had her own agenda.  I rushed her in the kiln to dry and she returned the sentiment by blowing off the back of her head and knife.  In contrast to waiting with anticipation, she is now in quiet contemplation.  I feel the real Sarah may have assisted in the process.  She was teaching me a lesson.

It seems, once again the artist’s process wins over intent.   Clay controls the artist, not the other way around.  Terra cotta “Sarah” took on a life of her own, which is what I wanted.  Much like Della Robbia’s serenity, she is peacefully watching over my garden and will soon grow a mass of succulents for hair.

Pastel drawing of me for sculpture

Starting the life size “Sarah” out of terra cotta clay

Starting to take Shape

Arm surgery

Her guts

Nearly ready to attach the arms and head

The arms and head are made simultaneously as the body to dry at the same rate

Body parts are spread all over the studio

Her head needed some support for those stressful points that may crack while drying or firing

Waiting for “Sarah” to dry

Momento Mori

In the kiln to dry

Her final home

Student Work from Our Last Classes Together

High School Student, Dylan’s, Coil Pot with Copper Carbonate dripping

Middle School Student, Lorelai’s, “Celebration of Art” Cake

Top Detail of the Painter’s Pallette

“Candyland” Cake

Middle School Student, Francis’, “Songbird Sanctuary” Cake


Middle School Student’s Lidded Boxes

The middle school students enjoyed making ocarinas the most of any project we did last Summer. I loved seeing their faces when they discovered they could play a tune on a musical instrument they made!

Adult Student, Oscar, is inspired by Richard Serra