Sunday, August 30, 2009



“Homestead HorseWoman”

Judy Bechtold

I met Judy Bechtold a few months ago while tending my booth at the farmers’ market in Roanoke. Judy told me that she had moved recently to Roanoke from Richmond. Before she moved to Richmond a few years ago, she had lived in Tallahassee, Florida for thirty years with her beloved husband, Steve. After she lost Steve to cancer, she joined her daughter’s family in their move to Virginia. She has already become a valued addition to the Roanoke community, working as a school speech therapist and as a therapeutic horse leader/side walker at Healing Strides of Virginia (

Judy, third from left, with her horse Tony

Judy grew up on Hoosier Homestead Farm, a pastoral piece of Indiana that has been in her family for eight generations. Her farmer father and grandfather encouraged a love of horses in Judy and her five sisters from an early age. Along with her mother, a mid-western farm wife who could cook or sew just about any item of food or clothing family members needed, they taught the girls the value of hard work and discipline. Those lessons undoubtedly helped provide Judy and her sisters with the values that enabled them all to graduate from Purdue University.

Judy, second from left, riding with the "All Girl Mounted Horse Patrol"

I’m finding Judy has a great sense of humor. She arrived at a drumming ceremony I had a month ago wearing a comical ‘bat hat’ that she created for the occasion. My home, Woodloft, has a small bat population and she wanted to be sure none of them landed in her hair. When Judy asked me to create a custom necklace for her, she asked me to incorporate a few particularly meaningful keepsakes she had collected over the years. Below, are the items she gave me to work with.

Sterling horse

Angel heart

Sterling feather

Small bird

Dolphin pendant

I added pau abalone shell pieces in recognition of Judy’s journey to New Zealand, itself a symbol of her many interesting travels. I also added a nautilus in acknowledgment of her long-time residency near the ocean in Florida.

Pau Abalone

I’ve enjoyed learning about Judy’s life and working on her necklace. I wasn’t sure if I could pull all those items together in one piece, but I believe it worked out very nicely. I hope she agrees.

Homestead Horsewoman

Below is the scroll I wrote to go with Judy’s necklace.

Homestead HorseWoman

A galloping horse is the central element in your Goddess Ceremonial Necklace, Judy, because of your lifelong involvement with these graceful animals. From Janie, your first pony, to Tony and the other horses of your youth, to the therapeutic riding mounts of your adult life, horses have been a constant presence in your life. Horses represent a source of power and freedom for you as they have to many people throughout history. Through your work in therapeutic riding, in turn, you have given some of this power and freedom to handicapped individuals: a little bit more power over their lives, and a little bit more freedom from their limitations.

The angel with the ruby heart has many meanings for you. First, it signifies your faith. It also symbolizes the spiritual guides you have encountered throughout your life. At least as importantly as these, however, and perhaps even more, it signifies the extraordinary bond of love among you, your sisters, and the other members of your family.

The two feathers are symbolic of the glowing hawk feather you found in Tallahassee and had incorporated into a Lakota-made dream catcher. Found shortly after your beloved sister, Alice, passed, you embraced the original as a spiritual message from her – and so the feathers on your necklace serve as an affirmation of that reassurance.

The bird over the head of “Homestead HorseWoman” signifies the totemic birds – hawk, bluebird and hummingbird – which have played such a significant role in your life. It also symbolizes your love of bird watching, a pastime you avidly share with your grandchildren.

Turquoise is one of your favorite colors and stones, and so, of course, it is included in your necklace. Historically, people of many cultures have reputed the stone to bring prosperity, health, or good fortune to the owner. May it confer all of these on you, Judy.

The two representative sea mammals forming the large heart at the bottom of your necklace are reminders your multiple encounters with dolphins, and your embrace of the dolphin spirit of "a carefree sense of adventure” coupled with “unselfconscious playfulness". Taken together with the horse and the bird, these dolphins also represent your love for the natural world and your efforts through the years to take ever better care of “Mother Earth.”

The paua abalone shell pieces are a token your trip to New Zealand. They also serve as a more general reminder of your many journeys and your belief that we should always “live in the Now.”

~ Cheryl Dolby~

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Friday, August 28, 2009



Rescued chair

I know a lot of you are probably pretty tired of seeing the lifeguard chair and the contest posts. You are no doubt thinking it is time for a change. Well, I agree wholeheartedly, however; my friend, Christine, coincidentally posted a story that coincides with my lifeguard chair and my affinity for salvaging unused items- white elephants that noone seems to have a use for anymore. These orphans of the world deserve a chance for life anew.

This post is a tribute to those items. “A different sort of civilty.” is the title Christine has given to her insights on inanimate items. She has given me permission to post her story here. I must say that I agree with her completely. Her blog address is Her stories are intellectual as well as entertaining. I hope you will visit her there. In the meantime, here is her story of the lost and found discarded items of humanity.

A Different Sort of Civility

Summer 2001. Woods Edge in Durham, North Carolina. I hear an early knock on the door. Gwen Spizz excitedly apologizing tells me that there is a loveseat left at the dumpster. "I know you don't like the killing of furniture so I thought we could bring it over together. It's got couple of casters." No need to ask if it needs repair. Gwen knows I will mend it. Her expression, "The killing of furniture" has stayed with me ever since. It could be considered a subset to my Theory of Inanimate Objects. The Reincarnationists believe souls come back in all manner of living creatures but what if I'd like to return as a washing machine? At a very young age it seemed to me people did not treat their belongings with appreciation and respect which led to their falling apart. I remember reading that Emily Bronte was polishing the staircase the day she died. Now that's a writer after my heart. She took time to attend to objects. I was saddened when living in Eureka in a house built in 1851 and divided into apartments, one of which had been a bookstore, to discover white plastic chairs strewn around the backyard. At one time somebody had planted roses which grew in wild chaotic exuberance. I thought the garden a lovely setting for reading in the afternoon but I wasn't going to sit on something moldy and gross. I didn't know the chairs were white until I started cleaning them up. In a fit of alarm at their neglect, I took some paint from an art project and wrote, "Be Kinde to Chairs" across the top in fancy script. I felt a lot better. The tenants didn't notice but much of what I do goes unnoticed except for the recipients of the attention. The chairs fairly preened. I guess you could call me a Restorationist, a devoted recycler, instead of a Reincarnationist. I have rescued doors, frames, clocks, teapots, sofas, table, laundry baskets, turned a computer into a planter and revitalized a Wonder Horse. It had lost its handle bars and part of the top of the mane was missing. I threaded a wooden spoon through the holes and glued it with Goop, which Ellen Sachtschale, the potter, suggested. I placed a hat with a sunflower barrette of the "brain damage" and festooned her with ribbons and beads. I gave her to Jennifer Brady to hang from the rafters of her house when I moved from Roanoke. That's one of the rules: pass it on. As soon as I was finished with my Intensive Care of the various misfits, I would take them to Goodwill and wish them a fruitful journey. The horse remains only as the profile picture on Facebook and the Blob. A wicker settee found a place with Vietnamese newlyweds with instructions to send it on its way if they ever wanted real furniture. Is this all because of abandonment issues? Or a form of, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you," or is it simply Feng Shui which declares that the placement of furnishings (appreciation) is a stepping stone to harmony. Perhaps, it is the fact that I saw so many with no possessions when I was an impressionable child. I don't analyze it. I just do it. I was pleased when Henry about four years old, proudly told his little pal who was crying over a broken toy, "Mimsey fixes everything." Yes. At least she tries.



...may the blessings from the Land of the Discarded roost along your path...

I hope you enjoyed this story from Christine and that you visit her blog..

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009



The finished chair? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

What may look like the finished lifeguard art chair is really a conglomeration of some of the ideas everyone gave me. This bizarre picture represents the state my mind was in trying to decide which idea to go with.

I must say, my contest was very tough: maybe not so hard for everyone else, but very difficult for me when it was time to select the winners. Many of the entry ideas overlapped. Several people suggested using similar painting schemes on the chair, many suggested using lifeguard equipment (as you might have expected), and several suggested using the chair as a planter. To make my decision even tougher, all the ideas I received were wonderful! But, I had to choose only three.

The idea that really spoke to me was from Beth Pollins. I’ve quoted her entry here because I think you’ll like reading the beautiful story she created.

“Hi Cheryl,

“Here is my idea. I thought about it for a bit and decided the chair stays where it is. First, I would stain it to appear as weathered wood, like a shipwecked ship, perhaps a bolt or two in it to make it appear ship-like. On the seat would be a lovely selkie* in human form with her legs drawn up and arms around them. She has long, long dark hair, huge soulful eyes, and a faraway expression on her face. She is made of clay.

"Over the side of the chair is her seal skin. Now this I am not sure about, but I thought you might use treated faux black leather or suede. I am not sure that would make it through a winter... have to think about that. There would be a clay sea gull, her friend, on the back of the chair.

“The next level, the top shelf, would be her human life treasures. Some shells she used as plates, a green bottle with a message in it (thrown into the sea by her lover when she left to return to the sea), a small antique-looking frame with her lover's picture in it, a silver mirror, a small ‘treasure chest’ box made from tin with some coins, some jewels (necklace, broach) or beads, a small book with pictures, a key. and some colored ribbon. None of this is valuable, except to her, it is priceless.

“Both shelves would have sand on the bottom. The bottom shelf would have items from her sea life. Some shells (clam and others) including a conch shell, a clay lobster, a crab, a sea horse, a fish, seaweed, and perhaps some sea glass and stones. Maybe a holey stone … I have read that a stone found from the sea on the beach with a hole in it, can be used to see the goddess by looking through the hole. At the bottom of the chair, on the ground, I would have a clay seal, her sister, who always watches over her.

“As far as the arms and legs of the chair, I would not embellish too much. I might put some shells on, and perhaps some small fish or starfish on the wood. I would put a bit of netting on the chair (a small bit), and at the bottom, I would put a piece of weathered wood with the name of the ship. Depending on how it looks I might nail it to one of the sides of the chair. Not sure what the ship would be named. It did sink to the bottom of the sea, but the selkie saved part of it and made it her sanctuary.

“Now as far as weather proofing goes, I am sure the clay would be fine. The wood, shells, and stones would, too. The seal skin is what I question. I was thinking of putting plexiglass sides on the shelves of the chair. That feels out of integrity with a selkie, but may be practical.


(* For those like me who didn’t know this, a selkie is a spirit in Scottish and Irish folklore that has the form of a seal but can assume human form. I hope my readers gain as much from my blog as I do learning from them! - Cheryl -)

With Beth’s suggestion, I have both a plan for what to do with the chair and a lovely mythical story to go with it. I absolutely love it! It will be difficult for me to implement Beth’s idea because my kiln is only 27 inches high and the selkie would have to be quite large to be in proportion to the chair’s seat. I will have to sculpt her and then cut and fire her in several pieces to be assembled afterward. All this said, I am going to give it a shot. I love the whole concept! Sooooooo…


You have the choice of taking the first place, second place, or third place prizes. Please e-mail me with your choice and your mailing address -- and thank you so much for the time and energy you put into developing your idea.

"Lily" water pond

Since I already have a large mannequin languishing next to my water pond, and since there is also a mermaid that sits above that pond, the idea of a male lifeguard dressed in an old-fashioned, turn-of-the-century striped swimsuit appealed to me, too. So,


Trish said:

“The chair should have a mirror, like the one you show located in your house called the fantasy art chair. It should have ‘beach rocks’ similar to B-dazle, your car, and on the glass shelves, there should be lifesaving equipment along with refreshments for the lifeguard and his friends. Then, of course, there must be a tall, dark, handsome lifelike MALE mannequin, perhaps in early 20th century swimsuit apparel. On cloudy days, a flag for the chair should be the family coat of arms. On sunny days, an umbrella of multicolors must be up.


“We must have at least one life preserver and some boat ropes draped around. (ropes that can be used to hold chair in place in case of winds, etc.)


Because of the high winds here, the idea of draping lots of boat ropes around the chair to hold it in place as well as to decorate it is particularly appealing.

Trish, I will let you know which prize Beth chooses and you will get the next choice. Thank you very much for this great suggestion.

My poor distorted mind

And, LAST BUT NOT LEAST … I really struggled with my third place winner. There were so many great suggestions, and yet only one more prize. I think I will give many smaller prizes for my next contest so everyone will win. Even though the third place idea is not very practical because it would be difficult to manage the plants in winter, I love the concept. It reminds me of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with plants cascading from level to level to level.


Wayne said:

“ … here is my idea. On the seat, place a large cascading plant like a spider plant. Then mount additional pots all along the sides at various random intervals, and as the plant grows down to the additional pots, root them and encourage them to cascade from there to other pots and so on…”

Wayne, I will let you know which of the prizes you actually won as soon as Beth Pollins and Trish Foutz choose. You may even end up with the first place prizes!

Unfortunately, there are no prizes for “honorable mention,” but I would have had to give one to each of my other entrants if there were. As I suspected, my readers are quite creative. Of all these other entries, I have to mention the one from Pamela as being the most radically inventive, though not one I thought I could use. My regular readers may remember Pamela from my June 16th post, Ottowoman (2) Recycled. There you will find a picture of her standing next to my “two-story” bed which is half as high as she is tall!

Pamela next to my "two-story" bed

Pamela suggested the following:

“I think your chair is wasted at the pool. I think you should lug it inside and up to your room to help you dive into bed at night. If this seems a fantastic idea to you, then I would decorate the chair and its levels with a jungle motif with maybe a snake winding around an upright, monkeys hanging from the cross-members, and maybe the healing woman staking her claim to the seat. I would fit a telescope to the ‘umbrella pole’ so that she could keep an eye on the lion looking down on all this nonsense.

“Forget about the guys in the pool, who shouldn't even be there if they're going to need saving.


I will start the selke sculpture soon, and hope I can finish her before winter sets in. If not, it will be early next spring before she is completed. In the meantime, I will be having another small contest to see if anyone can come up with a name for her as well as the name for the wrecked ship Beth talked about. So, please put on your thinking caps once again.

Thanks once more to everyone! As I said previously, I wish everyone could have won. Your ideas were wonderful! I am so lucky to have such a creative group of readers.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009



Just two days left!!!!!!

First place prizes

I don’t know what it is about ‘giving’ but I am very into it. I believe that the giver is the one who benefits the most. I love to share and I love the fact that my readers care enough to expend time and energy into helping me solve an art problem. Thank you all so very much! I am receiving amazing solutions to my Lifeguard Chair dillema. It will be difficult to choose.

I think it might be a good idea if I allow the first place winner to decide whether or not he or she would like 1st, 2nd or 3rd prizes. Then I could let the second place winner decide whether he or she would like one of the remaining place prizes. The third place winner would get whatever is left, which may even be 1st place prizes! That sounds like a plan to me.

Second place prizes

So..once again. You now have just 2 days to send me, via e-mail, your creative idea on what I should do with my lifeguard chair. If this is the first time you have visited my artblog, please scroll down to previous posts to review rules for the contest. The contest ends on Monday, August 24th at 5:00 PM.

Third place prizes

Once again, thank you and good luck. I will be naming the winners on my next post.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009




Lifeguard chair placed on deck above the Woodloft Vineyard (16 vines)

I received a request to move the lifeguard chair to the vicinity of where it will be permanently placed. That was a very good idea. I left it up above on the deck, near my studio, so that I could work on it there but it makes more sense to have it situated where it will remain throughout the year. When I moved the chair, I found that it was lighter than I expected. Since It is so light and since I am at such a high altitude here in the mountain and it could easily be blown away by a strong wind, I used waxed linen and tied it to the rails. ( I don’t know what I would do without waxed linen, I use it for so many things.

It looks a bit like a white albatross sitting here among the dark green woods and brown deck.

Last, but not least, my third place prizes

Sunflower cake pan

Sunflower dish (for serving Sunflower cake)

Mandarin Poppy Seed exfoliating massage bath bar

Sweet and Smoky spice rub

Watermint body butter

I’m anxious to hear all of your ideas and to get started on refurbishing this treasure. Remember, you only have till Monday evening, the 24th, to submit your suggestion. Perhaps you will be one of the winners!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009




Woodloft swimming pool

It was brought to my attention that I should show where the lifeguard chair will be placed. Above is a picture of one area of my swimming pool deck. As you can see, it is a bit crowded and obviously the chair won’t fit here.

This picture shows the opposite end of the pool and more suitable for the chair.

Another view of area most suitable for chair

I hope this helps you a bit with your idea for the chair.

I decided it would be a good idea to offer second and third place prizes for the contest. This will give you a much better chance of winning. I hope you like the prizes I chose for second place.

Second place prizes

Spirit Pin

Monastery soup book

Signed copy of She Who Whispers

Spirit Bag

Bread book

Remember, you have til the end of the day, Monday, August 24th to come up with a unique idea on how I should decorate the chair to fit into the Woodloft (my home) theme. I will show the prizes for the third place winner on my next post. Good luck!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009



Lifeguard chair that was left on my front deck

When my friend, Jean, brought me the lifeguard chair shown in my August 12th post, my creative juices started flowing. I’m not sure what direction to take with the chair, but I’d love to have it sitting at the edge of my swimming pool. I decided to have a contest so my readers can help me come up with an idea to convert this chair into something spectacular. I imagine it as the bright, cheery focal point of my swimming pool, but I need some ideas to get from my vague notion to the finished work.

Close up of chair

If you would like to have a chance to win all of the items pictured in my last post, this is all you have to do. If you have a blog or if you have a page on a website like Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, or Twitter, post a link on your blog or page to my contest at (If you don’t have a blog or a social networking page, you might ask a friend to post a link for you on their blog or page. If none of these is an option for you – well, go ahead and enter anyway. I don’t want to keep anyone from joining the fun!) Then send your idea for the chair and the address of your link (if you have one) to That’s all you have to do. I will then decide which of your ideas has most inspired my final design for the chair. It doesn’t matter whether you have been to my blog only one time or are a regular follower: anyone can enter my contest.

Give as many details as you can about your idea. By the way, about four people in my family immediately said I should put a mermaid in the chair. Okay, if that’s what you think, too, describe that mermaid: what materials I should use, what colors, etc. Keep in mind that this chair will sit outside all winter long, and that it freezes and snows occasionally in Roanoke.

I’m so excited because this is my first giveaway. The items I have chosen are representative of everything I love and write about in my blog posts.

Here are a few more close-up pictures of the lifeguard chair.

Notice the holder for an umbrella or a flag or a ?

The chair is made of wood and is about seven and a half feet high

Once again, here are the items the first place winner will receive.

To see details of all these gifts, please check my August 12th post

Since my last blog post, it occurred to me that I may end up with several good ideas and have a hard time choosing one winner. So, I’m going to give prizes for the second and third place entries as well!

You have until 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time, August 24, 2009 to enter. I’ll decide which idea inspires me the most and post the first place winner within the following few days after the contest is over. The second week after the deadline, I’ll post the second place winner, and the third week, I’ll post the third place winner. But remember, all entries must be in by the end of the day August 24th.

I’ll show you the second place prizes on my next post.

I wish to thank all of you for following my blog. I hope you’ll continue to do so because I think you’ll find a lot of interesting ideas and stories ahead.

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Friday, August 14, 2009


All of these wonderful gifts will be given away to the winner of my contest!

Welcome to my first contest and giveaway. As I stated in my last post, I plan to have a contest involving the lifeguard chair that was dropped off at my front deck last week by a friend. I’ll be giving you all the details in my next post but right now I want to show you the prizes I have chosen for the winner. All of the items include, in some way, the subjects that I post three or four times a week.

Distressed turquoise necklace

Small leather bookmark

Herb book

Angel notebook

Glass necklace

Two bars of soap from Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen

One of my hand painted fresco tiles

Italian cookbook

Metal sculpture of two boats

Artists drawing set

Garden recipe book

Garden book

A signed copy of my Woman Within the Web book

Hope you like the prizes! I am anxious to get started on my contest, but I have a few details to iron out. I’ll be ready to give you the complete run down on my next post. See you then!

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