In a life ever-pursuant of  “the deal”, some incidents stand way above the others.  We found a McCoy vase once for ten cents at the local flea market.   It took some clear eyes as it had been painted flat navy blue and was in a box of worthless planters.  It was easy to clean and well worth the effort.


Cannot remember all we bought from Mrs. Green.  She was on the main drag in our little town and as she prospered, we followed her to two other storefronts.  Then she was just gone, although we did all we could to keep her in business.  In retrospect, it is difficult to believe that she actually prospered when she sold what she had at the prices she did.  I always say to people who know what their stuff is worth, that I want to buy from people who don’t know what their stuff is worth.  It is then that I can take a place at the table.

A couple of days ago in a former post (Less is Sometimes Not More) a hasty image of a framed mola was thrown in to illustrate a discussion.  Here is a better image.

1-ull sized mola

We paid $3.75 for this very complex mola which features a snake and the word “culebra”.  These originated in only one place, the San Blas Islands of Central America, and the best older ones incorporate symbols of American culture like the Coke bottle or cigarette packs.  There are lots of cheap, very elementary ones around now, and they cannot compare to these fine complex statements.

Mrs. Green had no idea what she had.  She told us that her husband went with his truck to NYC and bought “lots” somewhere (storage lots?) and brought them back here to sell.  She should have done some research, but the idea of doing that was plainly out of her world.

1-mola detail

In this detail you can see the stitching that allows fabrics lower in the fabric package to be revealed.  On the snake’s head there is simple running stitching to define it.  An interesting addition to this are the two frogs, one that cuts across the snake.  They are created in the reverse applique technique, with a patterned fabric in this case (molas usually feature bright clear colors) and then appliqued on top of the picture plane.

Compare this with a flea market find from a few years ago (and you can find even simpler ones in places like museum stores):

1-bird mola

The first image is 17″ x 13″, the second is 14″ x 11″.  The same kind of running stitching is used to define the heads in these animals too.


It depends upon where your head is.  The way you lean.  The kind of statement you want to make.  Sometimes more is more.


Years ago I read a book about Busby Berkley.  Think about the Rockettes and their line of kicking legs, or those old swimming movies where the camera was above and girls did the Rockette thing while floating, kicking to the right all together and then to the left. The entire composition looks like the shutter of an old camera opening and closing.  He directed that stuff.  My book is long gone, but his idea in these movies was that a simple kick could be made very grand if repeated by many.  And in his work, that movement was done until the audience collapsed into applause.

My world lives to be organized, to accommodate what I have, and make a bigger impact with it.  Just like Buzby Berkley.  Sometimes the palette is one window as above,  or sometimes you have to think like google earth and draw way back and see our whole acreage.  That is for appreciating all the old lawn furniture.

1-acuba garden

The acuba in the above garden started out at five, evenly spaced within about twenty by two feet.  Now they are over a hundred, issuing their spikiness everywhere and making quite a statement at the pool where one usually dresses in a vulnerable manner.

1-all on camera 019

It is all about pattern.  Pattern makes a world, no matter how clogged, understandable.


Many aluminum tumblers and pitchers are spaced around this accommodating kitchen fireplace.


The fireplace, designed to recede in size into a tray ceiling, has a kind of aluminum tumbler “crown” in the upper recesses.  That crown is broken up by a simple “mola” (the framed piece)  from the San Blas Islands.  But across the kitchen is a finer one:

1-best mola

A “mola” is a textile made in the manner of reverse applique.  Many layers of colored fabrics come together like a sandwich.  The craftsperson cuts a slit into the top layer, and bends each side of that slit back to reveal a new color.  The slit is stitched permanently back so the new color doesn’t have to fight for existence.  And so on.  Each color here reveals different layers of the colored fabric package.  Crazy obsessive like many textile techniques are.

Years ago I had the opportunity to view molas stored away in the depths of a German textile museum in Dusseldorf.  This mola, bought by me for $3.75 is every bit as good as the museum’s nicest pieces.  Some day I’ll get to that story.

The organizing idea here (pun intended):  put similar things in the same place.