Recycling the recycled


Untitled (at this point), 2020, 45″ x 18″ x 10″

So this past week I have been working on voice, not content. The best work merges the subject of a piece with the artist’s unique way of addressing it.

On a mission to work bigger than usual, the size of my elements are exploding. Pushing myself in this experiment, the physical composing of elements is taking the front seat and the content seems nowhere.


To begin this larger work, I looked for outliers in inventory. Shapes that had never been considered for use. The dark element at the left is a double bed headboard, truncated.  Good start. Then two balusters, around here forever, and too clean and proper for my taste except in some kind of contrast within the composition. Here, they fit.

And it is always wonderful to “move” an old part. Inspired by new finds, they always go first.


The textile person comes out when pattern is involved in composing. I love a repeat pattern. These chunks of turned wood embellish the headboard.


And they share color and value with the only element in this piece that is part of a chair. The broad wooden piece with three holes in it is the interior structure of the back of a chair, over which padding and surface upholstery was added.

I included a paint stick white on one end and dark on the other to continue to state the parameters of the color/value composition here.


All other shapes in this piece are from old experiments deconstructed into only “parts” again.

Now if I could only figure out what this piece is about!


Domestic 2019
38″ x 19″ x 13″

Aprons, wooden spoons, metal scrub brushes all point to getting domestic in my work.

Not that this chair is any kind of self-portrait. Experiencing quite the opposite as former priorities are reshuffled to have more time to work on art, the houses and gardens are suffering. My fault.

The back of this piece features the armrest of a folding aluminum chair; the kind everyone used to have in the sixties. The front of the piece has a part of an old aluminum screen door from the same era. I love aluminum, but that is another story.

Legs Like Garden Hoses

Legs Like Garden Hoses 2019

When about twelve, I asked my parents if I could wear nylons. This was back in the Dark Ages. In truth, I had been wearing them under white socks which were removed once we got on the bus. Did the same thing with mascara. I wore it and then asked if I could, and they said no.

Don’t remember how the mascara issue came out, but I do remember what my dad said about the nylons.

He said, “Young girls have legs like garden hoses! You don’t need nylons.” Try to imagine these kinds of conversations now. As it turned out, never was much of a nylon-wearer. I liked black tights. So did my sister. She put them on her head and swaggered around like she had long hair.

So here in my visual conversation about women reorganizing their compositions with respect to experience, is my tribute to girls with legs like garden hoses.

Two of the legs above are really just half of a leg. Two parts of the same leg. The third is bent at a severe angle requiring a spacer element to keep the leg from buckling.

My husband insists these sculptures should have bases. I do not agree. A solid base would interfere with the tension I claim as we women maintain our posture.

A Discovery and Confirmation

Last Sunday, my husband and I picked up a chair which had been displayed at the South Carolina State Museum for six months. Working with the registrar, she commented that I also had a piece of work on display on the fourth floor “Acquisitions Gallery”. A former client of mine had donated it. Blown away, knowing that a museum has certain areas of collection, and standards for the objects they take, I was thrilled.

We left the chair on the loading dock and went up to the fourth floor and I was absolutely shocked at what I saw.

Above is a piece of my “signature work” as friend Gail Brown calls it. It is the work that the informational card up above refers to: “While this collage is a more abstract example of her work, Malerich’s textiles often include images of female figures and personal narratives”. It is this type of embroidered work that I expected to see (The South Carolina Arts Commission owns this piece).

What I saw instead was a quilted fabric collage, machine stitched, infused with paper words from Andy Warhol’s old “Interview Magazine”, a dense, active, glittered, texty creation. I had made a bunch of these for a while when burned out on embroidery. Making little paintings out of satin stitches was a labor of love and need, but sometimes there was no love in it and no need. Turning to other creations for awhile, learning took place, but I never photographed any of them.

So, a dilemma. The museum accepted a piece of what I considered non-serious work. But the museum also gave me a gift. The informational card was composed using a couple of old artist statements. The last line on the card quotes me: “Whatever my medium, I cannot move far from a stylized woman’s body, modified by the history of her life.”

Well, there you go. My new work with wood struggled for content, and when the idea of women as compromised chairs emerged, the path was comfortable and the goals were sound.

I offered a piece of embroidery to the museum and they are coming next week to pick it. It is easy to solve this situation, thankfully.


And any interested parties.

I am going to group recent work in “families” where a common aesthetic consideration can be observed.  Then we both will understand more about the work.  It is important for an artist to write about their work as it installs information in another part of the brain.  And formalizing thoughts into words does the same.

“Artist Statements” are about this but are usually so dry.  So.  I have three recent works that utilize the same straightback chair, and therefore “feel” similar to me.

Any work of interest to you can be recorded with much more detail and posted.


another play 1

Play, 2015


Replay. 2015

Funny, this process is already working.  I had thought each of the above examples featured the same small straightback chair as a base for the composition.  They do not!  But each pairs a chair and a similar window, table legs, whimsical parts of playthings, wooden beads cut in half, and primary colors.  The piece just above shows the first time a large circle was drilled into something to become a motif.  The (is it Chinese Checkers?) board that is part of the base has two circles drilled out, plus a small wooden cylinder that repeats a circle in a different way.

These three works depend on symmetry more than most.  Usually discouraging it with my students as the easy way out in composition, I embrace it here, although the first of the three is the strictest (its name is not posted; it is on view at USC Sumter currently and I cannot remember its name).  Even within the strict context, elements are not repeated symmetrically, but are placed to move away from it.  And of course, there is no symmetry present when viewed from various angles.

Duck heads, duck bodies in profile, headless ducks and wings are common to the second two.  Halved croquet mallets are common to the first two.



First starting to work with chairs in this way was when I made a gift for my grandchild celebrating his first trip around the sun.  For a work for a child, there was necessary whimsy.  That feature has stuck around in these later works.






Why do this?  To see if it could be done.  The origin of my work is always with the materials.  They inspire new ideas whether it was back in the day when I stitched reacting to a wonderful new pattern, or whether, in this case, when my husband gave me a fine set of wooden casters.  Who knows why he rejected them, but they gave me all kinds of ideas.  This piece stands around 34 inches tall.  The wooden high chair within the system of windows is for a doll.


The wooden windows are screwed together in a “Z” conformation to a depth of about 24 inches.  An old toy wooden hammer and toy ladder make up the rest of the elements that serve to embed the chair within the windows.  Initially the chair was purchased for its wooden parts, but the more interesting question became the merging of the two compositions together.


The seat of the doll chair has luminous single digit numbers and bits of paper under layers of varnish.

The former chair then inspired the next chair, which made itself into a gift for the baby of my baby, Benjamin.  It started as a reaction to the first chair, and then became HIS chair as the universe presented elements to me, over and over again, which represent his first trip around the sun.


I bought the little chair without a back years ago.  It became a plant stand.  I loved the peeling paint, and for this piece it has been preserved with layers of varnish.  The bit of brownish paper on the right front leg came with it; as the chair began to form and use so many warm browns, I added the rest of the newspaper bits, from an old St. Louis paper.  Have to get his heritage into the work!  One bit just says “boy”.

Glenn has lots of rusty metal farm parts for his work around.  I love the hay rakes and the way he stretches and curls them in his work but here one is used intact, minus the handle.  The bird couples had all been secured at the flea market at one time or another.  Interestingly when looking for dowels to use there was the little wooden plane at the bottom of the dowel box.  Perfect for a little boy’s circle of the sun in his first year.  All the circles used in the composition refer to this trip as well.


The arms constructed for this chair are fairly complex using a mismatched pair of wooden swans, same with wooden birds (mismatched), and a  spoon and a fork.  They are finished with the inside and outside of an embroidery hoop with a nod to his grandmama, the former stitcher.  The tail of the little plane moves, as well as the rotor.  We shall see how he feels about this (un)toy.







We are thick with work.  It must move.  And all ways of selling work, I hate.  Entering shows, paying jury fees, shipping work off on a little vacation and then back, usually the worst for wear, never again.  Paying a gallery half of the sales price, no more.  Craft shows??  NO.  I have done all this and it is a new day.

We have a gallery half-built.  Personally, inviting friends and acquaintances to come and look is just embarrassing.  Money sucks.  Really.

And then there is the tool of the web.  This is difficult too, thinking about “views” and “tags” and algorithms.  Very frightening.  I see what my artist friends are doing with this, and it can be good.

Yesterday I stumbled on a list of ten things to do to increase views in your Etsy shop.  I have one and have never mentioned it to anyone.  Totally unsuitable for this kind of blowing of one’s own horn, we will give it a try.

One point on list of ten things is to blog.  Well, I have a blog (obviously), and know how to do it.  What a perfect starting point.  Start with what you know.  The genius of the list says to talk about the work, show the space where you make it, all that.


So here is work sitting on pedestals laying on their sides, reaching down the length of the gallery.  At this point, we have one screw in the wall to support hanging for photography.  It does not work for all sizes of this work made from wooden windows.


Above is the gallery space in progress where the ceiling is partially in.  There are five windows, much like the ones from which I am making this work, down both sides.


This piece is called “Green Square” and it is a deep relief projecting from the wall.  To catch the depth, I also catch a part of a window.  It’s always something.


Only the side walls and ceiling on the second story of this barn have sheet rock.  In the front and back there is just space.  You can look down to the first story.  Definitely no parties until Glenn makes his proposed steel banisters.  Glenn had this little bar, and behind it is an old art fair screen from many moons ago.  I love what light does through the slats, but would never hang a work of art on something like this.  This must have been from Glenn’s high school years.


Here is what the front and back walls look like.  Bare.  We are standing in Glenn’s studio looking up at the new gallery space.

Finishing off, here are more views of the piece called “Green Square”.




Aside from the windows, the piece includes a printing block (the green square) a china cup and dowels.  Color exists here in the paint used on the windows in their former life, sanded in places and varnished to keep the history.

And my Etsy shop is .