Things I Learned From my Father

New ethnic dolls from the bead store grab bags

Today is Fathers’ Day. Mine died over 30 years ago…he didn’t hang around long enough for me to focus on his short-comings the way I’ve done with my mother. I am the oldest of five and the only female. Only two of us have children, and I see that they are both good fathers…and the two of us who haven’t been divorced, if that means anything.

Happy Dolls

My parents were 21 and 22 when I was born, Dad still in school…how would they know how to raise children? They came from the usual dysfunctional families and were both products of the assumptions of their times. I didn’t get a middle name, because I was supposed to use my father’s name, Hastings, as middle, when I took my husband’s name as last. As you may know, I took back my father’s last name after I divorced my abusive husband in 1982.

Collage/Mixed media, exploring Basquiat style

Dad did pay for my education at a very good college, both parents pushed me to learn a trade, so I would not be financially dependent on a husband. I remember Dad telling me to join organizations  and take the jobs nobody else wanted, so I could be in the inner circle. He paid for the Famous Artist course for me, though he told my husband that the next-oldest brother was more creative and I was more of a craftsman.
Experimenting for a big painting, inspired by one of Dad’s photos

For a psychiatrist, he wasn’t very good at speaking up about the abuse my future husband was already handing out to me and my mother, to help my gay brother with the bullying he got at school, but we were both able to break free (eventually).

Backyard patterns, a blooming ground cover and donkey-tailed euphorbia

I had the example of a father who did his regular job during the day and followed his art passion in the evenings and weekends and on vacations, and I was proud of his photographs in books and magazines and hearing railroad workers call him Doc and treat him as famous, even if in a small sphere. I think he had patients who appreciated him, too, though sometimes he seemed too retiring to stand up for himself in professional situations.

A vacation to Port Townsend to visit Mike and Katie in their new home

I followed in his footsteps in having patients and students who say I’ve done them good. I always emulated him in doing two jobs at once, to the point where now that I’ve been retired from my health-care job since the end of 2013, I still have a nagging feeling that I Must be “productive” every second to fit it all in.

Katie and I did a lot of walking, she with her bad knee and me with my bad foot. Her new neighborhood and a woman with many cement globes in her yard. Katie’s favorite North Beach, where just breathing the air makes her feel good, and we each have our favorite collectibles, rocks and beach glass.

Now that I’m 71, I’m trying to teach myself that it’s OK and even good, to slow down some and enjoy the process. I’ve already lived a decade longer than he did, and I love all my creative achievements and also the volunteering I do for the Fine Arts Center, the library, and the Planning Commission. This is the consolidation and giving back phase of my life, and I want to enjoy it thoroughly. We never know what may happen next…appreciate every moment!

Potential art material is Everywhere!





The Responsibility of the Artist?

The Blue Journal, Text as Pattern

Artists are truth tellers…except when we flatter a patron…or avoid sharing something shameful…or possibly hurtful…that we need to get out of our head and heart.

Drawing and text inspired by a photo my father took of our three generations of females

I’ve resumed reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, so it will be fresh in my mind for book group on Tuesday. It’s hard to accept that these horrors can have been committed as a part of everyday life in Chechnya as recently as 2004…what horrors continue? Of what is homo sapiens capable?…in one morning on my computer I see an un-publicized massacre of successful people of color in Omaha after WW I, native young people mourning their lost lands and murdered ancestors, the young black and brown people murdered by police and in schools, all the family drama, women beaten down, that goes unrecorded and unacknowledged, the little-known torments that drive both the famous and the unknown to suicide….

Playing with abstraction and text as texture…the psychological story becomes a physical one…How to tell it best?

Many writers and visual artists use what we know best for raw material. I’m also reading Zadie Smith’s Swingtime…all sorts of questions about assigning blame, figuring out where and how to start to go on from here. My high school art teacher, Jessie Loomis, my good mother when I needed one, introduced me to Ben Shahn, who used words plus images to tell stories of unfairness on a broad scale, started me with words and images in my own work. I used my grandmother first, feeling the remove more safe than a mother who wanted to incorporate my being into hers…or hers into mine.

More text as texture

My mother is a person with only good intentions, who raised five children who are blessed with an ability to express ourselves artistically. I am working out ways of expressing my own growing up and what I have done with my life, while still being respectful and grateful to her good intentions. I’ve been looking at Basquiat, Kahlo, Rivers, always Shahn…the abstract, the stories…with Compassion, I hope. It is better to let these things out than leave them to fester…don’t tell my mother.

Everyday life: fruit as a face. Diane celebrating the end of the Library figure sewing.


What is a Maker Space, and Why do We Need Them?

More collage/drawn/written pages in the blue journal

There are all kinds of Maker Spaces, both virtual and physical. Last week a group of people who are interested in starting one…or several…in my home of Port Angeles…got together to talk about Maker Spaces. There’s a man from Sequim (the town next door) who has a virtual one, connecting people capable of teaching (things like bee keeping or seed saving) to those who want to learn.

Music at the opening of my portrait show at the Sequim Library

I have visited several art/science/technology spaces in Seattle…and my niece works in one…to bring her dream of project-managing music venues and musicians to fruition. I may not have said that right…sorry Serene. She has an engineering degree. I think project managing is something I enjoy, as I help people plan and follow-through to create such things as the blue library figure. I helped start a business/technology group back when I lived in NY and before such things were common.

I finished the dolls I started last week. Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens are good on Fabric

The people in this group in Port Angeles are interested in things like building tiny and affordable houses, organizing our town into walk-able mixed-age neighborhoods, helping developmentally-delayed people express themselves artistically and master the kinds of community tasks, like grocery shopping and taking the bus, that the rest of us hardly have to work at.

My brother, Doug’s, birthday party in Seattle yesterday. Good to hang out with family

Physical Maker Spaces can provide office and technology to new entrepreneurs, problem-solving skills to children as young as 3 or 4, or access to equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters to young businesses. The concept has potential to bring people together and to get beyond the depression and feeling of helplessness rampant in the world today. Sometimes it is necessary to just start where we are, and then to keep moving forward.

Cathy climbed up to fix a light and mowed the weeds and blackberries beside my     driveway. It’s nice to have a Handy Woman to to the things I’m not good at.

There were plenty of other distractions for me this week. We must continue to live our own lives, but at the same time working to improve things for ourselves and others, and keep communicating /demonstrating that such a things is possible.

Getaway to Port Williams Beach Thursday. I picked up small white and black pebbles to surround the special stones Katie gave me before she moved…I made an arrangement in the middle of my mini Stonehenge.

No parties or shopping for me on Memorial Day. I did a two-page spread mourning the young lives lost for questionable goals in war, like getting control of oil or making money selling weapons. Lots to think about. Can/should we have compassion for those who prefer not to think? “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Avoid irrevocable changes!


My World is Full of Marvelous Things!

It may be a function of bright and sunny and seemingly endless days, but I’ve been creating all over the house. The two pieces above are from the blue suede notebook that Katie gave me. I keep the notebook open on the drafting table in my bedroom, so I can arrange pieces of paper and think about what form the next image will take. I found lots of faces (4) in the 5/27 piece, finished this morning.

These are colored pencil drawings from Annie Leibovitz photographs…I have a photo my Dad took of me, Mom, and her mother I’d like to make into a 30″ painting…still using up the canvases. It’s good to practice hand/eye coordination by drawing. Interesting how the process of photographing a drawing and then looking digitally, brings out flaws, like the lack of shading around the neck and shoulders in Annie’s Mom.

My youngest brother, David, and I are most alike of the 5 siblings. He is exhibiting quilted pillows in the current Men Quilting show at the Quilt Museum in LaConner. He took me to see the show last weekend, also the model of free motion quilting machine he’s buying. We egged each other on to buy yet more fabric, and stopped frequently for snacks. I was inspired by the colors of planting outside one of the quilt shops…my new fabric additions on the right.



David took a quilted portrait class from the guy above…I wish I’d gotten the names of the quilters, And wish I’d posted the nice picture I took of David at one of our numerous food stops…and pictures of his pillow tops…watch for spectacular quilting coming from David Owen Hastings.

This quilter did impossible-seeming things with layers and holes…Maybe open circles. I, of course loved his bright colors.

Dolls taking shape with some of the recent new fabrics. The one on the right was from one of the goodie bags I showed you a couple of weeks ago from the bead shop in Port Townsend. I started some quilt squares for the back of the lap quilt I started during the winter. This side will be all blacks and grays…maybe a little accent red…I have a nice marbleized red piece

Local close up flower inspiration for more projects, Laurel on the left, and Rhody on the right. I’m trying to walk more to preserve my health as much as possible (like many, I can’t afford to be unwell), and I always have my phone camera along.

A couple more mixed media pieces just for fun…I painted the next 2 pages of this sketchbook black with some stainless steel medium…Keep your eyes open and gently return yourself to the studio again and again, and you will have lots to show, too!

How to Make Skull/Bead Head Dolls

Norola asked for directions for making these dolls. I did them several years ago and couldn’t find any skull-head beads left among my stash, so used a hand-blown and a millefiore bead.
For the hands and feet, I used Art Grilz charms, each less than an inch long…but use what you have. You could even make hands and feet from posterboard and punch holes in them. Use fine wire for the skeleton…at least fine enough to be flexible and small enough to go through the holes in the beads.

I used a piece 24″ long, threaded on a small bead, a larger flat bead, then the head bead. These all go in the center of the folded wire. The wire goes through all three, folds, then comes back down through the flat bead and the head.  Then out to both sides about 1.75 inches, through the hand hole, and back to center. The remaining lengths of wire go down through the feet and back up to the neck. Bind the ends of wire just under the neck bead with a scrap piece of yarn or thread. You can adjust the height of the finished doll by starting with a longer piece of wire.

Cut scraps of Warm and Natural (or any other) Quilt batting,  1.5×1.25″ for arms and 3.75×1.25″ for legs. Pin in place and stitch around the wire…I sewed the pinned part first, then wrapped the whole piece around and anchored it with long stitches.
Sew the arms and legs before adding the body padding. Get as close as you can to the hand and foot attachment for a more natural look
Here, I’ve highlighted the stitches in red…no need to be neat. Cut 2 1.5″x2.25″ pieces for the body and stitch on top…here you may add extra padding for breasts or a belly.


Cut 1.5″x2.5″ pieces of fabric for the arms, 1.5″x4″ for the legs. Turn the edges next to the hands and feet. Stitch one edge directly to the cotton covering the skeleton, then turn, pin, and stitch the other edge.

I like to add a heart to my very small figures. The holes in this one were so small, i had to use a beading needle and thread to attach it to the rectangle of cloth before I sewed the body on. I put a small plastic ring in the back for hanging, or display a bunch of them in a bowl.

Make a bunch. Play with different head, hands, feet, fabrics…Have FUN!

Making Dolls!

4.5″ tall, heads are skull beads (I collect them), wire armature so they can be posed

Making dolls is So Much Fun! I started with a kit that one of my uncles bought me when I was 5. My maternal grandmother taught me to sew…she had more time and patience for me than my mother did…maybe patience skips a generation with all the other demands of child-raising and house-keeping.

Square body, skinny body, arms, hands only, a toothy grin, a showcase of hand-printed fabric.

Dolls were my first way of making money…I made accurately-detailed costume dolls when I was in seventh grade and sold elaborately-dresses soft dolls from adapted Women’s Day Magazine patterns for $5.00 each to a woman in Chicago to re-sell at her church bazaar. My mother, with her passion for documentation, made me draw and describe each one in a composition book that I still have.

Simple body, beaded, no features…Lots of parts playing with different fabrics, minimal features.

Dolls brought me whatever fame I have in the small but international doll-making world. I seem to have a facility for designing patterns and figuring out how to made a 3D object out of 2D fabric…and come up with ideas for more and more.

Curved bodies, different sorts, bead arms and faces, embroidered face, could be drawn.

It’s just a question of starting simply and doing more and more riffs on the theme…anything can serve as inspiration, a way to use the thises and thats I keep collecting. Make one, adjust the pattern, then make another, and the ideas will start to flow. Even what seems to be a failure can be embellished to create something interesting.

This is the book where I show how I do it, from simple to complex…copies still available, lots of color photos, 128 pages

Eileen asked for a book in which I show how I go about making dolls, from the most simple to complex…and luckily such a book already exists: Pamela’s Designing a Doll and Making Faces Inspiration Book. I still have boxes of them in my garage, and one can be yours for the low, low price of $20, which includes shipping to anywhere in the US via US Mail, Book Rate. It costs more than the book to send them overseas now, so I don’t. Pamela Hastings, 3007 South Laurel St., Port Angeles, WA 98362  You can call 360-477-2080 and give me your credit card number or mail a check or cash, if you prefer.

If you’d like a pattern for any of the simple dolls pictured here today, just let me know on the blog comments, and I’ll post it next week.


Native plants, spreading themselves over the last 12 years, cover the gravel of my back yard. The bees are happy. We work side by side in harmony. We need them.

A shape, a color, a word…anything can be your inspiring first step. Happy Doll Making!



How Do We Become Skilled?

My second hoarded big canvas, the second picture I drew as a four-year-old made into a painting…I’m slowly using up the canvases and exploring…running out of walls.

Today is Mothers’ Day. There is usually no formal training for the Very Important jobs of Mother, Father, Wife, Husband…a little more training for the also very important jobs of Citizen, Politician, Actualized Person, College Professor, Neighbor.

Me as a toddler, another artist book using actual photos my father took

I declined the role of Mother, in spite…or because of…having tons of experience mothering my two youngest brothers, born when I was 14 and 16. I have worked for many years to achieve a healthy balance between expectations and compassion toward those who have disappointed me with their lack of skill. I continue to aspire to compassion in all areas, though I despair at the political mistakes that seem to be causing irrevocable negative effects…some seem to be oblivious to becoming more proficient.

Do grandparents still help to care for babies and teach parents how to do the job? My mother wrote the words, which I copied from the back of the photo.

I can only work on and improve my own skills…and I am lucky to love to read and listen and talk and learn. To gently take myself back to the studio again after a week like the last one, in which I made very little art, but looked hard and talked a lot…to friends dealing with huge life changes, to random and wonderful people at the Bainbridge Island Art Museum, to City Council members and staff at a small public meeting about bike paths.

Mt. Ranier peers over the horizon for dinner after Anne’s talk, with Mike and Katie and their son and daughter-in-law. My back yard is so full of blooming native plants, one can hardly see the original gravel layer…I am painting with nature.

Anne Schreivogl gave a talk about her colorful and delightful, detail-filled paintings at the Bainbridge Island Art Museum yesterday, and I am hoping to bring my best friend and her daughter-in-law, and all the other people who could be happy creating words, music, paintings if they would only let themselves start, to one of Anne’s creativity workshops. All forms of artistic pursuits make people happy (mostly happy when you are kind to yourself!).

Blue-faced Library Figure…his head is a 3 foot tall book…I’ll be you can’t wait to see the figure totally assembled and hanging in the PA library. Jan made the face. I’m making an open book for his head, then we start on the body and clothes on Monday.

The only way to become skilled is to keep trying/practicing and be kind to yourself in the process…Become more and more skilled as a kind human being and as a person who enjoys Life.