Interview with limestone sculptor Amy Brier

Indiana Public Media produced a video segment on artist Amy Brier as part of its Weekly Special series.

Well worth three minutes to watch!


I’m Betting on the Old

Old sink, new taps

Old sink, new taps

Today I finally had a chance to replace the faucets on the bathroom sink. The old faucets came attached to the basin; I paid about $25 for the well-used ensemble. When both faucets developed leaks, I fixed the cold one by taking the whole thing apart and replacing a rubber washer. But I couldn’t fix the hot tap, since one of its parts had been too badly mangled by someone who got to it before I did.

I bought a new set made under the comforting brand name “Kingston Brass” (tagline: The Tradition of Fine Brass). The instruction leaflet, with such gems as

“PROBLEM: Faucet is dirty. CAUSE: Caused by stubborn water spot” 


“PROBLEM: Handles works backward. CAUSE: Handle install backward,” 

did not inspire confidence.

New and old

New and old

Still, I had removed the hot water faucet some time ago and needed to make the sink usable again, so I proceeded with the installation. Everything went smoothly until I tightened the new plastic nut under the first faucet, replaced the water supply line, and turned it on. The nut would not hold the faucet in place on the irregularly shaped surface of the vintage sink. I took it apart again and installed the new faucet using the old nut and its conical, serrated washer. That did the trick.

The old washer and nut versus the new plastic nut

The old washer, left (I have never seen a washer quite this grand) and its nut, center, versus the new plastic nut, right.

I repeated the steps on the cold faucet and completed the installation.

I will be amazed if this set lasts ten years. The old set lasted more than fifty. I’m keeping the old parts; maybe I can find someone who has the expertise and equipment necessary to drill out the mangled screw and retap the threads inside the valve.

Daisy Garton’s farm

Daisy Garton with her Uncle John, reproduced from the website

Daisy Garton with her Uncle John, reproduced from the website

Daisy Hinkle Garton loved her home so much that she was determined to ensure its preservation as a house museum after her death. Once in the countryside, Daisy’s farmstead–a Queen Anne house, neighbored by a second house and outbuildings on several acres–is uniquely visible and easy to visit, since Bloomington has expanded around it in every direction.

Daisy left her home to Bloomington Restorations, Inc., a nonprofit foundation for historic preservation in Monroe County that now calls the farmstead home.

A lovely, short film about the Hinkle-Garton Farmstead has recently been produced by Michael Johnson.

Photographs of the farmstead also appear in a forthcoming volume  of essays on historic preservation that includes a piece co-authored by  longtime Bloomington Restorations board member Donald Granbois and Executive Director Steve Wyatt.

Public presentation on May 9

The Indiana Landmarks Center, Indianapolis

The Indiana Landmarks Center, Indianapolis

Join us at the spectacular offices of the Indiana Landmarks Foundation on Thursday, May 9 for a public presentation and book signing related to A Home of Her Own.

Reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with talk at 6 and book signing at 7.

Persimmon time

Persimmons have been dropping early this year, thanks to the drought. While mowing today–for the first time since about June–I stopped to collect fallen fruit from around the tree. The search for treasure hidden amid tall grass and clover put me in mind of an Easter egg hunt.

There are already several batches of persimmon pulp in the freezer, ready for cold-weather baking. Pulping is a labor-intensive process involving a hand-operated mill.

Sept 2012 persimmon milling

When it’s time to bake, I use my favorite recipe–the one that first introduced me to persimmon pudding. The recipe comes from the grandmother of a friend who originally misinterpreted the “1 t of salt” to mean a tablespoonful. The saltiness of that original pudding only added to the dish’s exotically Midwestern character on those first occasions when I tasted it. Although my friend eventually confirmed that the “t” meant “teaspoon,” the less-salty pudding remains a quintessentially Midwestern treat.

Click to enlarge

This is the pudding I made for my friend Edie’s wedding. The header photo is taken from her porch, where we ate the pudding–with celebratory champagne.

Carving course with Mary May

I spent the past week in a carving class taught by Mary May at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking.  Although I have incorporated simple relief carvings into several pieces over the past several years–some doves and petunias, a grape vine with a cardinal, a stylized tulip, the odd sunburst or daisy–I had never had any formal instruction in carving.  What finally moved me to sign up for Mary’s class was the frustration I experienced on carving a decorative edge for “Corona Plumosa,”** the 1920s Spanish Renaissance Revival-inspired piece I built for an Indiana University Arts Week grant-funded project. The decorative edge effect, which Mary informed me is called “gadrooning,”*  seemed flatter than the antique examples on which I had based it.

Close, but not quite there yet….

I was ready to learn some official carving techniques.

Mary is a great teacher. She explains principles and processes clearly and will demonstrate techniques as many times as necessary. Having her minute paring cuts magnified on a pair of large screens was invaluable; in fact, her movements became so deeply etched (or carved? ouch) in my mind that I literally dreamed about them last night.

I can’t wait to put some of those techniques into practice.

Mary teaches at other schools, and for $10 a month, you can gain access to her online carving school. She also has several videos. See her website for further information.

**The name is misspelled on my website. It should be Corona, not Corono. (I’ll ask Jim to fix this as soon as he returns from sailing.)

*According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word, which is sometimes spelled “godroon,” is likely related to the French goder, to crease or pucker.


Congratulations to Kendall Reeves, Linda Oblack, and colleagues at the Indiana University Press, as well as to Patricia Poore, who wrote our foreword! A Home of Her Own was awarded the Silver Medal in the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards Home & Garden category. Nice news for a Friday evening, by courtesy of our IU Press publicist, Mandy Clarke.

(Home & Garden is number 52 in the IPPY list.)

View of the lake outside of Rachel Berenson Perry’s dining room door
(Photo by Kendall Reeves, Spectrum Studio of Photography & Design)