my perfectly imperfect assemblages . . .

one side of our mantel

I’m a collector of many little imperfect objects that bring happiness. Some of them are found objects (like this carved wood piece from the beach in Nicaragua, the snake-skin from my backyard, & the piece of vertebrate from an unknown source) while others I discover in thrift stores, on etsy or at the market. Then there are those extra special pieces that were gifted to me.

I have one rule when hunting for my wares to assemble, they must scream at me, “TAKE ME HOME!” (those are my shouty caps) That is when I know the object is a definite yes & it’s coming home with me. Rocks & shells have always called out to me as I walk along the beach & in thrift stores I use similar stalking techniques; I go into a zone & I focus on the objects in front of me as I scan shelf after shelf looking for that color, texture, or shape to pop up & shout at me.

Once home I either place it with an already existing grouping or I start another one. At times, I think the faeries & elf folk move some objects around in the night to help me along (or maybe it’s just Finnegan). Either way they eventually end up grouped in an inspiring assemblage that feels personal, inspiring, & alive.

Full Mantel with Kelly Allison Painting above.

Color, texture, & shape are all very important in creating an arrangement, but for me there is nothing serious going on here. It’s just for play & fun. I’m learning what works, what doesn’t by throwing it together.  I guess that is true for any of my art forms.

In fact most of my assemblages of haberdashery are put together by accident while others are worked & reworked until I feel satisfied. I try to change them up often by putting objects away into boxes & pulling out older objects I haven’t tangled with in a while.

I think what is most fun for me about this form of creativity is that these groupings are so impermanent & can be shifted, disassembled, mixed up & changed around at anytime. Not all art modalities are that flexible.

bottles on our pie cabinet

I love living in a house filled with objects that have a history & a story; this brings richness & depth to our entire home. I feel alive stepping into a house that is filled with original art, antiques, objects found on travels all simmering together creating an eclectic concoction of rich, full-bodied luscious-ness.

impromptu assembly – teapot from my collection of teapots, painted frog and dish from BHLDN

This dictionary below is from 1940 & came into my possession while walking down a New York City street with my sister on trash day. We walked by a pile of trash bags with this giant old dictionary just sitting there on top. I stopped and looked at my sister quizzically asking, "is that trash?" She said it must be, so I skulked back and picked up the ginormous book and kept walking. It's beautiful with old maps & pictures. Finn likes to open it up to see where he is going - or so he tells me.

simple pumpkin on an old dictionary

a collection of old frames for a Finnegan arrangement

What do a strand of chili peppers to ward off bad spirits, a 
vintage camera, a string of marigolds, 
an Iraqi Army compass, a mirrored tray, 
three decorative china desert plates, umbrellas, 
an owl & a straw hat have in common? 
They are all on display in my entryway.

our front entryway

These quail below were in my childhood house on an end table. 
They were given to us by my sister as a wedding gift so now they 
are perched over a collection of river & ocean rocks in front of a charcoal drawing I drew a few years back.

dining table assemblage

rock, brick & moss

We carry this assemblage theme into our backyard but in a much more permanent way. Someday I hope to live in an entire house that is built with salvaged wood, doors, hardware & objects with deep, old stories to be shared. We collected a lot of old bricks just lying around the city & bought another bunch at a salvage yard. This Thurber is one on the oldest bricks in Texas. I love how it’s squeezed between the moss bed & a river rock. Some of this magic just happens over time, like the patina on an old rusted sign. It’s like setting the scene & letting nature do the rest.

Outdoor Shower Floor

We built an outdoor shower by placing the river rocks in a swirl. Finnegan’s plant (a plant that showed up in a pot in our sun room on the day he was born. We brought it with us to Houston and threw it under the house)  is encroaching over the floor.

rocks placed perfectly imperfect

our front porch with a painting I painted

I make no claim of being a stylist or a designer, but this brings me happiness & joy in the creating & decorating of my home. I love creating little vignettes of perfect imperfection.

Sibella Court & Sara Cooney are my biggest inspirations in this style of fashioning a home. I will share more about Sara soon.

I’m interested to know if anyone else does this in their house. I’d love to see some photos of your creations.

Big Love,


little vignettes of beauty around my house . . .

sage, shell, peeled paint

I have been creating these little vignettes of color & texture around my house lately, all inspired design books like Hand Made Home & Sibella Court’s books, Nomad & Etc. I am just beginning to play with this sort of thing but it is fun. It takes interior design to the level of  art to me, more of an installation art, but one that is temporary, non-permanent, easy changed up – not so precious! It feels good to be surrounded by art.

This wood above & the ones on the mantle were gifts that Larry brought back from Nicaragua that he found on the beach. Those are the best presents ever.

I saved the best vignette for the last. I’m sure you will agree!

steel blue, porcelain, sage

mythical grey, acorn, number 2

prince albert red, drift wood, pale blue

Porcelain, sage, crystal

cigar box gold, blurry red, stacks (a mistake I love)

potty lime, pajama red, barcelona tour book

where I feel most myself . . .

I figured it out. After a week of pondering the question of where do I feel most myself, while taking walks in the city, amongst the trees, hanging out in cafe’s, & so on. I finally realized where it is I feel most myself. It is somewhere close to me.

The archetypical urge to nest came to me later in life. I was 44 before I truly felt the desire to occupy a house, to make it my own, to make it a reflection of my creative expression. Even after having children I still didn’t feel the need. I heard about women who suddenly have the urge to create a home, redecorate, paint the walls while pregnant all in preparation for the baby’s arrival. That never happened to me.

But then after having my second child & moving to a new city into the first house that I bought with no furniture, just long dark wood floors I felt for the first time I had this need to live in this house & make it my home. I was no longer interested in travelling around the world or looking for the next adventure. My adventure became discovering a new way to cover my windows that was unique to me & my style. As I slowly created little altars throughout my house & picked out the perfect eclectic pieces of furniture I was able to witness my creative expression unfolding on a new, larger canvas, my house. What emerged over time were numerous installation pieces throughout my house. The installations keep changing, shifting with the seasons, but having a home as a canvas is a bit like living inside of myself.

we designed this - all of it!


I was told by a psychic a few years ago while living in Santa Fe, NM, that in my early 40s I would be overcome by an unexplainable desire to make roots in a home. At the time I was living in my RV (with wheels under it) and my daughter and I moved around to different campgrounds for a few weeks at a time, or sometimes we would house sit for others in some body else’s real house. We moved frequently. It seems whenever that clever North Wind picked up I would feel in my bones it was time to look for another adventure.

Antidote Coffee Shop

There are those places and things that inspire me; like trees, coffee houses, pubs, the ocean, but they don’t always make me feel myself, often I’m in their presence as an anthropologist, a visitor & stranger. It is not where I feel myself. I love being in their presence, I love watching the people, hearing the espresso machines do their thing, smelling pine needles, listening to crashing waves, smelling coffee, watching & soaking it all in but not to be myself. I can find peace & inspiration but I don’t always feel my true self in these places.

It is only in my home with my family that I can be mostly myself with unconditional acceptance.

my boys swirling in love

Well in my home & in boots. I realized this today when I awoke to a sudden, unexpected cold front & had the first opportunity of the season to wear my boots. It was heaven, like coming home, that must be why I loved being in the Marine Corps all those years. I got to wear boots everyday.

big love,

i love my bed

sporting new luggage . . .

my new luggage

So this is what I played with in the studio today. I bought a piece of vintage luggage last weekend at TExas Junk Store with the intent of painting it. I worked on one side today. I actually got this idea from a magazine that I can no longer find, but thank you for the inspiration who ever you are that was published in whatever magazine that was.

another look at this.

Also this painting has been hanging over our bed for quite sometime, but I haven’t really liked the color (it’s my mission to REALLY understand color) so I changed the color up a bit today. So a new take on an old piece.

the remix

Lastly this crow print/painting was created last week on a spur of the moment decision to create something that day & everyday for that matter. But this is what I came up with. Interesting stuff showed up in the scribbles. Like a black & white TV with the word “ouch” next to it. It’s an image from childhood. Crow is the protector of the castle. I am the castle.  Hmmmmmmmm?

the year i was born . . .

love these thunder thighs

loved til the end

I painted this from a photo of me & then exaggerated the thighs a bit, not much, but enough. I love her audacious movement. I call it, “Loved Until the End.” she seems to be like someone with the confidence, strength & beauty to be loved until the end of time. I think she is definitely a member of the Clan of the Thunder Thighs but check it out for yourself. ( ) I’m not quite finished with her just yet, but I wanted to share anyways. I’ll keep you all posted on how she turns out.

The piece to the right is an assemblage I call, “Riper for Revolution.” It’s a swan tied to a silver spoon with wire & other doodads. I love doing assemblage & with this one started playing around with embossing metal. I made all sorts of designs, swirls, flowers, etc. It is fun.


ripe for revolution


I started this mixed media piece in 2004 & just picked it up again to work on it. The top squares are all photographs I took. I should take a few closer photographs so you can get a better looksy.


That’s it for now. I just got into Santa Fe, NM, so I want to get out & see the enchanted city.

around here it feels safer

nicaraguan drift wood

My current state of being, unfolding, discovering keeps me close to home. I move from the front porch/garden to the kitchen, the great room, my studio & soon out back in our pool (they are working on it this week). I feel most comfortable here. Perhaps it’s the avoidance that they say those with PTSD do best, but I find it feels safer & creates less anxiety – it’s just easier. Plus there is so much right here to explore, tend to, care for & create. I am officially addicted to my iPhone camera Instagram app! (as if you couldn’t tell).





gypsy love chair

Dum ta da Daaaaah!!!!  (my version of a drum roll)

This is the Gypsy Love chair finally complete. I have been working on this chair for over six months, a little at a time, trying to figure out where to go with it next.

I found this chair in the garbage pick up pile across the street from our house. The neighbors left her there. I hate to see chairs sitting alone on the side of streets, I’m not sure why but there is something sad and lonely about it. So I rescued this one and upcycled it into this crazy creation!

I love how she turned out because she makes me smile when I see her.

 This is the honorary place that she sits in our dinning room.