Updated: Apr 18
Betsy Bauer Studio, Santa Fe, NM, 2020
It starts with one word....PASSION. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I have always loved the Japanese art aesthetic. My Grandmother used to travel to Japan in the 1960's and bring back handcrafted treasures. I lived in NYC straight out of art school and worked in an art shop famous for its Japanese papers and began experimenting with paper and bamboo sculptures. Finally, I traveled to Japan to visit country villages famous for paper making and indigo dyeing in the 1980's.
Funny how you live your life as an artist and one magical moment, the past creativity all comes together to a new endeavor. Fast forward to 2019 in Santa Fe, NM, where I have lived for 30 years, the spark of the paper and bamboo sculptures came back to me. I started researching images of Japanese contemporary art. I came across a Japanese/American artist, Donna Sakimoto Crispin (sadly, no longer alive), who was doing mostly basketry with Japanese knots. She had done a little experimenting with using Japanese knots on rocks. I sent away for a small pamphlet on how to make the knots on rocks. I also noticed a few West Coast artists were making rocks with cane and knots, including Shizu Designs and Deloss Webber. (For more, read American Craft Council article "Wrapture".)
Now comes the PASSION. I fell in love with the rocks and had a large collection of rocks from my desert walks. I went to sleep, dreaming of making big bowls of rocks, big rocks. wrapping boulders outside. I bought some supplies and began to teach myself to make the knots and work with the rocks I had.
My First Wrapped Rock!
To be honest, the first few months were excruciatingly difficult. I wondered why I was so obsessed and thought I better just go back to painting. The cane was too dry, the knots slipped off, the rocks were not uniform enough. But I had a total vision and slowly worked towards it, sketching designs in my notebook at night and trying them out in the day.
Today, I feel so blessed to have integrated my love of rocks and art and my Zen meditation practice. Although not everyday is so Zen, it is an amazing fortune to be able to make these rocks every day. What I love the most though, is being the creator of a gift. I love and am honored to be between the gifter and the gifted. I hope my little rock offerings bring a smile and maybe a sense of peace and inspiration to those who hold them in their hand.
- Betsy Bauer, Santa Fe, NM 2020