Dream box?


A Friend requested one of these for a friend of his, and called it a dreambox – I think that is a perfectly acceptable thing to call them. Certainly more poetic than I am when I refer to them as “art inna box” or just tiny boxes. My partner is also delighted with them. He says they effuse story… again, vastly more poetic than I.

On Monday I visited Smith College to learn how to use the laser cutter at the Design Thinking Initiative. I had a couple of files filled with digital versions of ideas off the list I wrote down a couple months ago. To our combined delight, everything came out beautifully, from test cuttings out of card stock to things cut from various thicknesses of plywood. The honeycomb in the bee box above are the first things I tried. Below, you can see leaves of various sizes, tiny trees, and a doodle from Alice’s Mineralogy notes.



Nearly May

With the warmer weather I have been taking my dad for walks. Every time around the block is an exercise in landscape appreciation – he has never seen forsythia so yellow, a sky so blue, trees doing this extraordinary thing, not that he can remember. Since his memory is failing, he is not wrong, and since he remains kind and interested in the world, we get appreciation instead of recriminations. There is always something to be grateful for.

I have also been spending more time in my studio. I think I am cleaning up, clearing off tables and making space for new things, but I am also uncovering untold numbers of tiny treasures. Which, it turns out, are exactly what I need to put into these tiny boxes. The boxes are the size of an Artist Trading Card, 2.5×3.5″, which means I can use all the ATC I have used for paint practice and stitching practice as backgrounds, and then things seems to -filter- into them. Things that sort of belong together, or that argue with each other. A friend wanted to buy one for a friend of theirs in California, and he called it a dream box, which feels about right.

Happy Spring! or Happy Fall in the southern hemisphere!

Half past April

We are certainly lurching into springtime here in New England – over the weekend the temperatures swung 10 degrees up on one day and 15 degrees down the next day, as a series of weather fronts passed over us. I volunteered at the first (theoretically annual) Smith Mini Maker Fair, and got a chance to talk to people who made everything from soap and shoes to laser cut imagery and enormous Muppety puppets. It was a fine way to spend a Saturday.

The kitchen project is resting while the counters get made – I am hoping for installation sometime soon, but the kitchen is usable right now. Just don’t lean on the counter tops yet! They’re wobbly and only set in place.

I’ve started thinking about things to go into the little boxes I’ve made so far. Populating them is a great deal of fun, and hearkens back to my favorite parts of working in a museum.


Means of support

While April 1st seems like an inauspicious day to begin a new venture, I have done exactly that and started a Patreon. For those new to the concept, it is a modern, distributed, digital way to develop my own  deMedicis – only instead of one family of insane and absurdly wealthy people to support my endeavors, I am counting on people who read this blog or otherwise like my work and want more of it to chip in a small amount of money every month.

Asking for money for work is hard and slightly embarrassing, but I need some additional support to continue to make the work that is important to me, and I hope, interesting to you.

So look at my Patreon page, and see if you might like a newsletter and access to monthly digital imagery you can use for wallpaper on your phone, for the low low price of a dollar ($1) per month. Or a monthly postcard, featuring new work and a message. Or even a tiny artwork every other month –


a hawk is hunting lunch outside my window
with startlingly rufous underwing, the bars of youth on wings and tail
working her way along the hedge full of twittering
sparrows hiding in plain sight in the tight lattice of the hedge
bluejays yelling combined warnings and jeers
and the neighbor’s cat watching with interest
a fellow predator, doing her thing

Accidental poetry

I have a cello in my living room.
It was given to me by a friend who teaches stringed instruments to middle schoolers (brave woman)
she reassured me it was beyond help
I should make art on it
or in it
or with it
she gave me two, but I sent one to a friend in Virginia, who said she wanted to do something with it
or on it
or to it
and this one was in my studio for a year.
I love the tuning pegs (only two remained)
and the curve of shoulder and hip that is so human, and the gorgeous curl at the top of the neck
but it was weighing on me
so I lifted it out of the space it inhabited, and the neck came off
and part of the top right shoulder peeled off, so I can see inside it, and all the empty space
that is supposed to remain unseen, but full of music to be brought forth
but I spilled it out, or someone did, starting with the crack in the front, and the next in the back
and losing the tuning pegs and strings falling off (just thinking about this is making me weepy)
and so it sits, hopeful, broken, expectant, on the floor in my living room

Yesterday I drove to Amherst with a dead sparrow on the windshield.
It was stuck on a wiper
no red light lasted long enough for to me to leap to its rescue
until I pulled in behind Morrill and waited for Alice, and rescued the tiny body
into a plastic tray that held the frozen macarons from Trader Joe.
Alice thought I had a very realistic fake bird, with tiny wire feet
I was stupidly pleased to be able to hold a bird, and see how well I have been depicting the feathering
around the neck and head, of the birds I drew in February,
and how far I have yet to go on the long flight feathers, depicting the texture and direction of them
And now it is resting in the plastic tray in the back seat of my car,
because I cannot bring myself to toss it under the hedge,
where it was going originally before my car got in the way
I keep holding it gently
spreading the wings to admire those pinions that lofted her to the neighbor’s feeder
and back to the hedge

Both things, a dead bird, a dead cello, feel too precious to simply throw away
but too useless to keep, and keep how?
The cello in the freezer? The dead bird in the living room?
Cutting seems …rude, or unkind
burying impossible

I would like to make art with the bird and the cello, or on them or to them
but it doesn’t feel right yet
and so I wait here
dead cello in the living room
dead bird in the cold car
and see if the future will speak to me

Parallel projects

I have backed into a slow motion kitchen renovation. We needed a new stove, because the old stove was dying by inches and the last thing had broken that made it crazy frustrating to use. We realized we’d need to put the new one in on the outside wall, so we could vent it. So a friend helped me pull out the old cabinets and counter along that wall, and a plumber came and moved the gas pipe to where the new stove would be, and the stove delivery guys delivered the new one and took away the old one, and then the plumber came back and made the gas go, so I can once again be cooking with gas. The local building inspector approved the changes today. I put two coats of paint on the part of the ceiling I could reach (because a lot of the things taken out of the old cabinets are in the other end of the kitchen and it is impassable) and have washed the walls down (that I can reach) and I keep trudging along doing the next thing and the next thing and the thing after that.


My other project are the #dailyfeb2019 drawings I am doing using Autodesk’s Sketchbook program and a tablet. I am still working out how to use it, in much the same way (I tell myself) I was working out the basics of paint last February. So far I have one tool experiment, one seagull, and an owl I traced to try to get the hang of it.

Daily February 2019

four small tins

Join in now!

I wrote a more detailed description of the project at Clever Manka’s blog. The gist is – make a thing, or do a thing, every day, for all of February.

Choose something small and manageable, that you have materials on hand for and that won’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes a day at minimum. You can always work more!

Choose something that can be counted or measured, that does not require any judgement about whether or not it is done.

Take a picture and post it to Instagram. Tag it #dailyFeb2019 then browse around and see what other people are working on. I’m lee.thomson.art on Instagram, friend me so I can see too!

Write it down!

I want to write more, so I have started by writing about a (short, relatively simple) process I’ve been using to light up art I am installing in tiny tins. I pitched it to Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine but to my chagrin they stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

So I wrote it up neatly, took nice pictures, and posted it to Instructables – a veritable treasure trove of things to make and think about making. If you want to put a LED in a tin to light up a tiny artwork, this is the place to look. Thank you!