News From Native California Volume 31, Issue 3 - Page 14

(which turns out is great when you’re holding a puppet for an entire play), they’re easy to cut, they’re strong, and they have bodies and necks that beg to be made into birds. And finally, to inspire me, Craig Torres (Tongva) sent me pictures of Tongva basket patterns, which to my surprise looked almost exactly like our Chumash basket patterns. I couldn’t wait to weave, cut, drill, and woodburn. Lynn: I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first visit to Tima’s house. A little advice? Some suggestions for decorative motifs? I was hardly prepared for her outpouring of ideas and gener- osity with materials and time. Here’s some abalone, willow, sumac, oak galls! Go to Welburn Gourd Farm! You can bor- row my wood burner—it’s addictive! (True.) I’ll teach your assistants weaving techniques! Here are some design motifs and what they represent! How about pizza? Tima: What followed were weeks of trial and error, a ping- pong of function and art. Our conversations often went like this: Lynn: “Well, yes, except that for the string mechanism to work so their wings flap, the weaving can’t do that.” Or Tima: “The willow can’t bend that way or it will put too much pressure on the….” Or Lynn and Tima: “Let’s NOT make fifteen birds. Just ten.” It was wonderful to watch them come to life. The first day, Lynn would cut a gourd into a body shape and then I’d weave the tails and wings on it, and then the next day Lynn would come back with the strings and weights in place, and those wings MOVED. A few days later I’d woodburn Tongva patterns into them and wrap them in identity. And then she’d put the heads on with abalone eyes and they were born. Of course, the thing I love the most is that they smell like real birds that live and nest in the willow because they’re made of willow. Lynn: One of the things I loved about this collaboration was the way it bumped my design into a very different style from anything I’ve done before. I tend to get locked into real- ism, even when I’d rather not be. In my sketchbook, you can track a progression from simplified but accurate bird shapes and patternings to more stylized shapes inspired by baskets. When Tima pointed out that these could be created using gourds, the bodies evolved a little further. The game became figuring out how to create five distinct and functional bird heads and bodies using the shapes and sizes of gourd avail- able at the farm. In fact, a sixth bird emerged spontaneously when I didn’t have the right parts to make an understudy for the lazuli bunting, and I just put scraps together until I ended up with something that looked like a kingfisher. (Sadly for the little bunting, the kingfisher had such undeniable stage presence, it took over the role.) The final liberation from realism came when Tima took over most of the decoration, 12 ▼ N E WS F ROM N AT IVE C AL IFO RNIA Tongva elder Barbara Drake’s new duck has lots to say. Hilarious! for which she has a real genius. And yet, it’s still perfectly clear which is the hummingbird and which is the duck. Lynn/Tima: Our little flock performed in Magic Fruit at the Shakespeare Center Los Angeles. People often commented on the birds’ animated reactions to human doings on stage, as well as on the \X]]H\[\[ؚXˈ]8&\[ܙYXB]\ٞZ[][\\\XYܝۙx%][\[\[ \\]\]]H\]Y [\^HXZBZ\^H][Hܛ[H[و\]Y\[ۙݘHܞ][\HH^x&[[\H\YZ][^XY\\X\\\[ܙX]H\\[[˂HY[Hو[ [YY[XYH[\] \[[\ۊK\\X\YX]H[X]]Y[BYXHYY K[\[X]\ܘY\ ]YH[X^YH[[\BXXۘ[ K[\[ܘ]Y[]Y \ۈ[^KB][ۈ]\[ܙH[[HYH\]Y\YB\YHۈYNY[\ۋXY[\XK[ZXY[YZXK[H]HY[ݙ\HYX\]H]YYH]HۛX][[\]H ]HKXژX[Y[JKX]X][][ B [H\[ۛK[X]HۙݘH[\H ܘZYܜ\\\HZK[[XH[K[ۙݘJK