String Theory

String Theory

I’m preparing to show some work at the Alpine Arts Center here in Edwards, Colorado, and it got me thinking about my love for (untied) knots. When a friend of mine got engaged years ago in NYC, I vowed to give her a piece of  ‘tying the knot’ themed art. I purchased the Ashley Book of Knots for inspiration.  

a page from The Ashley Book of Knots

a page from The Ashley Book of Knots

Sadly, my friend didn’t get the knot gift, but when my husband proposed to me a year or so later, I told him the story about wanting to make something for my friend (and never getting around to it) and he told me about a rock climbing knot called the grapevine. We ended up having our wedding rings custom made featuring this knot, which is also called a true lover’s knot. That’s the gist of the knot actually; it is a way of connecting two pieces of rope and making them inseparable. We now have three of these rings, but that is another story.

my wedding ring

my wedding ring

Many years later I picked up the Ashley Book of Knots again and started tying knots, or partially tying them. I created a series of drawings that I laid in between sheets of translucent abaca. The boxed suite contains six drawings accompanied by a poem written by Carl Adamshick especially for the work, which appears on the colophon page.

String Theory's clamshell box made by Sandy Tilcock

String Theory’s clamshell box made by Sandy Tilcock

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In addition to ten of the boxed suites, I created an edition of five of each individual drawing. A set of framed drawings will be on view at the Alpine Arts Center through June 9th.

Helen img2942


Similar Lives

The secret wants

to hide within itself,

hold one end,

draw the other

until it’s gone.

En Cinquieme

En Cinquieme, 18″ x 12″

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Yesterday or today

or two hundred

years ago, living

such similar lives,

on the same path

to the mountain

that swallows you,

first, in its shadow,

then, its mystery.

Figure, 18" x 12", handmade abaca with embedded string drawing

Figure, 18″ x 12″

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Listening to friends

explain everything

they know, their mouths

like grand pianos,

trace and loop, hover

close to the melody.

Tooth and key.

Practice and song.

The sustained lowered

chord of their lives

waiting, waiting

for the felt to rise.


Cairn, 18" x 12"

Cairn, 18″ x 12″

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Always we return,

come back to the spine,

ligament and vein,

the craft of biology.

We are born.

Our tiny hearts enlarge.

Our memories expand

like a universe.

The world, full of light

we can breathe.


Spine, 18" x 12"

Spine, 18″ x 12″

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Hear the two hushed voices

in the next room

careful with each other.

They are like one thing

posing as two.


Dangle, 18" x 12"

Dangle, 18″ x 12″

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I’m not my mother.

I didn’t stay behind.

My hair has not grayed.

I am the labyrinth,

not the one lost

in the puzzle.

Maybe you think

this is my life because

it is what you see.

Maybe you think we die.

Rooted (in the heavens and in the earth)

Rooted (in the heavens and in the earth)

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Playing With Pop-Ups!

Don’t forget to pre-order my new book and receive your autographed copy plus a bonus project: all of the parts and instructions you need to create a pop-up dandelion card. And receive a discount on my new pop-up alphabet, Alpha Blocks, if you order a copy of each book. Offer expires May 1, 2014. Click here for details. Thank you!

Playing with Popups Final Cover





  1. Barbara Burt says:

    Dear Helen:
    Your wedding ring is beautiful and the knots are lovely, simple in a way, but I’m sure that they are challenging to do.

    • Thank you, Barbara. I love the beauty of the simplistic knots. There was definitely a challenge in figuring out how to edition these, and also in laying the knots down on a wet sheet of paper!

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