This post covers 50th Year as an Artist, 1971-1973. The first image is my first stab at a logo: Boulder Arts and Crafts Co-Op. It began as an official Co-Op, I was the first treasurer. About a dozen avant guard artisans banded together to begin a wonderful business that is still thriving today. It was a vibrant tribe of artisans determined to succeed at their art.  I was still deeply intrigued with circles. At this time read Mandala by Jose Arquelles , and I began each day with drawing a mandala.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Circles", , drawing, 1971

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Circles”, drawing, 1971

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Circles Portrait", drawing, 1971

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Circles Portrait”, drawing, 1971

As an exhibitor at the first Karma Dzong Christmas Fair I found for the first time old beads and amulets. I was focused on bead-work wall hangings, and was able to trade for these treasures that I put into my first talisman shown below. Of note are the small Hudson Bay Company beads, antique African glass, antique Wyoming jade bird, ancient abalone mother of pearl fish, antique mother of pearl heart, amethyst inlaid in leather, and Tibetan turquoise.

I added a few things later like the silver and turquoise figure. When wondering where my best move would be, I found her in the playground of Glover Park in DC. We found a splendid apartment in that quiet secluded neighborhood, close enough to cross a bridge to Virginia (through Georgetown to Key Bridge for example during the Chernobyl disaster). That was where my son was born at home, much to the amazement of my stairwell friends.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "First Talisman", 1971

© Kathleen O’Brien, “First Talisman”, 1971

I was completely taken with beads. I did countless designs with seed beads. My eyesight was much better then. The only example from that time is the one shown below based on an Ojibwa  design. I loved pairing bead embroidery with found objects like this old heart belt buckle, macrame and feathers.

If anyone reading this has one, please send me a picture!

They were so popular they either all sold or were stolen. Uncanny, how they were snatched from gallery walls, remote cabin locations, from under my nose.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Ojiway Bead Hanging", 1971

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Ojibwa Bead Hanging”, 1971


me in 1971

me in 1971


© Kathleen O'Brien, "Dream of Grandpa", drawing, 1971

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Dream of Grandpa”, drawing, 1971

Along with circles, came oracles, the first one the “Chinese Uncle”, the I Ching. I made the sticks from the yarrow growing in abundance, entering into ritual I learned about synchronicity.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Hexagrams", drawing, 1972

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Hexagrams”, drawing, 1972

I was fortunate to have a group of creative friends. We gathered weekly to draw. Sometimes we entertained ourselves by doing group drawings, we each would draw on 1/4 of a page, add a couple of lines into the next area. What interested me when I found this drawing, was that my obsession with ribbons began that long ago. (upper left area)

Group drawing, 1972

Group drawing, 1972

I did a big collage series with paper I marbled, colored pencil drawing and graphite. The clay coated paper that the marble papers were glued to were perfect for taking a clean sharp edge of graphite pencil.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Wave ccolag", drawing, marlbe paper collage, 1972

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Wave collage”, drawing, marble paper collage, 1972

I was equally engaged with crafts in the early seventies. I worked with hides of deer and elk that had been hunted and tanned in a sacred manner, hand-stitching objects like shells and magnifying glass. The small one I made to hang around my neck still comes in handy.

© Kathleen O'Brien, Leather Bag with shell and Inlaid magnifying lens, 3x3x1", 1972

© Kathleen O’Brien, Leather Bag with shell and Inlaid magnifying lens, 3x3x1″, 1972


© Kathleen O'Brien, Leather covered book with feathers in Inlaid magnifying lens, 3x3x1", 1973

© Kathleen O’Brien, Leather covered book with feathers in Inlaid magnifying lens, 3x3x1″, 1973


© Kathleen O'Brien, Leather Bag, 5x12x14", 1972

© Kathleen O’Brien, Leather Bag, 5x12x14″, 1972

Hunters sometimes gave me feathers because they knew I loved working with them. This pheasant feather mandala is quite large, 4 foot square. It was a gift to my parents. Whenever they moved, they would pack it inside my dad’s grand piano. When my dad passed away in 1995 my mom sold his piano and returned it to me.

© Kathleen O'Brien, Pheasant Feather mandala with Inlaid shell, 30x30x3", 1973

© Kathleen O’Brien, Pheasant Feather mandala with Inlaid shell, 30x30x3″, 1973


© Kathleen O'Brien, Leather Bag with beads, 5x4x3", 1973

© Kathleen O’Brien, Leather Bag with beads, 5x4x3″, 1973

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