Cane-wrapped river rock by Marcia Mahaffey.

Cane-wrapped river rock by Marcia Mahaffey.

A smooth river rock becomes an eloquent object in the hands of Marcia Mahaffey. The Tacoma artist employs centuries-old techniques of Japanese basket weaving to make cane-wrapped stones that inspire contemplation about the power of moving water and the passage of time.

“I had heard about the wrapped stones from my basket-weaving teachers and since then I’ve always wanted to make them,” says Mahaffey. The time came when at a remembrance party for a friend’s mother, guests were invited to take home a stone from the woman’s collection. “So, Rick [Mahaffey’s husband] and I each took a rock, and I wove on them and gave the rocks back to my friend. I got hooked.”


Stoned: rock art by Marcia Mahaffey; pyrite earrings by Moss + Mineral.

An accomplished practitioner of ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), Mahaffey says the techniques she uses to enrobe stones are adapted from those used in creating ikebana vessels. “I like looking at the shape, color and texture of the rocks and figuring out which technique to use on them. The simple one that I do is an interlocking V-knot called Kanoji-musubi; the one with a spiral is called a butterfly knot, Cho-musubi. The more complex one is a double-interlocking knot. The most difficult part of weaving on rocks is to get the canes to stay wrapped tightly.”

The artist enjoys weaving intricate nests for water-worn rocks for the “hypnotic and calm feeling that it gives me.” We derive pleasure from the tactile beauty her nature-based work adds to any table, desk or special spot in the house. -Lisa Kinoshita

Please join us at an artists’ reception for Marcia Mahaffey, Yuki Nakamura and Nicholas Nyland on Saturday, June 20, 3-6pm at Moss + Mineral!

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