My process begins with an attention to the habits and preferences of orb weavers (Araneus diadematus, in particular). One thing I know is that they love Rosemary. It provides structure and cover and its blossoms draw bees. On a big Rosemary bush, 3 - 9 orb weavers may share space. Broadly, I observe them annually, see where they congregate and flourish, and seek to cultivate optimal habitats for them on our small property.
I schedule web collections to harvest the silk-work of spiders once per week. A sustainable rate of harvest ensures the orb weavers do not relocate, allowing me to work with a community of 20 - 34 spiders each season, from their infancy (as spiderlings) to death (as mothers). Between harvests, I feed them grub worms from our compost bin. I experience my practice as wildlife farming: a cultivated relationship with an undomesticated species and population for harvest of a commodity resource (silk).
I throw and cast forms. My BFA is in ceramics, my MFA in sculpture. I am not a commercial potter. I seek forms that are functional or wearable, because I seek to encourage a daily, interactive reflection on the majesty of spiders. I want humans to hold, drink from, and wear around their necks these trace fossils. But more importantly, I seek forms that meet the needs of documentation. I am creating a data-set on one of the most durable and enduring substances known: clay. The form is as much about that data to be gathered (the web) as it is about the animal that will use it (the human). I see my work as akin to things like Wikileaks--a recording and broadcasting of lost-yet-precious information.
I use cylinders a lot. Cylinders are an ancient shape for data collection and the transmission of information (the circular page), and I make cylinders of a diameter and length mapped to the diameters of orb webs made by Araneus diadematus.
I gather the webs in my garden and neighborhood, creating trace fossils for contemporary and future contemplation.