Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a mere handful of months or are awaiting their first sale introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!
Hello! My name is Pamela Foeckler, and I am the creator of Totemcolorblocks. I grew up in a forest near a lake in northern Wisconsin, making sculptures from the clay lake bottom, moss-covered forts, and snow caves dug fifteen feet deep into the snowdrifts. I also dragged all sorts of cool things I found in the woods back home and decorated my room with them — tree branches, rocks, petrified mushrooms. I naturally had an inclination towards architecture and design and studied both at university until one day, a professor commented on one of my projects, saying,”No one is ever going to live or work in something like that and you will never find a job.” He said I should consider installation art or sculpture instead, which I gladly did, along with architectural history.
After art school and a few jobs at museums working in architecture/design departments, I became enthralled with art conservation. It seemed the perfect combination of science, art and history. For the last ten years, I had the great fortune to apprentice with an extraordinary object conservator in San Francisco, but I recently relocated to Santa Monica, California, where I have my own little studio and am a maker of things once again.
The concept that most informs my Totems is something I learned in painting museum objects — breaking down complicated colors and patterns into their essential components. It was the most joyous part of conservation for me, mixing medium with powder pigments, acrylic emulsions, glazes or resin paints to match a painted surface perfectly. It’s made a color freak out of me! I could obsess over a hue or saturation all day if my life would only let me!
The titles for my pieces are mostly dramatic landscapes. I take an image and distill it down to the most elemental colors. It’s a reductive process, but it helps me absorb and understand the true beauty of a place. I’m also inspired by Native tribal crafts and structures. They use earth pigments and plant dyes from their environment and attach meaning to them. White could symbolize north, or snow. Yellow, east where the sun appears; black, west where the sun disappears. The most amazing use of color I’ve found yet is by the Sami, a Nordic indigenous people. They have color-coded lassos to indicate the season and temperature in which it works best! One of their colors is a steaming hot fuschia that looks devastating against the pure white snow. I also go into a trance over primitive abstraction, the polychromatic geometry of Russian Suprematism, and Josef and Anni Albers from the Bauhaus. Their use of color makes me swoon and decorates my daydreams.
The basic shape I chose for my pieces is a powerful structural form for me. It’s reminiscent of real totem poles, but also tall buildings, monuments and memorials. If I had more space, bigger tools, and more resources, I would love to create a ginormous cluster installation of my Totems in some remarkable landscape somewhere. Until then, I am thrilled to be making these intimately scaled talismans to protect, charm and delight my Etsy friends!