Arts and Entertainment

Dances with cedar

“I love the cedar and I want to transform it and make it dance is a new way, to a new tune,” says cedar artist Marlien Hennen.

In her studio, Dancing Cedar Arts, Hennen takes natural, local materials that she finds on walks in the woods and transforms them into works of art. She uses the same materials that native tribes use but often in new and different ways that do seem to dance as they hang on walls, hold items large and small, or light the room.

Hennen says, “I have always been in love with native art, not just here but from around the world.”

So when she and her husband moved to Sequim in 2001, she took a class in weaving cedar baskets.

Celebrating cedar
She fell in love with the cedar and the weaving. Although she had not done weaving in the past, she found a passion in using the bark and other natural items. Her creations celebrate the cedar bark and its transformation.

“When I see natural things, I see new ways to use them. I use local materials and make wonderful things to use every day.”

Pine and fir cones become fish or flowers with cedar bark woven into fins or leaves. Antlers and driftwood hold lights with cedar bark lamp shades. Shells, buttons and dried flowers provide decoration.

To get the bark for her creations, Hennen and her husband walk in the woods looking for western red cedar trees that have fallen during storms. She strips the bark and lets it dry for at least six months. After the bark is very dry, she cuts it into the size and thickness she needs for her projects. Then she soaks it to make it pliant before she uses it.

Native techniques
The cedar has no form or structure to it so Hennen adds raffia or twine to hold the forms she wants. She sometimes makes a basket around a vase or other object to get the shape she wants. She removes that object when the cedar dries. Hennen uses a variety of techniques to weave the cedar, including plaiting, twining, wicker and coiling.

Cedar can be woven very tightly by pushing it down hard during the weaving so it forms a vessel that can hold water. That is one of the techniques the native tribes used in making the baskets.

Hennen also incorporates techniques from other native people into her weaving. For instance she often uses buttons that recall the dot art of Australian aborigines. She feels the buttons add movement to her works.

Hennen gives workshops to teach some of her techniques but not on a regular basis. Any group interested in learning the art of basket weaving can call her at 681-0107 to arrange a special workshop.

Hennen’s art objects can be viewed at or in her studio by calling her. During January and February, some of her creations will be on display at the Museum and Art Center, 175 Cedar Ave., Sequim. She also displays at Bauer Interior Designs, 119 N. Sequim Ave.

Dana Casey can be reached at
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