Musings, Magic, and Muck

We set out to find thrown away things, forgotten duds.

We looked for lost remnants, known to some as garbage. We were happy to fill up bags for an afternoon out of the studio. Looking for detritus and finding inspiration all around.

Blönduós is an orderly town. Still, some garbage lurks in the cracks, windswept under bushes, or in the most tucked away of crevices. So we looked and peered on.

At first, we found mostly horses. Greeting us, cheering us on with snuffs and gurgles. I wished I could fit one in my bag and carry it around with me, if only for the afternoon.

Blönduós horses
Blönduós horses

Continuing on, our bounty was cigarette butts, water bottle caps, and stray garbage bags with rhubarb growing every which way.

Pitter patter, continuing our steps as the rain sprinkled on and off.

Thinking about colours and footsteps and what is left behind.

Baring witness to the resilience of plants growing in the least fertile of places. The same spots where garbage loiters. I wonder if the plants mind their occasional debris companions, fluttery as they may be.


Wandering with our noses gravel-bound and squinting eyes. A pause to look at our surroundings and we were at the steps of a church where an old brass door hung ajar. Colour, magic, and reverence awaited us when we were looking for discarded things.

Reynir Katrínar’s home and art

Standing before us, an artists dwelling nestled within a spirited structure. A magnetic pull. Inconspicuously tucked next to a mossy hill in a sea-coloured church. The home of a warm welcoming artist, Reynir Katrínar, who weaves tapestries of trees, dries herbs, makes paintings, and grows strawberries in his rainbow windowsill among other things. A rich life – overflowing.

Reynir Katrínar’s art
Reynir Katrínar’s windowsill strawberries
Poppies and Insects

To linger there forever crossed my mind. Courteously, we continued on with gratitude for the unexpected welcome and quench of inspiration. out in the elements we went. Rain rain, ever so gently. Onwards to the destination that inspired this outing. A pathway tucked between the beach and the hill’s slope. A destination destined for rubage.

Garbage-bound. We set ahead on our pursuit.

The entire way, we had a trustee companion by our side – Cat.

We managed to fill two large garbage bags with debris in just a short jaunt. The rain started to barrel down on us and the wind intensified.

Cat walk
Teddy and Cat
Julia and Cat (photo by Teddy)

It was challenging to say farewell to this creature who so valiantly led us and saw our efforts through. Teddy, Cat and I meandered together for over an hour.

Bittersweet and gleeful, we trod our path home, bidding farewell and leaving Cat by the sea. Clad with two heavy bags and an armful of drenched cardboard boxed, we set forth. With an oncoming storm brewing, we were misted by arctic winds looking perfectly foolish to parsers-by as our mystical bags of garbage-harvest flapped in the wind.

We took pause to pick a Lupin bouquet to enliven our nest once we got home.

A spiralling day this was. Something about setting out to find garbage and encountering a heard of horses, hardy plants, an artist’s nest, and a sprightly cat guide is utterly fortuitous.

We also found garbage.

This world houses debris all about. Sometimes I do not have the heart to look around me. It is often lonesome and disheartening to witness garbage unfurling its talons . However, what I learned from this day is that when I went to look for trash, I did find it, but I also found plenty of magic. I would not have happened upon the delights of this day had I not gone out with my original intent to look for things in the deep crevices, under the twisting elms, and in the shadows. We are all here, on this earth, in this vessel. I will hold onto this knowing: musings, magic, and muck ferment in the same vessel.

with love, Julia Woldmo

Wolf Palette \\ death and dyeing

I am dyeing, I answer my faraway friends

met with reddening cheeks and mischievous giggles feasibly rooted in our collective tabooed associations with death and dying.

Explanation unfurls – I am colouring wool and cloth with plants. Mortality loiters elsewhere. Below the shell of this explanation is a knowing that there is a connection between infusing colour upon a neutral, receptive body (cloth or wool) and dissolving sentience and breath (death) – shapeshifting.

a connective tissue,

a single thread within a whole warp,

discreet until it is tugged on,

then a rippling affects the whole

weaving, body

Transformation steeps here.

When we dye a surface, we gather the pigment from a living, growing being. There is something that it is like to be that flower, plant, or root – that we will never know. In the process of colouring the porous fibre body, the plant dies. It is ripped from the soil, the fruiting body is pulled off, the petals torn, the bark stripped. Unfurled.

A death event occurs so as to allow for colour to bloom somewhere else.

The alchemical spiral – cycles embodied in coloured material to make things with.

I brought a skein of hand dyed wool from home.

An animated chartreuse yellow skein whose pigment was sourced from the fruiting bodies of wolf lichen – a slow growing algae-fungus found on the bark of dead or dying conifers in high altitudes in the Pacific Northwest. It was named wolf lichen due to its toxicity which was used to ward off or poison wolves (Galun).

Mordanting – the French mordre ‘to bite’, an essential element of the dyeing process. Through the mordant bath, the fibre is prepared usually with salts and heat to prepare it for colour. Wolves mordant too.

In Iceland there are Lupins everywhere. Etymologically, ‘Lupin’ uses the French root loup or ‘wolf’ stemming from Medieval times when the plant was thought to move through a landscape in packs, devouring everything in their path (Collins). We now know the opposite is true. Lupins are considered invasive species in Iceland as they do not originate from this place. However, they are highly adaptable plants – their “rhizobium-root nodules…allow them to be tolerant of infertile soils and capable of pioneering change in barren and poor-quality soils” (Kurlovich and Stankevich).

This characteristic of pioneering change in a barren landscape is a quality I wish to embody. I adore Lupins for this quality alone. Wolf Lichens and Lupins reflect one another – their etymology paralleling wolves, shadowy, poisonous, ravenous, and adaptable as well as the fact that they grow in dying landscapes and bring with them soil fertility and a spectrum of colours.

Bright yellow and pale blue. A palette of wolves.

Lupin Harvest
Wolf Lichen Dye Bath
Lupin Dye Bath
Yellow – Wolf Lichen Dye. Blue – Lupin Dye. Grey Icelandic Lopi Wool.

Julia Woldmo



Galun, Margalith (1988). CRC Handbook of Lichenology, Volume III. Boca Raton: CRC. pp. 98–99. ISBN 0-8493-3583-3.

Kurlovich, B. S. and A. K. Stankevich. (eds.) Classification of Lupins. In: Lupins: Geography, Classification, Genetic Resources and Breeding. St. Petersburg: Intan. 2002. pp. 42–43. Accessed June 19, 2022.

‘Lupin’ definition and meaning. Collins English Dictionary Online. Accessed June 19, 2022.