Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy New Year
Junior, Margaret, Tom and me!


Wood base made by Dave White
Steel frame with removable window frame fabricated by Tom

A friend commissioned Tom to create a frame to hold a pretty stained glass window from his 1880's farmhouse in rural Oregon.
It was a Christmas gift for his wife.

Stained Glass Window in New, Custom Steel Frame

Bob and Candy Cane Ornament by Tom

I became very ill over Thanksgiving but am now doing much better.
To celebrate my improved health, Tom asked me to pose so he could make a likeness of me. 
Each year, Tom makes a special holiday ornament for Margaret. This year it was me!
I think I look rather smart with my 'candy' cane!

May we all enjoy good health and joy in the New Year!

Me and my buddy Junior


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Summer Into Autumn

Nolemanu Hu
2009 Aloha Music Camp
This past summer, Tom used his design skills to help create a safer home environment for our dear friend Nolemana Hu during the last few months of Mana's life. Sadly, Mana passed away on July 26th but his generous, kind spirit of Aloha lives on in the hearts of all of his friends and family. Tom and Margaret attended his memorial service in late August where Tom shared wonderful memories of his friend and mentor. Shonnah sang a favorite mele which she and Mana used to sing together. Margaret accompanied her on ukulele. Later that evening, Mana's brothers Julian and Larry, Shonnah, Tom and Margaret, played and sang favorite Hawaiian songs in honor of Mana, a gifted Hawaiian slack key style musician and a man of quiet grace. We miss him.

Julian Hu, Shonnah, Tom, Margaret, Larry Hu

The June show at the Columbia Art Gallery
The 'Get Centered'  theme highlighted the 25th anniversary of the Columbia Art Gallery in Hood River. Twenty-seven artists participated. Tom designed and created the 'Self Centrification Unit', a 'tongue-in-cheek' homage to the theme. His steel garden chair rotates 360 degrees and rocks, too. Inside the hood is a mirror to help you get even more centered!


Tom and some of the MARYHILL MUSEUM
2011 marked Maryhill Museum's Summer Art Institute's 18th year providing participants with teaching strategies to bring art into the classroom. On July 20th, some of the teachers came to PRAIRIE STAR DESIGNS studio and gardens for a tour. We always enjoy their visits as they appreciate Tom's quirky sense of humor. Maryhill Museum is undergoing a $10 million dollar expansion right now. Check it out at

On July 31st, singer/songwriter Chris Kokesh and her friend LJ Booth came to our gardens and
performed once again to appreciative guests. She is already planning on returning in 2012 and we are looking forward to that! Chris and fellow musician Jonathan Byrd of North Carolina will be performing at the Mosier Grange on April 29th, 2012. You won't want to miss it!

sculpture by Tom in the backyard gardens

Minnesota-born Singer/songwriter Trina Hamlin performed in our gardens on August 24th. She played piano and guitar and knocked everyone's socks off with her fantastic harmonica work.
She was really cool! She is planning to return to our gardens again next year, too!

Honeysuckle Vines on Tom's Trellis 

 Mystery Tour
The Hood River Community Education 'Mystery Tour' participants came to visit us on August 24th. The artist-in-residence gave them a tour of the gardens and enjoyed his visit with everyone.

Tom explaining his SELF CENTRIFICATION UNIT to 'Mystery Tour' guests

Tom and Nellie
Nellie was one of the first people to purchase a 
Prairie Star Designs 
garden sculpture many years ago.
'Mystery Tour' guests lining up to see 



Custom Seat by Dave White in
is made of purple heart, golden heart and bloodwood.

BBQ Table
Knowing he likes to recycle metal materials, a friend recently gave Tom a Weber grill which had a broken leg. During the summer, Margaret had moved the outdoor fire pit to a new location in the woods to allow more people to seit around the campfire. Thinking her design might accommodate multiple uses, she suggested that Tom build a steel table into which the grill would be set.  Guests would have a warm surface on which to rest snacks or food while enjoying the campfire. The table keeps the grill off the ground and the fire is easily extinguished when the lid is placed. A secondary benefit is that your toes stay nice and warm while enjoying the campfire.

Junior and the BBQ Table
Junior says that if you double-click on this picture you will be able to see him.
Silly boy.

Entry to the compost bins and BBQ Table

On Halloween,
Tom told spooky stories around the campfire

Special angels Patti, Sylvia, Doris and Barbara
sang for Tom on his birthday


Time for my 'Junior Associate' and me to contemplate the inner workings of the sofa.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lavender, Lavender, Lavender

Shonnah and Mana, friends in Grass Valley, California asked Tom to design and create a sign for Shonnah's lavender garden. Margaret and Tom installed the Mystic Mine Lavender Hill sign last week.
I think it is very pretty.

Tom, Shonnah and Nolemana
Greenhouse at Mystic Mine Lavender Hill
Shonnah's roses at Mystic Mine Lavender Hill

Local friends Steve and Vicki also commissioned Tom to design and create a custom steel shelf for their
Mosier Valley Lavender products. Lavender oil, sachets, candles and soaps full of lavender fragrance can be purchased at the 'Mosier Survival Garden' up the valley on State Road. Bunches of fresh lavender will be available during harvest.

Tom and Steve check the dimensions of the raw steel shelf unit to make sure that the lavender products will fit well. The mesh top allows morning sun to light up the top shelves. Hidden hooks below the bottom shelf will hold fresh bundles of lavender.

Custom steel shelf inserted into window
with fused glass by Linda Steider
'Survival Garden' store in Mosier Valley

My nap time with Tom
Junior's nap with ornamental grass. When Steve harvests his lavender, I'll give Junior a bundle.
I think he will like that, too.


Sunday, April 10, 2011


Tom created the ANGEL TRELLIS for Margaret for her 'Nelly Moser' clematis and honeysuckle vines. When the honeysuckle blooms, the entire east garden is full of delicious, sweet fragrance. I thought you might like to see some of the trellises Tom has made for clients and Margaret over the past 15 years. 

Master Gardener friends contributed old, broken and discarded garden tools to Tom's project. They form the internal structure of the 16 foot-long, four-panel

Junior likes to climb on the trellises, especially the one in front of the porch. From the trellis, he can jump to the roof and run all over the house.
He thinks he is really funny when he does that.
Margaret creates private spaces in the garden with her trellises. When these vertical walls of greenery are in full bloom, new textures and color fill the gardens. Several varieties of clematis as well as honeysuckle, wisteria, grapes, trumpet vines, raspberries, sugar pod peas, beans and cucumbers climb structures of different shapes and sizes in our gardens. Many of Tom's trellises also include colorful fused glass pieces created by local glass artists. The glass provides interest and color especially during the winter months when most of the vegetation is dormant and brown (see blog of 12.29.2010 for Tom's ASIAN TRELLIS in snow).


for Clematis

commissioned by friends Janet and Tom

Z-TRELLIS for Kirsten

GRAPE TRELLIS for a home in Washington

Tom finishing a few welds on MIMI'S TRELLIS on site

The Easter Bunny came today!
Time for a nap with Junior.