April 25, 2024

Three Sisters

By Laura Jane Bouton
cloth doll with beads


This is a long one, I hope you enjoy reading it.

Jane Cather, my mother, has always inspired and fueled my own creativity. I am not sure where her creativity comes from, but it is truly endless. She is a painter, doll maker, metalsmith, and has always focused on the creativity expressed in the home.  Everything must have balance, the right volumetric, and, most importantly the flow of energy has to be right.

She started her artist career with creating folk art cloth dolls. I remember helping her stuff the body parts of the dolls with cotton when I was younger. Each dress was sewn with carefully chosen fabric, either adorned with embroidery or vintage beads.  What intrigued me the most was their faces. Each face was painted or sewn by hand, giving them so much expression, almost as if there was a presence. Some of the dolls even had animal heads; the little toad is my all time favorite. Her name is "Lulu" and she sits in a hand-sewn fabric basket.

She was the first one in our family to venture down the metalsmith path. She went to the  Monterey Community College . They have a great art department and a very well equipped metalsmithing department.  Her teacher was Carol Holiday, a very talented jeweler and teacher. You can find her beautiful work on her Instagram account, just click on her name.

handmade doll

Her desire was to incorporate metalwork with her doll creations.  I would  never think to combine these two mediums, but she did it so wonderfully.

"The Circle of Path and Portal"  resides in our dinning room, her captivating presence always draws my attention when I pass by. The hoop dress is a symbolic representation of  the  earth's longitude and latitude. Each hollow form embodies the depths of the female wisdom buried within the earth itself. The etched chest plate represents the modern technology that was and still is merging with the female wisdom.


texture hollow form

Each hollow form has a different texture. I think you can see where I get my love for texture and hollow forms. She would etch all her plates for the rolling mill. I have used a few in some of my designs. I love going through all the plates that are still in the studio, which was hers at one point but now is mine.Thank you, mom!

"Totems" was another artistic phase of my mother. There is one in the living room called " Woman in a boat on a high mountain." It symbolizes the journey of women venturing away from their communities, acquiring new knowledge and experiences. Upon their return, they bring back wisdom to share with their community.

 "Woman in a boat on a high mountain" 2006

Hollow forms, stone setting, enamel, etching

The exact quote on the base is a direct etch on nickel: "This is the hero's journey- To go beyond the culture and tell your story to the wind - In it will be the seeds for the journey of another"

My mother, like her mother, also has what I call the never-ending "swirling gene".  The love of arranging the home decor  (or nick knackery as my grandmother called it) to the point it becomes a pretty big art project.

Most family members are big antique collectors, so there is a lot of things to swirl and arrange. It never ends, I mean really, it never does. I am not a big swirler, but I do enjoy living amongst the meticulously arranged nick knackery, and it also makes for great back drops for my jewelry photos. Win win for me.


This is just a very small portion of vintage beads that she has collected over the years. They are always on display so you can admire them, and hope one day she will release them so they could be used in a jewelry project. Lol, I am still waiting.  Throughout the house, you can find random arrangements like a tower of old sap buckets, bread pans, old tools (my favorite), or a collection of ceramic hands. I believe they were personal ash trays for cigarettes. I am glad she has not sold all her art work and it is on display throughout the house for everyone to enjoy. She is retired now but is still making art for her own pleasure and the simple joy of creating.





My aunt Paula, one of my mother's younger sisters probably learned how to ride horses before learning how to walk. I think she started riding around two or three. I never get tired of listening to the stories of their adventures horse back riding with Princess, their horse, when they were young. According to them, they rode fast like the wind.

My aunt still continues to ride to this day, every morning weather permitting in Carmel California. She does the fancy riding, dressage.

She also graduated, like my grandfather, from the Art Center in Los Angeles and is  very talented at graphic designs. She works as an independent contractor for the nonprofit equestrian organization, The California Dressage Society  Her days are busy managing, Newsletters, Social Media, Awards, Memberships, and running the central office for the CDS and of course, riding and sometimes competing.


As far back as I can remember, her main focus has always been about horses. She is very brave, because I don't think I could ever get back on one. I started riding young too, but I also fell off a lot. I am amazed I didn't break any bones! Even her art was and is always about horses. 


The last family ride we had all together was in Carmel, California where my family lived for many years. I am the one on the left in the photo. It is hard to tell, but I had a perm back then, so that should tell you how long ago that was. Perms were popular way back when, but I am not sure why.  Next to me was Paula, Mom, also rocking a perm. Even my dad came on this ride, along with my aunt Cindy, Tracy, my sister and my grandmother, Margaret.


My Aunt Cindy, is the youngest of the three sisters. For me, she is what I would call the "animal whisperer." Having pets or rescuing animals has always been part of her life.  She has had mice, (she started with two but then they turned into a colony), a rat, a snake, a bunny, horses, dogs, cats, tortoises, and chickens.  At least those are the ones I can remember. Once in Carmel, my mother had  3 gopher snakes tangled together in a bird net in her garden. Who do you call? My aunt Cindy. She came,  used tiny scissors to cut the net and untangled them, and set them free while everyone else was screaming. Those who were screaming were inside watching the whole scene unfold from the living room window.  I am laughing just writing about this. Also, if you ever have a bat get inside your house, she can catch those too.

Currently, she has 3 Schipperkes  (see above photo), 2 cats, 4 tortoises, chickens, and a new fish. Of course I am sure you know who I am partial to. Barney the cat, such a good boy.

My parents were part of the dog show world when I was little, as is my aunt today. She does agility and rally with two of her dogs, Moby and Yo-yo. She also runs her own business; she is a very talented dog groomer and is always booked up for weeks.


Like many women in our family, she is a big swirler of furniture and nick knackery. I am pretty sure she is the head of this department, but my sister comes in really close too.  She lives in Vermont with her husband in a beautiful house built in 1818. I am not completely sure about the date, but it is an oldie. They have been avid antique dealers and collectors in the past, so they can swirl for sure. The house is very large and can accommodate all of the family for a big reunion, which is always so much fun. I also get to bring the queen when I visit. She rules the third floor when we are there.

The queen on vaca in Vermont


Every room is arranged with lovely vintage treasures and it is so fun to explore. I think my favorite room is the summer kitchen with the big fire place.  See photos below. The door behind the green chair leads to an old staircase, which would take you the servant quarters back in the day. Now it's just secret way to go to the second floor.  Barney the cat loves to hang out in the this passage way. The whale above the mantel was made by my sister. She torch-enameled each piece and assembled them to create the whale shape. Pretty cool!


The outside is just as pretty as the inside, with a large barn and big back yard for the dogs to practice their agility. In spring and summer time the yard always has wonderful flowers.



The winters can be harsh, I call it Narnia,  but she always makes the best holiday decorations.


She has had two of the tortoises since I was in my teens.  I will be hitting the big 60 this year so they have been around for a while. Then one day, there were eggs. Now she has four. They do hibernate during the winter so sometimes they are sleeping when I visit. It is always fun to feed them lettuce and fruit.

Yo-yo, Moby and Gizmo

 She has had a few other rescue mix-breeds over the years, but she has always had Schipperkes.   First, there was Dingo, then Simon, and then Argo. These are the current cuties,  I think Moby is in the middle, Yo-Yo on the left and Gizmo is on the right. Both yo-yo and gizmo are rescues. As you can see from the photo, the fall is the best time to visit Vermont.


And then there is lucky. He was originally my sister's cat but is now living the life of a barn cat up in Vermont. He is a great mouser. 

Well I think that is enough for chapter 2, I hope it was not too long and you enjoyed this glimpse into my little family. Stay tuned for Chapter three, I wonder who that will be about?


  • Patti Wells on April 30, 2024

    Laura, honey! What a fantastically beautiful tribute to your dear family!!!!
    I have loved seeing all the photographs, and the text you wrote to accompany them was so clear, and brought such life to the photographs!
    Thank you so much for this visual history of these incredible women! I don’t have enough explanation points to praise you!!! Great job, honey!!!!!!!!👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼💕💕💕💕

  • Patty streber on April 30, 2024

    Love it! Can’t wait to be continued!

  • Carol Holaday on April 30, 2024

    Not too long, I enjoyed every line of it and every photo. Love knowing more about your family history full of artists.

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