Things We Like: Kathleen Doody Design

One of our favorite friends is the Toronto-based artist and designer Kathleen Doody. Not only was she the senior designer for the Toronto Star for years, she’s done so many wonderfully creative things, from masks to the pebble mosaics and lighting design featured on her website.

Pebble Mosaics


“The ancient art of pebble mosaic uses smooth, water-worn stones, sourced locally or imported from around the world, to create beautiful, durable surfaces for public spaces and private gardens . . . Designs larger than 600mm diameter are built in several pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Modern concrete casting methods ensure frost proof installations that are built to last. The upside down construction creates a flat walking surface. Modeled ceramic bas-reliefs can be integrated into the design, adding greater detail and items of particular interest.”



“Lanterns and lamps are very sculptural. The natural beauty of the branches and handmade paper enhance any room, and the flickering light of the candles, or the soft glow of the light, add warmth and charm. Candle-lit, electric and lamp shades are all available in unique models . . .”

Sculpture – Chinese Dog (2010)


This bit of bleached driftwood, part of the roots of some bush or small tree, became for us a stylized “Pekingese,” as if modeled in curvaceous Chinese porcelain. We posed him on a little old plant stand we’d made years before that was weathering to pieces, and there he’s stayed.

Sculpture by Dave and Sharynne Wilder – bleached driftwood, weathered plant stand made of scrap lumber.

 Part of our sculpture “Animal Series”

Musings – On Procrastination, and Memory Loss

I was looking through some of my old journals the other day, and was amazed to find a sketch for a project that we’d planned in 1976, and never followed through on.


Journal/Notebook, 1975-76, Cover indicating influence of Bacchus in our lives

Right now I’m sitting here in the Dockwood office, pondering the bookshelves we put together for this new abode, using wooden milk crates we’d collected way back then, when we first came to New York City. As readers of this blog are no doubt aware, we were a very poor little family of the “starving artist” variety and had to scrounge for furniture, or build it ourselves. If one took an early-morning walk on the streets of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, or for that matter a very late-night, drunken return from the West End Bar, there were to be found strongly built wooden milk crates left outside the grocery stores, that simply begged to be re-purposed! We collected quite a few of these over our first couple of years here, using them as bases for simple benches made from two-by-twelve planks, or for storage.

When, this summer, we moved into our latest house here on our little island, with its greatly increased space including a studio and garage-cum-workshop, we found that we hadn’t enough bookshelves for all the books we’d collected (previously ensconced in built-in shelving). Loathe to buy lumber to build more shelves, we suddenly thought, “Why don’t we see how many milk crates and fruit boxes we’ve got and use them for shelves?” They were all in use as storage for various art, tools, paint cans, etc., but when we gathered them together we found we had a total of ten!

We came up with a way to stack them on themselves in an staggered, linear-designed way, to increase the total shelf footage, realizing that the weight of the books themselves would hold the whole assembly together, and found we had shelving for about 250 books here in our office. (We’ll photograph it one day soon.)

That was in September. So, as I leafed through my journal from 1975-76, I was a bit appalled to find that I’d sketched this basic idea way back then! And never got around to doing it – for almost 40 years! And never even remembered it. Oh dear.


– Dave Wilder

Decoratives – “Mae West” Anchor Cut-out Plaque (1998)


One of the items we salvaged from the sunken motor yacht once owned by Mae West was a cabinet “door” made from marine plywood in a style often used in ocean-going vessels. If you’ve ever been at sea on a boat smaller than a cruise liner, you know how much motion there is that is not “forward.” Boats roll, pitch, yaw, and generally act like never-ending roller coaster rides – it’s the stuff sea-sickness is made of.

So most yachts have many handholds in convenient spots for the crew to grab onto in the attempts to keep from been tossed around the cabin as the boat is tossed around by the waves. They also try to avoid having knobs and other devices that stick out and inevitably catch on one’s clothing and tear it. One typical solution is to have cabinets and lockers without handles or knobs. If the “door” is a simple panel with finger-sized holes in it, arranged more-or-less like those in a bowling ball, and is held in place by friction catches on the inside, they can be opened by inserting two or more fingers and pulling on it.

The “Mae West” used just such cabinet covers, but with the nice design touch of having the finger holes cut in the shape of an anchor. When one of them washed up on our beach, it immediately became a nice nautically flavored visual device. We detached the friction-catch bits from its back, and hung it on our bathroom wall.

(User warning! We actually feel that this style of cabinet cover is as dangerous as it is convenient. Once, on the way to Bermuda on a 44-foot sailing vessel equipped with these covers, this writer damn-near broke his finger when the boat lurched over a big wave while in the act of pulling one of them open!)

Decoratives – Boutonniere (2013)


As members of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, we were fortunate to be invited to a gala reception last November at the restaurant “Daniel” in New York City for the museum’s extremely popular “Design By Hand” public lecture series. The theme for the event was “Design Yourself.” I decided I had to create something that would promote our Dockwood Furniture concept of re-purposing “decayed” natural elements. The idea occurred to me of a boutonniere made from one of the Hearts-of-Whelk we’d been collecting from our beach, which, to me, look uncannily like half-opened calla lily blossoms. The shells of dead whelks are so fragile that their outer parts are broken away as they’re washed back and forth on the rocky shore, leaving the curving spirals of their inner parts, variously tinted in pale coral or purple hues. I took one of these, strung some colored glass beads from Sharynne’s bead collection on thin fuchsia-colored yarn, which I wrapped around the shell. Tying a button behind it made for a distinctive boutonniere for my navy double-breasted suit jacket. Most of the guests at the event sported custom-designed bits of jewelry or hats – “eye-candy” of the very best sort – but was mine the most original and distinctive? I think so.

– Dave Wilder