Friday, November 30, 2007

I made this!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Poetry from Playful Prayer

At the end of six weeks of Artmaking as Playful Prayer, I ask each participant for a phrase that sums up their experience. Then, I use all their phrases to create a poem. Here's the one from this latest class, the one that ended on Monday:

To me
What a treat
The class was enriching
Fineness pasted down and ironed on
To have three hours set aside each week
To my soul, my individuality, and definitely my instincts
To play, make art and get a tad messy
That goes on glittering.

So, my wish for you as you enter this hectic and delightful holiday season - go on glittering!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birds and Brainy Sea Creatures

First, check out this time-honored crafty tutorial from Sister Diane at DIY Alert - it will take you back to childhood, and it will delight your feathered friends!

Next, see how the octopi are taking over crafty blogs all over the country, starting with this post over at Futuregirl.

Studio Day

Ah, the glory of (almost) an entire day spent in the studio . . . I really need that kind of concentrated art time . . . Today, I experimented with printing plates made from pieces of foam rug gripper and friendly foam and even foam weather stripping. In other words, if it's even vaguely foamy, I'm experimenting with making a stamp/printing plate from it and printing it on fabric.

The Artmaking as Playful Prayer class finished on Monday, and I've got a Memory Jewelry class that starts tomorrow. And I've been cleaning up from the Secret Society Sale last Sunday, and prepping for the Dinnergrrls Holiday Bazaar this coming Sunday . . . It's a miracle I got in the studio for any personal work! But I need that time . . . especially after a Playful Prayer class ends. I need time to digest what's happened. Time to incubate. I got some really wonderful and thoughtful feedback about the class, about creating more meaningful transition times. And I've been digesting that, considering different ways that I might meet that need without sacrificing the structural looseness. All while I print little houses and little birds with nests on fabric. So soothing.

And yesterday's teaser? Old appliqued quilt blocks (from yet another quilt that is not to be) that I'm turning into pillows to sell at the Dinnergrrl's Holiday Bazaar this weekend . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Proof of Octopus Adoration and a Quilt Conundrum

In the comments yesterday, Gretchin seemed surprised that I was an octopus fan - here, I offer proof: A plate I created at one of those paint-your-own-ceramics places featuring an octopus reading. (And the plate features an octopus reading. The paint-your-own-ceramics place in question does not, in fact, feature an octopus reading. That would definitely be a cool paint-your-own-ceramics place.)

So, here's my conundrum. (You all did such a good job with the bone thing, I thought I'd throw another one at you.) A long time ago, in a place not so far away, I created this quilt top as a gift for someone special. We broke up before the actual quilting occurred, and the ex was understandably indifferent as to the quilt's fate as he had moved on to a new relationship. I considered finishing it for entry into the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, but my heart just wasn't in it. The main panel is applique on denim, with a rather inexpert piecework border.

It's pretty, and I like it, but it's just too attached to a particular person and time of my life for me to enjoy it - or even finish it. And I'm ready to let it go. I'd like to see it go to someone who really will enjoy it, use it, and perhaps even finish it! I saw that M5K had sold a found quilt top on Ebay . . . and it got me to thinking. Is this a potential path for the Fishing Cabin in the Woods quilt top? Or is there something even better I could do with it?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back in Craft Show Land

I only do a few "craft shows" a year now, but 15 years ago, they were how I made my living. Loading my van up with bins full of stuff, hauling it up and down the west coast, setting up the booth, freezing or sweating, and hoping I sold some stuff . . . fortunately for all aspiring crafters and artists, we now have the internet and Etsy shops.

Of course, craft shows still happen - but, thank heavens, now, I'm only doing a few a year - and small ones at that. It gets the word out about my classes, I get to meet people, and I reduce my ever-growing inventory of class samples and experiments. (After all, how many of these things can my friends actually absorb?) As a result, I end up with a bizarre mish-mash of stuff at my table - almost like a crafter's rummage sale - and I am beginning to think that an Etsy shop might be a more efficient way for me to offer these things up to the wider world . . .

Oh boy. Another project. Let's finish NaBloPoMo first, shall we? And then there's that book I'm working on . . .

Bottom line, though, I had a great time at the Secret Society Sale (and hauling my stuff up the stairs meant some much needed exercise!) and have a few folks to recommend . . .

Erin MacLeod, of the Crafty MacLeods*, makes these wonderful one-size-fits-many snap around skirts. I wear about a size 10, and they work great for me! I got one this summer, and picked up a few more today since her booth was right next to mine . . . And I saw the gal from Woolie Originals again . . . she makes lovely hats, etc., from reclaimed sweater pieces-parts, but what I'm most crazy about are her collages from old sweaters. I'm getting on her mailing list, and hoping to pick one up sometime in the next year . . . rumor is, she may be doing a piece that features an Octopus! I'm getting excited just thinking about it . . .

(* Do not be disturbed if you didn't catch the obscure Highlander reference. I did it to amuse myself.)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Let the Mad Making Begin!

The turkey soup is made, and now begins the official mad dash to make holiday gifts . . . the crafty among you know what I mean . . . the plans to make ornaments or handcrafted individual cards or fleece hats or whatever for each person on your list . . . the plans which frequently come to naught and mean ordering gifts like chocolates on-line for next-day delivery . . .

Add to that the fact that I signed up to sell at two local holiday craft bazaars - the main point of which, for me, is to promote my classes. But that also means I need to have a few things to sell. I have a tin full of jewelry samples - not a problem - but I wanted to have some other things as well: magnets, switch plate covers, pillows. Fun, gifty items. As a result, I have gone into production on both fronts.

Some of these are for gifts, some will be turned into magnets, and some will become "pin-up girl push-pin sets." Curious? To buy jewelry, magnets, switchplates, original art and more from me, check out the Secret Society Sale tomorrow - pillows and a few other non-jewelry items will also be ready for the Dinnergrrl's Holiday Bazaar at Cubespace on December 2nd.

And hey - if you think you might be on my Holiday Gift list - feel free to come by, check out the goods, and drop a very large hint . . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

After the Carnage

Most everybody was asleep yesterday by the time the turkey was actually done, and the Sweetie's dad actually slept through most of Thanksgiving dinner - jet lag. In spite of these challenges, I am proud to announce that the crew still managed to do some decent damage to it. The Sweetie's little brother used his Marine training ("They taught us how to butcher a goat") to carve the turkey and folks wandered dozily around the house gnawing on little bits of it.

It was declared good. If you interpret "munch munch mumble mumble snore" to mean good. Which I obviously do.

I sent some of the turkey home with the Sweetie's folks, and was left with approximately 95% of a 15 pound turkey - which translates to approximately 1000 pounds of leftovers. I did what any self-respecting cook would do - I stripped the meat off, threw it in plastic containers in the fridge and then put the carcass in the stock pot. Because we're not going to have enough to eat and we need soup.

Actually, turkey soup is one my favorite Thanksgiving memories. Some folks love the day-after turkey sandwiches, but for me, it was my Mommaw's turkey and wild rice soup.

So today, I got in there and separated all the meat from the bones. And I have the meatiest, tastiest soup stock this year that I've ever had! Could it be the brining? (Usually, I'm just making off with the carcass from someone else's house while they give me funny looks and say, "Sure. You can have it if you want it . . . . but are sure you dont' want to take any actual turkey with you?")

This year, though, the carcass started off at my house. And found myself looking at the bones with slightly different eyes. In the past, I've kept only the wishbone. This year, though, I set aside part of the spine, the breastbone, and what I think are the hipbones. I'm boiling the rest of the meat off of them now. The real question is, after the carnage, how do I prepare the bones for use in art? I was thinking about dumping them in bleach after they're done boiling and I also considered hanging them up outside all horror-movie style, but I'm really not sure on the best approach.

A Google search ("Google first, then ask stupid questions") for "preparing bones for use in art" turned up zilch. So now, I turn to you, my loyal readers, for any advice you may have . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Family happy. Well fed. Sleepy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

To-Do List

Left to do today, the day before The Sweetie's family comes over for Thanksgiving Dinner:

  1. Make two pumpkin pies (one inspired by Summer Pierre's Recipe - make sure to double the honey and the molasses)
  2. Make pineapple pumpkin bread (special treat for The Sweetie)
  3. Prep Mommaw's (my grandmother) recipe for Bundle o' Beans (I've been craving it - she always made it for Thanksgiving, which we used to always have at her house . . . couldn't find my copy of her recipe, so looked it up online. Two of the recipes I found called for a full stick of butter, along with sugar. No wonder I remember this being so good. )
  4. Prep roasted sweet potato and apple dish (my recipe, making extra for leftovers!)
  5. Brine Turkey (this is supposed to be very important - I've never cooked a turkey before - and it arrived today still largely frozen - Hmmm)
  6. Find my cookbook with the large, friendly orange letters on the cover saying "Don't Panic"
  7. Go to Fred Meyer's for the six things I forgot to get in my grocery delivery order (delivered today) and my last minute grocery shopping trip for things I forgot (on Monday).
  8. Take advice found on cover of cookbook. Realize that it is not a cookbook, but The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  9. Consider journeying to Mars for Thanksgiving.
  10. Reconsider, stop blogging, and drive to grocery store. All while NOT PANICKING.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today, I'd Just Like to be Squirrel Girl

Either the one from Sweetie's online comic book, or the one that hangs upside down in the tree in my backyard in order to feed from the bird feeder. The first is sexy in a butch rodent kind of way, can kick butt and has a long fluffy tail. The other one is quite deliciously zaftig in a cuddly yet athletic way, can do 30 crunches while hanging upside down and has a long fluffy tail. (At first, Sweetie and I thought she might be pregnant, but we've been watching her for over a month now, and squirrels usually mate in December and June, with gestations in the 30-44 day range. So, unlikely.)

Today, I would like my mission to be simple: kick butt, eat seeds, fluff tail.

You notice blogging is not on the list.

You notice, too, that I resorted to listing seven random facts about myself yesterday instead of talking about any sort of creative enterprise. The creativity is definitely happening: I had a wonderful Playful Prayer class last night which resulted in a couple of great conversations about process, and how a piece will change as you work on it, how you can often spend a lifetime pursuing work that allows you to express a particular thing and still not quite get it, but revel in the process. I led the group in one of my favorite writing exercise (based on Pat Allen's Art is a Spiritual Path) where we engaged in a stream-of-consciousness dialog with our work. I also worked more on my fiber pieces about Nepal, and developed some new stamps using foam insulation tape that I can't wait to try out. Wonderful stuff.

In fact, that's been one of the great things about NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I commit to posting every day. My blog is about creativity. And guess what? There really is something to write about every single day that relates to my creative journey. My creative life really is that fully integrated with my everyday life. Woo-Hoo!

It's just that some days, I'd rather not write about my creative process or the things that inspire it or feed it or result from it. I'd rather be Squirrel Girl. And Squirrel Girl doesn't blog. She gorges on seeds, then hides some away in secret stashes for a cold day. She incubates. She mates in December. And maybe June. She kicks butt. She fluffs her tail.

And I'm just betting she watches Project Runway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

For Ann

Seven Random or Weird Facts About Me

1. I once summitted the Grand Teton. I was with the then-greatest love of my life, who got a pulmonary edema on the way down. And we also got lost. There is no greater reality check than realizing that you are lost in the dark on a mountain in October and you are repelling down into a crevasse that you cannot see the bottom of - and that you are doing all of this with a man who has blood in his lungs.

2. I once led a 5.10 sport climb at Smith Rock. Not such a big deal in the world of rock-climbing, but a very big deal to me at the time.

3. I won a Dead Poet’s Slam by portraying Richard Brautigan and reading a very carefully edited selection from Trout Fishing in America.

4. I have read my own poetry on the radio – twice. One of those times resulted in a series of rather disturbing phone calls from an inmate of the Oregon Penitentiary.

5. I had my toilet paper stolen from me by a monkey in the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali. I was surrounded by Japanese tourists at the time. I still do not know if I appeared on any episodes of "Japan's Funniest Home Videos."

6. I own a Limited Edition Battle Scar Angel Puppet Replica doll. It is from the episode where Angel got turned into a puppet, but could still fight. Also, I am not embarrassed to say that I own this.

7. My coolest moment as a market researcher was going to Pixar and interviewing animators regarding their pen tablet input device preferences. I don't think I am violating any confidentiality agreements when I say parallax is a big issue.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Junk to Funk


Last night was Junk to Funk here in Portland. I put on my didn't-quite-make-the-cut ensemble, took a few cheesy overexposed pictures (who doesn't love to play Supermodel in their garage?), and headed out to check out the competition (and say hello to the folks from Orlo who use the arts to promote environmental action and SCRAP who encourage creative reuse).


Not all of the outfits were well-executed, but all of them were over the top in terms of what they re-used. One gal (who came in for an honorable mention - or was it third place?) had constructed her outfit entirely out of trash that had washed up on Oregon beaches. Another had gathered used latex gloves from tattoo artists and constructed a skirt. Yet another designer gathered used gelato spoons, cups, bowls, and taster spoons - all in pastel candy colors - to create a bustier, mini-skirt, headdress, and parasol.


All of which beat my used t-shirts, sweaters, and bicycle inner tubing hands-down (though I did get many compliments on my hat). Corset made of record albums teamed up with wig made of 80's mix tapes? First place. Amazing vintage-look swimsuit and bathing cap made entirely of recycled bicycle inner tubes, down to the thread holding it together? So charming! Delicate leaf-net-vine dress made of the urban tumbleweed, beige plastic bags? Looked couture. Enormous jacket made of air-pocket plastic packing material, teamed with dreadlock wig made of melted and shaped plastic bags? Hope it won the People's Choice award. And don't get me started on what a woman can create from used dryer sheets or excess recycling bin labels . . .

Oooo, I have got my work cut out for me for next year! So, feel free to start sending me all of your unwanted VHS tapes and DVD's NOW - I have a vision!

(And, as a side note, the Sweetie is currently reading a comic - downloaded on his computer, no less - that contains a character called Squirrel Girl. I am not making this up.

Of course, I'm sitting next to him laughing at the parts he reads out loud and thinking how I can re-use the plastic VHS cases - in an outfit, of course - once I get the tape out. It's a very sweet and geeky Sunday.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Holiday Hipness

The Dinnergrrls Holiday Bazaar is coming up at CubeSpace here in Portland on Sunday, December 2nd, 12-4. Yes, I'll be there, selling some fiber art, some encaustic work, some jewelry, some collages . . . and Kristin Gross of Konfections will be there selling delicate and tasteful jewelry . . . but really, the reason you have to go is this: Bodywreaths. Let's just say it's been time to retire my old I-bought-some-things-at-Michael's-in-the-early-90's-and-used-a-glue-gun holiday wreath for several years now - I've just never had an excuse before. Now, I have an excuse. No, more than that - I have A Call to Action. Really. You have to go look at these. Now. And buy one. For yourself. For someone you love. For the good of the whole freakin' nation. 'Cause if you don't, I may buy one for you.

Heck, I may buy you two.

Friday, November 16, 2007

On being a Teacher . . .

I turned in my application for Art & Soul yesterday . . . my application to teach at the Portland event in '08.

One of the biggest challenges is coming up truly new techniques, new projects, or new ways of combining techniques and projects in such a way that they are appealing to students - students, who, in many cases are traveling across the country (or even from another country) to attend. As a "beginning" teacher (I've taught off and on since I was in college, but I only dove into it fully in 2004 with the debut of my Artmaking as Playful Prayer classes), I don't have the advantage of a fanatical following who've been seeing my work in magazines and books for years . . . and, frankly, I'm not sure that I want a fanatical following . . . Meaning, at this point, most people have to be willing to take a risk to take a class with me. There has to be something in the work or the sample or the description that inspires them or grabs them by surprise. And I have to convince the judges who select the lineup of classes that I am worth the time. Judges who are described in the application as "a group of menopausal women," women who, for the most part, make their living by being able to determine what people exploring mixed media want to learn.

No pressure.

So, I've been sweating over this application for a month. The class I wanted to offer, the one I thought would be the most unique, had to do with hats. And every sample I tried came out crappy. (Inner voice: "Defer judgment, Bridget. Those hats were learning experiences.") Ah, yes . . . I'm probably not ready to teach that one yet . . . I really need to get the technique down better, refine it. The thing is, I love teaching. Some days I'm tired or I don't do as good a job as other days, but I really like creating an environment where people can play, experiment, be exposed to new ideas and techniques, and gain some confidence with their own artmaking. And, with very few exceptions, I walk away from teaching a class having learned something new.

I also know that I consider a class worth my time if I am able to do at least one of the following:
a) learn even one new technique
b) gain confidence in working with a technique
c) have a personal insight or push a personal edge or grow
d) have an experience that engages me in making something from my heart.
And I design my classes to provide the potential for these kinds of experiences. Note that nowhere in there do I say that I have to complete something, or even make something I like. I try to keep in mind that this is a priority for a lot of people, but it's still a challenge.

And I guess I'm writing this in part because I got so distracted by trying to make "a product" or a "sample" that might inspire students to want to learn from me (or become part of my fanatical following or make work just like mine) that I forgot the whole reason why I teach and even make art in the first place. Nowhere on the application was there space for "teaching philosophy" or "what you do to engage students."

That said, I felt really good about the way this sample came together:

I was totally engaged in making it, it felt completely fun, and I got to pull all kinds of techniques out of my hat - self-taught, learned from others, gleaned from books, and discovered - and mix them up in a very satisfying way that was personally meaningful.

That, of course, leads us into what it is to be an artist. And then what it is to be a teaching artist, which is a different animal altogether. So, you'll just have to come back tomorrow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chocolate Cake and its Repercussions

I went to the fancy party to celebrate the union of DIY Lounge and Collage last night, and I dressed in my bumblebee costume.

Really, I just wanted to stay home and watch Season 2 of Project Runway (Which I've been downloading from iTunes, thanks to an innocent comment from Euphrosyne, and am now sadly hooked on. Pathetic. I dislike the egos and the cattiness, but oh, the niftiness they come up with! And the challenges, so fun! And besides, I can't find Craft Corner Deathmatch on iTunes. I guess it was cancelled).

But, I had told Maria (the owner of Collage) that I would come as Crafty Bee to help her celebrate, and I just couldn't let her down . . . and once I got the costume on, I started getting into it. That's me and her in the newly redecorated craft-makin' DIY Lounge in the back room at Collage. Doesn't she look happy? (added: And doesn't the Lounge look AWESOME?! Ok, the parts of it that you can see behind my enormously luscious bee bottom! Wow! And, no, they are not paying me to say this - though I did win a cool prize in the raffle!)

Of course, then I got into the chocolate cake. Which was dense and sugary and made with wheat and sent me off into a weird bumble-bee disco frenzy. Did I mention there was a DJ? Anyway, I didn't touch a drop of alcohol and I still managed to make a complete fool of myself.

Which, frankly, is not that difficult. But, I also ran into Gretchin of Scarlet Star Studios, pictured below with a beam of inspiration pouring into her head and holding the number 2. What does it mean? We may never know . . . Gretchin remains delightfully inscrutable.

And me? I woke up this morning with a chocolate cake hangover. Go figure.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Birds, Shopping, Hats, Bridges and Other Wonderful Things

I love birds. I love shopping. And, I love hats.

It is no surprise, then, that I was inspired and delighted by this picture of Gretchin in her chicken hat from Liv and Lotus.

I saw the hen hats, the tea cozies and the Lumpies at the Trillium Artisans sale . . . and somehow I managed to resist buying one of each. Perhaps it has something to do with the big box of felted recycled sweaters in my sewing room . . . or the fact that I made a tea cozy a few years ago . . . or the recycled sweater hats I bought from Sweaterheads last year when I made the Sweetie wander at Saturday Market with me in the freezing cold! Those are all really good excuses, but really, can a girl have too many things made by local craftistas out of recycled sweaters? Of course not! Perhaps I do need a Lumpie . . .

What I did buy at the Trillium Artisans Sale was a Johnny Pillow from crazycoconut. It has a lovely silkscreened picture of the local St. Johns bridge on it - and really, besides a hat that looks like a chicken, what could be better than a beautiful bridge that you can hug?!

And I've tried taking pictures of the St. Johns bridge, and they just didn't do it justice . . . somehow crazycoconut managed to capture its cathedral-like elegance and its total approachability . . . . on a pillow.

I have loved bridges for as long as I can remember . . . I loved the idea of crossing over, of being suspended . . . of seeing the water rushing below. And if it was a suspension bridge or a covered bridge, even better - you were contained, but still totally out in the open . . . that was the best. No wonder I moved to a city divided by a river . . . a city with so many bridges.

But now I have to go put on a bumblebee costume and attend the grand re-opening of diy lounge at collage.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In Development . . .

I'm working on some fiber collage pieces using image transfer techniques I learned during Wendy Huhn's Transferology class . . . and combining it with some heat moldable foam block printing on fabric . . . . I'm applying it all to unprimed canvas with Steam-a-Seam-2 fusible webbing (my favorite for fabric applique). Then, I'll be adding some stitching and other embellishment before eventually mounting the canvas - gently - on canvas stretcher bars. Above is a shot I took of Baggage: Nepal, 1 in process before I started the applique and stitching.

The photos are shots I took when I was traveling in Nepal . . . except for the suitcase. The suitcase, well, yes I took the pictures of that, too. Just not in Nepal. In fact, I bought it here in Portland at Poppy & Ivy just so that I could take pictures of it to use in my collage work. It just seemed like the perfect, iconic suitcase. The kind that, 50 years ago, might have graced the hands of an adventurous Airline Hostess. The kind that might be full of all kinds of Baggage. The kind that you might be forced to drag around with you long after it had outlived its usefulness. The kind that might have a Strange Musty Smell lingering in the satin lining.

Adventurous, check.
Baggage, check.
Musty Smell, check.

Bring on the cameras.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Perspective: Heard in passing on NPR

I missed the context - and context is critical - but the gist of what I overheard is this: the life expectancy of a person 200 years ago was 37.

The gist of what I understood is this: I am now 37, and if I were a 37-year old person living 200 years ago, chances are that I'd be dead.

Actually, since it's an average, chances are that I would've died as an infant, or while trying to give birth to one, or lived to a very grumpy, painfully un-medicated 42 before dying of complications of alcoholism, lead poisoning, or general insanity, surrounded by a passel of grandchildren.

Things I've all managed to dodge thanks to self-help books, feminism, education, birth control, and modern advancements in physical and psychiatric health care.

All in all, today was a pretty good day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dealing with Disappointment

I found out a few days ago that I did not get into Junk to Funk. And, my Toolbox Jewels class on Saturday didn't get enough registrants to run. (added: though I must say thank you to Sister Diane for mentioning it - along with a lot of other great classes at DIY Lounge at Collage on her most excellent blog at DIY Alert!)

That said, I got to go on a lovely walk yesterday, and do a bit of shopping at Trillium Artisans instead of teaching. And as much as I love teaching, it was nice to spend a laid-back day with The Sweetie. . . . And I'm thinking about switching up Toolbox Jewels, maybe calling it Junk Drawer Gems, and incorporating more found object elements . . . making it two days. I've been inspired by the book Fabulous Jewelry from Found Objects by Marthe Le Van, and I've always loved the work of Susan Lenart Kazmer. Maybe the class needs to be more challenging . . .

And, I'm planning on attending Junk to Funk wearing the outfit I made, and it'll be fun to be there just as an observer . . . of course, my brain is whirring about a bigger, better, more intensely recycled ensemble for next year . . . perhaps inspired by the lushly draped designs of Poiret?

This is from the Catalog of the Poiret Exhibit at the Met earlier this year . . . Ah, Joy. One of my all-time favorite designers . . . Here's a video from the exhibit . . . and here's a bunch of goodies from the Met website.

So - how does a girl deal with disappointment? Shopping, reading, hanging with The Sweetie - and dreaming about jewelry and clothes, of course! Shoes - now that's pulling out the big guns . . .

(added: Of course, another way to deal with disappointment is to remember all the things that are going really well! Sometimes, this is tough for the artist/control freak . . . but Gretchin and I have sold out the upcoming Creating Wordwear workshop . . . we may need to run another one before Valentine's Day! Let us know if you might be interested . . . )

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hunting in Autumn

The Sweetie and I took a lovely walk through the Irvington neighborhood in Portland today. Ostensibly, it was so that I could get . . . er, hunt out shots of autumn leaves to add to my copyright-free collage materials file . . . but, truth be told, we both needed the exercise! And, despite forecasts of rain (Rain? in Portland? Never!) it was a clear, sunny day . . .

The Sweetie also helped me capture a variety of actual leaves, which I have corralled here in my scanner:

No leaves were harmed in the making of this post. All leaves will be released back into the wild.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Feeling Quiet Today . . .

Friends are coming over for dinner . . . heating up tamales, making some black beans with mangoes, and some steamed kale and chard with feta to go with . . . I like a lot of flavors. Imagining myself sitting quietly with a small glass of wine, just watching them talk and eat and laugh. Very happy. Maybe I'll make a pear-apple crumble, too.

And what's better on a quiet, rainy, introverted day than cooking and poetry? Here's another bit of word art from my poetry truck, The Blank Canvas, a proud member of the Portland Poetry Posse with Trixie the Poetry Car.

And a query I cannot begin to answer . . .

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Woo Hoo! Geeks and Veggies

I just figured out how to get the badges for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and Magpie Girl's Small is Beautiful/Passionate Blogging up on my site! I conquered yet another hurtle in the very minor manipulation of html code! (read: cut and paste in the right places). I have posted every day for a week, even though The Sweetie has been here for much of it, looking distractingly cute and loading action flick after action flick on the DVD player! I also just finished eating a lovely pumpkin curry and adding the amazing vegetable-cooking, mitten-knittin' Geek + Nerd to my blogroll.

To celebrate these accomplishments, and the accomplishments of all the geeky, goddess-bodied, large-orange-vegetable-conquering women in the blogosphere, I offer you this:
An almost vintage image from Banshee Designs of voluptuous, fluffy, plush, plump-o-licious babes communing with vegetables.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sock Monsters! (aka Stuffed Misfits from the Eyes Aflame Frankenstuffed Studio)

The Sweetie and I went to Powell's this weekend, and I spotted a book. Well, actually a book and a kit. Now, normally, I resist "kits." But the book in this one was really good . . . and the pictures were really adorable . . . and The Sweetie, who could see I was waffling on the edge, pushed me right over.

And so I bought "Stupid Sock Creatures: Making Lovable, Quirky Figures from Cast-Off Socks" by John Murphy. Correction: I bought the book with the kit. Here is his website. I think he may be a genius.

I have been wanting to make Glove Monsters or some other sort of stuffed misfits since I saw Toby. Then the Glove Monster instructions from Sister Diane at Craftypod (another genius) came out and then there was Glove Monster day over at Church of Craft (which birthed Gregory, Toby's friend). Sadly, I couldn't make that event - perhaps this is why The Sweetie encouraged me to take the plunge and get the kit.

So, I have happily madly spent the last several nights working on Stupid Sock Creatures (with some Glove Monster elements). Here are some candid shots of Jane and Clawdaddy - the first two Stuffed Misfits to emerge from the Eyes Aflame Frankenstuffed Studio.

Jane's head and rabbit-like ears are made from a sock, while her stout body is made from a stretchy glove . . . her little dress and sweatband are also stretchy glove parts. Jane is slightly, er, paranoid . . . a bit stressed and obsessive. Clawdaddy, on the other, er, hand, is a lot more laid back and fun loving. He's got a full-on sock body, with sock/glove hybrid claw arms and a sturdy sock-part tail. His tongue is the finger of a glove - and his little fingerless gloves are, well, the fingers of gloves. He is trying to reassure Jane that it will all be ok after a little snuggle by the fire. Jane's not buying it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Return of the Secret Introvert

Today, I did one of my Favorite Things - I sat in a room with several other creative types talking about how to market ourselves and how to make a living doing what we love. That was thanks to Vicki Lind and her Job Club for Creatives. It gives me some accountability, and helps me work out a plan, develop it, and implement it rather than just sitting in my studio coming up with Really Great Ideas which may or may not help me actually Meet My Goals. (Goals, yes - those things that you work towards when you're not being distracted by a world that is full of Shiny Things - and my world is full of a Lot of Very Shiny Things).

And the meeting is small and has some structure, which makes my Secret Introvert very happy, because it is like school. I spoke clearly, was comfortable sharing my story, offered occasional feedback, and - hopefully - listened well and didn't try too hard to overcompensate by being funny (read: obnoxious).

I also did one of my Least Favorite Things. I hung up fliers to promote my upcoming workshops. Yes, there are people that can be hired to do these things, but they don't usually want to hear, "Hey, I'm copying these fliers now and they need to go out yesterday. Can you do that?" Time travel includes a nasty surcharge.

So, today found me posting fliers along Alberta. Which means walking into a coffee shop or an art store or a restaurant or a gallery or a food co-op and looking around to see if they have a community bulletin board and then putting up a flier.

This sounds completely painless. However, for Secret Introvert, this is torture.

What if they have a sign that says, "Please ask before posting"? What if I have to engage in clever small talk with an owner or a clerk who would really rather be selling something to an actual customer instead of dealing with another self-promoting paper-wasting hooligan? What if they look at me funny if I leave without buying anything? What if I decide to be bold and ask a question of someone who owns a gallery that I would really like to be represented by and she says, "What kind of work do you do?"

Well, apparently, if the latter happens, I will stutter and cross my arms and say something really witty like, "Oh, well, ahem, I do a lot of things, really, I . . . ah, work in mixed media, you know, collage and encaustic and fiber. I like mixing up as many media as I can."


And this is why e-mail and blogs are the Secret Introvert's trusty sidekicks. And this is why I'm part of the Job Club for Creatives. So that I can answer that question a little more smoothly next time.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Loose Ends . . .

I thought I'd share how a couple of pieces have progressed . . . one was the mandala that I started the first night of Artmaking as Playful Prayer . . . I started working on it, then photographed my own hands, my own lips, and my own vegetables to incorporate into it . . . I also photographed some of my own lipsticks . . . The orange and lemon slices are plastic fruit that I bought and made photocopies of! Anything I can do to build my own library of images . . .

And here's the four-part self-portrait that I started at Traci Bunkers class at Art and Soul . . . I changed up some of the collage, and added a few color washes, and it definitely feels more unified. Can't say I'm crazy about it, but it feels resolved - and I learned a lot from doing it. Incubation is your friend.

And whether a piece is "likable" or not is probably one of the least important things about it.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"My God, how I love Hats."

"People make clothes, and sometimes clothes can make people, and sometimes people re-make themselves to suit the clothes and the life they long for. Fashion is masking and social standing and personal fable and art and craft and industry and avocation and technology and instinct. And millinery? A stretch of the human imagination toward the divine laughter of angels… okay, I just love hats. My God, how I love hats."

Euphrosyne said this on her blog the other day, and I found myself stirred. Slightly dumbfounded. Delighted.

And totally embarrassed that this woman ever saw me wearing those jeans with the lace-up rollerskate on the butt. Ok, it was the early 80's, and I was barely out of elementary school, and I really did love those jeans. Enough to wear them twice a week. Which in the early 80's at a firmly middle-class suburban Texas middle school was enough to earn me fashion pariah status. Now, I can look back and say that perhaps that was where my interest in interactive, experimental "outsider" textile arts began . . .

Which brings me back to the hats. I made this hat from a lampshade. I spray painted it, I glued things to it (including a fake bird, fake fruit, and old paintbrushes), and yes, I wore it. For one glorious Solstice Party evening in the late 90's. It was heavy and it made my head hurt, and I felt AMAZING. The photo (touched up with acrylics to bring out the profile of the hat and neutralize the background) doesn't do it justice.

My God, how I love Hats. And you can see more of them here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Toolbox Jewels

These are a few of the pieces I finished up yesterday as new samples for Toolbox Jewels - the first one actually uses little bits of a crushed headlight that I found on my street when I was walking up to refill my Diet Coke at Taco Del Mar. The first two both incorporate spiral paper clips (a little one and a big one) that I got at Collage, as well as a nylon washer-thingie that I can't remember where I got! And the big fender washers aren't really rusted - alcohol inks!
This one is a slightly more traditional interpretation - a little bit delicate even - some glass and stone beads from Beads at Dusti Creek mixed with tiny nuts and washers . . . . I'm thinking I may make myself one that mixes turquoise beads with nuts and washers . . .

The Sweetie is here for the weekend, and dragged me out of the house for a walk, which turned into driving to check out a sale at I've Been Framed - a great discount art store here in Portland, close to 50th and SE Foster - no web site per se, but here's some shots of what they have . . . I was very excited about stretched canvases on sale - especially the ones that are extra deep so that you can put niches in them, like I learned how to do in Diane Down's Art and Soul class . . . hmmmm . . . I feel a series coming on!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Papel Picado

Hola! Last night for Day of the Dead, my crafty campadre in crime, Jojo came over and we made decorative Mexican paper cutouts - Papel Picado. (Thanks again for the research and the patterns, Jojo!). We both started out making cutouts from a pre-made pattern, and then, for our next batch, we adapted the designs and made our own! I made a pattern with birds and a skull . . . two of my favorite things. The challenge was to look at the negative space, and figure out how much paper to leave so that the little banner held together - they're made from tissue paper which is pretty delicate . . . today, it's back to work making more samples for my upcoming Toolbox Jewels class . . .

Thursday, November 1, 2007

DEMO: Moldable Foam Stamps

I decided to participate in NaBloPoMo 2007 - it's not a new Polish Dance Craze, nor is it a traditional Italian noodle dish. Heck, it's not even a neighborhood in New York. No, it's just my comittment to post on this here blog once a day during the month of November.

It is possible that I will end up resorting to recitations of what I ate during the day, but I am starting with a bang - my first on-line DEMO! A NaBloPoMo Demo! I'll also be putting these up on the website - part of a diabolical long-term plan to offer ideas for quick and easy Creativity Breaks at the rate of one a month.

We'll see.

But now, you get a DEMO! of my new favorite thing - moldable foam. I am making stamps out of anything that doesn't move. Actually, the keyboard might make for a cool effect . . .

1. Start with some Moldable Foam! 3" x 4" of foam. I get mine locally at Collage on Alberta (they sell them singly for $1.00 each , or in packs of 8 for, well, $8). If you're not local, good luck finding them on the manufacturer's website ( or googling Magic Stamp Moldable Foam Stamps.

2. Arrange the items you want to use to make an impression with - here, it's clothespins.
3. Heat the foam with an embossing tool for 30 seconds - keep it moving. And yes, it needs to be something hotter than a hairdryer - sorry!

4. Press the foam firmly into the texture objects for 15 seconds. Release! The impression will stay in the foam until the foam is reheated. Reheat the foam, and the impressions are *mostly* erased. And you can use both sides of the foam . . . yes, you can buy one foamie, make two stamps, then erase and start all over again!!!

5. Ink your stamp. I used a rubber brayer and a water-based printing ink, but use your imagination! Experiment! Basically, you just don't want the ink to dry on the stamp - you can probably use stamp pad ink or fabric paints with some kind of extender . . . you get the idea. (Note: I later used fabric paints . . . I found that it was easier to ink the foam with a foam brayer because the consistency of the fabric paint was different. Still got cool prints!)

6. Print! Just press the inked surface into the paper or fabric using firm, even pressure. Here, I printed on smooth Bristol Board. Very nice impression.

You can make a stamp from almost anything . . . Buttons

Rubber Bands

Even Corn Cobs! In fact, once you get started, it's hard to identify something that WOULDN'T make a cool stamp.

Here are some sample prints that I turned into ATCs. Still very attached to these today, but will be ready to trade some soon, I'm sure! (The ATCs shown above also include homemade stamps made from Friendly Foam glued to bits of acrylic board, an idea I got from Wendy Huhn.)