Nick Cave again.

January 21st, 2018

I’ve spoken about the artist Nick Cave numerous times (here, a little bit here and a little bit here). I’m big fan of his sound suits so when I heard that he had a full-room exhibition in MassMoca I knew I had to go. I’ve spent a goodly portion of my time avoiding MassMoca because it has modern art and modern art makes me hella-cranky. I don’t want to rehash my feelings on this but the tl;dr version is if it ain’t Jesus, ugly inbred royalty, a pudgy naked broad, a landscape or a still-life, I ain’t lookin’ at it. That excludes 98% of modern art ergo I don’t go to MassMoca. But for Nick Cave one can make exceptions and I was not disappointed.

The exhibition was called “Until.” The description from the MassMoca site:

For Cave’s MASS MoCA installation, Until — a play on the phrase “innocent until proven guilty,” or in this case “guilty until proven innocent” — he addresses issues of gun violence, gun control policy, race relations, and gender politics in America today. … The aim of this is pointed, questioning us to spark discussion about important issues in a space that is at once dazzling, provocative, and — ultimately — optimistic. Cave believes in humanity, celebrating possibility while also creating a forum for critical discussion that eventually provokes the question, “Is there racism in heaven?”

There are three sections. You walk into a big empty space, like a high school gymnasium, and you are greeted with tons of those metal garden spinners that twirl in the wind. Some of them are stationary but some have disco ball rotators at the top so they twirl very slowly. It gives the look of being a forest. A forest of metal spinnies, some of which are sweet and ethereal and some of which are silhouettes of guns.

After that is a floating island hanging from the ceiling surrounded by three sets of stairs. The bottom of the island is completely covered in plastic crystals hanging like icicles as well as real crystal chandeliers. I found a bunch of pictures that other people took that are far better than mine.

When you climbed the yellow stairs you could see what was on the top of the island. It was a collection of American bric-a-brac covering every inch of space. Some of it was harmless – a garden gnome, some cheesy beaded Christmas ornaments – but then there were black lawn jockeys (eesh) and some Aunt Jemima items (oof) and other racist items. It was tough to look at. Merkin history is not terribly pretty.

And finally there’s this massive webbing covering the far wall made with tons of plastic pony beads. I don’t know what that represented exactly but it looked very cool.

The best part: people could bring their dogs in to appreciate the art as well. Because art is for everyone.

Russia’s vice-like hold on the apex of crafting will crumble at my feet.

January 17th, 2018

So you may or may not know that I have a personal ongoing feud with the entire former Soviet Union because every time I am feeling good about my artistic talents some Slavic person pops up on my Pinterest and destroys my self-esteem with their superior skills. Every time. Like clockwork. I’ve mentioned it here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2013/10/08/two-artists-that-are-magnificent-and-humbling/

And here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2016/01/23/two-artists-that-might-make-me-not-scared-of-dolls-finally/

And here:

http://design-newyork.com/blog/2016/08/30/moooooooom-the-russians-are-being-better-at-crafts-again/

While we’re here, let’s add Julia Gorina to the list:

And Tatiana Verkhovskaya:

It never ends. But today is a new day. Today is the day I begin my climb to my rightful place as The Best At Crafts. I’ll take you through my journey.

I like jewelry. I like early 1900s fancy jewelry with enamel and plique a jour (enamel with no back, kind of like tiny stained glass) and diamonds and gold. Unfortunately I do not have the kind of money to buy all the things I want. So I’ve decided to figure out how to make it myself in far less expensive mediums like wire and resin and crystals. I made a folder of inspirational images to draw ideas from.

 

I started with this one:

I wanted a really simple shape with thicker and thinner parts where the diamond sizes are graded and the diamonds are on a dark background like tarnished silver. I only used stuff I already had in my apartment, so I wrapped some gold wire in some brown wire and soldered loops so it could hang and made sure all the shapes were closed because I intended to dip the shape into that plastic stuff that Sakae uses for her kanzashi.

I learned oh, oh so much during this process. Like if the wire is made of aluminum it does not want to be soldered. And if you have a big open space in the middle of your piece the plastic dip material will not go across it, you need little struts to break up the space. AND why people don’t have thick wires at in their plastic dip pieces is because of The Glop. More on that later. But I got it to a decent place. I wired, then I soldered, then I dipped, then I failed, then I picked off all the plastic, then I did it again, then I failed again, then I finally got it right, then I covered it in a thin layer of UV resin, then I painted delicate black calligraphic lines on the thicker edges, then I adhered graded flat-back crystals along the black paint. The final product looks like this.

With my hand for scale.

Here is The Glop situation I was describing.

Okay. Good start. Things I will do in the future:

  • Use raw copper wire with copper solder so it adheres more easily and the solder isn’t as noticeable (the solder I used was the standard silver-colored one and it’s REAL noticeable)
  • Spray it with a water / baking soda mixture to make it brown
  • If the “windows” are small I will use thinner wire to avoid The Glop
  • Try UV gel topcoat instead of UV resin because the resin is thick, prone to bubbles and has a yellowish cast
  • The black acrylic paint worked fine, that’s staying
  • Using UV resin with a paintbrush to attach the crystals also worked fine, that’s staying too

I’m psyched about where this is heading. I feel lots of growth and potential in this. Soon all of Siberia will be mine for the taking, craft-wise. Stay tuned for more on this as it happens.

No sleep for you.

January 12th, 2018

You know when you go to bed at night and you’re tired and and you think, “Ahhh, I will fall asleep immediately, better get my passport ready for the Land of Nod,” but your brain decides this is the ideal time to throw random nuggets of information at you that you feel compelled to ponder? And this prevents you from going to sleep? And you end up hating your own brain? I know other people experience this, I’ve seen the memes on Buzzfeed:

 

(Colitas are mentioned in the song Hotel California. “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.” It’s supposed to mean “little buds” as in marijuana.)

I’d like to share my night-time thoughts that cause me to be an unproductive bag of parts the next day. Here we go:

  • I heard somewhere that Usain Bolt has never run a full mile in his life. He only does short sprints. That seems crazy to me. I’ve run/walked/huffed The Mile several times in middle school and high school. If I’ve done it Usain should have done it. Do the schools where Usain grew up not require them? And if so, why did I not move to that place? I really hated The Mile.
  • I watched a video of a snail laying eggs.*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BK2GRY8Y6U

    How do the eggs make their way down the body? Is is like peristaltic motion, where the muscles move in a sequence? Is the snail positioned downhill and I can’t tell from the camera angle? Why don’t the eggs take the shortest path possible and ploop off the side of the midsection instead of making their way to the tail? Also, there’s that snail that that doesn’t have a vagina, the acting male (they’re hermaphrodites) just stabs it and throws the sperm in the stabbing hole. How does that work? How does he know he’s not pumping his seed into her liver or kidney? Is her whole body a holding tank for eggs? What the hell is going on in there?
  • What ever happened to that lower-case “f” letter without the line across it that was the “s” sound? Does everyone know what I’m talking about? Here, an example:

    I read somewhere it has something to do with a “hard s” (which is the Z sound) and a “soft s” (which is the typical S sound, like a hiss). I’m wondering if we can bring it back. And what made the Germans get rid of the stacked double S?

    Did the Germans take a vote? Like, okay, this letter ain’t cuttin’ it no more, bring in your keyboards and a pair of pliers, we’re going to pull that key off never to be pressed again. Who is on the committee? Are there lobbyists, sliding money under the table to keep certain letters off the chopping block? I bet the pound sign people were sweating bullets until hashtags became a thing. The early 2000s were a scary time for the pound sign folks.

*If you want to have a profoundly trippy experience, watch this video with the sound on. And tell me, why that snail is laying eggs out of the side of its head? Because that doesn’t seem right AT ALL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qGnbLeuysU

Why graphic design is so, so very important.

January 2nd, 2018

I was watching the Rose Bowl the other day (not because I wanted to but because my employee is from Georgia and I was trying to be supportive) and I noticed something interesting. Did anyone look at the playoff semifinal logo? Anyone?

Because to me it looked like something else, something commonly expressed using parentheses in that way.

The best part is in researching “parentheses vaginas” I found this link. I am not alone in this thinking.

http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/college-football-playoff-logo-chosen

Please, if you’re designing an important logo or chart or website or presentation of any kind, I beg of you, consult your nearest designer to avoid catastrophes like this:

I think I might get into heaven now.

December 30th, 2017

How was everyone’s Christmas? Hopefully good. Mine was good. I went to two Christmas parties. At the first one on Christmas Eve I received a present from my new niecephew: a black t-shirt.

And on Christmas Day I went to a friend’s house for Christmas where I received… a black t-shirt.

I consider that a win. I’ve set up a range of things I like (black t-shirts, snarky comments on said t-shirts) and people are paying attention. This is excellent.

Now, concerning the title of this post. I made nice things for others really hard this year. I had said I was going to make stockings for the mantle for my niecephew and BOOM! they were born and I hadn’t started on a single sock. I sewed like the wind. I bought plain burlap stockings and using felt, beads and sequins I thoroughly pimped them out. I tried not to make them too feminine or masculine because I don’t want to reinforce gender colors but they still had to be holiday-themed.  I feel like I accomplished my goals.

While at work in early December I heard a young girl in the design group talking about how her cousin wants a rhinestone-covered S’well bottle. The only problem is that they cost $1,500. For a water bottle. I should have just walked on by but I cannot hear about a craft project and not offer to help. I should tattoo “SUCKA” across my forehead to make everything faster. Anyway, due to time constraints I ended up encrusting the top and not the whole bottle. I did it ombre because why the hell would I not. Pale pink to cream to crystal clear. I’ve never done anything like that and I’m actually glad I took this project on because I learned much about the rhinestoning of things. (And in keeping with the sucker motif, I only charged the $25, the cost of the raw materials. I gave her my time for free. My patronus is a vacuum. Sigh.)

 

Addendum: Totally forgot that over the holiday break I helped a co-worker with a master’s thesis in Keynote, repaired and rebuilt another cow-worker’s broken necklace AND made my sister an overdue birthday present. HEAVEN. I’M GETTIN’ IN.

The bounty of the Internet is endless.

December 25th, 2017

1. There’s a guy named Keaton Patti who loves Photoshop. He fixes screengrabs from the PBS program Antiques Roadshow and makes them truthful and real and I certainly appreciate all his hard work.
3c4 ab32932567261eb8e690714db50e19a5 f14 tumblr_oknk8lYN4E1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_ol873tKE4I1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olh7ncfxJq1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olhvvrn1Su1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olizq1lPar1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_oluiz1q6H01sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olzr4o2Wwd1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_omsdegEWRv1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on0oqq1XBE1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on2pf8i2Cj1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on4enhVnCC1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on6b8q7Tsf1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on14qrkqEg1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onc02xCNQ81sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onjbp6pUpe1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onjfjjieqZ1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onnew05MqG1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onnsveoViq1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onsn2e0FaU1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onusrfOL3C1sug43ho1_500

He has more of this and other stuff on his Tumblr.

 

2. Have you heard “Sweet Dreams” played on a collected of floppy disk readers? No? Well, I can fix that. (Thanks for introducing this to me, B.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGfkPCZYfFw

 

3. This is self-explanatory and I start ugly-laughing every time I read it.

17630058_1358297977549653_2443569579794525705_n Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.12.52 PM

 

4. I could watch this video all day.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/04/blooming-kinetic-sculptures-built-with-wire-by-casey-curran/

 

5. There’s a page on Reddit called Ambien thoughts. People go there after taking the popular sleeping pill and write down their thoughts. I find it HIGH-larious (see what I did there?). Some of the comments are fine and normal:

And then there’s all the rest of them. Hoo boy. Don’t do drugs, kids.

 

6. I love calligraphy. I love bugs and fruit and plants. Ergo, this is magnificent. I mean, those cherries. <3 <3 <3

http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-model-book-of-calligraphy-1561-1596/

 

7. And finally people, who apparently never freakin’ learn, made a poll so The Public could name seven new planets. The Public responded accordingly.

Additional item that reinforces my point that you should never let The Internet name anything ever:

 

I made some stuff. Let’s look at it.

December 18th, 2017

I made two things, veeerrrrrrrrry diametrically opposite. First, the deer skull. Cricket’s dad found a deer skull with antlers behind their house twenty years ago and Cricket recently gave the skull to me. It was a fine-looking skull and I wanted to display it but it looked sort of nakey. So I decided to decorate the skull using every bead technique I could think of. I even tried new techniques I had only seen online. One of my big inspirations was Betsy Youngquist. I’ve mentioned her before. She does some drool-worthy work. I don’t know what you’d call what she does – bead and found item mosaic? Object decoupage? Three-dimensional collage? Whatever it’s called, it’s awesome and I’m a big ole fan. Here are some of her newer pieces.

You know those sewing samplers from days of yore? Where a young girl would make every stitch she knew how to do on a piece of fabric? That’s what this skull turned into for me. Since I was using a million different techniques I limited my color palette to white, pearl and silver. I was pretty psyched with how it turned out. My photos are meh because for some reason my camera was flabbergasted by all the white but maybe someday in the future I will have a professional take pictures of it for my portfolio.

The second project I worked on was different in every way something could be different. It was for work, for starters. We were pitching a birth control drug. Most of the deck was perfectly normal. “Our research shows that women this that and a third thing and here’s a quote and here’s a chart,” etc. I blurred out a lot of stuff that may or may not be proprietary.

However the strategists wanted to show that modern women are bombarded by unwanted dick pics all day every day. I was told to find pictures of men showing off their charms, put them in the deck and cover the jingly-jangly parts with emojis. I get paid actually usable currency to do this. So late on the night before the pitch I typed in things that would get you fired anywhere else into Google and there they were. A veritable field of men displaying their appendages. Here’s a screengrab I took that I heavily doctored to make it SFW.

I was sitting there, sifting through the pics because I needed their head at one angle and their implements at another angle (to get the emoji cover-up to work). I also typed in several specific ethnicities to get a diverse spread (ha ha ha). I was so involved in finding the right images for the job that I neglected to notice the cleaning lady behind me who could totally see what I was doing. I only realized it afterwards and I REALLY wanted her to report me for being gross and pervy on the job so I could explain that it was for work. Alas, she did not. She does, however, greet me with a big smile every time she sees me now, like, “I know what you’re into, yeeeeeaaaaaaah.” I kinda want to tell her that that’s not my jam but then we’d have to talk about it and I don’t feel like doing that so this is how it’s going to stay. Me and the cleaning lady have a dick-pic bond. It’s a dream come true.

The television gods have blessed us with a bountiful year.

December 12th, 2017

As a hardcore crafter I am perpetually on a quest for television to “watch” while I’m making whatever I’m making and it seems like I have quite a vast choice. There are both new series and series that slipped past me that I can binge and stuff into my brainhole while I create masterpieces (like Christmas stockings for my new niece and nephew, they’re extremely festive) (the stockings are festive, not the niecephew, they’re newborns and they don’t really do much). Here’s my reviews of my latest consumptions:

Mindhunter. I LOVE police procedurals and Forensic Files and documentaries on the criminally insane (I do a stellar Robert Durst impression, btw) so when I found out there was a sorta-kinda-based on a true story about how the Behavioral Science Unit was developed at the FBI, I jumped right on. Added bonus for me: The lead is played by Jonathan Groff who I have a soft spot for since I saw him in Spring Awakening. It starts slow but it picks up around episode 3. As with all sorta-kinda-based on a true stories, the good parts are all there word-for-word and the boring bits (because life is chock-full of boring bits, it’s all insurance paperwork and dentist appointments as far as the eye can see) have been jazzed up to keep you invested. For example, in real life the lead was married but on the show he’s dating and figuring out who he is and all that. And everyone is absurdly attractive. I was unaware that the FBI is filled with models and the occasional character actor for “realism.” One aspect of the series that I liked were the many conversations about what makes a man (it’s pretty much always a man, sorry dudes) a serial killer? There’s a line in the first episode which summarizes the focus.

Serial killers don’t have the same motivations as killers who are angry at a specific person, or feel slighted by a specific person, or want money from a specific person. They kill for the joy of killing or to fulfill a need deep inside, but we know now that there are some clear markers so we can occasionally apprehend them early. We know that they are almost always men. And as children they often hurt animals. And started fires. And were bullied and abused. More than half wet their beds until the age of twelve. Mindhunter is about the beginning of interviewing incarcerated serial killers to accrue this data and develop profiles. The best part of the show is the interviews with the serial killers. They are taken directly from videos and tapes and whoever the casting director is deserves an Emmy. The actors playing the serial killers are spot-on. For example, Ed Kemper. Ed Kemper, in case you didn’t know, was a GIANT man who was treated like dirt and demeaned by his mother every day for his entire life. So he killed her (okay), then he decapitated her (less okay) and had sex with her head (I’m out). He killed a bunch of other women which is why he’s classified as a serial killer but the matricide is the really special one. The actor totally nails Ed and every scene he’s in is riveting.

I found a video explaining all the characters and their real-life counterparts for further clarification. But I recommend just watching the series because it’s a good chewy series. Chewy shows mean that you mull it over later and do further research and ask questions. It’ makes you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNevnWxnFrs

 

The Americans. Even though I lived through it I have no recollection of the Cold War in the 1980s. The show is about two people, a man and a woman, who are U.S.S.R. spies that have integrated themselves into suburban Washington D.C. life in order to gather information to send back to Mother Russia. Aside from being badasses, the two characters have to figure out why they’re fighting and lying and coercing and whether they find themselves embracing Western culture against their will. In addition, they have two teenage children that are starting to suspect that something is off. And their neighbor is an FBI agent. This is a tough show to pull off because the main characters are in costume to hide their identity frequently and they have to have backstories to the every person they’re leading and it could get so confusing very quickly but it doesn’t. I also like that the creators trusted their audience to not be total idiots and let the Russian conversations be in Russian with subtitles (as opposed to English with a Russian accent or something stupid like that). Fun Fact: I thought that the trope in movies where people meet on park benches and exchange state secrets was a Hollywood trope but apparently that is real thing that actually happened and is happening! I could be adjacent to the planning of a coup while feeding ducks! Who knew? There’s one more season left to air and I’d like to see how they wrap it up. Or not. However they choose to end it.

http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/the-americans

 

Orphan Black. This one has been on my must-watch for a long time but it was always like, ehhhhhhhh, I’ll watch something else. I finally buckled down and now I’m in the beginning of season 3. The basic plot is there are a number of clones of the same woman, somewhere around eleven of them, and they’re only just learning about each others’ existences and the fact that they were made in a lab and the fact that the lab still wants to study them. It delves into the idea of property because these “sisters” believe they belong to themselves but the lab believes they are lab property because the sequencing of their genome was patented. Actually, here’s the first paragraph from the Wikipedia:

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction thriller television series created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are clones. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of one of her fellow clones, Elizabeth Childs, after witnessing Childs’ suicide. The series raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning, and its effect on issues of personal identity.

Tatiana Maslany is one of the best actresses because she created distinct mannerisms and personalities for all these different women who are often onscreen at the same time. The series has ended and I cannot wait to see what she works on next.

Those are all her. It’s amazing what Tatiana does. And the plot is very engaging. You don’t know who to trust, a group of people are trying to kill all the clones because they are an abomination unto the Lord, the government is involved, it’s a whole thing. That does not mean the series is without levity. One of my favorite moments is when Vic, a reformed drug dealer in rehab, gets a spiked drink and passes out face-first on a table filled with children’s crafting supplies. He hits that table HARD. Note how there are no feathers flying in the air and as soon as he hits the ground feathers flutter down all around as if they were released from the ceiling at a Katy Perry concert. I could watch this on a loop for a good half-hour.

http://www.bbcamerica.com/shows/orphan-black

Gifts for the holidays.

December 7th, 2017

It’s getting close to the holidays but I still wanted to show some handmade options for gift-giving. I’ve found if you get someone something that they would adore, especially if the gift is hand-made, the receiver is okay with receiving it after December. Here are some of my stores to support.

1. Margarita Zimina. Margarita does dipped flowers in the style of the famous kanzashi designer Sakae. While it is straight-up impossible to buy Sakae’s work you can actually get Margarita’s work. I know that because I own two of her pieces and they are stunning. She’s lovely to communicate with and her pieces are incredibly beautiful in person. Big recommend from me.

 

2. LucysLittlePeople. Lucy makes tiny polymer charms of birds or your pet (if you send her a picture) and they are super-accurate and give me cuddly feelings in my heart. No surprise I want that pigeon. Honestly though, I would like any of her work, it’s so sweet.

 

3.  Bespoke Glass Tile. Lesley Green does predominantly geometric shapes (which are precise as hell, mad props to her, that is hard) but she also makes some organic items like the cactii. I could stare at her work all day as the sun moves across the sky. I love the layering and the use of three-dimensional space.

I have made a mistake.

December 4th, 2017

“Gosh, the news is chockful of depressing politics. Let’s look at non-political news, that’s gotta be better, right?”

 

 

A note: This wasn’t photoshopped. Those were precisely the links on the side of a news page I went to. Unedited. What a magical time to be alive.