Been craftin’.

November 30th, 2020

It had been a solid two years since I made a new purse. In case you’re new here, I liked one type of purse in 2007. It’s a simple messenger bag and I since I have no shoulders I have to wear a messenger bag so it stays on my body and doesn’t gently shimmy down my arm. One day I found out the company that makes this messenger bag was going out of business so I bought their entire stock. Which was about sixty bags. So now I must wear this brand of purse until I die. I’m not upset about it but in case anyone thought I would use a different one ever, I will not. I draw and paint on them, here are some past examples.

See? Fun. After allowing my last one to descend into complete decay (strap ripping off, stains of various shapes and sizes, a color found only in British bogs, probably mold) I got my act together and painted a new one. I used some high-class glitter chunks I bought on Etsy and now it’s a pretty little number.

I’ve also made The Happy Pear. Lemme tell you about The Happy Pear. Snorth’s niece drew her a picture of a terrifying being with a considerable ass. When Snorth asked what it was the niece said, “It’s a happy pear!”

Snorth then had to arrange her face to be like “Yeah, it sure is!” when we all can see it is not. If anything it’s a demon pear. The eyes turned to the viewer and the pointy teeth, while smiling, do not convey happiness what so ever. Plus the niece decided it was Opposite Day and in an attempt to convey that she wrote “AS” on the left to represent Aunt Snorth and then crossed it out. One family member said, “What kind of voodoo sh*t is that?” The second I saw this I felt compelled to portray it through sculpture. It didn’t turn out how I wanted but I had spent three days working on it and that’s exactly as much time as I wished to devote to this pear. My proportions are off and I should add more meat to the badonkadonk but I’m done.

Please enjoy The Happy Pear.

I needle-felted the body. I really like needle-felting. You add stuff by stabbing and then if that doesn’t work you cut stuff away by slicing and then you add more stuff over the scar from where you cut it by stabbing. It’s very cathartic. Plus it makes a little crunching noise like a hamster eating crisp vegetables so there’s unintentional ASMR there too. I traced the eyes and mouth using purple and blue glitter pens because why not, then I resin coated them and attached them via screws I had left over from an Ikea project. They ain’t never coming out.

I created two Shrinky Dink charms that swing from the bottom of the pear. Shrinky Dink plastic is hard and very unlikely to break. One is the barfing fish from the top of the drawing and the other is a voodoo doll with AS crossed out. They are both covered by resin mixed with glitter.

I hope Snorth likes her Christmas present. I will update her response.

The Stranger and Models.

November 20th, 2020

I am, like most everybody, binging TV like it is my job. I blast through whole series in a matter of days, sometimes day, singular. I enjoy a good British police procedural or a whodunnit so I stumbled on The Stranger. The official description:

“A mysterious stranger tells a man a secret that has a devastating impact on his seemingly perfect life. This Stranger is a woman in her 20s with a baseball cap, and is learned to be correlated with more secrets as the series progresses. This secret affects the man’s wife who goes missing as a result.”

It was a fine show, nothing special. I wouldn’t recommend it but I wouldn’t not recommend it. There were only two things that really stuck with me. One, the lead character has really great tiles in their foyer. Every time the entryway came on screen I didn’t hear what was happening, they could have told who the stranger was and I would have missed it.

Two, odd opening sequence. It starts like your typical show of this nature: Drone footage of gloomy countryside, closeups on small items that will be important, etc.

But near the end it took an odd turn. A llama plays a small role in this show but when you’re watching the first episode you don’t know that so out of nowhere this creepy-as-hell 3D llama head shows up. The camera zooms in on its giant wet globular eye and a bonfire is reflected. Again, a bonfire plays a role in this show but you don’t know that. It gives the impression that an all-seeing, all-knowing llama who may or may not be a satanist / terminator is a critical part of this British countryside mystery thriller. I think I audibly said, “What’s this now?”

 

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is this trend to have very “real” looking models. Like, not unattainable beauty, but all manner of beauty. Sephora has been really good about showing this.

Gucci is also on this bandwagon which is great. The only problem is it seems like they’re going out of their way to make the photos as unattractive as possible. One of them came up on my Facebook feed and I was like, “Nope. Too much. Too close, too bright, all the ‘too’s.”

Either the models need to be appealing or the photography style needs to be appealing. You can’t have neither.

Fun times with the Third Reich.

November 17th, 2020

Since my father passed away we’ve been going through his belongings and the man had books. So, so many books. Dad was a professor and one of his classes was on WWII. I guess someone had a book and gave it to my dad and we found it and oh my goodness, what a panoply of unpleasantness it is. I’m going to take you through the more interesting elements.

You ready?

It’s a coffee-table-sized book about Adolf Hitler and what a nifty guy he was.

This says something like “Merry Christmas from your Uncle Karl and Aunt Kamila.” It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

“Adolf Hitler – Photos from the Life of the Fuhrer.”

I was really hoping it would be like: Wake up. Eat chocolate with meth (yup, a real thing, see picture at the end). Yell like a lunatic at your generals. Paint a watercolor. Kill some gays and communists. Take afternoon nap, etc. but it is more pastoral and patriotic than that.

First thing, this font. Why? I mean, I get that it’s super-German but it’s also super-illegible. The whole book is like this. I would have pushed back on this. Also, a forward written by Goebbels! The book is a nightmare.

A lot of children smiling and waving at Hitler ‘n’ Pals.

The picture at the bottom with everyone doing the arm salute? Bone-chilling.

Honestly, Hitler’s art wasn’t bad. I don’t know why the art school dumped on him so hard. That’s excellent perspective right there.

Wasn’t it the SS? With two SSs? One S, does it stand for “Protective” or “Echelon”? You could totally fit both lightning Ss on there if you tried. I love how most people would be like “How horrific that so many teens were brainwashed into this mindset of hate” and I’m like “They could have done a better job with their logo layout, branding matters, folks.”

Ugh, God, with the children. Have I adequately conveyed how much I hate this book?

Now THIS is good branding. Fun game you can play is Count the Swastikas.

There were a ton more pages but I was DONE. The book wasn’t but I sure was. As promised, meth chocolate to keep the troops alert.

A video for desperately-needed entertainment.

November 8th, 2020

The 2020 election was making me crazy so to distract myself I made a video reviewing the classic Silence of the Lambs. I found it healing.

The Victorian Era is so much.

October 21st, 2020

The last time I was in Cape May I went to the Emlen Physick Estate. Aside from having a real interesting name it is a Victorian home open to the public for tours. So sure enough I went on a tour. I thought I was ready. I was not ready. I had an inkling about Victorian design but I had not anticipated the depth and breadth (and width and length) of the design elements and the layering. i will clarify.

I own this book called Artistic Printing. I was intrigued by the variety of patterns all crammed on one postcard. It’s pretty intense.

But here’s the key: It’s an small printed object. Your eye can move off the image and look at nice simple things in your environment like, I don’t know, a clean white towel. When you’re in a room and every surface looks like this it is, honestly, it’s upsetting. You get a little motion sickness.

First, the outside of the mansion. Not bad at all.

 

As you arrive you find yourself in a little foyer where you remove your coat and hat. There’s cool embossed wallpaper made from wood pulp so it holds its shape. That’s fine.

You step forward into the first hallway and oh dear. The bottom part of the wall is one complicated pattern. The top part is another. Going up the stairs? Another. And then on the ceiling there’s like four more wallpapers. I’m not kidding. We haven’t even added in the furniture which is also ornate. Off at the end of the hall? A patterned stained glass window. It’s an assault on the senses.

I didn’t hate everything about this space. Check out the light fixture made of whatever the hell was lying around.

We went through all the rooms on the ground floor. They were all various versions of mismatched chaos. Here’s the ceiling of the parlor.

I had never seen this before: Instead of the house being wired with electricity, it had gas tubes going through all the walls so you could carry a lamp from room to room, plug it in and it would stay lit for as long as you wanted because the gas kept flowing.

There was definitely an Asian aesthetic in many of the rooms because about the time the house was being decorated Asia was really in vogue. So there’s a lot of Oriental (you can use that word when describing decor) decor.

The upstairs is just as bad. The one thing I loved was the tiling around the fireplace. I collect art nouveau tiles from 1895 – 1910 and seeing them in their natural habitat is always a treat. I patted some of them. The other people on the tour were probably weirded out. I did not care.

Here’s another light fixture made from whatever was lying around.

And here’s a light fixture with the exact design shapes from the Artistic Printing book. Scroll back up and you’ll see what I mean.

Finally, my favorite thing on the tour: According to the tour guide celery was hard to come by during the Victorian era so well-to-do folk would place a glass of celery on the table to be like, “Bask, bask in my wealth. By adoring this celery.”

Wut.

October 18th, 2020

Let’s try to break this down. There’s God Loves “You” with the quotes which is concerning, then He Coming Soon which is not great grammatically but okay. There’s that bench in the back that looks very homemade and extremely uncomfortable and the F or E minus behind the compost container or whatever that is. Then there’s the child’s outfit with a broomstick impaled through it in the large bucket of dirt which is lovely nightmare fuel. Finally there’s the title and yes, I realize the linked article covers several topics of the day but still, what is even happening. I feel uncomfortable and unsafe by all of this.

Y’all want some charts!!! *shoots t-shirt gun*

October 4th, 2020

 

And here’s one that actually useful. Save it to your desktop or phone.

The future is gettin’ real off-putting.

September 27th, 2020

Deepfakes, y’all. Here, a definition:

Deepfakes (a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”) are synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. … Deepfakes have garnered widespread attention for their uses in celebrity pornographic videos, revenge porn, fake news, hoaxes, and financial fraud. This has elicited responses from both industry and government to detect and limit their use.

Dangerous stuff. You can convince anyone of anything if you’re not careful, and in this day and age with the disintegration of definitive facts this could go downhill mighty quick. Which is why I’m not surprised one of the first times I see this technology is swapping Willem Dafoe into distinctly not Willem Dafoe situations.

And, without a doubt, my favorite. Truly nightmarish AND my favorite Spice Girls song. It’s everything I could ask for.

BONUS: The opening of “Full House” but with all Nick Offermans. You didn’t know you needed this, but you do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=57&v=aUphMqs1vFw&feature=emb_logo

Mexico 2019 Part 9.

September 19th, 2020

Alebrijes! The main purpose of my visit! But first, other stuff.

I heard low bok-bok-boking at the airport ticket counter and discovered people transporting chickens.

On the flight home, more chickens.

When the Spanish came to Mexico they could not pronounce the “tl” sound at the end of many words so the word “Xocolatl” became “Chocolate” and the word “Tomatl” became “Tomato.” I had no problem saying it, I think the Spaniards were just being lazy.

A stained glass window. I’ve mentioned a bunch of times that it is extremely difficult to get a good shade of purple with glass. It comes out light and muted. So I was impressed with the purple in this window. Strong color, very clear.

Two-toned VW Beetle.

Okay, alebriges. Quick recap:

The first alebrijes, along with invention of the term, originated with Mexico City cartonero Pedro Linares. Linares often told that in the 1930s, he fell very ill, and while he was in bed, unconscious, he dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There, he saw trees, animals, rocks, clouds that suddenly turned into something strange, some kind of animals, but, unknown animals. He saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and all of them were shouting one word, “¡Alebrijes!, ¡Alebrijes!”. Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cartonería, a papercraft consisting of strips of paper and glue on an armature.

Summary: A guy had a fever dream where he saw animals and made sculptures of them. Now a town outside of Oaxaca specializes in them. I had a guide take us to the town and I acquired about seven of them, from small inexpensive ones to two pricey collector’s item.

Several notable facts you should know: Alebrijes tend to be covered in symbols belonging to the indigenous people. All the shapes and patterns you see, those all have significance. Often they are painted with natural paints found in plants and rocks. And they are all painted freehand. No one draws the patterns on first. It takes years of training to become a painter. The skill level is unreal.

The first studio we went to was Jacobo and Maria Angeles. They’re the most famous of the alebrije artists. Their work was the inspiration in Pixar’s Coco. Here are some photos I found on the internet showing their work.

One of the things I like is that the artists are constantly incorporating new elements into their work. The Angeles workshop is bringing in gold leaf:

Stones, shells and fossils:

And the coolest thing, masks. The masks are removable so you can see the painted faces underneath but it enhances the fantastical quality of the pieces.

It is possible to commission a piece from them. Every year has an animal associated with it and it cycles, very similar to the Chinese calendar. You can say, “I would like a piece representing my family. I am a jaguar and my oldest child is a turtle and my youngest child is a eagle and we like the color red.” Then a piece would be made for you that looks something like this, with the parent being the big animal and the children being small animals attached.

They’re also exploring only black and white alebrijes. Look at this bear. Look at it.

When we got to the studio they showed how they made their all-natural paints. This one tree, the male has one kind of bark and the female has another which gives them two colors right there.

They have their small selection of colors but they’ve figured out if they mix it with lime juice (acid) or a specific powdered rock (base) a whole new realm of colors emerge.

There was a shrine off to the side that emphasized the importance of corn. It is the staple of all the cuisine.

And please note the dead armadillo on the right.

I bought a piece and their coffee table book just as the owner Jacobo was walking by so we hugged (hugging is a big deal down there and I ain’t mad about it) and he signed my book and we took a picture. It was pretty great.

There were some xoloitzcuintlis wandering around the property and I am still on the fence about them. They’re so cool and demonic-looking which is why the myth is that they lead you to the afterlife, but they’re so bad at being dogs. The big ones look austere and impressive but the little ones look like they have nasty mange and are on the edge of entering the afterlife themselves. They need sunblock and nose cream, it’s a lot.

After we left the Angeles studio we went to David Hernandez’s studio. While Hernandez is nowhere as famous as Angeles’, Hernandez’ alebrijes. particular the painting, are far superior. I think they need a better agent to share their sculptures with the world because they are an unappreciated treasure. Here are some of their pieces that I found on the web.

I mean, look at the stippling to create the gradient. I can’t even.

Quick reminder: None of these painters at any of the galleries draw on the patterns beforehand. They paint them with no guides. It’s awe-inspiring.

Flawless.

All those were pictures I found on the internet. Here are the pictures I took.

The skills, y’all. Acknowledge the skills.

Sometimes they paint a maroon base when they plan to gold leaf something. It makes the gold richer than painting on the light color of the wood. I love that bun-bun, btw.

This bear. Unreal. The carving, the painting, it’s all there.

Now here are the pieces I bought. I got this howling coyote from the Angeles studio.

I love it. I love the carving, the balance of the elements. And the painting is great. But it pales in comparison to the piece I got at David Hernandez’s studio.

This owl. I am in awe of the incredible workmanship on this little guy. Here is my hand for scale. Keep that in mind for when I zoom in.

Every time I look at this owl I notice something new. The last time I discovered the details along the inside of the wings.

And I love that it’s signed (with a paintbrush, I can’t even fathom) so I can seek out other pieces created by that painter. And I will. Oh, I will.

That ends my trip to Mexico. We will return to our regularly scheduled posting. Get psyched for charts and such.

 

Mexico 2019 Part 8.

August 23rd, 2020

Oaxaca! It’s pronounced wa-HA-ka. I’m diggin’ the last three words of this description:

In present-day Spanish, Oaxaca is pronounced [waxaka] or [wahaka], the latter pronunciation used mostly in dialects of southern Mexico, the Caribbean, much of Central America, some places in South America, and the Canary Islands and western Andalusia in Spain where [x] has become a voiceless glottal fricative ([h]).

Oaxaca is a state in Mexico and it is the home to alebrijes. I’ve spoken about alebrijes before, here and here. My major point of this trip was two-fold: Show The Moomins the famous murals and go to the studios of the top alebriges artists and spend aaaaaall my money.

But first! Oaxaca City. Oaxaca City has a large town square. I asked the hotel concierge what activities happen in the town square and he said, “All of them.” He was not kidding. We woke up out first day there and while eating breakfast in the hotel’s open café several ladies were setting up a baby shower. One of them had made a variety of amigurumi to decorate the diaper cakes and table.

Nice way to start the day. We headed out, walking in and out of churches (that’s where the art is kept). The first church was a big hit for me because it was dedicated to my patron saint, St. Ignatius de Loyola.

Yes, I know I’m Jewish and we don’t have patron saints. I’m saying if I was Catholic this one’s feast day is on my birthday so he’s mine. In concept. Therefore I have a soft spot for him.

Something I was very surprised to discover was how tasteful the churches and cathedrals were. It’s reaaaaall easy to go over-the-top with the decorating if you’re not careful, as referenced here and here and holy crap here. Mexico held back. They showed admirable restraint and it is to be commended. This is the interior of the St. Ignatius church.

Off to one side was a sad reminder of people’s pain and suffering and their hope that God will bring them comfort. A wall of photos, and notes, and occasional locks of hair. I assume these people were missing or dead. I was very moving.

As The Moomins and I headed towards the front of the church we came upon a family baptism off in one of the arms of the cross (the floorplan of many Catholic churches look like crosses).

We lurked in the shadows and watched that for a while. We tried to not be creepy. We probably failed.

It looks like the columns are built with cinder blocks but that’s just the way the stone and adhesive ends up. I kinda want to see columns built with actual cinder blocks, it’s cool.

As The Moomins and I trotted down the main drag we saw a gallery with people milling in it. We decided to check it out. Turns out it was the opening of the exhibition at a small museum. There was a press photographer there so it’s totally possible that we’re in press photos. We met the artist. This is the only picture I took of his art.

As is required by all Mexican art, it’s a little odd and dreamlike. Bonus points because it includes bugs. It’s clearly very important that all Mexican art have an element of LSD in them.

On our continued journey to the town square I got to see another aspect of Oaxaca I had been looking forward to. Many of the buildings are built with lava stone and the lava stone is green-colored. It’s particularly lovely at sunset.

Finally we arrived at the town square. The hotel concierge was right, a whole lot was going on. There were the tourist buses passing by.

The Moomins and were doing a lap around the perimeter when we heard music that could best be described as “enthusiastic.” Then the giant lady puppet heading towards us. And all of a sudden there was festival happening all around us.

Here, a video of… whatever the hell it was.

https://youtu.be/tG980f9TIJE

That went on for fifteen minutes. Still don’t know what was being celebrated. As soon as that wrapped up The Moomins and I completed our All The Churches In Oaxaca Tour with the cathedral. That was more of what I had expected. Lots of detail.

An important thing you need to know about Mexico is everyone is constantly protesting. There are camps set up all over the towns that look like homeless colonies but they’re people camping and waiting for their protest. We exited the cathedral to a protest.

We got dinner around the town square (it was mediocre except for the Mexican hot chocolate which has changed my life) and what appeared to be another festival parade showed up. But it was not. It was a protest. And it was completely identical to the parade. It was around this time I started to feel like I was losing my sense of reality.

Video for comparison.

https://youtu.be/K_0jlu0wOTo

But wait! There’s more! On one side of the square was the protest with the music and the people yelling into megaphones and on the other side of the square was a concert of choirs singing Christmas music. It was bananas. Epic cacophany. I live-texted the whole thing to Snorth.

And thereby ended Day 1 in Oaxaca City. It was a bonkers experience that the Oaxacans go through every day. I can’t even imagine.