Archive for the ‘My Art/Design/Business’ Category

I am alive! ALIIIIIIVE!! And I pimped a painting.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

But very busy so I haven’t done anything bloggery in forever. However, I have returned! And I made a thing! Let’s look at it.

Okay, let’s not look at it yet. Let’s have some backstory. About two years ago, my co-worker Mad had this big thrift store painting in her office. I’m sure it was worth something when it was made, but by the time she inherited it the painting was completely faded and had a giant scratch on it and someone had smashed a centipede onto it and there was dried centipede juice in the middle. Not a stellar wall hanging by anyone’s standards. Mad wanted it gone and I said, “Maybe I can do something with it, lemme take a stab,” so I brought it home where it sat quietly for two years. In mid-September it was brought to my attention that the MTA Subway in New York was taking submissions to mosaic four subway stations. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but it is one of my lifelong dreams to mosaic a subway station in New York. I had to have a portfolio ready to go for this and the upcycle of the painting would be perfect for two reasons. One, it’s big, about two-and-a-half feet long, and that shows I can work on something other than the little drawings I normally do. Two, I’m taking something that already exists and is mediocre and making it special and beautiful using basic non-fancy items which is pretty much what I’d have to do if I got a subway station. So off to work I went. I came up with a concept and gosh darnit, I made the deadline. Mad LOVED it and got it approved by our agency’s Chief Creative Officer and it now hangs in what we call the Womb Room for everyone to see. Booyah. It’s nice when a plan comes together.

First, what the print is supposed to look like:

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What it actually looked like:

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And what I did to it.

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I painted big splortches on the lower right corner and upper left corner in dark purple acrylic, sprayed some large swipes of glitter gold spray paint and then drew lots of cool critters on light blue-gray cardstock with red and black pen, highlighted with touches of white acrylic. Everyone is really happy with the final product. I love how the print is satin, the acrylic is glossy, the glittery is glittery and the drawn parts are matte. I love the marriage of textures.

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Mad liked it so much she had an unveiling like it was in a fancy gallery. People came and drank wine and ate snacks and asked me questions, it was lovely.

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Mexico, Part 3 and done.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

The reason I went to Mexico in the first place was not to enjoy the ruins or the extremely delicious hot chocolate, though both of those were terrific. I went to go study a bead technique under two extremely talented artisits, Jan Huling and Nancy Josephson. It took place in Puerto Vallarta which is a seaside town very popular with tourists. I don’t really have much photography to post on the workshop because it was a group of women hunched over a small wooden altar gluing rows of tiny beads. I do, however, have pictures of some of the Mexican artwork I was privileged to see during my stay. Mexican art is, how do I say this, real vibrant. It looks like the artist is on drugs, the artwork is on drugs and if you stare at it too long you too will magically be on drugs from proximity to the art. I was particularly enamored with two different types of art – the beaded objects made by the Huichol (or Wixarika) people who live in the mountains and the alebrijes made in the Oaxaca area. First, beaded objects. The Huichol people started using beads in their sacred bowls in 17-something-something when the French brought seed beads to Mexico. Because they were so rare they were used very sparingly. The bowls looked like this:

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The Huichol use a very sticky wax to get the beads to stick to the substrate. Then in the 1970s when seed beads became far less scarce the pieces started looking like this:

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Very encrusted. Here’s a great video showing you how it’s done.

https://youtu.be/nQxY5Pr4Pw4

I ended up buying a few bowls made from gourds with beads pressed into them. I think they’re pretty snazzy.

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As you can see a bead fell off from the first bowl but it’s no cause for panic because it’s only one yellow bead and as soon as I find one I will squish it into the wax and everything will be fine. Until then the empty spot will be a lovely reminder of the fragility of life. Or something.

The other artwork I was lovin’ on are things called alebrijes. Here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Alebrijes are brightly colored Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, originated with Pedro Linares. In the 1930s, Linares fell very ill and while he was in bed, unconscious, Linares 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”. Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and papier-mâché and called them Alebrijes.

So now there’s an entire art movement based on some guy’s fever dream. They vary in nuttiness but I found two I really liked. One is a… lizard-thing. With a mouth. And wings. And flames coming out of its head. Lotta stuff going on.

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The other is a snail who saw something very traumatic and is going through PTSD. Or he was at the Electric Daisy Festival and took far too much Molly and is having a bad reaction. Either story works.

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The Moomins saw these fellers when I got home and said, “You know, I have a jaunty preying mantis from Mexico that would go beautifully with these sculptures.” So now I also have a jaunty preying mantis friend.

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All of these are fine and good but as with any artistic style there are levels of skill and these are somewhere in the middle. I went to a gallery in Puerto Vallarta and got to see the best artists at this and it hurt my heart. I wanted those pieces so bad, but they ranged in price between $1,800 and $3,000 so I own none. The artists are a team, Jacobo and Maria Angeles, and they are amaaaaaaazing. I found some pictures on the internet that impress their fantasticness onto you. It’s intense.

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I know, right? Drool. Even if you’re not down with the aesthetic approach you cannot deny the skillz. Someday when I win the lottery I will acquire one of their pieces. It’s gonna happen. I should probably start buying lottery tickets though. That would definitely increase my chances of winning.

I brought home the alter that I was working on in Mexico and I have continued gluing beads onto it. I decided I wanted it to look like a petrie dish so I could freehand my design on it. I also glued some origami paper and some coins to it because if you’re going to try something new go all out.

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I’m now making small peyote-stitched tubes that I will sporadically attach to give some depth.

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So there’s my trip to Mexico. If you have any questions, let me know and I will attempt to answer them for you.

Addendum: Other artwork we saw:

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Mexico! And Mad Max. Lots of alliteration.

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

I’m going to Mexico for a week to study beading techniques under an artist I really love (I’ve mentioned her before). I’m sure I will have pictures and stories when I return. In the meantime here is a review video I made of Mad Max: Fury Road for your enjoyment.

So very artistic am I.

Monday, December 14th, 2015

I know I’ve been super-lackadaisical with my posting of late and I don’t want anyone to think it is because I have given up on blogging. That is way far from the truth. It’s because I’ve been so busy, all in positive ways. But I think work is slowing a wee bit and now I can blog at the furious pace (like two posts a week, but still) I had become accustomed to.

One thing I’ve been tackling is my kitchen. Ah, my kitchen. The Sisyphean task I took on, what, seventeen years ago or something? It feels like that. But the last of my glass arrived and now I’m in the home stretch (Hallelujah Moses!). I put the white strips of glass over the white paint I laid down. And just to clarify, but white glass, I mean opaque white, semi-transparent white, as well as very pale brown, yellow and blue. I wanted nuances of white, not a flat white. It looks a bit aged which is pretty cool.

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After I finished all of those I tackled the trees. I made trapezoids and rectangles and irregular quadrilaterals out of clear glass with little bubbles in it, rounded all their corners using a grinder and glued them to onto the wall. It took seven hours to do the big trees and two and a half hours to do the small trees. And since I was making up the patterns on the fly I had to stop every two or three pieces and assess how I would proceed. It was a tough process but it would have been infinitely harder if I had planned where every piece was going to go.

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After that I made the orange dots that go in the center of the branches. I can’t take full credit for the delightful blobular branches. I realized afterwards that I had totally ripped off another artist, a great lowbrow one named Jeff Soto. See?

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I don’t feel bad about it, I’m not making any money off of this project and it’s my kitchen anyway. Where was I? I was making the orange dots in the middle of the branches. I bought semi-transparent orange glass and then I traced circles onto it, roughly cut them out and then ground down any edges so they were round coins. Then I painted the backs with gold paint so they would be opaque and have a faint shimmer.

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Then I made the branches a dark red which look like a warm black, very nice, and now all that’s left is for me to do big background squares and I’m done. Done, I tell you! Home stretch!

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But wait, there’s more! In addition to working on my kitchen and doing my full-time job I was asked to make the photo op for our holiday party. And, like everything I do I went a wee bit overboard. I designed seven mountains composed of patterns containing our company colors (pink, purple and red) plus gold and silver. The three big mountains are on a background covered in snowflakes but the four smaller mountains go in the foreground, giving the photo op some depth. Here’s a rough mock-up I made so people would understand my vision.

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The studio we have (that have large format printers) printed out the back part and all the smaller mountains were printed and cut out. All I had to do was prop them up.

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But nope. This is when I got really excited, went to Michael’s, bought $300 worth of crafty goodness and started making glittery, three-dimensional bits and pieces. It looked like it took no time at all but it actually took twenty-five hours or so. Crazy how things take a long time if you want them to be tidy and nice. Totally worth it. It turned out excellent. Here is a lovely photo of me installing the photo op in the space.

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And here are some people posing with it. I feel very pleased with myself. *Pats self on back*

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Now that those projects are completed (or semi-completed) I shall hopefully get back to my usual schedule of getting things done (and blogged) in a reasonable amount of time.

Addendum: I got some decent pictures of the three-dimensional aspects of the mountains.

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New Orleans 2015, Part 1.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

N’Awlins! As a person who really is not into drinking, one might think I would haaaaaaate New Orleans but much to my delight I had a terrific time. If I could no longer live in New York for whatever reason I would seriously consider moving to New Orleans. A few reasons:

1. No snow. Yeah, rain all the damn time but no snow. I hate the snow. The ice, specifically. Ain’t no one slippin’ and fallin’ in the rain, and it washes away the sins of the previous night on Bourbon Street.

2. The cuisine is super-yummy. I like spicy food and rice is my favorite carb, so I was totally on board. I went through beignet-withdrawal when I came back.

3. A thriving creative community. A ton of artists, good one too, and musicians. Since the tourist industry is their biggest source of income tons of people visit the galleries so the art actually sells which is great.

4. People are ugly and weird and it’s okay. Let me clarify. In New York, being a major fashion capital people are extremely concerned with physical appearances. In New Orleans they seem to get a kick out of people who are odd and off-center far more. While I saw plenty of pretty people it seems it’s okay if you’re missing a tooth, or have odd fashion choices, or are shaped like a cube. There are people who dig that as long as you’re interesting or smart. I’m a good fit in those circles.

I went on a three-hour tour (sing the Gilligan’s Island theme if you must) around the town and got a great overview of the city. Our tour guide was amazing / a nightmare. He was 75 and had the exact same speaking style as Cleveland from Family Guy. Here is a sample of Cleveland:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4hSf50Ye0o

Imagine an older gentleman talking nonstop like that for three hours. And repeating himself several times. I loved it (“No, Grandpa, tell the story again!”) but Cricket was ready to shoot himself in the face. Here are some cool things I learned on my tour.

  •  Acadians were the first European settlers. Acadians are French Canadians. And the Native Americans already living there could not say “Acadian,” they called them “Cajun.”
  • Only five buildings from the original French rule remain (the area was French, then Spanish, then French again) due to two massive fires during the Spanish rule.
  • 64 different nationalities came to New Orleans to make their fortune with sugar cane or oil or cotton nearby. For example the Croatians are predominantly in charge of the oyster business. Who knew, Croatians? And oysters?
  • When buildings were built there were weird rules in place. You were charged a tax for each closet, so very few houses have closets. Everyone uses bureaus and armoires. And you were charged a tax for each window which is why the windows look like doors.

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First, we’ll cover the wedding since that was the point of the trip. Nessa, my former co-worker who left the East Coast to fulfill herself (whatevs) by becoming a police officer in San Francisco decided to have a destination wedding in her favorite party city. I hadn’t seen her family since Nessa’s graduation from police academy so it was delightful to catch up with them again. The guests were instructed to meet in front of one of the hotels at 4:00 and we would be bussed to a plantation about a half-hour outside of town, the Tchoupitoulas Plantation. Nessa had decided on a purple and burgundy-themed wedding (I chose those colors, you’re welcome). That’s how I knew what color to make my nutria hat, more on that in a moment. First we were seated in a very elegant room. What you can’t see off to the side are fish bowls filled with treats for later – single packs of Advil, Tums, Pepto, earplugs, etc. Smart girl, Nessa is.

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Then the ceremony started and I couldn’t believe how good Nessa looked. The girl sitting next to me said, “Holy crap, she looks just like Beyoncé.” These pictures taken with my iPhone do not do her justice. She glowed.

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I think they hired a justice of the peace because at no point did he mention God or any specific religion, just love and family and togetherness. It took ten minutes. “You take her? And she takes you? Great, we’re done here.” Then we moved out of this room into the actual main building and I sat myself where I always seat myself at weddings – as close to the kitchen door as possible. That way you get first crack at the hors d’oeuvres. My other former co-worker Esteban and his girlfriend were there as well so we had a great time chattin’ it up and snorfing down treats on sticks. Yes, I would love a fried oyster and a crab cake and a jalapeño popper, thank you. They had a buffet set up in the other room with gumbo (which I now need at every meal seriously omg where has gumbo been all my life) and Nessa hooked up her iPod to the speakers and that was it. We danced and ate and there was open bar for hours, it was a blast. On the invitation you could put a song request. I put a favorite of mine, “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe, a masterpiece. The second it came on I was out there and this other guest took an opportunity to dance WAY TOO CLOSE to me but I let it slide because ain’t no one harshing my vibe during “Poison.” One of the best dances ever to that song is Turk from Scrubs in case you need a reminder of the dopeness both of Turk and the song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crITXzMW0do

And here is a picture Esteban took of me gettin’ humped on the dance floor.

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The men at the wedding took the dancing incredibly seriously. There were numerous moments when men were booty-popping on the dance floor. Booty-popping, in case you don’t know, is very similar to twerking but you make each gluteus maximus move individually. If done correctly it looks like your butt is possessed. The gentlemen-folk were throwing hinder-cheek action down with total disregard to accepted social rules and it was delightful. Here is the groom and the best man giving it their best shot.

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I was the only one wearing a hat / fascinator and I think that was an egregious error on the part of everyone else. Dude, we’re in the South. At a wedding. With fun people. Let loose a little bit. Maybe not to the point where you’re wearing a hat with a felted rodent on it, you don’t have to go that far, but a bit. I looked awesome in my hat I must say.

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Cricket wanted to explore the grounds around the main house so before the sun set we went for a walk. The trees were beautiful, very old and very large.

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And we realized we were right up against the Mississippi River.

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Check this picture out: I’m standing on a levee next to the Mississippi River adjacent to a plantation wearing a church hat with a nutria on it. It’s the ultimate Lousiana selfie.

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Remember the parasol I made for Nessa to carry during her street parade? This one? She used it as a display item behind her cake along with the parasol she made for her fiance. It framed the space beautifully.

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After much delicious food and drink was consumed (I love you jambalaya and bread pudding, never leave my side) we all boarded the buses again and headed to the center of town for the Second Line (what the New Orleaners call a spontaneous-style parade with a band). I had heard the comedian Hannibal Buress talk about being part of a Second Line and he was spot-on. It starts about two minutes in.

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

We got off the buses and there was the band waiting. And two cops on motorcycles. And a cop in a car. It was nuts. We destroyed traffic going in both directions on a major thoroughfare for a solid ten minutes. We all sang and yelled and cheered, strangers joined in, it was fantastic.

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After that everyone went to Bourbon Street to drink and dance some more. Cricket and I decided that eight hours of revelry was all we could manage at our ripe old age of almost forty so we went back to the room and retired for the evening. The next day we met up with other members of the bridal party and learned they had stayed out until about 4:00am so I think we made the right choice.

It was one of the funnest weddings I’ve ever been to. Nessa said we’re going to have a reunion next year back in NOLA and I’m all for it.

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Next post: cemeteries.

Addendum: I forgot two pictures I wanted to include:

I loved that because Nessa and her man were walking around the room talking to everyone they didn’t get a chance to sample all the deliciousness being passed around so someone very kindly gave them one of everything. This was their table.

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And I thought it was cute that the bouquets were repurposed as decorations in the bar area. Waste not want not.

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Loads of creativity around these here parts.

Monday, March 9th, 2015

I have been crafting and painting and working lo these last few weeks in between having a raunchy bout of bronchitis. I horked and sniveled my way through several craft projects of which I am very proud. Remember the nutria project for the wedding I’m going to in New Orleans? In addition to that, I made the bride a parasol that she can carry down the street while a jazz band plays behind her. When I bought the parasol online, I noticed that it had ten distinct sections that I could use for personalized messages.

(Here is a picture of the parasol I bought. The only difference is mine is dark purple, not white.)

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First I sewed a festive black and silver sequin fringe around the entire outer edge.

Then I measured the blank areas and made five different stencils that I repeated twice:

1. The initials of the bride and the groom
2. The date of the wedding

3. The letters “NOLA” for New Orleans, Louisiana

4. A fleur-de-lis (a symbol of New Orleans)

5. And “2nd Line,” the name of the parade where a jazz band follows you around and you carry a parasol

parasol-stencil

Following that came the gluing of the Swarovski crystals. So many crystals, each one glued by hand. I bought a gross of white ones and I think I used about half, meaning there are 500 white crystals on there. That does not include the purple or pink crystals. Or the glittery hearts I ironed on. It’s… got some sparkle. But I think Ness is going to love it. Her wedding colors are purple and burgundy so this fits right in with her theme.

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When I’m lying in bed watching “Vikings” I work on the nutria that will go on my jaunty hat that I intend to wear at the wedding. I’m making him out of needle-felted roving so he will be lightweight. I began that project by making a structure in the vague shape of a semi-aquatic giant rodent out of some scrap illustration boards I had lying around.

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Then the wrapping and stabbing began. I didn’t want to use up all my fancy llama roving so I made the base out of regular wool. I wrapped and stabbed and wrapped and stabbed and then made two pads for the ample rump of the nutria.

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Right now I have it completely covered in nice brown llama roving, I’ve stabbed the eyes into place (that seems wrong to type but it is accurate), the ears and snoot are on and all I have left are the legs, tail and teeth. It’s going to be a lovely nutria.

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And finally, The Project That Time Forgot, the kitchen backsplash. I painted the trees on. Yay! And then I hated them because they were too thick and the branches looked horsey.

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So after HorkFest 2015 ended and I no longer wanted to lay in bed and gurgle, I returned and carefully thinned down one tree and all the branches. Much better. Very happy now.

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It might not seem like a big difference, but to me it changes everything. It is a vast improvement. Next I need to tile the pebbles at the bottom and then the scary stained glass portion begins. Eeek.

Two things of little to no importance.

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Until I finished my Germany pics I would like to share two random tidbits with you. One is my new purse. As my canvas purse wears out I take a new one off the shelf, paint it or draw on it or pimp it out in some festive manner, retire the ratty old purse out and rotate the new one in. This newest purse is pretty great, mainly because I found a use for a partially dried-out turquoise marker I had lying around. It turns out that partially dried-out markers are excellent for shading. They blend very nicely. I attached some sequins using glittery fabric paint and I think I ended up with a swell end product.

purse

The second item is from a recent trip to Washington D.C. for a meeting. We were put up in an extremely nice high-end hotel with all the fancy amenities. In all the hallways were these big blurry oil paintings reminiscent of Rothko’s work. HOWEVER, in the hallway on the way to my room was a painting that is, frankly, pornographic. I can’t decide exactly how, but it is not family-friendly.

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Right? RIGHT??? I can’t decide if it’s a shot taken from above of a fleshy woman’s lap, or perhaps a from-behind look at some flagrante delicto action, but something’s happening for sure. As soon as I figure out what it is I’m writing a letter to somebody. *clutches pearls, cries “won’t someone think of the children”*

Kitchen: Part Actual Progress!

Monday, December 1st, 2014

I worked my rump off in an attempt to actually be in the “somewhere resembling done” zone when Thanksgiving came ’round. And I did! First I blotched and sponged until the kitchen was a cool browny-greeny-maroony blend.

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Then I borrowed a projector from work to lay out the white lines but since my kitchen is a limited space I had to find creative ways to place the projector to get the lines where they were supposed to go. Please note projector in oven.

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After I traced the lines (which looked like this):

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I took these crazy-complicated stencils that I cut (the foot is in there for size reference):

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And sponged them in their correct places and poof! Massive amounts of progress!

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Next, trees with magenta branches. Very exciting.

Kitchen, Part Never-Ending Ouroboros.

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Backsplash! I’ve started working on it. I waffled back and forth on a variety of ideas but now I have finally decided on this.

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In order to decide if I liked it I stared at it for several days to see if I would get sick of it. I did not, so I began the painting process. First, a brown paper bag-colored basecoat. Then I did the first layer of splotches but the sponges weren’t diffuse enough.

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So I got tiny round sponges on tiny sticks and started painting individual dots. It’s a long way off but it’s getting closer.

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After I paint several million more dots I will re-update. SO MANY DOTS.

 

Rhinebeck Sheep ‘n’ Wool Festival 2014.

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

I went this year! It was great. I drove up with my sister K. because she is a super-talented knitress and as opposed to me who goes for the sheep-petting, she actually goes to buy yarn like a normal person. This is some of her work:

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Yeah. She’s amazing. Anyway, we went up and I saw some excellent work. I considered walking up to several people wearing beautiful handmade sweaters/shawls/gloves/etc. and thanking them for making and sharing these wonderful pieces with the world, but then I decided that that would be way too weird even for me, even for the RSnWF. And let me tell you the RSnWF can get mighty weird. One example that immediately comes to mind is when I walked up to a woman, a professional woman, a woman manning a booth filled with wooly products for sale. She had a two-year-old child sitting on the counter in front of her and while this woman was talking to a client the child pulled up her shirt and was nursing from one of her breasts while finger-playing with the other nipple. All of her goods and services were hanging out into the great wide open and I mentally shut down. It was like seeing a griffin*. I’m all for breastfeeding but this was waaaaaaay too much. I think I got boobPTSD from that experience. My point is that one could walk up to a stranger at the festival and compliment their knittery without being the oddest thing that happens to them that day. BY A LOT.

We hit up a couple of specific shops K. wanted to purchase products from, one of which was Fiber Optic. They sell yarn groupings that gradually change from one color to another so you can make ombre-type scarfs. I LURVE me some ombre so I loitered outside their booth staring at the examples they had pinned up. So good.

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Other neat things I saw at the RSnWF: this sweater.

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This shorn roving with pictures of the sheepies that it was shorned from which makes me want to buy this fleece even though it’s probably greasy (lanolin) and I have zero use for it.

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The truth was I did end up buying some roving because I have a very special project in mind. Let’s start at the beginning. When my friend Ness turned 30 she and a bunch of her chums went to New Orleans to celebrate what she called her Dirty Thirty. At this exact time a hurricane had passed through the delta and drowned thousands of nutria (a giant South-American rat) and these nutria corpses were washing up on the beaches. I could not stop talking about it. So, in order to make Ness’ trip even more memorable, every time she would post something on Facebook I would comment with something about nutria. No context, no explanation. Every time.

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Then I started photoshopping her pictures.

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I was shocked she didn’t come back and stab me in the face with a collectible plastic margarita glass shaped like a fleur de lis. I honestly expected the stabbing but I still couldn’t stop myself. Now Ness is getting married in May and the wedding is going to be in New Orleans, her reasoning being “it’s equally inconvenient from people on both the East and West Coast.” I cannot let this opportunity pass. I am making myself a Southern church-going hat to wear to the wedding and on top (you guessed it) will be a six-inch nutria doll made of felt. In order to make this felted nutria I bought some brown roving from a llama (no lanolin so naturally dry and clean) with tiny sparkly threads woven in. It’s going to be glorious. Get ready.

*”Is that half eagle, half lion? What’s going on with its front legs? I have so many questions and I cannot physically stare hard enough at this.”