Sometimes I don’t have exactly the right label for a box, so I make one from various bits of scrap. Here is one I made from a copy of a page from an old costume book.
Many years ago, back in the Jurassic period when I had better eyesight, I used to make these eyeball-killing tiny jewelry-bags. I would graph out the designs on paper first, and then sew row upon row made of individual beads to construct the tiny bag, and then embellish with tons o’ beads and bling decadence.
Dump Pinterest, save elephants. That’s the terrible choice I found myself tasked with making.
Here’s something to know about me. I love elephants. I have spent the last couple of years learning about their plight. How they are being poached into near extinction in some places for their ivory so that carving factories in China and elsewhere can make bracelets, objet d’art, and other bric-a-brac that NO ONE on earth could possibly need in the Plastic Age we live in. It’s grotesque and goes against everything I hold and believe in principle. Poaching decimates families, offspring are orphaned (if the poachers allow them to live at all). Many organizations – many, many people – from many countries work tirelessly to end this barbaric practice. Rangers, dedicated heroes who put themselves in the line of fire, have given their LIVES trying to save the elephant. Gunned down in the savannahs, parks and preserves alongside the elephants. In one recent and particularly heinous case, poachers poisoned a water hole with cyanide. Along with 90+ elephants, hundreds of other animals also died. Some estimates put the amount of animals stricken in this case at over 300. Terrorist groups use poaching to fund their operations, which is why the Clinton Global Initiative and other organizations are now becoming actively involved to help stop poaching. Boko Haram, the group most recently known for kidnapping over 200 school girls in Nigeria regularly uses poaching as a funding source.
Among the Internet stores and retailers who clearly don’t “get it”, is Rakuten. Based out of Tokyo, the company’s revenues totaled $4.6 billion with operating profits of about $244 million in 2012. Rakuten’s online Japanese retail outlet has 28,000 entries for ivory items for sale. Conservation groups say that Rakuten is the largest online retailer of elephant ivory. If you consider that over 22,000 elephants were killed in 2012 alone, you begin to see that the species clearly cannot survive indefinitely at these rates. All for a bracelet or a bauble and to fund terrorists. Rakuten might as well give the terrorist poachers loaded weapons.
Yes, I do love elephants. But I also love Pinterest. I was an early user of the site, many years ago when it was by invitation only. I post things that inspire me as an artist as well as use it to promote my own art. I love that it’s dynamic, and I have loved watching its growth over the years. But I cannot continue to support Pinterest after I learned that they took $100M investment from a company that sells elephant tusk ivory and only recently stopped selling whale meat (good God YUCK). Aside from the fact that this investment also heralds an expansion into a retail-driven Pinterest experience, which really goes against my grain, the elephant thing isn’t going to work for me.
All this is a preamble to say that the good folks at WordPress have met my needs and created a theme that allows me to make my own pinboard for my own creative ideas. It will take me a long time, but I hope to get most, if not all, of my pins transported here. It’s a solo experience, being that it is just populated with my “pins”, but I’d love to share my aesthetic with you.
If the whole Pinterest-Rakuten thing bothers you too, there are options out there. Indulgy is also very useful, if you are a heavy Google user. There are others. Just do a websearch on “Pinterest alternatives”. No, none are as prolific, ubiquitous, or as beautiful as Pinterest. But you do have options.
So, here we go… click the little elephant bug below and I’ll see you over there.
Here you can see the “Before”. Nothing special. The paint was a high gloss black, inexpertly applied. It was pretty dinged up and dirty, in some places past the veneer level. I think we paid $20. The piece itself might have been considered quality but affordable furniture back in its day. Sadly, the paint job ruined any value it may have had on its own, and the wood is nothing special. A perfect piece to re-do and put in the guest bedroom.
Painted a satin off-white and applied some subtle paper as a background. Already, it looks better!
Musical: La Vie en Rose
(No, the above YouTube link is not me.)
Cedar cigar box – I am told this is called a “coffin style” box for a single cigar.
Base layer of a distressed looking gingham fabric (printed scrapbook paper)
Glamour shots of the final box.
Unfortunately, I did not get “before” shots of the blue one. I should know better. Trust me when I say this was a cigar box.
My Mother-in-Law got her ears pierced. I won’t say how old she is, but let’s just say it is quite the feat to get her ears pierced at this time in her life, and I sure got a kick out of it. Of course, I shipped her some earrings for Mother’s Day.
These are small danglies, really not much bigger than an inch long. For a change, I did not do mirror images. Sometimes, the colors and shape are abstract enough to get away with it. I also swapped out the post settings for fish hook settings so they were easy to get on and off. I hope she loves them.
Happy Mother’s Day!
What on earth am I going to do with my very own ChickieLou fabric? Oh, I have an idea or two.
I thought I would add a slideshow of some images that I plan on making photo jewelry from in the future. As you can see, there is no shortage of color here.
The wee collection grows. The “Peacock Bag” is not actually an EC bag, but a collectible kit bag, inspired by EC bags back in the day. My sister had the identical purse. She did all the embellishing, following the instructions to the letter. Every time she and I got into a fight, I would slyly pick one or two of the stones off and throw them out until the purse was destroyed. I could kick myself now for it.
Anyway, about 8 years ago, I was walking around in Petaluma, California where I lived for a time, and there in an antique store was the bag you see here. In all it’s glory, with every stone intact. I bought it along with a genuine Enid Collins bag. I kept the peacock knock off and gave the EC bag to my sister, by way of an apology for being a horrible kid sister.
By the way, I composed and published this post using WordPress for the iPhone. I hope it helps me to be a better and more spontaneous blogger. We will see.
So much has been happening in the ol’ studio. I appreciate the patience of those who have not given up on ever hearing from me again while I pursued some ideas and designs. As it turned out, I found a ton of inspiration in my husband’s photography. For the past few months, I have been tinkering with some of his flower macros and his photos of his camera collection. Looking at some of these lovely images, it struck me how novel it would be to “wear” a flower center, or adorn my ears with steampunk cameras, or embellish tiny vignettes of the gorgeous area where I live, Portland, Oregon.
I spent the greater part of three months simply prototyping the design of these, focusing on reproducibility and strength. The images are already amazing, so I knew they would be beautiful. I settled upon earrings to start, because photos on earrings are so unexpected and I like that.
My first roll-out is of plant macros, but I plan to have more designs in weeks to come. For the findings and embellishments, I wanted to only use sterling silver and natural beads of shell, semi-precious, or other natural materials. Hopefully, the quality and care are reflected in these. All are handmade by me, with love and are available in my Etsy store. I’d love to know what you think.
Update: I have been informed by someone wiser in these matters than I that the flower depicted above is called Oregon Sunshine. I could not have given it a better name myself.
After drawing a million and one “stylized”, i.e. fake, made up flowers (and I suppose I should put quotes around the word “flowers” there), I am back to drawing the real kind in my Moleskine. Luckily, I had the sense to not put the pencils I was using on the sunflowers back in the collection, after abandoning it for 8 months. I would never find them again.
Lately, I am playing with a Swedish design element that has been around since the 1800s called a kurbit. According to Dalahorse.com the kurbit “comes from the Biblical story in which Jonah sat outside the city of Ninevah and the Lord caused a Kurbit, or gourd vine, to grow up beside him to protect him from the desert sun”. For a very interesting essay on the Dala horse and its prominence in the World Expo of 1939, I recommend this site. There, you will learn all about this important symbol of Sweden. From the same site, is this history of traditional kurbits painting, which is also interesting.
In looking around the Internet at various kurbits examples, I found everything from the traditional to the more avant garde. Below are some designs and applications that grabbed my eye. (Attributive links when you click on the photos.) Note all the applications. They are endless.
My kurbit drawing is last.
This book is a small treasury of gorgeous floral chromolithographs, one for each of the months in a year and each having a devotional prayer or saying in German. In doing a little bit of research on the title, Christliches Vergissmeinnicht (or Christian Forget-Me-Not), I learned there are many versions of this little book still in existence today. One source says they were printed between 1897 and 1901. Each appears to have a slightly different cover style and I have not run across any that look like mine. The book’s edges are gold gilt that shine brightly, like new. The endpapers that comprise the front and back panels are a delicate tiny flower print in gold ink. The book is protected in its own cardboard chip slip case.
Mine belonged to my grandmother. In it, she kept track of friends and family members’ important dates, all in her careful penmanship. If I ever research my family tree, I will definitely consult this book, as she recorded many family members’ names that I do not recognize, other than the last name.
I remember being awestruck by this book as a child. I had never seen anything so beautiful then, and it still is spectacular and beautiful to me today.
Below are some images of my copy. I have also included images of other versions I found on the Internet. It’s lovely, isn’t it? I just think it is very inspiring.
The plate for February with a relative’s birthday recorded. Who might you have been Helmuth Boettcher, born in 1898?
Here are some other images.
From a listing at Ruby Lane:
And another cover version from another site:
And another version from a German bookseller:
I had the chance to make another IKEA magazine file. Just to reiterate from the last time I did this, the surface is very slick. If you try, this don’t be surprised if you need to touch up some of the sparkle and shine (especially if you use metallic or glitter pens) before you assemble and fill it and call it done. Also, give your drawings some time for your markers, glitter pens, etc. to dry. I don’t want you to have a huge smudging accident and be fretting. This is a lot of fun.
It seems like it was last year, but no. It was only earlier this year that I was asked by a friend and fellow crafty-person, Leah of Lulla Jewelry to design a logo or something that would lend itself well to a design on a mini moo card. Leah makes incredible bookmarks which she sells in her Etsy shop. Me, being completely undisciplined (STILL) as an artist, I am frankly stunned that I was able to start it within a reasonable amount of time after being asked, but something about the task which was more of formal commission than I have experience with spurred me on with excitement! Leah’s request was only slightly more certain than any of my ideas. But the information she was able to give me told me a lot! She knew she liked the fish I drew a couple of years ago. And she knew she liked jewel tones. I roughed out some drafts with koi which, by nature, had an Asian feel. But in the end, I decided to launch into uncharted territory and attempt two drawing elements that terrify me: Drawing human (or human-like) forms. And steampunk. But here’s the thing: Leah loves steampunk. In the end, I knew I had to tailor my drawing to suit what I knew about Leah’s taste and her aesthetic. I appreciated that she liked my Asian-feeling fish and the boxes that she wanted to send her bookmarks to her customers in were also very Asian. But in the end, I went with what I felt was a better fit. In jewel tones.
I think I was right!
Leah’s bookmarks make lovely gifts for the reader or book lover on your holiday gift list. I just love mine!
I will return to my blogging responsibilities this summer. But for today, I wanted to celebrate the great news in the verdict that struck down Proposition 8 (same-sex marriage ban) in Federal Court in California today. Yes, there will be more battles to come on the front for marriage equality. But today is a victory to be celebrated.
(Yeah, I realize that Love sculpture is in Philadelphia, but it’s one of my favorites.)
Some time ago, I ran across a photographer’s work using dolls as subjects in some fairly unconventional photography. I was enthralled by the dolls. I had never seen anything like them before. Some were incredibly human and life life. Others were macabre and scary. It made me go on a hunt for these dolls which later inspired my own creative project.
My search led me to, among other places, this on-line doll shop where I became fixated on this fellow. Without much of a second thought, I parted with the $90 thinking I just needed to, no… I MUST have him.
He is Nosferatu and a vampire. I just think he is enchanting.
Since he was a pre-order at the time and delivery was not promised for nearly 2 months, I had to satisfy myself with his picture. But once he arrived, I took these pictures of my own (minus his fangs – I like him better de-fanged).
A bit of info about these dolls. Nosferatu is a Korean doll (Pullip-TaeYang) made by Ars Gratia Artis. As it might be expected, the Japanese take these artistic dolls to a much higher level of being nearly incarnate. From a collector’s standpoint, these shown here are known as Ball-Jointed Dolls or BJDs.
Variations cover the range of everything from the human form to the fetish and fantasy form…
BJDs are thought to be heavily inspired by anime and Lolita fashion.
I wanted to show you these dolls as inspiration for creativity like these drawings based on the familiar Blythe doll or dressing and posing them for a creative photo shoot. Also, a note of interest: the name of my blog “ChickieLou” is named after my childhood doll, so dolls have been personal creative touchstones for me throughout my life. As I mentioned, my Nosferatu inspired me for an art project. More on that next time!
If you want to spend an entire DAY (and probably more) exploring more about BJDs, this would be a good place to start: http://www.bjdcollectasy.com/bjd-companies
Warning: You might want to put your credit cards in a bowl of water and freeze it before you look at these. The emotional tug and impulse to buy one of these dolls is strong! Just when you think you are safe, one individual will draw you in. Also, please note: some of these sites may have images that are unsuitable for work browsing.
Photo streams and blogs featuring BJD:
My dear boy-kitty of 10 years, Minty Monroe has feline Inflammatory Bowel Disease a gastric disorder that attacks the small intestine, much like colitis or Crohn’s Disease in humans. We actually got the diagnosis last June. Minty was always prone to vomiting, but being a long-haired Maine Coon, I always thought the occasional “urp” on the floor was par for the course. Usually, it was a hairball. How could I know that he was brewing an auto-immune illness that would go from monthly vomiting to nearly daily vomiting and lately, diarrhea? There is no cure for IBD. At best, it is “managed” at a stage known as “stable disease”. It often turns into small-cell lymphoma and eventually effects the organs. Cancer is on the disease continuum for this illness as well as other secondary and tertiary afflictions.
Since his diagnosis, we have tried every remedy that is known of to help this illness. First one being a steroid known as prednisolone running through a medicine cabinet of drugs, supplements and foods over the past 9 months to our current experiment of a chemo drug, chlorambucil. Like so many parents of these kitties, I have become an expert on his disease. You name it, I’ve tried it. Recently, I feel he is slipping, but we are no where near the time when he needs to be helped to cross over. He has about 4 or 5 great days a week and one to two days of misery. The great days are still great. Bless him, he still makes it to the box even when you can see he’s desperate to get in there. He still tries to clean himself up. His appetite is good and the poops are sometimes solid. He’s a trooper through his twice weekly B12 shots and takes his pills without so much as a fuss or wimper. His personality has taken a hit, if anything has. He seldom comes upstairs to lay in bed with us like he used to. He prefers to be downstairs near the security of his food bowl and his heated bed. We sort of miss him already. But he’s still here, and those that follow me on Twitter know that I have made this my mission to get him to stable disease, if it can be done.
I’ve rolled up my carpets, and cloaked the furniture in towels. I made the microwave area of my kitchen his dispensary and feeding center (he eats every two hours since he is not absorbing well) thereby decreasing my circles all over the kitchen during feeding and dosing time. We have given in to the demands of the disease on its own terms and rearranged our house, routine and our lives to make it easier, and still it’s quite a bit of work. We have another kitty with a heart as big as an ocean who craves attention all the time. Poor thing has to wait for it most of the time.
So, that’s been my life. With so little time to do anything else, I have not had much to show for my creative efforts. But I do have a couple things to share with you and those posts will come soon, I hope.
In the meantime, if you have a furry child, feline or canine, I wanted to tell you about Lisa’s website in order to get all the support you need. If you have an animal who throws up more than 1-2 times per month, especially in the early morning, when the stomach is empty, I urge you to talk to your vet. Frequent vomiting, even with long-haired breeds is never normal and it’s not necessarily hairballs. Also, chronic inexplicable diarrhea is a symptom that must be looked in to. Many times, in the early phases of the disease, it can be treated like an allergy because the commercial pet foods we feed our pets are poison with inappropriate ingredients for the species (a discussion for another time and place). Sometimes a diet change is all that is needed. Sometimes, switching a cat or dog to raw food changes the course of the allergy, although not always. This disease is as random as there are animals who have it. Other than the above resource, there are many other places on the Internet to get help, and I am available if I can help in any way. Feel free to contact me.
More surface design fun. This is one of the IKEA “Flyt“Magazine Files I decorated. They don’t come any cheaper and less glamorous. (Five for $2.99 – you can’t go wrong.) I will be making more. Really enjoying my markers again, by the way!
A couple of words of caution: First, the surface is slightly glossy. So it was a little bit challenging. But actually, after it was completely dry, I REALLY liked the effect. It almost looks printed. They come flat packed so it was quite easy to draw on them when flat, and it was fun to assemble at the end.
Second, they are a little flimsy. Not the thing to store your chunky Vogue magazines. Either that or stuff it entirely so the weight at the base AND the top is evenly distributed. Heavy things leaning to one side inside of it might topple it. It hasn’t popped off the shelf yet, but I don’t have it anywhere where it can bean me on the head either.
Would you believe, I had never seen or heard of Mystery Science Theater before? That’s what my husband called this fish board painting I made recently. Something about the black silhouettes, I guess.
Then I looked up Mystery Science Theater on the Interwebs and it was the funniest darn thing I’ve seen in a long time. Pure entertainment. (Mature content, NSFW)
And yes. I see a resemblance.
I have been wanting to share the following gift…no, make that wonderful “experience” I received for my birthday from my sweet husband. I know you will love this as much as I do.
This little curious envelope from Japan arrived one day last month, addressed to my husband. Okay, I won’t lie and say I didn’t know what it was. My husband is good, but he’s not telepathic about gifts (even with my dropping major hints on Twitter). The envelope contained the little porcelain ceramic octopus pincushion that I had been eying on Etsy by Alleluja (aka Sawako Hayakawa). The unwrapping process was so beautiful, it felt almost ceremonial. I won’t spoil it by showing it all here, because I really hope you will be so enchanted and buy one for yourself! (You deserve it!) I truly felt like I just received a treasure…
So she hoped it made me happy. I am ECSTATIC! Just look!
Here are some more (and frankly much better) photos from her Flickr photostream.
I also ran across this interview of Sawako on Lou Lou & Oscar, a beautiful blog. I enjoyed reading about how she named her shop and her love of movies.
(Thank you Sawako for allowing me to mention your beautiful and very original work here. Yes, you certainly made me happy.)
Left over from the studio renovation was this rather plain magnetic pin board that had more of an industrial look to it that didn’t fit the new decor. So, I recovered it.
This is the original Umbra pinboard. If you click on the link you can see it was not cheap and is really too nice to not find some new use for.
And we have a totally new look! And it can always be removed since the glue was applied to the back where no one can see anything. The fabric can be cut away.
A simple enameled black clock from IKEA. Inexpensive and completely impervious to my attempts to take it apart to paint or otherwise decorate it. What to do.
So, I had some paper flowers that I drew with my Prismacolor markers and had cut out for a defunct project and some Positional Mounting Adhesive (PMA).
Hi there, all.
So without much initial fanfare, here are some photos of the room in general. In future posts, I can go into more detail on some of the crafty projects that we did and even some yet to come. (Studio Reno 2.0).
First and foremost, the whole effort was born out of the need to get rid of the nasty carpet in here. I mean, that just made no sense. So here is that nasty rug (before):
And here was the finished, naked floor. BTW, this is BALK veneer flooring from IKEA. (You’re gonna see alot of IKEA in these photos):
Enough. I love my husband and it’s fortunate we get along so well in a work envirnoment, but I can’t believe we were crammed in here together like sardines for 4 years.
Here are the “afters”:
Well, there you have it. Thanks for putting up with blurry photos. We’re still hoping for that DSLR camera someday. And these photos are hopefully incentive for me to blog with a bit more regularity going forward. I’m still rather new at it. I also need to work again, and have projects backed up “Like planes at Kennedy”. We started the renovation in April and it took alot longer than I thought. I’m ready to make stuff!
I thought I’d check in and leave a note telling you what has been going on here over at our studio. It’s all exciting, but time consuming. We’ve been working on renovating, starting with ripping the carpet out (good grief, that was weeks ago already) and laying down IKEA wood veneer flooring. Already an improvement, right? Anyway, since the labor for this studio is being done by us, and since I have a tough time recovering physically from things like aching backs and angry little abused shoulders and crimped necks, some of it has been a SLOG. Also, this is a working studio, so we have been sitting in here basically up to our eyeballs in junk and chaos and renovation detritus doing nothing but paid work. No wonder I have a headache this evening as I write this. (Or it’s the fumes of machined engineered wood and glue getting to me.)
We got most of the storage system installed in the closet today and I need to sew a curtain to put up over the closet where we use to have bifold doors. Right now, the focus is on getting the supplies out of the other parts of the house (I swear, there isn’t a horizontal surface in this house that isn’t completely covered with stuff) and storing it in its newly designated storage place. And I am really looking forward to tossing and recycling alot of stuff. It looks like a lot of empty storage now, but I know we will fill it somehow. We gotta purge (she types as she looks over her shoulder at her husband)!
Also, the weather has been fabulous here in Portland and, well, the sun is my Boss. And when the Boss says get out there and re-charge, I do what the Boss says. So there you have it: delays, and more delays, but alot of fun and hopefully pictures soon to come.
And I really want to find a way to work one of these snazzy giant Martha Stewart pom poms in the design somehow:
Thanks for putting up with me tweeting on Twitter in lieu of posting formally here. It has helped me feel like I am staying linked. I look forward to returning and posting more regularly. And getting back to some of my languishing projects!!!
While I am getting the studio reno done (and it’s taking foreva!), I thought I would touch base, break in (whateva!) and tell you about a great cause that I know you can easily commit to and tell others about.
The 3/50 Project asks that you to pick 3 of your favorite independently owned, local bricks and mortar stores and if you can swing it, give them $50 of your business a month. Let’s face it, when this recession is over we don’t want to be left with only the Walmarts, Targets, and Kmarts of the world.
I’m thinking of my three…