Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
To remind me how cheap Christmas can be. Wait, that didn't come out right. I meant to say that you don't have to spend a lot to have fun at Christmas. And here's the proof. It's Claudine Hellmuth's answer to those spendy plastic (Micheal's) or ceramic (Studio 56) miniature Christmas villages you see that are so weirdly adorable, kind of the way Disneyland is.
Some single pieces are upwards of $75! Yike! And you could make this instead, this cute paper village with houses in violation of strict Victorian palettes, with funny Dr. Suess flowers drawn on the side. And she lights them with those adorable little battery-operated tealights. We just got some of those the other day, they're fun. They sort of throb more than flicker, but I'm sure it looks better behind the window of a Christmas village house.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Here's my latest batch. It was made for J.'s stepmom for her birthday. I just love making these things. I tried doing one with the seams inside and it just wasn't as good-looking as the raw edges. I have started cutting out all the hearts with pinking shears so they have that nice edge. I didn't put these on sticks like the ones for my mom, but instead put them in a shallow pottery bowl I found at the thrift store. M. likes sheep and has sheep things all over her house, and this bowl has a simple painting of a sheep on the bottom, so I thought it would be perfect. Come to find out that it's a pie dish! She knew that, I didn't. She a fab cook, so it's even better that I found it.
My next batch of hearts are in progress: made of felt with ribbon embellishments. I of course had to buy more ribbon with Christmas themes. I'm addicted to ribbon now. I'm also hand-sewing the seams with embroidery floss so they really stand out against the solid colors of the felt. And I glue (and sew) a piece of organdy ribbon at the top so you can hang it on the Christmas tree (or wherever).
I am looking back over my writing and it's kinda funky. It's because I have a headache and I'm on drugs for it. Can't think real clearly. Anyway, good talk. See you in the morning.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
This last weekend I went to two local craft fairs and bought most of my Christmas presents for my family. Of course, I bought some stuff for myself, but only a couple hair pins and pin-on pins, those little ones. There were a couple of really cheeky vendors that made me laugh really hard and I wish I could have bought their stuff. One was called Maybe You Should Die, and they had great cards that had the usual hip graphics, pale colors and nice typesetting, but they said things like "Thank you" with the word "thank" added after the word "F--k" was crossed out. Or a similar one with a crossed out word that used to say "Thinking of Beyonce," and "Beyonce" is crossed out and "you" is added over the top. You really should go look at them at their Etsy store. The even funnier "mean bags" are a hoot, with nicely embroidered foul language on little bean bags, as shown above.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
I just love the dog. I also put magnets on the back of them (those thick round ones that are pretty strong) and they make really cute little fridge mascots. Or, if you have magnetic paint on some of your walls like we do (am I a little obsessed with magnets? Yes), you can put them lots of places. I'm sure my daughter will move these all around the house.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
My local art group is doing a Chinese New Year deco, and I chose to do the Dog and the Monkey. Well, I think we started this back in March, like whenever Chinese New Year actually was...and I finally finished the Monkey. I had to get my butt in gear because one of the people is auctioning off her finished book to raise money for Heifer International, and the auction is Dec. 7th. It's a good cause, the philosophy is kind of "If you give a man a fish," etc., only it's a cow or a goat. Something like that. Helps end world hunger. So the Monkey page, eez feeneeshed. I'm happy with it. I tried to draw a monkey but the head looked more like the swamp monster or Creature from the Black Lagoon, so I just used my monkey stamps instead. I have three monkey stamps! And I think I need more. I love monkey things.
I did paint the backgrounds and was really pleased with how those turned out. I have to admit my dumbness, though. I painted on this watercolor paper that I've had for like 5 years and never use. All the pages are glued together and I didn't know they were supposed to be like that when I got it, so at the time I called the store and told them and they corrected my ignorance, that it was a "block." Oh. But they didn't tell me how to get the pages apart! And I felt too stoopid to ask at the time. Now I would be like, "...and?!" So today my Mom's helper showed me how to separate the pages because she used to paint watercolors and has used this kind of "block" before. Now I can finally use it! And it's really nice, thick paper. This is what comes of being a "self-trained" artist, I guess. Moments of foolishness and complete ignorance. That some people will mock me for. That's okay, there's other nice people like N. who showed me how to do it and didn't laugh at me or anything. HA!
So I thought it would be fun to do an easy "swap" of 5 things you're thankful for, specifically, ON THE INTERNET. It can be a blog that you read regularly that inspires you, a shop that you love for craft supplies that has the cutest things you can't find anywhere else, a youtube video that makes you laugh, whatever. Just something you're thankful for that you find on the net, so it needs to have a link.
You'll have 10 partners, and you can just send them all the same list of 5 links. It would be really nice if you could say what you like about each link, but you don't have to.
I'm making this deadline (join by 11/29, send by 12/2) so that you do this over the Thanksgiving weekend. Then hopefully at times during the next month of craziness up to Xmas, we can all take a little break and try some fun new links.
So, please, join my swap!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Let's talk about something else. I've been watching a new show, or at least new to me, The Eleventh Hour. At first I didn't think I would like it because the main actor is kind of weird looking, or maybe I saw him in something else where he was weird, I don't know. But I like him. He has a great character, a genius biophysicist working for the FBI on strange cases. So, I like the characters and the stories, about strange phenomena, but the endings are always disappointing. It's like we're going along fine with this interesting biophysical event, and the relationship between Dr. Hood (the genius) and others is developing and holding my attention, and then poof! Scooby Doo ending. The obvious guy is the culprit, he tells all when caught, just like the villians in superhero movies, and I can almost hear him saying, "If it wasn't for you meddling kids!" Oh well, I guess you can only expect so much from network TV.
On a more upbeat note, I've started watching stuff on Ovation TV, which is like all art all the time. Last night I watched a 2-hour (well, yeah, I watched it over 2 nights, I do have a toddler) documentary about photographer Sally Mann. It was fascinating and her photos are beautiful and controversial, and they make you think. And it was just very inspiring to hear an artist talk about her philosophy about art, and about life, and to see how she works. Of course it's inspiring to see a really prominent woman artist, a woman with a family.
On a related note, I just read last week that David Foster Wallace is dead. I can't believe it. And he killed himself. Another genius commits suicide. He evidently suffered from severe depression. Is it our culture that sends some geniuses into such a pit of despair that they figure nothing is worth living for? I just think it's so sad. I loved some of his writing, it was so funny and full of sincere emotion and insight.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I've lost my voice today. I mean, really lost it. It was rusty yesterday but now I can't talk at all. So I gotta go to the doctor. And meanwhile, I have to write down everything when I want to tell J. something, or answer a question. What a pain!! So his suggestion was just to use the hippo pictured here whenever I want to talk. It's a happy meal toy that a friend gave me for my daughter. I guess it's a character from the movie Madagascar. When you shake her, she says one of three things:
All righty, boys.
I know that's right.
I'm not sure if I can get by on that.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I love this poem because it is genuine in its selfishness about grief. Grief is one of my big subjects I like to write about and I find this one sweet and somehow funny.
Next: Merc tries to choose an excerpt from a Walt Whitman poem and Blogger crashes from spacing issues.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I think this could be really fun with a geometric pattern. It would make your window look all mod. People would walk by your house and look at your windows and say "That is sooooo cool."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
My latest big creation: a vase full of puffy hearts on sticks. It was a birthday present for my Mom, so I couldn't post about it until she got it, which was just a few days ago. She loves it. I had such fun making it, so it's very rewarding that she appreciates it so much. It was my brilliant idea to put them on sticks, like flowers, because I know she loves flowers. Each one is different, and they are even different sizes. Each side of each heart has a different fabric. I embellished them with ribbon, buttons, charms (see the birthday cake hanging out of the pink silk flower near the back?), felt, brads, and beads. The sticks I used were long q-tips for the small hearts and chopsticks for the big ones. I colored the sticks with markers so they wouldn't be plain wood. To make the vase a little bulkier, I smushed up a big piece of purple tulle, then to weight down the bottom, put aquarium-type blue rocks inside the tulle, and stuffed that inside the vase. Then I glued little blue glass cabachons around the outside of the vase, and some interesting green ribbon around the neck. Ta-da!
Monday, October 27, 2008
So, about poetry. September 11 kind of ruined poetry for me. Here's how it happened. It was such a momentous event, probably the most emotional historical event in my lifetime (so far, I should say), and the way I tried to comprehend it, make sense of it, was to turn to poetry. Because I was writing poetry at the time, and working on my Masters thesis in writing. I went to a local event with some great poets and listened to their poetic responses to the event. I particularly remember Emily Carter, a fabulous writer, using the f-word a lot in her presentation, because she was so pissed off about how everyone on television was already talking about healing not even a week after this horrible thing had happened, and why was America so obsessed with healing, why couldn't we slow down and feel the pain?
Then Patricia Kirkpatrick stepped up and read a horrible poem (I hate her, she was one of my writing professors and I demanded I be removed from her class after she tried to intimidate me--long story) in which she not only called out to make sure her pre-teen son was in the room listening while she read it, but then she had him in the poem. She used her children in her writing. While they were still children. I personally think this is wrong. And abusive, in a way. Anyway, that made me sick. There were some other brilliant poets (Jim Moore, for one) that had words of inspiration, and I left the event feeling somewhat better, if you can call it that. I felt connected, anyway, to a community, to my people, other writers, in this strange time.
But it wasn't enough. I wanted more. I looked for more poetry. I looked online. Mistake. Lots of bad poetry. I looked then for poetry that had already been written about other tragic events, to see if it mattered, if it had to be about 9/11 for me to feel some current resonance with it. And I just started collecting these poems that I thought were effective measures of grief. A lot of them were about WWII. In Flanders Fields gives me goosebumps.
When this was all happening, I was still working on my Masters degree. After I graduated, I decided to propose a class to teach at The Loft Literary Center, as many Hamline MFA graduates had followed that track. And I was feeling pressure to follow that track, as I've said in my previous post. But I also wanted to do something that was meaningful to me. So I proposed teaching this class about writing poetry out of grief. It was a little difficult to draw a line, I didn't want to be a therapist, I wanted serious (oh, here we go with the seriousness of it all) writers who wanted to use the craft of poetry to make meaningful art out of an experience of grief, whether it be a public event, like 9/11, or a private loss.
My idea was summarily rejected. It was thought to be much too ambitious. They were worried I had no idea how much I was proposing to accomplish in one class. So I was crushed. I really shouldn't have proposed it. I didn't want to do it. I mean, I wanted to prove I could do it. But I didn't want to do it. So when they said I couldn't, that knocked the wind out of me.
I used to write a lot of poetry. Back when we first moved to Minnesota, I was all aglow with the wonder of the seasons and everything was beautiful and I'd just married this prince of a guy...since then I got a bit jaded. I've written maybe 2 poems since I've been out of school. But I've been through all kinds of grief. You'd think I'd have oodles of odes. Nope. I find it hard to approach. And I don't read much of it either. Sometimes I will pull one of my poetry books out and read a couple poems, and I'll think, yes, that's it. That's exactly it. But other times I read someone who's supposed to be this great poet and I'm just not willing to slog through all the allusion and metaphor and I just think "what a load." Does that make me a bad writer? Or reader?
I think some serious poets are full of crap. So there. And some are posers. Billy Collins, I remember when he was Poet Laureate, one of my poetry professors was just so annoyed about it, said he wasn't a serious poet, and the more I read his poems, the more I see what he means. Collins is cheeky and always reserves the right to step out of himself and join the boys, not stay committed to his emotional investment in the poem. Does anyone understand what the heck I'm talking about here? American culture is all about satire. We hate ourselves. We make fun of ourselves all the time. We think we're making fun of each other, but it's us, too. I just read this really interesting article about a new book called Why We Hate Us, about "a complex society that is drawn to its culture and also repulsed by it." I think I need to read this.
Will I be able to read poetry again? I think so. Maybe not in whole book-length doses, but that's okay. I remember like 15 years ago when I was writing a zine, I got this poetry zine from this guy, and it was so hilarious, every poem was funny enough to make you pee your pants. I wish I could find that. Now that was some good poetry. I remember he made fun of my dreams, how I would take them too seriously. He drew this cartoon of me looking really serious, talking about how in this dream "I had a piece of toast," and he's standing next to me listening, trying not to fall asleep. It was done in a sweet way, like hey, Merc, lighten up. God, I wish I could find those poems.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Now I'm having dreams that I didn't really complete my thesis for my Master's Degree. Which is not true. I completed it with flying colors. My thesis panel even told me I should send it out to publishers, that it was that good. But I'm not doing that, and I haven't felt like going back to that piece of writing, more than 5 years later. It's complicated. I lost a baby just a few weeks before my thesis was due. I was so happy to be pregnant, and it was huge blow to lose that baby. So there's a lot of grief associated with that time. And because of that whole event, I turned in other directions, found other creative outlets. Like knitting, sewing, altered art, and so on. And yet part of me feels guilty that I haven't gone on to publish a novel or a book of poems. I hear my thesis adviser telling me about the responsibility we have as poets not to waste that talent... Is it a waste that I'm spending my energy and time being a mother now? Absolutely not. And doing art instead of writing? Or even doing some writing that isn't what my adviser might have expected of me? It's like I always have to feel inadequate in some way. I always find some authority figure to attach to an expectation, whether or not it's really their expectation or just my perceived expecatation. But even if it is their expectation that I should be doing something else with my life right now, SO WHAT? Why do I have to get so bogged down with other people's expectations of me? When does it end?! What a pain.
I think all artists go through this, and if I didn't have any doubts about my talents then I'd just be an obnoxious boob. But it's hard to find a balance sometimes, to get out from under those demons. The better dreams are the ones where I decide to just take off and fly above it all, and I do literally fly like a bird, above all the chaos below me. But I have to really believe to be able to even get up off the ground, much less rise up to great heights where my body becomes something else entirely, larger, lighter, and more expansive than I could possibly imagine. I have to feel the force, Luke.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Can you email me a true story that happened to you that has something to do with either working in a bookstore or a library, or a story that has something to do with your reading life?
Maybe you burned a book, why? Maybe you read a particular book once every year, why? Maybe there's a book you hated in school and it scarred you for life. Or there's a book that saved your life when you were 12. Maybe you had a brush with fame in a bookstore. Met your future spouse there? Did something crazy?
It doesn't have to be a long story, just a few paragraphs. Heck, I'd even take a few lines if they're interesting or funny.
If your story is ten pages long then obviously you need to write your own zine. My hope is that I get enough stories to make another zine that's a compilation of these stories. I will of course give everyone credit for their stories, and even provide plug space for your Etsy shop, blog address, etc. Or if you want to remain anonymous, you can do that, too.
I just think this will be really fun reading for bibliophiles like me. I got the idea when I read this great zine called 12 Items or Less that I bought off Etsy all about working in grocery stores and shopping in them. I thought it was fascinating. You're only going to find things like this in zines, little vignettes that don't fit anywhere else but are fun to read nonetheless.
For now, I'm going to have a deadline of February 2009, so you have plenty of time to stew about what you'd like to write. Meanwhile I'll be working on other articles for the second issue of Bookstore Thief, the first issue of which I hope to have done in a week or so and on Etsy for sale. If you have any questions, email me . Thanks for reading my humble blog!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
You thought I was kidding, didn't you? But it's true. Every year, there are several dairy princesses, called "Princess Kay of the Milky Way," and they get to be temporarily immortalized in butter in the dairy barn. This globe rotates, so you can see the butter sculptor and the princess from all angles. And the other butter heads that are already done. Isn't it great?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This is fun, but it looks so, hmmm, not handmade. It looks like a computer laid out a kind of paint by number and someone just followed it. I don't know. Maybe I'm not giving Laura enough credit.
Friday, September 12, 2008
This is the ginormous nap pillow (the middle is 31" across) I started to make when I was pregnant last year, and I just finished it. It's supposed to be a flower with petals. My seams are uneven, my edging is all over the place, but it doesn't matter, you can't tell any of that. It turned out wonderful. The top picture shows the top of the pillow, which has a big pocket for baby to put stuff in. The bottom photo shows the back, and it's hard to see but there is a velcroed seam across the middle so I can pull the inner pillow out and wash the cover when I need to. I can't believe I finally finished it. It's a little poofy right now--when we put baby on it she rolls off--but I think it will be fine once it's used a bit. This was done from an Amy Butler pattern that is sadly no longer available.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Next: Enough with the Fine Art, let's get to the Crop Art! And of course, the butter sculptures...
Friday, September 05, 2008
1. Adorn Magazine, Summer 07, the 1st issue. This magazine died an early death, which made me very sad, cuz it was fun. And I had a subscription. They didn't even send out a letter saying "I'm sorry, we died. You won't be getting any more issues. Or your money back. Okay, bye!" So this is now a collector's item, because you can't buy it anymore. Ooooooh, so valuable, I know.
2. Cloth Paper Scissors Winter 2006 Issue 9 : this is the issue with the crazy lady who made a purse a day for like a year. One issue of this magazine is enough inspiration for a year of projects.
3. Cloth Paper Scissors September/October 2008 Issue 20 : There's a dog collage on the cover. Need I say more? There's also articles on sketch techniques and fabric books.
4. One of my little dolls. I love making these. If you haven't seen my dolls, check out these posts: Dotee for Mommy, Robot Doll, Caribbean Dotee.
5. A copy of my new zine, Bookstore Thief. It's not quite done yet but now it will have to be by the end of this month. It's the true story of me getting robbed at gunpoint when I worked in a bookstore. Plus some other shorter reader adventures. I'll be selling it in my Etsy shop and it may be a one-shot, but this is where you come in, dear reader...
WHAT I WANT FROM YOU: email me a true story that happened to you that has something to do with either working in a bookstore or a library, or a story that has something to with your reading life. Of course, it has to be an interesting story. Maybe you burned a book, why? Maybe you read a particular book once every year, why? Maybe there's a book you hated in school and it scarred you for life. Or the opposite. It doesn't have to be a long story, just a few paragraphs or pages. Heck, I'd even take a few lines if they're interesting or funny.
Okay, is that enough? Depending on how many people participate, This may be five different prizes or one big prize package for my two devoted readers who check my blog like every day, Chris, and my sister K. And I'll decide who gets the prizes by a random drawing of people who sent stories. Now get writing!
Friday, August 29, 2008
The funny thing is, the authorities have gotten bad press in the last few years for having altercations with participants in these events. So, this year, the Minneapolis police gave the bicyclers escorts(!) through intersections and stopped cars in their tracks (they were bike patrol, naturally, so stopping our car consisted of pointing and yelling at us "Stop your vehicle!" ) Now, I don't know about you, but this just seemed a bit silly to me. If you need a police escort to make your anarchic, unorganzed event a success, isn't that sort of defeating the whole spirit of the event? To make cars notice bicycles more? That's been an oft-touted reason for the event. Well, of course drivers are going to notice POLICE on bikes, duh. But are we going to notice bikes more when the police escorts are gone? I just don't think so. So be careful, bicyclers who think you've achieved sudden and lasting visibility. Don't get a false sense of confidence and get squished because that SUV should have noticed you.
I worry about you people! My husband rides his bike to work more than half the year, so don't think I'm just being cheeky. He was hit by a school bus a few years back and don't even get me started on careless, dangerous idiots driving school busses today. Back in the day, our school bus driver was a retired air force pilot. We feared her. And it was good.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I also added dates on these lists, so you'd know at least what month I updated them last. The new art books are not necessarily published this month, but they are all published in 2008.
I hope this will improve your experience reading my blog. I removed my "Amazon bookstore" because it's too much work to keep that thing updated and it's easier to just put up links to a few choice new books. And I do get a tiny credit if you click on my link to that book and end up buying it. No big whoop. I'm more interested in spreading the word about altered/mixed media art than I am in making a few bucks off links.
Last night I had a long, involved dream about my cousin Jon, who I haven't seen in more than twenty years. I can't believe it's been that long. Actually it was about him and his mom and dad. I've guess they've been in my thoughts a lot lately because his mom just recently died, after battling cancer for several years.
In the dream I'm so happy to see Jon, because I never get to see him (often when his parents visited when I was a kid, he didn't come with, especially as he got older), and I've had a crush on him since I was about 8? 10? years old. He was (is) 2? 4? years older than me. I can't remember which, it seemed like a huge difference at the time. I remember my hot wheels racetrack box had a crooked heart with Carrie + Jon written on it. I think my sister used to tease me about my crush on him, like "he's your cousin, you can't have a crush on him, you weirdo." I don't think she said those words but that was the gist. But I was sure he was my destiny, somehow. I have had dreams about him for years and years, and I'm always trying to get him alone and be kissing him. It sounds silly, but hey, maybe it's a 10-year-old's version of lust. Am I saying this out loud? I can't believe I'm writing this.
Cut to high school. I'm in a horrible relationship with a possessive sex fiend who is a con artist so all my friends and family adore him. I feel totally trapped but getting out of the relationship seems impossible. Junior year we end up going to different high schools and I meet John McConnell, tuba player in band. He saves my life. Bless you, John McConnell, wherever you are. He's the only one who has the guts to tell me that that my boyfriend doesn't deserve me, and shouldn't treat me like he does. The way John treats me makes me ashamed of what I'm putting up with from my boyfriend. And it gives me the confidence to break up with him, which is very difficult. I'll never forget the letters John wrote me, I hope I still have them somewhere. He said he'd treat me like a princess. Yes, he wanted to be my boyfriend. I don't know why but I just wasn't attracted to him that way. And he took it like a man. And remained my friend.
Cut to my bad marraige and separation. I'm living with Karen, a sane friend who, like John Mcconnell, told me in no uncertain terms, that my husband was insane, and that I should not put up with him. Karen introduces me to another John, who she thinks is perfect for me. I don't go for him right away (probably a good sign, since I seem to be a magnet for possessive crazy losers).
Cut to now. I married John and we have a little girl and it's all good. Next month will be our twelve-year anniversary. Now for my whack theory. I think I was always destined to marry a John, to have a family with a John, I just didn't know which John. Was it Jon? I thought so when I was 8. I didn't think it was John McConnell. I didn't know it was this John, not at first, but it came about slowly. And now my destiny is fulfilled. I feel like such a dork admitting this, it's such a superstitious, fairy tale belief. But there it is, and I still believe in it.
And yes, I kissed Jon in the dream last night. Hey, it's just a dream.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Join my swap on Swap-Bot and share the glory of your state (or county) fair!! I look forward to the Minnesota State Fair every year like it's Christmas. There are so many things to capture on film, I love it. Here are a few examples: a baby skirt? With baby doll print and baby doll fringe? Freaky! Next is the Spam truck handing out free samples on Spam day (yes, Hormel is in Minnesota...). And finally the Midway at night. I am long past being able to ride on those spinny things, but I'm drawn to their shininess. Our state fair started today. We have our tickets and we're going this weekend. Charge up the camera batteries, honey!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Here is the dottee doll I made for my Mom for Mother's Day. Uh, yeah, it was a little late going out. But she likes it. I actually got the Mary Engelbreit fabric from her. I thought she was a little too cheery with that fabric, so I had to give her some attitude, hence the tongue sticking out and the eyebrows. Then I had a great time making her hair, braiding strips of novelty yarn together and then hot gluing them on. The big green tassel trim I used on the bottom of the doll not only hides the seam but when I picked it I thought of Carol Burnett wearing the drapes in her Gone With the Wind skit on her show many years ago. My mom and I used to watch that show together when I was a kid and I remember Mom laughing so hard at that skit, it was really fun. I wish I could find it somewhere, like on YouTube, but alas, I searched and couldn't find it. Anyway, I also made this doll a knitted shawl which you can see more of on the back than in front. I love making these little dolls.