Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Present for A Girlfriend

I've been really busy this Christmas making a few presents, and this is one of my favorites that I made.  My friend Sue is an art pal gal and her nickname that she made up for herself and has on her business cards is Suzela.So I wanted to make her a sign for her space where she makes her art.  Neither one us has a studio, but both of us have cluttered rooms where we keep our art stuff and sometimes work.  We are both thrift store junkies and love old children's ephemera (which I think is a fancy word for "thingies"). 

Actually I knew I wanted to get her something from this store that is a mutual favorite of ours--a  great place in Minneapolis called Hunt and Gather--but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it until I started looking.  I was collecting letters and then picked a few cards, but wasn't sure how it was going to come together.  Then the heavens opened and the angels sang and there was the tray.  Hooray!  From there I knew exactly how it should look.  The clown head was also a key feature I was really happy to find.  I already had some wire and knew I'd glue some letters and then attach the others with wire somehow.

I was really happy with the finished piece and she was ecstatic, said it was the best Christmas present ever.  Aw!  It's so rewarding to make something for someone you love and know that they're going to get great enjoyment out of it.

Now I have to go finish working on another present, this one for my sister--I know, I know, it's after Christmas!  She doesn't mind though, and it will be worth the wait, believe me.  Pictures to come...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Cookies

Here's another group making what I think was my favorite cookie of the bunch, a shortbread with nuts and jam.  It shows up on the platter at 6 o'clock, the bars without chocolate.  Yum!  But, wow, did they have a lot of dough to spread out.  And several whole jars of jam.  I think that one might have been the most work.  It was worth it, though.

Here's a couple shots of the Florentines being made.  You can barely see it in the top pic at the very right edge, how tiny the cookies start out when being put on the pan to bake.  Now look how much they spread out compared to the bottom pic where she's putting the chocolate drizzle on top.  I'm glad I got to see that, so when I try making these, I won't think, oh, that's not enough dough.  And I saw the caterer showing them how to do the drizzle, too: you really don't do it slowly.  You kind on zing your arm back and forth across the pan over and over and over to get those lovely stripes.

Here's the ladies working with the Palmier cookies, the ones that look kind of pretzels.  Don't they look serious?  Hey, cookies are serious business. 

Here's my partner, S., chowing down on the snack table they had set out for us.  Quite a spread!  No veggie sandwiches, alas.  But great hummus and cheese.  And fresh pineapple.

 Behind S. you can see another group working, with the only male member of the class.  Aw! I was surprised there weren't more men, and that John didn't want to take this class, since he's really the major cook in our family. 

Not a great picture of me.  But a nice one of the class teacher.  And look how much bling she's wearing! Here I thought she'd have no jewelry or nails, like me, because she was cooking.  Nope, she had long painted nails and bangly bracelets on, and somehow none of that got in the way. I don't know how some people pull that off, but she did. 

And that's the end of the cookie class.  It was two hours of mess and fun and divine smells and yummy cookies.  Thanks, Betty Crocker.  Oh, and we got to take home a cookbook, Good Housekeeping The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook: 60 Large-Batch Recipes to Bake and Share.  My complaint about it is rather spoiled of me: I want a picture for every recipe so I know how it's supposed to look. Wah.

Cookie Exchange Class at Willie Wonka's

Okay, it wasn't really at Willie Wonka's, but it was at General Mills, in the Betty Crocker Kitchens, so it was kind of like getting to go inside Willie Wonka's.  And here's what I went home with!  Avert your eyes if you don't want to gain weight just thinking about all the butter on that plate.

Here's the huge mixer we got to use.  We were making double batches of already large yield cookie recipes, so these were fab.  There were about 20 of us in the class and we split into groups of 2 or 3 and each made a different kind of cookie.  Mine was a cinnamon roll cookie, the little circle cookies on the left at 9 o'clock on the platter.  This is my partner scraping the bowl after we mixed in, er, well, twice as much flour as we were supposed to use.  My bad!  But they let us start over and use a whole 'nother pound o' buttah.  Nice!  I wasn't thinking when I was measuring 5 cups that the "cup" I was using was in an industrial kitchen, so it wasn't really a cup, but a 2-cup measure. Oops!

It was kind of fun to mess up, tho, because at first I didn't realize what I'd done but we didn't think the dough looked right, so when we asked for help from the woman who was running the class, a professional caterer, gave us some tips on how to figure out what might be wrong, or even what the recipe is trying to accomplish.  Like our "cinnamon roll" recipe was really trying to be like the leftover pie crust dough mom used to roll up and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  At least my mom did that, did yours?  I remember it fondly, even though it was more than 30 years ago.  And as we went along making the cookies, we figured out together how we would change it if we did it again, which I think I will for Christmas this year. 

Here's another group mixing, I think egg whites, with the biggest whisk (attachment for the mondo mixer) I've ever seen in my life. 

Here's the later stages of their cookies.  You can see a finished one on the platter at 3 o'clock peeking out in between one of the huge florentines and a curly palmier.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Film Week in Review on KPCC

I"m stuck with a bad headache and can't read or watch a movie, but I've been listening to one of the podcasts Chris mentions in her comment on my post about The Frank Truth, and I love it.  I've tried a lot of different podcasts about film, and most of them stink.  Either they're just some guys almost talking and giving ridiculous reviews like "it was cool, very cool," or they argue about who was in it, or they are in love with their voices and believe that the great thing about podcasting is that you can prattle on as long as you want without saying a whole lot.  Phew!

Film Week in Review is well-produced with real film critics who know their stuff and use their knowledge for good instead of evil, as in they share information related to the film they're critiiquing insted of making asides that only the "in" crowd will get.  They also review a wide range of films, everything from The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest to Ticked Off Trannies With Knives

Thanks, Chris!  I have to go crawl back under my ice pack now.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

There Oughta Be A Law

on how many times a DAY you can use your frickin' leaf blower.  I mean, MY GOD.  This eejit neighbor of mine who has too much time and not enough brains uses that thing an average of 4 times a day!  Even if I wasn't having a migraine I'd want to kick his heinie.  Can I get an Amen?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A New Book Review by Moi

One of my recent book reviews  of a young adult novel called Siren has just been posted in the Fall 2010 Online edition of Rain Taxi, who I frequently write for.  You WANT to read it. Oh, and there's a really well-written down-to-earth, no-hype review of Jonathan Franzen's novel Freedom . I think Franzen stinks, for the exact reason that this reviewer pinpoints.  All whinging, no joy.  I read part of The Corrections, his first novel, and finally put it down because I could not stand the characters.  And I wasn't even repulsed in an interesting way.  Just bleah.

Frank Dose

I listen to podcasts, yes.  But they have to be quirky.  One of my favorites right now is The Frank Truth, all Frank Sinatra, all the time.  And it's not just music, which is fabulous enough.  There's also radio dramas, news about recordings and new (old) releases.  It's really fun.  I just listened to Episode 132, in which we hear the Lux Radio Theatre drama Wake Up and Live.  It's so funny, it's about this guy who is a singer but is afraid of the microphone.  Of course, it's Sinatra playing the "dope" who faints in front of the mike, says "gee" a lot, and works in the radio station as a tour guy.  When he does sing he fumbles in front of the  mike and can't sing and then faints, and you can hear the real radio audience laughing, because of course Frank Sinatra is about as far from stage fright as you can get.  And even though it's a cheesy radio drama, he's actually a really good actor, playing up the sweet dope role.

No, Really, I'm Sorry

I'd just like to apologize to everyone in advance, for all the stupid crap that will come out of the insane wingnut Michelle Bachmann's mouth, now that she has been, argh, reelected.  I didn't do it, I promise.  She's not from Minneapolis, that's all I can say.  We wouldn't have elected her.

And, yes, it looks like we'll be having a recount for our governor.  I know, just like 2 years ago with Al Franken.  Except that Dayton is is .49% ahead, and Franken was only .001% ahead.  So really it's just a formality for a sore loser (Emmer).  But hopefully it won't take 8 months this time.  Oy.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

DoD part Deux

Okay, so now we're at the scene in Dawn of the Dead where they just figured it out that if you get bit, you turn into a zombie.  Duh!  Haven't any of them seen zombie movies before?  "What are they?" someone asks. It's like they don't even know the word zombie. 

So White Fella says it's better to kill the ones who are infected before they die and turn into zombies.  And who do they know has been bitten?  Oh, hey, it's Max Headroom.  You can't kill him!  He's nice! And you're making his daughter cry. Oh, wait, yeah, he is starting to look kinda zombie-ish...

So why is it that in movies when there's a black American man married to a white woman, she's always European?  I think it's a subtle way of not offending Americans who like to think they're ok with interracial marraige but really they're not, unless it's just those Europeans doing it.  Hmph.

The couple of which I speak is about to have a baby, and we're hoping it happens before she turns into a zom.  Because she's been bitten, and so he's hiding her.  And has her tied up! while she's in labor! He's telling her not to scream, to be quiet.  Oh, look out honey, them's fightin' words.  You can't say that to a woman in labor!  Even if she is part zom.

Oh, yuck.  A zom baby.  Ew.  Moving on.  Oh, look, the food court where they gather has a coffee place called Hallowed Grounds.  Rich with irony, that is.  Hey, look, a dog.  Now here's a character I can care about! 

La la it's kind of boring after this.  The ending is rather boring.  But you know the scariest thing about this movie?  These zoms can run!  Fast!  The old time zoms could only stumble around slowly, which makes more sense, since they are just reanimated blobs without any muscle memory, right?  I mean, that's my zombie logic.

Well, all is well at the end, sort of.  The dog survived.  And Ving Rhames' character.  That's all that's really important.  Yawn.  Time to hit the lights. 

Johnny Cash on Halloween

I can't believe I've never watched  the 2004 Dawn of the Dead before.  I mean, I love this kind of crap!  The opening credits alone are f-in brilliant.  Oh, yeah, and I love Johnny Cash, so hearing him singing about the apocalypse ("The Man Comes Around") while the zombies wreak havoc is perfect.

I'm watching it now, after midnite, because a. toddler is now asleep in bed so it won't scare her, and b. I have a headache and can't sleep.  So follow along with me, won't you?

So, yeah, they've just arrived in the mall.  After they broke in by throwing a toilet through the window.  I love it! A toilet, like their lives are now in one, b/c there's freakin' zombies everywhere.  In Milwaukee.  I love that it's set in a real town.  That makes it more funny somehow, whereas having it set in a nameless town or in Metropolis (same thing) makes it more serious and allegorical.  No, this is in the cheese state.

So now White Fella goes into the sports store, and he's got a crowbar (huh? in a sports store?) and he hears a noise.  He looks around.  For something better than a crowbar?  There, he spies a wooden croquet mallet. Is he actually--OMG, yes! he's actually going to put down the crowbar and pick up the croquet mallet instead!  Doesn't he know this isn't a vampire movie? Wood is not better than steel. Oh boy, he's really making white folk look stoopid.  Oh, wait...now he's going to open that door, too, the one with zombie noises behind it.  Good idea!  Hey, look, it's a--yes, a zombie, and it's attacking him!  Oh, oh, ew!  Well, gotta give it to him, he made do with the mallet.

Punkin Light

These are my arty shots of our pumpkins.  If you want to see them from the front, go to my Mommy blog entry.

Arrr! Yo Ho Ho and such!

Me, as pirate.  It was so fun! I've always wanted to be a pretend pirate, so it was a dream come true.  I bought the hat and the tattoo sleeves new, but everything else is thrift store.  Harley Davidson boots (the only heels I own now): $4.  Leather pants with rip in butt: $7. Shirt that I cut up: $2. And then a few accessories, like earrings, shell necklaces, and one necklace  made of coffee beans and walnut shells and some other kinds of seeds: $10  I probably spent a total of about $35-40.  And I won first prize at the party we went to!  I got a jar of homemade brandied pears, but even better than that was the adulation of everyone there (the judging was done by clapping).

The studious pirate.  Sue did my makeup.  My earrings are so old school that they're clip-on.  I braided all my hair except my bangs.

Where the Heck Have I Been?!

Okay, so I know I haven't written on here in forever.  I had a couple really bad migraine battles, which span several days each and then kind of ruin the next few days, and it just snowballs, and I totally lose momentum with the stuff I like to do, like write on my blogs, do art, make zines, etc.

That's one of the hardest things about living with migraine disease.  I lose momentum. I actually like structure to my days, but migraines just knock everything all wonky.  But in September I volunteered to host a chunky book for an art group I'm in, with a Halloween/Day of the Dead theme, and I'm really happy right now because I just finished binding them all and they look fabulous.  I'll try to get some pics on here soon of those.  I know, today is Halloween!  It would be nice if I could them up today, but  I am on narcs right now for a migraine, and sitting or lying still is the best thing for it, so I may be stuck just writing today without any visual aids. 

I'm not getting any exercise outside, but I have been doing the Wii Fit games, and it's really fun.  I find myself running for 30 minutes without realizing how much time has passed.  So I've just ordered another Wii game, the Dance Dance Revolution game and mat.  I have seen kids playing it at arcades and at the Fair, and thought it looked like a lot of fun to do, but not in public.  Hey, I'm not a teenager anymore, I'd rather climb the learning curve in the privacy of my own living room, with only my toddler laughing at me! 

So one thing I've done to climb out of the pit of migraines is propose two community ed classes.  I love being Mommy to Lily, but I am really missing doing some other kind of work.  Unfortunately the job of parenting is not a confidence booster.  And I need to feel like I have skills again, and share them with people. 

The two classes I'm proposing are "Artist Trading Cards: Make a Little Piece of Art" and "DIY Publishing: Make Your Own Zine."  (I love subtitles.)  I taught the ATC class four years ago and the class went really well, although I totally brought too many supplies to the class and kind of overwhelmed myself.  I plan to cut back this time.  It's a one-evening class, so I can only do so much.  The zine class will be longer, 3 sessions, and is something I've been thinking about doing for at least a year.  I'm really looking forward to it, and the idea of creating more zinesters makes me very happy.  I've even dug out my zine collections from 15-20 years ago when I did my first zine, called Every Girl's Dream.  I'm thinking about reprinting it.  There's one thing I'd have to rewrite, but I think everything else would still be fun.  I have a lot of mass transit stories from back when I had no car, and I think those are timelessly entertaining.  One of my favorite current zines is called Constant Rider, all true stories about using mass transit.  I don't use mass transit much right now, but I still love stories about it.  You meet such a fabulous variety of people there!

So my classes will be next Feb.and March, if enough people sign up. (they'll be in the Bloomington Community Ed class catalog for Winnter 2011, and I'll post links here when the catalog comes out , in case any of you reading this are interested and near Bloomington, MN.)  I thought about proposing these classes for Minneapolis, since I live in Minneapolis, but I've worked with Bloomington before and they were really nice.  And when I tried proposing the ATC class four years ago for Minneapolis, I had a huge hassle.  I remember when I finally got a call back at the last minute from someone I'd been trying to reach for weeks, he practically begged me to teach the class, but I was so disgusted with the run-around I'd gotten, I just said forget it.  I don't like the way their system is set up, where you have to apply to each class location separately, and the coordinator of that school's program might call you.  Stupid.  Why can't they have a central coordinator like Bloomington and put me in the location they think best?  Grrr.

I have enough material now to put together another issue of Bookstore Thief, and probably two issues of the migraine zine.  My material has been languishing, but now I have a deadline of sorts, as I want to have them done by the time I teach the zine class.  I'd like the students to see that you can do a zine on anything that you're interested in, and you even do more than one! I'm also thinking that making some new zines will spark ideas for sharing in class.  I mean, it's been 3 years since I put out the first Bookstore Thief, so I'm sure I'm a little rusty.  I just wish I had a big white table to spread out on and leave stuff as I worked on it.  No such luck!  Well, no, actually I do have a big white table.  In fact, I have two that I got last year for the two art festivals I did with my buddy Sue.  But is there anywhere to put one where it won't be disturbed for several months? Hmm.  I would have to move some functional furniture out of the way, but really it's chairs that only get used when we infrequently have a lot of people over.  They look nice, but who cares about that?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Minnesota State Fair Fine Art Show preview

I gotta go to bed, but first a preview of the Fine Art show.  Here's my favorite that I voted for (there's a people's choice favorite that gets bragging rights all year when the fair is over).  It's called "Rusty on the Sound" and the artist is Kat Corrigan from Minneapolis.  I love the colors, and the fat brush strokes that seem to go along with the subject matter--a big dog--and it's also neat how when you walk back away from the painting, the reflection really pops.  It's about 3 feet tall, so it really makes a statement.

Minnesota State Fair Crop Art!

One of my favorite parts of the State Fair is the crop art gallery.  It's art done with seeds, and these are a few of my favorites this year.  I thought this one was clever and really nice looking.  And it has a dog.  So that always makes it good.  He's a fun dog, kind of reminds me of Mr. Peabody.

And here we have a Barbie.  Funny.  I think she's got some melanoma on her legs, though.  Better get that checked out, hon.

And I LOVE this one.  See, some of these pieces are silly, and some are very amateurish.  And then you have some like this, that had to take weeks, even months to make.  It's really a nice piece of art.  I would put it on my wall.  Way to go, Darlene.  And she got a blue ribbon!

And here's another amazing piece.  This one also got a blue ribbon.  And it uses about 30 different kinds of seeds. 

Crocheting Fool

I've been crocheting a lot lately.  Here's a square I recently finished.  The colors are a little washed out in this shot, but you can still see the structure.  I've made several of these in this pattern with different colors. 

Day of the Dead carved stamp

I carved a new stamp!  I love carving stamps.  I'm doing a Day of the Dead shrine and also a fat book, so I wanted something new to use, a new image.  I looked through my book of images I've saved for inspiration, and found this page from a book about the holiday.  That's the small image on the right.  I added a scarf and left off the moon and stars on his nightshirt, and here's what I came up with. You can see both my stamp and the image it makes when I use it.  Isn't it cool?  I love it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Imagination vs. Provided Imagery

Or, put more simply, book vs. movie. I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to watch the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I read the bookand really enjoyed it. it's an exciting adventure with a mystery and lots of over the top IT feats and compelling, interesting characters.But there are [SPOILER ALERT] a couple of really brutal rapes in the book that I don't think I want to see on the screen.  It was one thing to read it, but I really don't want to see it depicted on screen. I'm a very visual person and I'm afraid it will get stuck in my head and be icky. 

As I'm saying this, I'm thinking how odd it is.  I mean, isn't the imagination more powerful than a provided image?  Maybe it's that I didn't try to imagine those parts too much when I read them; I just wanted to get past them to the next part of the story.  But in a movie, I can't gloss over it.  I suppose I could fast forward.  I don't know.

The other night I watched an episode of Hawthorne called "Mother's Day," in which a little baby dies, and I cried and cried! It just blindsided me, I couldn't take it.  I don't do that very often, cry from a TV show or even a good movie.  I'm usually too much the analytical writer, noticing how powerful a scene is and why, to get caught up enough to respond so viscerally as to cry.  But that one really got to me.  And that experience reminded how sometimes imagery has a more powerful effect than my imagination.

The interesting thing is, in this TV episode, they really didn't show much of the baby.  You saw a glimpse of her from the side in a car seat, with her little sunhat, and you saw her little naked toes and her hands.  After that, you really only saw the doctors and nurses working on her, but you didn't see the baby.  Just the faces of the doctors and nurses.  So maybe it actually was my imagination that was so powerful, filling in what wasn't shown!  Or maybe it was a combination of both.  Yeah, I think that's it. 

This reminds me of how in monster movies, it's always scarier when you don't actually see the monster, or only get a glimpse of the monster, until really late in the story.  Perfect example:Jaws.  All you see for 90% of the movie (I just made up that percentage; I'm guessing) is a fin.  Just a fin!  What's so scary about a fin?  Well, it's the characters' reaction to that fin, and to what else they can see and feel (the ouch, it's biting me kind of feeling) that you can't.

Anyway, has anyone seen the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Are the icky scenes really icky? Did they bug you afterward?  Are you scarred for life?

all right, blogger is pissing me off with it's extra line breaks after a link to an amazon product. they just had this great hookup with Amazon, so I thought this stoopid problem would be gone. But no. And I don't feel like trying to fix it right now, not after spending too long on it last night with no success.  I thumb my nose at you, computer!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Herd of Cats

Thirty of them, to be precise. I started reading another drawing book called Drawing Lab and the first exercise is to draw 30 cats. I numbered them so you can tell my progress. I think I was supposed to do this in about 10 minutes but I took about 40. It was fun. Some of these I actually like. Some of them are embarrassing. Number 15 looks like a pug, #24 looks like a Weeble, and #6 looks like he has a worm problem. Only the Weeble quality was intentional. Which are your favorites?

More Moon Doodles

Ok, so maybe you're getting sick of these. But I'm not. Sometimes I think something turned out really well so I want to do it over and over again different ways. With these I used some new Zentangles I learned from this great book I got called Totally Tangled.

So the moon guy on the bottom got a little squished, but I think he has personality. And I love the new Tangles I tried.

I think I would like making a big one of these with lots more bands of doodles. And I could add some color. Just a little, like one or two colors.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Fourple

So, I'm crocheting from this pattern, and it tells me to do this stitch that I haven't done before. It's called a double treble crochet stitch. It sounds very complicated, doesn't it? Well, once I read how to do it, and actually tried it, I was rather unimpressed!

If you don't crochet, let me explain it this way: There's these basic stitches that are different sizes and they are the single crochet, double crochet and treble crochet. 1,2, 3. Simple? (Oh, and there's a half double crochet that's in between a single and a double. So it should really be called a one-and-a-half crochet stitch. You start to see the problem...) Makes sense, right? So then here comes some mysterious monster called the double treble. What? Well, I did it, and it turns out it's really a quadruple crochet stitch. Or, as I would like to call it, a fourple crochet stitch.

My point is, who was on drugs when they came up with this system of naming crochet stitches?! I mean, I'm not an expert crocheter, I only started a few months ago, but I can count. A double treble is not two trebles, as I first suspected. And it's not six units long, it's not a sixple (2 x 3). No, it's four. When does six equal four? Only in America, evidently.

See, I heard from my crochet teacher that the British have a much more logical system of naming crochet stitches. But we Americans couldn't be satisfied with the Brit system. Oh, no. As if King George was keeping the colonists under his thumb by forcing them to use British crochet. Maybe there was even some special protest, like the stupid Boston Tea Party. Maybe a bunch of crocheters threw their crochet hooks and yarn into a lake. Only things went horribly awry. Frogs and ducks hobbling around, tangled up in yarn; fish horking up crochet hooks. What a disaster! It was embarrassing. And when the local beat reporter went out to write a story, lifelong crocheters claimed they were ironsmiths and barkeeps. They refused to be interviewed. So the story went unreported. And was lost to time.

Am I obsessing about this? Probably. But I like things to be logical. I'm a logical person, and I love math. And this is just wrong. It should not be! Well, I'm pushing back. All my double trebles shall henceforth be known as fourples. And if I ever get good enough to write a pattern...fourples.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Doodle ATC's

I did this a while ago but then lost it, and I just found it again. I think it's cute. I sort of did the altered text thing on it, but then I mostly circled partial words like "gry" and "der" just to be contrary. I'm so clever.
I call these "Arranging the Stars." They are supposed to be moon-themed and I didn't want to do a moon face, so instead I have the moon busy doing something.

tiny shrine

I made this for a friend who was having a really crappy week. It's only 6 inches tall, so those pom-poms are eency. The text says, "O I'm so happi for you." My friend loved it, which makes me very happy.

Betadyne not so great?

So here's the inside of the box, showing the back and side that I've put a couple coats of Betadyne on, as I mentioned in an earlier post. It's supposed to work just as good as Alcohol Ink. Hmmmmm....it's very faded from when I first put it on. I don't like it, it just looks dirty. Now I'm wondering about this shortcut. How many coats am I gonna have to put on? Bother.

See, here's the side I have not painted at all yet with the Betadyne. It looks nice and clean. Now I kinda wish I hadn't done the other sides. Argh! Well, this may turn out to be a big experiment in techniques. I think my problem is that I was so eager to do a lot, because I've been so sick lately and haven't had a chance to work on a project of this scale in a long time, that I went a bit nutso. I bet you can all relate to doing this at some point. Maybe I'll grow out of it. I know I'm much better not than I was 10 years ago at now doing this kind of thing when I'm writing. I mean, if I do pack too much into a sentence or paragraph or even the whole piece of writing, I'm very good now at editing myself and letting go of those bits which don't belong. So maybe I'll get better at editing my art in time.

The Iron Paint and Rust Patina

So here's a better look at the rust patina, over the iron pain, which I splotched (technical term) over black paint. I really love the look of this. I'm just not sure it's working with the toy theme. I just couldn't resist trying the iron paint while I was in the workshop.

The back panel

Here's a picture of the thingy I was describing that will go in the back of the inside of the box. The black things are the lights. Well, the mounts that hold the lights, anyway. The lights themselves are pretty tiny. I hope they all work, they've been bent every which way just from me carrying it home and then taking it out again to show my art group. Aren't the tiny pencils just darling??

Thursday, July 22, 2010

That stuff on top of the box

The stuff on the top of the shrine is all loose right now, just piled up there. There's some chess pieces that I colored with alcohol ink and then there's a big square pegboard from the game Battleship that I've mounted lights onto and also glued an array of tiny colored pencils I also have saved from my childhood. I'll get a better picture of that later. It's hard because it's transparent and it will look much better mounted but I'm not done painting the back of the box behind the swing yet where it will be mounted.

Here's a tip from Jane Wynn: instead of alcohol ink for the color Butterscotch (one of my faves), use Betadyne from the drugstore. It's a little tacky to the touch at first, and you do have to do more than one coat to get that rich color, but it's waaaaaaay cheaper! I'm using that on the inside walls of my box and it's working well so far. Oh, and I don't know if you can tell but the sides of the box inside have puzzle pieces glued on. See, here's another mix of themes: toys and games. But I really don't think I can separate those two. They are intertwined in my life.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Shrine Box

So, it's not done. But here's what is going on: The swing with the toy queen. I found a little wooden chair and cut the legs off and spray-painted it gold. Then I glued a bunch of metal gear things on it and on top, the Fisher Price Mommy, who is the toy queen. Jane kept calling it a weeble, which made me unaccountable annoyed. She's not a Weeble. I had Weebles, they are oval-shaped. There's a big difference.

See, this is why I need to have a toy shrine. Because I am obsessed. With my toys. MY toys. Not my daughter's, MINE. That Snoopy wagon is from when I was a kid. I also have a Woodstock one. I've kept them this whole time. And I have some Hot Wheels and some other stuff. I want to make a couple ramps in the box to have the cars on. And on the bottom, which I've painted kind of ocean colors, I wanted to put some of my ocean driftwood and shells. Because I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid at the beach, and also making little roads and landscapes for my cars to play and drive in.

Er, I might be trying to do too much in one shrine, I am realizing. Jane told this great story about trying to put too much in one piece of art, how one of her tough art teachers said to her, looking at a piece of art she brought in to review, "Oh, you're one of those girls who puts on all her jewelry to go to a party."
I might be doing that. Maybe I'll make a separate beach shrine. Or two. I love driftwood.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Power Tools

This is my box. I made it. I made the box! This was one of the best parts of this workshop. Jane first showed me how to figure out what size I wanted for a box, and then once I figured that out, I ripped apart the crappy milk crate I had bought from Michael's, and then used a power saw, actually a jigsaw, to cut the boards to size that I wanted. Then I drilled holes (Valley Ridge has a fab toolbench in the workroom with drills just hanging there waiting for your little hands to hold them and your feet to hit the power pedal--kinda like a sewing machine). Then I hammered in the nails, and I had my box! So, I built it! I know, you're probably like, big whoop, but this felt really good to me. I felt like my Dad, the tool King, would be so proud.

Then I painted the outside black, which you can see I'm in the middle of here. After that I used this iron paint that Jane brought, and then painted patina over it so it has a rusted look. I'll get a better picture of that later. I gotta go buy some of that fun metal paint. It's so fun, it makes it possible to patina any surface, basically. I had to fiddle with my box because it was new wood. Other people had fabulous old boxes with wonderful color already built in.

Okay, more later, I have to go run Mommy errands now.

Valley Ridge Art Studio class

No, I didn't make this. My instructor Jane Wynn at Valley Ridge Art Studio did. Isn't it cool? I just couldn't resist "The New Meat Rules." I love the thing that looks like a potato and has an eye, too. And the lights. Who doesn't love tiny lights? So this thingy, a shrine, I suppose you could call it, is like what we were attempting in her class, Hunter, Gatherer, Maker.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Yeah, I wrote an article about this topic a while back, and now MOQ is re-posting it so more readers can enjoy it. If you're curious about this outdoor art sport, or you just find my writing captivating in general, check it out.

History through Donut-Flavored Lenses

I just finished reading this fabulous little zine called Scam #5 1/2 The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt's Donuts Story, written by Eric Lyle. It's my favorite kind of zine, which is the kind that tells me about something I never would have known about, especially about a particular place, in a fun and interesting way. In other words, I guess it's history. But history always bored me when I was in school. Now I'm fascinated with the whole WWII era, and I love reading pop culture histories, like Finding Betty Crocker and Something from the Oven, and of course James Lileks' irreverant take on 70's interior design, Interior Desecrations.

But I digress. A little. The Epicenter of Crime is about San Francisco's Mission district, which I know very little about. I once took a vacation in San Francisco by myself and I think I walked through it. I took public transit everywhere, so I'm sure I was there. And I think I even went there on purpose to see some museum or something. But I don't remember it that well, because it was a depressing vacation. Or I should say I was depressed. And I walked my legs off every day, determined to see as many cultural high points as possible.

My mom and older sister lived there for a long time, so I hear about it sometimes. But that was in the late 50's-early 60's, before I even existed. So I sort of inherited this fascination with San Francisco, without ever having lived there or even really visited there much.

Lyle's history in this zine takes place over several decades, starting in the 50's, when the Hunt's Donuts shop was built. It's a political history, really, which would normally bore me to tears. I'm just not a political animal. Oh, I'm sure I am when it comes to certain things. And I always vote. But I grew up after Nixon, when politics became a dirty word. And it's still dirty. I remember I got this board game in the 70's from my San Francisco-living aunt called Lie, Cheat, and Steal. You're a politician, and guess what you do to win the game? I learned new words like graft. I look back now and wonder if this was appropriate for a 10-yr old. Probably not. Of course, this is the same aunt who gave us a dartboard when we were about 6 years old. This wasn't the kind with velcro ends. These were the real deal. Bit deadly for small children. She might have still been drinking then. Mom took it away.

The Epicenter of Crime is about the changes in the Mission district from post-WWII, when it was a thriving center of industry, through the turbulent 60's and 70's, when the old immigrants (Irish) fought against the new immigrants (Latinos) for control of the community, to the 90's, when gentrification came up against decades of crime and finally killed a landmark, Hunt's Donuts. When I read the description of this zine at Microcosm, I have to admit that what attracted me was not the political stuff, or the punk history. It was the donut shop.

Donuts have some special draw, don't they? And the shop that donuts come from? It's a cultural beacon. My Dad used to get us Winchell's every weekend. I think it's what we did instead of church. Every Sunday, a box full of beautiful donuts. Sprinkles, chocolate, glazed, jelly. They were more lovely than jewels. And full of happiness.

So I love that Lyle's history is told from a donut shop. I love how the donut shop owner became a "donut tycoon" and helped get a mayor elected, and did things like sponsor a city baseball team for kids. That's the American dream.

I'd never heard of "Los Siete de la Raza," seven Latino boys who were blamed for the shooting of an often drunk and violent cop who instigated a "raid" on one of the kids' parents' house because he suspected that the furniture that some of the boys were helping move into the home was stolen. These were college kids. Yes, they hung out at Hunt's, where a lot of criminal types hung out. But they were there to recruit kids to go to college!

Lyle is good at making history come alive, because he tells about each of the players in the story, makes them all humans. Fits them into a history they might not even suspect they are part of, like the Cambodian couple who escaped the Pol Pot regime and took over Hunt's in the 90's, unaware of its reputation as a gathering spot for all kinds of criminal types, most notably those selling stolen merchandise.

Librarians, real estate agents, they're all caught up in Hunt's and its history, as Lyle finds out when he interviews them. He gets yelled at and lectured when he least expects it, just for asking about a donut shop. How fascinating is that?

I highly recommend it.

I definitely have a thing about donuts. We got this new picture book for Lily called The Donut Chef. I love it because it's about how these two donut chefs compete for making the most fanciest donuts ever and then this little girl just wants a glazed donut. And everyone is like, "Oh yeah, those were good." I suppose you could say it's political in some way. I think it's against gentrification and the $7 cup of coffee that isn't really even coffee anymore. Some of the messages I get are 1. simple is good. 2. stick with what works 3. kids are smart 4. freakishly different is not better. And of course, Donut Good.

Whose Blog?

I have been wanting to write here lately but felt like I shouldn't because I've gotten so used to posting about my art and showing pictures, that when I want to write about something else, I feel like I can't.

Well, whose blog is it anyway? I will not be compartmentalized, in the spirit of The Prisoner. If you're lost, well, go wiki it. What I'm trying to do is claim my blog and write again. I'm not just an artist, I'm a writer, too. So there, me. I gave myself a good talking to. Hope you won't be bored if I don't have eye candy...here goes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Zine is at the Distro!

Hooray! It's really real, my zine Bookstore Thief is now available at Microcosm Publishing. I am so thrilled to be part of this distro, especially as I've been reading a bunch of zines I ordered from them and I'm finding that they have really great quality picks. They wrote a nice blurb about my zine, too, describing it well.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I'm getting a lot of headaches right now, as well as flare-ups of fybromyalgia. I'm not a patient patient, so I get frustrated quickly. I try to remember that when I'm feeling crappy, my life looks a lot worse than it is. Maybe that's not exactly it, I think it's more that it feels so overwhelming when I've got a headache and I'm in constant pain from the fybro.

So I'm struggling right now. I can only do so much, and I fall behind on everything. I don't respond to emails from friends, and I feel guilty. I don't have the energy to do art projects and I really need that art-making. I feel enthusiastic and excited about doing the art, but then I'm too exhausted physically and mentally to do it. My art room is a huge mess. I have these nice new shelves along one wall that J. put in for me right after Christmas, but then that's when my headches et al. got so much worse. So there's stuff scattered all over the floor, the desk and work areas are cluttered with piles, and there's barely any room to walk on the floor. I hate it. I want it to be all clean and organized and I just can't catch up on other priorities enough to do it.

Okay, now I'm crying. It's so frustrating. I don't want to be sick! I want out of this club! I remember when we found a support group after we had a miscarraige of our first baby, back in 2003. The facilitator said, "Welcome to the club you never wanted to join." It wasn't meant to be cheeky, but very honest, and it hit the nail on the head. I'd wake up in the morning and remember, every day, that I was still in this club of parents who'd lost their babies. It was never going to end. I'll feel that loss the rest of my life. And now I'm in this club of sickies. It affects every aspect of my life. And even when it's better, I'm still in the club. Because I don't have a lot of good days right now, when I have a good day I feel this craziness because there's so many things I want to do and I won't be able to do them all and I have to decide how to spend my time best. It's a weird way to live.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Freaky Freaky

I was just working on my Minneaoplis zine, drawing a picture of a scorpion, when--oh wait, you're wondering why the heck I'm drawing a picture of a scorpion if the zine is about Minneapolis, right? Well, I'm talking about learning about where you live, and how when I lived in Arizona, I learned a lot about scorpions.

Okay, so back to the action: I'm drawing a picture of a scorpion, when out of the corner of my eye, I see a large something go skittering across the floor. I look, and all I can see is a long brown blur, because I have my reading glasses on, and, thank God, it's far enough away that I can't focus on it. Well, it stops in its tracks when I move, so I try to squint at it, or at least lean over in my chair to see more. It's huge! Okay, 4 inches long. Too stretched out and rectangular to be a spider. Long feathery legs. Only the word "feathery" would seem to imply beauty. But all I feel is revulsion.

I decide that whatever the hell it is, it's going to die now. I cross my fingers and hold my breath, then toss my Puma high-top at it. Hooray! Squish successful! I sit there for a few minutes before I dare to go look underneath the shoe. Well, I don't know what it is still. A centipede? Not enough legs. So what's in between an arachnid and a centipede on the leg-o-meter? I don't know. And I'm not researching it tonight. I'm probably already going to have bug dreams.

Lalala let's talk about something else. But seriously, how weird is it that happened? We don't get a lot of bugs in Minnesota. That's one of the things I like about it very much. Ants, brown house spiders, that's about it. It was almost serendipitous, except that word implies a happy coincidence, and I was not happy. There must a word that means a negative kind of coincidence. Anyone? Bueller?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I Have a Distro for my Zine!

I am so excited! Someone reviewed my zine Bookstore Thief in a review zine called Zine World, and soon after that, I got an email from someone at a distro called Microcosm wanting a review copy. I sent it happily but didn't pay much attention. Zine distros are all over the place and don't last long. Well, I got a follow up email within 2 weeks (that's lightning fast in zine time), and they want to carry my zine. So then I looked up their website and found to my amazement that Microcosm Publishing is one of the largest and longest-lasting distros of zines in the country! They're very professional-looking and it looks like they carry some great stuff. I'll know soon, as I just ordered and recieved a big pkg of about 15 different zines.

It's just so gratifying to have them seek me out, you know? I don't have a lot of time to spend on publicizing the artwork that I sell, including this zine, and God knows if anyone ever sees it on my Artfire shop. I love Artfire, but I never get any traffic on my studio. I don't like using Etsy very much, but every now and then, I get sales there.

A couple weeks before all this happened, I'd been writing more and deciding that I want to do a bunch of different zine projects. I am trying to get past my inner critic about writing (well, and everything else, too, but this is my latest focus), that voice that interrogates me every time I just feel like writing about something. Is it going to be a book? What will you do with it? What use will it be? These are some of the pushy, annoying questions I get. So, to make that little voice distracted (you really can't shut it up, you just have to work with it), I've decided to do a bunch of small projects. That way I get the satisfaction of sharing my writing, and it doesn't have to be the Great American Novel, whatever the heck that is.

And now I have an established distributor! So when I finish some of these other projects, I will send them to Sparky at Microcosm and see if she feels they would appeal to the Microcosm audience. This is very life-affirming for me. I've been feeling really disconnected from doing things I love that connect me to the rest of the community. Well, really several communities. There's my art group community that I meet with monthly, and this last time we met at my house and we did a round robin of doodle ATC's, just sort of decided on the spot to do it because my sharpies were out on the table. It was wonderful! No pressure, just have fun and share. This is why I'm in this group, after all, to have fun! Then there's the zine community, which I miss. I used to be very involved in it and have subscribers to the zine I wrote, and then life interfered as it does. That was almost twenty years ago. Okay, now I feel old. But I digress. I miss that quirky community of art and writing that is far removed from corporate culture.

I joined We Make Zines a couple years ago when I finished Bookstore Thief but I haven't been active on it in a while. Maybe that will change now. But maybe not. I do what I can, and I have to stop feeling guilty that I can't do as much as I could in my twenties. I'm a mommy, for goodness sake. And then I have all that migraine crap to deal with. So I do what I can and I choose carefully how to spend my time.

Anyhow, here's some ideas I have for zines:

1. an occasional zine about things I love about living in Minneapolis. I took some photos the other day of the 46th st. light rail station and I'm hoping to include one or two of those in the first issue. I love finding out about the city I live in, and I know doing this project will help me find even more fun things about Mpls.

2. A robot coloring book. I'm working on this one right now. I've had it in my head for about four years, and I finally pulled out some of my old robot drawings and then looked on the web for inspiration for drawing more. My goal is to have 14 and then I'll make a 1/4 size booklet of them. One of my fave drawings so far is called Thrift Store Lamp Robot. Oh yes, I'm having fun.

3. A migraine zine. There are just so many things I want to put in this, it's not even funny. And I have not seen anything out there like this. Maybe because no one feels like writing when they have a stinkin' migraine. I'm fighting one right now, in fact. I want to get this down before I have to break down and take some Perco. Because then my brain will be too mushy to talk all organized-like.

So there's some of my ambitions. I realize now, after writing this, that although that's not all of my ideas, I am actually actively working on all three of those right now. That's pretty amazing, don't you think? I rock.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Zentanglin' and Toesies

These are some February hearts-and-flowers-themed zentangles I did. Here Lily helps me get a good shot by sticking her toes on one of the cards.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

January themed doodle ATC's

And here are some snowmen I did for a swap. I wanted to make them sort of steampunk but also doodly. The green inside the snowman is supposed to represent Spring hidden under the snow. I colored them with watercolors after I was finished drawing.

Fall doodle ATC's

Here are the mostly final versions of my Fall ATC's that I did for a swap. I added some red ink around the edges after this, and then they were done. I really like how they turned out.