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Archive for October, 2009

So it’s Halloween. The day is very gray and the wind is high, but it’s warm. I’m wearing pirate gear (I love the masks but wearing one all day, not so comfortable)

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our mostly naked tree

and we have a big bowl of goodies for anyone who stops by. Our big maple has managed to lose almost all of its leaves over the last day and night. It looks like one more round of raking should take care of cleaning up the rest of the fallen ones. Next year we’ll be setting up a couple of leaf compost hoops, but for this year, the leaves have been taken to the municipal yard waste pile. Speaking of Halloween, the masks have been making appearances around the blogosphere. I did an interview with the ladies of Suavoce for their “Friday Fantasy” feature. I love how they made my own pictures look even better! You can see it here. Andrea at Beadmask has a couple of entries showing a couple of mask treasuries we were both included in. (here and here) Treasuries are a neat part of the Etsy experience, but they are short-lived so I’m happy she has permanent copies, showing. I’ve also got a couple of masks making an appearance in a group of beautiful glam images on Loliblog. The only problem is that they used the back shots! *sigh* I include them because I want people to see my masks from all angles, not because I thought anyone would use them. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I guess any publicity is good. Right?

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Now that Halloween is almost here I’ve been trying to look ahead, in terms of the Etsy shop. I took a ton of photos, over the past couple of days,

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painted mask ornament

of the mask ornaments. I’ve also started back into making some new ones. I want to have them for the shop as well as for when we do the Rotary show. Considering how well people have responded to some of my different pieces I decided to included a not-very-traditional ornament in the lot. This is one that was done on the largest ornament form, painted, “tattooed” and then the details accented with iridescent paints. I’ve used the hand-drawn “tattoo” effect on a number of pieces. Some were leafed and a couple, like this one, were just painted after. It’s kind of nice not to be limited by what I have in lace and I also like that it feels a bit less formal. While I made the ornaments to go on trees or wreaths, most people have told me they were going to have them out all year-round. This one is really designed more for regular display then a holiday tree. I’m sure it would look terrific on a gothic/fantasy themed one, but I’m also sure it won’t get put away after the season ends!

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This is the second of the garden art, key pieces I just finished. It also uses a vintage frame and is smaller than either of the blue ones are.

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garden art, "Love is the Key"

I wasn’t a 100% positive that I could use this frame, I thought it might be too small. What I did was to cut the board for the back and laid the heart out first, to see if it would still fit and look balanced. Once I knew it would work, I went ahead with the painting and distressing. I’d found the tiny heart lock a few years ago and always knew I’d find something it would fit into. It’s the perfect scale for this piece and, while it’s still all bright and shiny, it should get a nice rusty finish fairly soon after it goes outside. Another different aspect of this piece is that I used a much heavier wire for attaching the keys and lock. The others have several loops of a thin, distressed wire. For this piece I used a single piece of very thick copper wire. It was harder to shape and attach but has much more presence and becomes an integral part of the design. It jumps out a bit right now, due to the colour, but it should oxidize through a great brown to a final verdigris.

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I’ve been working on finishing a few more garden art pieces. We’ll be attending the Stratford Rotary Craft show and wanted to have some on hand.

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garden art "Love is Key, Redux"

I thought it was a bit funny, how close the colour of this vintage frame was to the colour of the frame on my first “Love” garden piece. That one found a home very quickly and I really liked the combination of the blue with the distressed white. When mother brought me this great vintage frame, I had no hesitation using for a similar piece. It is vintage and also quite thin, for the size so I’m happier using it this way then if I was to try and put anything in it with glass. (the outdoor art pieces are all well sealed and siliconed together, on the back, so it is really far more stable then if it was just pinned like a normal frame) I went for a vertical orientation and the painted design, under the distressed white, shows through a bit more clearly, I think. I finished one other of the key hearts and my stash of the vintage keys is running out. I maybe have enough for one more mid-sized piece of this type. I often find it hard to completely use up some materials, but I tell myself that more things will be discovered and they are there to be used. Sometimes it helps..

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Sugar skull pumpkin

So I finished the third of my carved pumpkins. In staying with “traditional, yet different” theme I opted for making it into a sugar skull. third carved squash The lino cutters are the only reason I was able to do this level of carving. They just make it so easy to do all the details, and I’ve finally got the knack of using the thicker one to do larger areas. It leaves a great texture that I’ll keep in mind when planning next years designs. The only problem is that there was a small bad spot on the pumpkin that I didn’t notice until I was cutting. As a result, he looks a bit like he has a cold sore. *sigh* I’ve been waffling about painting in some colour to the design. The real ones tend to be very brightly coloured and my fingers are twitching to add some red, white and green. (maybe even some purple!) I’m just concerned that the colours would push it into being garish, it’s already so carved it borders on a bit overwrought. figuring out when to stop can be a bit of a problem for me. I think I’ll leave it as is. (there is a small amount of outlining already from when I drew the design on before carving) I might not be around for the actual Halloween night so I’ll likely do a test lighting of the whole group in the next couple of days, I just have to figure out where we stashed the tealights…

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Jack Skellington pumpkin

Late spring, Mother brough me a set of vintage lino cutting tools. (she found them with some vintage printing cuts that have already found a home) I put it into the “I’ll eventually get around to trying” pile and mostly forgot about it.

carved pumpkin

carved pumpkin

When I went to go and get to work on our second squash, I remembered that they are supposed to be good for pumpkin carving so I dug it out and gave it a try. Wow, they do make detail carving so much easier! This pumpkin had such a great, round shape that I wanted to go a bit more traditional with it, but I’m not interested in doing the standard triangle cuts. I decided to go with Jack, from A Nightmare Before Christmas. The lino cutter made it very easy to do the curves of his eyes and mouth as well as the stitches in his mouth. I think I achieved a good “plotting” expression on him and I think it will look great when lit. (the rind is a very close colour to the insides, so there isn’t as much contrast now as he’ll have when a candle is in him) I’m going to try and get the last one cut into today so we’ll have the full set on display for the Halloween week

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and there was cake…

In writing about our Docfest adventure, I forgot to mention that we went out to dinner before the show. The gala didn’t get started until 8pm so we decided to

giant chunks of cake

giant chunks of cake

have dinner at Let Them Eat Cake, a little cafe in downtown Stratford. The parentals have had breakfast and lunch there, in the past and really enjoyed it, but I’m not sure that dinner is really their thing. Mother started with a cream of broccoli soup that was tasty, but more than a bit too thick. I tried a mouthful and picked it up with my fork! However, her quesadillas was fantastic. I had Parmesan baked salmon with rice and vegetables. The salmon was great, the rest of it, not so much. Dad had baked tilapia with a spicy crust, home fries and more of the steamed (from frozen) vegetables. The home fries were a better call than the rice. For dessert, we all had cake. Of course, we had to get most of the slices to go since they were HUGE! Dad had the chocolate, Mother’s was called “Hummingbird” and was banana/sweet potato with cream cheese icing. I had the lemon. Mine was the weakest, it was a bit dry and not lemony enough for me but the other two were very tasty. It was a decent meal, but clearly, the place is a better bet for breakfast or lunch.

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Seeing William Shatner

Mother has been a long-time, dedicated fan of William Shatner. When I found out that he would be coming to Stratford for the Docfest opening Gala,

William Shatner at Docfest

William Shatner at Docfest

I knew we had to be there. I bought the tickets in September and we all went last night. He was there to introduce the documentary film William Shatner’s Gonzo Ballet. (it was also the Canadian premiere) We had a really fun time. It was held at the Avon Theater and was general admission but we manged to get seats in the front row. The evening almost got very exciting when a photographer decided to cut across the space between the stage and front row, only to discover that it was the orchestra pit, covered with netting and a piece of cloth. One leg went through the net but he manged to frantically scramble/roll his way over to us with only his dignity taking injury. The film itself was terrific. (as was the short, Found, that opened it) It was about the ballet that was done around his album Has Been. (and we’ll be picking up a copy of it soon) The album is mostly him doing spoken word readings over music. Ben Folds wrote most of the original music and Henry Rollins (who was in the movie and acknowledged that it is more than a little mind-boggling to have him with Shatner, but it works.) helped out on a great call-and-response song, I Can’t Get Behind That. I love dance and really liked the choreographer’s style. I’ve read Shatner’s Star Trek Memories and was impressed by how very open and real he was. The songs/poems also had that quality. We expect that kind of sincerity and realism from our poets, not our actors. Unexpectedly, he is both.

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Dragon Squash

Well, I got the first of my carved squashes done. I started with a gray squash and then have cut a fanged mouth, eyes and some fins.

carved squash

carved squash

Vintage watch parts are his antenna and he also has a ridge of mother-of-pearl pieces. I love the variegated green/yellow on the areas I scraped the peel off. It especially suits the eyes. The effect is very dragon-like. The bottom has been cut out so I can put a candle in him on Halloween. The eyes and mouth are cut all the way through. The fins/ frills are cut through, but just slightly pushed out so they will only be outlined. He was designed to be the steed for the figure I’ve done out of the Visible Man case. (I’ll put up some pictures, when the whole thing is together) I’ll have to prop him up a bit and glue the figure to him because it sits a bit too far forward, as things are. (I’d also like the mouth to show a bit more) I’m considering going a bit more traditional with the other two pieces. They are pumpkins and have nice round shapes, so they would look good as regular Jack-o-lanterns but I’m considering a few other ideas. I’m hoping to get them done before the weekend. If it stays fairly cold they should all be fine until the 31st.

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Artrepreneurship

So, last night we took part in a networking event in Stratford. It was in a terrific space called Factory 163. It’s a former factory that has been repurposed as 100_7510 artist studios, gallery space and classrooms. We were in the main gallery and did our display between a pair of pillars. I’m pretty happy with how it looked. (the photo is of the front of our display and you can just see Mother over the shoulder of the suited gentleman she’s talking to) The event was called Artrepreneurship and the concept was to allow a varied group of local artists a chance to all get together in the same space to meet and network. There was food from different local sources and it was all wonderful. Some local musicians and singers performed and that was a terrific and unexpected bonus! The meet-‘n-greet was followed by a talk from Ian Wilson (strategic Advisor for the new Stratford Institute) about some of the things he hopes will be coming from the Stratford Institute and what they might mean for the local Arts and Creative community. That was followed by a talk from Bill Poole (Director of the Centre for Cultural Management, University of Waterloo) about the importance of Cultural Mapping. It was a very interesting night out and I’m glad we took part. I’m going to be looking into the classroom spaces that are in the building for possibly offering some workshops, in the new year.

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