Friday, October 2, 2009

Framed Shrinkies

It's been a long time since I've been here,
so somehow thought it appropriate to show a piece I made some time ago.

3" x 3"
shrinky dink with colored pencil
polymer clay with gold leaf
wood molding

I made a lot of tiny Framed Shrinkies (more to come) and sold many. Got a little tired of them, but still, they are sweet.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mexican Trains

I've been making lots of these lately. . .

They're for playing the Mexican Train Domino game. Find out about it here.

Want one? Let me know if you do.
But you have to get your own dominoes. I found my dominoes at Target.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rolodex Project

Check out The Rolodex Project at Her projects are pretty cool. In The Rolodex Project, you send her a Rolodex card with a drawing on it. I couldn't stop with just one . . . here's a sampling of some that I sent.

A Pig on a Pedestal

A Thoughtful Frog

The Library at the Armory, Pasadena

And then she sends some others back to me in return.

For her it's all about vintage fun. But for me (yes, still cell phone-less) a Rolodex is part of my everyday life. The cards I get in return will be tucked in there to make me smile.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hunca Munca Rides Again*

We still have our Christmas gingerbread house sitting on the buffet in the far corner of the living room.

OK, OK, it's pretty sad looking, I admit. But the "snowman" in the right corner always looked melted like that. And it's not nearly as sad looking as the Christmas tree we kept up till Easter one year - not an artificial tree either. So this sad little gingerbread house stays on the buffet because I don't really want to trash it and it's easy to forget about it most of the time . . . until the scritching-scratching started.

We have, from time to time, especially in the late winter and early spring, mice in our house. (Better, I think, than the snake we once found under the bed.) I started hearing some scratching from that corner of the living room and it seemed to be coming from inside the wall. The lower half of our living room is a funky rock wall. Above the rock, the wall is extended up another 6 feet with wood and drywall. After the recent cold snap, a mouse seemed to be making a nice warm nest where the drywall meets the rock wall, and I was glad that the scratching wasn't coming from the pantry where our last mouse had been nibbling through a bag of pasta and a granola bar.
Last night, as the scratching from the wall was particularly loud, I decided to take a closer listen. Creeping over near the noise I was shocked and delighted to find that it was indeed coming from the wall. But not the drywall . . . the furry little so 'n' so had eaten his own little custom door through the back gingerbread wall and moved on in.

I almost can't bear to set out a mousetrap. It's so . . . fairy tale like! I believe Rumpelstiltskin may be lurking under a bush in my backyard and Rapunzel could be living in my studio. I might even find glass slippers in the back of my closet. I still don't believe in fairies though.

* Thank you to my aunt Saki and cousin Michael for reminding me of Hunca Munca, and The Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Menagerie News

It's not an animal but it's still a part of my gold leaf menagerie. It called out to me at the thrift store the same way the pig did. What else could I do? Home came the wooden bowling pin and out came the gold leaf.

Part of the Gold Leaf Menagerie
7-1/2 inches tall

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Gold Leaf Menagerie

Most of the Gold Leaf Menagerie is made up of thrift store finds. But this little wooden coyote (3 inches tall) was my mother's. A strange thing, I suppose, by which to remember my mother. It's gold now, still wears its original kerchief, does remind me of my mother, and I am happy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Gold Leaf Menagerie

I'm standing, flipping through the rack of new arrivals that's been left, haphazardly, in the middle of the main aisle at my local Salvation Army.

The rack and I completely block the way. An older woman in ill-fitting 80's style clothing in gaudy colors, stops next to me. Her oversized bag gets lost in the clothing rack as she squeezes into the aisle. Long, stringy, graying hair, a child's barrette pulling her bangs back over her forehead, she smiles a loose grin with a missing incisor, and warmly admits that she recognizes me. Yes, I've seen her around too.

"Come on over and have a sit with us." She motions with her head towards the chairs and couches for sale, placed around a worn-out coffee table with a $20 price tag. "You're a regular; you belong over here chatting with us. We have nice talks."

Yes, I visit this Salvation Army store a couple days a week. Yes, I'm a regular, but I'm not a chatting regular.

I check today's stash:
- a lovely, tastefully beaded black Alex Coleman vest. Maybe I'll wear it at Christmas.
- a long and lean, foot-long, wooden pig. It feels warm and seems to oink a golden oink at me. "Take me home, gold leaf me, I'm perfect," it says.
- a small and grimy child's school slate that might be old enough to be worth something, but I plan on gold leafing the border and chalking in something clever on the slate.
- a tiny wicker bird cage, about 3 inches tall, without a price tag.

I thank the lady for her invitation and quickly flip through the rest of the rack before moving on to the checkout counter. I chuckle over the thought of hanging out at the furniture section while the guy behind me in line picks his nose, and the young man in the red Salvation Army vest loudly sings along with Crocodile Rock playing on the stereo marked $15.00.

My beautiful vest and wooden pig are recorded in the cash register, treated as items equally worth taking home on an early Thursday afternoon. I love how a 40-year-old hand-beaded vest and a "Buy One/Get One Free on Brick-a-Brack" item receive the exact same nonchalant reaction from the counter lady. She picks up the tiny bird cage (also destined for gold). The rule is "No tag - No sale." She looks up, recognizes me, and pushes the cage towards me across the glass-topped jewelry-filled countertop. Conspiratorially, and with a smile and a sweet wrinkle of her nose, she says, "You just take that, Sweetie."

Glancing over at the furniture section I feel strangely honored by the earlier invitation. Of course there's no question that I want to buy these things. It's fine. I'm a regular.

Softly singing along to Crocodile Rock, I check my outfit, my bag. Pointing into the glass case I spy a little costume jewelry piece and say, "Can you show me that barrette?"
(More from the Gold Leaf Menagerie coming soon.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why I Make Art

Back then, in those preteen years of mine, my fingers used to wiggle. Sometimes my arms moved around simultaneous to the finger wiggle. Draw anything and the wiggle would stop: A chair in the restaurant, a pant leg (with or without shoe), a couch in a living room, or weeds growing outside the window. Whatever it was, people liked it. They told me I had a secret; that I possessed the miracle of art making that they could appreciate but not understand. I could pretend I was self-conscious, making a fuss about not wanting to show my sketches. That way I could reinforce their belief that I held a secret. And if I did finally allow the sketchbook to be opened by them, they were suitably awe struck and did not try to pry the miraculous secret from me.

And I, to play my part, was suitably silent and humble.

When my mother was dying of brain cancer, for the last four months of her life, I cared for her day and night. People would tell me how wonderful, how brave I was. They thought I was being so completely unselfish. I must hold some kind of secret, because they thought they wouldn't be able to do that sort of thing. But I moved into my parents' house, bathed, coaxed sips of water into, changed the diaper of, held the hand of, and tried desperately to understand the mumbled mixed up words of my dying mother for completely selfish reasons.

I wanted to be like God. I wanted to understand everything. I wanted to be omniscient. I wanted to make instant connections between life and death, and have it all make sense. I wanted to know everything and hold it all in my hands. I wanted to hold my mother's pain and her inability speak, her jumbled, mumbled words, even my dad's false teeth or the dead skin that peels off my feet, my mom's diseased cells multiplying as a cancerous tumor, her dog that never left her side, the scar on her head, the one on her neck, and her missing ovary. I wanted to care for it all.

But all I could do was care for my dying mother, and make art. I made vessels so I could try to hold that cancer and pain.

Now, I'm older. I no longer want to be like God. The vessel stage has passed (sort of). My fingers no longer wiggle and I'm happy to shove my art work in front of anyone feigning interest.

There are no more secrets. Even if there ever was one, it was only ever this simple: This is what I do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Squirrel Bones and Possum Skulls

Although I live in the city of Los Angeles there is much undeveloped land in my neighborhood. In my backyard I have found: owl pellets with full, intact vole skeletons hidden away inside; many possum jaw bones; a squirrel carcass just fur and bones that was unfortunately squirreled away by some other animal before I could get at it. On the hillside across the street we have found: a cat skull with all its teeth; a possum tail; a portion of (I think) a small dog skull. I have even inspired little girls to collect bones for me on the hillsides of Los Angeles.

But why do I gold leaf them and put them in "ceremonial tins?"

The easy answer is: I can change something tiny (icky even) into something so big and worthy.

The short version of a complicated answer: Making forgotten dead things important - I realize now that even though my process has changed, 15+ years later, I am still making artwork about my mother's death.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Because of My Friend Rosie

For the last few years, whenever I went to visit My Friend Rosie in the neighboring State of Nevada, we would hole up in her house for 72 hours straight and craft - craft, craft, craft, craft, craft. From about 1997 - 2005 I had been on a hiatus from artmaking. These intense crafting sessions with Rosie were the closest I came to creating art.

After one such weekend a few years ago, I ended up with this...

...the very beginning of my obsession with shrinky dinks, gold leaf, and birdhouses.

Soon thereafter, in an epiphany (hey, my calendar states that today, January 6, is the Epiphany), I realized that I could embrace my crafty love in the pursuit of "serious" artmaking.

Although I still see Rosie regularly, we no longer craft together. She has recently given me permission to write about the reasons for that. Perhaps soon, I will share that story here. Thanks in more ways than one, Rosie, for giving me permission to make art again.