Tuesday, September 30, 2008

awesome squared

robert and shana parkeharrison have ruined me for any other contemporary photography. unfortunately their books are quite expensive, so for now i’m finding what photos i can for free online and turning them into pendants so i can look at them every day.

that’s my strategy for a lot of images, since i scored a bag of wooden tiles from savers the other day. here’s what i’ve made so far:

art credits, with links to the ones that have cool websites…
first row, left to right:
robert & shana parkeharrison; emily martin (etsy’s theblackapple); allison kendall; me; catherine howe
second row:
don’t know; don’t know; emily martin; eric carle; anne siems
third row:
emily martin; robert & shana parkeharrison; stephen rothwell; don’t know (vintage photo of the enchanted forest, a place i loved as a kid, in ellicott city, maryland); david firth (salad fingers)
fourth row:
sandy skoglund; juli adams; dr. seuss (the lorax); joel-peter witkin; don’t know (photo from very old sock monkey instruction page)
emily martin; don’t know (album cover of neutral milk hotel’s “in the aeroplane over the sea”); don’t know; sandy skoglund

since that batch i’ve found a bunch more images to use, mostly pop surrealism. ridicule me if you must. at least i haven’t used any mark ryden. yet.

it’s a lot of fun using images from my childhood, like the enchanted forest, the very hungry caterpillar, the lorax, and this one of granny glittens and her amazing mittens (from the tall book of christmas). i’m thinking of also doing where the wild things are, le petit prince, and the velveteen rabbit, but the latter two might not get made because they make me too sad. i could have a whole series of images from children’s books, it would be fabulous.

so much crafting lately! and now it’s time to start thinking of a design for the bra project. first i thought of a bra made out of autumn foliage, with braided grasses as straps and collages of colorful leaves as the cups. then i thought of making a jack-o-lantern bra, with halved pumpkin cups and faces cut into them. i also considered doing some kind of mosaic bra with little glass tiles, or a knitted bra with a design sewn in, or cups made of polymer clay, or a bra covered in fuzzy pompoms…as a fitting follow-up to the altered toy project, i thought of cutting the heads off two stuffed animals and making the cups out of those. all these ideas sound fun, but what i’m really looking for is a great concept, and nothing i’ve come up with so far has that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

measuring the marigolds

wow, this is my 100th post. i’m surprised i’m still going with this.

tuesday is my last day in the office, then i start working from home. bonus, they’re giving me a raise…i wasn’t even sure i would still get paid once it turned into an “internship,” so getting a raise blows my mind a little. and they’re giving me a computer, which i now have to find a place for.

it’s going to be awesome making my own hours, getting to work in my pjs and all that, but i think the thing i’m most looking forward to is being able to hide when i call people on the phone. i have this very weird thing about calling people…it makes me so nervous, and i get all these bizarre mannerisms while talking on the phone. at work i will seriously wait until my boss is upstairs, or out to lunch, or at least talking on another line, to make phone calls. even then it stresses me out because i’m not in an enclosed, controlled environment—someone could walk in at any moment!

of course i can’t always wait until i’m alone, so then i’m even more nervous, self-consciously trying to suppress my ticks and not sound like an idiot. what makes it extra shitty is that i’ve developed this phone voice that apparently must sound exactly like a telemarketer. i try so hard to be friendly and professional, and it ends up like this:

them: “hello?”
me: “hi, this is emily with _____. how are you doing?”

then there’s this sudden drop in their voice. this awful tone of annoyance, like i’m a mosquito and they’re just waiting for me to land so they can slap me. when i call someone at work it’s often for a good reason, like inviting them to plug their business in an article or asking for their address to send a complimentary magazine. rarely am i trying to sell anything.

but mostly what bothers me is that people are so damned indecent to telemarketers. what a miserable job that must be, just trying to earn a living and people hate you for it. is it so fucking hard to be nice? to politely refuse goods and services without getting personal or snarky about it? that’s always bothered me in a big way. telemarketers are shunned like child rapists, for shit’s sake, it’s ridiculous. they’re not harming anyone at all, in fact it’s hard to imagine a more innocuous position in the job market these days.

i should make a tshirt: “have you hugged a telemarketer lately?”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

doing horrible things to cute fluffies

it had to be done. this fusion of furries, this melding of mammalia, this conjoinment of carnivore and herbivore...it was an absolute creative necessity. nevertheless, i couldn’t help but wince a little, slicing off their legs, slashing their seams, scooping out their soft, squishy viscera.

the whole gruesome procedure reminded me of the time when i was two or three years old, i awoke from a nap on my grandmother’s couch and she had extracted my transitional object (a stuffed dog named “flopsy”) from my quiescent clutches. i opened my eyes and there was flopsy, hanging upside down from a clothesline, de-fluffed, back seam ripped open, drenched and bedraggled from his stint in the washing machine. i never recovered.

it’s a good thing my mom didn’t witness the altered toy process, she might have fainted. she and i both anthropomorphize stuffed animals to a pathological extent.

the deadline for turning in altered toys is september 19; hence the libbit (pronounced “libb-it,” rather than “lie-bit,” to rhyme with “ribbit” and to avoid confusion with “liger”). the libbit was never given a proper name, for fear that i would develop an intense attachment and not be able to give it up...like how kids in 4H don’t name farm animals bound for slaughter. however, if i had named them, i probably would have gone with either tebuggalus and teboddagaw, or radica and doodica. i brought hir (the lion is female, despite the mane, and the rabbit is male; so a gender-neutral pronoun is suitable) to the modern hotel saturday night and handed hir over to rachel. it wasn’t easy.

notice the lion’s fantastic don king hair. i sent both toys through the washing machine and dryer, and what had been a nice, fluffy, lion-appropriate mane became a matted afro. so i started brushing it out, but once it became apparent that it would be an afro no matter what, i decided to give it some direction, brushing it all straight up from the top of her head.

another significant detail, imperceptible from the outside: i switched the stuffing so that what was in rabbit is now in lion, and vice versa.

i hand-stitched the whole thing, so i hope whatever kid receives the libbit doesn’t try to pull the two apart…because that will work.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


four years since my senior year of high school, the last time i painted... i keep meaning to start up again. the other day i came across a wealth of moderately expensive, artist-quality acrylics at a thrift store for a very reasonable price--they were completely unused, leftovers from a supply store that closed a couple years ago. and instead of paying the original sticker price of like $7/tube they were only 75 cents.

it's not like i didn't already have some paint, but these made the concept of picking up a paintbrush a lot more sexy. i'm rusty, but painting felt so good, it made me want to keep practicing and get better.

i have an exciting plan for this painting, one that involves completely ripping off a creative concept peddled by an art in the park vendor i saw last weekend: i'm going to print out a small version of the painting, put it on a black bamboo tile and varnish over, then put some clay tube beads i made (in a color that matches the seahorse) on top and bottom and do a fun little twisty thing with wire to make a pendant. this vendor was selling the necklaces for $45; the materials cost was probably around $2 per necklace, and i can't imagine they take more than half an hour to make. so because she was selling them at such an inflated price i feel a little less guilty for copying her idea so exactly.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

pursuit of craftiness

despite being horribly busy this summer i managed to put together a few fun craft projects. katherine taught me how to make sock monkeys:

i traded her a couple custom silkscreened tshirts for a monkey. she made the one on the top, named tandy, seen here getting acquainted with my collection of misfit toys from thrift stores. in the bottom photo, the one wearing the condom-shaped hat is the monkey i made, named sarsaparilla. i’ve also started knitting monkey accessories, mostly scarves (and the condom hat). my next attempt will be a sock elephant made out of blue rockford socks, or perhaps a socktopus made out of stripy knee socks.

another thing i’ve been working on are these bamboo tile bracelets, modeled here by me and reed:

nikki started the trend with domino bracelets covered in comic book images, like the lovely and amazing tony millionaire’s sock monkey one she made for me. but i’m too cheap to buy the domino beads, so i found these placemats each made with over 100 bamboo tiles for about $5 each. i cut them up and salvaged the tiles, printed out little images for them and put varnish on top, then strung them together with stretch cord.

i made a gnome one for myself, a dinosaurs attack! trading card one for reed, and a nautilus one for his sister. this summer we went to a wedding, and together reed and i designed bracelets for the bride and groom: a compilation of philip k. dick book covers for her, and a tron-themed bracelet for him.

next up, one of the main reasons i gauged my ears:

earrings made out of polymer clay! i stretched out my ears enough that i could wear flesh tunnels and then loop the earrings through the center of those, because i don’t know how the clay or the varnish i coated most of them with would react against ear-holes for extended periods of time. it’s not an experiment i’m eager to try. they’re very quick to make, and i’ve made probably 30 pairs so far, of various colors, shapes and sizes. if i get ambitious i might try selling them on etsy or something.

i made these stuffed animal headphones for reed. the one on the left is a sloth and the one on the right is a rhino. they’re cheapo headphones i bought used at savers, but the sound is surprisingly decent, even through the extra layer of fabric.

this gave me the idea of making a stuffed animal with speakers inside of it. ever since tour de fat 2007 i’ve been trying to figure out a good way to attach speakers to my bike—it doesn’t seem like that difficult a task, but everything i’ve tried so far works for just a little while until the speakers get jostled around a bit, then they start falling off or bouncing around. if i could find a reasonably sized stuffed animal with large enough paws i could run the wires through the arms, replace the paw fabric with speaker cloth, and then have a much more manageable speaker system—far easier to lash a plush toy to a bike than two smooth plastic speakers. i might even make a sock monkey with speaker hands, that way i could really specify the dimensions just right, and i probably wouldn’t even need speaker cloth. plus monkeys have a good armspan, so i could stretch them across the front of my bike basket and have one speaker in each corner.

this is an idea i’m still working on:

i printed out some of my photos in specific dimensions on paper vellum, then sandwiched them between squares of glass and used aluminum tape along the border to hold them together. they’re supposed to be pendants. the tape looks a little messy, and my plan was to solder over the top of it, but i think i need to paint it with flux or something first because i absolutely couldn’t get the solder to stick.

bike chain bracelet, modeled by katherine while we were picking berries down by the river last weekend:

last year i made some of these for nikki, andrea and me for tour de fat, but in a jimmy rigged fashion. this year i actually put on clasps and even soldered the jump rings, unlike before when i just twisted them on with a bit of wire, making them difficult to remove and even more difficult to put on in the first place. this is another thing i might try selling.

other than that i’ve also printed a few tshirts, knitted a couple kitty sweaters, sewed lots of bandanas and cloth bags, made a cuddle fleece blanket, and knitted arm warmers.

some things i have in the works: a bowl made of melted plastic army soldiers, various pendants made out of resin, other pendants made of plaster, scrabble tile pendants, picture frames bordered with bike chain for framing tour de fat photos, and of course the aforementioned sockephant and socktopus.

art in the park starts tomorrow…that means more inspiration, more projects to add to the list. if only i could have a week off just to make things.