Friday, December 14, 2018

Studio Visit for the Win! Sunday Zen

Update: This is from a few days ago. You have one more chance to visit Laurie Eisenhardt's studio in Royal Oak, tomorrow, on Saturday the 15th.

Beautiful Sunday morning, sun-filled and cold. Yesterday was my last craft/art show of the year and tonight we light the menorah next to a decked out Christmas tree. This week I may manage to send a couple cookie boxes out, for the first time in a few years -- and in a couple weeks, we'll travel to Pennsylvania to be with my side of the family. Aside from down-trodding run-of-the-mill illness, the year seems to be wrapping up nicely!

This morning I paid a magical visit to Laurie Eisenhardt's ceramics studio. I seriously second-guessed myself about going: a long drive, I felt crummy, tired from yesterday's show, and I already had presents mostly squared away, so what did I think I was doing? Basking, as it turned out. A sign on the front door guided visitors to follow the hay path around the side of the house, up to the studio. The first thing you see are her tiles climbing the walls around the painted studio door, in iridescent tendrils.

Inside, music played, wall-vase heads sprouted leaves and berries.  A short table stuffed into one corner offered up ripe strawberries, glazed chocolate cookies. The studio's bounty of inventory was clear evidence of an established, highly functioning studio -- though it appeared neater, more spare than it had any business being. All chaos doubtlessly laying in wait behind the sheets lining the small, light-filled rooms. But visible, tiles everywhere: girls with tree crowns, leaping cheshires, grazing stags, miraculously scaled fish, shallow women-bowls with vegetables dancing in their skirts. Night skies with fortunes, sleeping moons, and star-babies. Lively and quiet; playful & mysterious. I was sucked in by the delight in her artwork.

Over the past few months, I have repeatedly come back to how joy resides in tools, through the promise of their -- and thus, our -- potential. And it's why old-school hardware stores and boutiquey kitchen stores leave me with the same happy glow: Ohhh, the things I could do! Even, it seems, when my fix-it levels are vastly overrated. Somehow it never occurred to me to view art purchases in the same way. Not *exactly* the same -- years of drinking coffee from gorgeous mugs have not morphed into spontaneous skill at the potter's wheel -- but in a broader sense, in surrounding yourself with loved art, you are supporting potential realized. You have signed on for someone else's creative journey. If you are a repeat customer, you are watching how their work evolves; you connect with some pieces more than others, some paths they explore, you gaze at from the roadside; but others feel familiar, or tantalizing, and in you jump.

When I was looking at Laurie's work and deliberating, I felt the uplift of consumerism, potentially acquiring art I liked, which also feels guilty and frivolous -- but why exactly should it be so?* But I also knew that whatever I brought home to have on my walls, would boost me whenever I took the time to appreciate it anew. Both for the inherent joy in the work itself, and in the knowledge that this tile began as potential, to which the artist committed herself. Our artwork isn't similar. Our skills and talents are different. But on that broadest making level, what a nourishing thing to have beautiful work around you that is physical proof of others committing to their vision and bringing that vision home.

*I mean, aside from the obvious indication of level(s) of privilege and ease.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Favorite Uncaptured Photo

Our daughter scrambled up my side of the bed and pounced on a nondescript sleep mask. "Ohhhh Moooooommy" she cooed,"This is TOO SMALL for you!" She held it against her xylophone shirt. "THIS! is JUST MY SIZE!"

"Oh honey, that's not a bra-"

"It IS--" she slid back down the comforter "-- and it's just FOR ME!" she ran into her room and slammed the door. Was she humming? She may have been humming. She had pig tails and little salmon pink grosgrain bow barrettes and her tiny person glasses with plastic flower beads on each temple. And now, as she proudly rounded the corner again, she wore fuzzy navy pants plus one shiny black sleep mask that was doing its best impression of a bustier. It did remarkably well, but for the nose bridge smack in the middle of her chest.* Rick and I were shaking with laughter, how could we not? Her eyes twinkled. "Wanna take a picture?" she asked, very sweetly.

"YES!!!-" I said and ran to find my phone
and "NOOOOOO!!!" Rick said, "DO NOT TAKE THAT PICTURE!!!"

and I found my phone, but she was already putting a t-shirt on, and now all that was really apparent was the nose nub and general bunchiness. I returned to my "Not a bra" stance and set about reclaiming it, so it didn't get swallowed into child world before the next time I needed to use it. Three y.o. was crestfallen, disbelieving. "You! YOU GO TO CARTERS AND YOU BUY ME A BRA!!" I sorried and sorried and said they don't make bras for little girls, it's only when one gets older and has a bigger body. She slumped on her crib-turned-to-bed, hung her little pig tailed head. And obviously, we are not ready for her to grow up and progress along those lines; and she has no idea whatsoever about the reality behind the wanting of the things, but I do respect this sense of entitlement, Mommy has these things, and I shall have them, too. Why would I not?

*I mean, really, how many objects can adequately stand in for other entirely unrelated ones? This, though is a game 3 y.o. plays pretty much constantly. But our adult brains just aren't as flexible.

Friday, October 19, 2018

It's a Card Partayyyyyyy! And the Groundhog Needs No Invitation

Busy Busy Busy! Fall has come, along with some nasty, flu-ish thing. Aside from scheduling myself to sell in the somewhat-outdoors tomorrow (insulated garage), I timed it pretty well, haha. Rick was able to watch our sweetie for most of yesterday and all of today, making extended nap times and dubious home remedies possible. Hopefully the illness ends with me! 3 y.o. definitely sounds nasal-y, but she often does, but is also rambunctious as ever. I'll be layered like an onion tomorrow, and hope that the rain mostly holds off.

If you're not out doors all day, it sounds like a lovely day for a meander! I'm excited to take part for the first time in the Westside Arthop, a free local event, where you can check out 16 venues, with a varying number of artists selling their wares. I'll be at 800 Mount Vernon with two other artists; one door down from another venue and one block away from the most populated venue (featuring the work of 12 artists at Gretchen's House, where I believe this event was first staged). Full artist and artist host map here.

Amongst a robust show docket, I still got to experience some play time.

1. Here are three new card designs, inspired by our daughter's drawings + her words about them:

They have a different feel from some of my other designs, I think, so we'll see how they do! The green ones *just* finished drying, so their first outing will be to the Westside Arthop tomorrow. After this event, I think I'll deliver some to the yummy El Harissa market, which I'm very happy to have carry my cards.

2. I dropped off a nice batch of small cards to Nicola's Books. May they sell happily and well!
including the new "Thank You" card, also here
3. Thank you, Everyone who stopped by to browse and visit at the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale, at the end of September! All you groovy, cool, and odd folks -- fellow vendors and friends & customers -- made some long days seem shorter. As did some fine music and the discovery of a new favorite brew.

Show favorite? The groundhog.
I sold this vociferous fellow more frequently than any other print. Quite often, it spurred stories of animal deck occupations, and frequently, an older male relative who was being driven crazy by them. Purchases were contemplated, but would Bill find it funny OR would it send it him over the edge? Not for me to say. Either way, I'll also have this one at my table tomorrow... Consider yourself invited.

Happy Weekend, All.
M a/k/a Cakeasaurus

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Whatever the question, the answer is DADDY

"Put your toys away, it's dinner time." On different days I could have been saying this to a child or an adult in my house, but here I'm being called out by the wise ass bartender. I have some shrimp summer rolls to balance out a pint of sour, but am fiddling with an Instagram post, or rather my sad typing skills. I'm hunched over my phone unless I catch myself; I'm close-to-doomed posture-wise. Old Tribe Called Quest is playing and I can't resist answering that Yes, I can, kick it. Dweeby, all of it. At least I'm out.

Anyway, we are, yet again, in the midst of major transitions:

A.) The girl starts pre-school next week, three afternoons. Suddenly she won't be seeing her primary babysitter -- lovely and capable, she brought her ukelele with today, to play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and show my daughter a couple simple chords. So sweet, it made my heart hurt. But by golly, the girl is ready for an expanded world! More people, more activities. She wakes up, asking what we're going to be doing for the day. "But where will we go??" Well. As fun as I have sometimes thought myself to be, I'm not entirely up to the role of constant entertainer.

But, so. Suddenly she will be off, for much longer periods than my usual babysitting breaks, and clearly now my personal growth will shoot forward, yes? Either obvious immersion in new creative projects or return to frequent writing and/or figuring out career goals for my imminent future. I think I may have the start of staycation syndrome: I will have a week off, now I can entirely fix my life.  I should dial it back a little, while still raising the bar for myself, if that makes sense. A little bit of a re-boot in the midst of everything. Because more changes are most definitely coming in the next couple years, so holy hell, I should take advantage of this now.

Obviously, too, it will be strange with her away from myself and the house for over 4 hours at a go, and three days in a row, but watching her at a school visit yesterday showed us (yet again) that while she sometimes holds back in larger kid groups, she will probably hold her own just fine. She has no problem correcting people about what she wants; and she will eat All the foods if you let her. They were alternately sharing thick banana slices. The teacher clarified for our daughter that the rule is, "we have two hands, so we can take two pieces at a time." "Oh," she gestured, "I can fit two in each hand~~"

B.) The Mommy Love is gone. Oh, it's just submerged! You say. Fine. I'm not fishing. But I'm used to the love fest, even in the midst of trying times (which there have been A LOT OF recently), but now it's Daddy this and Daddy that. There was always the puppy love, on the evenings he came home before her bedtime, he has always been a bit halo-ed, BUT. Last week:

Moments after I came home, to relieve the babysitter: "I wish DADDY was here. I just LOVE HIM SO MUCH."

"I know, but he's at work. How much do you love Mommy?"

"I LOVE DADDY SO MUCH. I just love you a little."  So this + LOTS of *Ahem* oppositional behavior = AWESOME TIMES. Possibly exceeding my patience levels. I mean, it takes all the affection to deal with someone hitting you, kicking you, and then demanding block tower time (in which, make no mistake, she will bully you about all your block decisions).

At the preschool visit yesterday, the little ones were doing "journalling," which involved them drawing pictures of their family, and telling the teacher what they wanted written about the page.     "Daddy!" she called, in syrupy tones across the room,"I drew a piiiiiiicture of you!"  The teacher prompted her about other family people to add. "There's no one else I want to draw," my daughter said. Decisively. Rick touched his forehead to my shoulder, while he shook with silent laughter. I understand this is developmentally normal. But experientially? NOT A FAN OF THIS PHASE.

This morning, she begged and pleaded for her father to get up, who was intent on sleeping in. "I want one of you to come see me in my room, I mean NOT YOU MOMMY, I mean DADDY but both of you. DADDY GET UP" I was, naturally, happy to sleep in; but eventually when Rick came to fetch me, he was followed by the little one, bellowing at me, "DON'T GET UP, MOMMY DON'T GET OUT OF BED, YOU DON'T, STAY IN BED, NOT YOU"  which really didn't inspire a rise-and-shine attitude. After I shifted to the kitchen, it was followed by more bellowing: "STOP TALKING, DON'T SPEAK!!!!" I drank coffee at the dining room table, while she ran between the kitchen and the living room. My groggy lack of interaction failed to appease, as she ran through, silently mouthing, "DON'T SPEAK" while holding her hand like a stop sign in my face. Mmmmhmmm. I may be rather old, but I will surely enjoy preschool this time around. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Life's a Carnival...Newest Print + Upcoming Shows Schedule

Hot off the presses...

Step right up, Step right up! All it takes is one fine spin and the life of your dreams is there for the taking!...Or the life of some one's dreams. Or some good dreams and some not-so-good dreams. What's definitely true is that our experiences are rich, multilayered, and only rarely consist of one flavor (i.e. joy or sadness). And we build our lives with these experiences, through willpower, skill, and the vagaries of existence...
This original carnivalesque design is a multiple linoleum block print, printed on toothsome Rives BFK paper, using rich, archival water soluble ink. Measures 12 x 12 inches, standard frame size. Open edition.

Yours for a modest price, in my Etsy shop... ORRRRRR come visit me this Saturday, at the down town Ann Arbor library! ALL PRINTS ALL THE TIME! It's their first fair solely devoted to printmaking -- with lectures and demos and all kinds of excitement. Event details here.

I am also looking forward to sell at two additional Michigan events this Fall:

BookFest, on September 19th

DIYSF -- Ferndale's 3 day street fair September 21-23rd.

Set your focus, spin the wheel, best wishes for a good Summer's end & Fall...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Happy Print for Happy Times, A Nudge for the Sluggish Times

Wooooooosh, there goes Summer. Well, not quite. Often when I have neglected the blog, it corresponds with a similar lack in other creative spheres. Happily that's not the case this time - several new card designs, plus a couple larger lino prints. It's contemplative time that's at a shortage, I think. And/or peace of mind. Peaceful or not, I vowed to sell at more shows this year than last. Not a high bar, as 2017 saw merely a handful -- but still, points for shaking things up a little. I applied to more -- got into more -- and then thought, well this is no good unless you have more new things to share...

Here's the latest, hot off the press:
the later yellow copies are more lemony than mustardy
I really had fun playing around with strong colors on this design. Thirsty for color, without knowing it! I enjoyed both the colors and the varying degree of inkiness. Sometimes the background is practically sodden; elsewhere, it seems the brayer has just glanced across its surface. These are not proper, spic-and-span pristinely-editioned prints.

cherry red, bouncing with energy
Milky blue vs. darker blue
Initially dismayed to misregister a few copies, I found myself returning to them. There's a certain electricity created by the misstep in printed colors. Jarring, but weirdly satisfying. Possibly moreso, due to the subject matter. The joy of tools is in their potential, to help us as makers create our world around us. The things we make are sometimes messy. Partially instructed, part improvised. Often the final forms vary greatly from our original concepts.

Likewise, these prints are as much about the process of making as they are reflections of the final design.  I look at these and think of my friend's studio -- the reward of inking linoleum blocks, laying down paper, rolling the blocks through her press; the relief of repeat and repeat and repeat; the satisfaction of doing something physical and concrete, especially during heartbreaking times, with a loved one in the hospital.

Before the carving, and the printing, the composition invited lots of juggling. Too many loved tools for them all to be included! I knew I wanted an apron, and scissors, whisk, and hammer; the spade won space through its simplicity and my fondness for gardens past. Other tools jockeyed for space. I photographed sketches and moved them around in Photoshop, returned to the drawing board.

The original word placement (now in "badge") also explains my pencil placement...
To carve or sign? Decided to carve my name for two newest prints, hmmm

Detail of the inked black block

The color block, after many shades have been tried

Detail of a sunny green, with inking plate in background
prints +child. "why are you standing up so high? I will get on the chair, too"

"Your Tools Await" is now up in my etsy shop, in milky blue & cherry red --more colors coming.  All hand printed on toothsome Rives BFK paper, measuring 12" x 18" (standard framing size).

Friday, June 15, 2018

Lunch Hour Takes a Dangerous Turn

A trio of the BigHeaded Dead, Art Institute of Chicago
Hey did you read my awesome and only post from last month, about the "Making Home" exhibit at the DIA, my subsequent Gregory Crewdson documentary watching* and brooding? Right? Right. I wrote it over several days, as it was difficult to carve out one chunk of time. Multiple saving somehow foiled by the sorry, mysterious black hole that is my glitchy, glitchy macbook pro, which Geniuses (insert copyright) nevertheless insist is healthy, robust. But, so. Obviously I have gotten over this by now, but life is busy, and clearly there are way worse things to brood over. And, were one more evolved, one would skip the brooding in any case, because life will beat it out of you anyway, why hurry this along?

So, bigger things. like guns. Today is Tuesday and my 3 year old has just paused from cramming ravioli into her mouth to ask, "What are guns?" Unh. We have already been having BI-Zarre chats about death of late, as her father took her to a memorial the weekend before last. But here we are, in Terry Gross land, not even coverage of a mass shooting or even a murder, but a director and actor interview. To be honest, I really haven't become adept at switching the radio, CDs, or TV to shield her ears, but it would seem the time to start has already passed. I still catch myself exclaiming at fellow drivers, though the backseat driver instantly provides a tonally accurate replay: "WHY DID YOU SAY: 'You've gotta be kidding me?'" Her remarkable, relentless attention is catching up with me. So. the director of Taxi Driver has just told Terry that at a certain point of his life, he just slept better with a gun under his pillow. And I internally cringed, because I can think of few things which would make me feel more threatened than having a gun nearby. Cue preschooler head swinging my way, pesto-greasy fist paused by her mouth: "What are guns?" To be exact, she actually pronounces it like gum,  as in the oddity we chew, which she also just noticed for the first time this week.

This isn't a setup for a lucid crossing over of the preschool-middle aged divide. More of a chagrined fumbling of information, tossed up into the air, while I watch for reactions, and add more topics to google in relation to childhood development. I am wearing a carefully neutral face. Well, I note, they are things that some people own. They are made to hurt or kill animals or people. How can any of this make sense?  Most of the time, police officers or soldiers have guns. But they try to use them to protect people in dangerous situation. Clearly this makes NO sense, on top of being vastly untrue in uncountable instances. But sometimes other people will have guns. She is trying hard and I'm not giving her a lot here to go on. "...And doctors! They have gums, to help people--"

"--No. Doctors NEVER use guns in their work, because shooting a gun wouldn't heal anyone and that's their whole job, to help people by healing them. Guns are very, very dangerous and police and soldiers have special training to know how to use them. When you shoot a gun at someone you really hurt them--"


"Nope, this is a HUGE owie. Some people can be fixed in the hospital from being shot, but some people DIE-"

"-and THEN they are put in a museum." This she delivers with triumphant satisfaction. For the past six months or so, she has been adamant that dead people show up in museums without fail, which I kinda get, what with all the galleries of Western portraiture and disturbingly lifelike sculptures.  I won't lie: this is one of my favorites of her kid-logic conclusions.

"Well noo, remember Daddy mentioned the cemetery? People are usually buried there. But not everyone dies from being shot. But it's a big enough owie that it changes you, being shot."

 "I could shoot a gum--"

"NO you could NOT shoot a gun, it's VERY. DANGEROUS. That's not -"

"I could put a gum in my mouth like this" and puts fingers in her mouth to demonstrate, as if it were a carrot stick or her Crayon toothbrush or the (annoying) wrong end of her spoon. And the last two bits to me solidified why to never ever have a gun in a house with children: had she even heard suicides mentioned or that specific threat? "NO, that would NEVER be something for you to do, that would give you a HUGE OWIE. This is not something for children to use."

I think that was about it for the exchange, outside of various lame attempts to follow up questions.  How does it make people hurt? What's a bullet? How does it help you to sleep better? All horrifying and mystifying, collectively speaking. Would we be talking about sex by weeks' end? Which would be a relief, by comparison. I periodically remind myself that most people don't remember things earlier than five years, but it's not like I'll suddenly be up for impromptu disquisitions on man's inhumanity to man when she turns five. I know that no parent has all the answers, and that simply acknowledging that is okay, too. But how to arm them (ha) with enough age appropriate knowledge, without scarring them? Clearly, she will need to know the world has tragedy, horrible misfortune, hatred and evil in it, but please, just not yet.

Related articles on talking with young children about gun violence offer some tips -- one sentence stories for the very young, stressing that parents do everything to keep them safe -- brief searches on talking to kids about guns at all yielded talking points for combating children's curiosity, in a household with guns.

So far, no subsequent gun talk, but this: "GROSS means yucky but ALSO is someone on the radio. GROSS is a name."

*splendidly, luxuriantly over-the-top in terms of physical setup and resulting atmospheric narratives