Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rust Belt Redux

First things first: new occurrences from the past week--
  • "You know who you SHOULD be writing about? You need to go HERE, BE there, take photos and write about THEM." Followed by an email containing promising artist folk (~~psst, already took snaps at Pot and Box!).
  • Funny exchange, followed by an aside to me: "You're not allowed to put that in your blog...No, you can, I'm kidding. It seems like something you would put in." 
Teehee. Not sure whether it's more a reflection of growth or the fact that I can't shut up about things that excite me, but kinda funny...And also: man, I don't want people to become self-conscious when interacting with me. Hmm.

Rust Belt Market on Sunday. Three cheers for the "shopping season": people loosened their purse strings; more prints were brought.Sometimes I do well, just from note cards. Which certainly makes me happy: you know sometimes people frame them -- and I am all about having visual stimulation on my fridge. But it's the actual print sales that hearten me. The whole message, as I created it, however viewers receive it/recreate it. And many people bought prints Sunday, both for gifts and ("Well, but don't you think that would be really nice in OUR house, b/c I was thinking it would be nice in OUR house, too?") themselves.

First Sale of the Day

A tall older guy (mid-fifties? maybe a little younger?) slowly cruised the table. His black leather jacket had side lacing; his shoulder length grey hair was tucked behind his ears. Pale, gentle blue eyes. He flicked through the small cards. I hesitated, but began my low-key are-you-familiar-with-woodblocks snippets. He was. I noted the cards were collages from different block prints.

"Yeah," he said, "collages are popular now. My friend makes collages, but she's sick."

Oh, I replied, like flu or more serious?

"More serious. I need to get something to pep her up...She'll be alright, though." He adds the last part, as if he has just decided it and as if he has some power over the outcome. I nod at him: Good!...good.

He holds up one of the bird cards. "The birds are always popular," I say.

"Her middle name is Athena. Athena's also the goddess of birds."

"Not the Goddess of the hunt?" I wonder, but he says, no she's different. She's maternal, protector of the city. She's the daughter of Zeus and she was battling Poseidon to be deity of the city; and Poseidon, to show his might, struck through limestone. But she grew an olive tree, so it was a stalemate and the city had to vote on who would have ascendancy; and she won by ONE vote and thereafter, women were barred from voting. Which, after consulting Wikipedia, our patron saint of communal knowledge/ignorance, I see the olive tree, but no limestone and no birds*. But still, Athena managed to be a goddess of war AND arts, crafts, justice and CIVILIZATION, so who knows what else was in there?

He gestures with the card that he will take it. "It's my birthday tomorrow, so I'll see her then. Thanks for the card." He's tender, without being a sad sack. I wish him a good birthday and thank him for telling me about Athena. An auspicious beginning to the day, though hopefully, this unseen person is not bested physically or otherwise.

{*While I was clearly being somewhat lazy in researching, a couple friends helped to clarify matters: So, Poseidon yes, struck a rock with his trident; from which sprang a stream and the first horse. As noted, Athena created an olive tree. The citizens voted totally along gender lines. With respect to avian matters, Athena was frequently described as "owl-eyed," had an owl perched on her shoulder and often carried a shield with an owl image. Strictly speaking, not the goddess of birds, but, you know: pretty owly.}

Coming In
The day has a surreal quality to it, following a mystifying night of no sleep. My assigned table space was immediately to the left of an entrance, which was great for traffic; but away from some of my favored buddies, which made for some boredom, allayed by new cool vendors and interested passers-by.

I drove in through a rain storm, which lent to a little white knuckling, accompanied by repeated listenings of "Simple X" by Andrew Bird:

Hold your fire.
Take your place around an open fire.

Before your neurons declare a crisis
Before your trace Seratonin rises
Before you're reading your coffee grounds
And before a pundit can make a sound
And before you're reading your list of vices
Perform the simplest exercises...

A couple exits before mine, there was an accident on the other side. A semi-trailer had barreled into the divide and HAD BLOWN A HOLE IN THE 5' HIGH CONCRETE DIVIDE. The divide must be at least 4' thick. The cab was twisted and perched on top of the divide, next to the gaping hole. The mangled trailer yawned out behind it, still attached, eventually touching the asphalt. Who drove this? What happened? What condition were they in? There was no explosion, but how could you emerge even somewhat unscathed? My hands flew from the steering wheel to either side of my face. And within a few beats, it was on to another song, more miles to cover, etc. etc. Isn't this the second most difficult aspect of tragedy? That while someone's life is astoundingly changed, the rest of the stream flows onward, almost without pause?

So, that set the stage for me, even before arrival or set-up. Which is to say, the set-up etc. was fine, a relief, not beset by tragedy. I forgot my tablecloths, which was highly annoying (they were primped and ready for their closeups, on my dining room table), but my next-door neighbor rescued me from showing my utterly fugly (but loved! so loved!) project table for the paint-besplattered thing it is, with a nice old rosebud bed sheet.

Hanging/Chatting/Entertaining Ourselves
I am situated across from cool furniture maker Chad Dickinson, who asks me if I'm Buddhist -- a question frequently posed to him. No, but I used to do a lot of yoga? I think that sounds a lot more lame than it IS. It dovetails, people! It has begun to filter into some of my designs (hopefully), even though I have abandoned it for right now. He is simultaneously intense and mellow, which seems difficult to balance. He likes my Demon print, which more people like than I would have anticipated; but no one wants to actually own-- which I *did* anticipate. I understand, hardship is uncomfortable. Chad says something along the lines of: "It's beautiful, so people don't realize it's brutal." Which I really, really appreciate, because people don't usually bother to notice, or are disinclined. Which is totally their choice, too-- but it makes it that much more remarkable when someone acknowledges the interplay. Thank you, Chad.

Later on, Chad plays a music set, which is a nice surprise -- his voice is pleasing, having honeyed notes, without being cloying; he finishes with a great cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees." Love it!

Prior to that, Michigander Carmel Liburdi sang and accompanied herself on guitar and piano. She held her own while covering Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" -- no mean feat. Definitely takes some chutzpah to attempt a tune by such a strong singer as Adele. And then, even if you don't make a mess of it, you could still suffer from the Salieri effect. A few months ago, a solid folksinger was covering Ani Difranco and while her renditions were fine, listening to her only made me think, "Man, I really should dig up those Ani tapes..." Her voice was fine, the delivery was a passable echo; the guitar playing wasn't nimble or aggressive enough. So, flip side: Sunday was a good cover day.  It should also be noted that both performed original songs, as well.

Across the way, the chef/baker is having none of it. Regardless of what it is. I missed my chance to snap a photo of him glowering. "I made 68 pies in two days for Thanksgiving. People need to quit bitching." To be clear, he's not complaining about having baked that many pies (which he later amends to 72), but right now, he can not be bothered with your problems. Your deal is YOUR deal. To me: "NO, I didn't make your baklava pie. I'm crabby. I'm serious: I'm not even flirting."

Cute, innit? From 323 East.
A couple tables over, Kill Taupe and I compare notes about offensive words. Specifically, descriptions people use when perusing our wares.

"...Whimsy! UGH." His face registers contempt. "I HATE that~~"

"Really? I don't know, I call my prints whimsical all the time, I don't like cute--"

"---NO, cute's fine, whimsy? UGH."

"I may have to swoop in, call your stuff whimsical and run away."

"I bet I could lob this pop bottle at the back of your head!" And then he giggles, which is fittingly cute.

I have a couple more Saturdays at the Rust Belt: Dec. 10th and Dec. 17th. The vendors of Rust Belt hereby beseech you to come on down...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hail! To the Muppets Valiant! Hail! To the Conqu'ring Heroes! Hail! Hail!

Well, this is exactly the wrong time to begin a post. Because I find that blogging time is like photoshop time -- suddenly 45 minutes or an hour has passed without notice -- and other things have been shoved back. And for the couple readers who don't live within a five mile radius, I'll let you in on this: the gargantuan Univ. of Mich. stadium is full to the gills with football fans, in varying states of inebriation.

Last night when I wandered downtown, behemoth chartered doubledecker buses rolled through intersections and cheesy dance music blared from fan regalia stores. Maize and blue clothing ambled along, finished with dinner drinks, ready for drinks-drinks. Small packs of young, amped-up guys strode past teeming restaurants, gesturing broadly to each other as their eyes roved the crowd.

This morning we have Facebook posts on "Hail to the Victors" and smack talk that sails easily over my head. The key thing here: the scurrying time is almost at hand. Game starts at noon. The safe time to travel is noon-two, approximately. Otherwise, the snarl! Of traffic! The sea of color-matched people trudging in front of your car, tempting you in extreme cases to nudge forward and just give a little bump -- just a little! -- because they won't stop coming, even though it was your turn a loooooong time ago. And underneath that, frustration with yourself. Because you knew and yet you defiantly left your house at an inopportune time. Certain highway exits are closed, certain streets are barricaded off (like the one to your favorite grocery store). So.

In any case, I slept in super late, just finished a luscious Thanksgiving cheesecake breakfast (with the sourcream topping! kudos to the cheesecake-indifferent baker!) and am waiting on a fresh pot of coffee before facing the world outside my wee ranch house.

Finally listed a couple of the print collages on their wooden panels:

i like how the white paint shows through the mulberry paper

But otherwise, my main activity has been lollygagging. Some gingerbread house dough. Chocolate marnier balls. defrosting pounds of butter.

From NPR site; Fresh Air interview with Segel.
But WAIT!! THIS JUST IN: Confirmation of Muppets viewing, this evening. Tickets secured. Action plan established. Finally! It will be stupid and silly and clever and endearing and great! I already know they do a cover of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. Hah! The Muppets franchise has been busy with their facebook status updates as well. In addition, we have...

  • The Muppabet, created by designer David Vordtriede (h/t Ginger!)
  • "Our World" (from Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, do you remember?), as performed by My Morning Jacket.
  • Crazy favorites OkGo revamping the Muppet Show theme song
  • Terry Gross interviews Jason Seigel and Nick Stoller. Haven't listened yet, but am looking forward to it
  • Lastly, I felt the need to check out their fan site, since I used to be an official fan club member. They made you choose your favorite; I chose wrongly. Animal was never my favorite. The traffic to this site is low-to-moderate at 25K unique visitors a month. Their wiki site is much more popular, at close to 125K.  
Bahhhh, I can barely stand it! Happy Saturday!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'd Bawl You Out. And I Lied: It's Never Short.

This may be foolish. But it will also be short. Today's art open house was the last small show I'll be doing for the season -- apart from three days at the Rust Belt Market (Sunday, 11/27, Sat. Dec. 10th and Sat. Dec. 17th) -- and part of me is all ready to slump into the couch for a few months, with a cheerier Netflix queue than I normally have. I'm definitely one of those who would gladly hibernate through the cold, dreary months, holidays notwithstanding. Truly, some years, I would also be fine with taking a photoshop eraser icon to the holiday days themselves and walking from one normal calendar page, through a blanked out tunnel of a week or two, to emerge into those still wintery days, but somehow having hopscotched over those days of simultaneous warmth, despondency and heaviness. Here's the foolish part: writing when I'm tapped out and unable to pretend otherwise. But I think in a few, I will indeed park myself before the TV for a chillax. For a few passing moments, I'm here.

What people gravitate to to buy-- and when --  is so mysterious. I made a bunch of commercially printed Christmas cards several years ago, to get more mileage out of a Halloween costume I made (I used to get kind of obsessive with the costumes, but life hasn't really inspired me to step up on this score lately). And while it initially sold, then it fell off, and I have had dribs and drabs hanging around forEVER. Today, however, a woman sought me out. She was holding a ten pack and wondering where all the rest were. Well....hmm. Ideally she wanted 60. Which would have been FABULOUS, had I had them to sell her. I found a whopping three more at my house, but also a wee woodblock I made specifically for holiday cards a couple years ago. Nowhere near 60, but she bought everything I had. And on the strength of that, I'm going to print a bunch more of the dog for Rust Belt -- but as life goes, most likely these will be hanging around my house for the next three years. Wow, do I sound like Eeyore? Possibly. In any case, cool she wanted that many -- and most definitely cool that she was excited about them: "I'm so happy I have something so cool to send to people!" Well, ok, that kind of rocks.

Otherwise, the shopping women were all about the bourbon balls and the Indian nut brittle, to the exclusion of prints. "You could sell these!" Maybe in another life... Used to be much more into the baking. I *am* actually shifting gears into some holiday baking. Pouring through my recipes, deciding on the balance between established favorites and something new and appealing
for me to noodle with. The baking is nowhere near the dozens of cookie boxes I used to send out, but is ramping up slightly from last year, when I was forced to be exceedingly careful with my health. Still need to take care, but it feels a bit less fussy.

I grew up with the very strong sense that one NEVER writes in a book. I don't know when this changed, but I am always commenting in my cookbooks and on recipes: "So-so" "lackluster" "FABulous!" I mean, it's rather necessary, as my memory is inadequate/lazy/wishes to be left alone/I have no idea, and I regularly started trying new recipes back in 1992ish. Some notes are more helpful than others. The note to the left was written to one end of a meringue recipe typed from a (not-my) family recipe book. Well,so. Former baker self, thanks for the note. I can't help but feel you're giving me mixed messages. "You think it's a good idea, but it's not." Sooooo...I should dispense with this recipe? But you have kept it AND emphatically conveyed the need for spearmint over mint. I kind of love its vagueness, paired with an almost ominous air. You think it's a good idea, but it's not.  Brilliant. So true, so much of the time.  No use asking about the stain. My cookbooks don't stay pristine for long. Just as I bruise easily, they stain easily. To wit: I am thinking about chocolate grand marnier balls and pfeffernusse. The rest is up in the air. The meringues, however, are out. They...just don't seem like a good idea.

Bonus Mom quote, said to a plumber who worked on their bathroom in two two-hour sessions: "If it leaks in three days, I'm gonna call you. But I'm not gonna bawl you out, because I know you did your best."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Woodland Critters Selling Shortbread, Skulls & More Skulls (Rust Belt Market)

More whirlwind! Full workdays, followed by full evenings: drinks at SideTrack/representing* the artist contingent at the Ann Arbor Art Center's Celebrate the Season/set up for Art Open House/ sloshy margarita at Prickly Pear/ representing* at Art Open House last night and tomorrow afternoon. Framed prints almost 100% ready for the Gifts of Art Show at the hospital (OMG, I'm up on the site!! Scroll down! Ahem.)

*Potentially talking with all kinds of lovely people who would be curious about what you do, this often translates into a bit of wine drinking, mooning over the work of fellow artists** and wondering how often to switch off between sweet and savory flavors...oh, look! a mini eclair! Talking about the sad state of the economy and politics. Alas.

** Claimed a bracelet in under 5 minutes of being at Jeanne's house last night. A record for me.

Which is all to say, a little Rust Belt blogging has been hanging around from last Saturday. 
I returned to selling at the Rust Belt Market after a month off or so.  Has business picked up? For me, yes and no. It bustled earlier on, only to fall off in a somewhat dispiriting fashion. It wound up being a super fun day, largely due to the company kept and sights seen.

Next to me, Nick from Rock City Pies was working it. He barely needs attention here, having already graced the pages of Hour Detroit and appearing on local news stations for brief cooking demos. And really, he's dynamic enough and talented enough to get whatever attention he wants...the Rust Belt Market is his playground. As mentioned previously, I usually suss out his pie offerings earlier in the market day and commit to it later on. Which sometimes results in his selling out of the kind I have set my heart on. I am always shocked when this happens. Saturday was no exception. For the first couple hours of customer patter, when he ticked off "Baklava" within the pie flavors, I tuned it out. Did not compute. Clearly wrong, misheard. That's not pie. And then at some point, rosewater was mentioned. *LOVE* rosewater! So that emerged as the pie star. At which point the last slice sold. Ridiculous. 

Nick shakes his head at me,"You're RIGHT next to me! And you have been warning customers about them selling out~~" I know. But I will have no pie before it is time. Luckily my second choice (butterscotch bourbon pecan) is dreamy, one of the best RC pies I have had. I put a call in to see if Compatriot needs a slice. She does not. But she announces the last two episodes of True Blood have arrived, causing a sharp intake of breath on my end, which startles a nearby adolescent. He stares at me, aghast. "No!" I clarify to him, "Everything's ok! Nothing's wrong!" His look of alarm fades, shifts to wariness. On her end, she is laughing: "Who did you scare??"

Across from our tables/countertops is Henriettahaus Coffee, the source of some of the smoothest small-batch home roasted coffee you'll find. *Really lovely.* Together with Pete's Chocolate (who was serving coconut milk hot chocolate in addition to truffles), they form a dangerous pie-chocolate-coffee triangle....
Harvested skulls of those who have sworn off caffeine.

I became curious about the repeated visage for Amy's brand. True to branding, the face is on everything. It originated with a strange painting she picked up years ago --signed Henrietta-- which she holds below.You can also see it better at their website.

"Topless? Buy a shirt!"
It was a whiling-away day. I cut out woodblock birds for more small cards, talked, people watched. From my table I got to see the sharpie mural unfolding at the Pinwheel Bakery spot. They had a lovely little display anyway: quaint, pretty doilies and domed plates, softly colored confections. The emerging drawings lent an air of Anthropologie (less calculated, certainly). The fact that people were doing creative things within the market space, without them actually being structured demos was especially pleasing to me. Calming, almost. I grew up in a family where everyone had their projects. No one asked why you were making thing x. You just were. Amusing one's self, by doing what comes naturally...

Fun! Less fun: posing for a photo.

On to what they sell. They are a full-service bakery (what's more fun than a cookie slideshow? Maybe only this.)

pistachio, coffee, raspberry, vanilla

Some were iridescent, others had the tiniest sparkles. Magical!

finally settled on a pistachio. it was lovely. Also iridescent.

I showed the macaron to my table neighbor. "Look, it's pearly, so cute!" He glanced toward my hand.

"You know, you should put sparkles on some of your pie! I bet that'd sell well."

He folded his arms over his chest and gazed stonily at the ceiling. "You know how you were all mad about x? Well THAT is what I'm experiencing right now." Tee hee. Though he bakes, he identifies more as a chef. Who can get better affronted than a chef? 

Gazing beyond Pinwheel to the far wall, I was lured by some promising looking paintings. Once there, however, I got distracted by Spencer Chopp. He was selling his line of Stay Clean Soaps (which I would give you the web site link to, but there's a only a placeholder there: "Future Home of Something Cool"...).
Behind the soap display, he was also at work on a project:
How long before I get a humerus? Phalanges?
Readers, I ask you: How cool is this?? He was taking an online sculpture class, which he was very pleased with; and decided to rework the rib cage over the afternoon. Most excellent. As with the visit to Barb Yerace's glass studio, I probably could have hunkered down to just watch for awhile, especially since I have never worked with clay as an adult.

But now, the day wears on. I am idly planning to check out the Fine Ridge Art & Handmade Wares Show since I have heard it's very good. But will I be mired in football traffic coming home? THAT is the question.There may be traffic jam haiku in my future. Happy Saturday, All! And Happy tenth anniversary to The Bang!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fairy Santas Love to Serve, Lynx Throws to Watch Jersey Shore Under (Catalog Madness)

Feeling spendy. I gave in to a couple tops from Garnet Hill, which really should have put an end to it. But it continues. I rerouted myself to thrift/salvation, thinking that would quench it. No. I want those glossy Franco Sarto shoes, I want utterly ridiculous hedgehog candles from Pottery Barn, I want to graduate myself to a laptop. And yes, through work, I have become an Appleite, so lordy that would be money. I visited the mall a couple days ago to tool around the Apple store and see what the damage would be. It's...damaging. Soon, maybe. I'd need to prostrate myself before my violated savings account. Outside, there was a holding pen for those awaiting iPhone 4Ss. They shuffled their feet, but were otherwise well behaved. I tossed them some broken up biscotti.

Inside the sueded hush of Pottery Barn, they were already in full force Christmas glama. Fake berries and crystalline snowflakes, spa-quality bathrobes and towels made from "hydrocotton" towels. I don't know, I'd just like it to be more cottony.  In the bar things area, they have a fake metal cocktail shaker in the shape of a bulldog, complete with dogtag. You twist off his head for the martini, like so. Only $49. If you liked that, you'll LOVE the silverplated mini top hat bucket (think Monopoly hat, about 8" tall.$49.95 Made in India. Seems kind of obscene, doesn't it?).

But better still are the catalogs. November spells the beginning of catalog waste land. I mean, if you haven't signed up to prevent delivery of all such things, which I haven't, since there are a few I like to receive. And every once in a while, it hits (see above). But the things that emerge from the woodwork...

1. Bed, Bath and Beyond: Adding a little stretch to your day. 
Not so much a holiday entry, but too good to pass up. Have you been yearning to buy a plug-in fake fragrance machine, some sharp(ish) knives, an auto friend pet seat cover AND denim jeggings, all without re-parking the car? You're in luck.
Denim jeggings. Come and get 'em, fry 'em up hot.
2. Ballard Designs: we're like Pottery Barn, but more fun! Who cares about Pottery Barn? This falls into woodwork emergence, definitely.

A.) First, we have the wall of urethane antlers, set on top of ornate, vaguely French plaques. While I get a kick out of some of those fake animal/beastie heads created by various crafters, falling along different ends of the cute-creepy spectrum, these are too generic, spare and, well, just strange in a way I haven't been able to put my finger on. I want to recreate the unfortunate slain animal about the bone bits. The text, in part reads: "Ateliar Antlers: The more you hang, the more impressive they look." I beg to differ. See for yourself.

B.) A lesser offence, really. "Driftwood tree: These hand assembled trees are a fun way to add the look of natural driftwood to your holiday decor. Whitewash finish makes the 'branches' look like they're dusted with snow. Expect delightful variations."  I like how the text implies that homemakers are, at this very moment, seeking out ways to add driftwood into their decor. Maybe some are. they probably are. Would they choose these? The look to me like extremely old oversized taffy bits, smooshed together by an unfortunate individual; and now it is the craft recipient that is unfortunate. Joyeux Noel!

3. Frontgate. Do you have (some) money, but are not OF money? Do you have strange notions of class and elegance? The Gate is Open.

A.)What's better than Santa? Fairy Santas, who have stolen jesters' shoes. They will hold your stockings, but I really wouldn't trust them. Only $129. each.

B.)Sure, that's good. But what's better than Fairy Santas? Their "exclusive 'It's 5 o'clock somewhere' Fairy." 5OSF has shades of Santa, but is more about frolicking inebriation. A steal at $49.50 (without stand).

C.) What if I want *some* drinking in my tchotchke, but with less shades of alcoholism? You need Butler Santa (my name). Butler Santa is my favorite. How can we make the house merrier AND hammer home that we like to live well? "Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams Santa." While he had originally intended to sleigh it around the world, pleasing and freaking out kids, just this once, he's okay standing to the side, filling up your bubbly. Break out the mother of pearl utensils! Blitzen's in the kitchen and you haven't had blinis until you have had Blitzen's blinis...

D.) How could it possibly get better? Throw in a polar bear butler! Truly, everyone is at your service. Only $749. Plus, while ice cap comes in a bowler, "the included Santa hat makes your bear festive for Christmas." Whew, glad that's taken care of.

Two mirthful servants in one photo! Bonus ice bat.
4.) Restoration Hardware: Could you add a scosche of gruesome to my posh? I'll gladly pay.

They normally don't bother to send anything my way, because they rightly suspect I can't afford them. But for the holidays they'll make an exception. I have the general impression they're a little more old school than Pottery Barn, a little higher end; they can come in with classical looking things (yeah, you see where my knowledge falls off~) but they mix it up in daring ways -- STRONG design sense. Ornate chandeliers, hanging inside birdcages. Rather cool, if one had high ceilings and money to toss. Truly, I'd probably toss some at them.
But this gift catalog...It just hits me wrong. Catalog subtitle: WRAP THE SEASON IN FUR. Sub-sub title: THE LUXE FUR THROW. Really? In this day and age? I'm no purist -- I eat meat, I wear leather shoes and have a couple vintage items with fur on them. So cast no stone, right. And yet... Your choices are lynx, mink, Arctic fox or coyote. You can get them as throws, pillow covers, blankets, water bottle cozies, booties, mittens, Russian hats. As bean bag chairs. Naturally the furniture-ish items are more. But the throws measure 50"x60" and are already priced at a discounted $79 (vs. $99) at the beginning of the season. That's a good hunk of animal, for such a low price! So they are simultaneously selling extravagant luxury and ALSO making it bargain basement cheap (relatively speaking, it's no trip to Value World), rendering it an *almost* thoughtless purchase. 

I know my thinking here is muddy, which likely shows a combination of mental laziness and discomfort, but these are my reactions:                                                          A.) Do we really need to be broadening the use of fur here? It's such a shame that there are no super soft, super warm synthetic sofa blankets to snuggle under these days. Nothing means luxury like a pelt?                     B.) In many cases pricing such things to move, move, move...drives home the lack of respect for animal life here. Granted the biggest "disrespect" is naturally the kill itself, but to then say AND it will barely put the consumer out also encourages a ....throw-away purchase...for a throw selling for less than $100. Too, this means that the people within this chain -- those doing the messy work, before the fur eventually makes its way to RH distribution -- are getting very little money, right? I cringe to think how little one lynx or coyote "costs" in order to eventually get a pillow case or hot water bottle for $30.  I know I could be ripped to shreds for my middling and inconsistent position, from either further end of the spectrum. It just feels egregious, utterly distasteful.

Moving on to less contentious pages of the catalog, we have "Gifts for the Executive."

NOT SILLY PUTTY. Thinking putty. Hahaha!
...And on that many-bladed note, I'm signing off. May you have a glorious week...

Friday, November 11, 2011

I hope you don't mind if I call you a gaffer~~

At first I thought I wanted to write a blog post. But apparently what I need to do is to listen to "Mr. Dobalina" repeatedly and dance around in my chair. Even when I time my hunting and pecking to the beats, the going is slow (but jaunty!) and the chair wheels work just a little too well. It really would be sad if I gave myself a concussion because I couldn't quite be bothered to *stand* and dance. Especially when I managed to avoid one when I did the downhill faceplant a couple weeks ago. Tempting fate. One of the YouTube suggestions is Snow, Informer. Hahaha! Ahh, cassingles. Okay, one more play and then I'm done.

So, with that less than illustrious lead-in, it's time for a few words about Barbara Yerace, local glass blower extraordinaire. Her educators include the Corning Museum of Glass and Pilchuck Glass School, among others; her work graces the DIA giftshop (schwanky!), the Ann Arbor Art Center and WSG Gallery. I especially like her jubilee vases. And it's a good thing that she has some online visibility, because the photos I tried to take at her studio were less than stellar... The thing is, I was gawking, somewhere between hyper about being there and hypnotized by the molten glass. Naturally, she was moving quickly and I'm just not much of a photographer. Here's a typical shot:
kind of makes you think of Cocteau Twins, doesn't it?
Meanwhile, she's a total pro, has been doing this for years; she inhabits her studio as you'd expect. Fluid focused movements. She shares the basic details of her art, so as not to overwhelm the complete novice; and asks about life doings. I have trouble stringing a narrative along, because really, I'd be happy to watch this for hours. I think my need to soak it in visually is impairing my ability to absorb any other information.

I mean yes, you have the furnace, with molten glass, then you have a second, smaller heat source that you use to keep your emerging shape flexible enough to work with; then comes hours in the annealer, ever so slowing bringing the glass to room temperature. Yes, I got that much. By the by, the auxiliary furnace is christened the glory hole. Not by Barbara, mind you, but by glass blowers in general. And apparently it's also a nautical and a mining term. One may also watch "Glory Hole Tips" from glassblowers on YouTube. It pretty much calls all 12 year old brains to rise up, leaving most anyone exclaiming, "What?? It is NOT called that" and snickering periodically.

I saw her second glory hole before I knowingly saw her first, since she gave me a walk-around tour of the studio before she settled into glassblowing (she has a teaching space on the second floor!); she gestured to one side, "Oh, that's my other glory hole."

"What. I-- What's it called??"

Naturally, she has had this exchange hundreds of times. Yes, really. "Seriously??"  Yes, I *know* right? That is *truly* what it's called. Once upon a time a reporter wrote up a visit to her studio and simply gave it another name. Sidestepping: accomplished.

Which was really my first intro to it. And though I didn't know what it was from the driveway, it was the wonderful orange glow of the glory hole that drew me down to the studio. Something almost magical to see, while walking through the rain, with all the deep green vegetation all around. That was photo-worthy, with a good photographer. In any case, most everybody gets stuck on the name.

Glory, glory.        

 Above photo in no way conveys the deep orange glow emanating from within. Which is *FANTASTIC.*
Some blowing.

Who uses them for their original purpose anymore?
These are the sorry battered remains of phonebooks, would you ever have known? She rolls the glass on them to cool slightly. They hiss and singe. Maybe I am inventing the hiss.
Magic crystals! glass granules to melt on the outside of the orb.

She will roll the molten glass over these tasty bits. 

Here comes trouble!
Creating spiral patterns with old trusty needle nose pliers.

How's that for a way to spend an afternoon? Or a decade? Or a life? I can't help but feeling sometimes that people who make things with their hands, people who create things on a daily basis are some of the best people around. It was quite a treat -- maybe more glass afternoons in the future...

This was one of two ornaments hanging near her...auxiliary furnace. First a close up:

There's so much going on with this free-form bead! I love the swoopy black and mauve on the bottom half. And somehow at the top, my vary favorite part is that smaller orb of clear glass with the bubble inside (upper left). You can see other colors through it and yet it's almost like a resting place. A pause within the larger color play.

And then we have the whole ornament...
the ceramic bovine sees all.
Handy tip: If you're local, you're lucky. She's having an open house I *believe* on Sunday, November 20th. If it is a truly public affair, I'll update this with details...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gloater/Bemoaner, Hard Sells and Phoenixes

Hooooooooooooweee!! A calm weekend that wound up feeling like a whirlwind. Perhaps I missed out by not lazing and soaking up the leisure, as it were, but man! Many more of my little ducks are in a row. They'll probably become stragglers as the week progresses, alarm me by blithely toddling into rush hour and become suddenly, curiously deaf to my entreaties, but as it stands this Sunday evening, they are primly lined up. They seem well behaved and hopefully not willful. So. Did a bit of freelance, organized the framed prints for Gifts of Art, caught up with all family members and even had tea with a good neighbor-friend (a MONTH of walking pneumonia, people count your health blessings.). I made that Island Pork from Gourmet around lunchtime today and while it could have been spicier, the flavor was sooooo warm and robust. It would appear that someone licked the remaining sauce from the plate. 

Yesterday mid-day I got hella restless and decided to see what Ginger was up to. Happily, he was game for an outing and we dropped into Vault of Midnight for their 826 Michigan benefit Covers -- local artists redoing book covers from loved books. While that was in the basement, we started in the store proper, as Ginger is all about the comics/urban vinyl/graphic novels. It's more his thing than mine, but there's always enough visual stimuli for me there. Plus this time, there was a wind-up ice bat, which cracked me up. And suddenly, mixed into the music, the following chorus could be heard:

Mistadobalina Mr. Bob Dobalina
Mistadobalina Mr. Bob Dobalina
Mistadobalina Mr. Bob Dobalina

I sought out G; his head also whipped around: we nodded at eachother, mouthing the chorus. Hah! How funny ! And great! Who even did this? Um, Del the Funkee Homosapien, apparently. I would never have remembered this. Yet again, thanks, Google, you're my trivia(l) savior! In any case, I challenge you not to find it catchy. So that was a pip. And it turns out the larger mix, called The Hard Sell, was a collaboration between DJ Shadow (who I've liked in the past) and Cut Chemist. I may have to snag that, am getting bored with my music these days...

The benefit itself featured a nice collection of work, attended by a fair-to-middling crowd. It's possible (and hopeful, being a fundraiser) that it heated it up after we left. Poster designer extraordinaire Jeremy Wheeler, who's usually a party in a box, was only just arriving when we left. C. Jason Pasquale's reinterpretations of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Of Mice and Men" made me happy -- always love his cartooning and wit.

I was also drawn to a collage piece by Morgan Daniels, done on a rough slab of wood; her chosen book was Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. I must confess I haven't read that one, but I liked her statement about it and the quote she used from the book (from a religious text within the book, "In order to rise/From its own ashes/A phoenix/First/Must/Burn.") She wrote the quote on a couple strips of birch bark, which she then tacked to the painted surface. These strips deliver a spot of light within an otherwise dark surface. Simple cut-outs of (charcoal smudged) house forms reside at the lower edge of the picture, on top of splashes of dark red, alluding to fires within the book. Nicely done! I wound up picking this up. And special bonus -- it was her first art sale! So, she was excited. How lovely to be a part of that, it's so validating. It can be too validating, certainly. But still! 
Well, hmm. You can barely see it. Over to the left.
Well, that's not much better. Trust me, it's cool.
 After that, we were off to Corner Brewery, to donate some canned goods to FoodGathers/Free Masons and to taunt each other over the Othello board.
Smack talk, even in the packaging.
ice bat, at attention before the first play
The first game goes abysmally. From the get-go, he's beating me and as it progresses (if you can call it that), I don't understand how it has been so unrelentingly unfortunate. I damn myself at every play. He gets one corner, then two. Then all. Horrid. It's possible I'm a bigger gloater than he is -- and I'm also a bemoaner, when the chips are down. Noisy at either end, I guess. He's nice enough that he's tossing encouraging words my way: "It could turn on a dime! You know that!"
And then it does. Weirdly, I win.
Neither of us really understand how that happened. We re-match, and woohoo, I wrack up another victory. Perhaps it's the breakfast stout. Perhaps it's the ice bat. So hoppy, with his flipflops.

And so, that's that. Or mostly it. I was hit with an attack of crabbiness and WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN ANYWAY this afternoon, before I came to my senses enough to sit on my deck. I listened to the geese honking overhead on their trek South, random barking of our various neighborhood dogs and the hollow plunk of a plastic bat against a wiffle ball. How does this make it all better? But it does, somehow. Time outside is like a reset button. And so readily accessible.

Happy Sunday night and a fine good morning to All!