Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sorry for the lack of posts

I keep thinking that I'm going to get here and post everyday but it's not happening. School is taking up a lot of time (going full-time will do that), and the rest of the time is spent doing my part-time ceramic technician job during the week and the weekends are spent at the two markets. In between there are orders to be filled for wholesale and local customers.

It's a lot. Sometimes it feels like too much.

But there is an end in sight. My farmers' markets end at the end of October and that'll free up two whole days! Woo-hoo! My blogging should increase 200%.

For now I'll do what I can and hopefully that means doing a bit more that what I've done lately.

Day Olds - Sept 27, 2007-Beaver Mirror

I made these mirrors as a special order for a Canadian national park called Yoho National Park in British Columbia. I really love the friendly beaver on these. The teeth make them!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Day Olds -Sept 22 '07-Cottage Custom Mirror

Perhaps this is the busiest mirror I have ever made. A client wanted a mirror for a friend who loved her cottage, her dog and her two cats. I managed to get everything into the composition and the recipient loved it.

I made another cottage mirror once for a man who wanted me to show his dead dogs in the composition so I had them appear as angels hovering over the two friends as they sat in their Adirondack chairs. Again the chairs were very specific as were the types of dogs. The mirror became a focal point in their cottage decorating scheme I was told.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Book #33 My Tale of Woe

Hands are so expressive. I wanted to tell a story using only hands and this is what I came up with. I found some stock hand images and put them together to tell this riveting tale. I hope you enjoy it.

Eh Voila! Another one page book. Print it onto a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, fold, cut and re-fold, and enjoy this word snack. If you don't know how to do this see making one page books.

Ottawa Market Sunday Sept 16th 2007

There was so much going on at the market that I couldn't get over it. Why, in the middle of September, everything gets hopping is a mystery to me. But here's the proof.

First: we had a Food Network show using the Ottawa Market for its ambiance. Road Grill is a new show, and our episode is to be broadcast in the spring, close to the market's 2008 opening I am told. They had a slick set, and five barbecues and what looked like one main host and two helpers. I loved the way they cordoned off their set with the highway barriers. Clever.

The day started with thick fog. Here's what the crew had already set up when I arrived at 7am. I am sure they were praying for the fog to lift.

And this is the back of the set that I really thought was clever given their road name. And it really works to carve out their space.

This is around 1pm. They are in the midst of taping and I might have been caught on tape walking in the background as I came around to get this shot. I hope I did.

I can't complain if I did get caught on tape.

Before they packed it in they did this "buying an herb" scene for editing purposes when they out their show together. This was the only extra taping I saw done, but they would need more than this one scene to make a show. I'll have to watch the show to see what else they did, and who they caught on camera that I know.

Besides the TV show, we had an extraordinary array of buskers at the market.

This is our semi-regular organ grinder:

And we've had fiddlers before, and violinists too, maybe the word is getting out but these young'uns were at the market on Sunday:

And this guy played his heart out with rebel angry music at the far end of the market where we were set up. Most of the buskers are invited to play and we think he just came and tried it out. I think he did well because we saw him buying an Ethiopian delicacy across from us when he'd finished playing.

Other unusual additions were the popcorn popper guy. I haven't seen him at the market before.

As well as Ray's Reptiles.

The fiddlers, the reptiles and the popcorn were all in the same market quadrant, in and around the picnic tables where visitors can take a load off and put their heavy bags full of root vegetables down and eat a snack. Perhaps they had one of these?

Bonnie, one of the owners of Savoury Pursuits, was set up beside us. I am on a strict diet and had to RESIST ALL DAY LONG Bonnie's fantastic butter tarts! Her pastry is to die for. Look at all this stuff. Alas, look was all I did.

So those were the highlights around the market. My personal highlight was censoring my artwork for the children. I placed this bar over my mermaid's breasts. I was really in a quandary over this! Instead I got a lot of laughs with this manoeuvre. It made me laugh all day and no one complained about the nudity...

And I'll end this post with dog pictures!

Here's Tim's favorite dog. He oohed and aaahed so much when this chocolate lab came into the booth:

And I liked this guy's attitude.

That's all folks.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Made Fresh Today - Sept 15 '07 - Macaw

Wow. Mid-September already. I can't believe how fast this month has gone, and I see here that I haven't posted for two days. I have no idea where those two days went, into some time vortex no doubt. Well, never you mind, I am here now with this fabulous blue and gold macaw.

I made this friendly plastic birdy for someone who I've talked to for over a year. She has consistently asked me for a parrot, at least once every month or so. I have always meant to make one, but just never did. Finally last week, I promised that the next time she asked, I'd have it. I made it early this morning. It just came out. A year and half in the making (in my brain&/or subconscious), and here it is. I found this picture of the specific type of bird and my hands just made it. Sometimes it's just magical, like my brain is not involved. I often work best before I am totally awake. Ideally I like to work between 4am and 7am and then go back to bed at 9am. This is my real body schedule but I can't do that now. It's more like my "making things for big xmas shows" schedule when I am doing my Out of My Mind business full-time. I am semi-full time right now. I've got a lot of other things pulling at me that require me to live like a sane person.

Anyway, I was just pulling this bird pin out of my bag at the Carp Market to admire it and show it off to my fellow vendors when the person I made it for peeked around the corner. I was so happy to tell her I had it and she was thrilled with it. It made me feel good all day. She told me several times that she was very happy. I love this pin too. It was magic I tell you. Magic.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book#34 Good News Story

This book was inspired by a newspaper article. The story is captured in this little book so I won't repeat myself. Read my book. It's only 6 pages and two covers.
I loved it that the study of the law was no big deal but the net? hoooboy that'sa toughie...

As you can see, you have now experienced another of my one page books, #34 in the series. Print it onto a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, fold, cut and re-fold, and enjoy this word snack. If you don't know how to do this see making one page books.

Day Olds- Sept 12 '07- Viking Mirror

Here's another rare full-length wall mirror. The viking lady is masonite cut with a band saw, embellished with friendly plastic, and gessoed first, then painted with acrylic paint. The edges, which you can't see, were sanded and painted black. The same goes for the bird and the background is pine, gessoed and painted with acrylics. The jagged edges were cut on a band saw too. The glass mirror was glued to the background. A nice piece. I hope the owner loves it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Day Olds - Sept 11 '07- Big Angel Mirror

I made this mirror a few years ago and brought it to Canada's largest Art and Craft Christmas Show, One of a Kind in Toronto. If you've never been, you should go and see it. 700+ artisans. 11 days long. And if you're thinking of applying, that's 11 days of mostly 11 hour days.
Did I tell you it's gruelling?
By the second Saturday, if you check in with couples, you'll hear that they've had a fight.
It's hard, but it can be worth it.
Like I said before, it's a gamble to do shows.

This mirror was a full size wall mirror attached to a wooden background that I painted. I created the figures out of masonite and painted them and used friendly plastic to embellish them and to add interesting texture and detail. I liked doing the big mirrors but they are really impractical to haul from show to show. The potential for the glass to get scratched is really high and it can't be replaced on a piece like this. The mirror's glued to the wood. So I haven't made them since. And I don't think I'll change my mind about that.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

And the sun sets on another year

As the sun sets on this commemorative collector's edition Reese's Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Creme chocolate cup candy bar, seen here against the backdrop of one of my favorite places on earth, Britannia Bay, so sets the sun on another year for me, and also on Elvis, long gone 30 years this past August, presumably the reason for this special edition candy bar.

Tomorrow I start school again. I'm in the second year of art school. Fall is indeed the unofficial New Year. I was looking over my course outlines and they seem daunting. My first year I was just happy happy happy to be going. This year I am happy, yes, but I have a clue as to how much work is involved. I welcome the challenge and hope I can continue to grow as an artist.

The proof is in the making, right? Right.

This one hasn't been eaten yet. It says you can instantly win an Elvis Tribute Car! I really should have an Elvis Tribute Car. I can't claim it though, it's for my American Friends only. Alas! I can only dream of such a dream machine...

Click here for the authentic Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich recipe the way Elvis' mama used to make 'em YuM!.

The Hexbreaker & The Newbie Gambler

This summer I've been going to the casino. My sister and my mother both love the casino. I didn't really care for it until I felt poor and desperate and my sales at the farmers' markets seemed slow and I just wanted a diversion that might pay off.
I've had mixed results.
Mostly I can walk away when it's not going well, but sometimes I don't and that makes me upset. I am not cut out to be a big time casino gambler that's for sure. I get all my risk from signing up for art and craft shows well in advance, paying their fees, also well in advance, and then making things that may or may not sell, also in advance. Once you attend the show the turnout may be affected by the weather, the economy, the political climate, (never sell things when there's an election looming! Or a war... IMHO) or the venue itself. Nothing is sure thing.

The best machine I've found is the Hexbreaker. Some people hate it. They'll play this lousy Aliens machine that seems to be right beside the Hexbreaker, getting to the bonus round of hovering flying saucers only to die die die. They need to pick a saucer and they get the bonus points beneath the saucer but three of them are duds. I don't know why someone would play that machine. A woman who was next to me, and I swear was my lucky charm , or perhaps I was her "luck sucker" (a term my gaming sister clued me into as someone who comes by and sucks the luck away from you), was losing round after round at the Aliens game and I was winning on my Hexbreaker machine. She said she had lost $700 at that point and there I was, up about that. Of course I didn't leave with that, lets be honest here, but I did leave with more than half which is a miracle! I always feel like I have to run out there or they'll take it back. Or the machines will get me somehow...

It struck me that day that having lots of money in your hands after cashing out your winnings at the casino feels exactly the same way as having lots of money after doing an art/craft show. Believe it or not the money loses its meaning and becomes just pieces of paper. I know, I can imagine this sounds crazy, but it's true. You just count it but you don't attach it to anything. It's just numbers. This attitude is NEVER good. It means you can just put it back into the machine: easy come easy go. It's only later that you go "Man. What I could have done with the x dollars I lost."

Day Olds - Sept 9 '07-Moose Custom Piece

This was a custom Mirror of Positive Affirmation for a store called The Finds in Huntsville, Ontario. It's a great store, full of all kinds of great stuff. They love the moose and all things moose, as do I, so I wanted to create something just for them. While I was ruminating about this, the Rolling Stones were getting ready to perform in Toronto. Mick Jagger was all over the news. So, naturally, I put the two together ending up with a moose posing a la Mick.

If I were to make this today, I would really exaggerate the arch in the back and push the hips out more aggressively. I'd like to make it again.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My Garden This Year

Out of necessity I have a flower garden. I would like a vegetable garden with the odd flower here and there but last year the owners of this place I live in dug up the backyard to within a foot of my fence and REMOVED the soil. They went all the way down to the foundations of the units across from me. This must have cost the owners a fortune, carting that soil away and replacing it.
And why did they do this?
I heard it was because there had been old oil drums down there and they had leaked. The job took so long and the hole was so big that a neighbour of mine mused they were building a big high rise into the hole, just using all the land they've got you know? I asked the building manager if the soil where I am, on the other side of the fence, was okay to plant food crops in it. They assured me it was, but common sense tells me that if you removed that much soil, at that much expense, it wasn't for nothing, and if it was that close to my yard, what makes them say that it didn't come over here? So I no longer trust it for vegetables, sad to say. As a result I've been experimenting with some flowers. These were planted on the worst side: north beside a fence and always in the shade. A tough environment for a flowering plant. A nursery owner suggested this plant: the wishbone flower. It's been great for me. It's bloomed constantly. The only drawback is it's so small. Only 6" high. I wish it was a tall bush. Here's why they call it a wishbone flower.

Can you see it?

And remember, if you make a wish, Dream BiG!

Made Fresh Today-Sept 7 07-crab mirror

I've always made sea creatures. I live near a river now but have never lived near the ocean so I don't know where the affinity for sea creatures comes from but it is definitely a part of me.
This is one of my round mirrors that I make without the captions. I let the character express itself on its own.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Day Olds - Sept 6 '07- Roadkill

Roadkill was created before I knew how to drive. Somehow, since I can drive now, I haven't really wanted to make roadkill anymore. Maybe I am too close to it now.

When roadkill was designed it was made to be the shape of anything.. any animal/all animals that may be squished along the roadway. This was a very popular design. I made it as earrings, as a barrette, as a tieclip and as a pin.
It may be the only design I have ever retired. For now anyway.

The Art of The Romance Comic

I have a large collection of romance comics. I love these titles. They were full of cautionary tales and advice for young ladies about the opposite sex. I did a few paintings inspired by these comics and this is one of them.

The woman here looks kind of crazed, and stunned at the same time. But she's keen I think! Good to go! The fella, well, he has an extremely long index finger but he's cool as a cucumber. I loved these paintings but they didn't go over very well. It's hard to fit the sarcastic and the smug into a booth full of happy cats and fish you know? I'd need a booth dedicated to this type of painting I think. It just sticks out like a sore thumb otherwise.

My Favorite Spam

I received this spam this morning and I think it's an all time great.
Dearest one,
How was your day, I hope fine? it is my great desire of going into business and parental relationship with you. I am quite aware that my message will come to you as a surprise because it is indeed very strange for someone you have not met before to contact you in this regard.
My name is James Banie, from Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa the only son of late Frederick Banie. He died mysteriously in France during one of his business trips Abroad year 12th.Feb. 2004. Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been master-minded by a brother of his who travelled with him at that time. But God knows the truth!

I enjoy all kinds of superfluous unwanted things. Flyers, posters, ads of all kinds. I enjoy spam too, but I can say that as I am not flooded with it and so far it's been manageable and at times entertaining. This one is a twist on the Nigerian money scheme of course, but the "parental relationship" angle got me... and then the murder mystery to boot! It's all creative fiction writing for the purpose of luring you in emotionally and getting your money.
A con.
It'd be funny if I didn't know that people do get suckered by this kind of thing. Their own greed and the notion they are, maybe, helping someone out as well as helping themselves.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Made Fresh Today-Sept 5 '07-Young Cow

It dawned on me that I don't think I've shown you what my pins look like when I present them to the public. I make my friendly plastic character, add the pin to the back, and then pin it to a card that always has a caption on it. This one, as you can see, is called "Young Cow".

This design used to be fairly radical, not so much anymore, though even now the pierced udder causes people to either cringe a little in sympathy pain, or laugh at the unexpected sight of a pierced udder, or to turn in away in horror.

The only other animal I have pierced is a cat's ear. I sometimes make an Egyptian type cat and will do this, or I'll pierce the collar of a dog and hang things from it, usually a tiny red heart. Maybe I need to make some people with piercings. Hmmm.

Angels in Hot Water

Heaven 30" x 20" acrylic on canvas 2007

Recently I was asked to do a piece for someone's birthday. This is what I came up with. They wanted an angel in a bathtub, and they wanted a quote with it.

Besides trying to find appropriate words to go with this image, I had to figure out what to do with the angel wings. Are they in or out of the water? Believe it or not, this really bothered me, as I kept picturing birds and birds don't get wet. Their feathers are waterproof/resistant (not sure which) but you know the saying "water off a duck's back"... And angel wings are big, where would they be? How would they be positioned? It's funny what you have to work out when making up a totally imaginary composition. I was especially pleased with the shade of pink for the bathtub. It just says reeellllaaaaxxxx to me. And she's kind of sassy which I like as well. My anatomical dyslexia reared it's head in this as well as her heel also looks like her anklebone giving this a Byzantine perspective of a couple of views at once. It seems a year of art school has not irradicated this from me, at least not yet. Though she doesn't have two elbows which I have often done in the past and not realized until I was done and wondering what looked "off".

I am assuming that this went over well as a gift. I haven't heard back from the giver or the receiver as of yet. I did enjoy making it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Made Fresh Today-Sept 4 '07 - Turtles

Turtles Turtles rah rah rah

There's been a surge of interest in the turtle over the last two or three years. I used to make them now and again but I get more requests for turtles now than ever before. I guess they are a real symbol of our environment, and the dangers the environment faces now. I know frogs are a real marker of the health of our environment and we are surely failing to keep it up to snuff for those creatures.

But I digress.

I was asked to make sea turtles for a store in the US Virgin Islands and as I was researching the design I realized that the sea turtles have flippers instead of the feet I make on my land loving turtles. When you make their flippers, they look just like little wings on their bodies. This is apt as they sail through the water. A lot like flying if you ask me.

I've been trying to find a picture of what I made and it's lost to me right now. When I get my hands on it, you'll be the first to know.

BTW I give all my friendly plastic jewelry pieces names or captions, and for a turtle I have only ever had one caption: turtles turtles rah rah rah from the ad usually run at Christmas for the box of turtles chocolates.
It's really hard to come up with a caption for a turtle pin. Do you have one? If so, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Made Fresh Today- Sept 3 '07 - Workers

Labour Day

This friendly plastic creation of three workers is based on a Soviet propaganda poster which said "no lazy workers". All these figures are heaving large hammers. Not many people do heavy labour like that that I know of, except some other artisans. My blacksmithing friend definitely heaves iron. She is a real exception. Some woodworkers do; tradespeople I suppose, and of course miners. I have a soft spot for the miner growing up in the Nickel Capital of the World, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, and I cannot imagine doing that job without a union behind you. What a hard job.

Here's another Soviet poster that I like:
The translation on this one is "Be careful with your uniform" Do those who wear uniforms sew them like this? Someone must do that. Or do they just get new uniforms when they rip or wear out?

I was curious about the origins of Labour Day and it seems we Canadians started it. Here's a quote from The Canadian Encyclopedia

Labour Day, honouring organized labour, is a legal holiday observed throughout Canada on the first Monday in September. The contribution of organized labour to Canadian society has been recognized since 1872, when parades and rallies were held in Ottawa and Toronto. The earliest American labour parades were not held until 1882 and in Europe Labour Day has been celebrated since 1889 on May 1, thereby merging traditional May Day festivities with labour celebrations. This spring date was briefly observed in Canada, but the North American need for a long weekend at the end of summer was recognized by Parliament in 1894.

Additional information about Labour Day can be found here.

I can't remember ever seeing a Labour Day Parade. Why don't we have these anymore? I can't think of a time when we actually need some workers standing up for themselves. More and more people work 2 and 3 jobs. No one seems to get benefits anymore, let alone pensions. It all seems harder. I've never regret working for myself. I've managed to bypass that whole thing but it comes with its own costs to chose to live as I do.

Book #26 house me house my dreams

House me house my dreams is a collage of images taken from catalogues and from my own wooden art pieces asserting themselves into the scenes. The text? It comes from the heavens, where all inspiration resides.

This is another of my one page books, #23 in the series. Print it onto a sheet of paper, fold, cut and re-fold, and enjoy this word snack. If you don't know how to do this see making one page books.

To finish up on the Kamping thing

After I was abruptly interrupted by the weekend I have returned to post the final bits about our time away kamping. I'm just going to show you odd bits of stuff that I found interesting.

Be warned: this may be a tad boring to some.


I really like to know what kind of animals are living around me. Since I am not a big hiker or a walker of nature trails, I don't usually see much beyond the ordinary. But I like the ordinary and when I really look at them I can't help but be enchanted by them. I often wonder what it would be like to try to describe a parrot, for example, to someone who'd never seen one. How can you even imagine a creature like that? The same wonder follows me to the critters I came across around kamping kabin #3.

OMG is there anything CUTER! What an evolutionary survival strategy cuteness is!

And look, this guy's all tuckered out...

It's always strange to see an animal that is continually moving just lay down and rest. Our black squirrels do this in the backyard. They'll lie on top of the fence and stretch right out. Or sun themselves on a big rock. Very odd. I guess I never think of them as being able to let down their guard but really, these critters have it good. Lots of people around who feed them, or leave bits of food behind by accident. It must be as good as it gets.

I LOVED this bird. It's not a crow or a raven, the feathers on his neck and across his wing are iridescent, but look at those eyes! Like a predator. This bird will definitely make it onto a canvas this year.

And this is the immature version of the same blackbird. Even it's a daunting figure... the soft downy plumage does nothing to mitigate that giant claw foot or those searing eyes. yikes!


I take a lot of pictures when we go somewhere and now that I have this handy little blog, I can actually put them somewhere. I always feel like you, gentle reader, are an unwitting participant in an old-fashioned slide show but since you've already sat through pictures of chipmunks and blackbirds, well, what's a few more?

This is a great start to a great campfire. My guy was well trained in how to build a campfire in the Boy Scouts. Never was I more impressed by this than on this trip when he created a fire that slowly burned and then as it burned down several large planks of wood fell in such a way that they dropped down into a perfect position, one-beside-the-other, to give us the even heat I was looking for to cook a pot roast! Yes, I made a roast with potatoes, carrots and celery over the campfire. It was awesome. We also made "walking tacos" on another night. This is when I was mesmerized by the possibilities of ziplock bag cooking. You take some Doritos, put them in a baggie, crush them up. Cook hamburger over the fire with taco seasoning in it. Get some taco fixin's ready: cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and then you just add all the ingredients into the baggie with the Doritos and zip the bag, shake it up, and eat out of the bag.


I thought the baggie would melt but it didn't. I wondered what chemicals leeched from the baggie into the food, but hey, it already had smoke from the fire so ...

The baggie is like a little cooking pot. I think it'd be great to try a chili like this. It's very weird to eat out of a baggie with a fork. But I like weird.

Speaking of which, we did this for breakfast: egg on a stick.

You poke a hole in the bottom of the egg, trying not to break through the top, though we never managed that, and then you just toast the egg over the fire. You really hold it close to the fire too; "2 mississippi's" away. Then you peel it open and you have, or I had, a soft boiled egg. I really needed an egg cup but since I'd never done this before I didn't know. This is a very impressive trick. The neighbour came over to see. Try it! Amaze your friends!

As for our environs, we found this temperature gauge on a local business very amusing.

This isn't so funny,

but this is.

Their temperature tops out at 50F and starts at -40F. As you can see, on this day we were over 50F. It was closer to 90F when I took this shot... maybe that was really really rare and I didn't even know it.

Odds and Ends

I just wanted to show you the key to our cabin. My guy said it was like walking around with a gas station bathroom key in your pocket.

We drove down this one road and this was at the end of it:

a ferry!

In our house we have a little thing about the ferry. He hates it, I love it. He thinks the ferry is the most unreliable mode of transportation EVER and "why don't they just build a bridge already?!" Impatience. So he always sends me stories of ferry disasters and such and well, look at this ferry. It kind of supports his view, though I'd take a chance on it. It's more of a barge to my eyes though, not very ferry-like.

So, gentle reader, if the above wonders haven't captivated you, you may still ask yourself, why go anywhere at all?

Well, for me, it's to see new things. To just be somewhere else. Here we were, at a restaurant, sitting on the patio, right beside a marina and the full moon was rising. What a sight. I've seen the moon many times but I can count on one hand how many times I've seen it rise over a marina.

Our next trip? (and I cannot wait!!!!)

October 20th to see Wayne Newton at Casinorama!

T-57 days and counting...