Sunday, December 16, 2012

Xmas 2012: Toys I Don't Want to Give Anyone

Last year I did a post about gifts I didn't want to give or receive. I figured it was time for the 2012 version of this and either I am extra Scroogey this year or extra critical, but I came home with too many jpgs for one post. So here are my picks for toys I don't want to give anyone.


I don't want to give a box of pipecleaners, even if they are giant-sized.

Toy Washing Machine

My First Washing Machine.... listen little girl (btw where's the little boy on this box?)
Soon enough you'll be doing the laundry.  No need to rush it.

The Avengers Bowling Set

 The Avengers: Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, Ironman, and two others... all those superpowers focused on 6 pin bowling.  

And look at this graphic on the side of the box!

HappylandBusy Worksite
Happyland set with 1 electronic sound. It should be
the sound of this little lamb crying as his pasture is razed to build megahouses.

Don't know what was going on at PlayMobil Corp.

Chainsaw Guy

Look at how clearcut it is in the background, not a tree in sight! 
Not to worry little children. 
Trees are *just as happy* to live in pots.

Hazmat Suit/Toxic Fire Set

Ok boys and girls
sometimes bad things happen
(That barrel fire must be something fierce)

Safari Hunting

 Gotcha you wild beastie!
No more roaming for you!
And if you don't go quietly  
(look at the character's expression-yikes)
You'll force me to use this rifle--just to scare you into the box of course.

Here's one for the girls:

The Tanner

 So, boys cut trees, put out chemical fires, trap wild animals and girls sun themselves, have snacks, read, rest in a hammock. Not much excitement for little girls. 
But tanning makes you look pretty right??
Wonder if all this relaxing happens before, after or during the play washing machine session?

 For an Old Maid she looks really happy! (pay attention ladies... )

 I wonder what the tantalizing twist is? 
This picture makes it look like it takes 4 people to play one player.
How old is the girl on the right?
Is she a tween?
I don't believe this picture has every happened anywhere ever.
 A Charlie Brown Christmas Dominoes

 This is not something that I thought was missing from the Charles Schultz product line.

Text on the back says this product will "get you into the Christmas spirit"
and the domino set will get the buyer
"all ready to find the true meaning of Christmas"

I think this is probably the most offensive product to me. Given that A Charlie Brown Christmas was a manifesto against the crass consumerism of our times, Mr. Schultz would spin in his grave
given the use of that cartoon to sell this truly non-essential product.
Here's a reminder

2013 Tea Calendars Available

It was brought to my attention that is a person was so inclined as to want one of my 2013 Tea Calendars they had nowhere and no way to purchase it.

This is the sort of thing I overlook all the time.

And so, I have added a Buy it Now paypal button so you can buy one now if you like!

Calendars are $20.00 each, shipping included. I will mail them out weekly and let you know when yours is in the mail.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Machell's Commons - Public Art on a Private Fence: Pt 2

I've been telling you about the fence project that I was commissioned to create based on the concept given to me by my client Klaus.

(follow this link for the previous fence-related post public-artwork-on-private-fence-pt-1.html )

Klaus' letter to the editor concerning the fence was published this week in the Dec. 4th issue of The Auroran, the local paper..
 A local high school student, Laurel Cook,  decided to make a 10min documentary for her film class about the fence as well. I was interviewed in my studio last week for it. Her due date is Dec 17th so I hope to see the results soon.

The project began in May 2012 and we installed the completed figures on November 13th, 2012. It was very cold. We even had a few snowflakes and then a bit of rain, but we were anxious to complete the project.

To briefly recap, I drew characters for the fence, creating life-size templates for them out of paper which Klaus took and used as his guide to cut the shapes out of wood. Once cut, with the edges sanded, they came back to me for priming on  both sides and then painting into their final colour. In addition I had washers to paint in rustproofing primer, two sides, and the heads of bolts to paint to match the characters so when they were inserted into their body they would not be visible. As an added visual treat, Klaus requested I paint about 30 washers in a bright colour so when he saw the fence from the house he'd see bright dots on his fence since the whole installation is not on the interior of the fence but on the exterior, overlooking a local public park and tennis club.

getting ready to install the characters on the fence
all present and accounted for
To install we drilled strategically placed holes (never in the face/head!)
hole in arm ok

who could drill into this face?!
Klaus then went inside the fence, to his property, while I stayed on the outside facing the public space. I inserted the matching bolt, added a rustproofed washer and then we fed the bolt though the fence slats where Klaus had a brightly painted washer to thread onto the bolt and then he added a nut and tightened the whole thing up.

Klaus did this freehand drilling that freaked me out a bit

but it looked like he'd done this kind of thing a lot, so I stopped worrying

It took a few hours, especially as people stopped by to talk to us about what we were doing. Most times I made them work a bit too: holding things up so I could step back to see the composition

as well as helping me pass tools back and forth to Klaus over the fence.
Klaus and his trusty wrench

Slowly it came together until it was finished. Three animals weren't included in the final layout this time round: the earthworm, the snail and the porcupine. We plan to change it up in the spring.

Once done, I headed to the backside of the installation and touched up the backs of the animals that peeped over the fence. Several figures are double-sided so Klaus and his wife can enjoy them from their windows.

back of chorusline birds
painted washers
 As well, his idea to paint the washers was brilliant! I LOVE the coloured dots here and there. I think there is a future art project to be done with the washers only.

What is missing are the two thought bubbles and the one word bubble. In time, these characters will be expressing themselves. Klaus is considering what he wants to say/what they could say.

For now, he is content to have only the name of the piece there. It is called Machell's Commons. This is a take of the original name for the town of Aurora, where this artwork lives. It was called Machell's Corner. The fence depicts a gathering area, or commons, when there was not as much development and more wildlife. The joy of spaces and the joy of nature. When the natural environment was more stimulating and interesting.
Machell's Commons  20' x 6' fence with painted wood figures
with Klaus Wehrenberg and Katie Argyle

Friday, December 07, 2012

The unexpected on Advent Day 7

 Door 7 strategically placed near the numbers 5 and 6. 
 2 characters on 1 square. 
I like this new graphic.
The 5 pointed star that is Patrick Starr. 

Public Artwork on a Private Fence: Pt 1

One of the most elaborate projects I've worked on happened for me this year.

Machell's Commons  painted wood animals installed on a 20' stretch of private fence, facing a public park (with owner Klaus)

This project started in May and we wrapped it up mid-November. If you've ever doubted the power of showing your work as an artist at a farmers' market, well, without me doing that I would never have had the opportunity to work with Klaus Wehrenberg and to help bring his vision of creating some visual interest in an otherwise bland suburban environment. It was a delight for me all year long to hear his views on art and stimulating environments vs. what we have by default as there is precious little attention being given to this kind of stuff in our communities. Nevermind! We were out to do a little something about it.

At the back of Klaus' property is this fence. Here it is as it existed in May. This was our canvas.

Klaus showed me that he had already made a few artistic interventions by adding these mushroom shapes to the tops of the fenceposts, but he wanted more.

When I met Klaus in the market for the first time, he told me he had been searching for the right artist, one who could "do funny animals".
"Oh, I can do funny animals", I said.
In addition he was looking for an artist comfortable with colour.
Again, that works for me.

His concept was already well thought out. He really needed someone to help bring it into the world. After some discussion over what animals he would like to depict on the fence I did some preliminary drawings. Usually I just do a pencil sketch, but he needed full colour.

Once we were agreed, the next step was for me to make the paper templates in the true size of the finished character. I had 19 animals to create on paper. Klaus would then take my templates and cut them out of wood.

Here are some of the templates

Fast forward to late August. Here is the pile of wood critters ready to be primed before they can be painted. I have to say that when Klaus handed me the wooden figures the edges were superb. Turns out he's a woodworker with an expert touch. The edges were a thing of beauty, but functionally they were rounded to help facilitate the shedding of the rain (snow and ice) off all the surfaces.
 This project required that the wood be sealed as best we could since it is an outdoor installation. In addtion, one side of the wood was primed grey, one side white and all the washers and the heads of the bolts were also primed to protect from the weather. The UV rays are another kettle of fish. At least if things fade they will fade in unison.

Here are the rabbits before

and after being primed
Here's the back of the beaver showing  the primed washers too.

To be continued...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Thinking about the apocalyse. it's soon isn't it? Advent Day 6

I was stopped at a red light this morning and right there, in downtown suburbia, I recalled that the apocalpyse is supposed to be soon, isn't it? December something 2012, right?

As I looked around me the traffic started to inch forward and all the SUV's, all the mid size cars, the odd Smart car and the few, very very few, pedestrians bundled up in their winter finest all seemed so calm.

I don't think anyone is worried about the end of the world, I thought to myself.

And me? I was trying to track down a printer for $49.99. I think if it was the end of the world, I wouldn't be tracking down a printer.

I might be in the car though. That's possible. And I'd probably abandon the Spongebob Advent Calendar at yesterday's discovery.

But since I feel no reason to do The Most Important Thing, I went ahead and opened Day 6.

my day was filled with frustration, as shown here by the tab I ripped trying to get the little door open

2nd one like this

and another Gary. I wish the chocolate tasted different today too.