29 November 2007

Ethel Strikes Again

She's back. And she's setting herself up for the long haul.

Ethel really wants a handmade Christmas gift. I made her nervous during our last conversation when I mentioned that I'm selling my work now. I detected a twitch. Now she's getting creative in her assaults, this is getting serious.

I have an advantage over Ethel in the way that I can always tell when she is nearby. I sit in cubicles (otherwise known as gray cattle stalls). You learn pretty early on that everyone can hear you speaking, even when on the phone discussing questionable topics. But Ethel has, shall we say, a broken volume switch. You can hear the woman from a mile away and she has no filter either. She will talk about everything from the color of the sky to her unfortunate gynecological ailments (don't worry, I will spare you the details.) And she doesn't care who knows. So in a sense, its kind of like a trumpet sounding when the battle begins, I know when to duck and cover.

On the other hand, Ethel has an even bigger advantage over me -- literally. She is much taller then I am (quit snickering, I know it doesn't take much) and can see me over the cubicle walls. This leaves me at a serious tactical disadvantage. If I can't hear her, I don't know she's there. And this is where she is getting cunning: she has become Stealth Ethel.

Stealth Ethel has the ability to advance on me in silence. I didn't think she had it in her but she is obviously determined to sway me to her way of thinking. She's employing the extra weapon of guilt. She is now seeking a gift, not for herself, but for an unfortunate family member who is at a financial disadvantage. That just happens to have the same taste as her and the same decorations in her kitchen.

Hmmmmmm.....my battle skills tell me she is a dirty liar.

She upped the stakes today. She brought me a coffee and a Mary Englebriet magazine with an example of what her "family member" would like. (I am a devout disciple of coffee. And she even brought it to me black, no cream or sugar, just the way I like it. The woman is pure evil.) She left said magazine with me just in case I "want to look at it for inspiration." If cuteness was the equivalent of diabetes, I would need an extra shot of insulin after looking through this thing.

The way I see it is that dear Ethel does not know yet just how stubborn I can be. In fact, I am so stubborn that I rarely admit that I am. I often opt for adjectives such as "determined" or "firm." But this is war and there is no time for pleasantries. I will embrace the stubbornness as my greatest weapon against Ethel.

So now the question is what to do when she comes back for the magazine. I have a couple of thoughts (if you have other ideas, shout 'em out):

1) Photocopy different pictures and deface the copies with sharpie markers. I'm thinking a devil girl picking flowers with fangs dripping blood may be a good comprimise. We could see if she agrees.

2) Cut out the cutest images and paste them all over my cubicle and myself. When she comes back, giggle hysterically and tell her just how pleased I am to join her way of thinking. She may become frightened and back away. Unfortunately this also may backfired on me and she may welcome me with open arms. Then I'd be screwed.

3) Spill coffee (not the one she brought me, I already drank that) all over the magazine and use it as a note pad for my meetings. Nothing says cute like some schematics of a transmission.

4) Put it in the ladies room for reading material. (Come on say it with me: Eeeeewwwwww....cooties!)

I'm obviously not being clever enough. I need to think on my strategy, its got to be good. I've tried all the obvious ones: saying "no" in a somewhat pissy tone, giving her my you're really annoying me stare (which for those of you who have experienced this know its not to be taken lightly) and even walked away from her during one of her babbling marathons. But she keeps coming back, she is immune, she is strong.

I will figure out a way to defeat her.

The battle is on, Ethel, the battle is on...

26 November 2007

Faster then a speeding bullet!

Does this yarn look familiar to you? It should...since I just blogged about it yesterday. Its that big huge mammoth beastie (tamed by Kathleen-the-Yarn-Winding-Goddess) that I picked up at Artisan Knitworks.

I decided to take a size Q crochet hook to it. Armed with my plastic friend, it only took me an hour and a half to make this.

What's that you say? Are you calling me a liar? No really. It only took an hour and a half!

I have a couple crochet stitch books but I just wanted something easy and simple since this yarn is so gigantic and pretty. So I went for a simple bobble scarf and made it up as I went. Here is a close up of the bobble pattern.

They are a little tough to see but they are there and waaaaaaayyyy cool. Not that I am a crochet expert by any means but if you want a simple bobble scarf, here is the pattern I made up for it:

Lynn's Mammoth Bobble Scarf

Yarn: massively chunky

Hook: Size Q


How to make the bobble: begin doing a double crochet but don't finish it, only pull the yarn through the first half of the double crochet. Repeat this so you have three unfinished double crochets worked into the same space, which results in four loops left on the hook. Pull the yarn through the remaining four hooks. Move on to the next stitch.

Chain 13 stitches. (You can do any number of stitches you want, just make sure you have an odd number.)

Rows 1-3: single crochet across the whole row

Row 4: single crochet three stitches, make bobble, single crochet three stitches, make bobble, single crochet the remaining three stitches in the row.

Rows 5-7: single crochet across the whole row

Row 8: single crochet five stitches, make bobble, single crochet remaining five stitches

Repeat Rows 1-8 until you run out of yarn or go blind.

Its not the most thrilling pattern in the world but its simple and it shows off the yarn.

And did I mention that I finished this in an hour and a half? I am completely dumbfounded by this. I never finish anything that quick. This might not impress you but I'm thinking that maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket tomorrow...maybe this is a sign of good things to come.

I love that yarn, I want to go back to Artisan Knitworks and pick out more big mammoth yarn. It snowed for the first time here in Michigan today and its sticking. I need my new scarf. Its waiting by my purse to be used tomorrow morning...

And did I mention I finished it in an hour and a half?

Its not that I don't love you but...

I have a co-worker (who shall remain anonymous but knows who you are) who systematically harasses me every Christmas for handmade gifts. We shall call her Ethel. (This is not a slur so if your name is Ethel, don't send me hate mail. I just have no friends named Ethel so it works out well.)

I think this year I'm done being nice to dear Ethel.

While I would love to tinker away in my studio for hours on end creating loving gifts for all of my family and friends, this is about as likely to happen as Brittney Spears is to stop acting like a whacked out ho.

Sorry to be so blunt but that's the way it is. (I just endured a twenty minute conversation with Ethel about how handmade gifts are better then store bought. I totally agree with her on this but I still want to smack her.)

So for all of you out there who would like a handmade gift from me this year, I bring you the top ten reasons why you won't get one:

1) Last time I checked there were still only 24 hours in a day. If you can figure out how to increase that number to 1,458 hours, then I'll do it.

2) I make weird stuff. I won't tailor it to your likes/dislikes so (if you are like Ethel) and expect me to create just the cutest little country item for you, think again. Although I've never attempted to make skulls in a country theme so that could be amusing.

3) I already own a whole can of crazy. I don't need to add to it by creating Christmas gifts for everyone.

4) I believe in supporting the arts. All of my friends are getting handmade gifts, just not made by me. Doesn't that count for something??

5) Let's be honest, if I make you a moody creepy wall hanging, will you really hang it up on your wall or will it end up as a dog dish placemat? (Everyone can answer except for Leann, I already know her response.) Gifts that end up in drawers will not be repeated.

6) Although it seems like it at times, I do not dabble in every type of art out there. I do not paint, make pottery or draw. I have some friends who would like that. It wouldn't be very nice of me to exclude them, now would it?

7) I did make a friend a gift one year. It was a collage, it was pretty cool, she gushed over it, she raved to everyone. I felt good about it. I visited her about a month later and she had it next to her phone - - she used to jot down messages. I'm still not over it...

8) Did I mention the "there are only 24 hours in a day" thing? I think its a pretty strong point that bears repeating...

9) If you are nagging me to make something for you because you say "I don't have any talent" or "I can't do that", you are fibbing. Everyone has talent, everyone can do something if you really want to. Don't lie, it won't work. I'll just start to look at you sideways.

10) If you've spent the whole time you know me looking at my artwork saying "That could be cute if you did this...", why would you want anything from me??? (Sorry, this one is directed solely at Ethel. She's a grand critic that is desperately trying to help me create cute things. Apparently everything I make can be made cute if I would only follow her directions. She was pretty appalled that I would carve a fat naked woman into a lino block and then make prints. But if I "gave her a dress she would be cute". I swear to god she said that. I congratulate her for stunning me into silence, it takes a lot.)

I love all my family, I love all my friends. But let's face it, there are a gazillion things that go into getting ready for the holidays and in order for me to create artwork as presents, I'd have to start in February. Even then, its unlikely I would finish on time.

So I am giving out gifts this year, they are appropriate to the person they are intended for, they are handmade (just not by me), they are pretty.

And if you are Ethel, please accept the fact that I will NOT make you a cute country wallhanging to put in your kitchen next to your copper rooster. Its not going to happen. There are plenty of very nice talented artists out there who make wonderful work that would fit your tastes. I am beyond saving (translation: I won't make cute) so leave me be or I will give you skulls for Christmas.

P.S. I just want to clarify that I have nothing against cute art or the people that make them. I admire cute, I like it, I often gush over it when I come across it. I just can't make it.

25 November 2007

The Holy Trinity of Happiness

Today started out as an ordinary Sunday...I got up, got my coffee, did my weekly Where I Stand Sunday blog post and cuddled the Dooley dog. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do today and the usual domestic duties of grocery shopping and laundry were making me twitch. Boring, boring, boring.

So I called Leann and asked her if she wanted to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts with me. The DIA has been closed for a long long time for renovation and reopened this past weekend. Apparently everyone in the state of Michigan has decided to attend the reopening and Leann said she would rather take a hot poker to the eye then go when its so crowded. (Okay, so she didn't exactly say that, but that was the sentiment.) Besides, today is Leann's birthday and since she never feels the need to let anyone know about it, I've decided to publicly out her on my blog so the world will know that TODAY IS LEANN'S BIRTHDAY!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEANN!!! I HOPE YOU HAD A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY LEANN!!!!

So Leann decided she wanted to go do something fun with her husband SINCE ITS LEANN'S BIRTHDAY TODAY (HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEANN!!!) and since I still wasn't thrilled about doing laundry and grocery shopping (can't think of anyone who is), I decided to go haunt the bookstore. That's when Mary, hereafter known as Mary The Human Compass, called to say she got off work early and did I want to go do something. This is where today got fun.

When I attended the fiber expo/gun show (I only went to the fiber expo, honest) last month, I met a very nice man who is one of the owners of Artisan Knitworks in Grosse Pointe. I have been wanting to check the place out since then but alas, I am severely directionally challenged and didn't dare venture out there on my own. But with Mary The Human Compass's assistance, today turned out to be the perfect day!

And please note that today is Sunday. Any yarn store that is open on Sunday has already won major bonus points in my book. (Hint to all the other fabric and yarn stores out there: people who work during the week like to spend money on the weekends. I know, I know, its a well kept secret but we have money from working full time and if you are open when we can actually come and see you, we'll probably give you some of it.)

I gotta tell you, I'm moving into this yarn store. They don't know it yet but if you were there today too, you would be making the same plans. It is the prettiest yarn store I have ever been in in my life.

When you first walk in you are greeted by the boutique section of the store.

Everything is hand knit. There are sweaters, scarves, gloves, socks, hats, wraps, purses. Some are felted, some are knitted on teeny needles, some are made for going out on the town, some are cozy looking and some of it is crocheted. Yup, you got it people, a yarn store that is not snooty when it comes to crochet. They also get major points in my book for that one as well.

And once you get over the beauty of what yarn can be turned into you, you are greeted by the other half of the store where you find all this.

Mary The Human Compass and I just kind of stood there and stared - in silence. And if you know us, you know it must have been stunning because we never shut up.

All the yarn this place sells is handspun, hand dyed or both. And you can really tell. There is an energy and warmth to it that you just don't find in commercial yarn. (And I'm not knocking commercial yarn so don't give me that look.) Combine all this fibery goodness with the absolutely wonderful people that work there and let me tell you, its irresistable.

I bought this yarn (did you really think I would make it out of there without something? Yeah, right.)

Its super bulky and is going to make a wonderful warm squishy scarf. It should knit up really quick and the colors are way better in person. I have to thank Kathleen-the-Yarn-Winding- Goddess, that works at Artisan Knitworks for wrestling it into this neat little ball. Well, I really shouldn't use the adjective little because its anything but. Here's a picture of another ball of yarn next to it for scale.

The yarn on the left has 174 yards and the yarn on the right has 130. Its a mammoth beastie.

Kathleen-the-Yarn-Winding-Goddess had to break out the gigantic ball winder when winding it. The skein was kind of tangled and not really interested in cooperating. She was quite the determined person when it came to taming it and I thank her for that. I think that if I had attempted to do this at home (I have no ball winder), I would have been swearing. But not Kathleen, she was calm and cool and collected and thanks to her, I plan to start knitting with this tonight.

Mary picked up a really pretty skein of lighter weight yarn in a natural brown color that I was drooling over (well, I drooled over everything in there) and called me to tell me how great it is. She's crocheting it on a larger hook to give it an open lacy look. Kathleen-the-Yarn-Winding-Goddess also took care of Mary's yarn while we were there. You totally have to meet this chick, she's awesome.

We left there with a warm fuzzy feeling - and not just because we bought wool. We got to speak with the owner, Sandra, about classes. The woman even had me thinking that learning to knit a sweater was a good idea. I'm not sure how that happened, but its a testament to their knitting magical powers there. They are just too cool.

If you have a chance to visit them, you totally should. Nice people, seriously drool-worthy yarns and just the prettiest yarn store I've ever stepped foot in.

After we left there, Mary and I realized we were close to Greektown. So we went down there. We picked up some yummies at the Astoria bakery (where I picked up a killer fudge brownie cookie that I plan to devour after I'm done with this post) and made a super quick trip into the casino. (I spent $7 on the Wheel of Fortune slot machine. I am a completely unskilled gambler and rarely spend more then a couple bucks.)

It was a really nice day. So what's the Holy Trinity of Happiness you ask? Yarn, chocolate and friends.

Life doesn't get any sweeter then this....

Where I Stand Sunday

The leaves had turned color some time ago but the trees were unwilling to let them go. Their contrast against the sky was stunning but with the temperature dropping near freezing in the evenings, they all came down with one shudder. The ground is covered in a riot of all imaginable colors as winter wins another battle.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. If you'd like to join me by posting a photo on Sunday of places you've been on your blog/photo hosting site/website, leave a comment on this post telling me where I can find you/your photo and I'll add a link to my sidebar so others can find you.

24 November 2007

Linocut madness!

I just ate Thanksgiving dinner for the third time tonight. Yes, you read that right, the third time (my family still has not learned to cook for less then a thousand people when it comes to the holidays). Granted, these are leftovers so they are no where near the fanfare of the actual Thanksgiving feast, but I'm gettin' sick of the turkey. At any rate, I hope you all had a good one this year!

Yesterday evening I carved three more linoleum blocks. My mother took Leann's place in the cringing you-better-not-chop-off-a-finger department. I'm happy to report that I still have ten fingers and no gouges so we are good. I carved a luna moth, a bird sitting on a branch and The Hanged Man from tarot cards (which is for a chunky book trade due in January for the ATC Exchange).

Today I spent the day printing them. And what an adventure it turned out to be. And no, it wasn't all grand. I did some surfing last night looking for advice on how to go about getting good prints.

Here was my brilliant plan to lino print grandness:

1.) put the paper on top of the inked block and rub like hell (I did this at Leann's house and it worked real well for the ginko leaf block)

2.) put the paper on the floor, the block on top and then stand on it. (I will not tell you how many pounds I am but it is many and I figure that would put a lot of pressure on it)

3.) I would also try printing with acryllic paint because I wanted to do work on fabric.

I was pumped, I was ready, I woke up all excited to be spending the day making art. I came downstairs, had my morning coffee, cuddled the Dooley dog and went to work.

Let's just say that after two hours of various attempts (putting too much ink on the block, not enough, different papers, my ingenious ideas on getting even pressure), I will only show you these two prints.

Why only these two you ask? Because....the rest of them sucked.

Even when the paper prints were not working out as well as I would have liked, I was still optimistic about the fabric prints. I had the hairbrained idea that acrylic paint would be better then ink. So I loaded up the block with the paint and put the fabric on top of the block and rubbed it.

I got this.

And before you start saying "That's not so bad", let me assure you, it is. Its not crisp and kind of smeary looking. Oh, and acrylic paint doesn't wash off lino blocks so easily...ask me how I know. I need at least 25 fabric prints for the fabric postcard exchange I'm in and this clearly wasn't going to work.

I was having serious issues getting even pressure for the print. (If you click on the pictures above they will get bigger and you can see all the gaps in the printing in really glaring detail.) I sat and stared at the floor littered with all these not-so-grand sucky prints and started thinking unlady-like thoughts about the whole thing. I also examined my metal trash can and contemplated using it to burn them all.

Needless to say I was frustrated. I had gone through quite a bit of ink and paper and hadn't found my groove. And I knew how to remedy it but had woken up this morning determined to find an alternative.

For those of you who don't know me, when I become interested in something new I will research it to death. During my internet travels about linocuts I came across this mini press. By the time I started thinking about it again today, I had pretty much come close to running out of ink which meant I was going to have to visit the art store to get more. And I wanted to print on fabric and was becoming generally pissy about the whole thing. It became personal, I was going to make this work. I called Utrecht's, they had the press and would hold it for me and since I have one of their cards, I had a coupon for an extra 20% off.

So one 60 mile round trip later, I was back in my studio with this set up. (That's the press there on the right. I realize the black trash bag covering the work table, black printing ink and black press make for a brilliantly interesting photo but work with me here, I was on a mission and had no time for such concerns as color contrast in photos.)

And I made this.

So then I made these.

Are they all perfect? Of course not, but they are all way better then what I was getting before and I consider all of them usable.

The mini press is pretty nifty. Here's a better picture of it.

Its really little and has a padded lower surface that the upper metal surface pushes against. This seemed to really work well for the fabric prints. I did discover pretty quickly that to do the prints on fabric you have to much heavier handed with the ink. But that was okay because I was getting consistently good prints and not wanting to chuck the blocks out the window.

I want to do some prints on paper, I have some ideas on ways to display them. But I really wanted to get a move on with those postcards. Tomorrow I will heat set the ink with an iron, cut out the timtex and start assembling them. I'm going to keep the stitching simple since I don't want to take away from the design but there is still a long way to go on them.

This evening I'm going to chill on the sofa with the Dooley dog and start crocheting a scarf out of this yarn and this pattern.

This is from Vogue's latest Stitchionary series. I have a love/hate relationship with crochet. On the one hand, I love the patterns like the one above, I think they are quite pretty. On the other hand, some of the tackiest items in crafting history have been produced by crochet. I guess it all depends on the evil intentions of the creator. Don't worry, this yarn is too pretty to make anything tacky with, I'll be nice to it.

20 November 2007

Getting on the wagon...

I belong to three art groups: Running with Scissors (a fiber art group), The ATC Exchange (a paper art group) and Looking Glass Dolls (well, I think that one is self-explanatory...its about dolls.) They all meet in Livonia, Michigan at Scrappy Chic so if you are in the area or want to drive hundreds of miles one way to hang out, stop by and join us.

The ATC Exchange trades ATCs each month (just call me Captain Obvious) and our theme for December is "Resolutions." And its been kicking around in my head ever since the last meeting.

I'm not really much of a resolution girl. You know, there's the usual stuff: eat healthy, loose weight, don't be such a clutter freak. Other then that, I don't really plan too much. Maybe its because I know I'll burn out on it and then just kick myself in the can for not sticking to it.

But what really got me thinking was about what I want to do with my art in 2008. 2007 was a pretty kick ass year...and also insanely busy. I was juried into several shows, was published in Quilting Arts Magazine, was published in 1,000 Artist Trading Cards (and had work accepted for 1,000 Artist Journal Pages), curated a gallery show, curated
Breaking Traditions and seemed to make lots of art. Seemed being the keyword in that sentence.

But wait, did I really make all that much art? I was looking through my photos last night (which was an interesting experience in a trippy sort of way. I went to the eye doctor yesterday afternoon and he dilated my eyes, I looked like something from a sci-fi movie. Hello, I am amphibian frog lady...riiiiibbbbiiiiittttt. Looking at a computer kind of hurt but I was bored so I tortured myself anyway. Oh, and you know how they say your eyes will be back to normal in two to three hours? They are dirty liars. Mine lasted nine hours.) I was thinking that I really need to set some time aside to update my website. Which, in all honesty, I won't need to schedule a big block of time for.

I didn't get nearly as much artwork done last year as I thought. Its depressing in a Sylvia Plath sort of way. It seems that most of the work I made was in response to a show or a deadline. Ick. Bad, Lynn, bad.

I was pretty much a show whore last year. My resolution for next year is to not do that. Although the temptation is strong, I will do my best to be true to my art and make art for art's sake. (And when I get home today I will promptly burn the prospectus I printed off at lunch time today.)

Why do you think we do this? I know I'm not the only one... it really doesn't make sense. Granted, sometimes I need the kick in the butt to get moving and I guess I tend to view show deadlines as one of them but the real truth is that it sucks all the joy out of the process and turns me into a mumbling crazy person who spends her lunch break at work calculating how many minutes she has left to finish something.

Then I realized with horror that my work could probably be far better then what it really is. Remove the time contraints, remove show expectations, remove size restricitions, remove themes...and just work.

My resolution for 2008 is going to be to create art with the intent of pursuing solo exhibits in 2009. Which makes me twitch (see #33 and #81 from my 100 things list). Which should mean that I will have much more interesting things to feed the blog with. And I can get kinda weird when I'm working through a project so at least it will be entertaining for you.

I'm counting on all of you out there to keep me in line. Give me a good whack across the back of the head if you see posts about being accepted into shows, that means I've fallen off the wagon. Now, there are two exceptions to this in which if you smack me I'll hit ya back: the
Michigan Quilt Artist Invitational and exhibits for the American Sewing Expo. Those are special to me and I enjoy them so there is no joyless-soul-sucking expectations involved in those.

Other then that, you have permission to smack me down when I start to get that urge to make art for the sake of entering an exhibit. (I'm sure I've totally made Leann's day with this.)

On another note...I went back to the univeristy art supply store today at lunch and picked up four more lino blocks to carve. I feel a little bit like I'm cheating on my love (refering to fiber being my primary medium). I keep saying things like, "Oh, these will make great prints on fabric!", while in the back of my mind I have visions of bizarre paper collages featuring these blocks. I feel a little smutty for thinking such things. But I guess its a good thing to get dirty every once in a while...

18 November 2007

I'm in love!

(Quickie note: I should clarify that I am in love with carving these blocks, not the naked little woman in the photo.)

Leann had a small art gathering at her house this afternoon. She had sugar skulls all set up to decorate and tons of food. Julia, Joan and Rose were also there and we were huddled around her dining room table working and eating (and drinking the chocolate ice cream/liquor shots that Leann created for us. Good woman.)

I decided to try out linocuts. Leann has done them before and is also a master carver of rubber stamps so I figured if I ran into problems, it would be nice to be able to ask someone. Of course, she was quite adamant in letting me know that since I refused to take the proper precautions in carving that she would not take me to the hospital when I chopped off a finger. Her husband, the loving and incredibly kind Mark, said he would so I decided not to be concerned. (Of course, Mark was concerned about stains on the hard wood floor so maybe his reasons were not quite that heroic but still, I'll take what I can get.)

I wanted to carve two blocks: one of a ginko leaf and one of the Venus of Willendorf. (As a side story, I had an interesting experience looking for an image of her the other day. I always refer to her as "that fat little booby goddess." I'm sure you'll be shocked to know that putting that phrase into google got me nothing. I even emailed Leann and said "Hey Leann, what's the name of the fat little booby goddess?" She didn't know either, even though she knew exactly who I was referring too. But I found her and now I know her proper name so there you have it.)

I am really thrilled with how they turned out!!! Here they are:

Here she is, the fat booby goddess. The print on the right is on fabric. I'm going to play around with printing with more ink on the block and also trying to print with acrylic paint. The ink I used today is Speedball's water soluble printing ink.

Here's the ginko leaf block. The print on the left is on paper with lots of ink (that one took a little while to dry) and the one on the right is on fabric. I think the image came out real nice.

I'm planning on using these two images to make prints on fabric for a fabric postcard exchange that I am in. I'm really pretty giddy at the possibilities these blocks have to offer.

And here is a wonderful shot of Leann being the hostess with the mostest:

She was extremely proud of this bread and I can't say that I blame her, it rocked! (I say "rocked" instead of "rocks" because we ate him. He is no more.) When we went on the
Dia de los Muertos walk, we saw several loaves of breads on altars that were skeleton shaped. She went online, found a recipe and made this guy. He poofed a lot so his ribs melded together (she kept calling him the Micheiln Man) but I think he still looked awesome! And he tasted great too!

It was a grand day. I made art, I tried something new and I'm excited to attack those postcards I'm running behind on.

Oh, and when I got home, this was in the living room:

Don't twitch too much. I'm hosting a holiday party here for the art groups I belong to on Dec 7 so it needed to go up earlier then usual. Yes, I know it could have waited until next weekend but my mom is the tree decorator and she was geared up to do it so she went to town on it. Looks pretty, huh?

Okay, I'm wandering off to surf the net and obsessively read about linocuts...

Where I Stand Sunday

When I leave for work in the mornings I am greeted by crunchy frosty grass. By early afternoon its melted off. The battle between autumn and winter is in full swing. It won't be long before the ground is completely white with ice and snow.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. If you'd like to join me by posting a photo on Sunday of places you've been on your blog/photo hosting site/website, leave a comment on this post telling me where I can find you/your photo and I'll add a link to my sidebar so others can find you.

17 November 2007

Studio: 3,647 ; Lynn: 3

That's the score. My Studio has clearly won more battles then I have. I'll never forget the day I realized I could use one whole room for just making art.

I celebrated.

I rejoiced.

I moved in like a tornado and thought I was just the luckiest person on the planet.

Then I realized something horrifying...I would have to clean it.

See, as far as I can tell, there does not exist any cleaning fairies. And if they are out there, I need to hunt them down and trap them for myself. Until then, I'm pretty well stuck with the task. And while I don't have a compulsive need to keep things neat as a button, I also can't coexist with a mess that rivals a landfill.

I have learned that its a universal problem for all artists : keeping their workspace clean. That makes me feel a little better about the trainwreck that up until recently was known as my Stuido. I've done a few makeovers trying to tame the beast. The first one was when IKEA first came to town and was actually the thing that spurred me to starting this blog.

The shameful thing that I didn't reveal in that first makeover was that I didn't completely finish it. There was still no way to display artwork and there was also one whole half of the room that I didn't bother to photograph. Don't give me that look, it was a big improvement in and of itself.

The truth was that I just wasn't sure what in the heck to do with it. Its a fairly small space and I feel like I'm becoming more settled into my artwork so I'm getting braver in the things that I will try. Which means more stuff. Which means more mess. Which means the Studio continues to defeat me.

Okay, I'm going to show you these photos but only because if I don't, you won't appreciate just how grand it looks now. After this posting, these pictures will be forever destroyed and I will deny all knowledge of them. Here is what my studio looked like a month ago:

Disgusting, isn't it?

I finally came to the conclusion that the source of the problem was those white evil bowed work tables. I was using the top to store fixtures and containers of stuff and cramming junk underneath them. Which meant I had no idea what was under there and it was too easy to just deny its presence by kicking it under the table.

So I went spelunking and pulled everything out. About half of what was under there either got tossed or given away. I reduced it all down to stuff that I thought I would use. Oh, and don't feel too proud of me, its still a lot of stuff.

I think the Studio whimpered a few times during the process. It realized it was being defeated and since Tom helped me, I had reinforcements this time so there was no denying it. (All hail Tom, without him the battle would have been lost.) I finally finished it up today, I am so happy with it I was giggling like an insane person.

I'm inspired. I'm excited. I'm glad to have order in there. I'm....exhausted.

Here are the after photos. I give you the tamed Studio:

The layout is much better and I'm actually much happier with the work tables I have. Which is weird because I drastically reduced the amount of work surface I had from before but it all feels usable now.

The bin underneath the table on the left is from IKEA's kid section. I had to endure a woman gushing about them as she told me they were a godsend for organizing all her kids junk. I think she wanted to swap kids stories. I opted to not tell her that I was buying them to organize my skull bead and mixed media collection.

And here is a picture of what makes me REALLY happy, my design wall:

Its FULL! Its a small board but it really makes me all warm and fuzzy. (Hey Leann, see your RR block there in the middle? Told you it was safe...)

I'm ready to start working again. I love that I'm surrounded by so much artwork, both my own as well as pieces I've collected along the way. Its my own little slice of heaven.

Will it stay this way? I'm sure it will get messy again, I'd be a dirty liar if I said it wouldn't. But I think I've got a fighting chance at keeping it better under control. Its the best layout I've had so far and the way things are organized is really quite cool.

Let's see if I can skew the score in my favor...

16 November 2007

Watch this

Another circle of hell...

I discovered a new circle of hell today: IKEA during the holiday shopping season.

Oh, and don't be fooled, the holiday shopping season has begun. That fact drilled me in the forehead this afternoon as I made a stupid decision to go to there.

See, I thought I was being clever. I needed to return something from my almost-done studio makeover and I specifically waited for today. Thanks to the UAW's creative observance of veteran's day, I had today off. (I am salaried but what the union get off, so do we. And its a complete conincidence that its the friday of deer hunting season opening.) I was also sure I was being extremely smart by going in the early afternoon.

Let me be clear: I went on a weekday, during working hours, BEFORE thanksgiving.

The parking lot was packed. No problem, the weather was decent and I don't mind walking and its really not that unusual for their lot to be full almost all the time. I needed to locate a cart because the stuff I was returning was kind of heavy. I found one in a return coral, grabbed it and as I was walking away, I heard a woman swear at me. I mean, we are talking the F word and the B word. I turned around to look at her and she was giving me the look of death as she stomped away. I had no idea what that was about but as I was walking into the store, I saw her tromping her way toward the same entrance with two kids in tow.

Now let me explain something: I am not psychic and I'm pretty sure I don't appear to be. Had I known she was toting around two tiny human beings I would have let her have the cart and gone looking for another. I think she enjoyed giving me dirty looks too much.

I should have just gone home after that. It pretty much set the tone. I took a number, got in line to return my stuff and took care of that. But not while the gentleman (that term is used loosely) was cussing out the cashier next to me because he didn't have the credit card he used when he made his purchase so he had to take a store credit. Oh the tragedy.

I wanted to pick up some meatballs for a holiday party that I'm hosting soon and the fun continued there. People were bumping into each other left and right, not because it was that crowded but because the new trend for shopping this year seems to be wearing headphones while shopping. Charming.

But this was the best part....ready? At the cash register they had samples of their ginger cookies out. Now, I am not paranoid about much but I don't usually take food samples, especially during flu season. And believe me, its totally justified.

As I was paying for the food, the guy behind me sounded like the host for the plague as he was hacking up a lung. To his credit, he was at least covering his mouth -- with the hands that he then used to reach into the cookie sample tin. He took two pieces but decided after eating the first one that he didn't like it. He said he "didn't want to be wasteful".....so he put the second one back. Thanks typhoid mary. I thought the cashier was going to wretch on the spot.

I was relieved to get the hell out of dodge but then discovered a real treat when I got out to the parking lot. An SUV the size of houston had parked next to me. So close that I could not get my driver side door open. I had to crawl into my car through the passenger side door. Note to the big SUV driver people: if the space looks to small to park in, it IS. Go park somewhere else because the next time this happens, I'm keying your car.

I'm home now but still twitching. I am not stepping foot into a single store until after Christmas. The only exception will be the grocery store because I have to eat. And I have to admit that I am pretty much done with my gift shopping. Don't look at me that way, some years it works out real well and this happened to be one of them. I also have a shortish list so that helps too.

I'm going to go distract myself with my almost-done studio and try to forget the trauma of the day...you've been warned, the insanity has begun....

100 things...

Okay, yesterday's post generated some suggestions on what to write about in the abscence of art. One that I found interesting was: "Make a list of 100 things about yourself." I found this intriguing not because I think I'm fascinating but because I wasn't sure I could come up with 100 things about myself. It took me thinking about it off and on during throughout the day but I did do it.

So I apologize if the prospect of reading 100 factoids about me makes your eyes glaze over but I was pretty impressed that I could come up with that many things. So I figured I'll go ahead and post them since I got 'em.

Here goes:

1. Despite my genetics, I'm allergic to all things pink and girly.

2. My favorite color is orange/red.

3. I love skulls. But only the happy ones. The angry-biker-flames-and-snakes-oozing-out-of-the-eye-sockets creep me out.

4. I'm not a vegetarian but I have serious issues with sucking meat off of bones. I prefer to not see the carnage.

5. I'm an animal lover, all types but especially dogs. Puppies make me gush.

6. Cats make me sneeze if I hang out with them for too long.

7. I am a good cook.

8. I don't like to cook.

9. My favorite type of books/movies are murder mystery/psychological thrillers.

10. I'm terrified of ghosts.

11. Bugs and I manage only to coexist if they choose not to crawl on me. If they do land on me, I will promptly squeal like a little girl and gag as I crush their little bug bodies.

12. I love learning new things.

13. I am a math geek.

14. I design transmissions for a living.

15. I have little patience for people who lack common sense.

16. I hate hot weather. I am white as a fish, have freckles and red hair. I pretty much catch on fire in the sun.

17. My middle name is Marie.

18. I always wanted to be a writer.

19. I haven't worn a dress in ten years. I wore one everyday for twelve years as part of a school uniform and I still have two more years of not wearing them before I am even.

20. I went to twelve years of Catholic school.

21. I am not religious but am spiritual.

22. I would love to visit the catacombs in Paris.

23. I wish I was taller.

24. I have a bad back and it hurts all of the time.

25. I can't effectively use a sewing machine to save my life. I can sew straight lines and some curves but free motion quilting is the kiss of death. Forget about it , move on...

26. I didn't even thread a needle until I was 24.

27. I started doing fiber arts while recovering from backs surgery.

28. Up until #27, I was an obsessed workaholic.

29. I have one older brother.

30. My brother is also an artist. He is a graphic designer and photographer.

31. My dream job would be to work at a zoo and play with animals all day.

32. I prefer the nightime. I don't mind being in the dark, I actually find it soothing.

33. I'm fundamentally very shy.

34. I was a Resident Advisor in an all-girls freshman dorm when I was in university. It sucked.

35. I always read magazines backwards.

36. My favorite type of fiction is historical fiction.

37. I love chubby babies.

38. My biggest weakness is ice cream.

39. I hate fish.

40. I am allergic to the mall and don't go there unless I am under an excrutiating deadline that prevents me from buying said item in a local shop or online. (And I try to buy as much as I can from the local shops. See #41.)

41. I owned a fiber arts store for three years.

42. I am grateful for all the friends I made while the store was open. Without it, I'm not sure I would have found out who I really am.

43. I believe in "Everything happens for a reason."

44. I can't dance. Its not attractive. Don't ask. I won't do it.

45. I can sing pretty good. Especially when the volume on the radio is turned way up and no one else is around to hear.

46. I prefer chaos in my artwork as opposed to order. I feel its more representative of life.

47. I will NOT eat: olives, mushrooms, duck, oysters or alligator. (I tried the last one. Take my word for it, it was disgusting.)

48. I WILL eat: hummus, yogurt, bananas, chicken and pizza.

49. I wish I could convince people that you do not need to eat every part of an animal. Please people, leave the tongue, feet and stomach out of the eating equation.

50. I hate to clean but it drive me nuts when everything is messy. I am the queen of logic.

51. I stand up for what I believe in.

52. I can talk to pretty much anyone. I like meeting new people but see #33, sometimes it can be a problem.

53. I make decisions very quickly. I don't dwell.

54. I've been in love three times in my life.

55. I have a sarcastic sense of humor.

56. I love office supply stores. Post-it-notes and sharpies are the equivalent of crack to me.

57. One of my favorite movies is "Talledega Nights." HEY DRIVER!!!

58. I don't like to watch the news. See #15.

59. I love plants. They are my friends. We happily coexist, they have common sense.

60. I can not understand why people choose to paint wood furniture. They are alien to me.

61. I make a lot of lists. I don't follow them and often loose them after I write stuff down. It just makes me feel better to make them.

62. I think rust is beautiful.

63. I like to take photos of old gravestones. The carvings are amazing.

64. I swear too much. I blame it on the fact that I work with all men. I'm trying to stop.

65. I've been wearing glasses since the third grade. If I don't have them on, you all look like blurry fuzzy blobs.

66. I tried to wear contacts and discovered I have a violent dislike of having things in my eyes, including my own fingers.

67. Although I spend my life trying to package auto parts with a few millimeters of each other, I find it torture to have to make a quilt that exactly measures 20"x24".

68. I have trouble understanding measurements in inches. I am a metric girl.

69. I can NOT tell you which way is north, south, east or west. Don't ask me unless you want my face to turn purple with frustration and you want me to start twitching. I value my friends who have directional sense.

70. I choose what I do based on whether or not I think I can find my way there and back. Its a consequence of #69. Yahoo maps is a godsend.

71. I hate to travel on airplanes. Its like being smashed into a tuna can.

72. I will watch a two and a half hour horror movie and turn it off after two hours and twenty minutes. I have no desire to know how they end because it can't be good.

73. I would love to get a permanent mehndi style tattoo. And yes, they irony of this is not lost on me.

74. I usually end up overcommiting myself because I usually just think about how many hours there are in the day to get stuff done, never taking into account the need for sleep.

75. I'm the type of person that functions best on 12 hours of sleep but I usually only get about 7.

76. I am worthless without coffee. In fact, I've been told that I hand out dirty looks without cause to innocent bystanders before I've had sufficient amounts of it. (I apologize for that.)

77. I type really fast.

78. One of my favorite books of all time is "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver. I would have been the daughter that stayed.

79. I have never read any of the Harry Potter books but have seen and adored all of the movies. Reveal anything to me and I will find you and smack you down.

80. I am in love with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Combine the two and I am a drooling machine.

81. I find it hard to show my artwork. (Again, the whole shy thing.) And prefer to enter shows in other states that I know I can't attend.

82. I collect bobbleheads. I like to tap all of them at once so there is a whole set of jiggly heads bobbing around at once.

83. I am easy to amuse.

84. I collect kokeshi dolls.

85. I collect anything that has to do with Dia de los Muertos.

86. I love graphic novels. Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean are my favorites.

87. Every time I drive by a field that has cows, I roll down the window and make mooing sounds - - even in winter.

88. I may not be a natural redhead...

89. I did yoga before I hurt my back and was a pretty limber pretzel. Now I just do the sit and meditate part.

90. I tried growing a vegetable garden once but developed homicidal urges toward the squirrels living in my area so I decided to not do that again.

91. I can't sleep unless its pitch black in the room.

92. Frida Kahlo is my all time favorite artist.

93. I am an Apple computer girl all the way. Macs rock.

94. I have a pretty decent amount of jewelry but hardly ever wear it.

95. I have a thing for scarves. I love 'em, especially wooly ones.

96. I like to organize things. Its neat. (Pun intended.)

97. Even though I tend to swear more then I should, I use swear words I pick up from the shows on the BBC channel. They don't sound as naughty.

98. I can't swim and I'm scared of large bodies of water.

99. I usually don't tell people when my birthday is. I'm content to let it be a quiet day. (Did I mention I can be shy sometimes?)

100. I never thought there were 100 things about me to write down. Go figure.

If you've read all the way down the list, you get a gold star for perseverance. Now go make you 100 things list! :)

15 November 2007

The definition of boring...

...that would be me. I've got absolutely nothing exciting to write about. I'm not doing anything thrilling (I'm pretty sure battling back insane sinus activity due to yet another turn in the weather doesn't count) and I've got no big plans for my long weekend.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch-o.

But I've been doing a lot of thinking and here are all the things I'd like to try out doing art-wise:

Linocuts (this one will see reality pretty quickly because I went and visited the university art supply store at lunch time and picked up a couple blocks. Wish me luck that I don't cut of my hand while carving them.)

More knitting.

Spinning with a drop spindle. (I'm still trying to find my groove with this one. I'm beginning to understand why the wheel was invented.)

Some acryllic/mixed media canvas monstrosities. (Not sure what to call them really. Its kind of a cruel name but I think it will basically be doodling run amuck.)

Assemblage. (I have a burning desire to cover everything in rust. I like it. Tom took me to a hobby shop and I bought some paints called "Bone beige", "Scab red" and "Bubonic brown." I can't wait to use them on something so I can say "Why yes, that is a lovely shade of brown. Doesn't it remind you of the plague??" Gotta keep people on their toes...)

Fiber sculpture. (What is that you ask? Not sure. What will it look like? I'd like to know too. I've got wire, I've got fabric strips and I've got this rug weaving thingie to wind it around. Again, this may end up in the monstrosity category but nothing ventured, nothing gained.)

Collages. (I like chaos. Enough said.)

Encaustic painting. (This could be messy. I will have to make sure the westie is safely secured before melting any wax.)

Oh yeah, and in between trying out all this stuff, I still go to work for about ten hours a day and do other domesticated type duties.

No, really, I'm not delusional.

I can tell you that I am commited to finishing up my studio this weekend. The fact that it is so close to being done has turned into a nagging annoyance of epic proportions. What is done looks pretty snazzy. There will be a big celebration posting with tons of pictures (even the tragic "before" shots that I ordinarily wouldn't share but are necessary to make sure you are properly impressed with the makeover) to oogle.

Bear with me, I'll be intersting again soon...

12 November 2007

Some art!

I know, I know...its an incredibly creative title but considering the fact that its been a while since I've done a post about artwork it seems appropriate. And now that I've gotten you all excited, I have to admit that its not my art. I collect small fiber art pieces so I thought I would share with you one I just purchased.

I got this in the mail today from Wen Redmond. You may remember her from her extremely cool article in the April/May 2007 issue of Quilting Arts. After her article, "Holographic Memories," I went to her website and drooled...and drooled...and drooled some more.

I finally wrote to her and told her that I would like to purchase a giclee of "Opening", the piece above. She let me know that she would have to create one and set to work on it. Its absolutely wonderful!!! (The colors are much more vibrant in person, go see her website for a better photo. The one she made me is a mini version of the one on her site, measuring about 13"x16".)

Wen is a wonderful artist and she is also really friendly and easy to work with. She was very willing to work with me on the size of the piece and I am extremely excited to hang this in my studio! Go check out her work...and keep some tissue next to your keyboard because its seriously drool-worthy.

And just to prove that I am not a complete slacker, I've been taking a lot of photos lately. I've just posted several on my Flickr page and my mind is working on the different ways I can incorporate these into some collages and art quilts.

Here are two of my new favorites. These are really interesting because the first one is rust from an old Ford pick-up truck and the second one is of bark! Its interesting that they seem to share some of the same characteristics.

Hey, if you know what kind of tree is in the bark picture, leave me a comment. Its the weirdest thing I've ever seen. Go here to see the other two shots I took of it, I'm really curious about it!

11 November 2007

Where I Stand Sunday

We had watched this tree over the summer drop its leaves, its branches becoming skinny sticks against the sky. We had hoped our friend would recover. But with autumn's arrival, it became obvious that it would not be able to stand through the winter. I watched it be cut down and hauled away, with only this stump left as a reminder of all the years it had grown on this patch of the earth.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. If you'd like to join me by posting a photo on Sunday of places you've been on your blog/photo hosting site/website, leave a comment on this post telling me where I can find you/your photo and I'll add a link to my sidebar so others can find you.

09 November 2007

Alternatives for the 'P' word

I've come to the conclusion that this time of year breeds inactivity in the artwork sense. At least for me it does and it seems that I am not alone. We are almost at the end of the year and often we view it as almost being across the finish line. Its been a long twelve months, we've worked hard, we managed to survive it. And if you are like me and have Procrastination (for me it gets a capital letter) in the blood, its an excellent excuse to hold off on starting or working on new artwork.

But I got to thinking about the word Procrastination yesterday and I've decided I don't like the negative connotations it has attached to it. I figured I could come up with something better. Being an automotive engineer, I'm surrounded by a form of English that makes your eyes cross. Its called Office-ese and for those of you who are not familiar with it, here are a couple examples:

This is a good opportunity for advancement. What this really means is that the assignment you are getting is crap, no one else wanted it and you will most likely be working unpaid overtime to get it finished by the unrealistic deadline they've given you.

We need to examine the situation and come up with a timeline. The translation of this one is that we are awed by the enormity of how screwed up the project has become and we're starting to twitch because we probably don't have enough time to fix it.

We have the resources and capability to handle the situation. Duck and cover when you hear this one. This means your boss just got his head chewed off in a meeting with his boss because something wasn't done right or on time. You will be suffering the consequences of that meeting.

As you can see from the above examples, there is always a more friendly, if not obscure way, to state things. So I figued it was high time there were some alternatives for those of us who are cursed with Procrastination.

Try these on:

I'm a Planner. Why is it that no one faults a person who calls themselves a planner? These people are basically doing the same thing: they are dwelling on the preparation stage of a situation. Heck, some even get paid for it. I say we Procrastinators claim this one for ourselves.

I'm evaluating potential opportunites in order to properly prioritize my timeline. Okay, this is a classic Office-ese alternative. But it does sound better and if you say it to someone who isn't accustomed to the language, they will be so dumbfounded by it that you will be able to change the subject before they realize what you just said. (Here's another one from my buddy Tom who is also an engineer: "I'm assessing probably permutations before enacting implementation." Makes your eyes water, doesn't it? Imagine sitting through a three hour meeting with that kind of babble going on. Ack.)

I'll get back to work on this when my project stops talking so much, its making so much noise that I can't concentrate. This too is also effective. Often its the opposite problem of the work not speaking enough but we've all had a few projects that just won't shut the hell up until they are finished. Anyone who is not an artist will not understand the idea of inanimate objects speaking so they will most likely just back away slowly and decide that Procrastination is one of your better attributes.

I needed to clean. This one is most excellent because it screams normality. Never mind the fact that you can no longer refer to the dust in your house as dust bunnies since they've long ago morphed into dust cattle. No one needs to know that. And its often important to point out that the cleaning activites rarely extend to the room/space designated as the studio.

So you can see, we don't have to bear the burden of the nasty tag called Procrastination. Its all in how you spin it. Now if you excuse me, I need to go plan something and clean...

08 November 2007

Holiday Countdown Reality Check

For those of you who need this...

Christmas countdown banner

Its almost here. Quick, hurry. Start shopping, start cleaning the house, start baking. And if you are so inclined, start panicking...

Just consider me your friendly Holiday Countdown Reality Checker...and just for your convience, I've added a scrolling countdown to the sidebar. Enjoy.

07 November 2007

I've stalled...

This about sums up what's going on with me art-wise lately.

I go into my almost-done studio and admire it. I look at the fabric and the yarn and the sketches I have. I study the started projects and get ideas on what I want to do next. I even go so far as to pull out that bead or the odd trinket I've been hoarding for a year....and then do
a b s o l u t e l y n o t h i n g.

It would seem that I've stalled. Its definetly not a block because the ideas keep coming. But I find myself wanting to stew over things rather then actually do them. This has happened before and I remember thinking the same thing as I am now, "I wish someone would just kick me in the butt so I could get going again." (And don't all volunteer at once.)

I've come to the conclusion that our minds and bodies are often smarter then we think. And its probably a good thing that they come equipped with an automatic QUIT button. We spend our lives running in circles all day - going to work, chasing the kids, cleaning off gooey stoves (that one's for you, Leann) and at the end of it all we aren't always intelligent enough to stop and take a break. I'm no exception, I run until I crash and apparently I've crashed.

So I've decided to just hang out until my butt gets that kick (and again, let me remind you that I'm speaking metaphorically, not literally so put your foot back down on the ground). I did go to Office Max today and found some quite cool bulletin boards to put up on my wall in my almost-done studio. That should finish it off and then maybe I'll get motivated to move.

On the other hand, my brother has an exhibit opening in Royal Oak this friday and Jackie and I are going to go tromping through an old cemetery to take pictures and then there are the holiday cookies.....

04 November 2007

Where I Stand Sunday

During the York Street Cemetery walking tour on Halloween evening, this larger headstone stood out. Not only because of its size but at the base sits a small marble book with its pages open. There are no carvings on the book and no explanation for why its there. Could it
be that there is a story that hasn't found an ending yet?

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. If you'd like to join me by posting a photo on Sunday of places you've been on your blog/photo hosting site/website, leave a comment on this post telling me where I can find you/your photo and I'll add a link to my sidebar so others can find you.

03 November 2007

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

It occured to me as I was preparing the photos for this post that there doesn't seem to be much art making going on for me to report about. In fact, I got an email asking where it had gone. No worries, dear reader, it will return soon. But my studio is still being finished up (it was torn apart successfully but is holding a bit of a grudge at the moment and taking longer to put back together then I expected). That combined with the facts that I've been busy with several projects that are finally done and there is just too much fun stuff going on right now that I want to go see has me spending very little time in the studio.

So today's post is not much different in that regard. Leann, Julia and I went downtown Detroit today to Mexicantown for their Dia de los Muertos celebration. If you aren't familiar with this holiday, it is the Mexican tradition of celebrating the lives of loved ones that have passed on. Its a very upbeat holiday and full of artistry that is totally unique and gorgeous. As a result, this post has tons of pictures in it so be sure to let them all load, they are really worth the wait!

Our first stop was to the Mexicantown International Welcome Center and Mercado. This is a relatively new center and I was really impressed with it. They had several offerendas and merchants there.

An offerenda is an altar with a photo of the deceased person and things that they loved as well as food offering. The photo above is of a more elaborate one set up in the Welcome Center.

We also had the extreme pleasure of meeting Hector Tapia Perez. He's a retired art school teacher turned full time artist and the recipient of the 2007 Hispanic Leadership Award from the Michigan Senate. He was really fun to talk to, he had a lot to share. The photo below is of him posed next to one of his gorgeous linocuts.

We had a really nice time at the Welcome Center and then decided to walk around the Mexicantown neighborhood. One of the first things we came across was a small gallery. Unfortunately it wasn't open but I was really digging this metal snake sculpture attached to the outside. (I'm short, hence the angle of the photo. What can I say? You get short people taking pictures, you get photos at weird angles.)

A little farther up the block was this mural painted on the side of a building.

Leann, Julia and I couldn't resist a Where I Stand photo in front of the mural. (Well, to be honest, it was more me whining at them to do it. They thought I was a little weird but they did it and hey, aren't you glad? Julia's foot is on the right and if I hadn't badgered her into doing it, you would have never seen her cool shoe.) We balanced against each other and held up our feet, we didn't want to put our feet on the mural so we just hovered in front of it. Its amazing just how bad my balance is, thank goodness Leann is a steady one!

We went on from there to eat burritos and drink margaritas (my only regret is that I got the small one and yes, Leann, I know it was early afternoon and no, Leann, that doesn't make me a lush). We visited a tortilla factory where we got tortillas that were still warm they were so fresh. A package of 10 fresh flour tortilla for a grand total of 69 cents! They will be used tomorrow night for the enchilada dinner I'm making.

We also shopped at the supermarkets and small gift shops. I bought some fresh made guacamole and chips and some seasoning for the aforementioned enchilada dinner. And of course my skull addiction flared up and I picked up these new friends:

It was a really lovely day. The weather was sweater weather, Mexicantown was busy and it was a really nice way to remember loved ones that are no longer with us.

Tomorrow I start baking holiday cookies and am going to attempt to put the studio back together. Its been long enough now that I've not worked on any projects that I'm beginning to get that twitch. So keep a look out for art related posts soon, won't be long now....