Posted on Leave a comment

47 DAYS

What brought me here today:

Halloween has always been my favourite holiday. Late autumn was my favourite season when I was a kid.  Halloween was an overlapping venn diagram of delights for me. Cooler weather, getting to pretend and dress-up, creating costumes, and candy! FREE candy at that too! You just went to a house, knocked on the door, said the magic words and BOOM! Candy in the bag! This was candy with no strings attached to it either.

Christmas and Easter, yeah, there were candy and all kinds of sweet treats, but they were doled out by adults. When I was a little kid, Halloween candy was under the sole control of the kid who humped their butt out to hit as many houses as they could on Halloween night. Halloween candy could be traded (my younger brother and I did that) but not taken from us. It was ours. We could eat it when we chose to.

For a kid like me that had a lot of her food intake as a child scrutinized and controlled, there was no wonder why Halloween was my favourite holiday. Well, that and given that every single tooth in my head is a sweet one.

Inspirations:

My love of Halloween and the candy that it would bring me as a child aside, there were also other things I liked about Halloween. Monsters were another attaction for me as well. I’m the person who’s always rooting for the giant monster in the movie. One reason might be the fact that my early childhood experience with “monsters” was largely of the Sesame Street and Muppet-type variety. Blame my empathy towards all monsters on Jim Henson.

The weird thing is, I don’t like slashy, gore-filled movies. Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street are movies I’ve never actually seen. Mostly because of the aforementioned gore. You might fin it odd that I did enjoy the hell out of Lovecraft Country then. A large part of my enjoyment of Lovecraft Country was due in part to being already familiar with H.P. Lovecraft’s work. For me, the scariest parts of Lovecraft Country involved racism and violence against black people.

But, let’s put a pin in that C’thulhu for right now, and get on with the rest of this post.

Themed work in online shop:

If you’re a regular visitor to my blog and Instagram account, you already know I’ve been creating a lot of artwork with distinctly Halloween themes over the past few weeks. Marlene and Minerva, two little witches, are available for purchase in my online shop. But don’t forget about some of my previous artwork either. I’ve not made Halloween specific themed artwork in my recent past. Dolls like Cielo and Xochitl, who have a Day of the Dead inspired theme are available in my online shop. And don’t forget Nutmeg, Ginger, Russell and Saffron!

Skull pins:

My latest additions to my online shop are skull pins that were inspired by Day of the Dead sugar skulls (Dia de los Muertos Calaveras Azucar). It’s customary for people to have sugar skulls with their names placed on the forehead of the skull. I wanted to try something similar with my skull pins. I’m working with felt and embroidery floss instead of sugar and icing though. Once the buyer has chosen the skull that they want, all they have to do is give me the name and the colour they would like it stitched onto the skull in the ‘Order Notes: optional’ shipping section while paying for their skull pin. You can see a photo of what this section looks like here with the skull pin listing.

Remember too that ordering a customised skull pin will require a bit more working time for me on my end. Two days should be added to the shipping because of this.

No wait! There’s more!

I’ve also added three more Halloween-theme dolls to the shop! Junia, Lenore, and Elena. These three really aren’t witches. But they do appear to be incredibly ready to celebrate Halloween. That is, if their clothing has anything to say about it. And maybe the pumpkin and black cat head. Oh. And then the bat wings. Then there are more little black cats on their boots. Maybe not witches, but really, super-duper into the Halloween spirit!

The title of this blog is 47 Days. There are 47 more days until Halloween and Day of the Dead. As always, ordering early (and often!) will ensure that you recieve your order in time for the holidays!

So now what?

Honestly? I think I may take a nap. I’ve had a cold for the past week. This morning I didn’t take any over the counter medication for it for the first time in several days. Hopefully this is an indication that I’m through the worst of it. Oh. And I have more pieces that I’m working on for my online shop as well. So yeah. I’ve got all that going on. Yup.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

Posted on Leave a comment

Specifically to Sell

What brought me here today:

Most of the artwork that I’ve been creating over the past few weeks seems to be centered on a holiday theme: Halloween. I’ve not created much artwork with this specific theme. Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a much more common theme in my artwork. Some of the very first dolls that I created were influenced by this amazing celebration. A good example of this influence is currently available in my online shop, Cielo.

Day of the Dead became a favourite celebration of mine while I was living in New Mexico. It’s a beautiful mixture of Central American indigenous culture and religion, parts of Catholicism, as well as Spanish cultural influences. In Albuquerque, there were parades and public gatherings. The National Hispanic Cultural Center was a wealth of information and education for me as well. You can check out there website here.

Skull pins:

A few days ago, I created a simple pattern for a sugar skull pin and made a few trial run pieces. I have a metric tonne of pin backs from a delivery blunder a month or so ago. Creating sugar skull pins would use up at least a few of those pin backs. I purchaced some felt specifically for the creation of these sugar skull pins the day before creating the pattern. I spent about $14 (11.85 Euros) on all the materials at Michaels.

Once I figured out the most expedient way of cutting the felt. And what created the dimensional effects I liked, cutting them out went quickly. Adding the embroidery work to the skulls is akin to working on a very tiny needlework sampler. The pin backs are easy to attach to the back of the pin, along with the backing felt.  I can create quite a few of these pins per working day.

I also thought that it would be cute to add names across the forehead as well. This takes a little more concentration, as names can get long and complicated. These pins aren’t incredibly large. The pins measure about 2 x 2.5 inches (6.5 x 5.5 cm). The addition of names to the forehead would be in line with the sugar skulls that are given to people during Day of the Dead.

What’s the plan?

These skull pins are being created specifically to sell in my online shop. There’s no doubt that I’ll wear one of these pins myself. Just like there’s no doubt that some of the dolls I make I keep for myself. For me, there is a very distinct difference in these skull pins and some of the other pieces of artwork I create and then place for sale.

I sell my dolls, but rarely do I specifically set out at the beginning of a doll and think “YEP! This doll is going to be for sale!” It’s more creatively organic than that. There is an intrinsic need/want to create a doll. So I make the doll. It’s after the doll is completed that I make the decision as to whether or not it will be offered for sale. The three headed green witch doll with big boots will not be making an appearance in my online shop.

These skull pins were concieved of as items that would be specifically offered for sale. The materials were were purchased specifically for the creation of these pins. And the materials purchased, as well as the personal labour required to make them, have aided me in deciding on the pricepoint in which they will be sold.

Crappy custom experience:

I had an incredibly horrible custom order experience about twelve or so years ago. The client was from out of town, so the majority of our communications were by phone and email. I made sure that she okay’d every single choice I made for her doll. It was important for me to have her sign-off on every single design aspect of the doll.

When the day for pick-up arrived, she rejected the doll. She told me that it wasn’t anything like she wanted. Then she pointed to a doll that I had made for another client and said, “I want one exactly like that one!” So, I started all over again and created a doll for her that was as close to exact as I could get to another doll that I had created. Oh. And she needed it in like a week for some reason.

There was $300 dollars on the table. I was a poor artist and art teacher. So I made the replica doll and got my money. The doll that she rejected had crippled my hands because of the amount of embroidery work on it’s face and limbs, as well as clothing. The amount of work I had put into it far exceeded the price we had agreed on. Now I was stuck with it, and no buyer. I gave it away to a friend because I couldn’t stand having it in my presence.

Custom order pond:

A friend of mine suggested that I look into creating custom orders as a means of obtaining more sales. After the aforementioned custom order incident, I haven’t attempted any further custom orders. The whole series of events affected me so negatively that even the thought of offering a custom order made me sick to my stomach.

The skull pins offer me a chance to dip my toe back into the greater pond of custom orders without becoming overwhelmed. The only part of the skull pin to be customised is the name/wording across the forehead and the colour of embroidery thread the customer wishes to be used. A cutomer wants their initials “HPL” stitched on the forehead in red thread. No problem. Another customer wants “LOVE!” stitched in purple? Again, no problem.

What’s the difference?

Well, for one, I’m in no way emotionally invested in the finished piece of artwork. The second reason is that even though I’m offering a customisable piece of artwork, it’s limited. The space in which the customisation takes place is small. Most of the creative parts of the artwork have already been completed. Basically, the customer is picking a ‘blank’ and having me add in a few stitches.

So, now what?

As always, I can get back to work. I had originally thought that I would have enough pieces ready to add to my shop today. Tuesday the 14th of September seems like a much more attainable date to have these items in my online shop. I also suspect that Junia, Lenore, and Elena will also be added to the shop on the same day. Bat wings, black cats, pumpkins and all!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday,

Posted on Leave a comment

Bland Blog

What brought me here today:

This past week has not exactly been a terrifically exciting week. I’ve spent time working on my artwork. Making plans for upcoming pieces and projects. At times, having to ‘sit tight’ while waiting for other things to happen. Which is incredibly annoying. Planning can only take me so far creatively speaking. Then I want to actually work on the project!

I’ve had to make due with creating smaller pieces of work to take my mind off all the waiting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The pieces that I’ve been working on have been a lot of fun to create. And they have generated some income for me as well.

New in shop:

I’ve finished two new witch dolls, Minerva and Marlene. I’ve added them to my online shop. They’re pretty cute little witches, even though I say it myself. For some reason, I decided to make twins. I don’t do that very often either. Minerva has a dress made of a lovely shade of aubergine. While Marlena’s dress is purple. Each doll is wearing an indigo coloured witch hat and boots.

I’m having a lot of fun creating these little witches. One of my first Halloween costumes was a witch. I wore a store-bought mask that had a green face, and black hair highlighted with purple and orange. I had a little black skirt and loose fitting top with black fringe on it. A pointy, black hat. And I carried the small broom from our families fireplace set.

I have another Halloween-themed idea that I’m incredibly eager to start working on. By the end of the day, I should have it started and will post pictures of the progress on my Instagram.

Art materials:

I’ve begun picking through the recyclables that we regularly have for specific materials that I want to use in my artwork. This can only mean one thing; I’m edging closer to creating some larger, paper mâché pieces. And yes, that is exactly what this means. I’m glad that my husband is an understanding soul regarding my magpie-like behaviours. He’s now keeping items back that he knows I will want.

Two of the recyclables that I’m not used to saving for art materials are plastic beverage bottles and aluminum cans. We saved them and returned them for  deposit at the grocery store in Finland. They ranged between 10¢ and 30¢ depending on the bottle or can. In Delaware, there’s no plastic bottle or can return. So I’m free to use as many as I would like. I suppose the same could have been said about the plastic bottles and cans in Finland, but I really wanted the deposit back!

More stuff; more problems:

I’m now trying to figure out how I want to store these new recycled art materials. My small studio room is directly off of the bedroom. It was originally used as a walk-in closet. We have consciously purchased as little furniture as possible, so the only thing in our bedroom is our bed. It’s a large bedroom too. I’ve stored my corrugated cardboard there simply because there’s not enough room in my studio room. I’d like to create a storage solution for all my recycled art supplies that doesn’t look and act like a crap-slide!

I’m not a fan of over-the-top bedrooms. I don’ think of my bedroom as a spa or a retreat. It’s a room that I spend 99% of my time in with my eyes closed. A comfortable bed. A warm comforter and clean sheets are all I need in a bedroom. The only things we want to add are two lamps, so it’s easier to read in bed.

So, now what?

As always for me, back to creating artwork. Remember that idea that I’ve been wanting to work on? Yeah. That one. I’m going to start that one. I’m also going to continue my research for a paint purchase. Dick Blick is where I think I may be placing an order for paint.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday!

Posted on 1 Comment

My Circus; My Monkeys

What brought me here today:

Last Friday’s Blog Post, Showing My Butt is why I’m here typing today. I knew as soon as I published my blog last Friday that I was going to need to do a follow-up blog post. There were several points that needed to be addressed. That blog post was an incredibly petulant diatribe! But I think I needed to get it all out before it started doing too much internal damage.

After spewing out Showing My Butt, I did feel quite a bit better. Not completely a-okay, but better. I had some good conversations with a few people who had read the post too. They helped to make me feel that I was not alone, while simultaneously jerking a knot in my tail at the same time.

How do I feel now?

I do feel better, but it’s not because the jealousy and envy magically went away. Feeling better has more to do with getting my feelings out. Most people don’t do that sort of thing so publicly. Simply put, I’m the sort of person who will tell my life story to the person sitting next to me on the bus. Admitting to being jealous and envious of other artists and artisans that are making more money than I am, is something I had to do so I could get past it.

In talking about it, I’m not embarrassed about it anymore. The shame of having those emotions no longer has control of me. Those twin beasties Jealousy and Envy have been cut down to a much, much more manageable size. Instead of being huge and scary, they’re small and annoying.

I can no say to them, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re there. I know. Go back to your cage. I have things to do.” instead of letting them run all over  my mind, getting sticky, stinky, little foot prints on everything they come into contact with. Making everything they come into contact with stink. With me, trying frantically to get them back into their cages before my whole brain is coated with them and their nasty smell.

Things are not as they would seem:

Another thing that I had to remind myself of is the fact that much of what I see isn’t real. Just because those artists and artisans have lots of likes, or thumbs up, or an Etsy shop doesn’t mean that they’re achieving the success that you think they are. Or for that matter, the success that the artists and artisans want to achieve for themselves! Nothing that we see, hear, or read online is real. It’s what the artist and artisan wants you so see.

No artist is going to show themselves three-days unbathed, hair sticking up, wearing ripped and stained sweatpants, no bra, working at a desk that looks like a goat exploded on. It’s not what a potential customer wants to see. They want to see a happy, successful looking artist. Sitting in an immaculately clean studio space with light and flowers. Hair done. Make-up on. Waiting for inspiration from some kind of mythical muse.

Yeah. That’s not how this works. Not at all. And we all know it.

Possible solutions:

A friend who read the previous Friday blog post gave me some excellent advice about potential customer groups.  I had never thought of any of these groups before. Getting my work to be attractive to these groups won’t require a huge amount of change of my small doll work as well. There would simply be different contexts in which the dolls would be presented. It won’t take a tremendous amount of change either. I can broaden my customer base. While still allowing me to be as creative as I want with other pieces, like Elodia and Daria.

Another friend made a suggestion that I have been wanting to do; stickers. I’ve been looking for a place that can print stickers of of my doll work for a month or so. I’d like to have a local print shop create them. Hopefully those will be coming before the end of the year. Along with stickers, I’ve been thinking about other peripherals like postcards, and downloadable and printable things.

So, now what?

As always, getting back to work. I’m seeing how I can plug-in the aforementioned good suggestions into my “Big Plan”, which includes Patreon. I think that part of my jealousy and envy is that I’m having to wait to move on some of these plans until some other things (out of my immediate control) happen. I’m not terribly good at sitting-tight until all the pieces are in place either. This doesn’t matter much, because I have to just…wait. (Dammit.)

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

Posted on

Burning Question

What brought me here today:

Two of the final pieces that I finished prior to leaving Finland were Honey and Bizzy. I used my 12 cm Little Lady doll pattern, with some modifications to create both pieces. These two dolls have slightly longer torsos, arms and legs. They also have multiple heads. Honey and Bizzy’s predecessor, Arete was given four heads. Arete and Bizzy have been purchased. Honey still waits for a home.

As an artist, I vacillate between keeping some of the inspiration for my artwork to myself, and feeling as though I must explain my artwork to potential buyers. Part of the reason for the later is that perhaps a person might have a connection with the same inspiration I did. Thus making the person a little more likely to maybe purchase a given piece of my work.

The flip-side of that kind of thinking, is that any potential buyers will look at me like I have two heads when I ineptly try to explain my artwork and it’s inspirations. Then walk away muttering something about all artists being incredibly weird, after not purchasing any of my artwork.

First, a brief recap:

I’ve written about how most of my artwork begins. Almost all of the time, I feel as though I get fixated on something specific. It could be an element like shape or colour. Other times, it’s something that I see in my environment, buildings, leaves, insects, fabric, etc. Sometimes, the inspiration is from my life. There are other forms or elements I get fixated on that I can’t exactly pinpoint, and only discover what they are and where they come from while actively creating the piece of art.

Motif, theme, inspiration:

Part of the mental fixation for me as an artist is that whatever I’m fixed on, it’s not enough for me to manipulate the fixation within my own mind. I need to explore it more within the physical world. Jim Dine is an artist who I admire who create artwork in several different mediums. He’s an autobiographical artist. His artwork is created around who he is and the life he’s lead.

There’s a fair amount of autobiography within my own artwork. I suppose I could argue that all of my private artwork is autobiographical, as well as therapeutic. For me, fixating on an idea, form, or colour, is how my brain works in it’s entirety. The major difference for me is that the art-side of my personality create art by fixating. The non-art-making side of me ends-up getting mired in quicksand, and nothing is produced.

Seriously, why so many flippin’ heads?

In a nutshell, I find stacking the spheres that will be the heads to be creatively satisfying. When I was teaching elementary school art, I had a sculpture lesson for younger students in which they created a snowman*. Crayola Model Magic clay was used to create the snowman. Each of the three spheres the students created were to be of different sizes. Large, medium, and small.

I think I loved this lesson as much, if not more, than my students. Creating spheres that were balanced in such a way so that they could stand on their own. I don’t know. It just never ceased to satisfy some unknown creative urge within me. I know this must sound strange. Please remember, I’m trying to explain something that is more than a little opaque to even me!

Take this strange love for stacking spheres of squishy clay, and add the movie Spirited Away. In it, there are heads that live with Yubaba, the Kashira. Of all the characters in this amazing film, I find myself fixated on a minor character that consists of three heads that roll around and do odd jobs for Yubaba.

Eventual outcome:

This is the point in the conversation with the potential customer when they look at me like I have two heads. I have about seven seconds left until they sigh heavily, say something like “Well…yeah…so…” and then walk away muttering about how weird artists are.

These people aren’t my audience. I know this. Believe me. I know this. I cannot explain my artwork to a person that is either unwilling, or unable to make connections between themselves and ideas from outside their own personal experiences.

Easy fix:

The answer to this could simply be, stop making artwork that’s too weird for people to understand or want. Then maybe you could solve your I’m-not-making-any-money-as-an-artist problem that you wrote about last Friday. It seems like the easiest of fixes. Right?

Kinda. A more accurate answer might be, diversify your creative output and online shop items. With an eye toward those untapped groups of potential customers. While at the same time, keep making the artwork that some people think is too weird, or makes their head hurt. But that’s a blog post for another day this week. Say, Friday?

So now what?

Better said, so now you know a little bit about why I, the weird artist, is so into making dolls with multiple heads right now because of a snowman lesson and a Hayao Miazaki film. That’s not all the inspiration behind the multiple-headed dolls. Just the ones that I felt okay disclosing to people that I may or may not know.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

*While teaching this lesson, I used the term “snow person” instead of snowman. Students were encouraged to make their snow person in any way they wished. For purposes related to clarity for the readers of this blog post, I used the colloquial snowman so that any English as second language speakers would know to what I referred specifically.

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Past, Present, and Future

What brought me here today:

Creative block is something that I’ve never seem to fall victim to. The ideas that I have always seem to exceed my ability to create them. Most of the time, what that really means is that it takes me a long time to create the larger, sculptural paper mache pieces. While I’m working on a given piece, I still get ideas and create sketches of specific pieces I would like to create in the future.

That all being said, there is a part of me that is hesitant to begin creating larger, more complex pieces of artwork in my new studio space. Putting a finger on exactly what is making me hesitate has been a difficult process. Even using the term ‘hesitant’ somehow feels incorrect. For those who follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve created twelve tiny doll brooches in my new studio space. It would appear that I’ve solved my own problem, right?

The past:

This may sound strange, especially for people who may not be creators or artists, but the artwork I made in Finland belongs in a different place. It’s linked to a former version of myself that is in the past. A lot of money was spent to ship my artwork from Finland to the US. This was done for a few different reasons. Chief among them being that I need to have artwork to show in displays and galleries.

The body of work that I brought with me represents a lot of creative and emotional learning for me. I discovered a lot more about myself than I thought possible while creating the artwork. If for that reason alone I made sure to keep the artwork, it would have been worth the money spent on shipping.

All that being said, that artwork, and the ways in which I created it belong in my past. My extremely recent past. But my past nonetheless.

Between now and when:

The teenie doll brooches that I created were started in Finland. The doll bodies, arms, and legs were sewn together at the desk that looked out onto Myllyjarvi lake. I felt no hesitation in sewing on each dolls hair, or in giving them names. I used some of the felt that I brought with me to create the brooch bases. New embroidery floss was used to add the decorative elements to the brooches and the doll dresses.

The brooches that I created were planned previous to the move to the US. I knew that I wanted to create some tiny doll brooches in the near future, so I got the tiny dolls started before leaving Finland. It was nice to have something to physically work on after almost three weeks of no art creation.

There was no hesitation in creating because I had already done the lion’s share of the designing and planning prior to moving into a new studio work space. It may sound strange, but in my mind, the artwork was already completed. I could go on and create something new.

Be here now:

I suppose that I could blame some of my hesitancy to begin constructing a large, sculptural paper mache piece on the fact that I’m still missing some important materials and supplies. No newspaper as of yet. And I still have not found a glue that I feel is strong enough. There are also a few orders for felt that I need to make. I need a large cutting mat as well.

It seems like I’m attempting to make excuses for not jumping right back into creating large, sculptural, paper mache pieces. Doesn’t it? I think in part I am. There’s another part of me that is processing the new environment I’m living in. Pulling out elements that I find interesting and stashing them away in my sketchbook. There is something creatively coalescing in my mind. I just can’t quite see it yet.

The future is now:

Acknowledging the fact that I still wish I was in Finland and not in the US has helped me a great deal. Now that I know this, I can start moving forward. That might sound strange, but it works for me. There’s nothing I can do right now to be back in Finland. I am right here, right now. And it will do me no good to winge and whine about where I wish I was.

For me, the act of creating artwork in a place tethers me to it. The influence of my immediate environment makes itself present in my finished artwork. I can’t help it. For me to sit down and continue creating exactly the same artwork that Finland inspired in me would feel incredibly wrong to me. Any artwork I make in this new space will have Delaware as an influence.

Flow:

While talking to my husband, he mentioned that he was still having problems getting into a flow state while working. I’ve written about flow state quite  few times in the past. It’s one of those things occurrences that can be hard to describe. Suffice it to say, that to be able to get into a flow state while working, one of the key requirements is that I feel mentally and emotionally comfortable. I need to feel safe.

My new workspace is still new to me. I’m not done figuring out how I will operate within the space. What tools go where. How my supplies and materials will be stored. And, even things like, I’m not looking out a large window onto trees and a lake. These things have a lot to do with disrupting my creative flow state. This is where my sense of hesitancy springs from.

The more settled I get within my new workspace, the easier a time I will have getting into a creative flow state. This is just going to take some time. In the meantime, I will continue working on smaller pieces. Smaller dolls. And see where it all takes me.

So, now what?

I have several smaller dolls that I want to design and create. These pieces go in a direction that didn’t quite feel right to me until I arrived in the US. I’m going to start work on them in the next week. There are also other irons I have in the fire right now that I can begin fleshing out as well. Like I said, I’m never at a loss for creative ideas, so I count myself incredibly lucky.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

Mason Jennings, Be Here Now; Boneclouds (2006)

I also know that Be Here Now (1971) is a book by Ram Dass, about yoga, meditation, and spiritualism. I have never read the book.

Posted on 2 Comments

There’s a Distance Between*

What brought me here today:

I remember having a small, internal melt-down the first time I shopped for art tools, materials and supplies in Finland. There didn’t seem to be any store that had anything like what I was used to in the US. And when I did find tools, materials, and supplies, more of the time, they were priced too high. I couldn’t afford them.

Returning to the US has also proven to be more challenging. Especially when attempting to locate and procure the materials and supplies that I grew dependent on while living in Finland. It is easier to find ready-to-use art materials and supplies in the US. But not everything I want or need requires a ready-made art-related item. Recycled and upcycled items have become a mainstay of my art practice.

Finding recycled items so far:

During my years of teaching elementary school art, I learned a great deal about repurposing all kinds of items into art materials for my students. While living in Finland, I applied this knowledge. I looked at what kinds of materials I could find easily and then let the materials guide me in shaping the artwork I created. Cardboard, carton board, and newspaper were three items I had in abundance. More cardboards could be found at local grocery stores at no cost. Newspapers were delivered to my mailbox.

At present, I’m swimming in corrugated carboard. Even though we didn’t purchase a lot of furniture, I have a great deal of recyclable cardboard. We’re trying to eat less processed foods, so accumulating carton board may take a bit more time for me. Newspapers are something that I simply have not seen since we moved. Hopefully I can locate some soon. It’s an important material for me. Paper mache will not work without it.

Second Hand:

The second hand shops in Finland were incredibly cool. They always had a little area that would have all the yarns, fabrics, buttons, all kinds of sewing notions, etc. in it. Lots of the items that the second hand shops had were vintage too. I found some of the coolest threads, buttons, fabrics, and sewing books in these shops. Jewelry, beads, and storage were also things I could easily find second hand.The best parts of purchasing second hand arts and crafts materials were the uniqueness of the items and the low price points.

I also purchased clothing that I would pick apart and use the fabrics to use in the creation of my artwork. Sometimes, the cloth was used to create clothing for a doll. More recently, I’ve begun using the fabrics to cover the outsides of some of my larger, paper mache pieces.

Just a click away!

I didn’t do a great deal of ordering tools, supplies or materials online while living in Finland. Although I did order from Buddly Crafts and Wool Warehouse in the UK prior to the Brexit becoming finalized. I preferred to spend my small art budget in the local shops, including the second hand shops, around the city I lived in. Even when I knew that I was paying a bit more for a specific item, like embroidery flosses and pearl cottons.

I’m getting ready to place an order for felt with two different companies in the next week. Some of the felts that I’m ordering are ones that I used regularly prior to leaving the US. Today, I received an order of new thread. The order was placed only two days ago. An additional order is coming tomorrow evening. It feels so odd to me to just be pointing and clicking and then POOF! The materials are on my doorstep.

Sensory overload:

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a US chain arts and crafts store. I was completely overwhelmed by the huge selection of art materials and supplies they had for sale. A few purchases were made. Some Aleene’s Tacky Glue, pom-poms, and a dozen and a half or so skeins of embroidery floss. The embroidery floss was .62 cents each. I almost burst into tears on the spot. Embroidery floss was so much more expensive in Finland. (2.60 Euros each)

Looking at materials and supplies online also gives me a sensory overload. There are just so many different things that can be purchased so, so, so easily online. I get so overwhelmed with the seemingly limitless choices that are on offer. There have been lists created of supplies and materials that I would like to purchase, but haven’t as of yet. Part of me doesn’t know what I’m waiting for either.

That certain something:

I need to purchase felt. There’s no part of me that feels bad about placing an order for a material that I have used in the past, and am using in the present, to create my artwork. After all, I make a lot of dolls! Being able to purchase embroidery floss at such an incredibly low price is something that I plan on taking advantage of a lot in the future too.

That all being said, there are still some things, or should I say, some ways of procuring materials and supplies that I miss a great deal. I have yet to find a second hand shop locally that can compare to Ekocenter or Fida. The stores are either not easy to get to by foot or bus, or are open for two hours on a random day of the week. In addition to being difficult to get to by foot or bus. I miss Eri-Keeper glue desperately, and am trying to figure out how to get my hands on some here in the US.

The sense of being overwhelmed by the choices of art materials and supplies that I can easily order online, as well as fairly easily after a bus ride, makes me feel incredibly uneasy. I liked knowing that when I purchased items from a local shop in Finland, the money stayed in my community. There was a feeling of creative satisfaction I gained from buying second hand items, supplies, and materials and creating my artwork with them.

So, now what?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve only been here for a short time. There have to be interesting shops and businesses that I just haven’t discovered yet. I also need to remember that there is still a pandemic going on, so ordering materials and supplies online can be seen as beneficial to reducing the spread of the Delta Variant (as well as any other variants that may exist). My husband and I are fully vaccinated, but are being careful.

ANYWAY. I’ve missed being able to create artwork for the time we were moving. Part of me still feels a little ‘out of phase’ with my own mind. Creating new artwork will help me to anchor myself better in the here and the now of living in Delaware.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Tuesday!

*The Devo song, Out of Sync from 1982’s Oh No! It’s Devo has been running through my head a lot lately. Unlike the lyrics, I have accepted that I feel out of sync. Time and some mental and emotional work are what will get me back into sync. The first step for me was acknowledging to myself that I still wish I was living in Finland. And the place that I find myself in physically is not exactly where I wish I was.

 

Posted on

Merzing the Night Away*

What brought me here today:

I’m starting to put together my new studio space. I’ve not been able to do any kind of physical art creation in a month. There have been so many other tasks that have demanded my attention during the move. By the time this blog posts the much-needed furniture will have been delivered from IKEA. Hopefully I will have had some time to do some art creation, perhaps some sewing, by now.

My new studio is not large, but I’m not creating huge pieces of artwork. The fact that I will have my own private space in which to create my artwork is a bigger deal to me than the actual size of the space itself. I’ve not had my own studio space for about ten years now. Prior to moving to Finland, my husband and I shared a studio space. The larger bedroom in a two bedroom house.

Need for my own merz:

I’ve been getting increasingly restless by not being able to create artwork. Longtime readers know that creating artwork for me is my personal therapy. As the need to run errands slows down, my need to create increases. Everything feels so…’apart‘ for me right now. I need to have a designated space just for me where I can go and create.

A big part of me also just wants to ‘nest’ a bit. What I mean by nesting is to make our new living space feel like I belong in it. I need to shape aspects of my physical environment to my own personal tastes I suppose. The need to create my own personal Merzbau is really what I’m talking about

Merzbau’s were the creation of an artist named Kurt Schwitters. He has long been one of my favourite artists from the Dada and Surrealists movements. The Merzbaus were altered interiors created by Schwitters in several of his residences. None of the original Merzbaus exist anymore. The Tate has an excellent article about them here. The reconstructed Merzbaus look amazing too!

I have limitations:

The spaces that Schwitters created in his the series of Merzbaus he created are far more intricate and permanent than I have plans for in my own small studio. I need to have a space that’s designed and decorated for no one other than myself. A place of my own creation that is meant to nurture further artistic creation.

Sometimes my wish to own less ‘stuff’ comes into direct opposition to my creation of artwork and a creative workspace. I’m a magpie at heart, collecting so many different types of things that can be used in the creation of my artwork. Much of what I collect is recyclable, so that helps a little. Especially if I have to selectively reduce those supplies and materials.

I suppose that I should look at the accumulation of tool, materials, and supplies for artwork creation in a different way. The majority of ‘stuff’ will be used to create artwork. Artwork that will be sold and leave my studio. Well, hopefully most of the artwork I create will eventually leave my studio.

Studio space:

My new studio measures around 12 (3.7 x 1.8 m) by 6 feet-ish. The landlord calls it a walk-in closet. It has some wire shelves installed along one wall. There are spaces where I could add some small shelving units if I need them. The room has a door that closes, and a window with blinds. There’s carpet on the floor, so I will need to put down a plastic mat for my desk chair. There is also a non-functioning radiator that is already being used as a shelf.

The desk that I ordered from IKEA is a smaller version of the Linmon Adils desk that I had in Finland. I didn’t get the set of Alex drawers that I previously had. I decided that in such a small studio space, I wanted to be able see my art tools, materials, and supplies. The hope being that I don’t forget that I already have something instead of buying more of something I already have.

I decided to get a small rolling cart to hold the items that previously had taken up space on my desk. It’s a Raskog utility cart. I had to get it in gray because that’s all that they had in stock. If I decide I don’t like the colour, I’ll just paint it. I also thought that if it turns out that I don’t like using this cart, my husband can use it at his desk, or perhaps in the kitchen.

Better definition:

I need to better define exactly what I mean by a  creating my own Merz.  I don’t mean that I’m nesting either. That implies that I’m gathering all kinds of things together and creating something larger. It’s not like a bower bird either, because I’m not collecting all kinds of specific objects to display in a way to attract other ‘birds’. A cocoon or chrysalis doesn’t work either, because I’m not hoping to come out or through some type of creative metamorphosis.

My inability to find a readymade description of what I require of my studio, means that I’m going to need to come up with some term specific to myself and my artwork. Right now, I just have no idea what that definition or name could possibly be. I’m sure that in time, the definition will reveal itself.

IKEA in the US:

You may have detected a pattern of IKEA-centric furniture in this post. Part of the reason for that is that we wanted to simply replace some of the items we had previously owned in Finland. My husband and I both liked the Linmon Adils desks. Their prices were also well within our budget. Purchasing from IKEA seemed like the best option too, since we are familiar with the brand and specific items.

We had to make a trip to an actual brick and mortar IKEA to place our furniture order. The trip took a bit of planning, and included trains, busses and subways. From previous experience, we knew that we needed to dedicate an entire day to the IKEA trip as well. I’ve got to admit, it was a hot, humid, and absolutely miserable day to travel to IKEA via public transport. I was completely knackered by the end of the day.

Not in the Nordics anymore:

My husband and I were kind of disappointed by the physical IKEA store that we went to. The staff was incredibly friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They were patient as saints as well. However, the store itself was just kind of...sad. There were a lot of completely empty shelves, as well as display pieces that were obviously put together incorrectly. Or perhaps just broken.

The cafeteria was a disappointment. Whatever they were serving as lingonberry jam was not lingonberry jam. It was insanely sweet. The food we ordered was just not very good. It was if it’d been in a steam tray for several days. The rolls were hard as rocks too. It was all just so disappointing. I do not blame the store employees. They seemed to know that their store was in a sad state.

The entire experience felt like Nordic cosplay for American audiences. There were some words and phrases on wall displays that were not exactly true. No Swede shouts “FIKA!” and then the whole office runs off to drink coffee. I don’t think that most people care if IKEA in the US is an accurate representation or not in any case. Our personal experiences at the IKEA stores in Finland were a more gratifying experience overall.

Circumstances beyond their control:

Once my husband and I had some time to digest our recent US IKEA experience, we chalked a lot of what we thought was sad the on-going pandemic. People ordered a lot of items that couldn’t readily be restocked. The cafeteria was in a state of partial closure because of pandemic restrictions as well. This IKEA may be running with less staff than normal as well.

So, now what?

Right now, I want to get back to creating artwork. I have several different pieces that I want to create. Many of the pieces I want to create are for my online shop. I also have several large, paper mache pieces that either need to be finished, or repaired as well. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I’m not prone to creative blocks. There are always pieces that I want/need to create.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

*The title of this blog is based upon an album by The Shins, Wincing the Night Away. I’ve been a Shins fan for a long time. When I lived in Albuquerque, I saw them perform a lot at the Launchpad.  I linked to some free listening on YouTube, but if you like what you hear, go buy some Shins. They are so incredibly worth it.

Posted on

Fixing, Sorting and Giving Away

Dental procedure update:

My root canal is finished. I will need a crown by the end of the year. That will kind of suck. But, at least the hardest and most uncomfortable part of the entire process is over with. The process in the chair with all the drilling and poking about with needles and whatnot, didn’t hurt. Most of the time it was merely uncomfortable. Now I’m not having any pain at all in that tooth. And that’s great!

As an American, I kept putting off the trip to the dentist because I was terrified that it would cost thousands and thousands of euros. I can’t say that this dental procedure was cheap. It was far less expensive than I had feared. And the dentist, assistant, and staff at both dental clinics that I was treated at were knowledgable, professional, and extremely considerate people.

I do still need to have a crown. That will be more expensive. I’m not really looking forward to it either. I have until the end of the year to have the crown done. This gives me some time to save (hopefully) enough money to have this last bit of dentistry completed.

Online shop update:

My online shop will be closing on 12 June. I have no plans for reducing any of the prices of the artwork listed in the shop. Many of the pieces have already had their prices lowered a month or so back. Offering discounts or attempting to conduct a sale isn’t something that I have the time to do at present.

To be completely honest, I need all the money that I can make from the sale of my artwork in my online shop for the move. I write this not as some sort of passive-aggressive guilt-trip aimed at potential customers. I’m merely being upfront and stating a clear fact of my current situation. So if you’re waiting to buy my artwork in the hopes of it having the prices reduced, I’m sorry.

Organizational updates:

The organization is basically me picking up an art supply, material, or some other item and saying to myself, “Gift for ____? Donate to _____? Trash? Recycling? and Save for ____?” I can assure you, it’s not the most exciting process. I do try to make the gifting and donating of items as easy as possible for the person who is taking ownership of the items. Reusable grocery bags are one of my best friends right now!

Packing up my artwork:

Some of my larger, paper mâché pieces are being taken apart and boxed up so that they can be sent through the mail to myself. Many of my largest pieces either come apart, or I can carefully disarticulate them for easier packing and shipping. Many of the smaller dolls will actually be used in lieu of bubble wrap or tissue paper to keep the paper mâché from getting too bashed around in transit.

Packing up other stuff:

Moving to another residence, and all the packing and donating does not really make for riveting blog reading. Of this, there is no doubt. It’s not a super fun process to go through either. There are times in which I’m actually kind of having fun sorting things and getting ready to move. Then there are other times in which I hide behind my computer writing boring blog posts in an attempt to put off going back to the sorting, planning, and organizing.

So…yeah. Hmm. I guess I need to wrap up this post and get back to breaking down my desk materials storage. Super fun times.

Thanks for reading, and I will see you again next Friday!

Posted on

In Between Again

What brought me here today:

I’ve finished two dolls that I’ve been working on for the past week. Honey and Bizzy are now both available in the shop. These two dolls are the last of the major pieces that I will be creating in my current work space. Creating is something that I do daily, as a means of therapy. So I cannot imagine completely stopping while preparing for the move that is coming next month.

I’m still trying to figure out what I will work on while completely taking apart my work space. Creating artwork while dismantling my work space seems like a precarious thing to attempt. I can’t quite remember if I worked in my studio up until the last few days before we departed Albuquerque or not. I remember that it was the last room that we dismantled though.

Creating art until…

I have a short list started for what I need to accomplish in taking apart my work space. The most important tools, materials and supplies will be set aside first. Those will be the things that are required so that I can create the artwork that I’m currently creating. Other tools, supplies and materials can be sorted and figured out from that point.

Sometimes, I wish that my needle work and sewing was more two-dimensional. That way, I could transport the tools, materials and supplies, as well as the artwork in progress more easily. While I can appreciate that kind of needle work, I need to work in three dimensions.

I’ve contemplated cutting out dolls and simply having them ready to assemble. But I’m not sure. I’m going to create a few new sketchbooks so that I have ample space to write and sketch ideas for pieces that I may not be able to create for a month or so. Whatever I end up doing, you’ll be sure that I will be writing about it here.

Diverted:

Go Marielle will probably be getting more of my creative attentions while we are actually nearer the end of preparing for the move. A lot of what I do with Marielle is done on the computer. As long as I have my laptop, camera and an internet connection, I can create and post stories for Go Marielle. Hopefully these new stories will not be boring.

There’s also several different projects that I am so itchy to start, but can’t until the move is completed. This makes me feel as though I’m in a hurry-up and sit still kind of mode. My sketchbooks and my daily work journal will be helpful in allowing me to flesh-out my ideas and plans. So when I do finally get to work on them, I have good plans to implement them.

So, what now?

Well, for one, it’s a short blog post. With each passing day, I feel as though I have more plates beginning to spin. Remember that my online shop is going to be shut down after June 12, 2021. When I open it up again, there will be some items that are no longer available. If you see something in my shop that you really want to purchase, it’s a good idea to buy soon!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Friday.