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Settling In

What brought me here today:

At this point, my husband and I have been living in Wilmington for over two months. It seems like it was just yesterday that we arrived. While at the exact same time, like it was ten months ago. That must mean that we’re settling-in to our new home and new city. There are some things that I’m still having a hard time getting used to though. This seems weird to me as a person who was born and raised in the US. I can’t deny how I feel though.

Some things are pleasant surprises. While others are either confusing me, or making me shake my head.

Advertising on television:

We don’t watch broadcast television. There’s no ‘must see TV’ nights for us. There weren’t really any Finnish television shows that we watched regularly either. The Duudsonit (The Dudesons) that we would watch if we saw it was on while flipping around the channels. It was fun to see the weird stuff they did for the show. That being said, we didn’t actively seek out the program. The same can be said for a Finnish police show that was kind of like Cops in the US.

What we mainly watch is YouTube, AEW, and a few things on Netflix and other platforms. There are creators on YouTube that we’ve been following for quite a while. Many of these are creative people. Writers, researchers, historians, artists, cooks, musicians, etc. Most of them have sponsors, so there’s usually a sponsor ad done by the YouTube creator somewhere within the video. It’s not annoying to me. And these creators have to pay their bills just like me. So go make your coin!

Big differences:

Most Finnish ads on YouTube or television seemed low-key when compared to American advertisements. On network television, Finnish ads ran at the top and bottom of the hour as well. To me, they seemed less intrusive. American advertising during a television program, and during YouTube feel so incredibly manipulative to me. They seem to be taking every page from B.F. Skinner in their attempts to condition me to buy-into consuming their products.

The main objective to most of the American commercials seems to be “Buy this product/service and you will have a better, more fulfilling life’. Instead of the product being in the forefront, it’s what the consumer will feel like after purchasing the product/service. It’s a pretty common advertising tactic. It just feels slimy to me. Some plastic doo-hickey, or app for a phone is supposed to change a person’s life?

My husband and I are no where near being  the targeted demographic for most of the advertising we see and hear around us. It may be that I’m overtly sensitive to advertising’s attempts at manipulating my thinking. I never felt like Finnish advertising was trying to sell me a ‘lifestyle’. More often than not, they were telling me that Fazer chocolate is tasty, and perhaps some Paulig coffee would be nice to drink with some chocolates. Oh, and buying it might be a  very thing for the Finnish economy.

Getting around:

My husband had an epiphany a few days ago regarding how we were having some difficulties navigating the city. Wilmington is very hilly. In  that way, it’s similar to Jyvaskyla. It’s impossible for us to stand outside on our street and see downtown. We can see the buildings, but not where the street extends. No vanishing point. It’s lead us, erroneously, to believe that places we need to go are further away than they really are.

Wilmington has a smaller population than Jyvaskyla. But the population is much more centralized. Whereas in Jyvaskyla, it was much more spread out. There were so many hills though, that you could easily stand on one hill and see exactly where your destination was. With the way the houses have been constructed in Wilmington, (mostly two story, flat fronts, close to the sidewalk) everything is all pushed up against itself on the hilly ground.

Figuring it out:

Our regular Sunday outings to explore the city have helped us to figure out that many of the places we need to go are much, much closer than we first thought they were. Part of this is due to the way in which the city curves a bit. And with how the main highway runs through the city, close to downtown.

We now know that we can get to the grocery store and post office on foot. We don’t need to take the bus. There’s also a Dollar Store that we like that once seemed  million miles away, but it’s really not. The walk is pleasant. And there’s a small local corner shop that sells Italian ices right along the way!

We still have a lot more exploring and learning to do. Like, where does this particular #40 bus go that runs even on Sundays? Needless to say, we have many more Sundays in which to explore our new city.

Sugar:

I’ve stated multiple times that every single tooth in my head is a sweet tooth. But after eating Finnish and European produced foods, American food tastes incredibly sweet to me. There seems to be sugar in products that it has no business being in! Pasta sauce? Oat milk? Soy milk? Sandwich bread?! My husband has been doing the cooking since before we were married. I’ve never been quite so happy about that since returning to the US. This has cut out sugar intake down quite a bit.

The sodas are another thing I just can’t seem to get used to again. They all taste thick and heavy. My gastrointestinal tract is not happy when I drink them either. The one soda that doesn’t bug me is Jarritos. It’s one of the treats I pick up at the Dollar Store. The mandarin orange flavour is my favourite. It reminds me of Jaffa. My husband noted that Jarritos uses sugar, and not corn syrup, which may be why American sodas are upsetting my stomach so much.

We finally found some carbonated drinks we like. Yeah. We’re the old people who have to use reading glasses and drink seltzer water. The ones that we like the best are the no calorie, no sugar/sweetners kind. It doesn’t upset my stomach and I’m not sucking in un-needed sugars. Win-win in my old lady book.

Now, it’s habit:

I first thought it was so incredibly strange to order groceries and have them delivered. Now, it just seems like a good practice to keep. Mostly because the current pandemic situation seems to fluctuate so much, regarding variants and exposure, etc. There are still times in which we physically go to the grocery store. It usually coincides with another errand we’re on though.

Ordering my supplies online is still strange to me. This morning, my husband placed an order for some polyester stuffing for me. We won’t be heading out to the mall where the Michaels is for another week or more. I knew I would be creating more dolls, so the order was placed. It will be here tomorrow. I’ve also ordered felt and thread online as well.

Again, this seems a prudent choice for us from the standpoint of wanting to reduce the chances of being one of those break-through cases of Covid that can occur in the fully vaccinated like us.

Pleasant surprises:

I’ve really begun to enjoy having people smile and say hello when we’re out and about in the city. When the cashier at the Dollar Store said, “Oh! I remember! You bring your own bags!” it kind of made me feel like I was becoming ‘a regular’ at the store. The bus is still mostly quiet, but people are friendly and will chat with strangers like me. Again, it makes me feel more at home. Less of a stranger in Wilmington. Usually, I want bus-time to be my private internal thinking time. But not here. I chat away with whomever strikes up a conversation.

Dog owners take leases seriously here! All of the dogs we’ve encountered are on a lease and follow the directions of their humans. I’ve not seen a single stray dog or cat since moving here. In fact, I’ve only seen two cats period! Both had collars, and no time for my nonsense. Interesting aside: the squirrels here seem to like me. The amazingly cute, little, red Finnish squirrels did not. I have no idea why.

Amazing arrays of new types of plants and trees are everywhere in Wilmington! There is not a single outing in which I don’t discover some new variety of flowering tree or plant that I’ve not seen up close and in person before. Kousa dogwood tree, crepe myrtle, several hybrids of Rose of Sharon, are just a few. There are so many different oak trees and even walnut trees! I’ve got my eye on a couple of the walnut trees and am planning on snagging a few. The husks makes a good dye and the walnuts taste amazing!

So now what?

So, yeah. I’m beginning to settle into our new city and being in the US again. Right now, I think I’m going to use up the last of my stuffing to create some new witch dolls. What are you planning on doing this week?

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

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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.

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Showing My Butt

What brought me here today:

A large part of my on-going attention to my mental health, is identifying the emotions I’m feeling. That might sound odd to some, but for me, it keeps me on top of regulating my emotions. Anything that feels odd or out of place is scrutinized closely, so it doesn’t snow-ball into something potentially scarier and harder to deal with further down the road.

Another reason I do this ’emotional pin-pointing’ is so that I don’t become, what my husband calls, ‘axel wrapped’, i.e., completely immobilized by my emotional states. When I get axel wrapped, everything I do more or less comes to a screeching halt. Nothing gets done until I tease apart what has gotten me so twisted up inside my head.

Lately, I’ve been feeling dogged by intense feelings of envy, or perhaps jealously regarding my lack of success. Success being interpreted as: followers on social media platforms, sales, traffic to my website, and people reading my blog. I do not like feeling this way. So I need to take a closer look at my emotions.

Defining the emotion:

A lifetime of being a middle child has securely tamped-down most of my feelings of jealousy. There’s a part of me that kind of shakes it off and says, “Yeah. That’s just the way it is.” and I move on. But then there are the rare times in which I can’t seem to just shake it off and keep moving. Something works it’s way in and starts to irritate me.

Initially, during this most recent emotional irritation, I more or less ignored it. Figuring it would go away on it’s own. But the more I ignored it, the more insistent the irritation became. I wrote about this, in part, earlier this year. However, this post was more about the doubts I have about my own creative worth as an artist. And only peripherally about being jealous of other creators perceived success.

What’s in a word?

I thought that what I was feeling was jealousy. But upon closer inspection, and a bit of lateral reading on the internet, a more accurate description would be envy. In American English, jealousy and envy have become interchangeable. In fact, they’re two very different emotions, rooted in the same base emotion of fear.

I’m experiencing a little of jealousy and envy to be honest. Feelings of low self esteem are not an uncommon occurrence for me. Part of me is feeling incredibly uncertainty about the future of my business. Jealousy seems to be tied more to interpersonal relations. I have no fears my husband will leave me. What I’m feeling seems to tick off more indicators on the envy checklist.

Intense feelings of inferiority (creative and intellectual), sadness towards other’s (i.e.; artists that are much more successful than I am) accomplishments, as well as some resentment regarding my own status within the larger arts community (being seen as a ‘crafty person’ and not an artist).

Not a little, a lot:

Okay. I’ll be honest. I’m more or less rolling around in the poison that my envy of other artists and creators have stirred in me right now. Even when I know, I KNOW, that what I’m doing as an artist is in many ways different from the much more successful artists and creators I know/or follow. It’s the success part that’s just sticking in my throat right now.

I do not sell enough work to be profitable. Not in any way, shape or form. I need to be able to contribute to the household expenses. It’s incredibly embarrassing to be such an absolute failure at being able to sell my art. And don’t try to placate me by saying things like, “You’ll be so famous after you die!” Well, at least I don’t have to pay rent, or go to the doctor, or eat anymore after I’m dead. So, yeah. I’ll have that going for me.

Sorry. Envy makes me pissy and more sarcastic than usual. Buckle-up for the next section. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.

Possible solutions:

Last night, while I was working on three new tiny dolls I started running a simulation in my mind. To make more money, I need to sell more work. Maybe I should just design a doll that I can make over and over again. You know, make them as exactly the same. Give the group of a dozen or so identical dolls the same name. Then, put them in my online store for like, $5 each.

I could eliminate a lot of embroidery work too. I could just draw the simple faces on the dolls with fabric markers. And instead of sewing the hair onto each of the dolls heads, I could just do a quick glue job instead. Braids take a while to create, especially the braided buns, so those will have to be dropped. I’ll use the cheaper 100% acrylic felt to save money. No more boots either. The same goes for the stands. I could stop wiring the arms and legs so they are posable. All three take too much time.

That would make me around $60 if I sold all twelve of the dolls for $5 each. This is before shipping though. Maybe I could just offer free shipping too? So, out of that $60, I might have to eat around $30 in shipping charges. But that’s only if I send them the cheapest letter rate. Which means the dolls have to stay small enough to be shipped that way. So if I just stick with a super-stripped-down doll, I might make a small profit.

Did I lie?

Sorry for the pissy, whiny, sarcastic rant, but I needed to get it out. I know that no one owes me anything. People either like my work and purchase it, or they don’t. There’s nothing I can do about that. I sometimes am just so insanely envious of those who can take one or two ideas and turn it into a fabulous, money making creative business.

I’d been told, way in the past, by someone I didn’t like a whole lot, that I needed to lower my prices because I was an “unknown entity”. Translated art-speak: I wasn’t famous enough yet to command $50 for a piece of my artwork. The gallery owner declined to show my work. It kind of felt similar to those job listings that are listed as entry level, but demand ten years of experience and two advanced degrees just to apply.

So now what?

You tell me. I’m putting together a Patreon, but I am so fearful that it will fail. The traffic on my website is flatlining. And, don’t forget, creating art is my therapy. So…when I feel like crap about my artwork not selling I can always, uh…go make more artwork that won’t sell either. Yeah. I guess I’m still being incredibly pissy, whiny and sarcastic.

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

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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.

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What Did I do with My Artwork?

What brought me here today?

The largest and most difficult task for me during the move was what do to with all of my artwork, supplies and materials. I had little difficulty going through my clothing and personal items, weeding out what I would keep and what I would donate. At one point, very early in the entire process, I burst into tears at the thought of having to leave all of my artwork behind. Or worse, having to just throw it away because there was no way anyone would buy it. (Yeah. I am completely aware of how weird that sounds.)

Long story somewhat shorter, five boxes of my artwork were shipped from Jyväskylä, Finland to our new apartment in Delaware. The shipping charges were…(insert eye-rolling and a lot of sighing here) more expensive than I had planned for. But I needed to have them for my future small business plans.

(Edit: All five boxes arrived in Delaware about a week and a half after we did. I honestly thought that it would be closer to a month before they would get here. The packages are in my studio right now. Waiting to be opened!)

Let’s start with the crying:

I surprised myself by how incredibly emotional I became at the thought of not being able to keep the vast majority of my large paper mâché pieces of artwork. My life if constructed around the creation of art. The thought of being without that artwork made me  feel mentally and physically incomplete. Realistically, it felt like a hard punch or two to the gut.

Yes. I’m attached to my artwork. As well I should be. Art is a huge portion of my personal and professional identity. The rest of my possessions don’t mean that much to me. All but a few are replaceable. I had no emotional attachment to them. I hadn’t created them. My winter coat, dress shoes, hairdryer and iron were just objects that I could, in time, replace.

So yeah. I cried. Then decided that I needed to figure out how in the hell I would get my artwork across an ocean in one piece.

Procrastination or…?

Then what I thought was procrastination hit me square in the face. I organized all of my art tools, materials and supplies. What was going to come with me was quickly and easily chosen. I put together donations for several people and art educational groups from the gargantuan remainder of my tools, materials and supplies. While I worked, I kept looking at my large paper mâché pieces and wishing that I they would somehow magically pack themselves into boxes.

I procrastinated about packing my artwork for a few week. I actually did not pack my artwork until about two days before we left Jyväskylä. My poor husband didn’t want to push too hard to make me pack the artwork either. He sensed that there was something else going on, even when I didn’t totally realize it myself. Yet.

‘In one piece’ was the problem:

The thing that was stopping me from packing up my large paper mâché pieces was the fact that I had to break them to get them into their shipping containers. I know I’ve made jokes about piling-up my artwork and lighting it all on fire when I’m frustrated or angry. But the thought of actually doing that makes me cringe. I’m very firmly a creator, and not a destroyer.

Most of my larger paper mâché pieces were designed to come apart, at least partially. This was helpful, but didn’t solve all of the problems of getting my artwork to fit within the containers I purchased. I had to break most of the pins holding on arms and legs. And I ended-up pulling the heads off of other pieces. Some pieces had smaller components that had to be carefully broken-off too.

The whole experience just suuuucked. I did not like having to purposefully break my artwork. It felt so incredibly wrong. While packing the pieces, I kind of turned on ‘auto-pilot’. I didn’t allow myself to think too much about what I was doing. Otherwise, I might have started crying. And that wouldn’t have been helpful in the slightest.

Repair work:

I use wooden dowels and bamboo skewers to attach movable arms and legs to the large, paper mâché pieces. I can repair the damage that I inflicted on my artwork over time. Several large pieces, including Pink Paddle Doll , Shirley, Agnes, and Kiddo had have parts intentionally broken-off of their surfaces so that they could be packed for shipping.

Kiddo and Pink Paddle, and several pieces that were already under construction were packed in my suitcases along with my clothing and other personal items. My husband and I didn’t want to have to pay un-godly high baggage fees, so we were extremely careful in what we packed in our luggage. My large work almost all paper mâché which is lightweight. The trade-off is that the pieces did get bashed around a little bit.

Repairing my artwork won’t be incredibly fun, but I like it better than the alternative of not having them at all. My husband thought that the repair work would be a good way to get settled into my new studio space. Working on something familiar will be comforting to me. And a good way to christen the new work space.

Now what?

As of the time that I’m writing this blog post, we are waiting on our furniture. Remember earlier, when I said that I wasn’t too attached to things like a winter coat or a pair of heels? Well the same goes for the furniture we had. Almost every stick of furniture we had in Finland was from Ikea. Including my desk, shelves, chair and lamp. I’m getting a smaller desk. And I don’t need any shelves. I am upgrading my desk chair though. But all of that is for another post.

Once I have a functioning workspace, I will begin to repair my broken artwork. I have several pieces that once repaired, will go right back up on the wall. I also have several small dolls that are waiting to be finished as well. Hopefully I can get back to more of a normal creative work-flow by the end of the month of July.

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

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Big Badda BOOM!

What brought me here today:

This is my last regular, biweekly blog posts until. We’re going through a lot of changes, including a big move. Then re-establishing ourselves in a completely new place. There will be sporadic blog posts between now and 6 July 2021. I wonder what kind of stories I’ll have to tell by then?

Accumulated detritus:

I’ve moved around a lot in my life. The first ten years I lived in Albuquerque, I moved at least once a year. Then, when I was teaching elementary art, I had to pack up and move my entire classroom once a year. Twice a year when I began teaching. It’s never been something that I have enjoyed. It was a thing that simply had to be endured.

When we moved from the US to Finland, I was embarrassed at the amount of stuff I had accumulated over the almost twenty years I lived in Albuquerque. There were times when I was packing when I looked at an object and thought, “Why do I still have this? I never use this. Ever.” We donated, gifted, and sold almost everything we owned. It was a liberating process. Both mentally and physically.

This move:

This time around, we are again donating and gifting many things. Many of my art supplies and materials have been donated, along with some of my artwork as well. We chose not to sell anything this time around for a few reasons. The first being, that we wanted to help out people who will be looking for good, second hand furniture, clothing, housewares, etc. The second being that we’re still not quite sure about having people we didn’t know in and our of our apartment, with the pandemic not being over.

The second hand place that is coming (in about an hour) is one that I worked with. In fact, there are many items that I purchased at there that are now going back to be sold again. I don’t see any problem with that at all. In fact, I kind of like it. It reduces my footprint on the environment. The clock I bought for 2€ will now go back and be sold again. Not into a landfill (yet).

Remaining tasks:

I still have to pack up my artwork. Surprisingly, I’m not taking many art supplies. I’ve gotten myself whittled-down to a few key tools and materials that I use every day, and that’s it. I have several boxes that I will pack my larger artwork in. I haven’t packed them up because the apartment has been so messy! Everything that was inside a closet, drawer or shelf is now in a bag or box waiting to be taken away.

I think that there’s a part of me that is not looking forward to packing-up my artwork for some reason. I’ve not been able to pinpoint why exactly it’s bugging me. I suppose that I’ll figure our at least part of it while in the actual act of packing-up the artwork. Some of my smaller pieces, as well as a few pieces that aren’t finished will be packed into my luggage. Remember, I have far, far fewer articles of clothing than I do artwork!

What happened next:

I had finished the above portions of this blog post prior to 12;00. That’s when the second hand showed-up to pick up our donations. It did not go as well as I had hoped. I had scheduled the pick-up several weeks ago. Telling the person scheduling the pick-up that we had a lot of items. Bookcases, desks, chairs, living room chairs, a bed with mattress, etc. I stressed to them that we were donating an entire one bedroom apartment of furniture.

The whole fracas that happened just makes me feel awful. I totally lost my cool with one of the second hand’s staff, when he kept insisting that he would not take the bed, my desk, the living room chairs, and other pieces of furniture because they were essentially junk. “Broken! No! No!” and “See, stain! NO!” was what he said over and over again.

Added to this, he was bossing me and my husband around. “Hurry! Pick this up!” and “HURRY!“. He bullied my husband, attempting to make him help to carry a bookshelf down the stairs. My husband has a bad hip (hit by a bus as a young person). And I just lost it completely. I looked at the man, pointed at my husband’s hip and loudly said, “RIKKI!” The man then backed-off and apologized.

Insult, I’d like you to meet injury:

Along with the items they refused to take, like books. “NO BOOKS!” I got the distinct impression that the reason he was saying no to items was because he didn’t want to move them. The constant insinuations that my belongings were broken, crap-stained, garbage, is still bugging me all these hours later. He was very interested in our TV, which we had promised to a friend. And several times seemed to be trying to get us to say, “Oh just take it!” We never did, and the TV has been picked-up.

About a half an hour after they left, we got a text message from the second hand shop saying they were very sorry they couldn’t take everything. Their van was full. And then offered me another number where I could have the items picked-up and taken to a landfill, for a price.

Okay. Let’s unpack this. Perfectly good, single-owner furniture will be put in a landfill because…they didn’t have room in the van? Or was it because their staff kept telling me my furniture was broken pieces of crap? I’m going to need someone to explain this to me better. Maybe using sock puppets. To make this even more suspicious, we did see their van before they closed the doors, and guess what? There was room in it for a lot more items.

Balm:

After the second hand staff movers left, a good friend and her daughters dropped-by to visit for a bit and pick up some items that I had for them. I had put aside a lot of art supplies and materials, plus a lot of just weird and quirky stuff that I thought they would enjoy. Talking with them and joking around did a lot to settle my jangled nerves. Even though I cried a little.

After our friends left, my husband and I walked down to Keljon and ate a huge, much-to-bad-for-you meal at Hesburger. We even got the ‘iso ateria’! We stopped at the K-Market and picked-up a few groceries to tide us over for the next few days too. I hadn’t even thought of how long it had been since either of us had eaten anything. It was past 14;00, and we’d eaten at 7;00.

So, now what?

Once I finish posting this blog post. I go back to packing-up my artwork. My husband is taking out the items that can be put into either the trash or recycling bins. It was about 25 here today. And we were both just knackered after getting home from Keljon. I took a long nap. Now I’m here procrastinating a bit. Man. I need to go pack that artwork!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again in July!

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Incredible Kindness

What brought me here today:

Regular readers of my weekly blog know that my husband and I are moving. It’s been strange and stressful. Also a but sad. Pulling up stakes and rearranging your entire life isn’t supposed to be easy. I’m glad that I have great friends and an amazing husband to help me through this weird period of time. I know I’m not alone in all of this.

Incredible kindness:

I wanted to take moment to thank all of the incredible people who have purchased of my artwork. And all of those who have contributed (money, time, support, abilities, advice, etc.) to helping us get through the unforeseen snags that our moving has run into. I am completely and totally awestruck by the incredible kindness of the people who have stepped-up to aid us in our time of need.

When I asked one friend how I could ever possibly repay their kindness, she simply said, “Pay it forward.” I only hope that I’m up to the challenge. The contribution from this friend will allow me to expand my small business. And begin working on many of the projects that I have planned for the upcoming year. I’ve now added new project ideas to that list that will allow me to pay it forward too.

Doubting Thomas:

There is a part of me that is always suspicious of the aforementioned kindnesses directed toward me. There’s a part of me that always thinks that there MUST be some kind of string attached to the offer. No one would ever want to do something nice to or for me. Remember, I assume that people don’t like me or want me around because I’m loud and annoying. Oh yeah, and fat.

Being born and raised in the United States doesn’t help either. You know the saying, ‘There’s no free lunch’ right? As an American, I assume that nothing is ever free. And if it appears to be free, then there must be some strings attached to the offer. Sometimes, those strings don’t even have to be a specific term or condition. It could be the removal of friendship, love or approval. Or the threat of using it against me in some imagined future situation.

Yeah, I know exactly how messed-up that sounds. Such is some of the baggage that needs no packing when we move.

Additions to shop:

This part of the blog post may seem a bit odd. Why would I possibly be adding more artwork to my online shop when I plan on closing it in four short days?! Part of moving is deciding what to keep and what not to keep. I hate making these kinds of decisions. I’ve thought more about what art supplies, tools, materials, and artwork to take with me to the new residence than any of my clothes, shoes or other possessions.

The three dolls that I have added to my online shop are ones that I never intended to offer for sale. Each of them had some slightly experimental creative aspects to their design and construction. All three of the dolls have a lot of appliqué and embroidery work on their bodies and clothing.

Adama started out as a clumsy little drawing in my sketchbook. I created a hairstyle and method of attaching the hair to the head of the doll that I continue to use. Cielo and Xochitl were both created because I found myself missing the Day of the Dead celebrations in Albuquerque NM. Each of their skirts has a double-headed serpent on it. I used a piece of Aztec artwork as inspiration.

Now what?

Back to businessing the business. Packing up orders to get mailed out tomorrow. Working on some Go Marielle stories. Packing and organizing for the move.

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

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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!

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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.

 

 

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Wishful Thinking

What brought me here today:

These Friday blog posts are ones that I use to detail what I’m artwork I’m creating. I’ve begun some new, smaller dolls based on my 12 cm doll pattern. These dolls are among the last that I will be creating in my current workspace. Writing that feels odd to me. Perhaps more precisely, a bit bitter-sweet.

My husband and I currently in search of a new living space. And I’m trying to imagine what it will be like creating new artwork in that new space. I know that my artwork will continue to adapt and evolve to where ever I live and work. But part of me isn’t quite ready to let go of the creative space I’m sitting in as I type this.

Additional parts:

The biggest change to the overall doll design is that I’ve given each of these dolls additionally heads. I’ve had some fun adding more arms, and lengthening limbs and torsos as well. Pinpointing the creative need to do this has been elusive. But I think I’ve begun to figure it out.

There is something I find quite satisfying about making these dolls. There’s an indescribable feeling I get when I get to a certain stage of making a doll. It’s as if the piece has come to life within my hands. There’s all kinds of emotion mixed into this too. I begin to feel protective towards the doll. For me, it’s now it’s own being, separate, yet still connected to me.

On the surface:

May and June have been packed with a lot of change for me. A part of every day is now devoted to accomplishing a task that needs to be completed before we move. I’m not in any way complaining about these tasks. Nor am I finding them difficult, yet. However, they are becoming more numerous. And they have hard and fast deadlines.

The frequency, number and importance of these tasks is being manifested within my current series of semi-altered 12 cm dolls. They are the manifestation of insecurities and anxiety that I’m experiencing regarding the move. I’m either not able to articulate these feelings. Or perhaps even recognize them yet.

Frames of mind:

What could more heads mean? If I’m being as straightforward as possible, it could mean I wish I were smarter. Or perhaps I simply need more brain power to accomplish all the tasks that require my time and attention. Each of these dolls has the same face and head, only replicated.

Some of the heads I’ve added are looking backwards. Other times they’re looking in all directions. Still others, like Honey and Bizzy, have their additional heads facing forward. Penelope’s extra heads face completely backward. Arete’s extra heads faced off in all different directions.

Time keeps on slipping:

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine. She indicated that she felt like it was just yesterday when we first met. Then she detailed some of the huge things that had occurred during that time. It really does feel like yesterday when we first met.

I can still see her long legs sprinting ahead of us in the snow and dark to stand in front of the last bus going downtown. She wanted to make sure the bus wouldn’t leave any of us behind. I remember saying to myself, “This one’s a keeper.” and we’ve been friends ever since.

Right now, I’m sitting at my desk. The large window in front of me looking out onto the beautiful early summer growth on the trees. I can barely see the lake right now. I’m drinking my afternoon tea and wondering exactly where I will be this time next year. More than likely, it will be in a similar situation. The view will be quite different. So will the tea.

Hamlet-like dilemma:

The situation I might find myself in may be similar to what I have right now. A work space, with a computer. And lots of artwork being made. A cup of tea sitting to my right. Any anxiety I may feel comes from not knowing exactly where I will be. I cannot imagine how this move will change the artwork that I create either.

The move is my ‘undiscovered country’. I’m extremely fortunate though. I can return to this place if I wish to. The rub is, that even if I do return to this place, it will all be different. Where I am and what I do in this space is uniquely ephemeral. Nothing stays the same. And that’s the way it should be.

So, now what?

Well, for starters, I’m going back to working on Honey and Bizzy. They need to have their hair completed. Then I will attend to other tasks that require my attention. I’ll keep moving and I’ll keep changing. Sisu.

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