Posted on Leave a comment

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 Leave a comment

New Routines

What brought me here today:

One of the things that there is just no way of getting around is that the move to Delaware has turned my regular work schedule inside out and upside down. All of the routines that I had when living and working in Finland are gone. POOF! New routines for work have to be created. Establishing those new routines is going to take some time and planning.

During the two weeks leading up to the actual move, and then the (I had to look and count) month since we’ve moved into our new apartment, my daily schedule has just been all over the place. I find it incredibly disorienting both mentally and physically. Presently, I’m only set-up to work on my computer. And with social media platforms I use to promote my artwork. I’ve not been able to create any kind of artwork yet.

To begin reestablishing my work routines, I’m starting with my daily journal and the re-opening of my online shop.

Daily journal:

A big part of how I stay organized is my daily journal. I’ve written about it before here. The current daily journal that I’m using will be finished at the end of July. Prior to moving, I found a larger format bullet journal at Flying Tiger. I’ve never used a bullet journal before because I found them too small for my personal liking. I decided to give the larger format bullet journal a try.

I was so pleased with the larger format bullet journal that I purchased a second one. That may sound odd to some. My daily journal has become such an integral part of how I work, plan, organize, and record the track of my small business. I wanted to have an extra on hand so there wouldn’t be an scrambling to find a new daily journal.

I begin my work day with my daily journal. There are specific tasks that I have noted for each day, as well as specific days. Checking things off on my lists of regular tasks helps me get into the groove of my work day. Right now, all of the work that I’m doing is centered around what I can do on computer. Writing blog posts, taking photos, doing research, and creating Go Marielle posts are what I’m currently set-up to accomplish right now.

Online shop:

I re-opened my online shop just a few days ago on the 19th of July. Now that we’re living in the US again, I’ve had to update the shipping for all items in my shop. This isn’t easy, whether your working in Finnish or English. It’s a lot of incredibly un-fun monotonous computer entry-type work. Point. Click. Find. Change. Save. Repeat ad nauseam.

For any customers within North America, shipping will cost less. My European customers will be paying a little more. I’m researching boxes for shipping my artwork, a postal scale, and how to print my own shipping labels to streamline my entire shipping process too. I will start with US domestic shipping first. Then add North America, Europe and the rest of the world.

This whole process may take some time. Your patience is greatly appreciated! As always, if you have any questions about an item(s) in my shop, shipping, etc., please contact me through my website Contact form. I’m still in the process of deciding what pieces I will return to my shop. There’s also a lot of planning going on for what new pieces I want to create for the shop in the upcoming weeks.

So, now what?

Working without a proper desk, chair, and lamp can be severely limiting. At the time I’m writing this post, some of the new equipment, furniture and other items have been purchased, or are in the process of being delivered. There seems to be quite a few of our new neighbors that have deliveries from all kinds of different stores. My hopes are that our shipments will go smoothly too. Until then, I will just be patient, and do what work I can, with the set-up I currently have.

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

Posted on

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.

Posted on

Tick Tock Tick

What has brought me here today:

Doo doo doo doo!

This is getting close to the end of our time here. The move will be completed before the end of this month! The second hand place is scheduled to come to make a pick up of what we aren’t taking with us. A wonderful picnic with our close friends has been planned for this weekend. The last of my shop orders will be sent this coming Monday. My tools, materials, and large finished pieces of art are getting packed up to be sent on ahead of us as well.

It’s getting a little messy and rather nutty around here! There is so much going on. My husband has said that he feels as though he’s floating around in a weird place. Existing in several different places all at once. This is understandable. As midsummer approaches, 21:00 feels more like 16:00. The only reminder that it’s late is the fact that we’re tired!

Blog Posting:

I’m going to post my last regular, biweekly blog post here on 18 June. There is just so much going on with the move that I don’t think that I will be able to write anything that makes much sense at all! If I do post, it will be sporadic. I will resume my regular biweekly blog posts by Tuesday, 6 July 2021.

This gives me some time to get settled into the new living space. As well as getting my studio set up and running again. My online shop will re-open on 19 July 2021. It’s at this time that I will be able to send out orders. Just writing that makes my head swim a bit! I have so, so, so many things to do before then. At the same time, it seems so, so, so far away in the future!

And now for something you’ll really like:

We have found a new place to live and work! The lease has been signed and we will get the keys the day after we land. My husband and I are incredibly grateful to have found this specific location in which to rent. It’s exactly what we have been searching so hard for over the last few months.

We had become a bit disheartened. Most of the rental properties that we looked at were just not what we were looking for. We’re both creative people. Living in a wall-to-wall carpeted beige box just made us so sad. Those types of rentals are perfectly okay. They just aren’t to my personal taste.

The new residence has so much character and ready access to public transit. Multiple green parks are within an amazingly short walk too! I’ll have a small studio space with a door that closes so I won’t disturb my husband so much while working. There’s also a laundry on site. A small grocery, and multiple restaurants, coffee shops and a library are all within walking and bus distance. I love not having to worry and fret about a car!

So, what now?

Well, we’re down to the wire. Packing is still on-going. I’m sending out the last of the orders from my online shop on 15 June 2021. Today is actually a ‘chill out day’ for my husband, He has been doing huge, immense, Godzilla-sized work on our end getting the new place secured, as well as all of the budgeting for our expenses.

Money always makes me nervous. I start to freeze-up mentally and emotionally. He loves accounting and budgets and the like. I’m in constant awe of his saving and budgeting abilities! This move is going as smoothly as it is due in great part to his hard work. You can read his work here.

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

Posted on 4 Comments

Thoughts and Objects

What brought me here today:

My husband and I are getting closer to the big move. I must admit, I’m finding it harder and harder to not create artwork for the majority of each day. Making art is part of every day. I wake up. Eat breakfast. Sit down at my work table and start working. Most of what I’ve been accomplishing is a lot of list making. This isn’t a bad thing. I just need to actually start doing the things on the lists!

My time has been occupied with two things: sorting my art supplies and creating the layouts for my next day journal. It’s a lot of putting items, thoughts, plans and lists into the correct places.

New day journal(s):

I have come to depend on my day journal to keep me on track over the past almost two years. As an elementary at teacher, I kept a lesson planner, daily class notes and a daily journal. All three of these helped to keep me focused as I planned my professional life as an art teacher and as an artist.

A few weeks ago, my husband pointed out that our local Flying Tiger had some larger bullet journals. They were closer in size to my current day journal (17.5 x 25 cm). I liked the larger size and bought it. I think it was around 4-5€ ($4.88-$6.10). My current journal will be done at the end of August. My plan was to prepare the large bullet journal from September to December 2021.

It took me almost an entire day to add the layout to the new bullet journal. My husband came over at one point to see what I was working on and seemed surprised by all the work I was doing. He confessed to being a little less picky about the layouts in his own bullet journals. It must be the graphic designer in me. I can’t leave the pages un-designed.

This seems excessively anal-retentive:

It actually took me almost two complete days to finish getting the new day journal ready. Everything on each page is colour coded. Two separate stencils were used to highlight the headers for each section on each individual page. The dates and days of the week were all written in by hand.  Pages were added at the front and end of each month for projects that I want to work on. Each month has a tab. They’re secured with glue and clear packing tape.

Yes. This seems excessively anal-retentive for something as utilitarian as a daily work journal. Except, it’s really not. This day journal is going to be with me every day. I want it to be something that I will want to use. Finishing the layouts on all the pages will make it an attractive tool to use. The finished, designed layouts and personalization will make it more likely that I will want to use my day journal every day.

Like what kinds of bad things? Well, not keeping track of my marketing. Losing track of long-term project. Not being able to find passwords or contact information. There’s also not knowing what I’m creating, or keeping track of how long it takes to create. I also wouldn’t be able to keep track of what I’m posting online either. Keeping a record my artwork sales and shipping wouldn’t be done either. My day journal is the instruction manual for my small business.

Dividing up art supplies:

Giving away art supplies is proving easier than figuring out exactly which art supplies I need to take with me. There are art supplies that I brought with me from the US that I didn’t use much. And while creating artwork in Finland, I’ve become dependent upon some supplies that I know will be difficult to obtain after the move. I’ll figure out how to do without some supplies. And find replacements for others.

My sorting method is extremely simple. I’m sorting the tools, supplies and materials that I’m not taking with me into two categories: donating to an arts organization and bags of different items for specific people. I also have my carefully curated bags of recyclable materials. Those are already sorted and will just be placed into the appropriate recycling bins.

Strange bits and bobs:

I do have some materials that resist being donated or given away. My rather large button collection is one example. It goes without saying that the vintage and antique buttons will come with me. But some of the buttons are weird ones that I’ve been collecting, with the intent of doing something specific with them. Donating them to an arts organization will probably be the final decision.

Object ownership:

When my husband and I moved to Finland, we downsized dramatically. We had been reducing the number of items that we’d been obtaining prior to moving. At first, it felt strange to not own so much ‘stuff’. I’m an artist and having a lot of stuff seems to be part of the job description.

What I learned after moving here is that I don’t necessarily need as many things to make art. It  became more important to have the right materials and a quality of tools that would allow me to create the artwork I wanted to. Everything else that I have can be re-homed, recycled and donated to the right arts organizations.

So what now?

I go back to sorting for one! My husband saw that Flying Tiger had a few of the larger bullet journals that I liked and bought me another one. This means I have another day journal to prep for 2022!

 

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

 

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.

 

 

Posted on

Workspace Cleaning

With the arrival of spring in Finland, comes the ever-increasing amount of daylight every day. From the end of November through to the end of February, the amount of sunlight we get isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. Consequently, accumulated dust isn’t necessarily visible, or perhaps better said, not bothersome, during the long, dark days of winter. The arrival of spring changes all of that. Now we I can see the dust-bunnies the size of some of the hares out in the fields!

Winter creative nesting:

I spent a lot of last autumn and winter creating artwork that would be in a public exhibition space. Once the artwork was taken down, most of it returned to our small apartment. Everything felt a bit more crowded after this. The creative mess accumulated during the creation of the artwork was now living side by side with the finished artwork.

My creating continued, even though my work space was becoming increasingly difficult to work in. At one point, I honestly felt like I was just tossing recyclables onto an ever-growing pile that had taken over a corner of my workspace. There was no way that this could go on much longer.

Small creative workspace:

It’s been mentioned here quite a few times, that the space in which I’m creating my artwork is not big. It’s more of less one third of our living room. My husband works in the kitchen, with his own desk and shelves. As a writer, he doesn’t require the amount of space for tools, materials and supplies that I do.

I try very hard to keep all of my creative workspace as neat and orderly as possible. My husband’s a very understanding man though. He knows that my work requires more space. When the majority of those materials are recyclables, storage can become a bit midden-like.

Cardboard and carton board:

I use a lot of recycled materials that I’ve scavenged from communal recycling bins, or our own recycling. Knowing that a certain percentage of my artwork was once something that was tossed out as trash or recycling is something that I absolutely love. Not only does it help cut the cost of materials for me, it also lends meaning to my work, by way of metaphor.

These materials take up a lot of space and can quickly get out of hand if you’re not keeping on top of them. The vast majority of the recycled materials that I had to clean up was my cardboard and carton board. Most of what I had on hand consisted of  cardboards in the form of small, oddly shaped pieces of that were not usable for my larger work.

The better part of a day was taken sorting through the mountain of cardboard and carton board that I had on hand. An entire large, Ikea bag was needed for the cardboard and carton board scraps that went into the recycling bins.

Plastics:

Our apartment complex now has plastics recycling. I felt a little better the fact that plastics that I had been keeping for my artwork could be recycled if I decided that I didn’t want or need them. Over the past year, I have been pointedly trying to not purchase items with too much plastic packaging, while at the same time trying to use more recyclable plastics in my artwork.

Some plastics have gone into recycling during the cleaning and organizing. While others have gone into an “I’m not sure” bag. This bag will need to be gone through once more, so that I can make final decisions about specific pieces of plastic.

There’s a large part of me that is still very much an art teacher. I was always on the look-out for plastic tubs with lids that I could put art supplies in, or mix paints in. For me as an art teacher, those are gold! That being said, I will still go through the “I’m not sure” bag and recycle what I cannot immediately use.

Sewing materials:

My sewing materials, especially my threads had gotten scarily out of control over the past few months. I went through everything. All of my threads were consolidated. Making sure that I had them all stored in the same place. Getting rid of useless scraps that I would never be able to use. Happily discovering another spool of white thread too!

A lot of my sewing materials, notions, buttons, etc., have now been organized neatly and stored in those lovely (and free!) clear, plastic, bulk candy tubs from the grocery store. Each of the plastic tubs in see through, and labeled on the side and the top. This is so that I’m able to quickly identify by sight what’s in each individual storage tub.

Lots of odds and ends:

In addition to all the cardboards and sewing materials, I needed to sort through all of my odd bits of materials too. Some of my materials, like wooden components, were stored in three different places on my desk and in un-labeled boxes. Yuck! I now have a single box for my wooden components. My glitter, wiggly eyes and sequins are all in a separate box. Pom-pom makers are in a box next to my small store-bought acrylic and wool pom-poms.

Each of the labeled boxes is within a step or two of my desk, and is clearly labeled. My sewing storage is on one shelf. I put my painting supplies on another. All of my glues now in two places (down from four!). Big bottles in a tray I can pull off the shelf, and my tiny bottles of Loc Tite type glues, glue sticks and rarely used glue gun are in a drawer at my desk.

Lost and found:

During my cleaning, I found dolls that I had completed, but for some reason hadn’t put in my shop. Quite a few of them need only a few small things completed to be finished too. I think that the reason that I (more or less) forgot about these dolls is because I was trying out some new clothing patterns on them. Most of the time, these sorts of dolls are not usually offered for sale. These dolls don’t have any glaring flaws, so I can see them going into the shop.

More things to make into art:

There were other items that I discovered during my cleaning that I’d like to find a way to use or finish-up. Sometimes I make multiple components, like buttons, beads or drawer pulls, out of air dry clay or paper mâché. I do this just in case something breaks or warps weirdly to the point that I cannot use it. When this doesn’t occur, I’m left with little extra bits from finished pieces.

I found some air dry doll blanks that I experimented with, but for some reason, never finished. There’s also a spare set of doll arms and legs that look a lot like the dolls Turk Tank, Piiing Tree, and Purple Fork. I’m looking forward to what I can do with these, and all the other small pieces and components that I found.

So, what now?

Well, back to work for me. Now that I have enough space to work in, and the ability to find everything that I need to work, I can’t wait!

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

Posted on 2 Comments

New Daily Journal

In the first blog post of this series detailing how I organize my time, materials and ideas for art making, I wrote about the daily journal that I maintain. Having my daily journal keeps me mentally focused and moving in one direction. At a glance, I can easily see what I’ve gotten done, and where I need to apply more of my time and energies.

My daily journal is last thing that I touch on my desk at night, and the first thing I touch in the morning. It’s important that it be at my right hand when I sit down to work in the morning. This morning, I finally had to come to terms with the fact that my current daily journal will ‘run out’ as of the 31st of March. My new daily journal would have to be put together. The sooner the better!

New daily journal:

A few weeks ago, I picked up a new blank journal at Suomalainen Kirjakauppa. It’s a little different from my current daily journal. The book itself is a little larger. The paper is thicker, nicer paper too. There’s also a dot graph, instead of a grid on the pages.

The covers are hard book board, with a large wire spiral as a binding. The spiral is large enough for a pen to fit into, which I like. There are red roses illustrated in red ink on the covers, which I’m not fond of. But, it’s not a big deal, because I can just cover it with something I like better.

Large wire spiral bindings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. My husband detests all spiral bindings. He’s left-handed, so they can be terrifically frustrating for him to write in. I like how the spiral binding allows the book to lay completely flat. I just can’t seem to trust the bullet journals bindings. There’s a part of me that feels as though it’s going to snap shut while I’m writing in it.

Additional parts:

This particular blank journal holds only four months of the year. Believe it or not, this was a point in the books favour. I knew that I would be adding a few new features within my daily journal. These four months give me some time to see if I like the new categories and slightly altered layouts without committing to an entire year.

I’ve added a page at the beginning of each month that is simply a list of the days of the month. There’s also a sticker with the month for 2021 for reference as well. One of the things that I wanted to become better at was long-term planning for the different projects that I work on. This page will let me know (again, at a glance) when I need to post the twice weekly blogs, Go Marielle, a new monthly newsletter as well as other yet to be revealed projects.

The layout for each individual day has also been altered. I’ve added new, separate sections for Go Marielle and the monthly newsletter. And I’ve changed around some headings for each of the different sections so that they better reflect what they actually are about. “Computer Work” was too broad a term. It’s now “Social Media and Marketing”. This just makes more sense.

Colour coding:

Colour coding has always been something that I delight in creating. My favourite element of art is colour. I know when I see green in my daily journal, it has to do with art production. I’ve made yellow the colour for the blog entry category. There are a few new colours have been added for the new categories too.

When putting together my new daily journal, one thing that I wanted to make neater was the colour coding for my categories. My previous daily journal was a little scribbly and less precise than I wanted it to be. I use Stabilo highlighters to colour code my daily journal. Sometimes the highlighters smear the ink if I write first, then highlight.

The solution was to create a template that I would use to add the coloured highlights to each individual page first. Creating the template wasn’t difficult. A page from the back of the new journal was removed. The grid on the page allowed me to easily see where I wanted to create the rectangular holes in the template. The paper template was transferred to a heavier piece of paper and was ready to use.

Blue, green, purple, pink, yellow, yellow, repeat:

The template came together quickly. It took much longer to add each colour to four months of pages. The template was cut so that I just had to align the bottom edge and the first vertical row of dots. Then I added the highlighter colours. While the colours are applied in a much neater manner than my current daily journal, it doesn’t bother me that they aren’t perfect.

The paper is thicker in this new daily journal, so the highlighter doesn’t show through. This made me happier than I thought it would. I use the bright shades of Stabilo highlighters. Sometimes the ink can pop-through the paper a little, especially when you go over something twice or more.

Writing in everything:

By the time I had finished using the template to add in my colours for different sections, they were dry enough to write on. Here again, I decided to make some changes. Stabilo Point 88 Fine Line pens in colour are being used to write over top of the highlighter in each section.

I’ve written each individual day of the month at the top of each page in black permanent fine line pen. I’m also using this same pen to write the list of days as well. I need to add the numbers of the week on the individual pages. As of the time that I’m writing this blog post, I have a lot to write into my new daily journal still!

So, now what?

Well, I need to finish all of the writing for starters! There are also some additional design elements that I want to add, like divider lines between different categories for one. I’m confident that I’ll be ready to use my new daily journal on 1 April 2021!

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

Posted on

A Place for Everything

There are several times during any given day in which I find myself muttering, “Now where did I put that…

It’s been said that artists and creative types of people require a certain amount of mess, clutter and decrepitude in their environment to adequately be able to make their art. I don’t know that I totally agree or disagree with that statement. What I know for sure is that I have A LOT of tools, materials and supplies to keep organized. And relatively easy to locate.

My training:

When I was working as an elementary art teacher with a pretty large staff of visual art teachers, mine was one of the names given to new teachers who wanted to learn how to better organize the tools, materials and supplies that they had in their inventories. Organization of a visual art classroom can seem a bit overwhelming. Creating a system for organizing everything just made the job a little easier.

Part of my organizational methodologies regarding tools, materials and supplies had to do with categories and frequency of use within the art classroom. Another part was containers and labeling. It’s a simple and flexible way or getting as little or as much organization to suit your own personal needs.

As a working artist, I rely on the aforementioned methods to keep my personal studio space as organized as possible. These methods feel more important for me at present, because my “studio” is actually just a portion of my living room. Less space requires a few tweaks to my methods. But they still work.

Categories:

My artwork is comprised of several different mediums, with accompanying tools. Storage and organization is required for painting, sewing, paper mâché, wood carving, drawing, jewelry, collage and embroidery just to name a few! There are some categories that have overlap with others as well.

When new materials and supplies are used. And the amount of the supply small. I usually store it with an overlapping category. An example: wire. Until recently, the wire that I was using was simply stored with my jewelry supplies. More wire has been acquired, and now wire has its’ own storage container.

To create your own categories, just stop and take a look at what you have. Break them down into specific categories. This can be done easily during a cleaning of your work area or studio space. You may discover that you have a lot more of some materials and supplies than you thought you did!

Frequency of use:

The more I use a tool, supply or material, the closer it is to my immediate work area. There are eleven containers on my desktop holding pens, markers, pencils, scissors, knives, measuring tools, etc. But the two to my right, containing specific pens (ballpoint and permanent) and a craft knife, small ruler, bodkin (x2), needle nose pliers, a bone folder, a doll needle and a plastic spatula type tool are the ones that I use dozens and dozens of times a day. The other nine  are a little further away.

My paints are stored off my desk. All of my newspaper (for paper mâché) are in a small cubby of a bookcase, as are my buttons, part of my beads, intaglio supplies and empty water containers. Each of these tools or supplies is used at a specific time. Meaning that I need to have something that I need to use them on to need them on my desk. My eleven containers of drawing materials and tools are better kept on my desk than on a bookcase further from my work area.

The right side of my desk is ‘temporary housing’ for some supplies. Right now, I need to have some larger bottles of white glue and paint on my desk while creating some new work. When I finish with them, they go right back to their storage places.

Labeling:

Paint is a large category that requires subcategories. I have acrylic, watercolor (pan and liquid), tempera paints that I use. Each of them is stored slightly differently. Acrylics in cardboard pallets (trays) that can be easily stacked in a storage shelf by my desk. The watercolor and tempera paints are housed in little cases. The liquid watercolor tubes are in an old cookie tin. Each are labeled with what they contain. All are kept in close proximity to one another.

I have an extraordinarily large collection of buttons. They are each stored in second hand metal tins. The buttons themselves are sorted into subcategories of color, material and vintage. Each tin is labeled with what they contain, not just on the top, but on the side so I can easily see them.

The types of labels needed need not be complicated or expensive either. Use whatever small piece of paper I have at hand, including sticky notes. What remains the same is that I use a black permanent marker to write with and I tape the label to the container.

Containers:

With the exception of a few containers, the vast majority that I have are either second hand or recycled. For smaller bits and bobs, like all those buttons I mentioned, second hand metal tins are used. I also have quite a few second hand cookie tins as well. They’re rigid and stack nicely.

I like using clear containers to store my supplies and materials. When I was teaching art, I used the largest clear plastic tubs with lids for most of the supplies for my classroom, as well as my personal studio. One look and you know what’s inside! My work space is much smaller than my previous studio. So large plastic bins just are not practical.

However, I do have dozens of clear plastic bins with lids holding a lot of my art supplies and materials. How did I get them? Easy! Bin candy is very popular here in Finland. The candy is shipped to the stores in clear plastic cube-like, lidded boxes. These boxes are left by the stocking people at the fronts of the store. They’re free for the taking. At most, they require a washing in the sink with some dish soap. The labels are just ignored, or covered with paper and the contents written on with a black permanent marker.

Conclusions:

I’m not perfect. In fact, as I type this blog post, the area around and under my desk has become what my husband calls a “crap slide”. This occurs when my recycled art materials (mostly cardboards and plastics) over-flow their containers (flat bottomed recycled grocery bags) onto the surrounding floor. And yes, I really need to do a major cleaning of my desk and workspace. As well as my supplies and materials. Sorting needs to be done with regard to my supplies and materials. A lot of sorting. So. Much. Sorting.

Guess what I’m doing later this week?!

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

 

 

Posted on

Size and Relative Dimension

This is where I make my art.

Over the past few months, I’ve been seeing pictures in magazines and posting on different internet platforms that show an artists studio. This studio could be a room in their home, an out-building, or a rented commercial space in which they create their artwork. There are times in which I find myself both green with jealousy and completely baffled at the exact same time regarding these spaces of artists and creators. Jealous when I see such lovely spaces, totally dedicated to the pursuit of creating art. Studios with big steel sinks, kilns, banks of windows, racks on which to dry prints, paintings or fabric, big, long tables with vises where large three-dimensional pieces can be constructed, as well as sections where multiple sewing machines can be set up, with adequate space to lay out, cut and store fabric and sewing supplies. Shelves upon shelves for storage of everything a given artist could possibly need or want to create their own unique pieces of art.

This all makes me green. Very, very green with envy.

Some of the photos look impossibly perfect to me though. Some look tremendously styled, with items placed here and there, ‘just so’. It makes me wonder how art can be made in such a place. Then I remind myself that photos are styled to look good, so that people will actually want to look at them and go ‘Oooooh! Ahhhhh!’ and dream about their own creative spaces where things can be ‘just so’ for them as well. Those photos are an idealised vision of what a studio could be, can be. The photographer is an artist after all, telling a story with their art.

Over the past few years, I’ve carved out what my husband affectionately calls “The Midden” My work space is at one end of our flat, with a fairly large desk, facing out onto the lake just a few hundred meters away. My tools, materials and supplies are tucked-away in boxes, bags and stashed here and there in baskets and cupboards. I have a small set of drawers to use as well. All in all, it measures a few square meters at the most. All of the artwork that I have created in the past few years has been created in this very small space. Papier maché, clay, painting, drawing, sewing, bookbinding, weaving, sewing, embroidery, appliqué, etc., has been done sitting at a small desk looking out on a lake.

When compared to the photos that I’ve been looking at, my studio space seems small and rather shabby by comparison. I mentally berate myself, telling myself that a ‘real artist’ would have a better workspace, a ‘real’ studio, something rented in an old building, where lots of other artists worked. My work would be taken more seriously then, right?

I don’t think that’s true. The idea just runs roughshod through my head, especially when I’m feeling a tinge of ‘green’ coming on. To be truthful, my physical surroundings, when it comes to the creation of my artwork is important. I need to be able to do the things I want to do, to create the types of artwork that I want to create. I’m not wealthy and my childhood taught me important lessons about ‘making do’, and my internal creative drive has made me fairly adaptable to a variety of creative workspaces and conditions.

What it all comes down to for me is that the vast majority of my creating takes place is within my own mind, and that doesn’t take up much space, so the relative smallness of my physical workspace doesn’t seem to matter in comparison.

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