Friday, January 30, 2009

5 Questions: Tiny is the new huge

So, browsing around one day looking for some gift ideas for my best friends then unborn baby; I came across these lovely little paintings perfect for hanging in a child's room. And when I looked a little closer I also saw some super cool Polaroids of toys. The shop was christarenee

In her personal life Christa is a Mom, a wife and a graphic designer, but as she says in her Blog Heir and a Spare's Profile, not necessarily in that order.

What's the best thing about christarenee ? In my opinion the simplicity of the colours and subject matter. Her paintings are cute enough for a baby/ child's room but the style she paints with allows for use outside of the nursery. I'd happily hang any of her tiny paintings in my daughters room as well as in the living room, dining room or in my studio space. her animals and robots have huge personalities that pull you right into their little worlds.

What got you started?

I am a graphic designer and have had my own business for over 5 years. I love being able to work from home, so I can be with my kids (Henry, 4 and Leo, 2) and my husband, who is the full time parent. We spend a lot of time in our PJs and we like it that way. I started my Etsy shop as a way to work another creative outlet into my routine. It had been years since I’d painted. I love my job, but I create things for other people all day, so the Etsy shop allows me to create whatever happens to be in my brain that day.

Who has influenced your work the most?

I don't know if I can say for sure that there are people who have influenced my work directly, but there are artists who I admire. Probably too many to even name one right now. I'm also always inspired by cool web sites — one of my favorites is I check it daily.

Can you describe the palette you use to create, what pigments do you always reach for?
I love warm colors. And I love brown for detail work. I almost never use black.

What life or art lesson have you learned that has shaped your work?

For just about everything I create, it's all about less is more. That is a motto for many parts of my life. And an art director I used to work for had a saying that I loved: "When in doubt, make it big. When still in doubt, make it red." I think about that a lot when I design.

Which Children's book character would you be and why?

The best answer I can give to this question is to say that my hero when I was little was Harold of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Don't think I wanted to BE Harold, but I thought he was pretty awesome.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Last week:

After a week of thick foggy nights and days, hazy mornings and misty twilight's I was about ready for a little sun and now we have it.

During our week of cloud, I did get my fill and then some, of photography. A while back I wrote about my longing to go out and shoot in the fog. Well I got my wish last week and I'm proud to say that I took full advantage of the week long opportunity.

I have images from night time, from during the day. taken from my dining room window and while traveling to and from playgroup, the library and out to pick up groceries. With the permanent attachment of my camera on my person I almost felt like I was back on art school again.

As for yesterday's post, the artist statement for the 3rd installment of a card a week for a year: there are a few meanings for me:
ride the wave; when you're following a rhythm or on the crest of an idea follow it through to the end, rely on your intuition, enjoy the risks, in creating art it's all about being in the moment and expressing it with the medium at hand.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A card a week for a year: Week 3

So after migraine induced delay here it is:

card #3 is wordless, I wanted the meaning to come from the images. Please share your thoughts on this cards meaning in comments, I'd love to hear what your impressions are. As I don't wish to skew any ideas with my own statement, I'll be posting the cards meaning for me in tomorrow's post.

One card a week for 52 weeks. Each card depicting a single word or phrase to be used in an affirmation deck at the end of the year. Once again; I'm willing to take any word or phrase suggestions that you all may have, leave a comment with your suggestion if you've got one.


Strathmore ATC card
• Photocopy, or Photograph from magazine for image transfer*
• Pencils
• Transparent Liquid Sculpey
• Paint brush for application of liquid Sculpey
• Stiff bristle paint brush
• Water
• a container big enough to soak your transferred images
• Scissors
• Glue
*please note that images taken from magazines are copyrighted materials and yo use these images you must, must, must, ask permission of the originator. As I was using bits and pieces of a photograph that isn't mine and this card is going to be for personal use I am giving the originator credit here and on the back of the card.

Copyright infringement is bad, very very bad. To use an image taken or created by another for monetary gain is stealing that image, no matter what anyone says. Now stepping off the soapbox.

The Process:
Last week I got a few books on altering books and objects out of the library to help out with the inspiration. As a result I got really turned on to the idea of doing an image transfer on my next card.

While working for the local art supply company here in BC, I managed to acquire a fairly good sized (but surprisingly small if you think about it) stash of art supplies. In this stash I happen to have bottle of liquid Sculpey, which I had read during a spurt of copy writing for ads and catalogues was good for using to transfer images.

So I dug into the Ikea art supply armoire, pulled out the printmaking/bookmaking box and yanked out the never before opened and not really looked at since I bought it (side note: remind me to tell you about why I think I didn't fill every nook and cranny of my home with art supplies while I had the excellent discount and daily access to said supplies, some time.) Liquid Transparent Sculpey package. I read the instructions and immediately chose the second method of transfer as it didn't involve using a sheet of glass, just a direct application to the image with a brush then a quick stint in an oven to set the Sculpey and then a stint removing the paper from said Sculpey.

Since I'd never used this product before, I read the instructions, visited the website and did a test to see how it worked. Using graphite and coloured pencil I did a quick sketch of a dancing jester like figure and then brushed on the Sculpey. Following the baking directions I put the drawing into the oven for 15 minutes at ???F. Following baking I dropped the sketch into a container of water and started rubbing off the paper from the drawing. From this test I learned that the Sculpey needed to be applied a little thicker to avoid tearing when the paper was being scraped off. I also learned that using a smoother paper with less tooth would help too.

Second round: I used cut up pieces of a photograph taken by Keith king from the September 2006 edition of Cookie Magazine; Please see my rant in the Materials section of this post, and slathered on the liquid Sculpey, made a second drawing of a person surfing on a blue surfboard and layered some Sculpey there too. I baked the images and let them soak for awhile to soften the paper before removal.

This step takes a good dose of patience. To remove the paper I used a stiff bristle brush and rubbed gently with my fingers until all that is left are the pigments from the pencil drawing and the ink from the magazine image (here's where the patience comes in, it took about 3 hours of soaking and rubbing the paper in order to remove it from the solid polymer) I found that the stiff brush worked best to remove the last little bit of paper fiber and that gently rubbing the surface with a finger tip worked well to remove the bulk of the paper. Both drawing and magazine image were fairly transparent one the paper was removed.

Next I arranged the different sculpey layers on the ATC card and glued each piece down on the card using more liquid sculpey followed by a another stint in the oven. I used the liquid sculpey as the final glue to ensure a hard clear surface. Regular PVA glue would also work

Post your thoughts on this weeks card and check back tomorrow to see what my statement is.


As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Because Anymommy asked

Before we begin; card #3 in a card a week for a year will be delayed by one day due to one massive migraine headache which hit Monday afternoon and lasted into Monday night and seriously cut into my night time art making time. the final assemblage of the card has been delayed.

As to the lack of pictures I plead the same as above, I promise a wordless post soon to make up for it.

and onto the reason I'm writing this post. Anymommy commented on yesterday's post that she needed more details and now that I think about if, there could be any number of stories from the tag list from yesterday, so if I ever find myself running out of things to Blog about I've got a built in topic list to take from. As the title says Anymommy asked for a few extra details and who am I do decline a request liked that?

Whose life did I save?

This was a funny one to answer because I'd forgotten that I had until I started checking things off the list. I got to Have you saved someones life? and was about to skip over it and then remembered that, um yeah, twice.

My husband, whom I love to pieces but has yet in the 15+ years that I've known him to eat anything slowly; took an abnormally (but not for him) large bite of something and decided to inhale at the same time. Choking ensued.

At that time, I was working in mail order inside the administrative office connected to the warehouse a local art supply company. One of the warehouse staff was sitting on the entry steps with one of my co-workers and fell over and hit his head on the concrete of the parking lot. As the closest person to the door I was the one who called 911. Embarrassingly no one in the company had first aid training so the phone call was drawn out and full of I don't knows and I'm not sure and I didn't see it happens. Needless to say there was a little bit of finger waving and tsk tsking aimed at the company and within a week a first aid course was offered to anyone who wanted to take it. As the maker of the embarrassing 911 call I signed up for the all day Saturday course and learned life saving.

So back to the husband choking, I followed the steps; asked him if he could breath (answer: head shaking and face turning an unflattering shade of puce) I turned him around wrapped my arms around his torso with my hands placed in the proper position below the sternum and simultaneously lifted him off the floor and sent whatever it was that was choking him flying across the room.

Fast forward to a visit to see a friends new house and another friends new baby in Victoria after my daughter turned one. everyone was visiting cooking in the kitchen and Miranda was running around excited and hyper but also hungry. I got her to sit down and eat a little, but she was soon off again with a little apple left in her mouth, as a new bi-ped she was practicing this fairly new activity and running around. Of course the apple gets lodged in her windpipe, of course she starts to get scared of course of course of course.

As I'd recently; and by recently I mean the previous weekend, spent another Saturday brushing up on first aid (this time baby and toddler centric) I was able to once again, see that my baby was turning blue and administer a stomach emptying Heimlich which was followed closely by a trip to the Emerg after she started to bring up every item of food I'd put into her little body over the course of the last two weekds. And then we had a 5 hour wait in the Emerg waiting room to see if she was OK, but of course after five hours with no more tummy purges we conceded defeat against the busy Saturday Night bedlam and headed back to friends house and bed. NOT the best trip ever.

So why would I forget saving the lives of the two most important people in my life? Probably because they were moments when adrenaline kicked in and because I'd been trained I knew what do and there was no panic involved (to clarify by panic I mean the Oh my God Oh my God Oh my God,what do I do kind of panic) The trip to emerge was made to appease the husband who; may all the Gods love and watch over him as much as I do, can be a bit of an alarmist and I agreed because A: she was emptying her tummy of everything she'd eaten over the last day and a half and B: the possibility of making sure that she wasn't internally wounded was not something I could verify enough to calm down the husband. Of course after 5 hours of watching her play and interact with the other waiting room occupants with no appearance of shock or further vomiting we were both OK with leaving without seeing a Dr.

As for which unchecked item I'd most love to check off well all the ones involving travel are right up there, but I've always thought that I'd like to sit on a jury one day....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tag from Artmind

I was reading Artmind's blog and came across this tag. Once started reading the list I started keeping my own check list, then I copied the list and did it for real. I've still got a lot to do and there are some things (like Artmind) that I don't want to do ever but I think I've got a pretty good list. How about you?

1. Started your own blog (check)
2. Slept under the stars (check)
3. Played in a band (check)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower (check)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (check)
7. Been to Disney World
8. Climbed a mountain (check)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (check)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (check)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight (check)
22. Hitch hiked (check)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (check)
24. Built a snow fort (check)
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (check)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse(check)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (check)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (check)
41. Sung karaoke (check)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (check)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted (check)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (check)
53. Played in the mud (check)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (check)
55. Been in a movie (check) kind of: not a movie but I was in an Access cable television show
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (check)
58. Taken a martial arts class (check)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (check)more like ended up whale watching on the Ferry to Vancouver
63. Got flowers for no reason (check)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (check)
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (check)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (check)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (check)
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (check)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (check)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (check) self published and very poorly edited but side splittingly funny
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (check)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox (check)
89. Saved someone’s life(check)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous been in close proximity a number of times but there were no introductions
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one (check)
94. Had a baby (check)
95. Seen the Alamo in person (check)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone (check)
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (check)

Friday, January 23, 2009

5 Questions: The cute and the creepy

So we're into the third week and this weekly feature is turning out to be a lot of fun for me. I'm getting to know about the artists and artisans who I heart, heart, heart on Etsy. Plus I'm taking advantage of the motivation I'm getting from putting this weekly post together. There's nothing like creative momentum to keep the juices flowing. So on to this week's post:

Based out of a small independent print shop in Florida, Deadworry screen prints by hand all of their designs onto designer t-shirts from American Apparel and Alternative Apparel. The name of the shop is an anagram of shop owner, Aprils favourite, and one of my favourite artists, Edward Gorey.

Deadworry's full line of Indie shirts, dresses and stuff to have before you die! can be found on their,, and Funky Finds, They have also been featured on My It Things, as well as on Simple Things a very cool Blog. If you're interested you can also befriend them on MySpace.

So what do I like about Deadworry? I have a few favourites including the Fancy Rabbit Field bag featured in the image below, Any of the Babydoll's and the Tentacles short sleeved hoodie. Mostly I just dig the cute on the verge of creepy graphics that are screened onto the apparel and bags that are in the shop. They remind me of Mr Gorey's intricate line drawings and dark themes, which is enough of a reason to recommend them all by itself.

What got you started?

I was very interested in the t-shirt making process as a kid so I went to work in this huge factory that made collegiate wear. It was an awful place to work but I was there for five years and working for "The Man" made me tough. I decided to start my own company with my boyfriend in 2007 and we've been printing our booties off ever since

Who has influenced your work the most?

I've always admired Warhol for being the most famous screen printer and making a boring production skill into art.

Can you describe the palette you use to create with, what colors do you always reach for?

I'm really liking grays and blues right now. I tend to lean toward monochromatic schemes...I am trying to break out of that box though so this spring I'll be adding some bright new colors to my palette.

What life or art lesson have you learned that has shaped your work?

You are the only one that's going to make it happen. You can't depend on others to do the hard work for you.

Which Children's book character would you be and why?

Well, I used to be Piglet - afraid and timid...but now I'm the ever optimistic Pooh ready to take on that Honey Pot!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Building up the inventory

One reason I love the Etsy community is the the sharing of information and ideas. I've been researching the best way to go about approaching retail spaces, and the number of threads in the forums and people willing to share information is overwhelming. While I'm taking advantage of Etsy and other online resources, I'm building up my card inventory for PeanutButterPie, so when I've got all my ducks in a row I'll have all my other ducks in a row.

I'm also involved in the Second Annual Etsy Baby Shower which will be held on the 28th. I'm making a custom baby buggy card for the occasion and posting it online in the shop to be featured in the shower. I'm very excited and a little nervous. I need to relook at my shipping options for the cards as I've had a few people comment on them in the Etsy Forums. I've been setting up my shipping charges based on sending via Canada Post Express Post so that I could track and add insurance to my cards. Perhaps I need to look at sending via regular post and offer alternate shipping options to those who want them. From these comments I'm starting to think that I may have lost out on saes due to shipping costs. What a sad thought.

In other Brick & Mortar news I'm also contemplating approaching my local coffee houses about setting up a photography show in one of them. This is a plan that will involve a lot of time and money as I'll need to order matting cut and frames to go with, assemble my photographs into frames and then hang them at the location once I've been accepted. I'm thinking of approaching two of the umpteen places in my neighborhood. One is close by and always busy, the other is at the bottom of the hill and frequented by morning commuters on the seabus and tourists who are visiting the Lonsdale Quay. Both would be great for showing my work and possibly selling in too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Proximidade Blog Award

I got this award from Artmind the other day and I'm just getting around to mentioning it now.

Proximidade is described as follows:
'This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes for self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!'

This blog award should be sent to your favorite eight bloggers and they, in turn should forward to eight of their favorites. You should include the text for Proximidade (above) in your announcement blog.

Based on the award description I'm so very touched and now I have to pass this lovely award on. and here are my picks: Ramblings of E, Someone I've been following for awhile. AutumnOlive
a more recent addition to my reading list, cabin+cub another recent addition plus a fellow lower mainlander. hello sea slug, I love the art and the posts here. Is There Any Mommy Out There? Her most recent post brought tears to my eyes. Motherhood in NYC I look forward to her posts like a crackhead looks forward to well I guess that would be crack. my lily eden, her colourful posts brighten the day, and last but not least, Robot Love, with a name like that what's not to love?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A card a week for a year: week 2

One card a week for 52 weeks. Each card depicting a single word or phrase to be used in an affirmation deck at the end of the year. Once again; I'm willing to take any word or phrase suggestions that you all may have, send them in.

This was a troublesome week for the card. I started one that was very promising but then tanked halfway through the process. I had a vague idea in mind, but it just wasn't as strong as I would have liked and seeing as I'm a by the seat of your pants kind of girl, I just kept pushing it through because that's part of the art process, you push it until you've gone too far and then you bring it back in and then you push it again until you get the finished project. This time there was just no bringing it back. On the plus side I can use the techniques and Ideas that didn't work this time on another or some other cards in the future.

Here's the process:


• Card Stock
• Loose Page out of an Altered Book Project
• Nicholson's Peerless Transparent Watercolour
• Wax Crayon
• Pearl Ex interference pigment
• Water Colour Pencil
• Paint Brushes
• Glue Stick
• Tweezers
• Paper Trimmer
• X-acto Knife and Cutting Matt
• Ruler or Straight Edge

The Process:
I started out by scanning a bunch of loose pages from an altered book project I've started, (more on that in another post, don't let me forget) Looking for a suitable word.

As the book I'm altering is a Readers Digest hardcover and the pages I've removed so far are from a murder mystery the range of words were fairly limited, although I did come across a very good option; daydreaming, which could have been too froofy if not handled in the right way. I'm hoping that this is not the case with this card but time will tell. I then used the paper trimmer to cut card stock down to ATC size, 3.5"x2.5"

Using the x-acto blade and ruler I removed my chosen word. held the tiny rectangle onto scrap paper with the tweezers and rubbed glue from the glue stick onto the back. and then placed the word onto my card.

Using mauve peerless watercolour and macropearl Pearl-Ex pigment I applied a wash to the card then went in with a white wax crayon and drew some cursive lines. I wasn't too happy with them once they were put down (that whole pushing it and then pulling it back process) so to pull it back in, I went back in using a larger surface area on the crayon to make the marks more cloud-like.

I added a few more washes of colour and pearl, accidentally moving the previously glued down word. I liked the effect of the previously masked area being exposed in the middle of a misty cloud like atmosphere, so I went with it and it helped to illustrate the word daydreaming.

Finally I glued another piece of card stock onto the back to make the card a little sturdier. and went back into the illustration with a moistened watercolour pencil to add some detail.

I chose daydreaming because it's part of the creative process. I get ideas from a number of different places, books, magazines, art galleries and coffee houses and by letting my mind wander. For me daydreaming is kind like watching clouds in the sky to see what they remind you of, hence the cloud like atmosphere of the card.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm really not out to maim myself but...

Due to the graphic nature of the content of this posting I won't include photographs unless I get a large number of requests...

It's a well known fact that things happen in threes, good things, bad things in between things. This is a statement that is especially true when it comes to my fingers. For one reason or another (none of them very good reasons mind you) I've been on a systematic mission to char, scar and possibly hack off the tips of various fingers.

First, I placed my finger on the hot element of the stove top while trying to see if the water in the pot was getting warm. I don't even remember what I was cooking at the time or why I wanted to know that particular piece of information.

Second While juggling stove top, counter top and oven space one night in my ridiculously small galley kitchen I reached over to move the hot baking sheet out of the way of my grabby toddler. I remember quite clearly thinking as I went to grab the sheet "I should really put on the oven mitts to do this" by which time the small layer of moisture on my fingers had sizzled off and I was racing quickly (read turning 360º) to the sink and the cold water tap followed by a trip (read leaning over slightly) to the freezer to grab an ice pack.

Finally (third times the charm), last Wednesday morning, after two nights of night terrors (my daughter's not mine) and multiple night wakings I managed to nearly slice a nice meaty portion of finger off of my left hand while trying unsuccessfully to slice watermelon for breakfast. I clearly remember thinking; as I placed my index finger conveniently underneath the just sharpened (by me the day before) blade, "this is not the way to slice a watermelon..." by which time the knife had slipped and with alarming force sliced into said finger and I was racing quickly (read turning 360º) to the sink and the cold water tap followed by a call to the husband for the first aid kit, gauze and tape and a trip to the computer to call the walk in clinic across the road. 4 stitches and a tetanus shot later I think I'm all full up on finger injuries for awhile. At least until the first of another set of three descends.

Due to the graphic nature of the content of this posting I won't include photographs unless I get a large number of requests...

Friday, January 16, 2009

5 questions: Don't believe in boredom

I first ran across Laura Kicey's photographs while putting together an Etsy Treasury to help promote TMCPhoto . As a fellow photographer I reveled in her composition and the eerie beauty of her subject matter. In short I covet her art and drool over her work.

Based just outside of Philadelphia, Laura has shown in a number of regional galleries and has also been featured in a number of national publications. Outside of helveticaneue, her Etsy Shop, you can follow her on helveticaneu's photostream on flickr, read her photo blog, seen but not heard and take a more in depth look at her work on her main website, redhed photo graphic.

What got you started?

Well 31 years ago, mom looked at dad with that twinkle in her eye... 10 months and one C-section later. TA-DA. I *started*


Since I was a wee little thing, I was a drawing maniac. Mostly birds, later, in high school, life drawing. I redirected forces in college towards graphic design work but continued drawing. I had never really any great interest in photography and had in fact resisted taking classes in photography until I absolutely had to in my second year of college. I dropped it for several years after college and one of my design clients introduced me to flickr, and thereupon my new obsession with photography began. Again.

Who has influenced your work the most?

Oh my there's been so many people influencing me in all sorts of wild and colorful fashions. As a community, the people I have met through flickr have been tremendously supportive not to mention the rich creative environment that I have been growing in and with, non-stop for now four years.

As far as specific artists whose work moves me I am very much enamored with the work of Arno Rafael Minkkinen - his full body integration with the environment and portraits of other people is so fascinating and unique.

The past year I have been doing a lot more self-initiated fashion shoots, which started as helping my friend Sarah Beaver build her wardrobe styling portfolio, which I ended up quite enjoying and we've been doing more and more collaborations. We both bring a lot of ideas and enthusiasm to every project and its been really exciting to keep building on that energy.

My ongoing construct series has been vastly influenced by my loving boyfriend and fellow photographer Michael Alan Goldberg . One of our favorite activities is driving for hours to the point of getting lost and found repeatedly in the most derelict neighborhoods we can find, so I can collect photographic material for my project. He is willing to go to great lengths for me to get a shot, playing getaway driver and bodyguard, while fearlessly heading down those alleys I'm not always sure I want to go down.

What is your favourite tool, art supply, material to work with and why?

I need only three things to function artistically: light, my camera (usually a Canon EOS 5D with a few lenses and sometimes my MiniDigi Rollei AF 5.0), and my laptop. I used black and white film and a big tank of an ancient Pentax back in college before digital cameras existed even in their most low tech form (coughdinosaurcough). Using film and getting access to a darkroom became basically too expensive and too much of a hassle. Now I have basically all I need to run my business and make my art sitting on one table, totally portable, no fuss. I don't get super worked up about having all the newest gadgets, I have what I need, ultra utilitarian.

What life or art lesson have you learned that has shaped your work?

My health has been kind of crummy the past two years and it has forced me to make the most of every opportunity that presents itself whenever I can. The construct project specifically was born of this period when I couldn't go out and shoot as much as I liked to, so I used reject photos of architecture I had taken years prior plus some other new material worked in to create these increasingly more elaborate composites. I built my escape. I've always just made the work that moved me, not trying to hitch onto what was stylish at the moment or follow directly in anyone's footsteps. If you are passionate about what you are making and you let it show, people will get that, and feel it I think. It's been working for me so far!

If you were an animal what animal would you be?

A pangolin. They look prehistoric yet they're still running around being fruitful in their fantastically awkward suit of armor. Pangolins seem like should be imaginary, but they're not! I relate to that on some level. They are also cute despite their being all spikes and razor sharp edges. And they're a great shade of rust.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I've got this song stuck in my head...

Well, actually it's a bunch of songs off of two albums by one artist, that have been seeping into all aspects of my days for the last few weeks.

It should be driving me around the bend but I'm actually enjoying it (so far). The songs are catchy and the melodies are pretty and I'm happy to walk around singing snippets out loud in public. I think it's because they just complex enough that my psyche just wants to explore them a little bit more, to take it's time solving them before I can move on. (Again with the Nick Hornby reference to pop music theory)

After 3 years of going earphone-less I've rediscovered the joy of hearing a song encased in a pocket of air around your ear. It's a fuller sound and I'm a little sad that my listening time with headphones is limited due to the need to keep track of what the toddler is doing. Listening to the above mentioned songs last week on my husbands practice headphones I was re-introduced to these joys.

It was also a big nostalgia moment. I was reminded of listening to my music on headphones as a teenager, as an art student in my first printmaking class, and in the darkroom at Emily Carr. Up until the arrival of the little bundle that we call Miranda I was plugged in to my personal play list every spare moment I could be. A part of me misses the soundtrack that made up the background of my little life movie. This is probably a good explanation as to why I've been humming, singing and do do doing to myself these last few days.

There is a positive side to the banishment of the full time soundtrack, I hear bird song, the sound of children playing, my daughter telling me items of the utmost importance (the play by play of the Kipper or Nemo movies for instance) and of course random bits of other peoples conversations. I am nothing if not a little eavesdropper

Monday, January 12, 2009

A card a week for a year: Week 1

Before we begin a little housekeeping:

My Borealis Set Of 4 has been included in a Treasury on Etsy. It's a beautiful one and I'm so pleased to be a part of it. Go and check it out and make sure to click on any of the items that really catch your eye. there are some really striking images included there.

PeanutButterPie now has two new cards with more to come over the next few weeks Go check them out.

Now for what you came for:

One card a week for 52 weeks. Each card depicting a single word or phrase to be used in an affirmation deck at the end of the year.

This is the first posting in this series. I'll be posting the cards here each week with a list of the materials and the process I have used for each one and a short statement about the card. Please feel free to offer word and phrase suggestions if you have any. I'm a little worried that my well might run dry...

Here's the process:


ATC card (in this case Strathmore Acrylic)
• Nicholson's Peerless Transparent Watercolour
• Watercolour Tubes
• Pearl Ex interference pigment
• Brush pens
• Paint Brushes

The Process:
The process was a simple one, a wash of light green Peerless watercolour with further layers of Daniel Smith Under Sea Green and M Graham & Co. Quinacridone Rust with a tiny hit of pearlescent Pearl Ex pigment. Once the base was finished I went in with a Staedtler Mars Graphic 3000 duo marker and sketched in the tree and limbs, using a darker accent colour to add detail and texture.

An atmospheric landscape was brushed in, with the more distant hills painted in fainter than the foreground.

Finally, using the brush pens I added the word Ground.

I chose Ground as my first card to remind me that creativity has a firm foundation in nature. Becoming grounded allows me to refresh my mind in order to approach creative problems and refill my creative energy. Walking in the woods or along the beach is a good way to do this. Gardening is also a good exercise in grounding. Being in contact with nature is a grounding experience.

Grounding is also a technique that is used for ritual ceremonies to draw strength and support before a spiritual working. Often the image of a tree is used to reach this state, with your spiritual roots spreading out and down into the "earth" and trunk and branches growing tall and strong up into the sky.

When I am firmly grounded I feel more confident and creative. Hence the earthy tones and the growing tree.

Will you name your name?

Miranda and Daddy sharing crackers
with Goldie and Dolphin

This is the sweet phrase my daughter has taken to saying if she wants her name printed on something, a drawing or a painting say. It also makes me think of her habit of naming her stuffed animals.

Her stuffed horse is called Pony
The Stuffed Tree Frog is Red-Eyed-Tree-Frog
Her stuffed kitty is sometimes Shiney and sometimes Tabby
The Stuffed dog is Cubby
Her Stuffed Unicorn is Big Boy (he wears a princess hat on his head)
Her stuffed purple sheep is Purple Baa Baa Black Sheep
The bath-toy Clown fish is Goldie
& the stuffed baby beluga we picked up at the Aquarium on Saturday is called Dolphin.

And I'm not even getting into the names of her pirate Ship and barn. (Pirate Ship and Barn in case you're wondering)

In other news. The 5 Questions premier issue was a great success, I can't wait to post the next installment on Friday I'll be featuring one of my very favourite shops helveticaneue . I'm also getting ready to post the first installment of A card a week; weekly feature. This week Ground.

Friday, January 9, 2009

5 Questions (for the first time)

So after a number of random posts over a few months I finally feel up to the challenge of a regular blog feature, one that will hopefully help to spread teh word about buying handmade. Each Friday I will be strapping an Etsy Artist into the comfy chair and poking them with the soft cushions until they confess... OK there will be no extreme torture in So anyway but there will be questions and there will be answers.

My first feature is on designbynihan, A Turkish fibre artist and clothing designer who creates and designs one-of-a-kind knit pieces. Nihan lives in Istanbul and makes totally unique items specific to each owner. Nihan is a member of the European Street Team and she has been featured in an Etsy Storque Spotlight on fibre artists, as well as a number of blogspots and websites. Visit her shop profile to see a complete list.

What do I like about designbynihan? That's easy; the lush and cozy look of her one-of-a-kind designs, I can easily imagine myself wearing one of her beautiful sweaters on a cool fall day or even a brisk snow-filled winter day, or walking along the seawall in West Vancouver, they make me feel warm just looking at them.

What got you started?
Welcome to my creative world. I am Nihan Altuntas, a 27 year old Turkish girl, whose passion is creating and designing.

I have been crafting since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. My favorite childhood toys were carton boxes, yarns, pieces of cloth and all kinds of paints. As I grew up, I started to follow works of famous designers and visual arts in general. During this process I did not have any mentors except for the support of my family. When I converted my jeans into bags or painted my canvas shoes, they always supported me.

I majored in cinema studies and I minored in marketing. During college, I got back into knitting to relax and to express myself. I never liked pattern books or reproducing brand sweaters. I would design authentic knitwear by improvising with needles, sometimes not even knowing what the result would be. So I’ve realized that crafting is my lifelong passion. The appreciation and approval for all of that hard work is the basis of my motivation to improve myself in this field.

I started to knit for myself before, I had some ideas of what I wanted for myself when I was shopping, and it was really very hard to find what exactly I was looking for. Then I decided to create my own clothes.

One day I was asked by my friends to prepare a crafting workshop for their German clients. They mentioned Etsy and that’s how my Etsy journey began. I love to be in such an internationally competitive arena. Design by Nihan's success in Etsy is a combination of my talent, my marketing and business skills and my personality. I try to bring customer preferences and original patterns together. All “Design by Nihan” customers have an opportunity to choose the color and material, since all of the products are always knitted according to the customers' measurements. Each item is totally unique to its owner.

Who has influenced your work the most?
I am generally inspired by myself. My reference is my fashion taste but when I finish a work, I always share it with my family and my boyfriend to get their ideas, sometime they give me some really useful advice, or they suggest little changes on details.

I'm really in love with Audrey Hepburn's style. As for designers; I love Galliano (he is really crazy) Sonia Rykiel, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood and Oscar de la Renta; they are really inspiring, but I also follow modern designer's too. I love Micheal Kors, Kenneth Cole, Tom Ford and Hussein Chaglayan.

What is your favourite tool, art supply, material to work with and why?

I’m inspired by almost everything, even a simple button. I can suddenly decide to knit a sweater suitable for that button. Does that sound crazy? My favorite material is cashmere and alpaca but the most important thing is to be able to discover the perfect match between the design and yarn selection.

What life or art lesson have you learned that has shaped your work?

I graduated from cinema-TV and marketing. looking behind the visor of a camera really works on my aesthetic vision and my taste I think.

If you were an animal what animal would you be?
If I were an animal I would be a horse: nobless-freedom-charisma. I am also a fan of all equestrian wear & accessories.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Feeling a little edgy

I've been pretty good about getting stuff started and finished lately. Usually it's the finishing that comes back to bite me in the butt and then I end up with umpteen unfinished projects littering the computer hard drive and my work table, the bookshelves.....

I think you get the picture. Case in point, Miranda's baby book. I started early, during the pregnancy and collected images and some stories and then around the 10 month mark of her never boring always amazing little life I left off the entries and now it sits on my hard drive unfinished. I'll have to get it done I know, and I think I will, just not right now.

But in other areas I'm getting down right follow through-ish. I have a small stack of cards finished, right down to the last little details (I'm posting new cards on PeanutButterPie over the next week) and I'm wanting to get started on some new projects too.

One of my amazing holiday gifts this year was a copy of Somerset Studio Magazine. The art featured within these lushly photographed pages is for the most part not what I create and I think a small part of me wishes that I did that kind of art, but I love to flip through the pages and I get a little inspired while I'm at it.

This copy had an article about a creative round-robin by Susan Tuttle who happens have a blog called Ilkasattic which I will now be following. The object of this round-robin was to create a pack of spirit cards illustrating one positive word that could be pondered and used as positive affirmation throughout the day. I like this idea, so much so that I'm planning on doing a weekly challenge to myself. Create a pack of affirmation cards for personal use. 52 weeks in a year, 52 cards in a deck.

So in addition to my new 5 question feature that starts tomorrow I'll be posting a card of the week for my affirmation deck. Watch this Blog for updates. Oh yeah and if you can get on my but about making sure I'm keeping up with the challenge that would be great.
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