Saturday, May 31, 2008

the elements conspire.

nothing puts a damper on an indie craft show quite like torrential downpours, severe thunderstorm alerts and tornado watches. such was the case with the first day of the art star craft bazaar. we were weak. for the first time ever, aitor and i packed it in after only an hour or two of setting up (the rain had the good graces to let us all set up before commencing). i felt like i was losing some of the toughness i used to be so proud of, but we also lost a lot of stock to the rain at renegade brooklyn last year and learned some lessons. i'm hugely grateful to the organisers, megan and erin, for being so understanding about pack-ups and for taking all the bad luck in stride.

on the positive, this gave us an unexpected day off in philadelphia (a city aitor and i struggle to love). this also gave us a chance to visit art star's new space which, by the way, is beautiful. it has a much larger gallery space and is packed to the gills with all the great boutique stuff that they had before, with even more space to display them. i have no pictures because i was feeling too soggy to sort through the car for my camera.

we then met up with our friend paul at his studio. we were kind of a sorry sight - all wet, frizzy and dirty and (speaking for myself) wavering down the hallways with a massive headache it tow.

in our stupor, we then followed paul to the mad maude press, a huge letterpress operation run by his friend ryan. it was a really stupendous set-up, especially since we relate space to rental rates in toronto. i guess north philly hasn't quite caught up yet. i felt bad for being so woozy while exploring such a grand operation. but i did manage to explore around the shop and take some pictures.

after a little dose of ibuprofen and a nap, paul woke us up to say that his friend julie was making dinner and had invited us all over to join her. julie's place was amazing - a real home with kids running around and lots of yummy healthy food. we couldn't believe that our stinky rained out day had ended in a feast of homemade pasta and vegetables. julie also let us use her laundry to clean up all our dirty tables cloths which washed and dried as we sat on their patio sipping drinks and chatting and doing a mini show-and-tell of art and music. i was really blown away by the places our winding day took us, especially considering how grumpy the rain had made me at the outset. we rounded off the whole thing by setting up a walled canopy in paul's studio, running a portable air conditioner into it and having a nice cool camp-out in this warehouse in north philly.

and i think we felt a little brotherly love by the end of it all.

Friday, May 30, 2008

into america.

let me start by saying that i love america. i really do. i'm a little too tired to go into it now, but this is a very exciting place to be sometimes.

that said, sometimes you live down to expectations:

we are on the road.

oh, and the highlight of our stop at giants foods? when they announced that i had left my headlights on in the parking lot, the announcement began "attention giant customers..."


Thursday, May 29, 2008

time to roll.

well, we are off. sometime today - probably late into the night. we are headed out west (with all points in between) for just shy of six months. i know! crazy. i'm going to do my best to document the adventures we have and the amazing people we will obviously see/meet. i can't wait to get going. speaking of which, i have a million and one things to do, so off i go!

oh, pictured up there is the cutlery roll we got from marnie at the spring thing trunk show. we are hoping it will make us better people on the road. the thrifted cutlery looks just the way i feel - ready to go.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

pins and pals and constant buzz.

well, i have finished making our very exciting, newest button set just in time for tomorrow's reclaimed craft fair (actually, today's, at this point). if these wayward characters happen to look familiar to you, it is because they were designed by sara guindon to both be distributed by the sweetie pie press and to join the pin pals family. the set is simply titled pin pals and suggest many possible social story lines (to me, anyway). i can see this gang (or members thereof) having an argument across a lapel, a romance on a handbag or a reconciliation in the midst of a cork board. sara's got a real knack for imparting attitude and personality to her illustrated figures. i just hope they don't mess my apartment up while i sleep.

the reclaimed craft fairs, by the way, are a new initiative of crafty happenings with a recycling bent in and around the kitchen/waterloo area. tomorrow's happenings are in cambridge. i felt a little guilty thinking about all the more eco-friendly crafts out there (marnie). but then i realized that the security envelopes buttons are made from reclaimed paper as are jesjit's $$ button sets (the posters used were, after all, his cast-offs) and the worksite accidents prints are also done on reused pages from an electrical manual. actually, i also print on reclaimed paper for many of my buttons. so i may not be running an entirely second-use business here but i was surprised to see how much of my material is being given a second go around. i still think i can do better. and thinking towards a show like this really got the wheels turning.

actually, that notion ties into a new top-secret project i have just agreed to undertake for todd falkowsky's souvenir shop project. it's a self-imposed top-secrecy (mostly because i don't want to disappoint anyone by not coming through) but a little too exciting not to leak hints about. i am very flattered to have been asked to contribute.

oh, and i am also going to do another last-minute ticket giveaway. the first two people to ask can have my two comps to bitch salad on tuesday evening at buddies in bad times theatre (here in toronto). i will be performing in this monthly comedy bitchfest (run by my pal andrew johnston) as the girl half of my improv/comedy duo, iron cobra. this will be our last performance in toronto for some time as i won't be here again until...basically 2009. i have also declared this show my unofficial send-off party. it's so unofficial, i forgot to tell anybody. so it will be you two recipients and me and graham and andrew and elvira kurt. and y'all better send me off right.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

brain pops.

apologies are in order for not writing about pop with brains before it happened but my stomach flu and other concerns kept me from these internet divergences. pop with brains is a toronto music and art show that seems to come together as a big love fest and gives all their money to the centre for addiction and metal health. it is now in its third year and, although i'm not sure how often it transpires, they have gone through fifteen shows so it must be fairly frequent.

it was great. amazing. i had a fantastic time.

crafty business folks be informed, though, shows like this are never really lucrative. when i do rock shows, i always bring some busy work for the down time and try to get more done than i would at home. but the music last night was phenomenal, which is was made the evening so singular. pictured above are my newest new wave heroes, the miles, who must have been (sorry, gentlemen) fifteen years old. but they make an impressive amount of well-worked devo/madness racket for their years. i was also blown away by fox jaws from barrie (lead singer lady, carleigh aikins, pictured below rocking a button combo). that lady has pipes. i also really loved the schomberg fair who were kind of a country blues band with some heavy metal backing vocals. i never go to rock shows anymore, so it was really fantastic to be out at such a great show. i think the organizers did a great job.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

push, pull and playgirl.

pictured above is a custom order placed by damon erickson, a local fellow who got these buttons made for the may installment of the octopus project (not the famous band, the bi-monthly toronto art attack). he plans to cover a whole blazer in these buttons which i am very much looking forward to seeing some pictures of. i'm always so happy to make buttons for such interesting projects.

speaking of pushing a pulling (i apologize in advance), emma segal's love porn button set has been featured on playgirl magazine's blog. i have such confused issues with pornography (well, i have confusions over almost all big-button issues), so i was not entirely sure how i felt about this whole playgirl thing when i was approached. i have to say, though, that my communication with the folks involved and their treatment of the craft scene and its erotic content all seemed pretty lovely. and i'm always flattered to be asked to be a part of anything. thanks, playgirl. emma and i are blushing all over.

oh, and in case i seem extra bland today, i am recovering from a crazy flu and think i lost some brain cells. a word to the wise: don't bother getting sick, it's not as much fun as you think.

Friday, May 16, 2008

nose to the grindstone, balls to the wall.

did you know that the root of the idiom 'balls to the wall' has to do with the working of an over-exerted steam engine and does not describe the weird classroom punishment i had always imagined it to reference as a child? so, it's not rude; it's historic.

but all blather aside, i'm really busy and making lots of buttons. for some reason i have had a crud load of last-minute button orders come in before my departure. there are some pretty neat ones in the mix, too. but more on those projects as i complete the orders.

pictured above are some posters delivered to me by local screen print (and animated gif) artist, jesjit gill. he takes somewhat damaged, surplus, proof and/or irregular posters from his shop, circles some good parts of them and i make them into his $$ button sets. the first series he did for me were all from copies of the same posters but this batch features eight different posters. putting these sets together is going to feel like an infinite puzzle. i also have to say that, damaged or not, i feel a pang at the moment i bring my scissors to his lovely work. it's the same hang-up i have about cutting into vintage clothes or (worst of all) ripping apart typewriters. i have never ripped apart a typewriter. i'd be more inclined to bring a sledgehammer to a piano but i can't really justify this hierarchy. actually, no, i can. it's because i can't play the piano and so it is my enemy. typewriters are on my side.

but i am getting sidetracked. jesjit's new button sets are going to be awesome and i'm a total bad ass for cutting up his prints.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

toronto vs. nagoya.

pictured here is my submission for the toronto vs. nagoya show that my pal saddle kobayashi is putting togeter in conjunction with city of craft.

it's pretty exciting. saddle and i settled on the idea that everyone should submit artwork that was 4" square (and not too deep) to save on wall space and shipping charges.

when i embarked on this whole journey, i thought i was going to do something that combined my newfound love of quilting hexagons with paper and ink. in the end, everything i made looked totally terrible so i just stripped down the idea, and came up with these ink and thread illustrations that satisfied my eyes. it was all kind of manic and strange but in the end my deadline panic seemed to result in something new that made me happy. how could i forget the most repeated lesson from theatre school? keep it simple, stupid.

oh, and this is aitor's submission:

why is he forever better than me?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

trampoline hall brings families together.

well, the show is all done and it really blew me away. i owe huge thanks to all the lecturers - carl wilson, emily halfon and michael balazo - and to my family for the collective willingness it took to make this show.

and also to michal grajewski and katherine foster for making the sildeshow possible.

reflections on an evening of lectures about my family? there is a lot i could say but i think my gratitude is the most important.

so one last thank you to all the attendees.

and these guys:

Friday, May 9, 2008

trampoline hall.

artwork by margaux williamson.

for some reason, i have neglected to mention that i am curating monday's installment of trampoline hall. maybe it's because i am so stressed out (really, it's bad). all my technology is failing, the postal service has been letting me down endlessly and people i am supposed to converge with are disappearing left and right.

but that's a digression. i should be stressed about monday's trampoline hall (a non-expert toronto-based lecture series, for those who don't know). usually, people lecture on whatever they like. but for this installment, i have invited specific people (carl wilson, emily halfon & michael balazo) to research and lecture on the members of my immediate family. from the contact i've had with them, i think everyone is doing interesting work and i am really interested to find out what my family is all about.

also, i hinted earlier that i might do a ticket give-away via this blog. well, i kind of will. i am alotted a few "reserves" which i will give away. this means that you still have to pay $5 but your tickets will be waiting at the door (this is quite a miracle considering that getting tickets to trampoline hall is the biggest challenge of the process). i think i only have six reserves to distribute, so no more than two per person (if anyone reads this).

and now, back to my blind panic and chest pains.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

merry christmas.

last night saw a late visit to my favorite local letterpress shop, the trip print press. it's always fun to visit nicholas and all the big crazy machines he keeps company with there. on top of being an operating shop, his space is also an absorbing museum of both his past works and of arcane devices/stuff. nicholas is the dude who made the backing cards for the sweetie pie press commissioned artist sets (and helped me engineer the packaging), and he also does a lot of work in toronto's music scene (i spy a poster for leah's band).

but i was visiting with a purpose last night; i had commissioned some business cards and calling cards for both aitor and his collective, the misanthrope specialty company, and was going to pick them up. they were supposed to be aitor's christmas gift but with nicholas and i being the busy folks we are, the cards came into being now. i think our faithful compositor did an incredible job with the design (all his own doing) and even went to the trouble of laminating a bunch of them - this involves putting the cards through a machine that coats them in glue and then applying another sheet of paper to the back (minty green, in this case). they are fantastic, nicholas.

in the photo below, the business cards are also resting in a holder made by mike kennedy of two toques design. it is pretty keen to have such skilled friends.

Monday, May 5, 2008

frozen mitten #3.

frozen mitten

found april 30, 2008
spadina & lowther

in spite of the lack of snow, frozen mittens are still surfacing. this ones comes to me via daryl who found it on his travels through the city on an unusually cold april evening.

as a side note, i will be away from june through november and won't be able to collect mittens during that time. i am planning to really ramp the project up upon my return and through next spring. if you find them between now and then, however, do feel free to keep track and get in touch. remember, though, that the goal of this project is mitten reunion. for that reason, i would like to discourage secret hoarding (as if you kind citizens would do that).

spring things.

as warned, here's a run down of the great booty i took home from the spring thing trunk show.

there was lots of trading and wheeling and dealing involved in yesterday's activities, so i ended up making out like a filthy bandit in the loot department. i am not supposed to be accumulating at the moment because travels with the reverend are looming closer on the horizon daily. but it's hard to be restrained with such exceptional quality all around.

i ended up going home with a print of poppies by willow dawson. this is not going on the road with us, but now that i have figured out how to cut glass for our collection of picture frames we find in the garbage, it is going up on the wall and waiting patiently for our return. as a side note, willow and i also went to high school together in vancouver, although we barely knew it at the time.

i also got a pouch from needle book. claire always makes such impeccably designed and constructed things and pouches are always useful while travelling.

and who doesn't need a set of "innie and outie" finger puppets while travelling cross country? this is the new set of crochet wonders with which shannon gerard won my rubber ducky auction a few months back. apparently, the rubber duckies are causing quite a stir at shannon's house. her son, willy, explained to me that one of his friends can't go to the bathroom at their place because they freak him out. i'm glad to hear they are doing their jobs. these puppet packs, by the way, are fresh off the hook and will soon have packaging on the box outlining...suggestive shannon's singular illustrative style.

last, but most road-worthy of all is a cutlery roll-up made by marnie of girl number twenty. aitor and i are hoping this smart little item will keep us from killing absolutely all of the planet while we travel across the continent in our fume-spewing machine.

oh, and the flowers are the last of an old bouquet from the aforementioned sweetie. what a mensch.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

the spring thing trunk show.

...some reflections after the fact.

after the madness and largeness of the clothing show it is really nice to participate in one of the city of craft/workroom trunk shows. the two events are antithetical in many ways - scale being the most obvious. i was so harried for the trunk show that i had forgotten how great it is to see everyone arrive with their little vintage suitcases and open them up. everyone always does such a good job with their displays - from perfectly simple to perfectly detailed set-ups - and somehow it always harmonizes and everything looks good together. i suppose that can be chalked up to either shared aesthetics, trends, kismet or all of the above.

although i have grown to know quite a good number of vendors at the clothings show, the community aspects of the smaller trunk shows are palpable. the kids are running around underfoot and playing with one another, family members show up and we all have lots of catching up to do. kristyn's newest little one, basil, was literally days old at the big december show and now he's an alert little guy. i find it profoundly satisfying to practice all our independent businesses/projects while watching the kids learn our names.

please pardon my mush.

it has been a long weekend with such a lovely ending. i will post more about all the great loot i made off with tomorrow. but now i think i have a date with a pizza and a mustache.

oh, wait! i forgot that sunday also saw the birth of two new custom button orders (and two that i carry fondness for) - the new toronto craft alert buttons, with artwork by natalie do and packaging by jen anisef; and the buttons designed for the toronto outdoor art exhibition by david abrahams. they are both pictured below. the tca buttons should become available soon through the blog and/or etsy shop, while the toae buttons will be available on their merch table at the event. don't even get me started on being out of town while that is going down...

Friday, May 2, 2008

the clothing show.

whoa, this show is big and huge and exhausting. allison and i both agreed to up the ante on our displays this time around. i think allison bested me with the plexiglas display case. i upped my ante by adding a suitcase and a crate. oh, and by framing some prints for display. and i guess i also have the banner jen made me this time around. still, allison's better at being slick - don't let the dreads fool you.

hey, look at these cool new earrings that allison made. isn't she a smarty?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

contamination series and the looming onslaught.

finally, and just in time for a weekend packed to the gills with craft vending, i have completed the first little batch of buttons from toronto artist/designer mark laliberte.

his set, called contamination series, is constructed from a collection of found images for the scientific past. each set comes with the microscope man, a little check list and an assortment of four "slides." i'm pretty excited about the arrangements by which these can be displayed/worn. these sets present a lot of options in that respect.

these guys (along with all the other button sets) will be available for sale at both the clothing show and the spring thing trunk show this weekend. i did the math - there is a total of 29 craft fair hours for me to cope with over the next three days, and that doesn't include load-ins and load-outs. i guess it's a good test of stamina. whenever something makes me feel to exhausted i usually just tell myself that i'll never make a good mother if i can't get by on no sleep and the self-doubt mobilizes me like imagining a shark in pool. we'll see if that works this time. after i survive the weekend, mark's sets will also be added to the etsy shop along with a few other choice surprises.