Friday, December 31, 2010

resolutions: work smarter, not harder.

crochet pile

doing unnecessary things is a very important component in the magical arts of creation. that said, unnecessary things seem to be driving me into the ground these days - physically, psychically, financially.

in 2011, i am going to explore the tension between frill and true beauty in the hopes of finding less taxing ways to do exciting things. i am also going to do some very boring but empowering work in the realms of organization and streamlining. i want and need more time for rest and leisure (my leisure-looking digital mythology can be deeply deceiving). so what has to go? i have some ideas.

for now, i am making timelines and spreadsheets and putting systems and procedures into place so that i can continue to entrench myself in this handmade life without having to live in a cardboard box...or a car...or a cardboard car.

it's tedious and thrilling all at once.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

resolutions: health.

i have been out of the (thankfully free) health care system for years now. after a lifetime of chronic problems, i got fed up and disillusioned with the poking and prodding and over-medicating and side effects so i threw in the towel.

well, i am getting older and new, bizarre things are starting to happen. now that i actually survived my thirtieth birthday, it feels like i might want to start making some efforts to stick around for a while. although past experiences have led me to give very little credence to the white man's medicine, i am submitting myself to a new battery of tests and needles and - yes - gut decimating antibiotics.

pictured above is my new daily regimen of vitamins. this is a relatively innocuous investment in my health and well being. apparently, all northern people are low in vitamin d. i am also eating what amounts to ground-up oyster shells for my bones and muscles. why my body would need this, i don't know but my back definitely feels better after a month.

whether i stick with whitey's pills or look for (thanklessly not free) alternatives, i have committed to caring about my corporal survival more this year.

art and thought alone do not keep art and thought alive...or so i am told.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

resolutions: clean the fuck up.

i can't believe i am sharing this secret shame with the internet. anyone who has been to my home will know that this trash pile is my horrifying "studio/office".

this is what happens after packing everything into my room during our four month tour, then coming home for three weeks, then touring europe for five weeks, then returning home with city of craft and a string of craft fairs to attend to.

i haven't been in there to work since before we left for tour on the first of may. it has basically maintained its status as a nonsense storage room for more than half a year. me and my crochet and by buttons and my zines have all been spreading out in the living room and kitchen table and it is all threatening to consume my home life. basically, this mess has become a spiralling nightmare due to neglect and too many on-the-road adventures.

i pledge not just to clean this room up and return it to its pre-tour glory; i also want to do a major purge and some painting and wallpapering to finally make the hub of all my craft activities better than it has ever been. 2011 will be your year, plucky work centre.

what does this mean for you? well, all my winter and spring trunk show appearances will include healthy heapings of great rummage that i simply don't have room for. my collection for the love and rummage trunk show already looks to be filling up with suitcases, train cases and state plates. i'll be previewing some of that loot here in greater detail over the next month - so stay tuned.

ugh. looking at that picture makes me want to barf up a hair ball.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

post-deluvian deluge.

yesterday i made a move against my impulses and ventured out into to post-holiday world of discounts and mayhem.

my outing started with my first visit to the eaton's centre in years. i had to make some exchanges and decided it was best to get it over with. i really don't tend to like malls and this was a full-on mall experience - sour faced retail employees telling me i was doing everything wrong, glassy-eyed dads holding bags and napping on benches with hot dog stains on their shirts. i made my exchanges and cheesed it.

then to pick up some materials for my next entry to the wunderkabinet and over to the annual romni wools boxing day sale. i go later and later every year because i have less and less tenacity when to comes to crowds and lines. by about two or three there are no lines left and still plenty of deals to be had.

some pretty choice yarns had been moved down to the bargain basement which means my next neck warmers are going to be made out of slightly swankier stuff than i can usually afford - there is some angora and cashmere and alpaca in the mix. get ready, cold necks!

i also stopped into narwhal on the way home. it's always so lovely in there. the curatorial eye is so present in what they do. there are also a lot of familiar names in the current show (shannon, julie moon, sarah mcneil). there was so much stuff i would love to purchased if my money wasn't all be directed towards materials right now. their selections are just totally perfect. their current show, the unicorn, comes down friday. narwhal and magic pony are also taking the month of january to consolidate so i suggest popping in now. also, the catalogue from the dazzle (which i was hoping to pick up) is currently sold out but they are expected more in the next week or two.

resolutions: the revenge of print.

revenge of print logo by henry owings

thanks to the good folks at atomic books in baltimore, i have been spurred from my literary torpor and motivated to commit to putting out at least one zine this year. in all the other activity i have found myself embroiled in, i was sickened to see how long it has been since i put out any zine at all. sickened, i say! that's why their 2011 - revenge of the print campaign is so perfectly timed for me.

i am hoping for another issue of 'point form' and one more 'a cette dame'. with a new, cleaner workspace this challenge should be a lot easier.

need further zine inspiration, yourself? i highly recommend making yourself a cup of hot tea and digging into tara bursey's lovely mix of retrospective and musings on zine culture in toronto (and in her life) here. it's for broken pencil's 50th issue. i may just have a cameo in said magazine - all the more reason to justify my presence with some new issues.

with book-as-art-object publishing house, pas-de-chance, putting out projects again and zine dream heading towards its fourth summer show i feel like the toronto zine world has been undergoing a rebirth of sorts. some folks clearly had to take time off and some twentysomethings had to step up to fill voids left by tired thirtysomethings (i am talking the thankless world of zine fair presenting here). me, i can say that the zinester in me was just hibernating (it is true that business and blogging stole me from zine making and pen pals). but 2011 is going to be my year to print again...if only just a little bit.

Monday, December 27, 2010

resolutions: mail by snail.

post cards

in 2011 i am going to send more snail mail. it doesn't have to be by much (and i won't actually keep count, because that is something i don't have time for) by i have felt sad at my lack of postal prowess in the past few years. this blog is a bit to blame (not that i kept it up very well this year, either).

2010 saw me away from my partner for a longer stretch than i have been away from him in years. we're the kind of lonesome weirdos who like that sort of space. though i missed him a lot, i also got to write him the near-daily postcards that figured so heavily into our courtship and early days together.

i'm not just going to write more to aitor, though. i'm just going more involved with mail.

maybe i can kick-start the resolution with this offer meags has made. or maybe i will write to the people i met through the mail. i even heard some mumbles that the folks at cranky yellow in st. louis might produce some kind of snail mail service. i'm listening.

if all goes well, i will realize a project in this direction within the next couple of weeks. fingers crossed!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


i hardly ventured out today. instead, i have been indoors in my jammies puttering and trying to get sorted. there is a big new year looming and i feel a very clear need to get ready for it.

over the coming days, i am going to share some of my thoughts about new resolve with you, the citizens of the internet. i have a few ideas about where growth and change needs to happen in my own life and it all making public might prove useful for me. hopefully, my self-obsessed drivel will hold something of interest for you, too.

who are you, anyway? shannon, jen, leah and tara? hmmm. maybe i will have to give something away to find out who is out there. that's how the future works, right?

boxed in.

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so far, my one boxing day outing was a bust. my legs are too long for the stockings i wanted. it's okay; i am happier to putter around the house in holey yoga pants, anyway. there is still a year's worth of craft debris to sort through and clear up.

in the spirit of post-holiday deals that can be had from the comfort of your own underpants, city of craft is having a boxing week giveaway. up for grabs are some great 2011 letterpress calendars from dutch door press for etsy among various other awesome goodies. and you can easily enter online.

you can even win extra entries by posting about it on your blog (except i can't, because i run city of craft).

a word to the wise: read the entry instructions. they are very easy to follow. following the rules is the only way to win.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


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last night, i had a little collection of city of craft staff (and siblings and children and fiancées) over for tree trimming and some gentle social time. the deal was that i bribed everyone into bringing me a new ornament in exchange for aitor's scratch egg nog and hot toddies. now the tree looks amazing! having inherited all my father's ornaments (some of which come from family members even further back) and having shoved the tree into a corner with only one exposed side to decorate, it is looking delightfully crammed.

ready for a gallery of my talented friends' stuff? here goes...

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crocheted pine cones from shannon!

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glitter encrusted circle (i got this at city of craft from sandi).

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this is a god's eye i made while we chatted. lots of crafts popped out of handbags at this point in the evening. and willy asked for a clipboard and paper to draw on.

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little row of houses from jen!

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from ian and angelune i got a christmas pickle! the christmas pickle is a thing. it seems to be a christmas tradition that may come from germany but also may come from michigan...or geogia...or spain. the tradition itself sounds a lot like the passover afikomen to me. just sayin'. regardless, i love my new pickle!

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tara even gave me a piece of herself. i love it to bits! our apartment is turning into a weird museum of tara's work and body parts. i find it comforting. much as i usually avoid picking favourite, i think we could all agree that the decoration blue ribbon goes to willy for his customized becky and aitor replicas.

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i even have a button maker! with moving parts!

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oh, and being embarrassingly free of a tree topper, i threw a couple of hyperbolic corals up there. they are two of my latest contributions to the toronto hyperbolic coral reef. the reef hasn't got another showing booked until 2012 so i think we're cool.

the meaning of objects (a city of craft report on acquisitons).

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as this weekend wrapped up and city of craft 2010 drifted into the past i realized that i had made out with far more stuff than usual. with that many like-minded folks under one roof, there is always much swapping and shopping to be done. some of this stuff will stay with me and some will not. i am not going to say what is what right now so that there will be a modicum of surprise left is my meagre holiday gift giving. but i will share the genius of the city of craft brain trust with you here. first off is the laser cut and screen printed pocket knife by beside herself. the beside herself ladies were also responsible for our huge sign at city of craft. they have a minute attention to detail that stretches from projects both large and small which really boggles my mind.

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all vendors got these awesome laser cut pencils from old weston's 'read&write - the pencil project.

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sexy tea towels from bespoke uprising. these are part of a swap we have both been spacing out on for a year. i as really tempted by her new doily prints but decided that boobies and legs might appeal to my sweetie more. he has been inordinately kind about the preponderance of doilies in the apartment already (even making over-the-top displays of them when he rearranged the apartment while i was in europe). hopefully, this balances the scales back a bit.

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drawings from greasychicken face. these weren't even out. they came from under the table like drugs! this made the whole exchange feel even more special. i love these gals.

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this year, city of craft had two cosmetics vendor, ella's botanicals and sacred circle herbs. i was so happy to find their products as complimentary as i thought they would be. i got a moisturizing product from each of them - a lotion from ella and a balm from sacred circle. i've been using them both daily since the show. crafting and hot water heat make for very dry hands and body. the balm is greasier and works really well for my cracking hands (too much crochet and paper work). the lotion i have been using post-shower on my whole body. they both smell great!

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money from midway artist, miriam grenville. late sunday, i offered to take the first bill offered to me from her counterfeiting booth at face value. turns out that people really feel the value of a dollar when they make it from themselves. even the guy who made to hundred dollar bill didn't spend it. miriam came through, though, and we did some swapping. or is it shopping? i saw a few of these trades go down which makes me think she has actually succeeded in making currency.

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print and ornament and tank from sandi at deadweight. okay, these are for me. the print is important for secret, mystical reasons; the ornament is going on my tree; and the tank will hopefully keep me from melting into a northern european puddle if aitor and i agree to make another trek south in the summer. i never find tanks that fit, so this is especially exciting. plus, i love all of sandi's design work. all of it!

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from the maple ridge. drew was our only international artist this year coming all the way from philadelphia to my apartment. judging from all the blogs he has popped up on, this was a good trip for him. this illustration, i think, is perfect. we all live in contradiction.

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petit hibou par les pin pals. sara habit en colorado maintenant et cela pose quelque questions a propos de la futur de leur collaboration. j'etais assure que leur futur est plein de nouveaux projects, quand meme. how's my french? i tried. i can't find all my accents on this keyboard, though. i don't know why i did that. they aren't even francophones.

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a drawing by caitlyn lemonade. i love it.

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also by caitlyn in collaboration with amy borkwood. as if giving props to flannery o'conner isn't enough, i got to feel like amy was around more this year. work has stolen her away from city of craft and we all miss her very much.

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two small vessels - one in glass from patrick fisher and one in porcelain from rcboisjoli. white on white on white on grey? who am i? anabela?

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and, finally, a silhouette portrait from danijela's booth. if you missed out this year, you may not have a chance at one of these again. one of the amazing thing about the artists at city of craft is how fast they can be on to the next project. we wouldn't want them all gathering moss, would we? this ephemeral nature of the event is one of the things i like so much about it. it reminds me of the theatrical world i come from, where the circus would roll into town and it was an event.

good year, everyone! i was blown away as per usual by the mountain of talent this city (and thereabouts) has to offer. of course, this talent goes far beyond the seams of city of craft. in these last few hectic days of shopping, i encourage you to look towards your locals, too wherever you are.

city of craft bricks-and-mortar shopping guide (toronto)
fieldguided local gifts guides 1 & 2 (toronto)
little mountain gallery free store & art auction (vancouver)
craftland (providence)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

basket case.

as i did some very important post-craft-fair tape surgery to the city of craft merch suitcase, i couldn't believe i didn't submit it to for keeps.

this used to be aitor's (which he will never let me forget) then i toured with it for years as a performer (which explains all the airline tape) and it has even been shipped across the continent once or twice.

needless to say, they just don't treat luggage like they use to. the innards of this guy are made of wood and all the dovetailed joins shattered immediately - let's be fair, this wasn't amish hardwood dovetailing. still, i feel a real need to keep this guy alive. now it houses all of our shirts, totes and pinback buttons and generally lives a sedentary life in our storage area in the basement of the workroom.

sleep tight, little kicker.

an annual tradition.


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Annual Becky Photo


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karyn takes way better photos than i do.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

total eclipse.

there was no way i was going to take a good picture of the eclipse with the lenses i have, so i stole that one from dave.

last night, aitor and i bundled up and walked over the pedestrian bridge to sunnyside beach. huddled up with the ghosts of what used to be toronto's coney island, we had the place all to ourselves (save some ducks and canada geese).

after all the intense over-work of this year, it was shocking and soothing to be reminded of the universe, its effortless movements and our tiny little space in it. it was also nice to spend a few quiet moments with my sweetie. spaces like that can feel so inaccessible in the city.

with prickly-cold noses, cheeks and fingers, we walked back home past upward-looking solitary people. then we made warm milk with honey and bourbon and went to bed.

good night, moon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

flush hour.

merry christmas, apartment building of parkdale. this really does seem like a miracle in this part of town given how slummy the housing can be. lucky neighbours.

sleepy city.

well, it's over. city of craft, the craft fair that consumes most of my fall, wrapped up yesterday evening. it was another magical year full of brilliant makers and new human interactions.

i am pretty tired today (that's an understatement; i feel like my head has been hit with a hammer) but the glow from the show is still making me beam through my fatigue.

pictured above is my bud, shannon under the glow of the amazing illuminated sign that beside herself loaned to the show.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

confessions of a c(r)a(f)t lady.

this picture was taken yesterday but the image has recreated itself in front of me right now. actually, no. there is eighty feet of paper chains now lying on the floor in front of the fridge.

the road to city of craft draws shorter.

Monday, December 13, 2010

pin pal pleasure.

as i try to organize my collections of things, i have been amassing all my portraits on a shelf in the dining nook. today, i realized that my pin pals paper dolls qualified (notions of what goes where for me are pretty gut-informed).

i can honestly say that i did not arrange them like this. i just turned my back for a second and they were up to this kind of hanky panky behind the african violet. i guess in a portrait gallery nobody has eyes on the back of their heads.

home factory, home stretch.

so, on top of being the head honcho at city of craft, i am also a vendor who feels great pressure to have a fully stocked table and at least passable display. hence, giddy all-night button making events in the living room under the glow of our christmas tree and the late night movie on the hamilton station (last night, it was 'hair').

Thursday, December 2, 2010

party in craftland.

i can't go to rhode island tonight. part of me wishes i could but another part of me is so feverishly working on city of craft stuff and making stuff for the show in detroit that i couldn't imagine any of that.

but if i were free of obligation and could bend space and time, i would be partying craft-styles with the awesome ladies at craftland for their opening shindig tonight. after all, they do lay claim to "funnest ever".

there will be a veritable mountain of one-of-a-kind neck warmers made by yours truly there. i also guess that there will be raucous chatting, raucous music and a good dose of sparkles in the vicinity, too. if you can, go!