Monday, March 30, 2009

security found (on late night south-bound roncesvalles streetcar).

last night, as we were coming home from a grand night out at ghost jail theatre (the sweetie pie brother is visiting from vancouver and i am trying to impress him with worldly delights), i discovered a very special something on the floor of a streetcar. it was a slightly crushed security envelope button. what kismet. i guess the world is finite and circular after all. i get excited enough when i see buttons i made on the backpacks of strangers but to have one returned to me by the fates...well, it was just too much.

so i am having a two-part contest to celebrate.

part one - if you think you lost this on the king/roncesvalles car on sunday, march 29th, 2009, then i will return it to you.

part two - if you want to win a care package of mysterious sweetie pie goods, then leave a comment under this post. and if you want a second entry, then say something nice about me on your own blog (you will have to leave a link in another comment here to get a second entry). entries must be posted by midnight (est) on friday, april 3. yup, this is a quicky.

after all, i have to return the favour to the gods of stuff and chaos. i can feel karmic debt looming over me as i type.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

fungal fever.

today aitor is jealous because i managed to grow a mushroom before him (look closely). upon further inspection, i discovered little toad stool in two of my terraria. the picture above is as close as i could come to photographic proof, given my astigmatic ways. but it's exciting to know that spores are lurking around in the moss.

my other covered terrarium seems to be growing a couple of small alders out of the cones i put in. i had visions of huge trees busting out of a post-apocalyptic and abandoned glass jar...but maybe i am getting ahead of myself.

Friday, March 27, 2009

one clean corner.

everything in the sweetie pie home/office/studio has been an absolute manic mess for months. this continues to be the case as we make our annual spring attempts to clear out and organize. it's not working that well thus far so i take solace in being able to clear up small corners. currently, the bedside nook (pictured above), is the only area that makes me happy. the rest of the room is heaps of laundry and clothes to be sorted. now, at least, i can turn around and leave it all behind me. thankfully, like all dunces, i am happy to stare into corners.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


after putting finishing touches on my plastic bag hyperbolics, i hustled over to theknit cafe for this evening's installation.

maybe some images will speak louder than words. or why not go take a visit?

in order, these pictures are:
1. bay bag mass by yours truly
2. milk bag cups by shannon gerard
3. blanched pods by kalpna patel
4. jelly fish by angelune deslauriers

there is also a chance that this reef will grow before your very eyes during the month it is up. we are also planning a closing party on earth day, april 22. everyone is invited!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

night and day.

the ender bros. at pop with brains

last night and today were spent at two smaller toronto outlets for craft and art.

first off, i spent my friday night at the rivoli for pop with brains, a bi-monthly music and art event at the rivoli that exists to spread joy and raise money for camh. this was the twentieth installment (making it a four year venture?) i really like these events. they make me feel more worldly in that i get exposed to good music and actually spent time in public.

then today, i went to a burgeoning crafty/community event at hart house called spring wake-up. even though i have lived in this city for a decade, i was never an institutionalized student here, so u of t feels like a foreign country to me. it even has all the trapping of of the university-state; streets and confusing signage. that said, hart house was a really amazing place to spend a day. the facilities were beautiful, sun poured in all day, and a small snack bar was provided - tea, juice, cookies. if only all craft fairs offered these placations (i should be taking note). it was a slow day for action, but it was nice to kibbitz with other crafters, work on my crochet, watch kids run around and make sock monkeys and check in on the streetknit knitting circle (in the background above).

i also got to come home with some great new soap from ella's botanicals. it's wonderful and cleans up my filthy plastic bag/button hands like a dream.

Friday, March 20, 2009

last-minute plarning.

we have all agreed that plarn is an uncomely word that makes us all unhappy. that said, i sure do like saying it around shannon and watching her wince. this is because i am mean. plarn, by the way, is the term we found online for yarn made of plastic bags.

the little group of us (working under the calm leadership of angelune), got together last night in a last-minute meet-up before the plastic bag coral reef goes into the knit cafe window on sunday evening. it's quite the cram, but it's also exciting to get peeks at the work of others.

i also, discovered a few interesting plastic bag messages while shredding them up.

#1) a warning to all chickens:

#2) the ridiculous ideas of what ecology is to the brilliant marketing minds of target (mentioned previously here):

Thursday, March 19, 2009


today i went out on our little (yet highly appreciated) apartment deck to cut back the dead growth, throw out cracked pots and do some soil dispersing in preparation for spring gardening. guess what? i found some unsolicited growth peeking up under dead leaves. there were chives (above), thyme, and some strawberries! the two trees (one pine one maple) also pulled through the winter, but i expected this. the strawberry pot also hosted some other living things which might be a collection of trees. we will see when they start sprouting leaves. one way or another, i might have some plants to offer up in the coming months. first, i can't eat chives (they must have been planted by our subletters while we were on tour). i also don't think that twenty trees can grow in one pot together.

regardless, i was happy to encounter nature again in all her pluck and circumstance. it's reassuring to see other living things surviving a canadian winter with less effort than people seem to go through. now i am ready for the wind chills to taper off.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


today i received two big boxes of shredded canadian currency in the mail (thank you jeannie for giving it to me, and john for sending it to me).

but why would i want such a thing?

a) it's cool.

b) more importantly, it is going to be used in some manner(s) for the next installment of trampoline hall (which i am curating). the theme of the show is money and it will feature an audit of trampoline hall, a lecture by the audience and a near-clairvoyant lesson in things to come. the money shreds will be used for some very special buttons for sure and might also figure into the set that will be done in collaboration with serena marie mccarroll. i'm really excited about the whole thing. april 6. sneaky dee's. be there.

(oh, but i should say that getting tickets should be taken really seriously. somehow, trampoline hall has miraculously sold out every monthly show forever. it amazing.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

pteridomania, pt. 2.

a little update on the ferns, mosses and lichen in my life.

this whole project has involved a lot of experimentation and potential failure but i have been learning a lot thus far.

pictured above is a terrarium that began as an open-air moss experiment. well, until summer hits with all its sticky unpleasantness, my apartment is too dry to keep west coast mosses happy, so i scoured the homestead for something to cover it with. magically, this cheese coverer thing (thrifted with the intention of adding it to aitor's cabinet of curiosities) fit perfectly over the lip of the low dish i was using. and i mean perfectly. like they were made to be together. it kind of creeped me out.

since the addition of the cheese cover, all sorts of action has been happening. the ferns got happy, little plants and grasses are popping up, the live sphagnum is softening...i even spied a little mushroom (way too small for my macro-less camera to capture).

spring lives under glass.

Monday, March 16, 2009

brokeback pontiac.

artwork by tyler brett

it is now time to make some swooping announcements about the show i have planned to raise money for my ailing vehicle.

the show is called brokeback pontaic (thanks to emma's smart brains)

it will happen on friday, april 24th
the doors will open at 6:30pm
the small silent auction will start at 7:00pm and end at 8:00pm
the performance will start at 8:00pm and be all wrapped up by 10:00pm
after that, you can stay and drink at the comedy bar or go have a friday night out in the city.

i have secured a pretty stellar line-up of performers (mostly through guilting people who have borrowed my car). performers include katie crown, sara hennessy, kathleen phillips, levi macdougall, zeesy powers, iron cobra (half of which is me) and more. also, chris locke will host. i you are not familiar with these people, you should just trust me that they are all very good.

we also have silent auction goodies secured from all sorts of places/people/things like worn fashion journal, leah buckareff, claire louise milne & more. a little online preview of the silent auction should be popping up soon. i shall keep the world posted.

and look at the artwork that tyler did for the show. isn't that amazing?

i am pretty excited.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

general update.

a) above are some bits of plastic bag yarn for the upcoming window display at the knit cafe the installation date is just being confirmed, but it should go up next week so i am in crunch mode. the corals and creatures being made are pretty exciting (i had some sneak peaks at a recent crafting get-together).

b) as my security envelope collections come back into my possession, the project will have a second dawn around here and replace plastics in my obsessive world of making things.

c) i was recently (and for no reason other than being at the workroom at the right time) interviewed for an article about craft and the economy for the globe and mail. these seem to be questions that i get asked constantly these days. i feel like my answers were a bit gloomy but, to me, the tension between telling the truth and good marketing is akin to the tension between making things and selling handmade. by the way, when i ask tenille (the journalist) what her general beat was, she said 'the economy.' apparently, there is enough to talk about that an entire beat can be formed out of the current economic tumult.

d) all of a sudden, i have booked myself into a ig string of craft and art shows. it must be spring. in order of appearance, they are:
- pop with brains at the rivoli
- spring wake-up and hart house
- telephone city art and craft fair at the ford plant (brantford)
- hunt & gather trunk show at the workroom

e) i am curating the next installment of trampoline hall. it will transpire monday, april 6th and will all centre around the theme of money.

f) i have also put together a show to raise some funds for car repair as i prepare to go on another little tour. the car got pretty hurt over the last six-month tour and needs some fixin'. i started by asking people who had borrowed my car to perform (i am lucky to have a lot of talented friends). the show, aptly named brokeback pontiac by my friend emma, is coming together wonderfully and will include a big show and a small silent auction of art, craft, flotsam, and jetsam. you can bookmark it on facebook now if this sounds appealing.

g) i joined twitter. why? i'm not entirely sure yet. but i'm there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

stitching + bitching.

photo by karyn at the workroom

i will not lie to you, internet; i have been having a rough go lately. it's not the kind of thing that craft blogs tend to focus on, by life is challenging, long and sometimes difficult.

that's why little things like walking across the neighbourhood to attend a stitch 'n' bitch and make crafts with friends and strangers can seem like such a vital and generous indulgence. i spent yesterday evening at the workroom, one of many toronto homes and establishments that host free craft nights. the knit cafe also hosts a weekly stitch 'n' bitch which i keep planning to attend, if only to brush up on my knitting and see if i can squeeze some assistance out of someone smarter and fix a scarf i have been ruining for a while. streetknit also hosts a weekly stitch 'n' bitch (which has just moved to the green room). with all this free stuff to do out of the house, i don't have much excuse to stay home wallowing in my poverty and other concerns.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

it's true, you know.

new iteration of new invention in the etsy shop.

gosh, the windows are salty here. that kitchen window is one we can't clean on the outside, either.

Monday, March 9, 2009

heretical happenings.

hmmm...what's this? a science magazine in the mail. hmm...let's see what these guys have got to say. what's this...?

huh. i wonder what...

it's true! there's a picture i took of the good reverend at the creation museum in kentucky.

thanks for sending us the copies, guys. i am looking forward to pouring through some scientific discussion as a brief respite from craft magazines.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

mysteries of the universe revealed (they mostly have to do with clothes).

photo of iron cobra with ken farrell by skye regan

above is a picture from the show graham and i hosted a few weeks back - the one where i wore the borrowed dress from honest threads. i was hoping to be able to report more interesting findings regarding my experience of trying to be someone else by wearing their clothes. really, though, i think i just discovered that i must be bigger than anyone who wears this dress in a comfortable manner. i am very tall, so the dress' waistline hit me in the bottom of the ribs. the sensation of being squeezed from all sides really eclipsed any subtler experiences that may have been offered me in this borrowed gear. that said, i did feel much more myself when i returned to my plaid a-line skirt and turtle neck sweater in the show's second half (about four hours into the epic line-up and seven hours into wearing the dress). as a curious side note, the dress was bruisingly tight but the cardigan was massive.

all this brings me to some actual points of interest regarding my evening's attire. when i went to return the items to honest threads, i did, indeed, find information about them on the wall. the reason we had missed it in the first place is that these articles had be part of another artist's piece and were thus photographed and written about as part of something bigger. actually, they seemed to be part of two interrelated projects by toronto artist stephanie cormier. the series, called the goodwill and salvation project, consisted of purchasing garments from thrift stores, embroidering inspirational sayings into their seams and then donating them back to the stores (or returning them). the dress i borrowed was kept (and presumably worn) by her because the embroidery was visible. the cardigan, on the other hand, seemed to be part of an offshoot project. it has a name sewn into the collar (a feature that drew me to it, actually). miss cormier would set pieces with names in them aside in an attempt to research and/or track down the former owners. i know that the embroidered dresses were photographed by her in organic heaps and forms but know very little about the clothing genealogy project and where/if it terminated. i would be very interested to find out, though, as both of these undertakings sparked just as much curiosity in me as the garments i was so drawn to. i see she also contributed to the portable library project, so if anyone has any big scoops on her or these project, feel free to pass them along. it felt like such a treasure hunt to find as much as i have. it also feels like a hunt similar to the one she is on in finding former clothing owners. miss cormier, did you ever fathom that this intrigue would extend in two directions? maybe you did.

Friday, March 6, 2009

spring day in toronto.

today we went out without jackets! i just wore a light cardigan and a scarf - didn't even pull out the mittens i had put in my purse. we took transit to honest ed's (in case you were wondering about the positive financial impact of housing an art show, honest ed's, it has rekindled my appreciation of your maze-like establishment). i had plans to get some jars to help sort both our pantry and my crafting supplies. to my way of thinking, the pantry model is the most useful organizational system for any grouping of non-paper items. this applies to rolled oats, balls of angora yarn, beads and lentils.

after honest ed's, we walked all the way home with many stops between. although the reverend and i have both done longs walks like this over our cash-poor winter, they were not very comfortable. this was a change of pace - 16 degrees. in march!

along the way (we think we were on markham just north of queen), we encountered an amazing house that neither of us had seen before. it echoed a couple of detroit tourist highlights, the heidelberg project and hamtramck disneyland. but how had we never stumbled upon it before? it felt like we were on the road again in our own town (a feeling i have been looking for since returning). any information you have about this place would be avidly consumed.

we also managed a few extra errands, as any route from the annex to parkdale is littered with good places to visit. most notably, i delivered my first little bundle of buttons to type books on queen west. they have invested in some mores buttons (of the read, write and think varieties) to compliment their well selected array of interesting art and literature publications. of course, i fell in love with something after only allowing myself ten seconds of browsing. we had to leave quickly, lest my payment would not end up on my screaming credit card where it belonged. still, it is so nice to go to a book shop that is so well put together and thoughtfully filled.

in slighly sadder news, i also went to the ontario crafts council gallery to pick up my installation - it came down on sunday. it was kind of amazing to see my once glorious grid reduced to a pointy heap of nails and magnets again. i suppose i need to start hustling to make the public side of the project rise again. i also, as always, have a big backlog of envelope contributions to go through. rust never sleeps. say, does your gallery need my button project in it for a while...?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

lauren comes over.

last night lauren came over, we made trampoline hall tickets (with our sweet kisses) and watched carl on american television. it was more fun and laughs than i have had in a while and it was great to see carl on t.v. - although, i think aitor might have been marginally more entertained by the antics that lauren and i got up to. we mostly took our pictures next to carl's face on the screen. way to go, carl! i hope you sell a trillion books.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

fame, famous friends, and other brilliant ideas.

broken pencil back page pictorial by claire manning

first, the back page pictorial done by claire manning for the last issue of broken pencil has appeared online (possibly a while ago, i haven't been checking very well). i don't know miss manning but i totally love the illustration she did (as well as her greater body of work). it made me feel so important to have my interview and likeness rendered in such a way. i especially liked the scalloped crochet edging - it's the same edging i use in my neck warmers. this attention to detail has not gone unnoticed, miss manning. the issue, by the way, is about comedy, which might explain why this piece spans both worlds of my life. i have a new project in the works that will also encompass my various worlds of interest and experience. but more that soon.

but back to issues of fame (and explorations thereof)...tonight i am hunkering down in my apartment with aitor and lauren to watch our friend carl get really famous. he is going to be interviewed by stephen colbert on the colbert report about his amazing book, let's talk about love. apparently, it was mentioned by some actor i've never heard of on the red carpet at the oscars and a week and a half later - famous. carl's book is very deserving of attention, too. i've been meaning to recommend it here but i never understood how it would fit in. apparently, famousness is a theme today so it fits in. you should buy and read the book. i am no good at sysnopses so i will just say that it is one of the best things i have read in my life. there is a big public viewing of the broadcast (and a rock show, too?) happening at the pilot tonight. but i think having friends appear on television offers a rare opportunity to sit around in your underwear and watch them talk.

further, in the brilliant-but-not-on-television catagory, my friend ryan kamstra is starting a murder folk night with a sing-a-long componenent at the katharine mulherin gallery. being an avid collectivist, he also has a request line through which you can demand he learn and sing you murder ballads. i have to say, the genre really scares me. i even got scared thinking about the songs i was requesting. i think this evening will wreck me for life. but it's also a great idea.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

further hooking.

above is the newest of the plastic bag hyperbolic models i have been working on. i was really excited when i discovered this specific type of vegetable bag that can be cut thin and crocheted at a relatively small guage. these bags have writing on them so i separated the bag parts into 'dirty' and 'clean.' this is the clean model. i am making another one using the exact same pattern, only out of the dirty bag parts so it has little blotches on it. oddly, that one is turning out bigger and looser which i can not understand.

this little guy is making me happy. the specific kind of plastic gives the form a soft opalescence. it is firm and soft all at the same time.

by the way, if any of you torontonians have any extra plastic bags (especially my most coveted yellow bay bags), you can still drop them off at the knit cafe. we have another plastic bag crochet yarn meet-up planned for this weekend and all of our stocks are running low. bag contributions would be much obliged.

i should probably also mention that if you are in the mood to learn some basic crochet (and contemplate some higher mathematics), i do have another hyperbolic crochet class coming up at the knit cafe at the beginning of april. you can check their course schedule here for all the details. these classes are totally not hard and a lot of fun.

Monday, March 2, 2009

tending shop / keeping house.

i have been trying to clean up around the house. it's a daunting task when your home is also your place of work. i am also exceptionally bad at containing my creative work to my office. it's everywhere. we haven't had an operational kitchen table in months (but thank you for the loaned paper cutter, leah. it lives there now).

in all the manic tidying (which is barely perceptible), i also managed to document a few new things and get them listed in my etsy shop. secret message envelopes, neck warmers...and more is on the way.

in the world of online commerce, i should also mention a few more updates. the souvenir shop has decided to restructure their operations and has pared away many of the works they were selling online (including mine). after a year of operation, they have decided to focus on other projects (like the amazing penny smash, one would assume). i wish them all the best. those folks at motherbrand are always up to interesting new design-based things and i look forward to hearing about all the fantastic new undertaking they dream up. the confusion corner buttons will now be available through my etsy shop and, as always, at out of the blue in winnipeg.

but as one door closes, another opens. although i am very late in announcing the opening of their online storefront, renegade handmade has launched the much-anticipated cyber version of their popular chicago shop. my available button sets can be found here. it's not a bad place to pick some up, either, as sue's collection of indie craft stuff is unparalleled; one could fill a shopping cart there pretty quickly. i have always been particularly impressed by renegade handmade's collection of art and prints. it's a pretty singular grouping of artists. congratulations on the new site, sue! it looks wonderful.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

sneak peek.

here's a little preview of something i am working on at the moment - a series of sealed envelopes that magically reveal secret messages when held to light.

i've been using magic a lot in my work lately. if only i could use it to sleep normal hours or make spring come early.

and to give credit where it is due, the font used is pee pants by kirk shelton. i wanted to do my own lettering but then when i stumbled upon this font it was exactly what i wanted so i wrote him for permission. thanks, mr. shelton!