Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!

It's been a bit more hectic than normal with lots of appointments, making me forget about some things. This post is dedicated to them.

1. One of my childhood heroes had his birthday on January 26th. You guessed it, it's Wayne Gretzky. I saw him play the Colorado Avalanche at McNickles arena. I am sure that will be something I'll never forget. Truth be told, secretly I wanted to be his daughter, so he'd teach me how to be an amazing hockey player. Plus I wanted to be Canadian and for my last name to be Gretzky. For years I was a die hard fan of hockey and dreamed of winning the cup. My dad broke it to me that women are not aloud to be in the NHL. Women, no matter how amazing, can never win the Holy Grail of hockey. I cried that night in my bed.

2. Happy New Years!
The year of the rat is over (alas) and we're onto the year of the ox. Every 12 years the cycle for the Chinese zodiac rotates. Must admit, looking forward to my year coming around again. I make it a point to not be superstitious, but last year was unusually prosperous.

(That's right, my Grandma has a coconut on her head and a flower behind her ear!)

3. Yesterday, January 29th, was my late Grandma's birthday. Spur of the moment, Mom and I went to Applebees to celebrate her. We love you!

Free Art Supplies

Yesterday I was giddily dancing and singing all around the kitchen because of free art supplies. I’ve rediscovered Craigslist and It is super encouraging to me as an artist to receive free materials. It’s like the community is saying to me, “Yes you can afford to be an artist. Yes you can make art!” (It is also really fun getting to know some of the locals.)

Freecycle, found object artists haven
It's a yahoo group that most cities have, that people posts want they want to give away or receive. Everything is free. Yesterday I picked up 3 bags of working Christmas lights!!! The couple is getting ready to travel around in their 5th wheel, so they didn’t want to move the lights with them. They are such a nice couple. Thank you so much for giving the lights away! I am very excited to use them for the hanging lights that I am creating.

The site, like all yahoo groups, is dreadful. You have to request to join the local group, sign up for a yahoo ID, and then fill out another form for each group you want to join. I’ve tried joining in the past, but the site was so frustrating that I didn’t figure out how to reply to posts. This is super important- when you register, there is an option to get posts sent to your email. Don’t so it! I use to get 30 plus a day! This time around I chose to just see the posts on the freecycle website.

(The record cover plates will soon be for sale. More details very soon.)

Craigslist, utopia for artists

On Craigslist, under discussions, there is a form for artists. In there I asked if there was a salvage yard in Sacramento. Within the hour a local artist asked about my art and what exactly I was looking for. I sent her my website url and said I was looking for records and a couple of other things. The painter replied that she has 2 boxes of records that I can have. The next day we met up with her kiddo at “Chicken Park” for coffee and she told me all about the Sacramento art scene. I am very grateful for her generosity. I can’t wait for her to have a show; I’ll be there opening night.

In the past I've asked for help in CL discussion forms with HTML code and literally within the hour, I had the answer to my perplexing problem.

Another helpful thing on CL is to post under “wanted” what you are looking for and the price that works for you. I posted that I’m looking for free records and Christmas lights and that day I was flooded with ideas on where to look.

Daily check the “for sale” section. I found 7 foot tree stakes for $1 each. I picked them up yesterday. (Have you noticed that yesterday was a super blessed day? Today I’m in the studio playing with my new gifts.)

Where do you find your art supplies?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Organizing on a budget

It's been 3.5 weeks since my studio went from this-

to this-

I've been making art in the backyard and on the kitchen table because until today, there wasn't space to work. I couldn't find tools, making myself very frustrated and irritable and tripping on things. Now there are shelves, hooks for tools, floor space, tables to work on and cubbyholes.

Using long screws I attached the scrap 2x4 into 2 studs. How did I find the stud without a stud finder? Behind the 2x4 there is a long row of nail holes, 1 inch apart. To find the first stud I tried each side of the outlet, but for some strange reason, there was no stud. Once I found 1 stud I measured out 16 inches and found the other.

Then hammering in nails, I hung up my tools alphabetically. Just kidding. But that is something I'd consider. I actually organized them by similar shape.

Once everyone was up on the wall, I wrote with a thin tip sharpie where the tools belong. I thought about using peg board, but then I'd have to buy it. I've always wanted my tools on the wall because it reminds me of all of my late Grandpas and Great Grandpas.

Instead of making shelves, I used free milk crate that I've had for years. At one point they helped keep up one end of my bed while the other end rested on my 3 foot high dresser. This made for lots of storage. They also have held up a wooden table that Ian made for me. I moved with them here. The crates are heavy duty, interlock when stacked and a perfect size for books (so you can't overload a box or blow out the bottom).

The crates on the far right have the side cut out of them for easy access. I used a reciprocating saw, aka sawzah, with a blade for cutting metal. (FYI-cutting crates is super loud, so wear ear plugs.Sorry I sound like such a mom.) Cutting the plastic leaves the edges sharp, but I told myself to be careful. We'll see how long until I get cut.

I put up these 2x4s several weeks ago, but hadn't posted any photos because it was a bear to get a photo from that direction. To make space in the studio, I'm trying to put as many things on the wall. Lots of things are tacked on like my apron, respirator, dust masks in ziplock bags and a roll of chicken wire.

Using L shaped brackets I drilled them into the 2x4s then into the wall. Be sure to find several studs or else it's coming off of the wall.

The problem with being an artist is that something that is typically tossed in the trash breaks my heart to be wasteful. So I use glass spaghetti jars to hold my screws and a plastic container for Trader Joe's addicting chocolate covered espresso beans for nails.

Cost for organizing the studio-nada. Took a long afternoon of hard work. Must admit I kept peaking in all evening to look at my tools hanging on the wall. I love being in the room now. Can't wait until tomorrow. I plan on being in there all day!

Philip Krohn

Philip Krohn, Split Rail, 2007
cardboard salvaged from waste

Replying to a Craigslist ad changed the way I make art. It was over a year and a half ago, when I first started as Philip Krohn’s studio assistant, a sculptor/painter in Oakland, California. The ad was for temporary help cutting cardboard for a sculpture. At the time I was in art school and was (and still am) looking for artists to assist. I was intrigued. How would anyone make a good looking sculpture out of cardboard?

Philip’s background is in carpentry and painting, making his installations well crafted with beautiful surfaces. Besides being a delight to work for, he is interesting, resourceful and highly creative. For the first entire cardboard project I didn’t understand his art at all. I could respect the amount of labor and craftsmanship that went into it. I loved that the cardboard was recycled, lightweight, interchangeable and nontoxic. It wasn’t until I saw the various stacking patterns that Philip created, that I loved the sculptures. I'd look forward going to his studio to see what new pattern he tried.

The temporary job turned into an afternoon a week. After cutting 100s of the cardboard Toblerones, I helped with lots of projects such as making paper mache Rox™, cutting bicycle inner tubes and drilling holes in plastic caps. I was fortunate to help with two of his public installations.

Hearing Philip’s thought process on how to create abstract installations showed me another way to think, such as using materials that businesses throw away. This keeps the recycling cycle going and lowers the cost of making art. From bike shops he asked them to save the flat inner tubes and from fly-fishing stores to put aside the old fly-fishing lines. This helps out the businesses too, since it is sometimes too expensive for them to recycle.

Seeing that art can be made from anything put me in a quandary. What should I make first? I’ve come to understand it that any material can be made into art, but it may not be art on its own. There are still lots of decisions by the artist that influence the success or failure of a sculpture. Take the cardboard project for example. Philip experimented what could be done with a sheet of cardboard. Then tried different lengths of the cardboard prism and angle; some were curved but most were straight. He played around with color on the surfaces by silk screening and some had iridescent slip covers. Various stacking patterns and heights were explored and groupings of the towers. All of these elements either added or detracted from the installation and it was up to Philip to carefully see which ones worked.

Philip is a self-proclaimed studio junkie who works persistently and constantly. His work ethic is so strong that it pushes me to work my studio. Besides making art, he created the earthsticker. Net proceeds from sticker sales support the non profit organizations working to protect biodiversity and wilderness listed at The design is also on things like t-shirts and canvas tote bags.

Last month I moved away from the San Francisco bay area, so I couldn’t continue helping Philip in the studio. I live vicariously through his website and look at photos of his newest work.

Stephani Stephenson

I found Stephani Stephenson's ceramic work on Craigslist and was stunned. The amount of tiles and sculptures she has created is so impressive. Instantly I wanted to be her assistant, but alas she lives in So Cal.

In the future I want to commission a fireplace for my mother. Mom loves to sit in front of the fire reading and sipping tea. This fireplace has the feeling that I envisioned, but of course it would be up to mom.

To see lots more impressive ceramics, check out Stephani Stephenson's website.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Book of Braille Sculptures

Using an online bookstore, I published a book of photos and activities about my Braille sculptures. The book is called Decoding Color. To preview the first 15 of the 40 pages, check it out at Blurb's bookstore.

Synopsis of Decoding Color-

Learning a seemingly random skill for a sighted artist- reading Braille, was an exciting adventure into another world full of raised picture books and mental decoding gymnastics.

Beautiful photos of the tactile artwork identifies color through texture. There are activities that explain the basics of decoding Braille, such as the alphabet, punctuation, and numbers. Along with a blank template to write your own messages in Braille.

$7 of each book sold goes to the artist to further her artistic endeavors. Thank you for your support.

The next book will be about the current artwork I am creating themed around tipis. To follow the progress of the art, keep checking in here on my blog.

Week 3

This week the highlight was having a collaborator to paint the tipi. My cousin was a joy to work with and took off on her own creative design with little direction. I look forward to having more collaborators in the future!

Delightful and creative collaborator.

Using the orange, teal and raw canvas as the under painting, we took segments of the Kandinsky painting on the below mug and applied it to the tipi.

I've had assistance with past projects, but this was different letting my cousin paint what she wanted after explaining my idea. We were basically doodling in a "Kandinsky" style.

Can you find a similar pattern on the mug? I painted this one.

My cousin painted this crest using watercolor techniques.

Quick run down of what was accomplished in seven days:


  • 2 days of painting the cover
  • created a more efficient way to set-up to work outside. (Premixed fabric dyes and poured them into canning jars, labeled and put in 2 milk crates. Instead of making 10 plus trips setting up water bucket, rags, paint brushes, and dyes, just 2 trips are necessary.)
  • Figured out two options for the ground inside of tipi; 2 foot diameter carpet circles. Another option is using a Softarp, which is a tarp on 1 side and soft like a blanket on the other.
  • Asked around and researched online for the name of the wooden poles that I've been using for the tipi. Ends up they are called 10' round tree stakes. The ones I have are from a salvage yard, so I didn't know what they were called. It's a bugger buying more of something without knowing what it's called.
  • Priced materials here for a tipi so I can make a price list. The hardest thing to locate were the poles. With lots of help, I found the poles at a nursery and at Lowes.
  • On Craigslist I found a local supplier for the tree stakes that's even cheaper than Lowes.
  • While looking for materials I hunted for a salvage yard and a creative reuse store. None could be found in the Sacramento area. Does anyone know of one?
  • Heard about free paint on CL. Need to check it out for future tipi poles.
  • Hatched an idea for miniature tipis (top secret for now, pictures on the way)
  • Visualized a business plan and what a day-in-the-life of a business owner as a full-time tipi
Hanging Light: (Photos very soon! They are a sneeze away from being finished.)
  • Experimented with different materials for the lampshades. The ceramic ones look great, except I don't have access to a wheel or kiln any more.
  • Bought xmas lights in the wedding section at a craft store.
  • Strung up a test lamp and loved some aspects of it. Need to hunt down a certain type of plastic cup and try again. I am super excited and hopeful about it. It looks great!

Social Marketing:
  • Updated my blog, personal site, LinkedIn, myspace, facebook and Twitter
  • Set up a widget to automatically change my status on all the above programs by just typing it into Twitter.
  • Revised Blurb book, preproduction for announcement, then sent out announcement on all above mentioned sites

  • Made prototype for record face plates. (In the past I made 200 miniature sheep without testing to see how durable they were. After 3 months of making them, I discovered that the ears fall off with the slightest touch. They needed a bit of wire inside the head to keep them on, but it was too late. Since then, I am adamant about making prototypes. The first attempt is to figure out the kinks and the second one is good to go (if you're really lucky).
  • Unpacked studio some more
  • Built a fort of branches and bark, while wearing an Indian headband
  • Researched Munny; gave me ideas for boobie mold

Weekly Challenge:
Being ok with "permanently messing up" the tent, was a huge hurdle this week. It took about 8 hours to prep and paint the orange and teal on the canvas, so I was getting attached to it (not a healthy thing). Standing 30 feet from it, while on the canvas was on the poles, I'd circle the tipi. It looked good, but not intriguing or stunning. I knew it needed to be pushed, but was afraid of "ruining it" or wasting time doing the "wrong thing." It couldn't be left that way, so the only step was forward.

When dying the under painting, I noticed it was going a similar direction as the mug I was drinking from, that had a painting by Kandinsky. By analyzing the colors, shapes, patterns and other elements of what made the painting work, I hatched a plan. Most importantly it felt loose, so I avoided planning the design for the entire tent at once. I picked areas of the mug that spoke to me and wanted to be translated onto the tipi and started painting. I explained this to my cousin and she got what I was saying.

We both would get so excited about what to paint next and passed the mug back and forth getting more and more bouncy and giddy. Then with quiet focus we tackled a section and started doodling with dye. Sitting inside of the tipi when the sun is up, it's like a stained glass window. The colors glow. Then at night when the light is set up inside, the outside is stunning.

Late last week it was super rainy, so I reluctantly worked on other art projects. The weather has changed again, so I'm hoping to have enough time outside to finish it this week!

Week 4 HITS
Week 2 HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pick'n a Sculptor's Studio

Either I am a slow learner, or I have to experience everything first before making a decision, but to my delight (and surprise) my studio space in Sacramento is so much better than the one at the Lofts in Oakland.

Pros for Sacramento Studio
1. The floors are beat-up wood floors (but beautiful), not acid dyed concrete. I'm not afraid to paint or dye inside.
2. The kitchen is not in the same room as the studio. I don't have to worry about covering up foods before working with certain materials. Being next to the kitchen all day in Oakland made me a compulsive snacker and break-taker.
3. HUGE field in back of house and yard in front! The lofts had a courtyard, but since I prefer to work outside, this gives me lots of space. It's also a lot closer, which saves time setting up and running inside for the umpteenth time when I forget something.
4. No downstairs neighbors. I can make all the noise I want. No Neighbors.
5. Access to a car. I hadn't realized how much this would accelerate my productivity. Thank you mom.

Dream Studio
1. Rolling cargo door
2. 30 foot ceilings
3. organized tool area, art supplies and crated up finished art projects
4. full time assistants
That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure there will be more added later.
5. Maybe have a Summer studio in Alaska, because I love working when it's first light in the morning. In Alaska it will be bright constantly. Oh how I love the sun!
6. Near a salvage yard
7. Strong artists' community
8. Creative reuse stores

saving time with technology

Not often do I speak of technology, because it loves to break on me. However, my aunt introduced me to Twitter and how it can simultaneously update my status on Facebook, Myspace, my blog, my web site and LinkedIn. Now I'm saving time by posting on just Twitter, while it magically changes my status on the other sites.

What you want is a Twitter badge, which is html code for the twitter updates. Here's the link. (I found it under help on Twitter.) It walks you through it, but basically you insert a text widget in your blog and paste the twitter badge. I'm a bit muddled on the steps, because each website does it differently and I just finished putting the twitter badge on all of them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm a Miss

Really this post is for my reference, since this evening Google reminded me the following things:

calculating sales tax

circumference and surface area of a cone

I felt old when I calculated that it's been 7 years since I've regularly used these formulas. To top is off, leaving the taco stand at dinner I was called mam. I am not old enough to be called a ma'am. It's miss, thank you. Not ma'am!!!

In case you are wondering why this sudden interest in math, I need it to figure out the materials for 1 tipi, so I can create a price sheet. Stay toned for more information on how to place your order.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

100 Items of Me

One of my cousins is bringing in 100 things to class tomorrow. I thought that was such a cool assignment. It's like a visual list of a person. It could be 100 things of the same theme, or groups of 10 of an item, or 100 different things. So many possibilities!

Here's what I'd pull in a red wagon to my 1st grade class:
x1 - The Beatles 1 Album
x1 - digital camera
x1 - yoga mat
x1 - short billed hat
x3 - blue and teal juggling balls
x3 - white juggling clubs
x1 - model of a tipi
x2 - tan springers sandals
x1 - black laptop
x1 - gym membership
x1 - Makita drill
x1 - drill bit case of 50+ bits
x1 - purple metal water bottle
x4 - ginkgo biloba pills
x1 - box of almond milk original flavor
x30 - trail mix (walnuts, cashews, chocolate chips, chili covered mangoes, almonds and cranberries)
x2 - champagne glasses full of mimosas (along with my fake ID)
x1 - can of coconut water
x1 - sunscreen
x5 - tea (Jasmin, orange spice, licorice, earl grey)
x1 - sketch book
x1 - Gluten/dairy free cookbook
x1 - current book I'm reading
x4 - public library cards (Peninsula, San Fran, Berkeley, Sac Town)
x1 - scarf
x1 - backpack
x8 - fresh blueberries
x1 - high quality, dark chocolate bar
x2 - mangoes
x2 - avocados
x3 - beets
x3 - shrimp tacos (fresh shrimp, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers on corn tortillas)
x11 - fresh, organic fruit and veggies (bananas, strawberries, plums, peaches, oranges, apples, krenshaw melon, zucchini, carrots, and sweet potatoes)

Check out what Cactus would bring.

Anyone else want to add to this list?

What would you bring?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Random Tid Bits

Besides taking ginkgo biloba, I leave tabs open in Firefox to remind myself for to blog about them. After a day spent outside making a fort near the river with 2 kiddos in grade school, I am exhausted. Plus the pilates class this morning wiped me out.

Here's a super brief list of things to check out:

1. How Christmas tree lights work (in particular the ones with 3 wires).

2. Oregon Country Fair official site. The dates this year are July 11-13.

3. Home Depot's site that has a calculator for figuring out exactly how much paint you should buy.

4. Tree Leaf Silhouette Guide. I love these kinds of things!! It's like a matching game.

5. The Oakland museum that curates shows in public buildings around Oakland. When my next series of art is done, I am considering applying. The 555 building has 40'+ ceilings, which would be ideal for tipis.

Monday, January 19, 2009

merci Kandinsky

The giant tree (full of birds) seen from my bedroom.

Super hot weather made today feel like summer vacation. One of my cousins helped me paint the tipi some more. The orange and teal circles from last week were the under painting, now it's time to doodle all over it. Borrowing from a Kandinsky painting, we "doodled" with dye. More photos will be posted on Sunday when I recap what happened this week.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Week 2

(Blogger is being defiant and has goofed this posts format. Please excuse the randomly large font and line spacing. Merci.)

I'm turning into a painter. Bizarre. This week I have painted a plaster boobie (don't worry it's a bird), ceramic lampshades and the tipi cover. Staying true to my love of dimensions, all of the paintings are on 3D surfaces.

What all I worked on this week:

Plaster Blue Footed Boobie
  • patched hole
  • painted
  • dressed all "suvvy" (aka soft and fuzzy)

Hanging Light

  • Knit 10 feet of cord using handmade circular needles
  • Twice had a knitting circle with cousins
  • painted ceramic lamp shades
  • played "electrician" with Uncle Sparky to fix the xmas lights
  • hunted for xmas lights at stores. Found them in the wedding section at Michaels.
  • strung xmas lights in the hanging light

9 Foot Tipi
  • removed safety pins that have been there for 3 months and sewed tipi together
  • sewed Velcro to door and above the door
  • researched and tested fabric dye (used RIT)
  • dyed tipi
  • sealed poles
  • united the rope from the poles and painted under them
  • changed angle of tipi
  • retied poles
  • hemmed canvas
  • researched burning man art grant. Deadline is Feb. 1st. The idea is to get a grant to cover my labor, an assistant and materials to create a large number of tipis. Then drive them to Burning Man and rent for the week with the option to buy.
  • Found out from a friend where to get a comfy and affordable cushion for the tipi (costco, $15)

The great thing about RIT dye, is that it is super inexpensive. It's $4 for a bottle which is the same amount as 2 boxes, except cheaper. I left the dye on the canvas for 12 or so hours, ironed it twice, put the canvas on tipi poles, and hosed until the water ran clear. I had made some tests before to find out how much of the dye was going to rinse out. The color was a little more than 1/2 as its original intensity.

Since moving home, I've been drinking out of this mug. I was taking a break from dying the tipi and sipping orange spice tea, when I realized the stark resemblance of the two. The tipi has thus been dubbed "The Kandinstipi", after the Russian painter, print maker, art theorist Wassily Kandinsky. I borrowed some of his color combos and painted them on the ceramic lampshades. I love his work, because it is loose, bold and colorful. (And Russian names are so much fun to say, like the NHL goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.)



The Weekly Challenge
To get started making art I had to trick myself. I let myself start with a small project that could be finished in an evening. Moving around from place to place for the last 4 years, was a plaster bird sculpture that I made in a mold making class. I invited my cousins over to do art projects with me to motivate me to set up everything. They weren't able to come over so I created without them, since I didn't have the excuse of needing to clean before making art.

Starting and finishing the blue footed boobie was the momentum that I needed. From then on, I was full speed ahead working on the tipi. My goal was to finish the tipi completely by today, but problems kept coming up, so the deadline has been extended to next Sunday.

I am very excited about finishing the Kandinstipi, after sitting around untouched for way too long. This week I am also going to talk to friends who have been to Burning Man and get their feed back on setting up a campsite of tipis. Then consider filling out the grant application.

Week 3 HITS
Week 1 HITS
Table of Contents for HITS (Happenings in the Studio)