Saturday, January 28, 2006

Game storage box with hunter's talismans

I have been busy trying to get the box finished for my son's birthday gift done so I can get it in the mail. I used a wooden box (that cheese had come in) that I got from the Good Will for .69 cents or so. I cleaned it up a bit, then stained it with a turqoise-ish oil stain. The sliding lid of the box was stamped/woodburned with a Kraft cheese logo and information about the product. I thought it would sand off, but that wasn't working. So after much thinking, trying different things, I decided to use some of the Sculpey clay we bought a few years ago, and never did much with. It was white, so I figured I could make an oval big enough to cover the label, and then paint it to look like ivory. Then I decided I would just do a miniature painting on the oval. I selected an Aleut or Alutiiq hunter, from an original watercolor by the Russian Mikhail Tikhanov. The painting was used for the cover art of the book "Glory Remembered - Wooden Headgear of Alaska Sea Hunters" by Dr. Lydia Black. Since I am of Alutiiq descent, and my son is a commercial fisherman in Alaska, and enjoys hiking and hunting, this seemed like an appropriate choice. It's been fun - but of course, I haven't worked on my Valentines for the February Co-op show, which hangs this Friday. Oh well. If I get 'em done, I'll go hang some work!

Rendered in acrylic, my miniature (3 in. X 7 in.) on baked Sculpey, is shown below. I then decided the sides of the box would be painted using motifs from Aleut/Alutiiq hunting hats. The inside bottom of the box bears an imaginary shark/whale. This is the secret, powerful talisman that will protect Alex. He loves to play dice and poker, so I figured he could use the box to store his dice in. The Eskimos and Aluiiq people made beautiful boxes, decorated with animals, fish and mythical creatures. They used such boxes for carving, hunting & fishing tools, and women's sewing gear, as well as food storage.

These are the long sides of the box. The show (l to r) a seal, a hunter in a kayak, a shark or big fish, another hunter in kayak, a small fish, and a sea monster. The wave patterns and stripes, as well as the colors, are traditional hunting hat designs.

These are the short ends of the box. They show, (l to r): a floral motif (could signify the sun, land, or an eye), a seal, an octopus, and medallion again.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Artistic Energy

So I just today found out about a fantastic opportunity, right in my own back yard (well, in Port Townsend). It is an event called Artfest 2006, and it is a 3-day schedule of artist workshops. There are tons of cool classes to choose from. The one I most wanted to take is all full - taught by Michael De Meng. But another cool mixed-media artist still has open sessions - Keith Lo Bue. Of course the hardest part is deciding whether I can afford to go or not. I blew my art income in October on a new digital camera. And to register for the choices I want, I have to pay in full. It would just be a fantastic way to recharge my creative batteries, learn some new techniques, and meet some new creative people. I know the longer I hesitate, the less likely I'll get to take my first choice workshops. But hey! If you are in the Seattle area, or close enough to drive - do check out the website! I've only been drooling over the Pratt Art Institute catalogs every semester! I gotta take the plunge!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Birthday cards and Valentine's Day

Yesterday, I made birthday cards for my mom and son Alex. They are collages of tissue, an old Chinese newspaper, and Origami papers, with some of my lino-cuts that were test prints or extras.

This is the card I made for my mother, who turned 85 last Monday!

This card is for Alex, who turned 23 today!

I also glued down the series of nine hearts that I made as part of the art work to go in our bedroom...eventually. The hearts were painted in guache on watercolor paper, then cut and/or woven. Each heart square is 3 inches square. Mounted together, the result is one big ten inch square. I truncated the picture, since the whole thing wouldn't fit on my scanner.

I'm also working on some mixed-media pieces out in the shop, but they aren't far enough along to photgraph. Three are mixed-media hearts, and the other is a wooden box I'm altering for Alex to keep his dice in. He's big on gambling games, like dice and poker.

Art Studio Before Cleaning

Fellow blogger Elise suggested in her blog to search Google Images for 'artist studio'. I had just taken some pre-cleaning photos of my messy corner of the garage workshop (I can't justify calling it a 'studio'). So - I decided it was worth a laugh to post those photos here. Sorry - I don't have any after shots - and since it's a bit messed up at the moment with my current projects, I don't anticipate taking any pics of the newly reorganized, though slightly-now-messy, space.

This is the trim I was working so hard to refinish and paint. Boxes of tools and stuff got piled on my workbench - totally preventing any artwork going on there!

The good thing about the garage is the previous owner put in a bunch of built-in cupboards. They are just plywood, and in need of a paint face-lift. Maybe this summer. Actually, we want to tear out some of these cabinets, and put in some nifty quilted stainless-steel cabinets, and a rugged stain-resistant, kind-to-your-feet rubber tile floor.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Art and Food

I am definitely a sensual person. I enjoy the colors, aromas, and texture of food - and of course, the taste. All day, I had been dreaming of a salad - from a recipe I read in a magazine at the pharmacy a couple of weeks ago. It was young mixed greens, with glazed walnuts, apples, a walnut-berry vinaigrette, and crumbled chevre. During my lunch break today, I went to PikePlace Farmer's Market - just up the block from my office - in search of the right cheese. There's an Italian grocery store with deli that uses a creamy goat cheese on their salad - it has the light texture of cream cheese, and is very mild. But the cheese monger was all out of that particular cheese! So this evening, I made do with a light supper of mixed baby greens, sharp Irish cheddar, toasted pine-nuts, onion, apple, and raspberry vinaigrette, accompanied by roasted Yukon gold potato wedges with garlic.

The Pike Place Market is a feast for the senses. The link above shows the Market at night. It never looks empty like that in the daytime! There are buskers everywhere - singing, making balloon animals, doing magic tricks. The open-air stalls sell everything from mini-donuts to fresh fruits and veggies, fish, roast cashews, honey, art and craftwork. (Here's another link to the Market.)

I started a new group of art work last week. It was originally going to be a series for our bedroom - which so far, is the least-completed feeling room of our home. The theme is love - symbolized by hearts, of course. But after my first two pieces were started, my partner decided they should have more color, and be in a different medium. So I worked all day Sunday on a paper collage piece with gauche - and that met her approval. Now I just have to work on the rest of the series! The other two mixed-media pieces that I began I will hang at the co-op gallery in February - appropriately. It also happens to be the 'vertical show' - which means you can hang as many pieces as you can fit vertically in the alloted space. I'll try to post some photos of the works in progress soon.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

2006, So Far - Ramblings

I'm just taking a break from scraping and sanding down the baseboard and crown molding trim from our family room. My partner's goal was to have completed the repaint of the family room by New Year's day - but that didn't quite happen. She has done most all of the work - I volunteered to do the trim. Because the walls had been heavily patched, and the texture didn't match anywhere, we decided to mix our paint with plaster. We had applied Venetian plaster to the upstairs living room main wall, which had also been badly damaged. We love the look - it looks like marble or limestone. The technique, using less expensive dry wall plaster, worked well down stairs too. Of course, I am itching to get into my 'shop' in the garage and work on some new projects. But since my shop doubles as our work space for the house projects, I am utilizing my patience, (and fulfilling my promise) by finishing the trim. We are being economical and practical by reusing the existing trim, as it is hardwood. Most of the new stuff today is foam. If we were to replace all our trim with like quality, it would be pretty expensive.

The next thing I have to do, after painting the trim, is clean and reorganize my shop. Hopefully, I'll be able to get to work tomorrow on some new art projects.

Last night we watched a couple of videos. I picked "The Snow Walker" which is a Canadian movie based on a Farley Mowatt story. It was really quite good. About a young pilot who finds himself stranded on the tundra with a young Innuit girl. The actress who plays the girl is beautiful. And the scenery is fantastic.

My partner and I talk alot about where we want to travel to. On our list is: Newfoundland, Iceland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Finland, and the Philippines. I'm too scared to travel to the Philippines, since the island my partner is from is the stronghold of the Muslim terrorists. B's relatives who still live there (in Davao), are wealthy landowners, and have body guards to protect them. I'd stick out like a sore thumb there - with my fair complexion, grey eyes and light hair!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Spirit of the Sound

This is a scanned image of a mask I made (and sold) in October 2005. It is a miniature of an traditional Koniag (Alutiiq) mask. THe collector did not take note of what the mask represented, so I have named it Spirit of the (Prince William) Sound.

Greetings in 2006

Hello friends and readers! Welcome, 2006! The one resolution that I have for this year, and have for many years past, is to not have resolutions. Oh I do have one pledge to myself and my partner: to lead a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise. When at 43, your joints and feet ache from taking your daily walk, and you groan and sigh when getting up from your seat, or you can't even get down on your knees with ease any longer, and you have high blood pressure - then there's only one thing to do: heed your doctor's advice. Now - I am not a couch slug. But my lifestyle since moving to the States, and since being bogged down by the Big D (depression, not divorce), and the ubuer-medicines to combat that condition - my girth has swelled to previously-unknown dimensions. Not that I have ever been svelte - at 5'1", I have always had a robust build. But I've always been active and healthy. So my goal for this year is to restore my body to its 35-year old state. And maybe by summer's end - I'll be ready for the next goal: to attempt the rock wall at the Downtown REI. (That, by the way, was my goal for my 40th birthday, but I did not reach the weight goal).

Beyond that - I already have a couple of commissions to work on. And I have a series of pieces I started last spring that I hope to finish. I need to start by reorganizing my shop. My partner has promised to add some shelves for me, clean up our stock-pile of scrap wood and get rid of the junk left over from our condo remodel.

I love the New Year: a clean slate for everyone - sort of like a blanket of new fallen snow that no one has mucked up with their footprints or tire tracks yet. Good luck to you all as we launch into yet another year - and may its yield far exceed our expectations!

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