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Saturday, February 20

accordion books

OK, so people always ask me for photo albums. The thing is that plastic sleeves inside a handbound book seems wrong. I could make a standard album with heavy rag pages for mounting photos, but the spaced binding of those is a royal pain and folks don't want to pay for the extra effort.

See, you can buy a photo album at the dollar store for, well, a dollar. If you have to explain why this one costs forty dollars, this is not your customer.

So, every so often I play around with the accordion album. These are not without their own unique construction frustrations. If the folding is not exact, solid, perfect, the book goes all floopy. (Floopy is a fancy technical term used by master bookbinders. Or so I like to think.)

In addition to the threat of floopiness every time you start one, there is the matter of closure. Do you tie it with a ribbon, make a button clasp, elastic band?

Ribbons are just too precious for me. I don't want to deal with button and clasp constructions, elastic bands look surgical.

And then, while playing around with my new gypsy, boho designs, I hit upon an idea. I would use elastic, but not a thick band. I took some fine gold elastic cord and incorporated it into the embellishment.

The brown book has beaded fringe and the elastic cord, which comes off when not in use, has a bead in a coordinated color that blends into the fringe when it is in place. The cord on the green book is permanent and part of the design.

Since one of the cool things about an accordion is that it can be used as a display, open on a mantle or table, the cord needs to be able to slip off without ruining the look. On the green book, it can just go over the front cover and the design does not change.

I may be on to something here. These books are small, for 4X6 photos. If I get this down, I'll go bigger.

Feels like I'm getting my creative mojo back. Maybe?

the week that was

I've been nattering about how I can't quite get my head into the art space for the coming season or, more urgently, the jury season. My studio is cold, I whine. I have no inspiration, I grumble. What do they want from me, I snap.

Then, this week, a reminder of working for another, for little money, on a clock not mine.

Two concerts this week. Wednesday, the Grateful Dead reincarnated without Jerry. Last night a double-header comedy show. Both audiences had "issues", there were security problems. Last night the comedian decided he wanted an intermission at midnight after all, even though we were dizzy from fatigue and the bars had been closed and wiped down. Sure, most of the attendees at the 3 shows were fun and easy to deal with, but it's the creeps you remember because they make your day longer.

Last night, 3 young women stood at my counter, disappointed and trying to be polite. There were people in their seats who refused to move. Our staff was unable to remove them. The women wanted their money back and they wanted to leave. Management tried to think of a way to do that against all the safeguards in place to prevent such a thing.

"We bought new clothes, we had our hair done", one of them said as she ran her hand over her long, shiny fall.

They were beautiful in silver, red and teal. The woman in the silver vest over black pants had some glitter brushed over her cheeks. The lady in red wore no adornment other than the tailored tiers of scarlet that seemed made specifically for her. The teal dress was fringed from top to bottom and shimmered when she walked. I was so glad when they got their money back, but sad that all that plumage had not been appreciated enough. I hope they went clubbing. I hope they fell in love or something.

The audience for the Dead was not as festive, but I'm thinking one needs to make some decisions about which t-shirt to wear, whether to resurrect the tie dye or go edgy. Despite the 50 "no smoking" signs taped all over the theater, opening the door into the house shortly after the show started released a cloud of smoke still illegal in most States. We are still chuckling about the wild-haired guy who tried to crash the show without a ticket and, as the police escorted him out, screamed that the genie made him do it.

So, although I usually enjoy my part time job, I will truly appreciate my cold little studio today. It is mine. All the mess is mine, the pile of CD's are music I like, the remote for the TV handled only by moi. If I decide to spend 20 minutes there or 5 hours, it will be my choice.

It will be quiet. I will be alone unless Quincy comes up to check on me. But he usually just sniffs around to make sure all is well and then, satisfied, goes down a flight to nap on the bed.

I know, intellectually, that being able to almost make a living doing what I do is a blessing. It's just that every so often you have a week that grabs you, turns you around and makes you really see. OK, I get it.

And if I falter, there's a week of Sesame Street Live coming up that should really cap it for me.

Sunday, February 14


So, I'm sitting here watching the Olympics and pondering what drives a person to devote their lives to perfecting something like skiing or skating. Or curling. What gets them out every morning before dawn to go practice in a frigid environment day after day? After years of that can you really be satisfied with no medal? Can 4th place ever seem like enough? Is it all about the levels of the pedestals or is there more there? I just don't know. I don't get it.

I do appreciate these people and I especially like the Winter games because there are more moments that make you go "whoa!" than the Summer games. If I were standing at the top of a ski jump knowing that I was expected to leap into the abyss ..... see I can't even craft a metaphor I'm so stressed just imagining it. But for some of them, there was a moment, when they were very young, when that scenario played in the imagination and something in their DNA said "yes!"

What did I dream of achieving? Better hair. The ability to ride a bike gracefully. Stuff like that. As I got a bit older it was more ambitious but still rather pedestrian. Publish a novel. Write a song for Bob Dylan. Single-handedly save the environment. None of which I did, of course.

It occurs to me that what holds me back more than just the simple fact of my clumsiness or suspect work ethic or lack of talent is that I cherish free time. Time to read a book. Watch a movie. Walk the dog. (Well, not the current dog. He walks me)

As a kid, I spent a lot of hours under this huge weeping willow in our back yard reading books. Nobody could see me so I was free to be lazy. That is the childhood dream that I cherish, I guess. A big tree to hide under, the Spring breeze rustling the branches, a book open on my lap and a couple of oreos in my pocket.

I could medal in that event. Gold, baby.

Sunday, February 7

pondering technology

I have had time to ponder since I missed my first show of the year due to a mix of incoming head cold and outgoing stomache ache, both of which conspired to keep me up all night and totally useless at dawn.

Of course, now that I have absolutely nothing to do, I feel great. So I ponder.

Today my head is wrapped up in technology. Now, this is odd because the prevailing wisdom, I bet, is that artsy types disdain technology. I guess we are perceived as spending our free time whittling or finger painting. The sterile anonymity of computer technology would seem to be alien and destructive to the creative process. But, the opposite is true, I believe.

Sitting here in a big comfy chair, laptop, appropriately, on my lap, I can visit dozens of sites with inspiring book art, browse for quotes to use in my work, shop art sites for components that spark the muse, research art shows I might want to try. Before computers, just that would eat up weeks of time better spent in a studio.

What has me pondering technology today is the iPad. Disclaimer: This is a PC-free home. There is a huge iMac on the desk, a MacBook on my lap. iPhones in all of our pockets, AirPort sends WiFi through the house. We do not write with Office unless it is absolutely necessary, choosing iWork for our words and numbers. We do not leave Walden Galleria without stopping at the Apple store just to check it out, so for Christmas, I bought Russell a year of Mac "one to one" which gives him a pass to go schmooze with a Mac "genius" on any topic he chooses.

So, when Steve Jobs was about to do one of his famous "revelations" at a Mac conference, we signed on to the live stream and refreshed and refreshed along with all the other MacHeads out there until the systems crashed under the weight of the modems of the faithful. we were not disappointed.

Yes, there have been smack downs by the uninitiated. From making fun of the name by associating it with feminine products (and, as a result, causing me to wince when using a mouse or scouring pad) to sneering that it doesn't have a camera. Huh? But "we" get it. Macs are elegant, intuitive, advanced, virus free and they seldom crash. The naysayers are, as we speak, scribbling away in their airless rooms attempting to copy it. And they will, but with less grace. Just compare all those touch screen phones that want to be iPhones, the MP3 players that just can't be iPods. They try but can't quite get there.

I would love to be able to get one for Russell to use for school. The first time he went to college, he used a chisel and slab of rock. Heh. OK, yes, it was the same time I went. So?

I remember reading an article mumbldemub years ago, when we were both in college, that stated emphatically that within 20 years every home would have a computer. The only computers you got to use back then were on campus. The thought of us each owning one was like some fantasy. But it didn't even take 20 years.

Now I can't imagine life without this connection. This tool.

I bank on line, communicate with friends on line, buy and sell on line, research on line, blog.

But I will not tweet. I have my limits.

Unless Steve comes up with an iTweet. I did drink the kool aid after all. ;)

Tuesday, February 2

getting going, going indie

So, I ventured up to the unnatural disaster that is my home studio because I actually have a gig this weekend. I dug down under the layers of desperation that represented the last few weeks of last season and found enough table space to begin again. It made me very tired and I wondered if I should have taken more of a break.

Then I went over to the venue to scout the space and got energized by the founder of Buffalo Indie Market, Mary Stephens McGinnis. She has been promoting her market for a few years now in a city that does little to support its entrepreneurs. She is happy to be hosting her market on Elmwood this weekend, on a Saturday, instead of the Main Street location on a Sunday. She has the use of one of the newer, trendier restaurants on a street that prides itself on trendy. The area bustles on Saturday and she has 22 artists signed up to fill the two glass-walled levels. This could be good. The weather may even be decent.

This will be the first of this year's marketing experiments. In March there is the book fair, which I've done before, and a Women's Conference that will be new to me. A photographer friend approached me about an artist collective and there are some shops I'm thinking of consigning to. I don't want to do a whole lot of Spring stuff because I need to get ready for the season. So, I'm doing some sampling, I guess. To grow a business, you need to plow further afield, right? Or something. There were sadder growth metaphors I could have used, trust me.

But first, another afternoon with Mom and assorted doctors. We are lucky. Since she's been out of the hospital, all of her appointments have been "good, see you in a few months". This, of course, irritates her, as so many things do now, because they have wasted her time. Time she would have spent glued to the game show channel, smoking menthol cigarettes and reading tabloids. But, to each their own. She would not understand me being addicted to Facebook and Rosie's blog. Tomorrow we visit the podiatrist and eye doctor, leaving little of her that has not been examined, diagnosed and/or medicated over the past few months. If she was under warranty, we'd be good for another year.

I will spend the morning in my colorful chaos, waking that part of me that imagines and creates. At some point, after a couple of coffees, the enthusiasm will return. The air will smell of glue and paint. There will be humming. I will spend the afternoon with someone who used to do that. Mom went through phases of embroidery and cross stitch, framing the ones that came out really well. She was meticulous and disciplined, learning any stitch that she needed to complete a project, having the pieces professionally stretched and framed. I have one here somewhere. I really should hang it. Because now all she can stitch are plastic canvases with big holes. She makes coasters with Christmas Bells or initials in them. Piles of them.

Suddenly that messy studio seems like heaven, the piles of applications are fun. Because 25 years from now, my son might be saying "Mom used to make things" and I am so blessed to be in the artistic present tense.

Somebody remind me of that sentiment Friday night, OK?