Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New things on Etsy

This weekend I put more stuff up on Etsy. Etsy is an online marketplace of online goods. It's super cool. There are tons of interesting things on there. I sold my first panel on there last week and now I'm all enthusiastic about it.

I took pictures of the unsold items hanging around my studio and put them up. You can see them at

Monday, February 26, 2007

Car towed ($%&#!)

Today was the most humbling day I've had in ages.

Ok, here's the scenario. We moved into the city of St. Paul in September. On and off since then we have had a car from Mom and John. We don't have a parking lot so we've had to park it in the street.

Because of this situation, since September I've been thinking (and admitedly somewhat worrying) about what to do when it snows. As my mom reminded me several times, when it snows you have to move the car out of the way of the snowplows or you will get towed.

So ALL winter has passed so far without a single snow-plowing day (a very rare and bizarre winter for Minnesota). Nonetheless, I checked the city website, printed out the snow emergency plowing rules and posted them in the kitchen, subscribed to BOTH the reminder phonecall and email that tell you when you have to move your car.

So this weekend the snow finally came I was READY. I was completely prepared. At 9pm last night the night plow routes had to be vacated. Then at 8am this morning we had to get off the day plow routes.

Last night Marco and I carefully move the car off our side of the street, which was a night-plow route. At midnight we look out the window and check one more time - the car is still there.

Then this morning we wake up - and the car is gone!!

We freak out and call around and find out that, guess what, BOTH sides of the street were night plow routes. We thought the whole city alternated sides of the street between day and night but our street is the freak exception to the rule.

So we got towed, had to pay an absolute fortune to get the car out of the impound lot and really felt like idiots. As I stood in line at the municipal impound to get my car back I was surrounded by the buffoons and badly organized people of the city - people who got their cars towed, just like me.

This whole annoying experience felt like driving across a vast, empty desert, seeing one lone cactus in the middle of the horizon from a mile away, yet still driving straight up and crashing into it. Not another stupid cactus in sight and a hundred miles of empty space but I still ran straight into it.

That's the kind of morning I had.

Mon pote Chirac


Friday I was down in the entryway of the building where I have my studio. I checked my mailbox, and what did I find?

A personally written card from President Jaques Chirac to wish me a warm and happy new year.

Amazing! Who knew that my presence in France had pleased and rewarded the country, all the way up to the top???

Hmmmmm.... quel merveille.....

Funny... last year the recipients of this same kind of new year greeting from France's revered leader were Remy (age 1), Marco and our friend Damien. I guess Chirac's taste in friends is evolving.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Busy girl

There's been a big absence of writing on this blog and as usual, that means I've been busy. I can't stand saying "I'm busy" because I think it's usually an excuse for simply not doing certain things. But I have to admit that I've truly been busy and I haven't had time to write in this blog (as well as spend good time with many of you folks out there). Some of the things I've done in the past two weeks are:
  • Remake my website (it's almost done!)
  • Build a ventilation system for my studio
  • Buy silkscreen supplies, build a silkscreen "station" and start experimenting with silkscreened enamels on glass
  • Apply to a gallery show and an art festival
  • Barter unused items from my house on Craigslist
  • Make Britt a cool birthday present (almost done - only two weeks after her birthday :-(
  • Buy office furniture and completely reorganize my studio office
  • Meet with my current client and continue building their window
  • drive ten million times to Menards, IKEA, the glass shop and the Blick Art Store because I always am missing some kind of supplies

And that reminds me that I want to wish Britt a big happy 30th birthday again! I called her on the day of her birthday but I never wrote it on here - so here it is. Happy Birthday! Just think, now we are the age that Bono and Michael Stipe used to be back when we adored them and wrote their names in the sand at St. Croix Beach. Keep your eyes on your mailbox - one of these days my present will get to you.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In Defense of The Police

There's been news recently that The Police, with Sting at the helm, is about to reunite. I don't really care about that either way. But there is something that I couldn't help but notice -- in the wake of this announcement there has been NOTHING but complete ridicule. Whether it's in the paper or on the radio everbody has had a wisecrack to throw at the Police.

Call me a fool, but I LIKE the Police... and Sting too. And now I discover that I may be the only remaining fan. What happened? Why the change?

Ok, I'll be the first to admit they have collectively put out a lot of crap. I think we all cringe at Sting's trio with Bryan Adams and some other guy I don't even remember for the Robin Hood: Prince of Theives soundtrack. That was bad. Bad. Bad. BAAAAAD. And I don't like Sting's dabbling in jazz or his duets with Winton Marsalis. I don't even like most of his albums.

But damn, for me that doesn't dim for one moment the good songs.

Hidden in the crap there are some true gems. I mean songs that have stayed in my heart for years and have never tired me out.

Here's my plea in their defense: In their best moments Sting (and the Police) tell the most vivid, riveting stories I've ever found in music -- beautiful tales full of imagery and a command of the english language rarely found in pop music.

Even today, when I'd much rather be listening to European dance music or Caribbean dub or Brazillian samba or 70s funk, I still never tire of these songs. When they turn up on the radio I'm always happy to hear them, like old friends.

As proof I offer you a selection of six of the best. I'm including some of my favorite lines too, but keep in mind that lyrics are have so much more life in music than in print:

An obvious one: Message in a Bottle: I don't have too much to say about this one. It's not the most brilliant song but I always love it. The imagery of throwing a message in a bottle in to the sea always fascinated me. (And I actually did it once - from the coast of Australia when I was sixteen - and I got a reply! but that's another story....) The metaphorical feeling of being an island in a sea of people is so true and universal sometimes. But most of all I just love to belt out this song in the car when I am driving. I've always loved that and I always will...

King of Pain: This song offers a list of the trivial and overlooked moments of tragedy and injustice that occur every minute of every day in the world around us. It is dark and sad. But it uses a poignant beauty to examine the doubts that inevitably have about our existence in this world.

My favorite lines:

There's a king on a throne with his eyes torn out
There's a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt
There's a rich man sleeping on a golden bed
There's a skeleton choking on a crust of bread

Don't Stand So Close to Me: This song is about a high school teacher trapped in desire for one of his students. She comes near, he resists, but he can't resist, the teachers talk, his ruin is near, she's SO near. In one song it spans so many conflicting emotions. It's a mesmerizing steamy song. I remember the moment too when I realized he makes a clever literary reference to the novel Lolita by Nabokov. It took me years to pick that up!

Favorite lines:

Temptation, frustration
So bad it makes him cry
Wet bus stop, she's waiting
His car is warm and dry

Wrapped Around Your Finger For a long time I ignored this song because musically it's only mediocre. But over the years one line or another would hit me at the right moment and illuminate a thought like a flash of lightning. It's a story of a young man in love (or lust) with a woman who holds the high position in their relationship. Is she older? His superior? She's definitely married. She believes, erroneously, that he means nothing to her. In the end of the song the tables turn and she is wrapped around HIS finger. It is a seductive song that slips out from the shadows of the conscious mind. I find it elegent, mysterious. Also very literary, with it's allusions to the monsters of Scylla and Charibdis from Greek mythology.

Favorite lines:

You consider me the young apprentice
Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis
Hypnotized by you if I should linger
Staring at the ring around your finger

I have only come here seeking knowledge
Things they would not teach me of in college
I can see the destiny you sold
Turned into a shining band of gold

Tea in the Sahara: Even more mysterious is this song. In it, three sisters deep in the Sahara desert plead with a stranded pilot from a faraway land to come drink tea with at the same time each year. He agrees and they dance for him, in a scene that evokes the beguiling ways of the veiled Berber women of Tunisia and Algeria. But he never returns, and the sisters sit waiting to eternity, their teacups full of sand.

Favorite Lines:

The young man agreed
He would satisfy their need
So they danced for this pleasure

With a joy you could not measure

They would wait for him here
The same place every year
Beneath the sheltering sky
Across the desert he would fly

Finally I have two songs from my favorite album by Sting - The Soul Cages. Most of Sting's solo albums are mediocre, but this one is full of masterpieces. It is a theme album - all the songs revolve around his raw memories his deceased father, a sailor and a gritty working man who built ships in the Industrial town of Newcastle. The imagery of the album evokes a sort of medieval magical realism, not so different from the great author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, where where villagers and ghosts and sailors and priests mix in a surreal coastal landscape. It is achingly beautiful. It's words are like paintings.

The Island of Souls: This song opens the album and tells the story of a boy growing up in a gritty industrial English town as the son of a ship welder. The boy watches his father work endlessly in his dangerous job in this sad desolate town. He dreams of a magical land they can escape to far beyond the sea.

Favorite lines:

One day he dreamed of the ship in the world
It would carry his father and he
To a place they would never be found
To a place far away from this town.
A Newcastle ship without coals,
That would sail to the Island of Souls

Trapped in the cage of the skeleton ship
All the workmen suspended like flies
Caught in the flare of acetylene light
A working man works till the industry dies

Finally The Soul Cages: This song comes much later in the album, but picks up and re-mixes the theme of the first song in a much more magical way. Here a young boy makes a bold and defiant bet with the devil to gain his freedom and to save the soul of a sailor. The devil in this song is an old fisherman, and he keeps the boy locked in his yard and he keeps the souls of sailors locked in lobster cages in the sea. They wager, and the boy wins. Lyrically, this is probably one of my all-time favorite songs. The saddest thing is that it is buried in a cheesy 80s-style guitar ballad. I've always thought this is one of the songs most deserving of a remake by another band to give it the life it deserves. It's a great song.

Favorite lines:

'I have a wager' the brave child spoke
The fisherman laughed, though disturbed at the joke
'You will drink what I drink but you must equal me
And if the drink leaves me standing, a soul shall go free''

"I have here a cask of most magical wine
A vintage that blessed every ship in the line
It's wrung from the blood of the sailors who died
Young white bodies adrift in the tide''

And what's in it for me my pretty young thing?
Why should I whistle, when the caged bird sings?
If you lose a wager with the king of the sea
You'll spend the rest of forever in the cage with me'...

So all I ask is don't doubt Sting and the Police. Behind the crap there is brilliance. You just have to dig to find it. If you want to listen to any of these songs, click here

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Emily's amigurumi

A few weeks ago I mentioned that my friend Emily has been crocheting little Japanese dolls called amigurumi. I like them a lot. She finally put some pictures up on the web so I'll show them off for her:

Our friend Mike (it really looks like him....nose ring and all!)

A giant squid

A hedghog

The Sliced Bread Incident

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to my Studio I Go....

A lots going on at my studio. I've recently been working on my first custom commission. I finished cutting the glass for the window (which is pretty large - about 5 feet by 2.5 feet). At this point normally the clients will come in, see the window, and give the go-ahead to finish it with the strips of lead.

I realized my studio, however, was in total shambles. I was like a housewife with her hands in her hair thinking "I can't have clients over. My place is a mess!". There were papers and books and glass and stray cardboard everywhere. I had no real furniture so everything was just piling up on boxes.

So I went to IKEA and bought myself a proper desk and shelf. Then I cleaned and organized my WHOLE studio. I'm so proud! It looks nice now.

So I had my clients over and they were happy with the window and everything is progressing fine.

My friend Emily has also been coming over to work in my studio for the past two weeks. She works in metal and enamels. At the moment she's firing enamels onto copper with a torch. You gotta like a girl who knows how to use her torch.

The last exciting thing is I finally figured out something that's been puzzling me for MONTHS. I wanted to know how to print graphics on to glass. I want an edgy modern graphic look. Turns out that this requires an obscure technique that's rarely practiced. There is almost no information on it anywhere. But I sniffed it out like a hound and figured out the mystery. As of today I have all the equipment I need and I think I understand how to use it. Tomorrow I'm going to give it my first real try. I will create an image in Photoshop, transfer it by a photographic emulsion onto silkscreen, print it onto glass, then fire it in a kiln. Then I will have a cool image on glass! I want to use this to make sushi plates, pocket mirrors and other cool things.

The Frozen Waterfall

We finally got some SERIOUS cold here in Minnesota. It's about time! ..... Marco was starting to think that we are all telling tall tales about our horrific Minnesota winters.

On sunday Marco felt like going out for a walk. I was a bit dubious since it was -26 with windchill (that's -32 for you celsius folks). But we haven't done anything outdoors for awhile so I agreed. We tried to go to the state park on the Mississippi at Fort Snelling, but we got lost and ended up at Minnehaha Falls Park.

Here's when you know it's REAL winter - the ENTIRE waterfall was frozen. A big rushing waterfall solidified in motion.

I love Minnesota!

There was bright sun and icy pure blue sky and snow. We wandered around the park for about ten minutes until all our extremeties and thighs and feet ached with pain and quickly hobbled back to the car. We got home and had hot cocoa.

Minnehaha Falls frozen