Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lobsters! What Was I Thinking? - Part 3

This is part three of a series called "Lobsters! What Was I Thinking?"

The idea for these postings came from someone I met in Etsy chats who asked, "Why on this green earth did you pick lobsters?" Once I stopped laughing (it was meant as a kind-hearted comment), I started considering the question in a more serious way. This is my attempt at an answer. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, you can find them in the July 2008 and September 2008 postings on this blog.

The photos you see here and in the previous articles are by Liz Grandmaison, a photographer in Bangor, ME. She is awesome to work with, so if you get the chance to hire her for a project, I strongly recommend it. Otherwise, please do check out her website.

Today's featured lobsters evolved over time. As you recall, I started with plain lobsters, then developed vested lobsters and, now, occasionally, I get excited about fabricating a whole scene on the little creatures.

I have started seeing the lobsters not as stuffed toys or pieces of cloth, but as blank palettes on which pretty much anything goes. I am only limited by my imagination.

The older (or, rather more mature) I get, the more I value Maine and its way of life. Living in Maine is rugged and beautiful at the same time. Some of its mountain and ocean vistas are simply breathtaking. The more connected with Maine I get, the more its influences appear in my artwork.

While working on a vested lobster, I realized the actual piece work was very similar to the quilted wall-hangings I make. At first, it seemed far-fetched to quilt a lobster, but then I thought "Why not?" I did a few sketches to see what might fit on an 8 inch long by 3 inch wide lobster (body and tail) and took the plunge.

What is fascinating to me is how the lobster takes shape through the applique and piecing process. The creature comes to life in fabric. I just love how a speck of an idea grows and changes with the limitations of space and fabric. It pushes me to learn about and make the most out of the materials I am using. I have come to see the soft sculptured lobsters as quilted wall-hangings that happen to be shaped like lobsters.

Reflecting the dichotomies of Maine, I enjoy making each side of a lobster different. Sometimes, I choose a city and country theme. Sometimes, I go with a mountain and ocean theme. Sometimes, I think about the hikes I have done in Acadia National Park and Baxter State Park and I try to imagine what is on the other side of the mountain or forest path I have created. I like embellishing the lobsters with buttons and hand-embroidery to add interest or break up an open space.

Almost more than anything else I do, these soft sculptured lobsters feel like art to me. They symbolize a life style and philosophy that is difficult for me to put into words. Quilted scenes on lobsters will have to suffice. And, if people see them as silly or interesting or weird or beautiful that is cool with me. I have grown to love these little creatures and am happy to share the lobsters with anyone who finds a connection to Maine within them.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Pastel Moment Treasury

I recently curated this Etsy treasury featuring beautiful work in a pastel rainbow. Links to artisan shops are as follows:

Row 1: Hammered Circles Sterling Silver Earrings by She Dreams In Metal, Honeydew - Airy Crochet Scarf by Kind of Cool, Teal Beaded Dreaming Tree by I Am Annie M, 20 Origami Boxes by Whimsidoodle;

Row 2: Rice Bowl with Chopsticks by Blue Sky Pottery, ZiqZaq - Little Ceramic Glass or Toothpick Holder by Studiotto, Field of Blue Skies by Red Heart 13, Floating in Sand Hand Screen Printed Fabric by Hollabee;

Row 3: Rainbow Sherbert Earrings by A-moni Creations, Nest Full of Lockets by Across the Pond, Pastel Shabby Cottage Oval Pantry Boxes by The Broken House, Fleur Textile 3 Lavender Eco Flowers by So She Sews;

Row 4: Watching the Sea by Mary Ellen Golden, Waldorf Inspired Scandinavian Matryoshka Doll by Ravenhill, Mexican Terracotta Clay Brown Wide Headband by Stylish Mode, Ice Cream Cone Necklace by I'm Your Present


Friday, October 10, 2008

Papillon (by Crown of Storms)

Where You Are Is Where I Belong (by Crown of Storms)

Interview with Justine (Crown of Storms)

The thought of transitioning my hobby into a business was, in its early stages, a daunting proposition. My formal education was in education, not business. So after pacing back and forth for about a year, I took a workshop on starting your own business. This workshop lead to another and to another and to another and, slowly, I began to see how I might fit into the business world. After doing some shows (which I did not like) and sewing for other people (which did not leave me enough time for my own stuff), I decided in April of this year to focus full time on my own business and on building a stronger on-line presence. It continues to be an exciting journey.

Most of the workshops and adult education classes I took focused on traditional ways of doing business: leasing or buying a space, establishing a brick and mortar presence, retail, wholesale and consignment. Very little was said about on-line businesses. So, I have learned a lot by watching and doing business via the World Wide Web.

The weirdest thing for me is the visible invisibility of it all. I post something on my blog or on Etsy or Flickr, hit the OK button and that is it as far as I am concerned. Where the images go or who they reach is not in my control. No one walks through my studio doors to give me a sense of how I am doing. In fact, mine are among the bazillions of things posted every day on the web. It is astounding to me that anyone sees anything of mine at all!

As you may imagine, I am completely humbled and honored when someone finds something of mine and gives me feedback about it. So it was with delight that I heard from Justine a while back saying she had featured one of my lobsters on her blog. I am learning the power of on-line social networking (something the business classes I took never mentioned) and how wonderful it is it be connected with creative people world wide. In this case, I went on-line to be in contact with someone from my home state of Maine! How cool is that?

In the spirit of reciprocation and because I love her photography, I invited Justine to participate in this blog. To my delight, she agreed. Justine is the creative spirit behind Crown of Storms and it is an honor for me to bring you this interview.

"Some of my favorite things in the world," Justine tells me, "are cupcakes, David Duchovny, chocolate soymilk, exclamation points, spooning, the ocean, guacamole, natural light, pink wine, Radiohead, books, antiques, ice cream, Legos, tea, spiral staircases, whales, asymmetry, David Lynch, vulnerability, owls, androgyny, people-watching, nesting dolls, roller-coasters, Ellen Von Unwerth, heat lightning, ambiguity, home-made crafts, giraffes, lesser-known joys, anticipation, vintage clothing, driving at night, Diane Arbus, crossword puzzles, simplicity, dinosaurs and photography."

"I have been an amateur photographer," Justine continues, "for about 6 years now. My favorite camera to use is my Nikon D40X but I also use a couple Canon Powershots. I take all kinds of photos: nature, landscape, animals, portraits, candids, architecture, macros. I work in all digital right now but hope to move on to some different forms of photography in the future (35mm, vintage cameras, etc.). Right now, digital is the cheapest method for me, important since the boyfriend and I are still trying to save as much money as we can. It also allows me to experiment the most. I can take as many photos as I like and pick the best ones from the lot!"

"The people that influence me the most," Justine says, "are people who take the photos they want, when they want, where they want. They don't really mind who likes them or who buys them. The photos are extensions of themselves and while they are glad to be accepted, they don't require it. It is quite admirable to be so selfless in your work."

True to this selfless ideal, Justine uses her own blog, Etsy Gems, to showcase other Etsy artists and items within a theme. "This is a place for me to simply and efficiently show off all the things that make me ooh and aah. None of this work is mine: none of it. It is all brilliantly photographed, designed, doodled, sewed, crafted and otherwise created by other fantastic minds."

When life gets challenging, Justine turns to her family and her boyfriend. "All of them are extremely supportive and amazingly unbiased. My brother especially will give me completely honest advice about anything I do and really help me to grow and improve myself. In a way, when I am challenged, I am more driven to succeed because I know they are behind me."

Justine also gains inspiration from books and music. "I have TONS of favorite books. I read all the time. Godspeed by Lynn Breedlove is completely surreal, with so many mental images accompanying the reading. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (one of my favorite authors) is so brilliantly written, so full of confidence and adventure, he reminds me of myself. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is such a beautiful book. It is filled with heartbreak and confusion but most of all acceptance and absolute unconditional love that spans time. As for music, you can almost always find me listening to Radiohead."

And, the shoes Justine wears? "Converse All-Stars. They're the only "sneakers" I've owned in the past 5 years (at least) and they fit me pretty well (har! har!). Comfortable, understated, functional, practical, dorky and cool."

Justine lives in Scarborough, Maine with her wonderful boyfriend and their two kitties.

You may find out more about Justine's life and work in her shop and photo gallery.

You may see her favorite artists on her blog.

If you live in or are visiting Maine, you will find Justine's work at Twinkle's Gallery, 284 Main Street, Canaan, ME.

What Shoes Justine Wears

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sunny Side Up Treasury

I recently had the opportunity to curate an Etsy treasury. These works made me smile on a rainy day!

The artists/sellers shop names and item titles are as follows:

Row 1: Sunny Side Up Ring by Far Afield Jewelry, Happy Sun Gocco Print by Matte Art, Sunshine and Stars in the Garden by My Mother's Garden;

Row 2: Within My Spirit by Maia Art, Tripod Funky Sun Bowl by Twisted River Clayworks, A Little Bit of Sunshine by Glass Cat Jewels;

Row 3: Southwest Sun Soap Dish by TMusichans, Setting Sun Flower by Borderline Bonkers, I Love the Sun by Tactile Eclectics;

Row 4: The Ancients - Sunny by Cee Vee Arts, Abstract Dawn with Blue Sun by Else Art, Sun Face Soap by Uniquely Pampered

I wish there was a way to show the alternates' pictures as well. In lieu of that, I recommend the work of these artists as well:

Setting Sun by Artmixter
Rising Sun by Slvilov
Watch Out for Solar Flares by Mia Sophia
Here Comes the Sun by Paper Art Studios