February 25, 2006
Studio Saturday: balancing acts
Deadlines converge yet again; work on the steel plates is sailing along,
the Knitting Olympics ends tomorrow (and, not unexpectedly, I won't be bringing home gold for Canada. But I've got a lot done, and will have even more done by tomorrow. I just have to figure out a way to photograph my progress without giving anything away about the nature of my event). And I have a short paper due for a class that needs to be posted online by midnight tomorrow. Now, normally I would leave something like that until the last few hours, but tomorrow is also the day that Peter is arriving to stay with me for a week (so of course, in the middle of all this other stuff I have to clean up the shack before he gets here, because it's a pigsty, as usual). So there's no way I'm going to still be writing (or knitting) tomorrow evening. Although Peter SAYS he doesn't mind if I have to keep knitting after he gets here; here's some of last night's chat on that topic:
Me [right after forcing Peter to go and read Stephanie's hilarious blog post from yesterday, even though I know it pains him to read about knitting]: it's also heartening to me to know that she is so far from finishing. but of course, she will pull through in the end. I won't
Peter: of course
Me: of course, i won't finish?
Peter: no, of course she will... got interleaved wrong there
Peter: I'm sure you will too. The olympics are over, what, tomorrow?
Me: I will, but not by the end of the olympics.
Me: tomorrow i am going to stay home and finish as much as i can though. should be able to get the body pieces to the blocking stage but i haven't started the sleeves yet.
Peter: well, i don't mind if you have to knit constantly until midnight sunday
Me: as if
Peter: no really
Me: i don't have to finish for the olympics. I'm young, I'll train hard for four years and come back fighting
Peter: I mean, what's more important, me or knitting?
Me: knitting doesn't give me as many great orgasms
Peter: it's a good thing, considering all the places you'll do it
Ahem. That's probably enough sharing. For one day.
So. Peter will be here tomorrow. Exciting things are afoot in the studio in the next few weeks; those plates will be ready to print soon, I've got a few new letterpress projects in the works, and my silkscreens arrived!
Also, because I've got deadlines slapping and scratching at each other all trying to get at me first, I spent some of my precious time this afternoon putting all of my badges and stuff into my new etsy shop. Check it out! And I promise, in a couple of weeks there will be t-shirts. Really this time.
February 22, 2006
No time to write. But here are some pictures.
I love the shaky line quality you can get by laying an image on the Wacom tablet and tracing it. This is for a letterpress/book project I'm working on; I'll be transferring this image (and a whole lot that look just like it) onto a photopolymer plate in order to print it on the letterpress, but first I have to redraw it with a larger pencil width, because I'm shrinking the images down tiny and right now the lines are way too fine. The good news is all flaws in the drawing disappear at the final size. Yeah!
After a long night slaving over a hot nitric bath, I have this, among other things:
I know it doesn't look like much has changed but there's a lot more on this plate now than there was. I etched some hatchy-marks in the darkest shadow areas; next is to put in some more for the less dark shadows, then put lots more false bite and plate tone over the whole thing. I pulled a proof yesterday (before adding these marks) and the lines were pretty wimpy, but they're deeper now. Way deeper.
And here's a little teaser of things to come: this landed in my mailbox yesterday.
Six skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in the black watch colourway. What's it for? Can't tell, it's sooooper seeeekrit. But I promise, after April I'll have lots of non-secret stuff to show you. Pinky swear.
February 20, 2006
More naked ladies (okay, just one)
This is a digital printout of one of the photos I used for my new steel etchings, the same image you can see coming out of the Epson printer in Saturday's entry. I didn't alter the image at all, just used the printer preset for silkscreen positives, resulting in a high contrast, solid black image. I'm going to print the steel plate on top of this, just as soon as I figure out what sort of fixative I need to use to prevent the inkjet ink from washing out of the paper when I soak it.
I'm trying to be more honest with the self portraits, and my hope is that having the photograph underneath will prevent me from over-stylizing the figure (as is my tendency, especially while drawing), and keep me focused on what I want to show: the flab, the wrinkles, the visible veins, the stretch marks. My age.
Speaking of age, and at risk of making this a habit, I'd like to wish a happy 65th birthday to the lovely and inspirational Buffy Sainte-Marie, one of my very first girl-crushes ever. Sorry, Buffy, that I didn't have time to make myself a t-shirt with your picture on it to wear today. Instead I'll risk getting sued by posting a stolen picture; look how cute Buffy was. Admit it, you had a crush on her too.
Also: Go Team Canada! Woowoo!! It would be nice if the Canadian women's hockey team had some real Olympic-level competition. But still, it's nice to be the best in the world.
February 19, 2006
Here are the boring pictures of plates in acid I promised. Because I know you were on the edge of your seats waiting for them.
We were led to believe that this would be a lot messier than it turned out to be; I was expecting the acid bath to turn orange and scuzzy and it never did, at least not yet. Oddly enough, when I dropped the cleaned-off plate into the bath for a 30-second flash (to give it a little bit of plate tone, since the steel we bought was polished) the haze coming off the surface of the steel was olive green, and when I pulled the plate out a cloud of olive green poured off of it. Then two minutes later I looked over at the acid bath and it was crystal clear, with no trace of green scunge. Weird.
The flash bite was really uneven for some reason (maybe I didn't degrease the plate well enough?) but I don't think it'll print; I wouldn't mind if some of it did though, since the metal seemed to oxidize differently (or more) in areas that pooled around some of my linework. Sorry I didn't get a picture of that, since I know that endless photos of pieces of metal with barely discernable differences between them are the most exciting thing ever.
I'm putting them aside until Tuesday to pull proofs; right now it's just the linework and some minimal false bite, so don't get too excited waiting for the photos. I want to print them like this though, because I'm not really one to fuss for weeks over getting a plate perfect before printing; I'd rather start some prints and then layer more drops on them as I alter the plate. Already with this big woodcut I'm wanking around forever on the matrix before making it to the press, and I need some instant gratification here. I used to turn to litho for that but right now I still hate the freaking Takach press too much. And two of my colleagues have confirmed my suspicion that our pressbed is uneven, so I'm not sure if I have the heart to do any stone litho here. I'd go over to the undergrad studio and print there, but. That's a long way to haul my stone (on the bus?).
The spray paint I used to protect the back of the plate didn't do such a great job. But it sure was pretty.
I also put some of these old zinc plates in the acid for a while:
There are five plates that make up the whole figure. I'm trying to do a nice deep open bite on some heavily textured reclaimed plates (discarded by undergrads back in Windsor), and didn't have a lot of success except for on this plate here. The others have too much open area, and I'm going to have to throw them in one at a time and leave them there for many more hours. Later.
February 18, 2006
Studio Saturday: something new
Jessica and I ordered some steel plates to etch, because they are way cheaper than zinc or copper. I've never etched steel before but I've heard it's pretty gross and messy; we're going over to the undergrad studio tomorrow to mix up a nitric bath (which will be marked "grads only", although I doubt anyone would want to use it once we've filled it up with rust and gunk from the steel) and to etch these bad girls. I'm starting with some simple line drawings taken from some photos I shot last night; keeping it minimal because I plan to use these plates more than once and keep etching them until they fall apart.
Printing out nekkid pictures of myself on the big Epson printer. This printer is really slow, so here's what I did while I waited:
One of the plates:
More tomorrow, after we etch.
February 15, 2006
An endeavour of Olympic proportions
Here's a peek of my Olympic knitting progress so far. I've obviously got to speed up; at this rate I may not make it past the qualifying rounds. But I have to get it finished, so I will. I'll have some time to knit in class tonight. That thing underneath it is a mushy valentine card that came in the mail yesterday from my sweet mom.
Today I made some butter tarts for the printmaking exhibition reception tonight (which happens at the same time as my 3-hour class, argh):
Note my half-assed fluting. I'm not so good with the pretty, but I've got the tasty down and that's what counts. It's only going to be art students and faculty at this reception, and they don't care what the food looks like just so long as there's food. Right?
The stray cat of the compound (I call her Mister Bunny but since it looks like the guys across from me have taken her in, I'm sure she has some other name as well) came in to visit for a while this morning, and made herself right at home. Here she is getting up on the bedside table to knock down my plush Canada goose.
Thank goodness she finally left. That girl is high maintenance.
February 14, 2006
I'm not really one to celebrate fake "holidays" that are designed to sell stupid crap, to make those who don't want to buy into the crap feel guilty and cheap, and to gender-bash me at the same time (how come there aren't any ads telling me that I should buy HIM jewellery? How come there aren't any ads telling him to buy me a power washer?) but still, finding this on my studio door today made me happy.
A plush long-stemmed rose and two supercool printed cards from Audrey. I think I'll write a letter to my gramma on one of the cards (the one that doesn't have frilly underpants on it).
Because I'm supposed to be knitting something else, of course Spike is finished.
I did this at a smaller gauge than the original, resulting in a shorter, narrower scarf (it looks in the pattern photos like Mandy's wraps around her neck several times, while mine only wraps once). My spikes aren't as spiky as hers either, I think partly because of my smaller gauge and partly because I blocked it on a towel on the floor and the towel wanted to pull in, so there wasn't as much pressure on the points as there should have been. I'm pretty happy with the way it looks (and feels!) though, and if I decide I want it spikier I'll block it again, this time on the mattress.
The yarn is Claudia's handspun cashmere, and I didn't take it off all day. So. soft. I still have a bit left, so I need to think of something small I can make that will go against my skin. Either that or just rub it all over myself and moan "oooh, cashmeeeeere" like the lady in the toilet paper commercial.
Spike was a super easy and gratifying project, after I got past the second row, where EIGHT TIMES I discovered that I'd increased where I should have decreased or decreased where I should have increased in the first row and had to rip out and cast on again three hundred and fifty stitches. Did I mention, eight times? That is 2800 stitches cast on, people. And actually it might have been more than eight times, I seem to have blocked out some of those memories. But that was just me being careless, and it's a perfect, gorgeous pattern and I want to make three more. All for me.
My olympic project is progressing nicely after a few false starts; expect some artfully obscured photos tomorrow. I started it at Hockey Mom's over the weekend, but decided that Spike was a better project for the hockey arena and the family birthday party that followed, since my sweater design is something I actually have to pay attention to (and not spill hockey arena hot chocolate on in a fit of cheering*). So I got off to a late start with the sweater but was able to spend three hours of class time on it today while sitting through a demo on pamphlet-stitch bookbinding (I thought about begging off this demo on the grounds that it's something I've taught a jillion times, but decided to hang out anyway, and several inches got completed).
*don't worry, I didn't spill chocolate on Spike. I just knew that if I took the sweater to a hockey game, I WOULD spill the chocolate. Speaking of which, some of you devoted readers may recall my little obsession with hockey arena hot chocolate. Well, a few weeks ago I discovered that the main art building has one of those machines in the basement! (although it doesn't dispense soup). So I've been getting a teensy cup of slightly salty, watery hot chocolate before each Thursday night's aesthetics class, and sipping it reminds me of Canada, and the sweet smell of zamboni fuel, and young lust. Aah.
Self portrait tuesday - love to love you, baby
I have a love/hate relationship with my love handles; they've gotten bigger than ever since moving down south, despite the hills and extra walking. I'm still torn about whether I need to think about working to banish them, or whether I should just let them be. We've been together so long, it'd be a shame to break it off now.
February 11, 2006
If this milestone is actually going to get global media attention, then please, let it be santorum
From today's Globe and Mail:
Spreading the (English) word
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
It's a mighty milestone for something that's 1,500 years old and shows no sign of old age. Some time this year, the English language will gain its millionth word.
At least that's the calculation of Paul Payack, a Harvard-educated executive and language lover who says English has reached precisely 986,120 words and counting.
What will the millionth word be? Not bling-bling (flashy jewellery) or CrackBerry (nickname of the addictive BlackBerry), not podcast (a Web feed) or misunderestimate (a malapropism from U.S. President George W. Bush). Those terms, though all relatively new, have already become fixtures in the ever-expanding English lexicon.
Instead, the millionth entry will come from the flood of new words entering the English language. Perhaps it will be a word in Chinglish (a Chinese-English hybrid) or Hinglish (Hindi-English), from hip-hop or Web jargon, in any of the myriad new expressions that explain why English is the global powerhouse it is today. . .
Studio Saturday : exhausted, and spending a few days thinking about anything but the studio
1. Most of my week was spent working on some letterpress projects that had to be done by Thursday, and the grad print class spent two afternoons over in the gallery critiquing our show. Jessica and I were up until 3 on Tuesday night trying to get the @#$%^&* Epson printer to work properly for us (and I had to get up at 6 the next morning to get on the Vandercook to print my text). Gah. Some images of the letterpress stuff are over on my flickr page, but I'm just too lazy right now to upload them here.
Here is the recipe for butter tarts that I promised you ages ago and then forgot about. It's the one my mom always makes, and comes from the Five Roses Cookbook. I guess I'm probably not supposed to publish a recipe from a book, but I like to live on the edge. Heh.
Prize Butter Tarts (Five Roses Cookbook Edition 24)
1 pastry recipe
1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup raisins, currants or chopped pecans (optional; my mom often leaves them plain and they're fantastic that way, and I've never tried a butter tart with currants. It sounds gross, though)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Put pastry in tart pan.
Mix all ingredients together, fill tart shells 2/3 full. Bake in a hot oven (450) for 8 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until pastry is delicately brown.
And that's it! Butter tarts are pretty similar to pecan pie, but are way better without the pecans. Also, because they're small you get a much nicer ratio of crust to filling. You could also try them with maple syrup if you want to ramp up the Canadianness a little. Mmm!
I'm using the handspun cashmere that Claudia sent me last spring, with some bits of Kool-Aid dyed recycled lambswool as accents. This yarn is so soft and so lovely; when I had the first half of the scarf off the needles I wore it around the house for a while and I can't believe the feeling of it around my neck. When Peter first felt the yarn he suggested making underpants, and although I still think that's kind of silly, I also sort of wish I had made underpants now that I know what cashmere feels like against skin. Um, sorry. TMI.
4. I've started dividing up my huge stash of badges into sets of four and photographing them, and as soon as I hit "post" here I'll be uploading them onto flickr, as well as some shrink plastic bracelets and hair pins. We're still working on banging out the shop pages, so for the time being I'll put merchandise up on flickr so people can e-mail me to purchase; I accept paypal, but am willing to make other arrangements as well. Also, for those of you still patiently waiting for the shirts, I'm ordering some new silkscreens this week. So there really WILL be shirts here, and soon.
5. My evil plan to convert everyone I know to the dark side is chugging along at a marvelous pace. I'm teaching some of my colleagues to knit, and we've started meeting up and knitting at Hot Corner on Monday nights. Apparently there are some people who knit on Mondays around the corner at the Manhattan, and we'd only been meeting for three weeks when someone from that group said to someone from our group, "oh, you're one of the Hot Corner knitters". How they knew about us I haven't a clue, but it might be fun to start up a rivalry. We're going to need to get matching bowling shirts, and a logo. Heh. All will be assimilated! So if you're in or around Athens Georgia, come knit with us, Monday nights around 7-7:30 at Hot Corner. You know you want to.
Here's Jenn last week, wearing her newly finished scarf:
And Euni had only known how to knit for about twenty minutes when the photo was taken; look at her hands fly! She's one of those fibre people who can do anything, so I'm sure she'll be putting me to shame in no time.
6. There is olive bread in the oven, nearly done. The smell in this apartment right now is divine.
February 10, 2006
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and centre yourself.
Today was my first stress-free day in three weeks. I've been working my arse off, meeting deadlines and finishing projects and getting ready for an exhibition we only found out about at the last minute and then installing it and staying up all night and attending lectures and trying to keep up with the readings for my two night classes. And in the middle of all that, the loss of my Fat Boy was a terrible blow, right when I was least equipped to handle it. I wanted to write back and individually thank everyone who left me a comforting comment about losing Pickle, but I can't; this is the first chance I've had to spend the time to do it and it turns out it's just too emotionally draining. But I want you all to know that it did give me comfort; thank you.
It was a real shock for me, not only because there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him, but because I had been mentally bracing myself to lose his sister Benny (aka Fat Girl). Despite our efforts to help her lose weight she's only become more obese, so much so that it's sometimes difficult for her to go up and down the stairs (she goes down them with her back feet hopping together like a rabbit's would, rather than one after the other like a cat's normally do). So I was not expecting her to live until I'm finished school, and was worrying about how he would cope with her loss. Instead, she's having to cope with his, but it's for the best, I think; Fat Girl's much more independant and I think she'll get by alone better than Fat Boy would have. Peter says she seems okay.
I had a surprise in the mail this week that was excellently timed: Anna sent me some fabric she knew I liked
and some wool:
I have a thing for little boys' underpants (not THAT kind of thing!), the fabrics are always so cute, and I wish I could get them in my size. This is stretch jersey with little cars all over it and the message "are we there yet?". I'm going to make myself some underpants and a matching bra with it, and it's going to be supercute. I already have some ideas for what to do with the yarn as well, but for now I'll be setting it aside until the paying knitting jobs are all done.
Anna also included some little worry dolls because I am so obviously uberstressed right now. Thanks Anna! Your gift cheered me up right when I needed it, on a really, really bad day.
The weekend is definitely looking up. Today I had no obligations, and I slept for a whopping ten hours (minus the hour or so that I always lie awake around 4 am, something that happens even at times in my life when I'm not a giant walking ball of stress). I've got a lot of sleep debt to pay off, and expect I'll be making a few more payments in the next couple of nights. Tomorrow I'm going out to Hockey Mom's place, where I'm going to sit on my arse on a comfy couch and work on my Knitting Olympics entry, eat and drink and socialize and NOT worry and NOT scramble to get something done and NOT deprive myself of sleep in order to read stuff that is going in one ear and out the other right now anyway. Then Sunday we're going to a hockey game and having a little birthday party afterwards. And getting out of Athens for a night is going to feel SO good.
Spotted while going out for food between classes yesterday:
The merchandising of this university's logo goes way, way too far.
February 09, 2006
Tonight, we're gettin' stinko
Happy 70th birthday, Stompin' Tom Connors!
February 07, 2006
Self portrait tuesday - first tattoo
The stories I never told my mother will all come out, in the end.
This was my first tattoo. It's two little wonky circles of tiny blue dots, done the jailhouse way with a sewing needle and india ink. I was sixteen and drunk, but still sober enough to stop the person who was tattooing me when I realized he intended to write his name rather than drawing the daisy I had requested. I don't even know who that guy was, and shudder to think that I could have had his name next to my love handle forever. I think it started with a "B", but who knows?
It's just a little souvenir of my stupid, stupid youth, and something I don't usually show people. But qpaukl, who did my fourth, fifth and sixth "real" tattoos (or my fifth, sixth and seventh if you consider this blurry little blob to be my first) said it was a great story. It might be a great story but it's a pretty gross tattoo.
February 06, 2006
Unilabial would be sort of scary, wouldn't it?
I spotted this half-an-index-card on the floor of the bus this morning; this is the recto side. The verso side:
It says: voiceless, bilabial, stop
I've decided to take photos and leave things where I found them instead of picking them up all the time, because I've got too much garbage in my life already, and I think it's a more interesting project to work on getting over my self-consciousness at letting people see me pull out the camera and take photos of things like bits of paper on the bus floor.
I want so badly for it to snow. When NPR says "winter storm watch for Northern Georgia", does that include Athens? They really aren't very specific. They don't even tell you the fucking time in the morning, ever, which is yet another example of how badly NPR sucks out loud. The CBC will tell you the time every five or ten minutes, because they know that people are listening in the car and need to know whether they have time to stop in at Tim's or whether that will make them LATE. Here, time is an illusion. As is snow.
It was four degrees celcius this morning, which if I were in Canada at this time of year would be a cue for me to run outside in a t-shirt. But because that's the coldest it's been here, I'm bundled up. The forsythia has been blooming for two weeks, there are trees in flower. I want it to SNOW.
February 05, 2006
Great women, gone
People lined the blocks by the thousands last night to pay respects to Coretta Scott King.
And today I awoke to read that Betty Friedan has died (go to www.bugmenot.com for a login to access the New York Times article).
Thank you Coretta, and thank you Betty, for working so hard to move us closer to the sort of world I hope to someday live in.
February 04, 2006
Studio Saturday: late at night, so tired
I am so, so tired. Last night was the first night in weeks that I've been able to stay in bed more than six hours, and although I didn't sleep all that well for some of it, still it felt glorious to lie in bed for nine hours straight. I didn't end up going to the Hold Steady show (sorry, Cari!) because I had a migraine coming on and was just too exhausted to go out; while I'm sorry I didn't get to see them, I needed the early(ish) night. Tonight was another late night; we went to the international market in Dekalb, where I found lots of treats that are either impossible to find in Athens or a pain in the arse to get to without a car (sumac! besan flour! tamarind! edamame! and yes. . . middle eastern pita bread!!). I was so excited about the sumac in particular that I tried to get a mosh pit going in the spice section, but the first guy I bounced off didn't seem all that into it so I gave up. Then we went to Eyedrum for Audrey, Danielle and Erin's show, some photos of which I'll upload tomorrow morning.
I'm very grateful for this ability to falsely backdate posts, because it means you can drag your arse in the door four minutes into Sunday and fiddle with the dates, and everyone will think you posted on Saturday like you promised to. Unless you tell them.
Here's the current state of last week's piece, finished just in time to install for our spring print show. You can see a few crappy installation shots over at my flickr page, along with some of the other printmaking graduate work.
Now, off to bed, and I'm leaving the alarm unset and allowing myself to sleep in a little before heading in to the studio tomorrow. I've got a far less hectic week ahead than the last two have been, and I'm looking forward to spending some time doing the work I've been putting off.
February 02, 2006
A bloggers (silent) poetry reading
A fantastic idea from Grace's Poppies (I found out about it via Rabbitch and Stephanie), and a much better way to honour St Brigid's feast day than attempting to divine the future through the movements of rodents.
from Zone: le Détroit
after Stan Douglas
Breathing yellow air
here, at the heart of the dream
of the new world,
the bones of old horses and dead Indians
and lush virgin land, dripping with fruit
and the promise of wheat,
overlaid with glass and steel
and the dream of speed:
all these our bodies
crushed to appease
the 400 & 1 gods
of the Superhighway,
Nafta, we worship you,
hallowed be your name,
here, where we are scattered
like dust or rain in ditches,
the ghosts of passenger pigeons
clouding the silver towered sky,
the future clogged in the arteries
of the potholed city,
Tecumseh, come back to us
from your green grave,
sing us your song of bravery
on the lit bridge over the black river,
splayed with grief over the loss
of its ancient rainbow coloured
fish swollen joy.
Who shall be fisher king
over this poisoned country,
whose borders have become
blowing the world to bits
with cars & cars & trucks & electricity & cars,
who will cover our splintered
bones with earth and blood,
who will sing us back into -
See how there's no one going to Windsor,
only everyone coming from?
Maybe they've been evacuated,
maybe there's nuclear war,
maybe when we get there we'll be the only ones.
See all those trucks coming toward us,
why else would there be rush hour on the 401
on a Thursday at 9 o'clock in the evening?
I counted 200 trucks and 300 cars
and that's just since London.
See that strange light in the sky over Detroit,
see how dark it is over Windsor?
You know how people keep disappearing,
you know all those babies born with deformities,
you know how organ thieves follow tourists
on the highway and grab them at night
on the motel turnoffs,
you know they're staging those big highway accidents
to increase the number of organ donors?
My brother knew one of the guys paid to do it,
$100,000. for 20 bodies
but only if the livers are good.
See that car that's been following us for the last hour,
see the pink glow of its headlights in the mirror?
That's how you know.
Maybe we should turn around,
maybe we should duck so they can't see us,
maybe it's too late,
maybe we're already dead,
maybe the war is over,
maybe we're the only ones alive.
Thank you all for your kind, kind words about my beloved Fat Boy. I will respond, but right now I don't know what to say, and the pain is too fresh.
February 01, 2006
Goodnight, sweet boy
My beautiful boy died today.
I took this picture of him when I was at home over the holiday; it's not a very good one, but it's the last.
There was nothing (apparent) wrong with him, except that he was almost thirteen. Aside from having lost a little weight (very little, and only because we've had them on the old-fart diet food since I left in the summer) he was fine. Peter was out of town, and poor Dylan found him lying in the hallway and buried him. Thank you, Dylan. I wish you hadn't had to do that by yourself.
Ghod, I fucking wish I was at home right now.
Jae, I was going to answer the meme you tagged me with tonight. In fact, I was halfway through writing it when Peter called. I am going to leave it until next week, now.