Monday, September 21, 2009

The Man Behind the Masks

My mounting mask madness is coming along quite nicely, thank you. I have about half of them shaped and hope to do the rest today ( as soon as I stop this silly blogging nonsense, that is). I have attached a pic of the first batch. Take a look and let me know if you are looking for something special to spice up your Halloween. I can hold one aside or make an extra spifftacular custom one for you. Ciao for now!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I'm surrounded by stacks of journals parts, straps, thongs (no, not that kind... I mean leather cords) and masks-to-be. A fine coating of leather dust is covering most of my clothing and my hands and fingers ache to beat the band.
I've been accepted to my first juried craft show. Actually, I was invited to two shows last year but was unable to make it to either of them. This one is in Quechee Gorge, VT and I'm going for it. That means inventory, a booth, and presentation materials... Oy vey!
I am shooting for sixty-five journals, which is about five times what I've ever had on hand at one time. I also planned on making a dozen masks but I laid out and cut 32 of them this morning so I'm guessing that I'll probably end up with considerably more than planned.
Taking a break to watch my son's ballgame then back to the salt mines. Stay tuned for More of Craft Fair Crunch '09... the legend begins...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Phantom Limb

So my desktop is down. My reliable, dependable workhorse is flickering and freezing up at the startup screen. I find myself constantly looking at the empty screen and I've caught myself sitting down at my desk chair to check email more than once. There is a gaping hole in my rolltop desk where the machine used to be... there are wires trailing like nerve ends and a stray back-up drive like some sad leftover internal organ. The whole thing is rather depressing and pathetic.

The limb is gone, the doctor has said so, but I still feel the itch. It will probably be repaired, I made an appointment for someone to look at it, but in the meantime something feels not quite right. Even though I have a laptop and that miracle gadget of the ADHD set, an iPhone, something is still missing.

I pray to the merciful gods of prosthetics that we can rebuild it... stronger... faster... better...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Emotional Hijack

This entry is for all of you ADHD folks out there. So if you're looking for the artsy stuff perhaps you should just move along. HOWEVER, if you are looking for some possible insight into the inner workings of someone you know with ADHD (and you do know some, whether you realize it or not) feel free to read on...

There are (or fortunately for the most part, were) times when I would get REALLY upset about the smallest things. Little stuff would send me through the roof for no particular reason and I would find myself uncontrollably upset or outrageously angry over something that just wasn't worth it. Growing up, I attributed it to my "alien" nature. I'll talk about this more in time, but basically it was the belief that I was some unfortunate freak who just didn't get the hang of "normal" people's thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and so on. I honestly thought I was broken, or was some sort of genetically or spiritually different being... and it sucked.

As I became an adult, and discovered that my brain actually was chemically different than other people's, I began to found out what was really going on. What was happening was a sort of "emotional hijack". My emotional well-being and impulse control was being taken away from me in ways that left me angry, or sad, or desperate, and always confused. It worked like this...

Say for example I got up in the morning and burned my toast. No big, right? Frustrating, but we can set that little thing aside, right? Then a shoelace breaks (no big, set it aside) and we're running late and have to rush to make it to school on time (little stressful there, but it's ok, right?). Little things happen, they always do, and we tell ourselves that they are no big deal and we've let them go. Then all of a sudden that last little thing... we don't let it go... it blows up big-time.

Turns out that I really hadn't let go of all those other things. I was unable to set them aside, and they kept adding to the undercurrent of my day until the tide got high enough to burst open the dam and all the frustrations came pouring through. All logic and reason and self-regulation got swept up in the flood and I was left spiraling out of control.

If any of this sounds familiar, about you or someone you care for, you have my sympathies. It was a damn tough thing to overcome. I'm not sure if "overcome" is really even accurate, I've just taught myself to ride that flood of emotion without being pulled under long enough to wrest control back from the 'jackers...

Like so many coping skills I've had to develop, awareness was the key. Self-awareness and a realization that this flood of emotion isn't really connected to what is actually happening at the moment. Awareness of how to keep things in perspective even when that little voice inside you is callig you an idiot for being so calm.

Deep breath...

So for now, its all good. At least most of the time it is. I try and deal with the droplets before they become the flood and realize, as I so often do, that the voice inside your head doesn't always know what the hell it is talking about.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Asian Cabana Project

For the past two years, my beloved partner Theresa Rose has hosted an end-of-summer pool party at her home. Each year she has picked a theme and made a herculean effort to decorate her pool area to match these themes. Last year it was a beach theme (no big stretch there but you have to start somewhere) and she had a local student come in and paint a mural on her pool cabana of a sort of stick figure "surfer dude". It was nice, it was colorful... but it didn't hold her interest for long.

This year she decided early on that she wanted an Asian theme. She had completed all of the major landscaping (and it was pretty major) around the pool area and now wanted to redesign it to fit her theme. She had ideas and asked me to bring them to life. The pressure was on...

Her ideas involved scroll-like elements, kanji characters, and lots of red, silver, and black. She painted over the existing decorations and we started with a torn scroll-looking element in shades of red on the front wall. Next we created rag roller painted layer of silver to add texture and dimension to the other walls. Then came the fun part...

I began to research kanji characters and created a visual dictionary of dozens of words and phrases for her to choose from. We picked silly and fun things like "Naked man changing" and "Naked woman changing" for the dressing room doors and "Make an effort for pure water" on the pump room. I also designed a scroll that I was going to paint a trompe l'oeil* scroll with "Faith" on its center and real bamboo ends.

To paint the kanji, I made and cut stencils for each character and painted them on with a stencil brush. The scroll was a combination of stenciled kanji and hand-painted branches and blossoms, with the bamboo nailed in place. I used rough twine tied to the top to "hang" the scroll on the wall. I also used some of the leftover bamboo and twine to create door handles.

As a last detail, I took down a series of old stickers that were placed on the plexiglas windscreens surrounding part of the pool area. They were originally put there to keep birds from crashing into the plexi and had been there for decades. Removing them was pretty awful but they were in tough shape and Theresa wanted them gone. Want to remove ancient horrible stickers? Use vegetable oil. It works even better than Goo-gone and is more eco-friendly (yeah, there are answers to many things on the Internet). I replaced the stickers with ones that I designed and had printed through an online vendor. Considering they were one-of-a-kind prints I thought the prices were very reasonable.

All in all the results were pretty good. Theresa added lots of little decorative details, including tiny lanterns made from miniature red and black Chinese take-out boxes. I created templates for a moon and a star and we punched holes through them so the light glowed through holes in the outlined shapes. The party was a wonderful success and although a lot of hard work it was a great project.

What's up for next year? Only time will tell...

Here is the front of the cabana:

The doors to the changing rooms:

A close-up of the kanji (naked woman changing... eek!) and bamboo door handle:

The cherry blossom "Faith" scroll:

The replacement windscreen stickers:

A close-up of one of the stickers. I was pretty pleased with the print results:

* a visual illusion used to trick the eye into thinking a painting is a 3D object.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Brain extractor

OK. So this is where I start this thing. Its funny. Not funny ha-ha but more like funny strange. With all the thoughts that circulate through my head I've never been much of a journal writer. I've done it a few times, and it lasted a while, including a period where I made my own gorgeous (if I say so myself) leather journal and filled its pages on a fairly regular basis. Didn't last long...

So here I am.

Not that I don't have plenty to say. It's all just a matter of getting it written down. There's the rub. So many ways to get things written down these days but I need to actually use them. I got an iPhone for my birthday from my fantastic partner, and that helps quite a bit. I've also got a desktop, laptop, Facebook page, Twitter account, and that leather journal is still hanging around somewhere. Its just a matter of keeping my interest long enough to use them.

So, we come to the idea behind this all... the BRAAAAIN extractor. Somebody's gotta get on the stick here and create a way for me to just upload all these thoughts and ideas. Firewire, 3G network, whatever. Just get the basics down and I'll go back and format and neaten it all up later. Does it work for pictures too?

Why not? While we are at it we may as well go for broke.

But for now I guess I'm stuck with more traditional methods. Can I do it? Of course I can. I'm a bright and well-spoken guy who has decent ideas and can turn a phrase on a dime when he wants to. Will I do it? Ahhhh... that's the part that remains to be seen...