Friday, January 30, 2009

and now, a little hold music

I'm currently working on a film, hense the silence this week.
Well, no, it's not that I'm working that makes the silence happen, the the 12-15 hour night shifts we're pulling. Film is a hard slog.

But it's also fun and filled with amazing images. We were shooting last night in an empty converted warehouse, and I was one of the first to turn up. So I wandered around a little, just to have a look and came across this

It was a sculpture that had fallen from the ceiling. It makes me think of a captured sea monster in a museum, longing to go home.

I've got some cool craft going on, in the short hours between when I'm awake and when I'm off to work, so as soon as it's done there will be sharing galore!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

a weekend of festivities

This weekend the Arts Centre ran New Gold Mountain, a two day festival celebrating the Chinese New Year. There were Chinese food stalls, little market stalls, performances from Whu Shu and Tai Chi groups, dancers, Chinese lions and a craft workshop where you could make Chinese hats and, as it's the Year of the Ox, decorate little Ox shapes to put in the garden.

Guess which activity I was running? As a clue, can I just say how good is it when the main tools of your job is crayons and glue sticks?

Above is a photo of artisans hard at work on construction of their hats.

Left is one of the finished products. I love the angle of this shot, hat and little feet sticking out. There were hundreds (literally hundreds) of children and adult participants over the weekend. We handed out something like 600 Oxen and 800 hats, and we could have had more! We had a constant queue for them all weekend.

Below is the Ox garden, where some people left their Ox once they were done.

It was an awesome weekend and yet another workshop that was heaps of fun to run. Congrats to the Arts Centre for such a fun couple of days!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

more art

I find lots of things on the ground, mostly it's buttons, broken jewellery and playing cards. I found a lot of tiny bones recently when I was at the beach and wandering through a garden and I wanted to make something out of them.

So this is my Missing Presumed Art series.

They're all tiny, the biggest one is the flower in the middle, and that measures around 20cm. The top is The Caged Bird, the middle is The Flower and the bottom is The Dancer. I love the sepia colouring of the pages (both found books as well, one of which is a Chinese Bible) and the fabrics. I'm big on sepia and memories and haunting images. This is the first time I've worked with collage in about 11 years, and I'm really happy with the results.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


So I've been thinking about community for a while now. I'm sort of reading a book called Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam, which talks about the decline of the American community over the past 100 years. How people used to belong to bowling clubs, church groups, fraternal organisations, even libraries, but membership is declining for all these organisations. People don't go out to dinner parties as much anymore, they don't volunteer their time for charities and through this book it seems that the community as a whole are turning inward and becoming less social.

This book was written jsut as the internet was beginning to become common, but it doesn't really focus on it, since it wasn't such a part of life as it is now. I don't quite remember, but I think the author's view of the internet would be that it just increase the pattern of social isolation. I think that was true at the start, that millions of people stayed home and played games rather than went outside in the fresh air and from an outsiders perspective (I wasn't into networking games like so many people I knew) it did appear that it truncated or circumnavigated actual social interaction. Friends I had wouldn't interact much in the real world but would spend all their free time (and take time off work) to raid villages and kill monsters. They'd sort of vaguely talk to the people they were playing with, but I never felt it was the same kind of deeply personal interaction you'd get from grabbing a coffee with a friend. Back then it wasn't treated as much as the communication tool it is now.

But times change, and ten years on I think the internet offers a unique opportunity for community. I've only got one friend who knits, and trying to tell someone who doesn't knit the joy you take in figuring out how to knit boobs is often not as satisfing as telling someone who understands the ins and outs of your hobby and thus understands just how clever you must be feeling right at this moment to have worked it out.

The internet is awesome for this, for finding like minded people in your local area, in your country and right around the world. It's a valuable tool for not only being able to find these people and communicate with them, but you can supplement that contact with meeting in the real world. For instance - I've never been to a Stitch and Bitch, but I think the idea is awesome. Sitting in a room full of people who understand about knitted boobs, chatting, cake, coffee and craft! I'm bowled over by the idea. And with the net I can find them. One around my area is Brown Owls, run by the lovely people at Meet Me At Mikes, which is a study in Community and the Internet in itself.

I've been to craft markets, met crafty people both in person and by email and organised exhibitions with artists from around Australia and the world because of the net.

Back to Bowling Alone. I've been reading the book and I think it has a lot of valid points, but I do think that the community mindset is coming back. I was reading a blog the other day (I have to admit I've forgotten which one) but she was saying that since she discovered etsy she wouldn't buy mass produced items from stores anymore. And we are rediscovering that old fashioned mindset, where you prefer buying from someone you know rather than huge faceless stores where the person behind the counter doesn't know where the stuff comes from and more importantly, doesn't care.

Through etsy, through redbubble, through these online communities, you are once again presented with the ability to talk directly to those making the products. And there's something wonderful about that. I wanted a specific type and colour of hand dyed yarn a while ago, I tried finding someone local but couldn't, so instead I found Yarn or a Tale, we had quite a conversation as I explained to her exactly what I wanted, and it was so beautiful to open up the package when it arrived.

And this is where this whole post is heading... I sold a top hat I'd made years ago the other day to etsy user Nethersphere, and I recieved this convo after the parcel arrived:
OMG OMG OMG it's here! I haven't taken it off all day. It's fantastic and I think it's going to be my new "thing." When people see me, I'll probably be wearing this hat. I'll probably wear it to clubs and wear it while walking in the woods. I'll probably wear it while drawing. Yes, you've made my day/year/life. Thank you!!

How heartwarming is that? And without this slowly growing community something like that, where the person who bought an item can talk to the person who made it was jsut not possible.

I'll leave you with this, which is a photo of the baby yeti in it's new home sent to me by the lovely Shelly, who bought it (Image credit: Photo by Shelly). I love the photo, it's so cute! It's titled "Harry Studying". I think it's great that the baby yeti is bettering itself! I'm not sure what is being studied**, but it's another heartwarming connection from someone halfway around the world who bought something of mine.

The term "Global Village" has been bandied around for years, but we're slowly evolving the Global Village Market, and I think that's wonderful.

I'm all in favour of a return to the community mindset, and I'm doing what I can to further the love.

**Update: Shelly got in touch with me and told me "By the way he's studying a calculus-based physics class called "electricity and light". I think he's working on a Gauss's Law problem in that picture." Thanks Shelly! Wish him luck!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tutorial: 6 steps to an awesome exhibition

This stems from my interview with the great community radio station 3CR.

It's how to curate and organise a well thought out group exhibition, using the internet at almost every stage to facilitate it.

Step one: The idea and the research behind it

Every group exhibition needs a theme, some kind of idea that ties it all together. It's not enough that the artists went to school together, or that they're all the same age. There needs to be something that thematically ties all the work together. Usually that's a subject or topic the artists have all been given to respond to, or to re-show work that has already been created but fits in with the theme. I don't mean to say that you can't make exhibitions with school mates, but just that you shouldn't make that the only thing that ties the work together.

Once you have what you consider a killer idea (after having discarded a bunch of not-so killer ideas) you need to research it (this is where the net comes in!) Research will help solidify it in your mind as well as making you aware of what other work is out there. It'd be a shame to come up with an awesome idea and put in all the work only for someone to tell you on opening night that the exact same idea was done 6 months ago in a gallery down the road. You might also want to research how other people have worked with your idea. For instance, when I was still formulating Totem: Dolls with Souls, which was an exhibition of internal self portrait dolls I curated in 2008, I did months of research on self portraits, dolls and craft in general so I would know what I was talking about when asked questions by artists. It also allowed me to understand the huge range of craft and dolls out there, which enabled me to broaden my understanding of the term 'doll' and thus of the kinds of work the artists submitted.

It also helps to talk to other artists you know about your idea and gather their feedback. Again, I use the web and networking sites (my blog and LJ) to ask people questions. Basically you're doing market research on your idea. If you think you have the idea to end all ideas, the olympic gold of exhibition ideas and everyone you ask looks at you weirdly or politely excuses themselves from the conversation you need to have another think about your idea. However just because someone you ask thinks it's not a winner doesn't mean it's not. Weigh carefully the advice you're given and keep seeking opinions until you feel you have enough.

You'll also need a killer title. Something clever, memorable and again, fits into your topic. Google it as well, to ensure that it hasn't been used recently for the same thing in your state. No point having the perfect title if everyone acquaints it with a theatre show that was performed 3 months ago across town.

Step Two: The Venue and the Artist Callout
Once you have the perfect idea and the perfect title, you need to start approaching galleries. Artist run galleries are easy to find, do a google search for ones in your town. Pick one that suits your exhibition and budget and apply. Getting a gallery isn't that scary, most have their own websites and a form to fill in to apply. Some will ask for bios and photos of work of artists participating in the show, so this step needs to be done in coordination with the Artist Callout.

You should start an artist callout slowly until you have the gallery. Talk to your artist friends, and gather interest. For Totem, I emailed a number of artist friends and had them on board (with their bios and photos of their work) which I could then take to the venue.

However it doesn't have to be a gallery. It can be a pub, cafe, empty building, anything you can find. Found spaces can make incredibly interesting venues, and can often turn out cheaper.

Once you have the venue, start putting the callout everywhere.

There's a number of theories on how far away from the show itself you should talk to artists. If you talk to them 12 months out, they'll have forgotten they said yes when it comes time to the exhibition. If you ask them 2 weeks out, they're not going to have time to create anything for you.

I usually start about 4 months out, and try to have my quota of artists half or mostly filled by 3 months out.

The quota of artists is a really important number. Stand in your gallery space and decide how many works you can put in it. This will depend on what sort of work you're seeking. If you want huge photos or paintings you're obviously going to be able to fit less work in the gallery than if you were asking for tiny works. Then decide how many artists that means (if you are asking for only one work by each artist or 2 or 3, etc.) For Totem, I decided that I needed 100 dolls to fill the space, so I needed around 100 artists. But if this is your first exhibition, go with a MUCH smaller quota. 100 artists almost killed me, and I've done this before :) My first exhibition was 8 artists, my second was 3. These are good amounts to start with.

Now write your Callout. Explain in detail what you're doing, where it will be and what you're looking for. You can add a little about yourself if you like, to let people know who you are. Add an email address as a contact detail, but I wouldn't advise you to put a mobile number or any other form of contact details on it. Remember that this, like anything you put on the net, could end up anywhere and with anyone. At the bottom of an artist callout I always write "Feel free to forward this onto anyone you think might be interested." That way if it captures people's attention, they'll start doing your work for you. Also write a closing date for submissions to ensure that people won't be contacting you three years down the track asking to participate.

Finding artists isn't as hard as you might think. Start with people you know. Then look online. Seek local artists on etsy (craft), deviant art (art and photography), redbubble (photography), blogs and the like. Blogs are really useful, often you'll find that on someone's blog will be a list of other blogs, and usually a number of these will be in the same town. Remember to stick to your artist quota, so if you only need 10 artists, you'll only need to approach maybe 40 people.

If you already have all your artists, then obviously you don't need this part. For artists you don't know, expect a drop out rate of about 1 in 5, IE for every 5 artists who originally say yes to being a part of your exhibition, 1 will drop out or you'll never hear from again.

A good tip for working with artists you don't know is once they've said yes, get them to fill in a form. This might sound a little silly, but make up a form with their name, address, mobile and email, artwork title, price, media and dimensions. You can't rely on the fact that the name on someone's email account is their real or preferred name. I had an artist who's email name was something like Andrea Harold and her email address was andreaharold@..., so I assumed her name was Andrea Harold. At the opening of the show she came over to me and quietly told me that her name was Andrea and her husband's name was Harold, and she told me her surname, which I'd never seen before. She and her friends thought it was hilarious (which I was eternally grateful for) but it does serve to illustrate my point. Had I got everyone to fill out a form, then it wouldn't have happened and it would have been a little less embarrassing for me :)

Step Three: Timeline and keeping in touch with your artists
Ensure you have written a timeline, and then stick to it. A time line could look like this:
Four months out: Start Callout
Three months out: fulfill most of the artist quota
Two months out: have fliers and posters printed and ready
One month out: Submissions closed. Send out Press release.
Two weeks out: organise opening night
Three days out: Installation
Show Duration: Four weeks
Four weeks and one day: Bump Out of work

The timeline is really important. You can find a great one here at Craft Victoria. You also need to keep in touch with your artists. I send out an email to all the artists at least once a month. This does two things. One, it's valuable to be able to let them know about updates and news, what's going on with the show, how it's all progressing, media interest you might have received, that sort of thing. I find that updates are particularly important for interstate or overseas artists who will not know the local goings on of the art world. The other, and some might say more valuable thing, is that it keeps them feeling remembered and loved and IT REMINDS THEM THEY'RE IN AN EXHIBITION! You'd be amazed how many artists will say Yes to a show and then totally forget about it. Imagine if you have lined up 10 artists for a show, put in all the hard work with publicity and then on Installation day not one of them turns up. So an email a month reminds everyone they're still in the game.

Something awesome that happened during the run up to Totem was that the participating artists photographed their finished dolls and posted them on their blogs and flickr sites. Google has an Alert function ( where you can type in a phrase and it will email you every time it finds it. So I created a "Dolls with Souls" alert and an "Omnific Assembly" alert (the name I curate exhibitions under). Every couple of days it found another Totem doll on a website, blog or flickr and would let me know about it. It was like finding little gifts all over the website. It was also useful to find where people were talking about the exhibition and what they were saying!

Also make sure you know what kind of art they're going to submit. A framed piece that will hang on the wall is easy to install. A sculptural 3d piece will need some kind of plinth/table/stack of boxes/ something to hold it off the floor, unless it's supposed to be on the floor! Make sure you talk to your artists and find out how they envision their art in the venue. Sometimes you might need to negotiate if what they want isn't doable, but remember to try to be as flexible as possible, after all this is a collaboration between you and them, not a dictatorship!

If you do need plinths, make sure you talk to the gallery. Most galleries don't have many (or any) plinths, so you might find you need to supply your own. Don't fret though, they don't have to be the traditional wooden box painted white. For an exhibition about a carnival, we had sculptural pieces sitting on piles of suitcases, to tie in with the theme. Think laterally, you can probably come up wit something you can use.

Also check with the venue what they provide for installation. Will they give you screws/nails/picture hooks/ wire/ tools or do you have to provide your own? This is important to know before the installation day.

Step Four: Publicity, Media Releases and Fliers
I've already covered Publicity in another post (How to Publicise Your Event or Exhibition) but I'll recover it quickly here. You'll need a press release for the show, and a couple of good publicity shots. Sometimes your gallery will do this, but you might want to do one of your own, or ask for a copy and send it out to all your contacts too. You should send this out a month before the show opens to as many email addresses as you can find. Gather your local papers, community papers, street press, art mags etc and get the contact details from them. You'll have the start of a good media list. Add in as many radio and TV station producers as you can find on the net and you're well on your way. You'll also need fliers to hand and email people. Find someone with a bit of graphic design experience and get them to build you one. You need on the flier:
Title of show
Opening times
Opening night (if there is one)
What sort of show (if it isn't easily apparent)
and entry fee if there is one.

The really important thing is to give people enough information so that they can find your exhibition. No point holding a party if no one shows up. I can't emphasis that enough. Make is as EASY as possible for people who want to turn up to be able to. Otherwise only the really dedicated ones will turn up.

Email copies to all the artists with a little blurb about the show and ask them to forward it on. Send it to all your contacts with the same request. Post it on your blog, website, facebook, everywhere you can find.

Take the hard copies and distribute them in cafes around the venue and then places like Brunswick St, Sydney Rd, all the funky places people who might want to come to your show frequent. Always ask the staff's permission to put them down, and only put down around 5-10. Otherwise it's just a waste of paper.

Step five: Installation
The installation process is really important. It's not a matter of slapping the art up on the walls as they come in and going home for dinner. Depending on how much time you have to install the show (some galleries will give you a weekend, some might give you a day) try to ensure that either you have all the art delivered to you in the week leading up to the show, or if you don't have room to store it or there's too much (or too big) try to ensure that everyone turns up in the morning and deliver their work. It's good if you have some idea what you're getting before the installation day, some artists are happy to email you photos of the work once it's done or at least give you a rough idea of the dimensions and how it'll look. That way you can start planning where all the work will go before the day. Installation day is going to be long and stressful, have no doubt. So the easier you can make it the less gray hair you'll have by the time you go home that night.

Once you have all or at least most of the work, start placing it vaguely where you think it's going to go. Lean the framed stuff against the wall where you want it. Place any sculptural items on the floor where you think it might go. Remember to leave spaces for the art that inevitably hasn't turned up yet. Grab a scrap of paper and write the artist's name and/or art title and put it where you envision the work might go.

Once you've laid it all out, take a walk around the space. If you think about each piece as a fragment of the whole and each curated exhibition as an artwork in itself, that'll help with the layout. For example if you have two tiny pieces on one wall and two huge ones on the opposite wall, it's going to look unbalanced. Try to space them all out logically with reference to size, subject and even colour and texture. Something else to think about is what can be seen from the street. Try to pick some of the most visually engaging or bigger work to go where people on the street can see it, that'll help entice people into the gallery. It doesn't mean that small work is less important to the show, but remember the layout isn't a popularity contest, it's about trying to envision the show as a whole and do what's best for the exhibition.

If you are showing at a gallery, the gallery owner or staff might be there to help install, but it's always good to have someone of yours there to help you. Ask a reliable friend or artist to help. Sometimes artists will volunteer, which is great but ensure they understand that the final decision where work goes rests with you. Some artists won't agree with the curatorial choices you have made as to where to place each work. Listen, but be firm. If you feel what they suggest is better than your idea, then change stuff around. But if you think you have made the correct decision, stand firm. Sometimes artists arn't seeing the bigger picture when they suggest that their work should be in the front window rather than someone else's.

You'll also need to organise a catoloug of artists, titles and prices and number all the work. Sometimes there's space for an artistic statement on that too.

Step six: The opening night
Opening nights are important. They're like a welcoming party for the show, and the celebration allows the exhibition to feel officially started. If you're holding the show in a gallery, they might supply food and or drink. This is going to assume that you're doing it all yourself. If you're holding your exhibition in a cafe, you'll have to talk to the owners and see what they are interested in you doing.

I usually do drinks but not food - it's too much for one person to organise. If you're serving drinks, it's good to have a accredited bar tender doing the booze. That's not as hard as it sounds, ask around your friends. I've got a number of friends who work in bars or licensed cafes who have done the Responsible Serving of Alcohol certificate. You can give the drinks away for free (to over 18s) but it becomes more grey when you're selling it. I've never sold drinks at an opening, so I'd advise looking into it. The venue should also have a alcohol serving license if you're going to do alcohol. Remember to have non-alcoholic drinks on hand too, for people who don't drink, and for under 18s.

It's good to have someone to officially open the show. It can be another artist who can speak on the media or subject matter, it could be your local politician, it could be an old teacher/lecturer or even a performer. I've had a science comedian open an exhibition about monsters with a short lecture on cryptozoology (the study of monsters), I've had burlesque performers at the opening of a burlesque exhibition and I've had a poet, singer and comedy lecture at the opening of an exhibition that included a zine and CD.

Try to think laterally about what you could have at the opening. It's going to be when the most people come and see your work, and you want to make it fun and interesting for them. Exhibition openings are about inviting everyone you can to come and see the awesome art you guys have made. It'd be great to get a couple of sales too, but really, at this stage of your artistic career, it's mainly about introducing yourself and your art to the public. So an opening is actually a really important part of the show.

People won't really come for the guest talking, they'll come for the art and whatever else you can offer them. For the aforementioned carnival exhibition we organised a ice cream and fairy floss van to be outside, so people could have ice creams, fairy floss, hot dogs and the like, which just added to the carnival atmosphere of the show. I can't take credit for that, it was one of the other artists ideas, and it was an awesome one! Make sure whatever interesting thing you're doing for the opening is on the press release and even on the flier, to ensure people will know it's going on!

On opening night, you might want to say something too, about the ideas behind the show (although hopefully that's apparent to everyone who comes!) or the show itself or the artists, often people want to hear from the curator, and the gallery owner might want to speak as well. Make sure you ask them and find out if they want to!

Once the speeches are done, have a drink and congratulate yourself on curating an exhibition. It's a big job, but there's nothing better than the feeling you'll get on opening night.

Step six and a half: The duration of the show and closing
During the show drop in occasionally to check on how the exhibition is going. There might be works sold that you need to deal with. This will depend on what the venue is. You might have also had to organise a rotating roster of artists to mind the show, so you'll need to keep an eye on that, ensuring the artists turn up and do their shifts.

On closing the show, you'll need to ensure that all the art is back out of the venue. You might also need to ensure all the walls are back to the original condition - nails/screws out, holes puttied over and repainted. Again, that'll depend on the agreement you have with the venue.

You can try to organise the artists to turn up and take the unsold work home, but I've found that it's dreadfully hard to get more than about 4 people to turn up at one time. Usually there'll be timetable clashes and most people wont be able to make it. So be prepared to end up taking some of the work home. If you decide that you'll only hold onto works for a specific amount of time (a week, a month) ensure that ALL the artists know this WELL IN ADVANCE. Put it on the form they filled in at the start of the process and get them to sign it. Otherwise if you toss out someone's beloved artwork without any warning you could be up for anything from angry artists to lawsuits. Try to ensure you give them every oppitunity to get their work back, even if that means emailing and calling them every day til they do. However, a friend of mine worked for a woman who has organised year 12 art shows for years, she still has uncollected work from over 10 years ago she's holding onto in case the artists want them back. He warned me that I should draw the line somewhere. I thought that good advice!

After it's all done and over, find somewhere to sit down. Have a nice cup of tea and maybe a slice of cake. It's a big job, but it's really rewarding and you'll have contrubuted a valuable event to your local artistic community.

Friday, January 16, 2009

It was the Monster Mash...

Firstly, the interview went really well! I was worried that I wouldn't have enough to say so I made a page of notes I could refer too. But then I started speaking and off I went. I spoke for 20 mins and still had a bunch of things to say. So I'll write a post over the weekend of all the things I didn't manage to fit into the interview but is totally on topic!

Until then, I just wanted to share with you my two latest knitted guys. The aforementioned mummy, and a new yeti.

This new strain of knitted guys comes from two streams of thought. I've always been a big fan of monsters, and so after remembering the Monster Mash album the other day, I figured I'd get back into knitting a few of the classic monsters.

Plus, I just sold a baby yeti the other day on etsy, so I figured I'd make another, without making exactly the same one again. Jude pointed out that it took a year for the first yeti to go, but hey. I'm an optimist.

I've done enough of the burlesque girls for now, although I do have a couple I never quite finished that I'll get around to finishing and put up, but in a nice blended merge, I'm halfway through knitting a Vampiria, plunging neckline, boobs, fangs and all. After that I'm thinking a Medusa. I've figured out how to do her tiny snake hair without having to crochet, knit or make my eyes bleed, so that's exciting and I can't wait to start her.

Here, I have a confession to make. I'm not so into this fad of 'monsters' that is currently sweeping the crafting world. I'm just not sold on the type of monster that seems to be thrown together from a weird lumpy shape, a couple of irregular eyes and some fangs. I do think they can be done well, for instance the amazingly prolific Love And A Sandwich is an awesome monster maker, but on the whole I'm just not a fan. I'd like to think that love, care and thought has gone into the making of a softie, and oftentimes those kinds of monsters just leave something to be desired.

And that might get me lynched by those same monsters next time I step outside my front door at night, but I'll be ready. Garlic, silver bullets and a couple of my own guys who have my back.

Walk softly, but carry a big torch...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

interview on 3CR!

I just wanted to let you all know I'm being interviewed on 3CR today at 5:30!

They have a program called DIY Arts Show woth Nicole Hurbutise and Jane Curtis, and they're running a series called:Arts Geek, DIY artists and the web. John Retallick from The Comic Spot was on last week, and this week I'm going to be talking about using online communities to organise exhibitions and events, as well as general thoughts on web communities.

So tune in on 855AM, or go the the website and listen to it streamed live.

There'll also be podcasts of it after the interview goes out here.

I'm so stoked!

And how amazing is technology. You'll get to hear my thoughts today about the amazingness that is community and the net, but technology, there's another incrediblness! My internet is down today, so I'm sitting in an outside garden area of a cafe under a big shady umbrella enjoying free internet and the weather. There's a coffee slowly getting cold by my side and the birds are occasionally singing. Who'd have thought, even a few years ago that this would have been possible?

There's a lot of downsides to it, but really, how good is modern life?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is there nothing knitters can't do? Part 2

So I firstly stumbled across this image when I was searching for mummies. As in the monsters. As in The Curse Of... and other such classic movies, let alone Brendan Fraser in between his Encino Man and Scrubs period. So no, I have no idea how this one came up, but I'm glad it did.

A knitted house. How ace is that? The website that it's on only has this to say about it: This home was created by a group of women who enlisted the help of friends and family.

Not a lot of information, but that's sometimes the way it goes. There's a couple more photos on the site, including a close up of the flowers on the window by the door. Again, no details as to HOW they did it - is it around the mother of all cardboard boxes? is it wrapped around a small house? Peering at it closely I can see that some of it is see-through, and it appears that there's a scaffold underneath it. Well, that's the most logical way to do it in my mind.

And of course, all the experts tell us that we should match our decor. If you have a knitted house, the next item on the shopping list would be Some kind of knitted transport. Teresa Honeywell has knitted this motorbike, it's a cover around a real bike. If you're not a bikin' kind of person, how about a knitted ferrari? Lauren Porter and 20 of her family and friends knittted this in honour of Lauren graduating from Uni. It's created on a steel frame Lauren welded herself.

If you prefer a more enviromentally friendly way to travel, how about a bicycle? Ok, I realise this is a little cheaty, cause I think it's a little bike (check out the size of the stitches vs the size of the bike and that it appears to be sitting on a table cloth) but I figured it fit nicely in with todays topic, which is:


I can't read the website the bike came from, but here is the link in case you can

On a side note, one of the sentances I copied into this post from the other websites had an odd piece of code in it, which means that if I look in the HTML part of this post, there's heaps of these:
< / knitting > Which I think is only fitting, seeing as the knitting part of this post is now done.

In other news, my marionette has been featured in a treasury about puppets called Strings, which is lovely, and I'm getting some ace comments about my Lucky Rocketship Underpants Tee.

And yesterday I finished off 4 artworks (and half finished a 5th) which have been sitting on my desk (read 'entirly covering') for a couple of months now. So there's a nice sence of achievement there. And last night I started knitting a mummy, trailing bandages and all. Its almost done, I figure it'll be finished by tonight. When we were young, we had a tape of the entire Monster Mash album (which you can find all of the songs here... erm, only if you're in America, apparently), which included a bunch of other songs by the same band, including one between Dracula and his girlfriend Vampira, one abut Drac wanting to go to a blood bank, one about Igor wanting to quit his job with Boris and work with Drac (with one of my favourite quotes (to be read out loud in a slightly accented and kind of a little slowly) "But master, I want to work niiiiights, with Count Dracularrrrr") One where the Wolfman is jealous of Boris's sucess with the song Monster Mash and tried to start his own band, but halfway through a song turns into a werewolf and rips up the stage, and of course, the ever beautiful ballad Me and My Mummy, which ran:
it happened in Egypt on the banks of the Nile,
at the base of her pyramid she gave me a smile
her bandage unravelled, decayed flesh I did see,
Now it's me and my mummy, my mummy and me

the chorus ran Me and my mummy and me and my mummy and me and my mummy and me...

I can't remember the whole song, but the last verse is:

We married, in Cairo, the very next day
and outside our crypt, the inscription does say
here lies two mummies, wrapped close as can be
it's jsut me and my mummy, my mummy and me...

Bizarre and weird album, and as a kid I loved it. We played the tape to death as I recall.

Anyway, I'll photograph the mummy when it's finished, but thinking about that song and staring at the mummy sitting on my bed makes me wonder if the mummy I'm knitting is her or him.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

a discussion of monsters, breasts, dresses and moral dilemmas

Mid last year, as you might well know, I curated and organised an exhibition encouraging artists to create self portrait dolls of how they view themselves inside. My doll is at your right, a 4 foot high little green monster built in a similar style to the muppets.

Recently I knitted a version of her as a present, and I've only jsut got the photo. I've got to stop giving the guys away before I photograph them. But anyway, I just wanted to share her with you. The only difference really is the little one has blue eyes and the big one has brown eyes. That wasn't intentional, the little one was totally created out of my stash and I only had blue eyes that size. The photo of the actual Totem doll was taken before she had feet (the publicity deadline came faster than I expected) but rest assured she has dreadfuly cute 3 toed feet, which is why the knitted version has feet too... and I love her little knitted belly!

It's like looking at one of those spot the difference cartoons in the paper really, isn't it!

One of the things I loved about the big doll was that (although you can't see it well because of the dress) she actually has boobs. This lady ain't flat chested, she has little boobs befitting her size and statue. I think boobs on grown up versions of things are important, especially when it's not a sexual thing. Here I put my hand up and say yes, I have knitted topless burlesque dolls with boobs, which was, amongst other things, exploring what you can do to make the subject of dolls more grown up, but leaping to the other side of the fence, I feel that most dolls are made flat chested and for the vast majority, the only time dolls are made with boobs is for when they're all pimped out, dressed in their underwear and generally slutted out. So one of the themes I'm working on at the moment is dolls with breasts. Of course, the last three dolls I've made were all flat chested. But one was for a child and the other two were portrait dolls. I think there's something a little odd about giving someone a portrait doll of themselves with lovingly handcrafted breasts.

Ovbiously I'm still working through this one... I'll get back to you when I've figured it out.

In other, unrelated news, check this out! it's a dress designed and HAND KNITTED by Knitwear Designer Jemma Sykes.

I love the texture of the loops, as well as the beautiful shape it's taken. The text tells us that it's called The Elizabeth, and it's created from 100% organic wool dyed a soft pink. I wish it said just how much wool it took.

You can find it here.

Ladies and gentlemen, is there nothing a knitter can't do?

Friday, January 9, 2009

What a jolly morning

I was hanging out with a friend of mine the other day and she was wearing a tshirt she'd created herself through RedBubble. It's free to sign up and you can load photos and artwork up on it, it's a 2d etsy. Anyway, so this morning I decided to make a couple of tshirts on it.

The first one was one I made years ago with fabric paint, but it's old and breaking now, plus it's too short for me, so I remade it, professionaly:

I've always hearted zombies.

Next I made a Sacred Heart shirt. I've wanted one of these for ages but never seen them anywhere. So about half an hour in photoshop and I uploaded:

I made one with the big image on it, and a second one with a smaller Sacred Heart. I'm really happy with these, because I haven't done a lot of vector work in PhotoShop before and it was nowhere near as hard as I used to think it was.

When I was younger, I used to make heaps of tshirts for myself, and I also used to decorate my knickers. My two favourites are a black pair with silver glitter fabric paint that says GODLET and a black pair with green drippy writing that said ZOMBIE GIRL. Now you know that about me, you're better prepared to understand the next three tshirts. This one started it all:
It's a paraphrase from Calvin and Hobbes, and reads “What’s the use of wearing your lucky rocketship underpants if no one gets to see em?”

I always wanted lucky rocketship underpants, but I thought the question was a good one. But here, today my friends, I have found the solution!

Next, I wanted to remake my ZOMBIE GIRL knickers (which were worn to death, and beyond (fittingly enough) and are no longer with us) but I figured that a tshirt with ZOMBIE GIRL written on it would be kind of boring. Imagination to the rescue!

And then I figured I'd go have a look at the stencil art I've collected over the years and I found this:I also made a GODLET tshirt, although it's totally different to the knickers design, I still like it. And someone's favoured it already, which is nice
And I remade another old tshirt I had years ago, I'm not sure how it'll go down with the Youth of today, but I still think it's funny.
The amount of people, even back then, I had to explain who Jello was used to depress me.
But who knows. Maybe it's old enough to be retro now a days.

So I'm really happy with my mornings work!

Now for the commercial. All of these shirts are only $30 each, they come in a wide variety of colours and sizes, they're awesomely high quality and best of all, RedBubble is free to sign up! If you are interested in buying any of the shirts, you can click on the photos and it'll take you straight there. Plus, you'd have my gratitude. And who can't do with another rockin tshirt?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

discoveries of a hauntingly beautiful kind

I love wandering around the net, seeing what people out there are making. For those of you who don't know, I'm a photographer and a digital artist as well as a crafty lady. I have a presence on Redbubble, a worldwide community of photography that can be purchased as cards, prints, tshirts and more. A 2d etsy, if you like. Today while wandering around there I came across Laurenrabbit, an incredible photographer from the States. She does all of her black and white photography straight - no digital at all. Any editing is in camera or in the darkroom. I love this sort of photography, and I wish I had a darkroom to do it in!
This image comes straight from her blog, and I think it's beautiful. I love the sepia tone she gives many of her images, as well as the dark, gritty, dirty feel to both subject matter and photograph. She's certainly one of the most interesting photographers I've seen in a long time, and it makes me happy that there are such creative people in the world.

Other things I've fond in the past 24 hours is A Slip Of A Girl, who runs a beautiful blog about vintage undergarments, mostly of the feminine kind. I found her because she posted about my burlesque dolls, which I thought was lovely.

Through that blog, I have discovered White Lies Design, an incredibly talented lady named Joan who has created numerous knitting patterns in a vintage style.

And if you don't want to knit your own beautiful underthings, you could always purchase them from Under The Root, who creates vintage inspired underwear for both men and women inspired by circus and burlesque.

I love the net. And I love adventuring around it. I love the community it fosters, allowing like minded people to connect who might never find each other any other way. One of the best inventions in the world. After knitting needles and cake.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Good New Year News

Oh, ok, so maybe I'm dorky, but I'm always thrilled when someone buys something of mine. It makes me feel warm and special and happy. And I'm telling you this because someone just bought my baby Yeti off Etsy!

Ta taa!

When I first started on Etsy, I had two sales pretty quickly and then it got very quiet, for quite a saddening length of time. I don't really pimp it around much, there's links here and on my website but that's about it. I know some people promote the hell out of their etsy's, but I don't have the time. The saying Jack of all trades, master of none is pretty accurate, I'm so busy doing everything I do that I don't have heaps of time to follow through with as much background work on them as I'd like.

Recently I decided that what goes around comes around and since I had a bit of spare money, I went on a little buying spree. I bought a number of things of etsy, mostly from fellow Dust members (Down Under Street Team, the Australian sellers club) and bought a number of things from ebay and stores, sharing the love (and my little bonus) around. I did it for two reasons. One was that when I have, I like to share, so that others can share in my good fortunes, and also I figured that on a karmic level, no one would be buying my items if I wasn't buying anyone elses.

And it's paid off! In a week I've had two etsy sales. Firstly the top hat and now the baby yeti!

Love you, Karma!

But all flippancy aside, it's always lovely when people buy your work. So thank you to my lovely and discerning buyers :)

In other news, I'm currently adding a TOTEM page to the Omnific Assembly website. Oh my god there were so many dolls in that show! And thus I'm going to have to put about 50 or so photos on the website to show them all! I think my brain is bleeding, just a little...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tutorial - How to publicize your event or exhibition

I'm not just a crafty artist, as so many people in this day and age I do many, many things. So one of my plans for these tutorials was always to teach people other stuff that is related to craft and creating but isn't just sewing, knitting and eating (although these are three of my favourite activities!) If I've figured it out or been taught, I want to pass the knowledge on to others. Continuing the cycle, as it were.

So here is the first of my not-quite-crafting tutorials. It's how to publicize an event or art exhibition you might be organising. I actually wrote this a while ago for a friend on the melb_artists community on LJ, but it's such a good reference I figured I'd put it here too.

It was written to help her publicize her exhibition (something I've had heaps of practice at) but it is just as useful for a craft event, music concert or anything you're organising and need people to know about...

So, you have an event coming, and that’s all fine, but there's a bunch of things you need to do to let people know it’s going on.

Press release
Firstly if you haven't already you need to write a press release. It needs to be snappy and not rambling, it needs to have short clever sentences that the media can pick out at will. The media are sort of lazy and don't want to have to read something and then write about it, they just want to be able to copy and paste however much fits into the space they have.

The best size for a press release is one A4 page. And only about 2/3s of that is for your show. The rest of the page is for the title of the show, contact details and show details (times, dates, address) You should also set out your press release nicely, use paragraphs and spacing, make it easy to read and not chock full of info. It's good to get your information out there, but if journalists are faced with a novel, it's less likely they're going to read it.

You need someone with graphics skills to put together a flier, with the details of the show. REMEMBER TO PUT:

  • Name
  • what sort of event it is
  • dates
  • times
  • venue
  • and entry fee if there is one.

I can’t stress this enough. These are all the important details that someone needs if they want to turn up. Make it easy for them :) then if there's room, maybe a little blurb about the show. Get these printed and have them also in electronic form.

Publicity photo
You need to pick about 2 really good artworks and photograph them for publicity shots. It would be good if you can stick an artist in one of them too. A good publicity shot has some interest in it, and preferably a person. You need to have a good, clear shot of their face and especially their eyes. This isn't art, its publicity. They wont use it if they cant see eyes.

For other events, publicity photographs should have people in them - actors for the play, the event organiser or a band shot for music events, stall holders smiling behind a stall for a market, and so on.

Media contact point
You need to choose someone to be the media contact point. They need to be able to speak clearly about the project. They need to know about the project, the ins and outs, how it came about etc. They also need an email address and a phone. This info needs to go on the press release. And they need to be ready to go out to the media and speak about the project. This might include being interviewed on radio or telly.

If you can, also put all the info, press release and photos, up on a website somewhere, so the press can go get more info if they want. Remember to include this website address on the press release too.

Ok, so now you have all your publicity materials, you need to go out and find places to put it. That's actually pretty simple.

Major newspapers - pick up copies of these, find their email addresses and send them an email that has the press release, small web versions of the photos and the flier and the web address where big versions of the images are and all the details. Remember to include the media contact person and their details in the email. Preferable send it from the media persons email address, this avoids confusion

minor newspapers - Most communities or council areas have local papers. If one of your artists lives in those areas, get them to contact these local papers. After all, these papers are local stories about local people.

Freebie newspapers - Pick up copies of every one of your local street press you can find and contact their arts editors/ reviewers/ journalists

Radio - community radio love stories like these. Also contact the bigger stations, it doesn't cost you anything after all. Do a search online for their websites and then email the producers of the arts and morning programs.

Television again community stations love local stuff, and the good thing is they continue to play it. Jude had his first play back in 2000 filmed by our local channel, Channel 31, and he still has people tell him - hey, i was watching the telly the other night and i saw this play you were in... Very strange, but cool. They're still running his play and his name 8 years on. I was interviewed for an exhibition back in 2005, and they still run that too. Community tv stations are an excellent resource.

Do contact other, bigger channels too, they might pick it up if there's something that catches their interest, but don't be disappointed if you never hear back from them.

Now, the public
Getting the media behind your exhibition is all well and good, but don't expect heaps from either the media or those who see it in there, if you get it there. Grass roots is the way these things really take off.

So email a copy of the flier to all the artists involved with a little blurb, and ask them to send it to all their friends. Send it to all your friends. Ask them to pass it on. Post it places like LJ, facebook, myspace, your blog, everywhere you can think.

But hard copies are important too. Get the printed fliers (and maybe A4 or A3 posters too, if you have the budget) and start handing them out. Take them to cafes, ask if you can put a couple down. Take them to unis, put them in the cafes. Get the word on the street, and THAT'S where you'll get your audience from. I would say that from my exhibition opening crowds, about 70% are people who know the artists and have been approached directly from them, maybe 20% are from Internet postings and cafe fliering and maybe 10% saw it in the paper etc and came along.

But remember, EVERYWHERE is worth telling/posting/fliering. A good friend of mine has this saying - you already have no, you might as well try for yes. In this situation, everyone already doesn't know about your exhibition and isn't coming. You might as well give them the opportunity to know about it. They still might not come, but then you've lost nothing. And hell, some of them might come. But they'll only come if they know about it.

And you are now well on your way to having a well publicised and well organised event!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tutorial - Awesomely Luxurious Doll Hair

How do you make good dolls hair? It's something that I've been experimenting with for a while, trying different things and the other day I re-discovered an awesome way to do it. Weirdly enough it was something I first used in about year 7 to make a judges wig from carpet strands. But now, with a little more thought, it works beautifully for dolls hair.

To your left is a doll I made for my niece for Christmas. She's a big fan of pink, so that was the theme of the doll. She's a smaller version of the portrait dolls I've been sewing recently, and she came out really well I thought. Plus, my neice loved her. There's nothing better than a personal present that goes down really well. Makes the heart sing.

So without further ado, here is a tutorial for Awesomely Luxurious Doll Hair!

You'll need:

Yarn in various colours*
sewing needle

*I've found that the hair looks better if you use more than one colour, or shade of the chosen colour. For this doll I wanted pink hair, so I used all my shades of pink - 2 pale pinks, a bright pink, a dark pink and a fluffy light pink yarn too. It makes a more interesting visual than a single plain colour.

Step one: Measure one strand of yarn across the bottom of the dolls head near the neck (we'll call this the WIG STRAND). You want the WIG STRAND to be long enough to trail down both sides of the head longer than you picture the finished hair. Tie a knot in the WIG STRAND at either side of the head so you'll know where to tie the hair on.

Step two: Cut a number of HAIR STRANDS of yarn of different colours double the length you want the doll's hair to be, and start tying them in between the two knots on the WIG STRAND. A single knot is sufficiant as you'll be stitching them tightly in a minute.

Step three: once there's a good number of yarn HAIR STRANDS tied to the WIG STRAND (see above photo), stretch the WIG STRAND back across the dolls head. Stitch the WIG STRAND to the doll's head, making sure that you stitch through each knot to ensure they don't unravel in the future.
Step four: Continue making and stitching WIG STRANDS until the dolls head is as covered as you want it to be.

Step five: When you come to stitching the final WIG STRAND on the head, place it with the strands falling over the face rather than falling across the previous hair and stitch it on.
Then smooth the hair away from the face. This ensures that the knots and the WIG STRAND cannot be seen from the front of the doll.

Step six: give your doll a hair cut, cutting the strands to the length you want. To ensure you don't end up with a weird looking straight line, gather the hair into a horizontal line and cut across the ends. Then when you let it go, the hair will fall and look better than a straight line

And that's it. Your doll's coiffure is done! Long, thick luxurious hair that any doll would be proud of.

You can put this hair up in a pony tail, but it is quite thick (it can look a little like a ponytail of dreadlocks) so if you want your doll to have her hair up, you could try making the WIG STRANDS spiral around the head instead of straight across it, and leave the middle of the head bald. You wont be able to see it when the hair is up, and that will eliminate some of the bulk

Go forth and hair my children!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 and a confession

Happy new year to you all! I hope you all have a wonderful year, filled with love and joy and laughter and friendship, good food and wonderful experiences.

I'm all stocked about 2009. I have a feeling it's going to be great! I've got about a million plans for what I want to do with this year, I feel like a kid in a candy store pointing at all the jars saying "I like that, and that, and that, and that, and that..."

As soon as I narrow them down, I'll let you know about it! In the mean time, welcome to 2009!

And now to the Confession. I went and did it. I started knitting a clothing item. And for a loved one. I have a feeling I've opened the floodgates now!

The only clothing I've ever knitted is a vest based on one of the creatures from Where The Wild Things Are. I worked on the film for 5 months and when it ended, I found myself housesitting for a friend and having a week off, my head was still filled with the Wild Things, so I knitted myself a vest of my favourite one, Carol. You can see a couple of screenshots of a test shoot which features Carol here.

Anyway, it took me all week solidly knitting and I vowed that, even though I loved Carol and the vest, that knitting clothing was too much for me. At the left is the vest, obviously :) Forgive the photo quality, it was a shot from my phone a few years ago. It was a pretty easy knit, two large rectangles of brown and tan stripes with some ribbing down the bottom, one with some short rows in it to make the split, and two rectangles of furry yarn with a rounded corner for the hood. It made me happy that I found it so easy to figure out patterns for stuff.

But so I vowed off knitting clothing, I am an impatient woman, and I like stuff to be over fast, and a week was too long. So knitting and sewing small things like dolls makes me happy, you get to see the results pretty quickly and can be off onto the next one.

But now, after a couple of years knitting (the vest was about the first thing I knitted in my adult life, which was around 2006 I think) I have broken that vow. I'm currently a day into knitting a beanie for Jude. Being a tall man (with a matching head :), he can never find beanies that fit him, so I offered to knit him one. He's been keen on me knitting a jumper for him for a while now, but I figured a beanie was a better idea, dipping my toes in the water rather than jumping in the deep end.

So we discussed beanies and he wants a sort of 90s grunge one. Pretty simple, it's jsut a big floppy beanie, almost like the kind people wear with dreads. My idea was some ribbing, then increase for a while, then just plain knitting for a while, then close back in.

This is it so far, after a day of knitting. The almost cabled effect was due to a new kind of increase, for me at least. During the Turkish Ladies Knitting workshops, one of the ladies showed me the Yarn Over style of increase, and I was hooked. I love the look of it. So this cabling effect (which I didn't expect but am very pleased with) is a Yarn Over one stitch to the left of each previous YO. I started by doing a YO every 4 stitches but as it's an increase it quickly became every 5, then every 6 ect. Now that I've done enough increases (and that I've run out of room on the circular needles) I'm no longer increasing, but to continue the pattern I'm doing a purl stitch to the left of each previous one. When I start decreasing, I'll decrease to the left of each previous decrease, and I'm hoping that'll continue the spiralling pattern in. It's an advenutre!

The best bit about this beanie, which may turn out to be the worst thing, is that I'm now all keen to start knitting cardigans, jumpers and other types of clothing... It's a really exciting avenue that's opened up, but I'm worried it'll drive me crazy with the amount of time it'll take!

Maybe this is what will teach me pacience...