Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ever heard of Clown Barf?

Ok, neither did I. It does exist, yes, and not the kind you get from those 'trick' stores. Clown Barf is the name of a design motif on guitars and guitar pics. They're considered 'vintage' and have been around for over 35 years. Here's a picture of some guitar pics in that design. I also found actual guitars made in the 'clown barf' motif as well.

How do I know this?

It all started last year at my open studios. A new friend, guitar player and teacher, Jeff Stave was admiring my newest experiment. It was a lamp made from the same aluminum mesh I use in my masks, sculptures and garden art. He loved the concept and wanted a lamp of his own but wanted it to look like 'clown barf'.

OK. That was a new one to me and so was lamp making in general. So, I agreed to make him a lamp. It took a while. Why? Well I needed to learn a few new techniques to make my lamps more functional and attractive. Then I got to work. I made the mesh pieces into guitar pick shapes, added structural wire and then painted layers of colors in the 'clown barf' motif. These pieces were then attached to a base that I designed, lamp electrical parts were added and cork went on the bottom.

Here's another picture of the lamp lit.

Now, who out there wants their very own 'clown barf' guitar pick lamp? You can't have this one, Jeff already has it in his 'guitar' room at home. He says he loves it! I'm glad that someone finds a use for 'clown barf'. Right?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

White knuckles: Shipping art is stressful.

This week, I sent 2 copper repousse masks from Oregon to California. I was going to save shipping charges and pack them myself, but once I got to the UPS store, I changed my mind.

I am an artist, not a professional packer. My goal was to make sure my masks made it to California for the mask show, Maskibition 26, in great condition. So I decided to pay the $26 fee to have them packed by a professional. I delivered the masks to the UPS store, left them to be packed and came back to pay for the shipping. These masks measure about 24" each and weigh a few pounds a piece, maybe. The box they were shipped in was a 24"x24"x24" box...huge. And the amount of bubble wrap could keep the bubble boy safe for years. The box weighed in at about 7 pounds when it was done, so you can imagine how many peanuts were in that box.

So with all that packaging and the big price tag, did the masks arrive safe and sound?


The left horn on the 'Dragon' was snapped off on arrival. Now, it can be fixed. But, after all that packing and high price tag for 'fragile' shipping, I'm a little upset. Luckily, the directors of the show took good photos of the damage, and according to the UPS pack and ship promise, I'm supposed to get my packing, shipping and repair costs back.

Still, shipping art is stressful. I just hope that in spite of the problems, the show goes smoothly and my copper masks sell!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Art and Liberation: A new interview

(Photos courtesy of Lora R Fisher)

Jan vonBergen: Fitting the pieces together.

“You can feel really good everyday of your life when you do what you love, whether it’s read or do art or walk or dance or whatever you love to do. It makes you feel alive, that feeds you and gives you what you need everyday.”

In the last 3 years, Jan’s life and art has changed. Her life used to revolve around full-time teaching and family with her art making fitting in whatever space was left. It was a fulfilling puzzle with many pieces. Retirement was a mystery at first and a word Jan dislikes, “It sounds deadening. I would call it liberation.”

Just like the modular, sectional prints in her new show, ‘Urban Imprints’ at Print Arts Northwest Gallery, Jan’s art and life fit together now in many new and interesting ways. And Jan says she couldn’t be happier about it, “I have liberated myself enough so that I can explore things I’ve never had a chance to do. Now I get to choose where I’m going or not going. It’s ok to take the day and spend it all doing color tests, or reading. It’s ok to take the time to live life.” And living life for Jan now means body building for her health, working in her garden, teaching at Multnomah Art Center and substituting in the Beaverton school district, volunteering in her granddaughter’s classroom as well as developing a new body of artwork.

In her new show, ‘Urban Imprints’, Jan has assembled a collection of colographs and solarplates based on the concept of modular print plates. By using this ‘puzzle’ piece concept, Jan has created unique works of art with warm and cool colors, calligraphic marks and chine-colle’. Also included in the show are three ceramic vessels from her newest clay work. “I get to put my loves together. I love building things and cutting things out,” says Jan.

Although Jan has done ceramics since college she’s using her time now to explore new ways to work with clay throwing the pots in sections and sculpting multiple lids, “They say there’s nothing new in art except imagination. So you can take a medium like clay or printmaking, but it’s all in what you do with it. It’s very gratifying to make something, I like working hands on.”

Jan also creates an artful garden filled with gorgeous plants, an oriental inspired tea house, stone patio and walkways. Since her liberation, she’s become a member of the Portland Garden Club because she loves learning new things. Jan says, “Learn as much as you can and do what makes you happy. Enjoy life, it’s so short…you might get there, you might not, but be happy with where you are, be proud of yourself.”

And now, that the puzzle pieces of Jan’s life falling into place, she’s learning more about herself and her art as well as making the most of every moment. Jan says, “I woke up one day and said, wow, this is great. I’m not afraid of anything anymore, I can do this. It’s a great feeling, one of the best parts of my entire existence. I’ve developed more. I’ve created more. I’ve done more than I have in just years and years, better relationships, new learning curves.”

Whether in the studio, teaching, gardening, being a parent, grandparent and wife, it’s a busy life filled with many pieces, and Jan wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I won’t live long enough to do all the things I want to do, but I’m gonna try,” says Jan.

You can hear Jan talk about her experiences in a podcast of this interview on Voices of Living Creatively.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What can you make out of SCRAP?

Answer: A mask!
That's the challenge from this year's SCRAP Incognito Auction and Art Show. SCRAP is the School & Community Reuse Action Project, a place that takes materials donated from schools and individuals in the community, puts it in a warehouse and sells it to be reused. It's an amazing place!

The space is stuffed with stuff...quilt fabric bundles, upholstery ends and samples, dress fabrics, yarn, needlepoint canvas, raffia, plastic rope, wire, hooks, tins, shoelaces, velcro pieces, granite and tile samples. Office supplies like labels, paper, files, rubber bands and paper clips. Oil and acrylic paints, ceramic molds, glue, crayons, markers and glitter. Paper in all kinds: wrapping, tissue, writing, orgami and cards. Ribbons, laces, ties and gift bags. Electrical speakers that hook together like magnets, twisted wire, steel wire, hooks, rings and many, many other wonderful things.

It was so overwhelming at first, I just looked. Then I went home, looked around my studio full of stuff that I've had donated to me for reuse. And let my mind 'mull' a mask.

As a participating artist, I got $25 of free 'scrap' to use to make a mask. I also knew I would use some of my stash of aluminum window screening to sculpt the mask. I also love wire, yarn, raffia and rope at SCRAP. I also love to crochet and paint. Now, how was I going to use it all together? The ideas flew....even my kitty, Terra is curious how this is going to turn out.

I've been happily working on it all week, so stay tuned for the finished pics coming here, soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Internet vacation: Good or Bad?

Last week, I went on vacation in lovely Bend, Oregon. I did not take my laptop. Even though all along the way, there was plenty of wifi available, I did not get on the internet. No email. No facebook. No blogging. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep myself away from the internet. It was a test of will, because my husband did take his laptop and believe me, it was very tempting to google.

But I didn't.

I stayed true to my pledge to take not just a physical vacation but an internet vacation as well. I must admit, after I got over the initial withdrawal from the world wide web,I started to see the real world, the one around me.

I walked with Jilly as I always do, but exploring the winding paths brought me sights and sounds I don't normally get to enjoy. There were so many deer, mostly does with fawns who were just as curious about me as I was about them. Jilly was fascinated by them, holding herself very still, her ears on high alert. She stared at them and they stared right back.

There were natural sculptures, tree stumps, rolling grasses and jagged mountain tops. The river had rapid areas and slow spots, some with a thick layer of green pollen covering it. The sound of the Stellar Jays swooping by and the grasshoppers jumping was the music I listened to most, not the Ipod I'd brought with me.

Sitting out on the sunny deck, I watched the tall ponderosa pines sway. I read a silly mystery novel involving a bridezilla, murder and crab cakes. Writing in my journal, I let my pen guide me for a change. I read girly magazines and crocheted a sock. At night, I sat under the starry sky cozy in the hot tub. My husband and I enjoyed cooking as always, barbecued chicken and fish with veggies brought from our garden at home.

One day flowed into the next with ease and grace. Relaxing under the stars and breathing in the sage scented air, I didn't miss surfing the web. I was caught instead in the web of living.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Going offline - an internet vacation.

That's my dog, Jilly and kitty, Terra. Don't they look relaxed? Maybe their trying to tell me something?

I decided a while back to designate one day a week to be 'computer' free. I take one day, usually Sunday, to leave my computer email checking, no internet surfing, no blog reading, no yahoo-ing or googling or facebooking.

It was scary at first but the space left me so rested, I made it part of my weekly routine, like walking and yoga.

So, I decided to take an online vacation by going offline. Although many more people are taking internet sabbaticals, I'm not. Although, I'm curious about their experiences and hopefully, I'll have more to tell about that later on. But right now, I'm just unplugging for a short break. I'll let you know how it goes when I get back.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School - Pass the freshly sharpened pencils, please!

It's that time of year again, back to school ads with teary-eyed moms and excited little kids clamoring onto bright yellow school buses. Ah, it does bring back many, many memories, doesn't it? As the song says, "I've been on both sides now."

As a school girl, I wore a uniform to school. I got a new white blouse, new navy socks and new shoes. The new shoes were a really big deal, especially the year I got black velveteen saddle shoes. I know sounds weird, now, but then, I loved those shoes and couldn't wait to wear them to school. My other big thrill was new school supplies. New notebook, binder paper, dividers(at least these had colored tags), ruler, classic yellow pencils and crayola crayons.

As a mom, my budget was tight for back to school clothes and supplies. I shopped sales well before the 'big day', so my daughter and son could have as much as they needed and wanted. I loved the fact that they could wear 'regular' clothes. No uniforms for them! I let them pick out their new clothes and shoes within reason and budget, of course. Buying school supplies was fun, too, because their supply list included extras like colorful markers and watercolors.

Now that both my 'kids' have graduated from college, there's no back to school shopping for me to do. Ok, I miss it. I love that quote from the movie, 'You've Got Mail', when Tom Hanks(Joe Fox) says, "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

So, now, I ask you blogger friends out there, what would you buy yourself for back to school? You trade your list, I'll trade mine.

Here's a start...

Back To School List (for not going back to school)
Freshly sharpened pencils in a rainbow of colors
New pens - Pilot G-2's and Micron 005 with .2 mm line width in black
Black or Natural sketch book unlined recycled paper.
Something colorful, like crayons but not crayons. (Maybe it's time to try encaustic?)

Outfit...Hmm, something comfy, cool, and creative...but what?

Do I have to buy only traditional school supplies? No. So, let's all think outside the traditional school pencil box. If you could buy yourself a new 'school supply' what would it be? What bus would you catch and where would it be going?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Summer and Fall - Lovin' Labor Day!

Right now, I could be lamenting the end of summer and beginning of fall. But I'm not. Why? Because I have the most interesting cross seasonal bonanza happening in my garden. I just want to enjoy the ridiculous ride.
My hibiscus is in full bloom. I have pumpkins forming on the vine.
The clementis is still flowering. The dahlias are charging upward and outward. And, believe it or not, I have an Easter Lily ready to pop on my patio. Don't ya just love it?

It may be Labor Day, the official ending of summer and beginning of fall, but I guess nobody told my plants. They are just growing and blooming away. In spite of our weird cold weather, I have ripe tomatoes. Now, that's something to celebrate!

By the way, I just made the most delicious and super easy fresh garden salad. Cut up your ripe tomatoes and basil, add small little fresh mozzarella balls, salt, pepper and drizzle olive oil over the top. Enjoy!