Quaint Curiosities

A glimpse into the Mind of Lady M:
Maskmaker, Muse, and seeker of things Mysterious.

> Lady M's profile
> previous 20 entries
> diary archives

Favoured blogs:

> The Goblin Art Studio Journal
> Friends' LiveJournals
> Favorite LJ communities
> Brass Goggles
> Neil Gaiman's Blog
> Octopia
> Neatorama
> J-Walk Blog

Recommended art and artifacts:

> Goblin Art
> Catalyst Studios
> Cannibol.com
> Lemurgurl Art
> Scott Radke Marrionettes
> The Chemerical Constructions of Aria Nadii
> Parish Relics Jewelry
> Baba Studio, Prague
> Christiane Cegavske
> Lebanon Circle, UK
> The Art of Alex CF
> Gibbous Moon - Coming soon!

Appreciated music:

> Pandora
> Lady M's Pandora stations
> Raga Radio
> Radio Tabla
> Radio Bastet
> Gothic Radio
> "Weird Energy" Radio
> Radio Paradise

Monday, March 2nd, 2009
10:17 pm
The writing mood has come upon me again. Two new posts on the new blog that some of you may find interesting or relevant:

Art in the "New Economy"


Surviving as an artist in the "New Economy"

Hope you all are well.

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Saturday, November 8th, 2008
11:08 am

I have set up a new blog on blogger. It replaces my old business blog, but will probably end up being a hybrid of this blog and my business one. I have been finding it harder and harder to keep up to date with two blogs, and I think I'll have better readership if I focus on just one blog--one that is also tied into my website.

Also, I like blogger's integration with widgets/gadgets, as well as the lack of advertising for free accounts. (Not as pleased with its comment tracking though, so we'll see how that goes).

Hope to see some of you over there!

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Saturday, September 20th, 2008
11:44 pm

It is very odd not having my pieces in the studio tonight. I dropped all three off at the gallery earlier today for the art show.

I have been working on them in my very few spare moments (as well as in some stolen moments!) for almost seven months now, so I guess it is not surprising I am feeling a little of the empty nest syndrome--seven months is definitely a gestational time period.

While the mask forms themselves are one of my existing designs, I went somewhere very different with them. Not just because they are not wearable in this form, but because I was able to play with a range of techniques, materials, and stylistic elements that I have been eager to try for sometime.

Now I am looking forward to bringing some of this style and creative energy into my wearable masks.

Click to see the whole pieces, and to read the artist statementCollapse )

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Friday, September 19th, 2008
12:50 pm
Just in case you don't read my business journal, I thought I should mention that I am teaching two maskmaking workshops in October.

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Sunday, August 3rd, 2008
10:55 pm - Summer Sorting, Scallywag mice, Slow Soap, and Somewhat Stalled art.
August is the month where the days are long and sunny, but business gets a bit slow and our wallets tend to be a little tighter than usual. This does however allow us some time to attend to the tasks that have spent the rest of the year just out of reach.

Cleaning the pantry cupboard and the garage has occupied much of our attention the past couple of days, along with the banishment of mice who had suddenly moved inside to put their greedy attentions towards several packages of pasta, popcorn, and chocolate brownie mixture! Our cleaning intervention was just in the nick of time to save the chocolate macadamia nut stash, but oddly, not soon enough to save several reams of printed paperwork (non-essential thankfully!) in the studio supply cupboard.

It was also the opportunity to get rid of several boxes worth of kitchen implements we never use, including some things I have been dragging around with me for over 10 years now. What a wonderful feeling of freedom to finally part ways with such unneeded brick-a-brak! I'm looking forward to applying the same treatment to some of my other assortments of unnecessary things, and I might even set up a small stand at the Last Thursday art walk this month to try and sell some of the more interesting and unusual curios and clothings I am planning to part ways with.

Today was also soap-making day! We went with a very basic cold process recipe, which just combines lye and vegetable oils. Once it has cured we can then "rebatch" or "hand mill" it to make fancier varieties full of scented oils and lovely things such as (if all goes well) dried lavender and rose petals from our garden. Now normally, cold process soap is supposed to start setting up after 40 to 90 minutes, but for some reason it took over 5 hours today! We'll know after 24 hours has passed if this batch is actually going to become soap or not, and if we should go ahead and let it continue curing (or if we need to start over from scratch).

Now lest you think I have must have all the free time in the world available to tend to such projects, I must explain the difference between "Piecemeal Time" and "Focused Time" in my schedule. All of the above has been occurring within "Piecemeal Time". That means tiny snippets of usable time punctuated with my many motherly duties, where under ideal circumstances R is around to step in and keep a project going (or actually started, or finally completed) every time I have to rush away to see to our little guy's many needs.

"Focused Time", without any interruptions, is what I am short on right now. Studio time ideally falls into Focused Time, especially when I am exploring new artistic territory. But over the last five months I have still managed to scrape away at an interesting trio of pieces for a show called "The Altered Book Project", showing in North Portland in September and October. My pieces do include masks, (although unwearable), text excepts from the Walt Whitman poem Eidólons, and they are a complete departure technique-wise from anything I have ever made before. But I have been having lots of fun with smashed and reconstructed materials, acrylic medium toner transferring, and mixed media and found object collage. The only problem is that my lack of "Focused Time" did not allow me to make the project's July 15th deadline. The organizers are very kind though, and it sounds like I may be able to exhibit the pieces inside the local bookstore who is the sponsor of the event (rather than having them in the official gallery for the show). We shall see though, the pieces still require a little more Focused Time to throughly assemble them, but I'm getting closer. Will post some pictures of them soon!

And here is a taste of Eidólons to leave you with in the meantime:

Ever the dim beginning,
Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,
Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again,)
Eidolons! eidolons!

Ever the mutable,
Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,
Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,
Issuing eidolons.

Lo, I or you,
Or woman, man, or state, known or unknown,
We seeming solid wealth, strength, beauty build,
But really build eidolons.

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Friday, July 25th, 2008
3:30 pm - From now on: Whatever I feel like posting about!
So I've been thinking about this blog, and what I post in it, and what I don't post in it. Very frequently, when that bloggish urge comes upon me, I don't follow up on it. Perhaps the subject of the un-post is not sufficiently art-related, or it concerns a topic that I doubt the few folks who actual read this would care about. Well, I have decided I don't care, and I'm going to post whatever I feel like! I have my business blog anyway, for posts that are solely mask and art related. This is my blog, for me, so it should be my playground for any of the thoughts, issues, and obsessions that I chose to share with the world! So if you're just interested in me for artsy-fartsy reasons, then you should unfriend this blog right now, and just stick with reading the business one. Now, on to the fun stuff...

We're making beer! Just a simple ale to start with, and from a kit. But we're still very excited about it! Hoping it will turn out OK, and be ready to share and enjoy just in time for R's birthday! Real beer brewing fanatics will likely turn their nose up at the kit approach to beer brewing, but it was an easy way, and cheaper (initially) way for us to try it out. We can always get fancy later, when we're more familiar with the process.

This is the latest thing in the home-grown, homestead-y, do-it-yourself kick that R and I have been getting into for awhile now. We're putting much more energy into our veggie garden this year, even talking about canning the extra beans and tomatoes at the end of the season. An ever improving series of delicious artisan-type loaves have been coming out of our oven! (We've hardly used the breadmachine the last couple of months, ever since we discovered the NYT "No kneed Dutch Oven Bread" recipe). And right now, I am reading up on making soap--from scratch, not from a melt and pour kit! On the parenting frontier, we've been making our own babyfood, and I've even ditched the diaper service and I'm now laundering our own cloth diapers.

Sure, some of this frenzy has been motivated by the rising costs of buying things other people produced faceless supermarkets sell and big-business factories make. But I have also had a long term interest in how people survived before supermarkets and factories, when they had to be much more self-sufficient. Sure, there are plenty of modern conveniences I like to have around, but I like the idea of finding a balance between modern and old-timey/self-sufficient ways of living. Especially if it helps us save money, gives more satisfying results, and reduces the amount of garbage (excess packaging etc) we generate.

A cool blog on this topic: http://www.homegrownevolution.com . I still need to pick up their book "Urban Homesteading".

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Monday, July 21st, 2008
9:44 pm - Mask for performance this Saturday in Portland


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Thursday, May 29th, 2008
12:13 pm - On the Balance Between Being a Mother and an Artist, Part II
Four things I did not anticipate about being an artist becoming a mother:

1. Loss of artistic identity.
2. Change of roles in my husband's and my relationship--Is my art just a hobby now?
3. Isolation, (both social and creative)
4. The amount of time it takes to get things back on track with an art career after having a baby.

1. Loss of artistic identity.

This is a big one, and it has many levels. The most basic level is if I don't have time to make art, am I still an artist?

I am surprised that once the word was out that I was expecting, nobody mentioned that I wouldn't get to be "Me plus a baby" for quite some time. Babies are all-encompassing, especially during the first three months. I think that all new mothers (at least those who do not have any extended family nearby) must get to experience the "Zombie Mom" phase, where every nuance and distinction of one's personality gets consumed by the unending cycle of feedings, diaper changes, laundry, soothing the screaming (the baby's mostly), and the challenge of finding time to eat or sleep oneself.

Happily, as we reached the six-month mark, I found it possible to awaken from Zombie-survival-mode, and start to remember a few details of my previous identity. And while I am still going day to day in dingy, spit-up stained clothes now, I can at least start to imagine getting dressed in the morning (yes, actually in the morning now!) without having to change my shirt an hour later. But I'm still saving my nice, artsy attire for later on--the baby and I have ruined enough of my clothing already!

By the way, if you thought you didn't want all that "unnecessary plastic baby junk" like exersaucers and baby swings, better brace yourself ahead of time--you will want it, and you will use it, and it will take over the house. Forget about your vision of your house as a private gallery or an artistic retreat, it's the baby's house now!

I'll cover points 2, 3 and 4 next..

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10:41 am - On the Balance Between Being a Mother and an Artist, Part 1
It has been six and a half months now, since my life completely changed.

My life has changed many times before, as I have often had a habit of trading out my "hat" every couple of years. My interests, my style, and my career goals have been in a state of flux from the time I was 12 years old until I reached 25. When my mask business became a serious venture in 2000, the years that followed have actually been my most consistent phase. Something must have changed in the alignment of the planets at that time, for I found a wonderful and stable relationship at that time as well! But perhaps it was several years of stability that finally allowed me (us) to make the big decision that has transformed my life (our lives) into something more different than ever before.

Everything I have ever done pales beside becoming a parent. It is the most enormous and exhausting project I have ever tackled, and at the beginning I had no idea of the sacrifices it would entail. Only 6 months into the process am I even able to think about getting one or two fragmented hours in the studio each week--assuming I can find any remaining energy to be creative with. But even an hour here and there can gradually allow a new piece of art to come together.

"The Nursery Years" as a friend calls them, are fleeting. And many of the lessons learned now will only help my art career later on. Patience, time-management, flexibility and routine have never been talents of mine, but learning to manage them has now become a matter of survival.

Patience is an especially big lesson.

But each day brings something wonderful, and there are so many moments to delight in. They are just a very different variety of delightful moments than my life revolved around a year ago. But at 28 weeks old now, my son is so alert and fascinated in everything that it is hard to resist dreaming of the day when we can go to the studio to do something creative together.


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Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
11:25 pm

2 months

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10:59 pm - On Becoming a Mother
The whole world seemed within reach when I was a child. I was eager to learn everything, go everywhere, and try almost anything.

As I got older, I started to realize there is only so much that one person can do in one life, and that there are more people and things in the world than most of us can really wrap our minds around. We are not each a fish in a pond, but diatoms in a vast ocean.

Which is why it is such a magical thing to imagine the world as my son sees it. To see him wake up each morning, so ready to face that whole enormous world and to take it on. And it is a wonderful reversal, to go from feeling like a fleeting speck of humanity, to being the biggest, most significant presence in somebody’s existence. The mother and baby relationship is a binary system that reduces everything else into just so many planets and asteroid belts in orbit around us.

Despite this, my new identity as “Mum” has taken some getting used to. I fought it a little bit to begin with, not out of any lack of love for my child, but just because it was (and is) such an enormous shift.

More on becoming a motherCollapse )

And on a different note, I just noticed something really quite eerie this evening. Exactly 3 years before the night of my going into labor, I posted the following words in an old and rather dark private journal entry:

“God forbid that someone like myself should be permitted to breed and inflict children on this world!”

That’s all I am going to share from that entry, although the rest is fairly melodramatic. But what a long way I have come in three years!

Next, “On Integrating Life as an Artist with Life as a Mother”.

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11:32 am

Day 2

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11:19 am - On Giving Birth
There is an incredible amount of emotional, physical, and even spiritual experience compressed within the process of giving birth. With each retelling of the tale I discover something new, have another realization about it, or find that another misplaced memory has finally risen to the surface.

Perhaps it is because giving birth is such a primal act. Most of our lives (once we become verbal anyway) we experience and analyze everything with what I will call our “surface brain”. This is the kind of thinking that distinguishes us from most of the animal kingdom. There are only a few other things that are dominated by the more primal parts of our brain, sex being an obvious one, as well as extreme examples of panic or rage. But I think it just takes time for the surface brain to process such a large amount of material, which occurred while it had largely vacated the premises!

More on the BirthCollapse )

Next, “On Becoming a Mother”.

P.S. A special thanks to Miss_Marissa for the sweet token that prompted me to stop mulling over whether or not I was going to keep posting to my journal, and to actually do it.

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Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
5:38 pm - Due

For a full thirty-eight weeks now, I have awaited for the arrival of my son.

Short, quick weeks at first, becoming long and contemplative as the months have rolled by.

Perhaps he waits for fall's last leaves to tumble down? Yesterday's wind storms were enough to tear the boughs from ancient maples in neighborhoods nearby, yet a few splashes of color cling still to some of their younger brethren.

Or perhaps he waits for the icy nibbles of the first true frost? This fall has had the longest growing season of any I remember from my nine spent in Portland.

I read once, that any fruits left in the garden after All Hallow's Eve were claimed by the fairies. If so, than I have certainly eaten enough forbidden grapes, figs, tomatoes and beans these past thirteen days for my son to be partially their property as well!

Looking back to this Spring and Summer past, a great many random images...
ClickCollapse )

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Saturday, November 3rd, 2007
2:32 pm - Halloween and tea party decor

My very dear friend agrathea  threw me a Spooky Victorian Tea Party baby shower right before Halloween!

The house was bedecked with cobwebs and handmade bats, paper streamers and Victorian cards, pumpkins and candles.

A sumptuous spread of sugary treasures were laid out, and stacks of china tea cups and saucers awaited teapots full of mango tea and lichee tea to finish steeping.

We had made Halloween Holiday Crackers from colored tissue paper and cardboard, filled with candy, thimbles, silk flowers, and skull necklaces for a lucky few! One cracker awarded its recipient the grand prize, a black lace gowned doll, decorated with veil and bat wings.

Each guest presented a special bead to the mother-to-be, along with their wishes and blessings for the baby and the birth, to create a unique bracelet and memento of the forthcoming event.

Gifts were unwrapped, scones and cakes were snacked upon, and tea was drained in large quantities!

And then each guest left for home with a Victorian-inspired votive candle, to light when the birth begins.

11 photosCollapse )

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Sunday, September 30th, 2007
9:34 pm
Finishing this mask for the Quirks show was a much needed breath of fresh air.

2 big images behind the cutCollapse )

I started it way back in 2005 (!!!) when I had a little time to experiment on a couple of mask ideas, but since then I had been too busy/tired/stuck in the same routine to complete it. However, being invited to join a last minute mask show this October was the perfect excuse to dust the bits off and see what I could do with them.

It is really quite sad to realize that I have not finished any one-of-a-kind pieces for my own enjoyment in over two years. In fact, the only thing that made it possible this time is that I start my Maternity Leave in two weeks, so I have been holding off taking a lot of special orders and custom requests recently.

But this is all about to change!

As of October 15th, a limited number of lower-priced G.A. masks and horns are only going to be sold through retailers like Maskarade in New Orleans. Additionally, I'll be (officially) out of the studio until after Mardi Gras, and then I will launch a NEW website to replace the old G.A. domain, which will focus on high-end, one-of-a-kind, unique works of Mask ART credited to myself by name. There will be a few high-end pieces available for sale online, but I ultimately hope to use the site as a promotional aid for applying to galleries seeking exhibiting artists. And after more than 8 years of "Goblin" art, it is going to be such a relief to explore any design idea I wish to without worrying about how "gobliny" it is, as well being able to emphasize myself as a Real Artist, instead of a mask factory!

As for those of you who have been fans of G.A. since the early days, I hope you will understand my decision to do this. I desperately need to reclaim a sense of artistic wellbeing, as well as make better use of the much more limited amount of time and energy I am going to have to spend in the studio and office next year, (and probably for the next 18 years thereafter!). I simply cannot continue to spend 30-60 hours a week cranking out huge numbers of copies of the same masks over and over again, as well as fielding large amounts of email, (where typically the cheaper the order, the more hours are spent sending multiple emails back and forth to try and satisfy a customer). These issues have been a concern for awhile, but after looking at the last couple of years worth of tax numbers, finding out that there was almost no net profit after all that hard work has really put them into sharp relief. :(

Anyhow, I am quite dizzy with excitement about what this transition means. I have spent too long throwing myself at the mercy of other people's demands. It is time to do art for myself for awhile.

I hope you will enjoy the results.

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Friday, September 14th, 2007
2:29 pm
A short while ago there was a wonderful antique store on the main street close to my house. It was named "The Gray Gardens" (after a movie that featured a family of eccentrics rattling around in a decrepit mansion). During the year it was open, I found myself drawn inside over and over again, to peruse the collection of antique furniture, clothing, trinkets, and oddball art that was available for sale. The store had a lovely charm to it, the vintage decor itself was wonderful, and the building itself was once a 1919 repair shop for Ford Model T's. I quickly became friendly with the proprietor, and a regular customer. Unfortunately though, there were too few regular customers, and so the store's life finally came to a close. It is so sad to pass by it now, and see the For Lease sign and the paper over the windows.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I was especially sad the store hadn't made it to Halloween, as we were going to do a fabulous Halloween window display using my masks. And I could not help myself but to have fantasies of sumptuous displays throughout the store the rest of the year, of masks draped on antique dressers, and on maniquins wearing Victorian finery.

So I was very excited to get a phone call from the proprietor, who was thinking about the future of the space and how I might like to be involved with that. The responses to his For Lease sign had been most uninspired, (mostly from people looking for cheap storage), but he was determined that the character of the building be taken advantage of, and be used for something inspired. He is considering starting a collective there next year, featuring a combination of art and and antiques, with artists and merchants sharing the costs and the time involved in such an endevour. Also important to me, is that there would also be enough space for artists to work on their art there.

Even with the big shift my life is about to take, this is the kind of idea that haunts me at night when I dream, (and distracts me during the day with daydreams too!). The building is perfect, it is close to my house and studio, and it would provide me with the local retail presence I currently lack. Plus, there would be space for art shows, fashion shows, maskmaking workshops, and of course parties!

I hope he is serious about this idea, although I know that the perfect renter could still show up between now, and when the sproggling will be old enough for me to seriously get back to work.

But I still have to dream.....

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Thursday, September 13th, 2007
6:42 pm - Sand & sun, the expiring of amber jelly fish, and dreams of our own eccentric retreat
On a recent Friday we packed our bags and a picnic basket, and fled the city (and our daily lives and jobs) to the coast.

We drove the winding way through the Coastal Mountain Range, a fresh loaf of bread still cooling in the back of the car, (swathed tightly in purple gingham tea towels), its own rich aroma mixing with those of wood mills and freshly mown alfalfa fields.

Upon reaching our coastal sanctuary, (a charming little house atop a bluff, with a cupola and an ocean view, owned by the parents of a friend), we discovered that the key bearer was to be delayed in the city several hours! But a porch overlooking the beach (and a perfectly clear and beautiful afternoon) was still accessible to us. We took our pillows and blankets and created a charming nest (or our hobo camp as R described it!) where we ate fresh bread with tomatoes (picked that morning from our garden) and cheese, as well as ice cream before it melted, our having no freezer available yet to store it in!

We proceeded from there to a nearby campground with beach access (and increasingly necessary facilities!), and spent the rest of our wait taking in the fresh salty air, strolling through gentle waves, and examining the tide's sandy offerings, left ashore as it headed to lower levels.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Click me for more...Collapse )

R and I dream of having a little coastal sanctuary of our own some day. A curious little house hidden in the forests east of the Coast perhaps, (but not so far inland that one would hesitate to visit the ocean at least once if not twice a day). A welcoming place, but one where we can escape the rest of civilization. A place to make art, listen to music, and revel in building our own collection of strange oddities and coastal brick-a-brack.

Here are some of the things our house would have in it! (Everything except the map was found at a fantastic little Coastal grocery and gift store, just along the road from the octagon house).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
"Devil fish", dried puffer fish, giant moth, and shark heads!

Sadly, that store shall be gone very soon, when the highway is moved further up the hill to avoid an eroding cliff. But each time we have visited in the past couple of years, we have been pleasantly surprised to find the store is still there!

It is so good to commune with the sandy seas. Somehow everything that is laid before the ocean gains perspective. The important things in life are revealed, and everything else is stripped down to what it truly is: Stress and unnecessary complications.

Listen to the ocean.....

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Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
12:01 pm - Eclipse this morning

I was awake at 3am this morning, so I though I would try and take a few photos of the total lunar eclipse. My digital camera is not especially fancy, so I was surprised to actually capture more than a rusty blob in the sky! How lovely that the west coast of the USA happened to be in the region where the eclipse was fully visible! I also saw 2 or 3 shooting stars during the hour. (Remnants of the Perseids, perhaps?)

I wish I could have stayed up long enough to watch the entire event. I think I saw most of the portion when the moon turns red (Totality), but I missed the black shadow of the earth biting into the moon at either end. Still, when I came back inside I was able to adjust my curtain so I could watch it just a bit more before I fell asleep.

You can read some good basic info on lunar eclipses here.
And here is a time lapse animated gif of a total lunar eclipse from March 3rd, where you can clearly see the different phases.

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Friday, August 24th, 2007
1:37 pm - City of figs

I find it somehow miraculous that I live in a climate that supports fig trees. Portland's weather and plant life is fairly similar to Dunedin's, but I never saw fresh figs while I lived in New Zealand. The fig tree that graces the back yard of our Portland home was a sad, smothered twig when we discovered it beneath a thicket of blackberry canes and butterfly bush branches four years ago. But today, (after much care and coddling),  it stands tall, its heliotropic leaves and branches always arching towards the sun as the day moves by. The last couple of years it has attempted two crops annually. In the first one, the fruits are succulent and delicious, although far from numerous. In the second (and much more prolific one), the fruits sadly do not make it to maturity before the frosts come. Still, I am thrilled to enjoy the small amount of ripened fruit we do get (and that the birds do not beat us to!)

There is another fig tree in our neighbourhood which we recently discovered--a gigantic beauty which presides over the backyard dinning area of one of our favorite local lunch spots. A different variety, it seems to have just one crop annually. Still far from ripe at this date, the fruits spread out far above us, so many small green teardrops, as numerous as stars in a city night sky. Fig trees and their fruits are magical.

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