Tuesday, November 9, 2010

East Coast? West Coast? NO COAST!


Let the countdown to mass craziness begin, baby. Here's all you need to know:

What: No Coast Craft-o-Rama
When: De-cem-ber 3rd & 4th
Where: Midtown Global Exchange building in Minn-e-apolis
Who: Craft-er-all and a boat load of some of this region's coolest artists and handmade geniuses
How Much: How much you got? ;)

Seriously, I'm psyched and totally inventory deficient. Going to stock up first on some bulk "Midnight Oil" so I can burn the heck out of it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Locally Harvested

Yesterday, I dropped off some work to be included in my first, official, fine art show. I've been slow to adopt the title "Artist" and have come a long way from making greeting cards to what I do now. This show marks my foray into gallery shows, and I'm pretty excited about it.

The Show: Locally Harvested "small art - big beauty". Held within the Capstone Gallery at 4325 Nicollet Ave S. in Minneapolis, November 12 - December 28. Opening Party will be November 19, from 6 - 9 p.m.

The Works:

"Reincarnations No.1" & "Reincarnations No.2"

These pieces represent an idea I've had rumbling around in my head and in my sketchbook for at least a year. I wanted to play with the silhouette trend that's been hot lately, and yet do something new and maybe meaningful with it. For this work, I've tried to capture the sense that we go through a series of different selves as we age, and that somewhere inside us, there are traces of ourselves as younger and younger "reincarnations."

These are some of the first pieces I've designed digitally for the Silhouette cutter. The newer software application is so much easier to use and has opened up a new world of cutting possibilities for me. So far, I'm quite pleased with the results.


This is another idea I've had for a long time: to create a topography-type piece in sections for a puzzle-like look. The result turned out better than I expected. I am digging the "friction" caused by seeing the flow of the water subject interrupted by the separation. Perhaps it's a comment about how we've disrupted the land around us. Or perhaps it's just neat.


This piece is similar to "Flow" in that the subject has been sliced apart, but here, I've mounted them on a single piece of cardstock, and then elevated two of the pieces for more depth. I'm playing with the idea of topography, the height of the land, and the disruption of the status quo.


Cut from 14 layers of brown and cream cardstock, this work has both the mountain and the quarry from which it was "mined" as equal halves of the same material.

"Clary Lake"

My last piece is an homage to Mr. Charles Clary, a contemporary paper artist to whom I've been nicely compared by some. I tried to mimic Clary's technique of layering with space in between the layers, while still maintaining my flair for topography, land and water.

This was my first experiment with this and I have to admit that my respect for the precision and complexity of Clary's work rose immensely throughout this process.

While working on these delayed my production of some custom requests and general shop stocking, the show is exactly the motivation I needed to work out some of these ideas, and feel a little more worthy of the title, "artist."

I'd love to hear what you think of these. And I'd really love to see you at the show!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Right Hand

This is my right hand.

This is the hand that does most of the work. This is the hand that holds the blade and wiggles it through the cardstock on every piece I make. This is the hand that brings down the arm of the paper trimmer, that pulls the fresh sheet of paper from the drawer, that lines up the ruler with the edge, that drags the adhesive dispenser across the surface, that writes the note, that presses the sticker on the package, that takes over more than its half of the keyboard when I type, that runs a stiff fingertip along a fold, that aligns this piece with that, that hits "enter" and pauses while I reread, that grabs, shuffles, pinches, smooths, and stretches. This is the hand that I pull away from my work to rest, to let dangle at my side until the feeling returns, the pain subsides, and the cramp eases.

It's a little hand, with little dimply knuckles, a tiny scab here and there, hangnails, my mother's ring that never sits right, clipped nails, and a freckle or two. It also shows the wear of my work. On a knuckle on my pinky, there's a yellowy callous from where my hand has slid across thousands (millions?) of sheets of paper over that last three years.

And on my middle finger, a larger, but not as hardened callous between the top two knuckles, from the pressure of the blade against it day after day and day.

These are my "battle scars," my decoration from hours of odd and repetitive use, and my body's way of adapting to what I do for a living. Small, inconspicuous, but there, hardening, and thickening over time. They remind me of the choices I've made to get me here, and the time I've committed to this work. On my disheveled right hand, I wear them like badges of honor.

I'd give my left arm to be ambidextrous. (let that one sink in a bit...)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ninety-nine... One hundred!

The very first piece, back when it was "NEW"
In November of 2008, I sold my first 8 x 10" Topography in Aqua piece. I was bolstered to create the larger, frame-able sized pieces based on the small and growing success of my new topography cards, and was just as surprised as anyone when these did well too.

Number 100 (detail)

Just under two years later, I've cut my 100th version of these. There have been other aqua topographies in different sizes, and differently colored pieces as well. Each of these are numbered in their own sets. Looking at the older photos, it's fun to see the evolution of my work. The cardstock is different, my cutting is a bit more complex, and the descriptions are a bit more fleshed out, but the basic concept is still pretty much the same.

Number 100
Thank you, dear readers and fans of the shop. Your encouragement and support has truly helped me reach this milestone. I can only image what all 100 of those pieces would look like stacked one atop another, or in a gallery, framed and hung in a line on a long, long wall. How cool would that be?! Here's to the next 100!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Alaska, Forida, New York, Oh My!

More custom requests have been filing in, with miraculously workable timing. Do you all get together behind my back and sort yourselves out, or am I just this lucky to maintain a lovely, nearly constant stream of requests? Either way, I'll take it!

Here's a look at what I've been up to lately.

Auke Bay, near Juneau, Alaska

Auke Bay (detail)
This piece shows one of the few times that I used the darkest color for the land as the base layer, instead of working the four shades the other way. I think the effect works really well since the land closest to the ocean here is rich with giant evergreens, and just up the steep sides of these mountains are glaciers and snow caps. I also really like the greater contrast between the light blue of the water and the dark green of the land. Might have to try this with my next few Islands pieces.

Next up, warm and sunny, Sanibel Island in southwest Florida:

Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island (detail)
Because the topography is very subtle here and much of the island is marshy wetland, the buyer and I agreed that just two layers of green would suffice to represent the land in this area. I chose the middle of the Grass Green set for a nice, true-green tone with good contrast to those gulf coast waters. With all the little islands and lakes, I don't think we missed the other two layers.

Back up north, this time on the eastern side of the country, I had another request for the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. This time, I was asked to recreate the land's topography as well as the lake depths. It was fairly crucial to be as accurate as I could be as the buyer and her friend participated in a thigh-busting, 300-mile bike ride up and down this terrain, and these pieces were to be souvenirs of that event. It took a few tries, and quite a bit of back-and-forth communication, but I think we did O.K. in the end, and I'm very grateful for the patience and flexibility of this buyer. These pieces aren't the winners, but they'll give you a good idea of the project and all those lovely hills.

Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes (detail)

Staying in New York, but moving to the big city, I recreated a section of Manhattan's Upper West Side, along the Hudson River, and across from the Fairview area.

Upper West Side

Upper West Side (detail)It's a wonderfully simple piece with quiet sophistication, done up in creamy browns. I like how the river, at a distance, could almost be mistaken for a piece of bark, then the fabricated piers on the west bank reveal that it is something else entirely, and perhaps, to a keen observer, give away its true location identity.

What fun stuff you guys throw at me, and what a great way to "travel" the world. Thank you!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Packaging Tidbits

My post on basic packaging tips is up on the Handmade Minnesota team blog. I invite you to scoot over there, have a read, and please share a bit of your packaging and shipping acumen. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eight Hundred Cards

What does 800 cards from Crafterall look like?

Something like this:

Sorted, counted, ready to package:

Making the cards is the biggest part, but by no means the only part of filling such a large order. There's packaging the individual cards and/or sets with envelopes and inserts, completing and printing necessary packing and billing paperwork, packing the entire order to be shipped, and obtaining postage for the whole deal.

I really like this part. It's relatively mindless and it lets me do something I love: play with packaging!

This is starting to feel kinda "big time." I'm exhausted, proud, and thrilled all at once. Phew!

*edited to add: Did you know that there is a wiki page for the number "800"? At first, I thought it was a bit ridiculous as I read, "800 (eight hundred) is the natural number following 799 and preceding 801." Um... duh. We need a wiki for this? Then, I read this: "It is the sum of four consecutive primes (193 + 197 + 199 + 211), " and proceeded to geek out. This is actually pretty darn cool. See here for more on 800 or choose your own number.*

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome to dee islands, mon!

I finally got around to creating more fictional island pieces for the shop, after making (and selling) the first two back when there was still snow on the ground. As ever, I continue to be inspired by cutting actual locations for custom requests, and it's so fun to be able to do "whatever" with these imagined places. Each piece is, at its most diverse points, eight layers thick, and the pieces are available in three different sizes:

8 x 10"

No. 5
No. 5 (detail)

No. 6

No. 6 (detail)

No. 7

No. 7 (detail)

10 x 12"

No. 3

No. 3 (detail)

No. 8
No. 8 (detail)

and 12 x 12" (The Big Kahuna!)

No. 4

No. 4 (detail)

I'm pondering new colorways too. Tan to brown land surrendering its ore to rusty orange waters? Monochromatic whites, greys, into black? All white? What do you think?

Until I work up the budget to spend time on a real tropical island, I will be happy to pretend, as my blade cuts land and volcanic peaks from cerulean waters, that I am there, sipping something chilled and mildly intoxicating, swinging lazily in a canvas hammock, the lullaby of waves hush-hushing me to sleep.

Thanks for having a look.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Working the Land

uffta (OOF-tah): interjection: Exclamation of Norwegian origin, popular in strongly Scandinavian settlements in the upper Midwest, used to express surprise, bewilderment, astonishment, pity, pain, and fatigue. Syn. yikes, oh boy, whoa nelly, hoo-wee, good gravy.

I'm happy to report that the custom requests continue to pour into my shop at a nicely steady pace. While many of them remain in the style of my original lake-style bathymetries, the most recent requests have begun to grow legs and climb onto land for a look at the good life. Starting from the simplest, though not necessarily easiest, to the most complex, here's a look at what me and my trusty lil' blade have been up to lately.

The first piece is basically a reverse of my typical pieces. Instead of the land being a single, solid white layer with the water represented in layers of deepening color, the water here is a base layer of white, and the land is layered on top in the shades from light to dark. Abstract veining, or a chunk of Mobjack Bay, near Gloucester, Virgina?

Going with more land-like coloration, another patron requested a 12-layer representation of Little Switzerland, North Carolina. If you notice, there's a handful of little lakes scattered throughout this area as well.

Incorporating the water into the land-based topographies took off from there. Starting small, here is the stunning Plage du Pyla on the southwestern coast of France.

From here, it was an all-out war against my brains and hands to work both the land's topography and the water's depth into a single piece. Here is an artistically isolated Marrowstone Island, from the great state of Washington.

(entire piece)
And it didn't get any easier from there. A request for the Rhode Island coastline near Westerly:

(entire piece)

And then onto the largest lake in New Hampshire: Lake Winnipesaukee. I counted at least 53 islands here, not including the little hills of land that were islands of another sort.


(entire piece)
Finally, the biggest, most time-taxing, brain-busting piece to date was actually a set of pieces. Two pairs of pieces of two different areas of Quebec -- Rouyn-Noranda and Montreal.


(both sets)
To answer a question that I'm sure many of you have in mind at this point, YES, these take a good, many hours to complete, and cutting the pieces is only a small portion of the process. For many of these, especially those attempting to capture a big area in a much smaller space, it's difficult to find easy-to-read topographic maps that generalize the land's topography enough to be of use. Most of the time, I need to zoom in to see the lines, choose which ones to follow, and then zoom out to work the lines into the piece itself. I feel like I add more wrinkles in my brain by doing this. It is mentally exhausting, and it is totally worth it. The results look way cool to me, and I'm excited to tackle some more. Not all areas seem to translate as well as others, but they all have an artful final look, and, best of all, the recipients get to own an original art map of the place they love.

You can say it with me: Uffta!

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