My “Fish Phase”

Last time I showed you a stamp I made based on a mandala doodle I drew in my journal, that I also used as an egg design inspiration. I like to cross over mediums like that. I went in the other direction with my “fish phase”. It all started when I made this Ukrainian Gift Shop design for my brother-in-law, Steve, who has a lot of fish-themed decor in his house. (Why yes, he *is* a bachelor. Straight single ladies who happen to read this blog, take note.)

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And then I really, really liked drawing that fish. So I drew it more, and made variations on how I colored it in.

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And then I thought, why not make a stamp! I didn’t plan on sending the pysanka to Steve until Easter, but we try to send him a little note every month or so, so I thought it would be fun to make a card using this design on a stamp, and give him a little foreshadowing…

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I actually made more fish, because I painted a page of watercolor in red & blue so it would look like betta fish coloration. But I didn’t really like the way the card came out all that well, so I decided not to make more of that fishbowl design just yet and put the rest of the watercolor betta fish stamp “school” on my wall, where they are happily swimming for now.

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My Sketchbook

I started keeping a sketchbook around the end of January. I had this one around the house from a drawing book I never ended up working my way through, and I liked the idea of using a low-cost, “low-risk”, low-pressure newsprint pad. Somehow, it feels more “okay” to make mistakes on newsprint, and I’m trying to let myself make a lot of mistakes.

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I notice that I definitely go through “phases” with the things I’m interested in or working on, and I’m guessing that’s a normal thing? Trying to work on what works and what doesn’t….

For a couple weeks, I was really into making mandalas. I’m not really capable (yet?) of doing things…geometrically? Regularly? I’m not sure what the term would be, but whatever requires neatness & straight lines & even spacing, that is not my strong suit. So I try thinking of it as “doodles”, or “organic lines with great energy”, or whatever else lets you get away with not using a ruler & compass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATop, left-right: A Tibetan-Buddhist-looking mandala, middle one influenced this egg, another doodle, all colored pencil

Bottom, left-right: trying magic marker & different design elements, middle one influence this egg, and here you can see I’m sort of getting “done” with this whole mandala thing. Or at least this one sort of sucks.

I also started making a bunch of stamps. I really liked the design of the middle one in the bottom row, so I cut it out of craft foam & used spray adhesive to mount it on a scrap of cardboard. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t think it looked very good just plain, but when I outline it with pen, it looks better. I like to use it as a “seal” stamped onto the backs of envelopes.

Next time: More stamps

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Not For Sale!

David & I have this running bit that we do around the house. He’ll go, “How much? How much for the panther??” and I’ll go, “Not for sale!” and hug Bean really tight. Sometimes he’ll insist that no price is too high, that he must have him for his exotic animal collection, but I never give in.

I’d definitely be a little more flexible with my pysanky! Most of these are not for sale because I’ve already given them as gifts, and/or because they’re not my designs–I learned to make pysanky by copying designs from the Ukrainian Gift Shop catalogs, which is a fine way to learn, but I don’t feel okay about selling them. All the eggs I sell are either my own design, or a traditional way of dividing the egg that I came up with my own color scheme for.

Without further ado:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the egg that started the season! A longtime Livejournal/zine/internet/a couple memorable times IRL friend (::waves:: hi, Amy!) saw the pysanky I made for my friend Gina M and asked if I would make another one with one more deer added for her family of three. We set it up as a art/craft trade, and I’m getting a handknit scarf soon, with absolutely gorgeous yarn that’s named “granite” and is tones of white, grey, and black.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a Ukrainian Gift Shop (UGS) design, made for my herbalist, who was very helpful during my most recent miscarriage.

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A front & side view of the “freeform mandala” egg I used as the Snowgoose Studio profile picture.  I was showing my friend Julie the new studio, and she picked this egg out as her favorite. Later in the evening we brought them out to the kitchen to show her new husband Jim, and he picked this one out as his favorite too! So off it goes as a wedding gift, not for sale!

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This one is not for sale for a sad reason–yesterday I opened my “inventory” carton, and the top was broken off! I don’t know how in the world it happened; it was emptied, so it didn’t explode (which sometimes happens with full, rotten eggs–super gross), all the other eggs in the same carton were in fine condition, nothing was on top of the carton, it was too high for cats to get….no idea. Goodbye, pysanka #2! (They have numbers so I can keep track of who bought what.)

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I was working on the “fishscale division”, and decided to make concentric fishscales, inspired by my friend Maisie who draws these intricate concentric patterns, and made me a beautiful hotplate carved with a woodburning tool. I named this style “Mazeyfish” in her honor, and sent her this first one as a gift.

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And this Mazeyfish was Snowgoose Studio’s first sale!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd lastly, a design I honestly don’t remember where it came from. Sometimes I just copy the photos from websites and I haven’t been very good about sourcing them all the time, which is bad, but I won’t sell anyone else’s designs. This was given to a friend of ours for her birthday.

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Snowgoose Studio

Well, you can see I haven’t been updating very much.  I’m trying to accept that I struggle with consistency, that I go through phases, that I’m up & down, run hot & cold, that I’ve been diagnosed as bipolar for years now and shouldn’t I be used to it by now? So I’m trying something new, which is a theme these days too. I’m going to try my best to “go with it”–to do a lot when I’m feeling good, to write a mess of blog posts, and save them to post  when I’m not feeling particularly inspired. That might mean that some stuff is pretty old, and I’ll try to let you know when I was working on it. Let’s see how this goes.

So what *did* I do over the past…two months, I guess? Oh, geez. Well, the biggest & best has probably been the creation of Snowgoose Studio.  For now, in “public”, it’s a Facebook page where I list my psyanky for sale in photo albums with prices in the description. I accept Paypal or you can contact me directly (coldinaugust@gmail.com) to work out payment options. Still time for Ostara/Easter shipping!

But really, Snowgoose Studio is something bigger than that. On Imbolc weekend (February 3rd, I think), David helped me set up a corner of the spare room for my very own “art studio”.

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Near a window for good light. Man, I need good light.

Never gonna not be a mess.

Never gonna not be a mess.

Now, maybe I’m just taking myself too seriously, not calling it a craft room or whatever. But I like the sound of “art studio”. Really, I like the sound of “art school”. I’ve been wanting to go to art school for while now, but I don’t really want to do it the traditional way, with figuring out how to pay for it, the whole structure of school (classes at certain times, assignments, etc.), the length of time it would take to get a degree, and the sort of…pointlessness of getting one, because I don’t intend to look for a job with it. I just want to learn more about art. So I’m sending myself to “art homeschool”. God knows I spend enough time learning about stuff online and reading stuff and looking at stuff but much less time actually *making* stuff. Not anymore.

I’ve been working on a lot of things, which I’m excited to show you.  Next time: some of the not-for-sale pysanky I’ve made this season!

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The “Howdy, Doug” Series

David has two brothers, Doug and Steve, both of whom we mostly hear from at holidays. This is unfortunate, because they’re both nice people who I would like to know better, them being my brothers-in-law and the uncles of our future children and all. I have too few family members as it is, and so I thought it would be fun to keep in touch the rest of the year via the low-commitment means of postcards.

Now, Doug and Steve are both busy, middle-aged men with full-time jobs, or as the rest of the world calls them, “grown-ups”.  Of the two, Doug is the more serious, and I find it a little harder and more intimidating to connect with him. He is 54. He is an account executive at General Electric. He mostly enjoys talking about and watching sports, which I know nothing about.

But most people like whimsy, right? Even serious people who try their best not to laugh at my jokes. My sense of humor was forged and honed on the course grit of my mother’s and grandfather’s cranky refusal to crack a grin. And when they did it was magic. I am hoping that happens with my “Howdy, Doug” series.  He’ll be getting these in the mail, once a month or so, throughout the year. I’m eager to see how it progresses. The first one might make him smile. The second one might be a fluke. When will he discern it is a series? When will he start looking forward to them? When might he send one of his own?

And here they are:

The one that started it all. David's mom had sent us about eight 2013 calendars, and I had to do something with the pretty pictures. This is the funniest thing I could think of.

The one that started it all. David’s mom had sent us about eight 2013 calendars, and I had to do something with the pretty pictures. This is the funniest thing I could think of.

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This is the one that really cracks me up.

This is the one that really cracks me up.

 

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Week 2

Had a decent Week 2 of the new year. I think Monday was an errand day, but I can’t quite remember. All I remember is that I got everything on my to-do list done, and that felt good. Oh, I remember now–the repairman came over and fixed the hot water heater. Nice.

Tuesday we had a little afternoon date to the town of Sherrill. Sherrill is a little town between Utica and Syracuse, and home to the Oneida Limited clearance outlet, which was our reason for visiting. We needed some kitchen utensils, and I am done with plastic crap that I have to buy again in a couple years. Oneida Limited comes with a lifetime warranty, which is very attractive compared to a year-old vegetable peeler that comes apart when you use it, part of which broke on—literally–day one. First, though, we had a typical upstate New York/Rust Belt adventure, wherein we went to the place the factor used to be (you know, before everything closed). There were signs everywhere pointing to the Oneida Limited store, and so we went into the side door of an old warehouse building, but inside the door to the store was locked. The closed sign on the window was in front of the sign that listed the hours, indicating that regardless of the other sign that said they’d be opening at 9 o’clock, the year of reopening was indefinite. We walked around a little, looking for another human maybe, but it was absolutely deserted. Old office furniture sitting in the hallway, heat was off. We walked up a beautiful old staircase, another typical Rust Belt thing—the architecture of our cities was made for many thousands more people, people with jobs and money, and so now that we’re inhabited by the folks Left Behind, it’s sort of a crumbling Steampunk dystopia. At the top of the stairs was “Madame Victoria’s theater company” or something, but that pink door was also locked and looked long-vacant, so we got in the car and drove away. As we got back onto the main road, David noticed a GIANT BILLBOARD (haha, but I had missed it) that pointed us to the new location of the store. Anyhow, we eventually got there and bought our lifetime warrantied utensils.

There was also a little cafe in town that serves afternoon tea, “UK style” (David said not really, and he lived in London for a year), with scones and cream tea. So we stopped there and had cream tea and it felt like a real, live, married-people date. Lovely.

We were also going to go to the library, which we were very excited about, because it’s the home of the much-beloved Visual Geography Series books we’ve been reading our way through for several years now. (Nerd love!) Sadly, they were closed for the day due to a broken boiler. We do so love exploring new libraries. After Sherrill we went for a shorter visit to Springfarm.

Wednesday was another to-do list sort of day. We finished up our holiday thank you cards. This year was a real team effort: I came up with the pun and made the stamps, and David helped with the design of the grapes (which I had structured more like berries in our prototype) and did the lettering and ruling, since I cannot make straight lines of even thicknesses to save my life.

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Actually, in this batch I did the lettering and ruling on all but the upper left one, which is why they are so much messier.

Thursday we visited Nana and Papa during the day. Our new plant, a “ponytail” palm, was also delivered. It is sort of a memorial to our last lost baby. We’re currently trying to figure out how to keep it away from the cats. I’m thinking about using a handmade basket lined with landscaping fabric for its planter, and I’ve been meaning to try making one out of the red osier dogwood that grows at the end of Nana & Papa’s street, so we collected some of that. Basket is in progress; it’s sort of difficult to work with. But I already have a grapevine basket I wove on the banks of the Oriskany Creek out by the Meetinghouse while we were recovering from the first miscarriage, so I’m thinking I’ll use that one instead, at least for now.  Later that night our friends Julie, Jim & M came over for dinner and we played a fun new board game that we got M for Christmas.

And Friday was also “back to normal”, with me dropping Nana off at the grocery store in the morning while I went to get my allergy shot, and Friday night fish fry at Nana and Papa’s for dinner. In the afternoon, David went to a movie, and I did my first solo volunteering at Springfarm, which I’ll be doing on my own during the week when the semester starts up again at MVCC.

On Tuesday at Springfarm, we learned that Patches, one of the cats from Room 2, has cancer and won’t be with us much longer. Since then, I’ve noticed many of her cat friends sitting near her, doing what I believe to be offering comfort. When I went yesterday, Corky and Dusty were both sitting next to Patches, and they each had their paws extended so the three of them were touching.

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L-R: Corky (laying down), Dusty, Patches

There’s also a new cat there, Chase, a shorthaired orange tiger who might need to have his tail amputated from an injury. He’s very friendly to humans, but is currently in a pen by himself, until he gets better acclimated to Springfarm, and also until he heals from his surgery, so I don’t know how he gets along with other cats. I met him on his first day there, and left as night fell, and we had a quiet talk about how nice Springfarm is, and how he would be safe there.

So now we’re onto a typical Saturday, wherein I wake up extremely late and stay on the internet in my pajamas until 11 o’clock. Happy weekend, all.

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Springfarm Friends–Room 2

Since our visit to their Open House on December 21, David & I have been going up to Springfarm CARES to visit the cats about twice a week. I have stumbled upon the equation that for me at least,

CATS + NATURE = HEALING

And so we’ve been happily making new friends, and I thought I’d talk a little bit about them.

Springfarm is set up so that there are several rooms with sliding glass doors where the cats live. At the back of the rooms, there is another set of sliding doors with a cat door in it, which leads out to a screened-in porch. There is access to the “outdoors” at all times, and lots of light, and plenty of spaces for sleeping and climbing and making little territories of their own. It is, perhaps most importantly, a no-kill shelter, meaning that all of the cats are guaranteed to have a home there for the rest of their lives if they don’t get adopted.

So far we’ve been in most of the rooms, but have gotten to know three of them the best. The first room David was really drawn to was Room 2, and the first cat he fell in love with was Angelo.

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Angelo was found on the street in Clark Mills, which is very close to where we live. He acts like he still needs to protect himself, very wary of other cats, but incredibly gentle and sweet with humans. He took a couple visits to warm up, but now comes when I call him and lets me kiss his head. David is convinced he’s part bobcat, because his shoulder muscles are very, very strong and wide. He’s built like a little lion, and has a meow that sounds like a question mark.

In Room 2 there’s also:

Dusty–a grey cat with a white muzzle with a grey spot on it. She also has a broken tail that hangs down, and is incontinent. But very loving and playful. Just grab a blanket if she sits on your lap.

Corky–black and white, David calls her a “goofball” who’s easygoing, fun-loving, and just wants petting. Corky *is* sort of silly, but I’ve seen her defend herself against Angelo (when he’s on one of his PTSD-like rages), and she doesn’t seem so fun-loving then…

Otis–Otis is the cat who most reminds me of Papa, and I have a definite soft spot for him. He’s a cranky old guy, doesn’t want to be petted, but sometimes, just sometimes, will let you pet his head. Anything past that, he gives you an accusatory look and you just have to pull back. Usually he just wants to be left alone to hang out on something comfy, but we have a deal going on–I’ll ask if he’ll pet me and that’s when he’s most likely to respond. He’s one of the “alpha males” in the room, but despite that, he usually stays out of everyone’s way, unless Angelo is having one of his bad days.

Black Jack–Black Jack is okay, another alpha male who doesn’t want to be pet, really. You may pet him on the head, but anything else, and he will fuck. you. up. He’s serious about that. I couldn’t remember if he was the one with the “head-only” petting rule, and when I gingerly tested that out by petting his back, I got a warning scratch–that bled. And everyone was surprised I got away with that. Probably Angelo’s #1 enemy. Black Jack doesn’t go out of his way to bug anyone, but Angelo gets upset with him when he goes into what Angelo considers “his” territory.

Fuzzy–Bobtailed cat who was there when Bean was! She’s a quiet sort, doesn’t really want to interact much.

Patches–A fat calico cat who also has diabetes and is blind. Special-needs cats like her aren’t up for adoption; they are promised a forever-home being cared for at Springfarm. Patches seems happy about this, and is pretty quiet too, but does enjoy when you sit next to her and pet her and talk to her.

Well, that’s all for today.  I’ll share my favorite room next time.

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