04 December, 2010

give a spark for the holidays

Around here, Toys for Tots just kicked off their annual drive. It's brought up every year how difficult it is to find donations for older kids. In the age of everything electronic and disposable, I'd like to propose something to you, Gentle Reader.

Give the gift of Art.

Despite spending most of the time living paycheck to paycheck, I've tried for the last ten years or so to get at least one gift into a donation box. What I prefer to do is to give a sketchbook, pastels, pencils, etc. Art supplies tend to get overlooked in the world of gift-giving, but I know there are kids out there who spend days doodling on notebook paper, wearing their Crayolas down to nubs. Now throw a set of watercolors, or some canvas boards, or paint pens, etc. into the mix, and see how that creative universe expands. It may be just the spark a child needs for hope or inspiration.

Want to make your Toys for Tots (or similar organization) donation even more special? Buy your gift of art supplies from a local business, and in one step you've helped your community two different ways.

'Tis the season, y'all.

24 September, 2010

shameless pluggery: fifty cent piece

I have come to the realization I am only one sale away in my Etsy store from my fiftieth. That seems a definite cause for celebration, does it not? So I am going to throw in a giveaway with this purchase. But not just any random object. In what is probably very Project Runway wanna-be of me, for whatever item becomes my 50th sale, I will make a companion piece. What it could be will wholly depend on the purchased item.

So again, be responsible for my 50th sale, and get a surprise coordinating object along with it! A challenge for me, and a treat for you. Win-win, in my opinion. But you don't have to take MY word for it...

THE pinswithfury ETSY STORE!

16 September, 2010

square peg, round job market

If I had to express a single word to sum up 2010 to this point, it would be UNEMPLOYMENT. I spent the first five months and most of this last month out of work. Financially crippling aside, it's also a real downer.

In 2003, after a layoff, I began temping. I ashamed to admit that I still am. I've had several long-term gigs in the last seven years, two that lasted in the three year range, but the chaos of real life has made it hard to find something steady, stable, and permanent. I've gained a lot of experience in several areas over the years, and even went back to finally get my degree, but when looking at my resume, the first employer one sees is a temp agency. Which usually turns potential employers off. No matter how qualified I may be for a position, I am not considered.

I would love to get off the Temp Train to Nowhere. My question now is how. I've mentioned to friends how I wish there was a headhunting agency for artistic types. Not necessarily for creative fields, but those who have creative skills and backgrounds that aren't easily explained in a resume or cover letter. Maybe such a place does exist and I haven't been able to find it. I've also looked into going back to school. I can't handle the debt I have now, but there are still things I'd like to learn, and perhaps a truly marketable skill can be one.

In the meantime, I'm trying slowly but surely to find a source of stability. I still have whacked-out schedule needs, which I'm guessing other single parents do as well. I just haven't figured out how others actually make theirs work.

01 July, 2010

40 by 40: the project begins

I had a real problem with turning 35. Spring 2006 was a pretty tumultuous time in itself, personally speaking, but still the action of being mid-30s was itself a mental hurdle. It's not that 35 is middle-aged. Hell, Middle-Aged isn't Middle-Aged anymore. But there's definitely a feeling of being on the cusp between one thing and another. Still, I muddled through just fine.

Now things are changing. I turn 40 ten months from today. FORTY. I don't look it, and aside from needing to wear arch supports in my Chuck Taylors, I certainly don't feel it, but as Sally Albright once said about that magic age, it's just sitting there. And it's not just that I'm turning (I hate this phrase and will never use it after this) the big 4-0. All of my friends are, too, for the most part either a year ahead or behind me. When did we become the grown-ups? Our life after four decades doesn't look like our parents' did, at least not mine. I'm not married, I don't have a house or a secure job, I'm not in a bowling league (not that that wouldn't be awesome), I still see most bands I like in bars and nightclubs versus arenas, or rather, I still see bands at all. My kid will be 13 when I turn 40. I was 18 when my mom did. My 2011 birthday feels less of a calendar turn than an opportunity to make a monumental shift in what I'm doing with my life. But rather than begin anew then, I want to spend the time leading up to it making those changes a bit at a time.

Several friends have a "101 in 1001" list. I absolutely admire their determination; it's more than I have. I'm lucky to accomplish one or two of my New Year's Resolutions, and am still working on those for 2008. Still, it's a good idea. Things like a master goal list, and projects such as Brock Davis' "Make Something Cool Every Day" project (which I saw, and which was freaking amazing) are inspiring. I may not be able to get myself to do the dishes nightly, or give up caffeine for more than twelve hours, but perhaps I can make colorful stuff that didn't exist before.

So here's where I actually get to the point of this blog. In the next ten months, I would like to create 40 new works. Be it with paint, fabric, photography, sand, food, whatever. I don't want to count items in my Etsy shop, because whether I decide to sell anything I create that will be secondary, and quite frankly I don't know if I'll want to sell them. This is more of a challenge to myself, that I can expand my artistic horizons further than my comfort zone normally allows.

Even though I could average forty works into four a month, I won't. I know myself too well to know I won't stick to that. I also hate the idea of forcing things. If they happen they happen. As long as they all happen before May 1, 2011.

Saying that, however, I'm still going to start tonight. Right foot, as it were. Anything I make, I will post on here. 304 days could go by fast.

20 June, 2010

shameless pluggery: like me and win free stuff!

Hi all-

I just spent my morning finishing a really long diatribe-ridden blog post, only to have Firefox unceremoniously take it from me in a crash. So instead I'm going to post about me. But have no fear, my creative narcissism can be your gain!

Starting today and going through July 3rd, my shop is part of a giveaway on HandmadeMN! The winner gets the bag pictured above, and the rules are in the blog post.

If you haven't had a chance to check out HandmadeMN, our state Etsy team, please do. This is a group of many talents and specialties, and worth supporting and patronizing.

Later I'll try to restore my original crashed entry, but first I'm waiting for my browser to apologize for the annoyance it caused me today. Cookies would be accepted.

25 March, 2010

friends pimping, part 9: get yer rocks off, knock yer socks off

I know these guys. You should want to know them, too.

Nervous Hands is comprised of three guys living the dream. All have secret daytime identities as responsible adults. But get them on stage, and well, they're still responsible adults but with musical instruments. Nervous Hands is their collective superhero identity. The cape is implied.

What kind of music do they play, you ask? I'll let them tell you themselves.

The Band.

Last weekend they debuted their EP, called (deep breath), "I'm Taking My Own Head, Screwing It On Right, And No Guy's Gonna Tell Me It Ain't." This isn't your older cousin's rock n roll band, that's for darn sure.

Along with making their music available to the masses, they also premiered their very first music video, seen below. Mssrs Steve Nelson, Peter Clowney and Sam Landman make up this power trio. Remember Pommelhorse? Well, Sam of the P-Horse is Sam of NH, and his other creative half Matthew Glover envisioned, wrote and directed this video. To add a bit more pimping, the DP on this project was one Antonio Aguirre, whose keen eye for details is always twinkling with enthusiasm. Good eggs, these boys, every one of them.

Nervous Hands - "Previous Owners (Of A Starship)" from Pommelhorse Productions on Vimeo.

Oh, in full disclosure I am listed as a props designer, though sadly I supplied none of the cool Kenner-issued stuff. However, the Jesse Ventura doll is mine. I'm just waiting for it to appreciate in value. Come 2018, that puppy's going on Ebay.

11 February, 2010

fear of the big box

Large scale retailers are smart. This isn't necessarily a compliment.

When the indie craft movement became more widely accepted a couple of years ago, the big guys took notice. They hired artists from that world to start making their "one of a kind" and "unique" designs and turning them into mass-produced items. When I started seeing tote bags at Target with some hand-sewn elements I hurt inside. These bags weren't made with love, an interest in art or craft or making people happy. There was no possibility in satisfaction other than a paycheck. Soulless kitsch, and they sold like hotcakes.

Recently Caribou Coffee began selling cup sleeves. Knowing several people who make them I thought it was a great idea, until realizing that these are all made-in-China imports. Granted, it's possible a local or smaller artist may not be able to reproduce their work in the quantities needed, but did they ask? Why be a company that stresses charity and community, while not looking within your own community for products to sell within your stores?

Then today I read this story. This artist has some pretty damning evidence that some of her designs were ripped off by those working for a well-known company. What are the chances she'll win this and get them to drop the designs in question? Probably not good, but there's enough talk about it out there that the company actually made a statement.

It sucks that this happened to her, but what bothers me more is the extreme potential that it's happening even more frequently. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if people in the creative departments of big-name retailers are trolling sites like Etsy and 1000 Markets, looking for ideas to cannibalize. Yes, I understand that in the world of fashion knockoffs happen all the time. But it's sad when it happens to individuals who do not have the money, the power or the lawyers to fight back when their ideas are thefted for cheap substitutes. I know it's not possible to buy local or buy handmade all of the time, but every instance of supporting the small business when able will make a difference in the long run.