Friday, November 30

The Joy Of Unexpected Freebies!

I hear about people who have scored amazing freebies, including materials, antiques, equipment and common goods. I honestly never thought I would be that lucky, but apparently I was wrong, it can happen to anyone, and it is really, really exciting. I was on the hunt for a sconce, I wanted a wall mount that would fit a piece I made (doing my own wiring would make the piece unsellable). When I approached the owner of a lighting store for help, he told me he didn't want to take any of his beautiful lights apart, but, he said, he did own a lighting surplus store down the street that I could check out.
This light retailed, at liquidation cost, for $200.
I told the employee working there that I was a glass student and showed my light cover off to him, he was absolutely ecstatic. After complimenting my glass (which he kept doing throughout our conversation), he enthusiastically spoke about donating broken pieces to me if I wanted them, or if I thought another glass artist at the school would want them. All we have to do is give credit, that's it. I didn't even believe him when he said that he was going to give me a sconce back for free, and I ended up with a sconce, two hanging lights, and an appointment to return for many, many more freebies.

Liquidation retail price? $600
Every now and then one of a kind experiences happen, so look out for those opportunities!

Monday, November 26

Dragon's Den: Season 7, Ep 6: The All Kids Special!

Unfortunately I have to ask you guys to click a clink, which I know nobody likes doing these days. However, I like CBC so I think supporting their website is really important, especially since they are kind enough to offer us all their shows for free (minus the short commercials).

CBC Presents: Dragon's Den (Season 7, Episode 6)

There are actually so many amazing things going on right now that I can't choose what to write about - mostly because I don't have pictures of everything going on. So instead I will be dropping reference to a Dragon's Den episode that features another series of kid's companies! I don't just find these examples of young entrepreneurs motivating, I find they peak my curiousity as well - What would it be like if I had started that young? What would my products have been? That sort of thing.

So, here's hoping you guys love these chicklett entrepreneurs as much as I do!

What do you think about the deals that did or did not go down?

Friday, November 23

Evan Penny: Streeeeeeeeeetch!

This week at the AGO I saw an exhibition in the contemporary section by Evan Penny. If anyone else ever has a chance to see his work, I suggest it 100%!

What he does is sculpt larger than life figures out of clay, make a mold, then cast them out of silicone. He also painstakingly (it has to be) inserts every single individual bit of hair with a needle. These sculptures were so life like that while staring at the over-sized ones I was waiting, seriously I was just waiting for one of them to move. To blink, look at me, say something - anything! I stood back and thought, "Geez, if giants came and wanted to eat us (like in so many of my mangas) this is what it would be like. This guy could just bite my head off." It was creepy. I loved it.

His other pieces weren't just unbelievably realistic, they played on perspective in the most wonderous way. These really aren't pieces you can talk about, nor even pieces you can understand with the use of a video aid, you have to see them.

This one was probably the closest to 'mind blowing' that any artist will ever get. Also she has 5 nostrils.

Now you see him, now you don't?

Her eyes were my afvorite thing about this.

Wednesday, November 21

Damien Hirst In and Out of Love

I have heard about Damien Hirst's exhibit In and Out of Love, where you could meander around with thousands of live butterflies who were just minding their own business and chomping on some fruit that was laid out in bowls for them. The only reason I heard that this exhibit existed though was because news got out that 9,000 - that's nine thousand - butterflies died for the sake of this exhibit, which I find to be sort of absurd.

In and Out of Love exhibit, 2012

No, the butterflies were not an endangered species.

Yes, their life was cut short: from a couple of months to a couple of days.

To me, using butterflies for their beauty and their ethereal qualities to the point that you, in a way, steal the life out of them and then just go collect more is like finding a unicorn and letting it die in a cage just so people can enjoy it for a little while, and your own life span (or for an artist, time in the spot light) can be increased.

I know, I sound a bit cynical.

Worse yet? The way I interpret such installations is that they're pure shock value. Don't get me wrong, I think shock value can be a wonderful thing, but I don't like when I feel like that might be all the artist has going for them. 

Or maybe he was looking to bring some attention and hype to his early butterfly paintings? That would be an intelligent move on his part.

In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays), 1991
I guess we wouldn't care if it was 9,000 mosquitos killed, so I'm not so sure, is it okay to kill so much for the sake of art, let alone an impermanent art piece?

Monday, November 19

Ox Gall: The Key To Clearing Out The Studio

I often like working alone in our little kiln room at school (because it is so danged small), so sometimes it can be quite heartbreaking when another student randomly walks into the room and sets up camp for the day. Whenever I mope about this to my friends they would always joke that I should do something to scare the people off like stare them down or even fart uncontrollably. Of course I would never do those things, but today I realized I am using a liquid so vile that it literally forces everyone out of the room except for me.

Worth the $17.00

So today's short and sweet post is to thank Ox Gall Liquid, the stomach bile that not only magically breaks the surface tension of paint, but also offers me sweet solace whenever I'm feeling introspective while working!

Would you ever clear out your studio if you could too?

Friday, November 16

Dressing The Part

While this seems like an entirely simple concept, you'd be surprised how often it floats over people's heads. No, believe it or not, I am not going to tell you to dress professional if you feel you are attending a high-class event - I have heard this quite a few times already, and you know what? I really dislike this idea, and I have an actual reason why I do.

 "But Nicole!" I can already hear people shouting out, especially my mother, "If you're meeting with a very upperclass client, you have to dress appropriately, that's just what you do, it's how it's done, you have to be 'professional'." Well, I'm sorry to say that while some of your potential peers or clients might believe that's true, I don't. I aruge that what is more important is a 'professional' (i.e. Confident) attitude.

Let me explain. You could be in the prettiest, most expensive clothes in the world - maybe they were even hand crafted by a famous textile artist that you happen to have an in with - but if you aren't feeling the clothes, if it feels wrong because you're only in them due to people's expectations, then I doubt you're going to be giving off the right vibes. Agree?

Does this mean dress like a slob? Of course not. It means dress in what feels right to you. So if high-class, sophisticated clothing makes you feel professional and like you belong with the big hitters that you're mingling with, then go ahead and wear it! But if you're content in jeans and paint splattered shoes, then just be yourself and wear that. For god sakes you're an artist, quirky behavior has long been synonymous with our career. And before you protest, let me just point out that Dale Chihuly always, and I mean always, wears paint splattered shoes out wherever he goes. It has been said that it is even part of his image as an artist and that he splatters every pair of brand new shoes with paint, so that he will always have that 'fresh out of the studio' look. I don't know whether or not this is true, but clearly his career has been rather successful, and I think that's proof enough that a pair of rough shoes or quirky wear will not be the cement to end your career.

To anyone who knows me and reads this thinking, "This is a built up excuse on why she thinks she can justify wearing her cat ear headband, her hairstyle, her clothes - " just stop yourself right there, please. (I assume) We're all aritsts here, and what about the term artist is synonymous with the idea of being so judgmental about things that do not matter? The great artists break the rules, so why do I always see people trying to set nonfunctioning rules and put walls up?

I remember last year after a large commission for the new Sheridan campus, there was a black tie opening that the glass students were invited to. We happened to be passing through the area before hand on a field trip that day, I was in a skull t-shirt and paint stained jeans. When my teacher asked, I explained to him that I had not been planning on attending the event, and that I clearly lacked the proper eveningwear. He insisted that I should go, that I was an art student and people would understand. So after a failed search for a last minute dress at the mall, I went to the event in my ill suited clothing. I know that some fellow peers hold that against me, that they judge me for being 'unprofessional' at a classy event, but I am also 100% sure that I had a better evening than any other student there.

I stood out in a sea of well dressed alumni in black suits and fancy dresses and should have been the most awkward person there (I'm actually surprised they let me in at all), but instead of hanging on to my fellow classmates, I socialized with these 'highclass' strangers. I had wonderful conversations, they gave me pointers on business and life (relevant to their field of work), we taste tested the odd dishes together (like caramlized duck), and I think we even spoke of wines and desserts. So if you cannot tell, I am really thankful that my teacher insisted I attend the event, because I had forgotten how well I can socialize with strangers (I swear, I'm wonderful with strangers, just horrible with classmates and family), that evening he indirectly helped me regain a great stroke of confidence.

That is not to say, of course, that I would condemn myself to paint stained jeans. There are moments when I would like to wear fancy clothing and expensive outerwear, but these choices are based on my personal taste, not fear of anyone's judgment, nor fear for lack of confidence.

Wednesday, November 14

Gourd Lamps by Przemek Krawczyński

This is my all time favorite, I adore the optics and space of the light.

I'm sure that everyone has seen the crazy-artistic gourd lamps before, right? If not, pictures are ahead! A remedial Google search tells me that these gourds all belong to the website Calabarte, and are crafted by Przemek Krawczyński.

I've come across these photos a lot during my stumbles, and I always really, really loved them, but couldn't actually derive anything from them for myself. Which is weird, because if I were smart I would have made a derivative glass copy, examined the way the light was affected and made adjustments based on my personal desires - then you lather, rinse and repeat over and over again, and theoretically the end result should be that you have created your own satisfying product. That's how you're supposed to do things anyway (I wonder if anyone does?).

I love that it looks like someone scribbled on the walls and floor.

I clearly did not do that, instead I just kept copies of these awesome gourds on file just-in-case. Today, finally, in an indirect way, my want for a crazy, texture driven lamp has taken shape. It was just an accident when I was fooling around with wax on Monday, but it seems everything I create that is good is just an accident, so I'm not really surprised. Assuming I ever get around to casting my first tile in crystal I'll upload it for the internet to possibly see, in fact, it would be great if someone pressured me to actually get around to casting it as soon as possible (only three weeks left of school, holy crap!).
I think this piece shows a truly ridiculous amount of detail.

This post isn't about my crazy tile (but please, pressure me to finish it), I am just here today to share a very intriguing piece of craft that I hope inspires someone else, since my inspiration from it never really came to fruition.

Monday, November 12

. . . In Twenty Years?

I should start telling myself posts are Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday so I'll write them the night before, then they can post properly in the morning. Stiiiiill, technically I am keeping to my Mon/Wed/Fri schedule, so that's something.

And on the topic of being busy, that happens to be what today's post is all about! Today I was frustrated as it's crunch time for that snowflake commission and I can't get the last 30 or so finished fast enough to have a safe buffer between then and the due date (Thursday!). This is mostly because tomorrow happens to be my birthday, so for once, screw school, I am going home at noon - or maybe even a bit before that!

So, what do I do when I'm frustrated and feeling out of time? I try to tell myself, or ask myself, "How will this affect me in 20 years?" As in;
"In 20 years will I regret not sleeping in?" - Probably not.
"In 20 years will I remember this peer, and this specific moment, that is agitating the heck out of me?" - Definitely not, let it go.
"In 20 years will I regret not doing more work?" - It could be life changing, I better stay and do it!

It's hard to find good images of hour glasses online.

You get the drift, right? My coping mechanism is to think of how today will really affect the future, so that I will hopefully spend my time more appropriately. Needless to say I've discovered that not going online actually makes me accomplish a lot more, unfortunately I still always have accress to an i-pod with Spider Solitaire on it, so I often get distracted playing that (I still can't beat the darn 4 suit level, not even once!).

I want to clarify here that I am not, at all, imagining what my life might be like in 20 years. Zodd no, I do not actually want to gleefully imagine myself as a 41-42 year old. I think it's more like, if anything, I try to do things right so that wherever I am when I'm 42, I should be able to look back 20 years and be proud of myself. Have you thought of that lately? How one day you might look back and say, "Gosh, I spent my entire life on the internet," ? I digress, I don't have too many of those specific thoughts either. Somewhere along the way I must have picked up the idea to ask myself, "Will I regret this in 20 years?" as a way to tell myself to shove on through, and it just stuck.

I wish I had more to write about this subject but I feel like I'd just be repeating myself and tooting my own horn. All I can do is hope that referring your future self to your current self will do something to help you - if it does, you'll understand, if it doesn't, then maybe you won't.

Friday, November 9


Visiting the SOFA art show in Chicago taught me something really important about art, and that is that the general atmosphere of a venue is overwhelming. I'm not so sure about the rest of the world, but since I am working on a small scale and not showing in any galleries, the only atmosphere I ever think of is the one that my piece creates, the atmosphere that I hope passerbyers (and internet voyeurs) will pick up on. I like to set moods, as I'm sure most artists do.

The mood here is, there's a lot of people, and a god awful lot of lethargic highschool students.

The thing about SOFA is . . . well, the overwhelming atmosphere that slapped you in the face was 'commercial' and 'aesthetics'. That is to say that all the craft I saw was visually appealing and it had a big price tag, but it never once evoked any sort of feeling from me. There were also no written blurbs that were posted with the art - as there are in museums in some galleries.

When I brought this up one of my teacher's insisted that if there had been conceptual work at SOFA and if it were strong enough that it would have shone through the fog of commercialism and established itself, but I don't agree with it. How about you?

I'd sell my right foot for a Libensky though. Owning one of these is definitely a goal in my life.

At this point in time I don't imagine an event like SOFA will ever be a goal in my future. Sure, making a huge profit based off of your years of experience (well earned of course), and the value that goes with your name is wonderful, it's probably the well deserved reward for years of living as a 21st century starving artist, but I don't think it's for me. Perhaps it's not the same everywhere, but at SOFA I believe the air of large price tags actually cheapened the work; please remember though that I'm just a poor (probably jealous) art student, and not a wealthy art collector, nor even your ideal audience. But I digress, the point I was trying to make is that if my work is extremely conceptual, I don't want the sight of an unnecessarily large price tag to make people think my work might juts be a cop out.

I may have been a bit harsh on this $20,000.00 chunk of glass. Honestly, it took a LOT of coldworking and the gallery gets a good cut. (but still, 20k?)

Finally, I don't know what my ideal price point is, but it isn't half a million dollars, or even twenty thousand dollars - and you know what? Maybe that's something to think about.

Wednesday, November 7

Art & Fear: A Book For ALL Artists/Crafters!

Alright ladies and gents, you may notice that I missed a couple of posts, as I was off visitng Chicago for the SOFA Art Show. Since the drive was about 9 hours each way, I had a lot of time to read the book, "Art & Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

I'm not sure what to say about this book aside from the fact that I really believe that every human being interested in art should own a copy and reread it everytime they have doubts and issues regarding their risky choice to be an artist.

It addresses topics such as why people stop making art, what manages to keep others creating, issues regarding literature and education, and many a very personal issue. It also outlines different ways to push yourself forward by realizing and making the best of your personal habits, learning to listen to your art, etc, etc. I feel like the more I go on, the worse I'll make the novel sound.

So, trust me and read it, it's only 122 pages, and if you can't find it in a library it costs all of four dollars on Amazon!

Also, happy birthday Jestress!