Friday, June 14

Galleries and Boutiques

I just wanted to say that I had a bit of a weird conversation recently. I attend Artist Alley in Hamilton every Saturday, it's $20 for a table on Locke Street, so it's totally worth it. I as approached by a great gal that I've met there, and she asked me if I was interested in being a part of the gallery/boutique that her and her friends are opening. Of course I said yes, but that's when things got a little non-normal.

They're running their business in such a way that they wanted to charge me $130 a month for space in their store. I don't know if that's on top of a commission, I would hope not. Either way, I couldn't do it. I much prefer galleries that take commissions, and boutiques that either purchase your work, or take it on consignment.

I hope she doesn't take offense to it, because she's a rather nice lady. If I had $130 a month to risk, I'd rather risk it on an expensive show. As a newbie, I just couldn't trust strangers to sell my work for me, especially since I have a low price point, and I'm sure shared art stores can get a little bit competitive!

What do you think, was I in the wrong? Is $130/month a great deal to get your stuff in brick and mortar stores? Or is it taking advantage of already starving artists, and is commission and consignment a safer bet?

Sunday, June 9

Artistic View of the Car That Runs on Social Media

"The car that runs on tweets and likes."

If you haven't heard of 'MindDrive' yet, I wouldn't hold it against you, as I only happened across it in a random Cracked article. I thought the project had an amazing concept underlying it, but unfortunately all the article writer saw was an 'ironic' idea to make fun of. Then again, it is a humour website, so maybe I shouldn't give them trouble.

What is the amazing concept behind MindDrive and how does it work? Well, I already hinted that it runs on social media: tweets, likes, video views, etc. The electric car is rigged up to an app that gives the car power in response to the social media attention that this campaign receives. A better explanation can be found in the video below:

"...these teenagers will fail miserably if the internet doesn't come together to give them the social media attention that they need."

Did you watch the video yet? If you didn't, I'll explain the concept quickly. MindDrive is actually a program that runs after school, to help at risk youth out. The kids in the video were put in charge of stripping down an old rust bucket of a car and fixing it up. They did the body and paint job, the transmission, converted it to electric, etc. The whole car tour is a way to try and bring attention to programs like this, which I'm guessing the US could use more of (probably Canada too).

The genius behind it is exactly the thing that the Cracked article writer hated - that the mission of these teenagers will fail miserably if the internet doesn't come together to give them the social media attention that they need. I really love whoever came up with this plan, because it throws the problem in our face that so many kids, and great ideas, struggle with: You could have the best idea in the world, but it's going to stutter and sputter and fail if no one pays attention to it.

MindDrive also helps kids build crazy things like this.

That's exactly what's going on here too, isn't it? Someone has started a program that's helping at risk students go from failing school and hating education, to being on the honour roll and considering highly educated futures as engineers - but it's going to eventually be smothered if it doesn't get some funding and well deserved attention.

It's beautiful because it's a very literal representation of an issue which, up until this point, I wouldn't have thought could have a real presence in this world. It's kind of obscure still though, to the point that I can't properly put my finger on what it is that I'm even talking about! It's the issue of how social media, and people in general, decide who thrives in this world. I know their 'We the People' campaign isn't doing too hot, but I hope their trip at least does.

This is the actual MindDrive Car they built: wheels not included.
Are you getting ready to click on to the next internet blog or over to Facebook? Stop right now, because you know it will only cost you a few seconds of your time to actually help these kids out, instead of just thinking 'how cool is that'. Your thoughts and prayers will do them no good, only your money or social media attention can help! Haha.

So, here you are, have at it!

Friday, June 7

Prince Rupert's Drop - Exploding Glass in the Studio!

"In the studio, the teacher told us to hold the drops of glass tightly in our hand, then he caused the tempered glass to explode, an ode to how sure he was that it wouldn't hurt us."

Now, this video below isn't actually from our own studio, because I don't happen to have access to a camera that is this amazing - but this is something that we enjoyed doing in school. In fact we enjoyed it way, way too much. In second year we were taught how to create Prince Rupert's Drops as an (insanely) fun way to teach us about tempered glass!

You all know that tempered glass is extremely strong and resilient, but did you know that it breaks differently than regular glass? Did you know that it's not as dangerous as normal glass? In the studio, the teacher told us to hold the drops of glass tightly in our hand when they were exploded, an ode to how sure he was that the tempered glass was safe.

"I remember when I was young, my gran heated a meal up for me in the microwave, and the glass plate broke!"

The reason glass cracks and breaks is because there is internal 'stress' inside of it. Sometimes glass is stressed because of incompatible material - which could be a metal, or even a different colour of glass. We do our best to make sure there is no stress in the glass by letting it sit in a kiln (oven) at (usually) 515° for anywhere from a couple hours to a couple months (depending on how thick the glass is). This temperature allows the molecules to slowly get to their perceived proper place (not to get off topic, but if you REALLY let all the molecules in glass go where they needed to go, you would no longer have glass, you would have real crystals instead, like quartz!).

I remember when I was young, my gran heated a meal up for me in the microwave, and the glass plate broke! I thought it was rather curious that the break line somewhat followed one of the designs pressed into the glass. Well now days I know that the reason the plate broke was because, likely, the temperature shock was too much for it. What do I mean? Well, each type of glass can only take so much of a temperature shock, because of the little stresses in it. If you took a frozen glass plate and poured boiling hot water over top of it, I wouldn't be surprised if it broke.

Friday, May 24

The Netherlands: Giant Flower Sculptures

Well, I'm registered as a business now! Who wants to place bets on how well I'll (not) be able to organize my receipts? I keep wanting to drone on about long, in depth topics that I'm sure no one actually reads through - so to cut myself short I've chosen to just show you some images that need no explanation whatsoever.

So, without further ado, enjoy some photos from Bloemencorso, a festival from Zundert that's been around since 1936 - which begs the question, "Why did I just find out about it in 2013?"

Visually, my favorites are the balloon animals and the giraffes. I have to note that my favorite part about this festival is how different the artist's styles are!

Now here's the important question, how many flowers do you think it takes to make one of these sculptures? Also, how long do you think it takes them to put the flowers on one of these sculptures? I mean, how do you keep them all alive and perfectly healthy? Oh, one more question - did you notice how wonderful all the parade goers are? They're all seated in lovely aisles, instead of being crammed onto a busy sidewalk!

Monday, May 20

Make The Best Of A Bad Show (How To)

Today I had my second experience with a craft show not going so well. Luckily, I am always eager for the opportunity to put a positive spin on a tough situation! The world is just a better place when you're willing to believe it is (I know, it's such a simple concept that it sounds stupid to write. Let's be honest though, a minority of people live by this fact).

So here's a short snippet of what I've chosen to get out of a bad show ~

Don't feel like there's any buyers?
Then take advantage of this perfect trial-and-run time that has been given to you. If they aren't going to buy anyway, then there's no harm in experimenting with different sales approaches! 

I really enjoyed giving myself the liberty to practice being a more 'aggressive' sales person. I tend to worry about how much conversation I throw at a stranger, but I actually had some pretty great conversations because of it! Plus, the more I engage strangers in conversation about my work, the more comfortable I'll get doing it.

Want to make sure you don't choose another awful show like the one you're stuck in? (1)

Network with your fellow vendors! Ask them about their previous experiences with certain shows, as well as the future shows they're already signed up for! 

I did a show that was supposedly fantastic in April, but horrible in May (when I was there, of course). I was too weary to give the show another shot for June, so instead I had a fellow crafter agree to tell me how it goes.

Want to make sure you don't choose another awful show like the one you're stuck in? (2)
Do yourself a favor and be aware of every little reason you think the show went poorly.

I know we all complain, but that doesn't necessarily mean we take the time to really analyze the problems and come up with potential solutions. Also, you've been told this for at least 13 years worth of school: write notes, because your memory won't last long enough.

Are you wasting your time? Stop it!

Sitting at a booth for 8 hours doesn't have to be the horrific waste of a day that so many people make it into. Textile artists know this well, proven by the fact that they can be found knitting just about anywhere they want, whenever they want. If your time is wasted, you only have yourself to blame.

Personally, I fill my extra time with putting together necklace chains. Once that drives me insane, or I'm all out of materials, I just read a book. I thought a lot of people would be put off by it, but as far as I know, it actually engaged some people more. Or, maybe I had so far given up that I was just more approachable since I wasn't expecting a sale. Who knows. I think there must be some subconscious positive relations to seeing books, or people reading? Clearly I wasn't being judged the way someone on their electronic device is judged - and let me tell you, at One Of A Kind I wouldn't give a second glance to a booth operator that was glued to their phone.

So there you have it, the four things that keep me a happy camper, even when I'm technically losing money!

Be happy, be experimental, be social, be attentive, and be productive!

Am I insane and would you just pack up and leave?

Thursday, May 16

Heather Dewey-Hagborg: 3D Faces From DNA Found In The Streets

A well documented site of a DNA find!
Rest assured, the DNA that artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg collects doesn't come from somewhere gross like used condoms or saliva - just from your typical hair strands, cigarette butts, spit-out gum, and disposed finger nails. Of course, you don't know that she's collecting this DNA, or that she's creating and printing a 3D visualization of your face with it, because she's finding all of this DNA samples in the city streets, washrooms and trash (well, maybe not the trash).

This series is known as, "Strange Visions" and the samples are collected in New York, where we're sure nobody thinks it's out of the ordinary to see someone in medical gloves rooting around and collecting samples of cigarette butts and old gum off the sidewalk.

I loved reading about the process of extracting the DNA and creating the image, but thought other people might find that a bit boring, so I didn't rewrite it all out on here. I am, however, leaving a link to an article on the Smithsonian Magazine website, so that this neat information is but a click away.

Heather with her own face

What's sort of cool about these sculptures, is that DNA can't decipher what age you currently are, so in all the images that are derived from DNA, a 25 year old version of that person is spit out. I think it's really neat to think that the person might see the sculpture but never recognize themselves, because in reality they're 89, or maybe just 12!

When you think about it, this new fangled 3D computer system means now we really can see what our new baby will look like when he or she is all grown up - except instead of taking a picture, we take a saliva swab. With that said, is this art project showing us that maybe our technology is getting a bit out of hand? Take one of these heads (the digital file) and stick it on any body you'd like, and BAM, you have just 3D printed your very own life-size, human doll shell. Creepy enough for you?

Monday, May 13

28,000 lb Paint Spill by Truck

This art was clearly created by a truck accident, which literally makes it accidental art (eh? eh?)! I suppose that this counts as unconscious art too, right?

What you're seeing is 28,000 pounds of beautiful paint spilling down the street after a truck driver in Brazil miscalculated a turn and tipped over while going a whopping 40 kmh (25 mph).

I'm sure it's bad for the environment, but it's a heck of a lot more attractive than a tar sands spill! Maybe if tar was a pastel rainbow we wouldn't mind it so much.

I know this is bad for the Earth (probably), but is it okay to enjoy it because it was a beautiful accident?

Thursday, May 9

Snail Graffiti by Slinkachu

I came across these "Inner City Snails" online, which are painted by a London artist by the name of Slinkachu. I must say, I think this series of work is amazing in an endless number of ways (as long as the paint isn't toxic to the poor guys).

I'm particularly fond of the fact that these snails function as living 'found objects' or 'found art objects' for random passer-byers in the street. These are special because being classified as found objects means that there's no telling who will or will not find these little guys. There aren't many people who do art for the sake of, let alone artists who literally put their art out into the world in this almost ethereal way.

Also, I don't do drugs, but let's be honest, could you imagine being on psychedelics and stumbling upon this?

Do you think there's anything particularly intriguing about this series, or is it just me?

If you didn't spot the link above, Slinkachu's website can be found here.

Thursday, May 2

Minimum Wage Machine by Blake Fall-Conroy

I want to do a whole post on minimum wage and income ('real' job vs 'art' job), but it needs some tweaking still, so for now you can enjoy my inspiration for this post!

Here you can enjoy this amazing art piece, "Minimum Wage Machine" by Blake Fall-Conroy. His website says that this machine cranks out a penny every 4.97 seconds, which equates to $7.25 an hour (minimum wage in New York). Theoretically it would be a lot cooler to make your hourly wage by spinning that crank rather than dealing with frustrating customers, but understandably the visualization of your life's work and income is a little bit depressing.

Check out Blake's website here.

I feel like this was supposed to be visiting Toronto and I was going to be really excited, but I guess I must have mixed up this installation with some other one I was looking at on the same day. How awful!

So the question is, would you mind making your income through that machine? The three things you're supposed to need for happiness in a job these days are mastery, autonomy and purpose. Could you find those traits in that job?

Tuesday, April 30

Tulip Ceremony 2013

Check out a messy photo of Sheridan's graduating glass class!

 I'm glad someone told us to take one of these photos for an article, I'm sure it will be a treasured memory where I always shake my fist and wish someone had let me know there was enough room to sit down normally!

Maybe I'm sentimental, or know my own class too well, but I think this photo says a lot about us. I think it shows that some of us our busy, we're care-free, a bit unfocused, and clearly a little disorganized. Really, that just means there's a lot going on between the eight of us! We're a make-shift family with a lot of history, despite only knowing each other for three years.

Yay for sappiness!

Thursday, April 25

Anamorphic Sculptures

I absolutely adore these sculptures by Jonty Hurwitz. He sculpted them so that they only look proper when posed next to a reflective cylinder. I've glanced past them before without caring too much, but that changed once I took the moment to wonder how someone could possibly figure out how to sculpt those distorted images. They are absolutely wonderful.

This piece looks like an abstract sculpture.

The sagging features on this face look completely surreal.

Lastly, I love how this sculpture looks nothing like a hand (at least not from this view).

Thursday, April 18

Gallery Opening!

Tonight was my very first gallery opening outside of the school's gallery! To be honest it was just the opening for the graduating students, so it's still school related, but also still super fun!

There was tons of food, alcohol, and way too many people! It was noisy, hot and crowded, but I stayed for all three hours - and a note to anyone who has never attended a gallery opening, when you do, do not wear heels or a sweater.

The gallery is short short short, but if you happen to be in Toronto between April 18th and April 23rd, 2013, come stop by! A really cool thing that I think other graduating classes and mini-collectives should do, is host websites to go along with their gallery openings, it's kinda neat!

Wednesday, April 17


Oh my, it's been about two weeks since I've posted - I've never been this far behind before!

Updates, updates all around. It's the end of the school year, and there were one too many days of 'morning until midnight' at school, which (hopefully understandably) left no time for writing, or even thinking about writing!

Now that it is all over though, the Internet must become my life for social networking. This will all start . . . Son of a gun it will start soon! We have a gallery opening on the 18th, the last day to work in the studio is the 22nd or 23rd, and our craft grad ceremony is the 27th. I guess next week I'll be dedicated, how terrifying! I need a real job!

For now, for now.. Sit tight and bake some banana oatmeal cookies (1 banana\1/3 cup oatmeal\1/2 tsp cinnamon-350for12min on parchment paper).

Thursday, April 4

How To Do What You Love by Paul Graham

It's been so busy with the end of the semester that I doubt I'll be able to post on time for the rest of April. Days just fly by, I feel like every night when I look at the clock it's midnight and I don't know where the past five hours went.

"You have to like what you do enough that the concept of "spare time" seems mistaken."

Today's post is a link to a great article about figuring out how to do what you love in a world where anything synonymous with 'work' is supposed to be grueling and horrific. It is a really long article that took me three days to read (because I kept trying to read it at one in the morning). I can't summarize the whole thing, but I can share my favourite paragraph:

" have to like your work more than any unproductive pleasure. You have to like what you do enough that the concept of "spare time" seems mistaken. Which is not to say you have to spend all your time working. You can only work so much before you get tired and start to screw up. Then you want to do something else—even something mindless. But you don't regard this time as the prize and the time you spend working as the pain you endure to earn it." 

This is kind of how I feel right now, though I am 100% sure I'm not the most dedicated crafter / artist / worker / entrepreneur out there. Just because I don't know how to be efficient though, does not mean I'm not trying my hardest.

How about you? Do you resonate with that favorite quote of mine from the article? Do you have your own favorite art-related quote?

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Thursday, March 28

New Craft Battle!

Jessie and Nikki are on the ball, so they're ready to start up a brand new battle already! After hitting up Toronto's One of a Kind Show on Wednesday, it was decided that the best theme would be, "Production!"

Well that may seem like a silly theme, the need (or want) for production pieces is a reality for a lot of aspiring artists. It can be hard though for some people to sit down and design a successful piece, then actually fabricate it, then fabricate it over and over again so they can troubleshoot all their problems, then you have to figure out advertising, and you have to do that successfully to if you want to sell it and oh.. it's just such a big headache!

Inspired by all the things that they thought were right - and wrong - at the craft show, they want to try their hand at producing a relatively original (or at least sort-of-unique) design.

The soft-deadline for this battle will be April 18th, because that's the last day of Nicole's glass program at Sheridan (like, forever - how terrifying).

So think about production from a couple different points of view, and we'll be trying to inspire you with posts about the craft show!

- Don't copy someone else's design, that's just too easy (and you could get in trouble)
- Consider how many steps it will take you to fabricate this design, it shouldn't be too time consuming per piece
- Take design from things that interest you, if you love cityscapes, forcing yourself to make imagery of tree lines would drive you mad
- Remember that if you love cityscapes someone else will love them too, maybe even more people than you expect

Monday, March 25

Kris Carr: Another Reason To Do What You Love!

A very neat little article was brought to my attention today by one Kris Carr. It doesn't have any astounding medical science to back the ideas up, but I really don't think you need an excuse to believe in this concept;

The 40 hours a week you spend working is a very important part of your life, your time and your health.

Haven't you ever felt the negative affects from working a job you shouldn't be in? The stress, the physical pain, the drained energy - it's just awful. I know most people need to work a job they don't like so they can afford to live, but that doesn't mean they can't soul search and form a plan so that one day they can break free from that dreadful job and start living a healthier, happier, more balanced life.

Clearly, since this is a craft blog, my dream job right now would be paying the bills through glass. Actually, my dream situation would be living hidden away on crown land so I don't have to worry about paying any darn bills, but I'm sure that will be another post later.

I'd rather put 80 hours into glass than 40 - or even 20 - into a job that wasn't for me. I want to live a happy, balanced life, and to do that I need to seriously figure out how to pull off being a glass artist.

Article by Kris Carr: 40 Hours That Are Critical To Your Health and Well-Being

Have you thought out the details of your dream job at all, or are you keeping it at arms-length so you don't get disappointed?

Saturday, March 23

Figure Battle: Winner!

The results are in and the sculpture that won the figure battle was Chris' strange hot sculpted glass man! To be honest I'm surprised that anyone voted for my bear sculpture at all, and even more surprised that 10 days only garnered 6 votes - ouch!

Chris' Man

Figure Battle
Bears 1 (16%)
Torso 2 (33%)
Man 3 (50%)

Apologies for posting late are in order! This week I was at school from as early as 8am every day, and I stayed there until 12 am, so I literally did not have the time to write this post! 

Monday, March 18

Can Creative Activities Keep Us Young?

Another wonderful BBC video has popped up regarding art! Funnily enough, this relates to the last video we shared that was questioning whether there's any health merits to art at all.

The oldest artist in this short video is 93, and her work looked like it was referencing popular culture and plastic surgery. I hope I'm that in the loop when I'm 93.. and I hope I'm alive.. and still doing art.

Gosh, I can only imagine how lovely it would be to spend your time doing art journalism, wouldn't that just be grand?

Monday, March 11

Advertising with Postcards and E-vites

This is part shameless advertising, part good advice.

At Sheridan our annual glass show in the gallery is coming up, and the third years always have to design an image to go on the postcard/e-vite. I think this year we did spectacularly well compared to past years, but to be honest I have only seen a couple of old postcards.

Rather than an image of somebody's work (or slices of everybody's work so there's no fighting) we all agreed to do an edited picture of our digitry.

Personally I think this is more eye-catching than a picture of art because it's out of the ordinary, especially in a wing that's filled with nothing but art!

Do you have any interesting ideas for business cards or postcards for yourself? Do you think it's okay to represent a diverse show (40 students and faculty), with one piece of art?

Thursday, March 7

Battle End - Figures!

Whew, we've finally finished another Craft Battle, how exciting! Here are our three submitted pieces, on the left side of the page you can vote for your favorite!

Chris: Figure # 34
(Nikki speaking for Chris) This piece was sculpted while the studio was brainstorming work that could be donated to an art auction to support the homeless. Despite the easy-going sculpting techniques an intense feeling is being expressed through the chosen pose.

Nikki: Winter Family
The family in question is a mamma and baby polar bear with matching scarves. This is pretty hard to photograph, which I didn't expect. Somewhere in my room there is supposedly a bottle of white ink, and once I find it (or buy a new one) I'll be excited to see what my piece looks like when all the many creases are stained white.
The original piece was salvaged from a bargain store for 84 cents, because what a shame to let a perfectly good (albeit cheap) sculpture go to waste? I cast a silicone mold and made myself a positive wax from it. The idea that glass can give worth to an object that nobody wanted is pretty intriguing to me.

Jessie - Self Portrait from Memory
Made with sculpey original over a tin foil and masking tape armature. I wanted to use sculpey original because its more free flowing and I felt I could capture some "gesture" from it, that is also why I chose to sculpt from memory. That way I did not have to worry about all the small details.
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