Wednesday, August 31, 2011

making a good impression

A couple of months ago I was trying to get my foot in the door for a certain design job. I really wanted to make them a custom, handmade portfolio that was tailored visually to the position I was applying for. I knew the portfolio (which is another post for another time) would take me some time to create, probably a week or two, but I wanted to go ahead and put my name in the drawing, so to speak. This job would have been a position where I would have been making lots of handmade designs, probably using recycled, unusual, and vintage materials. What I decided to do, instead of just sending an email, was to send a letter in a custom carrying case: a little piece of art, if you will. I found an old tin up at the local antique shop and collaged the inside with some vintage fabric and a hand drawn banner with my name on it. I sealed all this into the tin using resin (I used envirotex lite, since I tend to keep it stocked in my studio) and then enclosed my cover letter with my information. I dropped it off in person in a little envelope. This could be a great idea if you have a business card and a cover letter you want to drop off. The custom box was quick to make but leaves a big impression as it is an intimate handmade object. The other great thing is that after you pass it off, even if the letter or card gets tossed, the box can be reused and has a higher chance of sticking around and being seen again. If you decide to seal your name into the resin and even your information, there's a chance you may be remembered for another position at a later date if you don't get the first one. In my opinion, it's always good to have your name on beautiful things if you're an artist. Be seen! You never know what will come your way.

Right after the resin pour. I carpeted the inside of the tin with fabric and cut out paper elements to collage on top. Be careful using paper with the resin. Thin papers will sometimes vanish completely once the resin hits them. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on what you're going for, but it's always smart (and really easy) to do a test first just to be sure. Also, the Evirotex will stick forever to almost anything once it sets, so wear gloves and pour over something it will come off of. It bonds to paper, plastic, wood, and fabric, so I always use aluminum sheeting.

The inside of the tin once I finished. To make it more professional and visually coherent I wish I would have been able to use a typewriter on the belt where I wrote my info. But the point of this object was to deliver it quickly, and sometimes that has to take precedent. Also, you can't see in the pic but my name is written on the red banner in the lid.

Final touches should never be underestimated. I made a ribbon from the fabric I used inside and tied the box shut. Then I slid it into a vintage style (but professional) envelope for delivery.

ps-Sorry for the cell phone pics. I wish they were clearer but that's all I had that day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hobo Dinner

Part I: The Hobo's Dinner
This weekend we drove up north for Sean's grandpa's 80th birthday and I had a new encounter. I was introduced to the Hobo's Dinner, an Oswald family tradition steeped in lore. I had heard tell of this phenomenon before; Sean had told me tales of his dad cooking a trash can-sized pot over a fire in their driveway and all the neighbors ambling down the street to partake in a meal of sausage, cabbage, corn and potatoes. In case you are a novice to the Hobo Dinner, like myself, I've included the following handy educational illustration:

*note to the viewer* This illustration unfortunately excludes a vital part of the Hobo Dinner: corn. This is placed whole, on the cob, between the meat and onion layers for cooking.
more on the Hobo Dinner after the jump!

Monday, August 29, 2011

top three craigslist finds today

antique wardrobe

blue leather chair

antique dresser (what a great shape!)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A long overdue post concerning Wedding Invitations

Back in March I posted the design Sean and I made for our wedding invitations, but in the hustle and bustle of everything I never got to share just how everything came together.

I mean to remedy that today.

One of the biggest components on the invitations that I didn't anticipate were the envelopes. We used vellum envelopes so our design could be seen through them on the opposite side. All the work came in for the addressed side. I bought a few stamps from a local craft store and slightly modified one to make it look like flowers were spilling out of a mason jar. The outline of the jar acted as a little address frame and I added a large "M" on each label which started the line "Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so" above each address. I am fortunate to be friends with some lovely, supportive women who came over and helped me create these designs one Thursday for about four hours. Even though I bought "quick-drying" ink made for vellum, it took about a half hour for the pigments to set enough to be stack-proof. After each envelope went through our little assembly line, we hung them up on a ramshackle drying system we rigged up around the house. The end result was exactly the look and feel we were aiming for, and I felt proud of our little pieces of art we got to send out to all our family and friends at the end of the week. Below are more pictures of the process and the final product. Enjoy!

Lindsay, Shannon, and Sam form a stamping brigade to rival the best of them. I could never have done this without their help!

Sam hangs a completed envelope on our drying line, which consisted of several lengths of yarn hung across the living room ceiling. Lewis observes from his post on the couch.

The first batch of envelopes drying on our clothing rack.

The state of the living room at the end of all the stamping madness. They actually looked sort of beautiful strung up with the light shining through them.

Signed, sealed, delivered! A shot of the inside of the invites, complete with hand-punched RSVP cards, and an addressed and sent envelope.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Patrick Dougherty will make you rethink your housing situation.

This morning I received a picture text from our friend Kelly who recently transplanted to NYC. The photo she sent me, with the caption "at Brooklyn Botanical," was of this:
Kelly, who knows me well, just sent me the picture because she knows my penchant for tree-loving and my fondness of going into the woods and trying to make art with what I find there, a la Andy Goldsworthy. (Unfortunately, the latter is a more difficult task than it seems. Turns out tying sticks together in the woods ends up looking like something out of The Blair Witch Project much more often than it ends up looking like art.) What Kelly didn't realize is that she had just transported me back to my sophomore year of art school when I did a report on Patrick Dougherty, the artist who created the piece she'd seen at the botanical garden, in my sculpture class.
Dougherty uses twigs and saplings to build monumental installations around the world. The first time I came across his work was in Sculpture Magazine, featuring this piece:
I was immediately drawn to his work because the objects, obviously skillfully crafted, maintained a beautiful serendipitous quality as though they had simply sprung from the earth, fully formed like Athena. I was also going through a stage where I was obsessed with cocoons, so that had something to do with it, too. For my woodworking project that semester I constructed a humble homage to him using Honeysuckle plants I pulled out of the woods behind my dorm and carried in bushels strapped on the back of my bike to the sculpture building. I later released said piece back into the same woods from which I'd sourced it, and the only remaining slide I have is a photo a friend snapped when she stumbled upon it later that winter:
It doesn't do Dougherty any justice, but it taught me how difficult it is to build with wild materials. My piece was only about 5' tall. I can't even imagine building pieces like his.

So thanks Kelly, for reminding me of an artist I really enjoy. Maybe I'll get to see the piece at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens when I visit NYC this fall.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


In early July you may recall me mentioning that Sean and I were intending to order new bikes. Well, it only took me a month and a half to decide on which bike I wanted (I know, I know), and then another week and a half for them to come in. And let me tell you, that week and a half seemed like an eternity, I was so excited! But at long last I would like to announce the new additions to our little family: yes, friends. Our new bikes are here!

We have been riding like banshees since they came. On Sunday we took them down to a bike path along the Miami River in Hamilton, and they both ride like a dream. I ended up going with a Surly Long Haul Trucker, which is technically a touring bike but I have her set up as a commuter now. She packs quite a punch! She can zoom along with the best of them, even though the frame is relatively heavy, and she is extremely powerful. I took her around town to a consulting meeting and then ran a couple errands and filled my one pannier I was carrying to the brim. She's so steady it made no difference. I had a cheap bike once with rear baskets on it, and the moment you dropped a dime into just one basket and didn't even out the other you could feel the imbalance. The LHT is so sturdy you probably couldn't detect a change if you strapped an anvil to the side.
Sean got a Trek FX 7.3 with disk brakes and it's just plain slick. He's been riding it to school everyday. I hopped on it the other night to see how it handled and it's super speedy AND comfortable. And it handles really sensitively, which is great. I thought disk brakes might feel a little different than cantilever but not so much. Apparently you just have to repair them less and they are more reliable in extreme weather. We also got his set up for commuting, that being our main need right now, but his is all around good for lots of things, even though Trek advertises it mainly as a fitness bike. Sometime before it gets too cold we're hoping to take the bikes camping somewhere with a nice trail that we can wake up early and ride. They've already made it a lot more convenient and fun to get around town, considering the roadways in Oxford are a lot more congested now than they were in the summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Series

I've been working on a new series lately inspired by a gift our friend Alex gave us for our wedding. He found a ton of sweet, old timey looking books and put them in a big box with some really adorable owl bookends and wrapped them up. On top of that, he even added to one of the old inscriptions. So now in "The Home Affections" the front page reads as follows: "To dear Neville with love from your grandma. June 1920." "For dear Stuart, on his birthday, 3 Aug. 1982. With love from Neville." "For dear Hilary and Sean on their wedding day, 11 June, 2011. With love from Alex."
On of the books included in this package is called "Everybody's Speaker" and is a book on oration. In the front it teaches how to speak, and in the back offers speeches and poems. There are these great instructive illustrations in the front above different hand gestures and body language and I've been doing little gouache paintings on them. I just finished the first one yesterday. Here's a little in progress peak at it:

And the finished piece:

Now to frame it or mount it. I think once the whole series is done I might digitally reprint them and make them into a set of postcards. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yard Sale

If you had happened to be trundling down Central Avenue this past Saturday morning in Jeff Magliche's blue truck with him, this is what you might have seen:
My favorite was the man who bought a Kayak, small handheld drum, and beginners guide to blues harmonica.

ps- I also made this jambalaya last night. Easy and so delicious.