Our friend Lena turned 30 this last week and her wish was some Studio Mailbox artwork. (Gulp). Now this is super flattering, but also a little bit hard because you just never know what people really truly want to hang up on their walls.
Lena loves flea market finds and has a super quirky sense of decor. A big hit in her house is a donkey figure with a movable saddle that when tipped, excretes a cigarette out of it's butt!
So I felt like I had a lot of leeway with this one.
I decided to craft her the world's first German totem using two photos sized to fit each other. Both are architectural elements, one a water down pipe and the other is a set of three wooden doors from the side of a building.
a natural object or animal believed by a particular society to have spiritual significance and adopted by it as an emblem.
May this totem watch over Lena. May this totem bring Lena a magnificent sense of empowerment and joy throughout her 30s and beyond. May this totem keep her safe and healthy and her life filled with love.
And may this totem be a constant source of inquiry, speculation, admiration and/or dislike from her guests so that it acts as a never ending source of laughter.
This puffy pretzel has clearly been hanging out at the gym every spare minute he's not attached to that building with reinforced steel.
Or maybe the baker put way too much baking soda in the dough.
Check how far away you can be down the street and still find him...! Is that nuts or what? Go look for yourself on Kneippstrasse in Aschaffenburg.
...the repairman was here for 25 minutes. For some reason he pulled the front panel off the machine. He also managed to find a lot of dust under the kitchen cupboards. And he made a disastrous mess of the hoarded cleaners and potions beneath the kitchen sink.
He presented me a bill for 63 euros. He pushed the two buttons simultaneously on the control panel that are clearly marked "reset." The dishwasher magically worked.
Wow. I guess 'reset' is the same word in German. Oopsie.
Seriously. I've got some great sightings coming down the pipeline but just need some time to sort them out and post them up. If I can just stay pretzistent enough (that's my new term for pretzel persistence), all will be well.
On the homefront our dishwasher is broken. The problem is three-fold. The hubby is gone. I have to wash dishes by hand. AND I get to interact with a German plumber today. I'm literally on the edge of my seat over this one. Now that I contemplate the situation, I think I should turn this into a You-Tube opportunity.
I'm currently under a deadline. I'm busy formulating my first guest post in the background complete with video. It's going to be great! So you can look forward to some fun at the end of the month.
For now, I've been enjoying my coffee from this twisted cup. This ceramic lovliness is from the same company as the little pin accessory in Pretzel 37. It comes complete with a lucky felt coaster. The hubby kicked down the store door in a very romantic display of German chivalry, making my compulsive twisted dreams come true.
Ivy just asked a question that I nearly answered over in the comments but then I figured if others are having the same confusion then they're not going to benefit from the answer if they don't see it. And this is something I wish I had known about years ago. So if it sheds any light, then this is worth it!
This post is going to address two questions:
1) What are the Crusades?
2) Why should you become a Crusader?
So here goes, TJ's version of mixed media cliff notes:
Michelle Ward is a very well known artist. Her bio is here. She comes from Minnesota so this gives her an extra dose of wonderful. As any reader here should know, people from MN are awesome. It's like a geographical phenomenon that cannot be explained by scientists.
Michelle has multiple blogs going on because they have different functions.
Her main blog is HCIT - How Cool Is That where she posts about what's going with her art.
In addition to this Michelle hosts an event every month called a "Crusade."
These Crusades are listed out on her GPP Street Team Blog.
Those who take part in these monthly challenges refer to themselves as "Crusaders" or members of the "Street Team." The crusades are free. Michelle has a very clear description of the Street Team here. You don't have to join any other new networks or make new passwords, it's all just sitting out there waiting to be discovered. By you.
When I first came to Germany and saw posts out on various artist's blogs, I thought that these "Crusaders" actually worked for Michelle. I thought that the "Street Team" was her design team. Seriously! Her website is so professional and many of these Crusaders are quite accomplished and published artists themselves. When I put these two factors together I assumed that they were official colleagues.
As much as I'd like to pretend that I work as a designer for Michelle Ward, this is not the case. The Street Team is just a bunch of creative people coming together over a monthly project. Again, go read Michelle's description of the Street Team above if you need clarity.
You will learn something from one of the industry's top artists. Even if Michelle never hosted another crusade there is already so much information out on her site it would keep you busy for months. You don't even have to start with the current crusade. All the challenges are there. Go find one that interests you and go for it. This woman has generously gave out her knowledge. Let's be grateful to learn something new.
You will connect with other artists. This part is more work than you think. When you go into the comments section of the current Crusade, you are supposed to visit the other sites and interact with the other artists. This step takes me a few hours every month. But the reward has been that I have discovered other wonderful people and blogs and others have discovered Studio Mailbox. That's a win-win.
You will have a sense of accomplishment and you will consistently produce stuff that you otherwise wouldn't have if you didn't join in the fun. This is exactly the remedy you need to stay out of ruts and to get your buns in gear.
My two favorite Crusades have been:
#39 - Pulling Prints (check out my print-pulled pretzels. And say that 10 times fast).
Michelle Ward's January Crusade was #47- "It's a Wrap" and themed around Holiday paper.
The pure genius of this was that Christmas is over! I have no idea why it never occurred to me before, but I've always tried to do this during the holidays which basically just compounds the stress of an already too-full season. It's these simple concepts that sometimes stump me. Duh. This is clearly where I've been going about it all wrong!
I pulled down from my shelf a secret holiday box of shame and dumped it's contents out onto the floor and started sorting. For four years now I've been adding to the box while telling myself "next year I'll put it all together!" Which of course has never happened. Until now.
I've been sewing all morning. I've never assembled a journal in this order before. This time I cut the pages for the signatures and then immediately put the holiday stuff on the paper. No watercolor, acrylic or spray paint. Just scraps directly onto the plain white paper. At first I was freaking out that it was really boring and dull. But the sewing has added a lot over my selection of postage stamps, wine labels, wrapping paper, and small bags.
The good news about this Crusade is that I've managed to tamper with the evidence of my own hoarding crime scene and alter it into something more fun and tangible. So thank you Michelle for another great challenge. And a quick salute noting two fellow Crusaders who totally inspired me to actually make the book I've always wanted instead of just shoving all that extra ephemera back into a box: both Hanna's Holiday journal and Lay Hoons Christmas Spreads are total amazing eye candy!!
Did y'all see my new Free Range Social Media button? I'm pretty excited about it. I've been wanting to post about Holger since last week, but I was really nervous that people would think I was making fun of him.
Gemany's version of American Idol is DSDS which stands for "Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar." I'm not sure how the US version of the show is moderated, but the German version is pretty harsh. They spend as much time making fun of candidates as they do highlighting talent. There have been some pretty brutal reactions to performances that have really made me cringe. It's nearly turned me off from the show altogether, but I watch it because I love to see people who are really reaching for their dreams.
And in a nearby McDonalds (of all places), I met none other than 2009's controversial local candidate, Holger Göpfert.
He was super polite to me, although I didn't have the nerve to ask for a photo because he was clearly on a quick lunch break. He said to me, (translated) "But maybe we'll see each other another time!" That's right Holger! And next time I'll ask for a picture...
Keep in mind when you watch this that English is his second language. He's clearly musically talented, with a very unique energy on stage... I was super excited to meet him. So here's one of the snippets I could find of him on You-Tube:
Since January is almost over I figured I ought to make a quick post regarding my words for 2011. What the heck was up with all of you doing this at the beginning of the month? Did I miss a memo or something? HAH.
If I'm totally honest, ever since I finished Sampler Resolutionary, I'm a little lost. I don't know if it's because I didn't have a new project waiting in the wings or if I just lost my momentum or what. But I'm struggling to get back into daily journaling. It's bringing me down because I really miss that flow.
I'm trying to do a daily doodley thing. My own version of something like Teesha Moore's Daily Drawing Journal. So I've been jotting and drawing in a blank calendar journal, not so much for art's sake but for memory's sake. Already it's fun to look at where or what I was doing over the last weeks.
This is a doodle from the very start of the year. All my words seemed to have "O"s in them, and the o's sort of came together like a chain link.
Connect - I'm making an effort to reach out and connect with more creative people.
Worthy - Brene Brown's Teds Talk inspired this one.
Focus - Taming my suspected ADD is probably one of the best ideas I've dreamt up.
Positive - All the negative is just a big old waste of energy.
I could have thrown "Body" in there too. I've decided that working out is actually a bigger part of my life than I had previously realized. I've always had a pretty regular practice but every once in awhile I derail. It's finally become pretty clear that if I don't feel good physically, I don't feel good creatively.
So how about you guys? Anybody else still kicking around a few words? How are the rest of you doing with the ones you chose at the beginning of the year...? Will anybody admit to perhaps already forgetting what their word even was? Anybody?
This post is inspired by my friend Jacqueline who suffered a very difficult 2010. She has recently started blogging again on her site Exploring Art which I'd like to recommend to y'all! Here's wishing her and everyone good creative things in 2011...
Well this hasn't taken me 15 minutes, it's taken me more like 15 days. I don't know what that says about my level of literacy, but here goes:
Shel Silverstein - I love this guy's poems and his illustrations even more. A brilliant genius. Some of his stuff makes me incredibly sad. I do not suggest drinking and reading Shel's work.
Laura Ingalls Wilder - peeps, I'm from Minnesota. Little House on the Prairie is a cornerstone of my formative years. LHOP (or in German they call it "Our Little Farm"). These tales are a Midwestern classic. As far as I'm concerned, every little girl in the world should at some point in her life be given the complete box set as a gift that will last her a lifetime. *TJ thumps chest cavity twice*
Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain - I love Huck Finn but I also just love a guy with a pen name. Hey maybe he's the whole inspiration behind my weirdo German alias on Facebook!
Dr. Suess - ahhh Teddy Geisel. And another duel identity. His "real life" story is a bit tragic and sad but nonetheless a brilliant creative who kept at it despite repeated rejection early on in his career. A hero.
Judy Blume - I don't know if it was just because she was racy enough to write about menstruation or if it was just so fun to finally get to read chapter books. Ramona rocked. Oh wait that was Beverly Cleary. (thanks Sarah!)
John Irving - I'd never read him until I lived in England. Although I hate when writers write about writers, my exception is his most recent canadian logging story, Last Night in Twisted River. The guy is amazing. A Widow for One Year has been one of my faves. I hope he moves to Germany to research for a new novel. I have fantasies of studying the culture with him. A girl can dream.
Elizabeth Gilbert - when I read what she writes, I feel like a have a soul mate. Spooky and wonderful. I wrote about my Kindle experience with her book Committed before, and I can recommend it to anyone interested in relationships between people of different nationalities.
Anne Lamott - makes me laugh until I cry. She's another soul sister. I like to believe I was related to her in another life. I admire the way she writes about her own mind. Her book Operating Instructions was a wonderful read during my early pregnant days in Germany.
James Patterson - (and throw in John Grisham and Dean Koontz too). These fellas, well they give me a thrill. They write entertaining scary stuff. Some better than others. And I like the sensation of being scared. Not "too" scared. But a little nervous to go to bed. I think it's healthy.
Augusten Burroughs - his childhood is so freaky amazing, I would read anything he wrote just because he's a fascinating human being. Another brave guy out there fighting the world with a pen. Although he's famous for Running With Scissors, I personally loved Dry.
Wally Lamb - big books impress me.
There's room here for The Diary of Anne Frank, Jane Eyre, Gone With the Wind, and Grapes of Wrath (which I do think is one of the weirdly best books every written) - but I imagine they're not exactly surprises. And suddenly I've shifted to books instead of their authors.
So last but not least, what I really want to share with you is one that I don't think many people know about. My absolute favorite book ever written:
Lucia St. Clair Robson - Ride the Wind- the amazing fictional tale based on the real-life abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker, a settler child who is taken by Native Americans. It's not only a fascinating story, but extremely well researched and therefore historically interesting. I've read it several times, savoring it every few years.
Friends, this post took 4-eveh to formulate, so let me know if you go read any of these suggestions. And if you like my list, feel free to pass it along. Or better yet, take a second to comment and tell me what your favorite book is. Or make your own Fab 15 list and link on back! I'd love to see what's on all your bookshelves...