Monday, July 30, 2007

Postal Art

Thank you to everyone who responded to the postal art question. Not everyone has replied with their choice, so get your votes in. As of now, "Cora Mae" is definitely beating the "Ukrainian dairymaid." I love people's reasons for their choice as well and the surprises in my silver cupboard definitely make my day. Thanks Again!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Click below to watch over

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lab Shuffle

I'm developing film and praying to the photo gods (a la Sally Mann) that something usable comes out...and maybe, a brilliant mistake or two.

"Beer Bottle Mama" - Andy Reynolds
"Ich steh an deiner Krippe hier" - Orchester des Bayerischen
"Free Up" - Chris Tambu Herbert
"The Lovecats" - The Cure
"Backstabbers" - The O'Jays
"The Long Run" - The Eagles
"The Fat Man" - Fats Domino
"Fantasy" - Earth, Wind & Fire
"Careless Love" - Quincy Jones
"Forward Motion" - Jazzhole
"Trimmed and Burning" - Built to Spill
"Your Turn to Cry" - Bettye LaVette
"Smoke" - Ben Folds Five
"Christmas Time Blues" - Roy Milton
"Happy" - The Rolling Stones
"The Party" - Kraze
"Brilliant Mistake" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
"Fever" (live) - Peggy Lee
"I Wanna Be Around" - Dinah Washington
"Shanti/Ashtangi" - Madonna

I've Been Working Too Long

I have been working non-stop to the point I don't know what day it is. I showed up at the marble counter this morning thinking I was on time. But there was no supervisor or superJenn.

Of course, I flipped out. And, nobody goes nuts like I do. I immediately thought I missed the memo about the place being fumigated and any minute, men in white haz-mat suits were about to gas me to death. I frantically searched the office blog for new postings. Then, I checked the office schedule. Lo and behold, I was 30 minutes early. Ha Ha.

Unlike you lucky ones, I have no weekends. They're all weekdays to me. And, the marble counter doesn't open until 8:30 on this day devoted to Zeus' father.

But, all was not in vain. I met a gorgeous black man who illustrates children's books and also is a fine artist. I did him a favor (he looked lost). I'm sure he's not available. So fine, so talented and single? And, if he is single, then I'm sure he's an upstanding Baptist. And, that won't mix with my heathen ways.

Nobody sings the blues like I do, non?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Out to Lab

I'm in the studio/lab working. As well as shooting rolls of 35mm film, I documented my movements and progress with my digital camera.

I'll be absent for a while.

My stomach is in knots. I really like my digital pictures. But, I'm praying to the photo gods that they are NOT better than my black & white prints.

Click link below

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Excuse me, Sir, there's a Spider in my keyboard

Arachnida In the Machine

I have one of those white and clear plastic keyboards. The kind that catches, and more importantly, displays every crumb, dust particle and random staple on it's tray. Yesterday morning, I was surprised to see one of the crumbs moving. As I had just wiped the night from my eyes, I couldn't rely on what I was seeing. I tipped up the board, and, yes, a tiny arachnid had somehow gotten into the cracks of the alphabet. It couldn't resist the angle of the tip, and fell further into the board.

I contemplated if this webmaker would be destroyed once I began typing. It stilled me for a moment. But, then I began clacking away. I'm an optimist and I believe she's making a home under my keys. Besides, it's not the worst way to go.

Arachnida |əˈraknidə| Zoology a class of chelicerate arthropods that includes spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. They have become adapted for a terrestrial life and possess book lungs and tracheae, and many have silk or poison glands.

What in the world are "book lungs?"

Littering in Space

I keep track of the goings-on in space via CBS News. Dry and horribly formatted items are messaged to my inbox. I see a need for tabloid reporting on this beat. What a lovely idea to put on my back burner. Anyway, they had a spacewalk yesterday, which they successfully completed: all tasks checked off and nobody sucked into the void. During this mission, they threw away a 1,400-pound ammonia tank. A thingy filled with ammonia that NASA never ended up needing. And, they just jettisoned it because there wasn't a convenient space shuttle flight to bring it back to earth. I also gather they were influenced by some deadline Our Glorious Doofus set; though why a bunch of overachievers from Cal Tech and MIT would listen to a legacy that scraped through Yale on a "C" average, I don't know. They calculate that the doohickey (which is the size of a refrigerator) will float in orbit for almost a year, and then drop back into the atmosphere. They claim most of it will burn up in re-entry and whatever makes it through the fire will land in a body of water. I sense a lot of hopin' and wishin' on that last bit.

I don't like this precedent of littering. The environmentalists really need to start thinking "universal." Let's face it: Americans are going to be biggest pest from this planet. And, one of our biggest talents is creating waste. We need to incorporate sustainability into our space travel. I don't think the Creator (or whatever you choose to call her) will really dig us turning the Milky Way into a junkyard, although she probably won't be terribly surprised.

"Space station astronaut Clay Anderson, an avid sportsman and former multi-sport college athlete, will perform a feat during a spacewalk Monday that would impress Charles Atlas: tossing a 1,400-pound ammonia tank overboard. 'It won't be a problem,' Anderson said before his June launch. 'It's about the size of a refrigerator. We've been doing some work on the air-bearing floor here at NASA and I've been relatively consistent with being able to chunk it at around 40 centimeters per second (0.9 mph) and we really only need five centimeters a second. ... So I think I can send it on its way.'"

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Consultant

Withdrawal & Dividends from the Subway Karma Account

Sunday night, I was completely drained after work. I had been up since 3:30 a.m. and I was heading home at 10:00 p.m. My dinner up to that point had been a bag of Circus peanuts (the orange marshmallow treats, not the real stuff) and all the nervous energy that had helped me power through my first solitary shift at the marble counter now dissipated into the night air. I boarded my train, and I took a seat and promptly started a waking nap. I peeped at each door opening in case someone who needed a seat boarded, but I got through my ride without rising.

And, then something remarkable happened. First, I had to wait at least 20 minutes before an Alewife train barreled into the stop. Again, I was perched on a bench. That night, I was wearing my blue T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, "More than Ever...", which somehow promoted Wisconsin Public Radio. This caught the eye of a tall, avuncular gentleman with bright eyes. Ever a city dweller, my antennae pegged he was a tourist and I concluded the wine must have been good at dinner.

He was prompted to ask if I was from Wisconsin. "Just high school." was my conservative reply. He persisted, and since he was joined by his wife, I became less wary. Eventually, a chain of locales (Green Bay - Milwaukee - Hales Corners - Shorewood - Greendale) led us to the surprising stitch that Mr. Luck had taught at the same school as my grandfather. Not only that, he knew him! We exchanged remembrances and our desultory chat made those 20 minutes less painful for an exhausted lady.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The first spire

I will create a bunch of spires like this for the roof of Baba La-La's house. Maybe the eyeball will make it into the finished product, maybe not. The size, shape and color of the spires should vary.

Get on your horsy,

Ride day and night,

Let the people know,

No need to fright:



Rapunzastiltsken - How to turn plastic into yarn

  1. Lay a plastic bag down flat. Handles should be to the right. Cut off the bottom of the bag so you get rid of the seam.
  2. Tightly roll up bag like sushi.
  3. Cut up roll. Try to keep widths uniform.
  4. Unravel your sliced mini-rolls. Snip them free so they have two ends.
  5. Tie your ends together to create continuous "yarn."
  6. Spin the "yarn" around your hand to form skein.
  • I found the 10-J hook best for handling yarn that falls within a 1/4" - 1/2" strip. The 10.5 - K was way too big and unwieldy for me. However, I just learned how to crochet this morning.
  • For my first effort, I didn't cut off the ends of my knots when joining together my strips. It can make the going a little fussy, but it does create an interesting (yet, sloppy) effect. The second go-around, I cut off the tie-ends to see if the stitch shows up better.
  • Cut off the bottom of the bag. Otherwise, you get double-helix strips, which are too much trouble to trim.
  • After hours of no real trouble, my first stitch snapped apart. I let out a primal scream (but, silent scream: no loud audio at the marble counter), tied the snapped ends into a new knot, and moved on.
Good for crocheting spires for an invented shanty.

An article in the magazine Craft described an artist, Alexis Berger, who is using plastic bags to make purses and slippers. Her process was not clearly described, so I winged what I did. But, she definitely got my ball rolling. Links to the magazine's website and Alexis' picture gallery are below.

"Seen" things - 7/21/07

On the T, from Charles to Museum of Fine Arts
  1. elderly woman in a muumuu, wig, dark socks and white sneakers
  2. tall man in a preppy madras blazer with a New Wave shock of bleached hair
  3. two men together, dissimilar in features yet in matching green shirts
  4. a beautiful madonna with a limp
  5. two cackling women, one of whom should have given up a seat for the limping madonna
  6. [not seen, but felt] cool, silky breeze with no smells
Musings resulting from this trip:

Will I ever be brave enough to walk outside my domain in a muumuu? To swim in all that excess fabric, really, the only way to dip and glide in this luxurious breeze with all the modesty of a righteous woman. That woman took the time to set her wig in curlers, because the rolls are in perfect formation. But, no dark socks in white sneakers. I can't do it. I'd rather be late for the biggest day of my life.

And, man, did he fill out that blazer. He was tall with a barrel chest. Carried himself like a trapeze artist. Couldn't figure out that hair, though. It just didn't fit in with the martini debates (is it a martini if vodka is used?) and excruciating meditation of the weather, the obsessions of old New England wealth. He must be one of the jesters who exchange a particular talent for the freedom of being just a little off.

But, it's not St. Patrick's Day. It's not.

I kept my head on a swivel so I could alert her the minute a seat opened up. She didn't take the rocks and rolls of our carriage well. No reason for those beastly magpies with their overflowing flesh not to get up. They flew off at Boylston, and the madonna was removed from peril.

Subway karma: not taking a seat when you don't have to, so people who need to sit down, can. When exhaustion, illness and age have taken over me, there will be many seats waiting for me in the temple.

The subway is a city temple. Only a few us have the money or nerve to stay above ground at all times. Eventually, all of the citizens must descend into the grimy vaults. The only way to survive is to find a way to meditate. A lot bring their particular prayer books (sci-fi, biography, the ubiquitous Mr. Potter, or a local rag) or maybe they chatter, fidget or sing to endure the waiting.

Some of us are praying to whomever to bring the right train at this exact moment. Calculations have determined that we won't be late if the "E" pulls up in the next three minutes. Then our dilapidated vessel arrives to transport us to the desired destination. To look out the window to a moving canvas of darkness. Sometimes broken up by a random light bulb or a passing car. Calm comes over the rider and she accepts that being late is not the end of the world.

Until she must get off the train into daylight, back above ground. Checks her watch. If she cuts behind the MCB, she can grab the nick of time. Time and life resume the hustle.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Could this be a familiar?

For certain types of travel,
the less flesh, the better.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Seen" things - 7/18/07

Linda Gregg wrote a great essay about the craft of poetry. It's called "The Art of Finding," and it can be found on the website, She teaches poetry where she's " find how many poets are nearly blind to the physical world." She makes her students keep a journal of things they have seen. She describes that in the beginning of this exercise, her students see in three ways: "artistically, deliberately, or not at all." Eventually, her students start to simply put down what they observe. The stark descriptions are quite lovely, and possess more meaning than flowery metaphors.

She concludes her essay with this last statement: "The art of finding in poetry is the art of marrying the sacred to the world, the invisible to the human." I think you could apply those words to any of the arts: painting, writing, photography, sculpture, etc.

Anyway, I'm trying to start my own journal of seen things. The three things listed below were observed late afternoon. I exited my workplace and entered a very green and damp world. It had rained earlier, and that delicious earth smell was everywhere.

  1. dirt kicked up against roots
  2. one purple tree among three green ones
  3. long ropes of black braided cables

I spent most of today, Thursday, inside finishing La-La's numerical floor. And, I created a fish as an homage to Louise Bourgeois. There's actually two references to Bourgeois in La-La's house. The first one has already been displayed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bendy Thoughts

Inspiration for this room came from a book of images I pasted together when I was a devotee of all magazines related to interior design. I didn't want to get too fancy as I don't draw, but merely doodle. The face around Ms. La-La's window is based on a fabulous fireplace that exists somewhere in the world. The real-life fireplace's visage could be a beast or the anthropomorphization of the North Wind. Ms. La-La's window is most definitely a lion.

One of my childhood nightmares was the appearance of a giant tiger's head, whose jaws were agape, in my schoolroom. Someone would have to walk into those jaws, and the job always fell to me. I always woke up in a cold sweat.

I drew the eyes, nose and cheeks for a guide, everything else is freehand. I cut paper into strips, and edged them with a black Sharpie. Wielding a hot glue gun, I adhered these strips to La-La's wall at a ninety-degree angle. The crystal, sparkly bits are the sloppy remains of my glue. The paper is either glued into a spiral or it just undulates. Some strips are not glued all the way down; they were then made curly by running them across scissors' edge.

When I worked at Children's Hour in New Orleans, one of my favorite tasks was to wrap up birthday gifts and curl up buoyant bouquets of ribbon. One woman shocked me with the curt command to not curl the ribbon. She posited that too much attention is given to children's egos, and she had no desire to puff up anybody without cause. If embellishing a few ribbons to brighten up a birthday package is the first stone in the path of society's ruin, then you'll find me on a roof gleefully curling while Rome burns. People are so strange.

The walls were inspired by how some Africans decorate their make-shift homes in the slums surrounding cities. They take discarded refuse and packaging, then paper their walls in patterns that are still aesthetically pleasing. This follows the tradition of Africans decorating their homes with whatever is at hand, using pattern and shapes to encourage the eye to dance. Ms. La-La's walls are papered with discarded newspapers and then blotted with watercolor.

I have delightfully discovered that googling my evil fairy's name will reveal that there is a picnicking area in South Africa that bears her name as well as a city in Mozambique. Plus, there might be an Asian goddess that shares her honorific.

La-La's tub is very plain. Just a Sharpied outline on the paper. It's her vessel where she might observe, soak up or receive truth. So, I wanted to keep it pure. It's also a nod to the mighty Shel Silverstein, whose drawings and poems made me belly laugh as a child.

Curiously enough, another recurring dream from my childhood occurred in a Silverstein landscape. Of course, it was a white void. I was myself and full-blooded. A froward brat with a bouncy bun on my head in red corduroys. But, everything else was drawn in the squiggly black lines of nonsense modern. Two animated alligators were chasing me relentlessly. During my flight, I came across the instruments of the playground: see-saw, merry-go-round, swing set, monkey bars, and the highest slide I had ever imagined. I was "scared" but the good kind of scared as experienced by thrillseekers on certain rollercoasters. I ran for my life, and I laughed all the way.

The bookcase itself is drawn. But, the titles within it were typed up on the finest paper available. The thread count of this paper was absolutely royal. I collected poems, nursery rhymes, and book and song titles. All of them have significance and were carefully chosen. I then cut their words up to fit the spines that could be shelved in the case. This picture just shows the books in the case. Like any true booklover, La-La has piles of books everywhere waiting for her attention.

An excerpt from an obituary for Angela Carter
"She was the opposite of parochial. Nothing, for her, was outside the pale: she wanted to know about everything and everyone, and every place and every word. She relished life and language hugely, and revelled in the diverse."

The Observer 1992

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Please, Step Into Her Parlour

BaBa La-La exists in two worlds. No particular reason commands this duality; it just is. Left to her own devices, Ms. La-La would live in a treetop among swaying branches and dance with her cousins, the Four Winds. She would bat her lashes at the stars and hum with the planets, but still would gossip with spiders and squirrels through her tree trunk with its roots firmly planted in the ground.

Neither of La-La's worlds allows her those heights. She is destined to roll along bound to the earth. Not many creatures can claim to know they live in different worlds. All of us do, but we don't realize it. BaBa La-La has the ability to see her two worlds at once. She sees other curiosities as well, and cannot help telling those around her about the marvelous sights to which she is exposed.

In one world, the creatures there respect and welcome Ms. La-La to their hearths. They know they are sure to hear wonder stories. These wights scrape together their existence and welcome edifying points-of-view when the time to sing, dance, and laugh comes. In the other world, the beings that live there don't worry so much about how to live. Accumulating goods and adorning oneself dominate their polite conversation. While Ms. La-La is a well-mannered hen, she is not particularly polite and inept at the niceties. The dolls of this land tend to avoid Ms. La-La as she refuses to conform to their ways.

In the Land of the Dolls, Ms. La-La tumbles about their manicured hills in a ratty cardboard box. The outside is rough and shabby, but inside is a good ol' nest for a wise hen. She has appointed her magic cardboard house with bits and scraps found in her travels. When not lolling around on her make-believe pillows, she slumbers in a tub. When she needs a view, she looks through the mouth of a lion. Ms. La-La has a bookshelf that spits out portfolios at exactly the right moment.

When in Scratch Valley with the wights, well, that's another day...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Biblio Aside July 14, 2007

Happy Bastille Day!

I just finished reading The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter. The book fortuitously came to my attention while I manned a marble counter last Saturday. The cover's wailing maiden in a tower caught my eye. Perusing the description, I discerned that the author was reclaiming the female perspective in fairy tales. Instead of helpless and incognizant victims, her versions would be populated by cunning and compulsive wenches. Males would take their turn being the prize, the tool, or mere embellishment. The book itself was quite skinny, so I felt no guilt in placing it on my tippling stack of to-be-read's. Plus, one of the stories was the basis for a movie, The Company of Wolves. One of those great flickers to stumble on in the strange hours between sleep and waking.

At first, I thought I had picked up that weird genre of "British and extremely literate pornography." The opening story titillated me into a state of flustered agitation. For all my forthrightness, I have a wide streak of prudery that stiffens my back. [I don't approve of the brazen way pornography has been mainstreamed into American culture. While I don't care what people do in their homes, I really would like for them to keep it in their homes---don't casually broadcast your dirtiness on computer screens, on the subway, and, really, not even on the streets of Vegas.] Although the story stirred me up, I was compelled to reach for a dictionary and not my smelling salts.

All my boon companions know how I love to rattle off my five-dollar words, but I still needed to look up at least a dozen new ones. I don't know how I'll be able to insert "catafalque" into common chit-chat, but I will cram it in somehow. After that first story, La Carter toned down her language or I became a jaded sophisticate after 33 pages. What I had hoped for was delivered to me in lusciously wrapped packages. Her writing style is unusual--at least to me--and forces you to readjust your expectations with every story. Symbols and the languor of dreams dominate most of the stories with the delightful exception of "Puss In Boots." "Puss" displays that raucous humor of Chaucer and low-down Shakespeare. Earthy and full of farts.

I leave you with an excerpt I jotted down in one of my handy notebooks:

"This knowledge gave me a certain fearfulness still; but, I would say, not much...I was a young girl, a virgin, and therefore men denied me rationality just as they denied it to all those who were not exactly like themselves, in all their unreason."

page 63, The Bloody Chamber, "The Tiger's Bride," Angela Carter

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Randomly Seeking Drunken Penguin

This is lifted from an outrageous message I sent in 2005.

Top 10 Destinations
According to (2005)
1. Venice, Italy
2. Agra, India
3. Tulum, Mexico
4. Grand Canyon, USA
5. Luxor, Egypt
6. St. Petersburg, Russia
7. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
8. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
9. Siem Reap, Cambodia
10. Machu Picchu, Peru

Top ten destinations Spinner has never been to:

1. Iceland...I want to see volcanoes, ride a reindeer, and get into a streetfight with Bjork.

2. Paris...I want to vandalize the Hermes store, get buzzed on wormwood, piss in the Seine, and get into a streetfight with Bjork.

3. Tokyo...I want to eat Kobe beef, purify myself under a Shinto waterfall, lose my soul in the neon, and get into a streetfight with Bjork.

4. Patagonia...I want to climb whatever they have down there (mountains?hills?berns?), fish in frigid waters, listen to opera on a glacier field, and get into a dusty roadfight with a drunken penguin.

5. Cairo...kayak past the pyramids, try not to eat anything with my left hand, buy a beautiful carpet and a super fez, and drag race using camels.

6. San in the park, eat oodles of chocolate, write haiku on the docks, and get into a streetfight with a drunken Sean Penn.

7. Senegal...weave my own wallhanging, win karaoke night at Sami's, swim in a salty, pink lake, and get into a surfoff with Djimon Hounsou.

8. Spain...roar around the country in a ridiculous car, write country songs, learn how to dance the flamenco, join the Basque separatists, and get into a streetfight with Catherine Zeta-Jones.

9. New Zealand...sail around the country, avoid sheep, ride a whale, and play rugby (streetfight on a lawn) with a tattooed man.

10. Bhutan...dispel all bad impressions from Cameron Diaz' visit, climb a tree, duplicate the EddieMurphy/Golden Child temple scene at a sacred monastery, and, of course, get into a knifefight with Bjork.

I have yet to land in any of these spots and, no, I've failed to scrap it up with the Siren from Reykjavik. I only want to fight with her because I adore the fierce beauty of her throat.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More Make-Believe Pillows

Make-Believe Pillows

Having lion AND ostrich legs, Baba La-La doesn't quite fit into chairs. She prefers to hunker down in a pile of pillows. She's been known to snooze in her bathtub as well.

Suddenly, I became a seamstress. I'm an excellent dishwasher; I scrub porcelain until it sings; my Dyson and I have just celebrated our first anniversary; and, of course, I cook and mix concoctions. All of the other finer points of domesticity escape me. I have a particular fear of needle and thread. Exhibit A: The Quilting Incident at Charles Drew House, 1989. Enough said.

Back against the wall, I turned to my mother. While she raised me in thunderstorms, big ships and foreign lands, her childhood in Wisconsin was much more traditional. She spent time on a farm and often mentions her time in the Brownies. My logic was: if you know how to milk a cow, you know how to sew a pillow. She seemed like she knew what she was talking about. Here are the steps I was given:

  • draw matching shapes out on fabric
  • cut around lines, leaving a 1/4 inch leeway
  • face the exteriors inwards and pin together
  • stitch along lines, stopping an inch away from completion
  • turn pillow cover inside out
  • stuff with toilet paper
Everything went well until I asked how to finish the pillow and close up that inch of gap. She seemed flummoxed at that. I asked her how she had finished her pillows.

Her Mother: "Oh, I've never made any pillows."
Spinner: "What?! How did you know all this stuff?"
Her Mother: "I've watched them do it a million times on Trading Spaces."

So, my pillows have inch-long scars where they were finished off with my clumsy fingers. My mother comforted me with the words, "No one's going to actually sleep on them. It's OK, they're only make-believe pillows."

Little Ms. Epistle

I love to exchange letters. It's a more civilized way to communicate. Phones, be they land-lines or those infernal cells, are entirely too abrupt. In theory, no matter what I may be doing--ablutions, studying, binding of spells, or taking in the wisdom of Master Shake, Meatwad, and Fryman--I have to drop my task and obey the summons of that dratted ring. In practice, I can ignore a ringing phone quite well or I've just unplugged it.

Mailboxes don't whine for your attention. They wait patiently to be filled and then emptied of their contents. The sight of a hand-lettered envelope or postcard in my silver cupboard is a source of delight. Plus, I can read it whenever I want and however I want--in theory. In practice, I gobble it up as if it was a candy-sweetened child who has strayed from the path.

I also find that phones don't bring me anything of use. What passes through the receiver is a weakened version of the caller. Plus, I need a face and body language to either reveal the subtext of the story or distract me from a less-than-fascinating episode. On the phone, I'm blanked in calm confusion of why this person is telling me this or that, and what do they want of me? I grope for the correct response and hope that I've given no offense where none was intended. A letter or card might be full of the mundane ("We've had good weather for a while."--I always include a weather report in my missives.)or trite ("Wish you were here!"), but eventually something unique will be revealed. Something you would never say on the phone, and something that would be excluded during person-to-person contact because it doesn't fit the shtick.

I also enjoy the adornment of the envelopes. When preparing an envelope, I try to avoid the generic stamp. At this moment, I'm in love with the semi-obsolete $.39 square because I affix two $.01 ones (dripping Tiffany lamps are the image) along with it. I'm not ashamed to use a sticker, and praise the lovely people at Dover Books often. I'm not sticky about what paper or stationery I use (not as much as a certain laconic blonde I know).
In order to thoroughly enjoy replenishing my stock, I'm trying to empty my voluminous store of cards, paper, and bits. So many choices and decisions go in to the creation of a personal letter. Much like creating art.

So, why not distribute art via the post? That was my thought a while back. It all started on a morning with only dull hours waiting to hold me captive. To keep me from shrieking, I added something to my prim uniform that would attract glances and arouse brief wonder. Oooh, such wicked pleasure did I revel in that day. I created a small artwork to memorialize this pert act. Something that could folded and inserted into an envelope and sent on its merry way. For I am the Queen of Nonsense and a Cavaliera de Bellicosity.

If you wish to receive small fabrications that you can call your own and hold right in your hands, please, send an appropriate address to I will intermittently drop something in the mail. You will then have the chance to find something unexpected and frivolous in your correspondence cupboard.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Start the Grand Tour

This summer was supposed to be all about sin. I wanted to explore how one culture could perceive a certain trait as a weakness, and another culture could take it and turn it into a strength. The first thread was the language of blues women and their pride and satisfaction in being "evil." Most people wouldn't want such a reputation. But, in my world, "evil" means not only strength and power, but the willingness to use that strength. How wicked you were depended on how much you acknowledged your dirty work.

There once was a girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle
of her forehead.

When she was good,
She was very, very good.
But when she was bad,
She was evil incarnate.

Guess who? My plan was to stage scenes illustrating the split between those who own their sin and those who shun their darkness. I spent a lovely afternoon in the library discovering ideas that could influence my pattern. My favorite of the day was "Self-knowledge for anyone means knowledge of sin." Aaah. I'm fairly sure I lifted that from an amateur web page that earnestly contemplates sins and virtues, but I cannot cite the source. While surrounded by Dante, C.S. Lewis, and fascinating symbols, I jotted down my own thought: "The audacity of creating your own narrative when the threads of fate do not support that weft. Cutting these threads & starting anew."

I was reminded of how I would be told "Sleeping Beauty" twice. The first telling would follow the traditional story: king and queen have baby, throw party, don't invite the "evil" fairy, bad fairy curses baby, curiosity makes baby sleep for eons until handsome boy kisses her on cheek. Instead of wrapping up the story with "And they lived happily every after...," my lesson included the bridge, "That's how white people do it. Now, this is how black folks do it." And instructions on how to rule the world would follow. I thought images of these dual stories/tellings would be good bread to support my peanut butter-and-jelly project of sin.

But my duelling fairy tales intrigued me more and more. So, my summer is less about sin and more about "making." I'm constructing the first fairy tale using photo montage--my materials are commercial images lifted from magazines, websites, and my own photo library. They're easily recognizable and usually whole, intact. By that, I mean you shouldn't be able to see the seams. You recognize the choice, but you don't see the craft. (Example: When a person walking down the street is wearing Abercrombie & Fitch from head-to-toe, you recognize their choice to be identified with what that brand means. But, you don't dwell on how their look was constructed because it was appropriated from a catalogue or mannequin. When you see a person who mixes and matches seemingly disparate clothing, you wonder how they did it and how did they know to do it. Or, at least I do.)

My second fairy tale is all about exposing the seaming and not tucking away the knots. The common thread between the two tales is the "evil" fairy who I have named Baba La-La. She's a black hen with an afro. She's got a lion's booty and ostrich gams. I'm building her dwelling that appears in the first fairy tale. It's a two-dimensional (more often than not) home to fit the flat world of the traditional story. But, as she's Baba La-La, it's hard to keep this witchy hen completely horizontal and depressed. More images from her house and the worlds she inhabits will be posted to this blog. As well as more earnest contemplations about the loveliness of sin.