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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Things and Stuff

At a little less than a month to go until my birthday, I am already buying myself presents. I took an order up to GREER on North Wells in Chicago this weekend, and I made the mistake of looking around. It is a very lovely store. You can tell the owner really loves her products and what she does. I really loved how she used old library card catalogs [think the Dewey decimal system] to store and display ribbon. It was also nice to see not only 16 Sparrows products on display in a retail setting, but also my own handmade envelopes were on sale.

sucker for stampsThere were a zillion things I wanted, but I restrained myself to a couple of envelopes pre-stamped with vintage postage the equivalent of a first class letter. This means that there are at least 4 stamps per envelope, all artfully arranged. I can’t wait to use them. I’m a sucker for all things postal. Recently, friend told me that he described me to someone as a “postal pervert.”

I’ve also pre-ordered myself a signed, numbered, hard-back, slipcover edition of The Ladies of Grace, Adieu, a new story collection by Susanna Clarke and illustrated by Charles Vess. It cost far too much than I should have paid, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have such a lovely collectable.expensive book There are some drawings up from the book here, on Charles Vess’ blog, and they certainly do not disappoint. Since it’s on pre-order and shipping from England, I do not expect I will see it any time soon. In fact, I pessimistically fear it will be lost forever in the mail.

[As an aside, I severely dislike the word “blog,” I much prefer “journal” which is why I always refer to this as a journal and not a blog.]

Monday, September 25, 2006

October Woe

costume1It is almost the end of September, and I’ve no idea what I’m dressing up as for Halloween. This distresses me, but I haven’t really had the time to contemplate a costume. It’s disappointing that Gary is so far away in CO and I can’t get him to paint me up anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever do any better than my Chiana costume 2 or 3 years ago.
costume2Gary is a big influence on me for my Halloween/Party costumes. He is always in such fervor for Halloween; it’s infectious. Under his watchful eye, I’ve been an Imp of Missing Things, a Throat-Slit Bride, Chiana from FarScape, a Victim, and She-Ra, Princess of Power. My attempt last year at Violet from Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events was less than adequate. The costumes are always super low budget. I use a lot of hot glue, cardboard, thrift store clothing, and, in one instance, a mop. It’s great fun to see how accurate you can be using limited materials.
Gary has had some really awesome costumes too, including Pyramid Head and The Monarch. I really miss working on our costumes together in our basement studio. He hosts a “Helloween” party each year and really decks his place out. I regret I won’t be able to go this year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Going to Graceland

Inspired by Will Storr Vs. The Supernatural, and by a certain amount of nostalgia for my ghosthunting days, I took my day off to visit Graceland Cemetery in north Chicago. This cemetery is often described as one of the most beautiful in Chicago for good reason. Unfortunately, I don’t own a camera*; so the pictures are some that I found on the web. Graceland is a big place. It’s big enough that I saw a fox while I was there, [I’m always happy to see wildlife in the middle of the city], and I got a little lost when trying to find the exit.
*I have one, but I don’t know where. I know I need a digital camera.

gracelandsketch1The biggest surprises I had, besides the fox, were the grave of Louis Sullivan and a mausoleum shaped like a pyramid with a sphinx out front. Graceland had a lot of mausoleums, something I’m not very familiar with in cemeteries. I took some time to sketch this one because I liked how it was appearing to grow out of the hill behind it. My map carrying case worked really well as a portable sketching station. This was the first time I’d had a chance to use it. Also new to me were head stones that were cylindrical in form, like tubing or firewood. A great degree of bronze is used in conjunction with the stonework as well, creating lovely green verdigris over time.

I chose to go to Graceland out of all the Chicago cemeteries for three reasons. 1. It was easy to get to on the bus. 2. It had its hours posted on the web. 3. It had a “glass box girl.” When little Inez Clarke was hit by lightning on a family picnic**, her parents were so distraught that they commissioned a life-size portrait statue of the six-year-old to stand guard over her grave. The statue has since been encased in plexiglass to preserve it from the environment, hence the term “glass box girl.” It’s a really sweet little statue, with lace carved into the edges of her pinafore and a child-size parasol resting next to her demurely crossed ankles. She wears ankle boots and has a hat slung across her back, held to her by a stone ribbon that flows along her shoulders. You can see her picture in the middle.


When I first read the phrase, “glass box girl,” I was really hoping it was glass coffin style, but no such luck. Still, I think that Graceland was something to see and I plan to go back and do some more sketching. It was so peaceful and quiet. It was a far cry from an abandoned place, but it had the same sort of reverential feel to it that an empty church has.

Speaking of abandoned places, I found this website a couple of days ago all about photography in abandoned places. When I mentioned it to Dillon, he said that he'd already found that site long ago and that, "Pictures of abandoned places are my pornography." Ah, the things you hear when dating the artisticly minded.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Owl of Wisdom

I've just been up at Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park on this Indian Summer September day. Renegade is a good show and I wish I'd chosen to participate this year, but at sign up time, I wasn't yet involved with 16 Sparrows as heavily and it was too much of a financial burden to cover on my own. Now, as part of 16 Sparrows, I have a tent and everything; so I do plan to attend next year. Hopefully, they'll accept me. I am going to participate in the DIY Trunk Show in November though.

vintagepostcardsI did make a small purchase of a pack of assorted vintage postcards. It was one of the only items I could justify buying as I cannot make them myself... well, not "actual" vintage ones anyway. One of the items I saw for sale that I plan to recreate was a hardback book of empty envelopes. It'll be a nice way to stash little paper items like ticket stubs and cool postage stamps for posterity. I haven't made a book in a while, but I think the skill is much like riding a bike. [Famous last words perhaps?]

I need to introduce myself to my new downstairs neighbour. She gets nifty magazines in the mail like Domino and Everyday FOOD and I told Dillon jokingly, based on that and the loads of catalogues she recieves, that she's probably a lot like Kathy. He thought that my assumtion was too much of a reach but Dillon ran into her this morning and he tells me that apparently, she is into crafting as she was headed out to participate in Renegade and has much of her same design aesthetic. I can see things before they happen.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fun with trash

Huh-ray! The internet gods have smiled upon me and there is now internet access at my apartment. I’m still writing my updates at work because I’m an incredible multi-tasker. It’s been an adjustment, but I really do enjoy my new place.
crystaldoorknob1When we moved in, I had only seen the place once and didn’t really recall much about it. I was tickled to discover that we have crystal doorknobs. The house that I grew up in had similar doorknobs; so not only are they vintage looking, they are also real memory igniter for me about my family’s small white house with shutters that were painted blue, but never worked. One of the doorknobs in the bedroom is missing which I would love to replace with a colored glass doorknob, preferably a red one. Unfortunately, according to an article at This Old House, those are among the most expensive to purchase vintage.
In addition to the doorknobs, most of the doors are also fitted to lock with a skeleton key. We have three keys. Dillon and I don’t have much of a reason to lock the doors, but they are great fun to have around, protruding from keyholes. My childhood home also had a key like those; only I think I lost the only copy in the back garden somewhere. It wasn’t a huge loss as it only went with the hall closet and it wasn’t as if we were keeping the good linen out of the reach of the servants or anything.

theofficeSo in my new place, I do have space for an office/studio, which is a blessing. Of course, the space isn’t huge so I’ve been rather creative in my approach to organizing my load of stock and whatnot. What used to be plain cardboard boxes are now faux wooden boxes all with the use of some free balsa wood provided by Kathy when she moved and some scotch tape.
All the materials I used are free and/or recycled excepting the tape. The boxes reused from the boxes that either our 16 Sparrows envelopes come in or the boxes that the letterhead envelopes come in at my other job. The tags I made from a sample of Post-it notes that I received for free as part of a Back-to-School package at Staples. They remind me of the wide lined writing paper from first grade. balsaboxes
Construction was really easy. These strips of balsa were thin enough for me to cut with my hobby knife. They were even thin enough for me to round the corners with a scrap booking corner rounder [note exactly the best cutting tool in the world], giving a really nice finished look. Both the tags and the balsa wood pieces are repositionable and easily replaceable in case the content of a box changes.
My other project on the house was lining the drawers of the china cabinet/pantry in the kitchen. I used my rusty math skills and cut out some [mostly] well-fitted pieces from some brown craft paper I keep around. I’m considering rubber stamping them with a nice pattern, but that's a little too time consuming for me at the moment. Maybe I'll do it on a rainy day.

Lastly, I've finally gotten around to lining envelopes with maps for my presentation portfolio. I definitely like how it makes it more than just a grey envelope, but I'm not sure the execution if professional enough. I need to set up a spray booth [AKA a ripped open cardboard box on the porch] for a smoother glue job.