November 24th, 2003
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Two of the most difficult things for me as a self employed person are 1) Dealing with someone who owes me money (asking for it), and 2) Asking for something that I need (changed terms in a contract, more money for revisions, moved deadlines, etc.) Both scenarios involve me standing up for myself and no matter how much I come up against this it doesn’t seem to get any easier. This morning I had to do both (one of each). I often say to people, when you are self-employed all of the personality traits that you don’t like (read: would rather avoid) rear their ugly heads and effectively slap you in the face. Meaning you have to deal with them, otherwise you will end up in a blubbering pool in the middle of your studio floor, (actually that does happen from time to time). So there I was today not wanting to do what I know I must do. Procrastination takes on a fevered pitch, nausea ensues. Eventually I pick up the phone, heart pounding and short of breath, speaking becomes difficult but I force my way through it. In both cases the situation is resolved within fifteen minutes, my requests happily granted. All the scenarios I have run through my head (of being yelled at, of losing the gig, of being rejected) immediately disappear into the ether. It seems that most every time my worst fears DO NOT materialize, yet it is hard to remember this the next time the same issue arises. But for now I feel like a large weight has lifted off my body, my breathing is deeper, and I am motivated again. It’s the avoidance that hurts me every time. You see, it is not even important that I always get the thing I am asking for (though it is usually the outcome). What is most important for me is to just ASK, (to coin a cliche here ‘stand in my truth’). It is difficult because many of us have been taught to put others feelings above our own, and let our own needs go ignored or discarded altogether. Slowly I am learning that I am not going to impact someone negatively if I ask for what I need, in fact it cannot hurt them in any way (they can say yes or no). I feel grateful, today I tackled yet another lurking fear.
I write this in hopes that there are many of you out there that can relate to these feelings. I am always grateful when talking to my self-employed friends to hear, “Oh god, I that happens to me every time!” Makes me feel less fearful, less ‘broken’. But I also wanted to acknowledge the fears that we have on a daily basis, these are the ones that come up again and again to help wake us up.

November 19th, 2003
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I have been asked to provide a list of links for holiday decorating. After pondering this for while I realized I have none. The reason for this is simple, I don’t usually buy decorations, but instead use whatever I happen to have lying around or things I have found in the forest. My favourite method of decorating is the “use what you got” technique. Why pay for decorations when there are so many interesting things at your disposal for free? So I came up with this short guide which documents the various methods I have used in the past. Each year is a different theme decided spontaneously once a tree is found. My main objective when decorating is to have as much fun as possible, and to not hurt myself. I have in the past spent a colourful night or two in an ER room {read: drunk tank}, due to stepping onto a rusty nail or having a run-in with some wire cutters). Oh, the lovely tetanus. Such is the cost of making art, but I digress…
You have heard it said before, when attempting to make an appealing display using one simple thing in multiples works wonders. As does a monocromatic color theme. Or you can ignore that all together as I did a couple of years ago and go crazy with color (using paper)! Just do what moves you. And remember…a little paint and some mulled wine goes a long way (just don’t mix them together.)

If you have any ideas to add please leave a comment! Us crafty folks will thank you.
In other news…
My lovely friend Stu gave me a Mates of State album. It makes me happy.
Our friend Kristan Horton has been working on an installation for Ydessa Hendles (the Teddybear Project), which was profiled on the radio tonight. He always has something interesting and possibly strange on the go. Yay Kris!

November 15th, 2003

While walking along a windy street in the city yesterday I saw a man with a sign that read…

Everyone that walked by him ended up smiling, you couldn’t help it. He was making comments like, “That’s it, yes indeed, beautiful, beautiful!” How nice it would be to recieve smiles all day. He seems to have made a career out of being a “Professional Smilemaker”. I wandered into a nearby bookstore with the smile still on my face. I’m sure it was there for at least an hour. Think what would happen if we had these people in every city around the world! If I see him again I will surely thank him for the gift. Such a simple thing.
My village was hit with a major blizzard two days ago, so I am surrounded by a sea of white. Perfect reading weather. I started reading “Love in the Time of Cholera” last night and find it hard to put down. Question for you: Why must we always let curiousity get the better of us? I have to admit to doing something that I usually FORBID myself to do…I peeked at the last page. I only saw one word, the last one. But I suspect this one word sums up the entire book. Now it is on my mind constantly. Curious? Read it and find out.
Also along the gift theme… I am always amazed at how great it feels to give a gift that you really love and feel passionate about. I’m speaking specifically about something created by a fellow artist. Just a reminder while there’s still time, (don’t give your money to a corporation), send it to someone who puts good energy out into the world on a daily basis! Here is my quick list (I know most of you are probably are aware of these people, but for those who aren’t you’re in for a treat). And it’s good karma to boot!
Superhero Designs, to know her is to love her.
Ruckus Designs
Blissen, everthing handmade and good.
Pamela Barsky
Knock Knock
Ex Libris Anonymous
Posie, cute new skirts! She rocks my world.
Monster Factory, what else…monsters.
If’n Books + Marks
Sibling Rivalry
Gallery at Girl at Play, if you hurry you might still be able to purchase one of the last existing prints of the Sublime Alex.
Creativity Explored
Super Fantastico
(I know there are more that will come to me in time.)
on another note:
A fun thing to do…Play the Barber of Seville while driving downtown in a large city. Pretend it’s a soundtrack to what you are viewing.
(I did this yesterday and laughed my head off. The bike couriers take on a special tone of added urgency. Just picturing it again is causing me to giggle uncontrollably.)

November 12th, 2003
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1. a chunk of honeycomb. empty.
2. a tree that was split in two, half dead & half alive. It had a red circle painted on it.
3. a rather large pile of stones next to an animal hole. Are there plans to upsize?
4. a twig covered in dark blue thread.
5. a new animal path.
6. an abandoned fort.
7. a leafless tree full of red apples.
8. a lone striped mitten.
9. a twig that was pink.
10. white cloud of milkweed seeds.

November 8th, 2003
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I was recently asked to be a speaker at the How Design Conference in San Diego in May, (put on by How Design Mag). I officially accepted on Friday (yikes!). It is exciting and nervewracking at the same time. I have never done something on this level before so I am plagued with feelings of, “Can I do this?” Deep down I know I have a lot I want to talk about, and I’m definitely passionate about what i do. The talk was then turned into a 3 hour workshop on the subject of “Using your personality to attract the work you REALLY want”. So I’ve been busy writing up another tip sheet for it, some of the things on it may surprise you. My intent is to teach the OPPOSITE to what many of us were taught in school. You might call it the “Anti-Business” talk, I seem to be building on the concept more and more. For example:
Tip Number 8 -Don’t Promote! The term ‘promotion’ here means ‘specific targeted marketing’. By all means send things out into the world, but don’t think in terms of “promoting to get work”. Send stuff out because -you’re proud of it, -you want to share something with the world, -it’s fun to get mail, -to have good karma, -you want to spread your germs, -you like licking stamps. Try sending a postcard of something you made for fun, (i.e. directions on how to make a finger puppet).
I may be going out on a limb here, but lately I feel these things need to be said. Our culture focuses way too much on “how to make money”, instead of “how to live well”. I really feel that if you trust in your vision and pursue that which moves you, the work will come to you. So if you are going to the conference and you want to know “how target your portfolio”, you might want to pass on my talk.
Some links…
An origami gift box has many uses.
I just received a shipment from Ex Libris Anonymous. The journals have some of the original book pages left in. Mine had wonderful illustrations inside! Yay.
The Land of Nod is fun. I particularly like, “Yes dear, steaks do come from trees”.
The Wurst has a wonderful series of nesting dolls! Link via loosetooth.

November 3rd, 2003
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I think you have found your true calling when you start to do your work and then begin to feel like you are goofing off all the while. All morning I’ve been brainstorming for a new book. I sit surrounded by felt, kids books, paper bits, and have been surfing the web for inspiration. I’ve actually had to say to myself a few times, “no, you’re getting paid to do this. It’s allowed.” I’m feeling guilty for doing my job! I’ve said before that I am an avid procrastinator. All along the trick was to find a way to get paid for it. I am not being smug when I say this, I think we are all able to this if we allow ourselves too. All the things that I did as a child are the basis for my career now. Do not limit your play time as an adult! Your best work comes directly from there. Have I said this already? Yes, o.k. but I feel like it’s my mission, as adults we are not encouraged to play nearly enough. No, I’m not talking about “adult” kind of play (fancy cars, sex, jet skiis). I’m speaking of the old fashioned get down on the floor and colour your brains out. I don’t believe that anything called “work” should have to be painful. I’ll get off my soapbox now. I just wanted to remind you that you’re allowed to play. And to hang your work on the fridge when you’re done.
I’m off to the post office to see if I have more fun mail.

November 1st, 2003
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For halloween I carved my best Jack Skellington head, & handed out too much candy, (which I soon realized when spiderman exclaimed, “wow, did you see how much she gave?” to his evil cohorts Zombie and “Bloody face boy”). We watched “the Nightmare before X-mas” and sang along to the fabulous soundtrack, I love it more and more each year.
I am so engaged in the Lemony Snicket series right now, I cannot tell you. (Well, actually I can dear reader, and I’m going to.) I did not fall for H.P. this much, not even close, (I enjoyed the first volume, and found the later ones to be rather boring, too much sports for my liking.) The writing in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is so intelligent, honest (read:blunt), literary, and terribly dark in places. He tells you things that many people would not want to hear, as well as sharing the recipe for a lovely Puttanesca Sauce. There are wonderful moments when he pulls the reader aside like a close friend to tell them something important about human nature and life, (mourning, death, sadness & fear), an example:
“…it is a sad truth in life that when someone has lost a loved one, friends sometimes avoid the person, just when the presence of friends is most needed.”
“Unless you have been very, very lucky, you have undoubtedly experienced events in your life that have made you cry. So unless you have been very, very lucky, you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.”
My only wish is that they had gotten Tim Burton & Henry Selick to do the movie version. I do not like the fact that every good story has to be turned into a movie (it has the effect of impressing someone else’s vision on our imagination, even illustration can do this at times), but at least Mr. Burton has a similar gothic vision of the world to that of Mr. Snicket. Sadly, it is not to be. So for the time I will enjoy my own impressions and enjoy being immersed in a good story. A piece of writing has so much more dimension in your mind than just the visual, (smell, texture, painful feels, etc). That being said, I do so love the illustrations done by Brett Helquist.
Some links for you…
Robot Johnny has a list of “movies and t.v. shows that scared the crap out of him as a kid”, (not horror films.) My list would include “Tommy, the Who”, “H&R Puffinstuff”, and the “Hilarious House of Frightenstein”, whose site I have no interest in perusing, and Thunderbirds, with the psycho marienttes. And I definitely agree with his inclusion of the theme song to Dr. Who. Years of damage.
Also from Robot Johnny, beautiful patterns galore at Squidfingers.
Miniature Book Kit, link from Rigdonia.
The Journal Comic.
I’m off to make a fire, some mulled cider, and curl up with a good read on this rainy and damp Saturday afternoon.

October 25th, 2003
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I’ve just spent most of the morning responding to emails. It always seems that the morning has gone before I have accomplished anything. Yikes! There is invoicing and bookeeping to be done, and revisions to be made (after first perusing my favourite blogs). I have made myself a promise that if I get through all that, then I can work some more on “Hortence & Giles”.

I spent much of yesterday (Sunday) doing research for a new book (an activity book for a slightly younger audience of 9-12yr. olds). I love sitting cross-legged in the children’s section of a bookstore and eaves dropping on kids playing there. There was a four year old flipping through “The Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle (one of my personal favourites) and was ‘reading’ it from memory. The part he seemed to remember the most was when the Ladybug says repeatedly, “You wanna fight?” I sat giggling. Kids love this part, especially when he picks a fight with the whale. (It sounds rather violent I know, but there is a sense of satisfaction in the reader knowing that this Ladybug is too big for his britches. A little lesson in Karma.)
I finally got to see “Living Out Loud” for the first time in a store. It was a surreal experience, my immediate reaction was, “Oh, did I leave that there?” Then there was a real feeling of satisfaction at having achieved something that I set out to do, (four years ago it was just an entry on my “list” that said “write a book and get it published”.) The whole experience of becoming a ‘published’ author is something of a conundrum. There is a definite feeling of being disconnected from the book itself once it is released out into the world. It is no longer ‘the thing which i created’ but rather ‘the thing that is being sold’. This is not a negative observation per se, but an understanding of the two energies being completely seperate from each other. I am always a little surprised and elated when I receive an email from someone saying they have bought my book. A kind of “wow, I am reaching people that don’t know me”, how strange. I spose I should not be surprised by this, but since I am not in bookstores everyday I do not get to see people responding to it. I am grateful for every single email that comes in, (the ones from far away countries are even more surprising.)
Do you ever find something and get a little spark of electricity, almost a knowing that it is something special? I picked up a copy of Speck -A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things, by Peter Buchanan-Smith (of the Ganzfeld fame) and felt exactly that. It is such a hard book to explain. My favourite entries include Amy Unikewicz’s “Found Alphabet”, she spells out the alphabet with pieces of garbage, Adam Yates photographic series of “The Back Side of Paintings”, and Lauren Redniss’s drawings of things found at Grand Central Station.
Check out The Ganzfeld’s tribute to William Steig
She rocks my world.
I bought a new scarf from Andrea as a treat! It had to be fuschia for me.
Rumour has it that Somerset Studio Magazine has a write up on Living Out Loud!

October 20th, 2003
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The opening went very well. I got to meet the brilliant artist Ryan Price (it was a double bill with him and I). His work is so beautiful and haunting, the pieces make you want to look deeper into them and at times avert your gaze.
I’d like you to meet two of my newest creations…

Giles has a tendency to get into some rather messy predicaments, but luckily Hortence has a penchant for problem solving. Together they make a good team. A story is slowly evolving.
I am torn today between work and wanting to spend some time outdoors. I’ve really been excited about making a series of dolls based on these new characters. The doll idea is inspired in part by the T&O dolls designed by Marilyn Neuhart (who worked with Charles and Rae Eames). So I started my first one the other day. Basically I printed the design onto iron-on transfer paper (with an ink jet), ironed it onto some white cotton, and sewed it up in a pillow type format. (The trick with this paper is to keep the iron moving over it, peel up a corner to test, it usually requires more heating in my experience. After I go over the blacks with a permanent marker to make it stronger.) Then I added a felt scarf, and made a cute little black felt purse for Hortence. I think the thing that makes me the most happy in this world is bringing something to life, going from idea to execution. Hortence is travelling around with me now, seeing the world*. Sometimes I feel like a kind of Dr. Frankenstein. “It’s alive!” [insert manic look here] This style of “pillow” dolls reminded me of going into fabric stores as a child and seeing racks of doll patterns printed onto flat cotton. Usually in the form of ugly teddy bears or hollie hobbie. I like that I can use the concept to my advantage here.
*My digital camera is on it’s last legs, so sadly I cannot post photos today. I will try and get some up soon.
I finally picked up “Sunny” by Robin Mitchell & Judith Steedman, it’s fabulous! It comes with a c.d. of really hip tunes (which are actually not just for kids, I’ve been listening to it over and over.) The flap has instructions on how to make your own instruments.
True story: Today recommended to me “Living Out Loud”. How appropriate! At least they’re paying attention to what I’m into.
Liking this Eames Stationery!
I think I will compromise by going for a walk in the woods and then sewing up Giles. Oooh, that sounds nasty doesn’t it?

October 16th, 2003
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For your reading enjoyment…a new article:
Managing Chaos
In the past two weeks I have plugged through a lot of work, including:
-finishing my show (there are bits of collage everywhere, they were glued to my socks, my cat, the floor in my studio)
-a card design for Hallmark
-an album cover
-an editoral piece
-mailing booklet orders
-paying bills
-doing my books (financial that is)
-a wish jar tale
So I’m giving myself a little public pat on the back! Whew. The show is finished and hung. All that is left is to show up at the opening. I picked out a special outfit, something vivid to match the intensity of the work…

Also, I recently did the cover of a young adult novel for Random House. It’s called “A Winter Night’s Dream” by Andrew Matthews. It’s a cute love story based on the Shakespeare title of a similar name.
I’m very excited about beginning to make some X-mas gifts. Inspired by some clothes I saw at Distill, I’ve decided to give felting a go.
(WARNING: if you are a close friend or family member do not read any further. Gift descriptions to follow. Dad, Jen, Matt and Wendy, this means you!)
A and I are going to felt a bunch of colourful old wool sweaters, and make them into mitts and hats! I became so immersed in colour doing my collages I can’t wait to do the same with wool. Since I have only experimented with this on a small scale I will let you know how it goes.
Here are a couple of great links on felting…
-Get Crafty how to
-ekologic, a company that makes beautiful designs. Mine will not be nearly this detailed, think basic mitts with a different coloured band, maybe a button sewn on for looks.

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