I don’t know what’s going on. My Muse is on a mini-break, maybe. I go down to the workshop and am simply indifferent to my lovely fabric and excellent sewing machines. New carving blocks seem dull. My watercolors remain dry and untouched. Freshly emulsion coated screens sit, gathering dust, waiting and becoming less efficient. Something is off, and I don’t quite know how to fix it, but I’m not to panic mode — yet.
Fortunately, I have a variety of projects that do not require inspiration or design thought, and can make progress even with very little motivation. I have a quilt ongoing with all color, design, and layout decisions already made and pictured in my head, so I’ve got some of that done.
Sometimes I find myself with my head laying on the sewing platform, presser foot LED reflecting off my cheek while I stare at the screen saver pics my Chromecast puts up.
But, that is the most fun part of making Scrappy Cats, so the bases sit there. I tried to do a third one, but the fabric pull was borderline depressing (for NO good reason – the fabrics are FINE!) and forcing myself to start stitching even one piece down, that I know I could cover up if I didn’t like it later, made me give up so suddenly I didn’t even turn my machine (Nome) off. More staring.
New supplies excite me, but a recent Sketchbox with cool items only produced some swatches and a doodle. Inktober is meaningless to me. There are no Lunch Hour Paintings. Poetry eludes me (although some might argue it does normally – hah). Minecraft didn’t even help.
Maybe I’ll go for a hike tomorrow. Something different. I’m not sad, depressed, nothing so easily defined. I’m healthy, happy, as well-slept as usual. Work is exciting and new – maybe my brain cells are tired? Perhaps they need a break after all the technical work? Breaks are fine. I make art for my own pleasure, so I’m not up against deadlines or anything. Not really – all projects I do are self-imposed nowadays. Maybe I’ll do what normal people do. What is that? Watch television? Shop? Play games on their cell phones? Blech – forget all that. Maybe …. shit. I just don’t know. I’ll clean and sort and wind bobbins until I do know.
While I don’t have any cat photos for this Friday, I did complete a small, but useful workshop project. The spandrel (space under the stairs) in my workshop was used by prior owners as storage – for random crap, dirt, and a tangle of spider webs, as far as I can tell. Inspired by how much I loved using my last workshop spandrel for relaxation, I planned on doing something similar in this one.
The old hammock.
Me, 12.5 years ago, reading in my old workshop spandrel hammock.
That spandrel had a lot of space to work with. The whole place had high ceilings, even in the basement, which meant a much larger spandrel area. There was so much space that I had a storage shelf above the hammock and at the foot area, too. My current spandrel is significantly smaller. I can stand up in the highest part, but only if I’m not wearing thick shoes. The hammock idea was out, but I bought a twin sized, foam mattress for it and figured that would be nice. Crawling into a soft, warm, corner of light and pillow filled space to read, sketch, or maybe have a nap. Sounds good, right? Except I kept not getting around to it (three years have passed since the mattress purchase) and finally, only this past month, realized it was because I didn’t want that so much. What I need more of is storage space, not a corner to chill in. The old spandrel hammock gave me a place to “be”, which was in short supply in the living spaces. Our house now has good amounts of living spaces, which is probably the biggest change to the motivation.
Thus, the foam mattress will get a frame (one day, in the years future) and live upstairs (probably) and the spandrel be mostly storage and workspace. Since it is so small, I need to maximize the unusual qualities of the space and the perfect need presented for this: a screen printing frame storage and drying area. After washing out screens it is good to have a spot for drying with free air flow all the way around them. Similarly, once you’ve coated a screen with photo sensitive emulsion, it needs at least an hour of free air drying in a light-free place. Even when they’re dry and safe for use, they need an undisturbed space to be stored in, preferably a space that is out of the way of curious cats and their destructive claws. I mathed up a design last Saturday morning and, using scrap lumber and a half a box of screws, spent the day building these racks. Racks? Brackets? I don’t know exactly what definition they’d fall under, but I’m calling them racks because it is close and the word is short.
(Do ignore the sloppy spray foam drippy bits that I’ve not trimmed down yet.)
Racks shown with some freshly recovered screens. This small, diagonal space is idea for a few reasons. One, air flow. The rack uprights and cross pieces leave lots of area for air movement around the frames. The photo doesn’t show, but I have a small fan in here to help. Two, I can reach through them to clean the dustbunnies or murder any wayward spiders that haven’t met me yet. Three, there are power wires running way back under there and I would not feel comfortable having them next to storage boxes or such, which means I’d have to protect and enclose them if I wanted to use this spot for traditional storage. Blerg. This works out great. This setup has slots for 22 frames, or 24 if I’m willing to allow the bottom ones to touch the floor. Oh yeah, fourth is that I won’t ever have to get down and crawl into that space to use it (only clean it, seldom) merely bend over slightly to reach the lower, racked frames.
And, for light protection:
A simple and cheap black felt curtain. There will be strings and top hooks to roll it up and keep it out of the way when needed, but I haven’t attached those yet. I will put two small hooks at the bottom also, to keep out mildly curious cats. I’ll add a motion activated air bottle for a few months of training to make sure any more-than-mildly-curious cats are discouraged.
Currently, I have ten screen printing frames which I mostly keep in a rotation of exposing, using, storing until I acknowledge I’ll never use them again, recovering them with remover, cleaning, and storing until I need a new screen print. The whole rotation takes years and I only have two or three (oh, I guess have twelve total then) that I intend to keep mostly-permanently. At the slow rate I acquire additional screens, this rack setup should last me for decades yet. Hopefully, until I die or can’t get down the basement stairs anymore. Or until someone comes up with a personal, laser plotter printer for fabric and I rip them out. Yeah, I’ll probably die first.
Now I’m left with the rest of the spandrel which is about 4 x 3 x 5′. That is a lot of valuable workshop space, although I have to leave access for the racks and for some electrical box stuff in the back. It won’t be an easy shelf build, but I will come up with some method of making good use of it. Currently, it holds about half my Lego collection and unused paint and plaster buckets, so it definitely has room for improvement, now that it has a purpose.
I think I’ll be spending a lot of time next year building in and refitting parts of my workshop. It has been a while since I made improvements to it and now that I’m refining some of my creative focus, it is time to get to it.
I’ve been a bit stuck, creatively, for the past couple days. As frustrating as that can be, it is a good time to get less fun things accomplished, like cleaning, building some shelves, recovering screens, and swatching. If things don’t come together tonight, I’ll be winding bobbins and folding fabric next. This has been a consistently midgrade challenging week and I’ve been having illogical trouble sleeping for all of it. Tomorrow is Friday; Fridays are dedicated to Slick and I having fun, relaxing, laughter, good food, softest clothes, and couch-life-boat time. That usually works as a good creative recharge.
If it doesn’t, there’s no shortage of workshop stuff that needs cleaned, finished, sorted, painted, built, prepared, or tossed out – so this is FINE!
Also, if Saturday isn’t creatively productive, I’m taking all the fallen leaves in my yard, piling them up and having a cloud-watching session in that pile. Shit, that sounds good. I might do that anyway.
AKA: Long live Too Lazy To Be Evil
Creations of Dubious Utility was the shop name Slick and I came up with, many years ago – about 13 years past now, late at night in a shitty diner as we talked for hours. We felt it would appropriately encompass items we were likely to make for sale. We have decent vocabularies, are clever, creative, inventors and both lean to a mix of practical and artistic existence, in ourselves and in our creative endeavors. The name is great for us and people like us. It is not great for the masses. More often than anything else, I have to explain to people how to pronounce “dubious” and what it means. This generally saddens me, although I refuse to let something good go past just because some people are ignorant. That isn’t my point, although it is a factor.
The biggest point is that Etsy shop names can only be 20 characters long and Creations of Dubious Utility is 25 characters (without spaces, obvs). It simply won’t fit. I joined Etsy “back in the day” when your username was automatically your shop name and you had a shop, by the way. Now you can sign up for Etsy and not have a shop unless you click a button and give it a name. Thus, I technically had a shop for years, but did nothing with it. When I finally decided (last year) that I was okay with putting items in my Etsy shop on a more than seldom or occasional rotation, I pulled up our shop name idea, Creations of Dubious Utility, made a banner, a logo, got a couple stamps for packages, etc.. I did it up. After a couple weeks of casual preparation, I was ready. I went to officially change the name on my store only to discover the character limit. Dammit. I’ve left it this way since, but now that I’ve sold a couple items, the big, actual problem has come up. Creations of Dubious Utility is not my actual shop name, but it is the one I “advertise”. When a sweetie who bought one of my shag bag zipper pouches was asked her where she got it, she told them my shop name – which the asker could not then find, because it does not exist. Fatal flaw, game over, customer lost. Well in this case, not lost because said sweetie knew my username and told the asker that and the asker did find me that way, so fatal flaw avoided, but through no creditable action of my own. I mean, short of having a username that is fairly easy to remember and I am consistent with it. Or as often as I can be with two username-Doppelgängers occasionally competing with me on platforms, but you see my point.
I thought for a while I’d change it to something shorter, something equally catchy. Maybe something that still kept most of the original Creations of Dubious Utility so I wouldn’t need to change my logo or stamps. Or, maybe simply something new, short and snazzy. I have a couple pages of possibilities I considered. Eventually I came around to trying to get my standard username into the title, since that is (as proven by the anecdote above) effective, in spite of my misstep. That brought up a problem for me – I try to keep my personal blog and personal username, well, personal. I am Sarcastra, online. I don’t mix the blog with other things, although I will mention other things on my blog, which some people (who are dummies) cannot seem to understand. If I mention on the blog that anyone who shows up at the bar tonight will get a free drink from me, and I’ve also sent this in an email to some friends, some people will show up at the bar, complaining that I’m only buying drinks for people to get them to look at my blog. I cannot express how much this pisses me off. It’s like a hot coal in my metaphorical stomach.
I wanted to keep my Etsy store and profile separate from my personal profile. Except, the problem with that is I don’t want to be an Etsy seller profile. I don’t want to do the fake-social, online-traffic-seeking, always-smiling, never-offensive, stylishly fresh photography of shop items persona. I want to be my Sarcastra that I am naturally online. Sure, I’m going to offend people sometimes, but that doesn’t mean much to me anymore. I mean, have you met people? They suck. Why waste concern for them? Until, of course, they’ve got torches and have ganged up at your door. Then it’s a problem. After that, there is the GLARING fact that I (and all that I make and do) appeal to a very small sliver of population. Appreciation for my expressions of my existence is an exclusive, niche market, let’s call it. I don’t care about that much anymore either. Same with the aforementioned torch gang (or cyber trolls, same thing), sure, but my biggest reasons for the separation were privacy, caution, and acknowledgement of the separation of expectations – and I don’t feel those things are important to me in this matter, at least not enough to keep up the duplicate efforts.
So, now that I’ve explained this all way more than anyone else actually cares about (except me, and this whole blog is for me!) we have this:
tl;dr: I’m changing my Etsy shop name to Too Lazy To Be Evil instead of Creations of Dubious Utility.
Etsy shop banner.
The devil heart logo will become my shop logo, too. I already have stamps, and my website, I’ll point Creations of Dubious Utility at Too Lazy To Be Evil to redirect the one or two people EVER who might find their way there. I’ll be doing a relaunch with some new items, maybe a sale, definitely some little freebies like stickers and cards. And that’s it. My shop name will exist now and should be easy to remember.
Also, I have to tell you now that if you show up at the bar for your free drink and Etsy coupon, and complain that I’m doing it to drive traffic to my blog, I will lose my shit with you.
“Janet, if you hand me a cactus, I swear I will lose my mind.”
Lacking energy, motivation and time, I bunted with an easy page of autumn leaves. This day, I’d hoped to have a walk to enjoy the leaf colors, but it snowed and destroyed my plans. So, I have these colorful ones, at least.
I will take your heart with me
carry it in a red bag tied around my neck.
Down the path to the copse
and the tiny cabin we never got around to.
More of a shack, really.
We will wake with the sunlight and birdsong,
your heart and I. No alarm clocks here.
We will forage in the woods for toppings
and roast them for a pizza in the evening.
It won’t be very tasty.
We will drink cider and more cider by starlight;
we will serenade the sliver moon.
The night creatures will scoff at us,
but we are free, wild, and alive!
And maybe a little drunk.
I will bring your heart back to you
you are weary, worn, flat.
Your heart and I will remind you
how to believe in magic, how to live.
Because life is magic.
Voodoo lilies, or corpse flowers. Once a year, the giant varieties give off a rotting corpse scent to attract carrion flies, their pollinators. Some medium varieties are a food source; the spadix (big center part) is quite tasty and part of many dishes, having a gel-forming property when combined and cooked. I think they’re quite pretty and have carved a couple blocks to see if I can pull off a small fabric print.
That’s it for this week.
Inktober has started and while I am not interested in using a month long challenge to focus on my ink linework, I thought I’d get involved just enough to have some fun. I combined two drawing prompt lists, the official Inktober one and another by an artist more focused on drawing than ink, Drawlloween.
The official list wasn’t interesting enough, nor was Drawlloween, so I’m doing mashups of the two together. Since my Inktober is strictly based on the fun I might have doing it, I am only doing it when I feel like it, am inspired to, and don’t have anything else going on that might be more fun.
Goblin, Divided. This was another workshop one. I say eat the cake first. You don’t know what can happen next. “An asteroid could hit. Do you want to be the schmuck who apologizes right before the world ends?” Community quote. I’ll likely go back and add color to these later, when I’m in a crunch and only have time or capacity for something like that.
Wolf needs coffee. Certainly inspired by work nonsense. I wanted to express how I felt and wanted an animal to stand in for me so I quickly took a couple of those stupid internet personality quizzes. What animal are you? One said wolf, another said ring-tailed lemur because I like groups (WTF?!) and another failed to process. So, I went with wolf. It works.
Vampire Poison, harvesting for cash! Found an index card on my desk and doodled out this bit for the Inktober/Drawlloween mashup. I had simply given up on art for the night as I had a nasty headache, but this was apparently the minimal effort I was willing to go to.
This bit was inspired by my supreme tiredness and desire to go home and go back to bed. While doing my fast, minimal research, I learned that bears don’t actually hibernate, as in they don’t sleep through the winter. They go into torpor, sleep longer and have much less activity. That is what I feel like sometimes.
This one was surprisingly fun. I wasn’t that inspired by mothman as a prompt, until I did some research. I was familiar with the movies from the book, but not the IRL urban myth that spawned the book. I learned about the sightings, the sandhill crane supposition, the Silver Bridge collapse (very interesting, from an engineering standpoint – even though my engineering is quite different than a bridge, the philosophy and lessons learned apply the same) and the statue! After learning the best explanation of the mothman was a wayward sandhill crane, I searched for moth that had similar wings and coloring. The silk moth, tragic existence though it is now, caught my eye and became my mothman inspiration. Those antenna! Thus, this painting is my “What really happened to the Mothman” proposal – trapped in the wreckage of the Silver Bridge collapse, drowned and never discovered. Got him underwater!
Okay, that was a good week for paintings.