Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Feel the Fear and Put Down the Credit Card

There is no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership. None.
Zilch. Nada.

Actually, as the artist gets more into her thing, and as she gets more
successful, the number of tools tends to go down. She knows what works for her.
Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time. She's a woman on a mission.
{...} The last thing she wants is to spend three weeks learning how to use a
router drill if she doesn't need to. ~Hugh MacLeod

But....But....how did he know I just bought a new accessory pack for my Dremel? Huh? HOW?!

So yesterday I found out I was accepted to Indie Craft Parade. This will be my first craft show...and it's a juried show. Which is awesome. A tremendous boost. A glorious injection of artistic affirmation [insert obligatory Sally Fieldesque 'they like me!' speech here]... and absolutely terrifying. Yup. I'm scared. I'll admit it. Scared of everything I need to do to get ready. Worried about arranging my table properly and do I need to take credit cards? And quietly wide-eyed and lip-quiveringly floored by the thought of "putting myself out there" and having people find out I'm really no artist after all. Just a poser with some leather scraps and a penchant for whacking things with a hammer.

So I did what any non-self-respecting nutty capitalist would do in this moment of drivelling angst. I got out my catalogs and started a shopping list! Because I should do MORE! I should add more skills. Design new styles of cuffs! Quick. Quick. Quick! I have to make things I've never even thought of in order to be worthy of public appraisal...

Luckily I'm reading Hugh MacLeod's little book Ignore Everybody - And 39 Other Keys To Creativity in my spare moments and he felt the need to pimp-slap me over oatmeal this morning. Is it bad that I want to learn new things? I was already planning on taking up metalsmithing...and I already had my Dremel....and I do want to come up with new designs and skills just to save myself and the world from the devastation that occurs when an ADHD person gets bored... Nah. It's not bad. Learning new skills is freakin' awesome.

BUT panicky shopping for new tools to make me feel "like an artist" is bad. Emphatically bad. A waste of time. A waste of money. And it's a pitiful way of constructing a shield for my neuroses to hide behind. (Don't look at the little wanna-be artist behind the curtain! LOOK at the TOOLS!)

My work - my current work - is what got me into the show in the first place. I don't have to re-invent myself between now and September. (though if you know me, you know I might do it anyway just for the halibut) What I need to do is slap myself back into semi-sanity, save my money, and get back to work doing what I do. I like...no.. I LOVE what I do. It's enough. There's time enough to learn the new skills - and get the tools if I need them. But I will get them out of my real desire for growth, not out of fear. I will not hide behind stuff. I will not avoid and distract with shopping.

My mojo didn't come via UPS before, and it's not gonna come that way now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Win, Win, WIN Situation!

OH! I didn't announce the winners of the studio warming prizes!!! My bad! Okay. Thank you so much to everyone who "visited" and commented! My random number generator has spoken and.....

The winner of the black leather cuff with recycled metal piece is Jamie Berry!

And the winner of the 25 dollar gift certificate to my store (details on how to enter for that were in the video...) is Heather Loney!

So that's two wins. The third win was MINE! You might recall that I wrote in this post about facing my fears and applying for a juried craft show. The notification came today and I'm IN!! That scream you heard...yeah, that was me. :D

So now I have to start prepping for my very first real show. I'm kinda....well...terrified. But pretty darn validated and excited at the same time!

Give Me Back My Crayons!

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the "creative bug" is just a wee voice telling you, "I'd like my crayons back, please" ~Hugh MacLeod

I don't completely agree with this quote, but I like it anyway. ;D Personally, I'm way more creative now than I was as a child and I don't think it's the distribution of algebra books that distracts teens from creativity... more the redistribution of clothing, sayin?


The whole point is, there comes a time in many an adult life when you need to reclaim some of who you were as a child. The wonder. The adventure. The sheer joyful exuberance! The sense that things were....possible. Because I don't know about you, but a lot of stuff happened along the way that sent the message some things were not for me. Since I don't want this blog to be my online therapy session (everyone breathe a collective sigh of relief and say "Oh thank God for that"...no, no...you weren't in unison and this time in the key of F major please) I'll pick a fairly trivial example. Besides, this is what I really want to tell you about anyway and I'm just trying to make it sound deep and impressive, now play along, 'kay?

I got a bike yesterday!!!

I did! I did! I was absolutely giddy in the checkout line, let me tell you. I have not ridden a bike in about twenty years. No kidding. But all four of my kids have bikes..and I was getting jealous. I loved riding my bike when I was a little girl. I could FLY. No hands and everything. I would ride to the creek. I would ride to school. I would sneak off and ride to the convenience store and smuggle home chips and eat the whole bag and.....well. Yeah. Hence the beginning of the end. Thus began a weight problem that lasted for 22 years. Obesity and bike-riding are not the most compatible of concepts. So you see... a few decades of being overweight had me convinced that physical fun was not for me. Not part of my identity.

But, I lost all the weight a few years ago and have been in a maelstrom of personal redefinition ever since. Buying a bike was no longer ludicrous. A little scary, perhaps, but not ludicrous.

Here's my new baby:

I call it Vie. Short for Violet Velocity. But just right for strive.

Helmets are required here, and I don't wanna tangle with an MP. (really, I don't) So here I am looking extremely goofy with my yewge cranium wedged into my new helmet.

I titled the pic "No Fear" when I saved it. But this was sheer prevarication. I was actually a skosh close to terrified. I know they say you don't forget how to ride a bike...but...but... Whoever they were, though, they were right!!! It came back so fast! I was a little wobbly on turns for a few passes, but it really didn't take long before I could fly again!

It felt incredible. Deliciously, delightfully, exuberantly incredible. I had the biggest, silliest grin on my face the whole time. Especially when I took off and rode some of the paths through the woods around here. The feelings of childhood - the good part of childhood mind you - came in with the wind in my face and it was total euphoria. I felt merry and brave and adventurous and POSSIBLE. Yeah. I got my crayons back.

Mojo on the go, yo. Later!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Studio Warming Party

Yep. You got it. Toca Mojo, now with VIDEO! :-D I filmed my studio tour this morning with my Flip camera.

Now be nice. I didn't script it...just improv. And I deliberately did not pull out all the stops on my "professional voice". (that voice being the one I used for this commercial . yes. That's MY voice) I am giving away TWO prizes to celebrate the opening of my wonderful new space.

The first is this cuff, the first one made in the new studio.

There are four chances for you to get your name in the drawing.

1. Comment here
2. Link to this post somewhere - be it facebook, your blog, or twitter - and let me know you did.
3. Tell me how many etsy artists' work appear in this video and try to name them
4. Give your opinion on curtains for this room. I briefly mention that in the video and hold up one possible fabric. Thoughts?

The second prize, and how to win it, is explained in the video....so you have to watch it! :D I'll announce the winners of both prizes on Saturday morning. So enter before then!! Hope you enjoy - and welcome to my studio!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mo mo mo MO Mojo!

I did it. My studio is done. D-O-N-E Done. It's awesome. I love it. And I wanna give you a full tour...but I hafta check with someone first. Another blogger said something about wanting to do a studio tour interview with me, and if she still wants to then...well, yeah. ;) Stay tuned.

In the meantime. I rewarded myself this afternoon for a job well done with a lovely sojourn with spray paint. Sussudio!

(ADHD moment. Did you know that the word Sussudio means...NOTHING. It's a made up word. Phil Collins came up with the notes..the song... and he just kinda babbled Sussudio and decided he liked it. It's supposed to describe the giddy feeling of a youthful crush or something like that. ANYWAY....)

I now have ten+ cans of spray paint, and I'm gonna collect more. I don't plan on taking up graffiti anytime soon, but I DO understand the temptation!

Today I put a final coat on the guitar I started a few days ago.

Here you see it resting on one of my lovely worktables. It's not finished yet. I have big plans that involve wire, beads, and perhaps some brushwork or collage... Hmmmmm. Then there was the djembe. This was a kids' Remo Djembe that belonged to, appropriately, my children. But four boys can take a toll on the material world (and the spiritual too for that matter, Oy). Being used, abused, and left for the sun and sand to denude... well. It was done baby done as a musical instrument. But as a base for a 3D art piece, oh yeah baby!

This will definitely receive a LOT of collage. Plus I'm thinking either some leather and/or metal embellishment. Wait and see!

Then there was the stuffed animal tree. Yes. Stuffed. Animal. Tree. This thing was a thrift store find. It originally was a light wood with pastel knobs and elastic bands hanging from the pegs.... Well, I did NOT buy it for stuffed animals, I promise you. I cut off all the bands and painted my heart out. It's a cuff display, yo. Though right now it's sporting three frames I painted. Eventually they will be filled and hung on the wall. Probably with mojo inducing quotes. ;)

I also painted a battered step stool cherry red to go in my new kitchen. Then I was rather high and sickly from the fumes and it was time to quit. ;)

What really excites me is that..well...these things are not leather cuffs. Don't get me wrong. I love what I do. I love making and wearing and selling leather cuffs. BUT I don't wanna just do that. It feels incredible to be branching out into other areas, other mediums, other colors and textures and dimensions! OOH. I'm pumped! And ultimately I know it will feed back into my leatherwork as well. The mojo flows apace and life is good.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Facing Fears

A key component of good mojo is courage. In some ways, mojo IS courage, because if you are afraid to try - for whatever reason - it's basically guaranteed that mojo ain't showin' up.

I come across as rather fearless, I've been told. I've even been called "scary" more than once...which is hilarious. I'm not scared of some things that frighten many people, like performing on stage or raising four boys alone for months at a time... But I have plenty of other heebie-jeebies.

Power tools, for one. I have used them... I took Shop in Jr High and I loved it. Honest I did! But that was a LONG time ago. And again, in Theatre School when I was a Senior, we built our own sets. I developed an abiding affection for the radial arm saw... But again, it's been awhile. And I was always scared of power hand tools.

It's time for that silly fear to begone! I was afraid mainly because I was an overweight weakling. But I am now a lithe and fit little person. I have MUSCLES, yo. So I don't need to be afraid of not being able to control those handy gadgets. Baby step that I took the other day? I wanted to hang a funky wooden zebra mask on my wall...it had no hanger... I took a deep breath, grabbed my Dremel, and I DRILLED that bad boy. Small. Silly. But it made me feel GOOD. (and it looks darn good on the wall too, sayin?)

Baby step two? Building those monster shelves that I talked about yesterday. I decided there was no reason to wait for someone else to do it for me. And let me tell you, just loading them onto the cart and into the van by myself was rather impressive. ARRrrrrr!

But just moments ago I took my biggest step. I was actually almost panicking.... I applied for my first juried show. I've NEVER done a craft show.... And I'm trying to get my feet wet with a juried one. I held my breath and told myself repeatedly "The worst they can do is say no. The worst they can do is say no" Of course...if they say yes then the fear of actually DOING the show will hit. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The important thing is that, just by taking these steps, I feel braver. I *am* braver. I know I can....which means I can do MORE. Now that's mojo-magic, right there.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Birth Of A Studio ~ Part 3

Patience is a virtue.

I am not virtuous.

It is very, very hard to cope with the idea that my studio is not DONE yet. And yet, we have been unpacking for less than a week. Our stuff was delivered last Tuesday...and the movers weren't done unloading until 5:30pm. All we did was eat, assemble beds, and collapse. So unpacking began in earnest last Wednesday. Yet I am frustrated that a)my house is not completely in order (though it actually is fairly functional and even somewhat attractive already) and b) my studio is only about halfway done.

Today's tasks involved adventures in spray-paint to start the day. I had a fabulous time blasting my peg-boards. One is in silver, one in chalkboard paint. I can't wait to have at least one of them mounted over my worktable. I may keep one unmounted for using it at craft fairs. Then I got a bit wild and spray-painted an old broken guitar....which made me want to make VERY exciting things. AND then I saw how immensely cool the paper I had been painting on had turned out. So it will be the base for some wall art. And THEN I started having a rush of other ideas.... Total Mojo Overload. And totally torturous since I can't work on ANY of it right now. MojoTease. That's what it is.

Anyway. Tried to organize the studio. Realized I couldn't. I mean LOOK at this.

Can you say Maximum Density?

So I took off yet again to Lowes. Buy stock there, people. I'm doing my bit for capitalism this week. I bought yet another shelving unit. This one is about six feet tall and four feet wide and all metal. I loaded it on the cart and into the van myself, thank you very much. I have a date with ibuprofen, but I feel like a tough-chic and that's what matters.

Then I brought it home and did almost all the assembly MYSELF. I shoulda had my kids video me lifting each shelf six feet up and guiding it onto the poles. I'm five-foot-two, y'know. It had to be entertaining. Like Stuart Little with Tinkertoys, or something. Anyway. It's built, and semi-loaded. And there are glimmerings of the possibility of order out of chaos....

But I have one thing to say.

If at any point in the rest of 2010 you see me out buying leather, fabric, beads, or belts of any kind, scream "INTERVENTION!" and knock me flat. Seriously. I beg you.

I mean it. Too. Much. Stuff. WAY too much stuff. Other than hardware like snaps and rivets, and maybe a few new tools, I don't need ANYTHING to be insanely productive for the next year or so. Fact.

Toca Proverb

Spray Paint = Instant Mojo Boost

Make a note of it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Birth of a Studio Part 2

It is so hard for me to believe that just a week ago I was blearily blinking and chatting with an old friend in her living room while her girls and my boys were having breakfast and getting engaged. (they're 8 and 5...so we're not too concerned) The keys for my house were picked up that day, the movers arrived the next, and it's been moving pandelirium ever since. Oy! But the house is awesome, and it's starting to look like a home. Our "Jam Room" is the best room in the house so far. It's a converted patio that is now a funky den housing our electric keyboard, congas, djembe, bongos, doumbek, and various shakers and triangles and such. Plus all books about music, some couches, and a few games. It's FunTastic!

But yesterday was the day I couldn't take it anymore and started unpacking my studio. I had to. I just had to. I knew the rest of the house wasn't finished...but it was CALLING me.

Even though I was thinking of painting the room, I went ahead and unboxed everything and stuffed it in the closet and the bathroom. After all, if I hadn't unboxed it, it wouldn't have fit in those spaces. And I realized my packers were rather odd people who thought things like towels, kitchen decor, and my bathroom scale were art supplies.... :? So many things actually left the room as I unpacked it. Here is the bathroom after I was done.... This room has a full bath because it used to be the maid's quarters many decades ago. I'm actually thinking of putting storage shelves IN the shower because the odds of my showering in here are extremely remote. ;)

So I was going to paint. I was. And then I got so overwhelmed by the thought of it..and so distressed at the concept of NOT being able to get this room in order... That I think I may have reconsidered. But while I was undecided about that, I took a break and did something else colorful! Saturday morning I bought an old desk for $25 dollars. (my thrifting mojo made the move with me, apparently!) It's great. Solid. Basic. Will stand up to LOTS of whackity-whacking... (hitting furniture at yard sales gets you odd looks, sayin?) But it was a nice basic boring brown. No no no. This will not do.
Please excuse the mistiness of the photo. After all those years in El Paso, I forgot what happens when you take a camera from an air conditioned house into the rain-forest weather that is Coastal NC. O_o So the table was ready for its makeover...and so was I. I shoulda got a pic, but I'm sure my neighbors were a bit surprised. I was in a dress. I do just about anything in a dress. When it's 97 degrees and about 150% humidity, a little sleeveless linen dress is WAY more comfortable than anything else you can imagine. I picked one I thought was about ready to get rid of...but now that it has paint splashes on it, I think I like it more and will probably keep it. Ha!

Here are the after photos... And inside...

There is a pull out shelf which goes on the right hand side. It is also painted and will be reinstalled today. The colors are SUPPOSED to be dark grey and brick red. If you ask me...that red is a bit on the orangey side. I don't mind it on the desk...actually I kinda like it! But I'm glad I did this first...because that color was supposed to go on the walls too, and I realize I don't want it there. So if I do paint the studio at this point, it will be a light sterling grey. But I'm really leaning towards not painting and using a bold rug and LOTS of wall art to make this room flow with color. What do you think?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Put It Out There

I'm about to hit the road for the beginning of the end of Operation Relocation! ;) Can't wait to start photo-journalling the birth of my studio-space! In the meantime...here's a quote that jumped out and joyfully jolted me today. From the latest issue of Belle Armoire jewelry...

"We take a little piece of our soul, put it out there, and want people to love it. The best way to keep the ideas coming in is to let them flow out." - Christi Friesen


Friday, June 4, 2010

Behold. She Rocketh

I love this woman. She's awesome. And when I'm somewhat more replete in the qualities of awake and caffeinated (because you can be the first without being the second but why would you want to??) then I will have my own thoughts to add to her wonderful post. But for now, just go read Helen. Cause I said so, that's why.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

To The Sea ~ A Mojo Music Review

Music is a big part of my life, and a big part of my art. Music fuels me when nothing else will..when I think I'm too tired, when I think I have nothing in me to put on the table (the worktable, that is). Even if I'm not listening to anything while I work...I'm probably singing something or at least hearing the constant playback in my head. ;) Music, to large degree, IS my mojo.

So it only follows that I do music reviews. I'm always getting new or new-to-me music...might as well share it!

Jack Johnson's newest album To The Sea came out on Tuesday. I am shocked and amazed that it took me til today to download it, since I am a devoted Jack Johnson fan. I just finished my first listen to the entire playlist and.....

Well. Y'know... there's really only one legitimate criticism that could be leveled at Jack Johnson's music over the years. I've heard it, you've probably heard it "It all sounds the same". Which, if you're a fan, isn't really a problem. Jack Johnson's laid-back, groovitational, surfer-dude, put-me-in-a-hammock-and-pass-me-a-margarita mellowness is exactly why Jack is Jack. It's what we love about him.

But you cannot say that about To The Sea. It's still Jack. It's still groovy. But it's Jack with....more. It's so exciting to see, or in this case, hear an artist's growth. The songs on To The Sea are rich with funky rhythms, stylistic change-ups, meaningful lyrics, and a sense of drive and excitement that I personally just didn't feel on Sleep Through The Static, though I do like that album. (I like ALL his albums) You can really hear and feel that Jack and the other great musicians (Zach Gill is the bomb-diggety, yo) are having FUN doing that groovy thing they do.

Every song is strong. I don't think I can even pick a favorite. But I know I fell in love with You and Your Heart within the first two bars. My Little Girl is a father-daughter song to rival Paul Simon's Father & Daughter. And I was grinning ear to ear when I recognized the familiar sounds of ALO on Red Wine, Mistakes, and Mythology.

I made several outstanding cuffs while listening to this. It totally rocks. I give a Monster Mojo rating for extreme awesomeness. Suitable for all kinds of positive creation and a general good-time. Kids. Try this At Home.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Motionless Music

It's still so strange to me to call myself an artist. When I was growing up, my visual arts skills were...well, practically non-existent. Even when I was an adult and first took up rubber-stamping, my own parents said my cards looked like a 3rd grader made them. And not a talented one, mind you. O_O But music... now I have always been into music. I sing, I play percussion, and I'm learning the drums. Music is, and always has been, the primary force which drives me. I call my iPod "my Ritalin", though it's my Prozac as well. Not to mention my meth, my ambien, and whatever other drug I need it to be. Music makes me move. But music can also make me mutely motionless.

"Despite its connection to dance, music is nonetheless the emblem of immobility, for when it is really great it seizes time and holds it still in an invisible grip." ~Mark Helprin

I wrote a few days ago how I create out of joy, not pain. Similarly, I create out of motion - frenetic motion - rather than stillness. I tend to pick music that keeps me at a certain sustained hum of mirthful activity...like a cute and stingless bee. And most of the time when I see artists talking about music for the studio..it's about music that makes them go. But it's good to stop and be still sometimes. And it's good to let the music hold you breathless while you feel parts of yourself you might have forgotten. Opening some of those closed places and letting in some air and sunshine. Like spring cleaning for the soul.

One piece that stops me in my tracks with its yearning loveliness is the Adagio from Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A Major. How about you? What music makes you still?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Metal and Meaning

I scored a Spring of 1994 edition of Metalsmith magazine at the thrift store yesterday. Cost me a whopping 12 cents. ;) Fascinating to see how much magazines have changed in 16 years... I don't think of the 90s as old-fashioned, but this magazine looks positively archaic in its fonts, columns, and ads. Plus it actually has articles...loooong articles with lots of words in long connected paragraphs that are not broken up by call-out boxes or small pictures. How weird is that? People used to read!

Anyway. I want to learn more metalsmithing. I can't wait until I get my studio set up and can get busy ordering more tools. But for now I can read and daydream and ponder... feed the metal-muse, so to speak.

The first article, written by W. Scott Braznell, was about one Janet Payne Bowles. This quote caught my fancy:

"The universal and the eternal are my favorite and abiding subjects and I
am most conscious of a desire to express them in metal." Her intense interest in
the spiritual with regard to religious objects was made clear: "In the objects
for religious service, I have tried on the decorative side, to reverse the idea
of trans-substantiation, to turn a direct symbol back into the mystery of
spiritual underflow and express not history's symbol, but the emotion that
produces that symbol."

Now that, my friends, is a lofty artistic goal, right there. Far, far beyond my usual goal of "I want it to look both cool and groovy. I want people to enjoy wearing it...and be happy." And there's nothing wrong with that goal. But I find myself inspired by artists with more lofty and complex aims than mine. Besides.... that quote just sounds soooooo good. ;D

You can view many of the works of Janet Payne Bowles here.