Join the 27 Club...but not really

Can you find me?

Happy Monday to you. Birthday to me and my pal George Washington. (I was almost named Georgette, luckily my parents saw some light and named me after Carole King!) Today I turn 27, the auspicious age when legendary people die. Kurt Cobain, Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jonathan Brandis, the Elephant man, Jean-Michel Basquiat. All dead at 27. When Kurt Cobain passed away I was in 6th grade and he seemed soooo old. Now I think, wow he completely shifted our generation by the time he was my age! Time to step it up without drugs or flannel or well, dying.

Recently I took up an Etsy challenge with fellow Rochester Street Team folks to post an item a day. Seeing that Etsy is not my day job this is tough, but it is something so important to staying on the Etsy radar. You can join the challenge too with Just Ice Jewelry on her blog. So here's a pile of what I'm moving forward with:

I have run out of vintage buttons for the time being for my jewelry, but have tons of vintage textiles. So I have begun making my own buttons. I will be making a series of rings and earrings featuring scraps of vintage handkerchiefs, napkins and tablecloths. I am also pushing forward with my artist trading cards. I want to continue my hairy-pits-on-pin-ups theme, but I have switched from printing on silk to cotton. With all of the ironing and glitter glue involved the silk just can't take it as well as good old cotton. It's the fabric of our lives you know (Someone out there is laughing besides me right?). I am also looking into cutting down some antique thread spools to create pendants, rings and earrings. Bandsaw here I come!

Coming up soon I will also be showing and selling my upcycled Etsy goods at the Xpolse openhouse on March 6th from 1:00- 3:00 pm to support my friend Jennifer at 1000 Turk Hill Rd. in Fairport, NY. She just opened Rochester's first Pole Dance Fitness studio, Xpolse this January and is kindly letting be part of her open house. I will be making some flirty/sexy jewelry just for that occasion. You will not find them in my Etsy shop and they will be exclusive to her studio!

Stop by. Give some love. And get to work, whether you're 27 or not. Cheers!


Happy Lundi Gras

Tomorrow is New Orlean's quintessential celebration Mardi Gras, but the party started several days ago with parades, music and awesome food. Monday (Lunae in Latin) is Lundi Gras. I have had the opportunity to join in the Mardi Gras revelry twice, before and after Hurricane Katrina. There's nothing else like it and for someone who has a fetish for glitter, beads and public imbibing it's heaven on earth.

BUT...I can't make it this year so I am celebrating in crafty ways up north. I found this great little orange travel case at a thrift store and gutted it to created a Mardi Gras memory box. I tore out the old lining and used it as a pattern to cut out new fabric. I allowed some extra fabric to fold over for clean edges and pad with stuffing. It has plenty of space for photos, post cards, beads, throws and my very special Muse shoe (a highly coveted throw from the all female Muses krew parade).

For those of you who still have your Christmas trees up, like me, you can decorate it for Mardi Gras as well. Just string it with beads, cups, throws and masks and invite some friends over for an Abita Mardi Gras bock and Zataran's.

Now, sit under a sunlamp, have a willing buddy hold a blow dryer by your face and close your eyes...then maybe, just for a moment you will have Mardi Gras in Rochester, NY or wherever you face the February chill.


Are You a Fiber Artist...Probably Not

Good Monday to you blogaroos and blogettes. I have yet to rant here, but today, for you, I will. Lately I've been searching the term fiber artist on Etsy and Crafting magazines. Buckle up for this, because I may unintentionally irk you. Maybe I'm being territorial, but as a person holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fibers, I get annoyed when I see someone promoting his or herself as a fiber artist, when they sell knitted scarves and hats. Now, I don't want to downplay those things. They are well crafted. They sell well on Etsy. Plus, I love wearing them. At the same time, I would never refer to those items as art. So are the ones who make them artists? Clothing and accessory designers, yes, but artists...?

To me, art goes beyond the utilitarian purpose of clothing the body and keeping it warm. I also feel that it goes beyond an acute sense of fashion and style. The work of a fiber artist has a message, an art historical commentary or an elevation to crafted perfection, a watershed technique perhaps. Call me catty, but I think the whole "everyone's an artist" motto undermines the value of art, especially the Fiber Arts, where artists have struggled to gain credibility among the traditional big guns of painting and sculpture. My mom mas made quilts for new brides and babies for 30 years and never introduces herself as an artist to new acquaintances. A.) because she uses traditional and contemporary published patterns and B.) because she openly professes her lack of innate or educated understanding of the elements and principles of art and design.

It's a very touchy dialogue and one that is handled in depth in The Invention of Art by Larry Shiner. If this discussion is up your alley, read it as soon as you can. In my personal opinion any technique or material can have a craft solution or an art solution depending on what you do with it. Here are three examples of how I see the breakdown. I chose three people whose items I would love to own from Etsy. All are talented with fiber materials or techniques, but fit different categories. Again, in my opinion.

The Crafter: curiouspug

The Designer: kanokwalee

The Artist: joettamaue

The first is utilitarian, made with commercial materials and speedy to reproduce, though super cute. The second ups the ante on aesthetics and mastery of craft, with a sophisticated color palette and a fashion "story" so to speak, but is still utilitarian. The last item appropriates a historical textile format, uses embroidery as a mark making tool that contrasts with that format, and is meant to be appreciated on its own with no other particular use.

Can we and should we make clearer boundaries? I make fiber art for show, sell upcycled crafts on Etsy ...and I like it that way.


I Love You, Ms. Liza Lou

Happy Monday, happy February! This month is great (if you can ignore the icy hands-of-death temperatures). Within 28 short days this year we get Groundhog's day, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, and more importantly my birthday. So in that spirit, today I want to write a little Valentine note to one of my favorite artists, Liza Lou....

Liza Lou (detail, Kitchen) 1996

Dearest Liza,

Ever since I first saw your beaded Kitchen, back in Art School, I have been in love with you. Like Hoggle in the Labyrinth I was unselfconsciously drawn to the glittering surfaces of your installations and sculptures. Oh to be on your bead team, stringing miles of green beads or encrusting cans of Bud...

Liza Lou (detail, Picnic) 1999

...You enchant me! Until this summer, I was only able to pine from afar in slides, online or in slick art journals, but on a recent visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art I found it. A beautiful new acquisition in the contemporary exhibit caught my eye, which subsequently shed a bedazzled tear...

...I tried to reach you by Ouija board in 2006. Yes I know you're not dead, but beading a Oiuja board felt much more romantic than beading a cell phone. So until I do reach you, Liza, will you be my Valentine?

Carol Traynor, Channeling Liza Lou 2006
(zoom to see tons of beads by clicking on the board)

XOXO, Carol