"Up" Necklace Pre-order March 27 2014 1 Comment
Imagine dozing off to sleep after a long day in class. Suddenly, you are jolted awake by a loud crash! Your entire house starts shaking.You watch your favorite eggshell-blue, table lamp smash to pieces. Is this an earthquake? You don't own any sturdy tables to duck under, since your furniture was all bought on sale at IKEA.
You tumble off the couch and run to grab the handle of your front door and shove it open. A burst of fresh air blows into your nostrils.
With wide eyes, you peer down below. The apartments and homes look like tiny lego pieces. In front of you, only miles of blue sky. You look up and are completely dumbfounded as you make out hundreds of mint-green, gold, and white balloons bobbing up and down, their strings securely anchored to the top of your house.
After the magnitude of the situation sets in, you collect your thoughts and start to become concerned about survival. How much ramen and Mountain Dew do you have left?
Then, a funny thing happens. You realize that an army of balloons don't attach themselves to your house and fly you away just any old day. You start to worry less and less about...well, worrying! You've been waiting for an unexpected adventure, an opportunity to seize the moment.
Maybe your lack of concern is being caused by the altitude and lack of oxygen up here, or maybe you are thinking straight for the first time in your life! You feel freedom, peace, and tranquility. You're going on an adventure!
Would you like a miniature, wearable, handmade-sculpture, that will remind you to seize the moment and live your life like one crazy adventure?
I would like to introduce you to my "Adventure Is Out There" necklace. I created this necklace to inspire artists and creatives on their journey. You will be able to look down at the pendant, and imagine yourself tucked away in the tiny, black house with a dusted gold roof, flying off on your adventure!
To order, click HERE. Use coupon code: "timetofly" to receive 20% off!
For the next 24 hours, 80 "Adventure Is Out There" necklaces will be available for pre-order. Please keep in mind the discount code will only work today. The official release date of "Adventure Is Out There" will be April 3rd.
- Sculpture height: 3"
- Chain length: 27"
- Materials: antique copper and polymer clay.
- Price: $100 ($80 with discount code)
- Delivery time: 3-4 weeks. (If you are ordering from outside the U.S., please allow an additional 2 weeks for arrival.)
- includes autographed CTR postcard with the unique number of your design.
P.S. This is the second piece I have designed inspired by the movie "Up". I love Pixar and everything that they release. Nothing makes me more excited to work on new art more than great stories about adventure and love. My hope is that my "Adventure Is Out There" necklace can help inspire you in the same way!
Dear Postman March 24 2014
Making "Lady Luck Earrings" (Behind The Scenes) March 06 2014
Today I would like to take you behind the scenes to show you a bit of how my process works. I'm going to show you how I make the new "Lady Luck Earrings" that I created just yesterday, because as we all know, St. Patrick's Day is on its way:)
The most challenging part of the whole process is getting the clovers to stay on the earring securely. I fashioned a way to do this from the back. I took a tiny dab of clay and attached it in the back, making a criss-cross with my x-acto knife tool. This way it kind of looks like a screw which ties into my "steampunk" theme that I incorporate into the rest of my online shop.
The last step is to add a metallic talcum powder. I used a brass color for these earrings because it has a bit of a green hue. I stick these in the oven at 275 degrees for thirty minutes or so, let them cool. Then I package them up, and they are ready to go!
Productivity V.S. Creativity (An Excuse) February 23 2014 1 Comment
- Send out good vibes to the universe.
- Use such and such software. (There is even a productivity writing software called "Write Or Die". Look it up. It's terrifying!)
- Use such and such app.
- Figure out how your body and energy correlates with the moon cycles/seasons/menstrual cycles
- Eat certain foods
- Wake up early
- Have accountability partners
- Read these books
- Listen to these audio cds
- Go on daily, spiritual nature walks
- Escape for a weekend to recharge.
- Use egg timers
I focused on the art itself, and didn't get caught up in the details of how to create it.
- Afraid that it won't be good enough
- Afraid that my new art won't measure up to what I've created in the past
- Afraid that I'll never finish
- Afraid that I'll never start
- Afraid that I will be misunderstood.
- Afraid that people will think I'm an idiot
Tour Diaries: Do It Anyway January 27 2014 3 Comments
I feel tired, even after ten hours of sleep. Three weeks is about the time the exhaustion starts to set in. We've sat in dozens of airport terminals, at least fifty taxi cabs and vans, slept in boat-loads of hotel beds. I'm starting to feel the "tour haze". No matter how many naps I steal in between flights and shows, I'm not going to be able to escape it. I'm not looking forward to the 16-hour plane flight home and accompanying jet lag.
Yes, I know traveling all over Southeast Asia, all expenses paid, is a dream. That doesn't mean I don't feel homesick at times and miss someone (special!) back in California.
In the Philippines we appeared on a few t.v. shows and radio stations. Carlo was starstruck most of the time, pointing and saying, "Look there is so-and-so! She's dating so-and-so, and that guy over there just announced he is gay and is helping the homosexual community!" Stunning women stood next to me on stage and back stage. I felt under-dressed and under-make-uped where cameras flashed and host's grins sparkled like the tops of snowy glaciers.
I told Nick over Skype I'm kind of glad he didn't come, because he might have been swept away by a pair of mysterious hazel eyes.
Everyone sang in Manilla. Our cab driver sang. The greeter at the hotel sang. It's strange to see people without any inhibitions openly express themselves in public.
After we landed in Malaysia, I tried to associate it to a place I had been to before. Hawaii was the closest I could think of. Our host said, "The similarities stop with the coconuts." After spending three days there, I agreed.
The people are a mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian. You can walk down the street and buy fresh vegetarian samosas made right in front of you from a little food cart while shopping for a sari, then walk a couple blocks more to what they call a "Hawker Center" and order up some authentic Chinese cuisine. I never stopped feeling exhilarated each time we walked out of a shopping mall or restaurant and were greeted by the ocean's gently rolling waves.
Dia's fans have been really respectful. A little too respectful. For example, at our signing at Puma, everyone shyly stood back a few feet from the store entrance and had to be ushered in by a Puma associate in order to get the ball rolling. In the states, at a festival I attended, people literally knocked over a chain link fence to be the first in line at a Modest Mouse signing. (Not that we are Modest Mouse status, but still…)
We spoke at a University in Malaysia about the music industry. The young students were equally as shy and respectful as the people coming to our shows. A member of the audience asked how a shy person might perform if she has stage fright. Dia replied that she is taking acting lessons to learn to not be shy. While I agree that a person doesn't have to give in to this personality trait, and one can learn how to be more outgoing, I still haven't discovered the secret to being fearless on stage.
I told the audience there has been one or two performances in my whole life when I haven't been afraid. All the rest of the shows, even still to this day, after seven years of performing, I'm still afraid.
So I told the shy student, "So what if you are afraid? It's o.k. to be afraid. You aren't going to die."
Do it anyway.
It's o.k. to be afraid, to expect fear, to treat it like a pet that is going to show up anyway, so you might as well be prepared and allow it to sleep by your feet, just as long as it stays still and doesn't become too jumpy.
Do it anyway.
Do it anyway.
Do it anyway.
What's Going On With Meg and Dia January 16 2014 2 Comments
(I originally wrote this post about a year ago. I deleted it because it was overrun by spam, and at the time I didn't know how to clean up the spam. Silly me! I feel that it's an important post, though, for those who were interested in my old band. Unfortunately, the original comments were not recovered along with the original spam (hurray!) But this was the best I could do:)
I've been reading about a lot of concern on twitter and Facebook since we decided to close down the Meg and Dia merch store a few days ago. So, I'm going to address your concerns here in this blog post.
Firstly, we decided to close the merch store down because we all live in different cities and, since all of the merch is at Nick's house, he's been handling all of the tasks, such as shipping and packaging the items, all on his own. It just didn't seem fair to have him keep all of that responsibility on his shoulders when none of the rest of us could help out.
Then because the store is closing, "Meg and Dia"questions started popping up.
I know that a lot of you are thinking, "Well, sheesh, I wish all the members of Meg and Dia can keep rocking in their wheel chairs when they are in their seventies and beyond!" And, you know, in some ways that is a very sweet idea. And maybe we will all be rocking in our wheel chairs in our seventies. I'd be pretty stoked about that! Ha ha. We just won't be doing it in the same format that was once called, "Meg and Dia".
I think "Meg and Dia" was our battleground where we learned so many valuable lessons about life and music that we are now ready to use in other musical endeavors. And I'm really, REALLY sorry, that this makes so many of you sad. In a way, that makes me kind of happy (I hope you guys take this the right way) because that means that you all cared so much. It means that we made some kind of difference in your lives. For us, that's what making music is all about.
So, life happens, and we all get these incredible opportunities sometimes that we have to take advantage of, so we can learn and become better people and better musicians. Dia had a chance to perform with her role model in an arena tour and she's now traveling to other countries to sing her heart out and inspire people who don't even speak the same language as her! How cool is that?
I'm playing with some of the most talented musicians I've ever met here in this calm city. I never had the chance to really focus on my craft. When you're constantly touring the focus is more on performing. I really believe now is my time to really get to know my instrument. I feel like instead of dating the guitar and taking it slow we just kind of dove into the whole "playing music" thing and now that things are more calm, I'd like to take her out on a few dates, you know?
I hear Jonathan's becoming quiet the chef in Los Angeles, and Carlo is Dia's Sancho Paza on her musical quest. Nick's still playing music with me, although now I think I should say I'm playing music with him, because he's been teaching me so much.
So you see, nothing is stopping. Things are just changing. Meg and Dia was an incredible, exciting, part of our pasts that will always be remembered and we will all take the lessons from those years and apply them to the present.
Living life in the moment is so important, don't you think? So, let's do that, you and I, and keep the past were it was, without forgetting, and look forward to the future, without remembering.
Tour Diaries: Show in Chengdu January 16 2014 3 CommentsAlthough the different cities we've been to so far have a lot of similarities, each city has its own distinct flavor, its own vibe. (Duh! I know. It's really interesting to experience them all side by side.) I prefer the clean streets and famous Dan Dan Noodles of Chengdu over the chilly weather and too-spicy hot soups of Beijing.
The hospitality in our hotel in Chengdu is the best I've experienced anywhere in the world. We eat lunch at one of the hotel's restaurants. We have a choice between American and Chinese. We choose Chinese of course! Can't get enough of the dumplings and the noodles. This restaurant has an all-you-can-eat dumpling menu. We have a difficult time ticking off the little boxes next to the different choices of dim sum, since all of the flavors sound equally delicious.
I've never seen Carlo eat so much or be so excited about a meal. The food in China is definitely right up Carlo's alley. Even when we toured years ago in the U.S., our band would stop at an Olive Garden or a Chipotle, and Carlo would run off and return with some crazy Asian dish he picked up at a strip mall down the street.
We order truffle oil and mushroom dim sums. They melt in our mouths. As we taste them, we can't talk or listen to each other. All we can do is focus on these heavenly dumplings, and let them take us, for a few moments, to a magical land far, far away. I'll have dreams about them for years to come. (I'm not even joking.)
After lunch, we head to the venue. The intersections are at least five times larger than any intersection I've seen in the U.S. Lanes go every which way, diagonal, left, right, and curly-cue. Whenever the light turns green, I close my eyes and hope for the best. Carlo physically holds his hands out in a "please don't smash into us" position. Like that's going to do anything silly Carlo. There are just as many bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles as there are cars filling the streets. The honking is worse than New York. One of our cab drivers uses his brights to annoy other drivers as liberally as I use salt to annoy other diners. This causes me almost to break out in hives. Too bad the cabs don't come equipped with "oh-shit" bars in China.
I really can't explain why some performances are spot and others feel like gut-wrenching piano recitals straight out of my childhood, in which my parents force me to participate or no sleepovers for me.
The Chengdu show is magic. We all tap into the same mysterious energy that only shows up on its own accord. The show happens without the slightest hitch and with plenty of sparkle. Dia dances about the stage, smiling the entire time. Carlo bobs his head and taps his feet. I know they are loving every minute of being on stage, and I'm loving that they're loving it. I'm enjoying myself, and finally I don't feel afraid. My voice isn't shaky or airy. I'm able to relax and sing out deep, rounded notes. Dia and my voices dance with each other like two sequined, skate partners gliding across ice.
There isn't a greater feeling in the world than playing in front of a crowd when you find that rare pocket of comfort. I wish I knew how to discover it during every show we play. Of course, I know this feeling can't last forever. In fact I don't think I would want it to, because it is much more magical when it's rare. Also, we won't have a show like this every show we play, but I'm still going to revel in this feeling and this moment as long as I can.
When we have the rare gift of experiencing a show like this, I feel… limitless.
Tour Diaries: First Show Of The Tour January 12 2014
Carlo chooses to be responsible. He stays behind to re-string his acoustic guitar and prepare for our first show. Dia and I, on the other hand, have no problem delaying our show preparations to find some local cuisine. We take a short cab ride out to the Drum Tower, a popular Chinese hostel, in a quaint little neighborhood of Beijing. We admire the ancient streets with their ornate roofs and old brick buildings falling to pieces (in an artsy way!) I've noticed that a lot of the businesses here use very clear and succinct English names such as "Half Coffee, Half Milk" or "Hair, Nails, Golf". I'm sure tourists, such as myself, appreciate this very much. (And yes, there really was a store called "Hair, Nails, Golf", you know, just in case you want to get your nails done and play golf at the same time.)
We weave back and forth between tiny alleys, and what looks to me like peoples' backyards. There are numbers on the businesses and houses sometimes, but Dia and I don't quite understand how the places are organized. We almost give in and ruin our appetites during our search as our mouths water over glazed-strawberry and cran-apple kabobs. ( I'm sorry, I don't know how to properly pronounce the Chinese name of these tasty, sweet treats that are sold on the backs of bicycles all over Beijing.)
Somehow, we find the restaurant. While our waitress directs us to our table, my purse brushes against the wall. I knock off a light fixture which shatters onto the floor into a hundred tiny pieces. I'm embarrassed. I can see that I've embarrassed Dia as well. We are trying so hard to be respectful in this foreign culture, and I'm not doing a very good job. Clumsy Americans!
After the color returns to my cheeks and my heart stops fluttering, Becca, a friend of Dia's and now a new friend of mine, orders us a spicy meal of peppers and fried goat cheese, tofu skins and mint, and these delicious turnip vegetables marinated in vinegar and Chinese spices. Thank goodness we have Becca to order for us. Have you ever heard of tofu skins? Apparently, one can find them in the U.S., but I never heard of them until I ate in Beijing. I strongly recommend you give them a try if you ever have the option.
After our meal, we return to the hotel. Lobby call is in the late afternoon. I feel jittery and excited as I pack for our first show. I bring a black sequin dress, black flats (I decided against my heels which I normally perform in), in-ear monitors, makeup, guitar picks, a capo, cables, and 9 volt batteries for my guitar tuner. I don't feel ready at all, but in these situations I try not to show my nerves so I don't make Dia nervous. We wait in the lobby for Cindy, the promotor and tour manager for the whole James Blunt production. She's been so helpful, communicating with sound guys and cab drivers and making sure we arrive at the venue on time.
A group of well-dressed, dapper English men walk in through the elevator doors. They must be James Blunt's crew. He follows closely behind, confirming our suspicions. Dia, Carlo, and I fall in line behind them, feeling slightly more important than moments before. We follow them outside to the vehicles waiting to take us to the venue.
Once we arrive, I feel nostalgic walking into the guts underneath the arena. It is so much like the blake Shelton tour back stage: very industrial, very cold in both temperature and vibe. The biggest difference is these back stage areas are filled with stern-looking chinese guards. Dia and I got one of them to snap a photo of us. I swear I caught a smile on his face as we made silly expressions on ours. I could have just been seeing things though…
We run through the songs once before we step on stage. I can't contain my nerves during our performance. So many variables aren't lining up. My in ear monitors sound like we are playing under water. The audience is too polite and too quiet for me to lose myself in. I'm not completely confident that I've memorized the piano songs, even though I've been practicing them at least an hour a day for a month. Long breaths and poor attempts to still my mind don't save me, or us. I feel like a ventriloquist's dummy whose hinges haven't been oiled in years from the moment I played my first chord until the moment I clumsily grabbed my guitar cables and ran off stage. I hope tomorrow's show will improve.
Tour Diaries: Day Off In Beijing January 12 2014 2 Comments
I expected to battle blizzards and icy sidewalks. Instead, Beijing greets us with sunshine. (I'm really glad I didn't bring the body sock!) Our new friends Becca and Elijah tell us the weather is very unusual for this time of year.
Of course, the first order of business is finding the most delicious meals a new city has to offer. After throwing our bags into our hotel rooms, we begin our search. For some reason, each cab driver drops us off relatively close to our destination, but never right in front of it. That would be much too easy. We search for a restaurant Dia discovered on her last trip to Beijing. Her friend who introduced her to the place, emailed her the Chinese word of what Dia assumes is the name of the restaurant. We walk up to a dozen or so people in the streets, point to the Chinese characters on Dia's iPhone, and hope for a nod in the right direction. Every single person shakes their head and waves around at what seems to be nothing and everything at the same time.
Luckily, we decide to interrupt some teenagers playing a game of hacky-sack. Dia shows them her iPhone. One of the girls speaks a bit of English. She tells us the characters on Dia's phone mean: dumplings. There must be at least thirty or forty dumpling houses on the street where we stand. No wonder the people we interrupted had such a difficult time understanding us.
Somehow, just before we give up, Dia spots the white sign with the red writing. (That description was the only other qualifier to help us find the dumpling house.) The feast of dumplings we eat are delicious and well worth the effort. I would volunteer to be lost all over again just to eat those tomato and egg dumplings, sweet potato noodles, and chrysanthemum tea with sugar crystals. We order eight or nine different dishes by pointing at pictures on the menu. Our waiter asks us questions in Chinese about our choices. We nod to each question and hope that we don't accidentally order snake's head soup or chicken feet stew. Tomato is a common flavor in China. They add it to many dishes where you wouldn't think it would go well, but it does. Also, I find it interesting that there is usually steamed broccoli with every meal, although they cook their broccoli with curious spices that Dia and I can't quite place. We enjoy a feast fit for kings which costs us a grand total of $8.00 each. Boo-yah!
After lunch we visit The Forbidden City. Once again, our cab driver drops us off about half a mile from the entrance. It takes us forty minutes of wandering around to find the entrance gates of The Forbidden City. My favorite part of The Forbidden City is called: The Hall Of Overwhelming Glory, mainly because it is called The Hall Of Overwhelming Glory. All of us admire the architecture and say we wish we had done a bit of history research beforehand. We have so many questions. Why is the city forbidden? Who was the mysterious king that sat upon all these thrones of golden stone and marble staircases? So many mysteries, so little google time.
A few groups of Chinese people stop us on the sidewalk to take pictures with us. I don't think they know who Dia is. I think they want pictures because we look different. I've noticed that all of the restaurants we have eaten proudly adorn their walls with photos of random travelers with white skin and blonde hair like they are all celebrities. If Nick was with us, they would have a heyday taken pictures with him!
After we leave The Forbidden City, we drive to The Silk Market. We find some gifts to bring back to our loved ones back home: a tiny, stuffed tiger made with a doily-print fabric for Matt's girlfriend, a delicate fan with Leslie's name hand-painted right in front of us for Carlo's lady. Dia purchases a painting of a small boy playing cat's cradle, painted by a local artist. I can't find anything suitable for Nick. I am waiting for the perfect gift. Plenty of time to search before this trip is over.
Exhausted from our action-packed day, we catch another cab and return to our hotel. Several of Dia's fans greet us at the entrance, clutching their cameras and asking with wide grins and bright eyes if they might have a photo with her. One guy, standing a back in the crowd looks back at me, nods toward her and says in an adorable accent, "look, it's Dia!" I nod and think, "yup. I'm aware of who she is." I'm in her band. I'm her sister. We sing in perfect harmony together. (Well, we try to at least;)
I'm looking forward to doing a bit of that tomorrow!
Tour Diaries: Just Like Riding A Bicycle January 11 2014 1 Comment
I board the plane wearing my puffy, ankle-length winter coat and flip flops. (My feet usually swell to Shrek-sized feet on international flights. Any type of shoes that cover the tops of my feet don't fit after the flight.) The flight attendant asks me, "Do you know that it is winter in Beijing?! Look at your shoes!" I think, "Lady, look at my huge, freakin' coat! There is not a passenger on this plane with a coat as puffy and large as the one draped around my body. You're concerned about my inadequate shoes?" I don't have the energy to explain about my Shrek-feet problem or the fact that I had comfy tennis shoes safely tucked away in my suitcase.
I don't know why I thought renting only three movies would be enough to entertain me for a flight from L.A. to China. My iPad is now dead, anyway. There are no outlets on this flight. Also, there aren't t.v. screens on the backs of the headrests. Dia notices this fact about fifteen minutes after we board. The only other time I have seen her face in such a state of disarray was when she realized that Santa Clause isn't a real person.
I don't think I've slept more than half an hour. Dia and I take strolls about the cabin, stretching our arms overhead until they scrape the plastic ceiling above us. We bend over, reach down and touch our toes, while staying out of the way of people hanging onto their groggy kids. I grasp my ankles while I'm upside down to see if the swelling has occurred yet. Dia says my feet look big already, but in my defense, I'm wearing larger socks than usual to allow room for the swell.
A fellow traveler, who Dia sits next to on the flight, promises to take us to the best duck place during our trip. (Apparently, the duck here is the bee's knees! I'll let you know.) When Dia explains what we are flying to Beijing for and who we are performing with, he says, "Wow, you guys must be really good!" "Well," Dia begins, and dusts off both her shoulders with a sarcastic grin as though our talents were simply natural gifts bestowed on us from birth. Then her expression turns serious, and she answers with the truth, "We've just been doing this for a really long time."
She's been traveling solo a lot lately, performing on "The Voice" in a whole slew of other countries besides the U.S. Before we boarded the plane, as we walked through the airport terminal, lugging our suitcases and guitars, she looked over at Carlo and Matt, our new sound guy, walking a few paces ahead of us. She said, "Wow, this kind of feels like tour again. I have people with me this time." I just smiled.
It is tour again. A strange phenomenon that we've experienced so many times it feels more normal than staying home, even though I haven't been on the road for a year or longer.
Just like riding a bicycle. It all comes back once you set your feet on the petals and start pushing and hope you don't fall over.
That hot dumpling soup and a nice warm bed where I can lay my tired body out flat are sounding nice right now.
Life Is Filled With December 05 2013
Life is filled with…
cavities, long lines at the post office, parking tickets, being put on hold for forty five minutes with a computer, taking out the trash, road rage, dents in your car from stupid instances of not paying attention, phone calls that end poorly with relatives, medical bills, electric bills, any kind of bills, period cramps, screaming alarm clocks, recipes ruined by a single false move, traffic, friends who never listen to your good advice, job losses, nights you can't sleep because you're too worried about nothing, all that work on your manuscript lost in a computer crash, creative blocks, airlines ripping you off with secret $100 fees for carry on luggage, that time you could have been a little nicer to your sister, brother, mother, cheating lovers, broken bones, failure, death, and war.
Life is also filled with…
your favorite sweater, sleeping in, sun on your skin, a good hair day, a new dress, maple and bacon donuts, first kisses, last kisses, good sushi, handwritten notes, inside jokes, the first time he said, "I love you", letters from your parents telling you, "You did good.", unexpected laughter, that time you finished what you started, that time you made something and it changed someone's life, music festivals in the summer, paychecks, pay raises, me putting my icy feet on you for warmth, hot cappuccinos, a genuine connection with another human being, sunsets so haunting they chill your bones, your dog's paw on your thigh, meals that taste too good, screen plays that make you cry, truth and authenticity, random acts of kindness from strangers, and a world too beautiful it hurts to live sometimes.
Which set of thoughts to you choose to focus on?
One Thing Yoda And John Mayer Have In Common November 06 2013 2 Comments
Before I get to the explanation for the title of this post, I'd like to share an email I received recently, asking me a question that I get a lot from creative types.
I love your jewelry and your music! You have been such a huge inspiration and part of the reason I wanted to start a blog of my own. Recently, I have become a little over-worked, and I keep feeling like I'm never getting anywhere. How do you stay motivated and inspired to achieve when you feel down?
Thanks for your amazing songs and inspiration over the years,
Quick disclaimer, I did not choose to showcase Robin's email because of the flattery, (although it certainly helped. I'm kidding!) I've touched on this topic a few times before, but I'd like to revisit it again. It seems like some folks would like a little nudge in the right direction. If I can help, great!
Nora Roberts, a famous romance novelist, said in one of her interviews in response to a reporter asking her if writing was easy for her, "No, of course not. It is very challenging. If it were easy everyone would be doing it." This woman has written over 209 romance novels! Talk about prolific.
I believe the challenge lies in changing your mindset from the "consumer" to the "producer". It is so easy to sit back and watch movies and t.v. shows that other people have labored over and created, books that other people have written, and eat delicious meals that other people have cooked. Instead of thinking, "Mmmm, this is delicious chicken pot pie" (Hmm, that's weird, why am I thinking about chicken pot pie right now. Thanksgiving! Sorry. Random tangent. Continuing on.) or thinking, "Wow, I cannot believe that Vince Gilligan ended 'Breaking Bad' that way" to "What am I good at?" "What can I offer/create/give to the world today or in the next year that will inspire others as much as that episode inspired me?"
The catch is, whatever you decide is your true calling is not going to be easy. (Unless you're a creative genius, in which case, good for you!) But, in most cases, it's going to be a struggle every time, every day. I certainly feel the struggle every day. Some days are better than others. Some days are just horrible. But things do get a little easier the more you try and the more you improve.
So, because I know how hard the journey can be, and I know that people like looking for tips, I'm going to give you three. These do not in any way, shape, or form let you off the hook from simply putting the petal to the metal and grinding out your creative work.
#1. Try a completely new activity that has absolutely nothing to do with what you are struggling with at the moment. Sometimes, I can't write a song for the love of everything holy. There is just nothing musical happening in my head. I've exhausted all the possibilities of chord progressions, changed tunings multiple times, and even tried artificially breaking my heart over not being able to eat chocolate for a week. (It's a poor substitute for a real heartbreak, but hey, you've gotta use what you've got.)
I was surprised to discover that anecdote to my songwriting blues: I started writing a fiction novel completely on a whim. I've never done anything even remotely close to writing a whole novel (aside from these blogposts, which are what… 1,000 words at most?) The novelty and the challenge of learning something knew and utilizing different parts of my brain and really opened up my creative gates. To learn about fiction writing, I read a novel, vamped off of that story, and walah! I had my new song topic as well as the first few chapters to my first novella. I cranked out three songs in a row after that.
So...Bass fishing or water polo? Anyone? Anyone?
#2. Do it anyway. Think of your creative activity like it is a job that you have to show up to and complete, regardless of how you are feeling that day. You don't wake up in the morning and say, "Hmm… I really don't feel like turning into work for my sales position today, so I'm not going to go." (Well, some of you might. Ha ha!) But most of you show up to that job, that class, whatever it is, anyway. So many of us use the "not feeling like it" excuse to let us off the hook from being creative and producing something.
This step is where my friends, Yoda and John Mayer come in. I know ya'll already know where I'm going with Yoda.
"There is no try, just do" -Yoda
So simple, yet SO hard sometimes. John Mayer, during an interview that I watched, replied to a student who asked him a very similar question to Robin's,
"And how many songs have you completed? Not how many songs did you start and then stop, begin and never finish. How many songs are FULLY written songs that you've completed form beginning to end?" And you know what that guy said?
So finish the things, do the deal. Get it done. Doesn't matter if you think it's good or bad, horrible or worthy of a nobel prize. With my novel that I'm working on, every single day I'm completely terrified to stare at a blinking cursor and a blank screen, but I get my butt in that chair, tell my inner critic to shut up, and just start pounding keys. Also, it really helps that I have a quote written just above my workspace that reads, "You are a stone-cold word killer!" (But that's a topic for a whole other blog post all together. Hehe. Chuckling in the written word is so strange, no?)
#3. My last tip kind of contradicts tip #2, but I've found it helpful on a few occasions. If you are REALLY truly feeling awful, uninspired, and like the creative side of your brain is braindead, don't do it. Fine. Spend a day marathoning through all the episodes of Friends or Frazier, binge on diet coke, and chocolate covered pretzels. Whatever. But the next day.
YOU BETTER GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR!
There, I've officially become your militant cheerleader. Thanks Robin! (Haha, no really. Thanks Robin, this post was a lot of fun to write:) So excuse me, while I get back to killing it. And I hope you do too. Really. Stop reading this. Go do it!
Introducing, Frank, Creature Collection Design #4! September 30 2013
To order your Frank click HERE on October 2nd at midnight Eastern Time!
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
I keep tracking crunchy burnt orange and brown leaves into the house, but I'm completely o.k. with keeping a broom handy, because fall is my favorite time of year! (Well, aside from Spring and Summer…) With Halloween just around the corner, I'm already day dreaming about candy corn, carmel apples, and cuddling during those scary movies with a giant bowl of buttery popcorn. Woo hoo!
The colorful nuances of what would be an uncomfortable emotion any other time of year, fear, is found lurking within all of the fall festivities we enjoy. We dress up in ghoulish costumes trying to scare the pants off of each other and poor innocent children. We wait in line for hours outside the latest local Haunted House that is all the rage, paying top dollar to be frightened out of our wits.
Fear is an exhilarating feeling, and quite enjoyable (when circumstances are controlled.) "Ahem, Could you please keep that axed murderer a little further away from my two year old? Thank you." "Mooooom, I had it under contral. Next rollar coaster, come on!"
All this being said, I didn't make Frank to celebrate and indulge in fear for this month's Creature Collection. I wanted to focus my design efforts for this piece on the concept of being afraid…
but doing what you are afraid of anyway.
You know, just like you wobble around in those haunted houses, choking your friend from holding onto the neck of his shirt so tightly, shoving him in front of you to go first into those neon lit empty rooms in the maze where you just know someone or some THING is just about to pop out at you and chase you with a freakin' chain saw!
It's o.k. Push him out there. He's a dude. He can take it. But, just make sure you go yourself too! And Frank's here to remind us to write that song, finish that book, ask out the girl/guy, whatever it is. Do it!
I DARE you!
To order your Frank click HERE on October 2nd at midnight Eastern Time!
*Only 40 Franks will be available as part of this Special Limited Edition Item.
Each Frank has his own authentic number inscribed into his top right shoulder.
Frank is approximately 3" tall and includes an antique copper 29" chain.
Each Frank is handmade, so that means the watch cogs and parts I use on each piece may differ from photo.
Each order includes autographed postcard and gift wrap.
Please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery.
Why I Started And Why I Must Not Stop September 26 2013 3 Comments
Occasionally I write posts about music, since I'm also a guitarist, so although this post is not about jewelry making per say, many of the subjects do apply... at least I think so:)
When practicing the guitar becomes difficult after I’ve reached another plateau, I find myself coming up with all sorts of excuses and complaints, constantly tempting me to stop trying, to just let it all go.
These thoughts, little devils preying on my tired shoulders, buzz into my ear: “Let your calluses turn back into soft, lady-like finger tips. Be free to do whatever you wish! The sun is shining outside. Go feel the warmth on your skin. Practicing is too difficult, boring wouldn’t you say? Why are you doing this anyway, playing these same, tedious scales and chord progressions over and over like a dutiful robot? You are basically repeatedly bashing metal strings attached to a piece of funny shaped wood for hours and hours and days and days. Do you even realize this?! What’s the point? Did you know that computers are replacing guitars anyway? You’ll spend decades becoming great, and then it won’t matter!”
Just let it go.
It’s times like these when I have to try very hard to remember why I started playing in the first place. My interest didn’t have anything to do with a strange desire to bash metal strings attached to a funny wooden shape for no reason. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about this before, but the reason why I started playing was because of the people who I saw playing first.
No, in this girl’s story, the first musicians I saw wasn’t Prince or Tom Petty or even Jimmy Eat World.
They were a no-name garage band playing in their parents’ basement from our rival high school. I wanted to be like them, so full of life, energy, and reckless abandon. Their energy even scared me at times. I can’t remember all the details anymore, only the way it made me feel. Adults peering into the situation would have looked at that garage band as a horrid group of rebellious punk kids out to cause a ruckus. (And I’m not saying that they weren’t!) But, I saw them as young, fearless artists. The first of their kind I had ever seen. Just pure power and ecstasy spilling out of their guts. It was sexy, glamourous, and dangerous.
I was in love.
During high school, looking back, I would describe myself as pretty “square”. I received straight A’s. I even think I scored higher than a 4.0 two semesters in a row. (Don’t ask me how that works!) I stood among the other proud girls in royal blue and ivory cheering for our handsome football players year after year on the cheer squad. Diligent, hard-working, and brown-nosing, I completed all of the tasks to please my teachers without a single defiant statement, but after I saw those garage band kids, I immediately dropped half of my classes, didn’t try out for the cheerleading team the next year. ( I think I may have been kicked off actually… What a little rebel I became! *gasp*), and lost all interest in attending my high school graduation. (I went on a cruise instead and got piss-drunk for the first time in my life.)
My personality has always been introverted and quiet. Getting a guitar, and forming a band, was my chance to be somebody completely different, to be adventurous for once in my life!
I did it for love, not love for a person, but love for a feeling.
Now I understand the reason I dragged my dad to the music store and traded in a year of chores and good behavior for a shiny black Gibson Les Paul Standard. ( I sold this guitar on craigslist a few years ago. Biggest regret of my life! Sheesh. )
Somehow, that tiny seed of desire, cultivated with time and watered with devotion, turned into traveling all over the world in tour buses and vans, and recording records and EP’s in well-known studios all over the U.S. It translated into some of the best times in my life on stages in seedy bars and arenas.
Today, I’m back to my quiet, proper self. Following social rules and pleasing people. I still attend concerts every now and then. I watch polished indie-bands. I enjoy myself, sipping on a cold beer, listening to the nuances of their songwriting now that I know what to listen for after studying for years. I appreciate good skill, stage presence, and witty stage banter with the audience. I’ll have a good time, but it will never be like watching those kids in their parents’ basement. Never quite like that.
It’s interesting to think back about how it all started, so I can remember why I need to keep going. Hmmm.
I used to have a movie buff as a roommate who really let me have it when I'd accidentally spill a detail. So, I learned my lesson! Secondly, if you haven't seen "Jiro Dreams Of Sushi", you must stop what you are doing, and go watch it. I think I cried more watching that movie than I did in "Up". I cried in scenes with no dialogue even, just beautiful sushi on the screen with classical music playing in the background. Then POOF, out nowhere, tears streaming down my face. I know, I know. You're thinking what I'm thinking before I watched it, "It's just food!", but it's not I tell you!
Jiro is man who dedicates his life to his craft, not only dedicates, but gives his life to his craft. At one point during the movie I turned to Nick and said, "I don't know if I'm ecstatic for that man or really sad." He works every day and only takes off days when there is a funeral or a national Japanese holiday. He seemed so serious and stern. I wanted to give him a break and tell him, "Go take a hot bath and have a picnic in a park with your wife. Give yourself some "me" time for heaven's sake!" I'm sure he would hate that though.
I do have to say, for being such a serious man, there are a few moments in this movie when he smiles. I have never seen a smile so full of genuine happiness. That's when the premise of the movie clicked for me. "Oh! That's why he's working SO hard!"
Today (the morning after we watched the film), Nick and I both, without even mentioning our intentions to each other, woke up, silently ate breakfast, and immediately proceeded to spend an hour locked away in separate rooms practicing our instruments. That hasn't happened in months!
As I run my jewelry business and continue to play music, I often think about the importance of stopping to ask myself, "Is everything I'm doing right? Are there activities I'm pursuing that don't align with my values?"
This morning during my run, I usually listen to talk radio, but because I was feeling introspective and the morning felt so calm and collected, I decided to opt for the sounds of nature and passing cars to accompany my daily exercise routine. Tentatively, I let my thoughts and the "empty-forever-empty" take over (as Louis C.K. likes to say.)
During my run, I realized, "There are some activities I'm pursuing that don't align with my values as well as some activities I am not practicing which do align very much."
For instance, there is a craft show coming up in San Francisco that I will be exhibiting at. My plan was to spend a couple weeks making some new designs with a new aesthetic that I wanted to try out for the show.So, I spent all day yesterday experimenting in the studio. It took me the entirety of the day to realize that, this wasn't my style at all.
I love making quirky, weird creatures and bots. They are more emotional to me, more meaningful. The time I spent on the modern imitations took time away from my newest addition to the Creature Collection, Frank.
He sat tucked away on my desk, lonely as a dead man all afternoon. I want to create more of him, work on his subtle nuances and get to know him a little better before I release him to the public.
Sometimes, ya gotta let some things go to make space for the things that matter most, the things that bring you the most joy.
Also, my guitar has been gathering a fine layer of dust from lack of play lately. Where are my priorities? Poor Taylor and poor Frank. Time to snap out of it!
Do you ever get side tracked? How do you get back on track?
Any Excuse To Go To San Francisco! September 23 2013
I'm in "show prep" mode, planning and scheming for the Re:Make craft show which will be held in San Francisco in only two weeks! I'm not a procrastinator, per say. I've been scheduling out my calendar weeks in advance in preparation for this show, but I have admit: I don't feel adequately prepared this time. Before every craft show or trade show I do, I feel the need to completely revamp my booth setup. It's always a good idea to improve where you can, but I've really got to stop these total-booth-makeovers before Nick decides to kill me. (I'm sure everyone already knows this, but just in case, Nick is my boyfriend, which also makes him my default electrical engineer and carpenter for all things craft fair. Sweet guy. He never complains, but let's be real, I'm sure he would rather be stealing cars via the new Grand Theft Auto video game instead of calculating out dimensions of jewelry display stands on his weekends.)
Nick has a mechanical mind. He grew up in a family-owned auto body shop, learning how the insides of engines and carburetors worked since he was old enough to lift a wrench. ( I myself don't even know enough to know if the word "carburetor" makes sense in that sentence!) He can roll down the window in a car while driving it, stick his head out a few inches to listen for god-knows-what, and instantly tell you every ailment the car might be experiencing in that moment and the step-by-step process needed to fix it. He's like this with computers and anything that has gadgets and gears.
I am the opposite. I'm a creative type who doesn't know how to actually implement any of my ideas, (unless it's a jewelry design, of course.) But I can come up with a million ideas. Sure, I experience the occasional writer's block, but for the most part, I can't stop ideas from crowding my brain, even when I'd like to stop and think about something else… like dessert. O.K. well, it's pretty easy to stop thinking about anything when red velvet cupcakes are dancing around in my head.
So, Nick tries to teach me here and there little things about how to understand cars and computers. He tried to explain brake pads to me the other day, and what brakes look like on the inside of a car. The truck ahead of us had an entire bed filled with, what appeared to be, giant, rusty old watch cogs. He explained to me that those were actually brakes. "Huh." Is my usual response to which Nick proceeds with the usual slow head shake back and forth. Then after this, I grab his hand over the middle console between us and try to look as adorable as possible to further my case of being worthy girlfriend material. It's worked so far…
I try to help him be creative. Keep in mind, sometimes just because you are good at doing a thing doesn't mean you are good at teaching it. Creativity is such an intangible subject. It's hard to help someone when all you feel like you can offer them is "It will just come to you!" My advice to him is copy other artists' creativity. Learn their songs note for note, examine them, play the chords, sing the melody. I think that's the best way, though I'm not quite sure.
I'm hoping to extend my jewelry line another 25 pieces for the show as well as design, and create #4 of my Creature Collection which is always released the first Thursday of each month. (I'm planning something spooky for creature #4. Beware!) Sounds like a big job, but I love having work like this in big red letters in my calendar. Making stuff is what I do, and I'm totally new to the San Francisco market, and honestly can't wait to see how this adventure turns out.
When I know that there is a big event coming up and I'm planning on creating a set number of designs (in this case 25 new pieces!) I dream of the designs in my sleep. Yep, I know this method is a bit strange-sounding and unconventional. Funny thing is, even when I used to churn out songs in my old band, the songs came to me that way. Some songs came to me, just before I fell asleep, in that extremely aggravating chunk of time when you're half awake and half asleep and you wish your body would just give in already! That's when the ideas come. That's when my muse starts handing over these gifts of melodies and chords. I take these gifts, store them away in my mind to be worked out in the morning and tell lady Muse, "Well, thank you very much for doing all the grunt work for me, but you don't suppose there might be a more opportune time for us to convene, perhaps in the DAY TIME?!"
Now, instead of songs there are images of geometric shapes of bright colors, braided and flattened copper joined together in odd, yet fluid ways. The images go by, one by one, like sushi platters at those Instant sushi bars where the raw fish travels around on those conveyor belts in front of diners. Then the technical parts map themselves out (as best they can in my non-technical brain.) "How would I make that?! I could hammer out the metal on one side. Hmmm… I could braid a 29 gauge copper wire with an 18 gauge, perhaps wire wrapping on certain segments between the clay pieces. Would I "antique" the copper before or after sculpting it? I need to focus more on sanding and polishing to really make those colors gleam. I really need to get some of those disposable gloves to protect my hands. They've seen better days… How about aqua against a burnt orange rectangle bead or a tarnished gold against a matte black! Yes, that's it!"
Funny thing is, I don't forget a detail when I wake up. With songwriting it was different. I'd wake up with fragments of ghost melodies, never really corresponding with one another, which eventually led me to going to sleep with a trusty notepad, pen, and recording device on my bed stand.
I have to admit at this point, I haven't begun creating anything yet for the day. Had to run to the mall to exchange Dia's birthday present for a different size. That girl is hard to shop for! She's always surprising me with her fashion sense. Then there was that potato casserole I needed to make, which called for a call to my mother and Dia for baking temperature tips and timelines. Sisters and mothers are awesome, aren't they?
And then, of course, I wanted to write this post, but now I'm off to see if real life can be better than dreams. Wish me luck!
Craft Lake City in Salt Lake August 15 2013
As Nick and I pushed my heavy crate containing all of Chandler's display fixtures up 200 South, I couldn't help saying to him in between huffs and puffs and gritted teeth, "This feels a lot like pushing an amp to all those venues." There are so many similarities between playing shows and exhibiting at craft fairs. You would be surprised!
Actually, I'm happy to report, quite a few bashful Meg and Dia fans visited us at our booth. Connecting with strangers or online friends never met in person feels exciting and new, yet familiar at the same time, because even though we are meeting for the first time, we have a common bond, whether that is music from MAD or mine and Nick's current creations. Meeting everyone made me realize how much I value face-to-face interaction and being part of a creative community, musical or artisan. So thanks for stopping by!
Nick and I made friends with a sweet couple exhibiting next to us. Sara's husband, Tyson, reminded me a lot of Nick, hauling all of her wares about the city center, and helping her to display her jewelry with care. Seriously, our work would be so much harder without the behind-the-scenes help of our capable men. If you'd like to see Sara's work you can check it out here. (I was dying to do a trade with her but didn't have the balls to ask. Maybe next time...)
We tried kimchi fries from the Lewis Bros. food truck as well as bottled iced coffee from The Rose Establisment booth. (I was their very best customer, stocking up on their rose shortbread cookies complete with tiny edible rose petals with garnish on top.
Craft Lake did us a solid by letting us exhibit at a booth right in front of the main stage. Nick and I had the pleasure of listening to local musicians for most of the day and into the evening. (Oh, there were also skilled blonde belly dancers. They seemed to be the most popular act, even more so than all of the local bands and musicians. I'm not sure how I feel about that.... Ha ha.)
Near the end of the craft fair a new local band called Golden Sun headlined the main stage. Contrary to the small crowds the other bands and artists seemed to harbor, this band had quite a crowd huddled up next to the stage. Out of curiosity, I asked Nick to keep an eye on the booth so I could check out the band up close and personal. I haven't been to a show in months. (Dia and I keep meaning to go together, but we just haven't found the time lately.)
I had forgotten about the excitement that wells up inside of me when I'm standing in one of the first few rows, right next to the band playing. I could see the expressions on the band members' faces as they started up each song. I stood behind a group of girls that seemed to know them quite well since they kept screaming at the band members by name. They danced in their own private circle and the boys up on stage beamed from ear to ear when they noticed that their music caused the girls' bodies to get in the groove.
Aren't they cuties? Now, go buy there music or else! Kidding, kidding.
I just thought it was so adorable. Those young kids up there making music together, believing that what they were doing up there on that stage was the most important thing at that moment. More important then graduation, or the local housing market, or the love interest waiting for them after the show. And you know, dare I say, that at that moment it was.
Ah, I remember what that felt like.
I'd Like A Tiny Puppy Please. July 19 2013
I take a sip from my mug of coffee and a small bite of one of those frozen hash browns from Trader Joes that Nick and I have learned to burn to perfection. We sit at our kitchen table. He’s looking over the ketchup bottle at my face still creased with lines from my pillow. I’m looking off into the distance just over his left shoulder. In my peripheral vision, I notice him uneasily shifting to the left and then to the right in one of our white ikea chairs. “Is there something on my face or in my hair?" he asks me with concern. I can tell my staring off has unsettled him this morning. “No, I’m just looking at some memories," I reply in a slight daze. “Are your memories in my hair?" he blurts out. “Why yes, they are today."
Days are going by here in Los Angeles. Those are turning into weeks, and we have just completed our first month. Sometimes I wake up and it’s still strange for me to say to myself, “Good morning, you tired, lazy girl. You live in Los Angeles." To which I sleepily nod, turn over, and think to myself, “Yes, yes. I know. I’ll take that fact into account in a few hours after I’ve showered."
People say that Hollywood is filled to the brim with opportunity. They are right you know. I think, (though I can’t quite remember with absolute clarity), that Nick and I packed up our bags and headed for the Hollywood hills in order to bang on our instruments with like-minded, cooky musicians. We’ve done a bit of that, but I think that the real magic that has happened for me here has been in another field entirely. I haven’t quite figured out exactly what I’ve gotten myself into, but the following terms have been floating around in Nick’s hair lately: entrepreneurship, business, DIY, technology, 3D printing, art. This journey started with a craft fair that Nick and I decided to do with a friend who needed to split a booth fee with other crafty people. Somehow from that one “yes" there seems to be opportunity coming out of the wood work in this crazy city. Funny what a “yes" can do for you sometimes…
Nick found a job working at a coffee shop on the west side in the recently “gentrified" warehouse district. (I learned a new word:) He found some sweet friends among his co-workers. Of course, there’s a musician (a guitarist he met originally on Warped Tour years ago) and an aspiring actor. In the pursuit of following their dreams, they realized, with astonishment, that they have both become accidental experts at pouring pretty espresso shots with the flower on top foaming in perfect symmetry. After a month of working there, Nick comes home and says things like, “I thought that Andrew was going to take Jerry in the back and have some words with him”. He also twirls around his milk in our two dollar coffee mugs like a seasoned wine connoisseur at breakfast time. (I’m quite fond of that little quirk. It’s kind of cute.)
I’m a little jealous of the built in social life he has attained though. His co-workers recently invited him to join a bowling league (which isn’t just any bowling league mind you!) They compete on the middle floor of The Roosevelt on vintage bowling lanes that cost $100.00 a game! (Luckily he doesn’t have to pull out his wallet since he’s joining the league mid season.) But agh, just to walk into that place makes you feel like you have been transported back to the 1920s, and because you imagine yourself in a different time, all the grandeur and mystery of the unknown comes bubbling up in the IPA brew you ordered.
Yesterday, a small hispanic woman backed into my car in the post office parking lot. I honked for her entire journey from two car widths in front of me right into the front bumper of my car. “Why didn’t you back up?" Nick asked me immediately after I told him my frustrating story. “I couldn’t believe she would ACTUALLY hit me!" But she did, and of course she meanders out of her vehicle after the event and innocently asks me in the calmest voice ever I swear, “Oh, did I heet you?"
Yes, ma’am. Yes ya did.
Actually, I feel rather lucky to have only had one tiny bumper bang since we moved here, driving on these crazy freeways and all.
Let’s see what else…
I suddenly have developed this new affinity for small dogs that look like fake stuffed animals. I used to look at canines and think “poop and responsibility", now I look at a too-skinny woman holding one in her purse with two little paws tucked over the edge and I think, “adorable and MINE".
Friendly Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on our doors instead of friendly Mormon missionaries. (I’ll take either. They both make me smile.) But the Jehovah’s witnesses will only talk to us if we speak Spanish. “Come on", I yell to them as they hurry down our front porch steps after we answer the door in an English “hello", “but I have many questions to ask you!" I sputter in frustration, “Yo tengo muy questionos…Damn!"
But they don’t hear me.
Do you remember when... July 03 2013
Do you remember when...
you were little and the teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? Remember how you told her you wanted to be an astronaut and fly to the moon and float around in outer space. You wanted to call back home to planet earth and say to your mother, "Hey, look ma! I did it!" Do you remember how you told your teacher you wanted to be a singer and wear crazy outfits on stage with sequins and tall shoes and crowd surf across thousands of screaming fans? Do you remember how your classmates didn't look at you and tell you that you were crazy? They said, "That sounds cool! I want to do that too!"
But, now you can't say that you want to sing or you want to fly or you want to make people laugh when you are sitting at the dinner table with your parents. You can't say those things to your roommate in the college dorms. It's not practical. It's not realistic. So you say the things you think you are supposed to, and you find yourself carried away by the current of safety and sameness.
Well, Snerdly doesn't follow that same line of thinking. Snerdly remembers what he dreamed about when he was just a wee creature in his wee creature classroom. He remembers because he lives his dream every day, his crazy, childlike, "un-realistic" dream. He doesn't care if society thinks his dreams are silly, and he's here to remind you that there isn't anything silly about your ideas at all, not in the slightest. If teachers, friends, classmates don't want to listen, he will. He supports it, because he's a crazy, loony fellow dreamer that never learned to stay in line and stick with the program. He may have had a few bumps and bruises along his journey, but he says that those are to be expected. That's why he wears a band aid. He says that it's best to simply patch up your ouchies along with your doubts and move on.
When he became a college student, his confidence began to wane a little with the new ideas that were floating around and the opinions of his teachers and his peers. He kept his childhood dreams close all throughout his life, but he could feel them slowly slipping away as he began to attend parties on campus and joined a group of friends who liked to wear pink bandannas around their creature feet and wore dozens of watch cogs along their creature ears and noses. He was beginning to change, and a fear crept up inside him. He became afraid of friends thinking less or differently of him, of teachers scoffing at his future plans.
So one night, after a particularly intense dorm meeting, (a couple creature gals were arguing over who was taking too long in the showers), Snerdly called his creature father. "Dad, I'm a little afraid that my heart is changing, and I'm afraid to lose myself here. There is so much to learn and take in and I'm not sure what to believe anymore." Snerdly could hear his mom clanking together dishes in the background. His creature dad simply told him, "Son, you've got to have more courage than that." And he hung up.
Snerdly is part of a limited edition collectors item. There will be five creatures in thisChandler The Robot series. Each one will be released the First Thursday of each month. Snerdly will be released on July 4th at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. There will only be 50 available. Each piece is handmade by myself, so please allow me 2-3 weeks to make them all and ship them out to you. Please remember, that these will only be available this one time, and after they are sold out that's that. So, set your alarms if you are a late sleeper like me!
- handmade from polymer clay, antique copper, and vintage watch cogs
- Snerdly is approximately 2" tall
- 27" antique copper chain
- Snerdly can also be made into a keychain (Simply choose that option when you check out.)
- He has a flat back which allows him to be lighter around your neck and also fit more snugly on your chest.
- $50.00 each plus $4.00 shipping
- International orders accepted
- Includes special gift wrap and autographed/numbered CTR postcard.
The Making of Kelsi The Flapper Bot May 29 2013
A friend on twitter, @kelsi_alexander on twitter, gave me the idea for a Gatsby inspired bot. (Thanks Kelsi!) Twitter can truly be a magical place. I started out the design process by thinking about what details I wanted to feature on her. She would need a tiny feather boa. So, that's what I started with even before I knew what the final design would look like. The clay in the back ground is rolled out flat. I do that first when I'm layering on objects. For instance, the black rolled out clay will be used for her hair, and the silver rolled out clay will be used for another tiny feather on the dress.
Sometimes, when I'm working on more than one piece at a time, I like to work in sections. This method allows me to really hone in on a skill and get really good at it. I got really good at centering eyeballs. Ha ha. When I'm making bots I don't just make all of the bot in one go and then I'm finished. I work in stages. So, for the first stage, I'll work on the basic shape of the dress and the head including the eyeballs, eyelids, and eyelashes. Then I'll stick those figures in the oven to cook. Then after I take them out and let them cool I add on more details like the hair and the headbands and the hearts and feathers. The final touches I do are coiling around the wire wrapped arms and legs which I pre-antique days before by using sulpher. Sulpher doesn't have the greatest smell, but I love the look and feel that it give the copper. Learning how to antique copper and metal was the single greatest thing that I learned in at the jewelry studio where I first apprenticed in Austin.
This was the first model I tried. As you can tell her hair and dress are different than the final design. That little flipped part to the right, by the silver pearls in her hair was kind of an accident. I liked how it turned out, but it wasn't quite right. I wanted her to be a bit more feminine and hip so I landed on the "bob". Her head band is also thicker in this picture. I like the thinner, sleeker style that ended up in the final piece. Also, there are a few new techniques that I tried out on the flapper bot. I gave her a waist and colored eyes which is was a totally new twist for me. I didn't think it would be possible to work with as small a piece of clay as I did for her eyes. Tiny little heart too. This piece was challenging, a labor of love, but I love how the final design turned out. She was worth it!
If you have any questions about the process, I'd be happy to answer them for you:)
Kelsi The Flapper Bot will be available May 30th at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. She will be on the homepage of my website. Only thirty will be available as part of this special Limited Edition First Thursday Sale.
This Is Why We Sing May 20 2013
"Look at what I bought today!" He hands me an ancient, out-of-tune guitar with two F holes swirling about on both sides of the strings. I strum a simple chord into another simple chord and listen to the echoes crash into each other. Jimmy, lazily tucked into a giant wicker chair, begins playing a little tune. "Teach me something. Teach me anything," I say with a smile hidden in the shadows. He says in a slow drawl, "Well, what do you want to learn?" "I don't know. Anything." And he begins playing and singing a little something. I don't know who wrote the words and the melodies he plays. Bob Dylan? That wrinkled man who wrote "Fulsom Prison"? The song sounds withered and wise and I'm happy to connect myself to it. He whispers the chords for me in between lyrics. My fingers eagerly follow his commands. I lean my head back and close my eyes. So simple. So easy and right. I feel that every evening after a long day filled with so many conflicting thoughts should end this way. His singing. Our playing together under the evening sky, joined by chords, words, and happy familiar chatter. This is why I play.
I wander inside to sample a delightful eggplant parmesan dish lovingly crafted by a good friend. "You must always cook your meals with love," he says matter-of-factly. He's always feeding us bits and pieces of his meals in progress. We taste a bit of fried eggplant straight out of the steaming frying pan. In turn, he tickles all of our noses with a lemon leaf, explaining that some useful ways to enjoy this plant are dried in tea or infused in some chilled water. After enjoying a meal of his, I immediately scheme of ways to repay him, but I'd be too shy to offer him my attempts at a hearty meal. Perhaps after I've had a bit more practice from those pretty, colorful magazines with gooey blueberries sliding off of pastries on their covers...
After we have all decorated our plates with the bright purple main dish, cinnamon glazed carrots, and some buttery croissants, we chat amongst longtime girlfriends about our surprise when we discover the contents of our purses are all the same: lip gloss, some type of headache relief (most of us had advil), a smartphone, and brand new and old copies of The Great Gatsby. "I can't believe that anyone could dream up a film with scenes like that," I say. Someone else replies, "That movie was a huge let down! The score was just terrible, much too modern." Then a woman's soft and yet powerful voice floats in from the back door putting an abrupt end to our conversation. So we happily abandon our debate at the kitchen table along with the dirty pots and pans, drawn to the music like hipsters to a farmers market.
I find a secluded spot tucked away just behind and to the left of the trio playing their music. I feel that I need to approach their performance like one would approach a fragile butterfly. It was as though I needed to sneak past them as silently and unobtrusively as possible, or the magic might stop and they might fly away. We all form a semi circle around the guitars and singing. I don't know what they are singing. Dia clutches her knees and sways forward and back, singing, singing with her eyelids drooping. Two guitars dance around each other as her accompaniment.
It is nice to see her singing for herself and for us, a bunch of tired old friends, enjoying some excellently seasoned vegetables and a pretty song or two. I couldn't help thinking, "this is why she sings, to feel like THAT, to help us feel like THIS." The end of their song conjures up images of a scene from The Great Gatsby. I picture the director explaining the nuances of the scene to the actors just so, fixing a prop here and adjusting the lighting there, giving everything he has to his creation, and then letting it go to be what it will. He made us feel that feeling for days and days after we walk out of the theater, tossing our empty coke cups into the trash by the exit.
CTR Shop Update April 25 2013
Well, I've got a lot of exciting news about the happenings taking place around the Chandler studio. A few months ago, my friend Kate, (who sells these) asked me to share a booth with her at Unique L.A., an extremely popular craft fair in Los Angeles. Last year Dia raved about the show for hours and especially loved her new jewelry she purchased from Kyle Chan Jewelry. There are some really gorgeous photos of Dia on that site. You guys should seriously check her and them out;) I'm thankful that they met at the show, because since she introduced the two of us, he has given me tons of invaluable advice for my jewelry company. It kills me how a person can be so nice and helpful to someone they don't know. I can't wait to finally meet Kyle in person at the show! So, if you live in the area please try and stop by our booth and say hello! There are a few artists and designers that I have been following for some time such as Oh, Hello Friend and Nail Tree Love, and I'm really excited to meet them as well. I'll be one of those internet stalker people, "Hi my name is Meg. I read your blog every morning, even before I get out of bed to go pee, and I LOVE you!" Think I'll weird them out much?
This is the packaging I'm working on for the show. I've always had a thing for hot air balloons. Hot air balloons and men in tight pants. I'm just waiting on my creme colored stretchy bows, and I'll be ready, set, go!
When I'm not dreaming and scheming about the craft show, I'm thinking about new designs. I've promised myself that the first week of May I'm going to lock myself up in my studio and crank out ideas. Sometimes, as a designer, I feel a little intimidated when I think about the daunting task of creating a little robot army out of thin air.
I've blocked out my schedule and doodled a whole bunch of cogs and screws on those days in my calendar. I have a few ideas rattling around my brain at the moment. I think a Warrior Bot, (Think Tiger Lily. She'll have on a warrior outfit and a bow and arrow and crazy feather hair ornaments) would be pretty awesome... I'm also toying around with the idea of a bot playing a guitar, but I'm just not sure how I can make that work… I thought some aged lightning bolts wound with antique copper wire would make some killer earrings!
Can you imagine how hard it is for me to try and get some sleep at night? I'm laying there, and instead of sheep hopping over those bushes it's "Oh, lightning bolts!! No, no…wait. I've got it an owl with a screwdriver for a beak! Or, how about a round sailer with a Tim Burton-esque umbrella hat!" It just never ends...
And I suppose I'm thankful for that:)
A Blog About An Ass April 23 2013
My mother is the most intelligent, sweetest woman I've ever known. I can't imagine myself ever accomplishing feats like the ones she has overcome in her life, moving from Korea to the U.S. to follow her new husband at a ripe young age, learning a completely new language, becoming accustomed to a brand new, intimidating culture. She's my hero.
Please allow me to share our lunch conversation with you. The menu: crispy coconut shrimp tacos drizzled with a warm, spicy mango dressing, a coke for dessert, followed with some vegetable juice for my health. (The two drinks don't mix so well…and drinking them at the same time probably cancels out the health benefits, but I digress.) The conversation: a talk about her breakfast party with some close friends at the local Cracker Barrel.
"So, how was breakfast? What did you have?" I asked her.
"Oh, I had oatmeal. It was good."
"Well, how is everyone? What did they all have to say?"
Quick side note: Cussing in a different a language has always been kind of interesting to me. I mean, cussing in your own language is an interesting topic all on its own, but it's strange to try and understand the psychology behind wanting to know how to say bad words in other languages. You know you've had the thought, "O.k., o.k., so… how do you say #$%^ in Spanish?! Really *attempt a few tries at pronouncing said foreign word to see how the syllables roll off the tongue.* Cool! Now, how do you say *&%#?! Ooooh, let me try. I know, I know, it's all very juvenile, but sometimes you just can't explain why we humans do the things we do, or say the things we say.
My mom asked me the other day if I knew anyone who uses swear words. In my head, I was thinking, "Do I know anyone who… doesn't? But in real life of course, I said, "No, not really." Does Nick use swear words? "Hmm… I can't really think of a time…" How could I admit to my doe-eyed Korean mother that as a couple, my boyfriend and I use profanity when we tell each other to pass the salt and pepper at dinner time?
So, I'm sure you can guess, in my family we do not use those words. Once you step over our welcome mat, your language better be clean as a whistle. I've never heard my mom swear (except when spring cleaning rolls around and she tells me that it's time to "change the shits" on my bed.)
"Well," she continued on with her story, "I was very surprised to hear a very religious man in our group use the word," and her voice became a whisper as she spelled it out, "a-s-s".
"You don't say?" I took a pause from scarfing down my taco to lean in a bit toward her concerned face.
"Yes, he said that he told his son to take the A-S-S out of the house! I couldn't believe he swore. Everyone at the table seemed not to notice."
"Oh, is his son lazy? Was he trying to tell his son to get his butt off of the couch and get a job or something?"
"No, he had a mule, like in Mrs. Doubtfire, in the house, and he wanted his son to get it out."
"What do you mean like Mrs. Doubtfire, mom?"
"You know, the kid brought a horse into the house."
"Oh, there was an actual mule in the house, like the animal?"
Never mind that at this moment in the conversation I was just DYING to know why there was a mule in this man's house, but I held back my curiosity to explain a new american term that my mother might not be familiar with.
"Mom" I placed my hand on her knee after wiping off some mango sauce on a napkin, "You know that the technical term for a mule IS ass, right? Like, that's not a swear word if you call a mule an ass. That's what it's called. Sometimes the same words mean two different things, like a river damn means something different than the swear word."
For a moment, my mother's face just went completely blank, and then shit white (oh, excuse me, I mean *sheet* white), and then she blew out some mango sauce from her nostrils as she erupted into laughter and all but fell out of the kitchen chair.
Did I mention how much I love my Korean mother and how much I enjoy lifting the veil of the strange nuances of the English language?
The Superhero Who Lives In My Phone April 11 2013
While Nick and I visited L.A. a few weeks ago, we found ourselves constantly pulling out our iPhone's Google Maps in order to navigate the city. Karen's confident, soothing voice rose above the noisy L.A. traffic. (We call the voice giving the directions in the app Karen. Don't ask me why…) I'd fill in the blanks on my phone's glowing screen. A "current location" always goes in the "start" box. Then I simply type in the address of my destination. After I press "route" a map zooms out on the screen displaying the entire route. A quick tap on the "start" button zooms into the exact location the car is in and proceeds to immediately dictate, step by step, the quickest way to arrive at our destination.
After dialing in a few different locations and driving all over the city with Karen tucked into the console in between us, I became rather jealous of Google Maps and its ability to know where we started, where we needed to go, and the shortest way to get there with such certainty and aplomb. Sometimes it's easy to overlook where we start from, in life I mean. Where was that place? As a musician or as a jewelry designer, what did the beginning look like for me? Naive, eager, unstoppable? What did your beginning look like? And where did I hope to end up someday by heading down that road? Stardom, arenas, or a modest career filled with joy after realizing I make music every day? Where did you end up?
My favorite feature of google maps is how after you land on the screen where your whole route is displayed and you get a good feel for the journey ahead ( i.e. the time it will take to arrive at your destination, the number of miles involved, etc... ) and you press that "route" button, Google Maps doesn't hem haw around and analyze and pick apart whether the journey will be worth it. A questionnaire doesn't pop up on the screen with a sequence of questions such as: 1. Will your parents be proud of you if you travel to 350 North 4080 West? 2. Will you regret your decision if you move forward with this trip to 530 Downey street? 3. Are you sure, I mean REALLY sure that this is the correct path for you if you do indeed end up at The Grove in Los Angeles, California?
Nope, that doesn't happen. The phone simply does its quick-as-a-blink calculation and BAM, step one pops up on the screen, and you don't think twice as you take that first baby step forward. Pump up the radio, "Slight left onto Certainty Avenue". You pick up your cell phone and make a quick "catch up" call to your sister at school in San Francisco as Karen gives you another direction, "Continue on Nothin' To Lose Highway". Time to push your favorite button in your vehicle, the seat warmer. Mmmm my fav. "Take a right at Consistency Road then turn left onto Self Respect Drive."
"Arriving at address 5874 East Finish What You Start Circle".
And then you press "End". You've made it. Simple.
Speaking of making a plan and following through, I'm super excited to announce the 3rd Annual Birthday Sale for Chandler The Robot! I've been working really hard in preparation for tomorrow. Designs are going to go quick, so grab em' while they're hot:)
P.S. No, I'm not working with google and they do not sponsor my blog in anyway… although I kind of feel that they should:)
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