Sunday, November 25, 2012

In praise of escapist fiction

 I think this is the biggest compliment to an author I have ever heard.

My brother in law was in a motorcycle accident which involved getting his head rammed halfway down into his ribcage, and needed to spend some weeks sitting and sleeping in a special chair. A friend of his brought him Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which clocks in at 3712 pages. B.I.L. says he spent 18 hours a day for three weeks and got through the entire series - it was the only way he could escape from the physical pain.

I find this particularly moving in light of Stephen King's encounter with a van being driven by a man who was was trying to keep his Dobermans away from some steaks. King had a long, long road to recovery after the incident.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Biography of a Mechanical Bee

This is what remains of a mechanical bee toy which I had listed on etsy, with the warning that is someone did not purchase it, I would make something out of it myself. This is one of many toys Made in Japan after WW2, when Japan had an advantageous agreement with the United States for export. They were tireless in their ingenuity for making small items, some toys and some china figurines and other novelties for export. I took this apart and found another part of the story of a recovering post war economy, see below.

This shows the inside, where a soda or juice can has been turned inside out to form the body of the bee. This is as moving, I think, as any archeological discovery.

One of the things I made was this Queen Bee Tiara, which I have for sale in my Etsy shop. I used the body in an assemblage which is one of the pieces in my show at Paxton Gate's Curiosities for Kids in San Francisco, the reception is tomorrow- stop by if you are in the neighborhood!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Eat your heart out, Pedro Almodovar

Fashion shoot with my neighbor, who also has an Etsy shop.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Neighbor Carlos and I put a table with treats out on the street last night and invited the neighbors to come by. A good time was had by all, including four-year-old Finn, above, who was fascinated by the jar full of moving eyeballs. Some police came by and turned down treats, but obligingly threatened to arrest Carlos, who was dressed like Zorro.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Beard of the Patriarch

Work for the show is coming along. In reliable small blessings news, Looking for a topper for this,  I went through my entire collection of itty bitty things the night before I found the blue thing (from a birthday candle holder?) on the floor of one of my favorite junk stores.

Friday, June 29, 2012

(Off) Broadway Debut

This lovely battered old GE Clock (purchased from my Etsy shop) was just shipped off to New York City for use as a prop in the performance piece/installation "Sleep No More", a retelling of sorts of MacBeth.

Wiki here:

I sent the photo along just in case they could use it.

Had me thinking of when my siblings and I staged a theatrical performance of the The Fall of the House of Usher in the garden shed.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


The Mission District, as a source of inspiration. More later!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

World in a grain of lint?

I like this very much as it is, a very old piece of felt embroidered and appliqued, the furry part is some laundry lint from a gorgeous apple green wool blanket I fished out a dumpster. Then there are the clock parts and the broken jeweler's loupe. The pink things are wooden beads I sewed on. it is going to be attached and partially concealed as part of a larger piece, I will post that when I finish it. Anyway, I have a feeling that I will continue to prefer this component to the final work. Hmmm.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why Me?

There are a lot of ideas in this world, and certainly not all of them deserve to be recorded. Why does MY brain extrude things like this:

A t-shirt with the motto :My name is BRITTNI!!!!

with a little angry female character standing on top.

Did I mention I spend too much time on the etsy forums?

Where my brain is melting down is whether it would be too much to have both the dots on the i (s) and the top bits of the exclamation points be bulgy pink hearts.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Girl in the Wind

Isn't she lovely? 
Every once in awhile I post something from my etsy shop here.
She is very convincing as someone caught in a windstorm,
I figured out her origin from a very faint stamp on her base, 
the outline of an island.

More info & photos

Friday, June 1, 2012

Punctuation for the new age

;) = Passive aggression

:))))) = pharmaceutical abuse

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! = mild surprise accompanied by a craving for attention

????????????????????????????????????????????????? = brain freeze followed by an involuntary seizure of the right hand located over the keyboard

It's possible to spend too much time in the etsy forums...

Ed. in the same arena, or forum, you get stuff like this:

There going there in there car.

Gertrude Stein would be proud.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Back and Front


Preparing for a show in the Fall at Paxton Gate's kid store, sort of contemplating the technology/nature intersect. I will just note that Michael's has a sale on embroidery thread, 35 cents a skein, right now - thank you, craft gods.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fear of Little Men

Up the airy mountain
     Down the rushy glen,
 We daren't go a-hunting,
     For fear of little men
         - From The Fairies, by William Allingham

And also beware on Warfield Street in Oakland. In this case, though, the little men themselves look full of fear, possibly because their buddies the trees got made into telephone poles (to the bottom of wich the little men are themselves attached - quite a number of them, in fact). Made my day, as you might imagine. As a thank you I wrote the Allingham quote on a little piece of paper which I bound with a gold tassel, then planted at the epicenter of the elfin infestation.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Caspar David Friedrich's Dream

Fontane de Vaucluse is a little village which is home to mysterious spring at the base of a cliff, it springs in part from an underground aquifer although not everything about its source is known (Jacques Cousteau investigated at one point). Also of interest is the intensely green vegetation growing at the bottom of the Sorgue River which flows out from the Spring, which gives the water an intensely green look. The presenter in the top photo is my travelling companion, Jenny.
There is an ancient fort you can climb up to

I hope Caspar David Friedrich saw this place.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I need to get back to posting vacation shots, but let me just say...My father objects to the new format of KQED's Nightly Business Report (NBR for short), which has developed Las Vegas style animated graphics and stirring musical cues. He sent them the following email:

Your new format stinks. Loud music and rocket take off effects.

That's it - no "While I enjoy the actual content of the program" or anything to soften the blow. A man of few words, my father.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Marvellous City

Marseille is a yeasty city with new construction going up alongside buildings centuries of years old. The city was selected as the European Capital of culture fro 2013, which the Marsellais find hysterically funny. It has been a seaport for many centuries, first colonized by the Greeks and Romans - it developed a culture apart, and was the seat of the troubadours and courtly love. it was not actually part of France until the 17th century. It's also the gateway to Provence.

The first two lines on the mosaic plaque say:

Merveilleuse cité
Ancrée en Mediterranée

Marvellous City
Anchored in the Mediterranean

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Marseille, she is a crunchy town. We don't know what happened to the "S" because we forgot to ask.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Slender Volume....

...even in 1903. And, the humor and wit is hard to find, the best of the lot seems to be a complicated story Abraham Lincoln told a some office seekers about a Chinese emperor hiring a donkey as an advisor.

"And would you believe it?" observed President Lincoln, with a sly twinkle in his eye, "as soon as that proclamation became public, every jackass in the kingdom wanted an office".

Enough said- lovely cover, though. It was ever thus.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

We are all in the gutter...

but some of us are looking at the stars reflected in the ditch water.

-Oscar Wilde + Plato + William Blake

Things come together with hardly any need for thread, really -

But sewing is pretty satisfying, as noted before.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Intersection 1

Heh, this was fun. I got some wonderfully ragged chenille yarn at a thrift store, I should have taken a before photo - honestly, it looked kind of like what I would imagine intestines to look like, pinky and white and kind of grubby. So, I was boiling it up on the stove to turn it green with some Rit dyes, but I had insufficient yellow, I started in on the spice cabinet. Turmeric is highly recommended! These green furry bits will eventually be incorporated into a show in the Fall at the Paxton Gate's kid store, the duck basket is available in my etsy store.

The show, which will include the embroidery animal head from a previous post, is going to focus on the intersection between nature and technology. I keep turning over in my head that people can bulldoze a forest, but on the other hand, as the uncombed one once said, "Rust never sleeps".

And as regards the chenille above, isn't the sewing needle a remarkable piece of technology, and isn't sewing- at least by hand- one of the closest imitations of nature technology is capable of? Although I suppose computers are all about interconnectedness as well.

This is going to be CRUNCHY!

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Neighbors

Who's under there? This is going it a bit in my neighborhood, one which is designated "mixed" for its combination of single family homes and undistinguished box apartments thrown up in the 60s, like the one I live in.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Boy and his Dog

A Parian ware figure from a charity shop, this is rather unusual. Parian ware was made in the 19th century by molding porcelain in two halves which were then joined. This figure still shows the mold seam in one area, the inside shows marks where the solid mass of clay was removed. It is quite extraordinarily naturalistic, with the boy's shoulders being somewhat rounded as he leans toward the dog. Parian ware is by definition a solid color, yet this is colored with some very delicate low-fire paints. It has no marks. A mystery, and also a mystery that the boy's two gesturing fingers have survived the years.

I am not sure whether this is English or German in origin.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Everyday Object

I have a lot of stuff piled up around here, as you might imagine. There are some things, though, that get used every day, like this old bowl, that just seem more beautiful over time. You must have things like this, yes?

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Good Neighbor

Carlos has been helping. What a nice neighbor to have!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Neighborhood hijinks

Awhile back after a garage sale, I left a china Madonna sitting next door where my dear neighbor Carlos lives. It stayed there for about four months before it disappeared, making him nervous because he thought his neighbors would think that as someone from a Latin country he himself had placed it there in an effort to convert them. What they will make of a cherub blowing a marble out of a little trumpet I don't know.

Well, Carlos brought me some very nice soup last week so I figure he deserves a new guardian.

What can you put outside in your neighborhood? If you put a bit of small scale public artishness out, take a photo, and post it on your blog, I'll edit in a link in here.

Little people spotted here:

Titus the dog

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

unmaking while making

I inherited this disintegrating embroidery years ago from a deceased relative, while I acquired the mirror frame with no glass in my travels a week or so ago. These things came together as things will. They came apart too - the old fabric tearing and fraying as I sewed it around the armature.

Now I know from the comments I get people mostly look at the pictures here. But I'll just say that after I made this it occurred to me that the piece is something of an echo from what Andrew Sullivan has been posting about recently, the use of euphemism to distance ourselves from our own mortality. With the distance seems to come a loss of empathy and morality.  Anyway, in case you are interested, it was these three posts in combination that I recalled:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Going to Carcasonne...not to mention the Marseille flea market. Has anyone been?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dubious Marketing

It's the selling thing...I am devoting a lot of time to promoting on etsy these days, and the creativity tends to pop out when it can. In this case, I am showcasing a plastic wall candelabra sconce thing from the 60s in some kind of Venetian fantasy. Making interesting photographs works to some extent as an outlet, and then again I can feel divided. It's an old issue, when I was an illustrator (back when we were all going to live in the broadband and be rich as Croesus) I worked digitally, so the creative footprints vanished as they were made, a little sparking in the air. Nothing to show, but nothing to carry.

Swings and roundabouts?

Sunday, January 1, 2012