While Rome Burns

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Book binding and journal making always seemed like a mystical entities to me. So enticing, yet obviously too difficult and tedious to learn. I was content to scrapbook away and pine for those awesome, crazy-paper journals more savvy crafters sell on Etsy. Something recently changed, however, and I decided to try making one myself. Not just any old journal though. My heavens, no. I decided to jump right in and make a creepy journal for my friend, Erin, that contains not quite a mystery but more of a narrative to hunt for. I’ll attempt to explain.

Confession: In the movie Red Dragon, Ralph Fiennes’ character has this huge ledger he uses as his looney-toons diary full of cryptic and sinister writing, photographs, drawings, and carefully clipped newspaper bits. When I saw that thing I was in love. It would be like a dream (albeit a creepy one) to happen upon something like that carelessly being sold at an estate auction or laying around in an abandoned house and snatch it home to plumb it’s sinister secrets. Okay, take that and fast forward to just a few years ago when my in-laws brought an old dresser home for us from an auction and we found a trove of discarded ephemera in one of the drawers. The entire life of one Arlene Strickland had been condensed into a handful of papers and documents in a drawer. I’m talking driver’s licenses, senior citizen ID’s, High school diplomas, photographs, wallets, clippings, even a government report involving a terrible incident. Finding these things felt like tripping on a gold mine. Everything together painted such a candid picture of this stranger’s life, and yet left so much to be wondered about. Add to these things my friend Erin, whom you will learn a little more about shortly.

I had to let all of those things float around together for a while before they finally turned into this journal. When I did finally get the idea for it, however, I got it in it’s entirety. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and that excitement is what foolishly led me into jumping right into the project and using irreplaceable ephemera before making a prototype to catch all the bugs. This is why I’m a poor scientist. I feel the project was, in it’s own way, a success, but far from my vision of how it should have been. I had so many ideas while I was working on the book, and did so much research that led to new ideas that I could just kick myself for being so impatient.

Fortunately I have so many things of Arlene’s that I knew before I even started that it would need to be two book’s worth (otherwise there wouldn’t be anywhere for Erin to put her own stuff!) and have everything set aside to make a much improved second volume when the time is right.

I used a length of the original strap from my first accordion as the ‘belt’ that holds it closed. The small brass ball is a locket that was left blank.

Something I hadn’t thought of until I was already elbow-deep in the project was adding envelopes. It was too late to add them to the signatures themselves, so I begrudging had to let the three on the front and back covers carry the load. I tucked some photo corner stickers into the little red ones in the front ❤

Some of these papers and ephemera I have been holding onto for quite a long time. It was just too good to use on any old thing, but this was an A class project for me, so I was happy to finally get a chance to destash a little!

Here is where I need to tell you a little about Erin. The blood splatter pages are half part of the narrative, and half an homage to the way we met. The time was 2010 (?) and we were strangers, both peddling our wares on Etsy. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but a search brought me to a photo print in Erin’s shop that had an attached short story in the description. Reading that shit made the hairs on my arms stand up. There were more prints with more stories and I devoured them all. I would describe the quality of her writing as (excuse my french), “holy fuck.” Every story was brutally vivid and wonderful, but it was a story about a lady and her musings in the moments just before she has her skull cleaved in that prompted me to send her a gushing fan letter. Lucky for me she didn’t file a restraining order, and we’ve been homies since. The other page there features some vintage recipe cards turned tags that are a reference to an awesome vintage food party she had not too long ago. When I found out she was having that party I practically (maybe even actually) ran to the file where I had my 50’s Betty Crocker recipe cards to dig up some of the worst offenders to offer as entree ideas. Jellied chicken salad, anyone?

I tried to hide little details in unexpected places with fold outs and scrapbooked pages. that red thing is an emptied photobook from Arlene’s wallet.

Despite the many, sometimes unfixable, mistakes made during construction, I enjoyed making this journal tremendously. I’ve got a bunch of ideas to try out and many more prototypes to make, so hopefully there will be more to see on that front soon. Thanks for coming by!

 

End Transmission

 

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A Place In Time

From Wikipedia:

Saudade is a word in Portuguese and Galician (from which it entered Spanish) that claims no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. A stronger form of saudade might be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing, moved away, separated, or died.

Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.

Folks used to believe (and maybe still do? I don’t know. I don’t know where one would keep up with these things) that a person is born with a temperament that permeates and governs the course of their entire lives. If it’s true, then my temperament lies firmly in saudade-land. The feeling of nostalgia pervades almost everything I do in life, and is no where near so evident as in the stuff I make.

_MG_6355

Last year my incredible sweetheart of a daughter picked a flower for me at her Oma’s house and brought it home to me. I was so touched! The first flower my sweetie picked for me seemed like something that required saving. Maybe it’s all the years of video game playing, but things that have so much meaning within them feel kind of like relics, full of magic and strange side-effects.

If I ever had to pick sides in a culture war I’d have a terrible time choosing between The Geekdom and HorrorLand. I’m not a vivisection queen or anything, but if it’s disconcertingly creepy and possibly sinister it is my bag. While many eras have their own particular flavor of wtf?! going for them, an era more into death, snake-oil, seances, and general Addams family charm than the Victorian I’ve yet to learn about. When deciding how to preserve and display my priceless relic the memento mori fashion heavily influenced my decisions.

IMG_1548

The structure is a wooden box one of Lulah’s toys came in. Originally I painted the entire thing a kind of dusty aqua, but it seemed so god-awful generic that I went back and gave the exterior a few coats of “Emperor’s Gold.” I love this color so much–it reminds me of the spines of Little Golden Books. The little lace square came from a parcel of lace and hankies my mother bequeathed to me that I believe were my grandmother’s, or possibly even her mother’s.

_MG_6361

Hubs and I decided before Lulah was born how we were going to parent her, and part of that included deciding we weren’t going to do anything like cut her hair or pierce her ears unless she wants to do those things. Unfortunately curly hair is the devil to keep groomed (and Lulah isn’t super into grooming in the first place–she’s a wild thing!) and we ended up with a snarl one day that no amount of detangler and gentle coaxing was going to eradicate. I hated snipping off that adorable little end curl, but it had to be done. I wrapped satin ribbon around the ugly snarl part, and mounted it on silk brocade. The frame is a resin dollar-store find painted a shade of aubergine that I immediately became obsessed with after finding it in a spray can.

I don’t think I’m overly sentimental about my kid. I’m quick to toss the toys she doesn’t play with anymore in the donate pile (except for the rare heirloom that goes into her “Pass-down” box) and all of her too-small clothes go to her best buddy who is a year younger. I do save all of her paintings and drawings, but that’s because I intend to turn them into signatures and make her scrapbooks out of them once I have enough! I thought it would be a special touch to have the pages covered in her early art. And I’ll probably save all of her baby teeth, but that’s the creep part of me talking there. I’m going to use them in art projects, no doubt. Also, my mom saved all of mine so if I’m a creep then she is too!

 

-End Transmission

The Maiden Voyage

Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to my inaugural blog post! My name is Octavia, and like most people of the creative persuasion, I am possessed of the need to make things. All kinds of things. All the time. Constantly. When I’m not making things, I’m researching things to make; planning the next thing. Always planning the next thing. My list of ‘next things’ has become quite the project itself.

 When I was younger (muuuuuuch younger) drawing was my deal. Mostly I drew a lot of trees and nature scenes, occasionally venturing to uncharted territories to experiment with doodling showgirls and bikinied dogs.

(Currently on exhibition at My Mother’s House)

 

In my teenage years I conquered my fear of drawing people by spending most of my free time drawing the women in the Victoria’s Secret clothing catalog and an occasional celebrity.

(I even started getting pretty not bad!)

  My early twenties were spent dabbling in colored pencil and ink abstract landscapes and bizarre-o nature scenes.

And then I discovered mixed-media assemblage and fell in love. Hard. It was what I’d always vaguely wanted to do with art, but could never exactly define my thoughts enough to figure it out. For as in love with the art form as I am, I haven’t actually made very many sculptures yet. I’ve been collecting and refining ideas for a while now, however, and am ready to get to work on them finally.

Part of me can’t stop kicking myself for stopping drawing so much just when I was beginning to figure out what the heck I’m doing. I still doodle on occasion–

(Although they’ve gotten much weirder…)

–and have completely neglected to mention photography at all even though I’ve been doing it for over ten years, and is what I write under “Profession.” You wouldn’t know it by the quality of photos in this post, ha! I apologize for the hasty phone pictures. I don’t actually own a scanner, and pbbbbt to photographing flat things.

It’s kind of an exciting time for me, speaking in photography terms. I’ve been struggling for a while with my portrait business, and I think I finally figured out what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it. I’d been attempting to succeed by taking what I like to call “Normal” portraits of people and their families. The problem with this right from the beginning is that I am not a normal person, and thus, know nothing about normal people or what they want. Most portraits of myself involve costumes, or at the very least a zany prop. I didn’t even know how to advertise to people who wanted portraits of them in their Sunday best. Don’t get me wrong, I can take those pictures, but meh. I’m pretty sure my clients could pick up on that. Not to mention, there is a lot of competition in that area with people who are willing to do a portrait session for $35, with print release, and zero post-process. I don’t think I need to extrapolate on the quality of portfolios involved there, but I would say that about 95% of the market for people looking for regular portraits are totally fine with exactly what they get from that kind of photographer. I’m just not that kind of photographer.

I’ve decided to shift my focus to my conceptual projects and cosplay photography. I’ve got a lot of work to do getting all the details of the new change sorted, but I finally feel like I’m moving in the right direction as a business. Stay tuned for updates on that! Some of the other things hatching at the moment are: Potentially some kind of paper shop involving cards, journals, totes/tees with some kind of graphic (we’ll see about this one), and still trying to get my music skills up to par to get our band–The Junktown Jerky Vendors– off and running. It’s also seed starting time, so I shouldn’t have to worry about the dangers of becoming bored anytime soon!

Thanks for sticking around this long. I was worried I wouldn’t have enough to talk about to run a blog, but as it turns out I can’t shut up! Nice getting acquainted with you, and with luck, things should only get better from here.

End Transmission.

 

 

A Place In Time

From Wikipedia:

Saudade is a word in Portuguese and Galician (from which it entered Spanish) that claims no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. A stronger form of saudade might be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing, moved away, separated, or died.

Saudade was once described as “the love that remains” after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one’s children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.

Folks used to believe (and maybe still do? I don’t know. I don’t know where one would keep up with these things) that a person is born with a temperament that permeates and governs the course of their entire lives. If it’s true, then my temperament lies firmly in saudade-land. The feeling of nostalgia pervades almost everything I do in life, and is no where near so evident as in the stuff I make.

_MG_6355

Last year my incredible sweetheart of a daughter picked a flower for me at her Oma’s house and brought it home to me. I was so touched! The first flower my sweetie picked for me seemed like something that required saving. Maybe it’s all the years of video game playing, but things that have so much meaning within them feel kind of like relics, full of magic and strange side-effects.

If I ever had to pick sides in a culture war I’d have a terrible time choosing between The Geekdom and HorrorLand. I’m not a vivisection queen or anything, but if it’s disconcertingly creepy and possibly sinister it is my bag. While many eras have their own particular flavor of wtf?! going for them, an era more into death, snake-oil, seances, and general Addams family charm than the Victorian I’ve yet to learn about. When deciding how to preserve and display my priceless relic the memento mori fashion heavily influenced my decisions.

IMG_1548

The structure is a wooden box one of Lulah’s toys came in. Originally I painted the entire thing a kind of dusty aqua, but it seemed so god-awful generic that I went back and gave the exterior a few coats of “Emperor’s Gold.” I love this color so much–it reminds me of the spines of Little Golden Books. The little lace square came from a parcel of lace and hankies my mother bequeathed to me that I believe were my grandmother’s, or possibly even her mother’s.

_MG_6361

Hubs and I decided before Lulah was born how we were going to parent her, and part of that included deciding we weren’t going to do anything like cut her hair or pierce her ears unless she wants to do those things. Unfortunately curly hair is the devil to keep groomed (and Lulah isn’t super into grooming in the first place–she’s a wild thing!) and we ended up with a snarl one day that no amount of detangler and gentle coaxing was going to eradicate. I hated snipping off that adorable little end curl, but it had to be done. I wrapped satin ribbon around the ugly snarl part, and mounted it on silk brocade. The frame is a resin dollar-store find painted a shade of aubergine that I immediately became obsessed with after finding it in a spray can.

I don’t think I’m overly sentimental about my kid. I’m quick to toss the toys she doesn’t play with anymore in the donate pile (except for the rare heirloom that goes into her “Pass-down” box) and all of her too-small clothes go to her best buddy who is a year younger. I do save all of her paintings and drawings, but that’s because I intend to turn them into signatures and make her scrapbooks out of them once I have enough! I thought it would be a special touch to have the pages covered in her early art. And I’ll probably save all of her baby teeth, but that’s the creep part of me talking there. I’m going to use them in art projects, no doubt. Also, my mom saved all of mine so if I’m a creep then she is too!

 

-End Transmission

The Maiden Voyage

Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to my inaugural blog post! My name is Octavia, and like most people of the creative persuasion, I am possessed of the need to make things. All kinds of things. All the time. Constantly. When I’m not making things, I’m researching things to make; planning the next thing. Always planning the next thing. My list of ‘next things’ has become quite the project itself.

 When I was younger (muuuuuuch younger) drawing was my deal. Mostly I drew a lot of trees and nature scenes, occasionally venturing to uncharted territories to experiment with doodling showgirls and bikinied dogs.

(Currently on exhibition at My Mother’s House)

 

In my teenage years I conquered my fear of drawing people by spending most of my free time drawing the women in the Victoria’s Secret clothing catalog and an occasional celebrity.

(I even started getting pretty not bad!)

  My early twenties were spent dabbling in colored pencil and ink abstract landscapes and bizarre-o nature scenes.

And then I discovered mixed-media assemblage and fell in love. Hard. It was what I’d always vaguely wanted to do with art, but could never exactly define my thoughts enough to figure it out. For as in love with the art form as I am, I haven’t actually made very many sculptures yet. I’ve been collecting and refining ideas for a while now, however, and am ready to get to work on them finally.

Part of me can’t stop kicking myself for stopping drawing so much just when I was beginning to figure out what the heck I’m doing. I still doodle on occasion–

(Although they’ve gotten much weirder…)

–and have completely neglected to mention photography at all even though I’ve been doing it for over ten years, and is what I write under “Profession.” You wouldn’t know it by the quality of photos in this post, ha! I apologize for the hasty phone pictures. I don’t actually own a scanner, and pbbbbt to photographing flat things.

It’s kind of an exciting time for me, speaking in photography terms. I’ve been struggling for a while with my portrait business, and I think I finally figured out what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it. I’d been attempting to succeed by taking what I like to call “Normal” portraits of people and their families. The problem with this right from the beginning is that I am not a normal person, and thus, know nothing about normal people or what they want. Most portraits of myself involve costumes, or at the very least a zany prop. I didn’t even know how to advertise to people who wanted portraits of them in their Sunday best. Don’t get me wrong, I can take those pictures, but meh. I’m pretty sure my clients could pick up on that. Not to mention, there is a lot of competition in that area with people who are willing to do a portrait session for $35, with print release, and zero post-process. I don’t think I need to extrapolate on the quality of portfolios involved there, but I would say that about 95% of the market for people looking for regular portraits are totally fine with exactly what they get from that kind of photographer. I’m just not that kind of photographer.

I’ve decided to shift my focus to my conceptual projects and cosplay photography. I’ve got a lot of work to do getting all the details of the new change sorted, but I finally feel like I’m moving in the right direction as a business. Stay tuned for updates on that! Some of the other things hatching at the moment are: Potentially some kind of paper shop involving cards, journals, totes/tees with some kind of graphic (we’ll see about this one), and still trying to get my music skills up to par to get our band–The Junktown Jerky Vendors– off and running. It’s also seed starting time, so I shouldn’t have to worry about the dangers of becoming bored anytime soon!

Thanks for sticking around this long. I was worried I wouldn’t have enough to talk about to run a blog, but as it turns out I can’t shut up! Nice getting acquainted with you, and with luck, things should only get better from here.

End Transmission.