I'm passionate about finding and sharing ideas that feed creativity and inspiration in this weary world. Because we're so surrounded with illusion and lies, I hope this blog will help others in their quest to get a bit closer to the truth. I'd also like to say that opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily mine or those featured here. Oh, and if you choose to use any images/words from this site, kindly obtain permission from all relevant parties and add the necessary links and references.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Interview: jill-of-all-trades

I just spoke with Jill Bliss of Blissen, a wonderful smorgasbord of recycled items made in a collaborative effort of designers and producers. Her opinions of art and nature are both insightful and inspiring.

As someone who grew up in the city and was far removed from the knowledge of where food and products come from, I'm always interested in people who have grown up with that perspective. What advantages or disadvantages do you feel your childhood has given you?
growing up on a farm, i got to experience the entire cycle of life, and the deep commitment every component within the cycle must have in order for everything to function properly. at the same time, the experience also taught me to remain flexible and optimistic, to remember that every situation, good or bad, is temporary.

for example, you can lovingly tend to a crop for the whole growing season, and then one storm can come and destroy all your hard work for the year. it's not your fault, nor the plants' fault, but you have to find a way to survive it and go on with the belief that next year's crop will be better.

my upbringing can actually be a real disadvantage when dealing with others. many people who grew up in cities or suburbs don't seem to experience life in this same way. i'm constantly surprised and sometimes disappointed with others' lack of commitment or follow-through, dishonesty, and falsely competitive situations. at the same time, others can find me overly optimistic, naive, and easy to take advantage of.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist? If not, how did you find this path?
i always knew i wanted to be an artist, but was discouraged by a lot of people around me not to pursue it. most of my life has been about coming to terms with who i really am, and not letting others talk me out of it!

How is your appreciation for handcrafted things reflected in your everyday life?
whenever i need something my first instinct is to make it myself. if i don't have the supplies or knowledge on how to make the thing i need, i'll find someone else who does and pay them or barter with them. it's a farmer's mentality. and i'm a big proponent of supporting others who make handcrafted things. we gotta stick together and help each other out!

We all make different choices concerning the environment as to how much or how little we want to contribute. How did you come to the decision to make your products recyclable?
for me, it was a natural progression from making things from the materials i had on hand. now that i sell larger quantities of things it makes more sense to use "new" materials, but these new materials should also be recycled or sustainable. and i strive to make just enough items to satisfy demand. making too many items, even from recycled materials, is also wasteful.

You have quite a few projects going on (product design, website design, art in galleries), how do you manage to keep so many balls in the air?
working is pretty much all i do, but thankfully i love my work!

What brings you comfort and joy?
long walks or hikes, especially in the woods or along the coastline. tea. toast. curry.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Craftzine Giveaway

The creative people at Craftzine are doing a fun giveaway. The winner will receive a 50.00 gift certificate to Warmbiscuit.com
(graphic courtesy of craftzine and warmbiscuit.com)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Easter Greetings

I was just surfing some of my favorite sites and came across these cheery hand towels. While I don't love doing dishes, I can't help wondering whether it might be just a little more fun with these dishtowels... They're located at Warmbiscuit.com (graphic courtesy of Warmbiscuit.com)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Year Round Relief For All Your Bits and Pieces

I really hate having dry, itchy skin. One brand I think is the bee's knees is Carol's Daughter. They have an amazing array of all natural products for all your bits and pieces. I have listed a few that I've tried, but won't focus so much on the scent since that's subjective. Enjoy! (graphic courtesy of Carol's Daughter and special thanks to their pr!)

Rosemary Mint Herbal Shampoo with Sea Moss. Not only do I love the smell, but the peppermint oil left my scalp feeling pleasantly tingly and refreshed. I've had problems with other shampoos, but this one lathers up immediately and rinses great.

Gentle Face Wash is very delicate and non irritating on the skin.

Body Cleansing Gel is softens the skin and rinses cleanly.

Shea Souffle makes a great lightweight moisturizer for those who have normal to dry skin.

Their Body Butter is incredibly emollient and works best for people who enjoy oils as opposed to creams.

Lemon and Rose Hand Cream is a great cold weather soother for the hands. I also use it on my feet!

Bath and Body Oil can be sprinkled into bath water or applied sparingly to the skin after bath or shower.

Sea Salt Scrub - Wow! Removes flaky skin and leaves you with happy skin!

Last but not least, the Sandalwood Vanilla Bar Soap has a wonderful spicy scent that transports to another world.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interview: Miltos Manetas

Although Miltos Manetas was born in Greece and is based out of London, his work speaks to many. I first became aware of him when someone linked to his jacksonpollock.org site and decided that I just needed to know more... (image courtesy of manetas.com)

At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to become a
painter and what influenced you?
I used to be a conceptual artist before, I was working with video. I
made "Soft Driller", a movie where two thugs threat each other, " I"ll
fuck you up", says one, "No way", replies the other. It was
successful and coherent but in 1995 I was fed up with this kind of
Art so I changed perspective and became a Painter. It all started at the point where- to say it with Mary Shelley's words-" I had lost all my hopes for Utility and Glory" and I decide to abandon Art altogether. But before doing so I made a painting, I actually did 4 copies of it (the Sad Tree, 1995) and send it to 4 exhibitions. they were supposed to be the final shows for me, my farewell. But some Museum curators loved the work and asked me for more and that's how I
got in the business of Painting.

My basic influences-in terms of Painting- are mainly RRR (Rubens, Rembrandt Rafaello) and PPF (Picasso, Pollock, Fontana) while in terms of Art in general - which means "how to influence your own Future by some self-made Magic" is GGG, (William Gibson, William Gibson and William Gibson)

What inspires works such as the ones at Neen.org and Jesusswimming.org?
The beauty of the Internet, the possibility of re-inventing yourself there as well as re-making the rest of the World too if you so wish. "Jesus" is in itself a boring concept but Jesus on the Internet can be suddenly interesting again if instead of walking on the waters you have him swim- a miracle in reverse. Of course you could do that before on an exhibition but you would address yourself only to a small public while making it online you communicate it globally.

I love the idea of the Electronic Orphanage. What is the longest time one person has participated?
Well, the EO is still happening, we are planning of opening it in Bombay and from there launch it in Asia but I can't disclosure any details yet..

What is the most difficult/frustrating part of navigating the art world?
We are such lovers of Yesterday-in the ArtWorld- such groupies of everything that has a commercial success. We can namedrop for hours and in order of doing business with us you will need to participate to some degree in our faith and rituals. Ours is a Tribe and as such it
has its own Totems and it doesn't care much for anything else unless it relates strictly with these revered symbols. Just look at Artforum, the square holy grail of the ArtWorld. Look at its website Artforum.com. Artworld is a new Africa, with a few powerfull people who are feeding from each other and the many rest dying slowly in misery and ambandonance.

If you will decide to invent your own tribe-as we did with Neen- it can be risky because you become an outsider and they will eliminate you by simply ignoring you. Its not a concious decicion of course, single people in the Artworld are positive and creative but in decision making they behave behave like a herd.

The ArtWorld doesn't want to hear about anything that it is not known already, the unknown will upset its order and offend its principles. So if you want to introduce 'new" you need to apply some dust of "obsolete" over it to make it recognisable to the tribe.

What gives you comfort and joy?
Consuming, what else? I am joking : )
The existence of people who do Neen things, that's what gives me joy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pillow Fight Club

I spoke with Pillow Fight of The Great Pillow Fight and he/she was kind enough to give me a statement:

I am not the organizer or promoter or in any way creator of this event. This event is collectively created by you... the person who told your friends, coworkers and blog readers to join in this random harmless mayhem of senseless fun. It takes advantage of the high tech world we live in that allows us to use our social networks to bring us together.
I hope that people continue to have such events and that they do so in a responsible way to that others can experience this unique coming together of the community.
We should focus in the future the collective spirit and effort people bring to this event to help others thru food drives, donations, and other charity.

It's an amazing thing to take part in and watch happen. Especially when people run into it for the first time or hear about it and just have never quite heard of anything like it before.

Here's video if you want to watch the fun: http://youtube.com/watch?v=mMyg-LaH9Ec (graphic courtesy of pillowfight.info)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy V-Day!

Today V is for valentine, but it can also be for vagina, vigilance and victory. Hopefully someday I'll get to interview Eve Ensler who wrote the Vagina Monologues, but for now I'll happily tell you about the movement that was conceived from the play. V-day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls. As women, so many of us spend this day obsessing about who we're not with and what we're not getting when we really should be celebrating love and sharing it the best way we can. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and click on the graphic to find out more!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interview: Fear and Loathing - The Gonzo Papers

Here's the interview I did with Kilroy_60 that I referred to in the last post. His blog The Gonzo Papers embodies the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson whose unflinchingly honest writings inspired the term gonzo journalism. I just had to interview anyone who says what they think. (graphic courtesy of The Gonzo Papers)

What dreams did/do you have for your life and how do you go about accomplishing them?
What? Have as much fun as will possibly fit in to one life; do meaningful work; make a difference.

How? Show the people who are important they are loved; give more than I receive; go balls to the wall.

What do you find is/are the most important navigation tool(s) for living life?

Passion, curiosity, inspiration, determination, the ability to communicate well and an unending appetite for pleasure.

You strike me as a person who is not inclined to suffer fools. Were you always an outspoken person and if not, what caused you to become so?
Yes, I was always outspoken.

I've heard various explanations of the origins of Kilroy. What's your take and why do you use this alias?
Kilroy_60 is Raoul Duke.

How is it that you came to be influenced by Hunter S. Thompson?

In my search for all things HST, I've come across writings/videos that portray him in a negative light. What book/movie would you recommend for those who want as accurate a reflection as possible of Hunter S. Thompson?

The books I would recommend are Fear and Loathing In America - The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist 1968-1976
and The Joke's Over by Ralph Steadman.

What brings you comfort and joy?

Gonzo Gratitude

Today I'm participating in the Gonzo Gratitude Carnival fellow blogger Kilroy's site (who I'm also doing an interview with). I think it's an especially timely theme being that it's Valentine's Day eve and so many people are torturing themselves with the thought that something is missing from their lives. I for one try to express gratitude to the universe everyday so here's my special V day list: having the blanket all to myself, eating Count Chocula for breakfast, lunch AND dinner if I want, blasting disco during long bubble baths, having the option of being as unwashed and funky until I offend myself, watching all the romantic comedies and Jane Austen series I want as many times as I want, not having to negotiate/compromise when I really don't want to, having the time to myself to really explore who I am and who I want to be, having the opportunity to use this blog to meet people I never would have, the crunch of snow that has the consistency of a frozen pepsi slurpee. What are you grateful for today? (graphic courtesy of The Gonzo Papers)

Friday, February 8, 2008

African American Lives 2

I looove this series. Incredibly well done, detailed and interesting. Unfortunately, it can also be depressing when hearing about the hardships suffered by people during slavery, but I choose to look at the glass half full instead and focus on the ever enduring nature of the human spirit. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get to interview Henry Louis Gates Jr.! Although it usually airs on Wednesdays, the second show of the second series will be on again Saturday (check your local listings) on PBS. I think there are only three this time around. Some of the individuals include: Maya Angelou, Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman and Tina Turner. If you want an accurate depiction of what slavery was like without reading a slave narrative (which I highly suggest), check out this series.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Interview: Tragedy Strikes The Same Place Twice

Remember the Great Interview Experiment? Well here's the interview I did with the self-deprecating Zookeeper at Tragedy Strikes. Despite her opinion, I got a great and interesting interview out of her. (image courtesy of Tragedy Strikes)

What is the dream you have for your life and how are you accomplishing it? I can't say that I have a dream or an ultimate goal in life. Maybe I've just become complacent. With two children and a house to run all alone, it is hard to accomplish much except for the day to day chores. (e.g. laundry, dishes, vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc.) I think I would be happy if one day I could run my own business out of my home, perhaps a dog boarding kennel that offered some obedience classes. Anything to do with animals would make me happy. Other than that I dream of the day where my financial situation is stable and an unexpected expense doesn't turn my whole world on it's head. That and for my children grow up healthy and happy. And if it is in the stars and I am not asking too much, I would love to have one of those fairy tale lifelong marriages to my boyfriend, J. Maybe I am dreaming.

What challenges do you currently face and how do you conquer them?
Everyday seems to throw a new challenge up in my face. I'm getting used to it. Currently, I am dealing with vehicle issues, my truck is nickel and dime-ing me to death. Since I need the stupid thing to get me to and from work, I just suck it up and pay the repair garage. It's heading there again on Wednesday...I think I blew a brake line. I guess some would say that I face a challenge by having a semi-long distance relationship. My bf lives two hours from here and I only see him on the weekends. It is actually pretty ideal though. We trust each explicitly and with my hectic schedule, in all honesty, I get a lot more done when he isn't around. And I guess the most obvious challenge would be being a single mom and it's tough, I won't lie. But I've been doing it for almost 13 years and I guess I've got it down pretty good. We have our way of doing things and it works for us. The hard part is when other people disrupt it or try to interject their thoughts upon it. Oh and never underestimate the power of tears. If things get too overwhelming, a good cry usually helps and then it's on to business as usual.

I suffer from the anxiety gremlin myself. Aside from meds, have you found any alternatives for living with it (ie. meditation, exercise)?
My anxiety issues stem from one too many car accidents. So I mostly only have anxiety issues while driving. I haven't found much that you can do while driving to ease it. I mostly just grit my teeth, my heart starts beating out of my chest and I grip the steering wheel for dear life. I guess I've never really found a way to cope with it, I just try my best to get home (or wherever I'm going) safely. I also try really hard to not drive at night especially if it is raining because that is always the worst, nothing like not being able to see to really tip the anxiety scale.

What do you love most about living in PA?
There is really nothing in particular I like about PA, I'm just here by default. It just so happened that I was born here and my parents never moved out of state. I also have not moved due to obligations, low finances and I don't know anyone in any other state and the thought of being totally on my own "so-to-say" scares me shitless. So I guess what I like most about PA is that my family is here and thats. about. it.

If you could have any superpower or super weapon, what would it be and why?
I would like to be able to talk to animals. I'm pretty good at figuring out what they want or how they feel or if something is wrong but sometimes it would be nice to have a conversation with one a la Dr. Doolittle. Of course if they talk back like my children do then I would like to have a super weapon that could shut them up. Maybe one that will shut my kids up too. ;)

You're preparing for the ultimate dinner party. Who is invited, and what's on the menu?
Seeing as I have never thrown a dinner party in my life, this could be quite interesting. I guess first on my list would have been Heath Ledger but seeing as that is no longer possible and the whole situation is incredibly sad, I guess I will have to put some serious thought into this. *think think* Oh duh, everyone on my blog roll. I've got some great blogger friends and have never met any of them so what better way to enjoy each others company than over food and drink. Lots of drink.

Can I cop out of the food one and just have Nina (theslackdaily.com) or Ree (thepioneerwomancooks.com) cater for me? No? Darn. I think I'd make the menu Under-The-Sea themed. I'm thinking crab cakes, sticky grilled shrimp and pineapple glazed salmon. Cheddar garlic mashed potatoes and buttery thyme bread on the side. Somewhere we will have to fit in guacamole and whole-grain tortilla chips to go with the Margaritas and there will be a lot of them, Margaritas that is.

What brings you comfort and joy?
Animals. I lost my bestest dog right before Christmas and I've been pretty much a wreck since then. Really unhappy and restless. I just got a new puppy over the weekend and already I feel like a totally different person. I am happy again. You can meet Bazil on my blog and prepare to say "Awwwww."

Monday, February 4, 2008

Interview: Shirking's Not An Option!

Today's interview is with the wonderful handmade dollmaker (Munecas), Cozbi Cabrera.

“I was going to a lot of antique shows. The dolls I saw were often gross stereotypes, not made in love. I’d leave there feeling really dejected. I decided to make the sort of dolls I wanted to see... dolls with an aspect of grace, beauty and character.” (quote and images courtesy of Cozbi.com)

What dreams/hopes did you have for yourself as a child?
There's a audio recording of my father interviewing his four children, and when my turn came (I must have been 6 yrs old) , I spoke my name in a really shaky voice and stated that I wanted to be an artist. Some years later I thought it'd be great if I could be a doctor and (shhh!) a hairdresser as well!

As a person of color and a doll lover, I understand how difficult and even hurtful it can be to find not just dolls but images of us that are loving and show appreciation. When you were a child, were there images you became aware of that influenced who you are today?
I would imagine the first images that influenced me were my parents. They wanted the best for their children and were willing to sacrifice their immediate wants for our long-term benefits. They were willing to invest. They were honest and hardworking and believed that doing the right thing was more important than having a inventory of impressive objects. My mother's specific message was shirking's not an option! Do everything to the best of your ability. Put yourself into your choice of work and assigned tasks.

Sidney Poiter's images also influenced me as a child. His best, no matter how dire the situation, always shaped the outcome.

What made you decide to change your career from art director to doll making andhow difficult was it for you to make the switch?
With my love of designing and love of typography, I never imagined I'd stop art directing. But I felt something else was calling me, that I had to be challenged and to test my mettle. I needed to find my way without corporate sponsorship -- to create something that was an uncompromised expression. I had no idea what it would look like, but I was willing to journey. I don't recommend that sort of leap of faith for everybody -- some people absolutely must know where their next meal is coming from! But that initial uncertainty was the very thing I needed to start. It's what got me praying, it quickened my senses, caused me to look for answers with intent, kept me disciplined and inspired me to organize myself to deliver. Getting to market was the most challenging aspect for me. My conditioning was to deflect compliments and now I was being called upon to sell! So I made the most stunning dolls I could muster and put them out with a hope they'd sell themselves.

Starting a business in New York can be daunting, what fears did you have and how did you overcome them?
I didn't necessarily think of New York as daunting. I did think while vacationing, wouldn't it be great to set up my business on this mountaintop overlooking the sea? But I every time I return to New York from another city or country, my pulse quickens with anticipation. Every nation, language and culture is represented in NY. It's teeming with resources, ideas, and inspiration. It's the starting a business that can be daunting. But it's also an exciting opportunity to create something. To put your mind, hands and heart to something. To cultivate. I think the fear comes when we question will be able to survive while we're setting things up. It's been helpful for me to write down my concerns and list various options and solutions to pressing matters. It allows me to prioritize and get out of the circular, non-productive thinking patterns that show up with fear. It's also helpful to have someone with which you can bounce ideas so you're not entirely in your head.

How did you turn your idea to make dolls into action and then success?
I got started. My made my first doll. Then I made a second, third, etc. I began to refine them and never stopped refining. I showed them around. When people started to buy them at work, I thought, um, maybe I have something. I put together a plan -- very limited and not very sophisticated, i.e.the lemonade stand business model -- because I didn't know what I was doing. I'd never done it before, so it was full of assumptions and holes, but I was on my way and I kept refining that plan and haven't stopped refining. I followed my mother's early advice to do everything to the best of my ability, to put myself into my choice of work and I prayed for guidance and direction and doors opened up. Since then I've developed a line of clothing for women and children that sells at our retail shop in Brooklyn, NY. The response has been tremendous.

You've gone back to your first love of drawing by illustrating 2 books. How did you become involved with Greenwillow Books?
I was doing a show in New York with the dolls. I'm sure I was standing quietly behind my display or something, but Virginia Duncan, then senior editor at Greenwillow was taken by the dolls and wanted to know if I might be interested in illustrating a book. She promised to send the manuscript for me to review. It showed up the very next day. I think she was thinking I would illustrate through textiles, embroidery, etc. I turned them in as paintings. They invited me to illustrate a second book (Thanks A Million) and since then I've illustrated two books that for Random House and Houghton Mifflin that are due out in '08.

What brings you comfort and joy?
Expressing love to my family and ever growing circle of friends, through the work I do, to the people I encounter brings me comfort and joy.

One last thing for comfort and joy! My weekly walk in the woods...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Are You Nobody Too?

As someone who does interviews, I completely appreciated this nifty cool idea. Citizen of the month is conducting The Great Interview Experiment. Neil, the owner of the site brought up the concept that I live by: everyone's life is interesting, not just the lives of people we see in the media. The way it works is that each person that signs up, interviews the person after them and gets interviewed by the person in ahead of them. I was just interviewed by Robin at Montana Moonshine and just sent my questions off to Zookeeper at Tragedy Strikes the Same Place Twice. Come join the conga line! (graphic courtesy of citizen of the month)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

How Monty Python of Us

Punxsutawney Phil seemed mighty fiesty today, but wouldn't you be in a bad mood if you got pulled out of bed by a giant hand every year? Instead of watching the paparazzi feeding frenzy, pull out the movie instead. It's one of my all time favs. Also, here's the history if you're curious about this strange holiday... (photo courtesy of Amazon.com)

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