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recently i was invited to do a solstice ornament swap and it was so much fun to create the piece i made that i’ve started to create some more.  they are tiny little alicia-style assemblages that can be hung on a tree for the holidays or a wall year-round.  i started by making several boxes of varying sizes, collaging and painting them and taking it from there.  so far, i have six in varying degrees of completion from just started to totally complete.  i’ve been working on at least one a day (plus two paintings and some art journalling) for art every day month (#aedm).  loving it all!

i shouldn’t show the whole ornie i did for the swap just in case the unknowing recipient happens to see this, but i’ll cross my fingers, hope no one sees and show a quick peek here anyway:

assemblage, ornament, frozen charlotte

here is another frozen charlotte mini assemblage ornament creation.  the crystal is an antique, or at least i was told so when it was given to me as a gift last solstice (i love that — full circle!).  the photo kind of sucks, but this is nothing new.  out of 60 shots, this is (sadly) the best.  there is a ton more detail in person.

frozen charlotte assemblage ornament

available in my shop >>

while i was creating these and starting a few others, my little bug asked me if i would make him a skull ornament for solstice — he loves skulls.  every year our family swaps hand-made solstice gifts so of course i made him one!  i had a few of these carved bone skull beads that he’d been eying for a long time and thought it would be perfect for his little ornament.  can you tell his favorite colors are red and black?

a skull ornament for my son

i hope he likes it, but i do suspect he will.  all the little silver (and black) metal bits in these ornaments are vintage and antique nails.  fun, fun!  and this is actually square — i’m a crap photographer as most of you already know.

to deviate a bit (but not really)… the other day we received a heifer international catalog.  pretty much every year we buy something in the names of some of our family members during the holidays — those people who have everything and appreciate the gesture of giving to others less fortunate.  we’ve purchased a goat in the past and a few flocks of chicks.  this year has been sooooo very difficult for us financially and it broke my heart to realize that we couldn’t even afford a $20 flock of birds for a family worse off than us.  it’s extremely  embarrassing to admit, really, but sometimes it only takes one or two “little” things for a family to go from comfortable to hungry (in our case, work injuries and illness/hospitalization).  that is us this year during certain parts of the month, though i’m honestly not complaining.  my point is that imagining a family going through this every day just breaks my heart — hunger is evil and unnecessary in a world with such abundance.  our misfortune will be short-lived, i’m sure of it.  theirs?  who knows.  but a nice flock of 10-50 chicks could certainly help to get some protein-filled eggs into some kiddo’s bellies, and generate some income for the family through the sale of eggs and offspring.  every little bit helps.   soooo, i created this belly dancer ornament with more of the chain, coins and sari silk i’ve been using a lot of lately.  i am listing it in my shop for $20 and that $20 (minus the part paypal will keep but i’ll cover that) is going to purchase a flock of chicks for a family less fortunate than mine.  i may not have the money to buy the flock right this second, but i have the ability to make something to sell to get the money to buy the flock.  i will put this gift in the names of both myself and the buyer.  you can read more about this here.

mixed media, ornament, belly dancer, assemblage

available in my shop >>

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first and foremost, i wanted to share that the amazing and generous seth apter is hosting a charity auction on the altered page for those effected by the wrath of hurricane sandy.  the offerings are simply amazing, and the benefit so very great!  click the image below to read his post.

go bid!  i can’t afford the first one but i think i shall donate $50 in seth’s name because he’s such a good and generous man and no matter how rough things may be for me right now, i know they are so much worse for those in the mid-atlantic region.

on a totally separate note, an odd warning…

paper wasp nest

if you’re like me, you love nature bits: sticks, stones, bird and paper wasp nests, etc.  all of my closest friends and family often collect things things for me, along with bones and other good bits.  a few weeks ago i commissioned my dad to make me some AMAZING art boxes (i’ll share that later — new motorized/light-up series in the works) and in the parcel he included two gorgeous and pristine wasp nests.  i was so thrilled!!  i was going to pull one out two days ago for an assemblage i’m working on but got side-tracked (what else is new?), and then went for them last night.  it looked like someone had poked their finger into the center of one as there was a wee hole where no hole had previous been.  i asked my son if he squished it in a fit?  nopes.  then i spy something moving inside the baggy it was in.  a WASP!  a big, fat, pokey-arsed wasp!  somehow it had managed to hatch super early in my house because it’s so cozy and warm.  who ever would have imagined!?  so, if you find a seemingly evacuated wasp’s nest, you may want to keep it in something tightly closed for… like a year… before you fiddle with it.  i’m quite allergic to those feisty little beasts.

one of the two looks like this with the white bits.  think a bunch more will hatch?  (this isn’t my actual nest — i was scared to open the box in case 13 more hatched and ate through the plastic bag they’re in).

paper wasp nest

that [subject] just came to mind and now i want to paint something called just that: good and bad under a happy umbrella.

this year has started all chaos and thorns.  it’s not entirely proper or professional to share, but i’m not always proper or professional, so there.  plus, i felt i needed an “excuse” for my silence and such.

start to an antique doll head giraffe assemblage

in addition to the classic-alicia-antique doll heads and bones, some of my new assemblages have some fun creatures, like human headed giraffe girls and other such weirdo stuff. tonight i have about 8 backgrounds to do. that is a fun thing!

the bad:

  • my grandma passed away, which i already shared
  • our family got screwed over for a couple thousand dollars we couldn’t afford to lose
  • my computer crashed and i lost all software/operating system (it took a whole day and a half just to retrieve passwords for email accounts, my blog, facebook, twitter, paypal, website ftp accounts, etc.)
  • i had to buy a new computer (is being built as i type — i should receive it by the end of the week, woots!  it’s going to be a beast!)
  • lost my $1800 adobe suite software and had to buy a new copy today (goodbye savings account — our brief acquaintance was too short-lived!)
  • i have to start over on all of the layout/design of the altered bits zine which is going to delay things (if you missed the deadline, i will still consider your work since i can’t start working on it again for another week or so)
  • i’m really poor now 😦  (i typed that with a giggle ’cause i don’t care so much about that other than the fact that it makes me nervous — today is good though — we get meat instead of rice for dinner)
light up assemblage with antique doll head

love my antique camera filter! a couple of my new assemblages will light up because that is too much fun not to do. i have to get brave enough to try to drill holes in the bottoms of some antique glass bottles though and truth be told, that scares me a bit.

the good:

  • i have been working my arse (or fingers) off with new web client projects and am finishing my last two projects in the queue this week — fun times!
  • i could actually afford new computer/software/etc. due to heaps of work and otherwise would not have been able to do any of it (thank you universe!!!)
  • i finally received my copies of seth apter’s book and it ROCKS
  • i’m a redundant back-up queen so lost no client files or photos or fonts or anything with the computer crash (phew!)
  • i have the best son and husband in the world
  • my in-laws rock and are taking both kids’ families on a cruise! (i can’t wait! we’re taking a train to seattle then cruising all over alaska and going to canada)
  • i started 10 new assemblages, 3 new paintings and 6 new books last week
  • i’ve been volunteering at the public school doing art with the special needs kids.  the past three weeks we have been doing mixed media portraits.  we finished today and they are all so fabulous!  i so wish i could share, but i cannot due to confidentiality laws/rules/etc.  i may sneak and share my son’s though.  actually, i don’t have to sneak.  it was so much fun!
  • i have almost finished lisa’s book for the pulp redux collaboration
  • i get to see my great friend kerin gale this week and we are starting a super fun art collaboration
  • by the end of this week, my studio is going to look better than it ever has — i’ve spent about 30 hours organizing and cleaning and making piles of stuff for a yard sale.  sometimes less is more, plus the $ is going to new siding for little bug studio.  woohoooo!  a definite easy sacrifice to make for the kiddos.
  • we are trying to adopt a dog from a rescue and we may have the ability to get a service dog for the boy!  i found him on pet finder the other day and applied.  cross your fingers for us.  we’re excited!
a huge mess from starting too many assemblages

my living room looked like an assemblage war zone last week. this is 6 of the 10i started, but not enough detail that you can really see what's going on... yet.

and the best of the best news is so great i cannot help but share even though i typically hate sharing ultra personal stuff in such a public fashion (it deserves a whole paragraph instead of a bullet).  background: i was a single mama for four years, from my son’s birth until i married my husby.  most people don’t realize this — they have such similar ear lobes and chins and knee-caps and body shapes that they appear to share dna… but they don’t.  the husby was around since right after little man turned three, but we weren’t married until he was 4.  anyway, just before the husby and i got married, he said he wanted to officially adopt my little bug and we paid heaps of money to an adoption attorney (who later stopped communicating with us, keeping our dollars, then claiming we never paid her — good thing i’m a receipt keeper!).  i won’t go into that though because it’s pointless and negative and i’m happy and not easily sucked into other people’s poo.  so, long story short — we hired a new attorney and in THREE WEEKS he did what the other attorney failed to accomplish in five years and now, my sweet little boy is the official, legit, true-life son of my beautiful husband.  we just got the adoption certificate and will be receiving his new birth certificate listing my husband as his father any day now.  how exciting is that!  it makes me weep and giggle in unison — it’s like i just gave birth again but didn’t feel it, only better.  we’re having a big celebratory party in honor of the completion of the adoption in a couple of weeks.  wanna come?  and if you need a referral to the best adoption attorney in oregon or washington, let me know ’cause i just so happen to know him.

so, there is way more good than bad.  and most of the bad isn’t horrible anyway.  just hugely annoying and expensive, hah.  the only bad thing is the zine delay but this one was totally out of my control.  the only files that somehow didn’t manage to get backed up was the design file i started.  lovely, eh?  it’s still going to rock though as i’ll just redo it.  i was only about 20 hours into it anyway.

i hope your good is outweighing your bad too, or it’s all just good — that would be way better!


i wrote this last night, then edited, and finally deleted it as i didn’t feel it was terribly professional.  but after receiving 7 emails this morning requesting to read said post, i’ve decided to pop it onto my site in a secret little place.  so, if you’d like to read sad paypal rant, click here to do so.  (whoops, fixed the link!)

i want to email etsy now…

i’m not typically one who openly complains but i’m making an exception today.  but this is more for the good of the portland design and web community, as i have been hugely screwed over and i don’t wish to have this happen to anyone else.  i guess this could apply to anyone in art as well — there are scammers all over the place, unfortunately, and i think sometimes we need to remember that.

a few weeks ago i was hired by a guy with huge visions and shallow pockets who needed a website for his up and coming eco-friendly travel website.  i won’t go into too many details because i am not into soul-harming activities like he is, nor am i malicious like that.  during our very overwhelming association, he managed to obtain about $900 in free services from me.  this is not something that i can afford, but seeing as how i’ve been green since long before it was cool and he was supposedly a decent local portlander with a lovely dream, i decided to help out the extra mile (or miles as it turns out).  i will not speak ill of his incessant arguments regarding the pixel vs. the inch as i must often remind myself that my 17 years of experience in this field far exceed the average person’s knowledge.  the end result: he absolutely adored the design i created for him so despite it all, i felt it was worth it as that is, of course, what i always strive for:

eco-friendly travel company, travel greenest, thief

in semi-short, i worked my bum off for this guy (getting my life’s very first bout of shingles along the way due to the stress he put me through with 20+ calls and emails many days but that is beside the point).  so yes, he loved his site.  adored it.  made final payment so that i could supply him and his developer with the PSDs and they could take things from there.  phew.  done and done.  get check.  he wants 30-something changes.  i say “i can bid that” but end up doing most of it pro-bono — i mean we’re already doing the overkill thing in the free services department (and allowing myself to be hounded dozens of times over the weekends even after kindly requesting he save things for mondays as weekends are family time — apparently he doesn’t have a family ’cause the phone kept ringing and emails kept coming in).  some of the developer’s requests were totally outlandish and WAY above and beyond the norm.  like “turn every single word into its own layer”.  um, yeah.  i can bid that, or you can do that.  not the norm.  i have worked with dozens of top developers.  people at white horse.  microsoft people (yeah, i know, sorry), intel peeps, etc..  separate all imagery and shadows into separate layers (real developers would murder me if i did that — that’s for people who want to figure out how you did what you did, not people who want to efficiently develop a website).  seriously — i’ve been doing design for 17 years (actually, shit, 18 years — i’m old).  i could have sworn he said his developer was 19.  doubt he’s been coding since he was two, but who am i to say.  i was already over $900 in the hole and i just couldn’t do it all, but i did a lot of it (again, for free) and uploaded the work.  hear nothing.  email the guy.  hear nothing.  expect at least a thanks or something.  nope.  the fucker put a stop payment on my check!  on my birthday, too — happy day to me!  this is one of those soul-harming behaviors i mentioned.  people like this are extremely unhappy and wish to inflict their vile disease of misery on others.  i truly believe this.  if i had the money, i’d buy him a puppy.  maybe this would cheer him up a little bit.

so yeah, he put a stop payment on the check he wrote to me for my services!  however he still has ALL of my work — funny part is that he kept begging for all of my source files from the beginning, swearing he would “never dream of stealing anything from anyone because he’s oh so green and oh so conscious and only trying to support our community and the world”.  blah, f-ing-blah.  i will take him to court for stealing my stuff if he uses even one pixel of it, of course.   my recently retired detective friend will help me with this.  and until final payment is made, 100% of all (MY) work is mine.  he owns nothing but the two images he bought from iStock (one of which i modified).

seriously!?  i’m still in shock at this guy’s audacity.  this is how i feed my family, you know — it’s not like it’s a pastime or hobby.  this is how we pay the mortgage (which was due yesterday and did not get paid, incidentally — yes, as a result of his filthy greed).  i try to be a good person in the world.  i go the extra mile for clients and customers every time i can, and even sometimes when technically i can’t.  i lose sleep purposefully to ensure the people i work with are happy.  i do one pro-bono website and/or two or three hugely discounted sites for non-profits of various sorts every year (human solutions, heart to hands, lesta, etc.) and i volunteer at and/or donate to so many local charities:  street roots, run for the arts, portland public schools (not a non-profit but still), cascade aids project, friends of trees, mercy corps, goodwill, take food and clothes to struggling single mamas when i can, etc.  i am a not-very-active member of the PTA at my son’s school (incidentally one of the very few oregon green schools), i’m one of three members on the green team at the school, on the technology board or whatever it’s called (helping with web stuff when needed) — i try to be a good human.  no, i am a good human.  and i don’t know why bad people like to do crappy stuff to us good people, ESPECIALLY when all i was doing was trying to help him way above and beyond what the contract we had indicated.  the contract he signed and agreed to.

so, i wish to warn all other designers, web developers and the potential investors he’s seeking that although the “travel greenest” talk may be pretty, he is clearly dishonest (at least in this case) and i warn you to use extreme caution if associating with this person/company on a financial level.  i don’t want to see other families hurt by his insensitivity and greed.  but hopefully his sick manipulative avarice lasted only a day’s time.  you have to as least assume that everyone has a little bit of good in them, right?  i’m sure charles manson had a good side too… right?

paper background, free, wrinkled, art, website, grungy

here is a free paper background for your website or banner that i made -- very simple and subtle, but pretty enough... for a piece of wrinkled old grungy paper.

this can be a lesson to all, i think.  i am very adamant about not supplying a client or customer with anything before final payment is made unless i know them extremely well based upon past foots in my arse.  this time i felt pressured by this guy and let my guard down — i didn’t supply him with anything until the check was deposited, but i didn’t wait for it to clear (i THOUGHT it had, but apparently i was wrong).  totally my bad — but shame on him!  this month will be rough but we’ll manage.  i will feel serious guilt for feeding my son rice and eggs for lots of dinners, but he’s not going to shrivel up or suffer permanent damage as a result.  a couple grand isn’t much to some, but to others it means the difference between making it in a month or not, particularly in this economy.  good thing i’m a feisty and determined girl!  i’m on day five of a horrible flu but tomorrow, when i feel better, i’m sorting out this crap.

to re-coupe this ever-growing loss (money owed, bank fees, etc.), i am going to sell this design that he didn’t pay for.  i just purchased the two images that he got from iStock so i’ll be covered there.  i will re-purpose it and sell it four times, in fact, for super cheap — just enough to get my money back.  he was very concerned about having an extremely one of a kind website — well, if he tries to use this one that he does not have any rights to use, he’ll have a five of a kind site but it serves him right — but i’m sure he’s smarter than to steal something like that with signed contracts and about 700 emails, non-payment, etc.   i’ll make it less “travelly” but i have to be honest and say that the idea of submitting it to one of his competitors makes me giggle.  not in a mean way, but more in a “please don’t shit on me dude, ’cause i’m not going to take it” kind of way.  i probably would never do that.  i’ll stick to the legit — BBB/small claims court type stuff.   don’t waste my time, steal from me, screw me over and expect me to be nice. after all, until final payment has been made, all copyrights are retained by me.  so i can do as i please with my design.  (just gotta remove the logo he wanted me to do with his stolen hacked font — as if THAT wasn’t a red enough flag.)

on a separate note, i’m making some little pretties for etsy — little banner and avatar sets.  i’ve made so many for friends and think it’s fun.  a nice little stress-reliever (yeah, i should be making about a thousand tonight).  here are three i whipped up last night while having absolutely unnecessary insomnia.  (guess where i got it!)

premade etsy banners, shop banners, artfire banner, avatar

i think i’ll make a few a week for a couple extra potential dollars.  dude isn’t going to totally bring me down, of course, and i’m not going to let him get away with screwing over the little guys (or gals in this case).  i mean seriously — he sat there and whined to me about how his budget was too small for his desires as he has a big mortgage and then does all he can to ensure we don’t have our mortgage.  pretty funny, community-conscious eco-man.  good thing you don’t have to live on rice.  and don’t have kids.  or a spouse who looks to you for equal familial-financial support.

i’ll also be cleaning out the studio and popping up whatever extras i find onto ebay and etsy in the coming days, art included (march is reduced art price month, yay!).  we’ll be just fine, and if not, we’ll starve to death giggling.  nah, seriously.  i’m sure i can scrape up the month’s deficit in a week’s time.  i’m putting on my super hero cape and kickin’ butt like i always do.  (ohoh, i love aprons and my son tells me to wear mine backwards, like a “capron” to be a super hero mum!)

pardon my lengthy rant.  next post will be as wordless as possible.  🙂

and with that, i’m back to bed.  day six i will be void of flu, and fully revived.  and then i shall complete my very overdue finalization to kim’s gorgeous book!

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