Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend Round up- New Colours, New Designs!

The rainbows of life follow the storm.

A rainbow of new scarves!

The cool colours.

The new orange and salmon on the left, the new turquoise with the new acoustic guitar design on the right.

The hot colours!

The new kitty design! For my cat loving friends...

Zoe likes the new colours.

Now onto the Easter eggs!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Same Same but... Different!

What my sister made in culinary school last week.
Octopus soup! She ate it.

What I made last week.
Scarf Soup! I wore it.

More scarf soup today. This time retro turquoise.
My fingers are the same colour. Right now. Not Kidding! Whoops!

(These are still wet, by the way.)


Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Not Afraid of Dyeing... Scarves, that is!

Ta daaaa! New Spring Line! Literally.

So this week, I have gone a little nutty with the scarves.

I dont really know if it was a mistake after this week's dyeing fiesta, but I washed a bunch of scarves a long time ago that were cream with black trim, and the trim ran (better to find out early!). What was the result? Dishrags! I washed them a few times. Light coloured dishrags. I tried to tell myself they were ivory. They certainly weren't looking cream. I got them to a point where I thought they weren't so bad, but the truth is, of that particular bunch, I haven't sold one.

Doesn't this look like an octopus stew? Note to self. Don't glue the evil eyes on until you are happy with the colour. One side effect of re-dying these is that I now have to replace all the evil eyes.
It's worth it for the new colours, though!

So I decided to dye them, because as we dwindle out of the other colours, we still had a mountain of these black and "ivory" scarves. In the spirit of spring and the fact that we have a major show coming up at Make It! Vancouver, I decided wanted burnt orange. I like missions. Off I went on my burnt orange mission.

New Cherry Red.

I drove my scooter to the sewing store, run by two sweet little old ladies who like to chat. I told them what I was doing. They showed me to the small selection of dye. Hmmm. No burnt orange. I'd try tangerine with a hint or bordeaux, mix it up. While I was at it, I could re-dye those other scarves that have the purple trim I wasn't crazy about.

I went home, borrowed a large stewing pot off the neighbour (It was in her garage sale pile) and I started cooking scarves. I don't know if you've ever moved home and lived with your parents and started dying things on your mother's shmancy stove. I wouldn't recommend it. Thank you mom, for being a good sport. I didn't dye anything any colour it wasn't supposed to be. Promise.

Tangerine and bordeaux!

I rinsed them out with cold water and hung them on the line to dry. I couldn't really tell what colour they were, because I put them out there at night. In the morning, I woke up to spring colours on my mother's clothes line. Ooooh! Like Easter eggs!

The new olive green and a mix of the hot shades.

So then I scootered the fourteen km to the next town and went back to the little sewing store. The old ladies were pretty intrigued when I bought "Old Gold" "Cherry Red" and "Olive Green." I got home and had most the scarves cooked before Mom and Dad came back from eating Chinese food. Phew!


This morning, I did so much ironing, I felt like someone's wife. Or someone's maid. Good thing no one was home because I just turned up the music and sang while I did it. The dog didn't seem to mind.

Scarf tentacles.

Anyway, I have twenty dishrags left. They were supposed to be burnt orange but I forgot them on the counter. But it's okay, because I have decided I need more blue. It's a bit chilly for scooting today so I'll leave that project till tomorrow though I am really impatient when I get something in my head.

Scooters. In honour of my trek to the Sewing Store!

I think the old ladies will have the just colour I need!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Creative Caravan Collage Challenge!

Our old experiences, memories and fears guide us down the present path. It's not so much that you are the artist; you are the conduit.
~Nick Bantock

From My Thailand Journal.

So lately travelling has been on my mind. Okay, it's usually on my mind, but usually I have a trip planned somewhere at sometime. Now I just have moving on my mind. I think I am excited about the move because I haven't really thoroughly explored Vancouver. I don't know if I am just trying to trick my brain into thinking it will be like a new kind of travel adventure, but maybe it will be? It all depends on how you look at it.


Anyway, I have been thinking about art too, and how much I love postcards. I might have lamented in some posts previously about how I lament the death of letters, handwritten postcards and brown paper packages tied up with string with the coming of the email revolution. I love receiving mail in the mailbox! Little gifts sent from the past to let us know someone special was thinking about us at one time. But all that ever comes is bills these days. Sigh.


One thing I disliked about Turkey was the postal system. In the whole year of Istanbul, packages and postcards and letters that were sent to us never got delivered to our house. Not once. Turkish Postal workers, I hope you enjoyed that box of Easter Chocolate my mother sent us. And the cards Skinny Laminx sent my sister, and the various postcards sent to me from friends abroad. Boo!


My sister's journals are amazing. I often look hungrily at them with jealous eyes. But it's a good Jealous because it propels me to focus more on how to improve what I am doing. But I admit, the queen of collage is Rene. (See her amazing stuff here. But please come back when you're done!)

When we travel, we often pick stuff up off the ground for our books, and we call it "Good Rum." (Short for rummage.) We have rules though.

1. It can't be too dirty. It can't have any poo or cigarette ash on it. It's got to be fresh litter.

2. If one of us finds something really cool, and it makes the other person jealous, if it can be split in some way, we share. If not, it's our duty to help look for another one. I remember a sewing machine matchstick box that was a major search. We ended up finding several, throwing away the grotty ones.

3. We can buy something for the label and give the product away if we can't use it. I remember Rene bought roly cigarette papers in Bangkok for the funky black cat label, only to hand the rolies back to the vendor and run away with the package! Classic!


The Challenge!

I am interested in doing some collage work again, and though I have some materials, I am low on Air Mail stickers, stamps, matchbox covers, tickets, labels etc. I thought it would be fun to see what would come my way if I opened this up as a challenge. If you send me an envelope full of stuff (75 pieces or more) I will send you a signed print, cross my heart and hope to die. The print will be either a coffee cup (collage print) or an Angkor Wat Bayan print (very Tin Tin, three block colour print), or a Fire Cracker Print. (Click here to see examples!)


Things I am looking for!
Airmail stickers.
old postcards from anywhere.
cool small pictures.
Cool tickets of any kind (No parking tickets, please!)
cool labels.
Anything collageable and cool.
Duplicates are totally welcomed.
If you want to send me 75 Queen Elizabeth's, I'm down with that.


The Address!
Melanie Mehrer
General Delivery
Naramata, BC
V0H 1N0


This is not my real address, obviously, but I'm tight with the post office workers so it is sure to get to me. I'll be in Naramata until most likely Mid-April, then it's off to Vancouver for the next big adventure, so don't wait too long, please! I'll post the spoils on this blog if I get enough stuff.

Happy Collecting!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hockey Night in Canada!

"All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity."

~Gordie Howe

"Hockey Night in Canada" 11X14 March 2010

Sigh. The amazing sport of ice hockey.

I was in elementary school when Wayne Gretzky was declared the Great One. If you were a boy and were old enough to make your own choices about the clothes you wore, you weren't cool unless you had an orange & blue Edmonton Oilers Hockey Jersey with the number 99 emblazoned on the back. If you had one, you wore it every single day over your other clothes, and thought it made you faster, stronger, like lightning. I secretly wanted one too, but wouldn't have been able to stand the ribbing from the boys in the playground. Chicks and hockey sticks weren't a big thing back then. I am happy that is changing. Thank you, Women's Hockey Gold.

Years later in University, I would head down to the local pub with my Canuck-loving friends and watch the Canucks anytime they got into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For me, it wasn't so much the game as the camaraderie among all Canuck supporters, mindlessly eating nachos and chicken wings, sharing pitchers of I.P.A. while we watched that little black puck cross back and forth across the red lines and goal lines. Screaming when we scored, screaming when they scored. Hugging and high five-ing when we won, drowning our sorry asses in more beer if we lost.

But nothing compares to Olympic Hockey watching.Nothing!

Putting on gloves and adjusting their helmets, engaging in pre-game locker room banter. Notice the little ode to Hockey Hair!

The fact that my mother and I watched the game together while my father, the true hockey fan, was out at a friend's, was the first clue that this game was like no other. My mother, who was really only interested in the score, took the first and second period to clean out her car. When Canada scored, I opened up the door and shouted, "Canada scored! one-zeeerooo!", out in to the backyard. Mom would shout back, "Good!" or "Yay Canada!" or something to that effect.

Two minutes before the game ended, I was united with my fellow Canadians in cheering. A minute and a half later, I was again united with my fellow Canadians in utter shock when the Americans scored. I'm pretty sure the mighty "F"-word collectively uttered by this nation could be heard from Coast to Coast.

Phew! Sidney Crosby, I heart you. Thanks buddy. We appreciate you scoring that final goal for us. I'm not even going to imagine what it would have been like otherwise. If any Americans are reading this blog, I just want you to know it wasn't an easy win, and I think that game aged us all. My fingernails still haven't grown back. Thanks for playing a good game.

The numbers on the hockey jerseys weren't randomly chosen. that's all I'm saying.

This painting is a small departure from the Okanagan Series, but still fitting because of a few interesting facts:
My hometown of Penticton is known for the best hockey school in Canada. Many a great Canadian Hockey Player started out spending their summers carving ice in the local arena. Some even stayed year round, joining the Penticton Knights to take advantage of Penticton's coaches. I remember going to watch Paul Kariya play when I was in grade twelve. He was a grade or two behind me.

The world's largest hockey stick and hockey puck, built for Expo 86 in Vancouver, were also built in my little hometown. the stick is 205 feet long and weighs 61,000 pounds, and now resides in Duncan, BC. Now if that is not a fun fact, I don't know what is.

As I painted these hockey players, I thought about the similarities between putting on hockey equipment and how knights of the old days would put on their armour and head out into battle. In some ways, these guys are Canada's modern gladiators, and we cheer them on rink-side as if the lions had just been unleashed. I almost wanted to call this painting something like, "The Battle of 2010," a little cheeky jab at the names of paintings I had to memorize as an art history student of long ago. But after I finished the painting and I held it up to show my Dad, I told him the names I was mulling over.

Dad made the decision.

"The Olympic Game of 2010 will be remembered as one of the greatest games ever played in Canadian history, but "Hockey Night in Canada lives forever."

The sound of Vancouver when we won! Thanks, Crosby!!

"Hockey Night in Canada" it is!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Prints From The Past! 1994-2001

Today I went hunting through some of my boxes to find some old prints. I didn't find all of them, but I found enough to put together a little blog on some prints I made while living in Taiwan.

I don't know where the other ones are- My things from the past six years all packed away in little containers marked "Seamail" from the various countries I have lived in. Having them all in one place and opened is both exciting and daunting. Perhaps once I have a place with all my stuff in one place I will finally feel like I have arrived home. Anyway, I digress.


Masjid-i-Shah, Isfahan

This is one of the earliest prints I have- when I took a university course on Printmaking for the Elementary school classroom. This was made by scratching a piece of plexiglass with a pin, and running it through the press. At the time, I had never been to any Muslim countries and really didn't have any desire to live in one. But we were told we had to choose one subject over the semester and I chose mosques. Why? Because they looked neat. This one here is a mosque I dream to go to: The Great Mosque of Isfahan. Printed in 1994, sixteen years ago! I still haven't been to Isfahan...Yet!

Fire Cracker Choice High

The first print in Taiwan- that I can show you. You see, when I first moved to Taiwan, I went to a cheap art store and bought the cheapest paint because I still hadn't paid off my student loans. But the paint would fleck off in these really weird patterns- Some colours more than others. When I asked my Chinese artist coworker about it he said, "You sure it isn't a cockroach eating your paint? Cheap paint here is cut with vegetable oil. you have to by the more expensive stuff. I won't tell you the story, because it was a gross one, but my coworker was right. Anyway, all of those prints hit the garbage.

I arrived in Taiwan just before Chinese New Year in 1998. I found this wrapper on the ground the day after a fireworks blitz. I picked it up with some other bits of silver and gold paper someone threw on the ground. A few months later, my Taiwanese friend George came over and screamed! Apparently I had picked up auspicious ghost money, and the fact that I had picked it up and collaged it into artwork was my certain death. The Gods must have forgiven me, I've been lucky so far. (Knock on wood!)

I love Taiwan Milk
This is one of the only prints I've ever done where I needed to carve three blocks. There were a few hits and lots of misses since I wasn't properly set up (working on a living room floor) and eyeballing everything. This was actually the milk label from the milk we bought in Taiwan. This will hang in my kitchen someday!

The Bayan Temple

Rene and I decided to go to Angkor Wat in Cambodia one Chinese New Year. I made this print (another one with three blocks) in anticipation of our trip.

In fact, I made about fifty million of them.

Angkor Wat
Oh, and this one too.

Then began the cartoon series. There is a story behind this one! I was teaching a class of eleven year olds one afternoon, and two boys could not get their noses out of a Japanese comic book. Anytime I turned around they whipped it out to read a few more panels before I caught them.

Finally, I said, "Look. If I see that book one more time, I'm going to take it away and never give it back. It will be mine. Understood?"

They nodded. Five minutes later the book was out.

So I grabbed it and took it into the teacher's room where they couldn't fish it out of my teaching stuff. But Taiwanese kids are so good natured, they just said, "Sorry teacher, sorry. We know, we know." I really liked these boys, and when they came to the teacher's door to ask for the comic book one more time with their mother in tow, I made them tell me how much they adored me and other embarrassing things to many giggles, and eventually I gave back their comic.

The next week, the boys brought me the same comic book, dropped it on my desk and cheekily told me they didn't need it anymore, I could have it now. I laughed, but then I started flipping through the book and I really liked the way the panels were drawn. I made these prints and a few others (Somewhere in a box) and gave the boys a print each in good spirit. Thank you, Little Taiwanese boys! The next few images come from that comic book, Little Bow Wow.

Coffee cup on Japanese printed paper, from the best paper store in Taipei.

Coffee Cups
I weaved Chinese newspapers into checkers for the background.
If you look closely, you can see the characters.

Man, Dog and a bowl of Soup.

No two are the same! I made about twelve of these. There is a second one (Somewhere in a box) of the dog and the soup, with fish flying over it to show it had gone bad. If I find it, I'll add it to the blog. Promise!

Panty Girls!

I kid you not, when I tried to photograph this one, it kept blowing away... The characters mean "wssh - wshh" the sound of the wind.

How to Make Sushi!

And the sushi print, with instructions on how to make sushi in Chinese. I love this one. It will hang in my kitchen one day too.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Latest Fused Glass Projects

So I've come to a big conclusion this week: Fusing glass has been great fun but I don't think it's for me. For one really big reason: It's too expensive. There is a reason handmade glass is expensive when you buy it- it always has been expensive. One I use up the glass I have, I'm done. Though Larry has been really kind in letting me nick different colours here and there. Thank you, Larry!

These three are still works in progress. The one that turned out the best is the clear one on the right. No flaws at all. But one curious thing happened- there is an air bubble at the junction of the leaves. On all of them! Weird! But consistent and cool. The blue one on the left wasn't dark enough in my opinion, so I've repainted it, along with the butterfly plate from long ago. so we will see how those turn out. The blue one on the left was fired tree-side-down (As an experiment) and picked up the texture of the shelf, so it's not completely smooth. it still needs to be slumped so I am hoping it might smooth out when it's face up. The dark red one always stayed pink! I still like it.

The two little skewed plates worked out fairly well.

I made two of these long plates. I think they would be good for sushi or a baguette!

The scooter coasters. The frit powder I used to make these was supposed to be black, but I don't mind them grey. I don't even mind that they aren't exactly the same. It just shows they are handmade. They kind of look like ink paintings to me. These are block printed glass, so the texture is hard to control. (So why control it?) But next time I do this (If there is a next time) I will screen them before they are fired because the glass is flatter. Once fired it tends to be a little lumpy. Not good for printing!

So this is the next experiment. I have one sheet of glass left. Do I made more plates or go to town making Istanbul inspired pendants out of Turkish postcards? This glass was fired at a full fused to make it smooth. I don't think it looks bad- the glass must be smaller than the silver plate. But I may make a few more and ask Larry to fire them at a half fuse to see if they hold their shape a little better.

So what do you think? More glass plates or do we move into pendants?