Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Surer Steps

Today was more productive. Ravyn suggests we are indeed affected by these last days of the waning moon. Then, Thursday should be interesting.
I packed shipments and cleared the studio for a new wave of work tomorrow. I don't think there is a 'cure' for obsessive interludes. Possibly the answer lies in learning to make the most of them. Oddly, I think I'm getting better at it. Certainly at juggling short-term and long-term projects. That one can get tricky. For me, it mostly involves chopping the longer projects up into bits, and fitting those between the daily stuff. Sounds easy, but it takes more disicipline than I could have imagined some years ago.
Orion has switched the language for Ratchett and Clank to Spanish. For some reason, this seems to delight him. From here, it sounds a little like Dora the Eplorer in some twisted universe. Or something like that. Not anything at all like time travel.
I spoke to Neil today, who is aware that desert weather is worlds away from the cold I'll be traveling to and suggested I wear and bring many layers of clothing. Good advice. I shall. He referred to the cold in the spirit of the Aussie "three dog night" as a "seven cat night." I suggested that I sew the seven cats together to make one good cat. I like the idea in theory, but in reality, possibly would result in a loud, uncomfortable sort of quilt. I'll stick with layers. Possibly I'll luck out and one of the seven will take up Gurtie's spot on my head. Either way, I vote for snow.

Bob Podrasky has sent me the first batch of Tiny Stories to read. I can't tell you how very cool it is to be reading these and having various images start to take shape. I'll keep you posted as we go along.

The new Worlds of Wonder Special 15 year anniversary catalog is out. It's really beautiful and if you enjoy science fiction, horror and fantasy art then you might think about ordering one. It's more like a coffee table book than a catalog.Worlds of Wonder: Store

Day is done. I'm thinking, a bit of TV and some chocolate ice cream right out of the carton. I had a salad for dinner, so this ice cream will help maintain balance in the universe. It could possibly save us all...


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Over my own feet

Yesterday was a day for tripping myself up. I put way too much time and energy into doing things that contributed nothing at all to my current schedule, which is full and somewhat pressing.
I not only strayed from my goals, but meandered obsessively. For example, I impulsively decided to do something about that closet door in the hall that has been popping open for months. Doing something included reorganizing the entire closet, which is packed to bursting (hence the perpetual failing of the latch) with games of all sorts and posters mostly of the comics, fantasy, horror, science fiction variety.
It got worse from there, involving things like miles of wire and cable, dust bunnies of the worst sort and so on until seven oclock felt like midnight, I had a terrible headache and a resistable but nagging urge to kick at the cat. Notacceptable.
If I were going to misuse time, I'd have been much better off reading, or playing games with Orion, or losing myself in some odd bit of creating art, even if it had nothing to do with deadlines or orders.
Anyway, I went to sleep exhausted and frustrated and with a headache. I woke with the headache, but not so tired and willing to let yesterday go and get on with today, eventually.

Is it the moon? Or some inner device that's off? Don't know. I need a bit of a break, I think. My brain needs a brake, I'm sure. Possibly it's that I've spent so much time making resin pieces that I haven't had any time to get this stuff out. Finding the balance, as many of you are aware, is the trick.

On to it. Sorry about the lack of photos. Will get to them. Soon. I'm packing up the kinetic piece to ship to the Neil so I can reinstall it when I get there. Ravyn is working on posting a video that Aubrey made of the thing in motion.

It's Monday, right?

Saturday, November 26, 2005


I awoke to quiet. Orion had snuggled in at some point and was pressed against my back, Gurtie was draped over my head like an ugly (but very warm) hat. Pete was sleeping peacefully and it felt cold enough to light the fireplace. One of those moments to lie quietly and appreciate...
Then of course the phone rang. Hardly five minutes later, Aubrey is dancing in the kitchen -- and singing "Ohhh, I wish for something sweeeet and fat freeeeee!" The computer is up, Orion has started a video game, Ben is on his way over and I'm making coffee, going over the list for today and checking messages all at the same time.
Well, apparently it's time to get to work. The studio will be like a beehive today. I will be a bee. No. I won't be a bee. Sheesh. I need coffee.
Hope you guys have a great day. Be back later with photos of what SlaughterHouse does on Saturdays.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Where's My Generation?

One of my favorite Far Side drawings features a city street in the midst of a huge emergency--possibly an alien invasion, I can't remember, but certainly something just that intense. In the midst of widespread panic and confusion a dog looks out a car window at another dog on the street. Both contentedly wag their tails in recognition and approval.
There's that sort of instant recognition and attraction between kids. Orion ignores babies now, and mostly any human taller than four feet, but any kid in his range wears the invisible badge of membership. "You're in the club, " it says, "and you know what I know."
The membership gets more complex by degrees, with age. The acknowledgements become more subtle. But still, teens still carry unspoken agreements that vary upon the situation. At school, they're divided into their own social groups, but outside, there's still a hint of "us" (all teens) vs "them" (all adults and all sprats). Same with twenty -somethings. Though by then, certain value systems, whether individual or imposed by fad, fashion, MTV or peers, kick in, instantly ranking and subdividing within the age group.
But by the thirties, the age identity is virtually gone. For one thing, it's awfully hard to tell who is when. We adults can find comrades via other criteria; economic, education, interests. We can be somewhat general, as in the loose bonding with attendees at a concert, a bit more specific e.g. attending genre conventions, or we can send out very specific signals. For example, I could show up in a shirt that proclaims "Silk for Calde!" Chances are, very few would respond. However, those few connections would be instantly powerful possibly because the 'club' would be so exclusive.
Still, this isn't the same as connecting with people purely by birthdate. We who are born in or near the same year have some pretty basic things in common. Of course there are exceptions where geographies and cultures separate us. But, within those parameters, there are things shared only with people our own ages. I have friends in their twenties, and in their sixties, and all ages between, but sometimes it just feels good to converse with someone my age, who grew up on the same toys, cartoons and sit cons, wore the same sort of clothes, saw the same movies and now, confront the same sorts of issues that only people our ages, and practically everyone our ages, do. I enjoy comparing notes with others who may have smoked weed at a Deep Purple concert, or saw Star Wars when it was brand new. Those conversations are fun and, heh, sort of like time travel. ( got you again, with the time travel...)
Interesting to think about changes in how we identify ourselves with others. Funny, the stuff you can learn from watching wee ones.

To Carl V: Obviously I'm re-visiting the Long Sun series. This time I'm paying attention. The thing that is most clear in every page is Gene's fascination with and appreciation of languages.

Apparently, I'm going to be at the Neil signing at DreamHaven Books, Comics and Art on Dec 3. If you're going to that one, I'd love to meet and chat with you.

And this, if you haven't seen it, regarding congrats to Harlan Ellison, who will be Grand Master for Nebula Awards® Weekend 2006

I'm off to the studio, while Orion hones his skills as Ratchett (with Clank, of course)...


Monday, November 21, 2005

Possibly I'm breathing some paint fumes, but I've been thinking as I paint. A lot. So will stop for a bit to write a few things down. Posted by Picasa

Possibly I'm having way too much fun painting these.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Prodigal Returns

Inspiration did finally come, unexpectedly at a weird moment when I was completely absorbed in sort of obsessively following and erasing a trail of footprints that lead from the front door to the kids’ bedrooms at one end of the house.
In other words, it came best described in the immortal words of Dr. Seuss:

It came without ribbons.
It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags…

It seemed to come out of nowhere. Out of thin air…

But I know, and you know, and we know it didn’t. It came from some previously stored information in my brain connecting to some other previously stored information and recombining into not only the parts for a visionary work, but the thread that would tie the parts together into something much bigger than its own space. Likely, the thoughts found themselves because, as I cleaned the footprints, I stopped directing my brain long enough to let them.

My experiences don’t lend themselves to belief in the muse, in the divine, in the gift. Why that is doesn’t matter, though if someone asked I could tell them. I could just as easily attribute inspiration to the muse, the divine, some matter of grace, the alignment of the planets or last nights fortune cookie.
What difference would it make?

None, as far as I’m concerned. The process is a wonder, whether we choose to define it in terms of science or magic. What I do know is that inspiration leaves for many reasons, among them fatigue, sadness, illness, distraction, happiness, pettiness, conflict, chocolate, people talking during movies, and uncomfortable freaking shoes.

In other words, in my experience, inspiration can be spooked. Is the artistic vision so fragile, like moments of romance, easily foiled by the most insignificant intrusion?

Perhaps that doesn't matter either. What does matter, to me, is that it seems to return exactly when we need it most. Because, really, we nearly always need it most.


Thursday, November 17, 2005


I've had my coffee. Sleep too. Not quite enough, as per usual, but I've done fine on less. So where does a person who is said to inspire others get her inspiration? Sometimes it is as elusive as the Willow the Wisp, and just as naughty. It's 10 a.m. The kids have been delivered to school and here I am with a long list of things I'm uninspired to do. I need rain. I need wind. Either would do. Anything other than this painted on ceiling that only someone who has lived under it could describe.

I can work. Of course I can work. I can always work. I'm annoying that way. What I can't do is cower under the covers, Gene Wolfe or no Gene Wolfe, though reading is partly responsible for the lack of sleep.

Music? Maybe.

This happens sometimes. It's the downside of art as a day job. The disipline of working on committments, projects, and orders is what keeps most artists from being, well, artists. Ideas I've got. Want ideas? I've got notebooks full of ideas. Stories, paintings, kinetic works. I've got em. Everybody has ideas. It's the dogged determination it takes to build them, to stick with a project that may or may not pay off for months, to edit one more time, to squeeze a moment of inspired creativity between loading the dishwasher and ordering supplies.

Hmmm. Here's what I'll do. I'll put on something. Classical. Prokofiev. No. Dvorak. And I'll tackle that list. I'll let you know where it goes...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

That future, This now.

My boyfriend and I, back in high school, used to ride our bikes down to the canal and lie on the grass while the stars came out. We’d talk about space and UFO’s and what we thought the year 2000 would bring. Back then, when my body and mind were fifteen, the year 2000 was mythically distant, more of an “if” than a “when.” It would likely never come. After all, we’d NEVER be forty! And, we’d always be good friends…
We lost track of each other, of course. I remembered those conversations, the things we thought we’d figured out, and I looked him up in 1990. I learned that my long-haired British born boyfriend had joined the U.S. army, served abroad, come home with a bad leg, a devoted Asian wife and a psychotic paranoia. He didn’t remember the boy I knew at all.
But for me, all those starry nights stayed on and became part of who I would be, decades later. Back then, we were certain that we’d be scooting about in hover cars, Jetsons-style, have robots sweeping our floors, laboratories on Mars and amusement parks on the moon. We thought people would live to be two hundred and the forty we’d never reach would be, well, young.
Well, we nearly have robots sweeping our floors. My vacuum cleaner is actually pretty damned smart.

We didn’t anticipate personal computers in millions of homes, an internet that allows instant conversations between persons continents apart, the mapping of the human genome, AIDS, cars with navigation systems, polymerase chain reaction, video gaming, blue Gatorade or turning forty.

The things that we didn’t expect far outnumber anything we anticipated, though a vital space program would sure be appreciated. I really don’t enjoy telling Orion that spaceships aren’t real.

For years I operated on the premise of my artistic dreams. Sometimes to the demise of my health, sometimes to the demise of my finances, and sometimes, to the degree that I’ve been called a visionary. I followed that vision in everything I did, sometimes not even seeing the day I was moving through. My life and my art seemed two separate entities. Eventually I looked around, noticed what time it was, and realized that I most likely wasn’t going to complete the script I’d written for my life. It was quite a shock, actually, and knocked me about for several months. I wondered how I’d failed, how I’d failed to see that I was failing, and how the hell did it get to be 2000?

It was very depressing. I was very depressed. I was so disappointed that I didn’t want to create any more. I thought about lying on cool grass under the stars and dreaming about the futures that never came, and my own, that had arrived seemingly unannounced. I sort of shut down. I spent a lot of time underwater, and sitting quietly, and being instead of doing. I read. I walked. Sometimes I panicked. Sometimes I cried. Mostly I laughed at what a fool I was. Finally, I got a good view of the now that is nothing that I’d expected and is everything I did not.

I’ve decided that it’s probably a good idea to not worry terribly about trying to control what will or won’t happen. I’ve decided that it’s also probably a good idea to keep doing what I’m doing and watch to see what does happen. I’m thinking that things will be a lot more interesting from here on out. Time will tell. It always does, dammit. Besides, I like living without the script. It takes a certain talent to do improvisation well, don't you think?

Is it Sunday night already? Well, time for tucking the Orion unit in, some hot chocolate and some time well spent reading a bit of Gene Wolfe.

Tonight's image was inspired by one of my favorite SpongeBob episodes...

Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Luck's Dancer

The short story is this: Neil Gaiman commissioned me to make a sculpture to fit a niche in his stairway wall. I did. Last year, in a somewhat slapstick fashion, (go here for his version:) he broke it. He sent it to me to be repaired and I looked at it for a long time and decided to make some changes. I’d just read his draft of Anansi Boys, and was under the influence of a different color scheme..muse?

When I was finished, the sculpture looked more like this:

The longer story of the ‘reconstruction’ and more photos are in my journal archives, beginning here: Angel's new clothes
Lots of people seemed to fall in love with the little yellow dancing jester, whom the frog was forever trying to snare with his umbrella and whom we began to call "Luck's Dancer."

I thought I'd like to have a casting of the little Luck's Dancer for myself and that others might too. And then, my friend Laura asked me out of the blue to make one for her. I considered sculpting another dancer that would be simpler to mold and cast, but, being me, I decided that: #1 Neil’s fans (and mine) would most likely rather have an actual casting from the original . And #2 I, being even more me, couldn’t pass up the challenge of molding such a complex figure (which, by the way, was not harmed in the very least, and is restored back to his original place in the universe of torturing the frog, looking even more delicious than before. )

It's the most difficult single-piece mold Ben and I have ever made. We began with a long session of sitting and talking about it, turning the delicate figure (the original is made of paper clay, which is basically blended paper mache) this way and that to imagine its mass as negative space. And, with that, imagining how liquid would flow into it and where air might be trapped, which is exactly what we had to avoid. This is part of the science of the whole business, and something we enjoy quite a lot, though it can leave one with a headache. That done, we decided the best approach would be to create channels that connect pieces to the surface (so air could escape) and to connect dead ends to other spaces. As you may imagine, air inside molds is a thing we try very hard to avoid, as it wreaks all sorts of havoc in castings. And we can't have havoc, as the SlaughterHouse motto says, "Nothin' can go wrong now!"

Opened up, the rubber mold looks like this:

The figure comes out of the mold looking sort of like this, with all the sprues attached.

I cut those off and smooth everything up and with lots of layers of paint, transform the little figure into something that feels real to me. The molding and the cleaning up are sort of the ‘day job’. It’s the painting that's fun and creative, where each figure takes on its own personality. In this case "he" as this little guy is most definitely a boy.

If you like "Luck's Dancer" and are feeling adventurous you can choose SURPRISE ME and get a truly unique treatment. Each will be a one of a kind finish. Fun for you, fun for me.

Ravyn has wonderfully created
Holiday Gifts for "Luck's Dancer" and a few other pieces we especially picked for gift giving.

This is a good step for Slaughterhouse. Thanks for looking and hope you have fun. Oh, and Happy Winter Season from Lisa, Ben and the SlaughterHouse Rats...

OH! While I have your attention---we still have a few more spaces left for TINY STORIES, the project. Bob Podrasky is in the editing ( fagblog: Reading Tiny Stories )phase .

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wednesday morning

The nicest thing about winter in the desert is that it's not summer. Granted, swimming at midnight is nice, but believe it or not, a cloudless blue sky can start to feel like a ceiling after a while, and oppressive. I feel a bit more human when I wake chilly and put on my robe and slippers.
I can't remember the last time I journaled in the morning. The skies are full of moving clouds, there's a chill in the air and I have coffee. Ahhhhh. Gurtie is chasing some unfortunate cricket in the hall. Its only hope of escape lies in the fact that her claws have no purchase on the tiles so she overshoots and skitters into the wall.
She's just peered around the corner at me with a bit of a reproachful look, as though she hears me. She can be very creepy that way. Very creepy.
Ben will be here soon. It's a very busy studio day. We'll be like largish evil elves working at our benches, trading odd ideas that sometimes we write down. By four-thirty it will be night---another winter thing in the desert, and we will still be working away, so that it feels we've been there for days. It's like....time travel. Well, sort of.

I wish you all a very good Wednesday. Tomorrow is Mr. Gaiman's birthday. Send him your good thoughts. He was once a baby. So was I. So were you. That's a little like time travel too. Well, sort of.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Slight Right

Yesterday was a sort of accidental free day. I nearly called it a 'lost' day, but that isn't right, because it actually wasn't lost at all. It started with a sort of work hangover---one of those times when intense work/late nights or both decide to charge their toll all at once. So I woke late and groggy and shuffled through the den where the kids were eating leftover Chinese takeout and Halloween candy for breakfast, into the kitchen where the coffee was unmade. Aubrey had stayed home with the same cold she'd missed school for on Wednesday and was miserable. There was no point in taking Orion to daycare so late. He'd get there just in time for nap. He stood in front of the television, seeming to mimic a crazed angler reeling in the tie-breaking bass, but actually destroying evil robots.
Pete left to rig some show, America (the band, 70's) or something like that. Finally, Orion showed some interest in toys in his room, and ate enough of an apple to alieve my guilt. Aubrey and I put on Signs, one of those movies we watch when we're sick. Comfort movie. We watched in silence, occasionally passing the plastic candy bucket, inserting ridiculous and irreverent dialog into familiar scenes.
So, not a lost day, but a non-linear one in that it had nothing at all to do with 'the plan' or 'the list' or even the most vague expectations.
The golden thing is, I think I'm learning when to let one go. It's not really a good idea to try to fit a left-brain plan into a right-brain day. It's a waste of time. I've tried it. I only end up standing in my own way. Go right-brain.

Today was different. Up early, all day in the studio. Lots of focus. In the middle of working on one project a piece of another found its way into a waiting gap. I'm telling myself that could have happened mostly because I hopped off the wheel yesterday, aired out the gray matter. It seems to be a pattern.

So, in that spirit, anonymous, I shall let Karma take care of the treat bowl.

And now, I'll make some spaghetti.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In Other News...

Orion's first Trick or Treat went swimmingly, with him delighted and delightful at every door, coming away with tons of loot and forgoing the spiderman mask and becoming Spider Orion about haflway through the thing.

Back at the ranch, we discovered our honor systen ( a bowl of candy with a Happy Halloween sign) which worked so well before had failed miserably this time. It appears one Trick or Treater took the whole bowl of candy, including the bowl. I knew those little packs of Whoppers would be too much for our neighbors. Orion has discovered Rayman. Time limits are imperative. I must be vigilant. I left the spatula in the den. I'll need it to pry his fingers from the controls. I must show him there are other things to do, like books and bathtime and running around. But, I must admit it's really interesting to see how fast a little one can get really good at this stuff. sheesh.

Ravyn and I are working very hard to get the holiday season gift page up. This is the first year I've put together something like this and I'm very pleased to be able to. I think I'm going to show you some things you'll love giving, or getting. That's the idea, anyway.

Ben is back!!! Yay! Soon we'll be back at it again, making more sculptures that do things...

And, I've heard from new dad Mr. Podrasky on Tiny Stories. He is moving toward the time when he shall read and sort and choose stories to send to me. I'd better get to work. So little time, so many things to make.

And for the next few days, I'm sort of away, working very hard on "Lost and Found", which was "Lost and Found" then wasn't, but was going to be something else, but is now "Lost and Found" again. Odd, that.