Friday, April 27, 2007

Poppets at Play

On Dreary Days, We Play.

Yes, indeed. Weeks of dreary days that seemed to go on and on, even into our sleeping hours, into our dreams.
So, what to do but to play?

Ravyn, Bent and Robert are all working on brilliant new pieces for next time.

For now, I'll open the gallery with the Poppets that came from, well, dreary days of play. I considered what Poppets might do on any particularly dreary day, and discovered that they like putting on costumes and masks and creating their own elsewheres.

Some of them explored the world Lewis Carroll created for Alice. I enjoyed a renewed appreciation of that world while I researched for the sculptures. And, of course, found many side roads I'd like to visit with Poppets, like famous 'fools' and Punch and Judy.

At any rate, play was what was called for, play we did, and all was for good.

Some of our Rat friends joined us. It's been quite a long time since I made rats. I realized too, painting these, how much I've missed them. Poppets and Rats seem to get along splendidly.

The auctions are HERE.

10% of Wonderland-inspired Poppet sales is for NORML
10% of other Poppet sales is for NCAC
10% of Little Red Poppets is for CBLDF
10% of Rats is for CBLDF
A number of people are asking me about the Neil Gaiman Rat. I plan to have at least one on each upcoming auction of the limited edition one. I'll also have one each of the other author rats; Edgar Allen Poe, H. P. Lovecraft and Harlan Ellison.
The new Neil Rat will be an open edition and will be out later this year. If you want to be on the mailing list for that, please email to
If you have any questions, ask me. I really like hearing from you. I hope you enjoy seeing the new work.
Already, I'm back in the studio.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tiny Masks, Big Monsters and Here Comes the Sun

Here is one of the Poppet costume masks. About 1/2 inch wide.

Last night we saw The Host. Pete, our friend Art, and me.

We laughed, gasped, said "what the f...!", and said "oh man," a number of times, in no particular order, but generally all together.

If you like the preview, you'll likely not be disappointed with the movie.

I'm calling today the first real taste of the hellish heat to come. It's seriously time to finish up preparations to minimize the damage all around. Outside, inside, house, body, mind.

It's the season for swimming under the stars. It's the season for visualizing cool blue water and silent white forests. It's the season for making paper mache sculptures and drying them outside. It's the season for saying "I hate this desert" and "I love this desert." It is intense and extreme.

Good. It will be a challenge. I need a challenge. Maybe it'll wake me up. I've been in a weird fugue for months. Swimming in glue, wrapped up in gossamer, muted. I wander through the rooms in my head and all the furniture and mirrors and paintings are covered in sheets.

I've been here before. It's the end of a long season. We'll start another, and it will be crappy, but this seasonal change is the catalyst that transforms the raw elements of the fugue state into paintings and sculptures and stories.

Flip flops and hats. Always with the hats.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth Day in the Desert

Today was for Ben and me to take Orion to The Living Desert for their annual Earth Day celebration.

We made plans to attend the next star party of the Desert Astronomical Society. Nice folk.

Orion liked the bounce house. And possibly the giraffes. But not the vultures.

We saw Mexican wolves and a giraffe family. We watched a butterfly(not this one) emerge from its cocoon. Zebras, owls, snakes, lizards and cranes. Bobcats.

Poppet went too, but refused to tell us anything about this particular conversation.

We followed the long white road...
Sometimes it's good to go outside, spend some time with other life forms. Keeps things in perspective.
Tonight is for tired little boys to sleep and artist moms to make art.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dee and Dum, Springs, 4/20, It's a Rat

Dee and Dum.

Today was mostly for taking photographs, which tends to be an important part of an artist's life and tends also to be tricky when the subjects are very small and occasionally mischievous and not completely cooperative.

I enjoyed watching "Fortune's Teller" go through it's mechanical rounds today. In honor of studio policy-- Nothin' Can Go Wrong Now-- we decided to run it for a solid week to check for bugs.
Found one---the noise of the spokes against the stop is louder than we want.
Most likely, the solution will be a combination of changing the angle of the spring, adding a bit of hidden insulation and installing and sealing the glass front. We originally used a plastic spring but the resistance wasn't enough, so the wheel spun too long -- by the time the wheel stopped on a fortune, the spotlight by which to read the fortune was out. Not to mention the metal spring will last much longer and be easier to replace.

That solved, there's some painting and detailing left. When that's done, I'll post a video and in -progress photos. The coolest thing about all of this--and unexpected-- was that when I saw the piece in motion, it truly creeped me out.

It's a profoundly satisfying thing to have made something that scares me, even a little.

I highly recommend it.

Making these these Poppets, sometimes I can zoom in, as when Orion and I pretend we're tiny, or when we lie on the grass and study objects in the night skies.

Eventually, looking inward at small things, or outward at large ones, size and distance begin to feel like the changeable inconstant concepts they are. Just for a moment.

I did actually make a few rats. I haven't made any in months, but thought it would be a good idea to make some more regularly. I miss the little fellows. Possibly that's why I started making rat masks for Poppets? Is a rat in a Poppet mask coming next?

Possibly I should open more windows in the studio and not leave the paint thinner open.

I hope you've had a good 4/20. Remember never to stop questioning the rules.
Who, what, where, when, why and how.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Talk and Toys

TruthDig Debate: Sam Harris v. Chris Hedges
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 8 p.m.Royce HallUCLA

A Truthdig debate between Sam Harris and Chris Hedges

Moderated by Robert Scheer
For more information and tickets:TruthDig Debate email:

This looks worth a drive on the TEN to me, especially if Pete's driving, and likely some interesting conversation on the way home.

So much bad news. So much sad news.
Our house is quiet but for the sound of distant gardening and smells of cut flowers and fresh coffee. How tempting it is to hide out in here. But we won't. We watch. We learn. Don't we?

On Dreary Days We Play. That seems to work. On dark days, when all else fails, I can make toys.

This box holds a Little Red Poppet and two masks for her to wear. It reminds me a little of a trunk doll I had when I was a little girl, a little of a ballet box and seems a bit like a Victorian toy.

I like it.

Masks and other costumes seem to be a theme this month. We'll open the gallery again on April 28th with Poppets dressed in costumes from "Through the Looking Glass" and others. There will be a few rats this time too, as I can fit them in.

Mostly we're back to working on the fortune teller, which will be very cool once done, but for now, because of all the delays, is getting to feel like an anvil over our heads. Well, my head. Ben seems unaffected by either headlines or deadlines. Good for him, otherwise he'd be making toys too. Then again, what are the kinetic pieces if not big toys?
At any rate, it's good to be working in the studio again. Now it smells of paint instead of dust, which in my view is better. And if I make only toys for awhile, that's okay too.
There are lots of new topics up on the forums including some new Poppets on Tour photos on flickr. Thanks Laura!
Supposedly there will be a Poppet Planet party at Balticon. As soon as I have more details, I'll post them here.
My coffee has been drunk. Time to make things.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Jamison (visiting with daughter, Sophia) says there is no place like the desert for visions. That there is a violent fragility that goes beyond the surreal. That every surface is glass-edged.

Infinite velocity, no time. Everything and nothing. He's right, I know. The desert can be that.

"Where did Jesus take his questions? " he asks and answers, "to the desert, that's where."

We laugh and grow silent for a moment. We've both seen things here.

Orion and Jamison's daughter, Sophia, play in the next room while in here, I listen and paint Poppets.

Outside, the wind is howling again. We've been talking about world events, speculating on the future, wondering when we became such freaking grown-ups.
Moving slowly through space, quickly through time.

Wondering if there's any way in hell we could talk Pete into going fishing with us. A family fishing trip. Ben too. We are dreaming. We decide Pete would fish if we provide him with a good book.

Really, what is it about the desert? I should find other artists to ask.
Maybe it's because it still looks like the bottom of the ocean. We're constantly reminded that this place was once very different. That we are

very temporary.

Today, maybe because the stormy weather feels like beach weather and beach weather always pulls the past into the present for me, like an inside-out sleeve.

Reinforcing the shade sails was on the list for today anyway, but by the time we'd had breakfast the temperature had dropped a full ten degrees and the wind had started and dark clouds were flying over the tops of the mountains, dragging blankets of shadow over everything below.
Orion held lengths of wire and pliers for me while I reached into the ancient, impenetrable and poisonous oleander to secure wire to the heaviest branches. Orion positively glowed, his eyes sparkled in brilliant strips of sunlight between the clouds. I recognized the particular excitement that comes with the battening down of hatches.

Being five is cool.

And I know this one well. Crystal memories of standing with my toes digging into cool sand, wet salty wind coating every strand of my hair with fine grit while grown ups screwed wooden planks over the windows, shouting and laughing over the wind.
I remember nightmares with great bonfires built along the beaches to hold back a huge swell of black water.

The shades have held, so far, though the wind is still going strong, blowing nests out of trees and plucking blossoms from the orange trees, ripping the bright, sweet fruit right out of winter.

Now, there's some time travel.

What does this have to do with art? What does this have to do with Poppets?

Thank you for checking in. g'night

Monday, April 09, 2007

Here we go again

For Easter, we swam.
Yesterday, we swam again.
I thought, after a season of sloth, it would be like starting over. It was like coming home.
We floated a four-foot-wide ball on the water and took turns diving under it, coming up as close as possible without touching.

We pretended the ball was a normal size and that we were tiny.
It's possible, with some effort on my part, to go there, to become very small. For Orion it's easy, natural.
Today is for making art. I'll try to take some photos for 'Nuts and Bolts'.
We're getting back into the groove. We need to. Lots of work to be done
At two or so, Orion and I will try being small again. Gives us even more of a Poppet perspective.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Truly Darkly Deeply

Sometimes I fall into dark places. Sometimes I feel it coming for miles. Sometimes I just quietly slip off the edge without warning into a hole where I seem to be made of lead, with no ropes for rescue and no will to call for help.

That's what I get for thinking.

I'm fairly certain this is true. These little journey's to the dark side seem to be part of my information processing plant. Stuff goes in--art comes out.

In between it can get a bit complicated.

Everyone has to deal with some form of mental lights-out at some time or other. Artists are notorious for these forays into sometimes dibilating sadness.

I can tell you what I do to get through, tools I use to minimize the disruption and damage.

We'll be talking about this on the Inner Workings Forum at this weekend.

It's April. There are flowers blooming everywhere. There are baby birds chirping.

There are Peeps.

What better time to discuss the black holes artist's find themselves in? If you've ever visited one, you know this is as good a time as any.

Hope to see you on the forums.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Playing with Mirrors

One thing I'm sure of, as Poppets are concerned, is that Poppets like to play.

So I've made some dressed in theater costumes of favorite characters, beginning with some from the works of Lewis Carroll.

I'll want a whole set of these, eventually. I'm guessing a few others will too, so even though they'll all be hand-made and different, I'll be making a number of each character, so that those who want to will be able to, over time, collect all nine.

The costumes have obvious zippers or buttons or masks, and some Poppets have a bit of red peeking from underneath.

Making Poppet costumes is a lot like making toys. As I often say, when things get weird, I can still make toys.
Things got weird.

I'll be talking about things getting weird this weekend on the "Inner Workings" part of the forums. Hope you'll stop by and talk back.

Ben will be back tomorrow, and we'll re-open the studio, which is likely full of cobwebs and dust and creatures made of cobwebs, dust and neglect. We'll deal with those first, then get back to work.
Back to work is a good idea.

Orion and I are feeling better. Thanks everyone. We'll likely be swimming again soon. I'm looking forward to underwater.
Underwater is good.

Speaking of swimming...wetsuits...hmmm. Likely I should have a salad for dinner. But I'm not. I'm going to have chicken.
Chicken is good too.