Friday, June 29, 2007

It's Both, and Neither

We swam at dusk, when the bats were just waking and the pool light only muddied the water.

"Is it Tomorrow?" Orion asked.

"It's Twilight, " I told him. "It's sort of an interesting time, because it's not night and it's not day."

I looked past him at the giant balls floating on the water. Their colors are faded in this light. They tell me I can be poppet-sized. They want me to be.

I have an idea for a story.

Just Be. I say in my head. Just Be. Sometimes easier said than done.

It's the runaway train of connections, composition, dialog, layers. I've written before that I'm never blocked creatively. There is that. But the price is the lack of just being. That doesn't come easily. And, of course, I wish it did. So, I struggle. Drugs don't help. Breathing exercises exasperate.

Swimming helps. Like a tinfoil hat against the aliens. Underwater is for just being. And snow, and surf, clear starry skies and methods of mental discipline still under development.

We submerge together and play-fight with plastic swords. It's not half as easy as it sounds, but looks twice as cool as you'd imagine.

I asked Orion why he wants to do this. He says because it's sword fighting and it's underwater.

"Is it Tomorrow?" he asks again. (He wants to hear again about Twilight.)

I tell him that it's Twilight.

It's not night. It's not day. But it is night and it is day. It's both, and neither.

I can see him mulling it over.

"Time for cannonballs!" he says. I agreed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Do I really get paid for thinking?

On the Poppet Planet forums, someone asked me how long it takes to paint Poppets. " How long...?" is the question asked more often than any other when I exhibit art. I must confess, after about thirty of these I'm fairly likely to put on a Zen face and answer, "moo." (Mu)

Not so much that it's a dumb question, but that it's a question without an answer. Sure, it doesn't rate with "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Still, it requires travel.

In other words, the answer is complex.

The techniques I use are based on layers of color, ( which I hope to demonstrate on the forums eventually) and were developed over many years. Because of that, I'm capable of working quickly.

Given a Poppet and paints, could I paint a Little Red Poppet in five minutes? Yes. and No.

Yes, in a "vacuum" with no curing or drying times, no preparation. But, with a system in place,(e.g., a paid staff) could I paint 100 Poppets at an average of 5 minutes each? Possibly. Would I want to?

I'm gonna say no, or at least, not today.

Some pieces take longer than others. Titania took what seemed like forever, because she was the first in a series (Midsummer Night's Dream.)

Let me explain why this matters.

Creating a series is a rather big undertaking. First, because it carries several obligations to my collectors.

When I start a series, (like the Wonderland Poppets) I'm committing to create as many as it takes for collectors to complete their sets. At some point, when I stop making them (and I definitely will) I'll give collectors who already have partial sets the opportunity to complete.

Now, that said, I also must make each character unique in some way. I must rethink the character each time I make one, so there's some facet that's not present in any of the others. Sometimes easy---sometimes not so very.

In addition, I must choose and commit to a painting style and color palette for each series. Which brings me back to why Titania took so long. I had to find a palette that worked well for this series' theme and that would set it apart from other series. I established patterns and colors for Titania that could be modified to work for the others in the group. Then, I have to stick with it throughout the series. Not always easy for the traveling sort of mind.

And finally, records must be kept of how many of each character was created, when, and where it went when it left the studio.

So, when I calculate the time it took to paint Titania, if I'm to be accurate (You can take the girl out of the laboratory....) I must consider work experience, product development, research, time spent thinking about the work and finally, execution (which includes curing and drying times.

It's why sometimes I really enjoy going 'off track' and making strange little single Poppets that don't quite fit anywhere except that they're Poppets.

Original works (the gallery pieces) are very different from collectible works and carry a whole different set of considerations.

I'd say, with the exception of a few experiences, the majority of time spent for every work I make(including and especially the gallery pieces) is the thinking about what, why and then, how.

In other words, the creative process, like time, is not a constant.

If you'd like to delve into this aspect of creating art, or have any questions, come to the forums and we'll dig deeper.

It's full blown desert hot here today. Time to hit the water.
Time to replace all our lightbulbs with CFL's.

* * * ravyn here * * *

Sweet little Faerydusted1 has nominated this blog for a Blogger's Choice Award, in four categories including:

My site was nominated for Best Blog of All Time!

Thanks, FD1 !! And the rest of you, vote early and vote often! **winks**

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I Know You're In There

Stargazer Girl was quite the good sport about playing our protagonist.
She can be found in the Midsummer Sale, along with lots of one of a kind Poppets. Red and Blue ones too.

More pieces will be added today.
But first, coffee......iced.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dreams of Poppets and Midsummer's Nick Bottoms

SATURDAY UPDATE- Will be listing pieces today and tomorrow, so check in for new stuff!

I didn't dream the same dream again. Only twice this one. I did dream of a strange house, that was or was not ours. We couldn't decide. Really, it seems to be the same dream, just different symbols. And, I finally dreamt of Poppets. I was paving my grandmother's boat dock with them. Red ones. My grandmother has been gone for many years, and when she was alive, she didn't have a boat. But she would've loved Poppets.


I awoke early, about 7:15, to a computer that had crashed in the night and would require a four-hour reboot. Gurtie was yowling at me as I fumbled at opening her food and the house painters, who had somehow gotten mixed- up orders and were here four days early, were knocking on the door. Still in my pj's I opened it, discovering I'd managed to get cat food juice in my hair and that I was still holding the kettle, as though that would somehow keep me connected to the hope and possibility of coffee. I noticed the neighbor's cat pooping in my caladiums, and Fed X bringing boxes I'd put.....where?

It's a GOOD DAY.
It's a good day when nothing bad happens. All this stuff is just stuff. After all, if it's not one thing, it's another.
It's a good idea to understand the difference between a good day and a bad day.

So, once again the art and life are mixed up in these rooms and halls. I seem to be getting no better at at preventing this chaos, but better at not letting it make me crazy. Possibly I'm working that sort of stress out in my dreams now, with strange cocktail parties and paving things with Poppets.

That said, I did make some Summer Solstice Poppets. The work ended up not so much being about the sun, but about A Midsummer Night's Dream. And, not because of Shakespeare--though I highly recommend reading the play if you haven' t--but because I listened to Mendelssohn. Once I did, there was nothing more to do than to let Poppets play Oberon, Titania, Puck and Nick Bottoms too.

Poppets like Mendelssohn, it seems.

Anyway. I'll get them listed tomorrow, along with more Little Blue Poppets and Little Red Poppets, of course. Likely I'll be adding more pieces for a day or two as we get them photographed. I hope you like them. Check back in. Links will be up.
In the meantime, Ravyn has updated the Poppet Registry. And don't forget to visit the forums--there's always something interesting going on there. And our Cafe Press Shops are always open.

So, the pool is full of debris, all around us things are draped in plastic and Orion is asking, "What is all this mess?!" The gallery opens tomorrow and I'm soooo not ready. But here we are, the stars are shining and the midsummer air, even in the most mundane of messes, carries its soft magic. I have but to be quiet to hear it.
I know what a bad day is. And this day wasn't it. Hope yours was good too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Gene Wolfe, Poppets Aware, Waking up Dreaming

This past weekend, Gene Wolfe was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

At right, Gene(accepting a Locus award for Neil Gaiman) and Connie Willis.
Then, David Hartwell (Wolfe's editor), Kathryn Cramer (wife of Hartwell), Gene Wolfe, Rosemary Wolfe, Teri (Wolfe) Goulding at the ceremony. These photos were sent by Jordan's Mom (via her extremely nice spouse, Joe). Thank you!

I have two things to say about Gene Wolfe:

The first is that I've read more of Gene Wolfe's work than any other author. (I read....a lot.)

The second is that I'd do absolutely anything Gene Wolfe asked.*

*with the exception of whatever ridiculous and humiliating thing he might conjure up after possibly having read this post.

If you haven't read Gene Wolfe, I would recommend starting with Storey's from the Old Hotel. The stories inside are tremendously varied and there's a good chance you'll email me later to tell me how grateful you are for sending you there.
If you want to try a bold tack, read The Shadow of the Torturer. If that one hooks you, I envy you, because you're in for a long ride from which you will emerge changed. I'll want to know if that happens.
Coincidentally, John Klima sent me this photo, which he titles "Poppet Contemplates Self."

I like it. It has Gene Wolfe. It has Poppets.

John is editor of Electric Velocipede. Check it out. I have issue #11, which I thought was good. John is looking for persons to help produce the EV. If you're interested, there's contact info on the site.

We swam in the evening when the light was fading and the bats were waking. We stayed in until a perfect crescent moon appeared and Venus, and suddenly a whole host of stars came out and our fingertips were prunes.

Here's the thing. It hardly rained at all this year. And, by July, we'll need another thermometer, one with more numbers.

We'll swim 'like it's going out of style.' It might.

I didn't sleep well. Two nights now. Dreams. I woke, thinking it was 9 a.m., but when I shambled out of the bedroom, it was nine p.m. and there was a party. The house was party-lighted and there was music and people milling around with their drinks and dressed for dinner. I could hear the ice in their glasses and bits of conversation as I wove my way through pairs and groups looking for Pete, or Orion, or Aubrey, or anyone who could tell me what in hell was going on. Some guests acknowledged me with smiles but without recognition. Most looked familiar. No one seemed to mind my pajamas. I began to lose that subconscious sort of acceptance, that sense of observation one has when dreaming, and real panic set in as I finally realized I was wide awake, twelve hours off and extremely confused. My heart pounded and I felt dizzy and short of breath and suddenly, I opened my eyes. It was 9 a.m. and the bedroom was filled with sunlight.

That was yesterday morning. This morning I had the same dream, with orange pajamas, not gray, and I awoke to Orion, who'd climbed into bed with me (Pete has an LA gig) and slept with his feet on my pillow in a familiar room once again filled with light. My heart was pounding.

Generally these types of dreams come in threes. Now I have Gene Wolfe on my mind, three could get really weird. Perhaps I should watch TV instead of reading myself to sleep. As if there's no potential for weirdness there...

Poppet Contemplates Self ............... Poppet Googles Self.

I may not sleep for days.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Poppet Salad

Here is one of my favoite POT photos.

And here is an excerpt from today's email:

Later, with a little more personal time on my hands, I was able to use my scope to pore through the southern Milky Way, delving into infinite depths of light and dark rarely visible from the NE. The sight of all those silent stars peering back at me from such distances, with the rim of the Grand Canyon only a couple hundred feet away, is truly one of life's rewards.
At the moment, the temperature in Binghamton and on the Canyon rim is the same.

The above photo is by SciFiLaura and can be seen on POT flickr along with this one by faerydusted1.

The email is from Joe Bergeron who, gives us a closer look at the night skies.


Hy Bender, whom you probably know best as the author of The Sandman Companion, will give you expert advice through his websites Hy On Your Book and Hy On your Script. He will analyze your project with humor and clarity to rival any Dummies Books (of which he's written five.) He tells me that the word "Poppet" in your email will get you an extremely reduced price for his services. Hy Bender tends to be partial to Poppets, which could work out well for writers who are too. Check it out, forward it to your writer groups. Thanks, Hy!

Today I received this Paper Poppet Carousel by Robert Johnson Jr. It has a loop on top and when I turn it, the Little Poppets, all in different colors, spin around. This is a very cool thing. All the designs are Robert's drawings. Thank you. It's truly clever and sweet and Poppety.

Also in the box were patterns and the prototype for our Poppet Doll, which is designed by Robert and which we hope to release for the winter holidays. Here Orion demonstrates size and cuddle factor which seems to be quite high.


And Red Poppets too. (If these links are wonky--just do an ebay search for my name.) I'm thinking that offering these now, before the Solstice Sale, will allow me to make more Poppets available without making shipping day more insane. Seems like a good idea. And, for some reason, at the moment, so do Little Blue Poppets.
Oh...and Little Pink too.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just keep swimming...enough with the multitasking...collaborating

My earliest introduction to the art of multitasking would have to be watching my mother prepare holiday dinners. Wow. That woman was efficient. A dozen or more dishes timed to emerge magically, arriving on the table at the same moment, each at the peak of its 'done-ness'.

Later it was in the laboratory, with labeled timers ticking all around for adding this reagent or that, starting a centrifuge or taking readings. With practice, it becomes almost automatic, even for this human.

In the studio at any given moment there can be glue setting, castings curing and paper mache drying, clothes in the washer, water boiling in the kettle and me dry-brushing a panel while working out a paragraph in my head.

But not always.

Some things must be done simply, with no distractions, and with every bit of my attention, like listening to Gorecki's 3rd, or watching the stars come out, or making a piece of art.

And some time must be devoted to just being . Swimming falls into that category.

Find what your just being things are, and take time to be. Trust me on this one.

There have been periods in my life when I didn't direct my attention to one thing.
This way is better. I got that from my mother too, though I "got it" years later. I can see her on the beach, sitting in the sand, looking out at the water and smiling. Sometimes, she just was.


Writing this, I recall making the poppet diving videos with Orion and Ravyn. (and, of course, Poppets) We started it on a complete whim, with no planning or preparation, and it turned into this really fun collaboration (aka, really hard work with laughing.) We agreed we both learned a lot from the experience and decided to delve into it on the Poppet Planet forums so we could tell you more about it and talk about the whole concept of artistic collaboration----especially the spontaneous sort.

Hope you'll join us here for "Collaboration Happens."


The Gallery will be open on June 23 for Summer Solstice. There will be more Alice in Wonderland Poppets and in the spirit of the season some visitors from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."


And now, of course, swimming. Go and be.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Air and Water = Bubbles and Poppets On Video

It's true, the only perfect thing is light, but air and water are way up there, at least on this planet, and for everything that lives here.

Once in awhile, schedules be damned, your artist takes a step sideways to make something from unfamiliar clay.

I believe these exercises expand us in unexpected ways.

We, like Poppets, are larger inside than out and, in those vast spaces, connected to one another.

Creative tangents appear suddenly and without warning; explore. Each invitation is unique and urgent and conditional: now or never

This time I jumped in and took Ravyn with me.

I took some footage of Poppet Diving and sent it to Ravyn, who was pulled in visually by the bubbles, and a spontaneous collaborative process began.

We ended up with two little slices of the creative life I write about here--- a closer look.

We had fun collaborating and hope you enjoy the images and music.

You saw Day on the previous blog entry.
Here is Windy Night Poppet Diving and (for dial-up) this version on YouTube.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Poppet Vision, Poppet Diving

I seem to be surrounded by talented people. Poppets draw them to me.

Pete takes POT photos with his cell phone. He has a real eye for composition and astounds me occasionally with shots he gets on the fly, like this one-- taken en route to Vegas--that has the look of vintage folk art gone slightly surreal.

Ravyn continues to explore in a number of artistic directions. She has one of her tiny (you can't appreciate how tiny unless you've seen one in person) painted horses, this one My Fey Grey Pony. We're working on Foppet's Poppets sets for the Solstice sale; an astronomy pair and an astrology pair.

She is determined to cause me to go blind.

I took a couple of days off to play with Orion.

He discovered playing with Poppets. He says Poppets need little houses. Here they are having naps on mats.

And then
we discovered Poppet Diving.
I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I thought you might like to see Poppet diving in action, so I shot a couple of short videos, one in the morning, and one at night. I sent them to Ravyn who applied her editing skills. She says she's playing with Night. But here you can see Day... given a whole new perspective with cool music by Hopeful Machines.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Cosmic Cat and a Bit of a Shakeup

At Balticon I had the pleasure of watching a DVD presentation of Joe Bergeron's Cosmic Cat. The site has a gallery of images.

My first thoughts as the story unfolded were about how much Orion will enjoy this book.

My second thoughts were about how evident it would be to anyone that Joe Bergeron is absolutely and unconditionally in love with the night skies.

And finally, what I thought was, This is really, really good.

A copy is now making it's way in my direction and I look forward to reading it with Orion.


We swam three times today. Once in the morning with Pete, who tomorrow will begin dismantling a ridiculously complex set in Vegas. Once with Ben who stopped by with huge slushy lemonades from Jensens. And once tonight, under the clouds and in the lime- colored pool lights.

I spent the morning hours with emails and paperwork. No studio. I spent the afternoon in garden centers and in what is becoming the garden, daring to be green under the brutal sun only by the grace of fabric thin as wishes, rippling overhead in the hot air.


On the plane I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I read this book at every opportunity (there were few) during the convention and for a day after my return. I realized I'd gained new knowledge about the building of Gothic cathedrals without planning to, and without even the least bit of effort on my part. I met a man at a reception once who told me he never read fiction because he wanted to learn something in return for his time spent reading. I looked at him for a long moment. It was like staring into a blinding white light. It was like being a Poppet.

I left him to it. No regrets.


We just had an earthquake. Just right it's about 10:13. No damage, just long enough that we made it to the hallway and quakey enough that I'm shaking a little still. I should be getting an email soon with specs.

I am so not particulary fond of earthquakes.

Got it. It was a 4.2 at 10:11pm about 18 miles from here No damage here, just a few drunken frames on the walls but I haven't seen reports from closer yet.

Cookies and milk are in order, for Orion and Mommy. And news later, while he sleeps.


The ten Little Pink were claimed almost immediately, so I put a few more up to thwart disappointment, and the subsequent whining.

I'll plan to include Little Pink in the regular Gallery sale on June 23. Poppets too. And new things.


Now. Really. Time for cookies.

Check out Cosmic Cat.