Tag Archives: animals

Why Humans Make Art With Dead Animals

Listen to Episode 111 of Slate’s The Gist: Subscribe in iTunes ∙ RSS feed ∙ Download ∙ Play in another tab Today on The Gist, we explore the uncanny valley of rogue taxidermy. Robert Marbury, author of Taxidermy Art, explains why an American BioArt trend is taking hold. Plus, Mike Tipping, of The Tipping Point…

Source: www.slate.com

So Cute, You Want To Hang Them!

There’s no denying the appeal of needle felted animals. The combination of cute animals so-lifelike-it’s-amazing and the fun fit-in-your-hand size makes them absurdly adorable. Not to mention that you can finally afford to have wild animals like raccoons and bears — even rare unicorns — right inside your home!

felted handmade unicorn

But if you’ve been struggling with a way to, I don’t know, make your purchases seem more purposeful, if not practical, than a collection of fuzzy shelf-sitters, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has got a great idea for you: mobiles.

Multi Breed Dog Mobile, Baby Mobile, Dog Mobile, Sheltie, Labradoodle, Beagle, Golden Retriever

felted otters crib mobile

felted spaniel

And if you don’t have a baby now, or even one on the way, don’t worry. Mobiles are for adults too. Remember the swanky mid century modern hanging art sculptures that once were de rigueur? Well, those were mobiles. Revive that hanging art trend for your home or office, say with an “air aquarium” of felted sea folk…

under the sea felt mobile

We highly recommend the Star Wars mobiles. Perfect for the sci-fi nerds and pop culture lovers in your life.

star wars mobile

needle felted yoda mobile

And what could be better for insomniacs than counting handmade felted sheep?

felted wooly sheep lambs mobile for insomniacs

Along with their shop, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has a website and a Facebook page.

An Interview With Sam Garton, The Illustrator Behind The Adorable Otter & Robot Suicides

I first met Sam at Tumblr, where I immediately was attracted to the dark yet whimsical works…

Mr. Gerald Beaufort, the rat, making plans to break in:

A robot suicide:

A dog who finds scary movies too scary:

But Sam, it turns out, is more known for his role as The Otter Keeper, the creator of I Am Otter.

Tell us a little about yourself, Sam… Did you go to art school? How long have you been doing I Am Otter?

I’m 28 and have an office job by day but also work as a freelance illustrator. I graduated from Derby University with a degree in illustration in 2005. I’m obsessed with otters and I enjoy putting sweets in the freezer so they last longer (especially jelly tots). I’ve been doing I Am Otter for about 2 years now!

How would you describe I Am Otter in terms of a project?

I am Otter is a website dedicated to a modern day domestic otter who lives with her Otter Keeper in the London suburbs. Nobody (not even me) can quite remember the day I became obsessed with an otter and decided to dedicate a rather unhealthy amount of time to her. I have a theory it happened when walking to work one day but you can’t be too sure about these things.

It’s a basic html site but I have also got quite into flash recently, so there are games and interactive elements too. At first you could be mistaken for thinking the site is directly aimed at children, but upon closer inspection you’ll find there is plenty of humour that will appeal to adults too. The site also has a built in blog where you can find lots of mini Otter stories, which I update frequently.

When did you start your shop? When did you feel you (and Otter) were ready for a shop?

People would ask me to buy prints so I decided eventually a shop was the best option, sadly me and Otter don’t get too much custom these days and there is a monthly fee. I keep meaning to change over to etsy or a free service but I spent quite a long time customizing this one so I’m reluctant to change for that reason.

What’s the story behind your Tumblr… Not only is the art different, but it’s rather orphaned from the rest of Otter’s world.

Well believe it or not I haven’t always drawn an Otter and her Teddy!

I’m actually very fond of a darker palette and enjoy more sinister and serious themes. There is just no place for that in otters world and so I really wanted somewhere I could be more myself and not be tied down. There is also the fact that lots of kids follow Otter and I wouldn’t want to scare anyone. 🙂

It’s gone well so far, but I’m still getting used to using Tumblr which is very different from WordPress.

The otter series is rather unusual… It’s almost like a graphic novel, more than an art series, isn’t it? Did you plan on this narrative sort of storytelling from the start, or did that evolve more organically?

It all sort of evolved organically to be honest. I Never set out with a master plan. I just started drawing otter and after a while my imagination just took over – I then had to keep drawing her to get the stories out of my head!

I never thought I could write particularly well (and I’m not saying I can) but it was quite a surprise how much I enjoy writing the text that comes along with the picture. I now feel the pictures require the story and vice versa. It does take me a while though – I’m constantly re-writing sentences to get the pacing right and I’m very picky over the words I use.

Do you have any plans to do this sort of presentation with the darker works? Any plans to sell prints of these works?

I would always sell prints to anyone who wanted them. I have my special printer I invested in and it creates great prints.

Sadly printing, packaging and trips to the post office take up time! And after doing otter shop for a while I’ve begun to find the whole process a bit tedious. But, unfortunately, I also have a bit of a dislike for the third party printers. “We print on anything and post to your customer” – great! “We also take 70% of your profit” – not so great. And I don’t like to use them either.

If I sell anything, I like the customer to be happy and get a good deal. It’s almost impossible to do this and make it worthwhile with the middle man too!

How do you feel the commercial aspects, selling prints, running sites, etc., have affected or impacted your work?

The creation of the websites and learning software like Photoshop are half the fun for me, if I’m honest. I guess they have impacted on my work in so much as I don’t do as much drawing because I’m learning WordPress or trying to make a new flash game for Otter. But If I didn’t do this, then it’s not like anyone would know about Otter in the first place!

And, like I said, the process of selling prints is a bit of a pain. I’d rather spend the time learning/drawing something new.

Do you feel more obligated to produce new works or, in the case of blogging, new posts?

I start to feel guilty after a week or so goes by with no Otter story. Half of this is because I know a few fans really enjoy the stories and are waiting for the next; the other half is that I actually feel bad for Otter! I need to make up her next adventure to keep her world alive… and I take this responsibility very seriously. 🙂

I don’t think I’d ever be able to stop writing about Otter… It would make me feel too sad?

As an artist, what is your definition of success?

For me success would be to make enough money out of my art that allowed me to do it full time! This would be fantastic as I have so much in my head I want to get out, but just not enough time. I’m sure this is the same for most artists. And I envy the ones that get to that level very much.

It also makes me very happy that my work can affect people in a positive way. For example, I get really nice messages from people saying that reading about Otter has really turned around a bad day they were having, or similar things to this. I’m not sure my darker stuff has this affect on people but hopefully it still invokes a positive or inspiring reaction of some kind.

It sure does, Sam; it inspired this interview.

 

The Keratin Creatures Of Rachel Betty Case

Watching Oddities, I fell in love with the “human ivory” artwork of Rachel Betty Case.

“Human ivory” is what Case calls human fingernails, toenails, and pet nail clippings. I can appreciate her desire to want to prettify such mundane things, but when I hear “ivory” I think of carving and what Case does is extremely intricate assembly work, layering and sculpting our discarded keratin pieces into fantastic little creatures…

On the episode of Oddities where Case appeared, store staff member Ryan was creep-ed out by the works. (I find it strange, since he plays with skeletons; but maybe it’s just a girl thing, not to freak over nail clippings, what with our love of mani-pedis and all?) Apparently Ryan’s not the only one loathe to touch the artist’s work though because Case began encasing her tiny keratin sculptures in resin; much like those retro Lucite bug rings and such.

On the show, Case said each resin piece takes about a week to make.  Given how long resin can take to set, it makes me wonder how long it takes her to assemble each keratin critter?

Once I visited the artist’s website, I was particularly smitten with her placing the Human Ivory works inside altered art books.

Fascinatingly beautiful.

ISewCute Certainly Is (The Interview!)

Sometimes, when I’m interviewing someone, I’ll make them do all the work and ask them to define their work.  For the absolutely adorable artisan behind the equally charming isewcute, I asked her to define her work in just three words. I knew it would be hard, perhaps it was even unfair, but then I knew we’d have the rest of this interview to add plenty more words. So this is where we start…

Your jewelry – how would you describe it in 3 words? (Toughie, huh!)

Wicked tough! I suppose this will do: customizable, artisan-crafted, whimsical.

I see you had to cheat with a hyphen! lol I personally would have used “glittery” — but then that’s because I have a love/hate relationship with glitter. …As a girl, I’m a sucker for glitter; but as a mom, who finds that stuff more insidious than Easter grass and tinsel, I groan at the sight of it. But your stuff traps the glitter — forever shimmering, but never escaping! Which is a stroke of gleaming awesomeness.


Umm, that’s not a question… How’s this: Would your artisan superhero name include the word ‘glitter’?

You’d be safe with a finished piece… no glitter escapes!  Glitter is always a good thing — I just got done glittering my craft table last week & love how it turned out & submitted it to ikeahacker’s blog.

Yeah, my superhero name would have to include glitter on some level!

Have you ever thought of yourself as a superhero? Of your jewelry as being talismans against doom and gloom? Because I find most of them so sweet and full of kitschy goodness that whoever wears them can’t be anything but happy!

I’ve never considered myself a superhero. Not since saving a couple of elderly folks from a burning building — at 4 months old.  The house caught fire & I cried because of the smoke & woke everyone up & we all got out alright. True story!

I’m hoping my jewelry brings happiness to all who wear it.  Especially the real four leaf clover jewelry I make.  More than anything, I hope my little creations are loved & cherished. They don’t want to be hidden away in a drawer or jewelry box; they want to make the scene!

What inspires your designs?

My refusal to grow up completely & stay in touch with my inner child, my own children through which I’m reliving my childhood… An insatiable love of sparkly things… Show me something shiny & I’ll lose my train of thought. Cartoons, pinups, music, pop culture all have a hand in inspiring me along the way.

What are your most popular designs or themes?

As we discussed with the embroidery it’s the custom order type of work that’s most popular now. The possibilities are endless!

I have been making personalizeable name necklaces…hearts, and rectangles full of sprinkles, glitter, and beads spelling out names of BFF’s & boyfriends.

Also, my four leaf clover jewelry has been selling real well because there is no shop on Etsy like asluckwouldhaveit.

I find the clovers myself, with the help of my children, dry the clovers for a couple weeks, & then they’re all ready to become treasures to cherish. Nature makes the clovers & I do the rest.

FYI, if anyone friends me on Facebook through the month of November, they’ll be entered to win a four leaf clover heart pendant!

Have you ever made something you were certain would “fly off the shelves” but wasn’t well received?

Oh sure! I made a soldered glass pendant with a funny quote (or so I thought), but apparently nobody got my humor.

(I’m dying to see that!)

How would you describe your customer?

Playful & someone who likes to stand out & express themselves… Marching to their own music.

I’m pretty sure they’re skipping, not marching. And I like it more that way. But then I’m pretty biased; I’m an isewcute customer.

For more on isewcute, see my other interview — and check out the artist at her own blogs: I Sew Cute and As Luck Would Have It.

Stitches In (My) Time

My mother, as she will tell you, is neither a very artsy person nor a very domesticated woman. While she is a rather gifted decorator, with an eye for beauty, detail, & quality — and a pocketbook which supports the artsy along with the arts, she doesn’t make things (other than reservations!). The result is that she didn’t teach me to sew or anything like that, and she was always rather fascinated by my continued purchase and completion of craft kits. As a kid, I taught myself to sew.

There was an older woman in our family who could have taught me, or at least nurtured me and and encouraged my interest; but she didn’t. (I’ll not name her, nor the relationship to me; so as not to hurt others and because the specifics of who she was does not matter as much as what she did or didn’t do.)

When I spotted this woman’s jar full of buttons, I was allowed to examine them. I fell in love with some adorable vintage lamb buttons (like these, except the ones I loved were made of white plastic). When she wouldn’t even broker the idea of giving me one, I decided I had to earn those coveted figural buttons. So I decided to teach myself to sew.

I began with what I thought would be a simple beginner’s project, using an iron-on transfer to place the blue outlines of a cheery juvenile bunny rabbit onto a piece of scrap muslin (both from a garage sale), and earnestly began making my first stitches.

After completing most of Mr. Bunny Rabbit’s head, I — in that shy sense of accomplishment of a beginner — presented my first wobbly stitches to this woman. I receive not one word of praise, even for taking up such an activity; instead she told me my stitches were uneven, clumsy, and generally poor.

They were uneven, clumsy, and generally poor — I was a child teaching herself needlework.

Had her appraisal included any sort of constructive tips in terms of just how to improve my stitches, I might not have been so devastated.

But I didn’t give up. I just didn’t show her, or anyone else, what I was working on. In my mind, I thought if I could improve, if I could make something worthy of showing, that one day I’d earn her respect — and those cute figural lamb buttons.

But I never did.

I never felt skilled enough to show that woman what I made, needlework or otherwise.

Years passed. I continued to make things. But, full of that woman’s scorn for my work, feeling that my skills were so poor that I’d never be worth mention let alone any investment in time, supplies or support, I just “piddled about” with projects on my own. My parents knew what I did, simply because good parents know what their children are up to, be it reading, crafting, or whatnot.

So when this woman got too old to use any of her sewing machines, my parents asked if I could have one. That woman refused; like the jar full of old buttons, the sewing machines just vanished from her house — and my life. But not my memory.

Instead of giving me the gifts of her time and counsel, of nurturing me and my skills, this woman left me with a very poor opinion of my work. I made less things, tried less projects, and, certain what I was making was crap, I obviously wasn’t going to let my peers see the fruits of my “piddling about.” By the time high school ended, so had my crafting efforts. I put them on hold for that “someday” when I’d have my own apartment and could piddle in private.

The story of that path or a promised “someday” is another story. But today’s point is that children and beginners need to be encouraged to create things. No matter how uneven, clumsy, and poor their initial (and subsequent) works may be.

Needlework is especially worth encouraging — not only as a nearly lost art, but as a practical life skill; the number of persons who cannot even replace a button or repair a separating seam is astonishing.

To help foster a young child’s interest in ans mastery of needlework, check out Easy Hand Sewing for Kids. Heck, if you don’t consider yourself a child but your stitches are childish, check out that article (and the slew of resources within it). It’s never too late to learn.

And, as far as I can see, it’s never too late to give an old lady her comeuppance.

Image Credits:

Vintage animal buttons via Prestige-Enterprises.

Vintage iron-on transfer of baby animals via Blondies-Spot.

Seeing Around With Edward Tufte

I received a promotional mailing from Edward Tufte about the first major museum exhibition of his sculpture. I can’t say much about the actual exhibition (Seeing Around, on view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum) as I haven’t been there. (Yet?) But I do have a few thoughts on the promo pieces.

seeing-around-edward-tufte

First of all, any art exhibition, museum, gallery, etc., which uses Charles Schulz’s Peanuts is awesome; but super bonus points for using the strip in which Charlie Brown is too intimidated to discuss what he sees in cloud formations with Lucy. What more of a non-threatening introduction do you need to proceed?

So, like anyone who receives multiple-paged stuff, I began to flip through the pages… Until I found Tufte pièce de résistance: four pages on animals and landscape sculpture.

edward-tufte-animals-and-landscape-sculpture

If seeing the photo of sheep nestled into a contemporary art sculpture doesn’t get you, how about Zerlina the Golden Retriever peeping from Geometric Cutouts? And if that slice of adorableness still doesn’t entice you to read Tufte’s thoughts on the artistic relationships between land, animals, and landscape sculptural artworks, how about a photo of Zerlina’s “repertoire of concealment methodologies” — complete with cartoon bubble thoughts for both the dog and the cast iron lion?

tufte-art-and-animals

I may not have been a real fan of such contemporary and large-scale sculptures before, but through such inviting images and narrative Tufte now has me intrigued…

So I stopped flipping through the brochure, and began reading. And viewing far more of the art (and viewing it far more thoughtfully too).

Inside, Tufte presents some food for thought. Like the images shown, his artist’s statements are welcoming. Tufte just ‘talks’ about his works, his intentions, and invites you to see not only his works, but other works, perhaps in new ways.

art-wrenches-by-edward-tufteHe doesn’t talk down to the reader — but he sure as heck doesn’t ramble on in such a lofty way that makes me think (as I far too often do) that either the Emperor has no clothes or I don’t know a damn thing about art.

(The latter might in fact be true, but such intimidation doesn’t welcome anyone to view the exhibition — other than those, like Hugh Grant, who will pretend they get it to appear hip — which really just reinforces the silence around naked Emperors too.)

From here I fell in love with several of his abstract sculpture series: The eight feet wrenches (above, left), and the Open Ended series (at bottom of the post).

What’s more, I want to stand before them outside. Even if Zerlina and/or the sheep aren’t there. I want to see how the light, the trees Tufte planted in the museum’s sculpture garden, the other people all play with the giant abstract sculptures.

Which is precisely what this catalog or promotional book is supposed to do.

So hat’s off to Tufte for exposing himself as a very fine Emperor of contemporary art sculpture indeed.

open-ended-series-by-edward-tufte