Monday, December 5, 2011

Funger--The Saddest Clown in the World


The circus had blown town years ago like a dust kitten scattered by a door slammed in anger.

Oblivious to the blackening sky, Funger walked slowly home from the corner store where he went every morning to buy a scratcher and a bottle of cough syrup.  He was thinking of the girl with the pencil tucked behind her ear who smiled a kind smile as she gave him change.  Funger loved her with all his giant heart.

Then, Funger’s normally downcast eyes were ensnared by the bright colors of a new “Cheerful-Tide Brand Detergent” billboard that showed a beached mermaid frolicking in the sand under a snappy dialogue bubble:  “Improved Cheerful-Tide Super Ultra Power Plus Detergent Washes Dirt From Your Clothes. . . and Love onto Your Lonely Shores.”  Funger looked back down at his own clothes, and sighed.

As Funger shuffled up to his tiny house with the boarded windows his eyes lighted on the neighbor’s rose bush.  He glanced around, and with the seed of a good idea blooming in his heart, picked just one.  Funger’s hands were encased like sausages in soft knit gloves, making his fingers feel like they were wearing blankies. The rose’s sharp thorns barely made his fingers bleed at all. 

At home, Funger carefully sat the rose down on the kitchen table and began removing his only clothes: a rumpled pair of baggie pants, an electric orange and green sweater jacket, and his cherished soft blue shirt.  He loved them so much he had never, ever washed them.  He couldn’t afford any “Cheerful-Tide Brand Detergent” but maybe—just maybe--pure water and anti-bacterial hand soap would be sufficient.

Wearing nothing but his gloves, shoes, and stained pinstripe boxers, Funger scooped up his outerwear and took them to the washer in the basement.  “I will be so clean for her!” He dreamily squeaked.

As Funger stood anxiously watching his clothes go round and round, first in the washer, and then the dryer, he thought to himself:  “I love her.  I love her SO much!!!  And when you love someone enough, they love you back.  They have to love you back!!!”  Funger believed with his whole heart that this is how love works.

As the dryer beeped and the tumbling stopped, Funger felt his heart beat faster as he imagined himself and the girl with the pencil behind her ear holding hands as they jumped from the high dive into a tiny bucket of water.  An almost-smile rose up deep in Funger’s heart and nearly made it to his face when he saw his only clothes, horribly shrunken.

“Oh no!” Funger cried, biting his still-gloved index finger.  “Please be okay. Please be okay!!!” He prayed over and over as he hopped and wriggled into the once baggy pants, finally snapping the brass button shut.  Funger strained and pulled and got into his shirt, and then his sweater jacket, so upset he didn’t even notice how soft and warm they were.  Funger hunched in front of his dusty mirror and felt his heart sink.

“But it will be okay.”  He thought.  “Because I love her!”   Before his courage could fail him, he grabbed the stolen rose and waddled out the door as fast as his clenched pants would let him.  He felt a cold splat hit his bald spot and he looked up just in time for the clouds to break open on his upturned face.  “OH NO OH NO OH NO!!!!”  Funger squealed and rapidly shuffled down the sidewalk, trying to make it to the store before the heavy rain could spoil his silky green locks of hair and further shrink his outfit.

Funger scurried under the store awning and was greeted by his reflection in the window.   His fish-white belly lapped obscenely out between shrunken pants and shirt.  His glorious green locks were plastered to his face, and the rose-- the beautiful gift of love--was missing most of its petals.  In the rain, he couldn’t feel the tears on his face, but the ones in his heart whispered “Go home Funger.  No one could ever love someone like you.”

Soaked and cold but safe at home, Funger quietly closed the door against the driving rain.  He dug around the kitchen drawer, found a razor blade and went to the bathroom.  He got in the tub fully clothed, and started carefully scraping mildew from the tile grout onto a plate.  He put the plate in the toaster oven, and when the timer jingled, Funger finished every bit of his humble dinner alone.  

Then, still hungry, Funger sank beneath his thick, soft comforter and cried himself to sleep, where he dreamed he was a dolphin swimming with the other dolphins in the sparkling blue oceans from which both man and clown had crawled millions of years before, searching. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blue Goddess

Playful blue goddess.  As consciousness continues to evolve, so perhaps do the archetypes.  Guardian and guide to the Noosphere, is she a physical manifestation of Gaia?

She also seems to resonate with Kali Ma, the dark hindu goddess associated with, among other things, kundalini energy and transcendent reality.

 Despite the visual kinship with Medusa (whose serpents might also be seen as a nod to rising kundalni energy) the blue goddess's tentacles represent energy, or the communication web, connecting all living things.

I can't help but ponder the curious increase of the archetypal blue alien-like goddess and the association with planetary consciousness, the most overt reference in popular culture being the Navi in James Cameron's "Avatar."

This image was created with merino and corrieadale fiber on painted canvas, embellished with a ceramic kenyan bead.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hanging On When Everything Changes

When I was asked to make a tree for a birthday present recently, the only instructions I had were "I need it by Saturday and it needs to have a lot of orange in it. The lady I'm giving it to, orange is her favorite color." 

"Do you mean orange leaves?" I asked.  "Do you have any type of tree in mind?  Is this an autumn tree, or like a little bonzai or something?"

"Don't ask me, you're the artist."  She said.  Ouch!  Pressure and responsibility, and not exactly a lot of time to come up with an idea.  And yet, just minutes later the form this custom request would take appeared crisply focused in my mind's eye.

I titled this tree "Last Leaf of the Season." The image speaks about tenacity and strength, and hanging on to the very end. The little duck looking up is about how your tenacity and strength inspires others.  "Last Leaf" is also a cute little thing, but I put 100% of my energy on making this piece as special and magical and unique as I do the more overtly esoteric "vision quest" pieces.  At 2 in the morning, felting needles flying, I was transported to places that have real seasons and could literally feel the cool autumn breeze on my skin..  I hope "Last Leaf" brings a soothing, introspective healing bit of magic into the home where it now dwells.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Things That Make it All Worthwhile

Taj hams it up for his photo shoot on my DS.
 One of the Etsy teams I belong to is dedicated to videogames.  I hadn't been very active, but decided to participate in a "Game of the Month" competition they hold.  "Diddy Kong Racing" was the month's theme, and even though not a favorite game of mine,  it was a good opportunity to connect and share with others, and to get back to  3-dimensional pop-art figurines I used to do more frequently before I branched off into tapestries. 
When I put my entry "Taj the Elephant from Diddy Kong Racing" up on Etsy, it was purchased in less than 24 hours.  The collector that purchased it was thrilled when it arrived and sent me a lovely note: 

"I LOVE that Taj elephant!!!!! It is even more awesome in person. It really is a beautiful piece of art, so happy to have for my "pop art" collection. I really enjoy looking at it. Can't wait for my 8-yr-old artsy son to see it when he wakes up."

Then later:  "My son thought Taj was awesome this morning.  On a scale of 1 to 10 he said 100,000!!! So thanks again for making such a beautiful piece of art and putting a smile on our faces. And also, the moment our dog Lila saw it, she barked and jumped with excitement because she thought it was for her!!! How cute and funny is that?"

This melted my heart.  I am generally a selfish artist, and pursue strange visions that are sometimes alienating, caring only if I achieve personal satisfaction from the process.  But Taj the Elephant was created initially to bring joy to the Diddy Kong fans in my Etsy gaming group.  It was a surprise lesson that working from an un-selfish place ended up bringing happiness to others too. 

But there's more!  The lady who bought Taj let me know how much she liked my "Sea Serpent Triptych" and wished it weren't so expensive.  We exchanged a few messages and I agreed to do a a new, smaller sea serpent for a lower price. 

It's always intimidating for me to make a custom piece on request, and the technique I use for my magical creatures (finding the shapes and features randomly in tufts of raw wool) is so different than the more concrete, controlled approach I use when re-creating videogame or cartoon characters that I was a little nervous the customer might not like the serpent in person. 

But I put my 100% effort into the new sea serpent, and sent it out into the world, hoping it would bring as much joy as Taj had done.  I should have trusted this lady's exceptional taste in art (wink wink!).  Her reaction and story brought so much joy to my day I have to share it:

"You are so awesome to make the serpent for us. We love it and now fight over positioning it! Every time I walk by I separate it out and make it curvy, then my son goes by and puts it close together and straight. Two perfectionist type A personalities-- my karma is biting me in the butt. But it is pretty funny to both of us. 

Anyways, everyone that sees the elephant and serpent love them. Thank you for the beautiful art. You are one of my favorite artists. Can't wait to see your other items you post. Later when I can shop again if you are interested I would like more custom items. Thanks again for everything!"

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to this customer for taking the time to share her experience with me.  I have aspirations (perhaps beyond my skill, and tinged with delusions of grandeur) to take textiles somewhere new, push boundaries, to explore darkness and taboo, and to develop a thematic and stylistic coherence in a collection that communicates a more complex vision of what it means to be both animal and divine.  But it was humbling to be reminded of the power of simplicity. . . that art for the sake of beauty and aesthetics--art snobs be damned--is also important and meaningful.

So many different kinds of wool in this sea serpent!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


"Spitbeard" here was made at the request of a dear friend, and is fully known as "Spitbeard the Trail Demon." 

A little back story:  I have made several sculptures for people of their "Inner Demon."  And by demon, I just mean the shadow self.  I feel that bringing the shadow self into the light of our 3-dimensional sensory reality through art, and embracing it and loving it, has healing power.  Spitbeard is the first time I've done this in tapestry form.

Spitbeard comes from a friend who took an epic journey: he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  This is no trivial little hike, but a grueling test of self that takes months of planning and preparation, traversing the entire west coast through California, Oregon and Washington, starting from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada.  I can barely fathom how much epic beauty his eyes and soul absorbed as his brutalized feet carried him and a backpack 20 plus miles a day through mountains, desert, valleys, snow.

I'm a walker, and have been since I was a small child, introduced to the pleasure of a long walk by my grandfather way back when there were still fragrant orange groves in San Bernardino county.  One thing I have come to know is that long walks are a place where you can really come face to face with your true self, dark and light. 

Spitbeard started as a painting.
When my friend came back from the Pacific Crest Trail he was literally re-entering the frantic energy of San Francisco from another planet.  He was beautiful, and at the same time, his eyes had a touch of "far away crazy". . . and his beard!  John Muir would have been proud.

My buddy has experienced some dark places, both within and without, including Iraq.  But I got the idea (though I haven't asked) that he worked through a lot of things on the trail, learning to love the shadow that walked beside him.  Right after he got back I painted what that shadow looks like to me:  a little scary, but joyously, devilishly playful and wise. 

As I've gotten deeper into creating with wool, he asked me if I could sculpt Spitbeard.  I said I would do it.  I was only doing three dimensional figurines at the time and that's how I was going to do Spitbeard.  But I never felt "moved" to do it and it got delayed and I expect he thought it wasn't going to happen.  But recently my buddy and I hung out with another friend who is a roadie for Ween, and who is the King of Beards.  It was a whiskey fueled debauch off the richter scale, but we came out of it with just what we needed to make Spitbeard into a reality.

Good times, guys.  Spitbeard knows how to party. 

Spitbeard:  seen so much, and so hardcore he got his eye pierced.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Felted Goddess Tapestry

"Obsience to Her
Who is Pure Being, Consciousness, Bliss.
As Power,
Who Exists in the Forms of Time and Space,
And All That is Therein,
Who is the Divine Illuminatrix in All Beings."
-  A Tantric Prayer

Gaia, Ishtar, Isis, Kali, Medusa.  Tree, serpent, branch, tentacle. . .brilliant web of energy permeating the universe, all forms of consciousness connected--microbial, plant, human, alien-- in a radiant sensual dance of electrons and sweat, birthing each moment of our existence.

This humble wool creation is a tribute to the power of feminine energy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lord Ember, Guardian of the Secret Fire

Lord Ember
 If you are the first person to wake up when camping there is a good chance you can catch a glimpse of Lord Ember, protecting that last little bit of glowing coal buried in the ashes of the previous night's revelries. 

That hot hidden ember, if carefully coaxed, can turn back into a roaring source of heat and illumination, drawing the other campers out of their tents to warm their hands and feet and enjoy a hot cup of cowboy coffee.

People, like campfires, can let their fire die, but Lord Ember casts his protection in that realm too, keeping a little spark alive inside even the most storm drenched souls.  All you need to do is find something to kindle the spirit, and with gentle stirring and fanning you might be surprised by how brilliantly your inner light can shine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


You gotta click on this and look at it more closely.
Awhile back I posted about trading a Wooliverse sculpture in exchange for a surprise painting from a really good friend and artist.  I recently received my original Randy O painting, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! 

Lizard's are a special animal to me, not just because they enjoy laying on warm rocks, but because they represent existing with one foot in the dream world, and one foot in regular consensus reality.  This painting, acrylic on canvas, it's hard to do justice to it with a photo. . .it is such a shimmering and vibrant piece.  I'm so touched, I don't really know what else to say.

Randy. . .Thank you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Old Ball and Chain

Heart lock and key.
 Pictured here is a solid wool, near-life size replica of a classic ball and chain.  It's the largest needle felted sculpture I've made.

I really like the idea of the object itself, duplicating solid iron in light, soft merino wool. 

I had fun with the romantic sub-text.  Being called a "Ball and Chain" is definitely not romantic, but love and relationships do have obligations and commitments.  It struck me as romantic to turn the ball and chain idea on it's head, and instead of a burden, show it as something warm, fuzzy and cute.  And maybe a bit sexy, depending on your perspective.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A New Direction

(Please read my previous entry "What Does Magick Have to Do With Anything.")

Recently I have been sculpting with wool less, and playing with other techniques, like painting wool on canvas,  2.5 dimensional applique sculpting, and wet felting.  I've also expanded the types of yoga I've been practicing to include Kundalini (the results of which sort of remind me of Israel Regardi's Kabbalisitic "Middle Pillar Ritual." ) It's been fun, but for the longest time it seemed like it was going nowhere. 

Pre-sculpted wet felt

I've decided to share the story behind a new creation because. . . well, I like to share no matter how nutty it's gonna make me sound. 

So I had an idea that was an integration of all the experiments I've been doing with wool.  I wanted to create a wet felted "wall hanging" with a very primitive look to it, sort of like an animal pelt, and to use that pelt as the "canvas" for sculpting an image onto.  My idea was to combine "pop and primitive" and I wanted to do an image of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu (because I enjoy Cthulhu as an image, and wool locks work well for his tentacled face.)  But as is often the case, what I WANT to make and what ends up actually getting made aren't the same. 

When I conceived the idea I had for weeks been in a near constant state of bliss, practicing yoga with a renewed energy and interest, and swimming regularly.  Not that it probably matters, but this was shortly after the lunar eclipse.  It wasn't until the moon was moving into Capricorn (goat) that I was ready to get working.  Then a series of interruptions happened.  Just mundane life stuff, but I let it get under my skin until I let myself get into a really angry place, really resenting that "my only day off to fully work on the new idea" was getting "ruined."  It was pretty ugly.

 I calmed down somewhat and went to my kundalini yoga class, which I hadn't been doing for very long.  This type of yoga deals with raising energy located at the base of the spine.  When I had done this class before, it always left me feeling invigorated, light, joyous and filled with a love that seemed to radiate from my core.  On this day, the anger I had been feeling was gone afterwards, but in it's place I was just tired.  About two hours later I was running a fever and went to bed.  I slept for nearly two days.

When I was feeling well again and had an open space to work I began with a deep mediation, followed by contemplation of a single tarot card.  I used a different deck than normal (Bohemian Gothic Tarot) and I don't know why.  I only have the deck because I enjoy the artwork in it.  I drew the seven of wands.  Sevens represent a degradation of their element, and wands are fire or primal energy.  This particular deck is unusual in that it associates this card with a goat image.

Mounting the piece
 I had actually prepped and laid out the wool for wet-felting some days before.  The process of wet felting can be really surprising, especially when you use a number of different types of wool.  The way it shrinks brings about shapes and edges that you can't predict.  The picture of the wet felted piece above was quite different than I expected and it's shape was all wrong for the Cthulhu image I'd wanted to sculpt on it.  But there were five definite points and an implicit goat shape.

I was actually doing this piece as final project for a mixed media sculpture class, and one of the things the instructor had been emphasizing was the juxtaposition of topic/image with material.  How perfect then, to evoke an image of a goat in the hair of sheep?  Not exactly a profound idea but the individualist/goat emerging from the herd/sheep was thematically coherent and the essential shape was suggested by the way the wet-felt had dried, like Jesus in a corn tortilla. 

Fuzzy Ears Are Fun to Rub!
 The process of actually sculpting the image, as is often the case, flowed almost unconsciously and even now seems sort of like a dream.  But it was a goat alright.  Of sorts.  And so soft and tactile (pure merino wool). . .it's ears feel really, really cool. 

I had also originally planned on hanging this piece by tying the four corners to a frame of sticks, but that just seemed all wrong.  It just seemed to beg for rusty nails and ragged old wood--like nailing an animal hide to a decrepit barn.  I figured there would be no way I'd find the right wood mount before the sculpture class ended, but I literally stumbled onto exactly the right size (and decrepitude) of wood on a morning walk at Ocean Beach. 

I thought about leaving out this next little bit of info as being a too creepy and weird--even for my most open minded of friends, but well. . .I've gone this far.  And synchronicity is interesting.  So here it goes.  The morning after I finished the sculpture (but before I had nailed it to the board) I snapped a quick pic of the piece with my phone. . . and happened to notice that it was the 666th picture on my memory card.  And when I checked my email right after that, I had received a notification that was time-stamped at about the same time as I was finishing the sculpture.  It was a notification that my "Bastet" sculpture had been featured in a "Goddess Treasury" on Etsy.

Bastet was created back in November of 2010, and prior to this experience, was the single most intense visionary and artistic experience of my life, and preceded a phase of true and meaningful personal growth.  How fitting that this goddess should get her first exposure in a treasury at the exact same time I was finishing an ancient god-image (Baphomet) associated with fertility, virility and individuality? 

I don't make too much of all this, but I don't dismiss it.  What does it all mean?  Anything?  Nothing?  Selective perception?  Coincidence?  Who knows.  All I know is what it feels like.  It feels like hard work.  Like overcoming challenges.  Like growing pains.  It feels like being the goat, being an individual, is painful business.  Because it means being honest and embracing the entirety of one's humanity: the animal, the angel, and yes, even the demon.

This piece just begged for a dramatic tongue-in-cheek "heavy metal" cliche photograph.

What does magick have to do with anything?

My Etsy profile says "Armed with mythology, pop culture, magic, yoga--and some really sharp felting needles--I pursue the deities, faerie folk, and strangely beautiful creatures hidden in humble locks of wool through a process that often feels more like conjuring than creation." 

How much of that is whimsy?  What do I mean by magick?  I have mentioned consciousness and magick previously in this blog, but I have kind of shyed away from talking much about it because I know it is scary to some people.  However, because of the nature and circumstances of my most recent adventures in the Wooliverse, and I wanted to address the topic head-on.

I am by nature a scientific rationalist, and a skeptic.   I do not believe in the "supernatural" (though as a skeptic I don't completely rule anything out.)  What use does a rationalist have with "magick?"  Or with things like the Tarot?  Or mythology for that matter? 

Mythology and Pop Culture are both great sources if imagery.  And Pop Culture is itself a rich of form of mythology (think Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.)  Tarot is also a system of symbolism (it is, in fact, a brilliant pictoral representation of the human psyche and our journey through life.)  Symbolism is a powerful way for the conscious and unconscious mind to communicate. 

When I say "Magick" I'm referring primarily to techniques that unite the conscious and unconscious mind, or at least allow communication to occur between the two in such a way as to stimulate not just creativity but self-awareness.  Training the mind with archtypal/universal symbols such as those found in the Tarot is one way to increase your ability to travel more deeply into yourself to find understanding about who you are, and why.

For me, creating things out of wool is a very primal and magical experience most of the time.  Felting is such a slow, repetitive process that even if I haven't initiated a new creation through ritual or meditation, I often enter into what I can only describe as a hypnotic state.  Many creative people--musicians, writers, painters, poets-- describe feeling this way when working.  I can literally lose awareness of everything else around me. 

I am a beginner as a visual artist.  I am a beginner in my practice of yoga.  I am a beginner, honestly, at "being P.J."  I have learned a LOT about myself the last couple of years while exploring the "Wooliverse."  I am slowly learning to SEE, and to be a happy person. 

Some things that come out of the process are dark, because those are aspects of myself that rise up and must be confronted.  Other things are whimisical and fun because I am that too.    Magic, tarot, yoga, explorations of consciousness. . . I have definitely known people who think that is all just "satanism" and I can only feel sorry for people limited by fear.  The scariest thing is really knowing yourself, both your ugliness, and the deep responsibility of your true beauty.  Those are things I'm dealing with in my practice--of yoga, art, and magick, whether the end result be a goofy looking brightly colored snail, or a hideous monster.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Steampunk Lamps

LOTS going on lately that I want to write about.  Started a mixed media fiber sculpture class, am branching out into other kinds of yoga (with interesting results), and finished a fun and very strange piece that I haven't photographed yet.

But for now I want to step aside and show off the steampunk lamps I recently found out my stepfather started making.  Head over to Bilmore Studios and take a look at what Bill has been making out of re-purposed vintage items like Clayton Lambert blowtorches, Kwikway floor heaters, and a Hamilton Beach sewing machine foot pedal. 

The Lambert
I really like this one a lot, and because I can't word it any better, I'm just gonna plagiarize the description right off of his blog: 

"The base was salvaged from a vintage Clayton Lambert blowtorch, circa 1921. It features a porcelain socket, tubular bulb, bakelite rotary switch, and copper and brass accents. Measuring just over 10 inches tall, it offers a unique focal point for any home or office setting."

The Aerovap

To the right. . .well, again, just let me steal a description from Bill: 

"The base was salvaged from an Aerovap pest and germ eradicator, a device leased to hospitals nationwide circa 1943. The lamp features a forged aluminum housing, chrome top bulb, vintage toggle switch, and the unique red-letter art deco Aerovap logo. (Other bulbs may be substituted for different lighting arrangements.) At almost 15 inches tall, it offers a unique accent for any home or office setting. Note: This is an extremely rare piece of repurposed Americana. "

There are many more creations to see at Bilmore Studios.  Check them out.  Great work Bill!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sheep Dream of Gold in Heaven

In my last post on "Li Symmetries" I mentioned how "wrong" it felt to drench wool in paint.  One of my favorite things about wool is how it feels, so destroying the way it feels by sealing it under dense layers of paint and resin seemed unthinkable to me.  Which meant it had to be tried. 
"Sheep Dream of Gold in Heaven" started out as raw wool that I stabbed together along random clumps and whorls. It's affixed to canvas with thread and glue, and painted.  I posted a picture of the unpainted wool piece previously in "Li Symmetries."

I have no idea if I like it, or if it is likeable.  It's impossible to be objective at all yet.  I wanted to share some pics anyway because I had a lot of fun doing it.  It's been good to get away from literal creations both cute and monstrous and just do something totally different.

This was more a learning process and an early experiment.  I can't say for sure. . .but I'm thinking of doing more of these because this just feels like a doodle, like there is SO much more to play with here conceptually.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Li Symmetries

You MUST read the Quadrivium!
The Quadrivium is a superb coffee table book.  The Quadrivium are the four classical sciences of number, geometry, music, and cosmology, "studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality.  Geometry is number in space, music is number in time, and the cosmos expresses number in space and time."

I'm not a math or science person, and you don't have to be to enjoy this gorgeous book's one page topics.  I like to just open the book at random and read one.  This morning was the concept of Li Symmetries.  Li Symmetries are patterns found in nature that are self organizing, and differ from "static symmetry" in that "they are primarily caused by interaction between processes and materials."  Some of the most readily recognizable examples of this in nature are tree bark, or the ribbing of the sand in the beach caused by wind.

Clouds are also an example of this, and I've cited clouds as a reference point many times for how I often approach working with wool.  I see symmetries in raw wool that arise in the sheep's coat as it interacted with the elements and the sheep's movement while it wore the wool.  So further when I'm am looking for pattern's in the wool (meaningful or otherwise), a second "interaction between process and material" occurs between my felting needle and the inherent symmetries in the wool..

It struck me as odd (I don't know why, because this is just how my life works) that I opened to the Quadrivium's entry on Li Symmetries this morning, because last night I got sucked into working in a really different way with the patterns in the wool.  I'm working in an abstract way at creating a 2.5 dimension piece of patterned wool which will likely be attached to a canvas and covered in paint and or resin.

It seemed a little "blasphemous" to me at first because part of the joy of wool is the tactile nature. . . even if you don't touch it, it's "tactile to the eye" somehow.  Covering it in paint. . .it's like it isn't wool anymore.  But I've been playing around with painting it anyway, and I think the results are interesting, even if it is far, far away from the material's roots.

I don't usually show stuff still in process, but this is just playful and fun, and I have no idea if it will be remotely successful in the end, but the process itself has been really rewarding and freeing, to just play in anyway I want with any materials that occur to me.  I love the strange patterns in the locks, and so just randomly capturing them rather than vision questing  "cloud dreams" and affixing them as the surface of a 3-d base sculpture is divinely meditative.

I LOVE walking in the woods and noticing symmetries in the bark, and the symmetries of branch-growth as affected by the ocean winds.  So as different as this wall-hanging piece is (whether it ends up affixed to canvas, or to a quilt even) I feel like it's absolutely a continuation of my past explorations with wool.  Which, even if it ends up as bad art, is a rewarding growth process.  Which is all that is really important.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Meet Avril, the music box ballerina I've been working on for half the month of April.  (I was going to name her April, but my wife thought French would be fitting since it's ballet.)

This custom request was a frustrating and difficult challenge, but ultimately I'm really happy to have a project that pushed me this hard.  This is not a wire-frame doll, or pose-able. . . it is a very densely needle-felted sculpture.  Her tutu was cut from a piece of fabric I wet-felted.

Though there is no wire, to mount the piece I embedded a felting needle in the wooden base, and it goes up through the point toe and part way inside the left leg.


I don't have anything against creating cute or beautiful things, but I have a special spot in my heart for the slightly (to extremely) bizarre, and spending so much time working on the ballerina, I sat down to doodle and without even trying out popped this evil clown.

 A kind woman whom I met at fiber club (at Urban Fauna), after seeing one of my Wool n Spool dolls,  gave me a number of vintage spools of thread that had belonged to her mom. 

This clown is in stitches!
I have promised to make her a beautiful "Wool n Spool" doll which honors the history behind the spools, but she requested rather than fabric which I normally glue around the spool, that I leave the original thread on the spool for the piece I make for her. 

  I did a practice run at doing something "dressed" in the original thread and this clown is what came to me.

I am still going to make her something beautiful to express my gratitude (this clown is SO wrong considering the context) but I must thank her for the inspiration, because the thread is beautiful, and additionally I was able to work it into the head itself.

When I started stabbing around at a head for this spool of bright red thread, there was a retrospective about Charlie Sheen's career on TV, from his childhood to the recent poetry filled outbursts in the press. There is no conscious correlation between this clown and Sheen, it just happened to be on. . . but it undoubtedly imbued some kind of essence. 

So, I present to you, "Winner the Clown."  All clowns (evil or otherwise) love hookers, cocaine and beckoning to children from storm drains with the raspy promise that "We all win down here."


Avril, music box ballerina
Winner the Clown

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Video Games

I love electronic gaming, and I love wool, so it's been a delight to have two games released in the last six months that are visual homages to the textile arts:  Little Big Planet 2 on Playstation 3 has a LOT of textiles in it's texture palette, and Kirby's Epic Yarn for Nintendo Wii has visuals that are drawn entirely from yarn, felt and wool.  Both are incredibly cute, simple side-scrollers awash with gorgeous visuals and infectious music.

We just had the Game Developers Conference here in SF and I got to spend a little time with a friend who contributes to the PSNation podcasts and finally got to show him my needle felting work in person.  When he mentioned that he wanted to plug my etsy site on the podcast, I thought it'd be cool to make and upload at least a couple gaming related items. 

Needle felted Kirby and 1-up Mushroom by Wooliverse
I know the original monsters I make also appeal to game and comic fans, but I thought it would be good to have a couple actual gaming related items, if for nothing else than to have a point of reference for anyone who wants to custom request a video game character.  I knocked out this Kirby and a Mario 1-up mushroom (which now that I think about it, by definition fits into my "spirit mushrooms" series!) And in a few weeks when I've finished some special requests will do a Yoshi and Mario for the fun of it.

While we're on the topic, here's a chance to give some recognition to my favorite gaming related textile artist, San Francisco's NerdJerk, who makes--among other things--the coolest Amigurumi Bob-ombs.  Check it out.  You will want one of her creations to set next to your gaming rig.  Trust me!
Amigurumi  Kirby by Nerd Jerk.

Now. . . the only thing we need is. . . . .FREE TIME AND AN EXTRA SET OF THUMBS!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To finish, or not to finish?

ARGGGHHHH!  Working on an idea that's turning out to be difficult to execute, and for all that, I can't even get a good sense if it's really going to have the effect I'm going for.  It could be an epic fail.  Is that why I'm hesitant to sit down and work on it?  Should I push on until I do "feel it" or set it aside to work on something easier. . .light, fun, quick, cute and easy to sell (the joys of instant gratification versus potentially failed attempt at a fulfilling achievement?)

The other thing hanging me up a bit right now is a growing "to do" list of mundane stuff like photographing and posting new creations on Etsy as well as blog and Etsy promotion, taking some inventory to Urban Bazaar and picking up unsold items, new business cards, creating and setting up "print to order" postcards based on a couple really cool pictures of Cthulhu, and blah blah blah.  Also have a couple of pounds of wool I need to start dyeing. 

I do literally have ADD, and I was most productive when all I was doing was sculpting and sticking finished creations on the shelf.  I really think it's all these other little procrastination-things I'm trying to do now that are occupying my headspace and killing creativity.   This other stuff is making my creativity as fickle as a panda bear's libido. 


Friday, February 4, 2011

Post Holiday Blues

Haven't updated in a bit, and had a big creative slump after the holidays.  Just got so busy in November and December (mostly with custom requests) but also with really fun original stuff. . . and it was exciting and fun.

But then. . . the elation dissipated and I just felt exhausted and gloomy.  Spent the first two weeks of January in an uncharacteristic mopey couch/TV state.  I didn't create anything new, though I did continue the "factory" like task of making the "Love in Bottle" things (along with the 'Shroom in a Bottle.) 

But, maybe that was for the best.  Maybe it's like a field lying fallow, or how in yoga the resting corpse pose/savasana is how you restore and integrate the hard work you've done with the active poses.  I've finally been working on a few things recently, but I felt my creativity "click" when I spent 5 hours sitting in the cold sand at Ocean Beach the other day just playing in the sand and making abstract sculptures, erasing them, starting over, enjoying the pure play of immediately disposable art and the "connected feeling" of having my fingers in the ground beneath me while listening to the crashing waves.   After I got tired,  I just sat for another couple hours in open eyed meditation, watching the surfers.  It might have been the most "clear" and connected to "the big Om" I've ever felt.

A little over a week ago I had a custom request from a friend and artist I really admire.  It was not a complicated request. . . it was for an Amanita mushroom.  I have been primarily doing magical creatures, and the mushrooms I've been doing lately include faces and are called "Spirit Mushrooms."  I asked my friend if he had a specific image he wanted me to work from or how he wanted it to look:  realistic, or cute, or like the Spirit Mushrooms, etc. . . and he said to make the Amanita Mushroom in any style, fashion or form I wished.

This stressed me out a bit because this artist/shaman/poet/philosopher/wild man  has been a big influence on me and I wanted what I made to be "right."  I literally pondered for a week when I settled on pushing myself to do something different and make the mushroom as realistic as possible, including little details like the gills.  I looked at lots of photos and then remembered I had a deck of "Famous Mushroom Playing Cards" my wife and I found at Far West Fungi.  I pulled it out to see if the deck included an Amanita.  Of course. . . and fittingly, the Ace of Spades!  It was exactly right, and was what I based the sculpture on. 

This mushroom has an interesting mix of wool. Some of the brown wool is plant dyed locks I picked up in Chile, and the white wool is raw wool from a farm in Oregon, and the creme merino locks are from a farm in Illinois. Finally, there are mud and moss effects done with translucent thin layers of hand-painted merino from the Etsy shop handsandnotion, a fiber artist from Michigan. Lastly, the red wool is corriedale fiber I got at Urban Fauna in SF. 
I feel like I'm myself again and have several challenging and fun idea's I can't wait to start working on!