Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some of us need deadlines

I am one of them.

In school, I was a last-minute, hammer-out-the-term-paper, cram-everything-into-my-head, stay-up-all-night-prepping-oral-presentations. The residual of these bad habits has now transferred itself onto my work. Less so with production and creation, since I am making a conscious effort to pace my production of my wares; I will admit this is often a challenge, but doing bigger shows has forced me to follow my schedule. Thank goodness for that.

With any kind of written text or "assignment" though, I am still a true procrastinator. A professional procrastinator. It's almost like I'm subconsciously rebelling against a deadline, and yet, I know I have to cave and conform if I want to be considered again. The community newspaper I work on, consistently receives my very late submissions. At this moment, I am thinking about a course description that I am supposed to be writing for a new workshop I'll be giving next winter; deadline is this Friday and they will get it on Friday afternoon before I rush out to taiko practice. Sigh... I suppose I wouldn't still be functioning this way if it didn't work for me in some way. And no matter how prepared I am, I always stay up almost the entire night before a craft show; I've done around 25 shows now, and I don't know if this will ever change.

A couple months ago, I enthusiastically volunteered to be a part of this really cool project on Etsy. Jenn, a printmaker who has an Etsy shop called Azure Grackle, put out a call to printmakers for prints representing all the elements on a periodic table. Now I'm not a printmaker, per se, but since I do some carving, I thought this would be a neat project to work on. And even though there was a deadline, it was not so looming (Jenn is much more forgiving than a university prof or a newspaper editor!), and I managed to get these done, but JUST IN TIME! The first here is Argon (18), printed on washi (my favourite green!), and with a bit of collage.

This second one, I am particularly pleased about because it came about kind of by accident due to desperation! It was bound to turn out ok since spinach, cashews and almonds make me happy.

You can see the evolving project here:

Can't wait to see the entire thing when it's completed!

Did a bit of sorting and cleaning in my studio/office yesterday (was procrastinating on that too!), so I will tear myself away from the computer now and to get to work! I'll just show you the earrings I listed yesterday:

And the koi pendant I listed this morning. I'm going to have to make one for myself for the summer, I love this little guy !

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I never did like the circus but...

I went to the circus last night.

The Cirque du Soleil's new show, Kooza, opened here in Montreal at the beginning of May. My sister took me to last night's show as a belated birthday gift. I went without expectations, since this was my first time seeing them live - yes, I admit to being a born and bred Montrealer who has NEVER see the Cirque LIVE even though all their shows are premiered here.

I loved it. All the acts were wonderful, although my two favourites were the contortionists, three rubbery girls who are as strong as they are bendable. Here they are in one of their more reserved poses: (photo: Jacques Grenier)

And the wheel of death, which featured two crazy men with red belly-buttons on a contraption similar to what you'd see in a hamster's cage - only a little more dangerous: (photo: Olivier Samson Arcand)

My palms were clammy throughout.

There were lots of clowns in this show, interacting with the audience, and they were actually funny in a very slapsticky, in-your-face, scratch-your-butt kinda way. The only other circus I've seen is the Shriners' Circus when I was around 6 and those clowns made me cry. Too much scary make-up.

What I found truly impressive was the "in-betweens." The minute one act is over something else immediately starts to distract the audience from the set-up for the next act. Everything is beautiful to watch, every moment and and movement is a show.

I'm sure everyone who see le Cirque feels this way, but I was inspired, I really was! By the physical beauty of the set and the characters. By the strength, grace and humour of the performers. By the non-stop rhythm and pace of the show. It gave me hope; makes me want to be a better taiko performer, makes me want to create more original pieces, makes me want to push my limits and better myself. Lofty goals.

If Kooza comes to your city, do your best to go and see it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Are we there yet?

Summer hasn't even started yet and I know it's going to whiz by.

Arashi Daiko, the taiko group I'm a member of, has performances booked for most week-ends in June,July and August. Many of us in the group have flexible work schedules so we also have several shows to do on weekdays as well. August 9-12th is the North American Taiko Conference, taking place this year in Seattle, WA, and many of us are attending. My husband and I will be there, yay! What could be better than 600 enthusiastic taiko drummers getting together ?

I've also started dragon boating again. Originating in China, a dragon boat is a long canoe-shaped boat which seats 22 people who paddle in unison using all their power and guts. We have a tough coach, but he's good. It feels surprisingly good to be paddling again; I've actually missed it. Our team is great; I know many of us are there in the original spirit of the team: to work hard and push our limits, all in loving memory of a friend and team founder, who passed away last year. We will do our absolute best to honour him at the races at the end of July :)

Before going to the taiko conference in August, I'll be in Vancouver for the Powell Street Festival, Canada's largest Japanese-Canadian festival. I've been wanting to go for years, and this time around I will be an artisan vendor. I'm so excited! My parents were both from Vancouver (well, in and around Vancouver), where many Japanese Canadians lived before World War Two, so it's always a special place to be. I'll also visit two of my brothers and their families while in British Columbia. Can't wait!

Since I'll be selling away from home at Powell Street, I'll have to figure out what kind of a display to set up. My usual display is not terribly complicated, but I can't drag everything along with me, especially since I'm going to the taiko conference afterwards. I have time to think of something on a smaller scale - gotta get to work on that!

For this festival I'll be bringing along my Japanese inspired pieces, like my sushi jewellery and these: *** Hmmm, Blogger is not allowing me to upload any photos for some reason, so I'll do that another time. Be sure to check back :)

Have a good week-end!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The week-end is already here...

This week just flew by. Completed an order that I'll send out on Monday, made some new earrings that you'll see samples of below. Got some exciting news about a project scheduled for September... but I'll tell you about that another time :)

I haven't posted this particular card in my Etsy shop, but I really like the way it turned out; maybe that's why I didn't post it! It's my favourite pudgy cat stamp, inspired by my late great old friend, Jerzy the cat, who was 19 when he died last year.

I've been making chiyogami paper pendants and pins for awhile now, and decided to make some earrings too. I'll be making more next week, since I am quite pleased with how they turned out. Here's just a couple of samples:

The upcoming week-end will be really busy... tomorrow is our Spring Bazaar, a major fundraiser for our community center (where we practice our Japanese drumming and our second home!), so we will be there all day, and then our taiko group has a performance in the evening.

I volunteered to make six apple pies for the bazaar tomorrow, so I've got to go and get my apples now and start on that. My mom used to make a dozen pies for this annual event, so I've now taken over the pie-maker's role... can't make a dozen though. I think the last ones would turn out totally ugly since I'd be so sick of rolling out the dough.

Sunday, of course, is Mother's Day, my first without my mom. My sister and I will go to the cemetary in the morning and then she'll come over for brunch with my in-laws. I've had a bit of a tough week thinking about this, and remembering this time last year when Mom was in hospital. I have to also remember that she is now with my Dad and all her family, so I can imagine she will probably have a drink (so to speak) on Sunday, and we will drink an earthly toast to her :)

Have a good week-end everyone, and Happy Mother's Day !

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

First pick from my list of favourites!

I've been wanting to feature some of my favourite items and artisans from Etsy, but of course, haven't gotten around to it until now...

This morning I had a peek among my list of favourites and checked to see what's new in their shops. I had to come here right away to post these little guys, because every single one makes me smile and actually slap my hand across my mouth to muffle a too-loud, delighted squeal.

These little creatures are by, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I'll now introduce you to:




and Earl

Walter only sees the good in life. Eli is wondering what flavour jell-o to make for his supper dessert. Sally is dreaming of what's over the rainbow. And I just feel bad for Earl. Have a look at for more needle-felted cuteness and other goodies!I feel better now that I've shared that. Gotta get to work now.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Had a good week-end. (^_^)

The taiko group that my husband and I are members of, had two performances to do on Saturday (this photo of us was taken a couple years ago at Montreal's Botanical Gardens). We were loading the drums into the truck at 6:30 am, on the road by 7am and returned to Montreal for lunch at 1pm. We only had to meet for our next show at 7pm so I thought I'd have enough time to do some work at home. I had plans to list some new things on my website, take some photos, maybe even make something...


We took a nap, and I ended up just relaxing before heading out for our second performance at night. And that's ok, right?

Yesterday I did some errands in the morning and afternoon and went to a friend's house for a bbq dinner. Ate too much. But that's ok once in awhile, right?

It's a beautiful day here in Montreal, a warm 18 degrees right now (55 degrees farenheit or so). I mailed out some card orders this morning and have to get back to work on a custom order. And I listed these lovelies this morning:

This is the first of several posts this week. Yes, several, I did say several :)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Woe is NOT me.

I went to another funeral last night.

Yes, another funeral. Don't mean to sound banal; actually, the opposite. There have just been too many.

Since last summer, I've now been to ten funerals. Ten funerals. Isn't that crazy? Was joking to a friend last night that I have "funeral pants," reserved for these sad occasions. I did not personally know the man who died (besides a "hello" and a smile at community events) but his family came to my mother's and my aunt's funerals last year, and that meant a lot to me and my family.

I know that death is a very normal and natural part of the life cycle. All these funerals I've been to have made me realize that all the more... but I still cannot quite get used to the fact my mother is physically gone. Everyone who has lost someone goes through this, I'm sure, but at times I wonder if I just have to let go; there's that lingering fear that somehow letting go means I've forgotten about her or I'm moving on and leaving her behind. I have to remind myself that she is with me and that she wants me to move on and be happy ... but man, is it hard.

And yet, as I've said before, I feel like a contented person. Happy? At times, yes, but I think content is a better word for me. I don't mean to sound all "Oh woe is me..." because I am not. I'm just a dweller and bit of a wallower. I don't know if that's much better.
Here is a photo of my mom, the animal lover; even my niece's snake got loving from my mom :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My spring sale is done but my work never is

I said I'd be a good blogger and post regularly, but it's been a week since my last post... giving myself a little kick in the rear end to get back on the wagon!

Well, I guess I have a bit of an excuse. My "Sprint into Spring Sale" in my online store went really well - thanks to everyone who purchased during the sale (^_^) ! Mostly sales from my distribution list, but some new customers as well. I'm still always amazed when people like my stuff, and then like it enough to want to buy it. I should get over this.

I'll show you some of what I sold. These are things that I particularly like - I am thrilled they have gone to people who will truly enjoy them:

My "Spring Sakura" choker:

My "Eriko" choker:

A few sushi platters:

"Green Lantern" earrings:

This "Fluttering" choker went all the way to Japan!

What I call "Your Most Comfy Bracelet" went to a Montrealer who has six ferrets!

I had never met a ferret before and they were a riot! Lovely animals they are, so sleek and flexible. When I got home my little cat looked like a chunky clumsy creature with an excessively large head. Just for the record, she is not.

I was so happy with these pink rhodonite "Perfectly Lovely" earrings, I had to make myself a pair too (wearing them right now). Sold lots of cards too, but won't post them all here.

Of course my time was not totally monopolized by this sale, but when I am "into it" or on a creative roll, so to speak, I'm in my studio all the time. Aaaalllllll the time. Ask my husband. I guess other artisans, artists, crafters, people with a home-based business face this same problem - work time versus time spent with spouse and family.

My day is not consistently productive, so I will often work in the evenings as well, time that I used to spend with my husband. I know my day would be more balanced if I was able to keep a regular 9 to 6 workday, but it's next to impossible when you work from home. If I feel like cleaning in the morning I will do it, partly since that urge rarely hits me so I'd better go with it, and partly because I know I can work at night... And I love what I do! Sometimes I just want to make something - don't feel like going out, or watching a movie, just want to make some pendants or work with my beautiful paper or get my hands on my beads...

My husband is truly the best; he does not complain, is always constructive in his comments, often makes supper when he gets home from work (while I'm still working), and makes really good yogurt (he loooooves his yogurt maker). But I know I would be annoyed if he were bringing work home every night and ignoring me...

We're lucky that we play taiko (Japanese drums) in the same group, so that we get some time together!

More soon, I swear.