Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sheesh, are the holidays over yet???

So maybe I'm not as cranky as my Chibi looks in this photo, but I sure am glad Christmas is over. Hmmm, that didn't do much to prove I'm not a scrooge. Chibi cracks me up - she is the most expressive cat I've ever met, unlike Ebi the Botox Boy. NO, he hasn't had any botox injections, but his face is truly motionless not unlike... well, you get my drift.

I AM looking forward to New Year's Day and the year ahead! How's that for optimistic?!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Looking forward to a day off...

I'm a little haggard these days - kinda run-down, not exercising, not eating great (too many carbs and sugar), drinking lots of coffee. Thank goodness for clementines and those big containers of pre-washed greens, which have been pretty much my only fruit and veg lately.

Was getting ready to leave for the Rusty Plum holiday bazaar last Saturday morning - was going to bring all my stuff downstairs and wait for my taxi , when I grabbed my glasses and this happened.

They cracked clean in half! So I brought my contact lenses along and had those on for the day. Not good, not used to having them in all day and my eyes were zonked by the evening. The next day, I didn't want to wear lenses, so instead I looked highly intelligent, holding up one side of my broken glasses like a monacle and squinting to see what or who was coming at me. I'm sure I scared customers away. Wasn't a horrible weekend sales-wise, but not great either. I'm hoping for a better time this weekend. By the way, the Rusty Plum is at 105 St-Viateur W., corner of St-Urbain. Saturday December 19th from 11am to 7pm, and on Sunday December 20th from 11am to 5pm.

I love my black glasses and was thankfully able to just replace the front part of the frame for $80, so I was thrilled. The place I went to, Farhat, was also having a $99 special (frames and prescription lenses), so...

I also got these!

I have loved this shade of green for so long (kinda avocado/mossy/limey) but am not keen on it too close to my face. Yes, I know, you can't get any closer to your face than glasses, but I love them and I still have my trusty black pair to fall back on. Figured if I was going to get another pair then they may as well be reeeally different from my usuals :)

Monday December 21st will be my first day off in a long while AND we are going to see the Cirque to Soleil! Can't wait!!! Ok, back to work... but first, to the espresso machine!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rusty Plum this weekend! (plus a ring and a cat)

Folks, we are down to the last two weeks before Christmas. Once again, I've done diddlysquat towards the holidays - it's been that way for the past 5 years since I'm prepping, making and selling pretty much right up to Christmas. I WILL get my act together for 2010!

Back to the present, the Rusty Plum is back at St Michael's Church, corner of St-Urbain and St-Viateur. Come and finish off your gift shopping and have some pierogi for lunch (or snack)! I'm looking forward to the Polish prune doughnuts - looooove 'em! Click on the poster for all the details :)

I didn't write about the last couple shows I did, did I? The one on November 29th at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre was amazingly successful for me - I was kind of in shock at how much I sold. I need more shows like that!!! Well, I think the universe must have known what awaited me in TMR the following week-end (which was last week-end). P-I-T-I-F-U-L. Oy. It's all good though - live and learn. And I met some wonderful new sellers :)

And... I did buy a lovely ring from the wonderfully talented Cristina Fragapane, the Traveling Artisan. She makes the most beautiful pieces from silver and stone, just amazing. Mine has a blue topaz, a little brighter than my birthstone which is aquamarine. You can click the pic to see it better, and yes, yes, I need to put cream on my monkey paws a little more regularly.

Cristina will also be at the Rusty Plum, on December 19th and 20th, so check her out too!

My Friday cat ...
It's the Ebster. Jean-François (hubby) bought me an espresso maker a couple weeks ago (yahoo!) and it arrived in a perfect box for Ebi. He sat in there for a good half hour; I'm sure big boy (aka "le Gros") was enjoying the feeling of fitting in a box, such a wee tiny kitty... Funny little man-cat.

ok, back to work now...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More craft shows...

Thank you to everyone who came out to my first two craft shows of the season – great to see you all, and I really appreciate your continued support!

More shows coming up... more scrambling to do... Please take note of the changes below for my shows in December, if you were planning to stop by and say “hi”!

Friday December 4th, Saturday December 5th, Sunday, December 6th
11am to 5pm
(no change!)
Schofield Hall, Town of Mont-Royal City Hall – 90 Roosevelt Ave, TMR
(bus #165 north from métro Côte-des-Neiges; bus #16 from metro Parc – please see for other options)

NEW! The final TWO week-ends before Christmas!
Rusty Plum Holiday Craft Market
Saturday December 12th & Sunday December 13th
Saturday December 19th & Sunday December 20th
Saturdays 11am to 7pm
Sundays 11am to 5pm
St. Michael’s Church (basement) – 105 St-Viateur W., corner St-Urbain (or 5580 St-Urbain!)

*Collection at the door of non-perishable food items for (Herstreet)!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Framed leaf collages... (oh yeah, Friday cat blogging!)

How in the world did the year pass by so quickly? The older I get the faster the years go. Oy.

I have a show on Sunday afternoon - a shortie, from 1pm to 4pm, but sales have been brisk in the past. I hope that tradition carries on this year! I'm making some of my leaf collages for this show, although I stopped making them for other shows; I am trying to use up some of my frames, which take up much needed storage space!

I gather leaves in the fall, dry and press them, and then carefully sew them onto paper. I've learned which leaves just crumble and which are more hearty to being punctured. They are then incorporated into little ensembles or single images, with Japanese papers of varying textures.

Some of the maple varieties here in Montreal have been infested with a type of fungus the past couple years, that results in icky black "tar spots" - even framing cannot help those poor leaves! I do like some of the leaves with little spots and imperfections though - makes for interesting images and contrasts...

Voilà! Here's a finished one. I'll try to take more photos of the other ones I complete for Sunday.

My poor neglected cats... Well, THEY're not neglected, but since I haven't been blogging, Friday Cat Blogging kinda went down the toilet. Sorry about that. Here are some shots I took last month, of the world's most beautiful calico kitty, my Chibi. (yes, the backdoor window is rather scuzzy)

Look at that face.

And here is a cat haiku that my sis-in-law's friend sent to me, among many others - thanks Leanne!

This describes Chibi perfectly:

You must scratch me there!
Yes, above my tail!
Behold,elevator butt.

Monday, November 23, 2009

One craft show down, two great purchases (^_^)

Off to a good start of the holiday season craft shows! It was my first time as a seller at Art Etc. show in Montreal West and it was a lovely two day show. Thanks to everyone who passed by! And I have to thank my booth neighbours who sent over so many customers, merci Cate and Josée!

Having two good days of sales allowed me to make two purchases that I am so totally thrilled with. My first is this sweater-vest that is great for layering now, but will also be perfect in the spring and summer over short sleeves or sleeveless tops. I met Colette van Haaren, the maker, a few years ago at another craft event and we've kept in touch ever since; at every show I try on her beautiful things but have never made a purchase, and then regretted it afterwards. So I decided BEFORE this show that I was going to buy a piece from her!

I've gotten into the layering thing lately, but most of what I have is cotton or jersey knit, and very casual - which is actual ideal for me since I'm not a dressy kinda gal. This sweater though, makes me look just a little more put together even if I'm wearing my usual uniform - t-shirt and jeans. I got it in a deep plummy aubergine (photo by the artist) that I love and that suits me, if I do say so myself. And it is surprisingly forgiving for many body types! Colette's amazing sweater collection can be found at Boutique Katrin Leblond at 4647 Boul. St-Laurent.

My second purchase at Art Etc., and new discovery is Red Sofa, by Montreal jewellery designer Joanna Szkiela. She makes gorgeous wearable art, substantial pieces that are nature-inspired, versatile and comfortable, yet edgy and fun.

I fell in love with these solid sterling silver Twig Hoops and had to have them (please click on the image for detail; photos by Anthony McLean). They are now dangling from my earlobes. Happiness.

I am sure that creations by either of these artists would become a much-loved and often worn gift!

I will spend the week preparing for my upcoming shows. Am feeling a little more at ease since the first one is over. Hah, ask me how I feel as the week progresses!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Upcoming craft shows...

Been busy making and trying to stay healthy despite a sick spouse who is now relegated to the bedroom - poor guy, sitting in bed with his laptop watching J-dramas. My hands are so dry from washing them so often.


Gotta get to work now on some new seasonal cards, like these.

Here's where you can find me in the next couple weeks:

Friday November 20th, 11am to 9pm
Saturday November 21st, 10am to 4pm

Art Etc. 2009
Montreal West Town Hall - 50 Westminster S. at Avon Rd.
Live chorale from 6:30pm to 9pm on Friday eve, and lunch will be available for purchase on both days at the Café des Fleurs.

Sunday, November 29th, 1pm to 4pm
Holiday Craft & Bake Sale
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal - 8155 rue Rousselot, metro Jarry or Fabre
Crafts, baked goods and Japanese fooooood! More info here.

Hope to see you at one of them. More shows to come in December!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Hallowe'en!

My "look" for Hallowe'en 1974. No one bought costumes back then... don't think there were many to buy. You simply poked around the closets for something to throw together. I think I was aiming to be a "hobo", whatever that is (hope that's not too offensive). Always wore my North Stars (running shoes)!

Happy Hallowe'en everyone... brush your teeth :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New in the shop!

Mission accomplished! I finally listed a couple of new pieces in my Etsy shop yesterday. Sure took me long enough.

These new necklaces are a little dressier than my regular chiyogami pendants; the added dangle and sterling chain add a little movement and sparkle, dontcha think?

I'll be making more of those this week!

Having a little bit of hard time with scattered energy this fall... I so enjoyed that glass lampworking class a couple week-ends ago that I had a hard time getting back to my production for the coming months (I'm easily side-tracked, and as many of you know, the QUEEN of Procrastination). Oy.

My lampworking intensive scheduled for this coming week-end has been postponed, so I'll probably do it in the new year since they're supposed to have two choices of dates. I was so disappointed when I got news of the cancellation yesterday, but I got to the bright side right away, in that I would not be distracted yet again from my work at hand, which is definitely more important.

Here's my finished ring that I worked on in the intro to jewellery making class. Most people opted for a highly polished look with the heavy duty polishing weel, but I used steel wool to finish mine, which gives it a kind of dull, matte finish. Pretty clunky, but I like it.

Off to heat up some soup and I'll then get back to work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My intro to lampworking...

Yesterday's post had lots of pics of the process of lost wax casting; I was free to take photos of that whole process since there wasn't time to learn how to do all that in a mere 20 hour jewellery basics class.

This past Sunday I took my first lampworking class, learning the basics of how to make lampwork beads. With the heat of a propane and oxygen torch, glass rods are melted around a mandrel to form little works of art that can strung up and proudly worn. Well, uh... the "little works of art" will come with tons of practice, along with proudly wearing them! Right now I'm still working on how to get the perfect flame from the torch. Yup, the basics.

I am so glad I took this class, after having become totally obsessed with looking at and buying these handmade beads. After just one 7-hour class, I can totally see how you can get obsessed with MAKING these beads too.

So I'll get it over with, I present to you... my first homely beads (didn't clean the holes out yet, so they're a little dusty from the plaster from the mandrels).

hee hee heeeee! Ok, stop laughing. Stop.

I have go back and practice making evenly shaped beads first. Since this was just a one day class, the instructor wanted to give us the basics on a few embellishing and decorating techniques that we could try right away so we didn't focus much on getting a good evenly shaped bead form. Hence the wonky shapes. Yes, yes, and ugly, I know.

One of the wonderful things about working with glass is that it is so forgiving, which is great particularly for a beginner, since you can totally transform something you're not happy with or make a mistake into something not so knee-slappingly hilarious. The way the glass melts in the flame is truly hypotic.

I'm taking another lampworking course next week-end at a place called Espace Verre, which, like the place where I took my metal working classes, offers a college diploma in glass work. I'm looking forward to this week-end intensive, 17 hour course that includes beadmaking, small sculptures and glass blowing. Can't wait! After the holidays I want to start renting studio time and practicing the beadmaking.

Ok, gotta get to my present production now. There's still the holiday hump to get over!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Making a ring...

A couple of posts ago I wrote about taking some jewellery classes at the Ecole de joaillerie de Montréal, an excellent school that offers a college diploma (CEGEP DEC, here in Québec) in jewellery making. The facilities and teachers are wonderful and they offer open studio time for students, even old adult students like me ;)

In that other post I showed you the first step of the lost wax casting technique, often used in ring making, where you shape your ring from a block of wax that is then melted away, with plaster taking its place. Rather heartbreaking when you've spent so much time working on the ring's design. There are ways to make molds too, if you want to make a series of pieces. Lots of info and videos on this technique on the internet.

Here is our instructor, Jocelyne, at the centrifugal or spin caster, preparing the crucible for the silver that will soon be dropped in.

Melting the silver...

Pushing the silver around a bit...

And we let 'er rip! The molten silver is pretty much flung into the container housing our plaster molds.

The molds are cooled in water and then the plaster is cleaned out with picks and small brushes.
These black bands are actually sterling silver! Can you see mine?

Ummm, not sure how they got from black to white, but they did...

Here's my ring with the leaf carved into it. It weighs a ton. Silver is a lot heavier than wax!

This is after the last of the plaster has been cleaned off - it still has to be properly cleaned and smoothed out. I think I might leave it kind of rough looking for a more natural look.

Taking this class has given me a real appreciation of all the work the jewellers put into their pieces; I'll be looking at handmade jewellery with a different eye now. I'm also really glad to have learned how to use many tools of the trade, that can also be applied to my clay work. Yesterday I bought some files that work great with polymer clay, so I'll be filing everything I can get my hands on - outta my way, unless you want your edges smoothed out!

I now want to take a class with metal clay, so I may do that in the new year. Lots of ideas a brewing, but I need to focus on holiday season production now. Too much stuff in my head, must-turn-it-off...

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'll be at Marché Duluth!

Marché Duluth is a farmer's market in Montreal's Plateau neighbourhood, whose goal is to get locally grown produce to the local community. They run every Sunday and even have a chef on site cooking up a meal for sale from whatever's fresh and on-hand. Mmmm, I'm looking forward to that, and to buying local! There's also live music; this Sunday, Metro Trio and Lake of Stew. Here are some photos from their website.

I want this crepe!
The market takes place in the schoolyard of l’École Arc-en-Ciel, at 4265 avenue Laval, corner of Marie-Anne. Click here for a map. This week-end, as the market season comes to an end, they've planned a small craft fair alongside the usual food kiosques. It looks like the weather might be a little icky and chilly, so it seems we may be indoors, in the school gym, if it's raining. Hope it's nice enough to stay outdoors with the food, music and the action!

I'm working on making more cards since they already have several jewellery sellers and they asked me to focus on the paper goods. I'll still be bringing some jewellery though, just in case.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another week...

Has another week gone by already... sheesh.

The Puces Pop marketplace went really well last week-end. Tons of people, good sales, and great pierogi (this event is housed at a Polish church) - not much more you could ask for. Oh yeah, the excellent prune-filled donuts (might not sound so yummy, but if you've had one of these Polish tasties from Patisserie Rosemont you would be a prune donut devotee) were there too. And oh yeah, how could I forget the vegan cupcakes! My apologies, didn't get any pictures of the food or the show. Pooh.

My table next to glass artist, Vanessa Yanow, whose amazing work you can see here on her website. I got one of her zipper necklaces and I am thrilled with it. Here is a shot from her website.

The one I finally settled on (I tried on a few) was an avocado green zipper with a wee peacock feather in it. Love it!

Had a really nice chat with Vanessa and I know she'll do well at the upcoming Salon des métiers d'art in December, I can just feel it. And she deserves it. Her parents came to see her - so supportive and sweet. It gave me a little lump in my throat when she asked about my parents, but I know they'd both be supporting me if they were still here. I know they are in some way and I do take comfort in that, but selfishly, I'd sure like to see them again and hear their voices. Sigh. Sorry, didn't mean to get weepy, but it happens.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Puces Pop!

My niece, Janice, emailed me yesterday, "You haven't blogged in a while. I'm just saying." Understood. So here I am, my obedient, guilty self.

I started my metal working classes. I guess it is actually an intro to jewellery making class, which is what it's called in French. It's sort of an overview of lost wax cast technique and basic metal construction. I just did the one class but I have a new-found admiration for the work that jewellers do. Very precise, unlike me - I am actually very impatient and lazy when it comes to certain things like measuring, which is extremely important in jewellery making.

In our first class we started working on a ring, which will be a silver band. I ended up carving a wonky hole into my block of wax since the centre wasn't in the same spot on both sides. You can see the double outline is thinner on the bottom part; when you flip it over, it's thinner on the top. Sheesh. It's ok, I'll make do (instructor said she'd help me fix it). I have this same "meh" attitude with sewing too, which is why I don't really sew. I have to sketch out a design to carve into the surface of the band for this Friday. Hmmm. I'll bring my camera this time and take some pics in class.

I'm getting ready for the Puces Pop Marketplace this coming week-end!

Pop Montreal is an annual music festival that features alternative, hip hop, folk and indie rock, and it also hosts a crafty marketplace with over a hundred sellers. Happy to be among them this year!

Finally got around to making a few round pendants this time. They sort of look like some kind of game tiles or buttons. What do you think?

Gotta get back to work now... I'll be back.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

So excited to be taking classes!

It's been a couple years now that I've been wanting to take some classes to expand on my jewellery making but I always end up cheaping out. Time goes by so quickly too, and before I know it, the busy holiday season creeps up and I have no time for classes. But I've put it off for too long.

So I've registered for some classes this fall in metal work and glass lampwork - yahoooo! I am so excited!!! And I'm really looking forward to being able to offer some new designs to my customers - that probably won't be until well into next year though, but that's ok. I'll be taking my metal working classes at l'École de joaillerie de Montréal, which has an excellent programme for a college diploma, as well as a very thorough adult education programme.

I'm also taking a lampworking or flameworking intensive course at Espace Verre, which includes an intro to glass beads, small sculpture and glass ornament making. I've written about my glass obsession in previous posts that has gradually swelled over the last year or two. I am totally fascinated with "regular" lampwork beads, but I'm also really interested in the idea of making mini sculptural beads too.

Oh, the possibilities! I already have ideas of designs I'd like to create in silver and in glass, but then I don't want to disappoint myself - I really should cool my jets, since I don't even know if I'll even be any good at any of this. I'll be producing as usual for this holiday season, although I'll have a few new designs available, but then hopefully in January I'll be able to rent some studio time and practice my new techniques. And I have to be realistic, if ever I'm no good at the metal work and flameworking, I'll just have to work harder on some new and original designs in clay and challenge myself in other ways, right? Right.

Ok, now to the studio for some organizing! I've got a show coming up on October 3rd and 4th - Puces Pop Montreal - tell you all about it tomorrow!

Friday, September 4, 2009

She's a shoe lover and a cat lover...

This girl likes to shop. But since this girl hasn't had any to spare in the last couple years, she hasn't done any major shopping. And that's totally ok.

Enough with the third person thing. The girl is me. And although I like nice things, they are nice things often only to me, but that's ok too. I am definitely a shoe person, so when I come into a bit of cash - like having a couple of good summer craft shows - I start researching and tracking down the shoes I must have.

The clogs that I wanted are from a Spanish company called El Naturalista, and are pretty difficult to find here in Montreal. Ever since I saw a friend's boots made by the same company a few years back, I got a little obsessed, looking for them on the internet and hoping that somewhere they'd go on sale. Just a couple weeks ago I found a store in NDG (Notre-Dame de Grace) that had a few left, at 50% off! So across the city I schlepped and got these babies in the most lovely shade of apple green. Very happy, and they even match my mug (^_^).

A week goes by and I'm happily wearing my clogs and I realize they comfortably accommodate all my foot problems... so I should call the store and see what else they have in my size. Isn't that what anyone would do?

After finding out they have another pair in the same style, but with closed backs and in a neutral brown, I schlepped back out there yesterday, yaaay! And I'm now all set for fall. Look at my happy wide feet.

And... it's Friday, so it's a Cat Day.

Still on the topic of shopping - and yes, this fits in with the cats! - I saw this top while on av. Mont-Royal the other day and it's now in my closet. The version I got is sort of a taupey-grey, I love it! This company, Yumi, makes some really neat tunics and dresses/tops; a lot of it is pretty frilly, but there's some quirky kinda odd/kitschy looking stuff like this that I think is really neat.

I'll stop with the brand endorsements now.

Now for the REAL cat; this is Gyoza, my cousin Judy's cat (photo below by another cousin, Kathy). He slapped me on the face last week-end because I tried to pick him up (and he didn't want me to). Just like that - no claws, but paf, a paw across the cheek. That's what I get for getting too fresh. He's a very good cat, Judy claims, even though he hissed at a couple people while we were visiting. I know he has every right to be testy with so many strangers in his territory, but we were just chuckling at Judy who kept saying, "He's not usually like this..."

But WHAT a cutie!

Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 North American Taiko Conference

After my trip to Vancouver at the beginning of August, I headed down to Los Angeles, for the North American Taiko Conference, held every two years on the American west coast. This is my fifth time attending and although it's great to be with fellow taiko afficionados in any setting, the conference just feels like it's "home" when it's in LA's Little Tokyo. I love it there!

There were a few less participants this year - a sign of the economic times we are in - but as always, it was a lot of fun and luckily for me, people were still interested in bringing home some taiko jewellery with them!

I made a bunch of these okedo taiko, the drums that need holes in the "skins" (that's the two flat circles on both ends of the barrel), that JF so patiently drills. They are then all tied up in traditional katsugi okedo style, which is when the drum is worn and played slung across the body.

I then make the okedo wearable by putting them on leather necklaces.

These are the other kind of mini taiko I make, nagado taiko.

You can't see them so well on lovely Paige who is pictured below, but she is wearing my wee little taiko earrings and the matching necklace. She performed at this year's Taiko Jam concert with Kishin Daiko.

Here is Kishin Daiko with the members of Arashi Daiko who attended this edition of the conference. Kishin member, Darren Endo, did a super job as the coordinator of this conference - woo hoo, way to go Darren!!! He is also a most beautiful persona to behold onstage - a powerful player with true stage presence, expression and tons of heart. He's definitely one of the highlights of this year's conference for me - a very generous and complete performer.

My ongoing taiko inspiration is Molly Kitajima, seen below, jamming on the plaza in Little Tokyo. I blogged a little about her after the 2007 taiko conference in Seattle; you can read all about that here. This time I had a chance to chat with her a little, and found out she was born in Vancouver, BC, where my parents were also born. She is an amazing woman and still going strong.

There is a comfort I find when talking to Japanese Americans, who are just as familiar to me as Japanese Canadians (I'm talking about people of Japanese descent born in the US or Canada); I especially enjoy meeting nisei (second generation JA's and JC's, my parents' generation), maybe because it feels like I'm talking to my family, but there is just an ease there that I cannot describe. Perhaps it's a sense of community and fellowship, shared experiences, and other things that are are simply understood without saying anything, but it's just very comforting.

These are some other women who play in a taiko group with Molly; they claim to be of a "certain age", but I don't believe them. Annie (in black) asked about my tattoo, because she says the members of their group were all thinking of getting tattoos too. Are they cool, or what?

Here's my Molly again, getting down and into her solo... I STILL want to be like her when I grow up.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jean-François!

It's my honey's birthday today. He is doing his second level reiki class today, sort of a birthday gift from me, but more of a gift for himself to himself. Our good friend and community mentor, Terry Yasunaka, studied under the same reiki master and recommended him to JF. He was really looking forward to today's class, and gave me a reiki treatment last night.

Here he is preparing to drill all the holes in my mini taiko drumskins. You can tell he takes his dremelling job seriously.

Since my late mom and JF had birthdays just 2 days apart, we would celebrate their b'days together - they would usually have to share a cake, but sometimes would each get their OWN cake! Here they seem to be happy sharing this one (sorry, it's a bad scan, but I love the pic). I think this was in 2002.

JF is far from perfect - and who would want to be with a perfect person, that would just be annoying - but he is one of the nicest people I know. Thoughtful, generous, caring, sensitive, intuitive and open-hearted. And hilarious. He is the best partner, husband, supporter, fellow cat-parent, craft assistant and friend I could ever hope for. And he's all mine! Well, so to speak...

We'll be going to dinner at my cousin's house later on today, yay! Happy Birthday Schmoo!