Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Rat Factory

The last five days I've been fairly miserable with the most incredibly sore throat, fever and now a cough that won't stop, however I keep at it here in my studio. This week the mask orders have piled up like a second Halloween and I'm of course very busy making rat hats.

These rats are for a production of "Coraline" To be performed by a ballet company in London.

As you can see they have red crystal eyes. All the rats in this picture have already been shipped to London.

From my design you can see that they have a pocket on top of their heads for a soul (the ball) that the dancers present to Coraline at the end of the dance.

The lead dancer will be wearing this rat mask. The ears are detached because they will be fixed to a top hat for the performance.

I'm making 13 head dresses and each one fits a specific dancer.

This is one of the labels I use while it's in progress. While I make each rat I'll refer to them by name. Such as "Flora needs her eyes painted" or "Grace's ears are drying"...

...Or "Oh yes, Sonia over there is still in pieces".

Anyway I have shipped the mask and the first 3 head dresses 5 more are in various stages around my desk. That leaves 5 I haven't even started.... It's going to be a long month!

In other news- today marks 10 YEARS since my very first post on this blog. Everything was different then... Take a look!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Vegan Food Festival

On Saturday we headed out to the Vegan Food Festival down the street.
It was strange as a vegetarian to go somewhere that we could literally eat anything at any food seller.

Naomi was quite happy as well, as she's our resident vegan.

The festival was packed with people. When we arrived, about an hour after it started, most places were out their free samples.

Fortunately it was a beautiful day.

On the walk home we found an amazing park with this statue of jumping children. I was amazed that they were off the ground. It's almost a floating statue (just one or 2 of the kids are touching) and it creates an amazing illusion.

Naomi and I in the park on the way home.  As you can see I tried something new with this post, using Facebook images. I'm not sure if it's better.

The Lion King job has finally ended and now I'm on to the next. My new job is for a production of Coraline, to be performed by a ballet company in London. I'm making black rat head dresses with red crystal eyes for the dancers to wear. It's a tight deadline so March is bound to fly by!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Finishing The Lion King

The last couple of weeks I've been working hard on lion head dresses and shipping them off to New York. This is my Simba head dress.

                           Scar, Young Simba and Queen Sarabi on the table and in progress.

This is the Scar head dress finished and ready to ship.

Another picture of Scar. 

This is the Young Simba head dress after painting.

Here it is finished.

And Queen Sarabi (Simba's Mother)-is almost ready to ship as well.

It's been a rather intense few weeks trying to get all these in for tech week, but the last go out on Tuesday. 

In other news I've been featured in the Arizona Artist a Day blog!! You can check it out here.

Also I had a panicky time this week where I was having a rapid heart beat and pain in my arm, so in my dazed fatigue (it was 2:30am) I rushed off to the ER only to discover my heart is fine (phew!), though they did dose me with morphine for my pain (crazy stuff).

Today it is raining, which is not so common here in Phoenix so I like to bring it up whenever it's happening, which is why if you read my blog you'd think this is the wettest desert you've ever heard of. :) Anyway have a great holiday weekend if you're in the US (if not Happy Sunday!)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The perfect time of year and work, work, work

As far as I'm concerned this is an amazing time of year. The weather in the city is a bit chilly in the morning (it never is in the summer), and then by afternoon I wear a light sweater outside, but if I forget it, that's okay too. 
Last night Mike and I took a walk with the dog up Roosevelt street during First Friday. It becomes a festival with musicians strategically placed on the sidewalks and food vendors and artists, and of course college students everywhere. It was fantastic and we even made it back to our car just before they towed it (phew!). I thought to myself why does this time of year zip past and we hardly get out of the house, and then I remembered all the work piling up in my studio. Work. Right.

At the moment I'm filling quite a large commission for a production of "The Lion King" in NY. As you can see here are 2 more head dresses in progress. I'm also getting quite a few regular mask orders as Mardi Gras is inching closer. 

I'm also in the midst of illustrating a children's book called "Hockey Toes" by writer Sharon Enck, and teaching 3 classes.
... And just because I have piles of work doesn't mean I'm not applying and submitting for various opportunities. Just this week I applied for a 2018 residency in France (fingers crossed) and to be a featured artist at the chalk festival in Phoenix.
Mike has also got a very full slate and it looks like his teaching job at the Academy of Art in San Francisco will be expanding. So that's pretty exciting!

The girls are full swing in their various classes at school. Recently Naomi went out to the World Wildlife Zoo with her 7th grade class. I had hoped she'd have some photos I could share here, but all I've gotten was a text from her after she arrived saying she just spotted a monkey's penis. I guess we'll have to go for ourselves if we want some pictures.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Masks, a head dress and a search for the typhoid vaccine

Chloe has already gone back to school in Missouri. Her last day in Phoenix was a hectic one, as she hadn't really packed at all, but I'd made her an appointment at the Walgreens on the corner to get her vaccine for our trip to Morocco. She wasn't sure yet about coming home on Spring Break so I wanted her ready to go when she arrived home before our trip in May.

It sounded like a good idea. She has a quick appointment then gets her typhoid vaccine and home again to pack and get ready.....But all good plans.... Anyway upon arrival she had forgotten her ID, so a quick trip home and back was the very first step. Then it turns out they like to prescribe the oral vaccine which is taken every other day for 3 days and is stored in a fridge, except she was leaving on a plane in the morning, so that won't work. The clinic nurse prescribed a shot to be given at a pharmacy across town (that Walgreens didn't have it). So we got on the road to next Walgreens. Upon arrival we learn that while they have the typhoid shot in stock, the pharmacist there isn't certified to give it to her. After much waiting and many phone calls we are sent off the Scottsdale to a pharmacy there. Now it was inching towards rush hour so getting there took a good long while but once arrived she was whisked to back and voila!! Chloe won't get typhoid!! (She did get a sore arm however.)

Phoebe and Naomi are also back in school of course. Though it's a slow start with the holiday weekend last week and I've been busy with many mask commissions.

This is an in progress photo of a head dress I made for Nala for a production of "The Lion King"

Here it is finished. I sculpted it attached to a baseball hat, but still had to add a strap. They may want me to work on more head dresses, but I'm still waiting to hear.

This is a cow skull mask I'm still working on for a film in California. It's mostly finished, but the director wants some changes on the horns. I've also been filling tons of other orders and illustrating a children's book called "Hockey Toes" (I'll share some images soon.). Next week I go back to my teaching schedule as well.

The weather here is gorgeous however and we've managed to take some great hikes with the dog around the city.  This is one of the best times of the year in Phoenix, so I hate to spend it all at my desk! Anyway, Happy Wednesday!

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Lights of the World Lantern Festival

For the final week of our holiday break we took a day to visit the "Light of The World Lantern Festival" which boasted acres of lights, an acrobat show, amusement rides and international food vendors.

It was a bit of a drive out to Chandler during rush hour, but well worth it!

Though, right away Mike was attacked by a dinosaur!

He recovered quickly....

The girls in the entrance tunnel.

Mexico in lights.

A stunning phoenix sculpture!

The Statue of Liberty

We took a minute to walk on the changing light steps.

The panda by the China light display.  Most of the festival was influenced by China, as it's based on the Chinese Lantern festival.

Phoebe and Chloe on light swings.

Mike and I in the lantern tunnel.

The pretty lotus flower on top of the lantern tunnel.

Mike by the dragon. It was made entirely of china plates and was really incredible craftsmanship.

Walkway to Africa.

Egypt in lights.

Camels of north Africa.

Me by the Kremlin lights.

Seahorses under the sea.

Mike by the jellyfish.

Naomi banging the Korean drum.

Phoebe picked up some fancy cotton candy that they sculpted in front of her.

A baby dino hatching by Dinotopia

The big mouth dino by the entrance of Dinotopia.

  After walking around a bit we headed over to the light tunnel for the food and craft vendors. Though they advertised international food, it was really just one French Canadian stand selling fries with gravy,  a lot of Chinese food, and Mexican (which is really just regular food in any state that borders Mexico). It was pretty good though, but it made us late to the acrobat show. Which I was way too busy watching to take any pictures. It was truly a spectacle!

All in all a great night out!

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Right now it is New Year's morning and outside it is pouring rain. It's really uncommon for Phoenix to be so dark and gloomy and WET!

Christmas morning came and went in our house, and off we went into the mountains....

We live in a place where it's exciting to see snow on the ground, so I took pictures of it as we headed up north.

The mountains in the distance.

We arrived at Mike's uncle's house fairly late, but seeing family was all that mattered. Here's Naomi with the cousins on Christmas day.

2016 has been full of trials but also many good moments. Here a few of mine:

#1 Watching Chloe graduate from High School.
#2 Getting lost in Tijuana and discovering our Spanish is not as bad as we thought!
#3 Finally trying one of those Segway tours (which was loads of fun till I fell off and got a bit scraped up).
#4 Getting invited to an artist residency at the Green Olive Arts Center in Morocco (which means 2017 will be even better when we go!!)

For New Years Eve we broke with our hat making tradition and went to see the new Star Wars movie. Chloe is home (after an epic journey through snow and ice a couple of weeks ago) and she made us all her homemade lasagna. Unfortunately, Rogue One was a bit gloomy to ring in the New Year with as literally everyone dies (kind of like a zombie movie). However it was also the second to last night of Hanukkah, so that was quite nice. As I sit here eating lasagna for breakfast (Did I mention, Chloe made A LOT!), I just want to say.....

Happy 2017!!!

"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut


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