News for the ‘making’ Category



Posted: April 29th, 2013
Categories: making
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Art Bugs

Tonight I dis­cov­ered that a cou­ple of box­es of art sup­plies and art objects in my stu­dio spare bed­room art room were infest­ed with the car­cass­es of many, many small lar­vae-type bugs. EW. I thor­ough­ly grossed myself out pick­ing thru to see what was sal­vage­able. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a hand-felt­ed wall hang­ing, a felt­ed rock made from my friend’s dog’s fur, and pos­si­bly some wood­en box­es were among the objects that were beyond repair. Bugs eat nat­ur­al fibers, who knew?

This is actu­al­ly not the first time I’ve had an art bug prob­lem. Let me recount for you the times I should have learned my les­son.

1. Honey is Sweet

In the first assign­ment of the semes­ter for Fiber Arts class, our pro­fes­sor gave us three yards of muslin and instruc­tions to use ONE oth­er mate­r­i­al to cre­ate a sculp­ture. I cut my muslin into 5″ squares and chose hon­ey as my sup­ple­men­tary mate­r­i­al, stack­ing the fab­ric one piece at a time like a hon­ey-muslin lasagna. It turned out pret­ty awe­some, but then the hon­ey dripped onto the floor and the local ant pop­u­la­tion moved in.

Photo on 1-30-13 at 9.47 PM #2

2. Peter Paul Reubens and The Gathering of The Beetles

Lat­er in the Fiber Arts class, our pro­fes­sor took us to see the Peter Paul Reubens car­toons at the Rin­gling Muse­um and asked us to recre­ate an aspect of the  paint­ings out of fiber mate­ri­als. I chose Gath­er­ing of The Man­na, recre­at­ing the burlap bag held by the crouch­ing fig­ure at the bot­tom. My twist, though, (and I can’t believe I did this) was to fill the bag with manure that I dug out of the New Col­lege com­post pile. Ahem. Do you know what lives inside manure that has been decom­pos­ing in a com­post pile? Lots and lots of bee­tles and creepy-crawlies.


3. Regina and the Resin

Anoth­er artist who shared my stu­dio space was doing awe­some cast­ing work with resin and soaps, embed­ding things like hair and My Lit­tle Pony parts. She had a bunch of pieces cur­ing — or so I thought — near the sink in a tup­per­ware con­tain­er, so I lift­ed the lid to take a peek. The objects which had not ful­ly embed­ded in the resin this time were chick­en hearts. Upon expo­sure to light and air, squirmy lit­tle white crea­tures (I will not say the name) that feast on rot­ting, non-ful­ly embed­ded organ­ic mat­ter swarmed out. SHUDDER.

4. Frog Tonics

I did a whole series of small bot­tles with linocut labels. They were filled with var­i­ous odd objects such as teeth, wool, hair, and well, a frog skele­ton I found in the library park­ing lot. Let’s just say there is a rea­son that peo­ple bleach bones before mak­ing art out of them. Luck­i­ly, this issue was well-con­tained in the bot­tle, and the bot­tle is now well-interred in a land­fill some­where.



5. You’re Bringing What in Here??

In my New Col­lege senior the­sis show, I used hay bales in lieu of sculp­ture stands to dis­play my work. I remem­ber Gail, my advi­sor with whom I had a love/hate rela­tion­ship, ques­tion­ing me with a frown. “You’re bring­ing what in here??” she asked. Three weeks lat­er, I was bat­tling ant colonies and bee­tles as I cleaned up. (Oh and yes, that is a giant horse hide shown below).



As much as I hate to admit it, Gail’s and oth­ers’ con­cerns about the mate­ri­als I used in my art were war­rant­ed, and not just from a bug per­spec­tive although that is cer­tain­ly an issue as I dis­cov­ered today. I have mul­ti­me­dia pieces where I used wood glue to attach mate­ri­als to the sur­face, and the glue has yel­lowed in an unpleas­ant way. I have paint­ings that incor­po­rate latex rub­ber which is now dry and crack­ing. My encaus­tic pieces have suf­fered a good deal of dam­age over the years being moved from one house to anoth­er, and while some are repara­ble, oth­ers are not. And some have cloud­ed due to sun expo­sure.

I don’t know that I would have done it dif­fer­ent­ly, entire­ly. I embrace the idea that art, like life, is tem­po­rary and fleet­ing and prone to decay. Joseph Beuys, who is my most inspi­ra­tional artist of all time, talked about how his sculp­tures are not fixed and fin­ished such that “every­thing is in a state of change”. I’m not inter­est­ed in hav­ing a lega­cy as an artist (so, like, the stuff does­n’t have to hold up until 2179 or any­thing). Part of the rea­son I am no longer much of a prac­tic­ing artist is that I can’t bear to keep bring­ing things into the world and to become respon­si­ble for where they go and how they last. But, in some small way I want to acknowl­edge that Gail was right, and that she was not just pick­ing on me or being mean like I thought at the time. I made that felt piece with my hands, first card­ing the raw wool for hours and hours and then felt­ing it on the dri­ve­way out­side the sculp­ture stu­dio with a hose and a lot of Dr. Bron­ners soap. It had to stop exist­ing at some point, but at the hand (mouths) of bugs? That just kind of sucks.

Posted: January 30th, 2013
Categories: adventures, making
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playa to-dos: 61 days until the man burns

research how to make pan­cake tutus
buy one mil­lion yards of tulle in rain­bow col­ors
comb out my tutu dreads from last year
be excit­ed
inter­rupt john learn­ing david low­ery songs to ask tutu length
order EL wire for bikes

Posted: July 2nd, 2012
Categories: adventures, making
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A Personal History of Fire

here i came to the very edge where noth­ing at all needs say­ing… and every day on the bal­cony of the sea open fire is born and every­thing is blue again like morn­ing”

— Pablo Neru­da

It’s too hot.

I made 6 pan­els of a com­ic tonight but it’s too hot to fin­ish.


Posted: June 24th, 2012
Categories: comics, making
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Bad Carpet

When I draw I sit in a spe­cif­ic place in my liv­ing room: against the loveseat on the floor. I just noticed the spot is turn­ing blue from my jeans. Can you see it in this pho­to?


Posted: April 27th, 2012
Categories: comics, Daily, making
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Big Wheel

J and my dad are schem­ing on how to build a big wheel for Burn­ing Man.


Posted: April 8th, 2012
Categories: burning man, comics, making
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What’s the term in print­mak­ing where your coun­ters get filled in? I’m way out of prac­tice.

Posted: April 1st, 2012
Categories: making
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Staedtler-Itoya-Micron-Rotovision (Comic Process)

I am work­ing on a new com­ic, but it’s tak­ing a while since I’ve been busy at work (for­tu­nate­ly I’m play­ing with mark­ers there as well but in a much larg­er size).


My process is start­ing to get a lit­tle more delib­er­ate so I thought I might try to describe it here.

My kit of equip­ment is real­ly real­ly spe­cif­ic. I use let­ter-sized paper specif­i­cal­ly for draw­ing comics that I get at Meininger, because I have found that nor­mal print­er paper (which is what I start­ed with! so easy! so acces­si­ble!) has too much tooth and the ink is more bleedy. The kind I have is Can­son Fan­boy Man­ga & Com­ic sketch paper.

I have a deep love of mark­ers and my favoritest most awe­some won­der­ful kind are made by Staedtler: the Lumo­col­or per­ma­nent pens in black in B, M, F, and S sizes. I think they might actu­al­ly be for writ­ing on over­head pro­jec­tors so I am a lit­tle wor­ried they won’t make them for­ev­er. Dear Staedtler, if you are lis­ten­ing please make sure to keep man­u­fac­tur­ing your pens!

I have also found myself in need of small­er tips as I get bet­ter at draw­ing, so I have a set of the Itoya Fine­point Sys­tem pens in .5, .3. and .1 and I like them pret­ty well. I have nev­er been a huge fan of Micron pens but I did need an even small­er size so I got one in 005 and I got a brush pen as well.

For my draw­ing sur­face I use a hard­cov­er book about brand­ing from when I was in school for design at RMCAD. :D It’s not even a good book but it’s the per­fect size to hold on my lap (I draw sit­ting on the floor with my back against the couch). I always put 5 or 6 sheets of copy paper under the sheet I’m draw­ing on, which gives the per­fect “squishi­ness” to the sur­face and helps man­age bleed-thru.

Oth­er impor­tant parts of my kit are a big chis­el sharpie (ter­ri­ble not-true blacks but some­times you need a real­ly wide mark­er), a Sumo mechan­i­cal pen­cil, and a 16 inch met­al ruler. Oh and my lap­top and or phone for image ref­er­ence. Fin­ished or in process stuff lives in a fold­er (upon exam­i­na­tion it appears to be a Mead Five Star fold­er labeled Psych from when J was under­grad).


I think one of the things I like best about draw­ing comics is that they aren’t hard to write since they are usu­al­ly based on some­thing real: a dream, a mem­o­ry, or an event.  Though I orig­i­nal­ly just drew them in real time, mak­ing them up as I went, I have start­ed actu­al­ly sto­ry­board­ing them out in pen­cil first on a sheet of copy paper. This way I can fig­ure out what the words are, how many cells I need to say what I am try­ing to say, and what images would go along to tell the sto­ry.

When I actu­al­ly start mak­ing the final com­ic I start by draw­ing the black­ened edges and mast­head area with my ruler and the B mark­er or the chis­el Sharpie. I start­ed doing this because my scan­ner can’t scan all the way to the edge, but I like the look of the heavy bor­der. I then let­ter the mast­head (is it called a mast­head in comics? I think that word might be a holdover from my news­pa­per class days).

Final­ly, I draw each row of cells (with the B Staedtler mark­er denot­ing the bor­ders), mov­ing from the top of the page to the bot­tom, let­ter­ing in the sto­ry as I go in the Itoya .5. For more com­plex visu­als I sketch light­ly in pen­cil first and then erase the lines once I ink. Oh yeah! Part of my kit is a big white eras­er. I would say about half of the pic­tures are drawn in pen­cil first, but I would pre­fer not to have to do this because it’s slow­er and I hate pen­cils. :)

I always have my com­put­er near­by to look up pho­to­graph­ic ref­er­ences for what­ev­er I am draw­ing. Okay and now the secret part. For images with per­spec­tive I will some­times put my paper over the bright com­put­er screen and trace some guid­ing out­lines in pen­cil! I cheat! It’s true! But I am get­ting bet­ter at per­spec­tive in gen­er­al and who cares any­way, it’s how the whole thing comes togeth­er than real­ly mat­ters.

Well, that’s about it, tried and true at this point. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my process and look for a new com­ic soon.

Posted: March 29th, 2012
Categories: comics, making
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Butterfly head


Posted: March 8th, 2012
Categories: making
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i dreamed this: alternative universe burning man #2

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

Posted: January 2nd, 2012
Categories: comics, making
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Human-Centered Design Comics

I real­ly can’t believe I:

  • did these in 2006
  • for­got
  • ever let myself get so dis­con­nect­ed from the basic tools of being a design­er (my brain, a pen, and paper. even tho these were actu­al­ly my brain, my wacom tablet, and illus­tra­tor.)


Posted: December 1st, 2011
Categories: comics, making
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The Many-Coated Man

Posted: November 25th, 2011
Categories: comics, Daily, making
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The History of Reading, Volume One


(the words are reeeal­ly tiny in this one, oops. click it to see a big­ger ver­sion.)

super. ∞

I haven’t been dream­ing a lot, so instead I made a pic­ture of a cam­era:

Posted: November 15th, 2011
Categories: comics, dreams, making
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A found drawing of Mr. Kitty & a box

I found this draw­ing of Mr. Kit­ty on my pie pad tonight.


Posted: October 30th, 2011
Categories: comics, making, things i like
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3 things I spilled this week

Well, real­ly it was last week that I had 3 spills…

This is my most per­son­al com­ic yet. It was this time last year when we lost Mr. Kit­ty to lym­phoma & kid­ney dis­ease. Octo­ber 17, I think. I don’t even care if half of this is drawn one way and half the oth­er — we real­ly miss him and it was super hard to draw about it but also very mean­ing­ful to try.


Posted: October 25th, 2011
Categories: comics, making, words to rest in
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john’s grandparents’ house drawings, by john

A draw­ing of J’s grand­par­ents’ house in Wil­low­brook (4 hous­es up from where I lived as a kid and on the ridge):

The pool room:

The neigh­bors’ house (they had a mon­key):

Posted: October 14th, 2011
Categories: comics, making, My Life 1979-2001
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I dreamed this: alternative universe burning man