Monday, August 27, 2012

Fair and Square

It's coming! It's almost here! I'M NOT READY! Er, um, that is to say, heeeeey guys! If it smells like sweat, paint, saw dust and polyurethane, it's only because Renegade Craft Fair 2012 is on its way to Chicago, and I'm making stuff!
The last time I partook in Chicago's largest craft fair was back in the year of twenty-and-ten, and it was the first of its kind for me. I learned a lot that weekend, and since then have done a few more craft fairs and C2E2, which is similar, but worlds different. Renegade is outside, along Division Avenue, between Damen and Paulina. If you happen to talk to a cloud in the next week or so, please ask them to keep the rain at bay that weekend. Last time we started off wet and ended things on a boil. Hopefully this year will be all-together mild.
A few weeks ago I made a few prototype cut-out-animals, which were made of cardboard. Cardboard has always been one of my favorite materials to fiddle with. I can't say why, exactly, but I'm sure it has something to do with the industrial, everyday-ness of it, that makes it a thrill to transform into something exciting. Also, it's cheap. I'm sure that contributes to its charm, for me, at least.
For these animals, with the thin legs of the giraffes and the delicate scallops of their manes, the cardboard was a little too rough around the edges, and would split, fray or bend unexpectedly. I went to the art supply store, and made the switch to Bass wood, which is like balsa wood, but quite a bit stronger, and harder to accidentally break, but still soft enough to cut with a craft knife or razor blade, and sands very easily.
The paint takes to it just like paper, once it's all sanded and ready to go, and the texture of the wood allows for some really pleasing dry-brush textures.
After the giraffe was ready to go, I recreated the elephant in the thinnest of the wood panels I bought. I have to say, the 1/4 inch panel, though harder to cut, makes a much more stable animal.
Once I had the process down, it was only a matter of time until I made a beautiful, enchanted unicorn.
So very magical!
Renegade Craft Fair is such a HUGE event, that I wanted to think of something I could make to catch eyes of passerbys, and draw them into my little tent. I had some 3/4 inch plywood panels left over from another project, and used a jigsaw to cut out another giraffe, this one just shy of a meter high, once slotted together. Martha is going to help me get him painted yellow this week, then I'll do the details.
Side note: if you have a REDICULOUS amount of work to do in three weeks' do not, under any circumstance of nerd-thusiasm or plain curiosity, DO NOT download the free Jurassic Park 'park management' games for ios. It's fun. And obsessive. And very distracting. Back to art!
This was my next creature' and my new favorite. He has quite a lot more detail than the others, and such a winning smile!
As Renegade draws closer, I've been trying to stay ahead of the potential stress storm closing in, and trying to keep moving along my list of little details like tags, signage, and a display plan. I decided to design a tag logo, and after wasting a night attempting (and failing) to carve a linoleum stamp with text as sharp as I wanted, gave up and turned to the professionals at Lakeview Rubber Stamp Co.
The stamp cost about $23, took two days to make, and achieves the exact look I was going for. these will serve a double purpose of title/price tag and website advert. Great!
That's where I'll be, down about Division and Paulina, in booth 156. I'm close to a DJ and a beer booth, so come party at my spot! There are a bunch, nay, a ton of talented artists involved with this thing, so come for the Ben, stay for the them! See you in about two weeks!

Come see me and all of the other Renegade crafters and artists at Chicago's Tenth Annual Renegade Craft Fair, September 8 and 9!



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Boxing Teeth

Three or four days a week, I dry off my paintbrushes, store my pencils, and go to work as one of the three teachers at a preschool co-op playgroup, here in Chicago. Every August we have a special ceremony to see our oldest and boldest off into the wild territory of kindergarten and, appropriately, have a graduation ceremony.
My fellow teachers and I make a yearbook and help the kids fill out questionnaires, print hand and foot prints, and scribble on the 'autograph page' in the weeks leading up to graduation. For my personal bit, I give the parents an option of ordering a tooth box - a tradition that was active in this community before I was involved, but was handed off to me when they realized I was an artist.
This year I made nine, and took some photos to share here. They turned out pretty cute, and the kids and parents (who received them at graduation today) loved them. Mission accomplished!