Saturday, January 31, 2009


After taking down the show at Hillsboro on Thursday, I stopped by at Laurie's to pick up what is essentially my last-time-buy of gocco supplies. I can still get the large screens as time goes buy, since there isn't so much demand for it, but as far as inks and the small screens go, I think I've bought all that I can.

On the bright side, I won't be spending so money on gocco supplies any more...

I do still have plenty to last me a while though, and I can still teach a few classes. Speaking of which, today was my first gocco class held in my newly expanded studio space. It is nice to be able to teach in the studio and not have to haul everything upstairs into the living room. This was the 2 session papermaking+gocco-printing workshop I co-taught with Helen. We still need to get together and evaluate how it went and what the results look like. Some of the inclusions (especially the plant ones) were coming up, sticking to the screen, so we'll have to nix that for future projects. Unfortunately, there was enough going on that I couldn't look at everyone's results very carefully. Hopefully, I can catch up with folks over email.

Teaching always takes a lot out of me. Probably because it's such intense/continuous people interactions for 3 hours straight, and it's really a bit too long for me to go without eating. After that, it just seems to take me a long while to recover.

On other fronts—haven't made further progress on the game board, but we embroidered the napkins (which are the labels to our place settings). There's been lots of little things for Portland Open Studios that have taken up some time, too. And I still haven't even done the board meeting minutes...better do that soon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Layers & layers of paint

Just a couple of images tonight. It's been a busy 3 days; I'm making steady progress, although very slowly, on Superfoodland! The colors are finally starting to come together in a candyland sort of a way. Anyhow, I have to be up in another 6 hours so that I can get out to Hillsboro to de-install Intersect/Parallel by 10am, so not much documentation to go along with the photos. But I'm probably not going to make it on time anyhow.

I'm putting the pigments on in very thin layers, starting with darker colors underneath and then sanding, and building up to the lighter colors on top. In the image, you just see the flat colors, but there's really more depth to the colors in real life.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Superfoodland! Take 1

First thing first...Happy Chinese New Year of the Ox!

OK, it took me most of Friday to put 4 coats of gesso on the board, letting it dry between each coat, and then sanding it down. Of course, I'm doing other things in between, various Portland Open Studios related stuff (insurance, board stuff).

Then sadly, due to the dwindling gocco supplies, Saturday was the last Advanced Gocco class at IPRC. Between walking to the transit center, bussing in, teaching, and then doing the reverse commute, I was on my feet for about 7 and half hours. I was pretty pooped by the time I got home. And that was pretty much all that I managed on Saturday.

But today! Hah! Got a lot accomplished. Packed up boxes of books to go to Abecedarian and Vamp & Tramp, and actually managed to get started painting Superfoodland! (Yes, the '!' is now part of the title, per Gretchin's insistence upon it...)

Here it is with 3 coats of ocher on it, and I've penciled in the 'paths' and different locations where different things happen. It's a bit simplified from when I first wrote up the rules (feedback I got from the group was that it was too complicated). Here it is set up with the utensils:

And here's a detail with the penciled in paths:

It's hard to see in these pictures, but that's ok...the finished thing will look nothing like this anyhow. Probably most of the ocher won't show after I'm finished, except for a very thin line along the sides, which you can't see because I've taped it up in these photos.

The blueberry chips will go into a 'bowl' in the middle. I haven't figured out the construction of the bowl yet. Each gamer's won blueberry chips will go into smaller bowls along the sides. Again, don't know how I'll make those yet.

As I was looking at my calendar for the next couple of weeks, I noticed that it said 'installation' on Feb 3. Panic! I had no idea what show I was installing on that day! My brain raced, and for a few seconds, I really panicked. Then I remembered—the floor was being installed that day...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Road trip to The Dalles

Today was the big day when Ruth and I pitched the Relay Replay books idea to the Oregon Veterans Home out at The Dalles. This had not occurred to me before, but since the government is involved, there's this bureaucracy that we have to deal with. But I think in general the administrators we met with liked the idea, it's just getting it through the hoops.

Going out there is a whole day—2 hours drive each way, a meeting with the administrators, a tour of the place, and a meet/greet/visit with Ruth's husband who's living there, and who is the impetus for the project. By the time we had a late lunch and drove back, it was 5pm.

I had this grandiose idea that I would gesso the boards for both Superfoodland and also the piece I'm trading with Artist X after I got back, that way they'd be ready to sand tomorrow. But I've just been sitting around comatose for most of the evening. And now I'm just ready for bed...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


That's the title for the game, by way of Helen. I couldn't come up with anything myself, but when she said Superfoodland, I knew that was it! It says what it's about, but in a la-la land kind of a way.

We made good progress today on For the Love of Food. And I have another early morning tomorrow—I'm heading out to The Dalles to visit the Oregon Veterans Home to see about doing a Relay Replay project there.

Whatever happened to the idea that artists sit around drinking and smoking until 3am and then sleep until 1pm? For weeks and weeks now (months), I've had meetings at 8:30am more often then not, sometimes for days in a row too. Pretty soon, I'll have to declare myself a morning person.

Heard from Vamp & Tramp tonight—they sold a set of the Relay Replay books. Yay! They're going really quickly.

I have the floor installer scheduled for Feb 3. Originally, they wanted to do it this Friday (turns out, the Pergo just needs to acclimate for 48 hours), but with so many different things going on, I just couldn't lose a day to the studio being in chaos, not to mention I'll have to move all the furniture before and after. So Feb it is.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A wee bit more information about this game piece

OK, so it's clear that not everyone can read my mind, so maybe a bit more information would be good before I proceed—

The game is part of an installation called For the Love of Food that I'm doing with 3 other artists—Helen Hiebert, Diane Jacobs, and Anne Greenwood. It will be shown at Cedar Crest College in PA in March.

There are two parts to the installation. There will be a Food Confessional set up with a video camera and 4 masks (rat, cat, horse, pig). Gallery visitors will be invited to don a mask and talk about their relationship with food in front of the video camera. The four of us have already 'primed' this portion of the installation by taping our food confessions, and that will loop on a monitor/projector in the gallery. I, of course, did my confession as The Rat. And I talked about the different ways that I cheat on my diabetic diet.

The 2nd part is a dinning room table, set up with 4 table settings, one from each of us. We're each doing very different things, but mine will be the game. Here's the portion of the artists statement about my piece: "Shu-Ju made a game that looks at eating trends and highlights the consequences of the consumer's enthusiasm to embrace a new super food and devour it at every opportunity, disturbing the delicate balance of sustainability."

Of the 15 'superfoods' in the game, quite a few are pretty benign, things like broccoli & walnuts. But then you get into things like coffee/soy/chocolate/banana/tiger penis/shark's fin, the damages start to add up. Although you only land in 'jail' if you draw a tiger's penis or shark's fin card, some of the others will land you in a 'quandary.'

Anyhow, I don't have the game board done yet (which is good, because as I was cleaning today, I found something that I had saved from an issue of Natural History years ago that made everything click into place). I've painted the faces of the cards, but have yet to write or print the text. I printed the first layer of the backs of the cards today; although I'm not at all happy with the colors I chose—I wanted bright childlike colors, but I think I went overboard and they look rather garish. Now I'll have to fix that.

And I'm supposed to come up with a title for my game before 9am tomorrow morning.

About the studio remodel

Oh happy day! (Besides the fact that it's inauguration day, that is.) I picked up the flooring today. Of course, by the time they nickel and dime you on everything, it's really more than the advertised fee which they so liberally post on every flat surface available in the store. But it's actually still very reasonable, and frankly, I was a little concerned that their advertised installation fee was so much lower than the next bid, so now I can worry a little bit less.

The flooring needs to sit in situ for a week before they can install. At this point though, I think I'll put off the installation until after my class on the 31st. I've got plenty of things going on through the rest of the month, I don't need to spend another day moving furniture around.

And talking about cleaning...

More happy news! Remember that I was bemoaning having lost a beloved pendent my American dad brought back for me from Iran? I found it today! Yay! I had taken it to RSM when I first started the project with the seniors, as an example of personal items that they can use to create images from. So today, when I was cleaning, I finally unpacked all that stuff, and there it was!

And in there, I also found this photo:

The artist as a 3 year old who did not appreciate having her photos taken, not even for her birthday. (I don't think I ever smiled for a photo until I was 17.) I still remember that dress, too. I did not like it. It was scratchy and it did not breathe in that hot humid weather in Taiwan. Yuck.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shark's fin, tiger penis, ... and yogurt

Oh my!

So I had grandiose plans yesterday that I could finish painting and gocco the backsides today. Well, at least I finished the painting part today. But that wasn't so difficult really, I'm amazed that it took so long.

So the 15 superfoods in my game are: banana, coffee, chocolate, walnuts, broccoli, avocado, blue green algae, soy, pomegranate, salmon, tiger's penis, shark's fin, yogurt, acai berries, green tea.

[A quick note, Tuesday morning: I'm not personally endorsing these as 'superfoods'. The game is about something quite the opposite—the game cards will detail the problems with many of these items, their environmental impact, the harvesting methods, the declining nutritional values, transportation, labor, etc. Of course, you don't have a way of knowing this, because it's all in my head and I haven't talked about it. But I don't want you all to think that I endorse people eating shark's fin or tiger's penises...]

I'm making 4 sets, so that's 60 little tiny painted cards (the game requires 2 sets, so I'm making double, in case something goes wrong, or they get lost, or whatever). They're not illustrated, just color-coded to indicate the food item. There will be text on the faces of the cards. So here are the cards representing tiger's penis, shark's fin, yogurt, and acai berries. I have yet to print the text...I've yet to WRITE the text, actually.

With the exception of the yogurt, which only had 2 coats of white over 2 coats of gesso, all the other cards had 4-6 coats of colors on top of 2 coats of gesso, which explains why they took so long, I suppose.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Banana, avocado, broccoli...

I didn't quite get to the gocco part as I had planned, but I did paint the faces of more than half of the game cards. There are 30 cards in the game, and I'm making 2 sets. They won't be illustrated, as there will be a lot of text that will pretty much use up all the real estate on each card, but I'm 'color-coding' them. For example, the banana cards are yellow and brown, etc.

I was hoping to finish painting the faces tonight, but now I'm running out of steam...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Getting on with the Cedar Crest show

Friday, we all had our masks done and the videographer came capture our Food Confessions, but of course. So I made my Food Confession, a true confession, I'll have you know. Never before told to anyone else! And now captured on digital video for all posterity, and soon to be made public.

And my rat is now sporting a manly stud in the ear.

And today, I finally started to prep the cards for the game board. I'm using BFK, probably 2 layers laminated together, 1 side painted and the other side gocco'ed. I've gesso'ed and sanded the side to be painted. Tomorrow, the base coat and gocco the other side.

I'm quickly running out of time in January to finish my commitments. I probably shouldn't have taken on the studio remodeling this month, but 70% off was very hard to resist. I have yet to start on my piece that I'll be trading with Artist X come Feb 1. And all the while we're getting ready to start the application process for Portland Open Studios, so lots of work there to be done too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No poker face, I

This last Saturday, before the wall came down, I had gone shopping for some flooring possibilities. I was considering either Marmoleum or Pergo laminate. I had already checked things out online and found a particular Pergo product that I liked (Bombay Rosewood). Anyhow, I checked out a couple of local floor places and when I got to Lowe's, I saw that Bombay Rosewood was on clearance, for 70% off!

OMG, I just had to jump! I was ready to just buy a bunch of boxes of the stuff based on my own estimates. After talking to the floor guy there and found out that they have to send someone out to measure for themselves, if I wanted them to install, which I did. And he wouldn't come out until after the wall came down!

So the floor installer came out yesterday to measure, and I waited anxiously all afternoon for Lowe's to call.

No call.

Today, I just couldn't wait any longer and went out to Lowe's. And those boxes of Bombay Rosewood were sitting on a pallet in the middle of the aisle.

This couldn't possibly be good news.

I was standing there and looking at this pile of MY, MY, MY Bombay Rosewood when a different floor guy came up and asked if I needed help.

"I was here on Saturday and saw this was on clearance and I had already checked it out online and liked it so I just jumped at the chance and the installer came out yesterday to measure and you should already have the paperwork but now all these boxes are sitting on the pallet in the middle of the aisle does that mean they're sold?"

The guy's eyeballs basically rolled backwards into their sockets and he said "hold on, let me check..."

A short pause.

"Yes, that's all been sold, on Monday."

I was so disappointed..."Oh, I just KNEW that would happen."

"Let me see if we have more of it in other stores..."

A LOOONG pause.

"Ma'am, I found some, in Idaho."

"Idaho? Do I have to pay shipping for that?" I mean, if I do, that just wiped out my 70% savings, probably.

"No, we'll eat it. We should've put it on hold for you on Saturday."

I almost started jumping up and down, I was so happy!

After looking at the paperwork from the installer and wrapped up what he needed to do, he stuck out his hand to shake my hand, but I was so happy that I just couldn't help myself and gave him a BIG HUG.

I said, "thank you, thank you, thank you!"

He said, "well, you just looked SO disappointed there..."

So not having a poker face has its advantages.

But here's a photo of the opened wall all trimmed up neat:

Oh yeah, and more good news—Laura sold one of my books on her last trip!

Some most excellent & crazy daze

OK, the wall is finished. I'd go and take a picture, except that would disturb the kitty on my lap, and we wouldn't want that!

The floor guy was here today to measure. I hope to hear from Lowe's tomorrow regarding availability of the flooring I want.

But most of the excitement today & yesterday was actually generated from the class that Helen Hiebert and I decided to do together. We're doing a 2 session class, session 1: make paper with Helen, and session 2: gocco print with me on the handmade paper.

Well, the class must've really hit a spot, because we filled up the class in 24 hours. Plus I had so many email inquires about the class. I think we'll have to get it on our schedule and do it on a regular basis.

And Alicia Bailey of Abecedarian Gallery has been hard at work selling my books left and right, cats and dogs! She's sold a copy each of all the Relay Replay books, and today sold 2 smaller books.

On the down side—heard from Powell's that they're going to hold out on the other books. But I'm hopeful that they'll eventually want to pick them up when the economy is better. I'll just have to remember to stay connected.

But hey, so far, this marketing stuff has been going REALLY well, so my whatever-hormone-it-is (you know, the stuff that makes you feel good, I guess) is getting rather a lot of stimulation! Hopefully, that all works its magic in its own way and makes me keep at it!

On other fronts, the Cedar Crest show has been getting the short end of my time lately, but I (almost) finished my mask today. I'm just missing some whiskers:

But, of course, I'd be a rat!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lake Wall-Be-Gone

So, there was this Norwegian bachelor farmer...

Oh, there he is.

Well, it's not exactly ice-fishing,

But it could be exciting.

Yah, you betcha, very exciting.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Catch up some, fall behind some

While I'm busy doing admin/marketing/business related stuff, I'm falling behind in my studio work. There's been no progress on the game, or the painting experiments, but I—

1. attended the Westside Cultural Alliance's panel discussion on artists/arts organizations and the media
2. shopped around for floor options for the soon to be revamped studio annex
3. completed and submitted my final RACC project grant report (still need to deliver hardcopies of a variety of things)
4. prepped the studio & studio annex for Monday's demolition derby
5. sorted through years of accumulated diskettes, CDs, and old technical books to get ready to take them for recycling or resell

Now this last item seems only remotely related to my studio life since it's all the Good Prince's stuff, but I do need to occupy the space when I'm doing computer stuff. I was convinced that he would find a family of possums living in the corner once he dug out the boxes, paper, old computer stuff that have been accumulating since 1995 (it hasn't been cleaned in all these years!), but alas, no such luck.

So, the knock-out-the-wall-guy is showing up at 9-10am tomorrow morning!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Two more days of appointments

Lets see, yesterday was my appointment to see the rare books buyer at Powell's Books (yes, they have one, and not only that, they buy artist's books in addition to antiquarian books). Due to the current economic situation (and we all know about that!), he has to get approval for everything over $100, but he bought everything that was under $100! And wrote me a check right then and there! That was pretty amazing. I should hear in a few days whether he got approval for the rest or not. So I was happy with that.

Since I've been SO good about doing my marketing—sending stuff out to dealers and making an attempt to sell work—I had to spend the afternoon keeping up with the documentation end of things.

Then today, met with my critique group to cut out our masks (mine is a rat, but of course). This is part of the installation going to Cedar Crest College.

Then, drum roll please...the guy that's going to knock out the wall between my studio and studio annex came this afternoon!

I should have an estimate in a few days, and then it shall get exciting!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What a crazy week

This is turning out to be the crazy week of appointments.

Yesterday, met with Ruth who wants me to work with her husband to do a Relay Replay project. We had a great chat, and I hope this will happen. More to come on this project if things do start to happen.

From there, it was to meet Artist X to finalize how we're going to do our painting collaboration. This is something we started talking about last June but put off because of Relay Replay. It also took us a while to nail down a format since she works in oil and I work in gouache, and oil and water don't mix. But I think we have a workable format, at least to get us started. First piece, due on Feb 1! Yikes, that's really tight, considering how many other deadlines I already have for Feb 1. But I'm determined to make it.

The afternoon was spent at the library, doing my volunteer gig. I find that such a nice break from work, or talking about work.

Today, met with Katy to talk about updating her website. Met with Lane to help her work through a project she wants to do. Then it was to deliver the Relay Replay books out to Hillsboro. The Cultural Arts Center is letting me add the Relay Replay books to the Intersect/Parallel show midway through the show. When I got there, I learned that several people have already been there to see the Relay Replay books, but I was told that they were happy to see what was there even though they didn't see the RR books.

And believe it or not, that pretty much took the whole day. I did manage to catch up on some emails on the critique group collaboration.

Tomorrow, just 1 appointment, but an important one. I still need to pack up the books for it. Friday, 3 more appointments. Saturday, a full-day seminar. I haven't worked on my game piece at all...and the week is more or less gone.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A big communications day

First of all, the article on Relay Replay books came out in today's Oregonian. Yay! Inara did a great job, as did Motoya, the photographer. I wrote a bit more about this on the Relay Replay blog.

So there was a lot of emailing back & forth with friends today. I also met with the activities coordinator at Rose Schnitzer Manor to talk about my volunteering there to do a 'book binding morning' once a month with the residents there. Looks like we'll be starting towards the end of January.

Didn't get any studio time in but I think the critique group wrapped up the statement we've been working on for the show.

I got tagged by Sundry for 10 things that I'm happy I accomplished in feels like I just did FOUR things in all of 2008 (my senior books):

1. Finished Martha
2. Finished Marion
3. Finished Esther
4. Finished Sheila

Now I'm reaching a bit...

5. Entertained my 8- and 4-year old nieces for 5 weeks, and I think they had a good time.
6. How about this—completed my 4 senior books and I stayed MARRIED!
7. Oh, this one I'm very happy with—I'm starting to get serious about marketing my books (probably because I'm running out of room to store them all). I sent Vamp & Tramp some books and they decided to accept them for representation; I emailed Powells (they have a rare books collection) and now I have an appt to show them some books! I emailed several librarians about the Relay Replay books, and heard back from some. Laura Russell at 23 Sandy is also going to have some of my books on consignment.
8. After years of humming and hawing, I finally made the decision to enlarge my studio. I set up a new guest bedroom and got rid of the old guest bed. And now I have scheduled an appt with the guy who's going to come and knock out the wall...

Now I'm going to sleep on it for a bit for 9 and 10.

Oh yes, I've not forgotten about Pack Rat Tuesdays. It shall return.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Another one of those all day meetings

This was the 2nd of the biannual Portland Open Studios all day board meeting/retreats. It was going to be Dec 14, the day the snow storms started. Now I'm pooped. We're in for another spell of bad weather, looks like. I went out for my evening walk tonight and had to beat a hasty retreat when I started sliding around on the pavement.

Some of us are a little slow

This morning, I came out of the bedroom and looked out the dining room window and thought, "gosh, I never noticed before how the neighbor's driveway looked so bright white in the morning light."

I took another few steps and thought, "wow gosh, even the street looks bright white in this light..."

Then it dawned on me, It Snowed Again! And we had a couple of inches. Just in time for our critique group meeting, again! But we forged on and met for a few hours. Got/gave feed back for each other's individual place settings, got some good feedback on my game (although I have to admit, when I got home, I was "uh oh, what did everyone say again?") Anyhow, hopefully, we'll have a chance to play the game before I finalize everything.

We also came to some consensus on the masks; and I wrote the first draft for the show statement.

On other fronts—I went ahead and uploaded the class description (the paper-making + print gocco class that Helen and I are teaching) to my web site already, under the Classes page.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Better get cracking on that game board...

Yes, now that's it's January, I best get going on this. We need to ship out Feb 1. So here I have a mockup of the board with some of the positions drawn in. There are 7 decks of cards to draw from, 3 decks of Market cards, 3 decks of Eatery cards, and 1 deck of Circumstance cards. Except I had to spell it 'EATFRY' since I had only 1 'E' and I wanted to stamp all 6 letters at the same time; and 'Sircum stance' since I only have 1 'c'...well, you get the picture.

Even though I hadn't been working on my game, I have been working on other projects. Helen and I are planning a combined workshop—participants make paper with her one weekend then gocco on the handmade paper with me the next. We hope it will be a smashing success!

And I've also been writing down project plans and such for 2009, reading about xhtml, and I admit it, goofing off too. I think it was during one of my goofing off periods that I suddenly realized what else I can do with sculpey. I did this book a few years back—

Those are rose thorns attached to the book cover. I've always wanted to another where the entire front and back are covered in rose thorns. I don't know if I got lucky that year where the thorns were unusually large and beautiful, or if I've just been unlucky since, but I have not been able to harvest thorns as lovely as these ever since.

Another problem with using actual rose thorns—after drying, the bottoms of the thorns become concave, which makes attaching them to the book cover very difficult.

But now that I have my new found medium of sculpey/preemo, I can make my own lovely rose thorns, with flat bottoms for easy attachment! Here's another shot, there are two circles of thorns—a small one at the top and the large one at the bottom. This shot is rather washed out: