Costuming Parasite: a Music Video Adventure

I am so thrilled to be able to share the official video for Parasite, a song by my friend and singer/songwriter Christa Couture! It’s been a long time coming, over a year since filming this, the first music video I’ve ever worked on. It was very exciting, a learning curve indeed. And it involved unitards. My world is complete!

There was a wind machine, which was fun, beautiful, intense and also funny! Christa was amazing, walking through flying debris, singing at super-speed (so that it would look slow, a film magic trick that I don’t quite grasp!) and dealing with hair and various flotsam and jetsam that stuck to her glossy video-lips.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adtaIg71EHA&w=560&h=315]

“Parasite” was directed by Adam Garnet Jones and Big Soul Productions.

The wind machine was fun, beautiful, intense and also fun-ny! Christa was amazing, walking, singing at super-speed (so that it would look slow, magic of film that I don't quite grasp!) and dealing with hair and various flotsam and jetsam that stuck to her glossy video-lips. Truly, feathers were flying. 
Truly, feathers were flying. And tissue paper, and fake snow, and and and …
A last minute make up touch near the end of the shoot. We started late and went all night, needing the darkness. I love this. And I love that I got my friend the folk singer into a tulle skirt inspired by the romantic ballets - worlds colliding! 
A last minute make-up touch near the end of the shoot.  I love that I got my friend the folk singer into a tulle skirt inspired by the romantic ballets – worlds colliding!
Aerialist on high. I had a successful dye adventure to match them to Christa's top and the make-up artist gave them subtly metallic gold skin making them other-worldly and metaphoric. 
Aerialist on high. I had a successful dye adventure to match them to Christa’s top and the make-up artist gave them subtly metallic gold skin making them other-worldly and metaphoric – one of my favourite combos really!

 

 

 

Raising a Knee

Christa Couture KneeraiserI have spent the last month building a crowdfunding campaign to get a new, microprocessor prosthetic knee for my dear friend Christa Couture. She happens to be a childhood cancer survivor, though the disease left her without a  leg. As a musician without extended health care, the prosthetics available to her are serviceable, but there’s a world of microprocessor technology out there that helps immensely in balancing an amputee’s weight, allowing stair climbing and descent leg-over-leg (as we with 2 legs generally do) and backwards motion, among other things. As a musician who tours Canada and Europe regularly, Christa is often hefting gear and this knee component will make an enormous difference in her life — both day-to-day and professionally.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iomc8jvSFKU&w=560&h=315]

And we have been so mind-blowingly successful! In just over 72 hours we have exceeded our initial goal of $15,000! A true testament to her wide reach as an excellent person and musician. This means we get to go for our stretch-goal of $25,000, allowing even more options for Christa. Check out our Kneeraiser!

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The limited edition, guitar-toting Folk Matryoshkas I made for the exciting cc-kneeraiser.org, raising funds for a microprocessor prosthetic knee for folk musician Christa Couture.

A number of Christa’s friends have offered their artistic work as perks for the Kneeraiser. I myself made some little felt matryoshkas and some exclusive Folk Matryoshka dolls, larger guitar-toting mama matryoshka dolls. I think there are a few still available — if you act fast you can get yourself a gorgeous doll and support a most worthy cause: cc-kneeraiser.org. Cheers!

Revisiting Mountain Girl

I don’t talk about my contemporary dance life on this blog much since overwhelmingly my days are spent building my textile work, and mothering. It’s a big shift, but my interest in fibre art waxes of late and it’s not so much that my interest in dance wanes, but she’s had the front seat most of my life and it’s time for someone else to ride shotgun! So my dance commitments are fewer and farther between, but they are still precious to me. Dance is simply a part me, stitched inextricably into my fibres, a fundamental communication form.

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That said, I’m happy to report  I’m working on a dance project this month! It is so lovely to spend some time in the studio. Along with my friend and collaborator Brittany Duggan, we are reviving a solo we choreographed together for the 2010 Dance 2 Danse Festival called Mountain Girl. We’ve been invited by Simcoe Contemporary Dancers to perform it on a shared program they are presenting as part of Barrie’s Winterfest in the first weekend of February.

MountainGirlPostcardBrittany is the dancer, the interpreter for Mountain Girl. I’m the costume and set designer. The original concept for the choreography was our consideration of how geography effects the development of our physical and emotional selves and influences our relationships with space and place. We’ve had fun working in Studio B, the basement studio of Toronto Dance Theatre’s soulful old church building in Cabbagetown. We’re resuscitating Mountain Girl, breathing life back into her choreographic bones and it never ceases to amaze me how kinetic memory works – our muscles remember so much with the smallest cues. Plus Brittany kept excellent notes, thank goodness.

Here’s an excerpt of Mountain Girl in our first re-mount rehearsal a couple of weeks ago. That glacial skirt is not easy to dance in!

[vimeo 85308354 w=500 h=281]

Reviving Mountain Girl – a choreographic remount project from Pocket Alchemy on Vimeo.

If you’re around or accessible to Barrie come enjoy Winterfest, the glorious expanses of snow we have here, and some contemporary dance at the MacLaren Art Centre on Sunday, February 2nd at 2:30pm — admission is free and it’s family friendly art! Click here for more info.

Photo credits: top: Lindsay Zier-Vogel; centre: Ömer Yükseker

There’s Gold on That Thar Island

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I am as chuffed as can be about this Felt Treasure Map and Golden Coins set I’ve created. And they’re available for sale on Etsy! It all started with a gift earlier this year for my little pirate boy, a 2-year-old wanderer on the seas of imagination and basement-carpet-scapes who desired a map to assist in his adventures.

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And of course every adventurer needs some treasure. So I’ve included a little pouch and five golden felt coins to be hidden and found over and over again. I recently watched a little piratess squirrel-away her coins while eyeing me, the maker and giver of said coins, with deep suspicion. “My money,” she stated with finality. In case there was any confusion. Toddler-test = passed. A+++ … !

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Treasure Map Details

This map makes a great gift for an adventurous toddler or kid, or even a fun piece of art for a brave and savvy adult — because we all have a little pirate-adventurer tucked away inside us, right?

I think I’ll leave you with this Ron Sexsmith/Chris Martin gem, Gold In Them Hills. Arrr mateys, It’s time for I sailed back to me island of perpetual stitching.

Merry Matryoshkas!

As you may have figured out, I adore Matryoshkas. Those little, detailed nesting Russian dollies, utterly kitschy and charming. Yes, they stole my heart long ago.

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I have been making felt ones, and they have become wonderfully popular. I am currently working on my 48th one! You can order them from my Etsy site.

NurseMatryoshka_PocketAlchemyThere are a few that are made and ready to sell but mostly people are loving the custom order, where they can choose eye and hair colour, and the flower or emblem for the tummy. I think birth-month flower is a lovely choice, but I’ve done a football, musical notes, a little bird, a moustache, even stethoscopes for some nurses! And they’re pretty flat so they mail easily. I figured out that they fit in those tiny manila envelopes making for ultra cute packaging. Below is an order I recently sent off. So much fun right?! It makes me squeal a bit.

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I add a little pin on their backs so that the ladies can be a brooch if you wish, and a little loop of embroidery floss so she can also be a decoration. Either way, it’s a whole lot of charm in your hand. And each lady if unique, a wee friend. I just had to share. And now back to stitching my little ladies.

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PS: if you’re in Toronto this weekend I’ll be at this West End craft fair! Come on by if you are out and about, the other artisans have amazing wares too!

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Movember Moustache Pillow

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I use this blog to share my artistic craft and dance work and sometimes my experiences of/thinking on/challenges in mothering. So mostly I try not to make it a social media page full of personal photos, but every once in a while, my life and art collide. Like in the case of my husband Adam’s  Movember team!

The husband behind his bar with his overgrown crafty-stache.
The husband behind his bar with his overgrown crafty-stache.

It’s Adam’s first time Movembering and I have to admit, it’s getting a bit porn-stachey up in this piece. I think I prefer the full beard on him! But he’s charming in the moustache too, I admit. He’s working hard with his fellow male elementary teachers on raising funds this month. I rarely find crafts that genuinely work for Adam but I saw the opportunity here immediately. Obviously they needed a Movember pillow-mascot for their team, the dorkily-sweetly named Mo Hills Mo Bros (a play on their school name).

AdamCowboyIf you want to donate to these lovely men and their, er, excellent moustaches and worthy cause, please do! There are still a few days before the great shave. Adam’s  gotten so into this that he’s proposing “Beards for Balls” in December. I’m not sure if that’s too raw for people but we’ll see if it catches on. There’s surely an amazing pillow-mascot in there somewhere!

Hanging My Proverbial Shingle

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Well, it’s been brewing in my head and hands for ages but I am finally, truly open for business on Etsy! Last week I did my first craft fair, a small affair here in Barrie, Ontario, but it lit a fire under me that I needed lit and I built up a stock of Baby Burping Cloths, Soother/Toy Straps and added these charming Littlest Matryoshka dolls to the Pocket Alchemy family!

The Littlest Matryoshkas. Get 'em while they're hot!
The Littlest Matryoshkas. Get ’em while they’re hot!

These little ladies caused a bit of a sensation when I posted them on social medial last week. I’d been concocting them in my head for a while after making their bigger mama earlier this year. They are decorations or broochs, coming with a loop to hang and a pin back. I currently have about 27 dolls commissioned right now an am still accepting orders, so message me if you’re interested! The fun thing that people are doing is personalizing them for recipients, choosing hair and eye colour and the belly flower or emblem.

My first Etsy sale, appropriately to a childhood friend's mom.
My first Etsy sale, appropriately to a childhood friend’s mom.

And so fair friends, go go to my Etsy shop! Finish your holiday shopping with me. If you know someone having a baby I am your lady! And please tell your friends, spread the word far and wide, Pocket Alchemy is open for business.

My first craft fair table, hurray!
My first craft fair table, hurray!
My first white-background product shoot. Very cobbled together but it did the trick.
My first white-background product shoot. Very cobbled together but it did the trick.

Oh my gosh, I just realized that this is my 100th blog post. How appropriate.

Tooth Fairy Time

Of course we would hit this all important milestone when I was not particularly prepared. But it is here, 5-and-a-half-year-old Rudi lost his first tooth on the weekend. I knew it was loose but it didn’t seem that loose. However he managed to hit his face on a chair and the tooth popped right out. He was so surprised that he even forgot to cry about the face-hit! A very thrilled and proud boy is he.

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Happily, luckily, I had the foresight a while ago to buy charming little blue tooth envelopes from Wildhorse Press (one of my absolute favourites, I highly recommend their cards and prints) for him to put his first few teeth into. Because I have not yet made a tooth pillow — it’s on the list of “Things I’m Determined to Do.” You know that list? Yeah …

For the actual tooth fairy work, I did some late-night googling to see what other people are doing. So much fun, I do love charming, mini things. And I shamelessly, happily sourced some creative and free printables from other artists, because they have done an amazing job and I am not a graphic designer. The tooth certificate is from Toys in the Dryer, I just downsized it when I printed it, and the little yellow tooth fairy envelope is from Handmade Charlotte.

The note I wrote myself using a 9-point Snell Roundhand font. I made sure to get in a reminder about eating fruits and veggies since fairies hold a lot more sway than I do in that department! I wrapped a book and added a Loonie (that’s a $1 coin in Canada) and we’re off, catapulted into yet another realm of growing-up-land, spinning some more magic.

Room of My Own: The Pocket Alchemy Studio

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A number of years ago I saw master crafter and blogger SouleMama’s home studio space, probably around the time it was originally posted in 2007. And since that fateful day I have not been able to get her gorgeous room out of my head. It was the workspace of my dreams, turquoise walls, stacks of fabric, chockablock with whimsey and inspiration. It was as if she’d actualized the room I’d create given, well, the room. I checked in on it often.

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Fast forward to 2013 and now I have a proper room of my own! A studio, a workroom, a dreaming, concocting, making place that’s just mine, full of the colours and busy, eclectic-ness  that I adore. The first thing I did was paint it turquoise, a very retro shade that I find inspiring.

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I have a  beautiful White sewing table, circa 1910, courtesy of my thoughtful in-laws. I love all the drawers and doors, it’s Arts and Crafts sensibility. The original machine sits upstairs on a bookshelf so I can enjoy her out of context.

And why yes, that is a fairy door on the lower left of my sewing machine. They’re excellent neighbours, occasionally checking in, but mostly keeping to themselves. My boys are utterly enchanted by it! Day-to-day I work on my schmancy new Janome with which I am still acquainting myself.

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I  did a major clean up and decided it was  time I photographed my studio-room to share here. Naturally the space vacillates between being about this tidy and looking like a crafty bomb exploded in it. Of course this is how I prefer it! When my space is clear(ish) I feel calm inside and the possibilities for creation are not drowned out by the thousand things to pick up or deal with.

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My walls are covered in things that inspire me. Old buttons, sewing bits and bobs, art made by friends so that I am not only surrounded by beautiful things to look at but those pieces are attached to dear, creative folk. I never feel lonely.

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Historically I’ve been one for a subdued, autumn pallet of colours, but lately, increasingly, bright colours are appealing to me. After using colour sample cards for programs in one of my dance shows, I decided to make some bright, happy art from the leftovers. Flanking my recently acquired Underwood typewriter sit a turquoise Singer I rescued from garbage day and sweated home on the Toronto subway system many moons ago, and my grandmother’s singer.

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Jars of curios and little-boy treasures sit beside useful items like machine oil, a pencil sharpener and my craft-sized Tiny Serger. Since it’s a basement room, there used to be another window, but a kitchen was added to the house years ago on that side. The renovators cleverly created a little shelf in the old window cavity. Naturally I made this into my own wee gallery. Currently on display: some early Anne of Green Gables editions and hand-bound art books by my friend Lindsay Zier-Vogel. I’m thinking next year I might curate a monthly mini art show that I share on my blog once per month. So stay tuned. And keep inspired!

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Quick and Dirty Cowboy Accoutrement

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I have been away from my blog for much of October, working on a project that shall remain secret till it is revealed next fall — oh anticipation! This much I can say: I am  delighted and honoured that the project I working on is going to be included in Leanne Prain‘s upcoming book Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles with Arsenal Pulp Press. Very exciting. All shall be revealed upon publication in 2014.

Now about the cowboy pieces: it was just halloween! And as you probably know, I make costumes. 2-year-old Gene wore Rudi’s cowboy costume from a few years ago and Rudi, at 5, obviously wanted to be Spiderman, so I went ahead and bought a second-hand Spidey costume that fit the bill. I think he was particularly excited to have a store-bought costume after always having had homemade ones. Sometimes you have to admit when it’s not worth making yourself!

So I thought I was just going to sit back and work on other things, but at 8:35pm on October 30th my lovely husband texted me at the end of my yoga class to say if I wanted something fun to do on the way home I could find him a cowboy hat and belt! A last-minute cowboy: challenge accepted. I could only find a horrible foam hat from a dollar store before everything closed, but it did the trick. I will not dignify it by including it here though, it was sad. Project get-a-much-better-cowboy-hat is underway for future last minute cowboys. No belt luck. So my costuming head started whirring as I drove home.

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I cut out 2 cardboard ovals, drew a longhorn and some stud details in hot glue, let it dry and covered it all in tin foil. Ta da! From a reasonable distance it looks like a true, huge ol’ cowboy buckle. I added a foil loop at the back and and it just slipped over a regular belt. Sorted.

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Lastly, I dug out a felt holster I’d made for a costuming gig in the summer, which I wrote about here. The budget for that job was limited so I decided to use my own materials and time to make a holster for the sheriff character and just lend it to the production since I figured (rightly, hurray for foresight!) that it might come in handy in my house full of boys. I just didn’t expect the adult boy to be the first one who used it! The pistol stayed home during the work day since hubby teaches grade 4, but we pilfered our son’s sheriff badge and handkerchief and found some emergency stick-on moustaches in my costuming stash.

Cowboy accoutrement sorted and in bed before midnight. Yeeeeeeee-ha!