Monday, February 14, 2011

Calling your favorite non-profit....

Happy Valentine's Day!

This time of the year is always exciting with anticipation of warmer weather, I am enjoying the long-awaited sight of tiny butterflies and the buzzing sound of insects. The tulips and hyacinths are finally reaching for the sky. I look forward to spending time in the garden this year.

As many of you already know, my shop Chasing Clouds Studio is dedicated to making a difference on this planet. My line of note cards feature support of charitable organization by donating a portion of sales to a designated non-profit.

Who is your favorite non-profit? Please participate in dedicating the next card by emailing me ( or commenting on this post. In order to be considered, the charity must be in one of these categories:

  • wildlife conservation
  • naturalhabitat preservation
  • neglected animal care
  • communities in need
If your favorite organization is chosen, I will send you a CCS card as a thank-you from me!

This contest will remain open while dedications are being filled for each new card design. So there will be more than a few winners, I promise!

"Construction" page is up on Chasing Clouds Studio for now. Please check it out, there will be more to come very, very soon....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cinnamon rotunda

Yesterday morning I was waiting for my regular fix at Peet's, glaced over as I usually do, and saw a girl and her father at a table. The little girl was about 3 or maybe 4 years old, not partiularly energetic at 8:45am. She was probably going to be dropped off at daycare soon, after her dad had his fix before he headed for work. Her golden locks kind of disheveled, she barely had her head supported up by her right hand. She was just staring out into space, her other hand picking at a cinnamon bun in front of her. She wasn't even looking at the cinnamon bun, but she was pinching a teeny, tiny morsel of it and bringing it to her half-opened mouth. She had been eating the cinnamon bun from the center -- the soft mushy part, and had left a giant ring of bun-crust on the plate. The outer most swirl of the bun stood like an inch tall, almost architecturally. A cinnamon rotunda. With a gaping crater in the middle.  I never eat cinnamon buns but after seeing that I think I am heading over to Peet's to get some today.

Anyways, shop opening is drawing nearer.  Thank you for asking about my cards; since my maiden sale in Sausalito last Christmas, (hosted by my friend Lori at Hachidori Studio), I've added quite a few new designs that reflect the atmosphere of the season as well as my own mood. My official site will be a home of all my stationary collections, while my etsy and artfire shops will be my main online storefronts where I will feature a selection of my work (because people don't buy Christmas cards in spring!). Thank you so much for your patience and your support!!! Here are just a few works in progress to share with you --

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Eucalyptus and Winter Leaf

It's been quite a fest here at the studio for the last 24 hours and counting. Not coincidentally, my hubby left for a glorious bike training camp yesterday morning. Since then my mind has been occupied with thoughts of projects ongoing, projects on the to-do-list, the website, the seller permit (which I found out I got, but never received the packet). He took the good laptop so I couldn't continue working on the website, so ---- it was time to for me to carve. Backing up a little bit, yes the day was filled with school, kids and their playdates, homework gestapo (that's me) and the usual stuff. After the kids went to bed I started carving and I haven't really stopped aside from sleeping and taking a tea break in the morning (and writing this blog).

I revisited this eucalyptus piece, which is based on a card design (2nd series and not even successfully printed. Ink was oil-based so it totally ruined my paper about 50 of them!!). I like the design alot so I decided to make a larger print, not for use in cards. Now I am thinking about using it for the hand-bound journals/books I will be making. This was fairly brainless task, but fun to do nonetheless.

I also carved a new design of a single leaf on a piece of wood. Recently my friend let me dip my hands into his pile of scrapwood at his cabinetry shop, so I am experimenting using different kinds of wood. Carving into wood is tricky because of the natural grain. Depending on which direction and angle  I carve (along or against the grain or anywhere in between), I get a different carve mark. This probably sounds more cool than it actually is right now. My brain refuses to keep track of how each mark is resulted, so everything seems kind of random. Keeping track should be simpler, but my mind and hands are occupied with carving out an image from this very tough piece of wood! Perhaps in time I will just get it...

When I carve wood it is very laborous and my arms hurt afterwards. This is why I don't carve wood very much. And I think about how those Edo Period craftsmen carved out such exquisite lines to make the woodblock prints that I love so much.

I also think about my friend I used to work at the art restoration studio. She carved giant wood panels which she made giant prints out of. Some of her artwork hung inside a church in SF, some 25feet high (or more? can't remember exactly). It was a spectacular sight, especially with her composer friend conducting an orchestra with the image as a backdrop. Anyhow, she'd show up to work with bandages around her hands and she'd tell me she cut herself the night before. While I am carving I think about how that must have hurt!

So I get really excited when I do something for the fist time. And with this leaf carving, I decided to try  my own method of burnishing. I read about this when I learned about Japanese furniture lacquering. Traditionally, lacquer is collected from a particular type of wood and is considered very poisonous. The substance is so toxic (while it is wet) that only certain people, like family of the lacquering business, has tolerance for it. There was a time when my restoration master talked about sending me away to Japan to study lacquering under one of these people and boy was I scared! I was so certain that I would die a horrible death from either breathing in or touching this toxic substance.

Anyhow, about burnishing. One does not have be working with lacquer to burnish, actually I think it just means applying pressure to the wood grain to compact the surface. The old lacquer guys used a special wood charcoal stick to do this, but I look around the house and decided to use this ugly bottle opener -- it is metal and has smooth edged point, and has a good handle (duh!). So after the wood has been carved there's lots of chipped areas, uneven edges, etc. I did use a sanding paper before but this bottle opener did the job! Now the wood surface is smooth and shiny, and pretty enough for a photo! (No photo now because hubby took it with him to bike camp) I am really happy and excited about this result.
**OK I later took this photo with my phone. Photo is not very sharp, but you get the idea...

Thanks for reading. I realize now that I tend to let my mind wander when I work....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shop Opening -- A Prologue

So here it goes. I am opening a business soon and it's been pretty hectic, especially being a mom with two small kids and two cats and a husband to feed and care for each day. It is a fine art/card and stationary business where I will be designing and making by hand. I never thought I would be doing this for work, but things got simmered down to this pretty quickly since last October or November, whenever it was... That last big blowout I had with my hubby. He basically went loco about how dirty the house was and that I was abandoning my housewifey and motherly duties -- so I can bury myself in that "art space" I created in the guest room. Yeah it was a big blowout for him and I, I even considered leaving him (at least for a few days) but instead we slept separately for a couple of weeks and during that time I decided that I was going to start my business. Ha!

Actually this venture is not just to spite him, really. I've always wanted to claim the rights of a creative person, full time -- ever since I was little. But with many things in my former years, I couldn't allow myself to feel that desire, or take myself seriously for that matter.  But as I got older and became of age, and as I had less and less time to nurture myself since the kids were born, I found that this one thing made "my" life worthwhile -- to draw anything and everything, with a willingness to improve each time. This doesn't mean that I don't love my family, I am definitely here for them. But when I am bare naked and have nothing to call my own anymore, I can be happy as long as I have something to draw with. This might sound absolutely nuts, but the years of self-refusal has caused such a volcano of emotion inside that I now have this out of proportion need to be doing, thinking, creatively. Constantly.
The other day I said to my friend, "You know, if I had gone to art school -- and got my creative itches out of the way -- I don't think I would be here now." Going to art school was an obsession of mine in the 30s. And now in my 40s, I am obsessing about.....

Pretty things. Time moving. Pretty things gone. Time moving. New pretty things. Time moving.
And I am just going nuts trying to catch up, or at least try to capture that moment it hits me in the stomach.

Thanks for reading. Not sure exactly where I will be going with this blog, but hope I can share my experience in running a business and being creative.