Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Friday, March 25, 2011

One week!

Hey people.  So my first show of the year is next Sat, April 2nd, at Burroughs School in S. Mpls., from 10 to 5:00.  Come say hi if you don't have anything else to do.  :)

I've been making a ton of wrap bracelets that I think look pretty cool, and I thought you'd like to see the process.  First there is the whole steel coloration process that involves lots of layers of color and rust.  Once I have a piece looking how I want, I cut it up into small pieces.

They are rough and have burnt steel encrusted to the edges.  This has to be dislodged by pounding around the perimeter of each piece with my slag hammer.  The piece in the lower right is "after."    

Once that's done, and little extra stubborn blobs have been removed with a side cutters, I sand all the edges, and round the corners a bit.

Then they are ready to be drilled.  I have a drill press, which is a drilling machine you pull a lever on to lower the drill bit into your work.  I had to make a special jig to hold the small pieces in place while they are drilled.

Once they have holes in them, the back sides of the holes have jagged steel poking out.  This needs to be trimmed off with a side cutters, then the rough edges get pounded over. 

 When I do this I feel all over the entire piece with my fingers, checking one last time for anything sharp or pointy.

Once I'm satisfied the pieces look good and are finished properly, it's time for them to weather a bit more in my state of the art winter rusting facility (currently my bathroom), where I repeatedly mist them with water.

When I'm satisfied with how they look, they're ready to be made into bracelets. Here's the design I'll have at the show.  What do you think?  There is another design, very similar, but using thinner cord, and colored beads.  The two will compliment each other very well.  I'm waiting for the cord to arrive.

Here are some of the feather hair pieces I've been working on.  These aren't done, and I have some extremely cool earrings underway too, but am waiting to my feathers to arrive.  I ordered some really beautiful ones from a milliners supply house.  The combinations will be gorgeous I think.  I'm really excited about them.   

It's hard with things coming in at the last minute.  I'll be working days and nights next week to get everything ready and done.  I'm making really cool cut-out branches, all different, that mount to the wall, but they aren't ready to be shown yet.  I'm still about two steps away from having them finished.

Meanwhile--- we got 8" of snow the other day.  So much for setting things outside to get rusty.

 Or finding my stock for that matter.  Somewhere under this is some pretty cool stuff that might give me other ideas, but not for this show.

Spring is only weeks away though.  I'm really psyched about everything coming up.  After this show is over I have a commission to start that will be really fun-- A big twisty tree.  I'm going to use a new technique on this one, layering cut-out pieces and bending by hand.  Should be way cool!

Also there is *new idea*, the big horse i want to get going, a big fall show to prepare for with a really cool painter, ~ladies night~ at the mountain bike trail (an event I'm organizing), a trip to visit sis and the kids, and BIKING with mah tribe.  Very excited today and in a great mood!  Hope you guys all have a great weekend, and that I see a few of you next Sat.  :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oh well.

Hey people.   I heard a saying the other day, "I'd rather have a life of 'Oh well's' than 'What if's'."  I like that.  It sums up the risk-reward ratio of creative life.  They're not all going to be home runs.  (Unpublished novels anyone?)  But, even the fails keep you plugged in, and maybe moving toward something you don't even have the slightest idea about yet, sewing seeds.  My cumulative experiences seem to be leading me closer and closer to *new idea*, and that feels pretty exciting.

I know it's kind of frustrating to have me dropping all these breadcrumbs, but the incubation period has to be respected.  It's important.  :)

Meanwhile-- that problem piece?  Look how awesome it will be once it finishes flaking and gets down to some serious rust building.  Sometimes I think we're like this.  I know it's a cliche, but, the more we go through, the more layers we build-up, the more interesting we get.

Interesting isn't good or bad, or I guess more accurately, can be both.  Last night I went to a couple parties and was reminded how much I suck at parties now.  Not just now, if I'm really honest with myself.  I always looked forward to them, and still do, but when I get there feel very restless and edgy and out of place.  I used to drink a bunch to deal with this, now I'm just stuck with myself.  I'm better at socializing where there's some activity going on.  But it's important to stay plugged into friends so I was still glad to have parties to go to at all.

It's always kind of weird being introduced to people as some version of "that crazy mountain biking lady" and "artist", or "made this amazing woman out of a race car."  That's how introductions are, --openers or whatever, but while that stuff is true, it feels like some press-kit fake i.d. somehow.  I'm much more comfortable just hanging out, DOING something, and finding out about the person I'm with, or just being out of our heads-- playing.

Anyway-- show prep continues.  Here is the latest version of the bracelet-- a double wrap now.  This is two of them.

Here's one normal one, and one I added a bunch of personal charms to.  Yes kiddies, you can do that too.  :)

Yesterday I had another idea.  It's a bit related to *new idea* in that it's off the map of my usual art.  Check this out.  What do you think?

Last weekend some critter over at the trail got a turkey.  My trailwork pals told me about it and asked if I wanted to go grab feathers for art stuff.  i was like, "Nah," and thought- "They don't have much of an idea of what I do I guess."  Well, my brain had a week to stew about it, and then i thought, "Screw it.  Who cares if it's not my usual mode?"

When I was 18 I used to collect feathers I'd find laying around outside and make bunches of them to wear in my hair.  It made me feel semi-feral and I liked that a lot.  Lately I've seen some feather extensions around the web.  Could be time for my long-ago idea to blossom.

Before you gross-out, I washed all the feathers with anti-bacterial soap, and dried them before working with them.  And Dan-- what a sweetheart.  "Hey hon-- want to go over to the trail and look for a week old turkey carcass and help me scavenge feathers off what's left?"  "Sure."  That guy will do anything for me.  :)  All that was left was feathers, no gross remains or anything, and really, this was just nature.  A fox has to make a living too.  All the feathers are now clean and pristine.

I know this idea is a bit off the beam, so figured I better help sell it with a few pics of possible looks.  Right now I'm thinking these babies will be about $10.  What do you all think?  Cool or "Go back to the 80's weirdo"?

To be fair, no one else was wearing this back in the 80's besides me either.  I think it will appeal to people who like to be different and are a bit adventurous with their style.

Meanwhile, family stuff continues.  One thing is my grandma is in the hospital again, more heart stuff, basically another chapter in her extended death scene.  She doesn't get the internet so she'll not see this.  But that's essentially what we're dealing with.  she's 95 and has congestive heart failure.  Her days are numbered.
I had a convo recently about aging with a friend and we agreed, what is really at the heart of all our concerns over sagging, wrinkling skin and other side-effects, is the fact that inside we still feel like the same vital, vibrant people we were in our 30's, and there is a growing-- gulp-- fear (there I said it) that we'll be dismissed as we get older; overlooked as people who have nothing interesting to contribute and aren't cool because we are older.

When I talk to, or am with my grandma I think about that.  Our relationship isn't as baggage laden and a mother/child relationship; I've never needed her or relied on her for anything, or disappointed her.  She doesn't like her body wearing out anymore than any of us would, even if she is 95.  She is mad *the world* seems to expect her to just lay around and be okay with all this, waiting to die with a beatific look on her face.

For now I just give her the message in my way of being with her, "I see you-- YOU.  And I'll keep seeing you, until you're gone."

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Hey people.  Well you have not heard much from me lately because there has been tons going on.  I've been frantically getting ready for my next show (April 2nd), and dealing with a bunch of family stuff too.  It's been kind of a frustrating time, but here's an update (lots of pics).

This is one bracelet design for the show-- bikey.

 This is another one.  I like how it uses the colored steel I work with and I like the look.  In summer I like to pick a few bracelets and necklaces and wear them the whole season, almost like some kind of tribal thing.  I just never take them off.  This is that kind of bracelet.  It's adjustable, but it ties on.  You can get it on and off by tying and untying, but it's less of a pain to just leave it on.  Do you guys like this idea?  I can't tell if it's *just me* or if it's cool.

I've been working on commissions in between show stuff and it's been uncharacteristically disastrous.  Problem and after problem, mostly related to it being winter and the whole coloration process i use just not working that great indoors in the cool weather.  Next winter I'm not going to take any commissions because of this.   Here is a piece I've been working on for a couple of months trying to get the finish right on.  It takes a long time to build the layers of rust and color to have the depth I like.

I was happy with how this piece was coming out.  There are some really cool transitions where the color changes, and I was really digging the layers.

It's reds/rust in the middle, transitioning to blues on the top and bottom.  It IS going to be gorgeous, eventually.

BUT--  The rust isn't penetrating into the steel.  It was looking like it was, until this week, when the client was expecting it to be done.  Then, on a final rinse down-- disaster--- some of it just flaked off and rinsed away, revealing shiny as ever brand new steel underneath.  W.T.F. steel?  Why are you doing this to me NOW?

All over the finish is beginning to release and crackle.  I could attempt to dry it out completely, doctor the shiny patches with vinegar to get them some surface rust, and try to lacquer the thing into submission-- essentially gluing the finish to the steel, but, I'm afraid it will crackle and look like a hack job.  Probably what will happen is it will require weeks, or months of work, much of what has been done so far being washed away.  Sort of a do-over will need to take place on this one.

Often when this happens, the end result is that much cooler, because not every bit of the finish will release, so what is left will look that much more "archaeological" when it's finally done.

Then there is this table.  It's going to have a river of stones running through it.  I was really digging this effect.  I loved the depth and the reds bleeding through the greens looked cool to me-- but-- not to the client.  She wants it more rusty and less patterny looking. 

So now I'm trying to obliterate the patterns and greens, and this is not going well.  I feel like sanding it down and starting over, but at the same time I'm so sick of working on it.  It's not always super fun doing art for your job.

Since that first piece I showed you will likely result in a do-over, I started another replacement piece.  I basically don't have a chance in hell of finishing this by Mon, but I may as well start.  If the client bails, I'll still have something cool someone else will want.  This time I began with a piece that already had a layer of surface rust on it.  The initial red I used was pretty horrid, but it's just the base layer.

 The rustier it gets, the cooler it looks.  This is only from one day of layering.  Lots farther to go, but you can see already how the rust is coming through the paint.

Ugh-- I know.  This is super long. If you're still hanging in there, bless you.  This is a little bird design i worked out.  Trouble is-- it takes a ton of time to make just one, and looks like some cheap Indian import thing.   ~Fail.~  Totally not worth my time.

Then there was my brilliant rust printing idea from last weekend.  Here are a few of the designs I came up with.  Yes, that tree was a bitch to cut out, but it is pretty cool I think.  I also really like the jackalope.  

Annoyingly-- this is how the prints came out, after trying for 4 days to get a clear pattern.

I'm 99% sure the clear parts of the tree would be obliterated in the wash-- so  ~fail~.

Below is a birdbath design I'm unenthusiastically working on.  Everything feels really frustrating right now.  I'll make sure it's cool-- it's not done, but...  Not super psyched about anything for this show so far.

Much of this frustration is due to my new way of thinking about the art I do.  I'm very preoccupied with *new idea*--- which i am SO GLAD i haven't talked much about yet because it has completely changed since I first began chewing on it.  Even just last week it morphed drastically once again.  It's feeling like I'm getting really close though, to having a fully formed idea of it in my mind I can begin working towards and sharing with everyone soon though.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Some weird, some cool.

Hey people.  Bam.  My orchid is getting progressively more awesome.  So far it looks like it will have about 7 blooms!  It's funny because normally I wouldn't like something so gaudy, but since it's natural and so out of place I'm enjoying seeing it.

Last week I had a fun outing.  Me and some pals went to Buffalo to scope out the junk shops.  Here are me and buddies Kathleen and Linda.  Later another friend Dayna joined the fun, but by then we were full on shopping so I'd forgotten about the camera.

I was pleased to find a few weird items this trip.  Baby wearing frilly dress and combat boots for example.

And this was rather promising.

And this.

And last but not least, bald little kid.

This was just cool.  I love old bikes, and especially chain-guard designs that look all aerodynamic and speedy.

Not much else to report.  I've been pretty busy working and getting ready for my next show April 2nd.  Next time I'll try to have some stuff for that to show you.  :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Welcome to wonderlandia

Hey people.  Remember when me and my Dad went to Minnehaha Falls?  Well, My pal Maery Rose decided to check it out Fri.  Dan has always wanted to go see this for himself, and after seeing her post and that it was still all frozen, we had to go.  Here we are on the bridge below the falls.

This time we were determined to try to get behind the falls.  This involved climbing up a pretty steep icy bank on the far right of this pic.  It was actually ice with a little slippery mud, but doable.

Our friends Kathleen and Charlie, who also like doing adventurey stuff, came along.  (Double date daring do.) 

Once we scaled the ice flow, and helped up a couple other straggling adventurers, we entered a frozen wonderland.

It was like exploring another world.  When I was young I used to go adventuring around in caves, enormous ones along the Mississippi bluffs, not really knowing how dangerous it was, but those explorations remain, to this day, some of my most exciting fun memories.  This came close though.

The feeling of absolute awe, and that we were seeing and experiencing something most people never will was inescapable.  There were others there, this is right in the heart of Minneapolis, but there was a real camaraderie among our fellow explorers-- these were our people-- they had gone to the same amount of trouble as us, ignoring the barricades and signs and gates, to experience this. 

We were all in the same state of joy and wonderment.   Everyone told eachother to "be careful" (the whole floor was ice), and watched out for the one little kid and dog that made it up there too.  Dan disappeared at one point, climbing outside the ice falls.  I yelled, "If you fall, I'm going to be super pissed!"  He reemerged from the ice curtain a few minutes later.

This is a view from behind the falls, of the bridge we had our picture taken on the beginning.

This is the most worthwhile trespassing I've done in a long time, and I'd say if there is ANY WAY you can get to Minnehaha Falls and check it out-- you should.  There are risks-- the climb up isn't hard enough that you'd get killed if you fell or anything, but getting wet and dirty is a def possibility, and-- it IS a frozen falls/river, so breaking through could be truly disastrous, but if you're careful-- SO worth it.

Try to give yourself a couple hours so you can also take the hiking trail that follows the creek down to the Mississippi.  Very beautiful.  I am constantly amazed at our beautiful cities, and all the parks and trails we have in this state.  Minnesota is awesome, and so is winter.  Bundle-up and get out there and enjoy it.

On our way back we spotted a stone staircase that was all tarped, and decided to check that out too.  It was cool, like a secret passage to the top of the bluff.

We got a close look at some restoration they're doing to the stonework.  Very cool.

This was such a fun day.  If you're having the winter blahs-- get out there, be curious, break a rule or two or three.  Have an adventure.  This kind of thing is like a jolt to your psyche, like cardio shock paddles; it brings you back to life.