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August 2010
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October 2010

You want a what statement?

    Since I've been getting back into the groove of bead- and jewelry-making, I've been looking for fairs, festivals and craft shows where I can sell my work.  I've been amazed at the sheer variety of events available (some of them a little scary!) and amused by the various application requirements.  Some request just basic information and the fee for "your" space, while others seem to want your family history for the past five generations and unlimited access to your bank account.   Juried shows even have varying requirements - some want three photos, some five, some want pictures of you actually creating your product while others want a photo of your booth/display set-up.  So far none have asked for bloodwork or drug tests, but I wouldn't be surprised if that pops up eventually!

    The one that has me scratching my head, though, is the request for an "artist's statement".   First of all, I have a hard time referring to myself as an "artist".  It just seems too high-falutin' for me, you know?   As for a statement - are they looking for a statement about what I make?  How I make it?  Do they want my resume, if you will, or is this more of a philosophical question?  Confusing!

    After seeing this pop up in several show applications, I started paying more attention at the art fairs and craft shows I attend.  Quite a few of the participants had their "artist's statement" posted somewhere in their booth, and I made a point of reading every one I could find.  While this was certainly entertaining, it didn't really give me any clear direction for creating my own statement.  Rather, it seemed to confirm what I already suspected - an artist's statement is whatever you make it.   Some were simply an explanation of the product, some listed the artist's accomplishments and training, and some were quite lengthy discourses on what "art" meant to that person.   Some were one paragraph, some were an entire page.  

    With these examples in mind, I began pondering my own artist's statement.   What do I want to say to people who would read my statement?  After quite a bit of thought, this is what I've come up with so far.

    When I make a bead or a piece of jewelry, I try to make something that I find beautiful.  I believe that complexity of design does not automatically mean beauty - or quality, for that matter.  Something very simple can be very lovely.  I want my jewelry to be something the owner reaches for again and again, because wearing it is a pleasure.  No ten-pound spiky necklaces here!   I use the best components I can afford, because no-one wants junk.   I believe in keeping my prices reasonable, because everyone should be able to own something they find beautiful.    And I do  this because I love it; beads make me smile, and I like to make other people smile too. 

    So there you have it: my very first artist's statement.  Not to be conceited, but I think it does a pretty good job of expressing my thoughts about what I do.  Now to see if posting that on my booth will increase my sales....what do you think?


Once again we fall

    As most of you know, we in the Grouchy House have a weakness for small (and not so small) furry things.  Three dogs and a fluctuating cat population keep us pretty busy, and we thought that was more than enough.  If we wanted a puppy fix, we'd visit a shelter or something. 

Well, one day darling daughter decided that she'd like a puppy fix, and we just happened to run into an English bulldog puppy that she absolutely loved.  He was a cute, fat little thing and all he wanted to do was sit in Faith's lap and snort at her, and she fell hard.  I mean hard.   As in, my practical daughter cried all the way home because we couldn't get a $4,000 puppy.   (Yes, you read that correctly.  Four thousand dollars.)   Jon and I were somewhat perplexed by the intensity of her reaction, but apparently she felt that this was the first puppy who had seemed to prefer her over some other member of the family.  She also just really likes bulldogs, so it was a double whammy for the poor kid. 

We had talked to our vet about English bulldogs, and she said that though they had great personalities, they were very high maintenance otherwise - lots of health issues, etc.  Dr. Gannon suggested that Faith look into Boston terriers, as they have similar personality traits but (generally) fewer health problems.   We'd found several puppies for sale, but Jon had said that he wanted to wait before we got another dog.  Still, when we found some about 10 minutes away, we asked the owner if we could come meet the puppies, just to get an idea of temperament, activity level and so on.  Big mistake.

This woman had three puppies left from the litter of eight, one of whom was the runt of the litter.  Sometimes the runt is just a little smaller than the other pups, but this little guy was only about 1/3 the size of the others.  He looked like a bobblehead because his body was so small compared to his head, and his hind legs were so bowed that he almost waddled when he walked.  When Faith sat down on the floor, he trucked up to her, climbed in her lap and fell asleep.   We talked with the owner for a good half hour or 45 minutes, and the little runt slept in Faith's lap the entire time, only moving to rearrange his head more comfortably on her hand.  By the time we left we were smitten.

After talking with Jon, I wrote and asked the owner if she would let us know if the runt was still available in a couple weeks, when Jon got paid.  Her response surprised me - she invited us to come get the puppy and pay for him later.  She said that she felt she could trust us to be honest, and to provide a good home for the little guy.   Of course you know what happened next - we caved.  Completely caved.  The next day we brought home little Boris, the belching, bowlegged, bobbleheaded Boston terrier. 

Because of his size, we suspect that Boris was getting crowded out at mealtimes, so he was looking a little rough when we got him home.  After a week and a half of frequent feeding and lots of love, he's up to about 2.5 lbs.  He's much more active now than when we first met him, although he's still a little cuddlebug and loves to curl  up in the nearest lap and snooze.  He and Frodo are mutually fascinated, and Frodo is doing pretty well playing with Boris.  It's a new experience for Frodo to have something smaller than him running around!  

And Faith?  Faith has her very own little snuggle-puppy.  He definitely knows who "mama" is, and gets really excited when he sees her in the morning.   She wanted a laid-back, cuddly dog, and that is definitely what she got!  So I guess caving in wasn't so bad after all. 

Begin again

I have the strangest urge to call myself "Finnegan" today....something to do with the old song that ended "...Finnegan, begin again!"   It's probably because today is our first day of school, which means it's a "begin again" sort of day.   We've had quite a few first days of school at this point, so it's not a first-first, it's a begin again first.  Right?  (I'm confusing myself already....)

Anyway, today we start school, and it's going to be a little different for me this year.  Luke is a senior, which means that a lot of the year is going to be spent reviewing what he does know and trying to fill in the gaps where he should know something and doesn't.  I'm not looking forward to discovering just how many gaps there are, but que sera, sera, eh?  We'll deal with it as it comes.  At least he knows what he wants to do, and thankfully there isn't any advanced math or science involved, hallelujah!   Youth pastors generally aren't called on to run elaborate science experiments. 

Faith is a junior, and I think my biggest challenge with her this year is going to be convincing her that she does need to do some math, no matter how much she hates it.  As much as I hate to admit it, we live in a world that requires some basic facility with numbers.  I consider that a serious flaw in the system, but again, it is what it is, and we'll just have to cope.  We also need to begin putting together a portfolio for her, since she wants to go to art school.  I'm sure someone will squeak "Oh, you should have started that years ago!", and that may be true, but in this house starting even this far ahead is quite an accomplishment. 

Seth is (technically) a freshman this year, and it's going to be interesting.  Because his dyslexia is so profound, he really struggles with "traditional" teaching methods.  Writing is difficult, and math is completely alien.  His brain just doesn't process the concepts in any way that we've been able to figure out.  I have some ideas that may be helpful for him as far as math (I hope), and we're going to try a unit study approach as well.  If Seth is really interested in something, he soaks in facts like a sponge, so I'm going to try to take advantage of that and use his interests to direct his studies. 

So that's where we're beginning this school year.  I'm sure there will be some frustration, but hopefully there will be victories as well.  At least the kids won't be the only ones learning - I'm still trying to get the hang of playing with the band, and it's not easy!  Let the learning begin!