Monday, December 31, 2007

Get with the times

Hurry up you slow pokes...I'm well into 2008 and you guys in Europe and the US are still dilly dallying in're so behind the times.

I'm just waking up, nursing a bit of a hangover, so I thought I'd give myself a virtual Bloody Mary...feel free to reopen this post whenever the need arises.

Here's the real Bloody Mary...very sobering, indeed.

For New Years Eve, Judy and I went to a friend's party who is part owner of a few restaurants (in fact one of those restaurants makes an amazing Bloody Mary using muddled cherry tomatoes ....delish), and these restaurants just happen to have stunning views of the Sydney Harbour (how do you like that spelling). We had front row seats. Here's what we saw.
Now if you were down on the water...this is what you would have seen....

Happy 2008 everyone...come on it the water is fine

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The big secret finally revealed

Hey everybody,

Hope y'all had a good holiday and I hope that everyone has interesting plans for New Years. Judy and I will be at a party with good views the Sydney Harbour and the fireworks. Last year we were watching the ball drop in Time a year flew by.

Now, those of you who read Judy's blog already know that she got accepted to Portland Art and Soul. Good news, more time to spend with my beloved.

The other good fortune that happened to Judy was that Cloth Paper Scissors published an artist profile on her and the collaboration that we worked on last Feb. If you remember I published some cryptic images on my blog post, and now you know why I was so cryptic...we were waiting to see if we could get some press and sure enough. The article really relates to her family's history so check out the article usually her art and stories will touch your heart. It was an amazing piece to work on together...I did the exterior box and Judy created the various books inside. Truly, though, this is Judy's piece of work...I just came along for the ride. Congrats to my pretty girlfriend...well deserved kudos! you can read the article in the recent issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.
AND there is a nice back story available online here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Naughty or Nice...Krampus is coming

So it would be a little out of my nature to post a normal everyday Xmas message. So I thought I'd share a few Krampus images. Krampus is a devilish character from central Europe that would accompany St. Nick on Xmas. He was the dude who supplied the coal in the stockings, switches to spank the children, sometimes even rounding them up and taking them away. This was the fate of the naughty babes...the good ones got the goodies from Santa.

Apparently cats don't like Krampus either.

Apparently a very bad baby...she seems to like the old hairy Krampus

I can tell that those are some naughty ones...they've been throwing snowballs at old ladies.

St. Nick and Krampus lurking over the cherubs. The dude on the right is getting coal for sure.

A nice entire bushel of bad babies. I wonder what becomes of them.
Yee haw. I bet this kid wishes he never gave his brother that wedgy.
Notice the apples...St. Nick would give out apples, oranges and nuts to good kids. Seems like Krampus is helping with Santa's burden. Or are those the bad apples (children) he has stolen away? By the way Gruss vom Krampus means Greetings from Krampus.

Here's a book that I have yet to buy but came across it while entering this post. It is a collection of Krampus postcards. I'm going to be ordering myself.

check it out
The Devil in Details, the Krampus Postcards by Monte Beauchamp

Okay so my niece and nephew don't know it yet but instead of Santa I'll be dressing up as someone else...bwwwah ha ha!

Hope everyone is having a great holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Making goodies

Cracks me up. I thought I was being obscure when I put the Dark Shadows entry up, but apparently there are a few vampire freaks like myself out there. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up...I would have been a vampire...I would have been a nice one though.

Okay, I promised a few images for y'all. Here are a few of the things that I've been working on.

This one is made from a cool old level as the base. I also dissected an neat ol' antique clock. for parts.

I should mention that that interesting silver plate on the front was from a vintage shaving kit/device it was in a box that worked as a sharpener. Oh and that red button is from a guy selling old Soviet pins.

Now speaking of shaving kits. The box that is made of was the shaving kit box that I spoke of. Pretty cool huh. Much of this batch of stuff came from Balmain, which has some great flea markets and a great junk shop. The shop I'm speaking of has some great collectibles and junk everywhere, which is funny because, Mike, who owns the shop is obsessive compulsive. Everytime Judy or I would pick up an item, he would be worried we didn't put it back in just the right way. Trust me he noticed the slightest change in his clutter.

Check out the Masonic whatever it is at the bottom. I picked up a couple of these at. Pretty nifty.

as you can see I have plenty of clock parts to work from. That is the great thing about old clocks...there are so many gears inside them...they go on and on. One note of caution, though, some times when you dissect them you can snap a coil or a spring and create a little rotary saw out of the gears. This happened when I was working on this piece. Gave me a nasty cut. The things I do for my art....

I should also mention that the antennae on the top of this piece are actually from a devils claw that Mary sent me last summer. I finally was able to use them. Thanks Mary.

Portland here we come!
Congrats to my beautiful Judy for getting into Art and Soul Portland Oct 2008. Very exciting! Perhaps someday we'll figure out how to do a collaborative class...we're thinkng. Now I can show around Portland and take her to the infamous Voodoo Doughnuts.

Ciao for now and have a great holiday. Next time I'll share some of my images from Judy's and my adventure to Bowral and Grandpas shed.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"My name is Victoria Winters...."

Here's a quiz...who knows what that phrase is from?

Times up pencils down!

It's from the coolest soap opera....EVER! Dark Shadows. It was about a vampire, Barnabas Collins, and the soap was filled with werewolves and other Gothic goodies. Way cool. Each episode opened with Victoria Winters reading her journal entry...thus "my name is Victoria Winters". I used to watch it with my mum (Judy is influencing me again) after preschool, kindergarten etc. I also remember that when my mother was into puzzles she had a huge one of Barnabas that she glued to a board and hung in my playroom...I was no ordinary child.

Okay here is the news....I just got an email from a patron of mine, Vickie, that they are doing a movie of this show...and best news yet...Johnny Depp is Barnabas. He too was a D.S. fanatic and rumor is that 2009 it will be out.

Here are a few quotes from the show

Barnabas Collins: "At last darkness has come. Goodbye, Maggie Evans. I might have loved you, I might have spared you, but now you must die"

Victoria Winters: "My name is Victoria Winters. My journey is beginning. A journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me and link my past with my future. A journey that will bring me to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea high atop Widows' Hill - a house called Collinwood. A world I've never known, with people I've never met. People who tonight are still only shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows. "

Coming soon,
some photos of some of the new pieces I've been working on while here in Sydney

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dem Bones

The wing bones connected to the body bone...the body bone's connect to the other wing bone.

Well I have been letting the creepy crawlies do a little number on the bat that got hung up on Judy's power lines. I'm sure he looked something like this in his/her (haven't done a gender check) heyday. I've set it outside and currently letting the garden critters get some nourishment.


Now this guy has a tag. After awhile when the "yuck" factor is a little less and the worms, beetles and whatever else have done their job and moved on. I'll examine the tag a bit closer. Right now the zoom lens is coming in handy. I suppose I should see if there are any strange laws regarding the use of bat bones, handling bat bones etc. before I mess with it. You never know.

Thanks to everyone who emailed me with suggestions on bone cleaning. Jen Worden posted a nice link to a place in Berkeley called the Bone Room. Judy and I visited here a year ago when we were in the Bay Area. Fun place if you're into bones, bugs and the like. Here's what their site has to say about cleaning bones...thanks Jen

I found a bone, how do I clean it?

For printable maceration instructions (Adobe Acrobat PDF), click here.

First of all, don't boil or bleach bone! Boiling causes fat to soak into the bone, resulting in a greasy, yellowish specimen. Superficial grease can be removed with ammonia and certain industrial solvents, but this is an unpleasant process and cannot remove deep grease which will eventually migrate to the bone surface. Chlorine based bleach irreparably damages the bone itself, resulting in chalky, weak, extremely porous specimens that will turn to bone meal with age.

So, how do you really clean bone?

Maceration - Using bacterial action to clean bone

This is the simplest method of cleaning bone.

  1. Remove any remaining tissue or hide from the bone
  2. Immerse the bone in a container of water.
  3. Leave the container in a warm location where you won't mind the smell.
  4. Periodically pour the greasy, smelly water out (gardens love it!) and replace with fresh water.
  5. When the water runs clear, the bacteria have run their course.
  6. Soak the bone in regular drugstore strength hydrogen peroxide until it reaches the whiteness you prefer. This also sterilizes the bone.
  7. You're done!

Dermestids- our favorite beetle.

If you're going to continue cleaning bones, or are working with very delicate specimens, you may want to start a dermestid colony. Dermestids or museum beetles are a group of small meat-eating beetles whose larvae do a marvelous job of stripping tissue from even the most delicate of bones. This is the method used by professional preperators. Dermestid beetles can be obtained from biological supply houses, local natural history museums or university zoology departments. Once a colony is set up in a warm place, they require minimal maintenance and are capable of stripping entire skulls in a day or two.

Before starting a dermestid colony, there are a few things to keep in mind. For one, these beetles need to be kept inside, as they like slightly warmer than room-temperature environments. Second, they will not eat decaying flesh or tolerate a great deal of moisture. Because of this, specimens must be fresh (freeze specimens if you cannot clean them immediately and thaw before introducing them to the beetles), skinned and de-fleshed as much as possible, and only placed in colonies large enough to clean them quickly. You will likely need to grow the colony to appropriate size before introducing the specimen. As a result, this method is not well-suited to cleaning just one specimen. But if you have many specimens to clean, a healthy dermestid colony is an efficient way to prepare the best bones possible

Saturday, December 08, 2007

No I didn't fall off the face of the earth...I just slide a bit south

Hey all,
In Sydney, hanging with my beloved Judy. Been kind of a whirlwind week. Off the plane in Sydney, only to get on another plane for a function up in Queensland...which was lovely...great food, drink and the resort at Coolum was quite spectacular.

I've been getting back to art making. Just finished a piece yesterday...sort of a Shiva skateboard. I was feeling a bit playful so this is my latest concoction...
I can't believe all the goodies that Judy has stashed away for me...astounding. There is no shortage of junk here. She took me to a few places that are her secret sources for her assortment of nifty things. The first place was (THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN DELETED BY JUDY WILKENFELD), and then she took me to (THIS INFO HAS BEEN DELETED BY JUDY WILKENFELD), great source for rusty things if you're in the Sydney area.

Dropped a line to Mr. LoBue, will be hooking up with him at some point. If fact I just emailed him to ask him how to clean the bones off the bat the has fallen into Judy's yard. Some of you may remember her post from the day I arrived to Sydney in which a bat hat got hung up in some power lines. Here's the image
So it finally dropped and the little buggies are hard at work picking him to the bone, but I need to know how to really clean him so I don't get kooties. I assume that there is something to dunk him into. I figure Keith would know...otherwise does anyone else have any bright ideas?
Oh speaking of LoBue, he's having a holiday sale check it

Also Perth workshop ended up getting cancelled and postponed till the end of January. The timing in relation to the holidays was a bit we try it then. Jan 24 -27th.

Okay that's it for now... except for :

El Charro in: The Return of the Intestinal Creature from the Rio Muerto

Saturday, November 24, 2007

El Charro now has a blog

Hey gang,
just wanted to let you know that, my alter ego, El Charro de las Calaveras, now has a blog.
You can check it out his latest adventure HERE
(Don't you like his new logo?)

Also yesterday was Fridays Found Object Find as the Artist's Nook check out the new things here.

And while I'm away I will have some art available in the states. Christine at the Artists Nook has some smaller shrine items, as well as some of my new Angels and Demons matchbox necklaces (not finished yet but I will send them to her before I leave).

You can also find my Creative Outlets at
Gallerie Chiz

And larger work at, including whats left of the work from my book, Secrets of Rusty Things.
Artisans on Taylor

El Charro

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Memory Garden

I just completed a commish last week. It was a difficult task, I must admit....most commissions are because you have to balance the needs of the client, all the while standing firm on your personal aesthetic. Last March I was approached by Louis and Donna who wanted me to create a shrine that was a memorial to there departed shih tsu doggies as well as a celebration of the garden and growing and life.

I found a phone nook as the base and I started my process. Lou supplied me with a barometer and a few other items, from there I was on my own. I had the bright idea of using Anubis as the theme. Anubis is the dog headed god in Egyptian it turns out he is also Guarder of the Veil (of the dead). A perfect metaphor.This then led me to the idea of making the piece a piece about transformation. Life, death, rebirth. So the idea of the garden played nicely into the idea.

I created a number of little nooks so that personal items could be places in them. I have a little nook here that has an old rabies tag. It opens to a place to put a dog tag or the like.

Originally I was going to take an actual image of Anubis as the central image, then I thought that I would take a human figurine, slice off the head and and replace it with a Shih tzu head...sort of a personalized Anubis. What I rapidly found out was that when you put a Shih tzu head on a human...presto you have a wookie. So I scrapped that idea. I went to a more restrained approached and photo shopped a Shih tzu head onto a vintage photo. Same idea but a little classier. Don't you think?
I love the final result. Always a relief when the clients like it as much as you do...yes they did give me the thumbs up on the piece. Especially since I kept it a secret until it was done, which I always do. The reason being is that the piece usually changes so much during the process that the client may not recognize it by the end of the journey. So thanks to Lou and Donna...enjoy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How could I forget to mention the concert in Oaxaca
How could I possibly forget to tell you guys about one of the most amazing things about the Oaxaca trip? Colleen arranged for tickets to see Lila Downs, a musician who I have been a fan of. She is of Mixtec decent, her mother Mexican with an American father. She was born in Oaxaca. Well she was doing a benefit concert for Casa de la Mujer, an organization that creates opportunities for women by allowing them to finish school. Not only does the money go to scholarships but also to help the families that may be finacially impacted by the absence of the daughter at the family business, farm, etc.

Here's a link to some of her music: Click Here

What a great show...she is mesmerizing. She is beautiful, elegant, with a style that is her twist on traditional ensembles....both in music and fashion. If you ever have a chance, SEE HER. If you ever have a chance, SEE HER IN OAXACA. It truly set the Oaxaca adventure off on the exact right note.
Here is a little sample of her music:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Friday's Found Object Finds

Well, ever since Christine at the Artists Nook got back from the Oaxaca excursion, she's been been coming up with new ideas for the All Things deMeng Store. She has come up with Friday's Found Object Finds. Every Friday she'll post some nifty little items that either she or I or one of my little minions (everyone need a minion) have come across.

Here are this weeks listings

Ready-Made Voodoo Dude

I would never be able to leave it alone but its beautiful as it is. You really don't have to do doodilly-squat (or should I say Voodoodilly-sqat) to this little totem or talisman.


Down Periscope

B9 miss, G4 hit G5...You sunk my battleship! Run silent and deep with this little find or I suppose you could keep an eye on whatever lurks in your basement...(eerie organ music cuts in).


Greg Brady goes to Hawail Tiki Doll Gear Thing

Remember when the Brady Bunch went to Hawaii and all the bad stuff started happening. Taratualas and of course, Greg's surfing accident. No wonder Greg couldn't get back to the surface, he had a big piece of cast iron around his neck. Okay, that's a stretch, but this gear looks like a tiki doll to me.


Honkin' Nails

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning, I'd hammer in the evening...I'd keep hammering and hammering and hammering because these suckers are 10 1/2 inches long...jeesh.

Have fun!