Tuesday, November 29, 2011

deMent-triloquism and Mixed Media Puppetry

So as of late I've found myself fascinated with the puppets, marionettes, and things with strings.  
Part of this  recent obsession stems from a show I saw last summer in L.A. featuring the work of John Frame, a very very very inspiring exhibit.  

That was not the only source of my inspiration, however.  For many years I have dreamt of creating fortune telling automatons such as Zoltar.
Here's a odd fortune telling machine I came across on Coney Island...Granny knows best...I think I like Zoltar better....duh!
Granny sees...an little boy fetching her a nice cup of tea...

Here's a groovy one I found  in Oaxaca, Mexico:

Another inspiration was the automated window displays made by Baranger company.  
The largest collection of Baranger displays is located in Wisconsin at the amazing House on the Rocks, which also houses oodles and oodles of other machine operated people, places and things.  Here's a little video I made last year when Katherine Engen and I visited that palace of Pandemonium.

Last Summer Andrea and I visited the Marionette Museum in Lisbon.  Pretty nifty.  They had a very nice collection of marionettes from around the globe.  One of the more interesting displays was the Vietnamese Water Puppets. The stage is actually waist high deep pool.  This type of puppetry is different because the mechanisms come from below as opposed the traditional strings from above.

But perhaps the most inspirational thing was that silly B.B. gun game in front of the Oaxaca City cemetery during Day of the Dead.  Shoot the target and the puppets start to dance....a normal thing to do in front of a graveyard.

So finally I have embraced my inner-puppeteer....though, I still hate Kukla, Fran and Ollie (that show gave me the willies).

deMent-triloquisms and Mixed Media Pupetry
I have begun with simple talking heads based on Mexican Dia de los Muertos.  They can even carry a tune...sort of...
And for those of you who know the ever enduring tunes of Eduard Khil here is a remixed version of his masterpiece Trololo:

And of course these led to the more complex Spinny Headed Super Freak:

Currently I am working on this strange little dude  Despite the prominent lower jaw, ironically his mouth will stay shut and most of the motion will come from his arms and legs.

Well...since I'm in a toy-making mood, I thought I'd leave you with a horrifying memory from my childhood...the Child Catcher of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as he searches the Toymaker's shop.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crusted, Crumbled and Cracked - Art Lab #3: Texture

Michael deMeng's ArtLab is back!  This episode is Crusty, Crumpled and Cracked, in which I will go over a variety of techniques that focus on creating various interesting textures in your art.  I'll show you how to do lizardy, chucky, crispy, wispy, rusty, and crunchy effects, just to name a few.
Class Begins January 20th, 2012 

ArtLab #3 Online Workshop

Question you may have:
  • How much does it cost?  A: $59.95
  • When does it begin? A: January 20, 2012
  • How long does it run?  A: The class will be available for 2 months before I change the codes, but students will be able to access information after that date when I send out the new codes.
  • How does it differ from live class?  A: Online classes allow for a bit more in depth explanations of techniques etc.
  • Will there be video?  A: Yes.  I have about 180 of minutes of protected video that only students will be able to access.
  • How many videos?  A:  Roughly about 180 minutes of video is included in the instruction.  
  • Will it be live?  A: No.  I will not be doing live video, but I will be setting up a Yahoo Group where I will be available to discuss your questions and issues once a week.
  • Can you tell me more about the Yahoo Group?  A: Students can access this anytime and discuss issues with other students.  Once a week I will be available and answer all questions.
  • Is the class segmented or do I get everything at once?  A: I have designed the class so you will have access to all the information at once and can play with it as you like, at your own speed.  New weekly videos will pop up with additional tidbits and tips.
  • What kind of site is being used to host this class?  A: I'm using a protected TypePad account.
  • How will I access the TypePad account?  A: When class begins I will send out passwords and usernames to all the students.  
  • What else will be on the blog?  A: Along with the Videos I will be posting the major questions as they come up, and the solutions.  I will also do weekly video addressing these questions.
  • Is this for Beginners or Advanced students?  A: It's for everyone.  I've made it so it is information that can be used by all levels.
  • Will it be entertaining?  A: Geez, I hope so.  I will try and make it very un-dry and fun.
  • How will  you accept payment.  A: PayPal
  • What will happen after I sign up?  I'll send you a confirmation to say "howdy" and then just sit back until I start the Yahoo group.  At that point  you'll get an email inviting you to join prior to class and meet some of the other students.  Then on Jan. 20th, 2012,  I will send out the TypePad site, codes, etc.
  • How do I sign up?  A: Click the little button and you're off and running. WooHoo!

    ArtLab #3 Online Workshop

    Wednesday, November 09, 2011

    I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

    If last year's NOLA workshop is any indication the Fantome Maison Workshop in the Big Easy looks to be a blast and a half.   

    Katherine Engen (of Valley Ridge Art Studio) the organizer of the event, has been working tirelessly to put together tours and experiences to ease you into the Big Easy.   In case you were wondering what goodies we had in store for you when you aren't slaving away over rusty metal bits...here's the skinny (which doesn't really apply in NOLA...especially if you eat the maple bacon sundae from Green Goddess...mmmmmm). 

    The full itinerary is listed at the end of this post but here are a few highlights:
    Last year we started our adventure at the Voodoo Museum.   It was so interesting and fun last year that we decided to come back again for more dances and ceremonies in the beautiful courtyard setting...oh and watch out for those love potions...oooh la la!

    A new treat on this year's schedule is a carriage ride around the French Quarter.

     And a trip to NOLA without a stop at one of it's historic cemeteries would be like a hot dog without mustard...three dogs without a night...a bee without a gee.

    So you like greenery? The garden district is an amazing display of the historic opulence of this area.    There are some excellent bars, restaurants and shops in this area...oh, did I mention the shrubbery?

    One thing I missed out on last year was experiencing jazz at Preservation Hall.  Everyone who went last year loved it...I know it's only on this year's  "suggested itinerary"...but I'm going for sure!!!!  Jazz hands!

    A couple of notes on a few of the suggested evening events...
    The Praline Connection has the BEST fried chicken I have EVER EVER EVER EVER had.  I don't normally like fried chicken, but holy perfected poultry, Batman!
    One of the best places to see music at the end of the day is the Spotted Cat.  Great vibe, and some excellent retro jazz bands.  You may have seen it featured in the HBO series "Treme".

     No trip to NOLA is complete without a trip to the Napoleon House. This place was originally meant to be the residence of Bonaparte after his exile.  He died before this ever came to fruition.  Now it is a great bar and restaraunt.    I have enjoyed many a Pimms Cup at this establishment ...delish...not to mention it is wonderfully old and and decrepit.  Got to love the walls!

    This year Katherine will be taking fashionistas to Fifi Mahoney's for a bit of wig shopping.  Maybe I'll pick up a new "teaching wig".  Katherine purchased one last year...though not quite as pink as this one:

    Muriels is on the schedule for lunch this year.  This is the place that gave me the idea for the class.  It is said that they have a resident ghost who is served dinner nightly as a way to appease him.  Afterwards, we mosey up to their Seance Lounge for an actual seance...cool!

    After connecting with the spirits we will need a does of sugar and coffee at the Cafe Du Monde.  Most likely a street performer or twelve will give us a bit of a show while we caffeinate.

    From there we do a bit of ghost hunting...oooooooooooo...Night time ghost tours.  I ain't afraid of no ghost!
    We end the workshop with a bang.  The city of New Orleans is having a parade in our honor.  Nice job Katherine!  Actually it is the Krewe du Vieux...a parade that kicks off to the Mardis Gras season.  

    Art, food and culture...who needs anything more...oh yeah...ghosts!
    The itinerary:
    Monday, January 30th
    6:30 Meet and Greet Party at the Voodoo Museum in their courtyard.     Gris gris bags will be prepared for you.  Presentation by Voodoo Priestess, Cinnamon.  Jumbo, jumbalaya, and king cake.
    Tuesday, January 31st:  Tour
    Horse and carriage tour through the French Quarter, over to the cemetery with time for photographs, tour of the Garden District and drop us off at the end of Decatur Street where there are a number of vintage shops to explore. 
                   Suggested evening events*
                   Dinner at the Royal Oyster for a bowl of boiled peel and eat shrimp.  
                   Preservation Hall for their jazz performance
Wednesday, February 1st: Workshop.
    Workshop begins:  Morning session:  10:00 - 12:30.  Lunch*: 12:30 - 1:30.  Afternoon session: 1:30 - 4:30.  
                   Suggested evening events*
                   Cocktails in the hotel lounge
                   Walk to the Marigny neighborhood
                   Dinner at a number of restaurants there.  Suggest the Praline Connection Restaurant.
                   Jazz at the Spotted Cat.
Thursday, February 2nd: Workshop

Workshop begins:  Morning session:  10:00 - 12:30.  Lunch*: 12:30 - 1:30.  Afternoon session: 1:30 - 4:30.  
                   Suggested evening events*
                   Meet in the hotel lounge 
                   Dinner at Napoleons'  
                   Take the Ferry (free) to Algiers and go to the Old Point Bar for good local music.
Friday, February 3rd: Tour.
    Morning is free time
I will take those interested to Fifi Mahony's to try on wigs... and look at their cool accessories.  http://fifimahonys.com/
    Lunch at Muriel's* 
Seance in the Seance Lounge at Muriel's
Stop at Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee*
Ghost tour in the evening.  

Saturday, February 4th:  Last Day of Workshop
    Workshop begins:  Morning session:  10:00 - 12:30.  Lunch*: 12:30 - 1:30.  Afternoon session: 1:30 - 4:30.  
                   Suggested evening events*
                   Attend the Krewe du Vieux Parade 
                   Jacques-Imo's on Oak Street
    Maple Leaf Bar or Oak Wine Bar for music afterward


    Saturday, November 05, 2011


    As many of you may have heard…Teesha Moore has announced that 2012 will be the last year of ArtFest. This event is a magical event that truly changed much of the Art and Craft world as we know it.  Suddenly artists found new and interesting ways to reach there public, and art students had a chance to spend time to learn and laugh with teachers, colleagues and friends.    A wonderful experience for everyone and anyone who attends…this much is certain.  Teesha and Tracy Moore deserve a huge shout out for all that they have done for the Art Community.  

    On a personal note it was Teesha who really gave me my start in this biz…hounding me…and hounding me…and, yes hounding me…until I agreed to teach for her.   When I finally said "yes",  it forever changed the trajectory of my life.  Thanks for that.  I am sad to see ArtFest go but as Joseph Campbell said: Follow your Bliss.

    I just wanted to let Teesha and Tracy know that I and many many others truly appreciate all that you have done.   Happy New Adventures!


    Here is the note Teesha sent out yesterday:

    Those of you who have known me for most of my art life, have seen a progression from my first little rubber stamp company called Ornamentum (which I sold less than a year later even though it had grown 500%), then onto organizing the MARS Guild (mail artists & rubber stampers) to plan a convention in seattle, then starting Zettiology and getting involved all over the country teaching art and selling our designs. Soon after, we held our first art retreat for 50 people at Dumas Bay, a life changing event for me. We rented an art studio in Snoqualmie and continued to do our weekend art retreats while doing rubber stamp shows, planning my first of 2 Artfests in Bellevue and starting a new magazine called "The Studio". This then all led to starting a new type of retreat that focused more on workshops and less on the vendor show. It was also called Artfest and was held at Fort Worden State Park in the year 2000. In the past 12 years, I finished out 21 issues of The Studio Zine, 4 issues of The Studio Reloaded, 4 Issues of PLAY and then 12 issues of Art & Life. This finally gave way to doing more events which included PLAY-the retreat, ArtFiberfest and Journalfest. All the while I was following my gut...even when it was taking me into scary territory. But each thing was a step higher, a part of my evolution, and an ever increasing way of helping more people in their creative journeys. In that vein of following my intuition wherever it takes me, I was surprised when I sat down to fill out my 2013 Fort Worden reservation that something didn't feel right. Up to that point, I really had never given it any thought, but suddenly I was thinking along a different path. Trust me when I say that I had many many sleepless nights over this dilemma/decision but in the end, my gut was saying that I needed to be ready for the next big thing I was going to do without any future commitments in 2013. So I have made the decision to make Artfest 2012 the last big event for awhile. I am feeling an overwhelming "knowing" that this is the right decision...I just wish I knew what the next BIG thing was as it would make this decision easier to swallow for my friends and family. I still feel a strong need to continue renting our Artfest Annex in Seattle and inviting teachers to come do weekend retreats. I am also feeling like I need to step up my own teaching schedule. I feel open and inclined to plan some smaller art events down the road at new venues. But there is something on the horizon that I think will reveal itself to me as soon as Artfest 2012 has come and gone. So before the rumor mill gets going, I wanted you all to know where I am coming from with my decision, what the REAL skinny is and also to thank you all for your part in my crazy and amazing art journey I'm still on. So, to clarify. At this date, we have canceled plans for Journalfest 2012. "PLAY-the retreat" is still on for jan. 2012 (5 spots left) and Artfest 2012 (about 100 spots left) will be the biggest send-off party....ever! Stay tuned as the mystery reveals itself. ;)