Tiny fabric houses… with updates at the end.

August 16, 2009 at 4:51 pm (art, culture, interesting, life, personal, sculpture, thoughts)

It’s really funny how this project’s gotten away from me a bit over the last few days, so I figured I’d better sit down and write about it!

One of my goals this summer was to get really, really good at sewing, so that I could use it more in my work. If you look at my two last entries, you’ll see I’m trying – and right now I’m in the middle of this huge project of sewing these panels with text on them… they take a long time, but I’m so happy with them.

But meanwhile, as a backdrop to that, I had to get emergency dental work and our new cat was sick. Major bummer. And a major, major hit over the head in terms of financial stuff goes, given that the art market has ground to the halt (summer on top of the recession) and I don’t get paid again til October for teaching. So between the two – learning to sew better, needing money desperately – I started an etsy store where I posted some of the things I designed and made, and just sort of hoped for whatever money might come my way.

Not a whole lot has, which is pretty understandable. A store on etsy is like anything else career-wise – you can’t just half-heartedly stick out there and wait for the money to start rolling back in; you have to promote it and try and make it really work for you. I didn’t do this, of course, because I was just looking to make a little money off stuff I had made and was practicing with.


I finally came up with a project I care about.

Meet: The Tiny Fabric Houses That Want to Take Over The World.

fabric housesThey’re little houses made out of felt and cotton; each one fits easily in the palm of your hand. The roofs come off and they can be used to store little things like paperclips or safetypins.

Basically, somehow – and I’m not even quite sure how this happened – I stumbled across a solution (maybe?) for a problem I had struggled with for years: How to make some sort of “spin-off” of my work that could be sold in quantity for very little money that didn’t make me feel like a complete sell-out. I’ve been totally fascinated by things like Marcel Dzama’s action figures and Takashi Murakami’s stickers, pins, toys, stuff – they’re so cool, they get people interested in the work who might not otherwise see it, they make money for the artist, and they’re just really awesome little objects. But they’re so not for me. The thought of having some company somewhere cram out 2500 plastic figures based on my work makes me… oh, let’s say, deeply uncomfortable. I want my work to be handmade; I want it to come from me; I want it to look like a human being had something to do with its making. But there’s there trap – as soon as you start making stuff yourself, it then becomes capital-A Art, and it’s not a cheap little thing just anyone can buy.

Unless… you design sewing pattern that can be duplicated one-by-one. And if you’re me, and you’re a sucker for repetitive tasks. And if you accept that ok, the scale of this project will never be Murakami-meets-Louis-Vuitton, but maybe you can still crank out these things that people will take and incorporate into their daily lives and have some sort of life outside of a gallery or traditional collection.

I became totally caught up in the idea of turning clutter into art – I have so much clutter in my space and I’m always looking for storage boxes, that I thought it would be really funny to make these sweet little containers to hold the stuff that could be collected to the point where your desk or shelves could look like a tiny village. So I set out to make a variety of them (houses, a farmhouse and silo, a church, a supermarket, and some others) and was experimenting with patterns, putting them up on flickr and etsy as I worked them through to get feedback. My plan was to get everything all lined up and perfectly figured out and do a big launch of the etsy site… but here’s where things got away from me.

My images that I put on flickr got chosen for some “best of flickr” pool, and suddenly I had a huge number of hits to the pictures. Then, one of the images got picked for the etsy front page:

Picture 1…that’s me on the lower right there, next to the beard… and suddenly my houses got 200 clicks in less than five minutes. Artist Chandler Pritchett, who I don’t know, happened to be watching when all this happened (technically, in the middle of the night last night) and made a series of drawings of the work featured on the front page at that moment. And I got an invitation to kickstarter.com to pitch my project there (I’m off to record my video explaining my “business concept” – they’re little houses! – as soon as I’m done writing this).

This is all kind of hilarious, especially considering I’m not even finished with the patterns for all the houses I want to make. But it looks like the project is here whether I’m ready or not, so here goes…!

  • The pattern is completed for the small houses pictured in the first picture above, and they are available in fuschia and blue or beige and grey (more colors soon). I love love love these guys – I am so happy with how they turned out.
  • The farmhouse with silo is still being worked out, but I have a test one listed that you can buy for a reduced price.
  • And I made several larger houses before deciding to go for the smaller pattern, but you can buy the larger ones I made while they’re still available. (There’s also other crafts available on that page but these are the ones that are awesome! :))

I’m kind of scrambling now to get the patterns done on the rest, so stay tuned! And buy! Amy needs a new set of teeth! My cats need drugs! You need a tiny fabric house to keep your paperclips in and a little bucolic village on your shelf! Everyone wins!!!!

***UPDATE!! 11:07pm… fushia/blue just sold out. Others still available and more coming soon!

***Monday, 9:40am… the large pink and the large blue just sold out. Crazy! Gotta do some sewing this afternoon.


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Three variations on the theme of revolution (an update at long last!)

January 9, 2008 at 6:52 pm (art, blog, culture, drawing, interesting, life, painting, sculpture, thoughts)

Since this blog is a record of my works-in-progress, I sometimes feel like it becomes a final resting places for half-finished work – that somehow, I start so many projects that only a small fraction of them get done completely. I actually kind of like that about the blog, as I think it’s a good record of what I’m up to as an artist, moreso than just seeing finished work.

But anyway… remember the Rutgers print? This summer, I started a print project with the Brodsky Center at Rutgers, making a 3-d multiple with lithography and hand-working. Instead of making a flat print that hangs on the wall, I wanted to make something that you could play with – basically, like a collection of toys. We had to start out with a flat piece of paper so it could be run through the press, but the paper then gets cut and assembled into each of these different things.

We finally got it to the point where a proof was made and it’s up right now in their exhibit of new works. I went out to visit the proof today. It looks good! Kinda hard to capture it in pictures, but I’ll give it a try…


Ok, so: Ideally, the first thing you’d see is this box which, although maybe it’s not so obvious when you first see it, is actually a lithograph that’s been shaped into being a box. It has three girls on it and they are looking up in the sky and the text reads “Three Variations on the Theme of Revolution.” When you open the box…


…you see there are all these little things packed into it. Those little things are all parts of the print. These are the “directions” explaining to you how each piece “revolves”…


This is a little hand-held zoetrope that has an image inside of a bird pulling a worm out of the ground if you hold it up to your eyes just right (it does actually move!)…

This is a top that actually spins (so happy I was able to capture it in motion) and there’s a little fortune-telling game built in…

Lastly, there’s a mobile which was the one part not completely ready just yet, but you can see it in this installation shot:


So, hooray! Now the trick is that it probably won’t be til summer that it’s available. But still… it’s coming along…!!

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Expanding book (I want the same things you do)

January 1, 2008 at 10:56 pm (art, culture, drawing, interesting, painting, personal, sculpture, thoughts)

Happy new year!!

I decided that on this first day of what I hope will be a really good year, I wanted to just play around and come up with something sort of crazy and weird. I figured this would be my last day of just goofing around in the studio, and that tomorrow would be back to business. So I made this… I’ll explain it the best I can…

I wanted to make an absolutely absurd artist’s book. This is what the cover looks like:


Ok, very simple, linen cover with a watercolor tree pasted on it. You can see on the edges that there are little bits peeking out and the whole thing is held together by a gold string, so you know it’s going to pop up. Or something. This is what it looks like from the side:


It’s maybe an 1 1/2″ thick. Otherwise, it looks totally ordinary. It measures about 6 1/2 x 8″.

But… here’s the cool part, I hope. I designed it to be this insane, expanding book – not really a pop-up so much as a “fold-out” – which is to say that it all pops-up and comes together, but it needs a little bit of a helping hand.

Here I’m helping…

And here it is a little more assembled:

Here’s sort of a more detailed view that maybe gives you an idea of the depth:

Ok, completely unfolded, the thing winds up to be 46″ x 16″ x 12″. The story inside is about watching my friends move to suburbia and hating it.

Thing is, I want to do it over. It’s ok the way it is, but this is definitely a mock-up. But I need to know more about paper (specifically: what kind of paper can be saturated with water and paint and be folded up tightly without doubling in size AND still be durable? this book was made mostly with a combo of Arches watercolor paper and computer paper – sort of the most expensive solution meets the cheapest. But I’m thinking some kind of rice paper, maybe? Vellum? Something?).

So do you, dear reader, know a lot about paper? Are you reading this right now and thinking you have some sort of amazing paper hanging around your studio that would do the job just right? If so, tell me!!! Otherwise, I’m going to start bugging the folks at Dieu Donne, but I don’t think they’re open tomorrow and of course I’m itching to work on this project ASAP.

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Three variations on the theme of revolution (proposal for Rutgers project) (UPDATED! 5/10/07)

May 6, 2007 at 9:23 pm (art, culture, drawing, life, painting, personal, sculpture, thoughts)

Starting tomorrow, I’m gone for most of the week, off doing my fellowship at the Brodsky Center. After ruminating about the different possibilities for a printmaking collaboration with them, I finally settled on something that I feel really good about. I don’t know how this will change once I get into the space and start talking to the printers, but I’m pleased that I’ve come up with a project that I’m enthusiastic about.

Pleased and… tired. You know how sometimes you think a certain project will take you a few hours tops, and then it winds up taking you days and days? Welcome to my weekend. It was kind of grueling and awful.

But, I think it was worth it in the end. Here’s my proposal.

Title: Three variations on the theme of revolution
A box, three objects, and instructions to be editioned. Everything mentioned – the box, the objects, and the instructions – is each a work of art onto itself, which I will explain in a minute…

Box: The prototype that I made is 4 1/2 ” x 6 1/2″ x 10″, but I hope that the final one will be just a tad smaller; the size, as it is now, connotes a shoebox and I don’t care for that. Covering the complete outside of the box is a drawing that I have made (which will be made into a print). It features a nighttime sky with three little girls looking at it. The stars have come out and constellations are forming. A banner up top reads the first six words of the title (variations on the theme of) and the stars form to spell the last word (revolution).

Objects: I have created three objects (as in, three 3-d objects made out of paper drawings) that involve the idea of “revolution,” as interpreted as “things that revolve”:
1. A zoetrope (this was the killer that nearly destroyed me – zoetropes are damn hard to make!) featuring an animation of a bird wrestling joyfully with a worm.
2. A mobile of the solar system
3. A teetotum, a five sided top with fortunes and drawings on each side.

Instructions: Instead of making up a written sheet of instructions as to how to play with each of these objects, I made three drawings that relate the bigger issue of “revolution” to the objects.

This one shows how to use the zoetrope and relates the object to Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson (that’s a tracing of the Jetty below, from a plate from the book Art Since 1900).

This one shows how to install the mobile and relates the object to The True Artist… by Bruce Nauman:

Ok, the last one is a little obscure, but you get +10 art history points if you guessed it. It shows how to use the top and relates the object to the site-specific installation that Robert Gober had at Dia in 1993:

Here’s to hoping they really, really like it and want to go forward with it. I hope, hope, hope.


So yes. Yes. Yes, we’re going ahead with the project as planned. And man, I am so tired, it’s insane.

Here’s a quick pic of a preview of a plate. It’s going to be a photo-lithograph, edition of 30.


Ok. Off to sleep. And then, back to the Brodsky Center for my last day of the residency…

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Art tour? (your feedback, please)

March 23, 2007 at 11:07 am (art, culture, drawing, interesting, life, painting, personal, sculpture)

Alison and I have been talking about this for a while, ever since I saw Paperrad speak at SVA last semester: Some sort of way to take art “on tour,” like a band goes on tour; bringing art into temporary spaces like people’s homes, bookstores, etc., outside of NYC.

I’m still not 100% sure what this means. What I’ve been envisioning is a cross between a tupperware party on one end of the spectrum and a garage band playing in your basement on the other. Meaning: Either a really sedate evening of sitting around with friends, passing art around and talking about it (and trying to sell it), or a really crazy night of guerrila-style art, thrown together and everyone invited. Or a combination of the two, which actually is what I think would work best. Something that’s sort of part art, part art fair, part travelling side-show, part something else. We’d invite the neighbors, local museum people (if there is a local museum), college students, and so on.

The art we’d take with us would have to be cheap – no way in hell am I checking $5,000 paintings with my luggage. But stuff like art zines, cheap drawings, little stuff (things like my pop-up or the girls you can smash to get a drawing) would be great. People who work in DVDs and videos are perfectly suited for this – we could easily screen stuff. We could do slide presentations of friends’ art even if we can’t take their work with us physically. There’s also stuff we could do on the spot (I’m picturing a book made after the fact of, say, “A site-specific installation in Bryan Campen’s basement” or whatever) that could be assembled really cheap and torn down afterwards. Just something to stimulate a conversation about art.

This could be really fun or really hellish. But I think, at least in the beginning, it would be fun. And it can culminate in us taking over a hotel room in Miami and doing this during the fair in December – which could be terrific and an absolutely perfect place for it.

Anyway. I’m clearly getting too excited about this. But here’s what I need from you:

1. Does this sound like a good idea to you?
2. If so, do you know of a venue (your home, some other place) outside of NYC where we could do this? (In May would be great, but I’ll keep it open.)
3. Would you be interested in contributing some art?

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An experiment

March 7, 2007 at 8:00 pm (art, culture, drawing, interesting, life, personal, sculpture)

After sitting in my kitchen, staring at my paintings and feeling my head pound (ugh, awful headache, all day), I decided to try something a little different for me.

I make most of my money by selling my artwork. But I also like making work that I can give away for free, like my Armory show pop-up cards. I like the idea of art being a gift and something you can share. But I’ve been wanting to try something somewhere in between selling work and giving it away for free, so I decided to try this.

I made an absolutely tiny drawing and rolled it up into a scroll:


And then I built one of my plasticine girls around the drawing:


So the drawing is now inside the girl and the clay has been baked. In order to get to the drawing, you have to smash the girl. (I think there might be a metaphor there, but who knows.)

I am offering this piece to the first person who posts to the comments below for the amazing price of $15 plus s&h. Yes!!

I don’t want to take all of this super-seriously. This is just a little thing that I put together very quickly and thought it would be fun to offer on the blog. If there’s a lot of interest, I may offer it again. Let me know if you would like one!! This might be a fun little project to take on… I’ll see what the interest level is and let you know.

Please leave a comment below if you want it! Good luck!!! 🙂

Updated: I’ve edited this post since the first time it was put up. My list of “what this is and what this isn’t” seemed to confuse more people than it actually helped, so if you have any questions please just let me know.

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my friend…

February 1, 2007 at 11:08 pm (art, life, personal, sculpture, thoughts, Uncategorized)

I’ve dragged this weird little nightlight from one apartment to the next for about 13 years. He’s my reminder that at some point, I want to make little nightlight sculptures. At some point.

Somehow the day got away from me. I applied for a grant, painted a bit, then laid down for a nap which lasted way longer than it should have. Basically, that’s all it took for the day to just drift away. Oh well. Try again tomorrow.

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January 26, 2007 at 12:08 pm (art, interesting, personal, sculpture, Uncategorized)

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