Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Keeping up with Jell-O Art

I haven't kept up; I keep handing out cards sending people to this blog and then not writing anything in it. Let me take this opportunity to say I do have a more active blog: That is a more personal one as well, where I write about my life with Saturday Market, the Oregon Country Fair, my research for my book about my house, and things in general. This one I started when the world of Jell-O Art seemed big enough to hold its own. If you googled me, you would find my Jell-O Art in all of its worldly importance.

I haven't made much Jell-O since the last show, in the beginning of April. My studio was overrun with tote bags as I attempted to figure out a successful strategy for selling logo tote bags at OCF. Then I got a new worktable, and decided to put it in place of the old one, and a summer-long adventure with disorder began.
The room needed painting, so I decided to install the baseboards I meant to put in at least a decade ago as I finished up the remodel and moved back in. My son's need for a private room with a closeable door was paramount, so he never had baseboards, much to his dismay in our leaky old house. He had plenty of ants in his junkfood days.

So one third at a time I patched and painted and installed the boards. I didn't do a particularly good job, in this house that constantly needs editing. After I finished the second third, I abandoned the last wall for the winter and just got my studio set up for working. I now have not only a sewing table but a Jell-O Art table! I can spread out the many colored pieces I had boxed up and actually make something if I want.

Except that room is the coldest in the winter and I usually keep it closed off to save on heat. So my sewing machine is still in the living room while I repair bags and displays and get ready for Holiday Market. I still end up doing every project on my lap. Gotta work on that.

One of the most dismaying aspects of advancing age is the realization that all the work we like to do most is what sets our bodies into the pain and suffering of overuse. I have no handle on this whatsoever, but I am trying to learn. What small adaptations can I make to my movements to ease the work and stop over-efforting? I'm really trying to notice how I twist myself up into a contortion to do certain things; why? These habits have developed over so many years I am not aware of them at all. I must become aware, or continue to cripple myself slowly. Hard!

But my complaints are not so major, not really painful and I just keep working. I feel like a farmer in that the sun comes up and I am working. All year round. I do make progress, but so many activities are so repetitive. Perhaps grace comes from acceptance of the plebian, ordinary tasks of the day. I do like a clean kitchen, so I try to enjoy those rare moments when it is clean. The same with my project room.

So Jell-O Art. If you came here for photos and details I think you will find lots in the previous posts. I don't presently have any Jell-O Art to sell but the latest wave of it has come in glass jars: I make a flower and then install it in a covered jar so you never have to dust it. I think this will prolong the life of it, but it may not, and only time will tell. I still have no idea how long the dried Jell-O lasts. I have many pieces in the Jell-O Art Museum that are fifteen or maybe even twenty years old now. My plan is to install a showcase for them made from the last section of old casement windows I took out of the old bathroom. The windows make really great-looking shallow wall cabinets, and I have two in my kitchen. One is still out behind the shop waiting for me to get around to that project. I am getting close. That wall of the shop needs work so next summer we will add the wall to the roof project out there and see what can be done to preserve it. Old houses are just a bunch of projects and I have two of them.

So I will be making Jell-O Art again, well before the show in April, though I doubt I will bring it to the Holiday Market. Last year I had some flowers on display to brighten up the booth, and I may bring them again. I brought a few for the weekend at Market that would have been Eugene Celebration (and kind of was) and that proved to be a great idea!

I knew the clothing designer, lead actress and filmmaker of Track Town were coming to look at my bags and shirts and hats. Alexi had already told me she wanted to write in a line for the Queen Bee hat, and she ended up getting a Worker Bee hat too, and a few shirts for her character, Plumb, and her family. I was wearing one of the Jell-O Art head pieces as if it were my normal attire (and I do wear them rather frequently.) They asked what it was, I answered, and they borrowed it for the film. When they returned it they said it was in a I will officially be famous again when the film shows at Sundance. I can just see thousands of art lovers trying to figure out what the heck Plumb had on her head, some exotic type of glass flowers or something. You will know! I'm looking forward to it, even though they admitted they were looking for quirky and kind of borrowed my quirkiness too. It's okay. I'd rather be admired for quirkiness than most anything else.

Which brings me to Hallowe'en and costumes. I don't know when I lost interest in dressing up for the evening but I suppose it was when John moved out and I no longer had a kid to dress up with. I used to go to great lengths to create an amusing costume and persona (the Plumbing Nightmare and The Neighborhood Fool were the last two over-the-top enactments.) I just don't want to drag all of the fabric and costume pieces and hats and masks out in my nice clean studio. That's my story this year, plus the fact that I just don't go out on Friday nights when I plan to sell at Market the next day. At least this year I bought some tiny candy bars so I won't have to cower in my darkened house pretending not to be home if any trick-or-treaters show up. I am happy I live in a neighborhood where kids can still go out.

So that is the update: getting ready to create. I have dyed many bags and printed many hats so am ready for the Holiday Market later this month. We still have three outdoor Saturday Markets to get through in all their dark and damp. Maybe we'll be lucky and not repeat the wind and rain of the last two weeks. Let's hope we are, but if not, I'll still be there. See you downtown!