The Greatest Costume Party of the Year

This June, for the first time ever, Vanguard Culture is hosting an epic costume party, and everyone is invited!  The Avant-Garde Costume Gala will be held June 19th at the incredible Mingei Museum in Balboa Park. I (Rachel Eva) am working to put the event together, and Shawn Michael is curating, directing, and creating artwork for the main feature, the Avant-Garde Fashion Show.  For the full line-up of events, performances, food, drink, and details, CLICK THIS


Avant-Garde (aväntˈɡärd): Relating to new and unusual or experimental ideas; characterized chiefly by unorthodox, innovative, and daring methods

AVANT-GARDE FASHION SHOW

I asked Shawn Michael to describe why this Fashion Show will be unlike any other runway show, and he gave me an idea on Monday by making me into a preview look.  This is the kind of thing you can expect from him.  Yes, we made a wig out of feathers.  And then he gave the wig a bob.

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Shawn describes his inspiration for the show as coming not from any one discipline, such as a clothing line, or his experience in hairdressing. Rather, he is inspired by the fantasy world of cinematic character development.  He is designing entire looks - from clothing to makeup to hair to special effects - that give us a glimpse into the imaginative possibilities of what an indigenous culture of another time, place, or planet might have as high fashion.

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Shawn Michael says that in preparing for this show, he imagines what concepts of fashion and style might have emerged from an alien culture. These are looks that might push the boundaries of our reality and break some of our fashion rules.  Here, couture clothing is not the main focus, rather all fashion disciplines share the responsibility of presenting an entire cinematic character. Shawn Michael also described the importance of safeguarding the intrinsic beauty of his models while presenting some pretty out-of-this-world fashion concepts. "The unique characteristics of each model are as much of an inspiration to me in creating a look as anything else," he says, adding that it's been incredibly inspiring to "blend dark glamour with extra-terrestrial concepts, while still protecting the beauty of each model."

Expect to see more of this on June 19th, and then some.  I expect there are still more than a few design elements that have yet to be revealed. Shawn Michael's team includes Charlene De La Torre (makeup), Saam McBride (clothing), Hey Saylor Salon (hair), Brooke Janssen and Matt Stradling.  Here's a sneak-peak at the models who will be represented at the event; of course on June 19th you may not recognize them.

Models: Tatiana Campos Slepova, Saam McBride, Lidia Domagalska, Matt Stradling, Shannon Mattix, Milena Bedda, Brooke Janssen, Kelly Lenahan, Delina Dilargachew


More About Vanguard Culture & the GALA

For the last year Rachel Eva has had the privilege of serving as an Advisory Board Member for Vanguard Culture.  Vanguard Culture serves the vital role of supporting and promoting artists and arts events in San Diego, especially those that receive little mainstream attention.  To our knowledge, since Art Pulse closed down in August 2014, Vanguard is the only media organization currently working to exclusively promote art and artists in San Diego.

We have a particular interest in the intersection of various artistic disciplines. We love finding ways to bring artists and arts appreciators of all disciplines together, whether through our regular Foodie Soirees, which meet in private, artsy residences, or in more intimate settings over fine cuisine like our Artist @ The Table series.  The Avant-Garde Costume Gala is our main fundraising event for the year, and we have an incredible lineup of artists, entertainment, food and beverage in addition to the Fashion Show.  And yes, you can finally pull out that epic costume or wardrobe concept that you can't ever seem to find an appropriate reason to wear.

You can see the full lineup of events, performances, activities, and food & drink sponsors here: AVANT-GARDE COSTUME GALA.  We'll see you there!  Oh, and here's the Facebook Event Page too, so you can invite all your friends.


An Interview with Shawn Michael and Rachel Eva

A few months ago we were interviewed by Kelly Bardon Haddad for an article in Zooey Magazine. 

She spoke with several San Diego couples who own and operate businesses together, including Native Spirits (craft spirits retail - coming soon to North Park!), Cueva Bar (delish restaurant in University Heights), Honest Films (storytelling through film and photography), Mallow Mallow (gourment s'mores!) and Standard Spoon (that's us!).   Read on for what it's like to work together as a couple of creatives.

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From how Standard Spoon was born, to the challenges of working with your spouse, to how Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars inspired us to keep going, there's bound to be something you don't know about us in here:

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN BUSINESS?

We began making craft barware as Standard Spoon in 2013, but have been a creative team since 2007 making art and well-crafted goods as Work of My Hands.


CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF STANDARD SPOON?

One of our primary motives when we work creatively is to make things well. We’re inspired by mid-century products that last, and old tools that are passed down from generation to generation, because they can be. We love craft cocktail making for the same reasons. These bartenders make the best drinks you’ll ever have, and are totally devoted to their craft. They need tools that match the quality of their work, and in today’s throw-away-culture, there aren't a lot of companies making bar tools designed to last. So we are.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES AND BIGGEST REWARDS OF WORKING WITH YOUR SPOUSE?

Shawn: The biggest challenge is that even in great relationships, less can be more. We spend almost all of our time together, which can make it hard for us to turn work “off” when it’s time to relax or celebrate. Sometimes going to dinner with one another can turn into a business meeting. At other times, sharing a meal and dreaming together is what we want to do.  We learned we benefit from having separate agendas and tasks during the week, so when we see one another it’s still like coming home from work. On the other side of that coin, I get to spend tons of time with my biggest fan and teammate. Rachel is my greatest supporter and is such an encouragement. More access to one another is one of the best thing I’ve ever experienced. Especially once Rachel quit her job, it was wonderful to have all her mental space devoted to our dreams. I no longer have to help her disconnect from her work and switch to the things we are building together.

Rachel: One of our biggest challenges is to exit the “dreaming” phase, where we get all caught up in generating creative ideas and visions of what we’re going to do next, and get down to the “task” phase, where we execute. We love dreaming up things together, and sometimes we’ll have 4 or 5 really exciting creative ideas before we finish the one we're supposed to be working on. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves. We have a coffee meeting at the beginning of each day to set goals and re-focus on what is most important to accomplish that week.  One of the major rewards is having a spouse that supports your vision 100%, because it’s their vision too. They understand what’s going on, and can empathize with your challenges and celebrate your successes, because they are the same. Working isn’t a lonely business, and I don’t have to try and make it on my own. I have a teammate who is also a soulmate, and we are moving toward the dream together.

HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO BALANCE WORK LIFE AND PERSONAL LIFE?

Still haven’t mastered that one yet. It’s a challenge to turn off the computer, or not pick up a business call, because we get excited about the things we’re doing, and want to keep them moving forward all the time. This is especially true for anyone who’s still in the start-up phase, because let’s be honest, it takes a lot of work and effort and intention to start a business. But even if you work 120 hours per week, there is still going to be more work to do at the end of the day.

There’s always more work to do. You’ll never get it all done. When we realized this, we became more disciplined about our work boundaries, and set up a few rules:

1. When we start working at the beginning of the day, we set a deadline for when we are going to stop that day, regardless
of how much we’ve gotten done.
2. We decide what the 2-4 most important things are that need to be done that day and do those things first.  That way
if we run out of time, we at least got the most important tasks done.
3. Take 1-2 full days off per week from ANY work activities. We give ourselves a weekend.
4. Schedule free time off for personal projects, rest, friends,  and family. This is specifically when there is no obligation to spend time with each other. We do this to intentionally support our individual interests (writing for Rachel, photography for Shawn) as well as our joint vision.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS THEN?

Set deadlines. Finish things, and see how people respond to them, otherwise your dreams will just be dreams, and will
have nothing to stand on. The more work you do, the better your future work will be; it’s progressive. You can’t be the
best you’re going to be by nature, you need a body of work and experience in that field. Embrace the discipline of hard work 
and finishing things.

ARE THERE ANY SMALL BUSINESSES THAT WERE AN INSPIRATION TO YOU IN YOUR FIRST YEARS?

Bob Taylor (Taylor Guitars) was a huge encouragement to us when we first decided to move beyond just being artists
and take our business seriously. His “rags to riches” story is inspiring, because it’s real, relatable, and happened in our
city.  

He said to us once, "when you first start a business, you're going to suck at it for a while, until you figure it out" (paraphrased)
which is encouraging when you're just starting.  We knew we had a lot to learn, and knew we weren’t the best, and that can
be intimidating. It was comforting to hear that Bob Taylor ate Top Ramen for years until the company figured out how
to sell guitars.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR STANDARD SPOON?

We’ll make more tools! For the most part, there’s been little innovation in the last century with bar ware. It’s exciting for
us to design new products. That being said, we don’t want to have 20 bar spoons. We’re interested in making the best versions
of the tools cocktail lovers use, and keeping it simple.

All these wonderful photos were taken by Jazmine Fitzwilliam from Let's Frolic Together.

Time Lapse - Chandelier Installation

We've spent a lot of 2014 being creative outside of our workshop.  Rachel Eva joined the Advisory Board for Vanguard Culture, a San Diego arts media organization, and Shawn Michael has been making a lot of art with photography.  We also started a business (see our Standard Spoon project). In between all of that, we were still able to work on some sculptural lighting.  We created a few pieces for ourselves, and several commissioned works for others. 

This is a project we had a lot of fun working on, a chandelier for friends and clients of ours.  It's made mostly of Hawaiian Koa wood and features 15 bulbs with spiral filaments that are each a foot long!  

We constructed the chandelier in 5 segments, recognizing that not only was all this wood heavy, but the art had some pretty sharp, downward-pointing pieces, and would be difficult (and dangerous) to install in one piece. We essentially built the chandelier upside-down, with painstaking attention to the segmented assembly process and spacial requirements for future bulb placement. 

And here is a time-lapse video we took of our trial installation in the workshop. We finally flipped the base of the chandelier and mounted it to our workshop ceiling, then assembled each of the panels right-side-up.  This was an exercise in adjusting the length of each cord (the height of each bulb), prior to on-site installation.

Some final photos of the piece installed in its new home -- day and evening lighting. An impressive piece for a great family, and just the thing to finish off their dining room.  We had a great time making this one, and what's best is that we get to see it whenever we visit!

A Little Inspiration for the Long Haul

I came across this video yesterday and it's too powerful not to share.  This is for you creatives out there, especially those who experience the fear of failure, or doubt your talent, ambition, or output.

Shawn Michael and I have been working hard on creative endeavors for years and years now. We've had those moments of staring at the cucumber in the fridge. I understand it's also a common experience among artists to be slightly embarrassed by, or even detest some of your past work, especially your beginning work. 

I've only thrown out a few hauntingly poor paintings. Of the ones we've kept, over half of mine I'd rather leave in the dark corner of the painting room than hang on a gallery wall.

And the truth is, our latest work is our best work. We're getting there. We're moving through the volume of work we need to.  We haven't given up, and I'm excited about where we're going.

One thing that I love about this little video is it identifies the importance of hard work and discipline in addition to talent. This is something I've been ruminating on for quite some time. Rarely does an artist or creative individual produce inspiring, innovating, beautiful, or thought-provoking work purely because they are talented. An appreciator will fawn over a collection of work and say "you're so creative," or "I wish I had talent like that."

One of the best things anyone has ever said to me was after our first art show together in 2007. He didn't comment on the paintings, the creative space layout, the innovative custom lighting. He didn't even say whether he liked the art or not.   This gentleman smiled at us, and said he was really impressed that we DID it. He was impressed that we produced a body of work, organized a show, sent out invites, and worked tirelessly to produce a quality event. We put the time in and did the work.

The next time you see something creative that moves you, take a minute to think about the work behind it. How long did it take to dream up and plan? How many drafts that now line the bottom of a garbage can? How many hours went into its making? How many uncooked dinners and ruined shirts and spent Benjamins supported its creation?  

How many years has the discipline been practiced? For what reward?

To you creatives out there, keep it up. You'll catch up with yourself soon.

WOMH Launches New Kickstarter: Standard Spoon for Craft Cocktails

UPDATE:  We successfully funded the Kickstarter Campaign on February 22, 2014.  We raised over $17,000 with the help of 338 backers.  Head on over to www.standardspoon.com to get the latest on this new and exciting design project!

With the beginning of 2014, Work of My Hands is doing something new.  We've been experimenting with product design and development as a creative way to use our design sensibilities and project management experience.  This month we're launching a new brand of high-quality bar spoons!

"Bar spoons?" you may ask with a quizzical brow.  Yes, bar spoons.  Our love of craft industries directs itself toward art, clothing, home design, culinary prowess, and a healthy appreciation of the craft cocktail.  It just so happens that this time, the light bulb clicked on over the cocktail industry, and we've run with it.

 

Standard Spoon - A new brand of high quality bar spoons

This new bar tool initiative is called Standard Spoon, and the flagship product is a brand new design, never before made or seen or sold.  It spins effortlessly in a glass full of ice, and is the easiest way to stir a cocktail.  We've got lots of information about the new project at the new website (and blog): www.standardspoon.com

For those not familiar with the use or purpose (or existence) of bar spoons, check out this little video for a quick demo, and a bit of humor courtesy of Shawn Michael:

 

Kickstarter Preview & Launch Party

Shawn Michael and I have been working diligently to bring this new idea to a place where it's ready to be seen, used, and sold.  The time has come!  We'll be launching the Standard Spoon on Kickstarter on January 22nd.  For those of you reading this post, there are two ways for you to get a sneak peek at the spoons before we launch:

1) Visit our KICKSTARTER Preview page 

For more about the spoons, pricing, our funding goal, our story, and our progress toward final manufacturing, check out our Kickstarter Preview Page!

2) Come to the Kickstarter Launch Party!

Wednesday, January 22nd at our San Diego home. We'll be demonstrating the spoon in person, and serving up libations at the new bar Shawn Michael built last week. Go to the EVENTS page on the Standard Spoon website for details.

12 great small businesses for 2014


In November we shopped locally for  Small Business Saturday, and bought as many Christmas gifts as we could from small local business. Here are some great local (San Diego) and online businesses we recommend you check out! 

Daedalus Emporium: Buying new and used books? Check out this collection of over 4,500 tomes by our good friend Stephen Silke. I believe he has several copies of our poetry collection, Furniture for sale.

Bottlecraft: For beer lovers, skip BevMo, PLEASE. Check out this boutique beer shop online, or at either of its two locations (Little Italy & North Park)

City Farmers Nursery: Skip Home Depot, go here instead.  Centrally located in San Diego, City Farmers nursery is a great place to go for indoor and outdoor plants, garden projects, and city farming – think chickens, koi, hydroponics, beekeeping, canning, composting – you name it! Events and Classes are listed on the website.

Handmade Wooden Gift Tags by The Woody Beckers

Handmade Wooden Gift Tags by The Woody Beckers

The Woody Beckers: Wooden gift tags, gift cards, and planters (including magnetic wood planters), perfect for tabletop succulents.

Bandcamp: A great place to buy music directly from the musician. May we recommend “Easy Come, Easy Go” by Patrick Norton, and “Peat Moss on the Tongue” by Kristopher Apple & Blair Robert Nelson.

Citizen Recording: For those of you that are musicians, consider booking a recording session with Patrick Norton at his San Diego recording studio.  Gift Certificates are available.

Pigment: Housewares, accessories, gift ideas, and a plant lab – shop online or in the North Park store.

Dolcetti Boutique: Asking for fashion? Go here, you’ll get it. Buy online or in the 5th Avenue store downtown.

Gym Standard: Get your fresh kicks here. Visit the store on El Cajon Blvd to peruse this great shoe and apparel collection.

Dark Horse Coffee: Buy some freshly roasted beans from here, and you won’t be sorry.

Coffee & Tea Collective: check out their new Coffee Kit (in black or tan)!!

Camp & Pack Coffee Kit from Coffee & Tea Collective

Camp & Pack Coffee Kit from Coffee & Tea Collective

For your browsing and searching pleasure, check out the small business owners at www.etsy.com and www.kickstarter.com for everything from home decor to apparel to games to new design products.

If you have friends that own small businesses, find a way to support them in the next few months. The post-holiday months can be hard for small businesses, so spend a couple extra bucks to keep the money with families and friends instead of big boxes and corporations.

MAKERS

Electric Art, Clear Ice, and... Chicken Houses

Sometimes (well, many many times), Shawn Michael and I have ideas.  We have ideas about things we want to make, things we wished existed, and musings on how things could be other than they are.

This is one huge reason why we started making sculptural lighting.  Regular lamps were boring.  We thought to ourselves, "what if we could add light to a room and have the source of that light also be an attractive addition to the decor?"   Gee, what a novel idea.  We started looking around to see what was out there, and found some less offensive lighting implements.  Most of the lamps that didn't bother us so much were extremely minimalist, modern apple-esque products.  I have to hand it to Ikea, they know how to do some fun stuff with lighting, but EVERYONE has one in their apartment. Those from Restoration Hardware looked a little too restored.  We can appreciate cool, classy minimalism, but we're also texture lovers, and there was very little out there to satisfy our love of industrial rust and skeletal leaves.

Back Scratcher

So we made some of our own. Our focus is not primarily function, but primarily art.  We aim that each piece of sculpture be a centerpiece, admirable at day or night, whether lit or unlit.  Think of it as art that happens to be charged with electricity.  By creating art for our space, we also solved the problem of wanting a light source, without having an ugly floor lamp stuck behind the couch.

I've heard it over and over, from Tim Ferris, 37signals, and the guys over at Studio Neat: "scratch your own itch."  If there's something you're missing, find it.  If it doesn't exist, make it.  It is becoming SO EASY to make things.

Here's another example. Shawn Michael and I enjoy craft cocktails. Even though we found these great ice-cube trays that make giant square blocks of ice for our improved whiskey cocktails, they were always cloudy.  They weren't beautiful, clear cubes like you find at Tractor Room and Craft & Commerce.  We thought to ourselves, "how can we make clear ice at home?"  Like many of these questions, it fell between the cracks of working hard and making art and going to school, and we kept on making ice in our square ice-cube trays.  Then one day a few weeks ago, we saw this on Kickstarter:

Neat Ice Kit by Studio Neat

Yep, Studio Neat figured out how to create the tool to make clear ice at home.  I also found the documented experiments of Camper English on how to make bulk batches of crystal clear ice.  If I ever have enough space in my freezer, the cooler is going to turn into one big ice tray!  In the meantime, we backed the Neat Ice Kit on Kickstarter and are looking forward to having that little itch scratched.  You can get in on the action too - the project will be fully funded (and closed to new orders) on Friday the 27th at 9PM.

I don't know if we'll always make art with an "on/off" switch, but I think we'll always be making something.

Next on my list is an automatic chicken coop door to let our little urban flock out in the morning. The only thing that should see me that early is my cup of coffee.

A Weekend with Pablo Picasso

Herbert Siguenza stars as Pablo Picasso (Jennifer M. Koskinen) We spent a weekend with Pablo Picasso on Wednesday, and it was hilarious, entertaining, sobering and inspiring.

Well, ok, it was really just a couple of hours, and it was really Herbert Siguenza, who wrote and stars in the one-man show at the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

Siguenza originally wrote and performed the play "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso" three years ago in San Diego (it debuted at the REP), and after touring the states, he's brought the show back to its birthplace.  The opening scene of Picasso in a bathtub washing himself with an oven mitt immediately intrigues, and Siguenza is brilliant at giving Picasso a human voice, one that instructs and inspires throughout the performance.  The audience is immediately drawn in to become not only intimate observers of the painter and his work, but participants in the play.  Playgoers who allow themselves to become the art student and be influenced by the master will leave with more than what they had.  We did.

I had the honor of working with Herbert on one of the San Diego Repertory Theatre's "Surround Events," which are pre and post show events relating to the show on stage.  The REP asked me and the Grey Pony Writers Guild to collaborate with Herbert and actors of Amigos del REP to put on a Surrealist Poetry Reading, which we did on Wednesday night.  Did you know that Picasso stopped painting for two years to devote himself to poetry (mostly surrealist automatic writing and Dada nihilism), and wrote two plays?  Just one of the little tidbits you'll learn when you go see the show.

"Cycle 391" illustration by Rachel Eva

Grey Pony Writers (Stephen Silke, Kristopher Apple and Rachel Eva) steeped ourselves in the surrealist writing movement, crafted new poems, and selected historical works by Paul Eluard, Philippe Soupault, Erik Satie, Kitasono Katue, and Andre Breton.  The result is "Cycle 391," a menagerie of original and curated works, influenced by the dadaist and surrealist movements of the early 20th century. Actors from Amigoes del REP (Richard Trujillo, Elisa Gonzales, Goyo Flores, and Zayra Nicifore) performed the works, instructed to interpret, perform, and lend them their own air.  We ended the performance with a beautiful [and to me, somewhat haunting (which I love)] original sound composition by Kristopher Apple on the violin.

After the conclusion of "Cycle 391," we had the pleasure of viewing the play, "A Weekend with Pablo Picasso."  Please go buy your tickets RIGHT NOW to see the show! I'm going to buy a second pair to see it again before it ends on October 6th-- it was that good.  Tickets start at $18 for students, $20 for military, and $36 for us regular adults.  One special feature of this show is that there are 3 performances (October 5th & 6th) performed completely in Spanish!  Herbert especially wants the show to be seen by young people, teenagers, "youths," and those who are still young in the soul.  He is extremely encouraging, inspiring, and challenging, and through Picasso, tasks us with evaluating our dreams, passions, actions, and intentions.

"A Weekend with Pablo Picasso" came at a particularly good time for Shawn Michael and I. As creatives and dreamers, we often need all the encouragement and inspiration we can get to keep on investing in our art, our craft, and the work of our hands.

We LOVE Athenaeum Music & Arts Library!

Athenaeum Library - courtesy of ljathenaeum.org Shawn Michael and I feel privileged to have one of our pieces included in the 22nd Annual Juried Exhibition at the La Jolla Athenaeum Music and Arts Library! At the opening reception, we met many talented local artists, and enjoyed time with Erika, Maura, and Penny, a few of the Library's fantastic staff.

If you've never visited the Athenaeum, please do.  It is an incredible institution, one of only 16 private libraries in the United States.  And this one is devoted exclusively to music and art!  It is not only full of a million books I lament not having the time in my lifetime to read, but it is breathtakingly gorgeous.  And it is free, and open to the public.

I felt a bit like Murakami's Kafka discovering the Nomura Memorial Library in Kafka on the Shore.  After arriving at the private library near the sea, he meets the librarian, Oshima, who gives him the run-down of the library rules. As Oshima finishes, he looks quizzically at Kafka, wondering why a high-school kid has shown up at an out-of-the-way library that specializes in old books by Tanka and Haiku poets:

'Most of the people who ride the train all the way out here are doing research in those fields.  No one comes here to read the latest Stephen King Novel ... So, are you researching Haiku or Tanka then?'

'No,' I answer

'That's what I thought.'

'Is it still ok for me to use the library?' I asked timidly, trying to keep my voice from cracking.

'Of course.' He smiles and places both hands on the desk. 'This is a library, and anyone who wants to read is welcome.'

So back to our own gem of a library - The work for the 22nd Annual Juried Exhibition will be on display until August 31st.  Forty-Six San Diego artists were selected for the show by Ariel Plotek and Amy Galpin, Assistant and Associate Curators for the San Diego Museum of Art.  And for those of you who really like a good time, join us this Thursday, August 29th for the A-List Member's Choice Event, which includes art, food trucks, cocktails and dueling pianos! If you come to the event, you get to choose your favorite work of art out of the 51 on display, and vote for who will win the Member's Choice Award!

A-List Members Choice Event Thursday, August 29, 2013, 7:00 PM 1008 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037 A List members: Free Members: $10 Nonmembers: $12 21+

From the Athenaeum Website:

Choose a cocktail and a song as the Athenaeum A List presents Member’s Choice: Pick Your Poison. Forty-six San Diego artists will mingle in the 22nd Annual Juried Exhibition at the Athenaeum Library as their 51 diverse pieces coalesce from a muddled collection to a smooth cocktail of art. Guests and members vote for their favorite piece. The competition will continue in the Music Room as dueling pianists battle on our pair of grand pianos. Rhythmic dissonance will melt into melodic harmony as they enliven their music with a battle of the keys. The choices carry on as we host a pair of gourmet food trucks and a create-your-own vodka cocktail bar. Come vote with other young art and music lovers and unify your distinct voice to a lover’s cry for art and music.

Korea à la mode

Seoul Shanty A recent dalliance with Korean architecture combined with remembered designs and aesthetics inspired this new work, "Seoul Shanty."  I explored more deeply the concept of layering, using Work of My Hand's "Bot" platform, and pushing the boundaries of dimension.  "Seoul Shanty" is a glimpse through a latticed window into what might have been, built from my interpretation of what a Korean inventor and tradesman might dream up.

The work evokes a high-fidelity time when only top-notch quality products were available: heavy, sturdy, long lasting materials are harnessed and assembled with the utmost care and detail.  Practical design and delicate beauty are combined in a functional device, at a cultural time when every element used had significance and a purpose. At this time, a simple item like a chair or a water pitcher would have been created with extreme intention.

In this case, what would have served as a working-class man's work lamp, sturdy yet mobile, has a dignity, a regality even, that surpasses the transitory nature of its modern relatives.  Materials include cement, zebrawood, mahogany, steel, leather, artisan paper, cloth wrapped cord, industrial casters.

Shawn Michael

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Featured in Design Magazine: Technology Trends for 2013

Mix Magazine Issue 28 Sculptural Lighting Work of My Hands Electricity in Art ArticleTo look ahead at 2013, let's take a glance back at this 2012 issue of Mix Magazine, which featured Work of My Hands in the Technology Trends section for the new year!  This section, according to writer Richard Prime, focuses on "interesting concepts and developments across design and architecture with a focus on technically adept solutions and design." Not only did our Kickstarter project in March of last year help us successfully raise the funds (through pre-sales and commissions) to launch the collection of artwork, but it gave us a larger, global audience to speak to about our work!

Work of My Hands received the following nod from the publication:

Nautical Influences

"Work of My Hands was formed by Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael and stands behind Electricity in Art: Sculptural Lighting, a project blending art, sculpture and design together with engagingly steampunk style results. Launched as part of the biggest art walk in San Diego in April, the one off pieces are striking in their blends of materials and ways of displaying and directing their light sources which look like they might sit perfectly happily in Captain Nemo’s Nautilus (and are therefore at the peak of desirability). Continuing our current era of Victoriana nautical influences, it’s a vibrant take on the form."

Porcelain Hangman

Being based in San Diego, it's no surprise that nautical elements influence our work. We're not so drawn to watersports and whale watching as our visiting public; it's mostly the ocean side rail yards, the shipbuilding industry, and the old piers and wharfs in some of the older beach communities that draw us to the sea. And the long, sweeping sand of North Island (Rachel's favorite).

So take note: Nautical themes are here to stay for 2013.

Mix Magazine is a design publication by Global Color Research, based out of London, UK, which offers color research services, design trend forecasting, and sneak-peaks at new design products and concepts that are on the up-and-up. This section was published in Issue 28, which forecasts design for Spring & Summer of 2013.

I say that's a great start to the new year!

Painting, Printmaking, and Photography, Oh My!

igprint2 PrintmakingShawn Michael and I enjoyed a brief inspiration trip to the mountains this past month, and had an interesting conversation about what “Work of My Hands” is all about.  We’ve been focusing fiercely on our sculptural lighting collection, exploring the theme “electricity in art” for the last year and a half.  But we’re also painters, illustrators, photographers and printmakers.  We garden and build things and cut hair. How aptly we named ourselves!  Here’s a look at some of the other art forms we engage in:

Printmaking

During our stay in the mountains, I had fun with a little printmaking: a simple oak leaf found on the front steps of the cabin where we stayed.  Those of you who supported our Kickstarter project also received a Thank-You Print for your support.  Both of these projects used Shina plywood, a fine-grained wood from Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan.  Printmakers can order this resource from McClain’s Printmaking Supplies.

Painting

Before we started building 3-dimensionally, Shawn Michael and I painted.  We still do, and will continue to do so, but with all this electricity business I'd almost forgotten about our paintings until a friend called up and wanted to buy one for his apartment!  We'll be shipping "The Last Stair" to New York in the spring, and for the holidays, "Whitney" is on display at the Women's Museum of California, in San Diego, at a show entitled "Capturing the Wonder of Women."

The Last Stair

Photography

Both of us enjoy making pictures, Shawn with his photography gear and both of us with instagram and iphone photo apps.  You can follow us on instagram as @shawnmichaelm and @racheleva.  I also have an instagram account just for exploring my love of textures, @texturestudy.  Here are a few shots from our trip to the cabin last weekend

Instagram Photo @racheleva Mountain Fire Watch

Texture of Tree Stump @texturestudy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Even More...

Stick around for a special post coming soon about how I think that Shawn Michael’s hairdressing business is also just an extension of “Work of My Hands.”  He's a crafty one!

Cheers!

Take a Hike! Inspiration Trip to Yosemite National Park

If you’ve read our blog postabout the last Urban Tree we created and installed down by San Diego Bay, you’ll know that much of our inspiration comes during times of retreat, especially to open spaces in nature. I suppose our brains and hearts breathe a bit easier around all those trees. This past summer we were been busy making many things, but we also made a trip up to Yosemite National Park for a good dose of R&I (rest & inspiration). Yosemite Sentinel Dome Black and White Photo View of Half Dome

Yosemite Park Coffee View of Half Dome

Shawn Michael took some new gadgets for his camera, and I took a sketchbook and journal, but the most vivid images live in brilliant flashes of experience in our minds.  Sadly, these are difficult to share with others, so some photos and words will have to do (for now). May this post give you a bit of inspiration, perhaps to go for a hike, or a drive to some spaces a bit wider and more open than our urban habitats.

On our first and last day in Yosemite, we hiked to the top of Sentinel Dome, the second-highest viewpoint in the park. It was our first hike after a 9-hour drive through the night, and what an exhilarating view we encountered at the top!  On our last day, we said good-bye to Yosemite by hiking the trail again in the dark hours of the morning, and arriving on the solitary Dome just before sunrise (with coffee in hand).

Counting the Rings on a fallen tree

Texture Study

I was fascinated by the textures I encountered on the trip.  The massive granite cliff faces, the tunnel of pine needles on our way to Artists Point, the swirling summer grasses of the meadows, undulating in

gentle breezes.  The day we went swimming in the pool at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls, the thrilling texture of my skin as the needling sheets of water pelting our frigid bodies left me wondering why more people don’t sit under natural waterfalls. The texture of soil, soot, and sand from our campsite did not thrill me – but the glorious cleansing after a dip in a river gave us all a more profound appreciation for a bar of soap!

Here’s a gallery of some of my favorite textures discovered in Yosemite.  In a place that inspires with vast, dominant landscapes of gigantic geological forms, the miniscule happened to be just as

fascinating.

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Kickstarter Project a Roaring Success!

lamp lighting kickstarter art

A little over 3 weeks ago, we launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to prepare for an art fair we will be exhibiting at during the last weekend in April. Making art can be really expensive! We’d been building the Sculptural Lighting collection for the past year, and until this point, our art had been completely self-funded.

We’d completed a few commissions, but they covered only a fraction of our total expenses. Looking forward at our semi-adequate shop, our need for materials, and the costs associated with an event we were tackling for the first time, we knew we wouldn’t be able to pull it off by ourselves.

We needed help.

We launched our Kickstarter project on March 9th at 10:00 PM, with an accelerated 3-week timeframe. Here’s a snapshot of our project:

Project: Electricity in Art: Sculptural Lighting

Timeline: 22 days (March 9–31, 2012)

Funding Goal: $5,483.61

Total Funds Raised: $6,271.00 (114%)

Rewards Offered:

  • Thanks on our blog (coming soon)
  • American Apparel T-shirt
  • Thank You Print (woodblock printed thank you card)
  • Letterpress Print (limited edition 11 x 14 print)
  • A quote or phrase of your choice incorporated in an art piece we’ll be making
  • Pendant Lamps
  • Studio Tour & Dinner Party
  • Original Letterpress Drawings in pencil & ink
  • Pledge Amount toward artwork at the show, or toward a commission

No. of Backers: 82

Average Pledge: $76.48

Here’s our funding progress over the 22 days: Kickstarter Funding Progress

Here's a chart that shows how popular each "reward" or backer-level was:

Kickstarter Reward Popularity

Our project was nowhere near the size of some of the mega-projects on Kickstarter, but $5,000 was a formidable number for us, even though we knew we needed all of it and more!

The average pledge amount for most Kickstarter projects is much lower, and we are thankful for the many backers who gave generously in exchange for some of our original art, and for several of our backers who gave generously and asked for nothing in return!

For more information about our project, and to follow the project updates, visit the Kickstarter page here: Electricity in Art: Sculptural Lighting

If you missed the boat and wished you had pledged, you can still get your hands on a WOMH t-shirt, Pendant Lamp, Letterpress Print, or any of our created (or commissioned) pieces of art! Visit us at ArtWalk in April at booths #151 & #153, or contact us directly to chat about what you’d like! Our email address is workofmyhands(at)gmail(dot)com.

T-shirt, Pendant Lamps, Letterpress Prints

In closing, if you haven’t explored the many creative projects currently funding on Kickstarter, please go now and see what the artists, musicians, writers, inventors, foodies, dancers, directors, designers, gamers, actors, comics, photographers, fashionistas, techies, and independent spirits are dreaming up!

Don't wanna be your Monkeywrench...

... I just want your old one!

Most of us have been in an old worn-in tool shed before. You know, the air even smells worn in. The tools have a kind of wisdom, and if they could speak they would tell long interesting stories about their hard work and how well their owner treated them. Often there are old mason jars full of rusty bolts screwed to the ceiling, pegboard walls, beat up work benches, dirty aprons, scratched safety glasses and a paint splattered floor.

I've always thought that someday I would have my tools traced out on the wall like a meticulous, persnickety grandpa, but haven't earned that title just yet. Garages and workshops have always held a special place in my heart - brilliant furniture has been made, cars wrenched and repaired, and broken items mended. The workshop is a place where ideas come to life... but the tools often outlive their owners.

Rachel and I are often hunting down used materials for our art pieces, but we also love old tools. Beat up, scratched up, paint chipped-greasy-old-nasty-heavy tools! We love 'em.

We recently had the honor of visiting our family friends' cabin in Running Springs. The owners had previously permitted us to "scrounge around" the workshop on site, and adopt any tools not currently in use for cabin maintenance. Their father, the builder of the cabin and longtime carpenter, had left a good number of hand tools around that we were able to save from eternal mountain loneliness. We also found a few interesting pieces of hardware from old machines that we have also been able to re-purpose into some of our artwork.

If you know of a tool collection left untouched and unloved, and don't know what to do with it, donating it to Work of My Hands is an opportunity to resurrect those old tools, and make sure they will have a good home for many years. A tool working in the life of an artist is a rather exciting one.

Cheers

Shawn Michael

workshop tools pegboard

 

 

Commission Me Now, or Lose Me Forever

Some people say that commission work is an artist's "bread and butter," but that true inspiration lies in the purely creative piece - a work designed with no limitation.  That may be true.  But I don't think that "bread and butter" has to be any less inspired than a work of art that springs right up out of my mind while studying afternoon cloud patterns in the sky. I was eager to begin creating when a friend of ours asked us to make a piece as a Christmas gift last month.  We knew the recipient, and Shawn Michael and I found great pleasure in incorporating her style and sensibilities into a custom-designed work of art.  I found myself thinking, "If Jenny were an electrical sculpture, what materials would she be made of?  What colors would she be?  Would she have an 'on/off' switch?"  Yes.

Jenny's sculpture was followed by two additional pieces inspired by their soon-to-be owners. These artworks (shown below) were designed for Patrick Norton and his brother, Michael Norton, and incorporate specific, norton-esque design elements, which make them uniquely theirs.  And, let's face it - who doesn't like Norton?

If you've got a great idea for a custom designed sculpture, especially one that lights itself, you might not want to sit on that idea for too long.  Great ideas have a way of running off and getting lost. Shawn Michael and I may be working diligently to bring our new Sculptural Lighting collection to life, but we always have room for friends.

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All I want for Christmas is "NO"

All of you December-born can relate to "NO" as you lament sharing your ever-coveted birth attention with the holidays. It just seemed apropos to conceive this amorous white beauty alongside Christmas festivities. Though it doesn't quite have the jovial flair of your freshly harvested, rootless, newly-positioned and abundantly lit retail pine, it does share some interesting aesthetic mixtures; a fun new direction for WOMH. The "White Collection" just got back-handed by the "Industrial Collection," and it 'hurts so good;' not unlike the healing abuse of a firm Thai massage. This is the first of our spring 2012 family to stake its claim in two collections, kind of like your garden variety politician. Notable Materials: Reclaimed Heart Pine, Discarded Bed Frame, Vintage Conductor, Repurposed/Hand-Crafted Hardware.

The only problem with making a piece like "NO" in the Christmas season is that I want it for Christmas.

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Lumos Shield

Lumos Shield, made of Hawaiian koa and rosewood with steel trim and hardware, nestles in the "Natural Elements" Collection of the Sculptural Lighting Sequence. Its strong, angular structure represents the stoicism of organic materials harnessed by the masculine confines of industry. Lumos Shield was designed for Stephen Silke, a brilliant 21st century author and fine art collector. We recently received it on loan to capture these images, and found that the materials married together well after some time outdoors. The metals show a nice rust patina, and the tones in the wood grains pulled out a weathered richness. It was nice to see this one again!