- Busy, very busy. Leave for Ridgway this coming Wednesday; running around making sure I have everything I need to travel. There’s a Lowe’s in the next town over and there will be a few saw vendors on the field but mostly, take it, borrow it, or do without. Randy is equipped–portable generator–so I’ll be able to sand after burning. Have a general idea of what I want to carve but can’t / don’t want to draw it up in complete detail until I see my log.
- Discovered Aidan Meehan’s books on Celtic Design and bought 8; forcing myself to wait till they arrive before buying Sheila Sturrock’s book, which looks differently accessible. Very strange feeling in my head to observe the switch between trying to draw a pattern by copying it and then learning how to construct it so that it almost draws itself. Just need the avenue in, which is true for most of the art I’ve done so far. Wish I could find it for painting.
- Major transitions on my day job, not fully my choice but clearly doors closing, giving me an opportunity to stand it the dark hall and wait to see what comes next. Net, once I work the bruises out of my ego, is fewer conference calls, fewer distractions during the day, and a smaller circle of influence. Not sure yet if I am truly being called to make some kind of art that won’t take form yet that shows up the pain in corporations or if that’s a form of lingering resentment and I need to simply let it go and move on. Time will tell; if the feeling persists, I’ll paint or sculpt or do something with whatever comes up. Fascinating to observe people telling me “you should change your personality; you should be more tactful and less outspoken,” when I get no credit at all for NOT saying, “You should lose weight.” It’s the same thing.
- Well. Got THAT out of my system, and feel a little scared just for putting out this much in public (enormous readership here, right?). Artists have to take those risks, right? (7/27/04 update: Ha! The people who displaced me into a new position have themselves been displaced by a recent reorganization. What goes around…)
- (I also said, “No one told Jesus that he should have toned it down when he was clearing the Temple.” My manager acknowledged I had a point but it only goes so far; this is not the Temple and in any case, the money changers own the joint and write the checks.)
- Book continues to make progress; have support from the major contributors. Will have several draft copies for pre-sale at the Rendezvous; hope to be in print by April. VERY hard work coming down to the first-draft finish line and working to a deadline. Microsoft is throwing up its own formatting obstacles. PITT.
- My Architect opened in town last night; took an artistically-inclined girlfriend and we both loved it. The life of Louis Kahn, architect, as uncovered by his son. If it stays around I may go see it again and will certainly buy the DVD as soon as it is available. Wonderful to listen to a movie full of professionally creative people talking about their own and Louis’ approach to being creative and what it’s like to live with creative people. Tried to take notes in the dark and didn’t catch half of what I wanted to.
- Recent seductions: reviewing books about book binding because I can’t find a bound journal that works for the current outpouring. Gone to 11×17 loose paper and that will work for at least the ream I bought, but at current rate I’ll be done inside 60 days (single sided now). Thinking on 18×24 folded signature stitched or am I just being nuts? maybe the writing binge will pass in a while and I’ll be back to 3 or 4 8×11 pages? My handwriting got a little bigger and the inter-line spacing improved, as did left margin, with the move to the bigger format. I do kinda big art. Accept it. Keep meandering through the sketchbook and loose paper sections of art and office supply stores and haven’t found the right solution yet.
- Orbiting the Giant Hairball arrived the same day I was told about my new assignment on my day job. Ironic. Wasn’t sure it’d be worth the money to be because it’s about being creative in a corporate environment, at least on the briefest of first passes, but it certainly was consolation and I think it will be as inspiring as anything else on the shelf above my desk, which is full of Tufte, Art & Fear, Editing by Design, Laurel Burch, James Christiansen, a thesaurus and dictionary, et al. Might be time to shift some of them around, too.
- What a month! Knitting like a demon, finding the Knitting Goddess and Handpaint Country encouraging me to use even more color in my work. Writing a book about chainsaw carving that needs to be ready by the end of the month. Coming back to life after two month’s artistic hibernation and gestation. Fixing up my house to support even more creativity. Ice storm and isolation. First possibly serious chainsaw injury, stopped by my chaps. $75 initial cost, 3 years, $howmanythousand for the avoided ER visit and follow up.
- Duck show sold my space so I have my booth rental back. Whew. Very glad I’m not out of town this weekend and I can focus on other art.
- All of that is a bit of a run-on. Maybe I should take it one at a time.
- The knitting continues at a furious pace. Finishing the red sweater I started between Christmas and New Year’s and setting up a mostly-blue one next. Hanging out in the yarn stores again. Expensive habit. Buying knitting books as eye-candy; loading the database for the next project after this one. Maybe try a new form of knitting for me? Patchwork catches my eye, with other people’s fancy hand-dyed colors instead of my own intarsia blends. Not sure yet; haven’t cast on the blue so there’s plenty of time and I am able to stick to my resolution about not buying ahead of myself.
- Found The Knitting Goddess courtesy of an amazon.com search on knitting books. Deborah Bergman majored in comparative religion; it shows. Links the ancient goddesses who had fiber anywhere in their story to our lives today; completely engrossed me. Off to my Bullfinch to find out more about these stories.
- I frequently haul glossy magazines home to use as raw material for my color notebook and sculpture idea book. I’ve learned which ones are the richest source material (Architectural Digest, Veranda) and which to leave alone (Organic Style, most travel magazines, Gourmet). Found a new-to-me magazine: Dwell in the glossy recycle yesterday. Brought it home. Nothing of interest for my own art. Noticed a paragraph of editorial content about My Architect, a film about the life of Louis Kahn. Left three families when he died; the movie is his son’s search for understanding about Louis’ life. This is the story featured in the Law and Order episode over which I blew up a TV. Website for the movie links to an interview with Nathaniel Kahn who talks about creativity in architecture and film; rich material. Hope the movie comes to Raleigh or they release the story on DVD. This may be one I have to own and watch a few times. Hungry for more information, any information, about how other artists have experienced their own drive to create.
- It is also not lost on my that my formal training in creativity is in the field of landscape design and as such I have an affinity for architects that not all artists share. Worked in architects’ and landscape architects’ offices for two years when I first came to NC.
- February “drop one add two”:
- Dropped several magazine subscriptions, not so much that I didn’t enjoy them (National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, Sunshine Artist, Saturday News and Observer) as much as I have too much to read anyway and I don’t need a regular dose of something from the outside distracting me from what might be coming up from my own resources.
- Added a workable office space–new desk chair, better lighting, typing table that’s at the right height and lets me hand-write and work at a keyboard without having to move my PC out of the way.
- Added colored pencil to my journal entries. (This appears trivial even to me but I suspect it’s going to turn out to have a profound impact on my ability to create 2D art. Inability to make 2D art is a major source of frustration to me today.) (Also, the colored pencil appeared on its own, rather than being something I “thought up.” Practicing the art of listening to what shows up on its own.)
- Took a break from the saw over most of Dec and Jan and got back to it yesterday because I have orders for two bears that don’t need to wait for additional Ridgway inspiration. My 16″ bar is still out of commission and now I really need to get it into the shop. My Stihl 260 is great for blocking out but not for carving, as I discovered after two hours’ work. Leaned around the bear to check the back of his ear and felt a “pop” on my left leg. Shouldn’t be anything hitting me. Looked. Wow. That’s why we wear chaps. 1″ nick in Kevlar would have been an ambulance ride and a lot of stitches in denim and flesh, not to mention not carving for a MUCH longer time than it will take me to get new chaps. Glad I had my camera in my hip pocket and not in my chaps pocket! Three years, first moving chain-on-a-saw injury.
- I am finding the idea of being an author of a real book infinitely more seductive than the actual work involved in getting from point A: the idea to point B: the finished product. Pricing printing–Ouch!! This is real up-front money! Endless spell and grammar checking. Even more reorganization; the more I write the more I can see how it can all fit together more effectively. Except that I’d really rather be: installing a new light assembling my new chair shopping for shelving for the bathroom walking the dog keeping up with email anything else on the planet and I have a month-end deadline and people will be more likely to buy if they have a finished product to look at. Wouldn’t be surprised if some of the reason for the chainsaw cut was to send me back to my PC. Page count is dropping to something reasonable (perhaps 250 or so) as I print and read and realize there is a lot of duplication. Stay tuned. Another ice storm or two would be useful.
First, the undercut question. I carved Braddan Flame earlier in the summer and it’s been sitting on the front porch where I can see it from my desk for a few weeks, sanded and finished and just about ready for color. Last Sunday morning, it struck me that the braids would be more clearly defined if I undercut the crossings. Wow. Showed a friend what I intended to do and he nodded but clearly didn’t see the potential impact; guess that’s why I’m a sculptor and other people aren’t. We may or may not have discussed the impending deadline and when does one call a work done because it has to get into the show? My experience with Centerfest and Work in Progress does not incline me to try that experiment again–the public does not respond well to work that’s not finished all the way.
So I carved more. Didn’t take long. And the braids absolutely JUMPED off the wood, with MUCH greater impact than any of my previously-carved knot work. Wow. I’ve been carving knots for two years now and I only just saw what else the carvings needed? Sigh. So I ground the new cuts and sanded and finished and sat the carving where I could see it, and then again this Sunday, another modification jumped off the wood and into my eyes. More piercing. Could well, in hindsight, have skipped this step–I used a drill and the piercings are too obviously round. Killed a die-grinder in the effort to make the holes flow with the carving and two days later, I can see where more adjustment is needed. Next time, use the saw from the get-go. Progress. Nevertheless, openwork makes the carving come alive. Still need to figure out the color scheme for Braddan. Want to carve this again, too, with more arcing in the knots.
Took $400 and a week’s vacation to indulge my color addiction with Bob Burridge‘s Loosen Up and Paint Like Crazy class at Jerry’s Artarama in Raleigh last week. I had tested my reaction to Bob with two short classes at the Art Expo in November last year and knew the full-week class would be good; didn’t expect the results I discovered.
One: Came out of the November class all charged up with color and ability and tried to paint little pictures of chainsaws and bombed. Chainsaws are tricky; many more surfaces and angles than coffee cups and if the parts aren’t right, the painted sketch doesn’t read as a chainsaw. Suspect I got distracted by the Tour and then Christmas and didn’t paint that much.
Two: Read an article by Betsy Stroud in Arts Calendar about her response to the truism that one has to paint 1000 paintings before really feeling comfortable with paint; if so, then paint small because you’ll get there faster. The article reminded me of Bob’s admonition to paint six 5x7s every day as a warm-up, and I realized I needed to be practicing or I’d likely waste much of the full-week class getting used to paint and paper again. I set myself a goal of painting 500 5×7 paintings by August.
Somewhere after 130 paintings, I found myself stalling and bored. Wasn’t sure what the problem was but I certainly wasn’t enjoying painting anymore and I didn’t like the work. Thought maybe I was just being resistant to the path and reread George Leonard’s Mastery. Got distracted by summer and Blues festivals and then there was Moscow and there are always reasons not to paint, if you want to find them. Forced another 30 or so out of my brush and onto the boards just before class so I wasn’t stone cold, but still no great paintings.
Three: Class week. The 8-hour Loosen Up class devoted roughly two hours each to hearts and coffee cups, florals, landscapes and abstracts; the week-long class devoted a day to each with the addition of a morning on marketing and an afternoon on collage. (Bob also teaches week-long classes on each segment, or at least abstracts and collage.) Monday was mostly settling into class and playing with the sample paints and figuring out what else I should have brought from home; didn’t care for much I painted. Bob talked about value–1-10, light to dark, and gave us red plastic to check the values in our paintings; I realized this was one of the problems I had with my work. Sure enough, checking my inventory showed I’d completely missed value contrast–lots of color, but when viewed through a red filter, it all went to one tone. Oops.
Started working in black and white on Tuesday, with color overlay, and gained a bit more insight into moving the eye around a painting. Showed a few of my paintings to Bob and talked about the troubles I’d experienced; he suggested working with palette knives because I wasn’t doing very well with brushes and sometimes people who are sculptors underneath do better with a more physical approach to paint. By the end of the day, I was working as much with my hands directly as with the knives, and much happier with the work.
Something shifted in the course of our work on Wednesday and I realized I didn’t much care for painting landscapes, and if I was having trouble fitting my florals on the page with enough room left for a vase and tabletop, then I just didn’t have to paint a vase and tabletop. Wow. Why has it taken this long to see that? Class got more interesting again, and I started a series of paintings about hooping; swirly things with sparkles and lots of movement. Will do more on this. Bob recommends working in series, even on bigger paintings (not just the daily six 5x7s), to keep an idea moving and allow oneself room to play with variations without fear of ruining any one expression of an idea. Observe how my sketch starts out puny and as I add more and more paint, the movement gets bolder and fills more of the page. I have seen this happen before. With paint, one CAN add more. Doesn’t work with carving, but now that I think about it, my carvings are often improved by removing more. Interesting. Clonmacnois is much better today, thinner, than it was when it left Ridgway in February.
Friday was supposed to be collage day and I found myself increasingly miffed as the morning was lost to marketing talk, most of which I knew well enough to know it didn’t yet apply to me. I am placing all the 3D work I can create, so finding galleries is not yet a problem; no body of work in flat are (yet) so I can’t do anything on that front. Swallow irritation at people asking the merit of gallery vs. street fair when they’ve never sold anything.
After lunch, a few of us turned to collage but most of the class spent the time finishing up paintings they’d started, and Bob spent his time circulating rather than teaching. I forged ahead, playing with tissue paper I bought, running out into the store for acrylic gel (have a gallon at home and didn’t think to bring it; borrowed my bench-neighbor’s clear gesso but it quickly became apparent I would use her whole bottle), tearing up the paint-stained paper towels I’d saved all week. Bingo! Created more work (square-inch wise) with more fun and more energy in two hours than I had in any half-day all week, and I like the (not quite yet) end product much more than anything else I did.
Someone asked, Have you done this before? and I said, Not since third grade. It was Saturday before I looked at my collection of idea books and color play and realized these are essentially collage, and the need to make collage has been bursting out of me since June 2002. Wow. Suspect the impulse originates from the same energy that makes me a sculptor; I do not do flat art but am still constrained by the tremendous amount of effort that goes into carving and preparing a surface to take color. Plus, I just can’t carve on Sunday mornings (three churches abut my property) and I need a quiet art form.
Where to from here? Don’t know. Waiting a day or two and then registered for Patti Brady’s class on collage at the next Art Expo. Patti works for Golden Paints and she’ll be teaching how to use the various materials Golden makes for collage. Also signed up for Jeanne Carbonetti’s class on creativity; have taken her courses before and like how she teaches. Need to make more collages in the next three months so that I arrive at class with good questions; don’t see making them at a 5×7 size and don’t know what will turn up. Played with adjusting the color of tissue paper and Nigel got into the act by shredding my colored paper towels for me. Today, I am full up with show prep–three shows to install over the first two weekends in September, and nothing finished today. 95 degrees on the front porch when the sun is out so I’m coloring in the dining room. Stay tuned.
- I’ve been experimenting with painting for some time and never quite happy with the results. Finally allowed as how I am a sculptor, maybe I need a sculpted surface to paint on, rather than expending enormous amounts of effort trying to make a flat surface look carved. So I tested a number of ways of building three-dimensional Celtic knot that would support paint and not weigh down a canvas too awfully much. There’s a lot more fun to be had painting knots if it doesn’t take six hours to carve them first, and they hang better if they’re not solid wood.
I’ve tried making knots from the balloons used to make animal sculptures and covering them with papier mache. It works, but it takes a long time and a lot of expensive products. It would be easier if the balloons were filled with something rigid–they wouldn’t need as much reinforcement from the covering layer. (Balloons will hold their air for a long time if the balloon is sealed, as it is somewhat by papier mache, but the seal isn’t perfect and it won’t last for as long as I want the painting to last.) Urethane foam-in insulation came to mind. The product comes in a pressurized can with a long straw that could be inserted into a balloon and pumped into a balloon.
My theory is sound. However, the practice needs work. It turns out that the insulation product generates a tremendous amount of gas in the process of forming the bubbles that make the insulation; that gas rushes to the end of the balloon and fills it up long before the balloon fills up with foam. (In a more normal application, this gas would simply blow off into the atmosphere. The gas has a strong odor of acetone.) The first two attempts were mildly successful–I got some foam into the balloon and was able to mash it along the length of the balloon and bleed off some of the gas. In order to make the shape I wanted, however, I did need more foam in the balloon.
The third try proved the limits of the experiment. I didn’t stop the foam quite fast enough, and the balloon exploded. If you’ve ever wondered how the bomb experts on CSI (or in reality!) do their job, I might recommend this experiment. I was covered in urethane foam, as was my work area; there’s a neat void behind me where I absorbed the impact, such that it was, and clearly demarcated lines of bubbles where my sweatshirt wasn’t. Fortunately for the work-in-progress around me, urethane foam blown through the air loses a lot of its stickiness and lifted off fairly easily once it cured.
The sweatshirt is ruined. I’m saving the pants for subsequent work with foam. I (and my neighbor) are grateful that her 10-year old son was not around to see this. We hope that he doesn’t get too curious about how I’ve prepared these canvases.
I may try this again–I’d like to make permanent balloon sculptures. I will definitely need the assistance of another person. It’s possible that if we prick the balloon at the far end and temporarily seal it by twisting that end, we can bleed off the gas and allow the foam to fill more of the balloon. It’s dicey, and there is still the variable of how much the foam will expand.
Latex insulation doesn’t expand enough to be any fun at all, and so the ease-of-clean-up is completely offset by the uselessness of that product for my purposes.
- Long time no write. At least, not writing in here. In the process of building the new website–KarenTiede.com, after owning the domain name for two years and paying for hosting for four months. My work has outgrown PittsboroPenguins.com and it’s time to move, which means as much of a reorganization of files and pictures as would be involved in a physical move. I have decided against at least one physical move of the studio itself because it felt like more of a distraction than a step in the direction of more and better production, but the same has not been true for the website. It’s overgrown and even I have trouble finding my own work, or where to put new art. Maybe I’ll buy a real blogger program one of these days. (2011 update–Ha! that took three more years!)
Off to Russia soon–traveling with my family on the occasion of my new nephew’s adoption. First time out of the country since the trip to Antarctica in 1999, which indirectly started this whole adventure in art, and the parallel is not lost on me. Need to plan an artist’s itinerary. Soon after that, a week-long painting course with Bob Burridge, also expected to shift my skills and perspective (based on two short classes with him in November of 2004). Art could be very different very shortly.
Artistic turning points since the last entry: Bob Burridge classes, Studio Tour, introduction to blues and an end to musical anorexia, first visit to the Smithsonian Craft Show, hoop dancing. In that order? I think so. We could throw in Match.com, but that’s a bit outside the scope of an art website so you’ll have to ask me privately about that.
Bob Burridge–8 hours of instruction and I get that I CAN paint, and that with a bit of practice, I can probably manage to stay conscious for a entire week of his teaching. Sign up for his class at Jerry’s Artarama in August 2005; make a decision to paint 500 small paintings to work on some of my own stopping points. By now, I’ve painted 150, which is better than nothing. Sold two and given away quite a number to good reception.
First year on the Chatham Studio Tour. Modest success.
Blues–Run up to DC over Easter visit my sister and take an evening with Bob Margolin, Mookie Brill, Bobby Radcliff, Billy Wirtz, and Joe Orr at the State Theater. Something shifted inside; no clue what how or why now and not before. I like this music. How did I make it to 46 without knowing that? (Progressed moon into Taurus and 5th house could have something to do with it.) CD collection has doubled since; almost all blues. Unfortunately for my art, I find a new way to spend weekends–Delbert McClinton at the Eastern NC Blues Festival, Abe Reid and Keith Frank (ok, Keith is Zydeco) at Shakori Hills (and catch the bug for hoop dancing at the same time); Abe Reid and the Holmes Brothers at the Carolina Blues Festival, plans to blow off Caldwell County in favor of the Durham Blues Festival.
Chatham Arts asked me to show at ClydeFest, so I had the weekend of the Smithsonian Craft Show free for the first time since I started carving (not having to prepare for the three-day Sanford Pottery Festival). ClydeFest was rained out near enough, but going up to the Smithsonian turned out to a very useful lesson in what it takes to show at the best venue in the country. My chainsaw carving as it stood at the time is never going to make it.
Talked to some artists who were very encouraging and helpful; saw others whose production gave me chills (ie, wouldn’t mind taking $80,000 of orders but not if it means doing the same thing over and over). Interesting to note that any exhibiting artist who cared to give me much attention recognized me as an artist studying the venue, not a craft shopper. Somewhere in the drive home and then the next day’s trip to Greenville to hear Delbert, I started thinking about making rustic furniture and other forms of art; the idea of adding my jewelry and textile work to this site shows up.
Nothing like seeing 120 different artists and their work to give a girl insight into her place in that community. I am not a production artist. I have made a few iterations of pieces that sell well–the fish, for example–but I’m off to something new pretty fast after that. Maybe if I ever “get good,” I’ll be happier about cranking out one form of art. Maybe not. Maybe I would be better served to find a different model for making an income from my creativity. Still working on this problem as I write.
Aspects: Increasing trouble with my hands suggests I’m not going to be making a living from a chainsaw. I am not interested in doing enough strength training to be able to handle big wood consistently. Tired of hauling my work around the county only to haul it home–chainsaw carvings need to be sold out of a shop, not a 10×10 booth (I bet I’ve noted this before in this blog). So I’ll take the painting class and I showed up to a free Dona Kato demonstration and that left me inspired to play with polymer clay again. The dining room table is covered in clay tools and I have to clear the ironing board of in-progress paintings if I need a crisp shirt (my friends may have noted I’m in more knits than normal…).
Finally (?), hoop dancing has caught my attention in a way that I can’t remember anything doing, exercise-wise, in a while. I saw Spiral and Beth dancing at Shakori Hills and walked away thinking, “I HAVE to learn to do that.” Lots of people were carrying hoops but only Beth and Spiral were dancing; found out later that Spiral had just taught a workshop and sold hoops. New dancers weren’t up to hooping in public so soon after learning, and I understand that now. A bit of web research and a few weeks later, I found a class in Chapel Hill, and now I’m a hoop dancer, too. Professional, too–just had my first paid gig!! at the BRAC party in Goldsboro, NC. (Base Realignment and Closing–Seymour Johnson AFB was NOT on the list.) My friend John Hogan, working the party as Ubi the Clown, suggested bringing my pile of hoops down. I tossed them out on the grass and started dancing to the Country band, and within 15 minutes, the hoops were all in use. At the end of the party, the Coastal Federal Credit Union event sponsors gave me a picnic basket because “You worked so hard! You never stopped dancing!” It’s not Burning Man, but it’s a start.
(Dancing is as demanding of studio space as chainsaw carving, as my newly broken living room lamp will attest. Need to solve the “loud music for dancing, outside, sleeping young children next door” concurrency problem. Or maybe change the lamp.)
Church is almost out so it’s time to eat and get to carving for the rest of the afternoon. Hope it’s not another year before another post.
- Friday morning, we took the ferry out to Friday Harbor, both to wander the island and to meet up with two friends from Oak Harbor who were vacationing on the island for the weekend. We had lunch, and they showed us some of the shops (lavender, hot sauce) and went over to Roche Harbor to see the changes in the Inn and the old Lime Factory, and we wandered a bit more and then parted. We had an hour before the ferry home and walked around town a bit more, visiting galleries.
- Elephant Crossing, an Asian importer, had a fabulous mirrored and gilded carved goldfish in the window. I have carved a few fish in my time, and this was an amazing flowing fish and I thought it would make a great model. I also realized I was in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. “Upscale” doesn’t begin to cover the prices, so I didn’t think I had to worry about getting the fish home. We went in and asked, “how much is that goldfish in the window?” The shopkeeper said, “Funny you should ask. It’s broken, so we’re selling it at cost. You can have it for $70. Normally, it would sell for $350.”
- I was fully prepared with a “I love it, but I have no where to put it” answer, which I’ve heard as a vendor many many times myself (alternate: “If only you had a pair!”), but $70 for that much fish, mirrored, gilded, and totally over-the-top fabulous as only the Thai or Vietnamese can go, was something I couldn’t pass. I asked, “Can you ship?” and she said, “Yes.” Many of her customers fly to the island on sea planes with tiny luggage limitations. Others arrive on boats–large boats, in relation to the ones hauled in and out of Jordan Lake on a Saturday afternoon, but boats nonetheless, and few boats have much extra room. Of course she could ship.
- So now I’m awaiting arrival of my gilded mirrored goldfish, and I don’t know where I’m going to put him, and I don’t know how my art will shift as a result of this addition. I am sensitive to the effect of artifacts in my home; sometimes I tell myself I’m a carver/sculptor now in part because of my experience at Mount Rushmore (1997? 98?) and all the postcards of Rushmore I had around the house afterward.
- When I moved into this house, I decorated the living room in a fairly “suburban” palette, all red and dark green and eucalyptus and peach. It’s been a bit stale for a while, and I have wondered what it would be like to live in emerald and ruby and sapphire and amethyst. Might be time to reupholster that couch, once the fish arrives. (I am not sure how I can do this using recycled material from the swap shed, but that’s an idea.*) Again, stay tuned. Perhaps fortunately, I have a new house to rennovote (rental property) and I need to get the house finished and occupied ASAP. After that, who knows?