Rogue Recap

I treated my husband assistant and I to a little weekend jaunt out to Los Angeles last week to attend the opening reception of the biennial Rogue Taxidermy Show at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, and while it’s been written up, tweeted, and shared in many places I can find online, I do feel it is my duty to at least jot a little down here in my own blog about it (even if it’s mostly links to other sites who did a much better job than I documenting the experience).

We flew out on Virgin America which was a delight after having endured too many multi-part flights to LA.  Direct flight?  Cheapest airfare in town and multi-media players for each seat?  SOLD!  So that was pretty neat, and then we landed and it was time to try my hand at driving in LA for the first time.   One word comes to mind: AGGRESSIVE.  It seems like there are just no “Streets” in LA ,even the smaller thoroughfares are four lanes wide.  It’s quite efficient though and I noticed an abundance of bike lanes which was encouraging.  It’s just a little more difficult to navigate.  The entire system felt like a series of swirls, whereas Philly is a grid.

We got to my friend’s house in one piece, however, albeit a little jet lagged.  She came out with us to a Mexican restaurant where I proceeded to throw my ethics out the window and have my first red  meat in months in the form of an all beef enchilada.  I think I was punished for this and other offenses, but more on that later.

The next day we took a drive down Mulholland and looked at all the giant houses. I really don’t have the words to adequately describe how I feel about these structures.  It just seems like a dream; I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of wealth.

After we descended back down to the land of mortals, we headed to Amoeba records in Hollywood where I purchased the soundtrack to “Blow”.  It proved to be an excellent CD for driving down all the long trafficy strips in LA.  Just listen to that Stones song I posted above right now and tell me you wouldn’t feel like  a total badass cruising down the Sunset strip in your sexy Ford Fiesta.

That night was the opening reception at La Luz, so I slapped on my finest drag and we all headed out to a French restaurant beforehand for dinner.  This is where A) I stood inches from Erin of The Office after mistaking her for my friend and almost telling her about how we’d be waiting 20 minutes before getting a table, and B) Jim and I ate some raw oysters that I’m pretty sure changed everything.  More on that later.

We mangered and then walked over to the Gallery.  Here are some photos from the opening I borrowed from Lee Joesph’s flickr page which is pretty amazing so go check it out.

Those are my hats, standing at attention waiting for Dita Von Teese to come buy them all.  Or Kat Von D.  Or anyone, actually.  These ladies are too beautiful to not have a home.

This was probably the highlight of my evening: meeting these two.  Sarina Brewer I’ve admired from afar since I first realised other people were doing what I was doing, which is toiling away behind locked doors doing unconventional things with dead animals.  I am a total fangirl; she was basically the trailblazer for chicks doing cool taxidermy.  Plus she’s as kind and delightful as one could imagine.  In the center is Vega, who was also showing some pieces that night.  She’s super kind and very present in a way that can only be described as West Cost.  They are a different breed of human out there; I often muse about it when I visit and wonder if it all can really be chalked up to differing climes. When I find myself face to face with a West Coast breed, I used wish I could just relax a little, and chill.  Like them.  It’s an admirable way of life and a wonderful energy to have.  I am however, a Philly girl.  Born and bred and full of defenses.  It’s taken me 34 years to accept it but I wouldn’t have me any other way.

After the gallery closed a few of us went to the bar across the street for a nightcap.  When we got back to my friend’s house to call it a night, I felt sore and achy.  And freezing cold.  I dismissed it and went to sleep, only to wake up sore all over and still chilly.  Jim was sore as well, plus we both felt like we had the hangover of the century.  This was strange, considering I only had three or four drinks over the course of five hours.  Soon came the stomach cramps but we decided to ignore it and head out for some early morning adventures, like coffee and yardsaling in Silverlake.  I scored a pink Christian Dior turban for $2 and Jim got himself a nice Pyrex bowl for $1.  Not too shabby.  Later on we hit up the MOCA to catch the exhibition curated by Mike Diamond of the Beasties before it came down that night.  We both still felt seriously hung over but kept it up-this was our vacation dangit!  We drove to Malibu and laid on the beach for a few hours which was about all I could do at that point.  Like idiots, we drank more alcohol (hair of the dog?) and felt no better.  We both passed out at 7pm and that was the end of it.  Enter stomach issues too grotestue to describe, made worse by the fact that we were guests in someone’s house with only one bathroom.  Needless to say, the flight home on Sunday was almost unbearable.

We were pretty much laid up for that whole week, unable to keep any food in our stomachs long enough to actually digest, until we finally saw a doctor on Friday who put us on antibiotics.  A bacterial infection from the oysters seemed to be the popular theory, but I can’t help but wonder if it was the universe punishing me for casting aside the moral high ground I’d declared just a few weeks ago in regard to not eating meat unless I am familiar with its source.  Message received, universe.

Food borne illness aside, it was a great trip and LA is a wonderful town.  I look forward to going back.  Jim took some great shots of the beach and other stuff:

check out his recap here: SNAP BAM SPLAT

Up next: My new studio!!!!!!

Arrrrrt Starrrr Craft Bazaarrrrrrrr

I’ve come up for air after the Art Star Holiday Craft Bazaar, if only for a moment.  The weekend was a success and I feel pretty good about how my first time at the rodeo went.  It didn’t hurt to pair up with Art Star veteren Maria Eife wh also has an international show plus the Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Show under her belt.

I presented (and sold!)  an assortment of combs, pins, picks, joined earrings, hats, and talon charms.  Below is a smattering of the pieces I’ve been toiling away in my ivory tower creating:

A chicken feather hair pin with vintage jewelry elements,

More chicken feathers with more vintage jewelry,

And look!  An equestrian flair!  I finally got around to creating those horse shoe themed pieces I promised my polo buddies so many months ago!  Perhaps this Summer I’ll actually follow through and sell some at the Friday Night matches…

Some of the combs were feather based while otehrs were built around entire taxidermied wings.  Below is an in betweener, comprised of the taxidermied tail of a chicken.

Oh look!  A frizzle chicken wing!  Perhaps now would be a good time to let you know that 90% of my feathered elements come from my dear friends Bailey and Thomas.  They are quite possible the sweetest, kindest and most compassionate farmers this world may ever know.  Yes, My opinion is totally biased.  They keep an outstanding blog in which they document their adventures in farming, please give it a read: The Farmers Husband.

Another winged comb.  I would also like to give a shout out to my dear friend Daniel who owns Wilbur Vintage for letting me purchase his odds and ends of vintage gems.

For those who choose not to sport a long mane, fret not!  Stick pins are always within reach.  Pop one into your hat, your lapel, blouse, sweater, bag, etc.

This one belwo didn’t sell, much to my surprise.  Instead, it and one cimilar to it are en route to a faraway city as I write this, where it will make Christmas gifts for a pair of very special friends.

The gang!  (some of them, anyway)

I also made a trial run of these fur bangles with tails for the show.  People responded quite positively so I intend to tweek the design a bit and create a series.

Perfect for gesticulating wildly at cocktail parties…

I also created three new higher end head pieces for the show, as my little neon signs to lure in passers by.  They absolutley did the trick, and had many a lady tryign them on.

Right here is a vintage rabbit fur pillbox hat to which I added a chicken tail, with feathers from other birds.

Here’s a view of the side.  Can you guess what that super fluffy soft yellow plush is?

It’s gosling!  Compliments of another farmer friend of mine, Jeannie. I sewed another patch on the opposite side:

Next up: A vintage velvet fascinator base with a pair of chicken wings on one side and down on the other:

It’s hard to see form these photos (all of these hats need to be reshot on a model’s head, but I also added a small metal crown jewel charm to each side; a reference to my new logo, which you’ll see below.

Laslty, my fave piece of all, this vintage black felt hat base with chicken wings, vintage jewelry adn a tassel made by yours truly.  I have a thing for fringe and tassels, and I think you do too:

That’s actually the side view.  Below is the hat, straight on.  The curved shape frames the wearer’s face beautifully.  I just adore this hat.

On Friday night my husband came and got a few shots of our booth.  Here it is, our gypsy caravan in all its glory:

My “side” of the booth:

Like that fox? I worked with the very talented designer Dave Seater to create it and a more cohesive look for all my online presences, which you will be seeing soon.  He’s the best.  The fox with the crown was entirely my idea though; I think it really embodies the Diamond Tooth philosophy.

Here I am making a sale!  Yippee!  Like I said, I feel pretty good about how I did this weekend, as a greenhorn.  I visited with Sue Eggen at her booth, Giant Dwarf where she not only promised to play hat model for my next set of shots but also to toss some much needed (my words, not hers) pearls of wisdom my way in regard to navigating through this wild and wacky craft show life.  Sue, I’m holding you to both these things!

And that is all for the craft bazaar, now its time to work on my entry for this year’s Carniverous Nights competition.  If you plan on coming, buy your tickets now!  ALso coming up: A cat, a fox, a hamster, a rabbit, more bridal pieces and the next 20for20 gift which is going to a mystery man that some of you may have dressed as for Halloween as children…

A Good Lay

I dropped my finished hen off at a gallery yesterday for a show that opens on Thursday.  No pictures yet until she’s been properly unveiled but here are some progress shots:

I posed her mid egg-lay, with one already out.  I wanted the eggs to be hatching, and unique.  I drilled many, many holes and set tiny little gems all over the shell.  This can be very stressful but I used to decorate hollow eggs quite frequently as a little girl and have kept my fingers nimble so I found the experience rewarding.

Of course, all the muscle memory and dexterity in the world can’t save me from my inner klutz and I rested my hand in a paint puddle which I then brushed against the hen and parts of the base.  When I saw this happening I freaked out and dropped the entire thing, egg shells and all.  Miraculously, nothing broke and the paint came off.

Here is a close-up of the hind-section of Mrs. Hen.  It’s kind of gross but I consider it a valiant effort to accurately portray the “birth” of an egg.  I’d like to try again, now that I have more experience to build upon.

I will decide upon a title for this piece today…the term “Typical Birth” kept running through my head as I was creating it.  This is mostly because I overheard a trifling and pretentious old witch of a gallery owner/NY art scenester exclaim very loudly that my work was “SO TYPICAL”  at the show in Brooklyn. It really stung…and I’ve thought about it quite a bit.  After so much reflection though, I realise that I’m not insulted by what she said.  I know my work isn’t typical.  Yes, taxidermy is on the rise- especially the subgroup that my work falls into but there are many nuances which set my pieces apart from the rest.  I think what bothers me most is the way she announced it so flippantly, surrounded by her little circle of employees who know where their bread is buttered so they smile and nod and humor her while she carries on her one-woman show.  I suppose I could’ve made a dig at her, like “Those who can’t DO,  critique.” but I know that’s not entirely true and what would that accomplish?  I think when I saw her lapping up the attention of all those around her and mistaking it for genuine respect, I was reminded a little of myself in my more obnoxious, drunken look-at-me moments.  And I was grossed out.  I suppose I should thank this woman for inspiring me to be a better person.

Obviously, I haven’t let it go for one reason or another, but it’s got me exploring the concept of “typical” and wondering when is it ever a good thing to be refered to as.  Regardless, “Typical Birth” sounds boring.  Perhaps in Italian?

nascita tipica

Not bad.  If all else fails I’ll just go with plan B and call her “A Good Lay”.

Works in Progress

Here are a few pieces I’ve been working on for a show in Brooklyn opening this week.

This is the bear paw I was administering a manicure to recently.  While making the pice in my mind I was thinking about bears leaving the woods and coming into suburban areas in search of food.  I imagined the bears deciding they like suburban life and getting mani/pedis alongside the soccer moms.  Do soccer moms still exist?  Is that even a relevant term?

I went to the Wagner Institute recently for a lecture on taxidermy.  While there, I took in the massive shell collection.  The notion of combining mammals with shells struck me nad this is the first in a series.

Here is a bufflehead duck; her neck is stretched as an experiment.  I found it extra tricky to get the feathers to lay correctly while stretching the dermis in this fashion but the finished product came out OK.

Finished pieces to be posted shortly.