Pack Rat is one angry dwarf…and don’t forget our black t-shirt.
Imagine if you still lived life like you were in the second grade. Your boss denies your vacation request? Demolish him on the 4-square court. Know your multiplication tables up to 10? You’re a freaking genius! Have a blue foil star. And you glued a stack of popsicle sticks together in one fire-hazard sized pile? Instead of sad and slightly disturbing, it’s artistic. Looking at the stash of reclaimed art supplies at the Materials for the Arts warehouse in Long Island City, NY brings back those grammar school feelings of standing in front of the open art closet–big possibilities. MFTA opens their art and crafts treasure chest to artists and groups who need cheap or free swag in order to make their creative vision a reality. For 31 years, MFTA volunteers and staffers have been saving perfectly good arts supplies from the landfills and playing matchmaker, pairing them with the appropriate causes. Their warehouse is a veritable candy land of paint, glitter, yarn… So, actually, maybe not so much like a land made of candy, but definitely as good. Just seeing it will make you feel like a kid all over again. And knowing that a bunch of schools benefit from the MFTA resources, means that they’re helping today’s kids have that same kind of excitement. So support them how you can. Live near by? Volunteer: firstname.lastname@example.org
However, unlike second grade, if you eat the paste there will be repercussions. You know who you are. Actually, depending on the kind of paste you ate, maybe you don’t.
Is there anything sadder than a discarded lotto ticket? It pretty much screams of dreams lost, broken, and disappointed, be they small or large. However, before that thought has you drafting a suicide note, take heart. Not everyone out there is a pessimist. Take artist Jean Shin, who sees these slips of sad trash more like prayer offerings to the gods of success. She has collected about $25,000 worth of lotto tickets and assembled them into a booming burg in a piece she calls Chance City.
Her city of cards, much like the dreams the lotto tickets represent, isn’t held together by anything permanent or stable. She uses no adhesive to bolster these paper slips, just a steady hand and gravity to assemble the sky scrapers. And, like a deeply cherished dream, somehow her precarious city works.
Shin says, “I feel like these are reflections of cities. Most people who move to cities experience a lot of hardship and work, not a lot of instant successes. So they learn the hard way by living in a city what defying odds is all about. Picking up your life and moving to the city and giving it all you can, your dreams may change — transform, but somehow, I think all of us retain that memory of something that they really wanted to do, and against all odds, are able to succeed.”
Hear more about Jean Shin’s efforts to look on the bright side of refuse at Morning Edition on NPR. And see more of her work in her “Common Threads” show, on display The Smithsonian until July 26.
Pack Rat does a binary solo: 00000100000111. Robo boogie!
Today I bring you a link to some free laughs. There is nothing funnier than a really good non-sequitur. And I mean nothing. Have you any doubts? Well then you, my friend, should immediately get thee to explainthisimage.com. Explain This Image is my favorite kind of site, the kind where the name says it all. Essentially, this is a gallery of the weird, the mysterious, and–some times–the frightening. The peeps at Explain This troll the Internet in search of the most bizarre images out there, pictures that without a caption and without a context seem completely foreign to the everyday life most of us lead. These little vignettes are either a creative writer’s dream come true, or nightmare as some of the pictures are so outlandish that it seems nearly impossible to ground them in reality. But even if you’re not a day-dreamer prone to trying to figure out the story behind the image, everyone can enjoy this finely curated collection of the ridiculous. Here’s a pair of my favs.
Before I begin today’s post, I just wanted to give a shout out and a thank you to Andrew Wagner, the editor in chief from American Craft magazine who took the time to comment on Monday’s Handmade Nation blog. If you want to read his take on this awesome movie premier, check it out here.
Now to get down to business. Today I am recommending you all go and drool over the fantastic photography by Alec Chvirko at alecchvirko.com. In the interest of full, and pretty obvious disclosure, I should mention that the artist is in fact my brother. And because I know any props I give my little bro here will just seem like the biased opinion of a big sister, something akin to putting a finger painting up on my refrigerator, I’m going to give you a little smidge of a taste because his work speaks for itself. He also has a new blog, so we can all enjoy the latest fruits of his labor, fresh. If you like what you see drop him a line. He enjoys talking shop.
Some people have marionette fears. I would never judge these people…except that I do. Now, don’t get me wrong. The soulless eyes of a baby doll can totally creep me out, given the right set of circumstances (like if I woke up and it’s little glass eyes were right there, staring into mine? I got a chill just thinking about it). But puppets? How can anyone be scared of puppets? They’re so cool. Now, while the figures who inhabit Chris Sickles’ Red Nose Studio 3D illustrated surreality aren’t technically puppets, they have all the allure of a puppet with their quasi-humanistic features slightly off kilter by strange, angled features and carved details that allow for some pretty serious dramatic shadowing. There’s definitely something Punch and Judy about his subjects.
But, unlike a puppet show where the boundaries of the stage always keep the audience aware that there are hidden hands pulling strings, the illustrations coming out of Red Nose Studio are so complete and detailed (with no strings visible), that you get the sense not that you’re looking at a staged photo, but rather a window into another, more magical world. What’s even better, is that Sickles seems to primarily ply his trade to niche magazines, so a lot of his wild dreamscapes are really illustrating a magazine article on, say, how annuities are a promising option for retirement income. Insane! Who ever thought someone could take such a concrete (and dry) topic and turn it into a conceptual visual of a man literally rooting himself to the ground? Or take this awesome example. The magazine article is about how to predict where your small business will be in five years. Sickles took that basic premise and twisted it around like a Rubik’s cube, and ended up with this whimsical, fantastic little guy peering into the future. I think Neil Gaiman wishes he lived in Chris Sickles’ imagination. I know I do.
Even if you aren’t the super dork I am (the kind who still reads comic books even though she’s almost 30, and whose favorite cable channel is Cartoon Network), I bet you have some fond childhood memories of those larger than life cartoons most of us grew up on. The magazine, Mental Floss, reveals this month that a handful of those classic characters have had some real life impact. Superman, for one, doesn’t just stop locamotives and jump over buildings. He also helped take down the Klu Klux Klan after World War II. Captain Marvel Jr. was the inspiration behind Elvis Prestley’s famous hair-do. And a story arch in the Spiderman comics in the 70s led to the invention of wrist and ankle monitors for home-held prisoners. Fascinating stuff, no? Imagine what kind of societal implications Aqua Teen Hunger Force will have?
Captain Marvel Jr. image property of Marvel Comics
First off, let me congratulate Bonnie from Seattle for winning our Birthday Scavanger Hunt! Bonnie correctly identified the hidden links in our November issue of the magazine. She will be receiving her very own copy of the book, Handmade Nation: the Rise of DIY, art, craft, and design. Yay Bonnie!
On to other news. I apologize for the spotty blogs, but I gots me a j-o-b and learning the ropes has taken up a lot of my energy. What? You thought I did Pack Rat full time? Not a lot of money to be made in free magazines, people. At least not yet. We’re refering to my job as an “investment strategy” for now. But I’m starting to get into the groove, so hopefully postings will go back to being regular, or at least semi-regular
And finally, what you all really came here to read: today’s internet gem is this cassette tape wallet tutorial. Blogger Rachel keeps her blog, Chezlin full of her comings and goings in the craft/college world, including this inspired creation. This adorable little wallet and matching change purse (made from recycled bits, just how we like it) bring me back to a time when hair was big, jeans were tapered, and G&R were all the rage. No, I’m not talking about just yesterday, I’m talking about twenty years ago. And I can’t wait to gut my busted Debbie Gibson tape and make my own.
I dare you, nay, double dog dare you to resist the utter adorability of the little creatures over at Mochimochi. If you can, well then you are made of tougher stuff than I. Blogger/creationatrix Anna sells patterns for her plush buddies (check out the Stackable Cats and the Luv Gun. Genius!), but she has a big heart and she also provides plenty of patterns and tutorials for free. My current craving is for the faux toilet paper. There’s something about the fact that the toilet paper has a face that just gives me the giggles. And even though toilet paper isn’t traditionally considered cute, I have to say that this guy sure is. Talk about squeezable, move over Charmin.
At my last job, my co-workers and I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about cheese. Someone would say, “You know what I love? Feta.” And from there the next half hour would be spent recounting our favorite types of cheeses, cheese dishes, places to get cheese, etc. One of the ultimate comfort foods, only the most extremely lactose intolerant can resist it’s charms. So color me excited when I found this video from Food Wishes by Chef John, giving a simple step-by-step demo on how to make cheese at home. As Chef John readily admits, making your own cheese this way is neither cheaper nor more time efficient, but if you truly love a food, how can you not want a behind-the-scenes experience unlocking it’s mysteries?
Pack Rat used to wear two different shoes, just like Punky Brewster
This one goes out to all the indie moms out there (and dad’s too). I came across Cool Mom Picks blog today, and I have to say that these moms are pretty darn cool. The one of a kind toys, plates, boxes, and whatnot that they dig up on a daily basis are so well designed, that I found myself writing down a few of the websites for, uh, a friend. Yeah that’s it. I’m not going to buy myself toys, shut up. Any way, they have a great eye for what’s new and cool and not the same old boring Babys/Toy ‘R Us crap. A great resource for those of us too, who may be looking for good gift ideas.