Welcome to the machine…

Making, more making, budgeting for materials, paying attention to kids,kids having snow days on days on the day you needed to produce a lot, kids needing to eat,  trying to be friendly to customers on very little sleep, packing, unpacking, tagging, inventorying, more making, trying to remain calm,likely having a crying fit or two, driving, driving, driving, making, dreaming about making, remembering to have clean clothes for shows, talking to your dog about why you don’t have time too cuddle, making time to cuddle because you feel guilty, making, making, making.

Big hugs and hearty pats on the back to all our artisan friends out there doing it. Special love to those at One of a Kind Toronto, and your long days, crazy crowds and massive work put into just being there.We are so looking forward to visiting you on our day off.

Crazy love to all those staff and volunteers facilitating fine art and craft events, bringing handmade to you.

Tonight’s the last night of First Light…try and make it. We can’t even begin to tell you how very truly unique this event is. We’ve had so much fun being part of it.

If you are in Collingwood, check out their first ever night time Santa Claus parade. Our stuff at the Arts Centre (163 Hurontario St.) will be restocked early next week. We are excited and a little freaked out to tell you almost our whole inventory there sold out in the past few weeks. Please drop in and support the other artisans, have the best latte you have ever had down at the Espresso Post, and enjoy downtown Collingwood.:)

Thanks to everyone for making Rogue Goat possible. Our sales figures are almost three times greater then we anticipated right now. Thanks for liking us. Thanks, thanks, thanks, love, love, love.

And sometimes magic…First Light

I don’t like Christmas.  I’m not so much a grinch about it as I prefer to avoid it. I don’t like the politics of who goes where that comes with split families, I can’t stand the gift giving mania, I abhor the tackiness and consumerism. Ok, kind of grinchy.

When I was a kid I went through three major Christmas phases 1. Everything hand made and all natural (8 – 10 years), Everything all white ( 10-13) and 3. Studied avoidance (13 onwards.) I’ve come back to it over the years kind of like the way people often keep coming back to religion, looking for other , for magic.And always left again.

Its the nature of the beast that Christmas consumersim is a keystone of economic success in our business. And the hustle, the tinny music, and the crass tinsel is already getting to me.But….what about the magic side?

I’ll argue until I’m dead that a seed of belief in the unbelievable, in hope…in magic against the odds…keeps some of us sane, and fuels some of us to  create ( How much I hate the word “creative” another day) .Christmas seems to tap that, its an accessible spiritual spinal tap dressed in red and white (or just white if you are tasteful). 😉 And yes, the cynic has to say the spirituality is all about the dollar spent…but….

Every year for about five, my mum would bundle us all into the car on a dark night, and drive into the woods near Midland, Ontario. There, a beautiful , quiet, wooded valley filled with millions of twinkling white lights awaited. Cars would drive up, and people stand pretty quietly at the edge of the ravine. No music, just the creaking of trees , the shuffling feet, a car driving off. That was magic. That was the meaning of it all…light in the depth of darkness, a bright welcoming of the long winter months to come. Thats magic.

So…we can’t wait for next week!! We were one of 20 artisans chosen to be featured at First Light, a fabulous, unique, MAGICAL event at Ste Marie Among the Hurons, just outside of Midland Ontario. Ste Marie is an amazingly well re created 17th century Jesuit  and Huron Indian habitation.And, for three nights next week, it will be lit solely by candlelight. 3000 to be exact.Come.


Check out these photos of the event http://www.flickr.com/photos/48196682@N05/5202019495/

Speaking of music, I have to post this. I actually love Christmas songs, traditional ones, not remakes. My favourite to sing as a kid was actually allegedly written at Ste Marie Among the Hurons, The Huron Indian Carol. I’ll admit though, in trying to sing it to Josh recently, its hard to sing ” The Mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead” with a straight face. I’m guessing I liked the minor chords.Anyway, listen to Matt Andersen sing “O Holy Night”. This my friends, is f*cking Christmas music.Big man, big voice, big f*cking Christmas carol. (Because Christmas is for emphatic cursing too.)

And lastly, some amazing pictures of the new Rogue Goat wall Art by Bohdan Chreptak, www.bofoto.ca. Available at the Espresso Post in Collingwood, Ontario. Oh, and Josh says hi.:) He “approves” these before I post them . Mostly he reads, chuckles and tells me he loves me. Its nice.


The length of dark days and the darkness of long days

Last night, warm, wild breezes, rattle the house gales. Still up at 1 am, sewing away. The puppies like to sit on my feet, I am the queen of the puppies . They inadvertently push the sewing machine foot when they stretch, causing unexpected results.The woodstove crackling, the breathing of all my most loved humans asleep, murmuring, turning. Whenever the night gets dark and long, and my brain sidles up to the shadows, Max, our Labernese, always seems to wake and come lay his head on my lap. Almost always…its uncanny.

Today the power was out all morning, not helpful when one has a backlog of purses to finish for a show you are setting up tomorrow (Come check us out at the Sugar Plum Fair at Nottawasaga Resort in Alliston this weekend). Its hunting season and its driving the dogs (6, count them, six) nuts. A thousand details to attend to, a show to hang at the Espresso Post (Happy Birthday to lovely owner Christene and so many thanks to lovely owner Mark for his time) so…afternoon meltdown.

But then…

First snowfall . First puppies discover the snow. First …boy running and laughing in the darkness, the white flakes dancing in the light of our “moon” (a spotlight in our backyard). First…husband in a toque grinning like a kid because the night and the snow and everything is just right. Because the trampoline is still up, and nights weightlessly jumping in the dark, with snow in your eyelashes, with the dog bouncing alongside and the boy giggling in breathless happiness and the puppies making tracks are singularly magical.

And whatever you think is a priority, is never a priority over this.:)



The Grey Area of Parallel Ideas, Influenced by, and Copying

This topic has been on my mind quite a bit…its come up both for us as Rogue Goat and for me personally ( check out my new site for paintings only www.dirtylittleheart.com. It’s still needs some shaking out and pic’s of the new chicken series and the new rabbit litter).

Here is a bad pic of the new chicken paintings…these two are at the Arts Centre, the other ones’ go up at Espresso Post on Thursday.

It’s really hard to define a boundary or ownership of an  idea in the artistic world. Materials and process define so much of what is made, and that extra something that makes something unique is sometimes hard to pinpoint, even though you can see that it is there.

I mean, there is just the basic fact that the world is big and it just may happen that two people come up with the same idea, independently and with no intent to rip off one another. So what do you do when you do find out? Do you give up, let the person who started first have the field, or do you try to find a gentlemanly agreement that accommodates both of you, how do you deal with it?

As Rogue Goat, we have run into this with Billy Would. Billy Would is an amazing line created by Adea Chung. West coast based…check Adea out here http://www.billywould.com/. So here’s the thing…we both make tree silhouette based accessories. Or rather, we both make  tree earrings and necklaces….after that the crossover isn’t very apparent. And we had no idea until a little while ago.

An awesome company called MariClaRo in Toronto,http://mariclaro.ca/shop/en/ asked us to join them…and Billy Would is there too. I told Sven, the owner that I thought there was a bit of a crossover and that we would need to address that somehow…and its been on my mind since. Time to send Adea a message.:)

So…we didn’t know Billy Would existed, but we have a similar idea. Our processes are different…I’m guessing Billy Would is laser cut (Edit! We got a really nice message from Adea, and she doesn’t use lasers…she is just a scroll saw wizard)and Josh cuts Rogue Goat on a scroll saw. We put trees on everything, cuffs, bags, wall art , belts…Billy Would does just earrings and necklaces.So where is the line?

Sometimes just the materials themselves dictate a certain look. I’ve been making felted messenger bags with Rogue Goat wooden medallions on them. I didn’t invent upcycling sweaters into bags. A friend of mine, the lovely in person and lovely as a painter/creator  Kaz Jones, makes them too, so do lots of people.There just isn’t a proprietary right to felting sweaters.Her style is different than mine, but we are in the same show right now, so I dropped the bags.No big deal. Kaz…http://kazjonesart.wordpress.com/.

I had this idea to package Rogue Goat accessories for Christmas in old mason jars…and the other day Jenna Rose (I LOVE HER! I LOVE HER!!) posted this on facebook. http://jennarosejournal.blogspot.com/

My artwork is process driven (Step 1, step 2, step 3), with identifiable materials (resin, japanese paper) and the combination of process, materials, text and image is what makes my work me. But the materials aren’t exclusive to me, the process is easily copied as a style….but I think here, it’s the text that is significant. So, if someones uses resin and japanese paper, I don’t care at all. If they use words, use resin and japanese paper, charcoal, splatters and an image…then can I get mad? Still not really, probably…maybe…right?

So here’s my newly made list of “Things That Allison and Josh Would Consider to Be Signs That You are an Idea Rip Off Slug”

For Rogue Goat :

If you stole our branding and or display aesthetic, which we work really, really hard on.

Here’s a pic of our most recent booth design

You used the exact same combination of materials, the same way, in the same array of goods.

For Me:

You used my words.

Here’s some of the drapery and upholstery end bags I’ve been making.

^ Our new Rogue Goat tags from scrap fabric

So…Sugar Plum Fair in Alliston coming up this weekend. Hope to see you there! Bring an old pure wool sweater and get $5 off!

The influence of puppies and the secret life of chickens.

We have puppies! Two St. Bernard/Shepherd/Lab X’s and two Labernese/Lab X’s. It is so weird that a dog can have offspring from two different fathers in one batch. (Josh heard on CBC the other day that chickens can store ejaculate from lots of “donors” , evaluate which is best and spit out the rest!! What an awesome superhero slut chicken power!)

It is impossible not to smile around puppies, first steps, first growls, first peed all over you while watching a movie.

It is impossible for your dream of studio space, free of the distractions of dishes, laundry, and puppies to not grow exponentially with the dog hair in your house.

Currently we have 6 dogs, 1 cat, 1 rabbit, 15 chickens, 2 goats , say 25 fish and 3 kids. The kids shed less, but eat more. The goats are louder and eat everything. The chickens are the easiest.Well the fish I guess, but they look judge-y to me. The cat is cross eyed and has ginger balls.He is not good at trampolining , but is good at flying.

Josh has – raw cutting stockpiles going on in the back room, new wall plaques in the room divider, stuff for finish sanding on the coffee table, and finished work in baskets on the shelves as well as a display unit for me and a street side sign on the go.I have – rabbit paintings on the kitchen table, rabbit reproductions in the living room, chicken paintings by the fridge, new messenger bags on the table by the door and paperwork beside the bed. IT IS INSANE HERE!!!

Anyway..all this productivity is for whats coming up;

We are super excited to announce Rogue Goat is now available at the Owen Sound Artist’s Co op. Check it out http://www.osartistsco-op.com/

We will also be at the BMFA Arts Centre from November 3, 2011 to December 31, 2011 as part of Winter’s Gift.163 Hurontario St, Collingwood, Ontario. http://www.bmfa.on.ca

Sugar Plum Fair, Nottawasaga Resort, Alliston, ON November 12, 13, 2011

Handmade Holidays, Southhampton Art Gallery and School, Southhampton,ON November 23- December 31, 2011 http://www.theartschool.org/


Movies and Makers, Fox Theatre, Toronto, ON December 17, 2011 http://movies-and-makers.blogspot.com/


and a couple more we will tell you about later.:) Love. We out, we out.







Fall changes and new goats and chickens

September always seems way more like the start of a new year to me then January…more changes, more expectation and the loveliness of starting to nest for winter. In that vein… Josh built a chicken coop on my birthday which we stocked with our first flock.Silly silkies and Rhode Island Reds. And then this morning we got a set of twin Nubian/Dwarf goats…Piss and Vinegar. And…the dog should have her first litter of Labernese puppies anyday. AND …we bought a beautiful, industrial mixer …first step in our no more store bought bread, fresh loaf everyday plan. The wood from our sustainably harvested, horse power logging operation Arbor North arrives on Monday. We are topped up with wood and wool and fabrics to make, make, make. We couldn’t be happier.Really.

We are also looking forward to some show announcements in the next few days…some little ones, some offbeat ones, some cool ones and a big one.

We will also be launching our online shop next week…and this is the last week Rogue Goat will be at Store 54 in Collingwood. Its been fun, any young entrepreneur should check out the program and talk to Devaki if you are interested. The store is topped up for the weekend, but then…off and away!

Things that are awesome about today…

1. There is something about the quality of light in mid August that is like a phone call ahead from autumn…a “Hey, I miss you, will come visit soon” heads up. I love it.

2. Someone changed the school sign outside the Beaver Valley Community School to say ” Have a happy hummer dads”. This is funny. Sometimes things like this are enough to redeem my faith in humanity.

3. Hindle’s Hardware. Where you can find nothing without asking for it, but somehow this piece of history, a throw back to when the hardware store was a village well of needing and fixing, somehow…it reclaims the very basic goodness of just talking to a person. In this case, the person is James Hindle who loves his many treasures.He took us through the back sheds and explained all the different bits and pieces and what he would do with them if he “got the time”.He hand built a hand cart and made his own company logo on the back with a mosaic of dogwood. He had a piece of plum wood “that comes up just beautiful”. He had a huge four inch thick centre cut plank of seasoned , storied wood that he would sell us for $15. He lit up when asked his name and offered a handshake.

4. While in the back in James’s wood cutting area, Josh noticed a baby woodpecker, perched on a plank at hip height and staring steadfastly at the sky. I was about six inches away from the woodpecker, he furiously blinked but resolutley stared at the sky. This, if anything I have ever seen, is a perfect visual illustration of faith.Or cloud watching. Or avoidance tactics.Its a perfect illustration of SOMETHING.

5. Being married.

This our display at the L E Shore library in Thornbury. Though unrelated to today being awesome, it is related to us.