First we shall ignore you for weeks…and then overwhelm you with words.

We didn’t forget about you.:)

We’ve been fulfilling one of the most important things about living productively and creatively…doing nothing at all for a space of time to recharge. Well, not exactly “nothing”.Talking to the chickens.Imagining sitting in very tall trees in the back yard. Re reading sordid mystery novels. Staring at the wall. Making soup. Getting a pug. Pondering the ludicrousness of pre teens and the dangerous passion of grade school love interests.

And thinking…both forward and backward (and about the abuse of the … in colloquial writing.)

We have  learned so much since May when we started. We learned from each other , from the business, from some amazing artisans who took the time to help us, great people at co-ops and shows…and some good strong lessons from some shittier experiences that gave us a good road map of what we will try not to repeat. That’s important too.

So…a look at some of the things we are working and some observations and lessons we learned.

These are the new leather cuffs we will be using for 2012..so soft and supple. While I enjoyed the astounding mess I made hand dyeing the cuffs we used in 2011, they never, no matter how much I worked them in, felt as good on my wrist as they looked, and the precut straps we used were just a bit too narrow for my perfect cuff. These are being made for us by the awesome Luis, which frees up my time to concentrate on the textile line which I am LOVING. Lesson – Love your suppliers! We worked with the fiesty and hilarious Fawn Le Clair (hand spun wool through Wikketwacky Yarn) and the stunningly talented Rebecca Warren at 3rd Life this year, and will continue to do so.

Speaking of suppliers…I strongly believe if you are living the handmade life, you should have the utmost fidelity to materials. Use the best for your art form, don’t cut corners that shouldn’t be, and pay attention to the details. Our first batch of earrings back in May used silver plate wires we got from Micheal’s…we were testing the idea, working out the engineering, and didn’t want to commit large scale. But as soon as we knew this was going to work, we switched to the best quality we could find, and keep doing so. Pay attention to details…see those little clear chunks? They are earring stoppers…they will save an earring from pulling out of your ear, something you will really appreciate if you paid good dollar for it. Doesn’t cost very much to add (always pay attention to your bottom line though) and makes a difference to your customer.

Making things is an evolving process, one where you refine your techniques, incorporate new ideas, explore new areas, refine and adapt. It is not static. Everything you make will not be awesome. There is no room in art for sentimental attachments. If you over invested in inventory and have stuff you made from two years ago, or it didn’t go over well, or you switched mediums…don’t pull it all out anytime you have a sales opportunity. Kill it in whatever satisfying manner you want…break it , (we can burn it), rip it, reutilize it, whatever. There is nothing worse than seeing someone set up at a show with six different mediums they work in, with work going back five years. Painters, photographers can show work with a longer time span (although I ‘d still argue you shouldn’t be showing work that is older the two years, unless you are having a retrospective) and you may have designs that you continually replicate…thats ok.If you make things in different mediums that are not connected somehow (other than just through you) separate them publicly by different “identities”. Your high school/college portfolio is not show material unless you ARE in high school or college, and neither are projects made in classes. On the left…yummy new designs out of the shop last week. On the right, burn pile if Raiden’s class can’t use them for a craft.

This is a new line for Rogue Goat in development stage…onyx and jasper inserts.We vaguely had this idea in the early summer, then when Josh came up with the sperm motif it really coalesced. But we were in the middle of Christmas season and didn’t have the time to pursue. Its important to challenge your self and keep growing artistically, but it’s also important to focus on the tasks in front of you. and prioritize. Christmas show season is not the time to throw yourself into creating a new line.It took me a long time to learn that sort of pacing. There is a cycle to the handmade life, especially for those who do pop up shops. Summer and Christmas you are in show mode, on the road, talking to people. Fall and late winter/spring you are creating, organizing your year, applying for shows (More on this later this month. We are so excited about this year..we began Rogue Goat after all the major juried show deadlines had passed..this year we have them all ready and the money in the bank for a whole year of fees as well. Crazy!)

 

In addition to show fees, we have our summer season of supply needs paid up…some of the fabrics for the messenger bag line above. We began on a shoestring budget and had some tight times of flow, ensuring we had enough work before the cash flowed in at shows. But we got through it without borrowing for the business, or leaning on credit cards and were able to end the year debt free, with healthy owner’s draws, and a considerable portion of 2012’s expenses accounted for. This feels really f-ing good. The cycle thing is funny…I had stocked up on all my winter weight fabrics…wool sweaters and blankets and then realized I needed to be making some summer bags now. The pacing thing too…I intend on switching to (mostly) all organic cotton and wool fibres that are hand dyed with natural blends…but I need time to perfect the recipes and ideally, cook it up in the back yard in the summer. So it will likely only appear in the fall winter shows of 2012…and be in place by 2013. Who the hell am I that I plan things two years ahead now?

This is the balance. Being together we are more capable than ever, while still being who we always have been. Rogue Goat is both of us equally, as much as it is equally inseparable from our day to day life. We are happy. I still throw temper tantrums (and irons) because a bag strap isn’t lying properly. Josh still screams at the saw because his first try at a new design isn’t perfect. But those moments last ten or fifteen minutes and are balanced by laughing every, every day. By feeling lucky every minute to be together and to be doing something we love.  So lucky that we make these very sentimental public declarations just so Tom Davenport can make fun of us.

And even though sometimes I feel like the video below…we are still Cobras. And that’s bad ass.

A holiday greeting of breathtaking beauty

To wish you and yours the best of the season, we thought there was no possibly better device then that of a photo documentary, providing you with snapshot glimpses into the everyday exceptionality of our life.

By conferring on you this great intimacy , you will at once feel humbled by our graceful lifestyle and yet closer to us, welcomed into the very bosom of the Rogue Goat, thus arousing the most valued of holiday emotions…avarice.

First…

This photo says many things. It pulls you aside and says   “This is evidence of great domestic prowess signified by a remarkable taste in kitchen appliance” and infers that we are remarkably adept in the kitchen, whipping up batches of scrumptious baked goods with rarefied ingredients whisked from nowhere, anytime you should drop by unannounced. This photo frowns slightly at your dirty dishes, feeling a warm breeze of condescending pity for your slovenly ways yet smiling gently as you struggle to perfectly fold your fitted sheets. Such troubles never exist in the world, our world, to which this photo belongs, a world in which mothers are never reduced to tears by the lack of matching socks for their progeny, for they  are suffused with a breathless humour and casual joy in life denoted by the whimsical , retro, slightly shabby , Formica counter.

Ah, here…here you are sidled up to and a warm voice whispers in your ear  “These people are preternaturally swayed by beauty, by the sweetest of simplicities, by the perfect pairing of a chartreuse leaning to lemon Crispin apple tumbled into a slab rolled porcelain colander, imprinted with antique laces.” It tells you that we are special, that our life is one long, sweet song of perfect moments savoured and never forgotten. It shudders at such people who may purchase Crispin apples not for their colour but for their name, synchronous with Crispin Glover and his lovely song about a rat and demented books, and then of course it would serve them right that the apples were actually quite shitty and granular for buying apples based on name alone, and it would further serve these people right if children squirreled away desiccated apple cores all throughout their house. This photo shudders at the vulgar use of the word shitty, and these terrible imaginary people, and turns back to us, who are obviously not like those people at all.

This photo is transfixed with its own wholesomeness, so much so that it has no time to tell you anything. What we do know however, is that this photo does not contain anywhere the idea of pornography, no , not even in the top drawer of the dresser on the right could that exist on this photo. The vintage lamp wearing a rabbit headdress and the vintage bed draped in casual and sophisticated neutrals  know that, while the bedroom is where most people have sex most the time, this photo is free of the hint of say, harnesses  or of the suggestion that transsexual chickens might be striding about outside the window. It cannot possibly have a framed photograph of a man doing lines off a woman’s ass, gifted by a popular Collingwood DJ. It is so free of these things, that it can also not even fathom that in some worlds there would be at times a pile of dirty laundry almost three feet tall under the window, a pile that might even be moved to the van when company comes over because there is no other place to put it. This photo, as are we, is speechless at that thought.

These are eggs. The dainty ones are rooster eggs.

And finally, a rustic snapshot of our front door, welcoming you to the perfectness of the way of life known as The Way of the Rogue Goat. The natural arrangements were not gathered by human hand , but delivered unseen by beneficent woodland creatures awed by our  complete lack of dog puking incidents, iron throwing temper tantrums, our full and spotless soap dishes and that not one of the three boys and one man who live here ever, ever misses the toilet.

We hope that you have gleaned our gentle holiday message from our artful array of absolutely unstaged photographs. That is…slow down, enjoy the great friends and family around you, kiss somebody really, really hard and eat until it hurts so, so good. Oh and listen to some metal. We love you.

(Also Emmett Otter is the best Christmas show EVER).

 

In Praise of Mike

This is our mailbox. We watch it fervently. Delightful packages and letters come to it from all around the globe. There is something amazing , slightly romantic, antiquated, yet serviceful, pragmatic about the Post, and by extension…about the almost lost art of letter writing.

This came to our mailbox. If you should scrutinize the image carefully, you could read for yourself an address, and should you take it upon yourself to go there, you would meet a man named Mike.(Please don’t do this)

Mike is an exceptional human being. If Roald Dahl was to create a character that was at once witty, clever, smart, funny, kind, handsome with reliably good, yet sophisticatedly eclectic musical tastes, and should this character have a vintage couch with pheasants on it, and should this character be possessed of a great musical talent he abashedly deflects comment from, and this character was not a friendly giant( although apt to falling at concerts), nor a chocolate factory owner (although a very good cook and a dashing wearer of scarves), nor a giant peach (but actually, still quite fuzzy) , but , in fact a Mike…well…the real Mike would still be better.

Last year Mike sent out a Christmas card. It featured his lush Movember mustache, his appalling Christmas sweater, and barely disguised hilarity.

When Josh first met Mike, he was offered a wallet size photo of Mike taken from the card, which he faithfully kept in the car visor, until it landed on our fridge, where it still sits. Mike also made Josh and I dinner, chicken and mushrooms, apologetically, even though we had really just dropped by. It was perfect.

It is not every man, who is comfortable giving another, newly met man, a wallet size picture of themself. But then, other men are not Mike.

The next time we saw Mike, he told me he knew Josh was `the one`, because Josh had rinsed his plate after the aforementioned dinner. It is quite charming when men like Mike say `the one`, and then hug you too tight, and then put on Billy Ocean records.

This year`s card I won`t post, for fear of ruining the surprise for one of Mike`s many friends.

We have been waiting for it. It was worth it. Much love to Mike. And funny…but Post…is almost Prost.

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.

http://www.saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca/sm/en/SpecialEvents/FirstLight/index.htm

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!