Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Studio News: Blooming in June Designer Challenges

I get my creativity from my mother. We were having a conversation about her creative outlet and what she can do with it. It's kind of fun to help her figure out what to do with her ideas and bounce ideas off her and share things. We discussed our chosen mediums. I love all kinds of mediums, but glass makes me weak in the knees. Hers is photography and paper. I offered her some of my glass beads for her to experiment with mixed media collage.

In so doing, I told her what other artists are doing with my beads...and sent her a bunch of links to their work. And then I realized...I had forgotten to post the Blooming in June Designers Challenge results! These two designers ideas make me swoon...Kristin at KS Jewellery Designs has developed a flawless elegance with wire-wrapped silver. Yes, that's right. Wire-wrapped. No soldering involved! (She has created a tutorial to teach you some of her techniques.) And Mel at Kookie Designs...she's a designer after my own heart with her vibrant use of color. I feel like a crow who spots a shiny piece of foil...I want!!!

Since I had only two comments on the giveaway post, I changed up the rules a bit and sent off two sets of beads packaged up. I kept a set myself, played with the same theme, and posted my results here. I sent bead packages off blindly to challenge the designers...and Kristin received the vibrant set and Mel received the the more subdued set. Here are the results...I love seeing their individual stamp of artistry with sets that are similar in nature. The pieces both shout their designer's name.

KS Jewellery Designs

My mom's comments, "I love the bead encircled by the silver petals. how did she do that? did you do all those purple beeds they look great w the silver!"

Kookie Designs

My mom's comments: "i like the ring!"
Kanna Glass Update
I just moved into my new flat/apartment. Today. As always...I don't sleep well the first night in a new place, so I'm finishing this post for the blog. My newsletter will be a bit late, but I will have one for September. I had a theme planned, but with this move into a smaller accommodation, I have a new theme that seems more appropriate. I'm still getting settled, so my posts may be a bit random for a little while. Thanks so much for stopping by and your patience with this new transition for me!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles: Things That Make My Brain Explode

I was frizzled a few weeks ago. Not frazzled. I still had nerves left. But, they were beginning to fray and start the slippery slope to frazzling. Like being a cat and having your master/mistress pet your fur backward.
  • Frazzled: def. (adv) when your world is off kilter and your last nerves are getting rubbed raw but you know the reason why (ex: you have to finish getting your house ready for sale, finish a mega-project, and move across the world.)
  • To-do-twitching: def. (v) the twitching you do because you think you have a mountainous to-do-list, but it’s already done.
  • Frizzled: def. (adv) when your world is off kilter, but for no apparent reason. (And, no, it’s not just PMS.)
The day started with getting to the Laundromat too early. I had some sheets that needed to be washed and I didn’t realize they don’t open until 8. And I needed to get the 8:05 ferry. As I was mentally preparing for the Olympic WWW Bicycle Riding event, someone mercifully was there a few minutes early and able to take my laundry. WWW disaster averted. Frizzling started. Frizzling averted.
Then, I stopped to get money for my acupuncture treatment. The machine ate my card. With no explanation. I tried calling the customer service center, but I have The Worst Phone in the World. I’ll leave it at that. If I try to explain it, my head really will explode. Double Frizzle.

So, at lunch, I head off to the bank…frizzled, stressed, anxious, worried about why my card was mysteriously eaten. Turned out it was the result of a good deed on Saturday. I had left my wallet behind at Hong Kong University. No one stole it and a security guard came by, picked it up, and called the “lost card” services. How honest is that??? I had to fill out a form to update my access information to include my HK identity card instead of my passport. (This is another thing that can make my head explode…we have to fill out forms for them to update the information online. Has anyone heard of updating online information online?) Frizzle. Unfrizzle. Frizzle.
Since my replacement bank card will take at least 4 business days, I decided to get some cash, just in case. I get in line. I’m waiting for my turn.

I’m waiting and a western man goes to the business line to conduct a transaction. No big deal. I notice the people who stand out. That’s because I’m one of the ones that stand out. I’m working on zoning out and trying to consciously unfrizzle. Some things pinged my stream of consciousness, others floated by.

The first thing that pinged my consciousness was that this westerner’s teller was bureaucratic.

There are some nuances that I need to explain here. There are bureaucrats in every culture… people who follow the letter of the law, no matter what. Watching bureaucracy acted out in a different culture makes for an…shall we say…”interesting” anthropological adventure. Overcoming bureaucracy isn’t the most fun thing to do, but we absorb socially acceptable ways of managing bureaucracy in the culture in which we grow up. This is where befriending locals is invaluable…they can translate, or better yet, just speak for you, to smooth the bureaucratic pathways.

The other nuance is regarding volume. Chinese is a tonal language. Tones that are used to convey expression and feelings in western languages are used to convey meaning in the Chinese language. Add to that Cantonese is a 9-tone harsh-sounding language. (I'm finally beginning to hear the melody in the language as I can distinguish words from time to time...but my initial impressions of the language were that it sounded very harsh.) The Chinese language accommodates expression and feeling by using volume.

Back to the Westerner: my consciousness stream is starting to hone in on his transaction. From what I gather, this was a business transaction he’s conducted this particular way for years. The teller was following some rules. As I began paying attention, I was hearing this really grating noise but was not fully aware of what it was or where it was coming from except that it was a shrill, Cantonese voice starting out at approximately 70 decibels. For some reason I had the first impression it was the bureaucratic teller speaking to the man in Cantonese.

No. The shrieking Cantonese was coming from a tiny, little, frustrated woman standing in the lane next to the western man, conducting a business transaction of her own in escalating decibels of Cantonese.

He was trying to understand the rules of the bureaucratic teller, who was speaking heavily accented English at negative 20 decibels through a thick, bullet-proof glass. The western man had to keep asking her to repeat and he was raising his volume to have her repeat. Every time soft-spoken teller  would answer him, the angry woman would open up with another fusillade of agitated Cantonese to her own teller, drowning out any hope of this poor man trying to understand the soft-spoken teller.

Several people were looking around to see what the disturbance was. The equivalent of a gapers block was starting to form. People were rubbernecking to see what the commotion was. I would look at the gawkers. Then they’d glance at me because I’d see them looking at the westerner and they’d smile and chat with each other, obviously talking about him. They didn’t even notice the angry woman. She was completely tuned out of their stream of consciousness.

As a foreigner straddling the fence of cultures, I could see both sides. The teller and the westerner were handling matters according to the way they were accustomed to handling confusing/frustrating matters. Both were even trying to accommodate the other culture to the extent they knew it.

Western interpretation: he was just trying to be heard over the angry woman. His tone was even-handed and not impatient. I have witnessed atrocious, arrogant behavior from westerners. He was even-tempered and very polite in the circumstances.

Eastern interpretation: trying to be heard over the angry woman was interpreted as frustration, the westerner and the angry woman were both escalating volume to be heard, which was interpreted as frustration on both parts.

For those of you who have moved into new cultures (and this can happen even in the same country!) you probably can understand, this is what the yo-yo of adapting to a new culture is like. After all of my personal frizzles and unfrizzles, I was feeling a bit vulnerable and raw. After witnessing the above transaction, I absorbed the frizzles of everyone...the soft-spoken teller, the angry woman, and the western man, , and any of the other patrons who were disturbed. This leads to a state of:

This is when a cat would swat her mistress' hand and run off to lick her fur back into place.
This is when a dog would run off yipping and hide in her crate.
This is when a boy human would hit something or drive something fast.
This is when a girl human would shop, eat chocolate, or cry. Or all three.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Studio Time: Poodle Skirts & Ponytails...

I know, I know...I need some Eye Candy... here is a lush (nearly 100 beads!) lampwork bracelet in pinks and blacks called Poodle Skirts & Ponytails. It's currently finished off at 8 inches, but can be adjusted to any size. If you're interested, let me know. (I've been a little lazy with the Artfire store lately.)

And I'm in love with lush lampwork. Since I get to do all the lampwork myself, I get to make all of my own work lush (10 beads for each earring at approximately 6-7mm each). Here are some sneak peeks at a custom order for the cluster earrings. Leftovers will get posted in the Artfire, er, if I can manage to part with the leftovers.

Which, BTW, is why I enjoy custom work...getting to incorporate suggestions into my work. These color combos...well, I would have moved on except they are spectacular in this earring style. I think I've found another "staple" in my jewelry collection.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles: I've invented a new sport

It's called...The Foreigner Olympics. (It's close relative is called The Klutz Olympics.)

What, you may ask, is the Foreigner Olympics?
It's when foreigners attempt an activity that is normal for the locals.
And risky for the foreigners.
(At least risky for the klutzy ones.)

The pictures first...I'll see if you can guess what the event is:

Need a little more help? guess correctly! It's The Broom Joust wherein you ride home on your bike with a long-handled object and attempt to skewer anyone who happens to be in reach of the broom handle.


There should be citation for that. A BWK (Biking While Klutzy). Of course, if there was one of those, I'd never make to the ferry on time.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hong Kong Chronicles: The music in my head

I have a story to tell you. But, I need to preface it with another story.

In a previous post, I likened moving to a new culture to rhythm and music. Some of the music that plays in my head is from movies that I watched as a child every year when the networks would air the movie.

Now that I live here in Hong Kong and have the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world, I realize that some of my childhood influences are unknown. As pervasive as American TV culture is, there are elements that are still uniquely American phenomenons. One of them is the movie, The Wizard of Oz. I have asked a few of my friends who were raised in Hong Kong and others who are westerners raised in other countries if they are familiar with the movie. Either they aren't familiar or are just vaguely familiar. When I think about it, it makes's a film about the Plains States are there are a number of things about the movie that make it uniquely American.

I grew up in the 70's before the advent of the VCR. (I'm dating myself a bit.) The networks would air two movies annually that we made it a family event to watch every time...The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music. The TV guide would come out, my parents would tell us the movie is going to be on the Friday and we pretty much scheduled our week around watching the movies when they aired.

With that explanation of my childhood, there is some music that is ingrained in my head. It won't leave. When situations echo those memories, the music plays in my head. Very loud. I've been in Hong Kong for 9 months now and when I ride my bike in a skirt...

I have this vision in my head and the accompanying theme song playing in my head. The faster I have to ride, the louder it plays in my head. When I have American friends visit me and they rent a bike, we sometimes even sing the music out loud.

This is from the part of the movie before the Twister hit Dorothy's house. This character eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. The theme music that accompanies all of her entrances accompanies me while riding my granny style bike in a skirt.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Artfully Meandering: Asian Inspiration

I had an opportunity to see the Forbidden City in Beijing a few months ago. I meant to post pictures sooner, but I've had so much to say and so much to show, I didn't know where I was going to fit it in. This little lull is a perfect opportunity to post some random inspiration.

Even though ornate is not my particular design sense, you can't help but appreciate the artistry. The thing that struck me, though, is that you can do ornate if you are consistent with the theme. The Forbidden City is HUGE! You just walk, and walk, and walk...there is so much art and effort in this impressive palace. There are various works of art, the complex itself is a work of art, and the harmony and consistency in the presentation make the ornateness work.

This is freshly restored paint. Even restoration requires a great deal of patience and artistry!

It's kind of fun to make up your own stories and interpretations of art. There is a pair of brass or bronze (I didn't look closely, I don't know the metal) at the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. My friend and I made up a story about this pair...

This is the Papa Lion...he has a ball under his paw, so he's out playing games...

This is the Mama Lion with a Lion Cub under paw...home taking care of the kids...