Cogswell Shake-Up

This past month I had the privilege of working with Breakhouse Inc., a local design firm here in Halifax, NS, on a project to re-imagine the highway infrastructure known as the Cogswell Interchange. The Cogswell Interchange was built in the late sixties in an effort to address urban renewal in the city. It was first phase of a plan to eventually construct a (most likely godawful) expressway along the waterfront that would have led to the demolition of several historic buildings in the process. The folks of Halifax at the time rallied against this expressway, fearing the loss of the lovely historic properties as they’re now known, and so the expressway was never constructed, the buildings were kept but the interchange remained.

I live very close to the Cogswell Interchange actually, and when I first moved to Halifax, it stood smack in between where I lived and my university. I was so convinced I couldn’t walk or ride my bike there (isn’t it illegal to walk along the side of the highway?), that I ended up cycling up and down Duke St. for the first month or so, which like all streets downtown, is incredibly steep. Getting to school was great but getting back home, well… it sucked. It wasn’t until I walked home with a friend who lived close by that I learned despite the Interchange looking completely pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly, folks do brave the “road to nowhere” on foot and bicycle.

The Cogswell Shake Up was an event organized to bring several organizations, firms and individuals together to dream up/ brainstorm/ re imagine better uses of the land. Nothing to be set in stone, the idea behind Shake-Up was to see what the public wanted. The best part was that presentations were not allowed to be given in powerpoint (something for which the organizers were exempt of for some reason…?) so folks really had to put some creative energies into their proposals.

The good people at Breakhouse came together and made a long list of everything from the practical (green spaces) to the fantastical (ferris wheels and zip-lines!). Pairing the list down only slightly, partner and creative director (and also cousin-extraordinaire) Peter Wünsch contacted myself and local artist/architect Emma Fitzgerald to take these ideas and turn them into something fun and interactive. Their aim was to take the list of ideas, have Emma illustrate them into 5 different frames, then have me construct a kind of 3 dimensional viewer using separated frames with bellows, similar to something Peter had seen in one of his kids’ children’s books.

Here is a visual aid as this is likely confusing to just explain in print:

This is what it looks like when you pick it up…

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And here it is from the top:

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Then as you look in the front peephole, move your eyes around and focus on different parts of the imaginarium…

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We initially planned to have enough of these tiny imaginariums for everyone to take home with them but there were close to 250 people in attendance so we did our best..With the help Peter and my boyfriend, Naryn, I managed to squeeze out 30 (haha) which doesn’t seem like much, but geesh! these things take a bit of time… For having about a week to design, illustrate, tweak and construct the project, I’d say we did pretty darn good myself.

The construction was really similar to making the little back pockets in the back of my books. They were actually fairly quick to construct, once all the pieces were cut and scored (this perhaps took the longest) and the bellows had to be improvised a bit… The lengths of paper I had weren’t long enough to accomodate the whole so I had to glue extra bellows on to have the proper length. (actually that probably took a while as well…)

A bit of my workspace covered in multi-colour bellows:

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What a mess…

(this is actually it’s normal state, let’s be honest)

The Shake Up itself was pretty interesting. There were a ton of people in a pretty small exhibition space so it was a bit hard to take it all in, but it was great to see what different groups of people dreamt up.

Here’s a shot of the Breakhouse set up with Emma. Pardon the crappy picture quality! Took these with my phone…

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 I also made two really big imaginariums that had wooden paint sticks attached so you could pick up and stretch it far away from you:

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I love this image of the 3 ladies scoping out the imaginariums…!

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My favourite part of this project was doing something pretty book-arts related using no books. And by that I just mean that its awesome to see/ think about/dream up / scheme new ways to explore my craft and what I do especially in the context of collaboration.

Coming soon…

••∆•• new and exciting custom projects ••∆••

••∆•• the NSDCC Summer Craft fair ••∆••

••∆•• more music I promise… been super slacking…••∆••

••∆•• new Mule Mother Retail Spots!••∆••

on to the next thing…

Relaxing here on a Monday morning post Halifax Crafters Society Spring Fair… realizing that I have only the next hour or so to relax, then it’s back to work! Received a slew of repairs and custom work that I need to get cracking on and time to start preparing for my next show- the NSDCC Summer Craft Fair in mid/ late July at Victoria Park. This will be my first NSDCC fair and I’m really looking forward to it!

First off, the HFX Crafters Spring Fair was a hit! So many amazing artisans and crafts-folk made for so much eye candy it was hard to stay focused (and not spend all the money I made!) Here’s a few shots of my table and of the fair at the Olympic Community Centre a few seconds before the doors opened:

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In other pretty spectacular news, my journal was featured on television thanks to Reverend Bob down at Plan B Merchants Co-op. Plan B is an AMAZING shop here in the North End on Gottingen St. that caters to artists, antique collectors, vintage clothing lovers, freaks, weirdos, coffee drinkers, video game players, oddballs and the like with a fabulous collection of things from about 60+ different artists, designers, curators and collectors. This shop is a gem and I am honoured to be a part of the Plan B family. SO! Plan B is associated with a site called The Gift Network which is essentially a collection of awesome little Canadian boutiques that are featured on the site that you can buy directly from. So if you love a little shop in Toronto but can’t get there to peruse, you can hop on the Gift Network, find your little shop, buy that cute thing you wanted and have it shipped to your front door… awesome. 

Anywho, here’s a clip from the show on the theme of Mother’s Day gifts… and although they don’t mention Mule Mother, it’s pretty sweet that my boombox notebook made a tv debut… click the link below!

Mule Mother Notebook TV Debut

 

last of winters days

March has been nice and steady with lots of good news all around. The days are getting longer and the weather warmer (although today it’s -18 C), always welcome. Halifax opens up like the flowers and people start to roam the streets with bare skin and happy faces. It’s a funny thing that I noted here in Halifax that I felt was a bit different than where I grew up in Massachusetts. It hasn’t happened here yet, but as soon as the weather gets a tiny bit warmer folks tend to really shed their clothes! I usually see people in tank tops and shorts when I’m still rocking a scarf. Maritimers are tough, I am a big cold Masshole baby.

This month I took part in the Eyelevel Gallery Printed Matter and Zine Fair. Organizer Brendan Dunlop put together a great mix of printmakers, publishers, zine makers and all round printed matter related folk for a fun afternoon of fundraising. Here’s a few shots I took with my phone:

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(Behind my table are some fine selections from the Eyelevel thrift shop)

Following the printed matter fair, I was accepted to the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council! The application process includes submitting pieces of work to be juried as well as a pretty thorough writing component. This was the first time I had really articulated in writing my processes and inspirations. I found the application alone to be really helpful just in understanding my own design aesthetic and process. The response was really thorough and constructive, and again this was the first time I have really received any kind of design or craft criticisms. I hold my work up to a pretty high standard and I feel like things are looking tighter all the time, but most of the feedback I get is from beloved friends and family who always have great things to say. Or its the general public who, if they have something critical to say, usually tend keep it to themselves.  So the feedback from the NSDCC was extra important and good! It definitely lit a fire under me and is pushing my work to a higher level of awesome. They didn’t accept one of the books I submitted, but I felt pretty alright about that because it was one of the first antique photographs I made over a year ago (which doesn’t seem like a long time but I’ve made so many books and have learned so many things between now and then).

Acceptance to the NSDCC also means two more highly attended craft shows a year which is fabulous for business and also for meeting other crafty folks around town. It’s great to meet new people who are making a living off their craft. It seems like such an impossibility at times and it’s good to stick together and share tips and recourses.

Getting the books even tighter and more detailed and refined means streamlining my process a bit better so I picked this badboy up from the Ebay…

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It’s made everything about 10 times faster so I can concentrate more on the fun things like designing and less on back breaking paper cutting.

Finally, the last of the good news this month… I got a job at a daycare and my food service days are numbered! Muahahahaha! Trying to actually imagine a world where I get paid to play with kids and spend most of my time owning and running my own business…. so soon!

OH WAIT One more thing. My partner is defending his Masters thesis in architecture tomorrow! Check out this amazing work he’s been buried in for the past… well four years here. So proud of that fella…!

Crazy Christmas Craft-ness Comedown…

The past few weeks have been a bit of a shit show… As much as you try to prepare yourself for any kind of deadline, there seems to always be insanity right up to the end (maybe this is just me?) As soon as Naryn and I got back form Toronto in September, we hit the ground running; him with his thesis in Architecture and myself with preparing for Xmas crafty business. So, in my supreme naivete, I actually thought I’d be sitting pretty, relaxed and ready to rock for the Crafters Holiday Market…. This was not (and will probably never be) the case… And then, my beloved grandfather passed away, with his funeral landing on the first day of the Halifax Crafters Holiday market, in Montreal…

Super boyfriend and in-laws to the rescue..!

With the unbelievable support of my partner and his folks, I was able to cut out to Montreal for 2 days, visit with my family, say goodbye to my grandpa and have my table set up and looking amazing with a total babe working for me (that’d be Naryn)…

Here’s what the set up looked like!

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and here’s a shot of Naryn I took when I finally arrived on Sunday …

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The show was amazing! There are so many unbelievably talented people in Halifax it’s incredible… Unfortunately, I couldn’t get around to some of the tables at the market because I wanted hang out at my table for the little bit of time left the market was open. There are so many folks there and it takes time to get around and see it all.

Every year I learn so many new things I should or shouldn’t be doing, what things are working and what aren’t and where I should be putting my energy and this year was no exception. It’s hard not to feel like I should be doing something every second I am able to with all these new ideas brewing…But for now I will relax and drink some rum (and eggnog), read a book and write some music.

Here’s some new ideas I’m thinking about for the new year…

-Teaming up with a photographer and making photo albums and guest books for whatever event they’re shooting

-New fabric boxes.

-Spring workshops

-Themed DIY book kits

…and probably so much more, but I’m on break so it’ll have to wait 🙂