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The rantings and ramblings of Kimberly Allison

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Little Gypsy Wagon

I love doing my shows. But sometimes, being just another vendor in a sea of white EZ-Up canopies can be a drag. This is especially true when it is a family business. My sons are exposed to the constant drill of my "Show Rules" which for them must be especially boring.

So, once in a while, I take on a show with something exciting, making it more of a "working holiday" for all involved. maybe its at the beautiful Tierra Miguel Organic Farm where they can run through the fields and catch bugs. Perhaps, the Music Festival at Poway Heritage Park where they can play in the creek, watch the little trains and listen to wonderful music (the Marine Jazz Ensemble is the BEST). It becomes less of a job and more of a family day out.

This year, it hit me that my sons were getting older ( as in, I will have a teenager this year!) and chasing butterflies in the meadow just isn't "cool" anymore. That is when the idea hit me...

Renaissance Fairs!

Our first Renaissance Fair brings back amusing memories to my husband and I. With a fresh engagement ring on my finger, I convinced him to take me to one. Oh lord... Mark was not happy. He moped the entire drive. He dragged his feet to the entrance. He walked through those gates like a man condemned. But, then the energy caught up with him. Fresh strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream? (Sounds yummy!) A chance to learn how to shoot a real bow and arrow? (Why not!) Pretty girls with heaving bosoms laced into tight corsets? (No comment.)

So, it didn't take much convincing when I suggested to my endearing hubby that a Renaissance Fair might be a perfect venue for my handmade ceramic pendants. Our only challenge would be logistics. It doesn't make much sense to lease a full booth space, as the fees are usually steep and I didn't know how to arrange our wares appropriately. Upon research, I discovered the terms of a "wandering vendor". Fees are generally much lower, with the added advantage of following the crowds. But how can we manage to do this, when juggling 3 kids, mom's Fibro and a mess of necklaces?

Become Gypsies.

If we could design a wagon that would allow us to display my wares, while hiding the necessities like food and comforts, plus be beautiful to boot, we could manage this!

The first step is designing a wagon that would be functional. Another point: it had to fit into a Sienna minivan. Finally, it had to be sturdy since I had no plans of making multiples!

I purchased a good quality garden cart with a metal frame and large wheels. Then I designed a plan that would allow us to dismantle the cart for transport. Mark constructed a wood box that would sit inside the cart frame. We allowed areas for posts which would display our inventory and an interior to carry all of our supplies. I then chose a paint palette that would be bright enough to attract attention, yet still be historically accurate. A set of shutters was sacrificed to close off the storage area.

I used a selection of both new and re-purposed fabrics to construct a skirt that would hide the wagon base. A carefully placed velcro base makes it removable. Then, a tiny table was added for business transactions. I painted the wagon to include an acorn theme and she was named Lady Fortune.

We had carefully considered all ways for he use. After a bit of consideration, I even painted the interior, which in the proper setting, could be used for display. I am still a bit reeling by the amount of time, energy and money she took!

Lady Fortune made her professional debut at the Mermaid's Mercantile in Solana Beach on May 23, 2010.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Website Update!

I will be the first to admit that I am terrible with keeping my website updated. Truth is... I would rather be in my studio, iPod cranked, working on my next Big Creation than hunched over a keyboard, swearing in frustration.

But, as Lume di Luna grows, I realize that having a website will be a necessity. I meat so many great people from all over the world, and they ask if they can purchase additional items online.

Uh oh.... no more excuses, I guess.

So, I am working on a new website. It will feature new works, as well as some of my former creations. I will also have an Online Boutique that will feature one-of-a-kind works for purchase.

Stay tuned!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Art Therapy (or... "The continued adventures of Muscle Head and Monkey Boy")

Art can be powerful therapy. Taking our inspiration from emotions, events and those around us, we can artistically translate how we see those events. Unless you ask me (or I volunteer) people may not be aware that the cute sculpture they hold in their hands is actually an event that struck me, or someone who I felt the need to take down a notch in a very passive-aggressive manner.
Meet Muscle Head and Monkey Boy. Two not-so-nice (or smart) people who became hilarious sculptures.

I show at a San Diego tourist hotspot. Along with bona fide artists and vendors, a couple of modern Snake Oil Salesmen have joined us. Selling, of all things, special power-increasing hologram bracelets. According to them, they will improve balance, increase stamina, raise the dead and so forth. After watching these body-building, steriod-filled dunces for a few weeks a few things became very apparent:

1) P. T. Barnum was right. A sucker is born every minute. These men stage a huge show on unsuspecting tourists... having a customer stand on one foot and allowing them to pull on their shoulder. Of course, the poor schmuck will lose balance. Then the magical bracelet is placed on their opposite shoulder and the muscle-men pretend to pull with all their might. Ok. If these things really work, why aren't people allowed to have their companions attempt to test their balance? But, the poor schmoes shell out $35. (They don't hear the derisive laughter that I hear as they walk away!)

2) Big and dumb do go together. Both these guys are muscle bound body builders. In fact, the man nicknamed Monkey Boy has gained this moniker by us other vendors since his large chest muscles don't allow his arms to rest at his sides, giving him a simian posture. But, all that blood flow to the biceps has deprived their brains. One day I overheard them talking excitedly about a televised mixed martial arts fight, being held in Abu Dabai. Monkey Boy wanted to know where Abu Dabai was. Muscle Head boastfully informed him "Somewhere in India."

3) They are rude and obnoxious. If you stand in front of their booth, their speech is peppered with 'yes sir / no ma'am" (Muscle Head likes to pretend to the right crowd that he is a Marine on stand-by). But if anyone disagrees with them or their hard-sell technique or questions the validity of their claims, be prepared to be shouted down, belittled or intimidated. Being a professional with 25 years in customer service, this REALLY ires me.
After seeing the latest customer grab her group and rush off while being screamed at, I tried to calmly (key word there!) let Monkey Boy know that this was bad business and unacceptable to me. I got a heated "Oh yeah? Well this is MY business and I can do whatever I want."

Well, guess what? I am an artist and I can create whatever I want!

Name: Muscle Head
Created: May 5, 2010
Biography: More brawn than brains, he runs around with his magic bracelet, hooting a lot. Harbors a secret desire to dance Bollywood routines in Abu Dabai.
Contents: Cashmere sweaters, wool, recycled ribbon and button
Status: Ready for adoption

Name: Monkey Boy
Created: May 7, 2010
Biography: An ape with an attitude. Screeches and flings poo at random. But at night, when he thinks no one is watching, he plays with his banana while singing Celine Dion songs.
Contents: Cashmere sweaters, wool blanket, recycled ribbon and buttons
Status: Currently at Stampington Press ("Stuffed" magazine) for publication submission.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ugly (and twisted) humor

"Wow. That looks intriguing..." I thought as I opened the link someone had thoughtfully sent me. An ugly necklace contest?

Anyone who knows me knows that I do competitions. It's a great way to spread my creative wings and allow my mind to wander down varied paths. My works have been featured in Bead and Button, Fire Mountain Gems, Art Doll Quarterly and in the upcoming "Best Jewelry Artists of America vol 2". But these works were carefully orchestrated to be visually pleasing. Could I really make something intentionally ugly?

But the timing was perfect. It was in the post-holiday funk when my business was slow and I had some spare time. Why not?

So, I mulled it over during my morning cup of coffee. In order to be ugly, it would have to have some kind of ugly component. Preferably repulsive. Then it hit me!


What is it about tampons that hit us so high on our heebie-jeebie meter? When you think about it, there is nothing so bland and benign as a small roll of cotton with a small piece of cotton twine.

It's certainly sterile and void of any outstanding characteristics. But the sight alone causes most women to shudder.

Just think about those commercials! That's why I adore the new Playtex commercial. The one with the yowling cat. The blue liquid... God forbid it should be a red (and therefore realistic) color! And how I hate that P&G phrase "Have a happy period". Honestly... the only woman happy to see her period is a woman who fears a pregnancy!

But it's those primal connections that cause us to advert our eyes should we see one laying on the floor. The fear of embarrassment and humiliation if we have to carry an "emergency back-up" to a restroom (the last time I did this, I tucked it into my bra to avoid it being seen!). And don't even ask my mortified reaction when my husband pointed out that my Chihuahua Stanley had enjoyed a "mom-flavored lollipop" in the corner of the bedroom.

With this in mind, I set out to make my menstrual monstrosity. I bought 2 boxes of cheap tampons (why use the good ones?) and raided my studio for anything ugly and/or offbeat.

A pink safety razor. A bullet casing. a plastic cockroach. Everything woven together in the most unattractive fashion. To seal the deal I found a plaster duckie and inscribed it with that despised "happy period" phrase and tied it off with a tiny hangman's noose.

Now, comes the really ugly part. Finding a model who could be blackmailed into wearing this thing. Someone who had an enormous amount of favors to return. Someone who could show the proper disgust needed when draped in purple tampons.

My husband.
After an approach, with the proper amount of bribery and blackmail he agreed. The picture was taken. The initial judgement was rendered. Then, the notification: We are in the semi-finals and in the running for the Ugliest Necklace!

Voting starts June 1st!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And in the beginning.... she started to blog.

It's difficult to say what compels us to bare our souls. What face we show to our friends, family, even a total stranger. I share my soul through my art. But, after much coaxing by my friends, I have decided to also start to share my life through the written words of a blog.

I am sure that someone is reading right now thinking "What the hell?!? What does moonlight have to do with hysteria?" But to me, it is a simple play on words, nodding to the craziness of my business, Lume di Luna Designs. In ancient times, the moon was thought to be responsible for madness. It is no coincidence that the term "lunatic" has the word "luna" in it. It was thought that the moon's touch brought insanity. It is also no coincidence that while I frantically spend my day running between sewing room to kiln, pausing to pick up my sons from school, then run back to my washing machine, trying to remember which number I am on in my wool scouring process, that I jokingly call my business "Lume di Lunatic".

So... sit back, have a cup of tea and join me in admiring the moon and the hysteria.