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Sunday, September 21, 2014

My ArtPrize entry is done!

I have, in the past, had a problem with people assuming things I made by hand were purchased ready-made. In an effort to not let confusion reign with my ArtPrize entry I made a build journal that photo-documents the process of creating the structures the four sets of miniature 1000 origami cranes are hanging from. I'm having them printed as an 8x10 photo build journal and hope to leave it at the Grand Central Market (where my cranes will be on display throughout ArtPrize) in case anyone is interested in how the pieces were constructed.

Here's an online version for those of you who aren't going to be able to make it to Michigan to see the Tiny Cranes in person.

Each set is approximately 8" wide and 30" long. The window they will be displayed in is 48" wide necessitating the small diameter of each structure the cranes are hung from.

It all began by cutting apart larger pieces of paper into smaller pieces to make the miniature size I specialize in.


Spring began as a bag of vine that I ordered online. After hand weaving it into a wreath form I folded two sizes of origami blossoms to create the wisteria cones and four sizes of paper leaves. In total there are five wisteria cones that grace the wreath to evoke spring that I added to the structure after hanging the origami cranes.


Summer began with a search for bamboo plant stakes at the end of summer. It took a few tries but I finally located some at the Greenville True Value hardware store. I measured them, cut them down to size with my teeny tiny hacksaw, then fastened them together first with fishing line, then wire, then covered with raffia to create the arbor.

I added vine and small flower blossoms I'd folded from paper shaded in pink, yellow, and orange. After dividing out the 1000 origami cranes and hanging them I realized that while delicate and pretty the piece lacked the lush abundance of summer. So, I folded more flowers.

The second set of flowers I wanted to emulate the clusters of flowers found in the fabric used in kimono prints. Two styles combined with the original blossoms and I was more than pleased with the end result.


Autumn looks simple enough but the structure is comprised of 10 separate pieces of branch that I suspect is actually roots, not branches. Either way the wood had been sand blasted of its bark lightening it to a color as light as pine. Wanting to create a feeling of autumn I opted to stain the wood a darker brown before assembling the structure.

The tiny maple leaves were cut by hand using small craft scissors from fancy, washi, origami paper then meticulously glued to the branches one by one by applying a dab of glue with a straight pin to the branch then attaching the leaf to the glue before it dried.


I knew I wanted a different type of vine for the winter cranes and found it in California before I moved to Michigan while shopping at the Soquel farmers' market. Along with organic kiwi fruit, there were bundles of fresh kiwi vine for sale. I purchased a bundle, took them back to the trailer, soaked them in a bucket and began trying out different woven designs. The finished piece used 3 or 4 sections of branches connected together with fishing line to hide the start and end points.

Next I made Swarovski crystal branches using fine gauge wire and several shades of blue Swarovski crystal beads. After attaching them to the structure it was time to hang my final set of cranes.

In total I have no idea how many hours it took to make the four sets of cranes. My best answer is "a lot." I am thrilled they're done and am looking forward to installing them in the next two days in time for the opening day of ArtPrize.

I have to say it kind of boggles my mind that they're done. Despite the rough start to the year, spending the summer living in Greenville has done a lot to turn things around for me. Being here in the beautiful countryside I've found peace.

I commented a while ago on Twitter that when I was young angst fueled my creativity. Now that I'm older I've found tranquility is essential for me to tap into my creative side. I'll close this post by saying that I'm happy that I found the place where that can happen :)

If you want to see more images CLICK HERE to visit my ArtPrize profile

Saturday, September 20, 2014

My ArtPrize postcards are on their way

I thought it might be helpful to create a take-away card that visitors to the Grand Central Market & Deli can take with them in case they want to tell anyone they know to come see the tiny cranes. This is what I came up. They're 5x7 postcards that do include my email and phone number, I've just removed them here so the spam-bots don't harvest them and add me to even more spam lists than I'm already on.



If you visit ArtPrize and want to take one of each by all means feel free. I can always order more if needed.

In the future I'd like to create a product line using images like these on greeting cards, prints, and t-shirts. And for years I've dreamt of producing an origami book that features the four seasons DIY tutorials so that others can make them too.

One of the things I love about origami is that it's inclusive of anyone who can use their hands. Geography, age, gender, ethnicity, none of that matters. Yes, it's definitely nice to have access to beautiful origami paper but the truth is you can make a crane from any piece of paper from newspapers, to copy paper, to the inner silver metallic paper that chewing gum comes wrapped in. As an art form it has far fewer boundaries than most mediums.

Of course some are what I would call masters. I've met several on Instagram. Once I'm through my project and ArtPrize I will have to do a post and feature several of them here on the blog for you to enjoy. Their work is amazing!

And if you'll be in Grand Rapids Sept 24th - Oct 12th you can come see my entry in person at:

Grand Central Market & Deli - website
57 Monroe Center St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Friday, September 12, 2014

Win a custom print of your dog or furry friend!

My good friend (and artist) Michelle Phong is launching her new website and herself as an emerging artist in the realm of potato print art. Yes. Potatoes! They're not just for french fries anymore!

Remember when you were a kid, probably in first or second grade, and for arts and crafts at school you carved on a potato, dipped it in paint and made prints on paper of probably an X or some random shape? Well, it's the same principal but incredibly detailed and stylishly upscaled for your pups and furry pets!

Here's how to enter:
  1. Repost this photo on Instagram before the winner is chosen
  2. Choose a photo of your pet (close up of face) and tag it #potatoprintmypet
Winner will receive an A3 (11x16inch) size original potato print worth AUD$400 and a shoutout on my page.

Winner announced on BooBoo's 15th birthday on Sept 16, 2014! Open to all furry pets worldwide, no private accounts please.

As you can see Michelle can make a fab print of any dog! Yes! Using a potato! That's her dog Kyo in person . . .

And Kyo as a potato print. So cute!

She even made a custom print of Kitai in two of his most beloved costumes "Sushi Dog" and "Chia Pet".

If you want to win one of your pup or pet just hop on over to Instagram and follow the instructions at the top of this post.

Best of luck to you!

And if you don't live in Australia but would like to see her art in person selected works will be on exhibit at BoConcept's Chelsea store in New York City in October 2014

Check out the adorable pictures of her pups on at Instagram/kyobooboo and her website at www.MichellePhong.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ArtPrize Update & Michigan's Sandhill Cranes

Remember when I flew out to Grand Rapids in March/April of this year to visit the ArtPrize district for the first time? And I saw Sandhill Cranes both in the country and flying over the highway while driving to the city? I also tweet a bit on twitter that I hear them calling from the marsh in the mornings and they do fly-bys over the house but until now I'd never gotten a picture of them.

I think this was a family. The juvenile is the one without the red head.

But just the other day I was driving in the countryside while on an errand and guess what I saw in a field? Sandhill Cranes! I was so excited. I didn't pull over on the highway (because that wouldn't have been safe) so I made the first turn I could and guess what? There were three at the far end of the field. I wish I'd had my 300mm zoom lens with me but this was taken with my 140mm. Still, I'm thrilled to have both seen them up close and to have finally gotten a picture of them!

It just feels so right that there are cranes here as I hang my 4000 miniature origami cranes for my ArtPrize entry.

I'm still documenting the process on Instagram . . .

So if you're curious you can follow my progress there.

Spring is done. The finished piece is approximately 8" wide by 30" high. The strands of cranes themselves are 24" long.

Now I'm working on summer. . . It's a lot more work than you might imagine. In brief steps here's the process:
  1. Find the right origami papers to use
  2. Cut the paper into 1000 1.5" squares with a metal edge ruler and X-acto knife
  3. Fold the cranes
  4. Divide the cranes into colors and patterns. This is so that they are evenly distributed within each strand. 
  5. Divide the cranes into as many small piles as there will be strands
  6. Begin hanging the cranes. This is perhaps the most thought provoking part of the process. I make sure that no two patterns or solid colors end up side by side. I also make sure the cranes themselves are facing different directions so that two consecutive cranes aren't perfectly aligned.

And in case you'll be in Grand Rapids September 24th through October 12th this is where you can see my tiny cranes on display in the window on the far right. They'll be at the:

Grand Central Market Deli - website
57 Monroe Center NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Documenting my ArtPrize progress on Instagram

My friend Michelle noticed I hadn't been posting much on my Instagram account lately. I told her I was too busy working on my ArtPrize entry! She suggested documenting the process via Instagram. It was a brilliant suggestion. If you'd like to see what I've been up to lately (and get some garden updates) just take a peek at my Instagram profile.

I'll continue to post update images as I finish the mobile structures and begin hanging 4000 miniature origami cranes for ArtPrize, the world's largest cash prize open art competition. It kicks off in Grand Rapids, MI on September 24th and ends October 12, 2014.

OK back to work! Have to finish my spring and winter mobiles! Hopefully I'll begin hanging cranes sometime tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I found a frog!

Today I went out to my garden to check on how the pumpkins were coming along and chase grasshoppers out of the enclosure when I spotted a frog! I'm pretty sure it's a Pickerel Frog after consulting with Google and the Michigan DNR (Department of Natural Resources) website. It made me soooooooo happy! I'd seen him before outside the garden tucked under the framing but today there he was, just hanging out under the beet greens.

Seeds planted late, but not too late, on July 1st

By the way if you were to ask me "How does your garden grow?" I'd reply "Bonkers!" I'll do a post soon with pictures of veggies and things I've made with them but for today I took a break from my ArtPrize project to share this little guy with you.

Radish, beets, beans, parsley, and Hokaido pumpkin.

Do you see him? He's on the top edge of the side board in the center of the picture  under the beet greens. Can I tell you I'm over the moon happy with all of the beet greens I've been harvesting? I actually enjoy eating the greens more than the beets!

I ran in the house, grabbed my camera with its zoom and macro lens and raced back out to get these shots.

I didn't have to hurry. This little frog was perfectly happy to sit and pose, even for close ups. Another day, another frog. Michigan makes me smile so much :)

The toads and frogs are just one of the reasons why I am set on keeping an organic garden. Pesticides would definitely have an adverse effect on them and they're two of nature's best pest control methods if you're lucky enough to have them come live in your garden.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Attending the IRG tiny travel trailer rally

I had to have bunting. I'd seen photos of European and Australian "caravans" with bunting and wondered why precious few American trailers ever use it as a glamping accessory. So, I found some fabric and bias tape, studied tutorials online, and put together a strand just in time to outfit The Glampette for the IRG (International Redwoods Gathering) at the Pamplin Grove campground in Carlotta, CA (just south of Eureka) back in the first week of July.

I mentioned in a previous post that my friend Fred flew out to WA to help me drive back to MI but on the way we stopped for two nights at the IRG. It was a 14 hour detour and a very fun stop. Fred has been a member of the tnttt.com forum for nine years but hadn't ever met in person a lot of the people he'd befriended during that time.

The event started a few days before we got there but we made it in time for the group picture and potluck dinner.

While we we took turns driving during the day the funny part was we had to be able to fit into the trailer together at night. The trailer with an interior length of 5'10" long, was never designed to hold two people, least of all her builder who is 5'9" tall. But, where there's a will there's a way. I tested sleeping on my 17" wide countertop as a top bunk using a 20" wide self-inflating camping mattress while planning to let Fred use my 30" wide "guest" bed below.

When I told him I'd made the garland of bunting in pink, aqua, and yellow Fred only had one thing to say: "I better bring a tent." He did bring his own sleeping bag and his tent as a back up in case things didn't work out.

A comfy, cozy, mini sleeper for two!

He was kind of long for the trailer but, as you can see, things worked out just fine! I never even almost rolled off the counter. LOL. We discovered if he slept diagonally he did fit inside with the door closed. He's kind of camera shy so this was the best picture I could get of us in trailer at the same time to prove it could be done. I did have to sleep with my head near the door because there wasn't enough clearance for it to fit under the lower front shelves.

Arriving at the Van Duzen County Park Pamplin Grove campsite we followed the signs and in no time were in the midst of 100 tiny trailers.

The campground has three basic areas: The meadow, in the redwood grove in the upper section, and in the grove in a lower section which is where we parked The Glampette. The woody in the foreground of the lower picture is my friend's Debbie and Randy's homebuilt trailer "Monstro" that I got to park next to at the Treasure Island Meet & Greet last fall.

I am slowly building up my glamping accoutrement. I put the bunting up during the day but took it down at night so it wouldn't get wet and dewy in the morning.

The event was hosted by "The Fog Crawler" and "The Teardrop Nanny." Those are the forum names for Dean and Joanie. They host their own Youtube channel "Outdoor Cast Iron Cooking" where you can learn to make things like Humboldt Dungeness Crab, their Legendary Bigfoot Burger, Waffle Dogs, and their version of Mountain Man Breakfast all made in Dutch Ovens while out camping.

And then there were the trailers. The one I was most looking forward to seeing was "Miss Piggy" designed and built by forum member Brian Woods (aka "Vedette") from British Columbia. You can read all about how Brian created Miss Piggy in this back issue of Cool Tears magazine beginning on page 14. When I saw the pictures of her I was hooked but when I read in the article all of the parts she's comprised of I was fascinated by Brian's build:

Miss Piggy is made up of parts from the following cars, trucks and motorcycles:
  • 1959 Simca Vedette - Main body, chrome moldings, and hood on roof.
  • 1951 Studebaker – Roof, door tops, nose, grill, bullet, interior moldings, and parts of under belly.
  • 1950 Studebaker – Roof, rear window, and door tops. Interior lights.
  • 1946 Chev PU – Rear cab used for front sheet metal and front window.
  • 1942 Chev PU – running lights.
  • 1954 Ford PU - Hood was used on under belly and front corners.
  • 1955 Merc PU – Hood was used for cheeks on nose.
  • 1936 Ford - Interior door pulls.
  • 1937 Ford – Taillight lenses and rings.
  • 1947 Ford – Park light Rings with Red Lenses.
  • 1961 Studebaker - Rocker panels and heater blower fan and assembly.
  • 1955 Chrysler 300 – Hubcaps
  • 1979 Acura – Air Conditioning fan & switches
  • 1993 Toyota Trecel – Jacks for rear
  • 1972 Honda Trail – Wheel used for shoreline holder.
  • 1965 BSA – Reflector for tail light.

Equally mesmerizing was Doug Hodder's American Voyager. I'd have to say Doug is one of the top builders in the country after seeing the impeccable craftsmanship he uses in building and finishing his trailers. The AV was simply stunning! My favorite thing I saw at the entire rally were the tiny, striped, metal, snap-on awnings over each window of the trailer.

I also took a liking to the Road Rocket. With tiny rocket taillights and a rear fin that also lights up it was a great example of a homebuilt, lightweight trailer weighing in at a mere 682 lbs.

And for pure novelty nobody could beat Roly Nelson's F-117 Stealth Fighter Teardrop Camper. When I saw it all I could wonder was how many accidents did he almost cause driving it up to the gathering because I'm sure everyone who saw him on the highway not only did a double take but tried to get a picture of his creative camper while they were driving.

These were the trailers I had time to see upon our arrival. There are lots more later in the post.

For starters no sooner did we arrive it was time to head up for the group picture. Best efforts were made with a McGyver'ed camera attached to helium balloons, a cord, and a fishing pole to get an arial group shot. Unfortunately the camera wasn't facing the right direction so I grabbed this shot from a video Pinecone (aka Greg Pang) put together. Dean did get a great arial shot from high in the redwoods included at the beginning of his video coming up later in the post.

Before dinner there was a raffle to enter. Each day attendees receive a strand of raffle tickets. You walk up and down the lines of prizes and drop them in the bags of the ones you want to win. I put almost all of my tickets into the bag for this vintage Coleman picnic stove. Fred knew I wanted it so he put some of his tickets in too. LOL I think we put in 94% of the tickets in that particular bag so it wasn't a huge surprise I won it!

Now, the only problem is I found out the liquid propane fuel tanks it needs are obsolete so unless I can find a conversion kit to a current fuel source I'll have to think of a way to use it for something else.

The community picnic area is under the canopy of redwoods and includes a large kitchen.

Saturday night was a potluck dinner. I think at every tiny trailer rally Saturday night is always the potluck dinner. Fred and I were so busy socializing we barely had time to put together our fruit salad (pictured in the upper right corner) and make it up there in time for dinner. The cast iron cooks were busy that day. There were Dutch ovens lined along the tables full of steaming hot, oven baked goodness. I really want to find a vintage oven or two and start learning how to cook with them in Fred's backyard fire pit.

Dinner was served. And it was delicious!

Speaking of cooking, the next day for breakfast I made hash brown potatoes, Prather Ranch bacon, and eggs.

After making a good (but not very pretty) breakfast the first day I realized the proper order is to make your eggs first, then the potatoes, then the bacon. I kept the eggs and potatoes warm by putting them on a plate and flipping another plate over them as a lid then put them back in the fry pan after spooning out as much of the bacon grease as I could.

I also hardboiled a few eggs so we could have them as snacks.

I was kind of tickled to see my Acura Integra wasn't the only passenger car acting as a tow vehicle. While most folks use large pick ups and SUV's there were a few others who have found they are able to tow with less traditional vehicles.

There were so many trailers and so little time I wasn't able to photograph all of them. Dean did manage to include all but 20 in his video below along with that arial shot I mentioned earlier.

by Dean of Cast Iron Cooking

Here are a few I did shoot. The trailer in the top left corner with the yellow fenders and round door is one that inspired me greatly to pursue getting a trailer of my own. Way back when Vacations In a Can was featured in Sunset magazine. Based near Petaluma, CA they put the whole concept of teardropping within reach for me. I'd planned to rent a trailer to test out if I wanted one but soon found that unnecessary as I'd successfully talked myself into wanting one without ever having stayed in one before. LOL

Beneath it was the trailer of Grant Whipp, another member/builder I was looking forward to meeting in person. Grant owns Li'l Bear Tag Alongs a business that sells teardrop trailer partsplans, and custom built trailers. His website also lists upcoming gatherings and offers a nationwide classified ads section for those who want to buy local rather than build a trailer to come out to CA to pick up one of Grant's trailers.

And this is Greg Pang known as "Pinecone" on the forum. He was someone I'd become friends with online and got to meet in person. Like me, he's a huge advocate of the teardrop lifestyle when traveling. He also made this great recap video that shows what the rally was like including the days I missed. . . Take a peek:

by Pinecone (aka Greg Pang)

Another member I knew from the forum who I got to meet in person was Ted (aka "Gudmund") who had dropped into a thread I started about the DIY rain shield I made for my roof vent last winter. He recommended a Maxair II plastic vent cover that fits over the vent that shields the open vent from rain coming into the cabin and allows you to leave the vent cover open while in transit. He uses one on his teardrop "Wanderin' Aimlessly" and loves it. While I did like the idea I just couldn't imagine it looking cute or unobtrusive enough to be on The Glampette.

So he found me and brought his over and let me set it down on top of my trailer so I could see for myself what it would look like. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. From the side it kind of looked like a shark fin. LOL. And the plastic was translucent, not opaque, which made it more attractive than I thought it would be. I will say I'm more open to the thought now than I was before but still not ready to make the leap just yet :)

I also spotted a few canned ham trailers. The one on top is called a Grasshopper and looks like a teeny tiny Winnebago. The lower blue and white Sero Scotty is a classic canned ham (look a the shape).

The Glampette was much more styling by the end of the rally than at the beginning. Debbie brought over some fresh roses when she left Sunday morning so I set them on The Glampette's tongue box beside a bottle of wine Fred won for me at the raffle on Saturday night. He reads my blog so he knows I love my wine.

A big thank you to Fred for coming out to help me drive back to MI and for being such a good sport and sleeping in a trailer that was just a few inches too short and even worse, glamped out in girly colors and bunting :P

And a huge thank you to Dean and Joanie for hosting such a great event. We couldn't have felt more welcome. It was a lot of fun and I hope to make it back to the redwoods and the IRG in years to come, hopefully so I can be there from start to finish one year and see all of the trailers, not just the ones closest to where I parked.

The IRG is held every other year and has limited space so if you want to attend be sure to join tnttt.com and watch for a new thread and updates to register on time for the IRG 2016.

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