Sep 28 2015

AADL Fairy Housing

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The fairy house at the Ann Arbor District Library has unfortunately suffered some structural issues, and as we all really want the fairies to stick around, I have begun building a new abode.  The first step was to take a trip to the always amazing King Books in Detroit.  As you can see, after wandering the aisles of their children’s books I was able to put together a wonderful collection of books to use.



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In order to prevent the same type of damage as happened to the original, I am constructing a wooden box to be used as the primary structure rather than simply using the books themselves.  The back panel will be removable to make repairs or additions possible, and I have run copper tape wiring throughout, with tiny outlets to be able to have table lamps and overhead lighting to read and work by.


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The floors were laid one plank at a time with thin strips of maple wood which will then be stained and varnished.  I plan to use dollhouse beadboard for the lower part of the walls, and illustrations from the books as wallpaper.  The windows holes are cut, and trim will be added later.  The early stages and planning are going well, but there is a lot more work to do!  Before I go any further, however, the whole home will be taken in the library to make sure that the existing door will line up with the new room.



Sep 26 2015

Du Nain Rouge


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Du Nain Rouge is the enigmatic legend of Detroit, by some thought to protect the city, by others, to only appear as a harbinger of pending disaster.  A few years back I stumbled upon a wonderful book at my local library, written in 1884 by Marie Caroline Watson Hamlin, titled Legends of Le Detroit, in which I first read his story.  In this particular legend, it was a fortune teller, entertaining a party in Quebec, who warned Monsieur La Mothe Cadillac that he would cross paths with this “red dwarf” in the city he was to found.  He was told that he would create a city greater than New France itself, and would have many children around his hearth, but that he must not offend Du Nain Rouge or his children would never inherit the great wealth he was to possess.  Years later, after founding just such a city, he and his wife were walking through the Kings Gardens late at night when the visage of Du Nain Rouge appeared before them.  Heedless of the old fortune teller’s advice, he shouted for the “red imp” to get out of his way.  Shortly thereafter Cadillac was arrested in Montreal and was forced to sell his seigniory in Detroit to pay for his trial.  After being removed to Louisiana as governor, he was to die in France, and his children did not inherit any of his vast estate.  He was said to have appeared just before the attack at Bloody Run, and again in 1805, dashing through the flames as the city burned.



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I prefer to face our demons head on, so to speak.  By sculpting him, by engaging him, I like to think that he is simultaneously respected and revered, and yet loses that power over Detroit his legend holds.  Whether he needs to be quashed and run out of town, or flattered and appeased to keep the city safe is an ongoing debate.

Dec 8 2014

Tiny Expo 2014



Tiny Expo is nearly here!  Come to the AADL this Saturday, December 13th from 11-5:30pm and see me along with other local artists and crafters selling their wares.  It will be located at the Downtown Ann Arbor District Libary, 343 S.Fifth Ave, at the corner of Fifth and William.  While you’re there, you can pick up some winter reading/playing/awesomeness from the library, listen to the popular Classical Bells concert (from 1-2pm) and shop til you’re hearts content.  I hope to see you there!

For more info on Tiny, vendor previews, and to spread the word, check out their Facebook event 

Dec 8 2014

Thank you Handmade Toledo!!!


A big thank you to Handmade Toledo for a fantastic show, and for all of the awesome shoppers who came out to support us independent artists!  Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events, or check out their new space (and shop!) at 1717 Adams Street in Toledo, OH.

If you weren’t able to make it to the show, you’ll have another opportunity to shop with me on Saturday, December 13th at the Tiny Expo in Ann Arbor.  TIny will run from 11-5:30 at the Ann Arbor District Library  Thanks to the awesome AADL, and hope to see you there!


Jul 28 2014

Thank you Detroit Maker Faire!


It was an awesome weekend, with so many wonderful customers smiling and sharing their stories with me.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to stop by my booth, to everyone who shared their memories, or told me where my bots are already occupying their homes and offices.  I cannot express how much joy it brings me to know that out there people look at something I created and smile every day.  Kudos once again to DIYpsi for organizing the craft tent, and the Henry Ford for putting on this amazing event for 5 years and counting.





I do not have any more shows scheduled at this time, but will keep you updated as the holiday season approaches and my show schedule is defined.  In the meantime, you can find my bots in Ann Arbor, MI at Found in Kerrytown Market and  826 Michigan, and in Rochester Hills, MI at Pine Creek Center for the Arts.  Commissioned work, special requests, or simply wishing to save yourself a trip, I’m always open to selling to you directly as well.  Find my work on etsy, or simply shoot me an email at  deets[at]  to let me know what you’re looking for.

If you liked what you saw under the DIYpsi tent this weekend, make sure to check out their upcoming show August 23-24 at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti.  While yours truly will not be vending that weekend, I may see some of you there in my volunteering capacity, and regardless, it is not to be missed!  Tons of amazing craft vendors, and food, and just awesomeness everywhere, all complimented with a Corner Brewery’s kick ass beer menu.



Mar 15 2014

Te Puia, in Rotorua, New Zealand


An hour and a half bus ride from Hamilton lies Rotorua, a geothermal city.  Throughout the town, small geothermal vents shoot sulfur steam into the air.  Most are relatively small, and are surrounded by fences to keep the curious from getting too close (they may be small, but they are scorchingly hot).  An exception is the geyser Pohutu, located in Te Puia, and Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao (The gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao).  Wahiao was a great ancestor to the people of the valley, and the chief of Ngati Wahiao, a subtribe of Te Arawa.  The Te Arawa Waka was one of the eight original canoe that brought Maori from Hawaiiki to New Zealand.  Te Puia Pa (fortified village) was one of the last strongholds of Wahiao. It is now the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institiute, a prestigious school dedicated to continuing the traditional arts of carving and weaving of the Maori people.



The fist thing you see upon entering Te Puia is a circle of totem, each intricately carved and reaching towards the sky.  The art feels both familiar and timeless, as though you are both of this time and the past.  There is a reverence, stillness, and yet strength that overtakes you, and stayed with me the entire time I was within.


Unlike in the traditional marae, the buildings at Te Puia allow photos, allowing me to share them with you.  All of the carvings on the buildings are done by hand, taking countless hours and knowledge of the different forms.  Designs are done within a set framework of symbols and meaning, telling a unique story.

Within the main building, a performance of traditional songs and dance, many joyful, as well as the well known haka performed to intimidate enemies before battle, was an experience that left my spirit lighter, and wishing it did not have to end.



After the performance I joined a small group touring the carving and weaving schools, and then wandered towards the geyser, waiting for it to erupt.  It usually does so twice or three times an hour.




It was difficult to leave Te Puia.  Walking back out to the street and waiting for the bus felt surreal.  Or maybe Te Puia was surreal, and the bus was merely a return to normalcy.  With only a little over an hour left before I needed to be on the return bus to Hamilton, I walked over to the Rotorua Museum of Art and History.  In the late 1800s Rotorua hoped to become a spa destination, and connections to Auckland were created for this purpose.  The museum was its main attraction, at that point a spa offering mud bath and other treatments for numerous ailments.  While the dream of a thriving spa tourist town never reached the heights they had wished, the attempt assured Rotorua’s continued modern development.










Mar 6 2014

Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand



Our first day in New Zealand could not have been any more gorgeous.   We flew from Brisbane to Auckland, and took the bus from the airport to downtown Auckland in time for a late lunch.  Just a short ferry ride, and then a short, yet quite steep, walk up to the top of Mt. Victoria gave us some of the most amazing views imaginable, the photo above for one.  Below is a view of the city of Auckland on our return ferry trip.


After a half day in Auckland, a driver came to pick us up and take us to Hamilton, location of LIANZA 2013, located along the amazing Waikato River.  Our second day in New Zealand was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  The conference goers were welcomed with a pōwhiri by mana whenua at Tūrangawaewae Marae.  The hospitality and beauty of the ceremony is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  According to custom, we are now members of the tribe, welcome with open arms and hearts.  Photos are not allowed within the marae, but I do not think they would do it justice anyhow.  The feeling at the marae, at times almost overwhelming me with wonder and joy, transcends any mere picture.

The conference began the next day, and while ulotrichous was busy attending and speaking, I spent the days wandering Hamilton.  The first day was spent walking from our hotel down the Waikato River to the Hamilton Gardens.  I wandered the gardens, enjoying the glorious spring weather, returning in time to have a late dinner with ulotrichous.









Mar 3 2014

Painting in Progress



This painting has been an experiment in color layering.  Instead of mixing the colors before painting with them, I have been using one color at a time across the entire canvas, applying them in washes layered atop one another.  Starting with gray, then yellow, then red, and onward.  As the painting progresses it’s been very interesting to see the way in which the under layers shine through even if they’ve been covered numerous times.  While I do not think this is the most time effective way to create a portrait, it has certainly been helpful in achieving more depth in the skin tones in particular.  Changing your normal way of doing things is a great way to learn something new, and gain fresh perspective when repetition weighs you down.


Mar 3 2014

Small change, big impact

Here’s an example of how a fresh coat of paint can really change the feel of a piece.  It was a super fast project, even faster since it’s miniature




I find it easier to remove the hardware before painting and then reinstall rather than trying to avoid painting on them.  A light sanding followed by several coats of black paint created the base, and using sandpaper or an exacto blade, you can lightly distress all of the edges until you get the look you want.  Finish it off with a coat or two of polyurethane, and done!

Mar 3 2014

Miniature Wall Sconce



The dollhouse has been rewired using copper tape, and miniature scale outlets.  For most of the lighting I have done so far, this has been sufficient, however, in the hallway I did not want a cord hanging down the wall, and so decided to hardwire the fixture in.  I learned how to solder in order to install the overhead kitchen light,  but did not want to use that method, as it seemed that it would be much more difficult to do on a vertical surface.

Begin by determining the location of your sconce.  Drill a small hole, and run a vertical run of copper tape on the opposite side of the wall, just next to this hole.

Once the copper tape is in place, the next step was to create the sconce itself.  To recreate this you will need:

-a”candle” style bulb with wire attached (found in dollhouse stores)

-two short lengths of aluminum pipe (found in craft or hardware stores, they come in lengths of 2-3′, and varying diameters)

-watch gear or similar object to cap the pipe

-bead cap

To make the sconce, cut the two pieces of aluminum pipe to length.  Near the base of one of the pipes gently drill a hole using a dremel tool.  The trick is to drill the hole without squashing the pipe, as the aluminum is soft.  Line up the horizontal pipe with the hole in the vertical pipe and glue in place.  Next, insert the bulb through the vertical pipe and guide the wire through the horizontal, with plenty extra for wiring.  Glue the watch gear on the base of the vertical pipe to create a finished edge, and insert the horizontal pipe into the beadcap.

Once you know how much wire you need to reach your copper tape, cut to length.  Separate the two wires, and gently strip the insulation.  When stripping the insulation, expose a short length of wire before removing completely, and twist gently to keep the copper strands from separating.  Once the wire is exposed, use two of the brass tacks used installing the copper tape, and wrap each wire around a tack 3 times or so.  Guide the wires/tacks througth the hole in the wall and glue or putty the fixture in place.  The tacks can then be hammered into each run of the copper tape.  This should be sufficient to maintain the circuit.  Make sure not to cross the wires, or allow exposed wire to touch more than one strip.  To keep the wiring in place, adjust as needed and then use electrical tape to secure.

Voila!  You have a functioning wall sconce!