Sunday 17 March 2013

Old Homes

Over the last year (or so) I've felt increasingly to have lost my sense of nationality.  I was born Canadian, but my family only adopted it as a home a few years before I was born.  Before that, they were American for a while and I, too, am considered American by default - or, more technically, 'born abroad', but I've never lived there.  And, for the last 3+ years I've lived and made a home-of-sorts in a country with absolutely no familial or ancestral anchor.  Besides all that, I have basically no voting rights in any of those countries.  A citizen, but not really so.  It's a strange feeling, but the semi-vagabond life A and I have led for the last few years has really taught us to rely greatly on ourselves and we've been extremely fortunate to have found some incredible and kind friends who have helped us along the way to make a home simply where we happen to be.  

I usually think of North America (primarily Canada) as the place where a great many family and friends live, but I don't often feel a nostalgic pull.  In fact, as the days approach to a flight back, I tend feel a bit queasy.  I guess I've always felt this way about 'going home' - I used to feel sick every time the bus rode past familiar markers on its route from Toronto and into my hometown of London.  

When we went back last summer it had a been a while since we'd visited last and our 4 weeks on that continent weren't shaping up to be any kind of relaxing holiday.  I didn't even feel the need to pack my digital camera.  I just threw a mostly-working old Lomo camera I had from a flea market without really caring if any pictures came out.  I know this is all sounding pretty negative - and, admittedly I was feeling negative about that trip for many various reasons, not even developing the film for nearly 8 months afterward as another trip back approaches.  But I finally did and I'll admit that for the first in a long time, I felt a tiny bit nostalgic as I flipped through some of the pictures that came out...

From the top: a bit of summer beauty from both of our parent's homes; The late, great Felix; Montreal; New York (Brooklyn City Hall hold a tiny bit of significance for us and I was reminded of it as we passed by); Pickering from the GOTrain; Parkdale 

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Crossing over, again.

Things seem to move so slowly this time of year.  I've actually been pretty busy and a lot has been happening, but I still feel so unproductive.  I think this mostly has to do with 80% of life occurring in near-darkness this time of year.  

I have no photos to show any sort of forward momentum in my life, but that train I'm not on is going somewhere.

Actually, I have been and will continue to spend more hours at my desk (with the above view) as I prepare for workshops - one that you can sign up for on the left side of this page! - and, a trip to North America that will include me participating in City of Craft's Spring Show. Anyone who's ever run through the archive of this page will know how close this show is to me.  In fact, we're pretty much staying in Canada for the extra weeks after some travels because of it! (more on those travels later)

Also, there's some other exciting stuff that will unfold over the next months, but I'll save that as motivation to keep up with blog.

Monday 7 January 2013

Everything is just continuing as it was.

I like having a pine tree in my apartment, but its presence this year has meant the opposite of work - its existence in our living room has been of symbol of regret to every invitation and chore for more than 2 weeks over the holidays.  So with everyone now on flights back over the ocean, we chucked this lovely baum to the curb.  I'm ready to fall back into planning and playing out the next 6-8 months.  Something that is a daily routine in this house.

Unfortunately, some sort of horrible haze has my body in a phlegm-y grip and my will to be productive isn't winning.  I did, however, start to fill THIS place up!  The 2 minutes of daylight Berlin currently experiences makes taking proper pictures difficult, but I'll try again tomorrow.

Oh yeah, I'm working on putting together a series of workshops for artists of useful bookbinding techniques.  These will be small group classes where people will get a chance to experiment with some techniques and materials from making a portfolio folder to binding loose sheets and making your own sketchbooks.  Fun stuff!  If this is something that interests you or if you know someone who might be into this, comment below or send me a message!

Tuesday 23 October 2012

My Binding Side

Sometimes I like to do a lot of this:

My life in Nadja occupies most of the year so I set a goal by applying to a big market each year.  This last weekend we hopped a train and spent just 24 hours in Hamburg for Hello-Handmade.  I have to give some big ups to A for helping me haul my heavy cases around town and spend an entire day with crafty types.  Selling is the hardest part of the process for me and there is no way for me not to feel awkward doing so.

I generally like to do this online, but I should mention that my other life takes over the next weeks and my various shops will be closed until I return to Berlin mid-November.  If you see something you'd like to know more about, let me know!

Happy (belated) Birthday Mom/Sarah/Baba & Pop/Alex/Deda

After about a year of planning, my six siblings and I threw a surprise birthday party for our parents.  It wasn't an easy soiree to pull together with all of us spread out up and down the east coast and me so far away.  Besides that, the guest list included members of our family and old friends spread out along both coasts!  However, these expressions, caught blurrily by my niece Maggie, made it worthwhile.

A couple other highlights caught by Maggie in the moments that followed....

Wednesday 22 August 2012

nice ride

This hasn't exactly been the summer of leisure Aidan and I planned so today we shirked our duties to all of our other projects and took a nice 25 (or so) km ride around the city.  

Our only real destination was the bauhaus-archiv to see an exhibition that closes very soon on the work of Benita Koch-Otte. There were maybe a dozen woven pieces, and lots of really beautiful designs on paper which made me wish more of them got made into proper textiles.  I'd seen a lot of her designs on various websites, but I guess like all art, it's best seen up close and for real so if you're in Berlin and this is up your alley, check it out while you can. 

On our way there we passed my favorite building in Berlin:

We left the Archiv and rode up the Lankwehrkanal to Rosa Luxemburg's memorial and then down to one or our favorite riding spots.  A perfect day!

Tuesday 14 August 2012

slime work

Getting back to work today in my little corner meant stringing up a line and coating a whole bunch of washi paper in konnyaku starch!  I guess most people who use it try to get as much wrinkly texture as possible into their paper, but as my plans require strong and flat-ish paper, I was a little gentler in my wringing.  I got my little tub magic-paper-strengthening starch at The Paper Place in Toronto.  

From slimy balls to majestic sheets.  Soon to be embroidered and worked into book covers!

Saturday 4 August 2012

unlike me

I have a habit of doing things that go against my instincts. Getting up on stage is one of them. Running public and/or interactive projects like The Wunderkabinet and now, The Lesen Lounge is another.

I'm shy and I'm awkward and interacting with strangers kind of freaks me out. Thank goodness for the incredibly generous help - particularly from Ina, Cati, and Aidan - I've gotten to pull it all together, but when it comes down to it, the responsibility to explain myself to the confused masses falls on me. Geographically, this also means I do it in mangled English-German.

Anxieties aside, I'm pretty excited to be pulling out The Lesen Lounge for the first time this Sunday. I've decided to unveil the finished bike trailer/library box after the Sunday outing, but here's a 'before' paint, 'after' construction picture:

It'll be going out regularly - as long as the sun is shining - over the next months. If you live in Berlin you should come and visit. To find out when and where we'll be, check our website!

Friday 13 July 2012

a new toy and some rain

I have so much to work on these days that the storms and rain this last week only serve as an excuse to not leave the house. Today, a lack of food in the fridge - and fear of atrophy - forced me out.
I walked from our place to the Turkish Market along the water, through a quickly disappearing no-man's-land. All the rain these last weeks has made everything so green, and flowers are sprouting up out of the sandy soil. I didn't have my camera with me so I took out my newly upgraded ipod (with camera) - a birthday gift from Aidan - to fool around with along my walk. It's not a terribly great camera, but also not a terribly terrible one. And, my listening is uninterrupted as I fiddle with other functions.
It's a little difficult to imagine how the picture will look large as you fiddle with neat little editing tools, and I think I may have gone a little overboard with edge-fading and filters.

Monday 2 July 2012

Parks, Kultur, Difficulties

Since first hearing about Kulturpark and what they hoped to do with Spreepark, idling and slowly being stolen away by people (I presume) hoping to add some Berlin cachet to their apartments, I was totally onboard and even contributed to their Kickstarter campaign. Then came the inevitable walls of bureaucracy and when they opened the park to the public this weekend, this is what we encountered along a (literally) red-taped perimeter around a few bier stands and food stalls:

What was operational during the weekend was the old train tour around the perimeter of the entire park. It was surreal and oddly unsafe feeling - particularly - as we moved over the florescent water of a decaying ride and through a pitch-dark tunnel that smelled pungently of rot.

I do hope some their big plans come to fruition. I went exploring the park early one morning a few years ago with my friend, Jill, and what I saw from the train this weekend proves that the park's vacancy is leading to it very slowly being lost.
Further reading, or what the park was like in the summer of 2009:

Saturday 18 February 2012


A few nights ago, Aidan began a solo tour with A-Sun Amissa. It started with a really great show here, in Berlin, at West Germany. I wish I could share audio from the entire night here, on the blog. It was super great. Between sets, Helge dj'd a perfect mix and Aidan played in a super trio with Erik Skodvin & Andrea Belfi. Really only the third time - ever - the three of them played together, it was truly great and they've got to get that shit recorded. Seriously.
Aidan being on the road, I'm left at home to work and (grudgingly) make my own coffee. It's tough getting motivated when the workaholic I share my space with isn't around to make me feel guilty about loafing around, but I'm working on the foundations of what will be The Wunderkabinet's big project of the year. I've pared down from constant exhibitions to accommodate for tours and a trip back to Canada this summer. I'd also like to go as nuts as possible where the kabinet is concerned so focussing on one big project right now is the way to go. More on that later.
For now, I'm working through an immediate to-do list of things long overdue. Alright, I'm also crocheting myself a cape while watching episodes of Downton Abbey. This is the first thing I've ever crocheted using an actual pattern and it's a big project! It will be about hip length with arm slits and button-up. I thought I'd try to chronicle my progress:

Not so much at the moment, but more to come.

Domo arigato

We went to Japan.
We toured with a really great band - that we also made a little collaborative tour cd with - called Vampillia. Not only is Vampillia a great band and NOT TO BE MISSED should they come to your town, they are hosts like no other and just very swell people. We came home to a frozen Berlin.