SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Indiginous mushrooms of Marshall Ave

Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane)
I thought these little guys might make a tasty butter-sauteed snack, but this warning from Michael Kuo made me think twice.
Suddenly appearing in people's lawns--in troops or lines or rings--this mushroom is well known and relatively easily recognized. It is a well known and good edible, but probably not one for beginners, since it can bear a superficial resemblance to several poisonous mushrooms...and one should avoid any specimens growing on well traveled roadsides.
As a rank amateur who harvested these shrooms a foot away from our busy street, I'm handily disqualified from attempting to eat anything at this point. Thanks,!

Visiting vendors from faraway lands

Of course we love all our vendors equally, but since this is my personal blog I'm going to highlight a few that I'm personally most excited to meet. Most of our artists are local, but a few brave souls are trekking across the country to attend this first-time, unproven, unknown event. This post is dedicated to those crafters who are coming from away to sell you handmade treasures on July 8.

First up, Jenny Harada. Early in the planning process, I decided it would be awesome to host workshops so that attendees could actually learn some craft skills of their own. I contacted Plush Rush to see if anyone there wanted to run a stuffed animal class, and Jenny volunteered! I was already a big fan of her creatures, so I was stoked to sign her up as both a workshop teacher and a vendor.

Also hailing from Ohio Detroit are the lovely ladies (and gentleman) of Tekkat, who sure know how to stage a photo. That page is the only functional one on their site at the moment, but they should have tons of great clothing items for sale at the Craftstravaganza.

Sweetie Pie Press is coming from Toronto. That is in Canada! This makes her our most international vendor, plus, she will be performing standup all weekend at Brave New Workshop, which is very admirable! She is the only one (I can think of right now) who is selling comics and zines, but there might be more. Also she will have "surprises" at her table, so you will just have to come to the fair to see what that is all about.

Heather Wells wins the prize for farthest vendor by coming to us all the way from North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Bright Lights Little City makes lamps out of cocktail umbrellas, and you really have to see that website to do them justice.

We have a few vendors coming from the Chicago/Milwaukee zone, which is great. I've sort of thought of them as local, especially when you compare that trip to one from Boston! I just want to tell you about one today, and that's the prodigious Faythe Levine. She manages the cute and fun Paper Boat Boutique, a retail shop for handmade goods in Milwaukee. She also organizes that city's alternative craft fair, Art vs. Craft. As such, I feel it was sort of a coup to have her come to our show, and we're delighted to have her. Not only will she be a vendor at the Craftstravaganza, she will also be filming footage for her latest project, the Indie Craft Documentary! And I thought we were busy...

On the importance of washing your fruit

Jenna plucked some ripe raspberries from our back yard bushes last night and instructed me to clean them. I ran some water on 'em and started tossing berries down my pie hole. After gorging myself for a few seconds, something got stuck back in the corner of my mouth. I tried tongueing it out, but whatever it was wouldn't budge, and it started to hurt. I stuck my finger into my throat and scraped out a little bee! I gave the rest of the raspberries a thorough rinsing after that.

Speaking of bees, remember when cars used to look awesome? (Photo is of a '71 Dodge Superbee, lest you question my transitional prowess.) Over 11,000 cars were registered in last weekend's Back to the 50's show, and one of them belonged to my father-in-law. He drives into the Cities every year, and he left home at 2:00 AM on Saturday to be among the first in line on Snelling Ave.

He always manages to get the same tree-shaded spot, so we like to sit with him for a few hours and grill burgers and drink beer. Sometimes we walk around the Fairgrounds to see what is going on. One of the vendors at this year's show was a working pinstriper by the name of Coop. And I thought, surely not THE Coop from LA, with the drawings of naked ladies (warning: naked ladies!). I knew he liked hot rods, but I didn't think he did striping. Sure enough, this Coop turned out to be Greg "Coop" Cooper from Lancaster, Ohio--but that didn't make it any less interesting to watch.

I interviewed myself

Mapaches and other forest creatures who would like to know more about the Daruma can read a Q&A on our SPC Crafter Showcase blog now. They look a lot better in this photo, but I really haven't gotten much work done on them in the past couple of days since I've been staying up late night after night to work on an Extra Secret Special Project that might be of interest to a handful of people that I know.

(once you're done reading my interview, you should go through the archives and see the rest--we have a fine group of vendors coming to this event and I'm mightily stoked to see them in person). I've been using the website and the SPC blog to promote the fair, and I'm talking it up on this blog too, of course. I try not to, but I can't--the Craftstravaganza is everything right now, and will be until it's over in less than two weeks.

So, I might spend every day between now and then talking about our vendors and why they're awesome. Be warned! After the fair maybe I'll really shut up about it finally. But probably not... I'm cramming months of preparation into a 7-hour event, so there's going to be a lot to unpack when it's done. But for now... vendor art!

I think I'm getting the hang of this MySpace thing

It still seems stupid, but it's helping to spread the word about our show. I've spent a few hours befriending local artists and crafty people who will hopefully enjoy the stuff we have to offer.

MySpace is kind of genius guerilla marketing. I'm not trying to sell you a product, I just want to be your friend! There's not much useful information on most peoples' pages but there's enough on some of them that statistics can be gathered and a market audience can be targeted for promotion. Authors are doing it now too. It takes some digging but if there's a niche for your product, you can find it.

It's more fun finding people for my own sake, though. The Craftstravaganza has gathered a burgeoning collection of friends that I might not have found except for this social networking experiment. Like John G, a stencil artist whose work I 'discovered' at the St. Paul Art Crawl without ever getting his name.

I was totally going to buy this painting, but it was like $300 or whatever.

BIOS ROM checksum error

Blowing my computer up has done wonders for my productivity, not to mention my blogging. The words got log-jammed and now they're pouring out. I only blog in the mornings after Jenna leaves for work or at night after she's gone to bed. I use her G5 which is wonderful and scary and I hate the tiny keyboard and I can't get used to this OS X interface even though I know it's supposed to be cool and all the kids are doing it.

When she's reading her bride forums I get kicked down to the basement and use the typewriter instead. The typewriter is for fiction and correspondence only. I wrote that short story over the weekend. It was very short (3 typewritten pages). It ended sooner than I thought. One of my characters turned out to be a real asshole. I thought he was going to play it cool, but he decided to make a scene, and then my main character hauled off and punched him in the jaw. It was a violent and sad tale.

I desire a digital camera of my own. Jenna's is too nice and I can't take it with me. I saw a pink moped today; it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

MPLSART's Art Forty Project

Forty-ounce bottles painted by local artists; full, chilled, and ready for drinking? Yes please! It's one of those ideas that I just wish I'd thought of first, but Robot Love has the local art connections to make it happen... maybe for next year's event we'll have our vendors illustrate alcoholic beverages.

There's a mixed beer and tequila concoction called Desperados that was sold in France in a limited series of illustrated bottles. It was a tough decision to leave my empties behind, because they were even prettier than the containers of wine that we drank on our Montparnasse apartment balcony. I don't even like tequila, but somehow that didn't stop me from loving this "tequila-flavored" beer. It tasted especially good in comparison to local favorite Kronenbourg, a forty that went unfinished in favor of other drinks.

Word on the streets is that Desperados is available in the US, but I've never seen it in Minnesota. Any local peeps got a lead?

Field Trip Tuesday

When I ordered posters for the St. Paul Craftstravaganza, I originally thought that 300 would be a good number. I settled for 150, but I worried, would that be enough? Now we've hung about a hundred, and we're struggling to find places for the rest.

I drove to Uptown and left posters and flyers at Intermedia Arts, ArtMaterials, Moxie, Frame It, Treehouse Records, Ink Lab, Alt Bikes & Boards, Bryant-Lake Bowl, TWO posters on the column outside the Wedge, flyers at Arise!, a poster at Penn Cycle, and big ups to whoever hung posters at Robot Love, St. Sabrina's and Uptown Tattoo, I dropped off flyers to keep them company, and hit Artscraps on my way back home.

Much love to Uptown, it's always a good trip. Of course I always forget my camera. Otherwise you might have been treated to a shot of the sexiest bike outfit ever that pulled together hotpants and torn fishnets. Or some nice graffiti, especially a piece behind Saint Sabrina's that might have been done by the same artist whose work is posted here. Instead here's the poster I swiped from Ink Lab and replaced with one of ours.

Craft attack: Daruma Army

We had an uncharacteristically productive weekend fixing plumbing painting the dining room getting fish postering for the SPC and then my car broke down on Sunday night and we were back and forth from the repair and rental places yesterday to get that sorted out. I talked to a reporter from the Star Tribune and she was very gracious but not optimistic about printing an article about the St. Paul Craftstravaganza on such short notice. I took the day off from work so I can drive to Uptown and hopefully hang the rest of our posters. I'll be dropping off stacks of flyers at places like Muddy Waters, Ink Lab, Robot Love, if they're open and I get there.

I'm working also on my crafts for the fair: Weebles repainted as Daruma. You can see a batch in various stages of completion here, plus their big brother who is made from an Easter candy package and jangles! I'm using the same design for all of them, but each one has its own personality. The completed Daruma will all have the mouths and gold kanji like he does. I'm going to have about 30 when I'm done, which should look respectable on our vendor table next to Jenna's cards/beads display and possibly... some copies of The Best of Bob the Golfer?

I am writing a story for you

Well the craft fair is coming up and I'm busy organizing and painting my crafts and my computer exploded but you don't want to hear excuses about not blogging. I posted on the BikePed blog about the 24-hour feature film challenge that's happening tonight/tomorrow. I thought about participating for about five minutes, but I decided not to do it because

a) I just found out about it
b) I don't have a video camera
c) I don't know anyone who'd be able to film it with me last-minute,

and plus what do I know about filmmaking and I didn't feel like going out to Minneapolis with the t-storm looming. I would have been destroyed, as it turns out, so good call on my part. But I liked the idea of the challenge and I thought one thing I could do was a personal 24-hour short story challenge. I haven't done any noteworthy writing in a while (not even blogging which is just stream of consciousness simple especially after a few cans of Black Label) so with my computer on the fritz I unpacked my Smith-Corona and loaded up the paper and started clacking away at those keys. The U still sticks but it works okay. One page down and no stopping till I've told a story to my satisfaction. I stumbled on novels because they're meant to be so long and I type through the action too quickly since my prose is fast and danger. For a short story, this works. Fisticuffs are about to ensue! I'll let you know how it goes.

We have issues to get off our chests

That's right, we have seven boxes of free BUST magazines for Craftstravaganza attendees to take home on July 8. We also have a load of Altar magazines and Radio K stickers. What else is going to be free at the SPC? Well, let's see... live music, facepainting, workshops... oh, and admission! It's all free, people!