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Chewing with the Paper Chipmunk

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Monday, January 31, 2011

My New Good Luck Piece

© Natalie DiCostanzo
My local long-time friend Natalie is a fantastic ceramic artist. We recently had a discussion about kiln gods. Since I'm not a ceramicist, I wasn't familiar with them. They are, it turns out, pieces that are made to be placed on the kiln as a sort of good luck offering for the firing. She'd recently made some talisman pieces based on this idea.

The other day on an impulsive whim, I walked into the Arcata Artisans Cooperative Gallery where she has her work and bought one that caught my eye. I figured a talisman to appease the arts gods might be just the thing I was needing.

Minutes later on my way back to the car, I stopped in at Northtown Books just down the street. As soon as I got through the door, they placed an order for a bunch of greeting cards of my old collages. The order covered the cost of my talisman.

I like this talisman idea.

I also like our independent bookstores. Humboldt folks take note: if you want something quickly, consider getting it locally. I recently placed a special order from Northtown in the early Saturday evening of a long holiday weekend. It arrived by Tuesday. This, in an isolated place where even "overnight" delivery often takes two nights. I don't know how they do it. Plus, they are really nice people.

You're Here © Ellen Golla
And if you happen to pop into Northtown, my talisman suggests you check out the greeting cards, especially the ones with the mosaic collages on them, like this one here. . .

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Map and Googleganger

I thought this map of US surnames was interesting. It shows the most common names in different parts of the country.

Mine is not a common name. In fact, there is only one other Ellen Golla who turns up prominently in searches. My Googleganger appears, like me, to be a Golla by marriage, be close in age, have the same middle initial, and live in California (she at the opposite end of the state).

Ellen J. Golla, if you've stumbled upon this, feel free to get in touch. I imagine that you have also been asked before if you are "the Southern or Northern California one."

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Be Careful What You Take to Bed With You

Nearing completion.
How ironic that I started this book/object before the situation I mentioned in my last post. Next time I get the urge to portray sharks circling something, I will take note.

Before I go further, I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, my legitimate readers and friends for their support and encouragement. I've been deeply moved by the kind comments, messages and emails that I've received since I last posted. It's been a bright spot during an otherwise dark time, and has meant a lot to me.

Not to turn this into a medical novel, but I also have an endocrine disorder that makes stress potentially dangerous. What's been going on made me pretty ill, and at one point nearly landed me in the ER. I hesitate to mention this, after bringing up my M.S. diagnosis earlier made me a target for psychosis and cruelty. But the kind people in my life have been fantastic. In addition to great filtering, a trustworthy friend has taken over monitoring and moderating my comments for me. On the off chance something inappropriate gets through, I won't see it. Thank you.

Lovely washi.
On a happier note, I have a book project to share. I've finally been able to get back in the studio a bit, and have been on a Japanese paper binge. If you dip pieces of it into paste (in this case, rice starch paste) and remove the excess, you can form the  paper into almost anything. Leave it on waxed paper to dry, and you can have, for instance, miniature billowing drapes.

And what's especially lovely is that it is non-toxic. I wouldn't want to dip my bare hands in acrylic medium or PVA, but rice starch and distilled water? I feel like a kindergartner with something really cool and slimy.

Sticky slime! Dip into the paste, then run the paper
through fingers to remove the excess. Then shape.

After drying.



Be Careful What You Take to Bed With You.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Enough is Enough

Self-preservation, 4 x 6".
Paper mosaic collage based on a similar
 tarot card for the 7 of Wands. 
I recently was waiting at the sheriff's station. In front of me was a sign directing people to something serious sounding, having to do with civil cases. It was written in Comic Sans. All caps Comic Sans. I wish I'd had my camera. But since I'd had to go through a metal detector to get there, I figured it likely wasn't a camera-friendly place, alas.

And why would I be visiting the sheriff? Family stuff. Not my immediate family, thank God, but those from whom I am immediately descended. Little did I know when I started making a book of a bed with sharks swimming around it how apropos it would be.

It's such a cliché, the artist with an insane past. Most folks couldn't make this sort of thing up, but, friends, I'm being harassed. By my own parents. For my health and sanity, I've been intentionally estranged from them for about 20 years. Psychological, medical and law enforcement people have all concurred that this is a most sensible and excellent idea.

Nothing says Christmas better than a blog comment describing your dead brother in the box he was cremated in. Thank God for the spam button. Apparently, they'd been monitoring this blog. And after I disclosed my recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, they decided to use the comment function to get in touch.

Almost 12 years ago my brother, E., died at age 30. He was autistic and lived with them. After he was diagnosed with a terminal liver tumor, our father screamed at him "What are we going to do when we lose the money we get to keep you!" E. confided to me that he thought they only wanted him alive for the money he brought in. For most of E.'s life, our father thought it was hilarious to follow him around the house, grabbing his head and shaking it. "It's so light!" he would announce. "There's nothing in there!"

My parents tried to prevent me from having contact with E., in some twisted attempt to use him as a tool to get to me, and punishment for my perceived sins. They believed that hurting him and me both was appropriate. My mother told anyone who'd listen that I'd stopped writing to him and didn't call him after he became ill. She returned his mail to sender, when she felt like it, and they screened all calls and grabbed the phone away if it was me on the line.

One extended family member didn't believe me when I said my brother couldn't call me and I couldn't get a call to him. "That's crazy! I'll go over there, give him my cell phone and we'll call you!" He told me to sit by the phone. It never rang. My father said he couldn't allow that. It would upset my mother too much if she knew my brother was talking to me.

But what my parents don't understand is that most people, at heart, are kind. There were people who let me know when E. was in the hospital, so I could call after hours. At one point E. was sent north from Central California to Stanford for a few days. At the time, I knew someone who worked at that medical center. I flew down there, and the friend arranged it so I could come see E. after visiting hours. E. told me our father had raved at him in the car on the way up, angry over the inconvenience of having to drive him a few hours to the medical center and having to stay overnight in a motel. Totally in character. E. and I got to see each other, say our goodbyes and make our peace. And our parents, up until this post, were happy thinking that they'd managed to prevent that.

This recent attempt to harass me through my blog and cause me more pain because I was just diagnosed with M.S. was the final straw. Most people grow out of bullying by the end of high school. There are ways of dealing with this sort of thing.

So here you go, Mom and Dad. I am old enough at this point, and have the friends, expert professional help and resources to keep you from harming me.

Now, back to working on my current book.

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