Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recent Commissions

I had a rush of commissions in December.  All I have to say is, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!  LOL  The images below are 4 of 5 pieces commissioned by Margo along with some thoughts on my work.

Commission for Margo
I have to do a lot of thinking about the meaning of my work.  It's never clear to me at the beginning.  There is certainly intended symbolism, but much of it is just about creating snip-its of narrative.  Imagine tearing a page out of a book and tearing that page into many pieces.  Individually my work is like a scrap from that page, offering fragments of text.  It doesn't quite give you the full story, just a hint or feeling.

I recall a phone conversation with one of my uncles.  We're not terribly close, but we have moments of great understanding.  He and I are both very open people and honest about our feelings, see-through like panes of glass...  He said to me, "We're the last ones, the last generation of our kind."  There was a sorrowful tone in his voice.  We were talking about how the generations revolve, as the older generation passes the younger one come to take their place.  He feels his children would not understand or be able to connect with his past.  They were both born in the US and have never needed to go through what he went through, hopefully they never will.  As a teenager he smuggled out of Vietnam after the war, leaving behind family, friends... everything.  I was born in '79, long after the Vietnam War (or the American War) had ended and things had stabilized.  But at least I was able to understand the experience of having to leave behind the only world you know for the chance at making a better life.  We were the ones to make that leap.  We have the privilege of knowing both worlds, our American life and our Vietnamese life.  By being able to compare these two worlds we also have the great misfortune of seeing our cultural identity slowly erode.  Gestures to uphold tradition are made on special occasions like wedding, birthdays and holidays, but it's never the same as how you remembered it.  Reading and writing (Chinese) is a fleeting skill and as each older generation passes more is forgotten until the past is no longer recognizable.

This isn't just a cultural thing... it's the dilemma of changing identities.  You miss who you were, but you know that's not who you are.

In Chinese culture the giving and receiving of tea with both hands is a show of respect and appreciation.  It's also a sign of hospitality and an extension of your goodwill.  I love that such a simple gesture can mean so much.

Commission for Margo
An offering to connect.  The red thread dangles, waiting to be picked up.  It is a passive gesture in that you can't force connections, the other side has to take hold of it too.  All you can do is be there when they're ready.  There are knots in the thread, I like to think of them as markers for significant events that define our lives.

Commission for Margo
Their bond is like the thread, precariously thin, but unbreakable.

Makin' It Our Own

New Stamps for the shop!
At the opening of MiMi Gelato someone asked us for a gift certificate.  We didn't have any so I drew one up on a piece of paper.  Honestly having gift certificates never crossed my mind, but it's a great idea.  I made these stamps today.  They're made from soft-cut or safety-cut... it's like linoleum, but much easier to work with.  I'll post a tutorial once I find the time.  It's really easy!  The small round one is our cup stamp and the large slice-of-toast shaped stamp is for making the gift certificates.

Gift Certificate Stamp
A close up of the gift certificate stamp.  This is my first time carving lots of text.  It's hard to get the curves and fine lines, but I really like the results.

MiMi Gelato Gift Certificate
Each certificate is printed by hand on 100% cotton paper.  I love the gelato spoon on the side :)

I just wanted to thank everyone who came out to see us and blog or forwarded info about the shop.  We were pleasantly surprised by a few folks who came from West Seattle after getting Kelly Lyles' email!  You rawk Kelly!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MiMi Gelato Now Open!

I know this is a little crazy, but my husband and I have started a gelato shop in Ballard!  We've been pouring every waking hour for the last 2 months into this project and tomorrow is the GRAND OPENING! We literally did everything ourselves besides for the electrical and plumbing.  I'm very happy with the results, although right now I don't want to touch another can of red paint EVER AGAIN!

MiMi Gelato Signs
There's a total of 4 signage pieces; 2 sandwich boards (4 separate signs really) and 2 large wall signs.  It took me the good part of a month to finish because there were so many layers of paint and I didn't have the space to do it all at once.  The process really dragged on and I got tired of the fumes as well.   That's my ultra messy garage/workroom/woodshop and my pride and joy Dewalt chop saw in the lower right. ^_^

It took 4 coats of red to cover properly... and there are even spots where you can see lighter shades.  Frackin' A the can said one coat coverage!!!  My husband thinks I like to go overboard... :P  These babies will outlast a hurricane!

Shop from outside
Not the best exterior shot, but this was taken last night right after we passed our inspection!  I'll take my camera to the opening tomorrow for better pics.  There are 2 exterior lights still waiting to be wired.

Panna Cotta Gelato
Some lovely food prawn for y'all! This is one of my favorite flavor, Pannacotta... it's like a creme brulee.

Pistachio Gelato
The always yummy Pistachio.

Wild Berry Gelato
For the Vegan fan, Mixed Berries. We also have some special flavors planned like Matcha and Black Sesame as well.

If you're in the area please stop by!
Diem Chau

MiMi Gelato
2315 NW Market Street (Between Anchor Tattoo and Azteca on Market St.)
Seattle, WA 98107
Wednesday - Sunday, NOON - 8pm

Many thanks to Adriana and Brad for the blog posts!  Also big hugs to Dailycandy, Thrillist, and SeattleWeekly!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Urban Craft Uprising and New Website!

Hello Everyone,
I will have a booth at this year's Urban Craft Uprising and it's happening this weekend in Seattle! This is a great place to go shop for handmade goodies and holiday presents. Please come by if you're in town, admission is FREE!

December 5th & 6th
11am to 5pm on both days

Class of 2009!
For the last week I've been cranking out plushes like MAD! This is a group shot of all the little guys.

If you're not in Seattle you can find some of what I offer on my new website: WWW.TINYHAUS.COM! It's dedicated my handmade toys and gifts.

Happy Holidays!
Diem Chau

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yard Dog in Austin

I'm VERY excited to work with Jenny Hart and the many wonderful stitchers she's put together for the Over and Under Show.   List of artists include:
Annie Aube - Deborah Baker - Kate Bingaman Burt - Dana Carlson - Diem Chau - Orly Cogan - Emily Eibel - Veronica Fuentes - Takashi Iwasaki - Joetta Maue - Michael Aaron McAllister - Johnny Murder - Christopher Niver - Jennifer Porter - Shannon Rankin - Richard Saja - Kate Westerholt - Kathie Sever

Yard Dog Gallery:
1510 S. Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
Over and Under: A show of stitches curated by Jenny Hart
November 6th - December 6th
Opening Reception Nov 6th


Just a friendly reminder, I will be at the First Thursday reception and the artist talk for the G.Gibson show in Seattle.  You can see a full preview of the show here:

G. Gibson Gallery
300 South Washington St.
Seattle, WA 98104
New Works by Diem Chau & Thuy-Van Vu
First Thursday Reception - November 5th - 6 to 8 pm
Artist Talk -  November 7th - 2 pm

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tea Eggs

Tea Egg Dessert
I remember my grandmother making Tea Eggs for me as a child.  I don't think it was associated with any occasion, more like comfort food on cool/cold days.  It doesn't get very cold in Vietnam, but when the monsoon season hits the weather is miserable.  It's nice to stay indoors and eat a warm bowl of tea eggs.  This is a quick and healthy snack, also very easy to make.  If you can boil water you can make this.
The quail eggs are from my mother ^_^  She had 2 quails, but unfortunately one was eaten by a raccoon.  Vicious creatures!

6 cups of water
4-5 tea bags (black tea)
4-5 eggs (more if you use quail eggs)
3/4 cups of brown sugar (less or more depending on taste)

Hard boil the eggs, peel and set them aside for the tea.  Boil 6 cups of water, then add tea bags and peeled eggs. Set the temp to low and steep for about 30min or longer if you like darker/stronger tea. Fish out the spent tea bags and add sugar.  Ta Da!  You're done!

Tea Egg Dessert
To serve ladle a healthy portion of the sweet tea and an egg into a small bowl.  You can also use quail eggs for a more intense yolk flavor.

There's an alternative recipe without the broth and more spices, a popular method with the Mainlanders.  I've never made it, but the crackle/marbling effect on the egg is beautiful.

The crackle effect is done by soft boiling the eggs, cracking the shell and immersing it in the steeping tea.  Usually in this method you do not drink the tea/broth.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Tree Workshop

The less quite table
I just finished teaching my Mini Tree Workshop at the ACRS.  There were about 30 or so participants, this was my first time working with younger children (6-7years old).  I'm blown away at how well they did!  I think they did better than their parents. LOL  Must be those tiny fingers. A BIG thanks to the ACRS and Artist Trust for helping to make this happen.

If you'd like to make these trees/landscapes yourself please visit this post.

The quite table
This was the quite table, these guys were so focused!

Festive trees
That's not a forced smile, I swear she was having fun! :P

After the trees were finished we got them together for a class shot.

The little city!
Here are some of the little parks. Everyone loved the fake moss, I should have brought more and more bases too! Good thing to remember for next time.

bird's eye view
A bird's eye view.

Class dog
We even had a class mascot... Buddy. He's SO precious!!! Buddy is a therapy dog and hearing dog in training. I believe he was a pound dog and his owner works at the ACRS. He gets to come to work often. He was very inquisitive, but quiet and very polite. So well trained!

This workshop was in part thanks to Artist Trust. Artist Trust's Meet
the Artist program is an integral component of the annual Artist Trust
Fellowship. Meet the Artist events bridge our artistic community with
the diverse communities in Washington State, increasing awareness about
the vital roles art and artists play in our culture. Find out more at

Monday, October 12, 2009

G.Gibson Gallery in Seattle

Seattle Show

I will be showing with Thuy-Van Vu at G.Gibson Gallery in Seattle. There will be a First Thursday reception and an artist talk on Nov. 7th.  If you're visiting from out of town and want to experience Seattle's art scene the TK building is a must, where G.Gibson is located.  It's home to numerous galleries in Seattle as well as artist live/work spaces.  Many of the artists living in the loft will have open studios on 1st Thursday. 

Diem Chau + Thuy-Van Vu
October 15th - November 21
Reception: Thursday, November 5 from 6-8pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, November 7 at 2pm

G. Gibson Gallery
300 South Washington Street
Seattle, WA 98104
Tuesday-Saturday 11am-5pm


A few new pieces in the show.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Double Parlour Collaboration

Close up
I did a collaboration (more of a commission... they did most of the work!) with Ernie and Cassandra Velasco of Double Parlour. They are a husband/wife artist team in SF. Their work is beautiful and quite affordable! I saw their sculptures on Etsy a few months ago and contacted them about a trade/collaboration.

I drew a little sketch and made two trees.  They sculpted two figures, I got one and they kept one.  You can find more of their work on Flickr or Etsy.

Tree from my head
When I was little my mom told me if I swallowed any seeds it would grow in my stomach and pop out my head. I was scared to eat anything with seeds in it! Thanks mom >_< 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Small Worlds Workshop

Small Worlds Workshop

The Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) & Artist Trust presents:

Small Worlds:
A Miniature Tree and Landscape Workshop with Diem Chau
This is a hands-on 2 hour workshop on how to make miniature wire trees and landscapes.  All tools and materials will be provided.  You will learn simple wire working techniques and how to work with basic hand tools.  No prior skills are necessary this is beginning class designed for kids and adults alike.  Come, have some fun and learn something new!  Please RSVP, we only have a capacity of 20 participants.

This workshop was made possible by support from The Asian Counseling Referral Service and Artist Trust's Meet the Artist program. Artist Trust's Meet the Artist program is an integral component of the annual Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship. Meet the Artist events bridge our artistic community with the diverse communities in Washington State, increasing awareness about the vital roles art and artists play in our culture. Find out more at  

Asian Counseling and Referral Service
3639 MLK Jr. Way South
Seattle, WA  98144

Saturday October 17th, 10:00 am to Noon

RSVP with:
Jocelyn Lui

Nothing But Sun

I had an amazing time in San Francisco, really friendly folks and the weather was superb.  Thanks to all who showed up at the opening.  It was great to meet in person.

Installing at Rare Device
Installing at Rare Device with artists Lisa Solomon, Marina Luz and Lisa Congdon (working away).

Goldie at Golden
I even snuck in some site seeing time at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Binding Constant

Coming to SF!

I'm coming to SF!  I have a group show opening at Rare Device with artists Lisa Solomon and Marina Luz.  I will be there for the opening, if you're in town please stop by.

Rare Device is proud to present Binding Constant:
New Work by Diem Chau, Marina Luz and Lisa Solomon.
Oct 2nd – Nov 1st, 2009
A reception for the artists will be held Friday, October 2nd from 7-9 pm.

Rare Device
1845 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours: Tue - Sat, noon to 7pm; Sun, noon to 6pm; closed Mon

American Craft Magazine

My work has been featured in this month's American Craft Magazine! There's a wonderful interview with Shannon Sharpe, I felt her questions were very relevant and thoughtful. Thank you Shannon. Please check it out at your nearest newsstand.

There's also a great article about Lauren Kalman's work, the artist on the cover. Her work is amazing, "Syphilis" is my favorite.

American Craft Oct 09

American Craft Oct 09

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summer's End

Is Fall here already?!
Oh my, it's been a long time since I posted! I've been busy working on a few fall shows, SF, Seattle and Chicago. It's amazing how time flies. I went for a walk in the park today and noticed all the yellow leaves on the ground. So sad to see Summer go, but I have to admit Fall is my favorite time of year. For the most part I enjoy the cool misty weather and dark gloominess. Also perfect weather for eating Pho!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I've been working on a set of Zodiac crayons for the last 2 weeks. A few more to go.

This is my favorite one so far. It's a classic pose, except without the tongue sticking out. I've seen a lot of sumi paintings of tigers climbing on rocks as a kid.

A bit plain. I thought of adding scales, but it got too visually complicated.

I'm thinking about remaking the pig with a different pose. He's holding a stack of gold over his head. The gold is a common theme among Chinese renditions, but it might be lost in translation. He also looks a bit goofy?

I feel it's a little too elongated, you really don't get a sense that it's a rooster.

The horns really turned out well. I like the texture of his locks, it reminds me a bit of The Winged Lions of Babylon... only without the wings. I'm really itching to work bigger.

I love this little guy! I have to admit some are better than others. I'm experimenting more with different textures and deeper carving.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Holly and Matthew

Couple Commission
These were made for a friend's wedding, they were to be cake toppers. Congrats Matthew and Holly! Thank you so much for letting my work be a part of your special day!

I was really happy with how Matthew's crayon came out. It's a good likeness no?

Couple Commission
Couple Commission

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monkey Business

Can you guess?
A currently project. I've always wanted to make a set of Chinese Zodiac figures. With this series I'm trying to push for more detail, make them cleaner and tighter.

The Monkey