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