The Trouble with Overthinking

Who knew my next post would come so soon?

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about combining my design background with paper cutting by making paper dolls. Remember those? I played with those back in the day, even though I had 3-D Barbie dolls. I think the attraction laid in the details of the dress and faces of paper dolls. The downside was that the disproportionally large head made the neck extra frail and it wasn’t long before the dolls tattered.

ImageNot unlike what I had as a kid

I did some research on dolls today, cloth and paper, and found that there is still a huge demand for them, mostly for women in generation who remember playing with actual dolls, not digital ones on an iPad. I’m not a seamstress, but I’d love to design little paper dresses, give each doll a name, and maybe write brief stories about them. That would take care of my three loves: fashion, craft, and writing. When I sat down to do actual sketches, however, the sociological concerns surfaced and I found myself asking what kind of doll would be a good example for little girls? Everyone seems to be in favour of the doe-eyed, sweet, maybe creepy, dolls, and that was my first instinct. But what would I be projecting? Would making blushing, silent beauties be another way of imposing the image of the ideal woman someone who is only known for her looks and submissive behaviour? Is it still my social responsibility to create a more balanced view of a woman if these dolls would be targeted at women in their 20s and 30s?


photo from greasepuppy

Despite the progress women have made in the past decade or so in battling with repression and gender inequalities, why do we keep going back to playing with dolls, cosmetic enhancements, using sexuality to gain success, camera-whoring online, and the undying notion of marrying for money (or NOT marrying for NO money)?

I’m getting a little off topic. I love dolls, and even though I am all for being financially independent and not having kids because I feel like I have to, I also appreciate chivalry. It IS nice to have someone with a good pair of shoulders that you can depend on when things get rough. So maybe, I’m looking at the situation too monochromatically. The women movement should be about knowing what you want and not apologizing for it, no matter what it is.

We shall see what kind of ideal woman will be reflected in my dolls.

ps. How would I even draw a face that reflects a strong personality, intelligence, and passions besides creating the perfect ensemble?


Nutcracker Ballet Developments

As a step to take my art more seriously, I am re-immersing myself into the blogosphere. Facebook and Twitter are good ways to promote Sally Eyeballs and other artists I admire, but it lacks the space to really share ideas. I keep meaning to come back to blogging, and have actually written a few drafts, but in the end, they felt too bleak/ personal to publish. It might’ve been the Winter Blues. Temperatures are supposed to rise to 14 degrees celsius this weekend, so I took it as a sign.

To begin, I have been absolutely miserable in my job search in graphic design (Time Magazine actually listed the profession as #4 for highest unemployment rate). So I ask myself, caution aside, what do I really want to do? I want to be a full-time artist, working in my own studio, doing shows, getting hired to make paper sculpture theatre backdrops, and loads of book covers. So, I’ve kept my part-time job at the library (for now), and am scheduling more hours per day focusing on Sally Eyeballs Paper Goods. I also noticed that not creating for the sake of making a quick buck might be a good investment for better, more solid ideas in the future. I decided to go back to my dance roots, and have been working on the Nutcracker Ballet. It’s been really exciting! I know when an idea is worth pursuing when I give up TV time to work on it.

After many hours, it was finally finished. I’m very pleased with the result, but am still contemplating how to continue. I am thinking about putting the Nutcracker in a paper theatre with some stage lighting.

Autumn update to Sally Eyeballs

My poor blog, I’ve neglected you for so long. I feel like I spend half my time apologizing to you. It just takes a lot of effort and persistence to keep writing, and writing something worthwhile for it to be published online for all to see. Hats off to all you persistent bloggers with interesting content!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand: Sally Eyeballs is now in store! Right now it’s just the dancing silhouette paper cuts with the Japanese paper dresses, but I’m hoping to expand on Etsy. Before I start selling online though, I have to have stock and… a couple dozens of business decisions to make. I want to hit the ground running. So, be patient those of you not in Toronto.

Stopped by the store the other day to look at the display and change a frame (not pictured).


Products are selling at Wise Daughters in the Junction, beside Crema Cafe.
3079 Dundas Street West

(416) 761-1555


On another note, I just got back from a friend’s wedding in Vancouver. Their actual ceremony was in Maui, after a cruise around the island! The pictures were fantastic. Did you know that touching sea turtles was prohibited in Hawaii because it’s considered as an endangered specie? Well, on my trip, my dad got me a linoleum block printing set so I could experiment with making my paper cut designs into block prints. I really like using sharp tools to make art… just cutting away at something to produce a completely different form. All I’ve got is a seahorse at the moment, but it would be fun to try to make the Vampire Squid or the Mermaid paper cut. Now that I’m only working part-time, I should really play around with that instead of parking myself in front of the TV.

How many brands can you spot?

This was my best try.

The Start of Something Exciting

Depending on how early on you dropped by, you may or may not know that I’ve been wanting to design and sell greeting cards online for about a year now. Last summer while school was out, I tried and tried to come up with an idea, but they all fell to the wayside. A lot of my ideas just didn’t feel like mine, as if I was over-saturated by other people’s work. I decided not to force it.

Some time passed, and an opportunity came along in a form of an invitation to participate in an art show up north. Once I agreed, there was no turning back. Excuses were no longer valid. That was two months ago.

Getting ideas rolling was never an issue. What was difficult in the beginning was deciding what to make. Unlike most of the 60 other artists that were going to be there, I had to start from the ground up. I’ve always believed that to produce great work, there needs to be struggle and failure which there was plenty of in my process, including a time when I hated the everything I created. A friend said something that pulled me out of the funk. She said, “When I’m stuck and think my work is crap, I continue working till I get something good.” Such a simple philosophy, it’s completely changed my perspective of stopping the creative process when things aren’t working (like the artist in Hayao Miyzaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service).

Last weekend was the show. I was having trouble sleeping the two weeks prior, stressing out about all I had yet to do and whether any of it would be good enough. The day finally came. I was surprisingly calm, and chatted with customers, which was probably a good sign all that could be prepared was. Although I didn’t sell as much as I wanted (no profit), you cannot put a price on what I’d learned from the experience. I made connections. I set up shop. I called a million places to source material, from print shop, customizing a stamp, envelopes, backer board, crystal bags, ribbons, paper that will not fade in the sun, glue that will not wrinkle the paper, stain, or discolour after time, and frames for display. Whew!

And how did I feel after this was all done? A huge sense of accomplishment and a boost of confidence. For those of you who don’t know me, I should point out that I am not a go-getter. I am usually full of talk, and no action. When we got home from the weekend, sitting on the patio with a beer in one hand, the impact of what I had done the past couple of months really hit me. I just thought, I can’t believe I actually did it. I said I was going to do something, and followed it through till the end with good results. I didn’t half-ass anything. When I look back at the past two years, there has been a lot of people who influenced me and built up this new Christine that was up to the challenge. So, thank you.

*missing: Elly Mackay, creator of Theatre Clouds, and her husband, Simon, a woodworker.

I’d also like to remind everyone, that if you have something you want to do, do it now. Imagine what your life would be like if you lived for the present.

Man Eating Cupcake

Don’t you just love the sound of rain? I love being home during a thunderstorm when it starts dropping buckets, listening to the sound of the steady stream hitting against the pavement, the roof, the wet breeze cooling the irritatingly muggy summer day. It’s so comforting and refreshing, especially when there’s music and a good book handy.

I hear of a lot of engagements these days. I know of four couples that just got engaged in the last month, and another couple whose blog I keep up to date with. None of them were the first to tell me themselves of the happy news. My cousin is having an engagement dinner next week in Taiwan. A sister and brother duo have both decided to set a date within a couple of weeks of each other. And today, I just found out that two of my lovely friends in Vancouver have gotten engaged after almost ten years of dating. That’s quite a milestone. If you are reading, congratulations, and I want to hear all about how you proposed! I’m really happy for you guys. You are probably my favorite couple. So congratulations to all! I guess June is not only the month for weddings, but for proposals as well.

Paper cutting progress

So. I finished the paper cut project for our place. It was great fun to do, but I think I’ll try a different material to work with next time, a lighter paper so I won’t have to use so much pressure, perhaps. The full image can be found in my Behance portfolio.

I also did a cupcake one that I’m not too fond of at the moment. I think it needs a face. There is also a possible piece I might start on of some smoke stacks.

In terms of the postcards, I have decided on a theme. It will be a series of strange creatures, real and fiction. The method is still to be decided. I love paper cutting, but its not really meant for mass production. I’m afraid that if I try to print them, it will lose the texture and novelty. Any ideas? I like the effect of lithography, but who wants to put in the effort for that these days?

On a separate note, my parents sent me a link to a fascinating video on space-saving furniture. The mechanics is clever, plus its quite stylish.