Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue Blue Everywhere.

Oh it was so nice to have a week off for Thanksgiving! Jeremy and I stayed home and were able to make an entire suite of screenprints for the craft fair we are doing this weekend in Charlottesville, the one next weekend in Chapel Hill, and our Etsy store! We also picked up an old thread from Jeremy's research and combined it with some of our new discoveries.

Back in 2001 when J first started experimenting with natural, and non-toxic pigments he did a lot of tests with things like tea, onion skin, purple cabbage, beets,  turmeric, and walnut (which we both still use extensively). These experiments filled sketchbooks and were tested out on large drawings, prints, and paintings (and some love notes!) but some of them were fugitive and faded a bit. Recently, Jeremy found some Katagame (traditional kimono stencil printing process) information from a master printer in Hawaii and we had become interested in pursuing a rice base to replace the acrylic polymer typically used in silkscreen ink. In Katagame the rice base that is used is fairly labor intensive to make and involves a real steamer, which we don't currently have.  I did some research on other ways to make a rice base and found a nori paste recipe that seemed viable. This weekend we mixed the base with some pigment concentrations that Jeremy made,  one was pokeberry, paprika, and beets (red!) and the other was purple cabbage and japanese seaweed (blue!). We also mixed in an alum to help fix the color. The cabbage still looked purple when it was wet and we were worried that it was not going to come out blue but after sticking some paper testers in the mix and letting them sit we realized that they dry blue! Its a beautiful rich blue and the alum should help it to last a little bit longer.

Jeremy made these beautiful 2-color process prints with those inks. I am so proud of him because for years he has been trying to figure out a way to make completely biodegradable, natural silkscreen ink AND use it to make process prints. As we get this figured out a little better we are hoping to get all the plastic out of our art. Pretty cool J.

In other blue news... On my way to work today 4 hours from the ocean, in the mountains, I saw a big great blue heron. My first though was "oh shit I am totally asleep and dreaming at the wheel" followed by the following revelation... Me and that bird were both far away from where we belong at the ocean and should try our best to get back. We have barely been to the beach this fall because of being extra busy and the weather being colder than normal. I hope to remedy this over the holiday break!

Last but not least, Jeremy and I are VERY stoked because we are looking at studios tomorrow! A studio outside of our house has been a dream of ours since we got out of graduate school, but has been hard to find in Charlottesville because there aren't a lot of industrial spaces here that might be used for that kind of stuff. Wish us luck... we are super stoked to have a cat hair free art making space. More on that soon. Oh my goodness!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Circle of Plenty (a little later!)

Jeremy and I were in this great show at Cinders last month and have been so busy with our other shows and work that we haven't had time to share any work on our blog. Here are a few images : we got the chance to  make some collaborative images which is always fun. Midterms are over here now and I can feel my brain settling down. Jeremy has some workshops he is giving this week but AFTER that we should really have some quality studio time! And I just bought the vegan yum yum cookbook after wanting it and reading her blog all the time! Renaissance lecture tomorrow... always fun. Lastly, I just ate a vegan chicken sandwich for lunch, I am going to go reclaim some silkscreens, and I am ready to party!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


While Allyson and I were at the beach I gave those homemade alaia surfboards/bodyboards a test drive. The one that seemed to work the best is the beloved "Whale" that Allyson helped me design. You could only ride it prone like a bodyboard, but it hauls ass. (see pics) The "Ironing Board" had trouble floating and was an overall doozy. "Mutsy" is good for riding prone and was the best for surfing. Although surfing "Mutsy" is a very difficult task due to its lack of buoyancy, but my friend Brian was better at it than I... and caught a couple of rides. I think that I will make one more alaia board before the end of summer...this time it will be made out of paulownia instead of pine so that the board has more buoyancy. I also think making the board thicker and slightly longer (like 6"2) will give it the length for better east coast surfing. During our visit at the beach Allyson did a drawing of a bearded lady on my fishboard. It is beautiful. I now call it my "Bearded Lady". I think it rides better with the drawing on it...for real!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh Garden Woe...

Oh my! Well Jeremy and I returned from the beach we found our garden ravaged by thunderstorms and rain once again! Ahhhhh! This is the third or fourth time this summer. Our weather here in Charlottesville has been unusually cool and wet for a Virginia summer and the garden has paid for it. The first time this happened we got 5 inches of rain in a little under one week. This caused early tomato blight which we had to treat with a natural fungicide and pruning. Its conservative to say that we freaked out... we were both pretty bummed. If you don't have a garden, tomatoes like sun and heat and watering in moderation. Then it happened again!!! Four more inches of rain in a short period of time!!! We were equally bummed, on both instances we spent two full days in the garden working really hard to re-stake the toppled plants, prune the affected leaves, and clean up the situation. All of this was advanced by the fact that we had put down straw earlier in the summer (thinking it would not rain or be so cool) and that held in the moisture and encouraged the moldy blight. Geez! So we finally had a spell of hot weather, things started to dry up and ripen, and look better. We went to the beach last week... and guess what happened!!! You got it. (we had an awesome time at the beach!) Our plants were toppled, black and blighted, things were straight up rotting on the ground. (insert cuss words here) But there was one difference this morning as we surveyed the damage...We sort of gave up resistance. This is part of being a gardener... the unpredictable, rewarding, frustrating, amazing process of trying to grow food. We have been so lucky in the past years with our gardens here and in Virgina Beach that we sort of forgot that sometimes stuff gets messed up and theres nothing you can do about it but pick up the things that DID ripen and eat them with a grain of salt... literally! So this morning while checking things out we did harvest some amazing things, including: two dead sunflower heads which we are drying for seeds, a bunch of green beans (also reserving some for seeds for next year), some chioggia beets, green peppers, jalepeno peppers, and a variety of heirloom tomatoes (green zebra, mr. stripey, cherokee purple, garden peach, yellow pear, etc.) We also discovered amongst the wreckage that our cantaloupe and newer young tomato plants were doing very well. And our cover crop, german millet, was doing great and is nearly a foot tall now. This whole experience, our summer garden, has been hard and at times really stressful but we have learned a lot about gardening and our particular plot of soil. Our garden soil is very heavy clay - its bright orange! It can get super hard, to the point that when we grow things like radishes and onions they push so hard against the soil that when they get bigger they literally pick themselves! Also, the drainage in certain areas of the plot is not so good. For our fall garden plan we have decided to experiment with some raised beds on top of our garden plot so that we can do things our garden soil would not accomodate, like growing leeks! Our garden at Jeremy's Mom's house is a raised bed and it is doing much better this wet weird summer, mostly because the drainage is good and we worked really hard to make the soil rich. Hopefully this means that we will have a little more control over the fall garden... not accounting for the weather! (nervous laugh here)
Shortly after the second blight episode, we read the news headline about blight messing up farms and gardens all over our country (we posted this link a couple posts back if you want to read it) and felt a sense of solidarity with other east coast gardeners... At least we are lucky enough to live in a temperate area where there is more than one gardening season. So if you have a garden this summer and have had some of the same troubles... keep your heads up!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Even though 2009 is not the year of the snake, this is the summer of the snake. We have encountered several snakes in our outdoor adventures including:

Copperhead (Sugar Hollow, VA)
Black Racer Snake (Sugar Hollow, VA) 
Brown Water Snake (Pungo, VA) 
Black Rat Snake (Monticello, VA) Collecting Wine Berries
Unknown Black Snake (Pungo, VA) 

Most of our encounters were uneventful, but identifying the venomous copperhead was certainly sketchy. Now we are a little more aware of these creatures in our adventures. 

PS. Mr Cottonmouth or Mr Timber Rattler stay in your hole.  

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Potato famine disease striking home gardens in U.S.

Potato Blight has been killing our tomatoes this season. It is not just affecting us... but most of Charlottesville. It is also affecting most of the east coast. Check out this article:
The massive amounts of rain and humid spring like weather has contributed to this mold. It is pretty devastating to lose most of our plants... but you cannot control the weather.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The beach garden is thriving even with all of the rain. Tons of squash and cucumbers. We even found this hidden magical plum tree at the beach with the best tasting plums! Unfortunately our garden in Cville is suffering blight from the rain summer. On a positive note... we had tons of onions (check it out), chard, green beans from the Cville garden and we will still have tons of tomatoes... enough to share with neighbors, friends, and the local shelters. Check out the recent harvest. XO A&J


We love nature and the ocean!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I have been investing a little bit of time this summer to building an Alaia surfboard and a couple of smaller Alaias with Allyson's assistance. While working on the surfboards I worked on some skateboards. One is made from a maple log from my moms backyard. I milled it, joined it, and its my "Log"! it rides great. I got some Sector 9 wheels and it is a smooth ride. More to report how the Alaias ride when the linseed finishes drying. XO J

Friday, June 26, 2009

Love IS Like Magic

Hey All. Our gallery dudes in Brooklyn, Cinders, are having a benefit silent auction & anniversary party this Sunday. We have worked with Cinders since 2003 and as a gallery and as our friends they have been really supportive and awesome. Show them some love if you are in Brooklyn and have a few extra bucks to give to a great space!!! Jeremy and I donated the pieces above: His is called "Southern Comfort" and mine is called "The Shadow Proclamation" (if you know where that comes from, hello fellow nerd! :) )Here's the details from their website, you can also follow the link above to check them out yourself. ,

This Sunday we are having a silent auction benefit for the gallery! We asked a bunch of artists who've shown here over the past 5 years to donate some work and have been humbled with everyone's overwhelming radness. It will be a fun and diverse show that will also help us ring in our 5 year anniversary! With a BBQ on the sidewalk, surprise guest DJs, and spiked lemonade to celebrate summertime(finally), gay pride, great art and 5 more years- lets party!

Love is Like Magic
Sunday June 28th 3-9pm
A Special One Day Silent Auction!

Featuring Richard Colman, Brendan Monroe, Thomas Campbell, A.J. Fosik, Matthew Feyld, Allyson Mellberg, Jeremy Taylor, Ali Aschman, Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Diane Barcelowsky, Brian Chippendale, Maya Hayuk, Travis Millard, Jason Mclean, Mike Pare, Josh Slater, Jessie Rose Vala, Noel Friebert, Mel Kadel, Kelie Bowman, Sto, Nick Kuszyk, Mindy Abovitz, Ryan Jacob smith, Suzanne Sattler, Sam McPheeters, Molly Colleen O Connell, and lots more!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beach Visit

So every year we plant a garden for Jeremy's Mom and this year things are starting out very well. We planted heirloom tomato plants, yellow squash, cilantro, swiss chard, and cucumbers. We will post an "after" picture soon as things have grown tremendously just in the last two weeks! During our visit we are also harvesting bamboo from the forest to make stakes for our tomato plants. This year we have to put up a fence around Mom's garden because they got a puppy (see photos below) her name is Lily, she is very cute, but currently a bit of a monster. Hopefully, she will grow out of it! We also got to see our kitty friends Penelope (its hard to tell but in the pic one of her feet is swollen to twice the size of the other - she is fine but we think she was playing with a bee or snake... she also likes to dig crawfish out of the creek so who knows!) , and of course we are always happy to see our big orange kitty friend, the Fridge. Its so beautiful and magical here, we always see great stuff but we don't always have our cameras with us. We hope you enjoy these little bits of our surroundings, we will try to post more pics of the ocean too! Went for a swim tonight in the first warm water of the season. Absolutely wonderful.

Pungo Animals

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hello Summer!

Well after a few weeks of decompression from the semester it finally feels like summer. We are currently enjoying some beach & family time with Mom. In order to be able to do that Jeremy and I had to do a major overhaul in our garden. We looked up several ways to block out weeds organically (especially the crab grass that has been slowly creeping in) and settled on using hay to define the rows and block out sun from the unwanted plants. Two long days of work later and we are ready to walk away for a few days and let the darn thing grow! Also, check out the beautiful fence that Jeremy built completely from recycled wood. Amongst our few early harvests we got some delicious spinach and spring onions and also some not so delicious but neat wild garlic. Thanks to our friends Alp and Ingrid we also learned that the pretty tree outside of our studio window has edible berries on it. It is a Juneberry or Saskatoon bush. The berries are similar to blueberries in appearance and have a apple-ish flavor with almond flavored seeds. We harvested a ton of them and froze them for later! They had many creeeepy crawlies on them so we had to soak them in grandma's old milk glass bowl, which is where Jeremy got this pretty picture.

More from the beach...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Hey everyone! Sorry we were gone for so long. We have been super swamped this past month with finals and school finishing up... but school is over and it is time to celebrate spring and summer! This is the time in our lives when we can escape the institutional aesthetic of teaching at a state university. No more fluorescent lights, vinyl tiles, and cinder block walls for 3 months. YAY! It is truly a time of rejuvenation and an existence free from 60 hour work weeks. No answering student emails at midnight, no commuting, no grumpy/demanding students, no committee meetings, no show deadlines. This is a time when we garden, draw, travel, spend time at the beach and nature in general. Nature is the best drug for Allyson and Jeremy. Not to mention there is nothing better than eating food from your own garden. It always tastes better than anything from the farmers market or the grocery store... plus it saves us lots of moolah. Everyone should grow a garden if they have time and space..."it is the way of the future dude". Anyhow we harvested our first of spring planting. Tomatoes are in the ground...but we are hoping the rain spaces out more evenly so we can avoid rotting plants. We are posting our first picks from the garden. Stay well all...and we promise to post more of our adventures.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Common Swell at Together Gallery in Portland!

Hello everybody! Happy April! We have a show in Portland Oregon coming up at Together Gallery at the end of the month. They are moving into their new space so it will be a sort of grand opening for them! It features some really awesome artists including two of my favorite ladies from way back in Milwaukee Catherine Stack and Betsy Walton. Jeremy and I sent a bunch of drawings and egg tempera pieces for this show, if you are in the area go and check it out!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Meet Claus!

A week ago today Jeremy and I adopted a little grey kitty from the Charlottesville SPCA. His name is Claus and he is 9 months old. We are in the process of acclimating he and Fricky (she is being pretty good except for one altercation this evening) We are hopeful that they will be living amicably soon! He is such a sweet kitty, very talkative and affectionate! He plays a lot but is gentle and does not use his claws a lot. Come visit him!

Monday, March 2, 2009


We are having a happy snow day off of work including long walks, wet feet, hot tea, snow angel, and a day off of work. Allyson and I did tons of planning for lectures that we were suppose to give today. We worked all day Sunday until 2AM. But then weather happened! Yay! Hope others in from NC to NY had fun with the snow!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Hey all "Salus" is closing this Friday 5-7:30 at the Garage across from Lee Park! Please stop by to see this installation before it comes down. I am also posting a review written by Laura Parsons in the Hook. It was a flattering review but she seemed bummed about the cat hairball paintings, but its cool. I like them. I know fricky does!

Hope to see you out this Friday!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I am posting pics from "Salus" an installation of paintings, drawings, and objects at the Garage... a small intimate space in Charlottesville.

I usually do not show my work in Cville as I feel that there is a small audience for what I do here...but I am trying to be better about getting more involved in the local art community. If some of you were not able to come to the opening I hope that some people can come to the closing on Feb. 27th! Cheers!