Alchemy & Lace


Almost a year later...

I got married in September, moved to Washington with my husband and my wolf in October, and I guess a lot has happened. I've been looking for work non-stop, and haven't had much luck. I just had a string of interviews at various department stores after 7 months of being here. It's tough, as Portland jobs are very much found by knowing people in the area. LOVING it here, despite the rain, and so grateful not to have to deal with the crazy tornado weather in the South.

I've been working so hard on finding a job, a place to live I've hardly had any time to create. It's really depressing, but it will all be worth it to have a place of our own again. I miss my garden & my privacy, but it's so beautiful out here, moss & ferns everywhere you look. I'm itching to do some photo shoots, create a summer line for Alchemy & Lace, and just to have a little work area to paint, draw, & sew. I have so many amazing people lining up for collaborations, it's a little overwhelming. If I had a sale for every collaboration inquiry, I could support my designing habit nicely and make a very meger living!

Right now we're living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with the inlaws, it's thirty minutes into Vancouver and forty into Portland. I want to paint rooms, refinish old furniture, making my own curtains. I thrive on sensory creativity and miss being able to feel like a place is 'home'. We're hoping to find a place by June.



I've been gone a while, I just haven't had time for anything personal lately! Ever since the Apnea shoot, I've been dealing with wedding planning, etc. I figured since I finally got around to fixing up some images, I would share!

In other news, me & Johnny bought a new car! And we've decided shortly after the wedding we're packing up and moving across country to Portland, OR. So my photo shoots have taken the back-burner for now as we prepare ourselves for everything heading our way. I'm making my own wedding dress - I found this amazing fishtail skirt pattern. So far it's going well! I've learned how to sew in a zipper & make darts. I'm buying a corset from What Katie Did to go over it; I've decided I'm committing to tight-lacing, which partly why I've been getting into a constant exercise routine (other than I really need to get in shape). I love my heavy red corsets, but the quality sucks if you want to tightlace. I've had to sew the front boning back in three times on one, and once on the other. Anyhow, I've really come to love running, and have been making my runs longer and longer. Although with the summer heat, my dog can only take so much! I've lost a little over 4 lbs already.

My garden is doing well, I have lots of basil, from which I've already made homemade pesto! My jalapenos are doing great, too. There are a few things that look a little weak, especially my cilantro, but nothing has died yet. Next year I will not transplant the cilantro! It went straight to the bolting stage, so I'm just going to harvest all the seeds for then. My tomatoes seeds have grown faster than weeds, and I'm hoping even though I planted them late that they'll bear fruit before first frost or before I pick up and move! One thing I can't understand is why my chamomile has yet to bloom; the leaves look beautiful and fill the center of the garden, but I want flowers for tea!

Our new shop, Alchemy & Lace is getting closer to being open for business. Ashlee just transferred to a new job without a break, so we haven't had a day to just knock out our checklist for final preparations & grand opening. I really don't know what's going to happen when I move; we may end up splitting our shop. It's hard to tell.



Design sketch & its execution.

Last week was craziness. The big crunch for my shoot with Apnea. Tuesday, our friend Kyle became a father, so we drove to Little Rock Wednesday night to meet the baby and take him out for dinner. There goes one night of work :P but, it was a good excuse. Friday I spend all night coming up with the design for Apnea's outfit. My parents came into town Saturday and took me out for birthday lunch at Old Chicago. Unfortunately Toad Suck was going on and its a pain to go anywhere downtown in that. I always forget about it, but it always happens the first weekend of may, which also happens to be where my birthday falls.

It was clear until mid-afternoon. I'm checking out at Hobby Lobby & they announce a tornado moving our way (it was sunny when I went inside). On my way home, its chaos. Pouring rain, panicking tourists. You can't see five feet in front of you and it's jam-packed. A couple of bad wrecks seen on my five minute drive home. And those are on back-roads. So we're waiting out the storm at home, and when we see a break in it we head out for quick sushi before the next wave hits. Afterwards, we headed over to shaun's, where I spend hours upon hours making pinwheels. Six in the morning hits, and I finally finish and we head home to bed.

Sunday, we put up the set, hung the pinwheels, & set up lighting. Back home, I sewed until my fingers were bruised. I finished everything, although I only had three hours of sleep before getting up and heading out for the shoot in Little Rock. More on the shoot later, plus
photos... I've got to get to work here.

Johnny sitting in for test lighting. He hung all the pinwheels while I put them on strings. Check out my awesome new light. Chach, one of Ashlee's co-worker's let me use his studio.



I've had an eventful week so far. I began a massive cleaning out of my studio on Saturday. Lots of getting old roommates and random people their stuff back. As if I don't clutter it up enough myself! Unfortunately I haven't finished it yet, I'm bad about not finishing what I start. I tend to nitpick about little things when I clean, and get tired by the time I get to the big stuff. Maybe later...

Sunday, my brother helped me make a big planter for my herb garden. I wasn't able to plant my seedlings until this morning as last night I filled one of my tires up with too much air and blew it. Yay. This cute little old man helped me put my spare on and by the time I commuted home it was dark. Soo, Johnny cooked smoked burgers & bratwurst, while I made my dog a toy. It took me an hour and she destroyed it in 5 minutes :p

I've begun working on this leather choker design. Super-excited about the spikes. I'm still fiddling with it's final appearance, but I need to pick up a few things to finish it. Smaller beads and saw-toothed washers. I'm worried the spikes may be too heavy once it's on, but I really have no other way of figuring it out. I'm happy with the rose, it's surprising light, so the whole thing might just work.

I have a shoot Thursday with one of my old college-mates. Haven't even begun to think of what to do. I'm basically trying to teach Johnny how to assist me on shoots with lighting, etc. At least I have an assistant & mua. What I'm super nervous about is where I'm going to shoot with Apnea. I don't like the typical studio setting, so I really need to pull something amazing together to make it appear otherwise. Not sure I can afford more furniture rental...although I did buy this amazing 60's yellow hanging light I'm going to use. I've got to get concept sketches going on that, I've just been so busy. I'm really excited about shooting with her and I'm sure I'll get something great, no matter the setting. I just have to buckle down and make accessories/clothing/etc. by next Monday. Did I mention my birthday is this Saturday? Like I have time for it...



The result of Kelly Harrison-Gunn shoot. Still have film left to develop, but I'm pretty happy with the results. She was a great model, so glad the slip fit! I tried using a fog machine, and it just blew up all the security alarms for like 15 minutes. Talk about nerve-racking. I feel like I wasn't at my best. She brought the photog that flew her into Little Rock, and it just messed up my flow having him around. He started taking pictures of my set when I was messing with lights, which made me want to throttle him. New rule: unless I'm collaborating, no photographers I don't know on the set. I think it went very well other than those few bumps. Props to Trishia, my mua for helping me on her birthday!

Sunday, I drove to Heber Springs and spent the day with my mom. We went out to lunch, then to Van's Fruit Market where I bought chocolate mint, pineapple sage, a few other herb plants, & wasabi peanuts. Mr. B & I cleaned the house later that evening watched Dario Argento's Phenomena. Good movie, bad acting, amazing cinematography.
I've begun experimenting with spice mixtures and using friends as guinea pigs. I now have my own cocoa masala chai recipe & toasted middle eastern spice rub. I'm looking forward to my week off coming up! It would be nice to focus all my energy on my work for once instead of someone else's. Another photo shoot to prepare for on May 3rd, so I have lots to prepare for. I think I'm going to draw a wallpaper background with prismacolor pastels. I'm thinking blue padded walls with pale yellow highlights, with buttons in the corners.

Speaking of padded walls, now I'm thinking of how amazing Lisa Yuskavage is...



Ashlee did an amazing job on our labels! I am so over-excited about them. I need to perfect my Indian spice rub & spiced chai recipes so we can start testing them on friends to get feedback. I have so much to do, but I'm having fun. Feel like my life is finally going in the right direction (career-wise). I'm lucky to have good friends & family that support me, no matter how few, it's the quality that counts, right?

A little inspirational art by Erwin Olaf:



Trisha - Shot with Phase 1 P30+ & Profoto lights, with a blue filter from the side.

Productive day today. Kind of. I had a little time to waste on Assasin's Creed II. My chamomile & coriander has also gained a second set of leaves, and my mint sprouted. I thinned the sprouts out, paid some guy to mow my lawn, and took my dog on a walk.

Now I'm at work, trying to get our system of computers in perfect order, backed-up, & without incident. Working out with Ashlee after work - I can't wait to see the new labels Ashlee has been working on for our jars. I have a lot to do preparing for the shoot with Kelly Saturday. Trisha did a great job on our test shoot, making up Ashlee & getting a feel for being on the set in general. I need to go thrift shopping for a slip to appropriate, and I have to go to Home Sweet Home to rent furniture for the shoot.


So today I woke up at the crack of dawn (okay so around 9...) and picked up Trisha for our test/practice shoot. We did portraits of her plus images of her applying make-up to Ashlee for self-promotion purposes. After the portraits, we went to ZaZa's for lunch and had pizza, salad, & gelato! It took us longer than expected to finish, but I think we got some good stuff.
On the commute home, my car started smoking and we had to call a friend for help. After waiting on the side of I40, semi's flying by, in a baking truck, help arrives in the form of people I once knew when I first met my Johnny at Waffle House 4 years ago. Turns out it was my air-conditioning belt. It would've been fine, but with my luck with cars, it was best not to leave things to chance.
Totally exhausted, but very productive day.



Design sketch for Kelly Harrison-Gunn shoot.

I have a shoot early in the morning with my make-up artist & Ashlee. Haven't even packed for it. Awesome! Things are off to their usual start.

My boss is off to Africa & Europe for the next month, so I've been busy helping him prepare and getting everything with the book squared away before he's out of touch. I went in today to help him finish packing, which is usually really f'n stressful right before [international] trips, and it actually went smoothly (for once). I have all the Profoto gear to myself + privacy for my shoots.
For those of you who don't know what that is, Profoto is only the most bad-ass lighting gear EVER.

On another note, my basil & chamomile sprouts have gotten their second pair of leaves!