More Superheroes, more art

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I’m really happy to be drawing again. After drawing female figures I’m now working on the male form. The above is Thor from the Avengers movie and below is Captain America.

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Last month Josh and I got to hang with fashion blogger Jonathan Waiching Ho while he’s here Living Like A Local. We went to the Bamboo Curtain Studio and got to experience this beautiful art installation:

This is the My Womb My Mother Earth Art Project by artist Lin Xiuping. Volunteers helped her create knitted, crocheted and woven pieces for the installation. I wish I would have known as I would have jumped at the chance to contribute. Next time! These fiber art bird was such an inspiration.

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Our friend Shraddha Borawake had invited us to the studio and showed us her work as an artist in residence.

Our new friend Ivan not only showed us Taiwanese musical instruments used during puppet shows but gave us a demonstration.

It was a delight to spend an afternoon with fellow artists. Looking forward to my next visit to this wonderful studio.

Lost In Taipei

What should have been a ten minute bus ride ended up being a two and a half hour misadventure. My language exchange partner Albert had brought me to a polyglot meeting across town. It was fun meeting new people and when we parted ways at the MRT station I was positive I could get home. All of the MRT’s signs and maps are translated into English so is easily navigated.

My subway trip was uneventful. At the bus top I hopped on a bus that I regularly ride to school, certain it would pass our apartment on its route to campus. It was after nine, quite dark and I was tired from a night of socializing. By the time I realized I wasn’t on the road to my house the bus was in another neighborhood. I still recognized landmarks and soon we were pulling into a familiar MRT/bus station.

Perhaps the bus was making a loop before heading to campus? It made sense at the time so I stayed seated. Familiar landmarks soon disappeared as the bus traveled further into the outer stretches of Taipei. Buildings become smaller and large stretches of bare land appeared. By this point most of the passengers had departed and there were only two other people on board. As traffic dramatically thinned I doubted I could hop off and easily hail a taxi.

I asked the bus driver in Mandarin if he was going to my road. He didn’t understand me so I tried in English hoping he’d understand. “Oh God,” he replied in English which I took as a bad sign. He held up a finger and thought for a moment. A few minutes later he pulled over and gestured towards a bus stop, telling me which bus to get on next. I pulled out my MRT card to pay but he shook his head telling me “bu, bu”. I thanked him and walked to the bus stop. The driver drove up a small hill into a parking lot lined with buses. Apparently I had ridden to the end of its route.

My new stop was pretty remote and dark. The area had lots of trees but only a few lights on the main road. The side road to the parking lot was lined with tall metal fencing, piles of random metal and chunks of cement. A stone table and bench was nestled in the shadows but I didn’t dare sit down, worried the new driver wouldn’t see me and would drive on past. A lone bulb shone down on the actual bus sign. The big city noises I have grown accustomed to were conspicuously absent. Across the street three dogs sat in their driveway which was lined by a metal sheeting fence, obscuring any structure behind. The dogs paced and took turns barking in my direciton. Was I still in Taipei? Google Maps told me no.

A man soon came jogging down the hill. It was my bus driver and he came to tell me the bus I wanted was coming in 45. It was 10:34pm. Was it coming at 10:45 or in another 45 minutes? I tried to ask in Mandarin and he nodded, saying “45, you wait here” in English. I was grateful for his help. Determined not to whine to Josh that I was lost yet again I had avoided texting him. He guessed though and after I sent him a screenshot of the map told me I was pretty far outside the city and would be lucky to get home by midnight.

I had been so sure of how to get home! But a bus was coming in either 10 or 45 minutes. I just had to be patient. The dogs across the street started creeping closer, their barks taking on a menacing tone. I hissed back and they slowly went back to their side of the street. They sprang back into action when a motorcycle drove out of the parking lot, chasing it down the hill until it turned onto the main road. As the bike drove out of sight the dogs turned and ran straight towards me.

Taipei is a safe city and while this bus mix up was frustrating I hadn’t felt scared despite being stranded in the countryside. But as there dogs came rushing towards me I felt a surge of fear. They were growling and suddenly their teeth seemed quite large. I didn’t dare try to outrun them in an unknown neighborhood. Plus my bus was due any minute!

Years ago I lived in a notoriously rough neighborhood in Northern New Mexico. (The Mesa has such a reputation that it boasts it’s own disturbing documentary that features some of my ex-neighbors.) My Mesa years were grueling ones and I spent many hours walking remote dirt roads where a stray dog could jump you any moment. Despite my fear, I knew just what to do.

The dogs surrounded me growling. One chomped its jaws menacingly. Growling bark I swung my purse around widely. It had my phone, wallet and a bottle of water-if they got any closer they’d get smacked with enough weight to sting. Then I started jumping in the air while swinging my arms to appear as large as possible. I screamed barked at the dogs until they backed down. They slowly made their way across the street as we barked at each other. I continued jumping and swinging my purse until they were back in their driveway. The three continued to growl but kept their distance.

But what if another motorcycle drove by? Would my strategy work a second time? I was mulling over defense strategies when two headlights appeared at the top of the hill. My bus! It had only been ten minutes but if felt like an hour. The other driver waved me aboard and as I sat down a wave of exhaustion hit me. The ride home was long but uneventful. The new driver even told me when to get off which I appreciated though by then I recognized our neighborhood. Safely back home I sank into bed next to Josh a few minutes before midnight. Taiwan has excellent public transportation but clearly I need to spend some more time learning the bus system.

World Stage Design Conference

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I had my first visitor since moving to Taiwan! My Portland State professor Alison came to Taipei for the World Stage Design Conference. We toured the Dihua neighborhood and I got to take her to my favorite fiber building to explore several floors of fabric stores. She shopped for gifts to bring back home and we found this great gallery of paper crafts where we took the photo above.

The World Stage Design Conference was outstanding! Designers from around the world presented work in the exhibition hall and I was left tingling with inspiration. There were set, lighting and sound designs present but of course my faves were the costumes.

This paper creation was for a production of The Tempest. I didn’t take a picture of the designer info-ahh. But isn’t it stunning?!

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Sofia Pantouvaki created these Tempest costumes below by creating the material using dying and felting techniques.

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Designer Gino Gonzales created this costume for Hakbang Sa Hakbang Measure For Measure. The design concept was a subversion of a “Western ideal”-the costume silhouettes were kept but the materials used were locally produced materials in the Philippines. The piece below is made from muslin, simamay, raffia, coconut shells, hemp and wooden beads.

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Angelina Atlagic created this costume for The Libation Bearers.

Qin Wenbao created this fabric sculpture costume for Maguhu Dream which has layers and layers of folded fabric.

After months on the road and months sequestered writing it was wonderful to be immersed in the world of theater again. The book is almost done so now I can finally start setting up a sewing workspace. I picked up a notebook and colored pencils to start costume designing again. It feels deeply gratifying to return to designing. I’ve missed it!

New knitting project and a screenprint bag

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Oh the joy of a new knitting project! I’m creating an art installation piece to hang over our loft railing.

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This is a lotus flower petal. I’ll be making as many as I can and then assembling them into flowers. I wrote a pattern based on several I found on Ravelry. Most likely I’ll make I-cord out of green yarn for the stems connecting them together.

I got to take a screenprint workshop this week and made this print featuring Taiwanese food.

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It’s been years since I last screenprinted. Thank you My Taiwan and In Blooom-it was fun!

Knitting, baking but most of all puppets!

Great progress on the knucks last night. I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off so the cuffs easily stretch over my hands. Every time I do this BO I forget how so Cat Bordhi’s tutorial was quite helpful.

When I first became gluten intolerant I was getting sick almost every time I ate. My naturopath doctor said my body was in crisis mode and overreacting to grains, processed foods and sugar. He put me on the GAPS Diet for two years. Now I am thankfully able to eat other grains but find I still like making GAPS Diet food. This apple walnut dessert is simple yet delicious.

I was able to find all the ingredients and my small bread pans worked great. This is one of my favorite breakfast dishes.

In other news, our puppet Floyd has some new roommates. Our friend C.S. was clearing out his studio and knowing I loved Taiwan puppet theater offered to give us two remarkable puppets.

Guan Yu and Floyd getting acquainted.

The Monkey King also moved in. We will be making videos ostensibly for Formosa Moon promotion but really I don’t need an excuse to play with puppets.

A Refurbished Table And Kombucha Experimentation

Formosa Moon headquarters is shaping up nicely. We have a desk to write at and a temporary foam mat that’s standing in for a couch. Walking to the train station one day Josh and I came across an old table that had been thrown out. It was stained and had been scribbled on with pen. We took it home and I began to refurbish it.

Our neighbors P&T loaned me their electric sander for the job. It’s been several years since I worked with power tools and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed using them. I built my own house in New Mexico and owned many tools; my DeWalt set of cordless tools were quite versatile. Working with the sander reminded me how much I love this type of work. As a woman, I find it very empowering.

After sanding I rubbed in linseed oil which gave the wood a smooth finish. Now we have a small coffee table!

One thing I can’t find easily in Taiwan is kombucha. I used to brew my own in Portland and had been craving it for weeks. A neighbor up the road brews his own and gave me a scoby. He had taken a break from brewing and his batch had turned to vinegar. My first attempt unfortunately still has the vinegar taste.

It’s still drinkable but doesn’t have the delicious kombucha flavor I want. The second batch will be brewed for less time.

Fingers and Puppets

I spent last night knitting in bed while listening to a podcast accompanied by gentle, persistent rain. This alpaca yarn smells so good! Now that the fingers are made I’m zipping along on the main hand section.

Josh took me shopping in the Song Shang District last night. I did not bring enough socks with me so stocked up. Check out my Gudetama socks!

That lazy little egg cracks me up. There were lots of interesting clothes.

As a costume designer I’d certainly say fashion is important in life! Furthermore, I think it can be incredibly empowering.

We also visited the Puppetry Art Center of Taipei.

Their displays were excellent and they even had shadow puppets.

Hopefully, I will be lining up a puppet gig soon. I am completely enthralled.