earth day recap + jazz fest!

last thursday, the new orleans craft mafia had a fun day of teaching folks how to recycle their old t-shirts into reusable shopping tote bags. whole foods uptown was our host, and our workshop was part of their day-long earth day festivities. so mallory, rebekah and i set up our handmade and eco-friendly/recycled wares under a tent on their patio.

my stuff on the left, miss malaprop on the right

rebekah and her booth

we then we created a cutting and sewing assembly line for the demo. whole foods, rebekah and some others donated a bunch of t-shirts, and we had three tables in row: one for the shirts and a cutting station, and a sewing machine on each of the others. at first, we had slow business, with only a few folks coming through the line – though those that did were really excited and amazed at the simplicity of the project. but around 1pm, we had an entire classroom full of school kids who had walked over from the audubon park area show up, t-shirts in hand. so for the next hour or so, we took them 2-3 at a time, showing them how to cut off the sleeves and around the neck, and then trim the bottom of their shirts, turn them inside out, and then mallory and rebekah sewed up the bottom with their sewing machines. flip them back rightside out and voila – your shopping tote is done!

mallory showing the kids how to cut and sew their shirts into bags

the kids loved it, and even got really creative with all the t-shirt scraps. cut off sleeves became headbands and visors; the trimmed bottom edge became sashes and necklaces. they were hilarious. once one kid decided to do it, they all wanted to. but they loved their bags, too.

adults came through too!

the rest of the afternoon was not quite as hectic but that was ok with us, as 30-something kids in an hour was kind of a lot! but we had many happy recyclers throughout the day, and it felt good teaching people a usable skill for recycling something we all have too many of: t-shirts.

and now it’s jazz fest. i lucked out and scored a free pair of tickets (thanks again, rachelle!) which i think fae and i are going to use tomorrow (sunday). yesterday, we went about our days as usual, fae trying to finish up as much of her end-of-semester stuff and me piddling around the house. but at around 6pm, we headed over to jen and mary ann’s house for the first night of porchfest 2010, which is how we affectionately refer to our annual porch hangout tradition.

jen and mary ann live a few blocks from the fairgrounds, and on one of the heavier trafficked corners for folks exiting the fest, so we’ve made it a tradition, hanging out on their porch as fest lets out, watching all the people go by. (this is the same location as the jazz fest art show i mentioned in previous posts, which, by the way, is still up through the end of the second weekend of jazz fest.) it’s not quite as much fun as being out at fest and hearing all the music and eating all the food, but it’s pretty entertaining, and a good substitute for those of us who can’t afford or just don’t like to deal with jazz fest every day. and with all the folks jen and mary ann know, along with all their neighbors, it can get to be a pretty big gathering. in fact, tonight there will even be a band playing next door, the all-girl blues band 30×90 (which features my friend sticky t, formerly of blues sister).

my stuff at jen's jazz fest art show

so yeah. it was pretty mellow last night, being the first night of fest. but it was still nice to get out of the house and see folks. we’ll be heading over there in just a little while for tonight’s festivities. and then tomorrow, assuming fae gets all her work done and i’m feeling up to it (not been feeling so great today), we’ll use those free tickets to partake in a bit of jazz fest ourselves. of course, porchfest will still be in effect afterwards, until it’s time to go watch treme of course. tomorrow will be a marathon!

but that’s jazz fest. i can’t believe i used to go every single day, all day, from 11am – 7pm and then do porchfest and even sometimes go out afterwards! wow, i used to have a lot of energy! but no more. now i have to pace myself and take it easy, or i pay for it. but i still love jazz fest time in the city. everyone is happy, there’s music everywhere you turn, locals are all having parties at their houses, and almost everyone has houseguests from elsewhere. (somehow we ended up with none this year.)

not sure if we’ll get to do some of the fest next weekend or not, but i hope so. we’ll see how the week goes. but for now, happy jazz fest!

big weekend ahead…

i’ve been making clock faces and signs like crazy this past week, in anticipation of my big weekend ahead. tis the busy spring season!

last friday, i dropped off a fresh batch of clocks to my friend erica at tulane’s in exchange shop. if you’re on tulane’s campus, you should check that shop out. not only do they have an astonishing inventory of defend new orleans t-shirts (apparently they are part of the tulane undergraduate uniform), but erica stocks lots of local artists and crafters work as well as fair trade items from makers around the world. she’s got lots of cool stuff there. even if you don’t have a reason to be on tulane’s campus, checking out all her unique inventory is a good excuse to stop in. it’s located in the student center on the quad side – there’s a map on her website. (and keep an eye out for in exchange out at the congo square crafts area at jazz fest!)

yesterday, i dropped off a bunch of my stuff to my friend jen, who for the past several years has hosted a fun, funky little art show in her living room during the two weeks of jazz fest. she lives over near the fairgrounds, close enough to catch a lot of the entering/exiting traffic to/from the fest, and knows a gazillion people, many of whom make a point of dropping in to sit a spell on her multicolored porch during and after the festivities. it was a brilliant idea when she conceived it, and i’m so grateful she continues to host the show every year in her home.

this year, the artist count is up to 17, the most yet. some folks might only have one piece in it (larger stuff), but many have lots of smaller pieces, all of which take up every available inch of space on her living room walls. this year, i have a few clocks, a nice array of signs and some skull and 70119 t-shirts for sale there. the opening for the show is this friday evening from 6-9pm, and then the show will remain up through both weekends of jazz fest. (but it’s good to go to the opening, as all the best pieces always get sold that first night!) leave me a comment if you want an invite to the opening on friday or need to know her address. (since it’s in her home, i don’t want to broadcast her address over the internet, but am happy to let interested parties know on an individual basis.)

wednesday, i’ll be helping out my craft mafiosas, stuffing our fashionable new tote bags (pictured above) with all kinds of free swag from indie businesses around the city and country, which will be given out to the first 100 paid attendees of the alternative media expo this saturday. the new orleans craft mafia is a co-sponsor of the event, and this year’s swag bags are gonna be the best yet (and in high demand)! we’ve got all manner of stickers, buttons, product samples (jewelry, tiny art, books, etc.) and other cool promotional items to fill them with. so definitely get there early so you can get a swag bag. you’re gonna be bummed if you miss it.

sadly, i will not be vending at the alternative media expo this year. i love that event and usually do participate, but this year it’s occurring on the same day as tulane’s crawfest event, which was very lucrative (and fun!) for me last year. i had to make a tough business decision and decided to do crawfest. so though i will miss being with everyone at the alternative media expo, i’m hoping for great weather and huge crowds at crawfest. they’ve got an AMAZING musical line-up (dirty dozen brass band, jon cleary, the radiators, trombone shorty, and more!) and 16,000 pounds of crawfish! the event itself is free and the crawfish is free with a tulane student i.d. ($10 for all you can eat for everyone else). last year was a beautiful day on the quad so i’m looking forward to another one just like it. friends rachelle (of greenkangaroo) and christeen (avantegarb) will both be out there too, so stop by and say hello if you make it over there.

if i manage to get out of crawfest before it’s over (it goes til 9pm, but last year we packed up as it was getting dark), i’m gonna try to make it to the big easy rollergirls‘ bout that night, too. they are taking on the hard knox rollergirls of knoxville, tn – a formidable opponent. advance tickets available through their website, or you can pay at the door for a few more bucks, too. it’s always a good time out there. i just hope i have the energy to make it there after my long day!

by sunday, i’m going to just want to pass out! but i better rest up, cuz the following two weekends are jazz fest! oh goodness. well, it’s all in the pacing, my friends. happy spring everyone!

almost april!

well, last weekend was a busy one, between the friday night show at one eyed jack’s (toshi rocked the house, of course, with a surprise appearance by ani difranco!), the elysian fleas market on saturday (slow sales but a gorgeous day), and the road food fest on sunday. yes, fae and i decided to be tourists in our own town and ride the streetcar down to the quarter to partake in the road food fest, walk around a little, visit with our friend s’aint n.o. lady at her cute jewelry boutique filthy rich, and enjoy yet another picture-perfect spring day in new orleans.

road food festival

we ate and drank ourselves silly: hand-cut seasoned fries from que crawl (aka the purple truck), a meat pie, the most delicately-battered fried catfish and crawfish rice from dunbar’s, and a pulled pork w/purple cabbage po-boy from que crawl again. oh and a delightful turtle to top it all off. fae got a yummy daiquiri and i enjoyed a few tasty local beers. it was a good day.

pulled pork po-boy

this week, for me, has been all about listening to cds for my upcoming music column. i think i have it narrowed down to a handful, including new ones by sia, pieta brown, a greatest-hits collection from k.d. lang, and a few others. i’ve still got a ways to go, though, on the stack of discs on my desk. fae’s been on spring break, which is nice for her. usually we travel to louisville to see friends and family on her breaks from school, but we just didn’t have it in us this time; that 12-hour drive is intense and with fae having been so sick over the first part of the semester, we just decided it would be best for us to stay home, to allow her to rest, relax and get caught up on school. so far, i’d say it was a good choice. the weather has been perfect, we’ve done some spring cleaning, she’s done some gardening, and i’m hopefully going to turn my music column in relatively on time. yay!

and now it’s almost april, which will be a crazy-busy month. i’ve got tons of markets/festivals scheduled, and of course jazz fest is almost here – my favorite time of year. here’s a brief overview of my schedule, for future reference:

this coming saturday, the 3rd, i will be vending at the freret market, my regular monthly appearance. it’s my favorite regularly-occuring local market, with a good mix of flea, art, craft, and food vendors plus community organizations, free live music, kids activities, good beer (abita!) and just a great general vibe. lots of the new orleans craft mafia gals will be there, so come by and say hello if you are out and about.

the following weekend is french quarter fest and i’m thinking about picking up a day vending at elysian fleas again, as it is well-situated close to the quarter.

the third weekend in april is both the alternative media expo and crawfest at tulane; sadly, i had to make a choice about which one to vend at this year since they are both on the same day, but there was no way i could turn down the opportunity to be at crawfest. i had such a successful day there last year and it was a blast, so that’s where i will be. the craft mafia will, however, be well-represented at the alternative media expo: we are co-sponsors again this year and will be giving out the free swag bags loaded with goodies to the first 100 paid attendees (so get there early!), and several of our members will be there vending. if i could figure out a way to be in both places at the same time, i would.

that friday night, the 16th, is also the opening party for my friend jen biniek’s annual jazz fest art show. this is the fifth year she’s opened up her living room to all her artist friends’ “funky lil art,” as she calls it – small-sized, affordable, eclectic folk art, photography, jewelry, crafts and all other kinds of stuff. i’ll post more details about the opening in a separate blog entry, but pencil it in on your calendar now or at least make a point of stopping by during the two weeks of jazz fest, because it’s quite a sight to behold.

then on the 22nd, which happens to be earth day, the new orleans craft mafia is cooking up a fun event at whole foods on magazine street. we’re still ironing out the details, but it will be both a vending situation as well as a recycling demo, teaching folks how to turn old t-shirts into new funky reusable grocery bags. again, more details coming once everything is worked out.

and then it’s jazz fest and hopefully i get to relax for a bit. i won’t be doing any markets during the two weekends of jazz fest (though my stuff will be up at jen’s) and freret market’s may market has been pushed back to the 8th, the weekend after jazz fest, so as not to conflict. so hopefully i will have made enough $ at all the april markets to be able to partake a bit in jazz fest revelry, if not inside the fairgrounds at least on jen and mary ann’s porch.

i have, however, applied for a job with the census. i go to take the entrance test tomorrow and then find out more details. not sure if it will be a good fit for me or not, particularly since i have so much going on april on the weekends, but i guess i’ll see how it goes and if i can work it out schedule-wise. because goodness knows i could use the money.(i’m all ears for other job tips and offers if you know of anything.)

so that’s what’s going on for me. i’m sure there will be intermittent updates throughout the month, but if you don’t hear quite as much from me, you’ll know why. i’m just busy, hustlin.

beer fests are fun!

on saturday, i – along with several other members of the new orleans craft mafia – participated in the inaugural top of the hops beer festival on the northshore, at fontainebleau state park. being a big lover of beer myself, i was really looking forward to it, not just as a vending opportunity, but as a beer-drinking experience.

can you tell they were the sponsors of the fest?

the weather had been predicted to be sunny and 0 % chance of rain. unfortunately, that didn’t really work out. it was mostly cloudy, VERY windy (gusty, even, resulting in greenKangaroo’s tent blowing over during set-up and making us all nervous throughout the day) and threatened rain all afternoon. luckily, only a few drizzly drops made their way to the ground late in the afternoon, though it was sprinkling consistently while we broke down at the end of the day. but no major catastrophe ensued, and the sun did peek out a few times, enough to keep everyone warm and add to the enjoyment of the day.

some of my little beer folk art hanging in my booth

i somehow didn’t really remember to take many photos – must have been all those 2oz samples of beer i chugged down in the first hour or two! i knew i had to sober up by the time i left, so i could drive home safely, so i tried to do most of my beer drinking early on. it’s a strange event, having scores of beer vendors lined up in a row, pouring endless 2oz samples. it’s not enough beer for you to fill your tiny mug and walk away to enjoy it; just long enough to take a few swallows, try to savor each particular beer as best you can, and move on to the next one. after a while, it becomes hard to distinguish each beer.

i do remember particularly enjoying a few beers that i’d never tried before. i checked out all of heiner brau‘s beers, as i’d previously only had (and love) their amber. but they were out of their strawberry beer before i got there, sadly. many folks were talking about that one, so i’ll have to see if i can check that out another time. i tried lots of beers i’d heard of before but never tried – chimay, hoegaarden, several flavors of flying dog and sam adams i’d never tried, some of zea’s flavors i’d never had before, covington brewhouse, some of the lazy magnolia‘s, and nola brewing‘s new hurricane saison (very nice!) – and many new beers, most of which i can’t remember, that i hadn’t ever heard of before. i came home with several keychain bottle openers from budweiser (you can’t ever have enough of them, even if it does say budweiser) and a new green coozy from bayou teche brewing, for their LA31 beer, which is new to the new orleans market. (i liked it!) i drank a lot of beer.

mc auslan's st. ambroise apricot wheat

i can’t say there were many beers i didn’t like (though i don’t ever have to have dixie’s blackened voodoo ever again), but i can say there was a new favorite from everything i tasted today: mc auslan’s st. ambroise apricot wheat ale. i think i could actually drink a whole six pack of that stuff. often, i like the taste of a beer in small doses, but can’t manage to maintain my interest in it for an entire six pack. but this one, i think i can. the smell alone was just amazing. and i don’t even usually like fruity beers! (like, i hate abita’s strawberry beer.)

so yeah, it was a really fun day. fun hanging out with my nocm homies (including mallory of miss malaprop, who helped staff my booth, and her bf dave, who is a filmmaker and took some b-roll video footage of us for future use). i saw a few friends i had no idea would be there, and i got to not only meet kirk coco, president and co-founder of nola brewing company, but he bought my one-of-a-kind “craft beer drunk here” mixed media stencil clock! i’m gonna have to make it over to tchoupitoulas street to take a brewery tour soon, cuz i love their beer and love supporting the local microbrewery.

some of my bottlecap signs

oh, and i was smart enough before i started drinking beer to ask some of the beer vendors to hang on to their bottlecaps for me, so by the end of the day, i had a HUGE grocery bag full of a wide variety of craft/microbrew beer bottlecaps for future folk art/crafts. i don’t know why i’m so obsessed with bottlecaps, but like much advertising and product design, i find them to be tiny little metal pieces of artwork all on their own, that are awesome embellishments and/or materials for signs, folk art, clocks, mixed media pieces, cufflinks, etc. and, well, it’s recycling, too. so now i’m well-stocked for a while. yay!

i look forward to participating in the top of the hops fest again in the future. hopefully they will add more food and crafts vendors, and maybe offer slightly longer hours to partake of all those beers. but otherwise, i’d say it was pretty well done. if this sounds like fun to you, they’ve got another one coming up soon in lafayette, and have plans for greenville, south carolina and i think even louisville, kentucky later in the year. it’s a great idea; wish it had been mine! what a fun job it would be producing these beef fests all over america!