Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 - Reflections on my trip to Taiwan

The last few months of 2013 were especially hard for me.

You would think a family vacation to Taiwan (the Motherland) for two weeks would be great. It was definitely enlightening in many ways but the trip really made me really depressed. I was already burnt out from doing show after show after show for months. But there is something profound about going to a beautiful tropical country and then realizing that it is wrought with environmental and social problems. The air pollution in the major cities were varying degrees of disgusting depending on weather and location. I found that mountainous and seaside cities had the most breathable air. Otherwise, you were inhaling cadmium-laced diesel air the more inland you are from the vast amounts of scooters that were being driven. I almost got ran over three times by said scooters. Driving laws are not reinforced and were as loose at the tunic shirts I brought over.

The culture is quite similar but also very different. It sometimes did not feel different from Canada when you looked at Taiwan from a outside perspective. However, when it came to social values there was a distinct difference. I saw many abandoned pure-bred large sized dogs in the cities. It broke my heart. Dogs that would fetch thousands of dollars and imported from abroad were left to fend for themselves in city streets once they grew out of their cute puppy stage. In the countryside, large dogs were chained to front yards on 2m chains as 'guard dogs' but they were flea-ridden. I even stumbled on a dead starved dog in front of someone garage. The more isolated seaside areas are full of small packs of abandoned dogs. My family and I came on some puppies that were so full of fleas but at the same time so friendly. If I could take them home with me...I would. The biggest irony of this dog abandonment issue is that almost everyone had a Miniature red poodles who were clearly pampered and spoiled.

At almost every major intersection in the bigger cities there were disabled, mentally-challenged, or disfigured individuals who would approach you selling state lottery tickets, gum, tissues, pens, candies, or flowers. My siblings and I would try to buy out as many of these vendors as we could once we discovered why this was their livelihood. Apparently, in Taiwan there is no equal employment laws or discrimination laws against people who are mentally or physically challenged. Nor are there laws against ageism, sexism, or minority discrimination in hiring practices like those found in Canada. It is said if you are in any way 'different' or if you are over 35 years-old it is unlikely you will find a job. These people who approached us mainly had disfigurements, missing limbs, or were mentally-challenged. They are given a state welfare but it barely covers their life needs and they have to resort to selling small things or begging to make ends meet.

I basically discovered despite the natural beauty of the country I began to abhor it's callous regard for the environment and social values. It was even worst in China when I laid over twice. I have basically sworn off traveling to Asia for a long time. There is nothing in this world I hate more than feeling helpless and that was exactly what travelling to Taiwan did to me. I felt like I couldn't help anything or anyone. It didn't matter that I made more income than average Taiwanese adult. There was nothing long-term I could do for the things that made me upset. I would spend nights lying awake feeling a profound pain in myself over these things.

I'm not saying Taiwan is the only country with problems. By all means, I recommend visiting any country at least once in your lifetime. Just these issues really latched themselves on to me. I grew up in Canada and I was raised to believe that a good society is one that promotes equality regardless of disabilities. I have always worked for companies that have equal employment practices and a history of charitable work. I don't believe people get "too old" for employment. That's bullshit.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Persephone Collection



THE PERSEPHONE COLLECTION - My Spring and Summer color collection is now mostly out! (By mostly, meaning I still have to upload the hairchains, the bracelets, the long necklaces and rings - but the key collection is released!)

The Persephone Collection is my second officially released collection. Urban Nomad is my unofficial second collection (in creation terms) but it is SO BIG that I actually feel pretty intimidated to upload it all. I will do so in the coming months though as I have more time. 

It seems SO WEIRD to have jumped from Nocturna Collection to Persephone Collection when in reality I had A LOT of time to figure out transitioning away from monotones, to the exciting neutrals and duller colors of Urban Nomad, to where I am now with the Persephone Collection. This little technical gap bothers me and probably leaves my potential stockists' rubbing their heads. I'm sorry, guys!

I had A LOT of fun playing with colors and rediscovering it. Personally, I have always been good at it due to a childhood background in watercolor painting. But, I gave it up a long time ago in favor of academics under extreme parental pressures (something I still regret to this day). But, to finally get to pick something like contrasting and complimenting colors was quite fun. The results are unconventional (for me personally) and the style is refreshingly modern with a slight nouveux-tribal-meets-luxe-boho kind of aesthetic. 

I have posted the collection on my COVEN ETSY and everything has FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING. Also, there is a SALE of 10% the whole shop if you use PERSEPHONE10 when you check out. 

You may be asking why I decided to go with FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING no matter what. Honestly, as a customer I am an avid online shopper. But, I hate adding things to my shopping cart then later seeing the shipping's discouraging and a little annoying sometimes. I've adopted a policy to just to incur most of the shipping costs myself to save my customers from that same issue. Yeah, it annoys me THAT much. 

Anyways, no more shop talk. Go look at the collection below!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Photography Assignment - MY STUDIO and The Persephone Collection (Process)

I recently had to do a photography assignment for one of my university classes.

I think I am still terrible at photography and I think it might be that I still don't really know how to use my camera (or it's not awesome enough). At least the class has made me realize that there are a lot more technical aspects to it then I think.

It was based on a phrase and your interpretation of it.

Well, then, I was told not to translate it too literally...but I took it in a literal direction. I'm very uncreative when it comes to stuff like this. Ask me to make something beautiful physically - and I will. Ask me to photograph something? I hit a wall.

Without further ado here is the phrase I chose:

It is something that conveys in my mind the best situation for me. I could have chosen more inspirational or provocative phrases but I liked how it stood for me as what I aspire to. I definitely could have manually focused this picture better. Sigh. I can't tell on the TINY LCD flip screen.

One of things about what you like/love is that it is in a literal sense freedom. For me, it's the freedom to wake up really late. YESSSSS... 11:30 - 1 pm wake-up time as depicted in this picture of my view from my studio. It overlooks Liberty Village a tad and I always see the lake on a good day. 


What makes me happy? THIS. This is only around 20% of my studio but this area is where I work almost everyday. Normally, it doesn't look so clean. Under the table is where my more heavy supplies: Italian chain, boxes and boxes of gems, silks, lace, and other notions hide. I like to think I am organized...but let's be honest this is obviously a depiction of a borderline hoarder. See how I gave up even labeling the little drawers?

Designing is also a form of happiness and freedom for the partially self-employed (like myself). The freedom of designing what you want without consequences or supervision. Here's my obviously staged attempt to figure out one of my leather, boxchain, and pearl designs. One of my more recent pieces is a leather wrapped skull. I'm putting it on a clutch but a lack of an industrial sewing machine puts a huge block on that project. 

I ordered replacement tubes for the vintage metalled acrylic I had used the first time around. The angle was totally wrong. So, I made long necklaces since the angle of the tubes gave a pleasant 'U' shape. Here's a sketch of my first piece, then the prototype, and now laying out the next versions of the long necklace. 

Beading process. A close-up. Look at that gorgeous centerpiece of the necklace! It's a rainbow quartz. I call this one the peacock rainbow quartz and it's a weird powdery blue with iridescent shine. So pretty!

More beading...

I end this post with one of my most recent publications from COCO Magazine's April issue which you can see HERE. The necklace is the same one on the model in the editorial. It's actually the second piece I made for the Persephone Collection.

 The team that did the shoot got the cover of the magazine which is exciting. One of my pieces is actually on the cover but you can't see it (except for the chain portion). Still pretty pleased with the results though. I started out pretty avant-garde goth with my designs and playing with colors nowadays has really been an adventure!