I've been falling off the business/school bandwagon lately, mostly because I've discovered that I'm pregnant and that's a job in itself.  Also, there will be some disruptions because I am going to have to return to Canada for most of my pregnancy.  After that I should have all my immigration stuff sorted out (it's easier to apply from outside of the country) and will be able to stay in the US for as long as I want and even get a job.  Of course, there will be a babything taking up my time as well!  If I do get a job, I will only work part-time so that I can focus on my art and the baby.  We are very happy about this; we've been talking about having children as soon as we started dating and got serious about it quite a while ago so we are ecstatic!

Anyway, I decided to have one last volunteering hurrah before I wasn't able to do that sort of thing anymore.  I helped out at the PNCA Art Auction.  PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) is the leading art school here in Portland and the auction was to raise funds for scholarships.  I had never been to an auction before and didn't know how it was going to go.  I wasn't super excited about hanging out with rich people and I was worried that the limitations of my pregnancy (having to eat, drink, and pee frequently) would be a problem.  My first assignment was to stand next to some of the art to make sure that people didn't accidently knock it over or damage it (alcohol was served at this event).  It started out very quiet and not many people came to see me at first.  One of the waiters saw that I was all alone and offered to get me a glass of wine (I'm just starting to show so he didn't know I was pregnant.  Anyway he got me water instead.)  When people came to see my pieces, most of them were very nice (or too shy to be rude).  Some even chatted with me when they saw I was alone, and a few asked about the exhibitions at the museum.  During this time guests were free to mill about, looking at the art, schmoozing, and eating.  I think people were more passionate about the food than the art!  It is hard to focus on art when you are hungry, I know.  This went on for a few hours.  Then it was time for the auction.  During this time I was an art handler, carrying the art to be seen by the audience.  (There were a number of us handling.)  This involved wearing white cotton gloves, walking down, walking across the front in front of the stage (so that the auctioneer could see the audience) and then walking up the aisle so that people could have a closer look.  Oh yeah, and there was a spotlight on me as I did this.  Some of the time it was just me, and sometimes I shared the carrying with another person if the work was large and heavy or with a few people if it involved more than one piece.  I had a lot of trouble with one large and heavy piece and had to walk like a crab to try to show it to people.  My partner and I also had trouble keeping it upright and high enough for people to see it.  So if you are ever in an auction and the handler isn't holding the art high enough, it's probably because it's heavy!  Anyway, the auction was fun and the auctioneer was a great entertainer, joking around with the audience and trying to persuade them to increase their bids.  The highest bid of the night was for food (see my earlier theory) in which the offer was for 12 people to go have dinner at a famous artist's house.  Two bidders joined forces, increased it to 25 people, and bid $10,000!

After that, I headed into the boardroom to help wrap the art to prepare it for transport.  I was a little nervous about this but it wasn't hard.  It basically involved bubble wrap, cardboard corners for the paintings, paper so that the wrap wouldn't damage the paintings, and lots of tape.  At the beginning of this process I cut my finger, which ended up being a good thing because I got to eat while it stopped bleeding.  It wasn't a bad cut at all but I obviously couldn't risk getting any blood on the art.  So we volunteers got to eat and we were offered wine or cocktails as well.  I stayed until 9:30, at which point most of the art was wrapped.  It was a good experience and I enjoyed getting to know some people from the college.  I should also mentioned the waitstaff from the hotel, who were amazing.  They helped us when we were struggling with the art and fed and watered us and made sure we were taken care of.  So altogether it was a really good experience!
So, although I've officially been back at school this week, I haven't really done any schoolwork.  For one thing, I'm waiting for my drawing books to come in.  For another, I don't yet have the supplies for my weaving.  I only have myself to blame for not having watched podcasts though.  I don't usually watch them while I work because most of the things I do when I work require attention.

I have finished one big commission, a tablecloth.  The clients seem pretty happy with it and hopefully I will ship it this week.
Tablecloths take a long damn time!  I am also working on a tablecloth and six placemat set.  It's taking a while too but it doens't have a strict deadline so I can work on other stuff as well.  I have three sets of four napkins that I'm working on now. I will also do some placemat-napkin sets of two for Valentine's Day.

At my last shift at the Museum, I got a million resources.  The one I looked into yesterday was RACC, The Regional Arts and Culture Council.  They have listings for jobs, grants, and all sorts of things.  I haven't finished looking through their calls to artists yet.  It's an amazing resource and I'll probably have to spend a few days wading though.

One of the things I found in the calls to artists was a call to knitters to knit panels for blankets that will be given to local homeless people.  I've been working on that to try to get it in on time.  It's probably going to snow this weekend and not everyone can get into shelters, so I hope I can help someone out. There seems to be a very active knitting-for-the-community scene here in Portland and there are many opportunities to participate.

I'm going to drop off some work at the Crafty Underdog consignment store today.  Wish me luck!
So, I don't know how many people regularly read my blog, but those who do may have noticed that I haven't been posting much lately.  That's because I've been having less and less time for school.  My business is taking up a lot more time.  Instead of doing surface design for an hour every other day, I now have to do it for a few hours every day.  Now, according to the unschooling method, this is still school because I am learning things about surface design as I do it professionally, such as how to replicate a color I mixed in a previous batch, how to make new colors, and how to make items thick enough to be serviceable while using a fabric that's thin enough not to be a pain.  I am currently working on a batch of napkins and placemats for my brother and sister-in-law, who have requested green and brown for the placemats and yellow and blue for the napkins.  Additionally, they want something natural-looking.  I have made mistakes and had to start again, run out of supplies, and all kinds of adventures.  Also, I'm trying to focus a little more on the business side of things, such as picking up supplies, communicating with future clients about exactly what they want, recording expenses, and arranging deliveries.

Here are some photos of the project, part of the way through:
Pole-wrapped napkins with glue resist drying. The mess you see around them is the typical state of my studio. I can clean it up (clean is a relative term) and it will be this messy again in an hour and a half.
Close-up of the glue resist.
Pole-wrap in action! Most of the immersion dyeing takes place within the bathtub. I try to keep a bucket in the bathroom so that we can throw the supplies in there while we shower.
One day when I'm rich and famous I will have a separate studio outside my living quarters so that the bathroom can be for bathing and the bedrooms can be for sleeping.  Or at least for less-messy crafts.

In addition to business, I have added a fair bit of exercise to my routine because I find that my quality of life is so much better if I do.  I walk every day anyway, but I have also been adding running, pilates, and yoga.  This ends up being between an hour to two hours of exercise a day.  My back pain has disappeared, my concentration has improved, and my mood is so much better (doing something I love for a living doesn't hurt either).  I don't know if I'll lose weight or develop amazing lung capacity or anything, but that would be nice too.

I am going to be volunteering with the Museum of Contemporary Craft in the Pearl District of downtown Portland.  It's my favorite gallery here.  I have my volunteer orientation tonight.  I'm not sure how often I'll be volunteering, but it will be nice to get out more often and hang with people who love art, while supporting my favorite gallery.  My other volunteer thing is that I seem to have become a chaplain with Occupy Portland.  I didn't intend to do this, but like most things with the movement, it just kind of happened organically.  Really, this is very nice because I got my degree in Religious Studies because I wanted to help the world, and the mainline church hasn't really needed or wanted to use my education.  Here are some people who don't care that I haven't gotten my master's degree or gone through discernment committees, they just need some help.  So I'm happy to be useful in that way.

Hopefully, I'll have a little more time for school soon and I can keep everyone posted on what I've learned.  In the meantime, look out for more progress reports on my business projects!