Posts filed under Art & Craft

True Colors: Growing and Creating Local Color with Colorwheel

Color matters. Nature uses color to attract a mate, warn of danger, lure food, and to signal hormone changes. Skin is limited in its color, so our clothing does most of the signaling for us. Mood, emotion, personality, confidence—all of this is cued through color. What colors to wear to an interview? What colors to wear on a first date? What colors to wear to an evening professional event? Neutrals with a touch of color connote professionalism and reliability, but wearing bright color is more eye-catching when out in the evening. Cultural context can change the meaning of color, but it doesn’t change the pattern of using color to communicate.

Fall Craft: Handmade Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls are a great alternative to chemical laden dryer sheets and fabric softener. They bounce around in the dryer with your load of laundry, helping to circulate air, which makes your clothes dry faster, reducing the time needed to run your machine. Of course, they work best with small to medium size loads because they need room to move around, but they will help with static cling and soften your clothes, all without the use of chemicals. Energy saving, money saving, and eco-friendly? Who could ask for more?

A Visit with the Women of White Lotus Farms Botanicals

I met Jess Tsomo and Kat Tsomo ten years ago while visiting Tsogyelgar Dharma Center, located on West Liberty Street in Ann Arbor. A few years after that I moved here to Ann Arbor from New York, so as to make Tsogyelgar the center point of gravity in my life. Kat, Jess, and I share a precious and magical bond as disciples of Buddhist Siddha Traktung Yeshe Dorje—the founder of Tsogyelgar Dharma Center. (Editor’s Note: For more information about Tsogyelgar, see the Cover Story in Issue #64 of the Crazy Wisdom Journal, September through December 2016, available in our archive online at crazywisdomjournal.com)


Feminism. Beauty. Queer. Art. Patriotism. Democracy: A Conversation with Local Artists John Gutoskey and Jen Talley

The election of President Trump has had an unexpected outcome: vigorous art production. Expressive signs, creative slogans, snappy comebacks, elegant visuals, perceptive one liners, parodies, comedies, dramas across all art forms, expressing particular values, have emerged, especially among social groups the President mocks, degrades, and denies. In response, artists celebrate their existence, dreams, loves, goals, aspirations, and an expansive idea of “freedom and justice for all.”

The Art of Humanizing Robots: An Interview with Cre Fuller

In the heart of Ypsilanti is an artist’s studio that feels, at times, both rooted in the future and the past. Glass eyes of various colors stare at you from every direction. Dentures riveted into metal figures bare wild grins. There is a nostalgia here; a feeling of things lost and found again. But there is also a sense of creation, of assemblage. It is a peek into a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein’s mind. A human-meets-robot dreamscape brought to life in rivets and metal. This is Cre Fuller’s studio.

Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Art & Craft, ISSUE 72, Local, Profile.

Embroidered Lavender-Filled Warming Pillow

With summer just around the corner and lots of gardening to be done, what could be better than a pretty warming pillow to soothe those sore muscles? Stuff the pillow with some dried lavender for soothing aromatherapy. To heat the pillow, place in the microwave for thirty seconds, pull it out and shake it, and heat it for another thirty seconds. You can also warm it in the oven by placing it in a cold oven on a cookie sheet. Turn oven on to 200 degrees. Shake pillow after five minutes, and put it back in the oven for another two to five minutes, checking it often to make sure that it is not too hot. Be cautious, it could burn you if you get it too hot. You can also try putting it in the freezer if you need a cool pack instead of a warming pack. Enjoy!

Building with Natural Materials in the Mitten State

My relationship with natural building started in 1996 when I took a 3-week course from the Cob Cottage Company on the West coast. It was a life-shaping experience in living and building with others, filled with the use of natural materials harvested from the land, food from the garden, bread from the earth oven, evening music, and camping. I came back to Michigan with the advice of my teacher, Ianto, to build with strawbales in this cold climate. I met up with Fran Lee who lived on rural land outside Oxford with her brother and sister-in-law, and together we set out to create a structure that feels like a hug. Inspired by the books Places for the Soul by Christopher Day and Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, we set out on a journey that came to include Carolyn Koch, Gregie Mathews, volunteers, and experts as we practiced the ways of stone, wood, reed, straw bale, and earth. Strawbale Studio became the work of many hands and a labor of love created with much time and perseverance. A small building is a good place to start!

The Art of Humanizing Robots: An Interview with Cre Fuller

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By Cashmere Morley

 In the heart of Ypsilanti is an artist’s studio that feels, at times, both rooted in the future and the past. Glass eyes of various colors stare at you from every direction. Dentures riveted into metal figures bare wild grins. There is a nostalgia here; a feeling of things lost and found again. But there is also a sense of creation, of assemblage. It is a peek into a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein’s mind. A human-meets-robot dreamscape brought to life in rivets and metal. This is Cre Fuller’s studio. 

Christopher “Cre” Fuller, 46, didn’t plan on building tin creations for a living. In fact, when he graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School, he went into building chimneys with his father, and later, working at Whole Foods when he moved to Ann Arbor in 1997.

“Like most corporate jobs, it could be frustrating, but I valued my time there,” Fuller said. “From there, I went to Plum Market, in a similar capacity, and tried my hand at the wholesale racket. I’m good at helping people and being honest and genuine. Wholesale was a bit of a smarmy… you kind of have to be greasy. And I wasn’t good at that.”

But he was good with his hands. After saving money and leaving that job to invest in himself and his art, Fuller decided to spend time chasing after a job that would be more fulfilling.

“I think I’d had every creative hobby under the sun. Around 2000, when I bought the house I still currently own, I spent all my money on the house, so I just needed an art. I had seen things around, you know, people making humans and robots out of junk and trash and whatnot, so I just decided to try my hand at it.” The first robot Fuller created was around 2000, 2001. To date, Fuller guesses he’s built around 600 robots. He’s best known as the guy that makes the “Tin Angry Men,” a name he’s trying to distance himself from. His web presence only bares his name, and no mention of the moniker, since Fuller doesn’t feel it fits his creations anymore.

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“At the time, I set up a little spare bedroom for all my glasswork and jewelry making. As I went along, I would make these little robot creations. I never took it too seriously. They were just little gag gifts and things like that.” Fuller said. “But I’ve always liked taking things apart, as a little kid, seeing how the guts work. What does what. So taking things apart wasn’t a stretch for me. And then just kind of reimagining what those parts could be once you have them unassembled, or disassociated from their previous purpose, whatever that purpose was,” Fuller said.

“I tend to gravitate toward vintage aluminum, I can get the look of it that I want, I can either keep it brushed and have it kind of dull and matted, or I can polish it, into a chrome-like shine. It has that mid-century vintage feel already, and a lot of the things I prefer to use, is early century stuff.”

Fuller frequents places like Recycle Ann arbor, and local antique shops to find his goods, though he admits it’s been a bit harder to find pieces as of late since he’s “depleted the local supply.”

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area welcomed him and his creations with open arms. “In Ann Arbor, people value art,” Fuller said. “And in its soul, it’s got people that respect and applaud the art. Ypsi has this humongous heartbeat of art and people who appreciate and applaud it.”

His work can be assembled quickly, if Fuller has the right parts.

“If I have all the stuff just sitting there, I can get a simple piece done in a day,” Fuller said. “Taking the time to let paint dry, and to let glass eyes cool, I can get a small piece done in a day. But sometimes, I’ve searched for those parts for a year. A huge component of this, of any assemblage artist, is their pile of goodies.”

While he does consider a lot of his work as “assemblage,” Fuller also admits that not all of his work falls under that category in art shows, so “found art sculpture” is also an acceptable way to describe what he creates.

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If you look at his work, there’s a sense of past-meets-future. “I think I was just trying to make that ‘50s version of a future robot. You know? Certainly, a departure from the modern take of robots. That’s what I really wanted to do: [embody] the romance of the vision of the future. When I first started doing this, I wanted them to look like vintage robots from the future. Cross between a little bit Star Wars, a little bit Mystery Science Theatre. I was always a fan of MST. The guy just made robots from crap laying around the shop, and that’s exactly what the deal is over here.”

For a vision that personifies parts of the past, Fuller’s work seems to capture the minds of young and old in the present. “I was surprised by how much of the population were into robots: whether they knew they were, or they found out they were from looking at my work,” Fuller said. “Certainly, young kids, boys and girls, all love it. The lamps I make, I try to make them touch sensitive, to turn them on. The kids love that. So do comic book nerds, movie geeks, sci-fi people. I consider myself part of the tribe there.”

But his work doesn’t stop at robots. Fuller considers himself an artist and event-organizer, who describes himself as a “jack of all trades, who can handle just about anything,” with other projects including Dypsi, an indie art far in Ypsilanti, and simple, vintage-looking light up signs for personal use as well as business. Fuller has made signs for Side Tracks and Wurst Bar in Ypsilanti.  

Fuller said, “When I’m working on a piece, I like seeing the personality develop and unfold. Right when I’m done with one piece, I put it on a shelf, and I turn around and start on the next one. I like seeing them come to life. And I like moving on to the next one. And I like learning from the last one. I think it helps the evolutionary chart, if you line them all up, you can see how they all progress.”  

One of Fuller’s muses is H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist most recognized for his work on the film Alien.

“He was just a weirdo and had a dark style, all that biotechnical stuff. It struck a chord with me as a kid.” Fuller said. “When I’m looking to build something, I’m looking for shapes, maybe some texture… just something I can remove from its original purpose and misplace it. Maybe I don’t see it right away, maybe later.”

As of late, his work has taken on a different feel, thanks to the glass eyes and dentures he’s inherited from friends, family, and locals who fell in love with his work.

“I started getting dental molds, plaster casts, usually used, all busted up,” Fuller said. “I think I was discussing this at one of my Dypsi shows, and one of the onlookers said, “Hey, I have some of my father’s old dentures. Would you like those?” and I’m guessing he doesn’t need them anymore… so I was like sure.”

Fuller said he hung onto those dentures for a few years as he gathered the right parts and pieces for the robot he wanted to make. “I waited until I had a couple of cool pieces to go with it because I thought those were special,” Fuller explained. “It helped normalize that person’s life.”

 “People were like ‘what the hell is this guy doing?’” When I completed the piece with the dentures, it turned out really, really good. It was one of my favorite pieces. It was creepy, it was cool, I felt like I had made a complete piece. I was happy with it. I ended up finding her email, sending her a picture of the piece, telling her, ‘I finally got around to using your father’s dentures, I hope you approve, had a lot of fun…’ and she just loved it, her uncle ended up buying it for her. When I talked to her, she ended up sending me a picture of her father, and I swear to god it was so creepy, how much it looked exactly like him. It was an old man, bald, kind of gaunt, and that’s exactly how the piece ended up looking. I was like… get this thing out of here.”

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But the dentures weren’t the beginning of wild part-human, part-machine creations. “The one with my aunt’s glass eyes, that was the precursor to starting to get really weird with it,” Fuller said. “My aunt has a glass eye, apparently you have to get them replaced because your physiology changes, so she has some glass eyes and I was like, “Aunt Sally, you have to give those to me,” because she was talking about throwing them away, I thought that was absolutely crazy, you don’t throw away glass eyes.” Fuller said. So he decided to incorporate them into his work.

“She’s tickled pink about me using it. It was the gateway of getting super weird. Then the teeth… the way the whole thing came together. Kismet-ly looking like him. That was probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever made.”

For Fuller, there’s a humanness to what he creates. “You can go online and buy [glass eyes or dentures] and there’s a million of them out there. But that’s not the point of what I do. I’ll search eBay for some stuff, but things like that I don’t want to buy. It’s not the point,” he said.

“The way I make something personal is like if you have a certain piece of kitchenware that grandma used to use. Something that has her soul in it. His or her soul. A lot of the times, I’ll find an old biscuit cutter where the wood’s all worn away. I just picture someone in the 50’s, 60’s, little old grannie or whoever, cutting biscuits out with love, wanting them for her family or grandchild, so that love, that energy is in that handle. When I look for pieces, I look for stuff like that. Pieces with scuff marks, the handle that has seen so many biscuits cut. It’s hard to make something look like someone, but there are ways to instill their soul in something.”  

To see more of Cre Fuller’s work follow his Instagram @crefuller or visit him online at www.crefuller.com. Contact Fuller at tinangrymen@gmail.com

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Posted on May 1, 2019 and filed under Art & Craft, Interviews, ISSUE 72, Local.

Comedy, Drama, Music and More...Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Shares Secrets of Success

Alexandra Berneis smiles slightly. She leans back in her chair in her crowded office in the distinctive purple building on a quiet street in downtown Ann Arbor.

The executive director of the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre ponders the question at hand: “The secret to our success? Let me think for a minute. She knows there is one — maybe more than one. After all, the community theater group has celebrated its 90th anniversary and is still going strong, producing mainstage productions, junior theater, workshops, new play readings, and improv every season.

A Little Winter Twitter--Crafting an embroidered Chickadee pin

I love seeing the flash of dark color against white snow when the chickadees come to eat at my birdfeeder. Chickadees are one of a handful of birds that stay in Michigan when the snow comes calling and their songs are sure to lift your spirits when the day is gray. This little chickadee pin looks deceitfully hard to make, but is really rather simple. It will make a great gift for a friend who needs a bit of a mid-winter cheer.

Marrying Dance and Yoga--An interview with Navtej Johar

Interview with Navtej Johar (E-RYT 500) a senior and longtime student of TKV Desikachar. A dancer by profession, he has been teaching yoga since 1985.  He is the founder of the Poorna Center for Embodied Practices and also teaches at Inward Bound Yoga in Ann Arbor.  

Posted on January 1, 2019 and filed under Art & Craft, Calendar Essays, Exercise, Interviews, Issue 71, Local, Yoga.

Bowling, Documentaries but not (yet) bowling documentaries

Donald Harrison’s office has a bowling lane in it, at least part of a lane. The gleaming slab is from the leading edge of an old, decommissioned bowling alley and forms the top of Harrison’s elevated desk at 7 Cylinders Studio. It is the first thing he points out as I enter his bright, airy workspace in a renovated building across from the AATA bus depot in Ypsilanti. 

Posted on September 1, 2018 and filed under Art & Craft, Issue 70, Profile.

Leaps of Faith: Tales of Local Businesses, Ypscity

When Damien Lamberti, more commonly known as D, first decided to open YPSCITY, it was to be a custom sneaker shop (there’s a major market for upcycled, custom designed tennis shoes in the Sneaker Culture, and they’re fetching incredible prices) and graphic design business, but it quickly grew into a broader concept which included providing a space for artists, home crafters, and creators to display and sell their work. As D put it, “I wanted to create a space in which artists are taken seriously and can be fairly compensated for their creations, rather than accepting the minimal amounts often offered for the piece they spent weeks or months creating.” 

The Art of Flexibility

In our culture the trajectory of life seems to be geared toward getting us to a place of expertise, certainty, and all knowing. It may seem unfortunate that certainty is inversely proportional to knowledge (Jung), and that knowing prevents seeing (Huber). 

I love learning, crave certainty, and like others have to make peace with the fact that there are few truths I can depend on despite years of study and self-improvement. I know for sure that things change all the time, unpredictably at that, and that everyone eventually dies, who knows when. I know that the mind prefers simplicity to complexity, new life to death, clarity to ambivalence, and siding with a polarity rather than coming to terms with multiple realities. 

Posted on September 1, 2018 and filed under Art & Craft, Therapeutic Healing, Issue 70.

Crafting: Celebrate the Coming Winter with A Julbok

As the warm breezes shift to cool caresses on our cheeks and we pull out the warm handmade quilts from grandma and sweaters from mom, many of us turn our thoughts to gift giving. The Julbok is a pre-Christian Swedish tradition that lives on today. Some say he pulled the Tomten’s cart full of presents during the winter solstice. Some say he was the one giving out the presents. Still others claim

that he is a prankster that makes sure whomever is receiving the present is worthy of it! Traditionally, the Julbok was made of the last harvest of straw and thought to be good luck. However you celebrate as we move into winter, this sweet little Julbok is sure to be a great addition to your seasonal decorations, a Yule tree, or even as a gift topper.

Posted on September 1, 2018 and filed under Art & Craft, Issue 70, Homemade, Homemaking.

Pink Castle Fabrics — A World of Creation and Joy

Last issue, Crazy Wisdom profiled Maker Works, a local business offering space, tools, and teaching about woodcraft, metalworking, and other hands on skills. This issue, we are profiling another business offering space, tools, and teaching, but in a very different medium. Pink Castle Fabrics has a small retail space on the West Side of Ann Arbor, and may seem modest to outsiders. But with a global reach through their online community, retreats, and Instagram feed, Pink Castle Fabrics invigorates and innovates in a uniquely modern format.

Posted on December 22, 2016 and filed under Art & Craft, Winter 2017 Issue.