Epic Star Wars Relay Arrives To Kick-Off San Diego Comic-Con

Chuck Cook Photography
"Jabba's Pleasure Barge" Rolls Towards Downtown San Diego

Course of the Force, the Star Wars-themed relay of a lightsaber down the California coast, wrapped up its second year last night. The relay started at Skywalker Ranch, the workplace of "Star Wars" producer George Lucas near Nicasio, California. "Jabba's Pleasure Barge" and its entourage of tour buses and shuttles, arrived in San Diego eight days later at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Course of the Force is a substantial fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Make-A-Wish grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses, such as a trip to Disney World or meeting a famous person. It's also some great brand exposure for Star Wars and big-name sponsors such as Qualcomm, Ford, State Farm, Hasbro and Rubie's Costumes

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Corset Maker Crafts Perry Anti-Abortion Voodoo Dolls to Benefit Planned Parenthood

Categories: Craft

Michelle Sinched of Mr. Sinched is well-known in Houston for her corsets that bind women tightly with great restriction, but that's just good clean fetishy fun. When it comes to the Texas Legislature and Governor Rick Perry's plans to shut down Texas abortion clinics she's the exact opposite of amused. Now she's taking the fight to the man she calls "Governor Goodhair" in her own way; with voodoo dolls of the Governor complete with tampon pins to act out your anger and or hexes upon his person.

All profits after cost will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

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The Future is Now at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Categories: Craft

"Precis: a muse declaration" by Bryan Czibesz and Shawn Spangler

Authorship. Originality. These are some, but of course not nearly all, of the things that usually come to mind when considering art -- the conceit of the artist and that his or her unique vision gives meaning and value to the work. Now, get ready to turn all that on its head.

In the exhibition "CTRL + P" at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, words like open source and creative commons are more pressing than authorship and originality. The show, curated by Anna Walker, brings together artists who make work based on ideas and designs that are free for the taking, as long as you have the right technology.

In this case, it's cutting-edge concepts such as computer-aided design programs and 3D printers, which, instead of adding ink to paper, build objects line by line out of metal or plastic. Using this 21st-century technology and designs from open-source websites, the artists here have been able to make sculptural and functional objects, often in bulk.

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Plumb Bobs Get Their Day in the Sun at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Categories: Craft

A close-up of one of Gary Schott's plumb bobs.
A plumb bob isn't something you'd usually see on display to admire. The typically acorn-shaped weight is used behind the scenes, by the likes of carpenters, architects and artists, to note the vertical of a surface. It's rarely seen as a work of art in and of itself.

Gary Schott begs to differ, though. The San Antonio metalsmith has a new series on display at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft that asks you to admire the plumb bob for its aesthetic contributions in the solo show "The Ornamental Plumb Bob."

More than a dozen plumb-bob weights line the center's artist hall, suspended from the walls in between the artist studios. Historically, these weights have taken the form of anything from fruits and vegetables to nautical designs and the standard acorn. Schott favors the latter, with weights that look like ice cream cones. They're painted bold colors and hang from decorative plaques of varying shapes, sizes and colors, like ornaments or earrings. Though they all serve the same purpose in the end, each one is unique.

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Whimseybox: Creativity Delivered To Your Doorstep Monthly

Categories: Craft

Photos By Brittanie Shey
A Houston company is making DIY projects and crafting easier than ever with a subscription service that delivers a grab-bag of instructions and supplies to your doorstep each and every month.

Whimseybox is the brainchild of Alicia DiRago, founder of the crafting blog Dismount Creative. The company is just over a year old, and grew from the connections and crafting community DiRago developed online after moving to Houston from Chicago about three years ago.

A self-descried "recovering chemical engineer," DiRago was at a loss of what to do with herself after moving to Houston with her husband for his job.

"I was an engineer. I thought for sure I'd find a job in Houston. But when the time came to look for work I just did not have it in me."

Instead, DiRago set about trying to make new friends. But that wasn't easy at first either.

"There were classes or events in Chicago where people would get together and make jewelry or craft. but I couldn't find anything like that in Houston," she said.

Not long after the move, she started Dismount Creative, and began to hold classes and events as a way to meet creative types in Houston.

"I think people are more open in a class situation as opposed to just an event at a bar," she said. "I'm a class junky -- I'll take a class on anything. (Like engineering) it's all related to my love of making things."

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The Folk Market Makes Its Debut at AvantGarden

Categories: Craft, Last Night

Photo by Abby Koenig
The First Folk Market at AvantGarden
This Sunday marked the first Folk Market at AvantGarden, which will be a monthly event held on the third Sunday of each month. The Folk Market is the brain child of Brittany Bly who also created Pop Shop Houston. Each month, Bly will coordinate with 20 or so vendors to bring their goods to the parking lot of the Westheimer bar and art venue.

Bly, who is a crafter herself, wanted to make sure that The Folk Market matched the DIY sensibility of Pop Shop. All vendors must be indies, meaning no chains stores. While the inaugural Folk Market was comprised of sellers specifically from Houston and the surrounding areas, Bly isn't making that a requirement.

"Out of towners are welcome," Bly says, "they just have to be independent sellers."

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Vans Invades High School with a Killer Design Contest Worth $50k for Art Programs

Categories: Craft

When school kids come back to the dreaded schoolhouse in a few days for the spring semester, they have something less lame and like, dumb and stuff, to look forward to. The Vans shoe company is once again opening its Vans Custom Culture competition to high school art classes all over the country. This will be the fourth year that Vans has held the contest.

Geared toward getting kids excited about design and art, the competition searches for the best shoe designs, with the winning school earning $50,000. In these days of declining funding for art programs -- among other depressing cuts in school spending -- I am sure that $50K would be a huge shot in the arm for your average high school art program.

Kids love Vans as it is, so this is also a good way for them to use their Vans fandom for the betterment of their school. Yes, I am sure that sounds yucky to high schoolers.

From the press release:

Each school will be tasked with customizing four favorite Vans styles: the Old Skool, 106 Vulcanized, Sk8-Hi and Classic Slip-On. Students are charged with designing each pair of shoes to fit within one of three themes representing the Vans lifestyle, including action sports, art and music and then also a fourth "local flavor" theme reflecting regional inspiration.
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Christmas Comes Early: WHAM is Here

Pen Morrison, WHAM artist
Christmas is coming early for all you art lovers out there - the 7th Annual Winter Holiday Art Market (WHAM) is just around the corner. The annual holiday market, filled with wares from local artists, takes place November 16 through 18 at the Winter Street Studios and it's not just a shopping experience; it's a party.

WHAM is a product of art purveyors Fresh Arts. As the story goes, WHAM's original iteration was that of a student art sale hosted by the Glassell School of Art. When Glassell decided to stop producing the sale, it was handed over to Winter Street, which is when Fresh Arts, then Spacetaker, took it on. Tying into the start of the holiday season, Fresh Arts have been producing this celebration of art since 2006.

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Quilt Craziness at the International Quilt Festival

Each year thousands of people gather together in Houston with one common love: Quilts! This weekend marked the annual International Quilt Festival. The Houston festival is the largest in the country, and last year's attendance broke records with more than 60,000 attendees.

This year's fest was nothing to shrug at. The George R. Brown was taken over with what felt like miles and miles of quilts. Much of the festival was vendors who came from all over the country to sell their quilt-related wares. Bolts of fabric, notions, buttons and all the latest quilt gadgets tantalized potential buyers.

This is a quilt!

Sewing machine company Bernina was on hand with its ten-foot sewers. The machines are computerized, which means you pick a design from the computer's collection of images and presto! The machine will stitch your quilt for you. When I was watching, the machine was making little Christmas trees like it was nothing.

Down the aisle from Bernina was another set of machines, by A-1 Quilting. These machines, while just as large, required you to take charge and sew yourself (oh, the horror). The ladies of A-1, Trish and Janice, had a lot to say about the newfangled computerized machines, noting, "It's like sending your quilt out to be sewn for you."

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Christa Havican: Artist & Bartender Brings "Spirit Animals" to Life

Photo by Simon Gentry
"Christa Monster" at work at The Photo Booth on Montrose
You may have seen Christa Havican shaking cocktails at Kata Robata or competing in local cocktail competitions, but that's not all she does. She's also the artist known as "Christa Monster" in-residence at The Photobooth on Montrose, a combination photo studio, art gallery and performance space established by photographer Simon Gentry.

Photo by Christa Havican
One of several "spirit creatures" that are available for bidding
Over the past few weeks, Christa has been working on an installation called "Once We Were Wild--A Spirit Animal Series", a selection of ridiculously cute creatures on two legs and garbed in people-clothes. If you see "The Monster is In" sign on the door, it means Christa is creating more of the little beasts.

How did a bartender end up with a dual career as an artist? "I began dabbling with art as early as I can remember," said Christa. "I would always bring home stacks of paintings and drawings from school, and when asked what I wanted to be when I got older, my response was an artist or performer. Everyone in my family is involved in some form of art, so it has always been a part of me--so much so that I decided to continue my education in fine art from University of Houston.

Photo by Christa Havican
The very fashionable Ms. Fox will be available at Friday's reception
Christa hopes that the Shrinky Dink®-like creatures will demonstrate that some art is meant to be interactive and fun, for adults and children alike. The cute creatures are touchable and durable.

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