petit book :: spencer, the ennui dog

i’ve made a pocket version of my amigurumi storybook, ‘the boring life of spencer, the ennui dog’.  it’s a children’s story for adults, with love, adventure, a 3-headed duck and a little backstabbing.  it’s available now in my online shop.  and i’ll be showing it at the fringe festival here in saskatoon, starting tonight.

back in 2006 i was invited to take part in an art book fair at aka gallery in saskatoon.  i’d just started this blog.  my first solo show of drawings was opening soon and i was still drawing for that show.  the art book fair was scheduled just a week after my show opening.  i didn’t have a book of drawings, or any other book to show.  but i wanted to take part, so of course i said ‘yes’.

i’d already been making a few amigurumi animals, but i didn’t have a story.  so i sat down a couple of nights after my show opening and wrote a story.  i spent a couple of days going around town taking photos with my amigurumi (it was super-cold, some of the “special effects” were hard to get right, i had to go to value village to find a pink jeep for the big ending).  paul and i stayed up late one night to do the layout and i got it printed the next day, at an office printing shop.  i bolted the pages together and took it right to the art book fair.

everyone seemed to really enjoy the spencer book.  that summer i brought it to the fringe festival and people were lining up in front of my table to read it, bringing their friends over.  i thought about getting it printed professionally but it seemed like too much trouble.  i always meant to make a smaller, affordable version of the book, but life kept getting busier and that never happened.  i did design a set of ‘spencer’ postcards that i’ve been showing at the fringe festival and selling in my online shop.  and the 3-headed maximum team power duck doll who played the bad guy in the book, made an appearance as part of a show i did at the mendel art gallery.

well, now i’ve finally made a mini-version of the spencer book that you can buy and take home with you.  it’s roughly 4 x 6 inches in size, so you can carry it in your pocket.  just take it out and read it when you need a little laugh. or you can come to my blog and read the whole story here. click the thumbnails to view the pages at full size or click the link below to launch a slideshow.

[nggallery id=spencerbook]

i’m taking part in the saskatoon fringe festival again this year, starting tonight until august 8th.  it’ll be the 4th time i’ve showed there in 5 years.  i’ll be selling this petit spencer book as well as my prints and postcards.  come on down to broadway avenue to meet me.  i’m planning to attend as many days as i can.  i’ll probably have elijah with me for some of the time, since he’s having a very emotional separation anxiety these days.

hope to see you there!

nigi nigi :: toys for poko-chan

niginigi440.jpg

i don’t know what you call these toys for babies in english. they’re called “nigi nigi” in japanese (“nigiru” means “squeeze”). these are toys for babies to squeeze. i found a japanese website that shows how to make handmade toys for babies and children. of course, i couldn’t follow the exact instructions, so their eyes are different and their holes should be smaller. but they turned out pretty good, i think.

as a child, my parents and grandparents bought me many toys. but the toys i remember most are the things my family created. my favorite was a car my brother made out of a cardboard box. we would both get in the car and pretend to drive around inside the house… my brother also made some kind of transformer costumes and we fought in them. he made many things and it was really amusing to watch him destroy things like an alarm clock to examine how it’s made. when he was 12, he actually built a house out of wood. it was a two-story house, with a meeting room, a manga reading room and a kitchen (or just a place to eat snacks). unfortunately he and his friends built the house on someone else’s property, so the house had to be torn down. too bad — it was impressive. i don’t think we have any photos of it either.

my mom and grandma made things for me as well. they made me some cloths for my rika-chan doll (my rika chan was second generation). my friends and i would get together with our own rika-chan dolls and do fashion shows in a portable rika-chan house.

anyway, i hope poko-chan likes these handmade toys too and has fun playing with them. or eating them, at least.

spencer book 14


(click the image to view close up)

it was serendipity. the pink jeep cherokee and maximum team power duck, they’d got to be united.

i found it at value village in saskatoon. i went there the night before the spencer book photoshoot to look for roller skates for goro chan. i was on my way to the sports section. something incredibly pink caught my eye. it was the pink jeep. it was so beautiful just sitting quietly on the empty shelf. i rushed to the jeep and grabbed it. i had to have it. i knew it was just perfect for the maximum team power duck.

i really enjoyed taking these scenes with the duck and the jeep. they just look perfect together. it was already late at night after taking photos all day long for the book. i was exhausted. but hey, to be able to capture the secret life of the useless toys, it was definitely worth it. i had so much fun carrying this jeep around in the city and the parking lot. even though i’m actually too big to get in, i felt like i just got my ride pimped up!

spencer book 11


(click the image to view close up)

that’s correct. maximum team power duck has “power” glued on its chest. i cut letters out freehand and used a gluegun to attach them.

it wasn’t such a great idea to use a hot gluegun, though. those letters were thin and floppy. i burnt my fingers badly.

but it was worth it. because it shows clearly how powerful maximum team power duck is!

spencer book 9

when you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go midtown.
midtown, things’ll be great when you’re
midtown, don’t wait a mitute more,
midtown, everything’s waiting for you.
midtown (midtown), midtown (midtown)
midtown (midtown), midtown (midtown)
(repeat and fade out)

spencer book 8


(click image to view close up)

this is goro-chan. he is an amigurumi dog, but he acts like a lone wolf on wheels. when spencer gets in trouble, he is lucky enough to be helped by goro. goro takes him for a ride in his rollerblade.

i took these photos just outside my apartment building here in saskatoon. students were walking by on their way to university. most of them ignored me.

it was hard to get the action shot of spencer and goro in the rollerblade. there’s a can of coconut milk behind the rollerblade, holding it up. you can see the shadow in the “whee-ee-ee-ee” photo.

thanks, coconut milk.

for the goro superstar closeup, i just held him up against the blue sky with one hand. it’s hard to balance a rollerblade with an amigurumi dog in it, using just one hand and holding it from the wheels.

but i think it’s worth it in the end.