My One-of-a-Kind Feather Tree


Christmas is my favorite holiday for a lot of reasons. One of those is that it is also my birthday. As a kid, then later as an adult, the thing I loved most about the season was quiet, peaceful nights lying on the couch, staring at the pretty lights.

My beau collects antique “feather trees”. They’re old-school decorations that remind me of scraggly Charlie Brown Christmas trees. I can appreciate them, but my biggest hangup is that they have tiny, clip-on candles instead of my precious, season-defining lights.

One of our antique "feather trees"

One of our antique “feather trees”

It’s cute (or whatever) but THE CHRISTMAS-BIRTHDAY-BOY NEEDS LIGHTS. Sure, I could just buy a tree and hook it up, but that seems too easy or normal. So I started brainstorming how to work my love of holiday lights into our home. A wreath or something? Random lights around doorways & such? Ahhh, but I wanted a lit tree of some sort… What kind of awesome, nontraditional tree could I come up with?

Micah has his feather trees… wait… feathers… feathers… FEATHERS! I can make my own version, a play on words, of a feather tree, using actual feathers. WITH LIGHTS.

So I chose my color story. Dramatic and beautiful. Black, teal, a little green, some silver. Did you know you can buy feathers in bulk, dyed almost any color imaginable? I went online and ordered 423 feathers:

100 black ostrich
100 black rooster tail
100 sea-blue rooster tail
50 peacock “swords”
25 sea-blue pheasant
25 silver-grey rooster tail
23 peacock eyes

The feathers arrived within a few days. Now, I was winging this whole thing. The entire idea and process were experimental. I’d never seen a tree like this & wasn’t exactly sure how to make it work, or if it even would. For the hell of it, I decided to live-post the process on Instagram, while kicking a few teaser links over to Twitter, Facebook & Tumblr.

I started with this southern-twang video: http://instagram.com/p/v4jJRbrMO2/?modal=true  and then posted pics along the way.

[Click on the first image for a gallery with captions.]

 

I absolutely love my feather tree. It’s unique, fabulous, and has those lights that make me happy & feel like “Christmas”. It could have been a spectacular fail—and with folks watching the disaster real time. Meh. I’m a risk taker, and beautiful things never come to pass unless we see our visions to the end. <<< That’s like a moral or something.

If you need me on a snowy winter evening between now and my birthday, I’ll probably be over here blissfully gazing at the lights of my own version of a fabulous feather tree. And if you run in to that Charlie Brown kid, maybe refer him to this post for some inspiration?

(And now, having posted these photos here, I can go delete most of them from my Instagram feed. It’s looking pretty messy, and that just will not do! If you’re on Instagram, I’d love to connect. User: TheLucasHargis)

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Pain, Patience and OWWW CRAP OWWW


Today was the (quasi)final tattoo session for my Phreak Show character sleeve.

Here’s how things looked going into the session:

This project has taken precisely one year, 12 sessions, 36-ish hours in the chair, $#### (plus a trade of a mounted human skull fragment).

Out of the dozen sessions, this one, the background, was by far the worst. The needles pierced & chewed the entire length of my arm. The sheer amount of skin area made it rough. Pain. From wrist to shoulder. Front, back, sides. If my poor, fragile skin didn’t have ink yet, it got some.

Some owww-shit-owww sections got hit today. Hard.

You know that sliver of skin between your elbow bones? The one that twangs and hurts like mad when you bang it against a sadist object? The “funny bone” it’s called… Yeah. Not even close to funny. Like ridiculously not funny. When the artist was inking it, a nerve zinged all the way to my hand and made my pinkie & ring finger involuntarily twitch & jerk. This was weird. Painful & weird.

Another spot of excruciating pain: the underside of my arm, near my armpit. WOWZER. That amount of pain should be illegal. Prophetically, that’s where Niko the Prince of Torture is located. Haha, Nico. Ha. Ha.

At one point, after 2 hours of suckfest pain, my whole body was shaking. I tried to stop it, but it was doing that thing like when you’re shivering from the cold and can’t stop. I’m pretty sure my body was protesting, as loudly as it knew how, for me to stop traumatizing it in such an evil manner.

Joe, my tat artist, ripped the needles through my skin. “You sick of me yet?”

“Can’t.talk,” I squeezed through my chattering teeth. “Too.busy.screaming.inside.”

He laughed. I cried. (Almost). I tried to ascend to my happy place & soldiered on. Like a trooper and whatnot. I’d come too far to quit partway through the final tattoo. Even though it hurt like infiinte hell. <—possible exaggeration. Eventually, Joe stopped hammering my tender, Irish flesh. I shook off the grog & stood on quaking legs to check out his handiwork.

One final-final session is scheduled for May just to make sure everything looks crisp & ~finished~ after a few months. Perfection, ya know? That last-pass edit of compulsive tweaking. But it’s close enough to call this the final draft.

Phreak Show is officially  a “manuscript” and not a “book” at this point. Still, being the hopeful chap that I am, I may have already imagined myself at a signing, modeling the sleeve, readers hunting down their favorites on my arm, agreeing with the image or explaining how they pictured the characters differently.

Silly, right? Maybe narcissistic like, “Oh, hey, yeah, check out my rad tats!” Idk. Yeah. Whatevs.  I’m cool with that.

The concept, the characters, the finished story, a phenomenal agent for said story—even the sleeve itself—all started off as dreams. And those dreams, after much patience and owww-shit-owww pain, all came to pass.

And, optimistic, tatted writer-boy that I am, I know the day will come when I roll up my shirt sleeve with a smile to reveal the sleeve underneath.

“Oh yeah! I’d love to a pose for a pic with you, dear reader. But first, let’s put this temporary tat of Twiggy on you. Where do you want her?”

Whittling Down To The Beautiful


C2 - Alchemy lab - After

My partner and I run a business together: buying & selling antiques, doing shows, Ebay, repairing old pieces, creating new designs from vintage/antique components. Part of this process is the old “Buy Low, Sell High” tactic. So we hit auctions, thrift stores, Craigslist, junk shops, and antique stores. We scoop up anything with potential, flip the ready-to-go pieces as quickly as possible, and slowly work on the pieces that need TLC or creative reworking.

The needy pieces are less expensive, of course, and we always have more plans than time. (Sound familiar?) So, the easy pieces sell quickly, and the time-suck ones tend to pile up.

About 2 months ago, we decided it was time for a purge. We wanted to move to another location, get a fresh start. Opportunities arose, and as daunting as the overwhelming task seemed, we lunged at them.

Now, this meant a few things:
– Downsizing from an 8,000 sq ft building with our loft, storefront, storage & workshop to an adorable 1000 sq ft house
– Decision-making on what to let go vs. what to keep
– Re-imagining our lives with these changes in mind

Our action plan, at its root, challenged us to decide what things were most valuable and to let the rest go. Sounds simple, right? But this wasn’t just about ~things~. It also included our hopes, dreams, emotions, attachments. The decision rippled through every aspect of our lives: relationships, family, friends, finances, location, business, etc, etc…

Some choices hurt. We mourned the potential of soon-to-be-lost things. But we knew to get to our end goal, we had to be merciless.

[Roll over each pic for a caption.]

So here we are, on the other side. Feels.so.damn.good.

Yes, this is a story specific to me, but not solely. ALL you readers are insanely intelligent. You’re boss at drawing analogies, reading words someone else wrote & drawing personal significance from them. I encourage you to do that.

Maybe for you, this post is about a change or move or purge you need to make in your own life. Maybe it applies to the fear of the draft looming in front of you or the scary-ass revisions staring you in the face. Maybe it’s a bit of inspiration for redesigning your life (or just your creative space) by sifting ALL THE THINGS down to the beautiful.

It’s tough. It hurts. It’s hard work.

It’s worth it.