Friday, October 9, 2015

Tom Of Finland Arts and Culture Fair October 2-4, 2015, Los Angeles.

Tom Of Finland Arts and Culture Fair 2015

TOF Art Fair Program photographed by Alton DuLaney October 2015
This past weekend, the Tom Of Finland Foundation hosted its 21st annual Arts and Culture Fair at the Tom House in Los Angeles. Tom Of Finland, known as the "world's most famous pornographer", lived and worked out of a rambling craftsman-style house for the last 20 years of his life. In the mid 80's he started a foundation to help promote and preserve queer and erotic art, which included this annual fair, as well as many other cultural outreach initiatives. What started as a fringe movement has gradually became mainstream, with Tom Of Finland's work now in the collection of major art institutions including MOMA, LACMA, MOCA, The Getty, as well as numerous other private and public collections.

The art fair has grown and evolved over the years, dropping the word "erotic" and adding the word "culture" and this year featured over 30 artists from around the world.
Alton DuLaney photographs at the TOF Art Fair in Los Angeles October 2015
Among the artists presenting their work were photographers, painters, sketch artists, filmmakers, writers, performers, and poets - including the recently appointed Poet Laureate of West Hollywood - Steven Reigns. Artists exhibited their work within the sprawling compound in tents and pavilions across the estate and terraces. My space was in the back pavilion near the main stage, and had a beautiful view out across the hills of the Hollywood sign.
Alton DuLaney photograph of Michael James at the Tom Of Finland Arts and Culture Fair Oct 2-4, 2015.
The foundation did an excellent job of promoting the event  on social media and in local press. The event started Friday evening with a film screening, and went throughout the weekend events all day.

Gio Black Peter at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2015

One of the artist I was most excited to meet was Gio Black Peter from NYC. He is an urban artist who got his start painting on subway maps and other found materials. In 2011 cult director and producer Bruce La Bruce directed a short video for Gio, helping to propel his career. Now Gio shows his work across the country, and performs regularly in clubs and galleries in NYC.

The History of Queer Photography at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
One of the most captivating exhibits was a history of queer photography shown in vintage photos and tin types, presented in a beautiful display case with a magnifying glass provided for a more intimate viewing. This really felt special and important, and gave a personal face and glimpse into the lives of pioneering men and women who faced enormous challenges in expressing their true selves. Picking up the magnifying glass, and peering into this case, was like looking into the past, providing a appreciative perspective on the present and even more hope for the future.
Drawing workshop at TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-4, 2015.
 In addition to the exhibiting artists, there was also a drawing workshop in session both days with live nude models. Artists were invited to bring their sketchbook and attempt their own masterpiece.

Dungeon performance at TOF Arts Fair in LA October 2-4, 2015.

 Performances were also a big part of the fair including endurance performances in the dungeon, and other entertainers, readers and speakers on the two stages.

Jordan performing at the TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-4, 2015
 Perhaps the most riveting performance was when LA performance artist Jordan was joined on stage by two men in full leather who assisted with a 'golden shower' scene for the finale of the piece.
Starrfucker Magazine at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
The culture element of the festival was perhaps most enlightening as it showed what a wide influence Tom Of Finland has had on culture over the decades. There were several authors and publishers on hand, inlcuding the fetish magazine STARRFUCKER, which drew a large crowd of models and artists hoping to get published.

Tom Of Finland biography by E. Valentine Hooven III
One author who was great to meet and chat with was E. Valentine Hooven III who wrote the very first authorized Biography of Tom Of Finland . Having read this book, and gifted it to many friends, it was a pleasure to finally meet the man behind the words. He was a kind and generous speaker who encouraged mentoring among his older peers, and community outreach among his younger fans.

Rick Castro at the TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-5, 2015
There were also lifetime achievement awards presented to key members of the arts community including Rick Castro. A lifelong LA resident, Castro was co-producer and co-director of the cult classic "Hustler White" and now runs a successful gallery in Hollywood called Antebellum Gallery which promotes queer/erotic/fetish artists.

TOF Boutique at the TOF Arts Fair in LA Oct 2-4, 2015.
 In addition to art, the Tom Of Finland image and brand is also now used on a wide variety of products, on everything from French perfume to Finish postage stamps, to Italian rugs, to American condoms, sex toys and lube. Above is a shot from the TOF boutique, showing just a small selection of the offerings.

Durk Dehner at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
It was a great honor to be a part of the festival, being invited to stay at the foundation, and seeing the work involved in organizing an event on this scale. The work starts long before the guests arrive and ends long after the curtain is drawn. On Monday morning, after three action packed days, those of us at the foundation were still on site cleaning up and breaking down. Never one to shy away from getting his hands dirty, TOFF Founder Durk Dehner shows that the staff at TOFF do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Aldo, the Tom Of Finland mascot, at TOF Arts Fair in LA photographed by Alton DuLaney Oct 2-5, 2015
 It was a rewarding and exhausting arts fair for all involved. The foundation chose 5 of my photographs to add to their archives and warmly invited me back for future events. After 6 days in LA, I packed my bags, grabbed my dog Aldo, and headed to the airport for a late flight back to Texas.

For more info on this or other Tom Of Finland events, check out their website, sign up for the newsletter, and when in LA, volunteer!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Art and Craft of the Homecoming Mum!

The ART and craft of the Homecoming Mum

Homecoming ART Mum by Alton DuLaney September 2015
 There is a tradition that happens in Texas in the fall that people take very seriously. Once school gets back into session, and calendars start making autumnal threats, the anticipation starts building for the big homecoming game. But it's not just the game of football that is played competitively, girls show their school spirit and team pride by festooning themselves with the extravagant creations known as the Homecoming Mum.

Originally the tradition started out as a corsage given to any girl in the Homecoming Court by her date, which was usually no more than a live Chrysanthemum embellished with a few ribbons. But overtime it has adopted the Texas motto of "Bigger is Better", and girls across campus and across ages compete to see  who has the biggest and most beautiful mum. And these things get very expensive, as any trip to a craft store will attest, with girls and their mothers putting together a signature concoction. After recently viewing the phenomenon myself at flower shops and crafting stores, I decided that I, too, would try my hand at this Texas hobby.

Homecoming Mum supplies photographed by Alton DuLaney September 2015
The first thing to do is get your supplies together. Materials you might want include silk mums in several sizes and colors, spools of ribbon, colorful paper, decorative objects, and of course your scissors, tape, staples, and glue. I use a long arm stapler as this allows a great reach when stapling ribbon.

Homecoming Mum, getting started, photographed by Alton DuLaney September 2015
To get started, use a cardboard disc, or mum backer card to begin attaching first rows of loops and ribbons. I chose a patriotic pallet of red, white, and blue. But whatever your colors, I suggest laying things out to get a good look at placement and material allocation.
ART Mum How-to by Alton DuLaney September 2015
Next add your message ribbon, of whichever ribbon you want to be most visible. I visited my lcocal floral shop (Thank you Sweetie Pies in Splendora, Texas!!) and had this ribbon printed, but you can also find a lot of readily available printed ribbon online.

Braided Ribbon for Homecoming Mums photographed by Alton DuLaney September 2015
Specialty ribbon is a big hit and adds texture and dimension. I braided the above ribbons after watching some how-to videos on YouTube. The big trend in Homecoming Mums right now is ribbon variety, including the popular honeycomb ribbon , which is available in a variety of colors.

As you continue to add different cuts of ribbon and decoration, glue each strand to back of disc to add to the thickness of the Mum.
Rear view of Mum with paper fan folds by Alton DuLaney September 2014
As you can see from above, I added many layers of ribbon and even some paper fan folds for added pizzazz!
The Homecoming Mum flower by Alton DuLaney September 2015
For the actual mum, I combine two silk flowers, with tube ribbon, battery operated lights, and  feather butterflies  .

Homecoming Mum detail by Alton DuLaney September 2015
  A detail of some of the additions: feather balls, glitter stars, curled paper ribbon, the whole shebang! I even added bells and whistles !

ART Homecoming Mum by Alton DuLaney September 2015
 The final results is a festive flower that looks as if a wrapped gift exploded, with ribbons and adornments hangs in thick layers.
Homecoming Mum Garter by Alton DuLaney September 2105
 And just so you don't think that this crafty tradition is for the girls only, their dates are also roped into the pageantry with a smaller version worn as a garter.

 But remember, although this does get very competitive, it is supposed to be fun. So have fun, be crafty, and good luck!

For more creative ideas and crafty how-tos check out my affiliated  Paper Arts class on

Happy Crafting and Art Making!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Texas Design Now

Texas Deign Now Opening at CAM photo by Alton DuLaney August 2015

On a recent balmy Friday night, that familiar art itch surfaced that needed to be scratched. So with my artsy friend Ruby Surls in tow, we packed up the convertible and headed to the arts district of Houston, Texas to get our fix. Of our many conversations during the significant drive into town, we bemoaned the fact that Houston lacked a certain amount of style readily found in other large cities, particularly within the art community. Where was the fashion, the quirkiness, the eccentricity for which artists and art patrons are known? After a few lackluster openings, we found our answer in the Texas Design Now exhibit at the Contemporary Art Museum.

Not only was the design on display worth seeing, but the crowd was a see-and-be-seen must. Men in skirts, couples in matching outfits, over-sized lucite jewelry, hand-painted garments, statement-piece accessories, and tattoos and piercings adorned the crowd.

Denis Nance shirt wall at CAM photo by Alton DuLaney August 2015

Many of the designers and their collections were noteworthy: Garza Marfa's thick leather home furnishings combined rustic materials with a modern design, Finel's geometric handbags appeared as if they were carved from stone, Rhinestone Rob's encrusted accessories became objets de arte, a ball gown with enormous train looked ready for any pageant or  parade, Denis Nance's wall of shirts could have graced any 5th avenue window display, and Michael Wilson's beautifully carved wooden furniture left the viewer wondering if one should sit on them or simply admire them.

Michael Wilson carved table at CAM photo by Alton DuLaney August 2015

But perhaps my favorite collection, so tiny it might be missed, was Johnny Dang's  Diamond Grillz. These teeth caps fabricated from gold, diamonds and gemstones, added new meaning to the term ghetto-fabulous. With a long list of celebrity clients, these Grillz were truly captivating works of pop art, and seemed just at home in a museum as they would in a rap video. 
Johnny Dang's Diamond Grillz at CAM photo by Alton DuLaney August 2015

An evening and a museum full of style and fashion, the exhibit Texas Design Now at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston is a terrific overview of Texas designers from all across the great state of Texas. 

For more info check out the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Parisian Poste - A Fun Summer Mail Art Project

Mail Art by Alton DuLaney July 2015
I am supposed to be in Paris today, though instead I am here at the world-headquarters in Splendora, at my desk, writing letters (and this blog). You see, I ran into a little complication, a cute, little, fluffy complication named Aureleo or "Leo", my dog and travel partner. Apparently there are a few challenges that I hadn't thoroughly considered when traveling internationally with a dog. Next time I'll know better. But I was so excited to create some mail art from Paris, that I went ahead and indulged my Francophilia. I put on some french music, donned a beret, poured myself some champagne, gathered a few supplies, and allowed my imagination to take me to a sidewalk cafe in the Marais, where I wrote a stack of letters.  You could do the same thing with any exotic destination. Here's how I did it...

French Stationery photo by Alton DuLaney July 2015

It is easy to buy, embellish or make your own beautiful stationery from anywhere in the world. I found these lovely french note-card sets a few years back at a stationery store in NYC and have been saving them for the perfect occasion. I always keep my eye open for cool stationery, buy it when I see it, and then save it until I need it. If you are not in a major city, you can also look online for Cool French Note Card Sets.

Customized Stationery by Alton DuLaney July 2015

 I always like to customize my stationery to make it look special and unique. A fun and easy way to do this is with rubber stamps. Cavallini makes several fun Rubber Stamp Kits,  similar to the one I use. Since my theme is Paris, I used appropriate imagery like the "Par Avion" stamp.

A few TIPS when using rubber stamps: 1. Make sure rubber stamp is clean and dry. 2. Get a nice even coat of ink on the stamp. 3. Place stationery on solid, flat, clean surface. 4. Press steady and firm, without rocking the stamp for a clean print. 5. Clean stamp thoroughly and allow to dry completely before putting away. 6. Practice makes perfect!

Custom Embossed Envelope by Alton DuLaney July 2015
Another fun technique to customize your stationery is by using a personal embosser. You can order a Personalized Desk Embosser with your choice of monogram, name, or even return address. I like to just use my monogram, a large A!

Postage Collection by Alton DuLaney July 2015
 Choosing the right  stamp can really set the tone of a letter, especially when you are elevating an lowly envelope into mail-art status. I keep a large amount of stamps on hand so I always have options. The United States Postal Service sells all kinds of designs in various denominations.  Buy Stamps Online

FUN FACT: The value of a stamp never expires!

Mail-Art by ALton DuLaney July 2015

For this particular project I chose these song-bird stamps becuase I liked the simplicity and the color. Ideally I would have mailed these from Paris, France with french stamps, or at least Paris, Texas for the cool postmark ( see note at the end of this blog), so to add a bit of french style to this,  I used my favorite Felt-Tip Pen , which come in a rainbow of colors, to write 'excusez-moi" across the top, as an apologetic nod to the mail-carrier for delivering this letter although I put the stamp on the top left side of the envelope. I did this for creative reasons; I liked how it looked this way, and it did not compromise the hand graphic on my envelope.

TIP: You can use multiple stamps to arrived at the required denomination and give your letter a more vintage feel.

 Now our envelope is ready to stuff!

Vintage French Post Cards photographed by Alton DuLaney
A few years ago at a flea market, I bought a big box of vintage post cards. Now whenever I travel, I try to re-appropriate these cards, up-cycling them into my mail-art projects. I took this book of miniature Paris post cards, and using my Scotch Titanium Scissors to get a crisp edge, I cut them into individual cards, then wrote a cute note onto each card, like "Meet me here!" It's just one more way to make the letter opening experience more eventful.

Parfumed swatches by Alton DuLaney July 2015
Another experiential element to add to your mail-art is the sense of smell. For my Parisian Poste, I took quilting swatches and doused them with my favorite french perfume. I love the smell of  YSL L' Homme  ,  (should you want to send me some as a gift!) but you might prefer another scent.

TIP: You can swing by a Sephora and get a tester if you don't want to buy a whole bottle. Also spritz your fabric first and let it dry; the moisture and oils from the perfume can affect the ink or otherwise stain the note-card or envelope.

Parisian Poste by AltonDuLaney July 2015
When your recipient gets this little souvenir, they will open it to discover the sights and smells of Paris!

Now that I have shown you the fun part of dressing up your correspondence, you will have to chose who to send it to and what to write . Of course you will start your letter with a "Bon Jour" and end with an "Au Revoir" but the rest of the content is up to you!

French Phrase Book photo by ALton DuLaney
TIPS: Buy yourself a handy Phrase Book  for the country or language that fits your theme, and incorporate words and phrases into the body of your text. This will add some "je na sais quoi" to your letter. A  Pocket Guide will also provide images and maps should you wish to collage any of those items into your mail-art.

Parisian Poste Mail Art by Alton DuLaney July 2015

 By taking a few extra steps, and going the extra mile, you can create amazing souvenirs of your travels ( even if you stay at home!) and produce lasting mail art correspondence that your friends and family will enjoy receiving and perhaps even cherish for years to come. So make some art today,  and partake in the "joie de vivre" of letter writing!

(One last TIP: If you want to chronicle your correspondence, or otherwise archive your mail-art, always send a copy of your monthly missives to yourself. Also, whenever I am in a place with a great name, like Splendora, I take my mail to the post-office and have the postmaster hand-cancel the stamps with the official town seal.) 

For more great do-it-yourself art and crafts projects, check out my class Paper Arts on .

Friday, April 11, 2014

"the ART of the pARTy"

the ART of the pARTy by Alton DuLaney, April 2014
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the boys on the streets of West Hollywood are wearing tank tops - this could mean only one thing: Spring is here!  And what better time to host a little spring time soiree than right now! Just in time for the freshest and most festive season of all, here are some fun crafting projects you can do to customize any event and celebrate the ART of the pARTy!

First things first. In order to have a party you need to get others to come to your party. The best way to do that is with a festive invite.

Invitations by Alton DuLaney April 2014
I like to coordinate my invitations with the color palette and theme of my party. By starting with some standard note cards with matching envelopes, I use decorative tape, punched out shapes, clever postage, and creative  embellishments to add some individuality to my invites.

A few notes while on the subject. Send you invites out at least two weeks before the event so your guests will have time to schedule your party, and ask for an email RSVP to both make sure they got the invite, and that they are coming! Also, postage stamps are available in a world of options so chose one that matches your invite. Finally, April is National Letter Writing Month - so whether or not you are having a party, try sending someone a handwritten letter in a customized envelope or hand-crafted post card and see how much they appreciate it!

Letter writing is a big hobby of mine, so much so that I fondly refer to it as Mail Art. Here are just a few of my creations.
Mail Art by Alton DuLaney April 2014
Now that the invitations are in the mail, it's time to decorate your home for the event. A simple and fun way to do this is with bunting- creating your own flags, and banners using just a few simple ingredients.

Bunting by Alton DuLaney April 2014
For large scale bunting I use card stock in various colors, which I decorate with Scotch Expressions Tape, then using a hole punch I punch a hole in each corner, and string together with a ribbon. For smaller scale bunting, decorative tape can be attached to bakers-twine to create cute little strings of bunting that can dress up a table, a chair, a mantle, or even your front door.

Flags by Alton DuLaney April 2014
The same concept can be applied to create colorful "flags". Here I use decorative tape on bamboo skewers for flags that can be added to floral arrangements, stuck in planters outside your front door, to decorate the grounds at a park for a picnic, or as a cake topper. By using toothpicks, smaller flags can be created which are supper cute cup-cake toppers. Here I have punched out various shapes for added dimension.

Cup Cake Toppers by Alton DuLaney April 2014
The combination of the decorative tapes and the fun shapes dresses up any plate of cup cakes!

And speaking of dressing things up, here are a few more ideas for dressing up you home for a festive gathering.

Paper Pom Poms by Alton DuLaney April 2014
 Paper Pom Poms, made from layered tissue paper add a pop of color to any event. They can be placed strategically around the party or hung from the ceiling.

Vase by Alton DuLaney April 2014
If fresh flowers are more your style, you can easily dress up a simple glass vase by decorating it with colorful masking tape. Even deli-flowers look better when presented in a beautiful vase.

Flowers are just one part of a beautiful table scape, which you can customize to reinforce the theme of your party.

Table Scape by Alton DuLaney April 2014

For this Table Scape I use a 3x5 unlined index card and decorative tape to create name cards for my guests. I've also decorated paper plates, utensils, napkins, cup and straw - all from the party supply store but now customized to coordinate with my party theme. Here I have used a take-out container as a party favor for my guests, filled with mints.

Party Favors by Alton DuLaney April 2014
Party favors are a cute little gift, placed at the table setting, which can be used as name card or just a little something extra for your guests, Some examples would be small take-out containers, a tin with a clear top, paper favor boxes, and tiny gift wraps.

Custom Gift Wrap by Alton DuLaney April 2014
Whether you are the host or the guest, gifting is a huge part of entertaining. Always bring a hostess gift to a party to show your appreciation, and whenever you are gifting, put the present in presentation with a beautifully wrapped gift! Here I chose papers that coordinated with my party palette and embellished the gifts with fun ribbons and bows which I customized with decorative tape.

Feather Gift Wrap by Alton DuLaney April 2014
Another great embellishment to add to gift wraps is feathers! They add an unexpected twist and a colorful zing to any wrap.

Gift Tags by Alton DuLaney April 2014
Gift tags are yet another way to dress up a gift and identify the recipient.You can make your own from card stock and a punch, or buy basic ones and decorate them. Here I've added rhinestones, decorative tape, ribbon, and stickers to create customized gift tags.
Gift Bags by Alton DuLaney April 2014
A great gift wrap solution for any unusually shaped item, or a fun goodie bag to send your guests home with, is the gift-wrapped-gift-bag. Perfect for a bottle of wine, or a variety of small gifts in one bag. I add bows, stickers, ornaments, decorative tape, rhinestones, feathers, name tags, flags, buttons, and even attach a take-out container with an additional gift when making these unique bags.

The same concepts can be applied to create different party themes. Here are a few of my favorite:
Romance Party by Alton DuLaney April 2014
A romantic theme party is great for an intimate party of two, a Valentine's date, or to celebrate love any day of the year!

Wedding and Anniversary Party by Alton DuLaney April 2014
Mixing it up some with silver and gold creates the perfect theme for a wedding or anniversary party!

Patriotic Party by Alton DuLaney April 2014
Red, white and blue makes for a perfect patriotic party. Great for 4th of July, sporting events, tail-gate party, or a picnic!
Hipster Party by Alton DuLaney April 2014
The natural craft paper and ironic design motifs makes for a great hipster party. Also great for dad, the graduate, the eco-friendly, the philatelic, the traveler, or the professor!

Paper Arts Party by Alton DuLaney April 2014

Whatever the occasion may be, when all of the elements and all of the ingredients come together, you have the perfect party!
Alton DuLaney teaching 'the ART of the pARTy' at the "Craftication"event April 2014

The ART of the pARTy blog is based on a workshop I recently taught at the blogger's event "Craftication" in Ventura, California, April 4-5, 2014.

For more on entertaining and crafting with Paper Arts check out my class on

I love to work with Scotch Expressions Tape, available in hundreds of colors and patterns and finishes, from Washi to Masking to Magic. Available at major retailers.

I also love to use feathers which I source from the Feather Place, which stocks the largest variety of feathers in the USA, including many pre-made crafting items.