Winterview Series, Part 1: Zelda English of Captain Cat

This winter we’re awash with art from our dear cadre of designers, everything from handmade dresses, jewelry and millinery to homestitched books and paintings and papier mache masks. In order to better document and display all this great art, we are doing a winter interview series (winterview! ): I’ll showcase one artist a week and attach as much juicy pictoral as I can. Enjoy!

This week: Zelda English, of the multimedia art duo Captain Cat . The name comes from Dylan Thomas’ poem “Under Milk Wood”, an epic which addresses the casual beauty in everyday life. Their art reflects this literary reference conceptually and substantially, as each portrait depicts a writer or inventor as an animal. I definitely see some rakish Kerouac quality in the ram, maybe a Joyceishness in the squirrel. English and her collaborator Rodrigo Neto also create folkloric papier mache masks celebrating old world songs and stories from their childhoods- hers in Portland, Oregon and his in Porto, Portugal. They met at a bus stop about 88km south of Salamanca Spain a couple of years ago and have been conspirators ever since. -sk

Flutter- Have you always worked in papier mache, or were there earlier incarnations of your artistic inclinations?

Zelda English-I was a costume and set designer for a theater company for years . I have worked in many mediums but paper is a texture i am especially drawn to and costumes have always enthralled me so papier mache masks were a natural endeavour for us. This project was the product of a Collaboration between myself and Rodrigo Neto. Initially when we came up with the idea I think it was in part because of our time constraints, I remember we had talked about a collaboration briefly on my visit to Portugal last fall and at that time were unsure what medium to peruse but when Rodrigo arrived this spring to the states we knew we would have around 6 months to come up with a presentable body of work, we chose papier mache because of its sculptural quality and also its availability. We filled my truck with cardboard from dumpsters and paper grocery bags from recycling bins and began to build. We transformed the living room of my old Portland farm house into a temporary studio and promptly filled it with salvaged supplies. over the summer we carved the cardboard on the front porch and papier mache-ed out under the clothes line.

F-Did you study art in school?

ZE-Rodrigo is a formally trained painter with a degree in fine arts. He now works as a college level professor of art in Portugal. My Training was much more informal and came from various mentors, the first and foremost being my parents who were both painters and all-around creative, innovative people. I am 26 now and have been very lucky in this life time to have been in the presence of brilliant minds all throughout my years. I teach art and music through a summer workshop program to children aged 5 and up. I feel Art and Education should be Synonymous especially in a town so renowned for forward thinking. I want to be apart of making that happen. I have always planned on starting my own school.

F- You work with a partner. How does that shape the artistic process for you? How do you guys divvy up the work?

ZE- I am a natural at working collaboratively, I love being a part of something that takes on life and meaning because of the life and meaning of the interactions of those creating it. I even love the challenges and frustrations that come along with it because of the way that those obstacles force you to grow as a person in order to overcome them. Being a strong willed artist and working closely with someone as skilled and intelligent as Rodrigo Neto is a great ongoing experience, I think we definitely learn a lot from each other and from the projects themselves. As far as sharing the work load, it definitely comes easy. Rodrigo has such a strong set of talents diverse in certain ways from my own strong points and so it seems things candidly take their form. For the most part he is the painter, I am the photographer, he is the tech support, I am the show coordinator, he is the voice of reason and I am the voice of certainty. We accomplish most tasks together. At the end of the day typically we are both covered in paint, paper and glue. We also do a lot of idea building, where one person says one thing and the other adds to it or alters it just slightly and then back and forth till a master plan has emerged. That process is fun and includes espresso and a lot of sarcastic jokes. When Rodrigo is home in Porto Portugal and I am stationed in Portland that process is nearly the same except via email. We tease each other a lot. We are currently in the beginning stages of our newest collaboration which is an elaborate puppet series. We hope to bring in a third collaborator on this project, a dear friend and terrifically talented artist also living in Portugal, Pedro Esperança.

F- You grew up in Portland, Oregon. How have Portland’s social changes in the last decade affected you?

ZE- I like being one of the few people who remember when Portland was a dilapidated Ghost town, run by Loggers, Pirates,
Wenches and Shanghaiers (I am speaking of the late 80’s / early 90’s of course). Recently I was at a bar and after about 4 minutes of menial conversation with some drunkie, I was asked where I was from, when I replied ” Here, I am from Portland ” the inebriate gasped and exclaimed “oh my god, you are like a UNICORN, i have heard your kind existed but still no one has ever seen one!!! “
you just have to laugh.

F- What music do you like to listen to? Do you listen to music while you make art?

ZE-While working in the studio we listened to Portuguese Radio a lot, also Rodrigo is an incredible Musician. The official soundtrack to the summer was him playing the piano in our house. In part, I even equate our ever having met each other to his music which inadvertently lead to our first interactions and subsequently our friendship. Everyday I wake up with music in my head. I like wild violins.

F-What are your feelings around collectives and art?

ZE- If the word collective at all refers to joined energies with a common goal, i think its an extremely necessary and beneficial thing. Whether the goal be artistic, community based or otherwise. I think in the aggregate we find ourselves stronger and more capable than ever a single particulate could be, having the ability or capacity for so much more than one energy alone can produce. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy solo projects, at least 80 percent of my art is a solo undertaking but the ability to join forces is a powerful one and seems to instill a rare satisfaction in its fruition.

cozy time

Well, I hope everyone had a great Halloween, because now it’s cozy-down time. The clocks have been turned back, it gets dark before dinner and the nights are damn cold…but don’t despair! This time of year is PERFECT for movie parties, potlucks, memoir writing, marathon scrabble games, baking, sewing projects, cocktail parties, saunas, embroidery, poker night, intensive studies, love affairs, catching up, letter writing, coffee dates, comic reading, life drawing, soaking pools and tarot. It’s important, when undertaking all these indoor activities, that you keep things warm and well lit. You can find super cute antique rewired desk and floor lamps at Flutter, then go get your full-spectrum bulbs from the Light Bulb Lady at Sunlan right down the street. They really help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, as do all the above mentioned activities. Also, finding yourself a comfy non-bed place to curl up is vital. If you haven’t been in lately then you haven’t seen the blood red leather couch from New Orleans, the plushy pink Victorian bench, or the scalloped maroon mohair armchair that are all just begging you to cuddle up.

budding philatelist??

The last thing I need is a hobby. I can barely post photos to my flickr account, I can hardly finish a lexulous game on facebook, I often forget to call my mother.. and yet, the allure of the tangible physical hobby was never real for me until i wandered into a stamp show at the Oregon Stamp Society‘s clubhouse on NE 33rd. I’ve got an envelope of stamps at home from when I was a kid, I used to soak them off of my correspondences with my aunt, and I admit to digging deep into the stamp-filled trunk at Flutter but I never thought I’d look farther than right under my nose. The best thing about stamp collecting is this line that exists dividing people concerned with cancellation, perforation and rarity, and those who like pretty stamps. I fall squarely in the latter category, and the guys at the stamp club were very pleased to sell me all their less valuable but very lovely stamps. They made it very clear to me that the stamps I liked weren’t always the most valuable, and I made it clear that I didn’t care at all. Lola and I walked away with our own collecting binders full of manila stock pages and 50 lovely stamps for $6. The guys all promised to come visit Flutter’s stamp box to hunt for square centimeters of treasure. I had a lot of fun that evening putting my other stamps in the book, giving Lola the doubles, inventing categories (nurses, buildings, Iran, ships, birds, etc) basically dorking out on philately, aka stamp collecting, my new hobby. Check out the photos below, we have (or had) all the crazy Hungarian ones. The blue one of the lady’s head is one of the most expensive stamps ever sold (not at Flutter, ours are 15 for $1).


Autumn is my favorite time of year. It’s chilly but mostly dry, so you can wear suede boots and silky wooly things that might otherwise be destroyed in the rain. The smell of crunchy maple leaves and old musty roses and grapes really does it for me, and the anarchic disarray of overgrown front yards and gardens sprawl like an endless altar to fertility. Plus, there are all those end-of summer barbeques and bonfires and street parties. You might run into a unicorn, like I did! This time of year it’s also pretty safe to listen to otherwise paralysingly depressing music like the Smiths, or ‘Blood on the Tracks’. You could watch Harold and Maude, actually watching movies in general is more of a wintertime activity for me but there is something distinctly autumnal about that one. I’m including a ton of pictures of the shop to try and convey the way the end of September looks in here.


I have a new rule for myself, and that is that I will only allow myself to procrastinate if it’s to read a book. It doesn’t even have to be a good book, neccessarily, it could be some Nancy comics, but the point is that I will allow myself that time despite the things in my life that need doing. So far it’s been inspiring not troublesome, and cuddling up with a book for an hour is the most decadent treat I’ve allowed myself in a while. It is my good luck, or perhaps bad luck, that Flutter is full of excellent reading material. Most of them have come from Chronicle Books, which has a dazzling catalog of titles. My favorites are the large format photography books, like Posters for the People (WPA stuff), Art of the Modern Movie Poster (eye-popping ads for mid-century movies) and a book of intimate portraits of Frida Kahlo taken by a lover of hers. There’s a book called Real Photo Postcards featuring an incredible collection of images from the early kodak days, when it cost a penny to send your own photo-postcard in the mail. Looking through the collection spurred me to develop some pictures and send them off (for quite a bit more than a penny), so you see it’s not exactly procrastinating if it keeps me on task, in a roundabout way. That’s my hope, at least. Besides, books are a much better vice than cigarettes or alcohol. -s
Check out the Chronicle Books Blog

o summer, we hardly knew ye

Summer’s end is celebratory here at Flutter. We’ve all come back from our various junkets refreshed and inspired, eager to push up our sleeves and get something DONE. Like Aphrodite’s yearly dive into the Ionian Sea, summer vacation has renewed our enthusiasm and now we are unstoppable. Cindy and Kalaisha spent a hearty couple of days bringing in all of the glorious bits and pieces they have been hinting about on Facebook. Kalaisha is perfecly suited to her new position as co-chair of Flutter, Inc. Her sensibilities match and flatter Cindy’s, and the store this afternoon looks great in that special way that it always does right after a big re-arrange, before all the incredible velvet couches and lush mohair armchairs get snatched up. Their artistic intention is displayed to full effect, colors juxtaposing with just the right amount of cheek and class. It’s like dressing a set of a dramatic, romantic play, but with price tags. I asked Cindy if she felt a little sad, setting the stage so carefully and having it dismantled a little bit every day. She said: No silly that’s the point! And so, like a Navajo sand painting, Flutter exists preciously, naked to ravaging punters and savvy vintage junkies. Cindy and Kalaisha had more practice set dressing while working on the Builders and the Butchers video with Alicia Rose this summer. Look at this!!

The Builders and the Butchers “Golden and Green” from What Rabbit on Vimeo.

People have been noticing Flutter’s good looks lately, and posting flattering pictures in their blogs, like VINTAGE INDIE, JUNKER JANE, SHOP VINTAGE PORTLAND and my personal favorite A SHIMMERING GO-BETWEEN.

Vay-cay in L.A.

This weekend I went to L.A. to visit family and family friends. It was so gorgeous down there! Lola and I went to Disneyland and had an amazing time. It was my first time this year being out in the heat, trekking all over that park for 14 hours in 90 degree weather- I think I was a little delirious towards the end. We drank a few $4 bottles of water and ate about 20 frozen lemonade cups. I was really inspired by all the fantastical structures everywhere with dreamy shapes and colors, the intricate landscaping..oh, yeah, the rides were good too. I love all the rides on boats. I kept noticing the wallpaper, too, like in the new orleans cafe, or the haunted mansion- unfortunately, these pictures are a little blurry because I took them mostly with my camera phone in the dark. These pictures remind me of the games in the back of kid magazines, where they show you a super close-up of, say, toothbrush bristles, and you have to guess what it is. If you can’t guess what these pictures are of, check the answer at the bottom. xo sk

1. exhibit tent roof, 2. ambient shapescape in “its a small world” (it made me cry (the ride, not the shape)), 3.underside of a tiki-room lamp, 4. wallpaper in the mark twain cafe (i think thats what it was called), 5. delphinia

new look for spring: a tan, and rain gear

I had fun taking photos in the shop today, everything looked extra appealing. I love the creepy porcelain doll heads! Lola was a good sport and posed with them for me. I think I might get one and plant a trailing lobelia in it, it would look so awesome growing out of the top like a wild hippie baby, or out of the eyes.. maybe too creepy. A flutter chia pet! I have been sprouting lots of plants, some in unusual places, like nooks in statuary in the yard and in broken pottery. I planted peas by the bus stop across the street from my house, and seeded some window boxes. Basically, everything looks like prime real estate for my seedlings. Unfortunately, the hail yesterday bruised some tender sprouts, but I am pretty sure that one sunny day will perk them up. I had a great weekend, the highlight of which was going to the Whitsell to see Muppet shorts and rare outtakes. Jim Henson and his crew were absolute genius! I laughed so much that I was crying. Check it out my favorite bit: Animal, Beaker and the Swedish Chef singing “Danny Boy”


I love the expression “spring has sprung”. It is so onomotopoeia, so bouncy. Plus I love improper use of the past-tense, like the classic “yeah, i never did that before, i just wung it”. SPRING HAS SPRUNG and i am sporting the spring uniform, distinguished by what it DOESN’T involve: no socks, no scarf, no tights, no beanie, no sweater. it’s liberating. I came home and saw my roommate’s laundry fluttering in the breeze on the line, a row of dresses.
Last week at Flutter I made a date with my friends to come in and take victorian-style photos to put in the locket they got for their ma last month, a genius mother’s day gift idea I thought. I styled their hair up into puffy buns and used the venetian armoire as a backdrop, I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I guess the light must have been perfect for pictures, because there were a few other people in the store with huge, fancy cameras. I guess they had been strolling Mississippi taking pictures and wandered into Flutter. The store is a kind of curious photographer’s paradise, sometimes I feel like a ringmaster or tour guide-“did you notice the stuffed goose? ..and over here we have the finch cage.” It’s not uncommon for us to show up in the pages of a fancy rag, as well as someone’s travel photo album. Cindy sent me a link to an Oregon Live article featuring our Rizzo, looking especially adorable. Flutter made it into theLondon Observer too; read this article if you have ever wondered what kind of impression Portland makes on Brits. Spoiler alert: they love us. Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to stroll in the perfect sunlight.

vagabond opera/ flutter mash-up

Vagabond Opera came in last week to borrow some stuff for a photo shoot, and when I got the link to the photos I was really impressed. They turned out so good!! Their new singer Ursula Knudsen looks amazing in the Frocky Jack and Urchin dresses. Eric Stern from V.O. played a Flutter party once, he sat in the rafters and serenaded everyone with his accordion- here’s a link to the video if you missed it the first time around>>>>>. Alisha Rose did the pictures for the shoot, she is the genius behind the Beast photo shoot with culinary it-girl Naomi Pomeroy. Check the Vagabong Opera website (>>>) for info about dates in town and to hear some of their songs.