Monday, September 29, 2008

Church Logo

Can I come out from my hiding place now? I feel like I've been carrying around the weight of this "craft" project for a really long time now. And few of you will even know what this thing could possibly be. Oh well, this gives me a chance to explain!
I was not chosen to be the team artist for my church retreat group. However, when the woman who was chosen had to leave the job half way through, I took over. And thus, you see the results. This is the logo for the upcoming church retreat. The original artist, Kathleen, did the bird and hand part and I added the leaves and branches. And I did a lot of the computer technical parts.
It's not really a craft project I realize. But it is an art project that has been snagging a lot of my time that I usually reserve for crafting. As the retreat date draws closer, I'm sure I'll be showing off some more retreat crafting projects! Get excited!
I did most of the art for this logo on Gimp, which I believe a blogged about a while ago, but is a freeware photo manipulation software that I have downloaded for my laptop. I have nothing but good things to say about Gimp considering that it does all the stuff that I normally do using Photoshop, but is completely free. It's also quite easy to use, though I really ought to get a mouse for my laptop for these kinds of projects. The touch pad thing for your fingers is really tough to use for selecting specific regions. That's a personal problem, not a software one. I did have to shout out for help from my coworker and complete computer graphics guru Eric. He helped with the feathering on the outside of the blue circle.
I'm so glad to be emerging from this project! I get kinda stressed out about digital art projects. I feel like you can always find more ways to enhance the digital files, so the toughest part of a digital project is saying "done!" I am apt to "gild the lily" as it were and keep messing with things until it looks overdone. I hope that this one is simple and dignified yet technically decent. That's all I'm shooting for here folks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trapped in an Ironic State of Crafting Affairs

Readers -- No pictures, I know.

I am trapped in an ironic state of crafting affairs. Perhaps you could have guessed that from the title of this post. Well, I'll be so kind as to elaborate on this sentiment for you in case it is enigmatic.
When you are of a crafting nature, people think of you when they have a craft project that they need to have done. And being excited about the prospect of helping others, I jump at the chance to take on crafting roles of all varieties. And then the procrastination sets in. And I start to long for the day when my crafting docket is empty and I can paint and doodle and draw and build my silly little designs all on my own whims.
So for now I'm trudging through these ridiculous crafts that I'm doing for others (they truly range from the sublime to the bizarre and one is an absolutely hideous mess on my bedroom floor that I suspect will be FILE 13'ed long after its due date). And well, I'll be honest when I admit that there's at least one project of my own initiative that I'm procrastinating on (bookshelves!).
I'm going to the Natural State this weekend, which does not imply that I'll be going nude, but instead that I'll be going to Nashville, Arkansas to see the Granny and Papaw. My mom and I call this Nashville, "Little N" because when you say you are Nashville bound, people envision you crooning country tunes with a guitar case and greyhound bus ticket to Grand Old Opry Fame. But alas, I'll leave my Hank Williams dreams in check as I go to Little N this weekend, but I'll be sure to pack some crafting supplies!
And hopefully I'll get some work done and have some new gems to share with you all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Knew I Was Saving Those Caps For A Reason

Hey folks, as Paige likes to call me, here's a birthday present I wrapped up and gave to my favorite recently turned 30 pal, Paige. I gave her one of my paintings because she liked it a lot at the time she saw it for the first time and she was fairly excited about receiving the painting. She looked pretty funny walking down Greenville Avenue on a Friday night clutching a piece of painted glass. Oh well. I used this hard-to-define-the-correct-genre wrapping paper that was echoing American farmhouse, sunshine hippie flowy dress, tacky kitchen wallpaper to wrap the piece of glass and I tied it with twine. For those who have ever tried to tie a bow with twine, you know... you are doomed to fail if you are looking to be aesthetically pleasing. So of course this sends me digging around the house for a doo-dad that I can glue into the center of the hot mess to make the whole thing look presentable. And my eyes fell upon my glass jar (thanks Emily!) of bottle caps that I've been collecting (with a lot of help from my dad as I don't really "do" beer) and I saw the perfect solution to two problems:

1. How can I make this present look pretty?
2. What am I ever going to do with these bottle caps?

And I think it looks nice. I got some compliments and that's all I'm ever really going for. You should try it!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day Off Correspondence

To add to the recent collection of calligraphy posts, here's what I did this morning for some letters I needed to send. I tell you what, I've gotten pretty good at the standard, "Dallas, Texas 752.." because I use it so frequently! And I decided to really roll out the personalized pink stationery that I bought from (which is cheap yet high quality... I can't say enough good stuff about using them though I'd advise going for the "linen" paper option so that the paper feels really high quality).
Thanks to several practice sessions, I've really gotten comfortable using the colored ink. At first I had a really hard time switching from black to blue or red or gold (the three colors I own besides black) because I felt like you could see differences in color as the amount of ink left in the quill started to dwindle. And that's true -- you can see the color difference, but I've gotten better at knowing when to refill the quill, which is, like, constantly. If I were to write a sentence with my quill with colored ink, it would look like this,
"Geez, d(refill)o you thin(refill)k that t(refill)he So(refill)x have (refill) what it(refill) takes t(refill) to make (refill) it to the (refill) Series (refill) this ye(refill)ar?"
Clearly, it's not an efficient way to write a lengthy amount, but it's all right for addresses... if you are in a patient mood. Luckily for my lady friends to whom the envelopes are addressed, I was in a patient mood this morning.
But now I'm not, I only have so many hours to shop on my day off! Goodness gracious folks, I hope this post will sustain you through the weekend and my trip to NYC.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Calligraphy doodling

I had a couple of minutes of free time on Tuesday to do some calligraphy practice. I tell you what, September for a rabid baseball fan can be so busy. Especially when you insist on going a full weekend of games. More on that later if I can get my act together...
I'm trying to get a little better with this new nib I purchased. I need to spend some time working on my form instead of just free styling all the time. I know that Miss Susan likes to see my every calligraphy creation so I hope this keeps my DJ Jazzy happy for a few minutes.
This weekend finds me flying to New York to catch the 7th to last game ever at Yankee Stadium on Monday between the Yanks and the Chicago White Sox (wrong colored Sox for this fan's taste, but you can't get everything you want). It's overwhelming enough to know I'll be attending the wake of the cathedral of baseball, especially in a down year for the Bronx Bombers. But alas, I've wandered away from the strict confines of my craft blog to boast about my good baseball fortune. The reason I bring this up is that it seems that I won't be getting a chance to do too much crafting over the weekend. I'll see if I can get something done...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Giving You The Bird

What in the world is this? You should be thinking that thought when you look at the above picture.

Well, it is a bird that I carved out of garden foam--you know that stuff that you soak in water and then stuff into flower pots to make an arrangement? I don't know what it is officially called, but I do know that it is super easy to use for carved projects. Of course, it's easy pliability can be a problem, too. As soon as you are done carving your little object, you'll need to coat the the sculpture with a bunch of layers of sealant. I used modge-podge but I think you could use rubber cement if you wanted to.

The picture above is the little birdy all carved and covered in a coat of glue. He's being held up by a toothpick stuck into another brick of plant foam.

Tune in for updates on this project! Pretty soon he should look a lot more like a precious birdy! He'll even be perched on a log!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nerd Alert: I've started collecting stamps

If you are lucky enough to have received personal correspondence from me in the last few months, then there's nothing new about this post. But alas, I don't think that my regular readers correspond with those folks I've written to recently, so I'm showing off my new style.
I can't even remember when I read about doing this (or where, but I'm thinking it was in Domino a year ago or so), but as soon as I saw this concept for the first time, I decided I had to become one of these kinds of people--the kind of correspondent who artfully arranges a collection of stamps to letters instead of just slapping one Liberty sticker on the envelope.
And you know what? Stamp collecting is actually a little fun. I haven't crossed a total geek line -- all of my stamps are those that can be purchased online from the US Postal Service. I am not out there on eBay scoping for some long lost collector's edition something or other.
I love that two of my stamps show pitchers--a lovely silver one and a porcelain one, too. It's all so delightfully domestic, well, all except for the mountain goat, but he's a cute little character so I don't mind.
I'm a little nervous that my postman is going to freak out on me at some point though I'm quite sure that all these post office tasks are handled by robots nowadays anyway.
Another reason why you should consider doing this besides the obvious--quick addition keeps the brain alive and active--it's pretty cheap. A whole stack of two-cent stamps costs less than a dollar. If you are interested in doing this, address your envelopes AFTER you've put the stamps on. Otherwise, the envelope may look crowded and less like a miniature work of design art. As long as the point of writing a letter to someone is to be exceptionally thoughtful (hey, if you wanted to be a slacker, you could just email or call in your thank yous), the envelope might as well be an outward sign of your courtesy, right?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mean Green Clothes Dryin' Machine

Notice anything green about my bathroom? (Besides the plethora of green clothing...)
This weekend I successfully installed my drying rack in my bathroom. And when the shower curtain is closed, you don't even see the plastic monstrosity. Of course, in the eyes of an environmental protector (or whatever green people want to be called), the drying rack is a thing of beauty. For me, it means I can run four loads of clothes through the washing machine but only two in the dryer, saving energy and having softer, less shrunken clothing.
I recognize that this isn't a particularly crafty project, but as my little mission statement says (see the Left Panel), I like doing things that are cheap and using the dryer less is cheap!
Plus installing the thing was nightmare-ish. My ladder didn't fit in the space so I had to stand on the (very) narrow wall-side ledge of my bathtub to install one half of the thing. And all whilst using a power drill at an awkward angle. All in all it's worth it though and I get a kick out of being a little friendlier to the Earth.
And really, it isn't that ugly. I enjoyed artistically arranging my clothes on the hooks beneath the mirror and on the drying rack. Note that no, as Martha would say, "unmentionables" are visible! Goodness gracious, even a green girl has to have some standards!
And now for a completely useless aside... when I was a study-abroad student across the Atlantic in Florence, Italy. I lived with the lovely Bianchi family and enjoyed many, many moments of it. Of course, I declared war on the clothes line that was precariously placed outside my fourth story window. I had to dry everything outside! And I had the absolute worst eye for Tuscan weather. I'd often go to classes with my "unmentionables" and other assorted clothing items blissfully blowing under the Italian sun only to remember as I rode the crowded bus home from school through a blustery downpour that all my poor clothes were getting pounded! And naturally a sock or two wouldn't be able to stand the storm (this compounded with my weak clothespin skills) and would plummet to the ground and gated garden below. I'd have to knock on these poor old people's door and try to explain in very sad and broken Italian "sock" "ground" "over there."
Oh Italian laundry. How difficult it all seemed then. How quaint it seems now. I'm delighted to recreate the situation right in my very own bathroom!
"Posso fare un bucato?" -- That's Italian for "Could I do a load of laundry?"