Monthly Archives: June 2012

And this:

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You may note if you scroll down that I projected I’d be rolling the Random Craft Tutorial generator dice this week (or in four hours, according to the countdown app below). But I am having family in town for the next week, and won’t really be able to do a major craft so far as I know. What I think I’ll do is click the generator now and settle what my craft will be, then schedule a time for it.

And I’m going to make a rule for this one, too. If the craft that comes up requires major equipment I don’t have or materials that would cost over $20, I’m going to try again and keep going until I hit a suitable project.

In fact, I’m going to roll the dice right now.

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Aside

Was having a conversation yesterday about the blog and what project I’d done last week, and again I mentioned the “Is cutting stuff on a template and gluing it together a craft?” question. And I came up with the obvious answer:

If you slather Mod Podge all over it, it is now a craft.

New Rule

Are your papers in order?

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Are your papers in order?

When I travel, I still like having my flight stuff on pieces of paper, even though it’s electronic all the way. And you may have noticed a good many airlines save money by not even giving you a little envelope with your gate number marked on it and your boarding pass tucked inside. I like having an envelope with all my documents in it that’s not just a plain white envelope, so when I reach into the chaos that is generally my purse, it’s readily findable. I used to have a pack of long envelopes with a rose design all over them (and a lighter color box in the area where you write the address), but they’ve been depleted after a few years of travel.*

So I just got back from a visit to my longtime friend who lives in the DC area, and my project of the week (last week, ahem) was a pair of envelopes that are made from cute template giveaways on the Hermes website. Found the link on Pinterest, which will come as no surprise to anyone.

The templates are paper clutches called Jigé, an envelope style with side panels that let it open outward a bit, and a tab that goes into an H shaped 3-D clasp. There are several premade designs you can download, as well as a blank one you can design yourself. I decided to make a couple of these as my travel envelopes.

Is it cheating if my craft is cutting out a template, gluing it together and mod podging the whole thing? So be it. Travel weeks are hard. Maybe at some point I’ll do the blank one and tart that up some with Zentangles or collage or something.

So the template prints out on 2 pages, like so:

Body of clutch

Side pieces and clasp pieces

I did some serious rassling with the clasp bits. On one version of the clutch I missed the little blue lines that indicated I should cut little slits on the body of the bag where the H-shaped piece goes. And as it turned out, the one I messed up was far easier to deal with. There was plenty of space for the long tab to slip through (too much, really, to keep the clutch secured), but when I did do the little slits on the clutch and slipped the back tabs of the H piece into it, I couldn’t get the tab in at all. So gluing the piece without slipping any tabs through the little slits seems to work best.

(All the guesswork in this post is due to the fact that there aren’t instructions for how things should be assembled, just a little legend that shows you which lines to fold and which to cut, and where to glue.)

The clasp bit gets the most folding, and winds up a 3-D piece when you get it done.

WHAT THE H?

H yeah, almost done.

Fold fold fold, glue glue glue.

Together at last.

Then I slathered the whole thing with Mod Podge, so it would hold together a little better in transit and usage.

And here are the two clutches I made. The one on the left is the one where I think I did things according to … well, no directions, but where I made the cuts. The right is the one where I didn’t see the cut lines and just glued the clasp on. You can see which clasp actually worked, can’t you?

They got a little battered because the shoulder bag I was using was too small, but they held up decently for paper. One of them had the tab come off, and truthfully, I think I’d rather make a version without the tab and clasp at all. A little dot of sticky Velcro or something would hold it together just fine without the tearing paper, I think. But someone out there might have better luck interpreting how the thing is supposed to be assembled and have a better result.

From what I can tell, there’s not a direct link to the templates, but here’s a way to get there:
http://lesailes.hermes.com/us/en/
After some animated stuff, there will be a grid of pictures without explanation. In the center is an orange circle. Two squares to the right should be an image of a hand and a white bag with the words “I want it, I’ll have it!” Click on that, and you’ll find the templates for the different clutches. You might want to grab them sooner rather than later; Hermes apparently had a previous paper template bag that is no longer available.

And here’s a better look:

I am a sucker for Day of the Dead images, so that’s the other one I made. Cute printed on stitches around the edges make them both look like more work than they were.

*The envelopes get quite battered after a trip to and from, but I’ve saved some of the used envelopes to incorporate rose designs into collaged boxes that I’ve made as gifts. The creases and worn edges add a nice element of age to the project.

When Worlds Collage

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When Worlds Collage

So hey, for once I’m not drag-assing in here at the last minute. I made this thing Wednesday and Thursday, and I’m pretty pleased with it.

It’s already been delivered to its destination. It’s a hand-made card made up of 3 collages, announcing to my friend and coworker that she’s getting an official Random Act of Kindness bestowed on her. For those who are just dropping in or haven’t seen any of my previous posts about Random Acts, it’s a non-profit organization that was dreamed up by actor Misha Collins and made reality with the help of people with mad non-profit organization skillz. It encourages acts of kindness on large scale (a trip to Haiti with a couple of dozen volunteers to help out a clinic and orphanage, which is going on right now) and small, and funds various cool things. I’ve sent in a few proposals, and finally got the go-ahead and the funding to do a project. In celebration of my friend, who gives up evenings, weekends and even vacation time to lead a Boy Scout troop and be on hand at the camps, and also hosted an exchange student for the past 9 months (and I never knew what a huge undertaking that is until now), I get to take her out for a day of pampering — mini-spa day plus a fancy dinner.

My original plan was to spring this on her as a suprise after luring her somewhere on the pretense of helping me with something, because that’s another thing about her that I wanted to celebrate too. She’s even loaned me her car for several days when mine was in the shop. But it finally occurred to me, in the immortal words of Boromir, “One does not simply kidnap one’s friend for a spa day.” And saying you need help with something “and be sure to shave yer legs” is just WEIRD. So I decided I must issue a spoiler for the occasion, but make it an occasion. I mulled over exactly what kind of card to make — I already had decided on the wording but needed to figure out what images to pair with it. I’m very fond of making collages, so I played with some images that were suggested by words I was using, and I raided my stash of awesome papers. And I played with fonts until I found a few that worked with each phrase I wanted to illustrate.

Epic Mod Podging ensued.

Page 1 is kind of a semi-private joke. (Which run about half the cost of a private joke, so it was more in line with my budget.)

Surprise!

“Shock and awe” is a great phrase, and I planned on using an image from the first Gulf War (where the phrase originated; it was the code name for the US war effort), but then in the middle of paste-up I started feeling hesitant about using bombing images — and, well, that pretty much WAS the first Gulf War. So I whipped out my trusty art book which I got for $1 because it was damaged (actually I got something like 5 of the same book, because y’know, collage) and started leafing through for images. Lo and behold, I found Martini’s Annunciation, which I saw in Italy and is one of my fave Annunciations. I mean, awe is the expected response here, but there’s such an air of pissiness in that look between Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, and just WHAT.

Why the stink eye?

So I pasted them onto the bombing photo (which I guess qualifies as actual photobombing) and did a little more leafing through the art book until I found a picture of two little boys peeping at people in a park. I gave the trees a bit of a trim (ahem) and put them in prime gawking position. There’s kind of a lightning bolt thing, too, which is the remnant of an apocalyptic painting on the reverse of Mary and Gabriel’s page. Decisions, decisions.

No shocker jokes here.

I had thought about grabbing some suitably bizarre picture(s) of Misha Collins off the internet for page 3, to go with Random and Awesome. But my printer was running low on colored ink, so all that came out was Misha’s shirt. I’m nothing if not adaptable, so I rummaged through some scans of Victorian ephemera I had made for a GISHWHES project. The Victorians were not only random but really kind of creepy and disturbing, and lo, I found this weird baby king with a duck on his head holding court with these two other babies with … something … on their heads.

We told you it was a random act.

The last little bit is one of my last pieces of Kinukinaya stationery (it’s this humongous Japanese bookstore in NYC, which has pens and stationery sets to DIE for) tucked away in an envelope, describing what the Random Act is all about. Sparkle paint was liberally applied to the envelope.

Then, since I had some tracing paper I had bought for another project, I decided to protect each page with a sheet. Automatic classiness!!! Then I punched holes and tied it together with yarn.

And then I delivered it, and it was appreciated not only for the message but for the weird me-ness of it , hurray. And cutting stuff up out of things you’re not normally supposed to cut up, and then pasting them down, is a pretty good stress-reliever, too.

Man, I miss Kinukinaya. Would love to go through there with an unlimited wad of cash to get my paper and pen freak on.

Doodle bug

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Doodle bug

Somewhere along the line, maybe while putting a lot of my craft supplies back where they belong, it occurred to me what I should do to improve my mood while making something pretty — I made a ZenTangle[tm].

ZenTangle is a meditative form of doodling, basically. There are a multitude of doodle patterns (and more being developed all the time by its fans) but they can all be broken down into 4-6 steps each. There’s a general system to it, so you can concentrate on making your designs on the not-very-griddish grid called a string. So your main choice is which doodle you’re going to put in each segment of your string. They look very intricate and complicated, but they can be broken down to simple elements. It’s involving and soothing and you wind up with a pretty piece you could frame or make into a card or whatever. And artists work them into their art — including quilters.

So now that I’ve given my decidedly non-official description, you should go check out ZenTangle.com and TanglePatterns.com. There are better descriptions of what they are, what they accomplish, useful info on materials, and tons of patterns broken down into easy steps.

The Pigma Micron .005 pen is what’s recommended for the fine detail, and that’s what I used. There’s also a special card of a specific size designed by the ZenTangle creators, which I did not use. I used a scratch pad made from high quality scrap paper, somewhere around 4″ x 6″.

I drew my borders in pencil, as well as the string (004 on the Tangle Patterns string list). I’m pretty new at this, so I started the piece with my favorite tangle, Cadent. It can look a bit awkward as you’re going along, but when you get the dots connected in both directions, it comes together amazingly. I didn’t look up the steps, just went with what I remembered, so it began a little rough at the bottom until I remembered how it went.

Getting started. The earlier in the process, the more washed out the pictures, so this one’s a bit overexposed.

Connecting the dots:

I just love how forgiving this pattern is. It’s a great pattern for actual aimless doodling, too.

The next pattern I chose was Henna Drum, which was on the first page of the TanglePatterns blog. Very pretty, but I got the petals a little too spiky. I think it will look great when I’ve had more practice. I threw in a couple more once I realized my problem.

The spiky ones.

So I added in a couple more blooms, paying attention to rounding the petals this time. In the meantime I’d filled another segment of the string with Beadlines. This is one of the few tangles without an actual diagram of how to draw it, because it’s pretty simple and apparent.

Aaaaannndd then I skipped a couple of steps, or photographing those steps, anyway.

Here is the complete tangle. I added filler to the henna drum segment, and added three more tangle patterns.

The total Tangles I used here were Cadent filled with Ahh, Henna Drum, Beadlines, Squid (upper left corner, maybe a little too cluttered with the spiral filler I added; it’s hard to see the pattern well), Clothesline (next to Squid) and Limpitz (smished between Cadent and Beadlines). Ahh is also very simple and so without a diagram, but the others have step-by-step instructions linked from their page on the Tangle Patterns site, so you can see exactly how I did what I did and occasionally variations. I advise browsing through the collection and putting together a Tangle. It’s very engaging and enjoyable.

I have done a tiny bit of incorporating these into art pieces — I made a set of coasters with needle-felted tangle patterns in very 60s feeling motifs — and I’d like to do some more.

For now, here’s today’s tangle from a different angle:

Cadent wants to be at the bottom, either way I tilt it. I think mostly because of the amount of real estate that it occupies here.

So…Funk eased. Project done.

Funkytown

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Maybe I can say something insightful about art funk today. I’m not altogether sure it won’t wind up in full grousing mode like I did last night, though. (See post that I locked down. Except you can’t. You’re welcome.)

What is it about human nature that there are times you know that doing something — like making things, or taking a walk, or making something fresh and homemade to eat — will make you feel better, but you don’t? Or not doing something — like eating that second giant bowl of ice cream, getting into a Twitter pissing match, or reading comments on any news story pretty much anywhere on the internet — but you do?

Me either.

I really need and want to engage more fully with art projects throughout the week rather than half-ass them at the end — which I’m not doing all the time, mind you, but I have been putting off the multi-day projects and new skills to some degree and doing something quick or finishing up a project I’ve been inching along with. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’d love to get engaged in something I can’t wait to come home to every night — and then have the energy to do something with it when I do get home.

Work is long hours plus a long commute these days, and lately it has been feeling thankless. It’s hard to hold onto the creative spark under those conditions, when all I want to do is eat dinner and zone out, and on weekends I also feel I should be cleaning All The Things or I have social plans.

I don’t know if this post is insightful or not. Not especially, that’s my suspicion. And not funny or entertaining either, which is worse.

But there you go.

I do have a project in mind, so I’ll be back later.