Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Go away

The other weekend morning, like many weekend mornings, the doorbell rang.  And I didn't answer it.  But later when I went outside I found a mangled loaf of bread.  Based on the label, it was clearly meant to lure me to a church.  I can't understand why they would leave such a smashed up loaf.  I think I need to feed it to ducks. 

So, I made what I had been needing for a long time.  That is a sign to try and limit the morning doorbell ringing.  It's really been a problem.  Multiple religions have been represented, as well as questionable salespeople and other uninvited strangers.  I just hate the doorbell waking me up.  It's one of the worst ways to wake up.

Anyway, I searched on the internet to buy a "no solicitors" sign but all I could find was just that simple statement (which just doesn't cover my needs) or else you can get a sort of religious stick figures prohibited sign, but that also doesn't suffice and also I think it's slightly rude.  So, we'll see.  I have a second style in mind, but I'm not sure what else I'll be doing with this.  Maybe I'll mass produce the sign and finally all the people who need such a sign will find what they've been looking for.

images hosted by flickr

Thursday, November 29, 2007

lots of floss (preview)

Embroidery floss.

I have a lot of it that I have amassed over the past 3 years or so. That's since I decided I should start embroidering again. I started one overly complicated "project" that is less than half done (yes, over years), but in between I've been making smaller stuff. It's very time consuming, but it's somehow less strenuous than most other crafts I've encountered.


So, this is the preview for my inventory at the Bizarre Market's Holiday Market, at Chop Suey Books (v1), opening this Saturday evening and available for shopping through December 24th. It's THE place for shopping this December. I'll have other random things, and I'm sure others will have even more randomer random other things. There will be something for all.

I only made three embroideries because they took a very long time and also they kind of morphed into whatever they wanted because I did not draw out anything before hand. And in such cases things don't always turn out as planned... sometimes you have to just let the floss do what it wants to do...


Since this is a preview so I will not show the "items" in their entirety right now. You'll have to go to the shop to check them out.


In other news, I thought of something I want to make with the theme of "curry rice." That will be next, maybe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

the life of leisure

ottoman_pch_bw copy

I bought an ottoman so I can put my feet up while lazing about. It's the perfect size to serve as Patches' new perch. We're very pleased to be living such a life of leisure.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Naked Strawberry

strawberry guy

strawberry guy

This little strawberry guy is going to have clothing soon. He also will have a friend but right now she's a head with no body.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

a much needed makeover - though I wish this involved my face and wardrobe

So.  I'm recuperating from Bronchitis.  And I've barely done anything that I needed or wanted to be doing all week.  I did finally finish On the Road (still conflicted on my feelings about the Beats) and started  Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell of which I have read 126 pages.

Other than that...

Well, I was lucky to randomly become subject of an etsy online shop critique.  That occurred because someone else was absent and I raised my virtual hand. 
I had recently redone quite a lot of my shop photos as I knew for a while I needed to, and finally had a new camera that I could work with.

What follows displays an example of the three part (and to be continued) makeover.  There are more than these, and also more to be worked on.

(hosting courtesy of flickr.) larger version here.

The first column is the way the photos appeared originally, when I was painstakingly clipping out the crummy backgrounds and putting in a gradient backdrop.  I didn't really like them, but the camera situation was making it very tricky to get good shots.  And a lot of these were actually object scans done with my old scanner.  It was time-consuming, with unsatisfying results, but it was either that or not list new products until I had better photos.

The second column shows my self-imposed makeover, when I finally got out the new camera, experimented with natural light by the window, and messed with some funky backgrounds (most were handmade or other strange papers I had).

The third column shows the result of the suggestions during the etsy labs critique.  I either totally redid photos with new backgrounds (they were too "busy" or did not provide enough contrast), or I used a different shot I had already taken that might be more dynamic or eye-catching than the first thumbnail I had chosen.  I also tried adjusting the white balance as suggested by etsy staff.  It worked... though I need to reread the camera book to figure out exactly how to use the function.

In addition to photo alterations, I also changed my avatar from the Frog Prince embroidery (which I was hesitant to do because I had had it up so long), but I agree it's better changed into something more relevant/eye-catching (plus, cat-related). I also edited down some of my superfluous text in item listings.

So, the main lessons learned are:

1. Yes, use natural light.  And in my case, the most successful photos came from a move from the original window I had been using.  That was causing shadow problems all along, and I had been too lazy to move.  Once I moved, it was a lot better.

2. Learn to use the camera (White balance, focus, etc).  Still need work on this.

3. Work in batches.  Saves time in the long run because of set up, etc.  Better for consistent light and coordination of backgrounds.

4.  If you question something... just change it.  I knew this all along, but it's really easy to just settle, or take what you "can get."  I knew I needed/wanted better photos, but I just couldn't find the time/resources/motivation to get it together.  This idea applies to a lot of stuff.  I'm trying to remember to keep this in mind.  It's really easy to ignore out of habit or convenience... but when you know it needs to be changed... just make time to do it.

5.  I need more time/patience to do this stuff. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

real bee, fake bee

I was going to entitle this "Drawing from Death" because the topic is a dead bee I found a while ago and had been saving (for this?).  But that seemed a little too morbid.  However, I have realized in the past that drawing from "life" is usually the only way I can buckle down and try to do something realistically.  Otherwise things turn out all made up, goofy looking or accidentally cutesy.  I need to spend more time drawing from life and/or death.  I'm usually too impatient.

Back to dead bee: it's so incredibly lightweight, and so delicate.  I'm surprised it doesn't float.  The intricacies are almost shocking: unfortunately the photo doesn't do this bee justice. 

And I'm embarrassed to admit that I've dropped this bee quite a few times.  There even had to be some glue-based surgery.

So, I drew the dead bee and ended up using gouache, mica, etc. on top of the drawing. It has some texture because I tend towards chunky application of materials.  I'm going to incorporate this bee into a slightly bigger project I'm working on... to be cont.

image hosting by flickr.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

to market, to market...

If you didn't know already, this Saturday, Oct 13th from 12-4 it's Bizarre Market at Chop Suey Books.  Benefiting Art 180.

Visit chopsueybooks for more info/address.

If all goes as planned, I will be there with Halloween-themed items and the usual assortment.  Check out my
etsy shop for a preview of some of my goods, including the Halloweeny pouches as shown above.

... Gotta go... more later...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

the shared culture of work place drudgery

This is a sample etsy treasury layout I made for a themed challenge.   This one is themed for co-worker empathy and the culture of shared work-place drudgery.  It wasn't chosen, but I found some cool stuff while digging around.
Links to items:



I've been really really busy being inexplicably busy and also just making some stuff.  Stay tuned this week for Halloweenish items and etceteras.

photo hosting by flickr.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

unregistered cats

I'm not totally sure what the next step will be.  But I have a bunch of fabric screenprinted with Patches as flip cat.  I'm not sure if I want to deal with the mess which has resulted from my crafting frenzy.
Next time I need to think ahead of time about registering colors. 

photo hosted by flickr

Sunday, September 9, 2007

pretending fabric is a habitat

This is the continuation of a previous "I love moss" and mushroom related post.

A while back I finished decorating that violin I had posted some tidbits from earlier.  It's for the 50th Anniversary of Richmond Symphony Orchestra.  This is another of those "decorating random objects" fundraiser projects that seem to be going around various cities.  From what I've heard, it'll be on display until October at SunTrust bank HQ (Main & 9th sts.).

Anyway, I enjoyed working on it.  I guess that's it.

multiple views:

Photos hosted by flickr

Sunday, August 26, 2007

cats who have pouches

No, this is not a rude comment about Patches' weight. Nor is it about the discovery of the amazing marsupial feline (that would be great).

It's about the newest gear in flip cat product line.

It's a zippy pouch made of "meow" cat fabric.

Which also can be used as a boat.

I found my directions for making lined zippy pouches. But it's still very time consuming. Plus, I don't have a zipper foot for the sewing machine. And if I did I don't know how to use one anyway. I keep planning to make a lot of zippy pouches of various sorts, but I can't seem to find the time. I need to operate in assembly line mode if I want to get more than one done in one sitting.

The background fabric is a bedspread I got at Urban Outfitters. I really love that fabric. It has turtles, snails, birds, leopards, deer and other stuff on it. Animal fabric is great, but I'd probably feel silly if I try to wear something made out of it.

photo hosting by flickr

Sunday, August 19, 2007

tea inside a lemon slice, lemon slice inside a bird


There's something I really really like about this combination of items.
One is a lemon slice tea strainer (often seen in "tea ball" form).
The other is a bird shaped lemon slice squeezer. A little confusing, but it's true.

Call it silly, but I somehow find it comforting that these things can exist in the same universe.

This is the type of parallel relationship between items which I seem to seek out.

I can't wait to make tea with lemon and use both of these fine utensils in one go.

In other news, thanks to some rave reviews, I joined facebook and am already losing my mind with the possibilities. Maybe now the kazillion fragments of my online tinkerings will be united in one mass of coagulated nonsense and show and tell.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Butchering the Bevels

Of all the things I'm not so good at, I'm very much not so good at cutting mats. My ability to follow directions and measurements and recipes is rudimentary at best. Most of what I do is non-measured and non-patterned, because that's apparently the only way I can get anything done.

I was going to post a photo showing Patches cutting the most beautiful beveled mat with seamless ease. (I'm so jealous). I think she's planning on framing an illustration of herself flanked by her most recent suitors (they've been waiting on the steps for a glimpse of her). Oh yeah, but my camera battery ran out. So I couldn't get the once in a lifetime shot.

Anyway, she won't share her secrets. And I spent hours (again) trying to cut decent mats. Basically my problem is that I can't get the corners right, and then if I try to recut it gets increasingly tricky. Then I forget which side and which way to cut. I've determined that the best way to go is cut on the reverse side, with the "middle" of the mat outside the edge of the mat cutter. Maybe that's totally wrong. Considering I've taught myself how to do this before and now have totally forgotten.... I need to write a set of instructions. Or I need a beveling mentor.

Recently I've started keeping a couple small note books where I keep notes on certain processes I'm prone to forget (how to assemble my books out of 8 ½ by 11 paper, which way to put in the printer paper to print on both sides, how many grams equal how many ounces and how that relates to the crazy new postal regulations and so on). My brain can only hold so much information and I'm convinced it had reached its capacity some years ago. Now I have to forget things like state capitals and the multiplication table in order to proceed in life. That means I'll have to keep more and more little notebooks.

Friday, August 3, 2007

melon in the corner

So, there's been many a time I could say this or that. But I haven't been so much in the talkative or social mood. My unnatural attempts for the past year at being chipper and friendly and finding new things to do have mostly fizzled out. I don't think it was really working. That is, I can't seem to "work it". I need someone else to do the work. Maybe I'll hire an extremely gregarious person to take me under their wing. The summer seems to turn me into a zombie. I've gotten some things done. But I can't believe it's already August. Seriously, I cannot believe it's August, or 2007 or the planet earth, etc. I could go on.

But here are some garden photos instead:

Not sure why this melon is all cramped in the corner like it's hiding from something.

In my youth I was a practicioner of the art of the corn husk doll. I don't think I'll be making any corn husk dolls. But the nice thing about red corn silk is you can make a redheaded family of corn dolls.

A fine opportunity to explore the various stages of ripe-i-tude.

Ice flowers. I like their chubby "succulent" leaves

White hibiscus

photos hosted by f

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Grasshoppers and their ilk

I used to really love grasshoppers.  Not that I don't like them now.  But I rarely see them anymore.  And they used to be my friends.  This was when I was in elementary school and lived in Egremont, Massachusetts, and played outside a lot.  I had lists I would keep, with the names of my favorite grasshoppers.  They had silly names, like "Brownie Jr." and so on.  I was convinced I was playing with the same grasshoppers, every day.  Maybe I was.

One of my favorite kinds of grasshoppers are the tiny little almost translucent green grasshoppers that have little gold dots on their legs.  And the gold looks like real gold.  Maybe it is. 

One of my least favorite grasshopper things is being bitten by a grasshopper.  And getting grasshopper "tobacco spit" staining your fingers.

I hated when I moved to Virginia and was introduced to "camel crickets."  Camel crickets look like demons compared to grasshoppers and normal cute chubby black crickets.  I also like katydids, although for some reason I assume they are less intelligent than grasshoppers.  Katydids are the slow witted, but kindly grasshopper cousins.  Please, no backlash.

Anyway, I made a little grasshopper out of fimo to inhabit the violin scenery.  That's what brought up this whole topic.

Still experimenting with the camera - having trouble with lighting as usual. 

Image hosting by f

Friday, July 6, 2007

crazy salad

I picked some stuff out of the scraggly garden.  What we have here are greens including: arugula, radish, pineapple sage, 2 kinds of lettuce.

Then there's a radish, a kohlrabi, a baby onion, brocolli florets.

And in the herb dept: fennel, oregano, parsley, coconut thyme, basil, rosemary, dill, marjoram.

I took all this stuff plus some storebought carrots and some tidbits from jars, and made a crazy salad:

I was going to write about grasshoppers (not eating them) and show a little grasshopper I made last night out of fimo, but that will be the next installment. 

image hosted by flickr

Monday, July 2, 2007

I'm wondering who invented needle felting

I'm wondering who invented needle felting. Because it's a very strange craft. It's tiring, not to mention semi dangerous and the product is often rotund. For those uninitiated in the process, you basically take some loose (wool) fiber and stick it a million times with a long sharp needle that has holes in it. The fibers jam together and you can make a shape after stabbing it many more millions of times. I made some sort of felted plant-life out of the green wool roving m. gave me. (Thanks, m.) It's another piece to stick some how onto that violin.

Today I tried two new things: besides the felting, I tried the much heralded flip animation function on my digital camera. I made a little movie. There's no sound though. This is a test run for what might be an on going series starring none other than this little fellow below. In this movie "pilfered needle felting," our hero has come across this small felted item (mentioned above) and has decided to take it home. Excuse the low production quality. I plan to kick it up a notch next time.

image hosting by flickr

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

from the past

Last night I watched Portrait of Jennie.

Next time I'm unable to work on projects, have writer's block, or something of that nature, I hope that a strange person from the past will come be my muse and inspiration.

It's odd that I saw that movie, because just previously I had watched part of Somewhere in Time which for some reason I can't stop watching even though I've seen it a million times and we joke about the agonizingly slow scenes of Christopher Reeves staring into space. As far as time travel goes, I think the self hypnosis sort of technique used in Somewhere in Time is intriguing because you'd actually be able to do it without having a lot of scientific gadgets, flux capacitors or mail order catalogs. Well, if it worked, that is.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mossy, flossy

I do really love moss. Even though I tried to grow a moss garden and it failed... instead I can make a moss garden out of things.

Above is a project I'm working on. The "canvas" is a violin. Smurfs are not involved, even if I did make smurfy-type mushrooms.

Oh and I took this picture with my new camera even though I don't have a lens cap and also maybe should have turned off the flash.

To be continued...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Shopping Online: A Love/Hate Relationship

So, today I was out all day, then at work all night, then I got home and my NEW second try version of ordering a digital camera online had been delivered.

It's a long annoying story: basically the first one was not as advertised and then I had to mail it back and then had even worse trouble shopping locally, then finally found what I wanted in refurbished (read: discounted) on ebay, and then kept losing the auctions, and then finally one ended on one of my night's off. So then FINALLY it was on its way. So... great, I thought.

But they left out the lens cap. So, once again, something to worry about. I already emailed them asking to send it, and I just hope they do. I'm getting tired of the whole thing. But I've gone too far to give up now. Plus, if I had had a decent camera, I could have taken a good picture of the little chirpy baby bird I found on the ground today (I didn't touch it and it was gone by the time I got home from work).

In another online/shopping event, I checked on my on-the-verge-of-expiration etsy treasury (see previous post), and a bunch of people commented that it had been on the front page. And that's exciting, but hey! I didn't get to see it. That's what I get for staying offline so long.

And the reason I was offline so long was because I was trying to be constructive. I spent the past couple hours organizing my fabric supplies (too much) so pretty much all of it (but one box) is in one location, and in proximity to the sewing machine. I organized the fabric sort of by themes such as "shiny," "fluffy," "theme/patterned" and so on. Some of the fabric I know I'll never use (maybe due to sheer lack of time before I die), so I hope someday to get some people to make a giant pile of fabric for a mountainous swap.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

you might find it here

I decided to take a screenshot since the treasury will expire before everyone gets to see it.


curating by theory

Now it's time for: a new treasury on etsy.

It's here: clickety-click. This one is very pretty, in my humble opinion. Some of the stuff I had found a while back. But then I try to fill in the space by searching by words. I think the people who use extensive vocabulary in their listings often have good stuff. I might take that theory farther next time but it's a lot of work to "curate" based on theories.

In other etsyian news, I tested out another 24-hour showcase slot. It was nice to see my listing up, though not sure it's worth the money. In preparation, I recently revamped my listings of toothy items, which are kept in this little corner of the shop.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


I just ate the most delicious turnip ever.  I'm not sure that I even remember eating a turnip ever before.  I bought these white Japanese turnips at the farmer's market courtesy of Amy's Garden.

As for my own garden, the hollyhocks have finally bloomed after a full year.  I'll have to take a photo soon.  I've also re-discovered how wonderful fennel is.  The pea vines are wilting/drying up, and maybe that's normal, but I don't really know.  As with everything else, there is way too much research and learning to be done.  And as with everything else, I just take mental notes, mostly consisting of don't do that again, I can't seem to remember the details other than what not to do.

Some non-organic projects are coming along.  But I really need to get cracking on a few things.  Finally sold another item on etsy but I am totally thrown off by the new postal practices (after I finally figured it out and even had a scale) so I have to go to the P.O. and see if I can make heads or tails of it.  Hmmm.

Friday, June 1, 2007

thrift store addiction

I've gotten to the point that I pretty much want to go to a thrift store weekly, if not daily. This is not good for a few reasons. Must of those involve clutter and my fear of earthly possessions accumulating beyond mental capacity.

But it's very good for other reasons.
Like today, when I bought a whole bunch of baggies full of embroidery thread for $1.50. I mean seriously, it's probably about 50 skeins or so. And this is the second time I bought a whole bunch of baggies full of embroidery thread in a couple months' time.

One thing is I need to USE the things I buy. I have come to the conclusion that usable things really are the best things.

Some usable things I need to use are:
countless empty frames
skeins of floss of near infinite number
tons of fabric, including a GIGANTIC bag I bought at the thrift store for $8.00
pipe cleaners
paper scraps and old magazines

Things I am happy to say I recently put to use:
some of the aforementioned fabric that I sewed into a shirt (well, sort of a shirt)
some other fabric I half made something with
two other thrift store shirts I "altered" to fit
some of the floss
some paper
some paint

Well, that's a start.

In other news, I'm still trying to get a new digital camera.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bromine- Periodic Table Print Project

Bromine, element 35, BR, is my submission to the Periodic Table Print Project.

I can't even begin to recount the horrors I encountered in trying to get this screenprint done. Let's just say it involved the sun doing me wrong, my lack of skill in measuring water, and other errors that seemed to multiply without ceasing. But they did cease, and it's finally done. And I'm glad because I think the whole project is awesome to begin with. Great idea by azure grackle --look, you can go visit her etsy shop.

Also you can see some of the prints finished/in progress (including 2 more versions of bromine) on the project group photo pool. There are some really amazing ones.

Now that that's done... I absolutely have to start on my next project which is deadlining in July. I think I might start with a drill and hope for the best.
To be continued...

Image hosted by flickr

I've decided

I've decided to extend my blogging presence further out into the ...(ok, I'll say it... "blogosphere"). I may start by reposting some things I have written previously or stated elsewhere.