Friday, September 30, 2011

Create: A new way to braid

Whenever I need a cord for a necklace or a drawstring, I go out to the store to buy it or use (what amounts to) a single crochet chain.  They are both simple to use and quick to make up.  I don't like to use chains for jewelry because they eat my hair.  I haven't figured out what it is, but I end up having to rip out my hair to get the chain loose.  It's not fun.
Recently, I was introduced to a new way to create a cord.  It might just take over all my cording needs.  It's pretty easy, so far, and makes a nice cord.  Kumihimo is a Japanese braiding technique that can create round or flat cords.  Supposedly, Samurai used these cords to tie their armor together. 
A friend of mine was nice enough to give me an extra set when I was interested in what she was doing.  So I have been pulling it out and working on it while watching Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist with the kiddo.  I only know one pattern so far, but it's pretty nifty that just moving threads back and forth can create a pattern.  I hope to learn a bit more and maybe I'll be able to share some techniques and patterns here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Write: Fortune Cookie Says...

At work, a few friends and I go out to eat every other Monday (and a couple other times during the week).  Roughly half the time, we go to a Chinese buffet.  It's pretty good food, and fun fortune cookies.  I, being the type of person I am, always take my fortunes home with me.  They get stuck in my wallet and sit there until I go to pull something else out.  Then they fall all over the floor. 

Fortunes, it seems, want to be used, not just tucked away somewhere.

As I've been going through a rough time of writing lately, I decided that I could kill two birds with one stone.  By taping my fortunes down to a piece of paper that will fit into my planner, I can easily refer to them when I need a dose of inspiration.  In fact, just reading them while taping them down gave me a few new ideas that I'm excited to write about.  Later, I think I will create a page for song lyrics and quotes.  I have those scattered around the house too.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inspire: Community Coming Together

This weekend was the launch of the ArtVend Machine.  We shared information at three events in two days, including the Octagon Art Festival.  There was so much stuff going on in town that weekend, my head is still spinning.  However, it was a great time.  Everywhere we went, there was music from the Maximum Ames festival.  People were excited about our project and about the weaving we were doing. 

I've been a hermit in my past, a shy person who couldn't talk to strangers about anything.  But now, I really enjoy being able to share my passion with the community.  And I have a passion for being with my community.  Communities aren't just made up of people you live by, they are artistic, spiritual, interest groups, and more. 

One of the things I learned while sitting in the booth, helping people learn to weave, was that we all are like a tapestry.  We are woven together, made of different threads, but we all create a larger piece of something.  I may plan to do one thing with my thread, but someone will enter my tapestry and take my thread some place I never thought of.  And it's more beautiful that way. 

What communities are you a part of?  Who is a part of your tapestry?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Create: A Community Art Gallery


For those who have been reading this for a while, you should know that annually, my art group puts together a community project.  This year, we created an art vending machine where local artists and crafters could sell their goods.  We ran a fundraiser, bought a machine, prettied it up, and collected an inventory of handmade goods.

After a year of work, the ArtVend machine is in place. 
Photo by Kristin Roach
It went into Wheatsfield, a local grocery co-op, last Friday and this weekend is the official launch.  We didn’t create a launch party, but Wheatsfield will be having its member appreciation day and hosting artists performing for the Maximum Ames Music Festival.  On Sunday, a block or two away, will be the Octagon Arts Festival.  What better way could we celebrate our new endeavor than with all this great stuff going on?

This year, I didn’t do much painting myself, but I got coated in it, of course.  The machine was sanded, primed, painted, and decaled.  Those beautiful circles are sticky backed vinyl we cut out and applied. 
ArtVend, still in it's Maker Space incubator
I couldn’t be happier with how it looks. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when a community comes together in friendship and fun with a goal of making a contribution to the community. 

Go check it out!
Photo by Kristin Roach

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Write: Keeping it all in order

I have two white boards in my house.  A large one in my bedroom/office and a smaller one by the kitchen table.  I've gone through a couple different ways to organize these and still feel that I should just coat the walls in dry erase paint and write everywhere.  One of the things I added to this last round of organizing is more space for random ideas, like Hercules on Probation.  In order to keep white space available, I've also created a spreadsheet for ideas and to do lists.

I'm still getting the hang of my organizer, but I really enjoy having all my writing ideas in one place.  Often, I'll get home and my new wonderful idea is at work and I can't remember what it was.  Or I will jot it down on a piece of paper and promptly loose it.  This way, I can have one sheet with my ideas that I can pick from at any time (except on the van, but nothing is perfect).

When the Hercules idea came up, I wrote it down on my white board and transferred it to the spreadsheet when I next logged in.  Last night, when I sat down to write, I looked over the ideas and picked one to write about.

I have different columns with space for a title, a description of the piece, where I might submit it, and considerations for those submissions.

How do you organize your thoughts for writing, crafting, or getting things done? 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Inspire: Conversations over Dinner

The kiddo and I have some interesting conversations.  Especially when he is grounded from TV and has no other option but to talk to me.  Mwahaha ahem. 

Recently, he watched the Disney movie Hercules in school.  Why?  We aren't exactly sure.  But it was his favorite part of the school day.  Me being me, and the kiddo being the kiddo, I had to ask if he shouted out any inaccuracies about the movie.  He didn't, mostly, but he really wanted to!  Ah, my kiddo, he takes after me so much.

So began a conversation about Hercules' twelve labors that he had to do because he killed his family.  Then the thought came to me....  Hercules was on probation.  He became famous because he was sentenced to community service.  How odd is that?  And so we pulled out the myth books and read up on old Heracles to find out that he was a repeat offender and hadn't gotten the message the first time around.  The second probation lasted a much shorter period of time, and he didn't even write home!

The kiddo thought this would be a great story idea and I have to agree. 

See what can happen when you sit down and talk?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Create: Fabric Covered Box

My embroidery supplies for on the go have been nestled in a Staples container lately.  It fits nicely in my bag and has enough room for most projects and my thread thrown willy nilly in the box.  But I sigh every time I pull it out.  Here I am, a crafter, making a wonderful thing, and using an orange box that proclaims that someone somewhere used address labels.  Obviously, it was time to fix this.

I began by sanding down my box (because the internet tells you that paint adheres better to a slightly rough surface, right?  I figured I would try it.) and wiping it off.

Then we went outside and spray painted it silver and black.  I was going for a slightly astronomical approach using only my two colors.  It came out fairly well.  But after letting it dry, I did not like the feel or look of the box for my crafting needs.

So, I decided I'd throw some glue down and cover it with fabric.  I used pretty much the same technique I used on the books I recently did.  Modpodge the surface, apply fabric, and smooth. 

It looks much, much better than the spray paint.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Write: The Write Words

When writing, I often get bogged down on knowing the right words.  I want it to be perfect the first time out and so I'll get blocked on how to word something.  I'm trying to overcome this, but it takes some work.

A lot of the resources I've read (blogs, articles, books) say to just write it out and go back later to get the right words.  Over time, I've realized just how right they are.  If I have a story idea, stopping to figure out how to say a sentence breaks up my flow of words and then I can no longer remember the rest of the story.  I get bogged down on the right wording of how a character looks or the correct name for a specific item in the scenery. 

In my morning routine, a half hour of work will sometimes boil down to one paragraph because I get caught up in the thinking instead of writing.  Now that I've recognized my problem, I need to separate my editor from my writer and just let it go.

Do you get sucked into the editing spiral while writing?  How do you keep it separate?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Inspire: "You always a smartass? Nope. Sometimes I'm asleep."

I happily finished a swap this weekend.  It was based on Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series.  Dresden is a wise-ass wizard with a listing in the phone book.
Why is Harry my inspiration for the week?  Because he does what he needs to do and gets it done.  He could be hiding away, soaking up the magic and power but instead he lives (well, lived) in a one room basement apartment that had once been invaded by zombies.  He's had more than enough offers to go to the dark side, but he stands his ground and remembers his morals. 

Although it seems like he cracks more wise-ass pop culture references than Buffy sometimes, he's a good guy.  Sometimes we need that to remind us of where we stand.  Plus, I need a reminder to stop being so serious all the time!

"Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar" 
- Jim Butcher, Dead Beat


Friday, September 9, 2011

Create: A Work In Progress, or Catching Up

My To Do list is currently longer than my done list.  There are some things a bit higher on my list than others.  One of those things is the ArtVend Machine.  This week was dedicated to getting some stuff made up and painting the machine at our meeting.

I learned something too.
Always check what kind of paint you are using before you go getting it all over your hands.  Oil based paint does not wash off like water based paint...  And now, a few days later, I'm finally learning that baby oil or olive oil could have removed it that night instead of waiting to buy mineral oil.  Can you tell I'm a blonde? 

On top of my list right now is a project for a swap.  If it works as well as I hope it does, I'm hoping to make one for myself.  It's will to be a kite shield bracelet, my take on the one Harry Dresden wears.
Are you working on embroidering or embellishing something small?  Baste stitch some extra cloth around it so it fits better in the hoop.  I cut out my bracelet before embroidery and basted scrap felt around all the edges.  I was able to put it in a large hoop without worrying about creasing the edges.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Write: To Be Inspired

I'm a little bit in crafter/writer deadline hell right now.  I need to be in overdrive and I'm falling behind.  In fact, I felt so crappy this morning (sinus, stomach, headache oh my gosh) that I thought about posting a sick day.  But as I signed into Blogger, I noticed a post from a great blogger, Mythical Magpie, about how a comment of mine sent her off on a great new adventure.

Once I got done blushing about being called a 'hero blogger,' I felt energized and ready to tackle all my deadlines.  And ready to go find a pen pal.

It's amazing how just one little thing can inspire the synapses to spark and create new ideas, new energy, and get you back where you need to go.  So today, go out and keep your ears and eyes open for that one little thing that can inspire you.  Think up a history for your pen, or think about what your keyboard would really like to be doing.  Where did that piece of trash come from?  (Go pick it up and throw it away!)  Use it in a story, a blog post, a conversation starter.

Go get it done.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Inspire: To Stand Up

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
- Robert F. Kennedy

A friend posted this link on Facebook the other day about how a girl came home from school and told her father how her day went.  At lunch, two girls she was sitting with were talking about churches and asked a third girl where she went.  The third girl said she didn't go to church and didn't really believe in god.  They asked the story teller the same thing and she identified as an atheist and a humanist.  The third girl gave her a look of relief that she wasn't the only one.  The two church goers were amazed that everyone wasn't Christian.

This story is interesting to me because two teenagers stood up for what they believe in.

It only takes one voice, one dissenter, one breaking away from the pack to help others realize that they don't have to be in the pack.  Look at almost any movie with bullies, from the Ant Bully to Mean Girls to Pump Up the Volume and a host of others, to see that once one person stands up to the norm, makes their voice heard, the rest will fall away from the 'ideal' and go their own way. 

I try to follow this as much as I can.  This is why I support Pagan Pride Day and gay rights organizations.  This is probably why I have broken down some of my shy tendencies.  I feel so much better when I speak up for myself than when I am squirming in silence. 

My hope for my kiddo is that he never needs to worry about how others view his opinion, his religion or non-religion, and that he can be himself, no matter what happens. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Create: A Skull Book

I've known how to bind books for a while now, thanks to my very first Ames C.art workshop.  Lately, I've taken my skills into re-binding old books with new paper.  This week, I found yet another great way to upcycle my scratch paper and old books - covering them with cloth!

I know, it doesn't sound like such a new thing, but I'm quite happy to have learned about it. 

I followed the Urban Threads tutorial found on StitchPunkand stuck my glue covered book under a box of dishes overnight.  I'll be adding new end papers tonight. 

For making something so fancy, it's pretty simple to do.  All it takes is glue, fabric, and something to cover.

Have a great weekend!