Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Resolutions

This year I am setting monthly resolutions. I read that this is a good way to get a lot done. I'll use some months to set new practices in place that in theory will continue past their designated month. Other months are self contained. Last year I did my resolutions faithfully until May. A net gain, and also a failure. To keep on track this year, so that my last 7 monthly goals get a chance, I am doing something kind of finicky with mail, called remailing:

At the 1st of a new month, I will sit down with my resolution and write it and draw it on the front of a postcard. Then on the back of the postcard I will put my own address, and draw a little calendar of the month. Then I will put this postcard into an envelope and address that to the postmaster of a US town with a relevant name. From what I've read, this will get the postcards postmarked with that town's name. I am not sure this is correct, because letters posted in my town get the postmark of the mail sorting center, not the town, but I am willing to try it. And every day I will yearn for the postcard to turn up, and that will keep me on track to completing my goal. When it does turn up, I can record my daily progress on the calendar I've drawn.

January: Learn to cook new healthy foods. Focus on having very balanced nutrition.
Hershey, PA

February: Practice yoga every day. Learn about yoga resources or theory.
Half Moon Bay, CA

March: Go on an adventure.
Globe, AZ

April: TBD
Truth or Consequences, NM

May: Wake up at sunrise, because it is sunrise.
Morning Sun, IA

June: Take time to meditate every day. Do not learn any more meditation theory.
Bliss, NY

July: Swim! Swim until I am worn out, until I can't get out of the pool without using the ladder.
Neversink, NY

August: Spend 40 hours on my current artwork. (track hours)
Paint Lick, KY

September: Be a better global citizen. Conserve resources, share wealth, pay attention to what is happening to everyone.
Blue Earth, NM

October: Take ice skating lessons.
Snowflake, AZ

November: Practice cello 20 hours.
Stringtown, OK

December: Submit JET app.
Satsuma, AL

This method does not seem to promise the wonderful cumulative effect of working on something consistently for a year.

Monday, December 5, 2011

One of the job boards I check is the one the unemployment office referred me to, caljobs. I lost my caljobs password, and I forgot my security question answers.^ I know I haven't forgotten my first car or the job I wanted when I was a kid, so maybe I am capitalizing differently. I feel like it's rude for the unemployment job board to ask about my dream job. Anyway, the website was down tonight so I felt free to hang out on the swap bot website.

I haven't looked at who is sending to me in the Christmas Card and a Teabag Swap but I thought they might be international since I haven't gotten anything and domestic mail is the quickest (On swap bot the swaps are a round robin or random or something- you don't exchange things with a partner). I sent three cards to the US, one to Finland, and one to the UK. I planned not to look at my senders, so as to be surprised, but I am glad I looked because now I can anticipate mail from the US, Spain, Thailand, Australia, and the Czech Republic.

I was reading my senders' profiles, not for any reason, and two of them stated really strongly that they don't accept unwrapped tea bags. I read all the profiles of the folks I sent unwrapped tea bags to, and none prohibited unwrapped bags so everything is fine, but I feel bad because I have changed my perspective re the appropriateness of unwrapped tea bags. Factory wrapped is the way to send tea to strangers. I was just so excited to share the seasonal Trader Joe's Candy Cane Decaf Green Tea. It is so good. It tastes a little bit like a candy cane and not really like green tea. I guess I don't know what it tastes like. It is my favorite flavored tea, and last year I never stocked up and I had to hoard my last box for months and when I had used it up I didn't throw away the box until I moved. I just kept the box in my cupboard-- it has a narwhal on it whose horn has an ornament tied on with string-- and when offering tea to guests I would point it out.

I have a new project in mind and pretty international stamps will help it lots. The project is a stamp collecting album dollhouse book, made from a dozen oil paintings. The stamps will fill picture frames and so on. I have got as far as ripping the pages out of a book and drawing bricks on the spine and back cover.

^Okay, I figured it out. I made a super hard password to spite the uber demanding password requirements. So, that will show caljobs. Like, it said my password had to include characters from 3 sets, but wouldn't accept my password until I added a character from a fourth set. It was at the limits of my password generating abilities, and people who are a lot less computer literate than I are relying on this service.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Vintage" Birdcage ATCs

These are some Artist Trading Cards I made for a swap-bot swap. I like doing ATCs, they are like an assigned sketch topic but fun.

2012 Planner

 I've made a planner for next year. This is the front. For an epigraph I put in some Latin.
 It's made from a National Geographic book called Hawaii. I picked it for the gold embossing on teal, but I was reading snippets as I cut it apart and they were very interesting, and mostly about sharks.
I left centimeter wide strips of the original pages and glued printer paper in between them. These pages feel nice to turn through. I want to have it heavily, heavily illustrated but I am out of practice so the illustrations so far are a bit timid. You can see they do not fill up the space allotted them.

My hope is that through a year of filling it up with goals and adventures it will become a little time capsule of 2012.

Harry Potter Christmas Ornaments

I joined a craft swap to exchange handmade Harry Potter Christmas ornaments, and once I got started I thought of a family we've known forever who are big HP fans and I made a few nice ornaments for them as well. 

 The snitch has wings of cut paper and I haven't invented how to send it through the mail without destroying them, especially because the gold ball is solid epoxy resin and comparatively heavy. I invented the gold, it is from mixing an acrylic color called Interference Orange (translucent white with glimmer that flashes orange/green) with Burnt Umber (dark brown). I hoped it would turn out light shiny brown, and instead it made a perfect candy bronze. There are heaps of mixable acrylic mediums that I've just steered away from because I don't feel I have time to learn to control them, but this small success is encouraging.
I signed up for the swap hoping my partner would want a little Weasley Sweater, and she didn't seem to, so I made one anyway for our friends the Tersignis. Both sweaters I have knit have been this scale, although I have knit several swaths of fabric meant to be sweater fronts. 

It's so rewarding to make things that a ton of talented people have already designed, I can just sit down and turn them out and they're charming. I noticed the same thing when I made my TARDIS, which still no one in VT has visited. I hope they are all snowed in. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Cards!

I meant to send my Christmas cards out on Saturday but the Post Office was closed and I only had Liberty Bell stamps, which are a bit grave really. So I had my cards for an extra day, and I made them extra good. 
 I drew simple messages and hid them under the postage.
 I used my dip pen to put some festive illustrations on the backs of the envelopes.

I had to free up my double pointed needles to cast on a tiny sweater ornament, so I finally finished up these socks from last year and they're on their way to my Nana. 
I found an advent calendar for a dollar at Trader Joe's, so I put a couple dollars' postage on it and sent it on its way, heavily inked in silver.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a new word

a new word catches my eye. I perk up, sound it out. pulchritudinous. I want to collect it, but it's so ugly. I expect the writer hasn't selected it for its clarity. Maybe I will just find out, doesn't mean I'll use it. pulchritudinous. I can spell it, at least.
It means having beauty, from the latin pulchritudo. Oh, latin, you are no good at this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Letterboxing in Golden Gate Park

I had a really nice day of letterboxing in Golden Gate Park. First we found the Tribute to the Japan Earthquake series, and then we found the Stow Lake Microbox series. We had to hunt pretty thoroughly for the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture outside the De Young that was the starting point of the Tribute clue. The De Young is my favorite art museum. It was closed today but there is loads to look at in the Garden of Enchantment. 

The Tribute Letterboxes are sited around the tea garden, although none are inside. Admission to the Hagiwara Tea Garden is free for three hours a week-- 9 to 10am M/W/F-- and neither of us had ever been so it was a treat. There were water features, bridges (wooden and stone), pagodas^ and sculpted gates. I amused myself by picking out bits of the Japanese text on the plaques everywhere and trying to take pictures from from anywhere but the prescribed vantage points.

 This bridge seems unusual, you can climb either side like a ladder, and it's very high up.
 After we finished the Tribute series, we went to nearby Stow Lake. These were super well carved and cleverly hidden. In the end we'd made nearly two circuits of the lake, all on a generous paved path.
I am excited to exhaust the rest of the Park's letterboxes over a number of daytrips and then spend a day carving on-site and planting a box and devising a clue.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Visit to Daiso

In the past I've made a trip across the bay just to go to Ichiban Kan and Daiso, two dollar stores in SF Japan town. I happened to be nearby today so I stopped in to look at the bento supplies. I'm being extra double frugal until I find work, so it felt weird to buy anything. However, I knew exactly what supplies I'm lacking and put back a bunch of cute, cheap things that weren't as useful. I bought a bit of food and some bento gear, and spent less than my budget. I still feel like $19 gone from my no longer periodically replenished savings is a bit of a tragedy.

 So, I am cheering myself up by replying to job postings. False! I am cheering myself up by a game I invented wherein I stop spending money entirely until I read all the Japanese info on the packages of the stuff I bought. Things from the Japan Town dollar stores are very thoroughly packaged. With this game I am getting more value from my purchases, by learning, and also taking a break from buying things. I threw away some of the packaging already, so there are five interesting looking pieces to read. This is from a little panda bear that is small enough to ride in a bento and dispense dry seasonings.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Current Mail Art

This is my current batch of mail art. 
 Embroidered Whale and Inked Barnacles.
 Purple Shore Crab with Message-
The bottle was an afterthought to fill the space, but text has a way of dominating an image and I didn't want the card to look like an elaborate frame for a cry for help, so I wrote, "all's well." I like that and sort of want to put them out into the world but I don't know about doing that to the ocean, even though it's bigger and older than me. I could offset the impact by gathering trash, but I should be doing that anyway.
 This is my first try posting something with a handmade stamp. It's got a first class stamp too. I carved this stamp for a letterbox that I haven't planted because of magnet logistic setbacks.

I read about this simple and easy cryptograph. Write the message real small on the upper right front of the envelope and then cover it with the postage stamp. I have self adhesive stamps rather than old fashioned gummed stamps. I am getting the hang of pulling them off but it was tricky at first, so I don't expect anyone to actually look under them. Anyway, I figure that it's an easy way to seed everything with easter eggs. This one just says "forever is ages." with a poorly drawn quail underneath. 

This next one I received from my dad's girlfriend, Dawn. She has been an artist a lot longer than I have and she jam packs letters with treasures and little notes. 

I have ideas for more involved projects but I feel like I should save them for the recipients' birthdays or something. But in fact, I should do them soon so that I can problem solve and refine and have them in my repertoire of techniques to build on.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bentos for Nick

Penguins with Salmon-filled Mountains
After years of wishing for quail eggs, I found some in a mexican market in Fruitvale. I made them into penguins. I think the one with a nori nose looks more streamlined and classic but Nick liked the one with a carrot nose. I was worried that they'd be finicky to handle because they are so small but they are hardly any trouble and taste extra good. They are $1.19 for 10, and each one is 1/4 the size of a chicken egg. So they are not quite a frugal choice. In terms of calories it's like getting a dozen chicken eggs for $5.70, but it's really worthwhile in terms of teeny tiny penguins, pandas, and chickens.

Pasta and Fruit
Pinwheel apple slices are only a bit harder to cut than checkerboard, and much prettier I think. I kind of ruined my first try by melting caramel onto their undersides. Now I know that caramel doesn't stick to the whites of apples. I felt so clever, buying two pieces of caramel from the bulk bins (you just put your quarter in a little metal box, which is really an elegant solution to folks who want to snack on candy in the supermarket). Oh, well. I made the container for the marinara sauce by folding foil around a heart shaped cookie cutter. I based the panda on this one, but it didn't turn out very adorable.

I don't send my special dollar store boxes when I pack bentos for other people because we'd all feel bad if I didn't get them back, but they also don't hold enough for Nick. Hardly anyone could take worse care of my bento boxes than I do. I have two and I've bought about 10. Even though I have everything I need for bento, I want to get more at the dollar store, Ichiban Kan, when I go to SF next week. What if they have a penguin mayonnaise container whose beak is a little spoon? What if they have bento boxes big enough for a grown up lady and covered in bunnies?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If you have a Christmas with no money, by no means should you tell your children they are missing out and give them cash. You should ideally pass down something from your family, and do it with sparkle and pomp and gravitas, or if you haven't got that in you you could make them something cunning with your special skills, something wooden or a bit of fiction starring them. And if you haven't got children that can appreciate that sort of gift, giving such gifts to them is a start.
Am I going to be so utterly drained by life that I can't coax a stable of unicorns from a few sheets of printer paper, when it counts?
I packed a bento for the first time in months, and I've lost the knack. I just put together cut up foods that probably could be eaten together. There are salami wraps, cranberries, avocado, and clementine on a bed of celery. 
This bento box is from Urban Outfitters in Ohio, and it has a way bigger capacity than the child sized ones I like to get at the SF Japantown dollar store.
I don't have anywhere to be anymore, so I'll just take this on whichever errands I do tomorrow, and maybe I will see someplace nice to sit awhile and eat.

I bought some chicken soup with animal shape noodles, and I was going to heat it and put it in my thermos and go for a walk to the water and eat my hot soup. That way I'd get a bit of exercise and check the seal and heat retention of my off brand thermos without getting too far from home. But instead I opened a can of the soup my mom buys, which is tastier and more expensive, and now I feel like my whole plan is ruined. Eat soup without animals? I'm not nearly hungry enough to resort to that. So it's just sitting in the microwave.

Monday, October 31, 2011

VT Lettersheet Journal

The last page of my lettersheet journal arrived today. Each page is finished and complete in a way that my usual journaling can't match.  They're dated by hand and by postmark. Only one has a drawing but three have images from hand carved stamps. The pages are information rich and layered. 

 I consider this a successful incarnation, and it suggested loads of improvements for the next one. I need to design the pages to be bound together rather than binding them as an afterthought. Sealing the lettersheets with a gluestick was a mistake. I should draw a lot more, since drawings break up text nicely. And someday I want to start using topical historic stamps. For example, I could get a set of National Park Stamps, and use them over the years as I visit the parks. For the ones that are shy of the letter rate, I could add postage with stamps commemorating that state's statehood or local fauna.

If there is a way to mail a letter from LAX, the Delta counter hadn't heard of it. So, I left my letter on the ledge of a marble planter in the hopes that someone would mail it. I was excited to think of how long it might live in a  glove compartment or luggage and what an exotic domestic postmark it might have when it arrived. 
It turned out it spent no time at all in a glove compartment as it was postmarked the following day from Santa Ana, CA- 40 miles from where I dropped it. Thank you, anonymous stranger! I can't yet see the shape of the letter dropping project this suggests.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Six Hundred and Sixty Kanji Lessons

I have been coveting a copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire in Japanese for years, but when I sat down to order one for my birthday, I realized I'd prefer Order of the Phoenix. It is extremely far above my reading level, so there is no hope of reading it without first translating it bit by bit. of the ~100 kanji (counting repeats) on the first page, I can recognize 42 (a lot of repeats), but not in compound words or anything. Also, a lot of the superscript pronunciations are unfamiliar because I excused myself from learning all the pronunciations of a character and only learned 1. how to write it, 2. what it means in English, and 3. how to pronounce it as a standalone Japanese word.

So I spent last night on looking up the first page of kanji by using my mouse as a stylus and I now have a page of translated kanji to refer to when I go back through with my dictionary. This harry potter book is two volumes, 1300 pages together, and my goal is to finish the first volume. I'm sure at that point I will be ready to set this aside and read something else.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lettersheet Journal

For my upcoming birthday trip to Vermont I'm going to make a mailed lettersheet journal. Before I go I'll make lettersheets (letters folded up and mailed without envelopes) because that way the postmarks and everything are preserved on the reverse of the letter. I am going through loads of states because that's the cheapest way to fly, and my two hour layovers will give me a chance to hunt down mailboxes and get postmarks from Michigan and Los Angeles. Then, because I am a novice traveler and am flying into the wrong airport, I am going through loads of states via bus or something once I get to the East Coast, and that will provide more postmarks. While I am in Vermont we are going letterboxing, so I'll stamp the letters with those as well, on the outside fronts if they are small enough.

I think it's okay that this is a journal to myself, a collaboration with the post offices of a half dozen states and VT's letterboxers.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I was feeling guilty for sleeping all day (from 11am to 6pm), until I realized that a well person couldn't do that anyway. Maaaybe I should have bought Dayquil instead of Nyquil, but it was a frightening orange color, and the mint Nyquil was bad enough. Now I am missing the dinner my house is having to welcome the person who is taking over my room. I am going to do laundry and return library books like a champion. (a champion sews her socks together and returns more than a hundred library books at once).

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I like deep cleaning the house. Much nicer than the daily pick up I have to do to keep my shambles livable. My housemates very gently asked if I might help them clean up the common spaces and I agreed even though that's the most difficult way to clean, for me. Xiaona likes to do things together as a group. It's hard for me to listen to the ongoing negotiations about what to do with an empty ketchup bottle or whether corners need to be wiped down. Since we do this so infrequently and none of us have compatible standards the exercise in domestic hygiene takes eons. But I was firm with myself that since I've neglected my patience and let it whither away, I would enjoy this opportunity to develop it. And then, at the agreed upon start time, no one was about and I locked myself in the bathroom and cleaned it. A while later my housemate knocked on the bathroom and I opened the door in my cleaning rags and gloves. He thought I had been in my room and was looking about for something to clean. He joked as he walked away, "somebody tell me what to doooo!" I was locked back into the bathroom by then so it was easy not to say, "find something dirty and wipe it or wash it." Then I wore myself out cleaning under the clawfoot bathtub.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Letterbox for Disneyland

I made a little letterbox that fastens to steel with strong magnets, because one of my friends might go to Disneyland soon. If she does, and if she wants to bother planting this, I might recarve the stamp. I made it a tiny, tiny logbook too.

Big Sur Topo Map

I went to Big Sur for the first time two weeks ago.

It is exactly the kind of nature I like, unrelenting beauty. Pescadero was really nice, but there was nowhere to stand and survey it so it all felt like a jumble of greenery to me. I was surprised when I looked at my pictures that it had been so pretty. Anyway, I went to Ventana Camp on a two night backpacking trip. We stayed at the same camp both days, because I needed to rest my back. It was really nice not to have to break camp and hike, even though I like doing that, because it gave me a chance to work on my art in the woods.

I made a letterbox for Big Sur and it didn't quite turn out. I noticed most of the stamps I find are off white, so they must not be the pink colored speedy carve that I use. So I bought some speedy cut, even though I heard it is terrible to work with. And, it was terrible to work with. I took it real slow, and got something I was happy with (Casey would disagree, because I wouldn't stop saying how disappointed I was), and then for no reason in the world it fell apart in half. So I trimmed it up and planted it anyway. Casey said I shouldn't plant something I was unhappy with, but I reasoned that I would be really excited to find this stamp, so I should plant it.

This is the impression I took before it fell apart.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I was discussing Alzheimer's with a friend and I said I wouldn't be frightened of Alzheimer's because I could live in a perfect, sun filled room, with a rocking chair and a grey cat and shelf upon shelf of my favorite books, which I could read as though they were new to me. That is not strictly true, I am sure, but I have held the comforting image of this library close to my heart this week amongst unusual stressors. I like the idea of cultivating a library around myself like a broken in shoe, a lifelong friend (in the form of a musical instrument), or a garden. So, I've started. I have several sketchbooks and journals, as well as dozens of books I love. Here are some of the threads I am considering working in as series or one offs.

Hollow books to hold my kits and supplies:
-stationary and stamps
-hand sewing
-office supplies
-earthquake preparedness
-drawing; pen and ink
like the idea of thick book spines on display, concealing my personal things. A possible iteration of this concept is a bedroom with no personal effects stored in drawers, because they are stored in bookcases in books.

Extant documents bound for permanence and accessibility:
-syllabi, readings, and selected coursework from my undergraduate classes
-a year's worth of grocery receipts or other receipts
-Japanese notes
-letterboxing stamps and journal entries

Altered books:
-Annotated, illustrated, overflowing dictionary
-a book about wyoming I made ages ago

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Copyright Ethics

I am getting pretty good at stamp carving because my fine motor skills and aesthetic judgement are very developed but I went letterboxing today and one of the stamps was just cunningly executed and I want to get to that level. It was the Valencia Post stamp in Aptos. The print lines were consistent, the depth of the removed portion was very consistent and the cuts were shallow. Also the logbook had loads of entries so I know the stamp was used plenty but it wasn't worn out. So I looked online for more advanced stamp carving techniques and found a page with good content and ethics I disagree with.
I know I am a little on the permissive side when it comes to copyrighted works. But I feel like noncommercial use of transferring digital images to handiwork- embroidery, stampcarving, drawing, and so on- is incredibly innocuous and a legitimate use of the images. I use copying constantly in my sketchbook and I don't see how else I could develop. I usually don't make fan art but now that I have I don't feel that the Doctor Who franchise is diminished by it in the slightest.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

TARDIS Letterbook

My second letterbook is a TARDIS. It's going to Vermont with Casey to live in his school library. This is the second in my series of letterbooks.
Here is the book open, with dalek, Tom Baker scarf, and TARDIS. The bottom half of the letterbook is blank pages I glued in to use as a logbook.
I already stamped them all into my personal logbook, like I stamp everything I make, but if I make it to the TARDIS at Marlboro I shall stamp them all again.
This project was time consuming because there was so much to carve out from the book and so many small details, but it was easy because I didn't have to plan out any designs since I cribbed everything from the Whoniverse.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

External frame backpack

Today I ordered hardware from Strapworks for my external frame pack. I got aluminum hardware that's coated in a color called "candy orange liqueur" and silver grey webbing. I am super glad I got specialty stuff instead of trying to make do with what the fabric store had. Oh, I hope it's as beautiful as I am expecting. It will look real nice with the blue and brown of the upholstery fabric I'm using.
This is the detachable day bag. It's all done except for the straps. It took ages because the fabric really does fray a lot so I went around the edge and hemmed it first. Also I am sewing by hand partly on principle and partly because I don't have access to a machine. A machine would be magically fast, but it's nice to have the project unfold over the course of days because I won't make mistakes.

I cut the fabric for the main bag and I am going to start hemming it today. It looks too small but I think it's too big. I am aiming for it to be about the size of my torso, but in my imagination I have this giant torso that's 5" longer and 18" bigger around than in reality, which is where I will be using my pack, so I'll have to cut it down. Maybe.

Update: Everything is sewn! I belatedly realized I'll need grommets for the drawstring closure, but Strapworks doesn't sell them so I don't have to feel bad that I already ordered my hardware.


The Dharma Trading Co website has a great tutorial for an American Flag inspired tee shirt. 
I think it's too cute and I would love to have a sundress like that. I cleared out my closet today in preparation for my move this fall, and I saw lots of nice clothes I forgot about. I've been about the same size for years now and I like going thrifting, so I have a lot of clothes. I feel like there is no reason for me ever to look less than put together, because I have all these pieces and I have a good eye. But I only look extra nice every once in a while. Maybe it's because I'm not my best in the morning, which is when I dress. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

External frame backpack

I went backpacking with a borrowed pack last month. The trip was great and the pack was great, but it felt wrong to be in the wilderness relying on equipment I wasn't familiar with. I didn't know how the straps worked together or what gear went on the outside. And I need a lot of time to work things out, so I didn't really get the hang of it during the three days I had the pack.

I decided to build a pack. If I were going to do this really properly I would buy a pack and take it apart and put it together to get a handle on the construction, but on accident I thought about how good upholstery tweed would look in a 1940s rucksack silhouette and it was settled. The only thing is, I am the littlest bit stubborn so if this pack isn't comfortable I will still take it to the ends of the earth because I am so attached to it.

The frame is some crutches. I was excited to find them because I don't know where to get aluminum pipes. So far they are a little difficult to work with. The molded plastic is attached really permanently. And I thought I might preserve the height adjustable portion, but  I accidentally broke one of the tubes while I was flexing it. 

I wanted wool tweed but at the fabric store the synthetic tweed upholstery felt fuzzy, like it would pick up dirt amazingly on the trail. So I got something crisp. It was lucky I picked a geometric pattern because it made cutting straight lines easy- I don't have a good work surface for projects this large.

Living with roommates

My house is quietest in the late afternoon and early evening, so I moved my main phase of sleep to 6pm. I am the only person who has to be up in the morning, so I am being flexible. That is why I wasn't mad when at 1:21am an extended revenge/torture movie with uncharacteristically slow and dull dialogue woke me up. I just put on music and made my dinner. And, now I don't have to feel bad about setting alarms in quarter hour increments from 5:45 on, even though realistically I am never going to get up before 6:30. Yesterday, nothing woke me in the middle of the night so I slept for 11 hours.

Monday, August 1, 2011


The submarine is coming along. I finished modding the original dashboard, and I need to carve out space for the rest of the control panel. I used the one shot enamel I used for the body to outline all the indicators. Once Casey helped me get the dashboard cover off it was easy. I had a super hard time keeping a steady hand, however. It was hard to decide how much to modify these. I sort of wanted to make everything seriffed by covering part of the white numbers, but that was too hard. I don't want to lose day and night visibility.
 I have not quite figured out how to incorporate the rest of the control panel. I want a clock, a thermometer, and a compass. I have the clock and the thermometer. The compass has to be a sphere, like on a boat, so I can read it from a side view.
If I can find a good price for a pretty altimeter I will get one of those as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Today was a very good day for my new hobby, letterboxing, and a very bad day for my other projects. Letterboxing is when you take a personal stamp (one you've carved or one you love) and a journal and go out in the world with a clue to the location of a box with a journal and a stamp in it, and when you find it you stamp each journal with the other's stamp. The clue is usually very concrete, like a suggestion to go to a particular intersection and look under a bench. At work I described letterboxing to my coworker and she got really excited and she found a clue online for a nearby letterbox. We went straight to it-- without even getting stamps and journals-- after work and it was really neat.

Then I went home and started working on a letterbox of my own to plant on campus. I carved a pretty good stamp for it. Then I made a simple logbook- only one signature of pages. Every step took double long because I was filming in case I want to make a video about letterbox installation, which I do.

When I was mostly done with the letterbox, I carved another stamp. This is my stamp, the stamp that I stamp into logbooks of letterboxes that I visit.

It is a giraffe.
An olden times dutch painter I like, Hieronymus Bosch, has a great painting of a giraffe that doesn't look at all like a real giraffe (he'd never seen one) but all the essential giraffe parts are represented. Also he is a terrific painter. On the right is a sketch I did from his painting, which I then sketched onto a carving block and carved. I took a picture of both together because I was impressed at my consistency. The size is even similar, and the differences are mainly things I changed deliberately. So I guess my hands are getting really well trained.

When I was done cleaning up my stamp I made a little hardbound notebook. In the past I have been drawn to graceful, spare simplicity in bookbinding. It's satisfying because everything lines up just right and the knots are perfect and the weaving of ends is clever. But, you have to do a really perfect job so it takes a long time. To make my new letterboxing journal I smeared a lot of glue over everything and used card tabs to reinforce the binding and when my first set of endpapers got stuck I glued more endpapers over them. It's drying under some bricks right now and when it's ready I will go out into the world with it. Making all this took my entire evening but I am satisfied.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I try to enjoy the parade of my moods as they pass by, and today's mood was "grumpy." First I woke up two hours late, despite going to bed five hours early yesterday. I woke up exhausted so I called in sick. Then I fought entropy in my household and friendships, in between drinking four cups of caffeine tea. I took one or two showers. I don't have any towels right now so I couldn't tell. (Usually, if my towel is wet it means I took a shower.)

I clean every day and my room never gets clean because it is too full, so I got rid of some things and put other things away really good. My doorknob got oily and I have no idea how, and I didn't clean it and then later it wasn't oily. Then I studied a bit and took a nap. I sleep with the window open so my room doesn't get stuffy, and after an hour I woke up to the sound of my housemates talking baby talk to our cat really loudly in the driveway, outside my window. Oh I was so grumpy at that. I GET IT YOU GUYS YOUR TEN YEAR OLD CAT IS A BABY AND THAT'S WHY IT CAN'T READ WORDS YOU SPELL OUT ALOUD IN BABY TALK.

So I flounced to the store, the bank, and the other store. At the first store I forgot to give the cashier my tote until the end. At the bank my cashier was aggressively fake friendly without the friendliness. It was kind of interesting but I still didn't like it. And the calculator provided for us to play with in line had super sensitive keys so it said my next paycheck would be near four million dollars, but it actually won't because my employer knows how to work a calculator.

 Then at the last store I said a cuss, out loud, without checking the environment for children (I did afterward and there were none) and I don't remember why but I think it is because the soda aisle looked really long to walk down, but it wasn't that long actually. I was embarrassed standing in line because I had like two quarts of crisco, two pounds of cheese, a lot of top ramen, and a big box of coke.  I know no one is judging anyone else, but I like to play "grocery store detective" in long lines so I assume other people are as well. THAT'S WHY I LOOK LIKE I HAVE THE DISEASE "EXHAUSTION," BECAUSE MY DINNER IS ALWAYS INSTANT NOODLES AND CHEESE IN CRISCO. I HAVE THE DISEASE, "GOURMAND." When I told the checker about my reusable tote bag she ignored me (the safeway express lane counter is very high so she couldn't see me holding it out) because she was busy with another cashier. I stomped my foot and rolled my eyes and head, like a rude pony, because I guess I thought I had the right to, as I was invisible. But the guy in front of me in line noticed and helped me out by interrupting the cashiers to tell them about my bag. Then I felt grateful but embarrassed.

Then a man who was parked next to my car was too shy to pull out in one go, and took a year to get out of my (pedestrian) way while I was weighed down by all my oils and sweeteners and I wanted to tell him he was alllllllll clear but I knew I had a grumpy face on and probably a grumpy voice so I left him to his own devices.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Terrible Saturday

I spent all week looking forward to Saturday. As Saturdays go, this one is a big disappointment. I didn't disable my alarm so I woke up at 5:30. Then I had some tea and burned a cd and packed up my laundry and put money on my laundry card. Then I went to the laundry place at Kresge and it was closed. So I went to the Kresge East laundry room and the grad student laundry room and they were closed. So I spent a boring hour filling the hex nuts on my car with putty (at home I can't work on the left side of my car because it's not allowed in the driveway). Also I tried to scratch the enamel off my car with my nail and I could. So now I have to buy primer and it has to be the same brand because of compatibility and there aren't any distributors in town so it will be like two weeks before I am driving a presentable car. While I was on campus I checked the Porter laundry room, which my maintenance card didn't open. So then I came home to my stripped bed and moderate untidiness. I had been looking forward to this wide open weekend for weeks. Laundry and working on my car were my only special two goals of today, and I got thwarted. Now I just have my dumb goals that I hate.

Dumb Goals That I Hate For Saturday July 9th
[ ] wash dishes
[ ] take out trash
[ ] wash bathroom
[ ] latin
[ ] transcribe dmv manual
[ ] sort clothes for free box
[ ] pay overdue parking ticket
[ ] find out why my car smells moldy and stop it
[ ] sort books to go back to library
[ ] read
[ ] library for french books
[ ] configure my external hard drive or whatever

It's difficult because this isn't scheduled to be an idle day, and yet everything so far has been too difficult.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

1shot enamel

I know people use a sprayer to paint cars. I don't have space where spraying would work, and I am very good with a brush. I used all my tricks and wiles. And that paint was like, "Yeah, I'm metallic gold. You're getting brushstrokes." And I was like, "Noooooooooo." It's a thin, quick drying oil based paint that has amazing pigmentation and a tendency to drip. I put it on in sections, starting at the bottom with horizontal strokes that I blended vertically into the next horizontal stroke. At the end of each vertical stroke I reduced pressure a lot and feathered the brush across the drying paint. I didn't get a picture because I had to come inside to calm down.

Okay, I calmed down.
Now that I know I'll have brushstrokes I guess I will have to use them somehow to mimic metal surfaces. I could use scumbling to mimic burnishing. I guess I could learn more about faux finishes in metal.