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.