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.