Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mike Kistler

My grandfather was proudly riding the early, avoidable death train the entire time I knew him, with the exception of the year he was 74 and got treated for cancer (I think it was because he was a newlywed). When I was little and was taught, sans nuance, that smoking kills, I would lecture him all the time and he would laugh it off. He continued smoking even after the mother of his children died of a heart attack brought on by getting by on just the one lung for years. Probably the sweetest death train story is that he wore a seat belt until it was legally mandated, and then he never wore one again. He also ate what he liked in the face of diabetes and didn't care to exercise. He retired at 55 and spent decades going on cruises around the world with his second wife. When they split up, he got together with his high school sweetheart. I am sorry we didn't get in some long, meaningful coffee dates before he passed, but we did get to say goodbye, at least, while he was lucid.

The checks he sent me every birthday and Christmas used to be wonderful when I was a kid- I would plan how to get to the bank, when to cash them, what to put the money towards, and then when thanking them I could specify what books I'd bought. Since then, though, I have used the checks toward groceries or paying bills and I appreciate it of course but it's not the same as that thrilling glimpse at adulthood. I am so grateful that this last Christmas present was something tangible, a flashy set of cocktail jewelry. I wore it to his deathbed. He said it was sold as jade but was probably just glass, and that I didn't have to wear it at all if I didn't like it. We have always just talked about me. I don't know who I thought was going to tell me how he became an engineer or where he met his French wife or what his family did for fun when he was a little boy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Soapstone Seal

Seal Impression in Wax
Soapstone tiles

A friend picked up some soapstone tiles for me for Christmas, and I had a couple days off this week to work on projects so I rounded one off and carved my initials with a pin and a paper clip. Then I found an old pool cue in our pile of sticks and pipes and sawed off a 3 1/2 inch piece to use as a handle. The pool cue was much, much harder to sand than the soapstone, so I left it squared off. I drew from this tutorial:

3D ichthyosaur

Here I intended to rough in an ichthyosaur and then drag the lines around, but I guess I only know how to drag around pen lines. I was petulant because Dad wouldn't explain to me how to get to the drawing tools so I just liquefied the background as well as the sketch. The background is meant to be 3D for pen and paper doodles and I found it while looking for interesting graph paper from printable paper to track my New Years' resolution progress. They have hexagons, percentages, everything cool but so far I have only used the 1/4 inch square grid.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dressing up Free Business Cards

Vistaprint puts their contact info on the back of their free business cards, which dares everyone to laminate the card with something awesome to avoid the branding. So far I have thought of wood veneer, the pages on which I mix paint when I can't find a yogurt lid, flocking, or sand. I recently bought a bunch of leather samples (since I was paying to ship some royal blue deerskin to recover my planner, it was close to free to add some postcard size samples) of fake exotic leather- embossed on cow leather- that I thought would be super funny for a schoolteacher/truck driver/artist (yes, I'm flailing) who is broke as anything.

embossed cow, embossed cow, pigskin
I noticed when I was shopping for refills for the planner that everyone is into these colorful, childish planners for stay at home moms, and the company also sells expensive business cards for people without job titles, like families. They are called "call me" cards. So that made me feel like it will be okay to have business cards that just have contact info. Then after I ordered them I saw all of these cute designs, like checklists with one or two jobs or skills ticked off, or word searches where you circle your current role, and I am not doing something polished like that.