Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Birthday to my Sister!

I found this idea on Pintrest a while back,  I thought it was cool, but didn't honestly think it would work.  This is a post card I sent to my sister via USPS.  It was made using a big sponge cut into a wedge shape.  I created a narrow channel using a utility knife.  The whole thing was then spray painted brown.  Walking into an art supply store and telling them you're looking for chocolate cake brown is interesting.  After that dried I traced, cut out and attached the postcard component.  I was proud to have thought of writing on it before gluing it on.  Once the glue dried it was time to frost the cake.  The frosting is made using caulk.  I actually bought a caulk gun to frost a sponge.  Weird.  Using a ziploc for piping, I filled the channel and smoothed it, then got to work on the rest of the cake.  First you cover it, then you swirl it using a toothpick or in my case a coffee stirrer.  I didn't really think the end result would be accepted by the post office.  After a raised eyebrow postage was attached and 5 days later it arrived in my sister's mailbox!

This is the tutorial I followed:

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tablet Weaving.

While visiting my sister a week ago, she set me up with her inkle loom and tablet weaving cards and a very basic pattern.  She is a tablet weaving master.  For those who don't know tablet weaving is an old technique (I think the Vikings used it) that uses cards or tablets with a hole in each of the corners for a different strand of yarn.  Patterns are created by moving the card either forwards or backward.  While I did finish my project, I doubt I will tablet weave again.  I don't have the concentration for it.  Keeping track of how many times a card has been turned one way or the other was rough, and all I had to do was turn them all one direction for eight rows and then the other direction for eight rows. When you get into each card having it's own rotation pattern, it makes my head want to explode.  My sister is brilliant at tablet weaving.  She's good at weaving in general actually.  I'm glad she showed me how to do it and I got to experiment, but overall, I doubt I'll be tablet weaving again.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Belated Christmas Gifts

This year, my sister Melissa, her roommate Autumn, and myself all agreed to a handmade gift exchange.  True to form, none of us had our projects finished in time.  We finally exchanged when I went to visit them earlier this week.  So now I can finally post what I made them.

First is Autumn's:

I crocheted an infinity scarf using red and white wool yarn.  It's worked up in strips and then braided together.

This is Melissa's:

It's a hand embroidered full bib apron.  She's a fantastic baker and a fan of RuPaul's Drag Race.  Her kitchenaid is named after one of the queen's from the show Delta Work.  So I embroidered a RuPaul quote on it along with her blue kitchenaid.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What happened???

So, it's been over a year since I updated this blog.  What happened?  Well, it's not a simple answer.  It never is is it?  To begin with, by the time I was done with the year, I felt something akin to being burnt out.  I had not idea what to create, had little to honestly no desire to do anything, and was suddenly overcome with the feeling that the year had been pointless.  I retrospect I know it wasn't, but it took a while to get over that feeling.  After what I would consider to be a lengthy recovery period I have done smaller projects.  I painted my mom something for Mother's Day.  I made my sister and my best friend Christmas gifts (they weren't done on time-to be brutally honest they still aren't done).  But overall, aside from photography, which I will always gravitate to, I haven't done much.  Part of it, I'm starting to see is habit.  I come home from work, get dinner together, and sit down in front of the TV and computer until it's time for bed.  I'm strongly starting to question those habits, but not enough to change them.  There are still classes I would love to take, (guitar lessons, weaving classes and maybe some pottery) but haven't been able to free up the funds to do so.  I sometimes marvel at how much I accomplished in that year, and I want to get back to having creativity be a regular part of life, though not as rigidly.  Time to re-evaluate some old habits.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The backlash

This was unforeseen.  I don't want to do anything.  I have had two unplanned for snow days due to arctic weather.  Several times I have gotten out knitting needles, the sketchbook, a crochet hook, just to have my inner child stomp it's foot and say I don't want to!  Admittedly, the last three months or so I was forcing myself to be creative in some form.  I didn't want to, I'd lost interested and wasn't feeling fulfilled by the process anymore, but I made myself.  Now I am no longer staring down a "must do".  Now my creative self seems unwilling to cooperate.  I hold the knitting needles in my hands, poised to work on projects, and nothing.  The needles won't move.  I can't make them move.  Nor can I make the pencil move.  For years I did very little creatively thinking I was not a creative person.  I now have more confidence in myself and yet now I can't make myself create anything.  Have I tapped the well dry?  How does one replenish creative energy?  Over the past year I made creativity something that I had to do in the hopes that after that experience it would be something I want to do.  And I do want to do it.  At least a part of me does.  However there seems to be a larger part of me that is saying, "Enough!  Stop!  I won't do it and you can't make me!"  I have a temperamental toddler in my head who refuses to let me create anything.  It doesn't care how bored I am either.  How do you reason with your inner child?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

I have written and rewritten the beginning of this post several times.  It's difficult to pick a place to start.  I have a lot of thoughts about this past year and this endeavor and they all seem to want to be expressed at the same time.  I suppose we'll start with big picture and work our way to the smaller.

I have officially completed 365 creative projects.  Well, completed is a big word.  I suppose it's better to say that I have successfully worked on creative projects for 365 days.  Some, like paintings and sketches were finished in a day.  Others, like knitting and crocheting projects, are still incomplete and their chances of completion in the future is foggy at best.  I am very proud of myself for what I have done this year.  While it was a goal, I wasn't sure I actually had it in me.  I suppose putting it out here in the public eye made for a bit of ego issue.  I may not have been good about updating the blog regularly, but if I did not actually complete the project I assure you I would have deleted the blog to save face.  Failing to meet a goal is one thing, failing to meet that goal in front of a bunch of people is something else entirely.

What have I learned this year?  A lot.  If that's not a gloss over answer I don't know what is.  I have learned that being creative is not some mythical thing.  It's a part of who you are.  Whether or not you choose to tap into and develop that aspect of yourself is entirely up to you.    I have learned that Chicago has an amazing array of art classes available in far more venues than I ever knew about.  It is my goal in 2014 to continue to sample new forms that I haven't yet.  I have learned that I like acrylic paints, but am not a huge fan of watercolors.  I like sketching, but shouldn't force myself to do so quite as much.  I love weaving, knitting, and still love crochet.  I liked pottery and tried really hard to like mosaics but don't really.  I like oil pastels, but not enough to use them regularly and I am not a fan of chalk pastels.  I've learned that upon viewing what someone else has created, many people are likely to comment something to the effect of how talented the creator is and about their own inability to draw a straight line.  I've also learned that much of what I've done this year has had little to do with natural talent and much to do with skill building and determination.  There is a reason there are so many art tutorials on YouTube.  Simply speaking, like with anything else in life, if you want to get good at something you have to practice.  I have said many time that I have no gift for perspective and proportion in terms of drawing.  When I look at what I've produced this year I can see that it's less that I wasn't good at it and more I hadn't developed the eye or skill for it.

Despite all the things I've created this year, I still would not come close to considering myself an artist.  I will accept that I am a creative person, but calling oneself an artist is another thing entirely.  Let me explain.  Around September/October this project became really difficult.  I was admittedly depressed and therefore less likely to want to express myself creatively, but more than that I didn't feel like I was expressing myself.  Somewhere around this time, I didn't like a single thing I created.  Not because I couldn't see the growth in skills or because there was anything wrong with it, I just didn't feel like I was actually creating anything.  I was mimicking.  At that point, I was comfortable with the skill set I had been developing, and I was tired of scouring the internet to find pictures of scenes or things to recreate.  I didn't want to recreate things anymore, I wanted to create new things.  Essentially, I wanted to find my own creative voice.  Here is where the problem is.  There are any number of blogs and tutorials available to teach you skills.  You can learn how best to lay paint, methods of shading, the best way to make a tree, but no one is going to teach you how to manifest something new.  No one is going to tell you how to find your voice in a ten minute YouTube video.  What is interesting is that it took nine or ten months of creative endeavors for this feeling to develop.  It took months of exploring skills and different media before the exploration was no longer enough.  Having to create something everyday became extremely frustrating and it wasn't even something I wanted to do anymore.  I think that is why the blog became such a challenge.  If I got no satisfaction from the piece, why would I want to share it.  It is this feeling of dissatisfaction that I am looking to explore in the coming year.  I am doing what I do best, researching.  I have a couple of books now on the creative habit the building thereof.  In 2014 I am hoping to start finding my voice.

Last night my sister asked if I was planning on continuing the blog and I said I didn't know, because I didn't  Today I think I have decided to continue the blog, but in a far less militant sense.  My goal is not to create something everyday in 2014.  I also don't want to lose what I have developed over the past year.  It is now my goal to use the blog as a place to continue my journey into creativity informally.  I will keep creating and posting when I do.  For the most part I will be posting finished products (as opposed to pictures of the three rows I knitted that day). 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process and offered words of encouragement and art supplies.  When I think that at the beginning of this year I had a sketch book, a set of pencils, and a small set of acrylics and I look at all the art supplies I have now either because someone got them for me to try or because someone recommended them and I tried them, it's amazing to see how the collection has grown.  Before this year I never filled up one sketchbook.  I'd never even filled half of one.  At the closing of this year I filled three and a third books.  I couldn't have done this without support.  Thank you.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31

New Years Eve.  Fireworks seem appropriate.  I'm posting this at the last moment, but at least it is up and out there.  Tomorrow I will post a reflection this year.  For now, I'm signing off.