Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Sketchbook is in the mail...

Okay..this was a bigger project than I expected, but not in the way I expected. When I disassembled the book for recovering, I assumed that putting it back together would be no big deal. At first, it wasn't. Then the staples ripped through the paper. Maybe this was because I glued in heavier paper using the existing paper as the base. Since I was on such a short deadline, I had to make it work, with what I had on hand. One of the many things I do is make and sell beaded leather cord necklaces. Fortunately, I had some leather cording on hand, ready to go. I wrapped it through the center of the book twice and made a knot on the inside. Now I know pretty much nothing when it comes to bookbinding, and I also realized that this wasn't the best time to learn. But as I added a stronger grade of paper, the book as a whole shifted, and led to trimming, fussing, and figuring it out, while keeping it durable enough to travel and be handled by anyone and everyone, not to mention keep as archival as possible. Once again, I had the right materials on hand already, thanks to my printmaking. All I can say is hooray for 3M and their photo tape, with which I edged the pages, bottoms and sides. Then center binding pushed out the pages, so I did a little repair, then coated it with black acrylic..
Here is Luther, my centerfold :)

  I'm pretty sure it will hold up. It is double reinforced with duct tape. Even better, I made the deadline. Here are a few more pages..

Okay...now I have to get back to designing tattoos...wahoo! Thanks, Cindy!! Sketchbooks are fun...

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Sketchbook Project!

Here it is - my very own contribution to the Sketchbook Project 2012 World Tour courtesy of my sister, who signed up last fall only to find she didn't have the time. We got together last weekend to see my brother perform in a play and she mentioned that the deadline was fast approaching and she hadn't even started, so probably wouldn't finish. She mailed it to me when she returned home, Priority Mail, and I received it Wednesday. It's 5.25" x 7.25", bound with two staples, and has 8 sheets of paper folded in half, 70# paper, very smooth. The paper feels like a decent quality copy paper, not quite thick enough to clog a machine, but better than the usual commercial grade.

The sketchbook cover is a simple brown card stock. Now if you are familiar with the project, you might already know that this book will be handled, possibly by many people. That means my first concern is durability so I pulled the staples and took it apart. Then I glued on sections of dog food bags made of woven recycled plastic, almost exactly like the grocery bags they sell in the store (the good ones, not the soft fabric style that rip easily if you put anything at all pokey in them.) 

When I was in grade school, we covered our textbooks with the brown paper grocery bags, and I loved having them for doodle space. They weren't glued on - I imagine that would've been frowned upon. On a side note, once when I was a kid, maybe eight, or so, I couldn't find tape to hang my posters and I thought glue was an even better idea - ha! My mom still tells that story. The people that own that house even today probably wonder why their wallpaper will never lay flat..

I added the duct tape for fun and extra durability. I contemplated changing out the paper, but decided to replace the original paper, trimmed slightly to compensate for the new reinforcement. We broke out the power stapler and reassembled. Ready to go! I will be drawing my dogs, most likely, and maybe a few of the plants they live with. Then off they go to be entered into the Brooklyn Art Library's permanent collection after the tour. 

Here are the first pages..

This is going to be fun, and in the mail by Tuesday...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The evolution of a fence...

My neighborhood is close to downtown Great Barrington and I've been told it's known as the 'Brooklyn' section, probably because it's just across the river from all the action and there are three bridges connecting at the north, middle, and south end. It is thickly settled with a high volume of foot traffic, especially in the summer as people like to walk the loop. A high percentage of my neighbors have dogs they walk by on the sidewalk, several times a day. Being a dog person, this makes me happy. So many cute pups! Plus, most people are really good about picking up after their dogs. There are even several biodegradable poop bag stations posted along the way - how wonderful is that? The first year we lived here, I had a problem with some dogs detouring off the sidewalk through my garden, however. When I mentioned 'most' people pick up after their dogs, certainly not all bother, unfortunately. Considering the sheer number of dogs in the daily parade, it amounted to plenty of dog crap in my front gardens. My solution was a low fence, made of curled rebar and grapevine. Simple and essentially at no expense. And it worked!

My gardens grew, and I realized I had another garden pest. People.
Here's what it looked like last July. I completely understand how very tempting it is to snag just a few daisies...why not? And I have a zillion daisies, so in a way, I really don't care. Daisies are perennials, so they pop for a few weeks, then they're gone for another year. My zinnias, tulips, cleome, and sunflowers are another story. They are just about all I have left to look at in the fall before everything is done for the season. But for some reason, passerby think it's okay to stock their vases with my zinnias. Or sunflowers, even. One girl in particular would show up with scissors in hand! She was nice enough to leave me a single bloom, and couldn't comprehend why I was angry - 'but they're soooo pretty!' as she went skipping off swinging her fresh bouquet...

 A friend advised, 'Don't get mad about it. You can't change people, so change how you react to people.' She was absolutely right. I do not want to spend my day opening my front door to ask people not to take any more flowers, like some crazy, life-size cuckoo clock. My fence had to evolve. This time, I made the fence a little higher and planted morning glories to climb and fill it. The picture below is the fence in the very early spring, last year. And it worked perfectly! No dog leavings, and no people taking. The expense was in the posts, but it was still minimal compared to the flowers I paid for and had stolen.

Now there's another glitch... The local DPW plows the sidewalks with a little machine, like one of those fun-looking bobcats. Last winter, this was not a problem and they navigated by my concocted fencing, no problem. This year I think they have a new machine, and even though this only the second time they have had to plow the sidewalk, the fence was on the losing end of the early morning battle.

Oh well, I will keep calm and carry on. First I will see if I can simply move it further away from the sidewalk for the rest of the winter. Then I will come up with a better solution..I have a friend who wants this fence redone in wrought iron for his front yard. Maybe I'll set up a forge behind the garage this summer and get my metalworking on. And then maybe I'll fill my front gardens with roses that flourish if the blooms are plucked by pedestrians, and are prickly enough in the winter to discourage canines...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Flowers in January

It still surprises me how much I love tattooing. It's an entire experience, from the idea, to the drawing, then the stencil, to the ink. I've watched the tattoo shows and so much of the process is edited out. One thing I'm sure of, I could never bust out a piece, ready to go, in a half hour. And I truly admire people who can. In a traditional tattoo studio, there is a support network in place and tasks can overlap. While the paperwork is being filled out, the needles and ink are being set up as the drawing is being tweaked and the stencil made. If I have an appointment, I have the drawing done, but not necessarily scaled. Sometimes I luck out and it's perfect, as is. But I never count on that, so I don't get stencil-printing deep until after the client arrives. As it turns out, this makes it a much more personal experience, even though it takes a little longer.

Another note about the drawings...they are original. I use reference, of course, but the chrysanthemum above is the only one exactly like it. My friend, shown above, preferred a flower that was a little spinier, and is going for strong, yet earth-toned hues. And being a control-freak-perfectionist-type, all of the petals HAVE to make sense! That takes me longer than a half hour to draw up, but don't ask how long, I get completely lost in the details. Then again, if I worked in a busy shop, maybe after the 100th chrysanthemum, I'd be able to bust one out in five minutes, like I do with black and white caricatures. Who knows. No two flowers are alike.

'Flowers in January' also references another obsession I have...gardening. My seeds for this spring just arrived today, and my shade annuals are in the cloning phase. My house is overflowing with houseplants as it is, but that doesn't even come close to stopping me. I fantasize about a greenhouse the way a little girl wants a pony. The countdown to daffodils begins...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New! Floral Landscapes...think Spring..

So a whole week flew by in a total blur and I just returned from the post office after sending off 20 envelopes with 30 newly created artist trading cards- and they're going all over the place. Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, UK, and coast to coast in the US. One thing I noticed is that they were mostly places that are cold right now. So I was inspired to paint some garden pieces after I came across yet another helpful tutorial on ArtTrader Magazine.com. Then I just added them as gallery wrapped canvasses, 24" x 8", in my Zazzle store.

Now, while most people are taking down their holiday decorations, I'm taking down my holiday retail pottery display and setting up to tattoo again. Now that people can see their tax return on the horizon, they're thinking ink, and I have drawings stacking up - wahoo! And, I have to make room to photograph the pottery I have left, and set up my wheel to make even more. Then I'll be fully re-stocked for my tent sale in the Spring..