I love eggnog chai. I love twinkly lights. I love cats curled up on laps. I love puzzles. I love puzzles with cats. I love the feel of cozy fabrics like wool and corduroy. I love singing with my kids to candlelight. So of course I am a total nut for the magic of Christmas.
I'd like to apologize to Thanksgiving for the neglect because Christmas starts in September (or sooner). This year has been no different, but I do have some specific plans and preparations in mind.
1. Concertina Christmas Caroling Flash Mob... not sure if we can call it a mob... but I'm practicing a bunch of easy Christmas songs in the key of F on my concertina. I have the intention of dressing up in a renaissance fair-esk costume and playing uninvited downtown.
2. Origami Ornaments... I'm folding a massive quantity of origami (all the same upside-down version of a lily) to hang on our tree this year. My son is more adventurous than I am and he's contributing a random assortment of dragons, cranes, butterflies, and whatever else there is a good YouTube tutorial of.
3. Hand Printed Tea Towels... each year the day care staff at our church get their stockings filled for the twelve days before Christmas break. I pick a day to take a turn to stuff their stockings. One year I printed tote bags. Last year I stuffed them with the small version of my calendar. This year I have tea towels picked out that I'll either screen print or block print with my stamps. I haven't decided yet if I'll do them all the same or make each one different. I have a lot of designs to choose from.
4. Music Box Houses... I started collecting music boxes over the last few months from the thrift stores and from Glaser Ceramics. I tend to take the music box out of the usually ugly and breakable ceramic object it came in. Then I've been gradually making new cases for them in houses made out of various sizes of craft sticks. Once I got about four done I was running into an "if you give a mouse a cookie" situation. I needed a perfect place to put them. So I took the quilt rack down off the wall in my living room and devised a plan. In the end I went with my 4th or 5th version, but I'm very happy with it. The wreaths were free and made from grape vines on my parents' property. The floral wire I used to connect them were left over from pre-pandemic wreath making parties. The little shelves were made from paint stir sticks that I had purchased for other projects months ago. I did have to buy the lights, but all in all a pretty cheap project for me. I harvested the vines on Wednesday evening and the whole thing was done by the time I went to sleep on Thursday. I love projects that come together quickly.
It's exciting! Can't you tell by the look on my face? Good news! This short one minute YouTube video just features my calendar (not my face). Enjoy!
The 2024 calendars are now in my Etsy shop. I was so happy with the quality of the print from last year that it was an easy choice to have Gooten print them again this year. I actually have two calendar design options: Alaska Animals (last year's model) and Pretty Patterns (new this year). I never wrote in my calendar last year, but I wished the dates were larger so that I could see them from a distance. So I made two print size options. The paper is the same size, but the large print version has much larger numbers. All in all I am very happy with how this year's turned out. I am already making plans for my 2025 designs.
Here's another new product in my Etsy shop. These phone cases are all going to be print on demand through my printing partner, Gooten. This is the "Bio" style phone case that is made of PLA, PBAT, and Bamboo Fiber. There are 17 different phone models to choose from. All these of these designs come from my Pretty Patterns 2024 calendar.
I am working on adding a few new products to my Etsy shop. They are all going to be print on demand through my printing partner, Gooten. I think I might have to get one myself. I've been wanting a new water bottle that will actually fit in the side pocket of my Fjällräven backpack and I think this will work.
These 16oz metal water bottles are insulated... and incredibly cute!
A year ago we took the kids to the Kitsap Fair and as it was getting dark we were all exhausted. But I remember looking longingly at the bright lights on the spinning rides. So this year I came back to the fair at night without kids and I was able to take some photographs.
I went to Sandpoint, Idaho about a month ago and spent time visiting with family and wading in the river.
When you take the 7:40pm fast ferry from Bremerton to Seattle and you take the 10:30pm big ferry back it gives you about 2 hours to take pictures. My sister and I have been participating in the 52Frames photography challenge. This week the prompt was "Reflection" and the waterfront proved to be ripe with potential.
I brought my tripod along and I was able to take some Live Composite photographs and some that were just Long Exposure.
I've had my Panasonic Lumix DC-G95D since last December, but I'm still working my way through its many features. One of the reasons I bought this model was because they advertised it could take great pictures of star trails. This magical ability can be attributed to the Live Composite feature. I'm pretty sure that Photoshop will do something like this, but I appreciate how easy and streamlined it is right here on my camera. Also, I don't have Photoshop.
That's all the set up you need! When you switch back out of the menu the screen will say:
The camera starts to create a black frame image for Noise Reduction after shutter button is pressed.
The first time you press the shutter button it doesn't take a picture; it gathers information.
Then second time you press the shutter button it starts taking pictures. These build on top of each other adding the changing light to the picture without over exposing the shot.
The 3rd time you press the shutter it stops taking pictures and you are then left with just the one finished composite photograph.
Night # 1 : Bremerton Bridge Blast
Night # 2 : Port Orchard
Knowing when to stop is hard.
While you can see the photograph building on the display, you just have to guess when to stop. When you're watching fireworks, you don't know how long they are going to last or what is coming next. If you stop to soon, there isn't anything to see. If you stop too late, it is one big ball of light and that isn't interesting. There's a counter on the display that tells you how many exposures you've done. But once you're done taking the picture, that information seems to be lost.
Future Use of Live Composite
I've got big plans to try this out with
It was my day off with Thing #2 in tow and we wandered out to the Curley Creek Estuary. I believe that this is a purple shore crab. The water is starting to fill up with cargo due to the strike at the local port. I've always loved seeing the big ships out there and I finally found a website that will tell me more about where the boats are from and what they are up to.
Another quality control update for my Threadless shop. I haven't been happy with how the print quality has lasted on black background mugs. The mugs that I've had for just a couple months show black streaking through the white design after just a few washes. I haven't had any trouble with the white background mugs. In fact, I've had my Couch Pickle mug for a year now and it still looks great. I'm gradually going through and updating the designs I offer. I no longer offer any mugs with a black background. Also, at one point I had a couple dozen designs up. Now I have a lot less. I plan to add more back as I gradually tailor the designs for white background mugs. Here's the two latest that I've fixed.
This weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at Wayzgoose. It's an art festival in Bremerton that uses a steamroller to take printing to epic levels. It was fun to art with other people and make 3' x 3' linocut prints.
It has also properly motivated me to make progress on some of my own print work. I have 6 screens in various states of cleanliness. After I get the remaining old emulsion off, I need to mix up a fresh batch and apply a nice thin layer to dry in a dark place. Then I need to burn my designs onto the screens. This is a really nice project for the summer because it just isn't fun standing outside in the cold January rain spraying a screen with a hose.
But before I get to all that, I need to decide what I want to put on the screens and order the transparencies from the office supply store. I'm putting a lot of thought into my choices because I want to keep these on the screens for a very long time. The little screens are great for kids shirts or onesies. I like to have a few cute designs hanging around so I can easily make baby gifts. The two big ones are great for adult shirts, tote bags, tea towels, or ? Then there is a long skinny one that I'm not super sure what to do with. I'm also thinking about applying to carve a 3' x 3' print for Wayzgoose next year... so there is scheming for that. Plus I figured that somethings are just better the size of a stamp (I have several 4"x 6" blanks) and I can just do them that way. This is a screenshot of my Sketch document that I'm using to visualize the hypothetical collection I'll have in the end. Also of note, I would do two different house stamps. One to print the background first and the next to go in with the outlines.
My kids and I sat down to talk about my sparkliest pens and they are all made by Benu. These three pens are all serious eye candy and enjoyable writers. The largest is the Euphoria model in the Pink Guava color. Slightly smaller we have the Talisman model in the Foxglove color. My first was actually a gift (thanks Mom!) and it is the smallest: Ambrosia in Forget-Me-Not. Generally speaking I buy my fountain pens, ink, and paper from GouletPens.com. They are the best and their YouTube channel @Gouletpens is incredibly informative and the Pencast is excessively entertaining. We did have to purchase the Ambrosia Forget-Me-Not directly from Benupen.com. It was also a great experience, but took a bit longer because they are on another continent.
A few weeks ago I took a bus/train trip to Portland with my sister. We'd meant to take more pictures than we did and I didn't think I had any to share from the trip really. But now that some time has passed, I wanted to share some favorites
Step 1: Outline ambitious goals.
Step 3: Life happens causing an avalanche of non-productivity.
Step 4: Do anything creatively that still feels good.
I am officially in the very long process of updating my designs on Threadless for mugs. Here is a new one. My daughter had a "duck" mug that I think was actually geese. She loved it and she dropped it. So this is my attempt to replace the mug. I think she'll love it. For a while when you go to my threadless shop it will look like I don't have very many designs for sale. Gradually, that will change as I add more back in.
Karl and Norma are back to help me with the voiceover for the 2022 Diamine Inkvent Calendar. I finally got all of the footage compiled from playing with these inks in December. I drew a lot of cats and posted up reels every day. It really was great practice using the Sketch program on my mac! Some of my favorites were Ghost (shifty purple gray), Serendipity (deep teal) , Cosy Up (bright coral pink), Alpine (sparkly pine green) and Spiced Apple (deep red with gold shimmer). The kids seemed to like One More Sleep (happy periwinkle). I'm not sure which of these fountain pen inks I'll be buying full bottles of. They typically get released in March or April. Virtually all of my fountain pen related purchases are made at gouletpens.com (love those guys). Check out the Goulet Pencast on YouTube if you haven't yet. Goulet doesn't usually stock all 25 full size ink bottles from each calendar. You'll have to order directly through diamineinks.co.uk to have the full selection... and it takes a bit longer for things to get to the US from Europe.
The park next to my house isn't pretty. The sidewalks are cracked. The bathrooms are closed. The storm drains get clogged.
But the fog hangs like a veil concealing blemishes and deficits. When the world is covered in a haze, it is easier to take in what you can see. Somehow the "less" is even richer. Trees that normally blend into the landscape emerge prominently, declaring their existence. A row of rocks calmly fades into the distance.
Do our brains work the same way, when there is too much to take in, too much to deal with? Should we curse the fog that rolls in or should we embrace it? Sometimes our brains work the way they should. They override systems and keep us from doing too much... seeing too much at once. Unfortunately sometimes brains don't work like they should. What was once a valuable self preservation tool, is now a crippling wall preventing the cognitive thought necessary to live.
Whenever I think...
"Why don't they just take their meds?"
"Why don't they just get a job?"
"Why don't they just stay away from drugs?
"Why don't they just..."
... I will try to remember that they are stuck in the fog. They can't see the door that's 6 feet in front of them because there is a white wall.
2024 is off to a start and the first two weeks haven't allowed much time for art. It is hard to explain and I'm aware that there will be many times that family will be take priority over my creative work. However, I'm becoming painfully aware that if I don't prioritize my creative work, I probably won't be able to function.
So on that note, let's talk about plans for my 2024 calendars. There will be two calendar versions in two formats this year. The two formats will be the same: large format and small self-print. The first version will be simply the same as 2023. I'll just re-date it for 2024. The second will be a completely new set of art. I am most excited about an art style that reminds me of linocut, but is done with black ink. Here's an example of one I did a year ago from a picture I took in Arizona 16 years ago. However, I want to dig into my local area and so all of the scenes will be on the Kitsap Peninsula.
Despite the threatening look the clouds were giving me, I left the house. It actually didn't matter much what the weather was doing. I was alone in the house and that meant that I didn't need to bring anyone with me. I did bring my quiet companion, my camera. So here's a few pictures from the short but happy outing we took.
I do love a good re-cap and goal setting video. Plus I share a bit about what I did with my Inkvent Calendar.
I'm working on getting familiar with my new camera... a Lumix G95. I took it on a family trip to Idaho and I tried channeling my inner James Popsys. If you don't know James... you should check him out. He is an absolute delight.
I successfully wrapped up my summer with this Vlog style YouTube video. I hope you can tell how much fun I have making these. Such a fun process for me and I loved sharing all the things I accomplished. The largest of all the projects was my Alaska Wall calendar that you can purchase here on Etsy. It is beautiful. I'm not biased.
Every morning in August I woke up energized and eager to see what footage the GoPro had captured over night. I had snippets of the time lapses up on Instagram the whole month of August. It was a blast and I finally got compiled into a YouTube video. So fun to see them back to back in landscape format.
Such a great project to do with kids to learn through observation!