TWSBI Ink Bottle

 

 

I was feeling artsy the other day, and decided to play with my markers again. I wasn’t sure what to use as my model, but then my eyes rested on the TWSBI ink bottle that my partner got me for my 30th birthday (the metallic one, which is filled with black Noodler’s Bernanke Black ink). The way the light was playing off of the angles, which were filled with the deep black ink, looked really cool.

TWSBI Ink Bottle

I still struggle with the elliptical nature of circles at angles, so the top is a little off. However, I am very happy with how the metallic band and the clear glass at the bottom came out! I gave this as a present to my partner, who said he appreciated the irony of my giving him a gift of the gift he gave me. Ha!

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Grey Play

So last week I decided to try creating a portrait in marker from a photo of Sylvia Plath. I first went to draw it out in pencil… but then I kept going because I was enjoying it! It was done in about 1.5 hour, mostly during my lunch break at work with some detailing that evening. So here is the pencil only version:

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After I finished it, I decided to give it a go with the markers, but I still really didn’t understand the way to shade with them yet. So here is my second attempt at using the markers, using only Black, and Cool Grey’s # 3, 5 and 7 (and colorless blender), completed in roughly 30-45 minutes:

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My proportions were off because I was trying to set it up with the markers and not the pencil first. I had read that going over pencil with the markers would lock the graphite down and it would show through, but I have since figured out how to lift enough pencil to still see an outline but not be able to see it once the marker is added.

Next, I decided to try another still life from a photo, which was also a Christmas present for my partner’s mom and her boyfriend. I used the Cool Grey’s #3, #5, and #7 again, plus Neutral #2 for the background and the colorless blender:

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I like how this one came out much better, since I am starting to get how the shading works! So it is becoming more and more fun, as I get used to the process. I have also ordered some more markers from oozak.com, so I am anxiously awaiting their arrival so I can start playing with more levels of shades.

New Copic Markers

A few days ago, I discovered Copic markers, which essentially provide a hybrid between the permanency of ink and the pliability of paint or graphite/charcoal. Since I really love to be able to blend and play with shading, I’ve never really enjoyed pens or markers – until now. These give you a lot of freedom to blend, especially if you use their colorless blender or some rubbing alcohol. Here is my first try at using them:

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It’s messy, I know, but it was just for me to get used to how they work and how to blend. I actually only had a black one and two neutral grey ones to work with initially, so the shading here was primarily created using the blender – and since I didn’t plan ahead too well, there are some areas that should actually be lighter. But I think that considering the constraints of what I was working with, it was definitely impressive to be able to get that much shading with markers.

I picked up three more markers yesterday, all in the cool grey series, so I am looking forward to playing more! There are 358 shades available altogether, so if you are more of a color person than me there is a bounty of shading and blending options to play with. Here is a helpful page for understanding their system for designating their colors. I like the fact that the numbers indicate both the saturation and the brightness.

I also love the fact that they are refillable – the markers are expensive to buy initially although you can find the best prices at Oozak – if you sign up for a free account, the Sketch markers are $4.99 (instead of $7.99) and the Ciao ones, which hold less ink, are $3.41 (instead of $5.49). However, since you can get 12-15 refills from an $5.59 bottle of ink (usually $8.99), the cost ends up being more practical than buying a whole new marker every time it runs out, not to mention more environmentally friendly.

I will be sure to post any more sketches I work on with these – I really like them!

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Oh my glob, you guys! Happy holidays!!!

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Update on AEDM Progress

Two weeks ago – on November 9th – I finished Katie’s mouse!

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I considered making a pair of socks next, so I spent some time reading the pattern and trying to understand what I was going to be doing. I’ve never knitted socks before and there are some nuances to it that I am unfamiliar with. I started knitting a gauge swatch for it, since this would be an item that actually has to fit properly, but haven’t finished that step yet.

Part of the reason is because that same week, one of our kitties knocked over a glass of water onto my computer and it stopped working. Since I was more interested in researching, finding, and buying a new computer in my free time, I didn’t really do a lot of creative things or worry about updating this blog. However, I am now happily typing this out on my new (to me) refurbished 11″ MacBook Air!

Yesterday, one of my favorite people was visiting and she asked me to show her how to crochet again – she used to do it, and I knew from personal experience that picking it up again would be like riding a bike, she just needed to be shown a few things and then her muscle memory would take over, which it did. So she is now off and running! In the process, I started working on a new project myself – a “potato chip” ruffle scarf (in a mustard yellow yarn). I will update it’s progress here and in the project page I now have for it in my Ravelry account.

So, as you can see, my AEDM aspirations haven’t panned out as hoped. However, I am still feeling like I get more time in for creative things than I was before – and really, that is all that matters.

AEDM Entries for November 6th, 7th & 8th

I have decided not to post an update every day, partly because I just don’t have the time, and partly because I don’t want to inundate people’s inboxes and facebook feeds with daily posts (you can read more of my thoughts about that topic here). So, I will post every 2-3 days with a catch-up post instead.

November 6th – I continued working on the Mouse for Katie, and I finished the various parts. Now I am just adding the details, stuffing the parts, and preparing to sew him together. Here is his little head, with the face and ears added:

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November 7th – I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, but I still managed to do some work on the pen ink drawing that I started (you can see the last phase here). I mostly added shading to the letters, and I also worked on the mandala-ish thing at the bottom a little, although it is now unfortunately infringing on Thoreau’s name (which I did look up and finish writing!). I am not sure where I want to go with this next, although I am considering adding some color, and maybe adding another couple of mandalas along the bottom:

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November 8th – I will probably end up working more on either the mouse or the pen drawing this evening, but I did already take a photo this morning that I really like. It was when I was on my way out the door to drive to work, and I saw that there was a light layer of sleet everywhere that stopped me in my tracks (winter is coming!). I thought the sleet looked really neat on top of and around this rock that we have on our porch railing:

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By the way, all of these photos are taken using my phone! I have the Nokia Lumia 920, and the camera in it is really fantastic. I especially like how well it takes macro photos, as evidenced in the mouse head and rock photos.

 

AEDM Entries for Nov 3rd, 4th, & 5th

I posted my November 2nd AEDM entry yesterday (there wasn’t anything for the 1st), and today I am posting the entries for November 3rd, 4th, and 5th:

November 3rd – I finished the scarf I’ve been working on since last winter!!! Just as the weather is really turning cold, too. It is for my partner, and I am happy to finally be able to give it to him to use! I used a double helix (DNA) pattern, the general details of which can be found here. To see what kind of yarn I used in my particular version, you can check out my own project page for it on Ravelry.

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November 4th & 5th – Because I (finally) finished the scarf, I was able to start working on the next project in my queue: a small stuffed mouse for my friend Katie. The photo below only shows his head and ears (I did the head and first ear yesterday, and then the second ear, plus two legs, today):

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To see what the project will eventually look like, you can go here – however, Katie doesn’t want the “space” embellishments, just the basic mouse. You can follow the progression of this one on my own project page for it on Ravelry (and here on this blog, of course). I really enjoy making these little projects, which are generally referred to as amigurumi. There are lots of cute animals and things that you can create, and they are really quick to make!

I am glad I am caught up now, and hopefully I will be able to finish the mouse and/or work on my quote drawing tomorrow!

Art Every Day Month

I had been thinking over the past few weeks that as I wrap up my applications for graduate school, I want to try to use the time I had been spending on that for something creative and relaxing. Then I saw a comment by my friend Drew, about an “Art Every Day Month” challenge for November – something akin to the NaNoWriMo concept. Knowing she was going to give it a try, and since I was already thinking of trying to focus on creativity this month, I decided I would join as well! I am not going to put any pressure on myself with this, though – it’s really just more for fun.

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I just so happened to have already started working on some creative projects over the weekend, so I have a couple of items to bring myself up to speed (since it is already November 4th) . I don’t have anything for November 1st, so I will start with this ink drawing that I began on November 2nd:

The start of an ink drawing I am making of a Thoreau quote

 (drawn with my TWSBI Mini, using Noodler’s Bernanke Black ink, in a Moleskine sketchbook)

I know, I didn’t finish Thoreau’s name yet, haha – I wasn’t sure of the spelling at the time, so I decided to wait. Obviously I’ve looked it up since, so that should be all set whenever I next upload it’s progression. This is definitely still a work in progress – you will see some significant development before it is done!

I have some items for yesterday and today, too, but I don’t have photo’s taken yet so I am going to post them along with tomorrow’s update. If any of you are planning to also try out this challenge, let me know where your blog is so I can add it to my links!

My non-leather “fauxdori”

If you haven’t already heard of the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, I suggest you watch this for an idea of how it works, because that is what I am basing my creation off of. I really love the concept and design of these notebooks, particularly the ease in which they allow for customization.

There are many examples of people making their own versions, which is commonly referred to as a “fauxdori” – like this one, which is the one I primarily based my design on, with some modifications. However, as you’ll likely notice if you start googling for how-to’s, they are usually made from leather just like the original. I know that there are many that prefer leather, due to the way that it ages, but that wasn’t what I wanted. Scouring the internet did not lead to much in the way of leather alternatives that would be appropriate for this project, which I found surprising, especially given how popular these “fauxdori” projects seem to be. So I went to my local crafts stores and wandered around to see if I could come up with an idea. And I did! So here is how I made my non-leather “fauxdori”…

First of all, I needed something that could give the cover some structure, preferably 2-3mm thick so that it would be comparable to the thickness of the leather that most people seemed to recommend. I found a sheet of EVA foam which seemed to meet the requirements, except I didn’t want just a foam cover. It needed something else to go over it, for both aesthetic and practical reasons (the foam seemed like there was a chance it could rip easily if not properly reinforced). And then, as I was standing in the checkout line – I saw it. Polyprolylene resuable shopping bags! And they were only 99 cents! After that, I saw more bag options at other stores and grabbed a few of those, too.

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a few of the bags that I found…

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some of the other supplies needed, along with a ruler/straightedge and a knife or exacto blade

My idea was to join the two items together into one durable cover, then proceed as if using leather. My current solution involves double-sided tape, which so far is holding together fairly well, but I may look for another solution (ha!) because my prototype isn’t totally perfect in that regard. I am still going to present for you how I built the prototype I’m using now, but please feel free to adapt as you see fit – and please do leave a message if you have any suggestions on how to improve it!

The following are some pictures showing my process of measuring, cutting and pasting together the two parts of the cover:

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getting my edges nice and straight

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this is the foam that I used

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here is the double sided tape – it’s not red, that is just the film on the side that hasn’t been removed yet

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…and the two pieces become one

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I used a dime to create rounded corners, as recommended in the video (see below for link)

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Once that was done, I basically followed the rest of the steps that Ray Blake explains in his video. I suggest you watch it, if you are planning to make one of your own. It will explain what is happening in the next set of pictures, although you can see how I deviated slightly by making the elastic thread longer and using the excess from the knot for my bookmarks (which necessitated tying the knot at a different place than shown in the video, but I am sure you can figure that out):

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you can see where I punched the holes for the cords (the awl is pointing at what looks like a hole but isn’t – I just want to be clear so I don’t mess anyone up!)

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after stringing the cord and creating the bookmarks

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another view (to illustrate the way it’s strung)

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closed, with the outer strap showing

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fully closed, with the strap around it

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with my new TSWBI Mini pen and ink bottle

And there you have it! I am currently using a 3″ x 4.5″ Rhodia notebook because that is what I had lying around, but I plan to use 3.5″ x 5.5″ notebooks. My ideal setup will be three notebooks: one blank for sketching, one graph or dot grid for miscellaneous notes, and one lined one for my journal. But, of course, it might end up being something completely different in the end! I may try making a larger one eventually, but right now I am finding that the smaller book size is actually quite good for fitting into my purse. I am really happy with how this came out!

Time, and the Economics of Posting

So, it has become clear to me that I really can’t commit to a daily update at this point… just too much going on. I had decided to relaunch this blog during a relatively slower week at work – I work at a college and it was Spring Break, so things were uncharacteristically quiet. As soon as things picked back up again, I found I was not as free to think about this as I’d hoped.

Rather than give up the idea again, though, I am going to just be realistic and start small. Maybe posting once a week is a good start… I could pick a particular day of the week and try to commit to at least one blog post on that day, and anything above that is great but not necessary. In that post I will note and discuss all of the creative things I did over the preceding week, including photos.

Plus, I was thinking about how if there is something bombarding a persons inbox or facebook wall every day, eventually that person will start to think “eh, I’m too busy today” or “ugh, again?” – yes, I say this from experience because I have had those thoughts myself! It’s supply and demand, really. If there is less supply then the demand may increase, and the value of the item (posts in this case) might increase as well – depending on the perceived value of the posts to begin with, of course. Yes, I am justifying my decision using economics! =P

For my blogging friends – what is your process? How have you set up your goals so that you can keep up with blogging and remain consistent, yet engaging?