Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zippers, Fabric Printing, Model Material & Fonts

Take a look at the sample bag I sewed on Thursday night, I did it in under an hour and it was my first zipper ever. Because it was a last minute project I had to select from a handful of zippers I had inherited, the smallest of which was still too long and so I sewed it around a corner. I really like how it turned out, it eliminates the edges catching on what I'm putting into the bag.


The fabric is a pattern repeat of my bird illustrations from Goodnight Ranger printed on heavy twill at Spoonflower. That leads me to my next point of discussion, I had no idea how many people still didn't know about Spoonflower. It's just one of the most amazing things to happen for artists on the internet and it blew my mind that in the past 3 days I've talked with 5 artists who knew nothing of its existence. You can have your own artwork printed on a variety of fabrics for a very reasonable price. Believe me, I looked into custom printing some fabric back in 2006 and it was ridiculously expensive, the fabric choices were depressing and the process too lengthy. Spoonflower now prints custom wallpaper and wall decals too. I kid you not, the possibilities are endless. You can be the ultimate hipster and have a whole room custom decorated by your artist friends, you can reupholster and sew, right?

On to other important items on my list today. Hey Michaels Craft Stores, where's the Sculpey®? I've been in the Eagan location a zillion times and still no Sculpey®. I assume I can get some at Blick but I don't always have time to run way out to the Northern burbs and I'm more of an immediate need kind of person and so I ended up with Crayola® Model Magic®. Model Magic® is actually really easy to work with and it's surface excepts pencil and marker exceptionally well which was a surprise benefit, but you can't get much detail out of it and it dries out too fast and falls apart for my purposes. My purposes are not the intended use of the product though, I know, I know.Sculpey® stays more flexible and the surface is easy to score and add things too (you know what I mean clay people.) Look at how disturbing my poor little mushroom model feet are now that they've fallen off. I did successfully transplant the feet back onto the one but I don't recommend the stick maneuver like I did on the other one, it was pretty counterintuitive to the flexibility I was looking for.


While I'm on the subject of working on Eleven Odd Mushrooms I wanted to share the work of Crystal Kluge. I met Crystal in a licensing class at MCAD this past Spring and she is a delightfully modest and brilliant illustrator and typography artist. She has 2 different sites, tartworkshop.com and crystalkluge.com. As I work on the illustrations for the new EOM, I revisited Crystal's work because I think I'm going to set the new version in one of her font sets. I really want to set the book in something fantastical but I'll stick with readability, with Crystal's work you can have both!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cold Weather, Hot Color and Moss

It's 5 degrees outside with a real-feel of -8 and while I think it's toasty inside Gypsy the cat seems to disagree.


Although my immediate reaction to finding her camped out in front of this vent was a giant eye roll, she does have a point. I'm currently rereading a great book called Gathering Moss (fair warning: this book can be a little too feminine for some peoples tastes.)


I loved this book the first time I read it, and I'm really enjoying it the second time around as well. Seeing my poor, miserable cat snuggling up to the wall while I basked in the cozy warmth above her reminded me that we are actually experiencing very different temperatures and air flows, just like mosses do outside. In Gathering Moss Robin Wall Kimmerer discusses how mosses, being so small, are living in a boundary layer. The weather that is effecting us is not effecting the boundary layer in the same way. It's fascinating. Mosses and lichen are fascinating. Think of each image below as its own ecosystem sharing very little of our own experiences.


I've gone a bit off subject today, blame it on the cat and my fascination with moss. I really just intended on posting some pictures of oranges. I was making a citrus salad dressing yesterday and when I sliced these oranges open I fell in love. These hot colors are very welcome during this cold weather snap.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Northern Cardinal

A trip to the Bell Museum of Natural History last week was very enlightening. We went for the Dig It soil exhibition which was very interesting, they have cross-sectioned soil samples displayed on the wall by region and each U.S. state is represented. I, of course, chose to judge them by their esthetic merits. I've long been a fan of the natural art of umbra, the sky being no exception, and the soil samples were absolutely beautiful with their color and texture gradations.


It was my first trip to the Bell Museum and so I made a complete tour including their insect illustration exhibit -- scientists are amazing artists. They have a very small display on mushrooms, which was disappointingly limited, but their bird dioramas made up for it.


For example, I learned that Cardinals are native to the south. Their bright and vibrant color should have been the first clue for me that they are from warmer climes, even the female's color is amazing. I actually favor her subtle but complicated coloring over the more bold male. The photographs above and below are of the male Cardinal that lives in our neighborhood here in Mpls, I haven't seen the female for awhile but I'm not exactly spending a lot of time in the yard right now.


The berries on the neighbors tree are a popular treat for the neighborhood birds and squirrels. It must take an amazing amount of energy for the male cardinal to stay so bright and these frozen gems are few and far between by January. It's surprising to me that they don't migrate.

The photo below is a male Cardinal that lived in our Ukrainian Village neighborhood in Chicago, I never saw his mate, but he stayed all Winter too.


Male Cardinal detail. This would look great printed onto a giant canvas.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mushroom Identification

When I wrote the first version of Eleven Odd Mushrooms (EOM) I was also writing and illustrating the first version of Goodnight Ranger and I feel like they both suffered because of it. I rewrote and redid the illustrations for Goodnight Ranger a couple of years ago and it's a much stronger work because of it and now I'm in the process of doing the same for EOM. The most exciting aspect in the creation of new EOM illustrations, besides the updated, longer and more engaging storyline, is the inspiration that I didn't have the first time around.


A couple of years ago my husband and I went up to our cabin and discovered mushrooms EVERYWHERE, unprecedented numbers and varieties of mushrooms were witnessed for as far back as anyone could remember, and this land has been in my husbands family for four generations. I took at least 250 photographs of the mushrooms over the course of two weekends, intending them to be studies for the EOM redo I knew I wanted to get to someday, someday is here.


I had them printed and bound into two books, but I had not attempted to identify them and so these books are wildly unorganized and now riddled with little neon post-it tongues sticking out everywhere. My original Eleven mushrooms were nondescript and inaccurate from a science standpoint but my new Eleven mushrooms are accurate, identified, existing mushrooms, that actually hang out together. I know because they're all models from my personal photography collection. How awesome is that?

I just finished up my selections and studies for the new Eleven mushrooms and while I love the new direction, I think I may have one too many Destroying Angels.


I'm contemplating replacing one with one of the following but I haven't been able to identify them. I think it's finally time to go get my Minneapolis library card and hit the stacks.


I believe the mushroom below is the Horn of Plenty/Black Trumpet which is actually an edible mushroom. All of the other mushrooms in my collection are not and so I find this of particular interest. 2015 UPDATE: I have no idea if any of these other mushrooms are edible, I've really been trying to get to know mushrooms better lately and it turns out I'm surrounded by far more edible mushrooms than I could have ever imagined! I would also like to identify the little orange/gold mushrooms that the Black Trumpet is hanging out with, it's a little small to be one of the eleven in the book but I'd like to learn more about it and it's growth potential.


The Horn of Plenty/Black Trumpet does not look appetizing to me.