11.06.2009

NaNoWriMo

Helllllllo and all of that.

I have, not too long ago, just arrived in my extended holiday location and started to unpack and settle down. That's part of the reason I haven't made any posts in a bit. The other part is that I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year and it's taking up a lot of my free time.

There's a few sections of video I've recorded and a couple of projects that will either end up here on the blog or in a You Tube video when they're ready.


How was everyone's Halloween? Mine was super fun! I haven't had a costume in a long time and I went as a pilot aviator dealie. A very loose interpretation, anyway. Here's my costume:


My pants aren't that interesting. They're brown pants I had that I did a little editing on thanks to this tutorial by Luai_lashire and I have thick army green socks. I was working on some spats, but they didn't get done in time for my parties. Oh well. Not the end of the world!




Originally I was wearing that white scarf, but I lent it to the other person so we could do a pilot and mechanic style picture shoot with my friend, Jasmin the Photographer. That's her legal name. I swear.



This is the costume I made for Flora. n...n I recorded making some of this so I might pop part of it in a video. I'm especially proud of her shoes (which you can't see well in this photo, sorry..) because I made up the pattern all by myself! It's hard to get a baby to hold still for putting on costumes and I had to cut her beard in a real hurry right before we left, but I think she pulled off David the Gnome fairly well for a 2'+ tall female human.


********


If anyone wants to get on each others' writing buddy lists if you're doing NaNoWriMo too, add me and let me know about it! You'll find me at:: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/570479 and be sure to tell me your link in the comments so I can go add you too. Also, post me links or pictures of your Halloween costumes if you like.






Now, in closing, ShadowedSunbeam, from You Tube, told me they liked zombie, man eating baby pictures and I said I'd post them in a blog post. So here they are::





This is the "make things faster!!" face she gives me while I work.


 And this is her beauty shot. She was feeling insecure about all the crazy faces she was making and requested I add a more flattering one.


I hope that satisfies the zombie baby request alright. I mean, I could get out the face paints, but I'm not sure she's old enough for stage makeup.


Happy day, all!

10.17.2009

New Video

I finally did it! Not only did I come up with a 'come back' video set, but they're on 3D nail art, which I've been promising to do for a few ... uh... a year.

So here it is::






There are three videos in total with the first two being on supplies and making a few simple shapes with acrylic. This third video shoes clips from the nail party at my place last saturday.

I am really glad I got it loaded up and now I think I'll be more relaxed about making more and not worry about nothing being good enough. I have a felt camera bag for a child's gift I want to do and I also need to remake the Tsumami Kanzashi video but I'm actually looking forward to that because I think I can make it better this time.

Something I'm really looking forward to doing is making, and doing a video for in future, are some dreadlock falls. I tried making them in the past, but the tips I got for constructing them were really awful and so my dreads were difficult to make and no fun at all. Now that I have some new tips from You Tube I can't wait to try again...

I want to make a set in custom colors for myself but inspired by these braids and dreads combo::





And I am definitely going to buy these from her. I have been wanting them for about two years now and I'm totally stoked that she still makes them! I just have to dye my hair and see what color it comes out first... Ai! I can't wait!

10.05.2009

October 1st is the start of fair game for Halloween!


Since today is October 5th and five is my favorite number, I decided that meant it was the day to decorate for Halloween. In my book, any day-starting with the first-is okay to start wearing ghost earrings. I don't know WHEN I became the sort of person who wore holiday earrings but I think it had something to do with moving out and having my own house and realising that when you're a grown up, making the holidays special is 100% up to you so I get in the spirit with tacky Halloween jewelry. Sue me.

Because I wasn't born and raised in Hawaii, some of the holidays I'm used to having cooler and darker weather for but that's not the way it goes here. The sun is out and the plumeria are in full and sweet smelling bloom. That doesn't mean that Halloween is not going to happen full steam in my house though!

Cold weather holidays that are synonymous with browning leaves, fall squash, and later things like dried corn husks and even snow don't get ignored in Hawaii just because we're a different climate. In fact, there are even pumpkin farms here! Everybody gets into the spirit of the holidays. Sometimes there's a little bit of a Hawaiian twist to things, but in my house I like to recreate the holiday traditions I grew up with to remind me of home and childhood.

The exception is that I do hang this cute paper lantern pumpkin up prominently. Not only is he cute, but he reminds me of the blend of my childhood traditions with some of the culture and traditions here in Hawaii. Asian culture is everywhere in Hawaii and it really is a place where East and West have met half way and mingled together.  I like the playful nod to the mixing pot culture. It reminds me to have pride in where you come from and what your traditions are, but also to have respect for where you are and the values and traditions of the people local to your new home.




At home, I can remember that the best part of Halloween was when my mom would hang the cool cotton webs all over everything. The year she stopped doing it really bummed me out. I think she felt like it was too much work, but stringing it only takes a few minutes and to me, cobwebs make or break the holiday. I vowed I would have cobwebs every year!



Mom's plastic spiders were really delicate with long, spindly legs. These ones are kinda chunky, like the runt in a family of bird spiders. ;...;




As I was stringing up the cobwebs I realised that my photographs in this room are actually a little eerie because they're so old! The thought occurred to me that next year I should scan all my pictures and photoshop in very small differences in them to make them horror versions of their usual selves. But... I think I'll ask if Great Great Gran had a sense of humor first. Just in case.


An easy decoration tip for all seasons and events uses just a few picture frames and some greeting cards. I rotate my cards or hang up special cards or messages to suit the need.


Just rotate out the image for your new desired one. I like either using a special card someone has mailed me or getting a special holiday card like these super el glittery ones! Because you can get a greeting card for free or for under 5$, it's pretty inexpensive! Of course, you could also just draw a picture or use a magazine cut out or internet printout. If you like scrapbooking or painting, that'd be pretty sweet too.


Weeee! Now I just need to make that one a little more crooked and put some cobwebs on it. n...n



Some Halloween ideas: 
*Cover a lighted house sign with thin orange construction paper (or other semi-sheer paper)
*Garlands made with candy corn or old fashioned hard candies still in wrappers
*A Halloween tree made from a twiggy branch, painted black, and hung with DIY miniatures
*Halloween style macabre "Valentines" for friends with black lace and skeletons

Do you have some decoration ideas you can add to this humble list?



Now, I'll say that I'm a bit of a health nut in my off time and I aim to eat healthy and natural foods but I have a soft spot for a Halloween snack I was taught in kindergarten by my teacher, Mrs. Johnson (shout out!) It involves:: Crazy scary processed cheese slices, tomato sauce, and English muffins.  This activity is save enough for kids and must obviously make a fun impression because I'm almost 27 and still make these every year. Simply cut out a jack-o-lantern face in your cheese. (My husband did the one in front. >o

A quick job for kids can be slapped together while they cut with a dull tool and then heated under a broiler in a few seconds, but I'm all gourmet about my crappy jack-o-lantern pizzas. I like to toast mine first and then put it to bake at 350 and give it time to heat all the way through and melt properly. My adult tastebuds call for quality.

Watch out for burnt, black cheese product. Black looks good during Halloween, but not on your 2% milk cheese foodstuffs.



Please tell me about your favorite Halloween traditions, decorations, or art projects. n...n





9.30.2009

Trying to go back to YouTube

It's been quite a few months now since I left the notice that I was taking a break from YouTube to have a baby and all of that. I had been saving up video clips for the last six months of all my different (albeit less frequent) art projects to make one really big comeback video and then... let down. The video file got ruined. I don't know how. I had some computer damage and I managed to save almost every file on my computer except that one video file. So now I'm kind of sitting around, figuring it's time to make another video but what can I really offer now? It feels like I should do something big because I've been gone so long, but I'm just at a loss.

Some of my older videos, when I was still getting the hang of recording, just kind of suck. I have also had a lot of videos muted for copyright song usage and I'd have to redub them. Lastly, I have a crap load of drawing videos that I made by request for a friend that make a hideous picture in the end. I'm a bit embarrassed about the finished product but people have gone out of their way to specifically ask me not to delete them because at the very least, the tips are useful. So I kind of want to annotate them or something to warn people the final product is a little blah... but it seems like SO much work to get in and clean up that account that I almost want to just dump it all.

I probably shouldn't. I have something like 600 subscribers and some of them may want access to those videos in future even if I'm not 100% pleased with them. Actually, I think if I deleted the instruction video on how to make Tsumami Kanzashi, I'd have a zillion people trying to burn my house down in revenge and steal my laptop for the video. I still get more viewers and comments than anything else I've ever done for that video, even two years later. I just kind of cringe looking back at my old work and how sloppy the account is. x...x That's even more subliminal pressure to me to make something really good.

Well... if I don't come up with something big (or something at all,) I might miss out on my opportunity. I'm going on an extended vacation and, although I'll still do some projects, they're all bound to be smaller and simpler without access to my usual studio. Something has got to happen...






It's also been a good year or so since I have made any of my wire art. The last piece I made was an autumn themed ear wrap LAST YEAR! D: October 11th! I can't believe it's been so long. I never even tried selling it. I just made it and then hung it up. For years I've been trying to create seasonal lines and yet another year of fall and winter is coming and it's time for me to get that stuff out or not at all! I'm always, always behind on the task of preparing seasonal lines... augh.

Besides taking time to let my hands' tendon problems heal up, I also took all that time away from wire working because I was having trouble locating a source for tiny leaves.

I have been trying to make my own components and perfect them for almost three years now. The road has been fraught with... well... not succeeding.





I've made my own molds and used pulped up and stiffened mulberry paper... but that didn't work.



So many options... so much promise... such a disappointing failure. x...x



I still work with a selection of commercially made leaves. I looked into my own silk leaf iron, but for the cost and lack of flexibility with size and design, it would only jack up costs and offer me no benefit, nor be any better than what I could buy anyway.



I also spent a lot of time experimenting with making my own roses. Most were pretty impractical for what I needed them for... like this ribbon rose (that looks more like the beginning of a gardenia because I suck.)





Or would just be too bulky,



Like these felt roses. Good try, but no use.







Then there was the clay rose kick, which I used for decorating fans and this house sign I made (yes, I know it's spelled wrong, thank you. Two French students assured me "petit" was correct and then half of YouTube informed me I was missing a little something. I intended to fix it... eventually...)



I even had a video about all kinds of failed rose making... (although watching this, I kind of cringe at my cliche crap like fried egg clay charms and strawberry felt cake... forgive me. I'm SO sorry. I've definitely made some video mistakes in my past... *cough cat ear headband cough*)




Finally I settled with hand painted paper. This one was hand cut from filter paper, but it still needs a little tweaking on the color. Getting the balance of watercolor is tricky. Paper flowers are my favorite because they look the most realistic and soft and it's also a nod to paper flower making of the past, which has been a popular pasttime since at least the Victorian era even if it's dropped off in popularity these days.


So that settles it for roses after three years of scrapped projects at the drawing board it all comes down to painting paper. Yay for me!




But leaves... those are still an issue. I got into more obscure millinery sources to find new fabrics and cuts for my leaves because I wanted a more unique look and to move away from basic craft store components so I could maintain an original product that couldn't be easily imitated. Combining new leaves with different kinds of wires and hand painted flowers was finally pushing my wire pieces in the direction I wanted to go, but I still liked having my usual leaves on hand.



Even if they WERE more plain, they still made a good staple leaf and looked nice with roses (uh, because they were rose leaves..)

One used to be able to buy three different sizes of wired stem rose leaves (As in the picture above) at almost any craft store in the wedding supply aisle, but now they've fallen off of the face of the planet. For over a year, I've been negotiating with floral supply companies in an attempt to get these re-manufactured for me and nobody can come up with anything. I'm sure kicking myself in the butt for not locating hoards of these wholesale style while I could. In the mean time, I've found a seller in the UK who offers something similar (as well as tiny ivy leaves! yay!) But they're expensive and I don't want to run the risk of the source stopping selling out of the blue like with my 3/4" rose leaves. Well... I just had to wait eagerly for them to arrive.

  

Unfortunately, when I got them I found I'd spent a not inconsiderable sum on leaves that ranged from 'meh, I guess' to 'wow, I could never use these and maintain my dignity.'

Balls. If anybody out there has old stashes of unused floral supplies I could buy or knows where to find 3/4" or 2cm length leaves of any variety, please DO be a doll and let me know! :D Yellow artist needs leaves, badly.




This all begs the annoying question: With this upcoming year full of traveling and a move coming up, should I just figure 'what's one more year lost?' and wait? The desire to do what I love doing battles with the feasibility of running a business while not living at home. I've done this often enough to see what a stressful struggle it is (and how much damage can occur to retail product...) when you need to pack up and head to the next spot again.

;....; I wish I had a boss to tell me what to do and manage junk problems like this so I could just focus on creating things.

9.25.2009

The Gentleman Genius

I love fashion.

I don't love fashion for the sake of wearing a brand name (although I have a small, but obvious, soft spot for Dior.) What I really love in fashion is the ability to express your way of life and dreams on the outside and bring a little whimsy to a sometimes dull daily grind. So I suppose what you'd say is that I'm into alternative or lifestyle fashion. I like the idea of taking what you're interested in and looking like that, and I mean literally. Not like 'oh, I have a blouse with a Victorian inspired neckline,' but more like 'oh, excuse me, I have to put on my panniers and powdered wig because I love the mid 18th century France.'



Lucky me, I happen to be married to a guy that loves playing dress up as much as I do. It means we get to have a lot of fantastic adventures together and I never have to explain to him WHY I want to wear spats to the grocery store. He just wants to wear some too.

So not too long ago I asked him to trust me and let me do a mini photoshoot with him so I could get some old fashioned looking photos for a purpose I wouldn't disclose to him. I wanted to surprise him with a gift of an airship pilot's identification and certificate made by Professor Otto. I was over the moon about how cool they were, especially because I'd been working on perfecting an aged looking stationary set (completed with hand carved stamps and wax seals and everything) and so have been really into the notion of old looking documents.


As I was doing the photoshoot, I came up with some photos that really struck me for a completely different idea though and that was for mens' fashion. My husbie, Nico, has been trying to find a way to dress that can go beyond t-shirts and jeans, but without the budget for-or skills to make-things he might ideally like to wear like military uniforms, suits and top hats, or highway bandit coats.








When I had him posed in a wool cap and sweater with a scarf and a hardback book, it struck me. Smart is really sexy! (Just ask Giles. <3) Taking a look at his personality and interests, his real strong suit is in his smarts so why not develop a look based around the archetypal image of the studious English professor or schoolboy from the earlier part of the century?

I'm still working on the ability to draft patterns and make my own clothing (I have some projects on that to be posted soon!) but my skills are still very entry level and nowhere near being able to make well tailored menswear. But luckily, tweed, mens' shirts, broken in old brogues, sweaters, vests, and other bookish clothing are exploding from second hand shops with nobody to take them home, except those who see their potential value. Furthermore, although I don't like the idea of harvesting animal products for fashion, there are tons of wool and leather clothing that already exist are out of date and unlikely to be worn but that could be refashioned into new clothing or accessories like bags or book recoverings and become new treasures that would be valued instead of trashed.

In the spirit of my new idea, I ran to Polyvore and dug through the meager offerings of clothing for men and images that could at least generally convey a look and showed them to Nico. He liked them very much! I'll share them here too.


I wish there had been round glasses... or maybe some with very thin wire rims.


That sweater, definitely in green, would be pretty cute! n...n


This one, in theory, would be my favorite. Maybe with just a little tweaks on the colors and fits, but I think it has purposefully fashion-confused moxie!

I think there's a great expressive fashion potential in the "Bookworm" look for both boys and girls. A romanticized book lover persona doesn't take much to suddenly change to a little bit of a mad scientist, hopping madwoman, or daring adventurer in a flash. I love the idea of clothing that celebrates the positivity of being smart and where cleverness is what you aspire to but while still being playful and allowing a person to put their own twist on things. I also like that this look could be really affordable, easy to put together because of its naturally mismatched patterns, and encourages reusing and repurposing rather than new consumption.



Not only is lifestyle fashion meant to be worn as a reflection of your values, but it is also meant to be a way of life and enrich your home environment and attitude. So I made myself a cup of English style black tea and then set up a few impromptu snapshots to try to capture some peeks at the life of a studious and book-loving lifestylist. I'm no award winning photographer, but if it conveys an idea, it's done the job. :D



Male beauty tools n...n!



Leather journals and dirty ink pens

 

Books, books, and more books plus hand marbled paper by Galen Berry

 

Find a surface, deposit items.

 

Writing poetry, love letters, mathematics, chemistry (or maybe alchemy...?)


Here's an idea: why doesn't everyone reading go to Polyvore and make up their own collage of an outfit that shows the way you dress or a set to show the way you'd dress in your perfect fantasy. Or both, that'd be cool too. n.n Tell why you like your outfit too, of course!

9.21.2009

No more sickness- lots of house cleaning.


A short while back I got experimenty in the kitchen with a recipe for laundry detergent. Now that I'm back on my feet from my miserable ear infections I'm back to catching up with my household's needs. (Not that Husband doesn't ever do chores, of course. We're an equal opportunity chore enslavement facility.)

This recipe is pretty simple and doesn't involve any complicated chemistry (which is good because I was the kid that actually caught my chem lab on fire in high school and exited the subject with a bright and shiny "F" grade.) Mmm... chemicals...






The first ingredient you'll need are two bars of soap. I'm using fair trade castile soap. You'll want two bars of it to make sure it's equal to two cups shaved. Whereas I find it cheaper to make my own household cleaners and dishwasher soap, with the price of this bar soap out in Hawaii, I've already decided I won't be saving too much money over what I'd have to spend for commercial laundry soap, but I'll know what's in it and what's not! Maybe soap will be cheaper where you live.




The next step is to shave the soap. I suppose you can use a hand grater, but I shaved mine in a few seconds using a blender attachment. You can also use a food processor with a shredder tool.




After shredding your bars, you can better break it down with your fist or a spoon. I suppose you don't need to do this step, but I really thought it was kind of fun and it smelled nice too. I like getting my hands in and 'dirty'. With soap.




The rest of your ingredients are 8oz of washing soda and 8oz of borax. This is when you might like to wear gloves. Not that they're toxic, but washing soda is slightly caustic. Just play safe, folks.

It's a pretty standard recipe. There are a few variations of recipes out there if you want to search but I find this one to be just fine.

When it comes to mixing, I've made my own measuring box that you see in the picture here that I keep under the sink to quickly measure the powder portions of my cleaners, making quick work of stirring up replacement batches. It's handy and avoids having to sacrifice your baking measuring cups to the task.




Blend soap shavings, borax, and washing soda in your food processor (or in my case, an attachment for a blender). This processor is small so I'll do batches.




Keep going until it's a powdered consistency. This will help it dissolve into your wash cycle easily.




Voila! A bag of washing powder in a scent of your choice with only a few natural ingredients!
Use your previous laundry soap box once it's empty to store your new mix or repurpose a container you already have. (See the link at the bottom of the entry to see a storage container I made.)





Because I have a baby in diapers, I have a load of them pretty much every day so I decided to pull out one I'd washed in commercial earth friendly detergent and vinegar and then to wash a new load in my detergent with vinegar. (The vinegar is a great alternative to bleach for germ killing and helps soften the wash a little.) The result is that I actually can't remember which of these was washed in which! Both were equally clean, no obvious change in color or anything funny like that. They both felt the same by way of softness and neither were pilled up or somehow damaged. Neither one had any strong scents. On the flip side though, neither was either one shooting magic fireworks and dancing a fairy jig. It was just two clean diapers laying on my washing machine, completely oblivious to the fact that I was running such an incredible experiment on them. They were just ready to be folded to await their bright future of being peed on again.



The detergent, in my opinion, does a perfectly fine job of cleaning my clothes and giving me the peace of mind in knowing what I'm washing with. When I want real stain lifting though, I give the detergent a little kick by adding Oxyclean (or hydrogen peroxide) and letting it soak for a few minutes before agitating or letting the clothes dry in the sun to let the natural light help bleach the cloth.

After a few weeks of using homemade detergent exclusively, I've not noticed any lacking in the new detergent and will definitely stick with it.







For a lots of pictures and a walkthrough on a mini project to make your own cleaning supplies measuring box, detergent tub, and a tip on cleaning stuck on microwave messes, check out a previous Live Journal post I made on the topic.



<333