8.31.2011

It's freezing and I love costuming!

It's 65 degrees in Washington right now, which is sweater weather in Hawaii, if it ever even gets that cold. I love to sit outside while I write these days. There's a nice little patio here with a garden with freshly bloomed lilies and wild roses. Out in the back, the grapes are taking over the old gazebo and apples are falling off of the trees already. I like to take breaks and have a little walk or run around and play with Flora between pages and collect my thoughts. The little bursts of activity are actually really helping me stay on focus. It's just too bad today is so cold. I'm still outside, but instead of enjoying the sun, I'm all curled up on a lounge chair with a blanket and a cup of tea. I've come to value the outdoors more than ever in the last year. It's like I feel like outside has become increasingly directly tied to my happiness and health.

Because I think it's hard for people to imagine what goes into writing, I've decided to start calculating my hours of effort. I'll have estimated my past hours and decided I've spent about 27 hours on my manuscript working named "Emily Penned" and I'm going to accurately track it from here on out. Maybe I sound like a broken record, but having ADHD-PI undiagnosed all of my life meant I spent most of my life trying to do things and often never finishing them. Rather than considering I had a disability, I've been more likely regarded as someone who had no drive and no responsibility. One effect it's had on me as an adult is that I really want the people in my life to know I'm capable of sticking with things and how hard I have to work to accomplish things that take a lot of focus. Especially because I'm not medicated for ADHD and just have to try my best on my own motivation, it becomes especially heartwarming to me to see my accomplishments compound, as well as to have other people see that I can do what I set my mind to despite my own personal handicap.

To help me celebrate my accomplishments, I did something sort of out of character for myself and made a brag card for my laptop.


Woo! That's my computer and all of my writing clutter. XD

I'm one of those types of people who doesn't like to hark their business everywhere or self-congratulate, but recently I've been feeling like it's important for me to openly celebrate myself in a sort of self-esteemy, positive affirmation kind of way and at the same time, tell anyone who walks by me - "Thanks, no. I'm not sitting on my ass and being lazy, thanks for asking. I R Doing Srs Buzniss. Take a look at the card, buddy." because I'm feeling pretty powerful lately and have been accomplishing the things the way I want for probably the first time in my life. Me and my card will congratulate me and feel good about it.


AFK Tavern and My Excuse To Costume


Look. That's me. In a costume, obviously. I loooooove dressing up. Loves it.

I love costuming so much that I would wear 'costumes' every day of the week for no reason. Well, costuming is an easy way to describe it, though to me it's about petting my inner Quaintrelle. Some people just want to wear things that look like Hallowe'en to other people all the time and that's kinda how I am. However, for personal reasons I've decided to withhold buying or making any more specialty clothing for myself to focus on different goals right now-- But my big exception is when I still do costuming nights at AFK so that means I really look forward to and relish the chance to get all dolled.





(Photography in a bar with a mobile phone... a recipe for failure! XD)

"Health Potion", "Lon Lon Milk", and "Link's Hat", all from the special Zelda themed menu and served in fantasy 'potion bottles'. Way rad. XD


AFK is a freak of nature. Everything of any sort of interest is always in Seattle. I don't know how or why they opened up AFK here in Everett, but I'm super glad because it's easy to hit it up all the time now. AFK Tavern is a restaurant and bar with a nerd theme so it's all internet, meme, gaming, fantasy, and scifi references on every inch of their menu and their decor. I mean, the graffiti in the mens' bathroom are math problems and in the ladies someone scrawled "this way to Ministry of Magic" above a toilet so... you get the crowd that attends.



Yes, that's right. Anti-social, awkward people like us who can be around other anti-social awkward people while we play video and board games and down creamed corn balls with honey. (Yum.)


While it's not always a theme night at AFK, I do admit that I love the dressing up part when it comes around. I even planned so far ahead for the pirate themed night that I drafted and sewed an entire outfit. Well, I made the leggings, garters, bloomers, skirt, and cincher. It was the first time I ever did any boning too, which I was pretty proud of! It took a lot of planning and prep but because I'm H-Core about costuming it was all super exciting to do and accommplish. And I also LOVE to costume up other people... so while I typically pay out the ass for my materials and little accessories (because I'm a fool for fabric stores!) I also end up with the extra fun challenge of throwing together a costume for my fellow peers who'd like to dress up too but don't always have the interest in investing the same level of time and cash into their outfits. Don't read that as sarcasm. It really -is-fun.

So! What I do is...


I run to the fabric store and pick up all kinds of crap I love, love, love to deck out a design in every way I can. That's step one. I usually end up using about half the amount.


Then I get all cozy lazy and sew for hours...




And I do the best I can. : D







 
Fit like a glove! Which is kinda the point, since it's a bodicy cinchy thing! I didn't know I had it in me! n...n


As I was getting my outfit pretty much sorted (thanks in part to my brother working as a body form to help me pleat my skirt...) I managed to convince him not to blow off dressing up for the night and told him we could make him an outfit cheap and fast. That was the first time in a while I'd costumed someone and it rekindled the inner joy of scrounging in the closet to see what you can make.


Ooh la la!

We just ran to the thrift store and picked up a pair of stripey socks, a pair of trousers and a too-large dress shirt for a few dollars and hurried home.



We dyed his shirt with instant coffee and spare grounds while we pieced the rest of the costume together.


He made a too small pair of shoes work by cutting them open and retying them closed with a leather cord and I chopped up and abused his trousers to get them looking a little more worn. Everybody heralds duct tape as the big thing, but I think scissors are constantly underrated.



I called myself complete with a mondo pile of hair extensions, every gaudy piece of jewelry I had, overly pale makeup, and faux beauty marks. Nip was completed with a Symmetry Fashions hijab/scarf set, unshaven face, and a machete. I love costuming!




Sooooooooo... Don't think I'm done yet, because just recently, AFK had Warrior Night! It was another opportunity to costume, but this time I couldn't really feasibly see how to get warrior duds with any kind of a budget (armor? swords? $$$$$$$$$) so I decided to not only help piece together costumes for my brother and sis, but to do mine as well with things between the three of us that we already had.




First up was repurposing things. Fabric dying has always intimidated me but I didn't figure it would be as hard as I imagined it was and I threw caution to the wind and decided to dye my pair of 100cm loose socks with Rit. Nip decided to throw in his top from Pirate Night to dye it black for his warrior look.



...Only it turned out that Rit black is really more like Rit purple and neither the socks nor the dress shirt got black at all. (note the black plate for comparison. That shit is NOT black.) However, we decided to make do and grabbed a Rit brown and added it with way less water than instructed and managed to salvage his shirt into an ivory brown color not too much unlike when we coffee dyed it for Pirate Night. Ah well... My socks ended up pale tea brown which, while unusable for my outfit, could be wearable as street clothes with some of my skirts better than the bleach white socks they were before.

Nip's Goods::

For my brother, he donated to the pile some old Link costume bits like the arm bracer, I donated my pirate skirt and bodice, and my mom donated a necklace. We picked up a length of woven look a like ribbon with a Medieval flair and a large gold toned button with a nice design.





The first step of makeup was not shaving. The rugged look works for warriors. I used a little pot of Ben Nye scar wax to mold some scars on his brow and cheeks and blended the ridges down into his skin to try to make them look as natural as I could. It's been a long time since I've done special effects make up.



While the scar over his eye was going to be old (and therefore not red or bloody) I wanted the one by his second eye to be fresh so I used the same wine red cream makeup I used for my rouge and lips as a pirate and filled in his little scar trenches with color. I patted on tiny amounts of it around the 'cut' to make his skin look tender and used a makeup kit's blue and gold colors to give some bruises in various stages of age over and under his eyelid.


The last step for the 'fresh cut' included some fake stitches. We used a thicker than standard sewing machine thread in black and some liquid latex. Liquid latex comes in a white color that dries clear and a 'flesh' color, the guy at the store told us. Well. Hello, dude... this color isn't 'flesh', it's pale beigey peachy or something. Not everybody's 'flesh' is just this one color. It's like those damn band aids that are Caucasian people color but they call them "invisible". Invisible, right? Yeah, let's just ask majority of the planet who doesn't have Caucasian skin and ask them if those band aids are invisible on them.... Bah... irritated. Okay, anyway... yeah... oh! But the guy said the white/clear latex could sometimes have a slight sheen. So we bought the flesh beigey peach liquid latex.

Histrionics aside, you dip little cuts of string into the latex and place them quickly over the cut to create a look of sutures.


If you have a strong stomach you can look at pictures of real stitches for reference! n..n I did, although there was wincing involved.




Nip's pants were dyed linen pants from his Link costume, along with his Link bracer and Link leather straps wrapped around his hand. He used my pirate skirt as a shoulder cape and my bodice around his middle. The ribbon was tied around his belt from pirate night along with a necklace as a 'favor from his lady friend' and the necklace made the connection chain for his cape. He got some tiny french braids at the sides of his hair and the metal button made a nice finishing touch.

We safety pinned everything to keep from destroying a perfectly good skirt. XD



Nicole's Goods::


I have to say, I'm pretty proud of this one. Nicole used a throw blanket, two table runners, some pieces of jewelry, and a yard of metallic rope from the craft store.  Also... a butt load of safety pins as we also were going to have to return these goods to their previous function as dining room decor at my mum's house.


One table runner made a great shoulder swag which took on a kind of pauldron look. We wrapped the blanket around her in some combination of Grecian and Indian style and wrapped the last table runner around her waist with the cord over top.


I pinned jewelry to the back of the swag to make it kind of a fancy lady decoration and play up the fantasy look of the draped fabric.


Lastly, we added my wrist cuffs from pirate night around her ankles.


Tada!


Lastly, my swag::


Featheeeerrrrrs... I didn't really have laying around that I thought fit a European warrior look, which I think AFK was shooting for with their tagline of "A night of meat and mead" but I did have a black dress and big ass shoes and I knew Nip and Nicole have enough weaponry to choke an oxen- including two masamunes- which are very, very long katana-esque swords. I decided to try to do some kind of dark fantasy Asian-inspired warrioress and just play up the accessories (like feathers latexed to my eye zone.) But with a sword as big as the one they were going to lend me, I didn't feel like I'd have to try too hard, though I did decide to splurge on some fake fangs to play up the fantasy warrior schtick.


Yeah, I made this small because I don't think anybody really wants to stare at a jumbo picture of my teeth.  



I just pressed my dress and made a makeup mask of white and black stage makeup and then reapplied my feathers from the makeup test runthrough and pulled on my petticoats and frock. I don't think I've ever gotten ready so quickly for an event. It was pretty amazing. XD

Nip and Nicole looked super cute, though she was kind of scared of all of the fake hair and gold on her face at first. I told her it was good for her and to shut up. I'm kind of mean, actually.
And the lot of us looked super fancy for being put together from closet scraps and safety pins! Although this is a really rocking fuzzy mobile snapshot my dad took with crazy red eye attack syndrome, we left in such a hurry I guess I should be glad we have any pictures at all.


We managed a few snaps, but mostly were too busy having a really good time.. That's Zoey on the right. She made her own chainmaille bodice! Lots of mead for us... no meat cause of the whole vegetarian thing, but there you have it!



Final Fantasy theme is September 17th. It's bound to be a busy ass night. Maybe I can go as a Chocobo.
The end. <3

8.29.2011

Joining a Writing Guild and Parfait (but not both at once.)

Writing:: it's not so much the doing that's so hard. It's everything else.
I'm so scatter brained right now that I boiled tea water and waited four minutes for the steep, only to come back and see I never poured it. After I reboiled and poured, I went in and got my cup sweetened and sat down and then leaned over and noticed I'd somehow taken out and replaced the milk, but never poured any into my cup.

Siiiiigh.


Okay, so here's the thing about publishing:: it's easy to imagine that the hardest part of being a writer is that you finish your manuscript. Not so. The hard part comes later. I'm grateful to have an author in the family who sat me down and gave me direction while I took notes and I learned a few things that I continued to expand upon by looking online. Editing is one big ball of mess that could potentially take longer than writing the manuscript. Query letters to agents have to be done in certain formats. Agents are your best shot of getting to a publisher, but then there's understanding all of the potential pitfalls with agents or finding one who's reputable.




My writing desk where I'm staying for the summer. I try to keep my workspace pleasant to the eye to buffer the sheer clusterfuck to the brain that is the process of writing a book.


I could go on, I'm sure, but I think the point is that after you write your manuscript is where it starts getting hard. Tonight I wasn't really feeling writing on my Emily book, and that's the one I'm throwing all my weight behind right now, so I decided to try to flesh out some hooks and summaries for a query letter. Because of my ADHD, I don't really trust myself to meet a deadline of finishing my manuscript if I'd sent out just a proposal to an agent (provided that came to pass!) and they asked for the rest and I'd hate to blow a shot at getting picked up by an agent because I had trouble focusing and missed a deadline. I also don't know if proposals alone fly with all agents or publishers anyway so... anywho, I plan on finishing my manuscript completely, and even editing it as well as I can, before sending queries but I will -certainly- be mentally prepared for all of the hoops and tricks I'm going to have to run in the future. I'm hoping that my being aware they're waiting for me will throw me for less of a loop when it comes to actually doing them than if the process had all been a surprise.



Well, on that note of trying to tackle my nerves in regards to the system and start playing the game, I visited the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association website. I tend to really shy away from organizations because that means people and networking, but I'm serious about my goals and I figured I should put on my big girl panties and make the effort. So after all of that mental preparation, I was really deflated to find out that I can't qualify to apply for an Affiliate membership without personal references from three Active members. And... seeing as how I know SO many active published scifi/fantasy novelists, I guess I'll have to satisfy myself with reading their public links and informational blurbs like some sad outsider with my nose pressed against the glass. So much for good intentions. I suppose there are always community writer groups that meet in Starbucks or something. XD


Lovely Sweets

I made some lovely, cheerful parfait treats for Flora's play kitchen, but I'm a selfish bastard and display them in my bedroom and only bring them out when we have "Special Fancy Tea".

Flora and I loves us some Fancy Tea.


Materials::
Small toy parfait cups
Bubble Tea straws
Scrapbooking accents
Scissors
Whipple Cream in pink and white


 
Results:: Super Lovely (for the moment)


Method::
When it came to filling the little cups, I didn't think it would be necessary to pipe them completely full of toy cream and I could probably just paint up the sides and then fill it with a bit of filler so I balled up some paper towel and then topped over it.



In fact, the first time I tried filling a cup completely, I got a lot of air bubbles in it...


By intentionally 'painting' the inside of the cup with the toy cream first, I got a more consistent looking fill from the outside (even though in a shaped cup like I was using there are still a few imperfect bubbles in it.)



The toy cream is really soft and super easy to plop little accents into and then needs to set up overnight to be firm. Unlike silicone (which is commonly used as a fake cream) the Whipple cream doesn't have that tacky, rubbery finish when dry that collects all kinds of dust. Which is pretty good....


...as I couldn't picture running something with satin bows, glitter discs, and paper hearts under a tap to clean the silicone underneath. I haven't had to dust or wash these at all since making them!



I basically can't get over the sheer squeedorableness of these toys. They're très très fancy!

 

They're not really fancy enough to completely smooth over the stress of trying to do all the right things to make a novelist out of yourself, but they DO help a little.

I love oil portraits.

Without a doubt, I love oil portraits. While I adore, and pretty much worship, hyper realistic paintings by people like Alyssa Monks or Lee Price, I really dig on things like Mark Ryden and Joseph Ducreux. It's not necessarily because of the quirk factor with painters like Ducreux and Ryden, but because I love the sort of glowy, old fashioned softness of them. They're sort of realistic, but with just a twist of something sort of gauzy and imagined.


Anyway, I always wished I could paint like that and I always thought I'd try some time.

Mission::
Impress best friend on her birthday.


Medium::
Acrylic


Notes:: 
So, here's the thing: I'm not a furry. Yeah, yeah... despite making clay cat ears on YouTube once and making that silly fox-man tree topper for Nico, I'm not. Not that I'm hating on furries, cause I figure to each their own, but I'm not. It's just that my friends and I used to play a game (before the concept of furries was even something I understood) that had anthro characters with ears so we made some characters on it for role playing and then they just stuck. 


On my friend's birthday in years past I've made her sculptures of her character and crocheted versions of her character and all kinds of things. This year she asked me for a drawing so I decided to one-up her with a painting (or at least my attempts at one because I wasn't sure how it was going to go.)




I don't know much about painting other than little tips I've been given like to always paint things on the top last and things behind first. I've drawn a little bit, usually characters and such because I still don't really quite get how to draw things that look literally like the subject I'm trying to draw. Anywho, I figured I should just jump into trying to paint something start to finish to see how it went.


I picked up some tips on how to do eyes with charcoal once and tried to apply those with colors. Once the eyes were done, I tried to base the rest of the painting's details off of them.


I am no Mark Ryden but I think it was a valiant effort, especially for someone as inexperienced at painting as I am! So I accept the flaws comfortably and congratulate myself overall for a good effort.


I especially congratulate myself for my lady lips. I think they still leave a little to be desired, but usually when I try drawing lips they just look like slugs. I'm pleased that these are less-sluggy looking than previous attempts XD


Results::
I think that, with how fast acrylic dries, I'm kind of glad I managed what I did. I've heard that oil can make much more delicate paintings but that it's also more difficult to work with. Considering acrylic was kind of irritating sometimes and impossible to blend, I kind of fear that. XD But, you know, maybe I could just take an oil painting class some time and get some more tips! 

Painting was pretty fun and I was glad to be able to make something my friend could enjoy. I think I could try painting again another time and do some rad stuff with it. I'd really like to get better at capturing peoples' actual features in my pictures and do a couple portrait of Nico and myself all Steampunked up or something for the wall at home.  Oh well... maybe some time!

Excuse me, as I remodel!

I felt like I needed to switch up my layout and look but I haven't done webdesign since everything was HTML and the fancy new thing were those photographs that were reversed and rippled to look like lakes and stuff. Whatever. Anyway, the point is, I'm working on filling in the details properly but in the mean time, you can still access the blog content. I hope to get the tag lists and stuff put in somehow soon.

Thanks and TTFN!

8.25.2011

Panic and Minecraft

     I recently had a conversation with someone where the someone was incredulous and refused to buy the fact that I really don't like attention. While I don't think it's because I'm shy or particularly modest, I do know that I sometimes go long periods of time feeling like I don't want to blog or make YouTube videos. It really makes me kind of uncomfortable sometimes. Some of it is that pressure to impress which I feel really cramps my artistic feelings, but a bigger issue to me is that I really don't like my personal life and my art life to cross. It makes me feel vulnerable. And the more of yourself you put out there, the more people see it as an invitation to see you or your life as a commodity. I'm sure famous people could attest to that and I personally would think of being famous as my idea of hell on Earth. Maybe I'm working in the wrong field then where getting a name for yourself is one of the top ways to increase the value of your art. Ah well.



      Nothing really has happened to me that has made me become cautious, though I've seen it happening to other people and decided to simply be proactive and keep a low profile. I want to do what I enjoy without trying to follow notoriety because with notoriety comes drama and privacy breeches and personal criticisms that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. I always say that if I could manage to make art and write and make a living off of it under a pen name and go about my daily life without anyone I encounter knowing what I do, that would be my idea of a perfect situation and it's what I strive for in my professional life. I know it probably seems weird in this world where it seems everyone wants to be famous, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who can relate to it. Anyone?



     I think that, along with my recent decision to adopt the Blogging without Obligation vow, I'm just going to post my blog entries as records of things I've done in a more casual way. I don't think it will change the tone of my blog much except that I'll probably present fewer steps and workthroughs and try to treat it more like a workbook of projects and results. What I'd like is if my blog became less instructional and more 'chatting while flipping through the pages of a photo album or the shelves of my studio' kind of thing. Easy going. You know?


      Well... on that serious note, I'm going to start posting some projects I've been withholding while I tried to decide how I felt about posting blogs and I'll do it in my more casual way and hope that's cool.





So.... Here are some Minecraft blocks!


Reason:: I admit I was having a moment of non-creativity when I figured I'd get my dad some Kindle gift cards or something. So when I heard that my siblings and mom had all selected Minecraft merch for him for his birthday, I decided I could come up with something better than a gift card.

Supplies::
*1" wooden craft cubes
*acrylic paint

Result::
This was maybe not my neatest work ever. Because of the last minute change of gift ideas, I ended up doing it the night before. I could have easily seen this taking hours if I really put in a ton of detail, but on the plus side it only took 2 hours or so and my dad was still really stoked with the results.

Process::



Unfinished blocks, straight from the bag. I didn't need to sand them or anything.



One coat of acrylic was fine for most colors- and because it was only one coat, it meant that I could do half of the blocks and by the time I reached the end, the first ones were dried and ready to finish covering. That really sped up the process.



Minecraft, for those who aren't aware, is a block building game on the computer so I needed to make a series of blocks that were painted to have different materials to mimic the textures in the game. There are stones, ores, dirt, water, lava, and trees. 



Here's a reference picture to the game for anyone who hasn't played it. (You should try it, btw!)



I tried to add some color variations and details in the limited time I had- Just like in the game, the tree blocks have wooden centers and bark outsides. XD So even if it wasn't the neatest paint job ever, I thought some of the details would get a laugh.



I included gold brick cubes next to the workbench because my dad is notorious for building horrid, gaudy gold monstrosities in the game to the point where it's been a bit of an in joke.



It was still a lot of work for a couple hands of blocks, and some of the paint details are kinda crazy looking... but you know parents. XD easy to please.




All in all it was pretty cool. Maybe some time I'll make another set that I've put more time into painting. They'd make a rad coffee table game to leave out on a tray. Especially if I ever get a coffee table at my house.