Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I built a light box!

Well the holidays are upon us, and I realize it's been two weeks since my last post... lots happening here as per usual in December! While my blog has suffered somewhat from this craziness, I'm still working on my various art and craft projects, and also obtaining or practicing the requisite skills needed to improve my online shop - always learning, always learning!

So I decided to build a light box. These are something that pro photographers use, and they can be expensive to buy. If you google "build a light box" you'll get a number of sites with instructions on how to make your own - granted probably not as nice, but for small shops with a limited budget they can do the trick. I ended up spending under $20 total for everything I needed, and last Sunday afternoon I put it together. I don't have pictures of the actual box (my studio is currently doubling as a holding room for Christmas presents and I can hardly walk in there right now, it's a complete disaster), but I figured a few before and after shots of my items are in order.

So, without further ado, here is the before shot of my Ocean Swirls notepad:

And here is the after, using the light box.

Here is the before shot of my second notepad on Etsy:

And the after shot:

Now, I know I have a few photographers that visit here, so let me add that I still have a LOT to learn in regards to taking good pictures. For starters I'd like to add a second lamp to my box, on the side, so I can get brighter frontal shots while still avoiding glare. But looking at these comparisons, I'd say it's an improvement, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Latest Project - Mini Notepads!

In my last post I mentioned a project I was working on but didn't elaborate. Now that I finished a couple of them I figured I'd stop by and post a little bit about them! I'm calling them mini notepads, but some refer to these kinds of notepads as "jotters". Basically both terms refer to a smaller size notebook, often portable, in many cases (mine included) having a key ring for attaching to bags, backpacks or purses.

I had a lot of fun making these, and I'll definitely be making more of them. I'm using the covers of rescued hardback books for the covers (the term "rescued" here means snatched from trash bins, or picked up at yard sales.. which is very often one step away from trash bins for books, at least according to most yard sale owners). The front illustration on my mini notepads is an original, signed by me, which means no two will ever be alike. I hand-cut, hand-punch, and hand- everything else these little books, which is a decent amount of work, but I think the amount of effort that goes into any craft does tend to show in the end result. And in the end, so far every book I've made seems to kind of grow into itself, they take on their own little personalities, much like my writing used to do back when I actually wrote stories (sigh).

Plus these are refillable - the paper size is exactly that of a 3x5 card cut in half. And they're durable, made to last, or at least to survive a toddler (as I'm discovering). These are two reasons why my left brain is happy about them - it appeases my practical nature *grin*.

Anyway, enough talking about them! I posted one to Etsy for now - you can check that one out by following the Etsy mini plugin on the upper right corner of my blog. The second one I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas (shh don't tell, those of you that know her). The illustration on the front is called "The Learning Tree" and it was designed specifically for her. Here's a pic of that one:

And lastly, here's a pic of the one I'm "field testing" (lol). I call it "The Flying Commas", which is kind of a personal joke on me - I won't bore you with the story behind that one:

Anyway, I'll be making more of these. I've got two more that I hope to finish up in the next few days. For tonight, though, it's back to my water soluble pencils!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Current Projects

I figured I'd take a few minutes to post pics of some of the projects I'm currently working on. This first one is my first completed project using water soluble graphite... the picture doesn't do it justice and the flash is reflecting off some of the graphite (I'll have to figure out how to take pictures of pencil drawings!), but I love this piece and here's why:

It's called "Zeke Nudges Coffee Bean". If you notice in the lower left corner there's a little finger... well that's my 2 year old son. When I was taking pictures he was being a very big help, and in fact I got some great shots with him, too. In this particular shot he was very concerned that that little coffee bean might not make the picture, being so far away from the rest of the pile, so he kept nudging it closer to the bunch. The memory of that made me smile so I kept the final piece with his little finger included! I think it adds human interest :).

Anyway, water soluble graphite is a very interesting kind of pencil, and I'm definitely going to practice with it some more. I have no experience with watercolor, and there's some strategy involved with mixing these pencils and water to make a good finished piece, so that's where the learning curve comes in.

I'm also procrastinating on my latest graphite piece, the first in my Poker Face series. This is Antonio (gotta figure out how to reduce that flash glare):

I've always liked the "unfinished" look in some of the pieces I've seen from other artists, but whenever I try it mine always come out just looking... well, unfinished. I've still got work to do on him, I've just been lazy about it.

Lastly, I'm working on another project that I'm not going to talk about just yet.. too early. But it's exciting, and I really hope it comes out the way I'm envisioning!