Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's Hot + What's Not

Dangy blangy. I meant to start back posting at least several times a week, and here it's been a whole week again.

I'm joining in again with Loobylu's hot+not meme because it is easy and fun. I urge you to go to her site and check out the blogs of all the participants - there are some very inspiring (and funny) postings out there - and to join in yourself. I've also discovered lots of new blogs to follow, which is a good thing given the not-hot thing that happened to my computer last week.


Leaf Art I decided to make a new banner for my blog that's appropriately seasonal for the northern hemisphere -- for another week or two anyway... Someday I'm going to do that stuff in a timely fashion, right?

The papercut leaves in my banner are incredibly easy to make, though a bit time consuming if you're foolish enough to choose leaves like these Japanese maple ones that have little toothy edges. Don't even try that super lacy one I show in the photocopy unless you're a glutton for punishment. Anyway, here's how:

  1. Collect leaves with interesting shapes and press them (to make instant pressed leaves, iron them on low heat between a couple layers of paper towels).
  2. Photocopy your favorites.
  3. Cut loosely around the shapes (see above).
  4. Use a repositionable glue stick to attach the cut-out shape to the wrong side of a piece of paper. I used some of the beautiful rice papers from my stash (the ones I tend to save in perpetuity because they're too beautiful to use).
  5. You can use an embossing tool to go over the veins (these should be reasonably clear on your photocopy). The resulting texture is subtle on these soft rice papers, but I can see it, if the light's right.
  6. Cut around the photocopied image. I used an x-acto knife, taking care to go through both layers of paper, but embroidery or decoupage scissors would work too.
  7. Peel off the backing. Only don't wait weeks to do so like I did because then the repositionable glue stops wanting to be repositioned/removed. Though that seems to be okay too.
These make nice greeting cards and they look great framed as seasonal art - a good hostess gift.

Or, you can do something even easier that looks really elegant (my photos don't do these justice). I just painted these pressed gingko leaves with gold leaf paint. Thicker, sturdier leaves work best. The gilded leaves look dramatic glued to black paper or fabric and displayed in a vintage gold metal frame. (I find the frames, with little embossed designs, all the time at estate sales for almost nothing.) Or scatter a few on a dark tablecloth around an autumn centerpiece.

Creative Inspiration

Thanks to the SCBWI conference I attended last weekend here in Pittsburgh, PA. Not only did we get some good swag (the nice tote bag shown above, with an image by local illustrator Leda Miller), but Bruce Coville was everything I hoped for and then some - go check out his website which is funny and interesting. His keynote address was encouraging, uplifting, motivating - and hysterically funny. The main points I took away are:
  1. Hard work and persistence are the main keys to success. Plenty of talented people never succeed because they never put in the time and/or effort to learn the craft of writing or illustrating, or because they give up too soon when they meet initial rejection. I've certainly found this to be true - it took me five years to get my first manuscript accepted and more than 10 to get offered a book to illustrate - and meanwhile, plenty of aspiring writers and illustrators with more natural ability than I have have fallen away.
  2. The 7 Deadly Sins for Writers are: Dullness, Repetition, Cliche, Sloth, Inattention, Perfectionism, and Clumsiness.
  3. The 7 Virtues for Writers are: Passion, Sensuousness, Wisdom, Guile, Humor, Courage, and Joy. Of these great virtues, the greatest three are humor, courage and joy, the last of which is the birthright of all children.
It's impossible not to feel inspired to sit down at my keyboard and drawing table (aka the kitchen table) after that - and to top it off, all the other speakers were interesting and informative. Probably best of all was reuniting with some of the most talented, creative, hardworking and kind people I know. I feel all "popcorn brainy" now, as my friend Kitty Griffin puts it.

Chalkboard Paint and Chalkboard Markers

I can see where it might be possible to go a little overboard with these. A lot of the woodwork in my house has secretly become writing surfaces in the last week.
The colors and variety of line you get with these chalkboard markers make them way cooler than ordinary chalk, not that I don't like it too. (They can be a little stubborn about coming off, despite the manufacturer's promise that they are easily erased with warm water - but they do come off with a little elbow grease and/or Clorox Clean Up.)

Claire's Nice Comments
Incredibly kind of Loobylu to visit everyone's blogs and comment. I'm going to try to be equally thoughtful this week. (Okay, and I was blown away when she called my art hot, since I think hers is flaming.)


My Creative Space

Which is disorganized. Cluttered. Messy. And impossible to work in, which is especially frustrating now that I'm brimming with creative urges. Thank goodness we had a houseguest all last week, so I kept my fall-back workspace (the kitchen table) pretty much cleared off.

You know the saddest thing? The photo above is the after picture - I actually purged and tidied it before the company came, and that's all the better it ended up. And now all my closets are overflowing with junk I swear I'm going to sort through, but probably won't until I'm desperately searching for something I need to finish a project.

The Kitchen Computer
I'm actually very lucky - our household has gobs of computers I can use, so even though the kitchen one is dead, as in it won't even think about turning on, I can still get my work done. But the kitchen computer is where I kept my calendar, so I now feel adrift and anxious. (I've tried to back it up in the past, but I can never get the backups to open so I finally gave up. I know; I need a new system.) And it's where all my bookmarked blogs are (I know, I should just subscribe to my favorites, but I haven't.)

And it's where I had the last couple chapters of my novel, which I (I know, stupid-head, stupid-head) hadn't backed up. My husband thinks the problem is a dead motherboard and that we'll be able to rescue the hard drive and get all my data back - and I'm praying he's right. If not, well, what's a little more hard work, right?

A Nameless Teenager Who Must Be Nagged Endlessly to Finish Her College Applictions
Fortunately I have these good chalkboard markers and door panels coated with chalkboard paint to help out in the nagging department.

I do love that Douglas Adams quote (he's the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and many other excellent books).


There is no pleasing me. This week I'm whinging about the ones that are smothering my yard or still clinging to the oak trees so that raking will never end.

And I'm moping about all the beautiful ones that are GONE or nearly so. (I'm trying hard to heed Claire's advice to just concentrate on enjoying the colors. She's right, of course - the colors were downright spectacular this year.)

By the way, about that word "whinge"? It's a new one for me that I keep seeing on Australian and English blogs and I would like to start using it. Specifically I would like to tell my teenager, "Quit whinging about your applications and just finish them!" But I don't know how to pronounce it - is it WIN-jing or WHINE-jing? Or something else?

Have a great week, everyone. (Though I am planning/hoping to post more often than weekly.)


crzylady said...

I must say I adore your "untidy" creative space! I want to wade through it and find colorful discoveries and ideas!

Also! (and as another excuse to use more exclamation points) Wonderful Douglas Adams' quote! Genius!

Gale said...

I'm loving all the leaves in this post...gorgeous!

And your working space looks better than my living space right now. *grin*

Carol Baicker-McKee, Ph.D. said...

This is why I love blogging. I get all down on myself for my messy ways and my disaster studio - and you guys make me feel like it's not only ok - it's good!

Thank you! Thank you! I'll pop over to your lovely blogs today too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol, The quote from Douglas Adams is great, I can relate to that.
Winging is pronounced WIN-jing - it is a handy word to have use of!
Chele x