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Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
12:38 pm - five wonderful years

Five years ago -- to the day of the week, even, thanks to two leap years in the interim -- JD and I were married for time and eternity.

We've had some ups and downs, some trials and challenges, of course, but overall, it has been wonderful. Whenever I think about it for more than a few moments, I cannot help but be grateful to have an eternal companion who is such a perfect counterpart for me.

(3 thoughts | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
11:42 am - It's been HOW long since I posted here, and I post a MEME?
Well, yes. This is going around the hobby blog circle I spend most of my time in these days.

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(1 thought | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
12:03 pm - paper lanterns for the new year
Just for fun, I decided to make some paper lanterns inspired by Chinese New Year lanterns. There are probably tutorials for how to make paper lanterns floating around on the web somewhere, but I had ideas in my head for how I wanted to make them, so I didn't bother looking up anything.

20 gauge florist's wire, waxed paper, purple and red tissue paper, clear Elmer's glue, DMC E211 Pearlescent Effects Lilac embroidery floss, electric tea lights

needle-nose pliers/wire clippers, transparent plastic ruler, pencils, red purple and lilac Sharpies, clothespins, cups or bowls, scissors, a small piece of cardboard, tape

First I made the wire frames. The rectangular lantern is approximately 3x3x6 inches. The smaller circles for the round lantern were formed around the rim of the little pink cup and the large, pseudo-equatorial circle was formed around the rim of the small glass bowl. My measurements were only approximate and I was making it up as I went along, so they ended up rather lopsided.

I decided to cover the frames with a base layer of waxed paper before putting on the outer casing of pleated tissue paper. The rectangular lantern has already been done, and the object covered in clothespins in the lower left corner is the round lantern, in progress. I am also working on making tassels by wrapping the floss around a piece of card. Each tassel is wrapped eight times. I'm not very skilled yet about binding off tassels.

Rather than wrapping the lanterns with a continuous sheet, I decided to make four panels to go around. The panels for the rectangular lantern are in three layers -- a base of waxed paper, a layer of purple tissue paper with just the central oval of the design cut out, and a second layer of purple tissue paper with the whole design cut out. I used the full width of the waxed paper as the height of the panels.
The short sides of the panels for the round lantern are approximately 1/4th of the circumference of the smaller wire circles in the frame, and the width at the middle of the hexagon is approximately 1/4th of the circumference of the larger wire circle in the frame. The height of the panels is 4x the average measurement from one of the smaller wire circles of the frame to the pseudo-equatorial larger circle. I did something a little different with the design for this lantern; it still has a base of waxed paper, but I put on only one layer of red tissue paper with all the holes cut out and filled in the outer parts of the design with lilac Sharpie.

When all the tissue paper layers were dry (I worked on this project over two days), I cut apart the panels and folded them accordion-style. The rectangular panels are being glued to the frame. In the front, I've put wire clips in the tassels to attach them to the bottom of the lantern frame. As you can see in the third picture, the tassels were initially quite frizzy. I smoothed them out with a little bit of glue. I used similar clips to attach strings at the top of each lantern for hanging.

(Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Saturday, December 10th, 2011
4:09 pm - picture of the month XII

Here we are at the end of the year. I used a photograph I took last year for the background watercolor-pencil painting, then piled on the fancy holiday stickers.

I'm glad that I gave myself this project this year. It was fun to think of something for every month and to have to work against those little deadlines. I won't be doing it again next year, though.

(Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Friday, November 11th, 2011
11:04 am - picture of the month XI

Those are poppy seeds on the letters. The texture is more interesting from a distance than from close up, where one can see how uneven it is.

(Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
11:45 am - picture of the month X

I'd been waiting all year for October to come around so that I could use the black glitter in my sample pack! The features of the pumpkin face and the smoke tendrils are colored with glow-in-the-dark crayon, a very short-lived Crayola product from the late 1990s or early 2000s. They do glow in the dark rather well, but my camera is not sophisticated enough to capture it.

I would have put this up a couple of weeks ago, when I made the picture, but my 2008 Dell 1520 Inspiron crashed (the videocard burnt out) and I had to wait until I got my new Lenovo Ideapad Y560p yesterday to download the photo from my camera.

(1 thought | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Thursday, September 15th, 2011
11:01 am - picture of the month IX

This one was inspired first by a desire to do something a little three-dimensional and second by wanting to play with the three boxes of multicolored/varigated crayons that I rediscovered while visiting our MSP apartment last weekend. Crayola has produced an assortment of multicolored crayons over the years, the oldest being the "Color Mix-Up" 16-box of standard crayons, then the "Rainbow" twistables, and most recently the "True to Life" twistables (the only ones still on the market). All of the flower petal pieces are double-sided, with coordinating tones on the two faces, but the pieces don't have quite enough curvature to show that very well.

(Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Sunday, September 4th, 2011
2:42 pm - a couple more doodles from my vacation

(Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
9:29 am - picture of the month VIII

We've spent the last two weeks on vacation visiting our parents. I didn't get the calendar picture done before we left on the trip, so I decided to take it with me and draw something while we were there. We spent the first week at JD's grandmother's cabin in Montana, and one day when we went on a hike, I took the calendar and my box of Prismacolor Verithin pencils with me.

On another day, we went for a float down the nearby river. We saw fish under the water and jumping at the surface of the water. One day, we went down in to Yellowstone. We saw many, many bison, far away, close to the road, and even walking down the middle of the road. We saw a bear in a meadow, close enough to the road to be a distinguishable shape with the naked eye and to be clearly observed with binoculars. We saw a nest of ospreys. We saw a little herd of pronghorn antelope. We also saw a few deer and elk. We didn't see any moose in Yellowstone, but we did see a moose and her nearly full-grown calf at the salt lick by the cabin one morning!

We spent the second week with my parents at their new house, and welcomed home my brother from his mission to Ghana. He was always a fine boy, and he has grown into a very fine young man. I'm glad that we were able to be there for his homecoming.

While we were visiting my parents, JD and I finally got around to watching HP7part1 on Netflix so that we could then go watch HP7part2 in the cinema. I thought the movies were very well done and a fitting conclusion for the series.

(Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
10:14 am - picture of the month VII
This month's entry is quite simple and entirely unimaginative -- but it is the idea I've had in mind for this month more or less since the beginning of the project.

I bought a bottle of regular glue to get precision dots for the firework stars. I didn't know that Elmer's Glue now came in a clear version.

I soaked so much watercolor pigment into the cardstock trying to get a deep blue background that it kind of looks more like real fireworks from the reverse!

(Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
11:36 am - how to hatch a dragon
While JD and I were visiting his relatives last week, I mentioned to my sister-in-law, R (JD's brother's wife), that I'd been thinking about making a stuffed toy dragon. R thought this sounded like a fun idea and offered me the use of her sewing machine and stash of fabric scraps. I drafted a pattern on sheets of 9x12 drawing paper, then got to work. R helped me figure out some of the trickier parts of the pattern and the construction method, too. When it was done, JD's sister C kindly used her fancy camera to take some nice pictures of it for me.

I used a green velveteen decorated with gold snowflakes left over from my nephew & nieces' Christmas stockings for the main fabric and the gold satin left over from the men's ties from my wedding for the contrast. The leading edges of the wings are reinforced with pipecleaners sewn securely to the satin, then covered with ribbon. The trailing edges of the wings and the edges of the feet were finished by singeing the fabric with a candle flame, so that the synthetic material melted together and wouldn't fray.

It is approximately 10 inches long, and its wingspan is approximately 12 inches.

I carefully positioned and cut the pieces for the top of the head and the hindlegs over the gold snowflake designs of the velveteen.

I cut a small circle out of felt, divided it into thirds, then rolled up two of the pieces into cones to make the horns. The mouth is made of skinny rickrack, with seed beads embroidered into the curves. The eyes are larger beads. R suggested that I use her glow-in-the-dark thread for the eye and mouth embroidery -- though I haven't actually tested how it looks in the dark.

The pattern was rather roughly drawn and not perfectly symmetrical, causing the head and tail to twist to the side when I sewed it up and stuffed it. The imprecision in the matching between the back pieces and the stomach piece created some "baby fat" folds. I embroidered the ribbing in the feet and wings by hand.

The children were so fascinated by the whole process that I immediately decided to make a second baby dragon to leave behind with them. R said I should use some of the leftover pink satin from various of my nieces' dresses for the second dragonling. At first I thought I would just use two shades of pink, but then we found some suitably sized pieces of a fabulous rainbow-spangled black fabric in the scrap bag.

The second baby dragon is constructed a little differently than the first. Its wings are two layers of fabric sandwiched with felt, and they are sewn into the dorsal seam so that they will be a little sturdier to withstand children's play. My mother-in-law was rather distressed that the first baby dragon did not have a row of spikes down its spine, even though I explained more than once that the first dragon is a species that can be tamed and ridden by humanoids and has heavy armor plating (rather like an armadillo), instead of spikes, on its back when it is fully mature. When I made the second dragon, I cut a row of spikes out of felt to match the curve of the dorsal seam and stitched that into the seam, as well. It was a little tricky to get the layering of the body pieces, the wings, and the spike piece just right!

I did the ribbing of the wings and feet for the second dragon just using zigzag stitch on the machine. The combination of the black, rainbow-spangled fabric and the hot pink satin makes me think of the late 1980s and very early 1990s.

I embroidered the eyes and mouth of the second dragonling with floss, again to make it sturdier for children to play with. The head and nostrils of both dragonets were further shaped by pulling a thread through and tying knots, a typical soft-sculpture technique.

click for the full-size version
Here is the pattern. As I said, I didn't spend very much time drafting it, so it is quite asymmetrical and could certainly be further improved and refined a great deal.
None of these pieces have any seam allowance included. I cut the body and head pieces with approximately 1/4 - 3/8 inch seam allowance. I cut a similar seam allowance around the upper, curved parts of the leg pieces, but didn't cut a seam allowance around the feet, which are held together only by the rib stitching and are finished by singeing with a candle flame. I did not cut any seam allowance on the wing pieces, but you might want to use one if you decide to use a different construction technique for the wings.

(4 thoughts | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
8:30 am - picture of the month VI

One of JD's local coworkers has a boat and takes the summer off from his desk job to go lobster fishing. He issued an open invitation to the rest of the team to come join him on weekends. Last weekend, JD took him up on it. JD left on Friday evening and came back on Saturday night exhausted and very sunburned, but he sounded like he'd had a great time. JD wasn't sure if he'd get to bring home any lobsters, so I was very surprised when he plopped down a bag containing half a dozen of the beasties. We gave some of them away and ate three ourselves -- lobster sandwiches on Sunday, lobster stir fry on Monday, and lobster chowder last night. I begin to understand how eating lobster/crab might satisfy a person's primal instincts for violence and destruction. Before we smashed up the last lobster, I took advantage of the opportunity to paint one "from life"... or rather, as a still-life.

(2 thoughts | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Sunday, June 5th, 2011
2:47 pm - parable of the art moderator, or an attempt to resolve a long-held grudge
Some years ago, probably about five, but maybe six, several of my friends here on LJ were involved with and excited about a particular H/G-oriented HP fansite. They encouraged me to submit some of my HP fanart to this site. I participated in one or two of the monthly art challenges at the site, then submitted a couple of my existing pieces. The fanart section of this site was moderated by a single individual, herself a relatively well-known H/G artist. The first time I submitted art, it was accepted.
Encouraged, I chose a few more pieces that I thought fit well with the site's thematic focus. The art moderator rejected them, saying that they weren't good enough. I was a little miffed.
Some weeks later, I tried again. I went through my fanart portfolio and very carefully picked out the pieces that I was most proud of. The art moderator again rejected my submission, saying "only send in your best work." I was more than a little miffed this time, I was outright offended. I had sent in what I considered to be my best work.
I browsed around the art gallery at the site, and I saw several pieces that I thought were not as good as the work I had submitted. In linework and color management, I thought my work was just as good as anything else on the site. The major difference was that almost all of the other pieces in the gallery had been colored digitally, and my work had all been done with traditional media.
At the time, I didn't say anything about my disappointment -- nay, disillusionment -- to my LJ friends who enjoyed this fansite. I didn't want to mar their perception of it, and I certainly didn't hold it against them that the art moderator of the site didn't think as highly of my artwork as they did. That incident, however, was the beginning of the end of my active involvement in the HP fandom.

Even now, all these many years later, the bitterness I felt at being rejected in that way remains and returns whenever the incident comes to mind. I am hoping that by telling the story to LJ, even though it happened so long ago, perhaps I will be able to achieve catharsis and no longer be bothered by it.

I think that things like this happen frequently, perhaps too frequently, in the church -- not just my church, but any congregation of any faith.
Someone is doing the best that they are able, given their circumstances, and someone else tells them that what they are doing isn't good enough and that they should be "doing their best"... according to that other person's judgement of what an individual's "best effort" should be. Then the first person gets offended and feels rejected, because they are already doing their best, and drifts away from the fold.
The tricky part is avoiding becoming the art moderator myself.

(2 thoughts | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
7:26 am - picture of the month V

Coming in just under the wire again. I had a vague idea at the beginning of the month that I didn't manage to get done in the first week. I batted around various other ideas, but didn't do much with them. So with the month running out, yesterday I slapped together this rather derivative meditation on the passage of time.

(1 thought | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

Thursday, April 14th, 2011
10:49 am - picture of the month IV

This month I made a goal to get the calendar picture done before the midpoint of the month.

(2 thoughts | Put a thought in the Pensieve)

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