Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oh, and...

We all know how I tend to make comics, right? I sit down and think about the general story point, and then kind of sketch up a page randomly and it tends to work out. I think I have a generalized talent for comics, and tend to ride that as far as I can go. My problem has always been that I coast on talent and then panic when I actually have to develop technical skills. I hate being "told what to do", and fear that following standardized lessons or others' advice will somehow taint my own creativity. Really, I am kind of a lazy artist when it's all said and done... and a bit of a puritan, which I'm trying to cure, because I miss out on a lot of really helpful concepts.

So I finally sat down and did something I never really do:

I sketched out 8 pages of comic on 1/4 sheet of paper each. Thumbnails. Notes. And when I had finished all this, I realized that there were issues that would require further drafting. IMAGINE THAT; the best result might not magically happen on the first try. Is that enough self-loathing? Okay, I'm done.

This was really great. Of course it's always been my dream to have full-length, fantastic graphic novel;  I feel like I'm getting closer.

I want an avocado fridge.

I got 1 1/2 yards of fabric yesterday for a project, and it turned out to be completely, utterly, miserably wrong. This is what happens when you walk into a fabric store with no real plan and mill about for over an hour looking at everything from batiks to upholstery fabrics to calico. At several points I literally laid my head on the bolts and groaned aloud from mental exhaustion. I just broke down and picked something so I could leave.

Again. Completely wrong and not tasteful at all.

So I made the stuff into a not-tasteful-at-all kitchen valance! We have a hilariously ugly kitchen - in a rental, no less, so our hands are tied - and have been trying to figure out ways to embrace it... maybe giving it a '70s look. You just can't fight wood paneling. GIVE IN TO IT. So this fabric certainly helps.

And matching potholders! Bwahaha.

Fit to a tee.



I'm now a pretty regular volunteer with our public library. It's great! When I discovered video games my reading habits pretty much went into the toilet. Don't get me wrong. Video games are a valid medium, but books will always have that special little place in a healthy, tranquil life. So I've been reading a lot more. Public transit is awesome for this. And my husband and I have - almost obsessively - been buying discarded library books. We're going to need a third bookcase.

You seriously need to go check out your library's discarded book collection. Right now. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Our "Friends Of The Library" group organized a big event whereupon we'd drag carts and carts of books from the basement and sell them at the rate of 4/$1 for most and 8/$1 adult fiction. Apparently anything with the subtitle of "a novel" stacks up quickly.

I got first dibs. Awesommmmmme.

 Here's what $3.25 looks like. Hergé AND Eisner included. I just about peed myself.

Another aspect of the book sale that I wanted to push is the greatness that is paper crafting. I found an old reading textbook and cut it up - it featured lots of children's stories in the 6-8 year old range. Perfect! I actually made a birthday card for my dad-in-law (who loves children's books) with the best stuff. Then I made a few other greeting cards, clippings to put in 2x3" frames, pasted covers for notebooks... then I also grabbed a random paperback and made paper cranes, as well as cutting out phrases to make a poem. Go figure - as soon as I'd cut up the thing I realized that I might have actually liked to read it.

Ironically, the book was rife with conflicts and anger directed at the main character's mother. I, myself, share this conflict. Yet somehow this gooshy poem came out.

My sign and stacks (by genre, naturally) put up before opening day. I am crafty volunteer prime.

All of this bookishness has got me excited because I've been helping the library so much that the staff there have offered to be glowing job references - especially if I apply for a job with the library. I've wanted to work for a non-profit or otherwise warm-and-fuzzy organization for years now. It could be my chance, if the new RFID tagging system doesn't obliterate the need for shelvers somehow. Here's hoping!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Overnight bag.

On Wednesday I arranged for a full day spent meandering around Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well as an overnight at my inlaws' place. Only 3 days to prepare! While only 40 miles away, this journey would be accomplished by public transit and Greyhound - no car. Urban gypsy-ing supreme. I really hate wandering around with an obviously overfull backpack (nearly got mugged once in Hartford, Connecticut), and yet my regular messenger bag is too small to fit everything I needed. Tote bags? Egh. Nothing was looking good. So I hurried to my sewing table to make something juuust right.

It's a take on my original super-easy design of a one-piece bag. But because it was so big, the material was so thick, and I wanted that "box" bottom... I had to make some adjustments.

Oh yes. It's a lovely size.

 I used 6-ply embroidery thread to hand sew the D-ring loops because it was somewhere between 8-12 layers of duck cloth, denim, and upholstery fabric. It'd be easier if I had a serger - instead of folding over all that fabric - but I loathe ever seeing edges and I wanted über strength. I push my poor machine so hard; the needle bent so badly it was out of alignment with the bobbin needle and wouldn't even enter the underbelly of the machine. So I fought and fought (ever tried to push a needle through a cutting board with your hands?) and eventually got those crazy thick segments stitched.

The strap is from a duffel bag I never use, attached with metal clasp thingies. After all, you gotta have a nicely padded shoulder strap if you're going to be carrying 10 pounds of stuff all day.

The keys and felt coin purse are attached to the D-rings with a ball chain. You may notice the ties there at the bottom of the bag; if you bring them up to the black loop just above and knot 'em, you end up with a "squared" bottom. Again, this was something I kinda came up with because it was all one piece and I needed a solution. It works! And if I want to carry flat stuff, I can just leave the ties alone.

In this thing, I carried:
• One spare outfit (2 shirts, pants, socks, underwear)
• Toothbrush, comb, pill case
• 2 comic books
• Journal and small pencil tube
• Water bottle, juice box, 5 oz can of V8, apple, 2 granola bars
• And a travel mug that I bought while I was out.

In its natural habitat, outside the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.
I added a carabiner to pull the straps as taut as they'd go so it would sit higher up on my back, bike messenger style. It worked really well!

Let's hear it for making it up as you go along!