Monday, March 20, 2017

An Unexpected Mystery - part 1

I received an unusual envelope in the mail today.

It actually arrived on Saturday, however I didn't check the mail over the weekend.  The outer envelope was post-marked March 15th and came from New York. Inside was a sealed enveloped that appears to have originally been sent to this company in Norway.


The contents were... strange.  A half page hand-written note, a comic book page, a newspaper clipping, two pages which appear to have been torn out of a diary, and an article printed from the internet.

I was baffled.  I thought someone sent this to me by mistake.  There is no name on the handwritten note, the internal envelope went to a company, not a person.  I checked the tracking number on the outer envelope and that only confirmed that it came from New York.  I googled the company, and with a few clicks I discovered that this is some kind of mystery to solve or story to follow... I'm still not entirely sure what I've been sent.  But it seems as though it was meant for me.

And I'm completely impressed and delighted by this!  It is like I'm being sent an X-File for Indiana Jones!

I looked at the originating company's website just long enough to see a positive quote from Neil Patrick Harris, and then I closed the window.  I don't want to accidentally come across any information about it.  I *think* there will be more mysterious envelopes to follow, so if I'm correct then this is Part 1 of the Unexpected Mystery.  Here are the contents of the envelope, in the order in which I think they are meant to be read.

handwritten note

front of comic book page

back of comic book page

article page 1

article page 2

article page 3


Two pages from a diary (written front and back)





Newspaper clipping

My conclusion thus far: in 2002, Hugh Jones and his friend James Cullens, discovered a sunken island off the coast of Norway which contained a dry cave.  Within the cave were ancient drawings of a god/sea creature (from the description I'm picturing Cthulhu?) The Norwegians gave the two divers a finder's fee, which they used to extend their vacation to a diving spot in Mexico.  Before they had a chance to dive, Hugh had nightmares about drowning, wrote about wanting to dry out.  Hugh seems to have hiked to the top of Pico de Orizaba in Mexico to do just that (though his autopsy shows that his lungs were filled with fluid)  Hugh's body was discovered in 2015.  At this point in the information, James is still missing.

I used Google to translate the comic book page, according to Google it says:
"Do not scare the boy more Jens! He has not said a word on several days"
"Is this what you said?"
"Is it that?"
I'm wondering if "Er det Dette du sa" is supposed to be "Is this what you saw", not "said".

The questions I immediately have are... what was James dreaming about, and where did he end up going?  Did Hugh climb the mountain by himself?

Friday, March 17, 2017

A busy and scrambled week

No photos to share this week, unfortunately... I hope to get back on track with that by next week.

My schedule was scrambled up a bit, with meetings/school functions/games to attend every night this week, and a black cloud of deadline looming over my work desk during the day.  This cut into my project time at home, but I did make a couple of advancements.

I completed the landscape photography in Lightroom course that I've been watching in bits and pieces online.  I have many new notes in my notebook related to editing photos, and also shooting suggestions for complicated scenes in the field, and I look forward to applying my new knowledge.  I've backed up my most recent DSLR shots, and once I do the same for the other two cameras then I'll be in a position to begin editing my last trip to Kauai.

I'm also keeping track of the tulip bloom up in Skagit Valley (they have a handy website with regular updates!) The tulip festival has been on my photography bucket list for a while, so my fingers are crossed that I'll make it up to the valley this Spring.

During my "sit and wait for someone" time this week, I continued work on the embroidery project.  I'm now on the 4th and final American Goldfinch square, I'll take good photos once they are all complete and ironed.  I bought new embroidery hoops which do a much better job of holding the fabric firm than the old wooden hoops do.

I found some plastic containers that are just the right size to slide into the cube organizers in the art room, so I bought two packs and they are currently sitting on the floor waiting for me to have the time to reorganize my embellishments.  In the short term, this will delay my scrapbooking progress, but in the long run it'll make the rest of the ephemera albums go quickly.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Embroidery, sewing, and schedules

I signed up to attend an online photography seminar on Friday morning, which prevented me from my regular blog update.  It turned out to be more informative than I thought it would be, but I couldn't spend the entire day sitting at my desk for the live broadcast so I ended up buying the download so that I can watch it on my own schedule in bits and pieces.  So the study of photography continues, though my editing progress is still on hold.  Within this seminar, Art Wolfe talked about how he sometimes develops books over the course of years, gathering a large body of work and then finding a common thread throughout his work to turn into a book (as opposed to going out into the field specifically with one subject in mind until a book is done.)  This sounds like the "photograph everything and put it together later" philosophy that keeps me going out in the field with ALL the lenses so that I can take advantage of ALL the opportunities.  I realize this is the approach I take with my calendars, and that if I go back through my history of images I can apply that same approach to putting more books together in the future.  This would also give me the opportunity to re-edit past images using the new tools I have at my disposal without necessarily feeling the need to re-edit ALL the images from the past (just the ones I intend to print).

Once again this week, the photos I have to share are poor quality snaps from my phone.

We experienced one of those "emergency" sewing projects earlier this month when the original puppet created for G's school play turned out to be far too small.  G and her friend had hand-sewn the original, and were under a tight deadline to come up with a replacement, so I volunteered to take their pattern and sew it on my machine at home.  It took me less than an hour, and saved them several hours.  The puppet was top-heavy, so after the next rehearsal I helped to reinforce the head/front arms with a combination of a wire hanger and pipe cleaners (one tends to get inventive with little time and zero budget), G put it on a platform that matched the stage floor, and through the magic of theater lighting, made the puppet "crawl" on stage without revealing that it was basically on a giant spatula.


I managed to finish a decent amount of embroidery this week, with all the time I spent sitting and waiting for G during her drama and sports events at school.


Though they are the same birds, the patterns are unique in the feet and a little different in the wings.  I haven't looked to see if they are printed differently, or if the patterns just didn't transfer completely, but my philosophy is that each bird within a species is unique anyway, so the goldfinches do not need to match exactly.

In health news - as the weather warms I've been injecting walks on the days where I don't go to the gym.  I have a new pair of trail shoes for hiking, so I've been breaking them in with short (30-40 min) walks through the woods near my house.  Last week I encountered a couple of deer in the forest.
When it is pouring down rain, or trail conditions look too poor, I'm sticking with yoga indoors, which I've increased from just sun salutations to standing strength routines.

The weather was sloppy and wet over the weekend, which kept me indoors and gave me the opportunity to make headway on my ephemera albums.  I felt a great sense of satisfaction to finally pull out stickers that I'd purchased nearly 13 years ago to use for the scrapbook pages of a specific event.  I also discovered that the way I've sorted my embellishments is frustrating - the boxes are all solid and deep, so I end up opening up 7 different kinds of boxes and laying them out on the floor to dig through.  I don't even know all the things I have because most of this stuff came from Mom, and since I didn't choose to buy it I don't have a memory of picking it out.  To that end, I've purchased a bunch of clear containers that should fit inside the cubby system currently in the art room, so that I can re-sort things and label the containers as I did my stamps.  Having wider, shallow boxes should make it easier to paw through all the embellishments, and it will also get rid of a stack of shoe-size boxes that I've had to shove in a corner of the room.

This week has events I need to attend every night, which means my craft time will largely be distributed throughout my "waiting for G" times.  I'm looking forward to less overlapping and a more steady schedule beginning next week.



Friday, March 03, 2017

More sewing and studying

A quick update today... I have felted projects I am working on, however they are gifts so I won't be posting them until after they are completed and received by their recipients (in the off chance they happen past the blog)

My embroidery continues forward with the completion of my mom's towel set. 


My mom's towel is on the left, mine is on the right.

I determined that I don't want my mom's stitching to be monkeyed with, so I plan to frame that towel to hang in my art room.  Therefore, I picked my own color combos for my towel (since I don't have to match the other towel)  Mom didn't do any satin stitching on hers, I stuck somewhat with the instructions in that regard, though I used variegated thread for mine to give it a faded effect in the lettering, flower petals, and lower decorative detail.  This was the first time I ever stitched french knots, that I can remember, and my best example of satin stitching to date.  It was a great warm-up exercise for the bird quilt, and now I can use Mom's thread organizer for the quilt.

Sunday night I had the Oscar's on TV while I transferred the patterns to my fabric squares.


I stitched every time I sat in front of the TV this week and managed to finish one bird and begin a second before I paused.


I want all the states in the background to match, and I didn't want to do them in black and have them stand out too much... so I decided that since I'll be using a green fabric for the sashing, I should do the state outlines and names in a nice mellow green as well.  Then I realized... 50 states is a lot, and I need to make sure I have enough of the exact same green in order to have everything match. My grandma had sent me a huge stash of embroidery thread close to 20 years ago, but the greens in the stash were not quite the color I wanted, so I took my squares to the craft store and picked out the perfect green.  I bought 16 of them, which I hope will be more than enough.

I now understand why my grandma had upwards of 20 skeins of single colors.  She used to embroider quilt tops, and a project that large does require a large supply of a single color if you want to guarantee consistency.  

I've packed my squares in a little luggage organizer to keep them from fraying while they are stacked in my tote, and my big project is now perfectly portable!

In the photography realm, I've been watching a new Creative Live seminar on editing in Lightroom and I am picking up a large number of tips and tricks which will help with my next batch of editing as well as aid me in future shooting techniques.  As always, whenever I learn new skills in LR I'm tempted to go back and re-edit just about everything I've ever posted.  Though on the other hand, the data from my older images will be lower quality anyway, so might as well leave well enough alone.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ends and beginnings, and straightening things out

Last year I was introduced to a group of pinhole photographers who were very lively, enthusiastic, and inviting.  They have a meet-up group that gets together roughly once a month, they pick a location, meet for brunch, and then explore the area as a group.  A sort of "photo crawl".  I joined their group last year, however their group meetings were perpetually scheduled on days where I ended up being out of town (either for planned vacations or sudden family emergencies)  Today was to be the first time I could actually attend a meet-up, but alas I woke to sloppy snow/rain mix.  I'm not usually one to cancel due to weather, but my camera is an antique, and I'm reluctant to bring it out in weather that is this cold and sloppy.  My fingers are crossed for next month... perhaps they'll schedule a day for the tulip festival in April?  (I'll head up there myself, in any case, but it would be fun to do it as a group)

I've done very little with photography over the last week.  I did manage to narrow down my preferred way of converting color to black and white.  I realized that I started using digital copies and converting in Lightroom so that I could have a non-destructive conversion, and also so that I wouldn't take up space with more full-size copies of images.  The great irony is that once I had that all settled, I received my latest copy of Lightroom Magazine, which has a convenient article about converting to black and white.  *sigh*  The article has additional tips beyond my own workflow, which is useful, but I feel like I lost a couple hours watching unhelpful videos only to have the answer delivered to my inbox a couple weeks later.

A friend of mine is undergoing surgery this week, so I poked around Pinterest for card ideas and then pulled out my card making supplies.  I started out with a stamped image which I left sit on my work table for 2 days to dry.  Then I used the embossing gun to speed up the drying.  Once I thought it was dry, I began to add color with pencils, but the ink still smudged.  That's when I noticed it was labeled "slow drying" - I suppose that ink should only be used for embossing.  So I tossed the whole stamped idea, and went for paper punching instead (highlighted with fast-drying ink)

In the end, the art room was covered with supplies spread out all over the place... now I understand why my mom always punched about 50 things whenever she brought her punches out - why mess up the room to this degree to make just one thing?
I had forgotten how much I do enjoy paper punching, and this makes me eager to get my room back to a scrapbooking setup.

I took the first real steps in my new "big" project - the king sized hand embroidered state bird quilt.  Last weekend I did the math on the design and cut the squares that I'll need to embroider the birds onto.  They will eventually be 8.5 inches (8 after sewing the blocks) but I cut them 9.5 inches to give me some embroidery wiggle room.  Once they are embroidered, I'll cut them down to the proper size.  I'll be doing my "block by block" method of quilting, which means each square will be surrounded by sashing.  The original pattern was for a queen sized quilt with sashing about half the size of the rectangles.  I have changed this to be squares framed by 3  inch sashing, which should give it a more balanced look than the pattern's presentation.  It also makes it easier for me to construct the quilt once the individual squares are done.  

The squares are cut, and I tested the iron on pattern to make sure it would transfer, but I stopped short of ironing the images onto squares.  I'm finishing an embroidered towel that my mom had started, and I want to get that done first so that I can use her thread organizer for this project.  This is a nice, mobile project that I can work on while I'm out and about and find myself waiting for other people.

I did get my sea turtle quilt hung up as well.  I'm very happy with how this one turned out.

While I'm disappointed that my pinhole day has been snowed out, I find myself with a full Sunday of open time in which to apply to projects.  If I finish my towel, I can iron the birds onto the squares.  Then I can pack up the embroidery into my tote, clear my art room tables of fabric, and lay out my scrapbooking supplies.  I have travel plans for August which are sure to include ephemera for scrapbooking, and I'm now extremely anxious to make good progress on my companion albums.  

This morning I saw a meme online: The only problem with being a multi-crafter is deciding which craft to spend time on".  

Indeed.