Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Second Konstruktor Test

Last winter I built myself a new 35mm plastic camera, the Konstruktor.

I have not had much shooting opportunity since my initial test run, however I've had the camera loaded with a second roll since I made it home from the first test run.  After bringing the Konstruktor with me on a field trip to Victoria BC (where I only had time to shoot passing landscapes from the ferry) and on a quick outing to Seattle, I decided to burn through the rest of the film around my yard and at a garden store to complete my second test run.  For the most part the spacing between shots was good, only a little overlapping which might be cause by pressing too hard on the film knob (which would pull the unused film too tight in the roll and prevent it from fully advancing)  The shots here are quick and dirty low resolution scans, only cropped and dust spots removed but are otherwise unedited.

All but one of my ferry photos showed extreme motion.  This serves as a reminder to be careful when taking the camera out of the camera case and check to see if it is on "Normal" or "Bulb" prior to shooting.  Though the ferry ride was a couple months ago, I have a vague recollection of realizing that the camera was set to "bulb" while I was on the ferry... my last shot from the boat and all subsequent shots are all perfectly clear.  

I noticed two prominent scratches down the length of the beginning of the roll of film.  This could be from the camera or the lab's C-41 machine.  Scratches can be edited out in PS, however the process is a tedious pain.  I'm posting this to keep an eye out on future rolls, and to remind myself to check the knob on the film roll to make sure it is not pressed down and pulling the film too tight in the camera.

The closer-up focus might not be entirely accurate (see the pig above) however infinity appears to be pretty sharp.  

Here is my only accidental double exposure.  My first test roll had several, and I wasn't sure if it was due to a camera malfunction or human error.  I suspect this could have been human error as I was wandering a garden store and being called this way and that at the time that I shot these.  I noticed the vignette effect of the plastic lens is enhanced when the frame is double exposed.

The last two shots on the roll overlapped, creating one image with two viewpoints of the same rose - without a counter on the camera body, I expect this happy accident to occur on probably every roll of film.

Overall I'm happy with the second roll, and I believe this camera has some real potential for fun with fewer lomography flaws (though I know the flaws are the "personality" of plastic shooting, sometimes I just want evenly spaced negatives without light leaks!)  I need to be mindful of the film knob tension and the photo setting, and perhaps with roll 3 I'll remember to play with the bulb setting on purpose. 

Monday, May 02, 2016

Back to my Stitching Roots

As I drove out to drop off my second roll of Konstructor Camera test film this morning, I thought back to how long it has been since my first roll, and how long ago I made my original post to this blog, and how long ago I made my most recent post... and I realized how much time has flown by.  Although I've had a decent amount of time taken up with school field trips, a cold running through our house, a last minute vacation, and some major house organization/spring cleaning, I've found some balance in project completion during some of our rainy evenings.

Two of the largest hurdles I overcame were a long-standing scrapbooking project as well as a long-standing sewing project.

Scrapbboking: I have finally finished gluing and assembling the hard-copy scrapbook for 2003

My photos sat in boxes for years, then I slowly picked at designing layouts and left those sit in another box for years waiting to be glued.  These were the Final 4 Pages waiting to be glued as of March 2016.

What is next: My digital albums for 2004 - 2008 are completed and printed.  My 2009 and 2010 albums just need a few details and proofreading done, then those will be ready for printing.  While I continue with my neverending dream of being "caught up" with scrapbooking digitally, I will begin the companion albums of ephemera starting with 2004.
The stuff is laid out, and in theory these books should go faster as the event details are already printed in the digital albums and I'm just making a few pages per year.  However... I'm feeling mildly  burnt out on scrapbooking at the moment.  I've left 2004 set out on my project table, however, as a reminder than I need to dig in and pull this stuff out of the mud in which it has been stuck for 12 years.

Sewing:  Back in 2006, my husband had to have a second knee surgery and spent his recovery in the easily accessible family room. While he spent a month on that level of the house, I decided to redecorate our bedroom as a surprise for him when he triumphantly returned to being able to take the stairs with ease.  The main focal point of that redecoration was a wall hanging I'd made to hang over our bed.  I had stitched and quilted the entire hanging, however I was running out of time and rather than make him wait to return to a proper bed, I pinned the binding onto the back of the quilt so that I could hang it for show.  The plan had been to take it down and stitch the binding properly the following week.
We moved out of that house in 2012, which is when I finally took the wall hanging down.  I vowed to not hang it in our new house until I'd properly stitched the binding and added a sleeve.  Last fall one of my neighbors decided to start up a crafting club, so I dug the wall hanging out of my U.F.O. box and brought it with me as my first Craft Club project.  On March 25th, 2016, while my husband was out of town, my wall hanging made a triumphant return to the wall (properly sewn and hung this time!) as a surprise for him to come home to.

What is next:  I bought several patterns and panels to play with from a fantastic fabric store on Kauai, and have since gone to work on a few of them.  I've finished the sashiko stitching, piecing, and quilting on one and am currently stitching the binding.  Photo will follow in another post.  I've finished the applique and sashiko of another pattern:
I did the turtle and wave applique by machine by attaching it first with double sided fusible interfacing and then stitching around the edges.  It is effective, and helpful given that my wrists were constantly hurting at the time I decided to undertake this project, however I'm not as fond of the outcome of that style of applique compared to hand stitching.  After I completed the applique, and when my hands felt better, I completed the sashiko by hand and then appliqued the circle onto the background fabric using a more traditional "cut the circle out of wax paper and fold the fabric over it and stitch by hand" method.

About halfway through the circle, I remembered another machine applique technique I've used before, where I sewed the pieces onto fusible interfacing right-sides together, then cut the interfacing and turned the piece right-side out (sticky side of the interfacing down)  This effectively turns the 1/4" seam allowance for you and makes it possible to iron the pieces down to the foundation to be either hand stitched or machine stitched around the edges.  I have several other applique patterns that I'm debating about trying this method with.

In the long term, I have another larger project idea simmering on my back burner which involves taking one of my inherited quilt patterns from my grandmother and creating a quilt with each state bird represented in embroidery.  The smaller projects, however, give me a sense of accomplishment and are allowing me to regain my old sewing chops while I begin to consider the math of how large of a quilt I would end up with, and to study some quilt-as-you-go options.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Little Pink Houses for you and me

In my ongoing endeavor to "use ALL the craft supplies I've accumulated", I spent my last few weeks of crafty time working on my little chipboard house kits.

I purchased these kits a couple of years ago with the intention of making wee-little house Christmas ornaments.  In fact, they have hangers built into their chimneys for just such a purpose.  I found, though, that my numerous attempts to work on them during the winter would generally end in frustrating creative roadblocks.  The construction of the houses involved a lot of sit-and-hold-while-glue-dries, the designs never seemed to come together smoothly, and the results didn't pan out to look anything like the original concept I'd had in my head (as vague as it was to begin with). For me, the collage process involves a lot of "walk away and think about it", so perhaps Christmas is not the season for me to do collages in the first place. After the winter holidays came to a close, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration on Putz houses - traditional little cardboard house villages, which are usually covered in glitter, and generally put out at Christmas time, although I did find some themed for Easter.  After the relative success of my altered tins, and remembering that I did complete one spring themed house last year, I thought I would apply the spring theme to the rest of my little Putzy houses.

I now have a wee village (which will grow by one house once I get the rest of the Easter decorations out of the attic)

The pink farm house was the first, and most frustrating, house to start with... frustrating only in that it was already assembled, but painted dark red and brown and I wasn't fond of how it looked at all.  I repainted this house 3 times before I was satisfied with the color combination.  The addition of window frames, a little flower garden, and a coating of the traditional Putz glitter finally finished this 2-year old project.

Bonus: finally using the little flower tabs my mom handed down to me.

With that success under my belt, I began digging through my paper stash, putting together color combinations, and picking out inhabitants for my little village.  The map house came together quickly, as did the purple bird house.  The tall gnome house gave me a little trouble, as I'd picked a nice realistic looking clover for the ground, and the swirly red for the roof, so the house needed to be dark... however none of my blue monochrome papers looked quite right.  I set it aside for a couple days, then finally came across the bold stripes which seem to be just the right amount of dark and light to work.

I found that mod-podging all the pieces before assembly made for much easier work.  I also gave up on my regular glue and attempted both double-stick tape and hot glue for the house assembly.  The double-stick tape generally held the first couple houses together well, although one roof was not perfectly lined up, and so part of it kept popping up. so I eventually fixed it with hot glue.  Also, the wee fences would not hold with tape at all, so those were fixed with hot glue as well. Hot glue held everything well, but is not very forgiving if you don't line it up right, and also has the possibility of burnt fingertips, so I would practice putting the pieces together a few times prior to applying the glue.  That seemed to do the trick, and the few extra globs (which seem to be inevitable with hot glue) were easily removed with my xacto knife.

My favorites are my little church, and the red gnome house.

This bird paper pack is among my favorite in my whole stash, and a bird themed church is appropriate for me.

I love the raindrop paper on this roof, and the flags on the fence, such a cheerful little gnome house!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First (completed) Altered Tins

Among the many started-but-didn't-have-time-to-finish projects from our latest Christmas season was the altered tin idea.  I came across the mini-dioramas on Pinterest (of course) and given the surplus of holiday related paper and ephemera which abound in my art room, plus my affinity for a particular brand of mint, it seemed like a creative win-win to embark upon this endeavor.  Although I started several tins, I ran out of project time prior to the end of the holidays, and the partially prepped tins now reside in the Christmas supply box until next fall.  Easter, however, is right around the corner, and I've no shortage of tiny mint tins, so I was inspired to give the altered-tin project a whirl in a more springy theme.

Collage work is somewhat of a slow process for me.  The cutting and gluing doesn't take time, but the pawing through papers, deciding on color schemes, finding inspiration from objects, and time to dry between paint layers makes for a project that needs some space to breathe on the table between bursts of energy.  As a result, I tend to work on 2 or 3 small collages at once, painting one while the mod podge on another dries, etc...

Here are the tins I start with:
(The vermints are my favorite kind)
They have a glossy exterior, so I begin by roughing up the surface with a little sand paper so that the mediums I work with will adhere better.  On this go-around, I also discovered that the lids can be completely removed and then later reattached (at least on the vermints tins, I haven't tried the Newman's Own one yet)  This made sanding, painting, and gluing quite a lot easier to manage.  

After prepping the tins, I began to go through my many boxes of various supplies looking for papers, trims, and dimensional objects to fit the general springy ideas.  I rarely have a specific end image in mind when I begin, I let the collage evolve through the process based on what supplies jump out at me.  Sometimes I begin in one direction and then turn around entirely partway through.

In the midst of the project, I gather supplies and dry-fit the bits before gluing anything down.  In this instance I'd started with a somewhat pink/green tin for one, but it just didn't look quite right with the papers I'd picked for the inside.  I was eventually inspired by some newsprint-looking tissue paper in my stash, and changed the whole exterior to a neutral beige

Here are the exteriors of my first finished tins
And here are the interiors:

The one on the left began with the fairy paper, and grew from there.  The one on the right started with the "Phogotraphy Studio" and my little owl French feve.  Though these were originally meant to be Easter/spring decorations, I think the photographer studio tin will wind up having a year-round home on my mini-art shelves by my kitchen sink.


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Birding Walk

Though the temperature was cold enough to see my breath this morning, the skies dawned clear blue and I opted out of training at the gym in favor of going for a long walk around my neighborhood.  I'm fortunate to live in an area surrounded by woodlands with maintained trails, and I've navigated a nice 4 mile loop that is a nice combination of neighborhood walking and wetland/wooded trails.  It is not uncommon to see birds of prey in the area (haws and bald eagles are frequent fliers) so I've decided to start carrying my DSLR on my walks.  Unfortunately I don't have a compact case which can house my 300mm prime, so today I took my 55-300 compact zoom.  While it is handy and lightweight, the focus at 300mm seems questionable, putting a hazy glow around pretty much anything bright (and I'm now reminded of why I stopped using it). It is decent enough to record birds for this morning, and I'll attempt to clean both ends of the lens (maybe it is just coated with something?) but if the focus doesn't improve I might retire the lens and just take the superior 50-135.  It is heavier and not as much zoom, but especially with bird ID, I really need the clarity.

On to the birds!  Although I've walked this loop many times, I was surprised by the number of birds I was able to identify when I simply took the time to pay close attention. 

Terrible photo, but these are two of the 4 shy little buffleheads who frequent the lake near my house.  They dive and swim away as soon as anyone stops on the trail, hence the distant fuzzy shot.

I found several ducks floating in a water retention pond near a busy road.  Thanks to the road noise, and a chainlink fence, they didn't seem bothered by my stopping.
These are a couple of Hooded Mergansers

Here I captured a Bufflehead on the left, several Ring-Necked ducks in the center, and the Hooded Mergansers on the right.

There was also a pair of Mallards hanging out (upper left corner)  I attempted to get all the ducks in one shot, however framing was difficult due to shooting through a chainlink fence.

On a dirt trail running along a creek/watershed area, I found this Song Sparrow.  He sat still long enough for me to pull out my cell phone to shoot a video, put my cell phone away, pull the DSLR out of my camera bag, and take a couple of photos.  He was a very patient bird!

Along the pipeline trail, listening to the distant calls of crows, I stopped short when I heard a familiar "thunk-thunk-thunk" sound... this Pileated was on a tree just a few feet from the trail.  She hid behind the tree while I pulled out my camera, and kept peeking around waiting to see if I was advancing.  When she decided I wasn't coming closer, she resumed her feast on the side of the tree.  She left when a couple of women passing by stopped to see what I was pointing my camera at.

Outside of these birds, I also heard several hummingbirds chipping loudly, and spotted crows, wrens, juncos, and black-capped chickadees (though I did not walk with my camera out, so I missed those photo ops)