Monday, September 17, 2018

End of Summer Update

I know it is quite a leap from the beginning of spring to the end of summer.  Over the course of the last 5 months (and outside of the normal life school/work/household events) I have gone on two family vacations, joined an artist exchange group, and hosted a large multi-family gathering at our home.  Time for projects has been sporadic, and time to spend contemplating projects has been even shorter... hence the large lapse in posting.

Without further delay...


In April I completed a tote bag for my niece with the April birthday.  Unfortunately I failed to photograph it before sending it off.  In July I completed two more totes for my two nieces with August birthdays, and I did remember to grab a photo of those before wrapping them up.  The April tote was the same shape as these, done in a striped fabric with palm trees printed along the stripes.

Having less time where I needed to sit and wait for G, I spent less time working on the bird quilt... however just this past week I finally managed to finish up the last of the cardinals.  My next batch of bird squares shall be a set of three robins.

Once again I attended the big annual camera swap in April.  I picked up a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye which is in fantastic shape (center below) and G picked up a Brownie (on the left) and a half-frame 35mm camera (on the right)  I've tested all the cameras... G's Brownie has a slightly sticky shutter, but her 35mm is perfectly functional and quite fun to use.  My Brownie is in great condition (even the handle, which is astonishing considering the age)  The viewer is a little dusty on the inside, but I've resisted the temptation to take it apart and clean it only because I don't want to mess up an otherwise functional camera.  

We took a short family vacation during Spring Break in April, where I took advantage of the wide open PNW shorelines to take some photos with my P.120 panoramic pinhole and my Kodak Six-20.  I also brought along my DSLR, as usual, and this trip became somewhat of an experiment in how to carry my gear during an outing, and how to make the swapping of cameras on the tripod more convenient.  
Unfortunately, the shutter on my P.120 stuck open partway through the trip, so I had to shelve that camera anyway.  The maker fixed it promptly once we arrived home, however I missed some lovely potential landscapes on the Oregon coast.  
P.120 in action

Kodak Six-20

Last Spring, of my fellow pinhole photography friends arranged for a group visit to a salvage yard a bit south of where I live.  Having seen several images of his from his previous trips, I was inspired to pull out my Polaroid Land camera and packs of expired film.  The Polaroid peel-apart film is no longer manufactured, and I'd been holding onto my stock of expired film for years, waiting for just the right subject.  I felt the moss-laden landscape and rusty car bits was a match for outdated film and a camera built in the same era as the cars I was photographing.  The full project plan was to take several Polaroid images of the cars, then take the images home and do emulsion lifts (lifting the image off the original paper and transferring it to a piece of watercolor paper, where I could then stretch and manipulate the image)

Photographing with the Land camera proved to be a challenge, in that I had not anticipated the amount of garbage produced by the film.  My previous experience with the film had been indoors, with a slide printer, and a handy garbage can nearby.  Out in the field it was a different story.  I had slung my DSLR over one shoulder, Polaroid Land camera around my neck next to my light meter, placed my P.120 on the tripod, stuck my Kodak Six-20 in a pocket, and held my Brownie Hawkeye in my hand.  I took my first Polaroid image, counted out the developing time, then peeled it apart... and stood there, wondering where I was supposed to put the sticky paper backing that I'd just peeled off the image.

I ended up folding the papers over and stuffing them into my other pocket, until the pocket became too full... then I'd pause to remove my camera bag and empty my pockets into one of the spaces inside the bag.  So, as a note on future Polaroid outings: bring a bag for the garbage, and a safe flat folder for the images.

The juggling of 5 cameras ended up feeling far too chaotic, especially with one of the cameras being as cumbersome as the Polaroid, but it was a great outing nonetheless, and I was very happy with the results of the Polaroid images.
Back home I pulled out my long-stored gear for doing emulsion lifts.  It only took one sample try to remember the technique and set to work.

Over the past few years I've not done a lot of printing, however joining the APEX artist exchange group has inspired me to do more with my work than just shoot it and store it away.  This is the grouping of images I put together for one of our meetings - examples of the same subject shot with a variety of cameras: Top image - P.120, lower left is Kodak Brownie, lower right is Kodak Six-20, and center is the Polaroid emulsion lift.

Incidentally... throughout the last spring and summer I had something of a battle with my local film developer.  My color film from the P.120 was coming back from the lab with the first image being burned due to the way they were loading it into their machines.  After several conversations, attempts on my part to push the film frames forward (which resulted in, to my great disappointment, several overlapped images) and many additional test rolls (accompanied by "promises" that the film would be loaded the way I'd requested) I sadly had to completely give up on the company.  It was a difficult decision, because I always enjoyed long conversations with all of the other employees in the place, but the one guy that works in the lab stubbornly refused to load my film from the tail end of the roll, and I just don't want to lose any more of my work.

The Junk yard outing showcased the importance of scaling back my gear for each outing to a practical amount.  Of course I'll always take my DSLR, but when it comes to film cameras I really needed to have a better system for camera swapping, and also it was necessary to scale back on the number of cameras on any given outing.  Because the plain truth is, once a camera is set on my tripod, I'm reluctant to take the time to swap it out, even when I'm out shooting on my own and don't feel the pressure of fellow travelers waiting on me.

I'd considered sewing a side pouch to clip onto the belt of my camera case, as a quick "side pocket" for swapping, however when digging through my gear closet I came out with this old little green camera bag, which had originally been designed to fit our first digital point-and-shoot.
The P.120 fit perfectly!

On to our big family vacation: Hawaii!  We spent two weeks in the islands, staying on both Maui and Kauai.  After much deliberation I had determined that I should leave the Kodak Brownie at home, and just bring the DSLR, P.120 (for the anticipated amazing volcanic landscapes) and the Six-20 (intended to be the images for my 2019 calendar)

I learned that I am wise to always bring my DSLR, as some of the amazing landscapes we visited were far too windy to set up any kind of tripod.  
On the cliff at 10,000 feet, trying to stay upright for the photo.

Although I had a good camera swapping option with my side pouch, I did run into a bit of a struggle with the Kodak Six-20.  The shutter stuck when I used the shutter release cable, so just a few days into the trip I had to change my strategy with shooting and hold the trigger manually.  The camera still worked, but this did make it more difficult to work with, and my patience with it waned as I stood in 95 degree weather, dripping sweat, trying to hold still while holding the shutter open.  
Meanwhile, given the subjects I'd be photographing, I opted for Velvia slide film for my P.120, which was developed by a lab in Seattle and (as they load the film correctly) I had zero burned images.  Upon arriving home from the trip and retrieving all my developed film, I found myself to be far happier with my P.120 images than those of the Six-20.  The film advance on the Six-20 is also rather difficult to manage when my arthritis is acting up, so I'm now leaning towards shelving the Six-20.  The good news is, this opens the door to popping my Brownie into my camera bag, and also leaves the P.120 to be the only camera I'd need to have on the tripod (unless I want to put the DSLR up for a panoramic digital shot)

As this post has gone on quite a bit more than I anticipated, I'll save my 2019 Calendar debate and photography site updates for another time.


I was given a lovely brush pen as part of a Christmas gift last year, then a local art studio held a class on travel sketching.  Inspired by both, I decided to try my hand at quick sketching with the brush pen.  The original idea had been to sketch while my camera is taking long exposures, therefore doing sketches that can be completed within about a minute, however I enjoyed it so much I began carrying the book around with me and sketching during all my travels.  Here are a couple of examples.

Also on the drawing front, I've picked back up my Zentangle gear.  The inspiration came from a combination of the quick travel sketches, my mention of Zentangle at the APEX meetings, and also the lack of photography outings during the summer (which was mostly due to the horrible smokey conditions we had throughout the wildfire season of August)  As I haven't managed time to print more photography to share, I thought I'd pull together some examples of Zentangle art to share at my next APEX meeting.

Summer's End

We really crammed a lot into the summer, ending with a long weekend visit hosting two families (total of 10 people in our house at once!)  It was a spectacularly lovely visit filled with games and food and family and fun.  Now as we settle into our new autumn schedule, I am wrapping up the summer adventures as I lay out my project plans for autumn and winter, with the hopes to be back here with updates a little more regularly.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Springing forward

The last 6 weeks have been filled with projects, let's get right to it!


No photos to share, but great leaps have been made!  Blurb put out a great coupon which was incentive for me to finish up the 2012 album and send 2011 and 2012 off to be printed.  Down in the art room I completed the 2004 ephemera album and began to organize the items for 2005, which lead to G's school photos, which lead me to begin her school days album.  After much deliberation I decided that the School Days Album will be limited to a 2 page layout for each year of school, all with the same grey parchment looking background paper for consistency.  I'll be working on this album alongside the ephemera albums in order to stay as efficient as possible.  I also completed gluing photos and filling out birthday information in G's "First Five Years" baby book, so I no longer need to worry about the loose photos and birthday party notes dropping from it's pages.  

Working on the school album alongside the ephemera can be a little confusing at times, as the school year spans September to June, and the ephemera albums are calendar years, however keeping the school album limited to two pages helps narrow down my options.  Each double page layout will have her school and class photo, plus a note or photo on the activities she participated in during that school year.  The more in-depth details (programs from school performances, award ribbons, etc...) will be in the larger ephemera albums.  

I made a tote bag for my niece (a hairdresser) and birthday card.  It ended up going out late due to a delay in the printed fabric - the image for my original fabric of choice wasn't uploaded properly by the artist, so I had to cancel that order and pick something new, which added another couple of weeks to the delivery.  

My Bird Quilt continues... two of five cardinal squares are complete. 


I missed the pinhole group outing due to a schedule change on my end, but I did have a nice outing with G over the course of that weekend.  We headed down to Seattle Center, where G played with her Diana/Lomo instant camera combination.  I brought out my Graflex and P.120 pinhole cameras, as well as finishing off a roll that had been residing in my Holga.

G creating an optical illusion with a toy car in front of the International Fountain.

From my P.120 camera, objects appear smaller than reality.

From my Holga - I experimented with a roll of Lomo 100 purple film.  It treats warm spots as purple, and cool blues as greens, so shooting underexposed in the winter made for some green streaks in the cooler parts of the frame.  This would be a fun film to play with in the summer time.

Also in photography news... I've decided to shelve the heafty Graflex camera for a bit, and instead concentrate on shooting panoramic pinhole with my P.120, and get my 6x9 negatives from the Six-20 camera. I also want to continue to explore forest and interesting tree patterns with my DSLR, and there just isn't room in my pack to carry All The Gear, hence my decision to set aside Clunky for a time.  I'm considering 2019 calendar themes in the back of my mind as I explore these cameras.

Friday, February 09, 2018

January - the dark winter reorg

As the days begin to lengthen, and Christmas winds down to the final gift-giving stages (one last gift to deliver this Sunday!) I turn back to the chaos of the disheveled post-holiday art room and my own personal projects.

The ephemera album is stagnant at the tail end of 2004, where I left it last fall.  I've had a couple of sewing projects to conclude before clearing the table for more paper and glue fun... however I have started following a scrapbook-centric Instagram account which is providing good inspiration.  For digital albums... I finalized the 2011 album with a still image pulled from the video of my jump from the bamboo bridge into the ocean in Jamaica.  I used some layers in photoshop to show the progress of my jump.

After one more proof-read of the text, 2011 will be ready to print.  The photos for 2012 have been sorted, edited, and I've arranged them up through about August of that year.  My photos for 2017 have been fully backed up twice, including all cell phone photos.

The jumping of timelines makes it difficult to keep track of where I am within each project... also it is startling to look at photos where G is shorter than I am, then photos where she is clearly taller, and yet they all feel like they were just taken last month.  I'm taking copious notes each time I work on a digital album, and post-it notes abound in the ephemera album. 

Bird Quilt:
Thanks to a couple of long wait times at dentist offices last month, I made great headway and completed my bobwhites for the state bird quilt:
11 birds down thus far.  Craft club meetings have picked up again, which should provide me with some good time to get through the next batch of birds... cardinals!

I had a successful outing with the pinhole group, shooting two rolls on my new P.120 camera.  I also worked with Clunky and my Holga, though I did not finish off those rolls, so they stand at the ready for my next outing.  This outing also reintroduced me to the lovely tones of Kodak Portra film, which I'd loaded due to the expected low light conditions
The other images from the outing can be viewed in this flickr album.
I should be clear to make it to the February outing as well.

In other photography news, I was given the link to a photographer who is putting together an art show in the UK for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.  The criteria were simple... pinhole photos taken within a 10 mile radius of your house.  I was given the green light to use photos taken within 10 miles of a second home as well as a primary residence, so I picked 5 of my favorites (2 of Kauai, 3 around my primary residence) and have turned them in with fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

2017 Christmas Projects

The decorations are all packed away, the post-holiday dust has settled, and a slew of home repairs have been accomplished.  Time to catch up on some project blogging!


Though my mother taught me how to crochet when I was a kid, I never did learn how to read a pattern.  I could make wobbly squares and long strands that looked like worms (which I gave to friends as bookmarks.  Get it?  Book worm?) but that was the extent of my yarn experience.  A few years ago I picked up a pattern for an infinity scarf, which I was able to complete, but once the arthritis began to set in to my wrist joints, I figured I'd have to give up on the idea of crochet all together.

Then I discovered they make hooks with padded handles for arthritic crafters.  So I owed it to myself to pick one up and see what I could do with it.  Also, the Seahawks colored yarn was on sale.  With the help of YouTube I was finally able to decipher the pattern for a simple granny square.

The hook works great!  Though I failed to take a photo of the end project, I ended up putting about 9 granny squares together into a scarf, which was given away as a Christmas gift.

In my early season "look how much time I have!" days, I attempted a few "simple crochet snow flake" patterns, which I had intended to stiffen up with starch and give away as ornaments.  I completed a few, but upon realizing those patterns required tiny stitches and precise counting, and as I ran out of craft time, I put them aside and concentrated on larger gifts.

This scarf was from a pattern called "Shawl in a Ball" - once the first row was completed, it was just turn, repeat, turn, repeat until I ran out of yarn.  

My daughter had actually picked the yarn out while we were shopping together, so I made this for her for Christmas.  She was very surprised when she opened it, as she'd seen me work on it all season.


Speaking of my daughter... she taught herself how to knit this fall, so I found a pattern for a knitting needle holder and picked up some specially printed giraffe fabric (giraffes are her favorite animal) as another Christmas gift for her.

I have a friend who loves - and collects - pink flamingos.  When I saw this fabric in October I immediately thought of her.  I wasn't sure what I would make out of it, but I bought the whole remnant and took it home.  I started out by making the tote bag, and originally thought I would make a whole series of bags, but as holiday deadlines loomed and I had a solid 2 yards of fabric leftover, I decided to put it together in a big table cloth/blanket.

The tote bag pattern was so fun to make, I decided to buy specialty fabric and make bags for some of my other friends... one is a math tutor, one is a Zentangle teacher who loves otters.

 About a decade ago I made a quilted wall hanging for my bedroom, using a technique called "Stack N Whack".  The technique creates a kaleidoscope effect in the printed fabric.  When my sister saw my wall hanging she said she wanted one too.  I had actually pieced the top shortly after she had requested it, and I had intended to give it to her for Christmas that year - 2012 - however due to our move I had to pack the quilt top away.  It was buried among my unfinished project for years, unearthed last summer during my art room reorganization.  This fall I finished the quilting, binding, and sleeve for it in time to give it to her for Christmas.


When I found that my soldering iron needed to be replaced, I decided to pick up a multi-use tool, one that could also be used for wood burning.  Inspired by ideas on Pinterest, I decided to do a series of wood-burned ornaments as gifts and as my Bunco ornament.  

I started with a pile of wood discs, and a couple of designs... landscape and birch trees.

I penciled the designs on the discs, incorporating any interesting wood knots etc... 

After finishing the woodburning, I then painted features with slightly thinned white acrylic paint.

Most of these ornaments were given as gifts to friends and family.  I saved one of each design for my family.

Speaking of ornaments... this is officially the year where I amassed enough bird ornaments to have a whole tree dedicated to just birds.

I made this drum ornament to commemorate D's experience marching in the Santa Clara Vanguard Alumni Corp.  The original drum was red, I covered it with copper paper to match the drum he marched with.  The sticks are painted to match how his were taped for the performance.  The Vanguard star is made out of Shrinky Dink, which I punched with a large 8 point punch, then colored, then shrank.  I made the Aussie (hat) by taking a pattern for a toy's cowboy hat, I shrank the pattern to scale, then cut the pieces out of green felt and hand stitched it together.  The star on the side of the aussie is made from two sequins and a bead.  I painted the top of the drum head black, to match his marching drum, and the bottom reads "2017 SCVAC"

 Christmas Village

Having been so busy with gift projects this year, my village additions were not completed until after the New Year.  This year I painted the kids sledding on the hill, the ice house and ice salesman, and a little bridge.  The sled hill and ice house are the final larger pieces I have from the original set that I purchased about 15 years ago.  I have two sets of village people with some overlapping characters, so next year I will sort those out and probably just finish the people I haven't painted yet.  A couple years ago I came across another brand of unpainted village buildings that are the right scale for my village, though a slightly different style, so I'll begin adding those to my little town next year.


Wednesday, January 03, 2018

A new year, a new update

As per usual... once September hits and the Halloween costumes are complete, I tend to fall into the trap of "look how much time I have before Christmas!  I can make gifts for EVERYONE!"  I make a list of projects I want to make, I gather up supplies, I add ideas because I believe I have *so much time!*, and I put aside all personal projects in the blind belief that I can Make All The Things before the holiday deadlines.

This year was no different.  Although I will say that my initial list of projects was completed, thanks to having family come up just after Christmas, which gave me an extra couple of weeks for their gifts (normally I need to mail their stuff by mid-December).  I didn't have time to do extra projects beyond my initial list, but there is always next year.

In all the holiday hustle and bustle, some things fell by the wayside, including updating this blog.  As I still have a couple of gifts to deliver I'll be holding off on my Christmas Project update, but for now I can come up to speed with a couple of other creative endeavors I worked on over the last quarter of last year.

Sewing Projects:

October - my daughter's homecoming dress.  She had a very specific look she wanted, so I found a pattern and we headed off to the fabric store.  The skirt has an overlay of tulle - probably the most difficult "fabric" I've worked with.  The top has a black lace overlay which is difficult to see in the photo.

My daughter's Halloween costume: Blue from Blue's Clues!  I bought a pattern for a generic animal onesie (with the options of rabbit, bear, or cat) which originally had a separate headpiece that would velcro around the neck.  She didn't like the feel of that, so I altered the pattern by tracing the hood from one of her favorite sweatshirts.

I drew the pattern for the ears and tail free-hand on butcher paper, and hand-stitched the spots based on photos of Blue.  

Photography projects:

 I made it to one of my pinhole group meetups, where we were photographing in a garden where we are technically not supposed to use tripods, as they believe it "detracts from the peace of the garden."  I can understand not taking up space on paths or pushing other garden viewers out of your frame, however I take issue with their reasoning.  I fail to see how me standing off to the side of a path quietly contemplating the view while counting down my pinhole exposure is "distracting" while other guests can walk through the gardens with their iPhone extended on a selfie stick, filming themselves with a loud, ongoing commentary.

As monopods are allowed in the garden, I compromised and borrowed my friend's hiking monopod.
This is not a tripod, it is a monopod with a built-in stabilizer. 

The following week I spent a couple hours in a different botanical garden, where tripods are allowed, and I captured enough images to make my 2018 calendar entirely from color pinhole images.

Also in October, my birthday present arrived!

This beauty is a hand-made 120 degree pinhole camera.  The shutter construction is brilliant - squeeze the bulb to release the shutter with zero camera shake.  For long exposures, I hold my thumb over the end of the bulb and squeeze, and the shutter opens and stays open, then squeeze again to close it.
Thus far I have only taken it out to a local park for a couple of test B&W rolls.  I believe I have the exposure calculation figured, and it looks like I'm capturing about what I expect to capture in terms of framing.  My first couple rolls did have a weird "shadow" on the upper edge of the film, which I narrowed down to probably being a lack of tension on the film (it would show up on the first couple shots, but not the last couple)  Turning the knobs opposite each other to tighten the film for the first couple of frames seems to have resolved that.  
Here is a shot from my last test roll.

Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts and weather I missed the last couple of pinhole group outings, and have yet to take this baby out for a real spin, but as I work through the post-holiday clean up/catch up, I'm keeping my eyes on the forecast.

Artsy Update:

Usually I spend some project time in December working on painting at least one piece for my Christmas village along with an ornament or two.  This year we traveled just before Christmas, which - while incredibly fun! - cut into my project time.  I devoted all free time to gifts and figured I could paint village pieces during the Christmas-New Years down time.  Then our house came down with bugs, so "down time" was truly down to just bundling up in front of the TV with mugs of hot tea.  Thus, I did not start my village work until New Year's Eve.  I'm hoping to be complete by Epiphany (still technically part of the Christmas season, right?)

The mug was one of my gifts from my daughter this year... it is actually helpful!  I've decided to paint 3 pieces for my village... kids sledding, the ice house (and ice salesman) and a little bridge.  The bridge will be painted to be similar to the actual bridge down the street from our house.

Lastly... I received a Pentel brush pen as a Christmas gift from a friend.  After loading the ink and testing a few movements, I did a quick sketch of a Great Blue Heron.

I love the way this brush moves, and the style of quick sketchy-lines I can make with it.  I'm thinking I'll be taking it in the field with me, when I have long pinhole exposures I'll sketch the parts of the scene that draw my attention, then I can compare the sketches to the actual images.