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".  


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Needles and things

This past week saw the neighborhood craft club meeting at my house.  Some folks in the club had shown an interest in learning needle felting, and Easter is coming, so I thought I would break out the supplies for covering foam Easter eggs.  Since my past decorations are still up in the attic, I spent some craft time this week working on an example for the "class".  I pulled my supplies out of the art room, set out a few examples of the sculptures I've made, and put out way too many snacks.

I made little felted Yodas for Marsbarn and K2 a couple years ago, and still hadn't made one for myself, so I took the opportunity to make a wee Yoda last week as an example piece.  I also added flat panel needle felting to the mix, and picked up a stack of square wool felt sheets of various colors and made an example to show.
The owl and gnome home were completed in the past, I made the spotted egg and daisy during the craft club meeting.

Six people from our club were able to attend, and 5 made eggs.  They all seemed to enjoy it, and the creations they made were very cool and all very different, lots of swirls, one with large multi-colored polka dots, one with overlapping layers of thin color that gave it a very surreal swirly look.  I wish I'd thought to get a photo of everyone's work put together but I was too distracted with fun conversation to have thought about it at the time. 

I've finished putting the hanging sleeve on my sea turtle wall hanging, and that will be put up on the walls this weekend, as soon as everyone is awake enough for me to start hammering nails into walls.

I've found myself to be too scattered to remember what is going on with my photography, it seems that I have too many projects going at once and without a physical item to set down, I forget where I last left off.  I'd made a note to myself that I wanted to convert some images to black and white, but failed to update the note. Last week I spent some time going through my images to pick some to convert, only to find that some already had, however I converted some in Lightroom and others in Photoshop.  I cannot remember which method I preferred, nor why I would have stopped one and switched to another.  I watched a tutorial to see if yet a third method might be better than the other two, but that method seemed incredibly more complicated than it needed to be, and after having watched it I realized it was for an older version of the software, and at this point seems obsolete to me (since the tools offered in both PS and LR are superior now).  Then, after investing those hours into this, I was poking around on my portfolio and discovered that I'd already uploaded finished B&W images, and just hadn't completed publishing the albums yet.

I suppose that is the result of squeezing projects in when I have an extra half hour here and there, rather than working on anything steadily for a good amount of time?

I'll have to go back and try both methods of converting B&W to remind myself which method I really preferred, then I really need to write that down on my notes page.  The weather has turned back to rain, so that seems like a good thing to tackle this weekend. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Packing Christmas and more photography

I  missed last week's update due to my work schedule invading my normally quiet Friday morning.  Yesterday I had a migraine and napped through my blog time, so here I am... coffee in hand on Saturday.

Roughly 17 years ago I got it in my head that I would have an expansive Christmas village for the holidays, and I would - of course - paint all the individual pieces myself.  The original "plan" had been to pick up one new building a year, paint it over Thanksgiving weekend, and add it to the village.  A couple years into the project, the company making my brand of houses went out of business, so I bought up all that I could at the craft store.  Then I found leftover inventory online, so I bought that too.  Some years I manage to paint a new whole piece, some years I can only sneak in a small villager to add... most years I start the pieces prior to Thanksgiving with the intention of adding them for the season, but they end up sitting to the side until New Years due to travel or gift projects taking up time... or both.  This year was both, plus we traveled for New Years, so my partly-done village pieces were not completed until the end of January.  Upon confirming the final coat of gloss was dry on the pieces last weekend, I set to work to pack them up... failing to get a photo of the 5 villager pieces that I painted this year.  For what it's worth, here is my 17 year old village as of this season (minus the 5 new additions, which I'll have to photograph next year)

The train is a new addition this year.  It is not to scale, and it is made of plastic instead of plaster, but they were on sale at the local craft store and I couldn't resist.  We haven't set up the big train set in years, and I enjoy a bit of choo-choo whimsy over the holidays.

In sewing, I'm nearing the end of my sea-turtle wall hanging which I'd started last spring, just stitching the sleeve to the back now and it will be ready to hang (once I buy a dowel for it)  I have not made it to a neighborhood craft club meeting in nearly a year, December's was scheduled on a band concert night, and January was cancelled due to the hostess getting a stomach flu.  I am hosting this month, and a fellow crafter has asked to learn needle felting so I'm currently working on a couple of examples for that night.  This - and the Christmas village delay - has helped me to procrastinate on the epic bird quilt plan of mine, however just this morning I'm thinking I might pull out the fabric for the embroidered squares and begin cutting those down to size.

I have managed to make good progress in photography.  I've caught up on editing/uploading the random "in between long vacation" DSLR photos that I've collected over the past couple of years.  I was a harsher critic on myself this time, which is especially difficult when it comes to the bird photos.  I have many "snaps" of birds which I enjoy only because of the species of bird in the shot, but in terms of a piece of art on the wall, they are not that great.  Cutting out the shots that I was emotionally attached to in that way, and only posting what I thought were also good compositions, greatly reduced the volume I had to upload.  I've also meandered through my growing backlog of uploaded images and reduced or removed many images that I now look back on and have decided are not up to par.  Perhaps someday I'll scale back a larger portion of the site - things I shot on the older lower MP camera - but for now I see little harm in leaving the older stuff up.

We had snow last week, and as I had some film to burn in my Graflex pinhole, I decided to set it up near my bird feeders and take some long exposures.  Calculating the exposure for snow was tricky, I took several meter reads off of surrounding mid-tone objects, made my calculations, and took 30-45 second exposures.  The best image out of the lot was this:
This is heavily cropped in, though I set the camera up at the edge of the porch it captured quite a lot more landscape than I wanted.  There are 3 birds which stood still long enough to show up on the film, although there were about 8 birds fluttering through this image throughout the exposure.

The first half of the roll of film were the shots I'd exposed in January during our visit to Fort Worden.  I'm very happy with this shot for several reasons:
I'm happy with the composition of this shot.  I knew I needed to get closer to my subject with this camera, and I managed to do just that, the camera was wedged between the boulders right at the water's edge.
I aimed the camera down and put the sky's horizon line right along the top of the view finder, figuring the film plane would end up capturing more than I could see, and I was correct.  
I timed the exposure to capture one good wave coming up over the rocks, which gave me the white ghostly mist over the dark boulders, but smoothed out the otherwise rough water.
I calculated the exposure correctly - always a challenge!

And lastly... when I loaded the film I turned the dial an extra half turn before setting the film counter - this did give the lab enough film to load without fogging my first frame, but I still had plenty of space at the end of the roll for the last frame.

I am itching to get out and get more shots with this camera, but the weather lately is working against me.  I'm not opposed to heading out in misty/soggy conditions myself, but given the age of this camera I don't want to risk damage to it.  So for now, I have to be patient.