Monday, June 27, 2011

Vivi - A ceramic figure from 2002

When I was in my homeschooling enrichment ceramics class, my younger brother Andre was shilling Final Fantasy to me. He made me play Final Fantasy 9, and I didn't want to initially because I thought it looked like too much of a kid's game.  Let's just say I enjoyed it enough to be inspired to create another character (see this post for the moogle) in my beloved ceramics class. His name is Vivi, but the black mage is a recurring character type in Final Fantasy games. They have different powers than say, a summoner or a knight. Nerd stuff. Look it up.
 This is what he looks like in the game:

He is a cute little ghost boy, although the characters' costumes in this game are a little weird. I created two of him, and I don't have pictures of the sculpting in progress, but this is after they were fired and before they were painted:

The painting was probably the most fun part. I love how adding the right colors can make this nondescript character into a specific character with a specific costume:

He was fun to make, even if it is a little wonky around the edges. It looks like he's got a big brother-little brother thing going on.

Cross stitch'n

Ha! I tricked you. This isn't even a real post about something I did or am doing. I meant to post yesterday, but unforeseen events kept me from doing so. However, I was inspired by something I saw. I was at Bubba Gump in Bayside (one of my faves), and I saw this sign in the gift shop: "Being this messy requires character. You should see the characters who live here." I found it appropriate for... well, our house. We are filthy slobs and we are self-proclaimed characters! I didn't like the aesthetic aspects of the sign, it was black, white, and yellow. Yuck. I would also embellish it with clutter to punctuate the message. Maybe throw in a plushie, a book, a DVD, some car keys...

Do you design your own embroidery, or do you follow a pattern? I started out by following a pattern for ONE thing, and have done nothing sans augmentation since. I can't help it. When I cook, I change the recipe or make it up. When I knit, I merge patterns. I believe it's a true sign of a creative mind. I need to make it my own, so I think outside the box (pattern).

For cross stitch, I've been using graph paper and pixelmator for mac. I can much more easily give away patterns from something that's already on the computer. I've got two three more ideas for unique cross stitch patterns... so stay tuned! I'm going to post another previously completed project today, but there are fresh stitches coming your way soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ceramics - the beginnings

I decided that my first few posts are going to document some of my extinct hobbies, like ceramics. It's not extinct by my choice. As a matter of fact, I had more fun taking classes in ceramics than I ever had with any art medium before that.  I believe the years I took this class were 2000 - 2002. I was 15 - 17 years old when I made the sculptures you'll see on this blog. I made tremendous progress in that time, and am convinced that I never reached my peak. I've never considered myself a true artist, but among my many dream jobs, I could envision myself spending all hours of the day creating tedious claymation figures like Wallace and Gromit. I knew there was no real future in that, but what can I say? I've always been a dreamer. I actually had been to class with my grandmother a couple times before this, but I was a wee lass then, and probably got some help. I tried to duplicate her style with this:
She's kind of a paperweight, and has no class whatsoever. I mean, she's clearly a faceless albino with blond dreads! How dare she masquerade in a turquoise sundress! She was glazed, which means the paint was made of crushed glass powder that melts into a glassy finish in the kiln.

Somewhere down the line, I got here: random outdoor objects that I painted in acrylics, and were abused & broken and glued back together. Not quite "The Well and the Lighthouse", they are a well and a windmill. I could have totally done a lighthouse.

The windmill doesn't really serve any purpose, but the well is a nice holder for stuff. I mean, objects, not food or ashes or candles or anything flammable- it is made out of flammable paint. If you want to make something to hold a candle in, it needs to be glazed. I now recall other things I made that were broken... one of them being a candle plate with delicate roses on its perimeter that promptly chipped.

 The next item I will share today is a small castle, based solely on my love for L. M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle:

The castle was poorly done, and mind you- I had the limitations of the class period to complete these. The weight of the clay sunk the top in a little.
The last exhibit of today will be the failed Moogle from Final Fantasy 9 I created. It was supposed to look like the character you visit each time you want to save- it opens up the book and lays in front of it. This one looks more like it got sloshed and fell asleep face first. Actually, where is it reading from?! Its eyes are looking over the book, not at it! Like I mentioned earlier, this type of clay can be tricky to work with- it sags under its own weight. It reminds me of this AFP baby.

I thought it could have been kinda cute, but it doesn't look that good on the shelf. It's hardly recognizable. Anyway, goodnight folks!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today is Summer, yesterday was Spring

From time to time, you'll find that I will deviate from the blog's theme and add a bit of my thoughts on other subjects. I can't have a new blog without marking Summer Solstice accompanied by Michael Leviton. His song "Summer's the Worst" may not reflect my individual feelings on this particular season, even though South Florida can feel like Summer actually started in February and will end in November. I can truly appreciate a song that is not only so filled with emotion, but tells a story as well. One commenter pointed out a poem:

The Mermaid Poem
by William Butler Yeats:
A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

I took two classes in college in which 50% of the reading content was W. B. Yeats. I read so many of his poems and learned to have a great appreciation for them. Without further ado (and more ranting by me), here's "Summer's the Worst".

Does she keep claiming victims because she wants something she can't have at the expense of their lives? It looks like she's trying to push him away, but keeps getting seduced, knowing it will be fatal. She lets her desire claim life after life. Why does she keep returning to the beach, then? Is she purposefully claiming victims?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Depression Era Quilt - going on 10 years in the making

When I was about 16 years old, a friend of mine showed me a quilt she had made, and I was so intrigued I just had to learn to make one, too. I had already gone on a big knitting kick at this point, which inspired someone to give me knitting needles for my 16th birthday (All I knew at that point was the garter stitch!) Needless to say, having limited sewing experience, this was quite the ambitious undertaking for me. The quilt has curved pieces, so it was considered at a "challenging" difficulty. You know, it wasn't that hard- it came so naturally to me, but I concede that I may have also done a much crappier job than someone more experienced may have. The entire structure was composed of squares like this:
For many years, I s-l-o-w-l-y finished squares. There are 49 of these squares in the pattern. In 2007, 6 years after starting these 24 are all I had finished:

The following summer I got another bug to finish this after years of hiatus. I spent the entire summer being obsessed, and I finished the remaining 25 blocks in a matter of weeks. What took me 6 years before took me mere weeks with experience and motivation. It was a tremendous project, but so rewarding! My husband actually helped me arrange the blocks in a complementary pattern:

If that wasn't enough of a task to complete, it's only half the work. I hand-stitched all the pieces up until this point, and then I used my machine to assemble the blocks.

 I didn't take pictures of this part, but I had to use masking tape on the back layer, taping it to the floor, then add the batting and the quilt patchwork, then pin, then baste... it was a huge pain! After that, I was able to start using my hoop and do the actual quilting by hand.

This was a little tricky to get used to- I had to have one hand in front of me while the other was stationed beneath the hoop! I was equipped with a thimble to push the needle in and a thick plastic sticker-thimble on several other fingers to prevent them being shredded by the needle as I eased it in and out of the cloth. It is incredibly tedious. The end result was very satisfying, and let's just hope that the fabrics I picked as a teenager will stand the test of time.

So, here we are, June 2011- I finished quilting my quilt in February. I still have not finished the binding. I now have a 95% complete future heirloom sitting in storage. Now that we have a table with ample room, perhaps I can re-learn to use my machine and actually make it functional, rather than just arbitrary...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's about time.

My husband has insisted that I start a blog already, since it seems that every week yields a new experiment on my part. I want to start blogging to document my numerous projects and interests, and perhaps share them with others like me, who have the insatiable desire to create new things.

What do I use as my medium? I used to use ceramic clay to sculpt, seed beads to make jewelry, embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets (boring)... but these days, I'm into knitting, cooking, and cross-stitching nerdy icons to decorate my home. I always like to have a work in progress laying around, and I'm frequently seen knitting or reading in public.

I want this blog to be predominantly about these crafty & cooking projects I frequently come up with, but other things might slip in (like home projects, gardening, and some literary interests).

Stay tuned for pictures of cupcakes and knitting! (So exciting, right?) I know it sounds boring, but I have been enraptured by other blogs I have seen, so I will see how it goes. I may be left as forever alone guy, but in the end I'll have all this as a record, so it's a win anyway.