Pinterest Strikes Again

I’m not sure how we crafters got along without Pinterest. It is an amazing resource for ideas, projects, inspiration, and to peek in on what other folks are making. I haven’t weaved anything since college. Recently, I had a friend point out that weaving is becoming popular again. Something struck me about it and I immediately made a small cardboard loom and started.

I cut a piece of cardboard about the size of a business card. I should have made it longer so it would be easier to tie off once I was done, but live and learn. I also started weaving upside down. You should pull the yarn towards you but I did it the other way. Oops.

Still, I finish up the mini weaving and learned quite a bit in the process. Enough that I wanted to get something a bit more sturdy than cardboard. So I picked up the weaving kit from Lion Brand and Martha Stewart. I got it Michael’s with one of their 40% off coupons so if I didn’t like it I wasn’t out a bundle. It’s easy to set up, but the directions are pretty terrible. Good thing for Pinterest. One of my favorite beginner weaving tutorials comes from A Beautiful Mess. She goes over everything you need to learn to get started. This tutorial helped me figure out how to make a shed stick for the Martha loom so I could weave faster.

Currently I’m playing with the Martha loom and just trying out weaves, playing with the yarn I have, making shapes, practice finishing the piece, and display. I’m not too concerned with design right now. Just looking at it I can see why I should have been more careful with what I was doing (hint: the warp thread showing in the purple “mountain” shape.) But I’m having fun and learning quite a bit.

I will probably start researching different looms now. Until then, I’ve been scouring Pinterest for tutorials and other ways to weave. I found two projects I particularly like: circle weaving and branch weaving. Click on the pictures below to go to the tutorials.

 

Ok, Now the Shop is REALLY Back! (or Using Crafts to Make a Difference)

I’ve had a lot of changes happening in the last couple of years. I’ve moved to a new city and now I think it’s time to start up my Etsy shop again. This time I’m focusing on DIY kits and projects. I’d like to help spread creativity. I’ll still pop some of my own work into the shop now and again but for now I’m going to work on teaching folks new skills.

 

The first thing I’m making available is a pom pom kit. It includes 4 acrylic templates of various sizes and a bit yarn to get started. I’ll provide printed and digital instructions.

The idea for making this came from my own adventures in pom pom making. I had cut some templates out of cardboard but they didn’t hold up for long. So my sweet uncle over at BPaw’s Woodshop cut the templates out of acrylic for me. I used the templates to finish my own pajaki. I am still amused that I was inspired to make it because of seeing them in a video game (The Witcher 3.)

 

 

For personal reasons I have also decided to start donating part of the proceeds of my sales to Planned Parenthood, The Human Rights Campaign, or The Southern Poverty Law Center. I will probably rotate among them. Because I haven’t started selling yet I’m not sure what percentage I’ll be donating. It’ll be between 10% and 50% once I work out the logistics. So forgive the vagueness. I will post receipts of all my donations on the blog so that everyone can see that I am donating.

 

I’m excited about this new direction. Helping others is a great motivation to stay creative.

 

[[EDIT 9:30 PM] I just added a few digital download instructions and patterns. 100% of the proceeds from digital downloads will be donated. One of my dear friends created these patterns for our old business, The WonderCraft, and has kindly given me permission to use them.]

Excitement!

My Etsy shop has been collecting dust for years now. It’s still empty as I write this but I’m sweeping out the cobwebs in preparation for the jewelry I’ve been making. I’m hoping to have it stocked by June. My sweet uncle has been helping me. He has a laser cutter so he’s been cutting out my designs for me. He also has an Etsy shop you should check out called BPaw’s Workshop. He can make all sorts of custom wood pieces.

So enjoy a sneak peek until I get these into my shop:

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studio

 

pieces

 

New Books

Since the move I’m still adjusting to my new work space. I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with all the windows in every room. I never thought I’d miss having an interior closet of a bathroom. Speaking of, even my closet has windows! I am starting to think that my only truly light-proof solution is to work at night. I’m a natural night owl anyway but I prefer not to exacerbate my tendency to stay up until all hours. But I’m getting to the point that if I don’t start creating something soon I’ll go a little nuts.

 

In the meantime my solution is to buy new books. Looking at other people working helps to get my juices flowing and motivates me to figure out how to make this space work for the fiddly printing methods I enjoy.

AP

My first purchase this year was long overdue. I finally bought the bible of alternative processes: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes 3rd Edition by Christopher James. The new edition has a brand new, huge section on wet plate collodion. It has been a trendy technique for a few years now. Despite that, it’s a cool process. If a nice lens ever makes its way into my life I may build a camera and play with wet plate but I have also been playing with a combo technique marrying digital manipulations with alternative printing methods to give me what I like about wet plate without all the chemicals and large format camera. I’m still playing but I think I’m close to something worth continuing. Anyway, this book touches on so many techniques that there will be something in it that sets your brain on fire. Half of the methods in the book were unknown to me until I read through it. It was nice to see Mr. James mention Luis González Palma (his official website is down as of this entry but hopefully it’ll pop back up soon). It is impossible to look at his work without some sort of reaction.

palma

If you are interested in historical and alternative processes, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes is invaluable.

 

SP

My next purchase was Salt Print by Peter Mrhar. I adore salt printing. It has such a dreamy quality even if I’m using negatives made from my digital images. Because it’s printed on water color paper you can do so many surface techniques to it. I know albumen tightens it up a bit but until we start our next flock of chickens I think I’ll stick with plain ‘ol salt printing. This book caught my eye because of the mention of orotones.

orotone(this image came from a website dedicated to orotones.)

The book has very clear directions for salt printing on glass to facilitate the creation of orotones. And I do love shiny things. We just discovered a pile of glass sheets in one of our sheds at the new house. Gotta love 100+ old houses and the weird stuff you have popping up when you poke around. The rest of the book has some valuable information about technique but I mainly bought it for printing on things other than paper and the various varnish formulas.

PP

Photographic Possibilities by Robert Hirsch is the latest book to make it into my collection. I got it this afternoon as an early anniversary present. My husband is good at picking books for me. So far I can see that this book will be good at breaking any creative block concerning photography. I love the section on creative process and working through an idea. It also touches on numerous historical processes with well laid out chapters that include all the formulas you will need plus techniques. The book also goes into non-traditional techniques like chemigrams, hand-coloring with a variety of mediums, and transfer techniques. I need to spend more time with the book but so far it looks interesting.

Down to the Wire

I feel like I’m in school again. I’ve got a show application deadline coming up soon and I’m in the home stretch of finally having work I want to submit. Because this has all been more experimental than anything I have been afraid that I would end up with nothing worth looking at. I still have some work to do once the wax sets but so far I like what’s going on.

trays

 Toning the prints face down in gold toner.

blocks

Drying the printed blocks.

wire

Adding wire to the backs of the blocks.

wax

Waxed and waiting to set so they can be polished.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the update. Hopefully I’ll have some finished products in the next couple of days so I can get them photographed.

Wax On, Wax Off

Sorry about the title. I couldn’t help myself 🙂 I’m sure I’m about the 100th person to make that joke in reference to encaustic.

I am lucky enough to know many talented people in the Austin area. Christine Terrell of adaptive reuse and Tincaustics was sweet enough to show me the basics of encaustics so I could proceed on my current project. Here are some shots from our play date.

hotwax

Christine’s wax pot, heated up and ready to go.

colors

The color palette on an electric griddle.

raw_wax

Raw beeswax and resin.

bird

An example of Christine’s beautiful work.

waxedpaper

Hard to tell but I waxed the back of the watercolor paper to make it translucent. You can see the shadows from my fingers on the left hand side.

wood

Fresh wax over the salt print on wood.

finished

Salt print on wood after the wax was set and lightly buffed.

I will be posting up more salt prints on wood as soon as I figure out which images will benefit from this technique. I also hope to experiment with color and texture soon.

New Orleans, New Negative

I’ve been playing with a new negative. This is one of the street performers I met while in New Orleans last year. I’m sure many people photographed him while he was there but I hope I’m one of the few using these old methods to make interesting pieces with his likeness. Meet Scarlet Ray Watt:

nola tissue 2

 The image has been printed to rice paper for a future encaustic experiment.

nola tissue

 Another view so you can see the translucency.

nola pretone

 Salt print, pre-toned, with an improperly printed negative. I forgot to reverse the image. Oops.

nola finished

 Salt print post-tone. Much nicer color in my opinion.

nola wood

 Salt print on wood. I searched and searched but couldn’t find anyone else who had tried this so I just double coated with the salt solution, one coat of the silver and processed as normal. Seems to have worked.

These are experimental. I’ve been taking old negatives and digital files and using those to come up with techniques I may want to pursue in the future.  I took this photo with a Holga. I have another shot I took with my digital that I like better so that one may get a more careful treatment. I’ll be learning some basic encaustic techniques soon so hopefully I’ll have some interesting things to show you in the next post or two.

Historical Inspiration

Hey all, I thought today I would share some of my favorite websites and images that have inspired my recent experiments with historical photography process. First up is My Daguerreotype Boyfriend. This site makes me smile. It is a Tumblr feed of historical pictures of pretty men. The ones of a young Teddy Roosevelt are fascinating. They aren’t all daguerreotypes but the feed is fun enough that a little variety in processes isn’t hurting anything.

daguerrotype

This is my favorite daguerreotype boyfriend. I call dibs!

Second, this self-portrait of American photography pioneer Robert Cornelius has inspired many late nights of googling old processes. There is something about his stare and cocksure pose that keeps me coming back. This is definitely the first selfie and one of the first photos taken of a human.

RobertCornelius-457x600

 Oh, Robert, no wonder you are all over Pinterest and a daguerreotype boyfriend, too.

Any picture of a studio, mobile darkroom, or lab set-up interests me. I love looking at old equipment and seeing how the first photographers worked. Roger Fenton was one of the first war-time photographers and traveled through dangerous places to get his shots using his mobile wagon darkroom.

Roger_Fentons_waggon

I can imagine a few of the modern wet plate collodion artists being jealous of this set-up.

I also spend a lot of time on the Alternative Photography website. They have all sorts of information for any process you can think of. There are so many of the members writing articles sharing their own work and experiments. It’s a good way to see what is out there.

Check these sites out and read up on modern photography’s predecessors. Old ways are still

Salt Print Attempt #1

Last night was exciting! Well, it was exciting to me.

I tried salt printing for the first time with the kit from Bostick & Sullivan. I also used the gold toning kit though so far it looks like the prints need longer toning times. It was an interesting few hours. For starters, I have no idea what each stage of this process is supposed to look like. This is completely foreign territory for me. At least I’ve done cyanotypes on and off over the last 10 years or so. Tonight I was going off of written descriptions of what to look for and just winging it using various internet sites. I think I got lucky as far as which curve to use and how to print the digital negative for this process. I’m knocking on wood and kissing my muse’s butt right now.

I used two different digital negative printing methods and tried both out last night. One looked nice. The other was a miserable failure. I had a feeling the second one would not work but I had no idea what would happen with the first.

First, my failure:

bad

It’s still wet but you can see the overly high contrast, lack of detail, and the muddy highlights.

I was following some advice on a random website that suggested using colored ink to block light and allow the highlights to develop slower. I followed his directions but the results were less than stellar. I had my doubts as I was working on that so I also decided to do a mix of advice off of several websites and tried to create as dense of a negative as I could while preserving as much tonality as possible.

saltprint1

I still need to learn more about the process but I’m pleased with this attempt.

My other attempt was much better. I’m not sure if I could have pulled more detail into this negative or not. I’ve seen some detailed prints online and in books. I need to research the process more and see how far I can push it. This kit is nice but once I get this down and get fairly predictable results I may move on to mixing my own formulas to see what happens.

Just for the sake of, I put together a file so I could see the original image with the cyanotype and salt print. The variety of the different processes is interesting and I feel confident enough in proceeding with these alternative processes. Now to figure out a project to turn into a series …

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