An Accidental Sabbatical

About a month ago, I was getting ready to sit at my computer to write THE BEST BLOG POST EVAH, along with researching the final stage of my plan for world peace and putting the finishing touches on my design for a car powered by positive thinking.

Then, disaster. No internet. No internet, as it turned out, for a month; a whole entire month with no blog, no email, no funny pictures of cats.

After a cavalcade of tradies coming though to decide who’s responsible, the cable that caused all the problems has finally been replaced. Hooray!

I have been busy though, possibly more so with out the procrastinatory (my dictionary says that’s a real word) potential of the net. I’ve been experimenting with fabric jewellery and playing with Illustrator some more. Oh, and a bit of furniture DIY.

We’d been on the look out for bedside tables for over a year, making do with a little set of Ikea ply drawers sitting on the floor. Jazzing up what we already had seemed like the sensible solution to a never-ending search, so we sanded the finish off the drawers then painted them in a gloss red with chrome legs for a fun retro-esque feel. The chrome legs I’d imagined were difficult to track down in the real world – we ended up using door stops.

I’m now happy with this corner of our bedroom. Quarter of the way there…


Swanning About

Busy week. In addition to contemplating the possibility I have no future (not the scheduled apocalypse – a more garden variety quarter life crisis), working a strenuous two days a week doing admin and managing a Battlestar Galactica addiction, I’ve been learning how to use Illustrator. Who knew Photoshop couldn’t do everything?

I love the clean lines you get using Illustrator; it has a much more graphic look, which I figure will be useful when I’m designing new stencils. So, back to the computer to play around some more…

I now dream in anchor points.

The Eagle Has Landed

I promised sketches of something product related, and here it is…

Ta dah!

How is this going to be a product you say? Well, here’s some I prepared (a year) earlier…

  • Tools for Bush Robin Stencil
  • 3 pieces of A4 card
  • 1 piece good quality paper
  • Craft knife
  • Removable sticky tape
  • Metal ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black and white acrylic paint
  • Pallet
  • Make-up Sponge
  • Scissors

They’re fabric banners I made to go above the bed, paranoid I might end up sleeping permanently should a framed picture leap off the wall during the night.  They’re from photos I ‘shopped into block colours, printed, cut out then stencilled on to fabric. I added the silk ends to give them a better finish.

This time around I’m hand drawing my designs first so I can manipulate my material, creating a more graphic look from the outset. So the next step in transforming my wedge tailed eagle illustration into a non-killer wall hanging cum fabric banner is slaving over a print-out of said illustration with an X-Acto knife.

Seeing as I haven’t got that far yet, I thought I’d demonstrate how I stencil my designs in the meantime with a quick and relatively simple stencil of a Bush Robin* (and here is the promised present); you can download the files here to have a crack at the robin stencil too!

First print the stencil layers on to your pieces of card. Next is the fiddly bit; cutting out the details with a craft knife, including the right hand corner of the stencil from above the reference lines (the third picture down shows the paint-ready stencil).

Once I’ve cut along all the stencil lines from the front, I flip mine over to re-cut any incisions that haven’t come clear through the card, so that when I pull the negative out I don’t rip the bits with fine detail.

Erm, if you cut through the wrong bit at any stage, DO NOT PANIC. I was going fine with my craft-knifing until I vagued out imagining the choc-fest of upcoming Easter… Mm… chocolate… Anyhoo, I cut a really wonky line, so I just stuck regular sticky tape over the front and back of the affected area, then re-cut the line properly.

Next put reference lines corresponding to the ones on the stencil on to the right hand corner of the printing surface, then align the fist layer and tape it down with removable tape. So this is my paint-ready stencil:

For the painting stage, mix up a dark grey for the first layer, sponging on the paint with a make-up sponge (for the density of the foam) – pre-blotted to prevent the paint from splodging underneath the stencil. Mind you, I was too impatient to blot the example below properly and I think it still looks cute.

Carefully lift the stencil off as soon as you’ve finished painting so it doesn’t stick to the printing surface. Once the first layer has completely dried do the next (second/middle) layer, the black of the body. Once that’s dried, you can do the final layer; black for the branch on the bottom and white for the eye at the top. In the example above I refined the shape of the eye a little with some black paint  on a fine brush once the white had dried for a more realistic finish. Otherwise, the finished (patiently blotted) stencil turned out like this:

Happy stencilling!

* Thank you to Henrietta Norris for use of the original photo

Illustration Friday

I’ve decided to actually try and do what I’ve said I’m trying to do (sketch more for pleasure in this case). Enter Illustration Friday which posts topics every Friday and people submit their illustrations interpreting the theme.

This week’s topic was Warning, accompanied by the proverb “Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky at morning, sailors warning.”

The sailor has a red morning to warn of bad weather – I have other signs of a storm approaching.