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

Wasp Up With Me? Well…

Circumstances have once again conspired against my intended crafting progress. Firstly, I am now the proud joint owner of a Canon DSLR that boasts an excessive amount of buttons. Obviously, the new camera required much playing professional-like experimentation.

So, like, this photo of a dead wasp is a postmodern deconstructive allusion to Victorian era Mourning Photographs (link alert – there are dead bodies on the other end for the unwary click-through-er), because dead things are like, so underground. Ok, I stole that hipster joke from Cyanide and Happiness.

Moving right along, I have also ended up with John’s GINORMOUS monitor, as the better part of his computer hard drive is currently in pieces sustaining the life of a fried external hard drive. I have absolutely not spent the last hour scooting my cursor from one screen through to the other after plugging the monitor into my laptop.

I have however photographed my original patchwork scarf (on loan from the gift-ee), both to simulate progress in the current (blue) scarf project and to include in market stall-holder applications… Yes people, I am moving towards getting organised for maybe thinking about booking a stall to actually sell things. Ooh yeah, it’s all happening.

The Art of Walking

Yes, it’s true. I’ve sadly neglected documenting the trials and tribulations of starting an Etsy shop because I (guiltily) thought I hadn’t done anything. But the tactic of ‘one foot in front of the other’ I normally have difficulty mastering (I’m more of a ‘feet flying madly out of control’ person) has actually worked. In amongst job searching and assignments (and yes, I am currently writing this because I should be writing an essay) I’ve made progress almost accidentally.

Firstly, I’ve ordered and received my fabric for the tops. Hooray! The fabric is a gorgeously soft bamboo jersey with a small amount of spandex. I ended up getting it online for a decent price (I love ordering online – when it comes in the mail it’s like getting a present from me) and the delivery was surprisingly prompt.

Speaking of price, I’ve done a groovy Excel spreadsheet to tally my costs and calculate a selling price, then checked whether the price was viable with another impromtu bit of market research. And, yay! All my numbers looked good (plus they added up to the right amounts… Ha! Attractive numbers…).

I’ve also drawn up some belt designs. I had a look in the local textile/craft stores; there’s not much in the way of plain, well priced belt buckles so I started trying to think of other belt fastenings that would suit the lighter look of fabric.

I sketch for pleasure in sketchbooks with thick white paper, but for clothes and accessory brainstorming I prefer black paper as it shows up coloured pencils beautifully and throws simple sketches into strong relief. I did these basic workings for some belts with a really soft white pencil; the excuse of using beautiful art supplies motivates me to actually get my ideas down.

So my next move is to purchase materials for the belts, then look at branding and product presentation. Step by step.