Monday, May 20, 2013

Ladies Craft Night: Sky Lantern Fail

Hey Pie in the Sky Eyed Crafters,

Ladies Craft Night had an interesting trial run working with Sky Lanterns. I think every young woman thinks these brightly glowing, floating, paper lanterns are super magical and idyllic. The Ladies and I found them to be the EXACT opposite.

I found a Groupon that made ten Sky Lanterns $25 plus S&H (about $8). It is one of our more expensive crafts but we all wanted to take a crack at floating one of these babies in the night sky. When they arrived we decided to wait out dusk on a picnic blanket in the park and snack and chat. I picked an evening with little to no wind and a park with a lake thinking that the lanterns would be less of a fire hazard in case they floated into the lake.

We decided, after realizing we had many unanswered questions, that we would send up a single test lantern.  Not knowing how far away our lantern would go, how fast it would travel, how long it would burn we decided to follow it so we could pick up the wire frame (the paper would biodegrade but not that frame) and make sure we weren't setting our neighborhood on fire.

The first thing we realized is that this lantern is made of paper and if we're not careful, we could light the whole kit and caboodle on fire. I held the small wire frame, another held the paper part upright, and a third lady lit the fuel pack provided with the lantern.

The bag they come in says Sky Lanterns can go up to 3,000 feet and we wondered whether that was horizontal or vertical. We soon learn that it is horizontal. This paper bag can move! After about 7 seconds of Ooo-ing, we realize that it was on the move and immediately split into two teams, one on foot and one in a vehicle.

In the end we lost that darned Sky Lantern. We haven't the foggiest where the frame ended up but I believe that the fuel pack dies, then the lantern just floats to the ground with no danger of setting anything on fire.

This is a BK's Craft Blog first: A video! This video shows our first and only attempt at launching a Sky Lantern. You can see just how quickly our joy turns to safety awareness. Right after the video stops, we immediately split into teams to track the lantern.

This week we are trying a modified version of the Sky Lantern (since we had 9 left!) by tying a length of yarn to the wire frame so we can control their height making them...FIRE KITES! Stay tuned for Part 2 for the exciting conclusion of Sky Lanterns!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Ladies Craft Night: Chicago Edition

Hey Craftnight Oilers,

During a recent trip to Chicago to visit friends I hosted a Ladies Craft Night complete with hot tea, red wine and cupcakes. Although I cannot take credit for inspiring the edibles (thanks, Liz), I have been eyeing these henna patterned jars from LITdecor and thought we could grab a jar from the recycling and a tube of puff paint and go to town!

Boy I'll tell you, it took a lot more patience than I had anticipated. The slow lines take a steady hand and a keen eye to keep the designs balanced. We got creative looking for places to hold our jar while you paint. And have a doodle drawn out on paper to guide you before you start so you're not wasting any time thinking of your design. As for the wire hanger, try a 22 gauge wire and pliers, once around the neck and one half circle for the hanger.


PS While at the Michael's we found these totally cute cards designed after patterns in the dollar sections ($1.50-ish for six) The clincher are the envelopes covered in the tissue pattern's shapes. We saw three different sets which I immediately bought. LIKE I NEED MORE STATIONARY!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Andy Musser

Photo by Jen and Chris Creed
Hey Friends!

I want to introduce you to a great artist and friend, Andy Musser. His whimsical style easily translates into illustration. Andy has done animation work for Yahoo, Microsoft and Xbox Live through Run Studios. He has even written his own children's book. In his free time plays the ukulele and has recorded an EP with his sister, Amy, who is a children's librarian and a friend of this blog.

This holiday season, I asked Andy if he had time between creating and showing his own work to do a little custom work for me and, boy, did he ever come through! I was lucky and very proud to present a really great piece of work to my fella for Valentine's Day of characters based on our nicknames for each other.

One of Andy's artist cards sits to the left of my gift
When did you decide that illustration was how to wanted to make your way in the world?
When I was growing up I drew a lot and was always building something crafty. I drew a lot of comics, made puppet shows, and wore sweat pants all the time; so not much has changed. My parents were very supportive of all my endeavors and made sure I always had a supply of paper, cardboard, toilet paper rolls...whatever I needed. In my teens, I started to get into computer animation and decided that is what I wanted to study in college. But once I was in school, I realized what interested me the most about animated films was the story and the pre-production art. When I boiled it down, I essentially wanted to make picture books. My school had an illustration program that allowed me to emphasize in Children's Book Illustration, so I really lucked out.

Tell us about your process, please.
My process varies from project to project, but I always start the same way. Since illustration is all about communicating an idea, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm trying to communicate and how to simplify it. Then I sketch as much as I can while imagining the most interesting way to show the idea. Research is essential and I try to view/experience as much as time will allow so that I can really understand my subject matter. Once I get a good idea of where I'm going with the project, I usually do several thumbnail sketches. From those thumbnails, I'll pick one and do a final sketch. In-between, I'll do a lot of little sketches to figure out how to draw elements and characters. When I'm painting, I always do small color sketches to quickly brainstorm good combinations. If I've done all this preliminary work right, then the final illustration gets completed relatively quickly. Since I've already made all the hard decisions, it's more a matter of putting the paint down and putting in the details. 

What is your favorite part of a project?
Because I'm a very lazy person, I'd have to say the very beginning and the very end. At the beginning, it's fun because there aren't any constraints yet and I get to daydream and draw all sorts of crazy ideas. The very end is fun because all the hard work has been done and I can just focus on making the final illustration. 

What do you like to snack on when you work?
Oh man, I love to snack when I work! Right now, I'm really into tea and brownies, it's the best combo!

What is your proudest achievement so far?
The other day some kids asked me to draw a cyclops pig-boy! I'm pretty proud of that.

How do you break through creative blocks?
Usually by taking breaks and doing something completely different. That can be the hardest thing to do, especially on a deadline, but I've learned that you can't break a creative block by beating your head against it. Also, having a hobby, job, or regular activity that gives me inspiration and new ideas is really important.

What are you working now?
As a personal project, I'm working a wordless picture book. It's about a boy waiting for a seed to grow and the magical characters that visit his garden at night. I'm really excited about it and I'm looking for the best way to share it with people. 

I've also started volunteering at the 826 Greenwood Space Travel SupplyCo., a really cool non-profit writing and tutoring center for kids 6-18. I've been helping with this program where a classroom of kids get to write a short children's book together. I'm part of a big crew of volunteers, some days I work as the illustrator and I draw whatever kooky ideas the kids come up with. That is where I drew the cyclops pig-boy. The kids were asked to come up with characters and one boy just threw that down. It was awesome! I also help them write their endings and draw illustrations. It's so great to get to talk with kids about time traveling dinosaurs and cyclops pig-boys. They come up with the best ideas. 

If you live in the Seattle area, go see his current show at Monster Art and Clothing, like him on Facebook, join him on Google, and follow him on his blog!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

Hey Costumed Crafters,

For Cinco de Mayo why don't you take a look at my tutorial to make your own Flower Headband. I know I'll be dusting off this festive head wear for the day!