Inspired by Woodcarving

Carved Dino

A few days ago, Milla over at The Girl Who Married a Bear announced that her husband is apprenticing with a maker of carving tools and will eventually take on the business. I checked out the website for his company, Kestrel Tool, and it sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole looking up information on wood carving. I haven’t really done any, but have always wanted to look into it. This little dinosaur was a primitive attempt I made many years ago. I cut the shape out on my uncle’s band saw as a prototype for a toy I made for my first nephew. The one I made for him was not carved, just stained. Since this one wasn’t intended for anyone, I experimented a little with carving the edges to round them a bit, but I didn’t have the tools or instruction at the time to go further.

Carved Dino

Now, the last thing I need is yet another hobby, and yet, I can’t help but searching out information and tutorials, and thinking, well, it doesn’t really take much equipment… just a couple of knives and a thumb and finger guard. If I carve small things, it could all fit in a cigar box!

I’m doomed.

I might as well take you with me.

Some of the things that make me want to carve:

Steve Tomashek’s Miniature Menagerie:

Beginner Woodcarving – Basic Cuts:

Geninne’s carved spoons. (Two different links there)

Bookhou’s instagram videos of spoon carving. (Two different links there, too)

I think I will have to pick up a small straight knife and a hook knife and carve myself some tea scoops, spoons, and probably a new dinosaur soon!

March Artsnacks Unboxing & Review

March ArtSnacks

I received the March ArtSnacks box in the mail today! This is the third month I have been a subscriber, and I have been enjoying it so far. I put together a quick little unboxing video as I opened it up (I wanted to experiment with shooting a video from my own point of view):

And here is a quick sketchbook page where I tried them out!

March ArtSnacks Sketchbook

The items themselves were:

1. Aristo 3Fit Mechanical Pencil

I think I have mentioned previously that I have gotten out of the habit of using graphite pencil lead for drawing, because of how it smudges, so I admit I eyed this skeptically at first. I have tons of cheap plastic mechanical pencils. This isn’t a cheap mechanical pencil. It’s nicely weighted – I thought it was a bit light at first, until I started the doodle in the lower right of the above page. The weight is all in the grip area, so it feels right. The eraser swivels out of the top with a turn of the area it’s in, so you can retract it when not in use to protect it, and swivel it up more as you use it – it’s a nice long eraser. I’m not sure how to add more lead when what it comes with (appears to be HB) is used up… I’ll have to Google that up. On the negative side, it came with a bar code sticker applied to it, but after fiddling a bit, I was able to peel it off.

2. M. Graham & Co. Artists’ Gouache

I tried gouache awhile back, and didn’t like it, but I’ve been wanting to give it another try, so I am happy about this. This seems much better than the Turner Acryl Gouache I tried a couple of years ago. Less chalky, and more smooth. It spread nicely. I need to do some research on techniques using gouache before I pass final judgement though. The tube I received is raw sienna, which is pretty useful, though not exciting, but if I decide I like it, will definitely get used.

3. Connoisseur Protege Short Handle Premium Taklon Brush

A small round with a great point. The ferrule is one piece, no annoying seam to gather crap, firmly seated, no wobbling. The handle was a bit dirty, but it cleaned up. Worked well with the gouache, I can’t wait to try it with some watercolor. I am very glad it it taklon (nylon) rather than an animal derived brush.

4. General’s Charcoal White

I’m going to have to research this. My brain is refusing to believe that this can be charcoal. Charcoal = burned = carbon, and I don’t know how you can have carbon without blackness! Whatever this black white magic, it worked nicely over a layer of the gouache, and I’m looking forward to playing with it over a page painted with black gesso. It loses its point quickly, but it actually works, unlike the Cretacolor white pastel pencils I once tried!

All said, I’m happy with my third ArtSnacks box, and will continue my subscription. I originally told myself I would try it for 3 months and go from there. The first month was all right, the second gave me the fantastic Cocoiro letter pen. And this month gave me things I am happy with – at least initially – now.

The subscription is $20 a month in the US. Some people judge it by whether the contents of the box could be bought for the $20, but I don’t. This box and the last may or may not be worth $20 retail, but I am getting new toys to play with that have been curated by someone, and I’ve been getting things that I would not have necessarily found on my own. In the case of the Cocoiro pen from last month, I’ve already purchased a spare black superfine nib refill to keep at the ready and two more pen bodies and refills for those – one brush pen and one grey superfine nib. This is definitely worth it for me.


Winter comes back

I spoke too soon about Spring, it seems. See this:

winter comes back

I pity the poor blossoming trees! It was alternating between rain, sleet, and ice pellets during the day. I am afraid that if it does start snowing tonight, it will just hide the layer of ice under it.

As a result of the weather, we’ve mostly had a lazy day today. After a small adventure in the sleet returning a van we rented yesterday to haul away some things, I alternated between making plans for blog improvement, playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and spinning fiber into yarn. Mugs of hot cocoa with caramel syrup are warming hubbylove and my insides.

Winter Spinning

Spring can’t be held back though, and she’s a fighter. It’s supposed to be back up to 61F by Thursday. I think my internal clock knows it’s on it’s way – I’m positively itching to clean things up and get ready for it.

Stay warm and dry!

Spring is busting out all over!

At least, it’s busting out here in North Texas. I started seeing leaf buds this week, and the dogwoods, Bradford pears, and redbuds are in various stages of budding and a few are full on flowering.

Spring is busting out!

The temperature is still yo-yoing up and down – it was up to 70 a few days ago; right now it’s 39 with a high of 57 today. I get tired of the cold, but in just a couple of months I will be tired of the oppressive heat, so I try to take it all in stride. It’s nice to see the green starting to replace the brown of our winter, though!


My New Blog Planner

blog planner

A while back I found a free blog planner printable from Wild Olive. I printed one out and used it for awhile – effectively, but I petered out after a bit. But I want to get back up on the blogging horse, so I printed out some new pages and put together a new one. I put mine together a little differently than she does.

Here’s mine, with one of my journals behind it. Check out the cute Captain Mal sticker my friend Robin gave me! :)

The pages get printed in landscape mode, a week across one side of an 8.5×11 page. The way Wild Olive assembles her planner is by cutting the pages apart and spiral binding it. I have a Zutter Bind-It-All, but I wanted a thinner journal for a few reasons. Spirals tend to snagĀ  on stuff in my purse, the Bind-It-All is kind of a production to use (I always have to think hard and plan out what I’m doing), and honestly, I like the feeling of accomplishment in finishing a journal up and lining it up on a shelf. So thinner books that fill up more quickly are fun!

inside pages of planner

Here is the inside of my planner. I printed out 6 pages, double sided, and 1 single sided. That gives me 13 weeks – 1 quarter of the year. The page that was printed only on one side went on the bottom of the stack so that the pages facing the covers are blank. The cover is dark blue card stock. I stapled the booklet 3 times with my long-arm stapler, trimmed the pages peeking out from the cover and rounded the corners with my Crop-A-Dile Corner Chomper using the 1/2″ side.

The front cover is decorated with a strip of washi tape and Dymo embossed labels. I think I might add an envelope to the inside of the back cover like blogger Allison at Little Lovelies, to store little things that I might need.

I’m glad Wild Olive made this available, and hopefully I will use it to keep blogging more regularly!

[Music Monday] Follow Your Arrow

I’m trying to figure out what my arrow is these days. Big changes all around. I was taking music lessons, but my teacher quit the company I was going through. We are thinking of moving to a new house closer to the husbeast’s work. Art, music, writing, moving – so much to plan and do; meanwhile I am trying to kick my own butt into taking better care of our current house, so that it’s a nicer home if we decide to stay and more attractive to buyers if we decide to sell.

Lots of paths diverging. I need to draw myself a new map. :)

How do t-shirts get made?

Planet Money T-Shirt by taestell on Flickr.

Planet Money T-Shirt by taestell on Flickr.

Last year, Planet Money, who does economics stories for All Things Considered, Morning Edition and This American Life did a series about how t-shirts are made by making a t-shirt themselves. They financed it through Kickstarter, and then shared how it was made through radio episodes, a web site, and a Tumblr blog.

It’s a fascinating look at how our clothing is made – from growing the cotton, spinning the yarn, knitting the fabric, dying the fabric, cutting out and sewing the shirts, and shipping them – and who makes it, as well.

It’s a really interesting look at the garment industry and really gave me new things to think about in my ethical clothing project.

An update on that – I did acquire some new clothing. Not long after I posted “Project 333 – kicked up a notch… ” I ripped my favorite skirt. It wasn’t even a nice, fixable rip. No, this was a middle-of-the-front-rip in a skirt that a I realized had gotten really fragile. My skirt didn’t start its life as a skirt, actually. It was originally a sundress with a smocked elastic bodice, made like a tube top, with straps and a 3 tiered skirt. I got it at least 10 years ago, maybe longer. I think I got it at Wal-Mart, and I stopped shopping there that long ago or longer. When I gained quite a bit of wait, it no longer looked good as a dress, but I had worn it as a skirt a couple of times, and the tail of my shirt covered the bodice. So I had cut off the straps, and just turned it into a skirt. It became one of my most-worn garments, alternating between it and my jeans. But it had become very thin and delicate. It’s time to retire it.

I decided to look for a skirt to replace it, as well as a spare pair of jeans. My one pair fits pretty well, but I worry if I rip or stain them badly since I don’t have a “spare” pair. So I set off for a local thrift store last Saturday. I found a pair of jeans, a yellow tiered skirt remarkably similar my blue one, and an extra – a long denim skirt. I had wanted a denim skirt for a while so I impulsively got this one. After wearing it to work and home one day, I regret it – it is difficult to walk in. So I will donate it back. The 3 items cost me a total of 13 dollars. The skirt still had its original tag on it.

I also bought one new item – a t-shirt, from tea company Andrews & Dunham. I have lost a lot of weight in the last year, and the shirts I have from before then are increasingly baggy. I can’t resist the combination of tea and skulls. I wrote to the company and asked about its making. They got back with me quickly to say the shirt itself was made by a WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) certified company and printed in the US. I decided to go ahead and order one. I will be donating one of my overly baggy shirts. I need to look further into WRAP, to make sure they do what they say they do and how. I definitely could have waited longer on this impulse, but I was ordering tea at the same time, so I went ahead and ordered it.

I also pulled the one long-sleeve shirt I had in my donation pile back out – the weather has been crazy cold. So I am up from my 33 items at not quite halfway through this quarter. Once the temperature stabilizes a bit, I will get it back down.

So that’s the state of the project at the moment. Is it bad to admit that I kind of wish I could find one of those Planet Money shirts at a thrift shop?