Crafting while Sheltering in place

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4A

I’ve been working from home since New York was ordered to shelter in place. The first few weeks were totally chaotic as we all adjusted to the new set up, although I was grateful that I could do my job from home. It eventually eased up as we got used to the constraints and nuances of doing what we do now.

Most people would think that this would have given me time to work on my crafts this whole time — but the truth of it is, the pressures of the prevailing situation in New York, plus work and life itself has prevented me from doing as much as I would want.

One thing I’ve been doing a bit of is organizing my craft supplies and destashing. I had purchased acrylic paint to work with, but decided to send them home to my niece who is studying to be a graphic artist in a university back home. I told her to create som magic with it as I know she will. I’ve also been organizing my craft bins. I started with the ribbons and have reorganized the boxes. Next step is to actually cut swatches and tape them to one side of the box so I don’t have to open each box when I’m looking for something in particular.

My masks are a continuing project. I rushed to finish two sets to send home in the balikabyan boxes that made their way home by sea to Manila just this past week. I have a draft post about what I’ve been doing and have been learning in the process. I have been “testing” the different fabric combinations and patterns I have sewn — and I’ve come up with a few favorites. Being able to walk comfortably in the summer heat while wearing them is of prime importance to me — and I’ve come to identify the patterns that work best. The trickiest part has been deciding what to use for the elastic tie around the ears. I currently have three options, and I’ve been testing what works best for me.

Craft Updates at Gothamchick.com

We are just ending the Fourth of July weekend, and again, while you would think that I would’ve had all the time in the world to craft, I chose instead to just chill.

Sometimes we need a break to get the creative juices flowing.

I’ve been sewing shorts (now on my third pair), and still hoping to slash and grade this popular dress pattern I bought online. And then there’s the never ending task of trying to part with fabric scraps that are otherwise piling up around me. I really ought to get better at this before I am totally overwhelmed. Just like I do with paper, there is that thought at the back of my mind that this or that piece, no matter how small, might come in handy sometime. And then they just accumulate.

Just to keep up, I’ve attempted a short post in my art journal every now and then, and I’ve kept that project going.

Craft Updates at Gothamchick.com

I have also been baking a lot, although I’ve put the brakes on that the last week, as I resolved to get dieting and exercising before I gained any more weight. After peaking at what has been my heaviest in the last 6-7 years, a weight I usually hit after the annual trips to Manila, I stopped eating all the bad stuff and have lost 5 of the 10 lbs I’ve gained. In the past week. No ice cream or chocolate and I haven’t really had bread. Not bad.

Craft Updates at Gothamchick.com

And I’ve started a new habit of walking outside — chalking up at least 5,000 steps, with 10,000 being the goal.

I am being good. I have been doing new things. And in my own way, I’ve been crafting.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I will try and do the creating part of it more systematically. I haven’t quite lived up to the ideal of creating one piece to post on Etsy, and I really have to get that going with the traffic I’ve been getting. Despite the absence of real effort on my part to post new items, I’ve been getting more than the usual traffic this past few days.

And I might yet get this corner of my web presence going again. Fingers crossed.

Not quite crafty these days

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4A

I’ve been working from home for over a month now, and I get why people seem to think I would’ve had more time to do crafts because I’ve been home. I’ve actually really been on a crafting drought the last couple of weeks.

Save for the crocheted necklace I attempted (first ever completed!) a few weeks back, I haven’t picked up my tools except to re-string a rosary style necklace of gorgeous pink agate beads. That is almost done and has been set aside.

I’ve been meaning to make a piece a week — and I think I have to pressure myself into creating more. It’s just that life has been a bit stressful at work — what with the adjustment of doing everything from home.

It also hasn’t helped that I’ve found myself mildly obsessed with sewing masks.

I’ve always been the first to admit I am a novice sewist or seamstress. I’m banking on my crafty inclinations to get me through, and despite several tries, I haven’t quite gotten the fit and the pattern that would work for me. I am still trying.

A few weeks back, I published the photo below in my Instagram account. Taking the cue from some experts on the best material to use, this one used a 200 count bed sheet cover. I normally don’t use those and had set this one aside to convert into pillow cases, but I used it instead for this two layer mask cover. I fashioned ear elastic from another project I had been using. I managed to put in some 22 gauge wire folded and it twice and it seemed to hold.Attempts at making a face mask

The mask proved to be a bit wonky on the sides so I added a flap. Still didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to so I am experimenting on how to make a better fitting mask. I am working on this and another pattern. I’d like to be able to produce enough for me to use when we return to work — as I am sure it will be a requirement to wear them, and it would be a good preventive measure, no matter how minuscule an effort it may be against the virus we are all fighting. (I will write a post on the resources for this shortly.)

I have also been slowly working towards contributing to a nationwide effort to provide face mask covers for our front liners. There’s a website online, sewingforlives.com , that provides for a pattern as requested, connecting seamstresses or anyone who wants to donate with requesting agencies/institutions.

Again, the novice that I am when it comes to sewing, I’m taking a little longer creating the straps to go with the mask itself. I am getting there. It’s just a little tough being productive when I work during the day during the week, and I can really work on this only at night. But I am getting there. Even just 10 or 20 would be a big deal of a contribution for me.

At the start of this whole stay-at-home deal, I worked on my art journal. After creating several sections ready for my entries, I’ve sort of taken a break. I haven’t necessarily set it aside — I’m just taking a pause. I am looking to resume that this week.

Creating has always been a source of relaxation and release for me. Having found my rhythm again, I’m hoping to do more before we find ourselves back or close to picking up from where we left off. I guess the stress has just gotten the better of me, stifling my creativity. Hopefully, the coming weeks will see something different come out from all of this.

The “How” of Journaling

So excited to be working on my art journal!

And although it’s not just straight cutting and pasting for me, I find it a very relaxing exercise to actually piece together my layouts. Now, this is just how I do it. I am a strong believer in everyone having their own style in terms of journaling and every other craft. Even in make up. What works for one might not necessarily work for another – and that doesn’t mean that one method is better or one method is wrong and the other is right. Like they say, different strokes for different folks.

My first attempt at art journaling was a hodge podge of pages. Then I tried a composition notebook. It didn’t quite work out for me because you can’t really paint on that thin a sheet. Secondly, pasting layouts was a little cumbersome and made the notebook itself misshapen.

Then I heard about altered books. I picked one of the discarded books from my boss’s library, a business book that was a recent print. That was my first mistake. The newer publications, apparently, are now glued together and not sewn the old fashioned way. A third of the way through the book, it started to fall apart on me. My remedy was to actually put masking tape between pages – more so where I was either painting the entire layout (Which was most of the book), or where I needed to insert more than one sheet. (I will attempt to pull together a video to show how that book turned out.)

When I decided to “end” that book, I was at a loss for the medium of my next journal. Sketchbook? Plain journal? Discarded notebook? I still need to rebind the book but it was quite a fulfilling project and I wanted to do even better with the next one.

I actually started putting together discarded manila folders I had cut to size, but when I tried to “bind” pages together, It was turning out to be a little heavy. I wanted something that I could bring with me as I worked on it without having to carry a tome. That’s how I came upon the decision to piece together portions of the book as I went along, and then compile them all into a book when the time was right. (That means either when the year is over, or when the book is thick enough – whichever comes first.)

I wanted to be able to spend my lunch hour in some quiet corner just working on an entry. It was important to me that the journal was easy to take along. A junque journal seemed a good idea – but I still had to have a base-size. I had lots of paper choices, and I decided I would use some upcycled file tab dividers which I had cut to 7×11. (Had to trim off the tabs, and the side where the holes were.) I wasn’t planning on using these pages throughout, but I was pegging my book on that size. I could easily pull together writing pads, laid paper, manila folders, or any cardstock. As long as it came out to a 14×11 layout. The paperstock wasn’t too thin and not too heavy. More importantly, I could draw on it with a signpen and there was no bleed to the other side. I also think this paper is thick enough to absorb a good coating of acrylic paint and even watercolor if I choose to use it.

I connected the pages with another page folded in half. I could have kept the “connecting page” smaller, but I wanted the “thickening” to be well distributed.

It may seem like a lot of work, but I am quite happy with the choice and it’s really working out. I’ve event started working on a multi-page cut out spread where I’m using cardstock.

Untitled

It doesn’t really take much effort. 15-20 minutes a day is a good minimum. I don’t confine myself to doing a layout a day – I think that’s too much pressure for an activity that should be relaxing. Sometimes I get stuck on a layout and that’s just fine. And there are other times I find myself working on several layouts at the same time. For now, I’m happy that it’s taking shape. If it goes on in stops and starts, I’m fine with that. As long as I keep it and pick it up again eventually. And this time, I mean to.

Related Post: The “Why” of Journaling

My Art Journal 2017

I began this art journal project arpund 2012, I believe.  I am a fan of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and her work, and she had this Art Journal Everyday project I joined at the start of my own art journaling journey.  I had done two false starts with loose pages until I finally decided on an altered book.

An altered book as an art journal is basically a book that you change up and use as your journal.  I happily jumped into converting or altering this business book which was one of several copies at work.  I didn’t realize that the choice wasn’t only about the size and the paper (do not pick glossy pages!), but the binding at the spine was a very important consideration as well.

Because I mostly painted my layouts using very wet methods, the spine gave out several times and I eventually reinforced the binding with masking tape for most of the layouts.  That’s what a glued hard  bound book is wont to do, and I found out halfway through the book that I was supposed to look for older ones which were sewn and then bound.  Too late, so I worked around it.

My Altered Book: Title Page: A HAPPY LIFE

I would paint the background pages ahead, and have had so much fun creating multi page layouts with cut out windows or letters.  Creating the backgrounds and journal pages was half the fun — the other was when I actually did the journal entries.  I lettered and wrote as I would in a regular journal.  The big difference was the theme of “happy” and “happiness” emblazoned on the pages, and quotes I had picked up from the web as sources of inspiration.  This first book I entitled “A Happy Life.”
My Art Jpurnal so far
Art journaling has been very therapeutic for me, and while I fell out of the “Art Journal Every Day” pace, I continued my art journaling off and on for the first two years after.  On the third year, I became preoccupied with other things and actually managed to lose my journal which I hid too well.  After I found it earlier this year, I continued the remaining layouts and am about to wind down to the last pages.   Although there are blank pages left for me to journal through, I’ve made up my mind to begin a new journal to mark my 51st birthday this April.

My Art Jpurnal so far

This time around, I’m making the journal itself and I’m hoping it will be an even more meaningful journey moving forward.

Our offices are moving from building to building, and mostly into smaller space.  As a result, we have been purging and digitizing files to make our office record keeping more efficient.  A previous boss also retired which meant going through a mountain of files pertaining to his tenure.  All those used Manila folders gave me an idea.  I was going to repurpose them into my next art journal.

The first question was what size would I cut the folders into.  I already knew the tabs would have to go, and the spine as well.  I didn’t want those embossed lines..  While others may find an appeal in just binding the folders together as is like they do with junque journals,  I wanted to make sure I didn’t make the mistake of having my journal pages fall apart on me like the first.  I also wanted a smooth surface so that meant the crimp or creases at the fold would have to be cut out.  I thought 7″ x 10″ would be good, resulting in a 10″ x 14″ spread.

The second consideration was how was I going to bind it. Do I sew the pages together? (But I didn’t want to have the paint seeping through to other pages..) Ring bind them?   This was problematic because I usually did two-page layouts.  So I thought I’d try and tape the pages together.

I’ve started with a small batch and am working on seeing how the painting affects the binding.  If this turns out as something that can work, I will make a video and post how I bound my card stock thick folder pages together.  All I used was a roll of masking tape you can easily buy from the dollar store.  It was more about figuring out a way to bind the pages the way I wanted the finished book to be.  After tweaking the taping of the pages, I’m thinking this might actually work.  I’m really excited.

As I get to the last few layouts of my first art journal, I’m thinking of doing a flip through video to go through the book.  Yes, the whole book.  The second will be very different in that I now want to use more pictures to decorate my pages.  Maybe I will use printed backgrounds as well instead of painting through all of them.  I know my journaling style has changed.  My first entries will be the previous year’s summary and then I move on to 2017.

My Art Jpurnal so farI want to use more of the pictures I take and include them in my art journal as well.  
Just a few minutes a day– and I have taken to doing several days’ entries in one spread.  Sometimes I just put in a word or two — something to remind me of what I did on that day.  At times a day will spread on to the next.  I don’t have too many rules with my art journaling.  It comes when it comes. 

Crafting Haitus

So I fearlessly proclaimed (more than) a month ago that I was back, and then there was silence.  Yet again.  I am the first one to be totally disappointed that the next post comes so long after the much-vaunted return (of the come back like we joke around back home in Manila) which  never really happened.

Another false start?  Perhaps.  But there is much to write about because I think I’m getting my fourth wind this year.  I haven’t quite given up even if it appears it’s such a struggle to keep this corner of my web presence going.   (Plus, I have the domain name and I will NOT let this domain name go dormant yet again.)

I have been crafting that I have not been.  There are a bunch of half-finished projects and work in progress that have been momentarily stalled by other more pressing concerns like life catching up on me.  (Excuses, excuses, I know!)  The past 4 weeks have been very interesting and have forced me to redefine my direction, but I have decided to continue with the projects already in the works, one at a time.

First, I’m sad to report the loss of my iPhone mid-October, and although the iPhone was a business gadget, losing it meant losing 5,000 photos that weren’t on my cloud.   The iPhone was replaced (sans an upgrade =(..) but the pictures are forever gone.  All save for the 300 or so on my Instagram account (GothamChick) and the ones that landed on Flickr (where I am as Pinay New Yorker).

One of the sets lost contained snapshots of my  of my altered book.  I had managed to take pictures of the backgrounds that were already finished so that I could do a “before and after” shot.  The good news is that one thing I haven’t stopped or slowed down totally on is my altered book and my art journaling.  I’ve mostly concentrated on word art or lettering, compressing entries into simple phrases or single sentences.

I’ve also started working on a multi-page layout with windows, painting a varied mix of backgrounds with only the cut out window as the unifying theme.

Work in Progress: my altered book

The word art at the end of the set is slowly revealed per layout, giving me flexibility to work around it and play around the reveal.
Work in Progress: my altered book

It’s a long way towards the end of the book so it will be a while before I actually start journaling on it.

In the meantime, I’m approaching a multi-page layout I had done sometime last year, and I am really excited to start journaling on this spread.  It took some crafty cutting to get the letters down, and when I did, I had to do some patchwork.
Work in Progress: my altered book
What is most striking to me is the difference between my perspective on “happiness” at the time I created the multi-page layout and now that I’m getting ready to fill the altered pages with journaling.  But that’s a totally separate blog post in the works altogether.

I am hoping to get back to polymer clay again but I can’t find the handle of my pasta machine.  (Duh!)  It happens.  I am trying to find it, and it’s probably stuck between boxes on the floor or in one of my bins.  (Give me a break, it IS a detachable part of the contraption although it is also an indispensible part of it.)  With the holidays fast approaching, I want to create more pieces this November, more so since it’s one holiday month I am not going to close the shop for a vacation.  (Did that in 2011 and 2013.)

My Thank You Postcard Project is back on track and will be up before the month is done.  (Sending out prototype postcards soon.)

So while I am not starting any new projects soon, I’m picking up the ones I managed to get off the ground in recent months.  I am happy that no matter what distractions have come my way, I never totally shelved any of these undertakings, just setting them aside in the meantime until I can pick them up again.

This time, I mean it — I AM BACK.. and I’m already drafting the next post to prove that.

 

Here we go again..I’m back!

Antique book pages, spray ink and postcards.. #papercrafts  #postcards #sprayink #inkspray #papercrafts #color #personalartI didn’t realize that the months had slipped by (yet again) and my last post here was July.  It hits me harder just as I had vowed a couple of months back to be more vigilant about posting here and keeping this blog alive.

I’ve been busy, but I have not really had the chance to post much to report on the things I’ve been up to.  There is THE THANK YOU POSTCARD PROJECT  that has required a lot of background creation, lettering and paper crafting in general which has been taking shape as I work on it.  I haven’t gone too far in documenting my progress there either.

I have been enjoying experimenting and working with Polymer Clay.  I’m halfway through assembling pieces and hope to complete something this weekend.

The summer has come and gone and I feel like I’ve had a good start trying to get back into the swing of things.  The shop is officially open again and I’m not just relisting but creating pieces to sell.  I’m trying to work with the supplies I have and explore new methods like working with wire and creating more than assembling components.

The graphic above is a set of vintage paper collage postcards I sprayed with ink.  My papercrafting has been confined mainly to these postcards and my altered book.  It has taken a life of its own as my diary / journal and it’s progressing quite nicely.  It keeps me tethered to an evolving project.  I’m continuing to make background pages and here’s the latest update on my Art Journal.

Creating has always been a means of coping for me.  It goads me to move where sometimes just being or vegetating is a very tempting option.  I can’t give in.  I am reminded that there is so much more going on in life.

This year, I plan to start pulling together Bead Store Tours but I am saddened that one of the stores I like in Manhattan has just closed shop.  (As of this writing, they are currently trying to get rid of what’s left of their inventory.)  I had taken a friend around one time and she said I would do well to make money of doing this for people who are visiting NYC.  It gives me an excuse to go around my favorite shops beyond shopping or browsing.

But first I must start my store reviews here.  That is yet another plan no the drawing board.

I am back.

Things I have been up to

The previous week(s) have been rather busy but I’ve been trying to get things done on the creative front.  The will is there, but there are days when I am too exhausted or just need to skip the creative time altogether.  I know I must find the time, even just a few minutes each day, but not everything I want to do can be done with the snap of a finger.

But the point is, I’m trying.  It has given me a sense of accomplishment somehow.  It’s a concrete sign of being able to move forward, no matter how slow it may be.

The good news is that I  have been successful in keeping my art journal up to date, and as I’m writing this and trying to make some chicken salad of some leftover KFC, I am also working on some backgrounds that need “gesso”-ing. But more importantly, I’ve managed to scribble something rather regularly even if not literally every day.

My gesso is a little old so I’m thinning it with water. The idea is to cover the back of the layouts below because the black ink of the text and the color shadings had seeped into the back of the next page. I was initially thinking of covering it with chalkboard black paint, but I nixed that for gesso first. I still might do the background in all black — but I’m having second thoughts right now.

My first attempts at using gesso were rather a disappointment, and I realize now that it’s probably because I used too much of the gesso.  I like it when it’s applied a little thinner btu still enough to be opaque.

I’ve also been trying to create accessories again, this time trying my hand at wire-wrapping. I’ve found a lot of inspiration online and am trying to learn from the various tutorials available on YouTube, while trying to create my own way of getting things done. My first attempt after several yards of wasted wire is below. It’s a work in progress literally but I like the way this came about. I need to watch more videos.

The shop is beginning to get populated again little by little.  Slow traffic but I know I have to keep posting to bring the people in.  Even this little corner of mine isn’t exactly bustling with reader traffic but I’m telling myself it’ll come if I finally come around to devoting enough time to it.  Then I quickly remind myself that I have to accept that there is only so much that I can do.  A day at a time…

Work in Progress: Art Journal Every Day

Journal backgrounds

I’ve been working on add-ons to my altered book as part of my Art Journal Every Day project.  I picked up some discarded Filofax grid pages (remember that time that we didn’t have PDAs to get us organized and we actually had physical notebook planners?) and some rolodex blanks (another item practically rendered obsolete by technolody) and spray painted them.

Journal backgrounds

As you can see, I had a whole lot of fun working with my four ink sprays and a small water spritzer. (I bought one of those travel kits from the dollar store and had a handy fine mister for cologne in the set which I used for the water..)  I like the way the water plays with the sprayed ink and then makes it into something totally fantastic! I will use these sheets as journaling blocks which I will paste on the. Relic painted pages.

Of course I know I should’ve taken a picture before I started journaling on the page but I’m holding off on showing the journaled page until I can find an acceptable smudging app or software.

Meanwhile, below is another multi-page layout I’m doing of the lyrics of a favorite song of mine, “Your Heart Today”.  More coming as it progresses…

Work in progress: Art Journal Every Day

Materials used: