Pen and watercolor illustrations for my next Blurb project.
The beauty of the software from the folks at Blurb is that you don’t have to know how to write code, or even have a background in layout design, to join in the immediate gratification of bookmaking. My experience with print production goes back to my early twenties, when I learned how to set type on keyboards that evolved into desktop publishing computers. Bottom line, I love typography and I love the process of assembling images and words into books. Eating Clean was my first formal bookmaking project, but that was in 2002, before the wide popularity of print-on-demand, not to mention digital book formats. There are no wholesale rates for the books made on Blurb, but if you’re not interested in the expense of inventory and relinquishing storage space to boxes of books-that-are-yet-unsold, the 1-by-1 pricing might just work for you. For now, that suits me just fine. I can keep playing and doing, which is where the joy in POD is for me. Have you tried an online POD bookmaking service? Love to hear about it and hear your thoughts.
I took a stand yesterday. It wasn’t comfortable but it was necessary. Patty Perfect — that would be my very lively inner critic — was harping in my mind’s ear, but instead of giving in, I ignored her. In a single bold move to rescue my gasping-for-breath creativity, I barred myself from logging in to work-related email and gave myself the gift of time. What to do? Play with the oh-so-fun online bookmaking application, blurb, and my collection of Nantucket Island photos.
I love writing, drawing or doodling on graph paper, so this was my paper of choice for the notebook’s blank pages. Eighteen summertime captures of favorite island nooks and krannies are staggered throughout 104 pages.
Time evaporated as eight hours flew by. Bliss reigned; I reviewed dozens of photo files, cropped, and tested selections. Utterly joyful.
The learning curve for Blurb’s bookmaking software is fairly easy to overcome. There are lots of formatting choices: ebook, softcover, hardcover, hardcover with wrapped image book jacket. The menu of sizes has something for everyone. Curious? Click the graphic above and browse the results of my day.
1. zig zags and dots, 2. Anthony Hat, 3. knitting dots , 4. hope, 5. Pedigree Pooch, 6. wkshp_shawlette, 7. Blanket Squares, 8. Oceanic Hotel, Star Island, NH, 9. Windowsill in Bloom, 10. Benefits of Worm Castings as Fertilizer, 11. Photo Award Button 200×157, 12. Spring, 13. I made it within the deadline!, 14. Creamsicle Smoothie, 15. February Lady FRONT, 16. Friday afternoon, 17. Miniature Holiday Art display, 18. snowflakes in my window, 19. Miss Marple, 20. Snow flakes
Everyone’s talking about it: acknowledge the past year’s accomplishments before looking forward. Prevailing wisdom advises that writing ideas down facilitates bringing them to fruition. But for a look back, I began with a visual list. Nothing like a bit of photo fun with the mosaic tool over on BigHugeLabs. Here are a few crafty highlights from my year:
- an afternoon spent under the tutelage of professional photographer, Gale Zucker, during which she taught knitters about photographing fiber objects (photo #6)
- a winning entry in Southern New Hampshire’s 24-hour A Day in the Life photography contest (#11)
- a roaring good time as online voting took my quilted Spring Runner into the top tier (#13) of the sew-along challenge
- the inclusion of a brief memory narrative and accompanying photo in an upcoming book by friend and entrepreneur (#14)
- a terrifically successful birthday gift for my mother, a knitted dog (#5). Jacqueline Russell, as I named her, was delivered to the birthday girl with an authentic birth certificate, and I don’t think my mother has ever been so enthusiastic about one of my gifts. That feels like an accomplishment worth noting!
- Handmade Holiday gift-giving (#1-3) dominated my list this year, with hats, felted bags, and homemade cocoa mix with marshmallows; sadly, I never got around to photo’ing the Cocoa Kits.
My blog host, Word Press, surprised me with a summary of the year’s activity on “My Artful Life.” Thank you — for reading, subscribing, taking the time to comment, and being on the other end of my keyboard every time I click the ‘publish’ button. Here’s to another year — !
Nary a photo or word written in weeks. As rewarding as teaching is, I have yet to master the balance between work-work and personal work.
The holiday season drew me into a handmade mood, though. Thoughts of a holiday greeting had me scouting the internet for a mac- and pocketbook-friendly alternative to Photoshop or Illustrator, with layers, for image and text combining. The free option at Picnik gives generous — but limited — tools. I’ve been using this site for a while and have found it easy to navigate with enough font variety to keep me happy. (Yes, I am like a kid in a penny candy store when it comes to a list of font choices, and forget all the rules of design simplicity.) And who wouldn’t love Picnik’s little messages that accompany a page or image upload? “Mowing the grass” or “picking blueberries,” to name two.
Picnik’s upgrade ($24.95/year) gives access to all sorts of fun tools and effects. I had a ball making the collage above. With a vintage cherub from the Graphics Fairy as my base, I was off and running. Do you remember the thrill of a new box of Crayola crayons? All those colors to choose from? The smell of the wax? I can’t say digital collage is a tactile experience, but I like the immediacy of sharing the results online. And it feels like play. Here’s a short article on the stress-relieving benefits of play for adults. In fact, I had so much fun I decided to give the blog a new look with a fresh banner.
What are your strategies for work-life balance?
Mrs. R was a patient woman who coached me through five years of adult piano lessons. Sage quips rolled off her tongue, salve for my frustration and disappointment. It was her notion that “there is a season for everything” that had the strongest stick-value, and I hope she would be flattered to know that I have since passed it on many times over.
Julia Cameron talks about the benefit of repetitive, mindless activity, in that it seems to invite creative percolation. Without effort, ideas just show up. It’s like a brainstorming party — for 1. My notable moments of cerebral luminescence seem to come while I am either driving (alone) or working out at the gym.
Last week’s commute was 200 miles’ worth of ruminations over the loss of my muse. If this is a game of hide-and-seek, she’s won. But how to explain the abyss? There can be no other explanation than this is the season of teaching; I have yet to learn how to parcel out some, but not all, of my self. Sad, but true.
As I recuperated from three wisdom tooth extractions today, and followed doctor’s orders to rest, the luxury of unstructured time came to my rescue. An etsy.com shop reminded me how much I love vintage fashion, which led me back to the photo above: a corner of my craft room. Although I haven’t left the sofa in hours, I’m enjoying that ‘home at last’ feeling.
Anyone else out there have trouble managing their ‘best’ energy?
There’s a new gal in the blogosphere and I thought you might be interested in following her Year in the Studio. Her journey has just begun and I think it’s going to be a fun one, with some surprises along the way. She’s super talented, funny, and a dear friend. When you meet her, you’ll understand why I wanted to introduce you. Happy visiting!
Posted in 2011, Artist's Way, Crafts, Creativity, Friendship, Inspiration, Joy, Life Balance
Tagged kathleen gilday, Lowell, studio, Western Ave Studios