Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Drive Through Photography: Yale University Campus, March 2006 Part One

Drive Through Photography: Yale University Campus Part One

I am doing this in two parts because Blogger has been giving me error messages for days when I try to upload more photos than are already here.

Here are some of the results of my first "Drive Through Photography" experience. I took these photos in March 2006. I was going through a very busy time and a stressful time. I had just left Yale where I finally received the good news that "abnormalities" on my mammogram and breast ultrasound which had been tracked for two years were NORMAL breast tissue. I was so excited. I had a burst of creativity and got an idea. As my husband drove away from the doctor's office building I got an idea to stick the digital camera outside the window of the car and take random photos to see what would come out. Since there is a little delay in when I hit the button to take the photo, I never know what will come out. Also the fact that the camera is being stuck out the car's window doesn't guarantee and even or straight alignment.

So here are some images of the Yale University campus in New Haven, Connecticut as my husband and I drove down the streets of New Haven while we drove away from the doctor's office. It was raining lightly when I took these photos.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Only In America: Stupid Sock Creatures

Editor's Note: On 5/30/06 I am issuing a clarification and correction about the price of the Stupid Sock Creatures made by John Murphy. The body of my blog entry now contains more specific and correct fees and more information to underscore that I am happy that John Murphy's business is a success.

I was re-reading the art zine "Art and Life", edited by Teesha Moore.

In the article I read that John Murphy began a business--get this! Only in America can a person have such a wild idea and actually make money on it! In the beginning, a person would send him a sock, at their expense, and a $15 deposit, and he’d transform it into a stuffed ‘stupid sock creature’ and (after an additional fee was paid) he'd mail it back to them. What an idea!

I thought it sounded amazing and jumped online to see if I could find any images of these creatures. (These are basically a funky twist on sock monkeys.)

Fast forward to 2006, it costs $65 for a custom sock creature to be created now! Wow! The success of the business was not mentioned in the article. I am glad that John Murphy is making a business with his Stupid Sock Creatures. There are also some already-created creatures available for sale on his website that range in price from $49 to $59.

John Murphy has been so busy he has hired an assistant to help craft the creatures, named Ian Cameron Dennis. A book has been published to help anyone who wants to make these at home.

I admire this artist who is obviously also an entrepreneur. I bet if he had ever made a business plan and pitched this as a business, I bet no white-collared business people would ever have thought this would catch on and he would have failed to get a loan or whatever he may have asked for from ‘the business community’.

I am very happy that a profit is being turned in this business venture. John Murphy has contacted me by email to discuss his pricing and my blog entry. So I am updating it to be more clear about the prices.

I am a capitalist and I feel that prices should be what the market can bear. If enough people have the money to afford Stupid Sock Creatures then good for them. (I hope to have the money again someday to spend on fun and whimsical things like this.)

After looking at the crazy sock colors used to make some of the creatures (see the gallery) I was reminded of the wall of socks available at the dollar store and think they would make affordable materials for sock creatures.

John Murphy has published a book which tells all that we need to know to make these stupid sock creatures ourselves. There is a book called "Stupid Sock Creatures". I would like to buy this book and teach myself to make Stupid Sock Creatures.

There is also a kit with supplied and the book available to buy.

If this ever catches on to the mainstream, I can see it now, outsourcing to China and sock creatures being sold for $7 or less (compatible with Beanie Baby prices). The crazy thing is that I can imagine it now, now the businessmen would like to see the company’s history of sales and the marketability of these creatures and the notion of selling them for $65 each would make little cash registers go off in their heads (ka-ching!) and they’d give that loan out and start mass producing these in China. I can just see it now.

You have to check out the gallery! The gallery shows stupid sock creatures that are in stock and ready to be sold and shipped as well as containing photos of creatures who have already been adopted. Make sure to scroll down to see the thumbnail photos. Click on any photo and a larger image will pop up—it is better to see the detail, I think. I noticed that if the thumbnail was blank but a name was there, that if I clicked on it the large image pops up.

If I had the money I’d be a customer…that is the crazy thing. My husband would think I was nuts if I ever bought one of these. (He doesn’t get any kind of outsider art or alternative art anyway, oh well.)

I showed these stupid sock creatures to my children and they thought they were hilarious. I bet children would love to make these at home. Perhaps they would make a good sewing project for a beginning sewer (child or adult!). Hey, the book or book and kit would make a great birthday gift!

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Most Depressing Message on a Gravestone I've Ever Seen

I know some of you enjoy looking at old gravestones. At first glance this is quite beautiful and stunning.

This stone is in the St. Lawrence Cemetary on Route 34 in New Haven, Connecticut, which is next to Yale's baseball stadium and across the street from Yale Bowl.

It was the inscription that caught my husband's eye a few years ago; he never forgot it.

I can't believe an engraver would even agree to put such a depressing message on the stone. However, it is the American way: if you are willing to pay, you can have just about anything done for you. This mother passed away in the 1920s or 1930s so this is not a new stone, in case you were wondering.

I was saddened at the idea that the child or children felt so strongly about the death of their mother. I can only hope that time healed their wounds.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Two Asian Inspired ATCs

Here are two Asian inspired ATCs which I completed in April 2006.

ATC Title: What a nice day!

This collaged ATC was created using papers from a collage pack from the craft store. I used text from a book that teaches Chinese language which I purchased at a library fundraiser--used book sale. I used oil pastel crayon for further decoration. It is sealed with Golden Acrylic Soft Gel Medium in Gloss. Then I added a coin/token from a package of embelishments from the craft shop, which I adhered with Golden Acrylic Gel Medium in Matte.

This ATC has been traded out into an ATC Art Box.

ATC Title: Asian Flower

To make this collaged ATC, first I used watercolor paper and watercolor paint to make the background. The flower image and the Chinese text are from papers in a collage pack of papers from a craft shop. I added the border coloring and other decoration with oil pastel crayon. I sealed the card on the front and back with Golden Acrylic Soft Gel Medium in Gloss. I then added the Chines token or coin reproduction which is from a pack of embellishments from the craft shop.

I have traded out this ATC into an ATC art box.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rest In Peace: Sweetie July 10, 1995 - May 25, 2006

Our beloved cat Sweetie passed away today. Sweetie was the first pet I owned as an adult, the first (and only) pet that was "all mine" (rather than a pet my parents owned when I was a child).

It was exactly four weeks ago today that I noticed she was not acting right and realized she had stopped eating. At that time she was diagnosed with feline hypertrophic caridiomyopathy and was in acute congestive heart failure. The last month was spent providing her lots of medical care, helping hand feed her, researching the medical condition, figuring out what we could do to save her, and also getting over the shock that she was unwell and that she was in the process of dying.

Despite being glad that her suffering is over I am very sad and feeling the loss and as I write this I am getting upset all over again. My children are also upset, mostly my younger son, who was closer to her. So not only am I upset but we are dealing with the subject of death and grieving with our young children. Yet again I am experiencing the reminder that as a parent it is not just all about me, I have to rise up and handle the parenting of my children through this as well. (In my opinion this is how parenting our children forces us to not be selfish and it forces us to learn to put the needs of others above our own needs, and to do what we are responsible to do not just what we want to do or what we 'feel like' doing. We also learn to not procrastinate and avoid doing something that is unpleasant, sometimes we have just just 'do it' and 'deal with it'.)

My husband and children dug her grave this afternoon and we buried her promptly.

I have a homeschool support group meeting to lead tonight at my home. Life goes on. I should go sweep the floor and tidy up the living room now, I guess. I am torn between cancelling the meeting to be alone with my family to continue shedding tears or to welcome friendly homeschool moms into my home for fellowship, support, and laughter. I think it will be better for everyone concerned to go on with the meeting. Hopefully my spirits will be lifted and they will also get something positive from attending the meeting, so it will be a win/win situation all around.

Now you know why I've not taken the time to blog much about making art in this last month. I hope to get back to blogging on this blog and sharing scans of my ATCs with you soon.

I don't feel like writing much right now. So I will just stop now.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

New Fun Photography Thing I Am Doing

I came up with an idea. Probably someone else is doing this but I honestly didn't take the idea from anyone else and as of right now I have not heard of anyone else doing this. (My husband thinks I am weird for doing this.)

The idea came to me suddenly, on a day in March on my way home from seeing the breast surgeon at Yale. I had just found out that the 'abnormal' mammography and ultrasounds were normal and typical, and that I don't have Breast Cancer. Phew. I wanted to do something fun and spontaneous. As my husband was driving me away from the physician's office (at Yale) I decided to take my digital camera and stick it out of the window of the car and to snap a photo at random while the car was moving. I did this numerous times as we drove through the campus of Yale University to see what random shots would appear.

Since March I have done this a few times. It works best when I am a passenger. The shots also come out best when the window is rolled down. I have tried it a few times when driving but honestly I feel this can be hazardous and I don't recommend that you do it.

I will share some of my photos with you. I think I will call these "Drive Through Photography". Look for upcoming blog entries with photos!

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Our Unconventional Family Portrait

Here we are. This is our family.
From left to right: Dad, Younger Son, Mom (ChristineMM), Older Son.

Photo taken by ChristineMM at the Boston Museum of Science
on April 30, 2006.

My ATCs: French Ladies in Ball Gowns

My ATCs: French Ladies in Ball Gowns, hand drawn with Water Soluble Oil Pastel Crayons

A few weeks ago a person on a chat list shared where one can find water soluble oil pastel crayons. The Portfolio brand, set of 24 is at Staples (office supply store) for $9.65 in my area (and in other locations around the United States). Not a bad price so I bought a set the next time I was near a Staples store.

My reason for buying them was to use them to alter photographs with.

However my first test ended up bing to draw a picture. Using the technique that another ATC and ACEO artist I know uses (Lauri Jean Crowe), I started with the background as a page of text in a foreign language. I grabbed a book which is a play in French that I bought for under a quarter at a used book shop. It is printed on cheap paper with acid in it and the foxing has already begun (the browning edges on a page of a book is called foxing, this is where the paper is oxidizing). The book was actually starting to fall apart so those of you who hate to think of taking apart a book can stop cringing now.

There was a cover illustration on the book of ladies in ball gowns. Since I am not good at drawing I decided to try to imitate the style of the drawing on the cover, which was not highly detailed so it was perfect to use with these crayons.

I was thrilled to see how creamy the crayons were. The first one I drew with just the crayons. The second and third were sketched first with pencil then drawn over and colored in with the crayon.

I then used a wet paintbrush to blend the color. It was fast and fun!

I did this one night while my kids were getting ready for bed. This first step went very quickly.

I left these overnight to dry.

On day two I mounted the pages onto stronger ATC backs with Golden Acrylic Soft Gel Medium and left them to dry.

On day three, I cut the corners off using a die cutting gadget. I decided to leave them 'as is' and not to embellish them any further. I put a top coat of Golden Acrylic Soft Gel Medium in gloss on them and let that dry.

On day four, I put a label on the back with my name and then did a coating on the back.

I liked how these turned out.

I already swapped one out into one of the ATC art boxes in one of my Yahoo Groups!. The other two are still here and I need to decide if I will keep one or both. I also want to make more like these with the same style, more pages from the book, etc.

French Lady in Blue Ball Gown created April 2006

French Lady in Pink Ball Gown created April 2006

French Lady in Ball Gown created in April 2006

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Back to Making ATCs

I have had a horrible few weeks, sick children, me sick, then my cat. Things are leveling off. I have not had time to make ATCs. Then I got so stressed out that I stayed up late a couple of nights this week in order to destress by fooling around with art.

I have a bunch of different irons in the fire.

I am trying to make up more ATCs to fill to put into one of the 'art boxes'. I needed to put in 12 or 13 of my own ATCs.

I had started a Disney themed swap and had the ATCs half done then got creative block. I finished those up today and mailed them out today to the swap hostess.

I made up four goodie bags to give to hostesses of swaps. I decided to do some ahead of time which will make it easier when I need them to just grab one. I filled a little bag with pages torn from various books such as a book in French, a dictionary page, Peter Rabbit book, little game pieces, little silk flowers, a few game cards and various other little scraps of paper which I feel I have too much of around here.

I finished 8 ATCs which used Spanish text pages on them. I somehow thought the swap was 6/5. I went to mail them out and when I referenced the information about the swap to get the mailing adddress for the host I found out it is a 10/9 swap. Yikes. I then could not find the left over Spanish text pages so that I could make more ATCs with Spanish text to get these done in time for the deadline. I spent about an hour going through lots of ephemera that have built up and are in little boxes. I still can't find them. This is very odd.

I went through my box of partially finished ATCs which I got creative block on. I finished off a bunch of those. Those were all different including some being hand painted, some rubber stamped, some Citrasolv transfers, some packing tape transfers and some collages.

I took some with mistakes and cut out portions of it. I then mounted the smaller decorated paper onto a background paper so it looks like a little framed piece---it looks great! I saved the ruined ATC from the garbage pail and made something very nice looking, hooray!

This week I started and finished a mixed-media block collage which I then cut into 12 ATCs. Unfortuanately the orignal collage was larger than my scanner, so I had to do scanning in two parts. I am not sure if I can piece it together on the computer and have it look like a one-piece thing or not. I then cut these and finished them off by doing the labels, sealing, etc.

I also wrote out the labels for the backs of all of those that I finished this week, glued the label on, put a sealer coat of Golden Acrylic Soft Gel Medium in gloss on the front and the back and left those to dry. I then scanned all of them so they are ready to swap out.

I am waiting for three more sets of Poppet ATCs to arrive for the Poppet Swap I am hosting which was due on May 1, then I will swap those out.

More ATCs are rolling in for the mixed-media block swap that I am hosting and it has been fun to have those arrive.

I love getting little goodies from people as a hostess thank you gift. I have been taking those and using the papers as inspiration for new ATCs.

One person on a chat list had three man-face rubber stamps that she didn't want. I had asked if anyone knew of a vendor that sold man-face rubber stamps as I rarely see them. She sent those to me and today I put together about half the stuff that I am going to send her in return (ephemera and little game pieces).

I received a little bag some ephemera and game pieces from a person on a chat list who said she wanted to give it away to anyone who wanted it.

Another kind soul from a chat list (S.H.) who recently moved has decided to declutter her unwanted stuff. She has sent me four boxes so far, the last two came this week. There was a full box of Somerset Studio back issues, a box of a bunch of various other magazines about paper arts. One box was of ephemera and fancy papers. One box was full of craft supplies like paint and Blo Pens and paint pens and all kinds of other products that I have no idea how to use (yet).

So that is what I have been up to. You can imagine that between the stressful events that are going on and the time I have spent making art, that I have not taken the time to blog about all of it!

After my flurry of making ATCs and sending out the swaps that I am participating in, and sending out the swap that I am hosting, I will have time to sit here at the computer and upload images of all the ATCs that I have been making. Stay tuned.