Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Technorati Updated Their Site

Today when I visited Technorati.com to ping my blog I noticed they have updated their site.

Technorati is a service in which a person can search for blog entries by topic of interest. The entries are given with the most recent post at the top (just like a blog’s format!). If you want to read about homeschooling you can type in the keyword “homeschooling” and you will see a list of blog entries on this topic. As a reader of blogs you can find new blogs that you may not have known about.

I see today that now each blog has a ‘cloud’ which shows a list of words which appeared in recent blog entries on that blog.

For we bloggers, we can now use the ‘ping’ (update) button right on the front page of Technorati (more convenient).

The style of the information is all moved around and I think it appears much more clean and easier to read.

For each blog you can view the inbound links that were made to that blog.

There is also a little graph of the number of posts that were done each day in the last month.

If you are a blogger and want to increase traffic to your site, you should consider signing up for a free account at Technorati. By using the tags at the end of your blog post, Technorati will point users to your blog entry with the keywords (tags) of your choice. One of the reasons that I like Technorati is that I can see what blogs or websites are linking to MY blog and also I can have a link on my blog to that same information for my readers to view if they so desire. I also use the Technorati blog search window on my blog and find that it works much better and more accurately than the Google search box worked (there was some problem with the Blogger configuration and Google Blog Search box that made it not work properly). As the author of my blog I do use my Technorati blog search window to find old posts that I had published by keyword (easier than searching manually!).

So check out Technorati if you haven’t done so already!

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Duck Collage I Made On 7/21/06


I was able to upload an image to Blogger! I had to resize it to 50 dpi in Photoshop before the system would let me upload.

So here is a collage that I made late yesterday afternoon. I was resting and had a terrible headache but managed to make this.

The intention (in a few minutes) is for me to slice this into six artist trading cards (ATCs).

I will explain how I made this. I will upload images of the individual ATCs at a later time.

The base is a recycled food product box. I covered the cardboard with two pages ripped out of a children’s science book about birds. The book was purchased for 25 cents from a tag sale. It reeks of mildew and I cannot bear to read it as a book. The illustrations are gorgeous so I am using them to make artwork. After I seal this no one will be affected by the mildew odor. (Actually now that it is ripped out of the book it doesn’t smell too badly.)

I used some illustrations from a Golden brand insect field guide. That was falling apart and I picked it up at a library sale for 50 cents. I figured that is less than buying scrapbook papers in a craft shop. Images of the rose, the insects and the small maps of the United States of America are from that book.

The other two map images are from two different small world atlases that I own. One was a gift from some company as a promotional item and the other was an old falling apart book that I bought for 10 cents at a local used book shop.

I used scraps of paint chips. Most of those paint chips were used to make other ATCs earlier this year.

I used a postage stamp that came off of some junk mail that I received. I used a cancelled stamp with a tiger on it which was from the sample packet that a postage stamp collecting company sent me.

The music score was from $5 per bag day at a library fundraiser book sale, it was old sheet music that was falling apart.

I took a color illustration of a famous painting from a book of Impressionists paintings and cut it up to add some little colorful graphics to the collage, when I was near the end.

Also appearing is a listing of the index from the bird book, a list of natural resources from one of the atlases, part of an ad from a 1960s magazine. The phrase about dealing with feelings is from a book I got at a library book sale which is called something like “How to please your husband”. The scraps of Asian paper were given to me by another ATC trader.

So that is that. I hope you enjoy it.

I wonder what it will look like after I cut it into six ATCs?

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

About PaperBackSwap.com

Yesterday I was told by a fellow homeschooler who I know through the cyber artist trading card world about PaperBackSwap.com. This is a free service/internet site. The other mother said she uses it to get books for her children and also to get art books for inspiration in making art.

In a nutshell, here is how it works.
1. You go to their site. If you link through my blog’s icon in the left sidebar, you will go to the site. Sign up for a free account. You do not need to give a lot of personal information (no financial information, for example), and you don’t pay anything.
2. You then list at least 9 books that you are willing to give away. After you post 9 books for swap, you are given 3 credits. You can then search for books that you want and request that they be mailed to you.
3. Hopefully, someone sees your book listed and requests it.
4. The site notifies you of the request. The site prepares a mailing label to you, which you print off. They suggest that you wrap the book in the computer printer paper (!). They even tell you what the postage fee is that you must pay for the media mail rate. If you have the stamps on hand at home you just add them to the package and put it in your mailbox for your mail carrier to pick up.
You do not need to swap with the person that wanted YOUR book (just in case you were wondering).
Each book is worth 1 credit. Each audio book is worth 2 credits.
So the gist is you list a bunch of books and when they are mailed out and received by the other party, you get 1 credit to use in the future, for each that you swap out.
I listed over 70 books today and already 9 have been requested and mailed out by me.
Tips I’ve already learned (after one day of swapping books!)1. To get first dibs on a book you can create a wish list of books which are ‘unlisted’. Then if that book gets listed you will be on the list of those who are notified and given first dibs on the book.
Therefore it pays to keep a few credits sitting and ready for if/when a book that you want suddenly appears.
I have 2 other people who have 2 books that I listed today in their wish list. They have 48 hours to say they want it or else it goes to someone else (or onto the general listing, I guess).
2. Uploading books to list them is very fast and easy if you have an ISBN. It takes more time to list an older book that doesn’t have an ISBN.
3. There is an option to put in a book review. Perhaps if you do this, someone will be motivated to request the book?
4. There is an option to rate the book with a star rating system.
5. For each person that you refer that either follows your link or who mentions you by name in their sign up process, you get 1 credit. If you are going to join based on you reading my blog entry I would ask that you give me the credit for the referral. You can do that by following the link in my sidebar or by manually inputting my Nickname which is “ChristineMM” (the same name I use here on Blogger, so it is not too hard to remember).
Fun Tips1. Book lists: You can read the top most requested books. You can read the top wish list requested books. You can quickly see the bestseller list (New York Times).
2. There is a discussion forum. That forum has a category for homeschoolers. I see that people are putting up announcements when they list books for homeschooling while others are posting ‘wanted’ lists.
3. You can flag other users at your ‘buddy’. This can help you keep track of other book lovers who have similar tastes in books.
This is fun! Check it out!
(By the way so far I have not wrapped my books in 20 lb. printer paper. I am using bubble wrap envelopes, so far, and am double checking the weight. I can’t stand the ida of books going through the mail with just 20 lb. printer paper protecting them, sorry!)
For the Doubting Thomases (such as my husband is about this):
1. If you were planning on buying a book new, even at a discount, you would save money if you were able to get it from PaperBackSwap.com.
2. Yes, you may be out some money up front, but in the end it will save you money.
3. This is easier than going around to used book shops and trying to find ones who want your used books who then just give you store credit in the end anyway.
4. This is convenient. Just keep some stamps on hand!
5. This is more convenient than listing books for sale on eBay, Amazon Marketplace, or on other websites, in my opinion.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Uploading Images to Blogger Issue

I have had problems with uploading images to Blogger. In the past they would accept documents sized at 75 dpi or smaller. My scanner's smallest setting is 75 dpi.

I went on the Blogger Help function and now see that they want the image size to be 50 dpi or smaller.

I will have to teach myself how to make the image size smaller in Photoshop, I guess.

I assume this is why I have not been able to upload images to Blogger.

I am way behind in posting my ATCs to this blog due to this Blogger photo uploading issue. Sorry!

Been Swapping ATCs

I had a ream of ATCs that I made in late June and early July.

I have joined two ATC swaps and sent out those to the hostesses.

I have arranged to swap 8 ATCs privately.

I have been joining "winner takes all" contests on ATC chat groups. I won one in May and so was the recipient of 13 or 14 ATCs. However since last August when I got into ATCs, I have joined these contests and lost. So I've been sending out the prizes to the winners.

Last week I received another Art Box and took out 25 ATCs and swapped in 18 of my own and 7 second generation ATCs.

I did a lot of experimenting with different methods of transfers. I have a lot of transfers ready to be made into ATCs when I have time.

I've been doing a lot of traveling to visit relatives out of state. Since I have been a passenger in the car (not the driver) I have had lots of reading time.

I am reading books about Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters.

I also received the lastest issue of the zine Art and Life and read that.

I have been buying Somerset Studios and Rubber Stamp Madness magazine with the 40 or 50% off coupon from AC Moore and Michael's Craft shop and have been reading those.

The thing I am behind in is uploading scans of my ATCs anywhere!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I Love Kurt Schwitters' Artwork

To de-stress I have been immersing myself in stress relieving pursuits. I have been reading more and making more artist trading cards lately.

I have decided that my favorite artist is Kurt Schwitters. Formerly it was Claude Monet. So I have shifted gears dramatically.

A few weeks ago my family and I went to a big nearby library. I borrowed a bunch of books about Kurt Schwitters and on the Dada movement in general.

I have been not just looking at the reproductions of his artwork but have been reading about Kurt Schwitters. I hope to share some quotes with you in the future.

Perhaps what I love was that Schwitters began taking trash and discards from a sign printing company and using them to make collage art. The initial inspiration was to reject normal/typical art by creating something that was not a realistic image of some thing. The goal was to take something as lowly as garbage, tickets, scraps of paper, random ephemera, and to use it in a way that was pleasing to the eye and therefore was a work of art.

I enjoy doing this as well so to read now about Schwitters and the Dada movement, which I had never heard of until recently, is surprising and interesting to me.

If you want to see some of his art try a Google Image search by his name. You can also check your local library for books about Kurt Schwitters. I must have about 40 pounds of coffee table books here just on his artwork, borrowed from the library!

(I have been working to try and upload photos to this blog entry but it is not working. I have had a problem for about two weeks now and have not been able to upload images to Blogger, which is very frustrating.)

I’d love to buy some of the new books about Schwitters but one series has a price tag of $200 for each book in the series which is way, way out of my budget, to the library book borrowing will have to suffice for now.

Kurt Schwitters is considered to be a surrealist artist, an abstract artist, and part of the Dada movement also referred to as “Dadaism”. Most of his artwork was collage or assemblage, and he named his own style of artwork “merz’. If you want more information you can search on any of those keywords (or use them to search for books at your library).

There are some current ATC swaps for ‘my favorite artist’ and some for ‘abstract art’ and one for ‘security envelope’ art so I hope to make ATCs in the style of Kurt Schwittters which will then fit all three of those categories, and I will join those swaps!

Anyway to curl up with a book about art history or Kurt Schwitters is a perfect thing for me to do right before going to bed, to distress and unwind.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Making Lots of ATCs

I have been making time each day to work on ATCs.

I have carved time out in many different ways. Sometimes I do a little after dinner and before doing our family bedtime routine. One night I stayed up after my kids went to bed, until about 11:30pm. Three times last week I was awakened in the middle of the night by my sick son and was unable to get back to sleep, so I made ATCs while the rest of the neighborhood was sound asleep.

Last night I put the finishing touches and top coat seal on 24 ATCs. When they are a little drier I will scan them.

I continue to not be able to upload scans to this blog. I don’t know what is going on.

I opened a free Flickr account to show my ATCs to the web community. However I am now having problems with arranging the sets to differentiate between what is available for trade and what is already traded out. Grrr. I also opened a free Yahoo photo album but am having problems figuring out how to tell others what the URL is.

An art box will be coming my way within the next week. I am going to save my own extra ATCs to possibly swap into that art box. After that I will initiate some private trades. I have also been working on some ATC swaps. Some of them proved challenging so I gave up on them. Since I make the ATCs before contacting the hostess, they have no idea that I have given up on it and so I don’t have to tell them I am backing out.

I am having a lot of fun making the ATCs.

I have been experimenting more with transfers.

I am also puling out my old favorite music from the 80s and early 90s from my pre-children era. It is interesting to listen to it, see what I no longer can stand, which is too angry or too whiney, etc.

Above the Mark: Supply Company and Artwork to View

I love the art stamps sold by Above the Mark. I wish I could buy a ton of them. Here is their website’s online catalog.

There is a specials page.

There is an inspirational gallery of artwork made by artists using Above the Mark products. Check it out here.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

1001 Journals Website

Thanks to a fellow ATC maker named Lauri Jean Crowe, I found out about this new website called 1001Journals.com through her email chat list posting.

It appears to me that the site was going through Beta testing and now is up and open to the public. I see that many journals are being started as of July 1, 2006.

The site allows for journal keepers to scan and share their private journals. There are also traveling journals. A person can start a journal circulating and when it is done it goes back to the creator to keep. A person can participate in a journal, by receiving it in the mail, adding to it, then mailing it away. Scans of the traveling journals can be placed on the site.

There is a lot of eye candy. My one complaint is that the size of the scans is not large enough for me to see all the details.

If you are interested in journaling or artist journals or drawing or mixed media collage, check out the site.

Right now I am considering starting a journal. While at a library sale this past weekend I picked up two blank books for a very low price which can be use for journals for my own use or to make a traveling journal out of.

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