A Little Bit of Weaving

…pun intended.

Today I joined Etsy Labs and Church of Craft for “Crafting in the Park.” This took place at the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park- Pier 1. Today was gorgeous; the weather couldn’t have been better if someone had placed an order. One of the crafts they were teaching was weaving… on a mini level.

Using a small piece of cardboard as the loom, the warp was created using butcher’s twine (I think that’s what it was) and embroidery thread as the weft. A tapestry needle served as the shuttle.

Once finished (which took over an hour, even for such a small piece), I brought it home, glued on a scrap piece of leather, and attached a pin back. Below are pics of the final product.

image

So I ended up with a tiny, wearable rug.


Happiest of Happy Days, I Must Say

Happy, happy day for me!  I was poking around the Sony Reader store (because some of us are old school when it comes to eReaders) and I happened upon THIS!

That’s right, baby!  Those are my two short books.  I didn’t even know they had been picked up by the Reader Store 🙂  If you click the picture, you can get them for FREE at the Sony Reader store.  If you want other download options (such as PDF, Epub, Kindle) you can click on this picture instead and go to my page on the publisher’s site.  After you click a book, you will be taken to the different options.  Don’t worry, they’re FREE there as well.

And for those of you who have read the books and have asked about the 3rd book in the series… I, um… I’m not entirely sure it’s gonna happen.  I’ve begun work on a full length novel and I’m not sure when I’ll be heading back to my little space pirate, Isambard Tims.


They are always right

They say, “Write what you know,” and they are always right.  At least as far as this is concerned.  I started outlining the plot of a book I want to write and was amazed by how much comes directly from my own experiences, even if they are then used as a springboard to something else.  When I described a bar, I thought of the Flatiron in Greensboro.  When I chose a place for a breakup, I said, “Alaska.” When choosing the name for the lead male, I chose the name of someone I had toured twice with.  And when I created the female love interest, even though I didn’t choose anyone I’ve ever dated/had feelings for,  she is based off a woman I have deep admiration and respect for.  The funny part?  None of it was intentional.

No, I’m not writing anything biographical, but parts of my biography creep in, don’t they?  I don’t think “Write what you know,” is so much of an instruction, a limiting command.  I think it’s more of a comforting assurance.  “Don’t worry, you will write what you know.”

 


Art for Fun; Art for Cheap

On Monday night I took part in an Etsy Labs Craft Night.  It was a mini drawing workshop with Carla Sonheim.  I was so impressed and excited with what I learned that night, that I signed up for her two and a half hour workshop the following evening: The Art of Silliness.  The biggest lesson that Carla imparts is: “We used to love drawing when we were kids, before our inner critic kicked in.  Stop trying to draw ‘perfectly’ and just have fun with it.” (my paraphrasing of her class)  What’s funny is, when you embrace that idea, when you stop trying so hard to do it “right” you get amazing results.  Results you actually LIKE!

I used to draw all the time as a kid.  In second grade, I wrote AND illustrated my first book.  Even in high school, after I finished taking tests, I would highly decorate my cover paper.  But somewhere along the way, I started worrying about how good my drawings were.  I started saying things like, “Well her nose doesn’t really look like that.  I screwed up.”  I quit having fun.

What’s funny is that in reality, I’m actually a pretty decent realistic artist.  When I took a drawing class in college, I turned out some good work.  But those pieces take hours, sometimes even days, to create.  For some reason, I held myself to this weird standard, that my quick, fun drawings of people and things, should look as “right” as the ones done for hours at the easel.

Anyway, here is some of my work from the class this week, taken quickly with my cell phone.

The rabbit is my favorite one  🙂  Anyway, here’s what I’ve come up with: I want to keep drawing for fun, drawing just to be drawing, but I live in a one bedroom apartment with one other person and a cat.  In other words, I don’t have a lot of room.  So I’ve decided that anything I make that isn’t just in my sketch book, any piece that looks nice enough to actually display, I’m going to sell on Etsy, but only for like $1 or 2.  Seriously.  Mainly just enough to cover shipping.  I think it’s a great way for friends and family to get some Kerr made art (see what I did there?) AND to keep my apartment from becoming too cluttered.  I’ll keep you all up to date as to when I add stuff.

OH!  And if there’s anything that you’d like me to draw, just drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.


Embroidery Oblivion

This is my newest embroidery piece.  I figured, hey, I like art and I like video games… the two shall join.  It measures roughly 5×7 and I hope to get a frame for it soon (something slightly bigger so the piece sits on a background).  After embroidering the piece, I burned the edges to give it that Kvatch feel.  I also thought this burlapesque muslin looked more Cyrodiilic(?) than any other fabric.

(click image for full size)

Although I really like how it came out, I may end up putting it on Etsy.  We don’t really have the space to display stuff here at the apartment.

After I get a little better at embroidery, I think my big project will involve some of the Skill symbols, like

Block 

Marksmanship

Security

Sneak

Destruction

(P.S.- after burning the muslin, the apartment smelled like we roasted marshmallows 🙂 )


Re: sorta complaining?

In my last post, I discussed how I wasn’t happy that I did a lot of things well but nothing amazingly.  Via Facebook, here were some of the responses that made me really rethink my “complaint.”

My cousin Jeff:

Personally, I think the true mark of talent is being able to do a lot of things well. I would much rather be second best at everything than an expert at one thing, and absolutely clueless about anything else. The second mark of that talent is seeing the flaws in your work. Only a fool looks at his own work an says “its perfect.” The true craftsman says “there’s a gap, I need to smooth that spot, that piece don’t match the other one, and there is another mistake” everyone else looks at the work with awe.

I loved the line “I would much rather be second best at everything than an expert at one thing.”  It kind of made me think of the concept of the Renaissance Man, people who tinkered in many different areas, including art and science.  Then I read my friend Jodie’s lines

I feel the same way! I’m not GREAT at anything, but I love trying my hand at everything. Once I get pretty good at something…. I’m ready to try something else! Creative ADD.

These are two artists whose work I admire.  My cousin’s metal work is simple amazing (and of course I want to try it!).  To be in the kitchen, cutting vegetables with a knife you made yourself must be a really cool experience.  Then there’s Jodie who makes gorgeous glass jewelry and who won a big ole’ gingerbread house competition at Grove Park Inn.  Even my mom, who helped foster this love of creation, weighed in:

Son, did you ever notice that I am also “not great” at anything? Once I learned how to do something “well” I was on to learning something else. For me, it was never about perfecting an art, but the learning… that was the fun part.

Maybe I was just in a foul mood that day… but also their words were really powerful.  They’re right.  I don’t create to operate as a business.  If that was the case, I’d make one thing and lots of it (or variations thereof).  I create because I enjoy creating.  As Mom says, “the learning is the fun part.”

Maybe it’s the crappy weather, but I just haven’t felt like creating lately.  Especially not for creation’s sake.  I guess not working on any projects combined with seeing some amazing stuff being created around me made me feel like there wasn’t a point to what I have done over the years.  But in truth, that’s not who I am.  I create for the fun of it.  I just need to remember that… especially when I’m not working on something.


In which the “artist” questions himself

I blame my mother.

But then, don’t we all?

Growing up, there was one thing I learned more than any other from my mom: you can do anything.  I saw her sewing, doing cross stitch and needlepoint and latch work.  My father would take us boys on a trip and we’d return to find she’d re-wallpapered/painted the rooms.  She owned a scroll saw and would make toys for us down in the basement.

Frequently she involved us boys in these varied tasks, like when we all colored pictures on transfer paper and she made bed spreads for us with the pictures.  I remember the smell and feel of wallpaper after dunking it in the trough of water.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up a love for crafts and making art as well.

So I blame my mother for my desire to try as much as possible 🙂  To date I can say I have worked in all the following areas: crochet, knitting, water color, book binding, paper making, tie dye, clothes design/making, machine sewing, hand sewing, photography, graphic art, font creation, drawing, altered books, embroidery, jewelry making, embossing, pastels, picture framing, glass plate decoration, stuffed animal design/creation, glass etching, calligraphy… there’s  much, much more that I’m just not thinking of.  And that’s just in the broad field of Arts & Crafts.  I’ve also written plays, short stories, poetry, songs.  I played trombone for 7 years.  I have acted professionally for over 10 years.

But here’s the point I am heading towards: in all these endeavors, I have frequently risen from “not bad” to “pretty good.”  But never beyond.  I’m a good actor.  Maybe a pretty good actor.  But pretty good doesn’t set me above many others when it comes time for casting.  7 years of trombone and I still wasn’t very good at all.  My eye for photography has never been that interesting.  My drawing has always been labored and looks labored.  After years of crocheting, I’d say I could be rated at Advanced Novice.

There is nothing that I feel I do exceedingly well.

While that may not be a terrible thing, it still bothers me.  Even when it comes to my ideas for creating, I feel second-rate.  I see things and think, “Ooo!  I wanna try that!” and then I do THAT.  Exactly that.  Rarely does something I see/experience act as a springboard for something new.  Rarely do I come up with my own concepts.  Sometimes I can’t even put my own spin on concepts.  I might think, “I am going to write a story that takes place after an apocalypse (because I read World War Z) and the lead character is going to live in a casino (because I play too much Fallout: New Vegas).  Never mind, he’ll live on an aircraft carrier (wait, that was Fallout 3).”  I know there’s nothing new in the world (Dime Store Prophets quote) and that all the stories have been told.  The key is putting ones self into something old and making it new.  I just can’t seem to find the Me to put into something, though.  I’ve never been sure how to make it my own.

I guess I spent too much time when I was younger trying to copy exactly what my mom was doing, trying so hard to do it “right.”  I never bothered to color outside the lines and see where it took me.  As an adult, I have a lot of things I can do, but nothing I can do very well.


45 RPM’s

Since I am still somewhat under the sway of the weather, and haven’t been able to get the motivation to make something, I thought I’d start the month out with a post to something I already made.

Here is a desktop wallpaper I made last year that was included on the site Simple Desktops.
Click on the picture below to go to the download page.

Simply titled “45 RPM”

While you’re at the site, make sure to take a look around (after downloading my design first, of course).  There are some really great pieces of work there.  The site’s concept is (excuse me) simple: wallpapers “designed to make your computer beautiful without distraction.”  In other words, no bling, no drop shadow, no gradient.  Simplicity.


The Big Day is Only 9 Months Away!

…so I’m gonna need somebody to buy me this:

Handmade Weddings: More than 50 Crafts to Style and Personalize Your Big Day

Yeah, I’m gonna need that…stat.      *cough, cough* click on the picture *cough*


A Making-Books Book

For Christmas, the little lady got me a book that I had drooled over at a local bookstore, Unnameable Books.  The book is How to Make Books by Esther K. Smith.

I was taught bookbinding in New Mexico back in 2002 by an amazing artist, Bev Taylor.  Since then I have made a few books, including the guest registry/photo album for a friend’s wedding.

If you are even mildly interested to making your own one-of-a-kind books, do yourself a favor and get this book.  There are some very basic and quick books to start with and it works its way up to coptic stitching, which I have only done once, but with great acceptable success.

This video shows a really neat “Instant Book” using techniques shown in this book.


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