Challenge Accepted! June Edition Part 1

So we’ve made it to Day 19 of our June Challenge.  Time to tip our hands on at least part of our challenge work so far.

Our very own bees

For my lino print, I started with a simple sketch of a honeybee with random honey comb. I have an arguably (not so) strange attraction to honeybees. At least four generations of my dad’s family have kept hives of domesticated bees, successfully introduced wild swarms into built apiaries, and collected jars of honey and comb.  I’ve spent many summer evenings in lawn chairs situated just behind and off to the side of hives watching the straggler workers return home, their rear legs heavy with pollen deposits, as the hive slowly settled down into a composite fuzz of a social collective.  As long as we brought their sugar water early enough in the morning and sat quietly at night, they didn’t mind the audience. Our honey tasted of sourwood and clover and the comb was candy. We don’t collect as much honey these days, in spite of mite strips and other remedies, but I would gladly give beekeeping a shot again once I had my own land. In the meantime, I’ll make prints.

Outlined with SharpieI started from a simple sketch and transferred it as best I could, under the advisement of the patient and noble Professor Staci, to the linoleum square by poking holes in the main lines of the sketch and then tracing the sketch with a Sharpie marker in such a manner that the ink bled through the pinholes to lightly stipulate the image on the lino. I have always enjoyed the entomological/anatomical look as a science fantasy throwback to pulp era. Could I pin bugs? Not sure. But I like their lines, segments, and symmetry. I always remind myself, though, that “Organisms vary.” So my bee giving the viewer the stink eye is just an expression of the variance in heritable traits that allow for Darwinian natural selection. Right? Right.

Free-handed Honeycomb!As always, my personal hang up is making the first mark. Or in this case, the first cut with the lino tool. But after I chilled and channeled a bit of the Huber Farms Starlight White provided by the generous and wise Professor Dez, I got to carving. And, wow, I didn’t realize how physically rewarding this project would be. Once I got into a rhythm, I figured this could be an extremely effective destressor. I randomly threw in some honeycomb that kind of reminded me of organic chemical rings.

Artist's ProofThe most exciting and tangibly rewarding part of the night was no doubt the printing process. It was neat to roll the ink, coat the print and then use additional physical force to transfer the image. Despite the fact that it was midnight on a work night, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. I really liked how my print turned out and the process my friends taught me to get there.

I enjoyed this printing technique so much that I hope to develop it into a skill. As a preview of the June Challenge Part 2, I plan to continue my Honeybee series, with a print of an empty lawn chair situated to the side and behind an apiary. This print will involve lots more carving so that the lines of the picture are black and the background light. I have an initial sketch but need to work on the composition/perspective type things that I have no clue about. Luckily, my husband lent me his copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which I am thrilled to check out and touched that he offered. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Errant Easel — Haberdasher’s Edition

The Errant Easel celebrated D3Z’s birthday on March 16th with a tea party and excursion into miniature millnery. While I failed to capture the spread of finger foods, the aroma of lavender lady grey tea, or the discussion of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate finale on film, I thought I would still share the fruits of my fascinator labor with followers of the Easel.

ImageAs an ardent lover of steampunk and one with a passing interest in recent royal matrimony, I have had a lot of time to think about fascinators and the kinds I would like to sport. I have considered several formats and favor the mini top hat above all. Whether it is tall, asymetrical, feathered, or goggled I find these hats both sharp and jaunty. The more stylized the better, in fact.

For this project, however, I created a hat that settled somewhere between pilgrim and witch that was anything but puritanical. My influence was really from a booth I visited at a renaissance festival years ago that featured these beautifully crafted leather hats that curved back like a witches hat and were adorned with brilliant plumage or brass goggles. I initially started to mimic my memory of these hats but once I started shaping I liked the more simple, steep lines that Doug described as “fast.” Using the poster board to form the incomplete conical body of the hat, I realized I liked the nearly parallel planes that formed the bottom plane where the brim would go and the top plane created by not completing the cone. I covered each of the three sections with fabric and glued them together using (most effectively) gorilla glue misappropriated from my husband’s modeling supplies. I trimmed it with fancy black brick-a-brack and used a simple clock face and clock hands for a focal point on the hat. This is where I paused and found it somewhat lacking. Staci suggested I add some trailing fabric using the complimentary maroon fabric cut at a bias to give it a lovely draping flow. I think it really helped bring the sharp line back down a bit so that as your eyes travel up the steep front line they are drawn back down the back of the hat by the trailing fabric. I really loved this idea and always benefit from brain storming and with the Ladies of the Easel.


Speaking of the other Ladies, I thought their hats were coming along quite nicely! D3Z was creating mini top hat using the red fabric to create a clever, eye-catching ruching effect that added a nice texture to a traditionally smooth design. Staci crafted a more abstract open (Kentucky) blue hat that spouted silver tulle like fire. I think it was somewhat inspired by Effie Trinket and would fit perfectly into a  Capitol Couture collection. If we are lucky, my partners in crime will share their creations as well.

As this mini workshop was entirely an experiment on all of our parts, I kept it pretty simple with the materials using three solid but shiny fabrics that reminded me of different Victorian outfits I had encountered. The bright Kentucky blue reminded me of the blue dress Rachel McAdams wears as Irene Adler in the 2009 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes when she walks from 221B Baker Street to the carriage engaged by Moriarty. A more muted tone of the same color is featured on the cover of Changeless, the second book in the Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger. I chose the red fabric because it reminded me of the dress featured on the color of Blameless, book the third of the same series. Finally, I chose the green fabric entirely on the basis of my own preference and what I would like to wear given the opportunity.

Given the chance to do this again, I would experiment with patterned fabric or maybe even stripes if I had the patience to align them. I also thought it would be interesting to layer a lace like fabric over a matte solid color. I would also plan my centerpiece more carefully with greater pizzazz or even blend the steampunk elements with more natural influences. On a more technical note, I would be more judicious with the application of glue as it tends to bleed through this type of fabric, leave unsightly stains, and relieve you of your fingerprints if proper precautions are not taken.

Sock knitting workshop

So last Wednesday we had a sock knotting workshop! I was saving this post for when I finally finished my second sock for my niece Emma! Now it is done, and I am so excited about the outcome! This is my first pair of socks knitted, and it feels pretty awesome! I can’t wait to see baby Emma so I can make her wear them!
So, for the workshop I created my own recipe for how I knit socks…so far so good, Sara successfully knitted a sock! I am looking forward to see how she does on the second…if it is a success (without me taking her instructions and scribbling all over them saying ‘that make more sense right??’) then I will be oh so happy!!
So I think I may have overwhelmed Staci a bit since she has never used dpn’s…and by the end of the night I think she created a new stitch…but I hope I haven’t discouraged her from sock knitting! We will just have to keep knitting socks at our Errant Easel nights until she’s a pro! I look forward to it, how about you ladies! So here’s the pictures of the Emma socks!