Category Archives: Stuff I Make

Bean Bag Book

Bean bag book

Recently I spent a day traveling. By mid-day I had eaten nothing but the  17 peanuts that the airline offered me, so during a 3 hour layover I set out to find something resembling actual food and ended up with a pretty darn good food court Mexican lunch of a tasty bean and chicken burrito and some reasonably  good chips and salsa.

Detail of bean bag book

Detail of bean bag book

Bean bag book detail

Bean bag book back0001

As I was about to crumple up and toss the paper bag in which my lunch had been served, I saw the polite admonition on the bag to recycle, and instead tucked it between the pages of The Interestings, my travel book of choice that day.

Back at home yesterday I pulled the brown bag from my carry-on and started piddling with it, and by afternoon I had turned the take-out bag into a spur -of- the-moment  journal. I added only odds and ends already in my stash: some blank brown kraft paper pages, a bamboo chopstick, some black rubber bands, a date stamp just for fun, and some color accents from an old gouache paint set of my dad’s.

I’m giving a book-making class a month or so from now. While this one wasn’t completely perfect, I may use it as an example of how to create a nifty little book out of just a few odds and ends.

 

A belated bit of show and tell–New years greeting

After wrestling with a complicated New Year’s greeting project, a scrap of paper on my work table turned it all into something much simpler, and somehow more satisfying. And who doesn’t need another nice bookmark?

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Nemo Did What?!

Nothing like a winter snowstorm (apparently courtesy of my cat, Nemo, who is taking the blame for much of this event) to give one time to get back to one’s blogging. I haven’t been idle, though, and I think it’s time to show you some of what I’ve been up to.

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Winter haiku lanterns with celestial bodies–stars and moons, galaxies and planets.  Oh, and a few choice lines, first from Basho:

Come, let’s go
snow viewing
until we’re buried

And the second, from Issa:

No talents
also no sins
winter seclusion

What more do you need when you’re snowbound?

Glass ornament on tree

Glass ornament on tree by floating inkI can now show you some of the things I made to give as holiday presents.  Here are some I feel somewhat guilty about, because the first one was heavily inspired by one I saw in a shop. I say only somewhat guilty, because what usually happens when I’m inspired by the work of someone else is that I try hard to reproduce it–figuring out the materials that were used and what techniques were employed to put it together and so on. And then I might make one or two such things–never to sell, but perhaps to give away.

What happens next is that I make yet another of whatever the thing is, but now the thing begins to take on a quite different form. What if I do this instead of that? What if I employed a radically different material that makes the old thing a new thing, or takes it in an unexpected direction? By this point my mind is happily racing ahead and within a few hours I’m off making something that was definitely inspired by the original thing, but which is now something completely new.

Like this:

Glass ornament on tree, a photo by floating ink on Flickr.

Tea bowls on a tea bag

Tea bowls on teabag by floating ink
Tea bowls on teabag, a photo by floating ink on Flickr.

Remember the old riddle? You throw away the outside, cook the inside, then eat the outside and throw away the inside? At least, I think that’s how it went. The answer, of course–corn.

My newest art project has a similar bent. You throw away the outside (the tea bag wrapper), cook the inside (steeping the tea bag), put aside the inside (the now wet tea bag), and throw away the inside.

I’ve been having a wonderful time rescuing tea bags, hanging them to dry (on my art clothesline across the kitchen fireplace), then unfolding them, dumping out the shreds of tea inside (do dry first, and throwing out the old tea afterwards so that you get the most color out of the leaves and onto the fabric bag), then saving the tea bag paper for printing projects. And, yes, I can already hear some of you saying “Throw out the used tea leaves? Never!” I suppose they’d be good for dying and could also just be composted.

To gaze even further into my own navel, I’ve chosen to start with a print of–you guessed it–tea bowls.  A similar print ended up being incorporated into the encaustic painting I showed back in September. If you look at the larger version on my flickr page. at the top edge just to the left of the green ribbon, you can see (upside down) the tea bowl image printed on a tea bag. And again–faintly, almost directly below it, but right side up.

I’m also sort of digging this rabbit–he’s one of my favorite hand-carved stamps of all time and I’ve used him in many projects.

I’m going to continue to play with this tea bag paper–making a photocopy directly onto the tea bag is in the works, with a success rate (success being defined as not totally gumming up the copier) of about 35% so far.  I’m also piddling with some different kinds of tea, different tea bag fabrics and paper (I’ve got a little collection of silk tea bags I’m eager to try), and different lengths of time leaving the bags in contact with the paper.

Compare the tea bowl image at the top of this post, for instance, with the one below left (which stayed scrunched up with the wet tea leaves in it for almost a week), and take a look at the right-hand image, too–I’ve got some ideas for using the teabags cut up, too. If nothing else, it gives me lots of excuses to drink plenty of tea!

Wheeee–and a giveaway!

Years ago I received my first ever payment for something I’d written, launching me on my career as a freelance writer, something that still brings in much of the bread that finds its way here. These days I don’t get wildly excited about seeing my name in print unless it’s on the front of a check, but that day, the first day–I actually shook as I opened the envelope and took out real money. Not only was it a godsend for someone who at that time was living hand-to-mouth on a graduate student’s stipend, it was validation that I was a real writer. I think the Tin Woodsman who got a watch in the shape of a big heart from the Wizard of Oz must have felt a lot like I felt that day.

But a few days ago I got a whole new kind of validation: the first ever of my art/craft/right brain efforts to be bought and published in a book came over my doorstep. We’re not quite hand-to-mouth (not often, anyway) any more, but seeing my art projects in a book–a beautiful, clever, realio trulio published craft book (and having a little check to deposit!) offered a whole new kind of validation.

Whipup’s Kathreen Ricketson has brought out two more fantastic books (if you follow Whipup, you’ve seen them there), and was kind enough to include two of my projects in the one on paper crafts. Here’s the book (don’t you love those owls?):

It’s chock full of fantastic crafts for kids, ranging from simple do-it-now crafts that take a few minutes, to more elaborate projects that might take an afternoon. One of my favorites is this two-dimensional alien bookmark–don’t you just want to sit down and make dozens of these?

Or make one of these beautiful-in-their-simplicity stitch bound books?

But the best part is that you can! The publisher, Hardie Grant, has given us contributors some copies to give away to blog readers.

I’ve got two books from this series to give away–one is the Kids’ Crafternoon Papercraft book, and the other is an equally fabulous book full of simple and whimsical sewing projects, Kid’s Crafternoon Sewing.

This one offers 25 kid-do-able tutorials for things like a bunny ears hat for your favorite stuffed animal (or yourself-I have days when I’d love to rock some bunny ears as I go about my errands), a simple but stunning patchwork scarf, an easy pillow version of your favorite pet–any kid who’s handy with (or eager to become handy with) a needle and thread would love this book.

On Tuesday, August 22nd, Kathreen Ricketson, editor of these wonderful books (and others) will be my guest blogger here on Floating Ink, and to celebrate that, I’m giving away a copy of each of these books. I’ll put all the entrant’s names in a hat (actually, one of two hats–one for each Kids’ Crafternoon book) and draw one name from each, then ship the books to the lucky winners. Fine print–I’m afraid I  can only ship to addresses in the continental U.S.

Just leave a comment on this blog between now and August 1, telling me which of the two books you’d like to try to win, and I’ll announce the two winners on August 2 with Kathreen’s blog post. Be sure to include a way for me to get in touch with you in your comment.

For more chances to win, visit the blogs of other contributors to these books who are participating in the blog party to celebrate the books’ publication:

  1. 22 July Poppytalk
  2. 23 July Picklebums
  3. 24 July Little Eco Footprints
  4. 25 July Beaspoke quilts
  5. 26 July Maya Made
  6. 27 July Checkout girl
  7. 28 July The red thread
  8. 29 July We Wilsons
  9. 30 July Maggie Makes
  10. 31 July Mmm Crafts
  11. 1 August Domesticali
  12. 2 August Floating Ink–Me!
  13. 3 August Elizabeth Abernathy
  14. 4 August Mommy Coddle
  15. 5 August The Long Thread
  16. 6 August Hannah Fletcher
  17. 7 August Between the lines
  18. 8 August Go Make Me

And, finally, can I offer a little peek at one of my critters that you’ll find in the Papercraft book? Comic Cat (and her friend Map Pup) make up the Paper Menagerie you’ll find in the book. Wheeee!

My not so hidden agenda sort of tutorial

Last June my computer had a little snit and ate my calendar. For the second time. Not all of it–I could still access most of the years on it, but not all. But that was it. I could no longer trust it. I still keep a calendar on my computer, but my main computer is kept on stone tablets now. I sat down the day after the Palm betrayed me and made a paper agenda. It has served me well.

On Saturday of this past weekend, though, I realized I’d come to the last page of my year, which, just because of what happened when, now runs from mid-June to mid-June. Time was up. I spent the rest of the weekend making a new one. I started with this:

And took these steps. More pictures here than words, and I apologize for the fact that the shadow of my head is in some of the photos–it was a dark stormy weekend and the lighting was just weird.

Soft Kut from Dick Blick:

The carved block and the printed page:

After flirting briefly with hand-cutting and block printing the name of each month and each numerical date, I came to my senses and wrote them in by hand with Sharpie markers matching the color of the ink I’d used on each page:

Cutting scraps (they look like the homemade noodles First Child and I made a couple of weeks ago). I’m so cheap that I spent a ridiculous amount of time pawing at and trying to figure out how to reconstitute and reuse these. Common sense prevailed and they went into the trash, but it took a while and was fairly wrenching. Seriously, think there’s gotta be a use for these somewhere:

A little cover decoration was in order:

And then, maybe, a little color:

Second child likes the black and white prints better. I left a few like that. And I don’t know why I printed so many, but it’s just as easy to do a run of quite a few prints and I’m already thinking up some good uses for them (stay tuned).

I’m always seriously in love with the blocks from which I print. Would it be weird to mount and hang them somewhere? They’d have to be accessible for repeated use. I also have among my treasures some woodcut (actual wood) blocks that my dad carved many years ago. Some of them were commissioned for the covers of a magazine for which he was the art director back in the 60s and 70s. My sister has some of them, too. Hmm . . . I might actually have to print some of them in the near future.

For now, though, these are just mine.  And this, finally, is my new calendar, complete with its own sunflowery cover, its nice tabs (scavenged from some monoprints that didn’t completely work out), and its important back pocket (everything should have pockets). I’m happy to have a nice place to keep track of what day it is.