Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day

A fifteen-year span between me on the left and my oldest brother on the right. What's with those see-through shirts in the middle?
Forgive me for sharing this 1956 or '57 era photo of my brothers and me, a stair-step arrangement that made me laugh. I'm supposed to be putting the finishing touches on my recycle bookbinding challenge project but I suddenly got a wild hair to do some slide scanning instead. Since getting the older carousels of slides from a brother in California, I've been doing a bit of picking and choosing trying to find specific ones to go with the next post on my family blog, sadly put on hold for far too long. This was getting me nowhere and I'd decided to put aside my tunnel vision and just scan the whole carousel. I soon found that while mom had written lots of information on some of them, most were blank, not even a date imprint from the processor. The above photograph is a prime example. Well, that shouldn't pose a big problem if these are placed in the carousel in order, as I was sure they were. Lots could be guessed by surrounding pictures with dates.

A snapshot of me decked out in part of my brother's uniform on the occasion of my third birthday.

As I switched from scanning mode to info adding mode, I discovered to my chagrin that the slides were not in order. My penchant for neat and tidy and sequential soon distracted me from the task at hand and I spent much time yesterday merely trying to sort the slides into chronological order. I can see that much detective work is left to figure out what and when a lot of these were taken by crosschecking albums of snapshots, letters, and a brother's keen memory. I'm on a mission to sort through all I have and make sense of it, adding a narrative for all who might be interested in our family history.

Waine Mahanke at Parks AFB

It has been nice to run across those pictures of my oldest brother in uniform, back in the late 1950's, now that it is the time when we remember the end to the first world war and especially honor all who have served in our military, men and women alike. One such veteran recently suggested that perhaps a better greeting to veterans than the currently popular "thank you for your service" would be "never forget". I liked that idea.

Two other brothers also served, plus one of their sons. You can read more about them in this post. Never forget.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

A Million Things to Consider

I exaggerate. As I return to that recycle bookbinding project, I continue to be amazed at how many things there are to consider, how many little details to add. Not a million, but there have been dozens. As I've eased back into it, trying to continue to set aside a bit of time each day, no longer for drawing but just for any kind of creativity, I'm less uptight about these considerations that keep popping up, except perhaps to be convinced my textile projects aren't this complicated. I exaggerate here as well. This, I've realized is much like one's first sampler quilt, full of different things to learn while striving to keep a common theme to hold the different parts together. One thing that occurred to me lately was that one way to assure some cohesion was to add more security envelop patterns throughout the pages. I liked the look of this image that didn't fit elsewhere added on top of this envelop. And I also realized that rather than glue the security envelop rectangle to the page, I could maybe just use this scrapbooking double stick tape and get it used up.

So my first task as I returned to this project was to dig out more security envelops and trim them to size. I'd transferred all my dragonfly poems and quotations and information to the brown paper pages except for a more general quotation that, while not referencing dragonflies directly, definitely encompassed the feel of all within. Rather than find a place to hand write it onto, I played with it in Corel Paint Shop Pro so that it would print out at the same size as the image at the top of the page. I added a blurred photo of birch trees behind the text and printed it out, then attached it to the security envelop rectangle that would go on the opening page.

I found security patterns to match the one used on the insides of the cover, and several more for variety, attaching them to the front and back of each signature with the double stick tape. I originally had fought the idea of covering so much of that handmade paper, but I got over it as I remembered I hadn't considered that paper much of a success.

I'd found more dragonfly images and pasted them to the brown paper for added stability. Those now got cut out and added to the inside spreads that needed more filling spaces around quotations.There still may be more added, especially on the flaps.

What was left is finding homes over the security envelop rectangles. And I'm finally bringing in some fabric too, this example using a scrap of Art Nouveau fabric fused down with Steam a Seam II. I'm getting pretty close to the end of this project and sewing those signatures into place. It's been quite the learning experience.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wrapping up #Inktober 2018

I always find it interesting the trajectory any finite project takes, whether it be an idea for a design or a challenge of a specific length. There's always excitement at first, lots of energy and enthusiasm. Midway there is often a slump, a stagnation of ideas, a wondering if this will ever wrap up. Then there's the race down the home stretch, ideas percolating again, maybe more than can be squeezed in, and a gratification of having completed the challenge when all is done. So it has been with my month of daily drawings.

Here are the Zentangle drawings from the 29th, 30th and 31st. I like what I did on the first one, although it is pretty busy, nowhere really for the eye to rest. I had Halloween on the brain as I sketched in some cobwebs. I also tried a new variation on a familiar tangle, that one in the lower right. I think I'd like to play with that some more. 

The second I consider another one that got away from me and got a bit messy. The center tangle is one based on a grid, and depending on how you spiral the lines in the triangular spaces, you can get different effects. But it is easy to get confused, and that is what happened in the larger squares. The Zentangle people encourage you to use mistakes as an opportunity to add something different to "fix" them, which is what's going on in the bottom square, but it makes no sense to what else is going on around it. I wanted to use that over and under woven pattern before the challenge ended so I put it on this one and really should have put it in all 4 corners. Oh well, they all can't be successful.

The last shows more slowing down and thoughtful approach, a nice way to end. I've been saving that feather, a similar technique to the pine bough, only using pointed ends instead of squared off ends and adding the feathery barbs at the base. I was noticing the other night that one of the fabrics in the quilt on my bed has a similar pattern to the tangle I used as background. I'd like to try a variation based on it. But for now, it's back to what's lingering in  my studio. I've been doing a bit here, a bit there on that bookbinding challenge, and it's time to give it some undivided attention.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

#Inktober Adaptations to Tangles

Once you've learned the basics of Zentangling and mastered some of the "official" tangles (here's one source for reference), the Zentangle people encourage you to look for patterns as you go about your daily life that might be adapted into a tangle. Last week while paging through a magazine, I ran across a photo of crystals that reminded me so much of the tangle "reef" (used in the middle Zentangle here), the difference being that the crystals have pointed tops and more than one side showing while reef's tops are flat and the sides one-dimensional. I pasted the photo into my sketchbook and played around a bit with this idea for my October 25th drawing.

Continuing with this theme of adaptation, on the 26th I turned to my little notebook of tangles and the pages showing a pattern I'd clipped from a catalogue that I thought could be used as an alternate to the basket weave pattern on the facing page. Rather than use it as a fill across a wide space, I decided to try it in a border with great results. I added different variations of the tangle "rain" (honestly, the name makes no sense to me) in the center, without much thought to design aesthetics. I was a bit tired and uninspired that day once I tried out my border idea.

In for a penny, in for a pound as they say, I decided the next two squares would also be adaption tryouts. In 2013, Wisconsin friend Michele, who is into photography as much as she is fiber, sent me a photo of shadows cast by a lacy curtain, thinking it could inspire a Zentangle. I agreed and printed it out to file away in the cigar box where I keep my Zentangle supplies and printouts of step-outs. Well, this hasn't taken me long to get over its intimidation, has it? On the 27th, I broke down the elements, recognized tangle-like areas and started drawing swooping lines. I think I've stumbled upon a possible machine quilting design in there.

Finally, on the 28th I thought I'd see if I could adapt a snowflake image, found at the same time as the crystals. This was not very successful, partly because of the wonkiness of the center hexigon and partly because I tried to copy too closely the lines in the design. This needs work and simplification.

Here's what I was working from to try out these adaptions. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Speaking of Michele, she commented on a previous post, one where I'd taken a disappointing Zentangle and rotated it for a better result, that I might put four of them together kaleidoscope-style for an interesting design. As long as I had my photo software program open, I decided to see how that would work. What do you think?

And of course, I had to tray the opposite configuration. It's more of a fan design, and if I could scrunch each one up to meet along the vertical and horizontal center lines, I might have something.  


Thursday, October 25, 2018

More #Inktober Zentangle Borders

You know it when you've found that thing that makes you smile, makes you eager to dive in. That is what has happened with these Zentangles where I've started with a border or frame. While the swoopy, less regimented, almost free form Zentangles do appeal on a certain level, my comfort zone and aesthetic is so obviously tied to a more contained and symmetrical style. I've been encouraged throughout my creative journey to loosen up, throw out the rules, etc etc, and I give that a go from time to time. But it's an uncomfortable experience usually that does not produce results I am thoroughly happy with. Usually but not always. It doesn't hurt to get outside your comfort zone now and then!

But for these three from the 22nd, 23rd and 24th, I could hardly wait for the time slot I've set aside to work on my daily drawing, could hardly wait to try the next border and find something to put within it. I suppose this is the way it goes if you truly have a daily practice of anything. There will be days when you'd rather skip it, feel uninspired, even feel that you are only repeating yourself, and then days when your ideas and enthusiasm are overflowing.

And in these three you also see the way I gravitate toward adding circles, given half a chance. Is it any wonder I often gravitate to adding them in my machine quilting backgrounds as well?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

#Inktober Zentangle Borders

There are tangles that lend themselves to making frames or borders around what else is going on in a Zentangle. For these three from the 19th, 20th and 21st, I wanted to try this idea out. 

These frames appeal to my neat and contained aesthetic while allowing for some looseness in conforming them to a square border. 

It then encourages me to use tangles within to form a vignette that may be recognizable as a landscape or a formal grouping. Or, if in a hurry as I was today, merely to help showcase a single tangle almost like a still life.

By the way, this group started just past the midpoint of this month-long challenge. That is the point where the novelty and charm of a daily challenge usually starts wearing off for me, starts feeling more like drudgery, and my "fun" ideas for what to draw start to wane. Sometimes just adding color to my pen and ink drawings is enough to spark my enthusiasm again, but I'm trying to keep at this without resorting to that. Focusing on frames/borders is doing the trick!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#Inktober Zentangle Trial and Error

Click on the photo to see details in a larger version
Turning the page again, it was time to try out and practice some new tangles. I have to confess, I was feeling no love while I worked on those on the 16th and 17th. This process, both Inktober and Zentangles, is supposed to be meditative and affirming, but I only felt frustration and defeat. Could not get a nice symetrical shape on the first one, could not follow the step-out of the second one which is just starting with 3 rice shapes placed in a triangle and continuing to add rice shapes to form an overall flower design.

So today I pulled out one I was sure I could do because it starts with a grid of dots like a peg board. Shoulders relaxed as I added the curves dot to dot to form the rice shapes. Joy returned adding the diagonal rice shapes overlapping each other. There was too much error in my trials.

The more I worked, the more ideas came to mind for variations which I eagerly tried. Some are looking very quilty. I think I could do something with these besides include them in a zentangle.