Monday, 28 December 2009

2009 In Review

This is the bit where I review my 2009 New Year's Resolutions and make some new ones for 2010. I almost couldn't find where I'd written down this year's Resolutions at first. Then I realised they were probably in my old art journal, the one I abandoned when I resolved to use quality products (see, I'm improving already). Here they are:

How did I go?:

2009 Resolutions / Goals
1. Keep a food & exercise diary.
I certainly did this very successfully. The diary encouraged me to eat somewhat better, and helped me to identify problems and improve my diet. Low-GI is your friend, I say! It especially helped me to keep on track with exercising regularly. Late last year I ditched my gym membership and had no way of tracking my progress - the diary provides motivation for me to exercise regularly and build on my achievements.

2. Save money & travel at the end of the year.
I achieved the goal of saving enough money to travel, but unfortunately circumstances prevented Boy and I from going out and doing it. This year was the Year of Weddings. (Not ours! ehehhe) Thanks to the Weddings though, we did have two lovely short holidays in Echuca and in Bright. We got to hang out with friends and had a fantastic time. Mountains and wine and cheese and beer, oh my!

3. Sell at a shop or a market at least once.
Er, this resolution fell over completely. I didn't even make enough craft items throughout the year to fill half a market stall. In 2008 I only sold one or two crafted items in my Etsy shop, so I made a half deliberate decision to make knitted/crocheted items just for myself/friends and not worry about selling them. I decided to concentrate on zines as they seemed to constitute the vast majority of sales online. As for a market stall, I'm pretty sure zines would not be a very saleable item. I only wrote one full-size zine this year anyway...
I knew this would be a challenging goal for me, and I wasn't very optimistic that I could achieve it. I had no idea just how badly I would fail to achieve it, though. In fact, going through my blog posts from a year ago, I can see how little of what I was starting at that time has come to fruition. My confidence was at rock-bottom for most of this year. I could write a much longer list of what I didn't do than of what I did do. I don't think that would be very productive however, so I'll refrain.

4. PROJECT: Write an appreciation letter once a week.
This was a project that I devised late last year. I wanted to write an illustrated single-page letter each week on the theme of gratitude for various different things in my life, and perhaps make them into a Blurb book at the end. I think I wrote about 5. I am not really good at long term projects. My interests tend to skip from one thing to another fairly quickly. Numerous times I've become interested in a craft, but by the time I've had the money/time/effort to purchase the materials, I'm already no longer interested in it. (Hence my series of 5-Minute Obsession posts!) I started to feel guilty that I wasn't writing a letter every week, that I was 'ruining' the project, etc. So to spare myself the guilt, I officially cancelled it. I'll glue the pages into my old art journal for safe-keeping.
Perhaps this 'project' was less about completing the project and more about learning what kind of art/craft project works for me. (i.e. short ones!)

5. PROJECT: Do a drawing once a week.
I sorta, kinda half completed this project. I probably drew on average about once a fortnight. I was better in the second half of the year when I started to get into my art journal again. I'm no Michelangelo, but if I feel my art journal requires, say, a naive interpretation of a chilli, I can put one in without worrying too much that I'm going to ruin the page. Realistic portraiture is still beyond me though!

6. Practice piano 1/2 hour per week.
I got bored with this one pretty quickly too. Then too much stuff started to accumulate on the floor in front of where the keyboard is set up in the hobby room. This resolution lasted about 3-4 weeks. Like I said, when I get bored with something, I don't bother persisting with it. I still like the idea of knowing how to play an instrument, though.

2009 Wrap Up
This year was a bit of a 'nothing' year for me. I didn't get much done. I spent a lot of time not feeling very good about myself, and a lot more time trying to figure out why. To use a computer analogy, I think creative people often go through phases of Input, Processing and Output. 2008 was a year of Input for me, 2009 was a year of Processing. Ideas have started to appear on the monitor of my creative life recently - hopefully in 2010 I'll figure out how the printer works and there will be Output!

2009 Statistics
Books read: 133
Items sold Etsy: 42
Items sold Artfire: 3
Opportunities: 5
Opportunities followed through: 1
Blog posts: 54
Craft items started: 10
Craft items finished: 6
Zines written: 2
Art journal pages completed: 15
5-Minute Obsessions: 12*
No. of 5-Minute Obsessions projects materials acquired: 9
No. of 5-Minute Obsessions projects started: 6
No. of 5-Minute Obsessions projects finished: 0
Longer than 5-Minute Obsessions: 6**
New techniques learned: 4***

* 5-Minute Obsessions: 1. embroidered fabric art cards; 2. making a drop spindle; 3. terrariums terraria; 4. rubber stamp carving; 5. Moleskine products; 6. bookbinding; 7. drawing what I wear; 8. calligraphy; 9. online Art Journalling course; 10. crocheted animals; 11. needlepoint/Jane Austen crafts; 12. making cushions.

** Longer than 5-Minute Obsessions: 1. writing; 2. Rhodia paper products; 3. fountain pens and nib pens; 4. downloadable stationery; 5. JetPens; 6. reading (lasted all year!).

** New techniques learned: 1. no-sew zippered crochet pouch (made up myself); 2. Sharpie ghosting; 3. gel medium transfers; 4. envelope enclosures.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Kitty Gifts and A Few Quick Drawings

I spent the lead up to Christmas churning out cat toys for all my feline friends:

A three-pronged toy for a trio of troublemakers.

A Triumvirate of toys for a Totally Awesome Cat; and a some for a kitty who doesn't know who he/she is yet.

I did this drawing about a month ago when I was on holidays in Bright. It's the view from the balcony of the cabin that Boy and I were staying in:

Sakura Pigma Micron brush pen in Blue Book.

This is my first mandala, which I drew yesterday and coloured today:

Sharpie marker, watercolour in Blue Book.

It's turned out really well, I think. The watercolours are so much brighter when they're dry. I have decided I like mandalas - I can be creative, but I also like it when everything is symmetrical and in the 'right' spot. With mandalas I can have it both ways.

Enjoy your holidays if you got 'em!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Full Circle

After a break of about a month, I've started to work on my art journal again, and I'm glad. I always have phases where I rush around and get all stressed and tell myself, "I don't have time for art or craft!" Which is silly, really, because it's my favourite and most relaxing thing to do. I guess it's easy to fall into that trap at this time of year, instead of enjoying the holiday season.

I made this page last night while I was watching Zulu on DVD - a slightly surreal combination of activities:

Art Journal Page: acrylic paint, watercolour, gel pen, fountain pen, felt pen, glitter glue, collaged wrapping paper, chocolate wrappers, paper scraps and vellum.

It's about Christmas and some things that I feel about it, and the work functions that I've been to and how it's much more fun when you don't stress out about it. In some ways, I could call this the "I Don't Care" page. I just mucked around without thinking much about composition, colour or anything else. And dammit, it was fun!

Note: I stuck the vellum down in spots that looked too 'empty' to me. I hate to see any blank spots on a page. I'm certainly not a minimalist - probably the opposite, whatever the word for that is. The words on the vellum are a reference to the many reports we have to scan at work. Often they will have a page(s) in the middle somewhere which has nothing on it except the words "This page has been left blank intentionally." I've always found that mystifying, and it sprang to mind when I saw the blank spots on my page.

P.S. The bright pink gel pen I used on this page is my new Sakura Jelly Roll from JetPens. It's one of my most favourite gel pens yet!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Trends in Craft #1 - Cupcakes!

Welcome to the first of a 10-part series on Trends in Craft. Since I joined Etsy two years ago, I've noticed there are certain themes and motifs in craft that are insanely popular. Some are cute, some quirky, and some are in fashion seemingly for no reason whatsoever. I thought I'd start with what is quite possibly the number one theme of the last couple of years - Cupcakes!

I've never made cupcakes myself, and I rarely eat them, but I really can see the appeal. They're small, rounded and colourful, and therefore cute. Their round shape and simple lines make them relatively easy to reproduce in knitted, crocheted or illustrated form. They can be decorated with an almost infinite variety of embellishments to suit the occasion: holly for Christmas, pastel colours for Easter, a candle for a birthday, etc. Plus, anything with icing on it is a good thing, in my books!

L: Cupcake Necklace by A Jewelry Boxx.
C: Christmas Snowflake Monogram Fondant Cupcake by TwoSugarBabies.
R: Confetti Cupcake Newborn Hat by NinisHandmades.

L: My Little Cupcake Collection by babychickdesigns.
C: Cupcake T-Shirt by KillTaupe.
R: Cupcake Girls Original Art Print by jennysbakeshop.

L: Mini Pink Frosted Dark Chocolate Plush Cupcake with Rose by cherylasmith.
C: KEEP CALM AND HAVE A CUPCAKE Print by jennysbakeshop.
R: Minty Chocolate Amigurumi Cupcake by anapaulaoli.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Saturday Morning

I've spent all morning de-cluttering my laptop. According to Mike Nelson's Stop Clutter From Stealing Your Life, there is such a thing as computer clutter! I've organised all my craft patterns and stationery downloads into folders. Now, with only 4 clicks, I'm able to tell you that I have 7 different gift tag PDFs to choose from, so there's no need to buy any. I have 3 types of To Do Lists, but no Thank You cards. (What does that say about me??)

I was feeling pretty proud of myself! A few months ago, I cleared up my email and set it up to automatically sort different types of emails into folders. That was immensely helpful. Except for one little thing:

I really need to cut down on some of my email subscriptions!
Hope everyone is having a relatively stress-free pre-holiday time.

[Later:] I walked to the post office to pick up a parcel (I'm a complete advocate of online gift shopping!) and I happened to walk past the Wool Shop. It has 'traditional' opening hours and it's not normally open when I'm in that area. But it was today. I'm glad I travelled light, and I didn't have my credit card on me, or else it could have been a real disaster. I didn't go in, but as I glanced through the front door, I noticed a basket full of handmade hats and scarves with a sign on it saying "$15". Fifteen dollars?! I don't know much about selling through shops, but I imagine the maker would probably get $5 to $10 after the shop takes its cut. I'm more certain that each of the items in the basket would have taken at least 3 to 4 hours to make, minimum. That's practically sweat shop wages! I was a little outraged. I would not buy an item that I knew was handmade for that cheap. I have heard of sellers on Etsy having a lot more success after they increased their prices, and now I'm starting to understand why. If you want to feel good about buying something handmade, then you want to feel good about paying the maker a decent price for it, too.
Just my thought of the day.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Back from Holidays

I'm back, and I'm too busy to wonder whether I have the post-holiday blues.
At least there's always craft!