Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Linocut Bookmark #1 Lunar Moo

Having always been a fan of my friend, Jean's printmaking, and the lovely graphic chronicle of Nashville's history that is the catalog of Hatch Show Print it stood to reason that I would eventually try linocut printing. Frankly, it's a lot of work and a lot of fun. I can't wait for the next block of time when I can sit with my cutting tools and make more.

The picture and background are both from plates that I cut for this run, The illustration is printed on linen litho paper and the background is printed on canson drawing paper. The assembled bookmarks were sealed with a high-heat laminator (in other words, my machine requires a "carrier") and finished it off with a black satin ribbon.

The dimensions are roughly 6.75 x 3.35. The ribbon is approximately 5 inches long.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

DIY #1 Candy Box Lights

This project is rated PG because it does entail using sharps and electrical stuff.
If you do the fancy version, it also requires the use of a glue gun. (I cooked a little bit of the pad of my left thumb last week with one of those. Ouch!)

What we are going to do is take your everyday boring string of holiday lights from this:

to this:

So let's get started!

For the first step you will need a string of old holiday lights. If you can find the low- to no-heat kind or a short string of LED, those would be ideal.

You will also enough boxes to cover each light. For the example you see here, I used Japanese fun-sized candy boxes. Many stores are already carrying merchandise for Halloween and you should be able to find bags of small boxes of candy with pretty nifty designs. Barring that, you could always use raisin boxes or go to an international market and look around for very small boxes that look interesting. (And hey, it's a good way to taste of food you might not ordinarily have in your pantry.)

These boxes are roughly 1.5 x 2.5 x .75.

Now, this is where you need to ask yourself if you want to do this the quick and dirty way or if you want to take a little more time and make these suckers the fancy schmancy way.

Let's do quick and dirty first:

1. With an x-acto knife or the sharper end of the blade of a pair of scissors, cut a small "x" into the lid of each box.

2. Close the box and push a light into the "x".

3. Once you have pushed the light in so that only part of the wire sticks out, pull gently on the light so that it pushes the flaps of the "x" back up. This will help the string of lights grip the boxes so they don't fall off.

Viola! Candy box lights! You're so fab!

...and now

The fancy-schmancy version:

1. Gently take the boxes apart by finding the seam and separating it so the box becomes one flat surface.

2. Using clear contact paper or removable laminating film, cover the flattened box. They pretty much work the same, but I prefer duck brand because it's clearer and more forgiving if I have to reposition it.

The easiest way to do this is in strips of two so the film is anchored down by the other end while you place the boxes design side up on the backing paper.

3. Once you have them positioned, it's a good idea to use a rolling pin to flatten out the strips so they don't have bubbles or huge wrinkles.

4. Then take an x-acto knife or a small pair of scissors and cut away the excess film. Remember to cut between the rounded flaps and the smaller side flaps!

5. With an x-acto knife or the sharper end of the blade of a pair of scissors, cut a small "x" into the lid of each box.

6. Fold the box back into its original shape.

7. In the picture below, you should see a small white flap with angled ends on the lower edge of the folded box.

Using a glue gun, put a line of glue on that flap and then attach the flap just above it. Be very careful not to burn yourself! (Maybe you're more coordinated than I am. If so, please accept my apology.) The best way I've found to smooth it out while the glue is still hot is to take a square-ish chop stick and press it along the inside seam, making sure the box stays in shape. This is actually easier than it sounds.

8. Once the glue has cooled, close the box and push a light into the "x".

9. Once you have pushed the light in so that only part of the wire sticks out, pull gently on the light so that it pushes the flaps of the "x" back up. This will help the string of lights grip the boxes so they don't fall off.

Dude! Consider yourself illuminated!

How do they look?

I'll let my favorite spokesmodels, John T. Scopes, John, Paul, George and Alanis model them for you.

John T. Scopes goes coocoo for Choco-Baby!

George says, "My sweet lord, these lights make me think of those fun parties at Nirvana!"

So have fun. Be safe both while you're making these and after you've put them up. Just as you would do with any any electrical decoration, be sure to turn it off if you leave the room. Check back often to see what I've made and what DIY projects I've posted.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Let's start with the stats:

They're made of a lightweight cotton material. The fabric was washed before they were sewn and there was no dye run.
The length without the cord is around 4'.
The nylon hanging cord is approximately 10".
The diameter is 4.5".
They weigh in at a little over 1.5 ounces.

When I first started sewing windsocks, I knew what they looked like but wasn't sure how they were made. I wanted my windsocks to be pretty and sturdy, so I found some lightweight cotton material and created my own pattern.

Having looked at few more windsocks, I have discovered that many are made from taffeta or nylon and most are glued rather than sewn. They're probably good products, I just like doing things my own way.

That's why every piece is sewn, tabbed and triple-stitched.

Even the streamers are triple-stitched to the bottom of the sock and the sides are treated with poly to keep them from fraying too much.

The cords are made of commercially braided nylon that is wrapped with color-coordinated craft wire to retard wear.

Someone wrote to ask how color-fast they are. Here is a picture of the windsock that has been hanging in my garden for about a year and a half. We get some pretty intense weather (See my crispy brown grass i nthe background?) and this one did fade a little. Most cotton will. Personally, I think it gives it character.

I have given away a few socks to see what other people think. Some have hung out in gardens, a few have decorated libraries and childrens rooms and one was actually flown as a kite by a friend of mine who is seriously into flying anything he can get on a line and airborne. So far, everybody seems to like them! I hope you will, too.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

We're So Bona Fide!

One July 15th, I received word that my trademark for ZenDixie was officially registered with the USPTO. Looking at the parchment certificate that arrived in the mail a few days later still makes me a little giddy.


Now it's time to get to work.

The store is a work in progress. If you want to see what I've done so far, feel free to take a look! You can find it here.

Pretty soon I'll have more information about the products you can find there and some upcoming fundraisers.

Peace, y'all!