Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stencil Terminology

Stencil technique in visual art is referred to as pochoir, e.g. Banksy.  When a paper-cut, stencil-like image is the artwork itself, it's known as scherenschnitte (scizzor-cut).  It's kirigami (paper-cut) when the cutwork is symmetrical, as in a paper snowflake. (Although I've seen asymmetrical kirigami.) Cutwork is usually used for the effect on fabrics, I've seen the term applied to jewelry also.  Openwork is a term I've seen used for jewelry and crochet. I have been using cutwork mesh up to this point for my work.  But the 3D animation folks are also using mesh. To be honest, right now I don't know what I should call my work.

When I design a cutwork mesh the challenge is to make the bridges the right size.  If the mesh is to do a job like hold a bar of soap, it has to have robust enough bridges, while still letting in lots of air so that the soap can dry out well.  If I design at one scale and then try to shrink the design, the bridges shrink, too, so I have to keep aware of what's happening. I make a test cut and see which bridges are problematic, then adjust the elements accordingly in Illustrator to make bigger bridges, or smaller holes. 2 mm or about 1/16" is about as small as I want a bridge to be.

I don't just design on Adobe Illustrator, sometimes I use TouchDraw on the iPad to design meshes. With TouchDraw, I mail the drawing file as a pdf which I can email to my main computer put it on a thumb drive and take it via sneakernet to my other PC which has Illustrator on it.  From Illustrator I export an SVG file which is the file format for Sure Cuts A Lot.  Sometimes I sing the Madelina Catelina song and juggle a few oranges while I'm at it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Product photography and pricing.

Now that we are inside for the winter, here's my product photography setup. Don't laugh, my photography teacher uses desktop IKEA lamps and something to soften the light.  I don't have any tulle so you can see the reflections on the underlying tile.

I had a number of travel soap bags for a recent craft show that didn't sell, so now I am getting around to photographing them and listing them.

Recently, I read that one should value one's product as to what the market should bear rather than the hourly wage one wishes to make. That's because we arts-and-crafters get to work when we want, make what we want which has value as well.  The price can be found out by doing a lot of shows, by raising and lowering the prices until you find that sweet spot. However, I haven't had the opportunity to do a lot of shows so I don't really know what the market will bear for my travel soap bags. After all as far as I know, I'm the only one making these. Well, there were a group of buyers from Taiwan who bought some from me so they might be making them by now.  As soon as I see these in the dollar store then it's off to make something else.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Notebook experiments

Here's a "cane chair mesh" notebook and a "What The Heck" notebook. The word "What" is on the spine of the book on the right. The Cane Chair mesh has a rather unsuccessful stencil font which says "Inspiration always arrives unannounced." The insert is also not the right size.  the What The Heck notebook is made out of a fibrous tarp which is rather too fibrous in my opinion.  I had hoped that these would have turned out, but it seems they require more iterations.

(As I write this I think I'm going to use the cane chair mesh on a decorative box to store my music books. That way I can put the shelf back on the floor. I had been keeping it on top of the piano while our puppy matures into a non-chewer.)

At the end of it all, when I have completed all the background work, will hopefully be some nice products. It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to produce something worthwhile.  Only the best items will make it onto my online shops.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Retired Vinyl Tarp Wallet

 I wish I could say exactly how long I used this wallet. But was a long time. This particular tarp scuffs according to the wear spots and along the raised parts of the internal mesh.  I retired it and I'm using another.

I designed this wallet to hold up to 40 cards, because that's life these days. Lots of cards.

After I emptied it out my 5-month old golden doodle got ahold of it for a brief period of time. She can make short work of a lot of things very quickly. I wouldn't make dog toys out of this because I reckon the polyester mesh isn't good for puppy's teeth. And the inks aren't food safe.

Cane Chair Mesh Journal Cover

This is a test cut of a mesh design based on the classic "hole-cane" design on chairs with woven reed seats.  To arrive at the geometry,  I experimented in Adobe Illustrator with a number of long rectangles until I found something that looked similar to the pattern.  Then merged the shapes, Compound path...release to arrive at the hole pattern. Export to SVG, import into Sure Cuts A Lot, size to fit, and so on.

In the lower right of the photo I was experimenting with a stencil font. It features the quote "Inspiration always arrives unannounced," by Vanna Bonta. The font is too small in this experiment so I'll have to enlarge the quote.  The reason I'd like to put quotes on the notebooks is that I'd like to have notebooks feel good in the hand and inspire the creativity of the owner. Lately I had been using my iPad for journalling; but I'm going to go back to coil notebooks because I like, for example, to see my old ideas and different insights and the pains that I've worked through.

I like how the cane chair mesh looks. I might try it on a wallet. I think I'll keep on the lookout for an old cane chair and replace the seat and back with my mesh. It would be a cane chair with a pattern!

This project would benefit from cutting it out twice, and using a relatively low-internal-fiber mesh for the tarp. Too many chads to punch out and very time-consuming if one has to punch out all the holes. I don't yet know how strong the mesh would be in use on an actual chair.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vinylschnitte Notebook

Finally got one of these notebooks listed.  A year or so ago I had a lot of ideas for notebooks.  The hanging chads issue is largely solved by using the multi-cut feature on the Cricut Expressions. Rounding the corners makes for an attractive edge without binding.  Cutwork is trending right now. Therefore, I hope these get some interest.

With this notebook the red insert is reversible to a teal color for a more subtle color combination. Or the insert could be left out entirely for a white background. Three colorways in one notebook!

I had been journalling on my iPad, but there's something about having a physical notebook to thumb through. I enjoyed looking at past sketches for cartoons, things I haven't done yet, as well as all that journalling. I think I'll start using a physical notebook again. After all, one never knows when the cloud will go "poof," and there goes all your entries.

Did you know that the German word for paper cutting is Scherenschnitte? I guess what I'm doing is Vinylschnitte.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cutwork Notebooks

These cutwork notebook covers work like jackets for the coil notebook inside. When the notebook is filled up, it can be swapped out for another notebook.

The other feature of these notebooks is that you can change the color of the insert by flipping it around to the white side. Two looks for one!

I was able to use some of the same mesh files that I have designed for the soap bags. It is nice when files can be reused, all that hard work can go towards another purpose.

They are sewn on an industrial walking foot machine, and I make sure that the top thread is on the outside for the nicest effect. I'm looking forward to the reaction these will get when I show them at this weekend's craft show.

The flyer didn't have the address, it is 1919 79 Ave SE Calgary, in Ogden. At this show I will have a ton of soap bags, wallets and notebooks that aren't currently listed on either of my online shops.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Brothers Bloom Notebook Cover

First I covered the page of the underlying coil notebook with white adhesive vinyl decal. I put the same cutwork design on the inside and outside. But I think that it will work better with no cutwork on the inside.

Rounded corners make it nice so that I don't have to add seam binding.

I saw a window with a coil design in the Brothers Bloom movie, that's where the design takes its inspiration.

I like these, they go up pretty fast and they look very nice. Does anyone use paper notebooks anymore?

Sewing Machine Bloopers

I mentioned that I bought a Yakumo industrial walking foot sewing machine. I wonder how many previous owners this machine has had? I think I'll engrave my name on it somewhere when it's time to pass this one on.

It's a great machine, but learning to drive it I've encountered many speed bumps. It didn't come with a manual. I had it threaded wrong at one point. If I start up too fast the thread breaks.  Sometimes it goes too fast; I'm still learning to fine-tune my foot pedalling.

The particular vexing thread situation shown in the picture was, I think, a bobbin tension problem.  There were a lot of losses this week with my sewing machine, and my vinyl cutter skipping, ruining several cut jobs.

The good thing is, once you solve those four-dozen or more things that can go wrong, the machine starts cooperating. Or more appropriately, the operator starts cooperating.