Category Archives: Bulletin Boards

Dark Nights on Planet Earth

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Who wants to buy me a plasma cutter so I can do this sort of thing in metal?

Well,  I’m in love with this style of paper cutting, except, obviously, it would work even better in metal. It’s weird that I’ve never even attempted anything like this before; was actually way easier than I thought, probably the only bulletin board I’ve ever done that actually took less time than I’d estimated. The whole thing still took 12 hours over 3 days, but cutting out the details (with a scalpel) didn’t take much longer than sketching them out.

You can view some process pictures on my Instagram feed if you want to see that, along with some closer imagers of each design.

The quote is slightly messed up, probably because I never sleep as much as I need to. There should be another definite determiner between “in” and “contrast.” Still, pretty good stuff. Some kid will probably rip some of the details; they’re very fine and I wasn’t able to hit every spot with glue. It’s too tempting for the littles. After the break, I’ll go back and secure it a bit more.

Speaking of the break, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to get anywhere near an airport this week.

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Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”

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Will I be doing any more hand lettering in the immediate future? Quoth the raven, “Not tonight.”

This is Halloween! This is Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! La la la!

Pretty often, the Halloween design is the bulletin board I’m most looking forward to. This one definitely was. I knew I wanted a raven, so I knew I had to do Edgar Allen Poe. The sticking point there was picking the right stanza; the poem is a lot longer than I remembered. I guess it could have worked with just “Quoth the raven ‘Nevermore’,” but where’s the fun in that? You don’t get very much poetry in 4 words.

Then again, cutting 170 paper leaves with terrible plastic scissors was nothing compared to the 4 straight hours I spent inking this bad boy. The raven himself was fairly simple. I sketched him out on Monday, cut and pasted him Tuesday (lost a lot of time because the Girl had hours of math homework to get to), fixed him up a bit more on Wednesday and blocked out the letters (in true Halloween horror fashion, I lost a lot of time on Wednesday because the school had a freaking hard lockdown because there was an active shooter across the street; The Man says it was an accidental discharge but tell that to 400 crying children who have just spend the last hour hiding quietly under their desks in a dark classroom), sketched out the lettering on Thursday (lost more time because the Girl had conferences at a different school in the suburbs and also some jerkface kid had pulled out 30 or 40 staples and tried to peel the raven off), and then strapped myself into my iPod and went at it with a handful of permanent markers on Friday.

It was 4 hours straight with no more than a few minutes break here and there to stretch. Made a lot of mistakes toward the end. It is what it is. I don’t have a name for that font; it’s just something that came up when I Googled “fun Victorian fonts for kids” and started clicking.

Sadly, the kids are on autumn break, which is a thing here. I always wanted an autumn break was I was a kid, and was always told to shut up about it, that I didn’t need a break because school just started. Kids today are lucky with their autumn breaks and their regular early dismissal days. But not so lucky with their active shooter hard lockdowns. Anyway, good thing their break had already started and the teachers just had grading day, because there’s no way I would have finished this if I also had to deal with children.

Anyway, you can read the complete poem here, and you should if you haven’t.

Seriously, my hand hurts. Happy Halloween.

 

Special Request: The Nurse’s Rose Bush

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My hand still hurts from using those cheap decorative scissors, but I guess it was worth it.

They asked me to do an extra bulletin board for the nurse’s office. The health aide had painted the bulletin board and added the paw print border and the letters but then she didn’t know what to do with the rest of the space, so the attendance clerk’s idea was to let me fill it in. Which I did. I couldn’t find any pinking shears so I ended up buying a set of 12 “decorative scissors” for $13 just to get the ones with the zigzag edge, and let me tell you, you get what you pay for. Those scissors were just awful, but I wanted to make the leaves jagged like rose leaves are.

I had the Girl to help out one of the days, so she cut 30 leaves, which is more than I thought she’d manage. I cut 170, making 200 leaves total. There are 27 roses, 12 ladybugs hiding in the foliage, and 6 yellow butterflies. This one took forever, in part because each little component was time-consuming, and in part because I was so busy last week that I never had any long blocks of time to focus.

As I finished, I told the aide, “Let me know when the kids destroy this one and I’ll make you another.” And she said, “The kids are not allowed to touch it!” And I said, “Yeah, but they will.” However, it will last longer than the designs I do in the breezeway because it’s inside, protected from the elements, and there will never be unsupervised kids around it. Any kid who gets near this delicate papercraft will necessarily be no more than 5 feet away from an adult. So I give it until at least next fall.

If you want to see some close up pictures of the flowers you can check out this little gallery on my Instagram (taken with my Moto X4). If you like flowers, cactus, pets, food, or my art, you should totally be following my Instagram. I’m hubris_and_smoke.

“Youth” by Langston Hughes

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Seems like an appropriate message for today’s youth.

I chose “Youth” by Langston Hughes as the theme for this bulletin board, as it seems like a timeless poem, about feelings that keep coming around, and also because it feels hopeful. It suggests a sense of agency on the part of the reader, with the poet clearing the way. You have power! Into the future you go! Good stuff.

I wanted to change the board for September but I didn’t want to go too crazy time-wise, because soon it will be October and this year’s Halloween design is going to slay. Cutting all the letters took about 2 hours, and glueing them another 3 and the feet took about 3 more. So really I didn’t save any time.

Back to School 2018: Lions Launching!

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“Launching” and “stellar” are probably big vocabulary words for a sizable portion of my intended audience, but they’re coming to learn, right?

I’m on a roll with these retro rocket ships!

When I first started doing bulletin boards I never wanted for inspiration; there was always some big idea that I couldn’t wait to try, but now that I’ve been at it 9 years (NINE YEARS!) (averaging 5 or 6 a year, so let’s say about 50 total) and I hate the idea of repeating myself, at least in the same forum, sometimes I have to reach a bit for new material.

The school where I volunteer starts up Thursday, so I had to cram this into my schedule (Tuesday night was the big back-to-school, sign-up-for-the-PTA, eat popcorn and wander around the campus open house, and I managed to get the bulk of the work finished before the school was deluged with parents and kids) not knowing what the plan was, but once I got there I remembered how much fun I had drawing the retro rocket for my “The Future is Non Binary and Intersectional” T-shirt, and once I had that idea, the rest of it fell into place. The rocket and the lion cubs and the paw print and the flames were easy to design: a lot of these elements were ones I had worked with before and the Girl helped me on the first day. She’s really good at peeling excess rubber cement off things.

Then I went back the next day and did the lettering. Something was clearly disconnected in my brain because I measured the space available, calculated how big each letter could be, and then completely disregarded my own calculations and made each letter about 5 centimeters too wide. Thus the bizarre/organic spacing. My original plan was to cut out some of the text that ended up in the word bubble, but the families were already there and it’s a lot of letters that wouldn’t have fit anyway and I decided to just hand ink it and slap it on as a word balloon, which took 5 minutes, versus the 2 hours sketching and cutting would have taken.

The principal loved it. All the teachers loved it. Someone called me “faithful.” As I was leaving the school, I saw a parent taking a photo of my bulletin board! Also a kid trying to read it out loud who clearly didn’t know the words “launching” or “stellar.” Success!

Summer Dreams

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No more pencils, no more lame excuses for overdue books, no more kinder hugs

As usual, I left my final message of the year to the last possible second. Did this one Wednesday day and Thursday of last week (just uploading now because I was on a writing retreat) in about 6 hours. School ended for the year at 2:45 Thursday and I hung this thing up around 4 p.m. Miss Kitty showed up (with an art commission) and helped me get it up a bit faster. I knew I wanted something sort of cooling, so I went for a nighttime theme. The cactus depicted here is the night blooming cereus, also known as Queen of the Night. The flowers bloom one night a year (the blooms are sort of clustered, so you might have a cactus in bloom for a couple days, but each flower lasts only one night). They’re pretty stunning.

The lettering is an ersatz version of a brushstroke font called Wanderlust, which I have inelegantly reproduced here in metallic Sharpies. I hope it keeps the people who have to be there over the summer feeling cool, and I hope all their summer dreams are realized.

I have so many comic scripts written. With a little focus, I hope to get back to actually drawing and posting them again.

Here Comes the Sun!

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This blog is on fire. And it’s lit.

Even though teachers in Arizona are walking out on Thursday #RedforEd and don’t know when they’ll be back, it was time to change out the early spring bulletin board for the late spring bulletin board. The cool, blue aesthetic of the early spring bulletin board did not reflect the reality of the temporal environment, and also the letters were coming off. This design is more accurate for the next month. The fox there is something foreboding in the color scheme, like: WARNING! Arizona summers are brutal. But I like them.

This piece was pretty straight forward. I used a protractor, a ruler, and a folded piece of construction paper to get the shape of the red bottom layer perfect. Then I used that layer as a guide to get the middle orange and top yellow layers to match up, and cut the random little sparks that I added on top for more depth. For the lettering, I drew freehand and then cut all the layers at the same time. I doubled up the paper for the letter that repeated, meaning that the letter E involved cutting 12 sheets at the same time. One of the Hs is upside down and the centering is a bit off but otherwise the lettering is my favorite part. The image took 4 hours and the lettering took 3.

Tomorrow I’ll go back with the rubber cement and the stapler and make sure everything’s tacked down. Although this board will probably only be up a month before I do the summer one, it’s a little known fact that rubber cement becomes increasingly less adhesive the closer you get to 100°. And it’s getting close to 100° around here.