This card is from my stepdaughter’s birthday a couple weeks ago, before the end of the civilization as we know it. It’s fanart from a newish Netflix cartoon called Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, about a post-apocalyptic Earth where most of humanity lives in underground burrows because the surface is rules by mutant animals. If you are trapped in your own home and enjoy that sort of thing, I highly recommend it.
I’m not really allowed to discuss what this card means just yet. Perhaps I can come back later and elaborate. But I made this delicious peach card: it’s a peach, and a heart, and a star. Tissue paper, butcher paper, matte medium, on medium card stock. I love how the colors on the peach came out. It gives me a lot of ideas for using these materials to create other cool colors and textures.
This was a fox card, for the Fox, obviously. One thing and another, I didn’t actually see him on his birthday because he was busy with Otter stuff, and then I ended up looking at this piece all week and seeing all these little mistakes I wanted to fix, but he loved it, so it’s good, I suppose. Except for the 5000 times my terrible cat knocked it onto the floor; that part was less good.
Tissue paper, butcher paper, matte medium, on heavy cardstock.
Our family’s present to Mom and Dad for their 50th wedding anniversary (it was on Christmas, but I’m just getting around to posting it now because the last 2 weeks have been crazy).
For my parents’ 40th anniversary, my sister presented them with a quilt made up of a squares decorated by pretty much everyone they knew or were related to, interspersed with family photos. She just reminded me that the project actually took 5 years from start to finish. My sister-in-law had knitted a square that represented her being pregnant for the first time, but by the time my parents received the quilt, there were photos of my 2 nephews included.
So I had this idea that I wanted to do something like that—collaborative art, a group effort that would create something personally meaningful for my parents—but would not involve herding cats and would be completed in 6 months. I asked my sister for ideas, and this was the one she came up with. You just take a photograph, divide it into a grid, and assign each person 1 or more pieces. All the different art styles and media come together to create this cool gestalt art.
Amazingly, we managed get all the pieces completed and to the framers within the deadline (granted, The Man was still working on his an hour before I went to the framer) and nobody spoiled the surprise, even though a goodly portion of the people involved were small children.
This piece is based on a photograph I took of my parents in a local rose garden. The square I spend the most time on (the enlarged segment on the right side of the photo) is mostly fabric, but the hands are made of leather, and the zipper pull is a real one cut from a discarded pair of The Man’s jeans. I also did the blue sky piece that says “50.” That one is all tissue paper, using the same technique I do many of the little animal cards in: just torn paper and matte medium. I also did the flower bit, far left, second from the top, in crayon. My sister’s pieces are all gouache. Her husband did his part (third from the top, third from the left) all in wood and The Man did his (right side, second from top) in metal. Other materials include oil pastels, colored pencil, and acrylic. My brother-in-law facilitated the process by creating the individual black and white pieces for guidelines, and by cutting all the 6″x6″ squares so everything would fit together perfectly.
For this year’s winter bulletin board, I was inspired by the Danish concept of hygge, which is a national emphasis on coziness during the darkest part of the year, often involving hot cocoa, but I wanted to give it a local spin. Of course, snow in Tucson is rare and scanty when it comes, but up on the mountain it falls in abundance and people who enjoy things that are cold, wet, and inconvenient can go up there and get whatever it is that people who didn’t grow up in the midwest and don’t find the cold debilitating get out of it.
All my bulletin boards are intended to be secular (well, OK, some of them subtly reflect my personal views of pantheism with a sprinkling of paganism and Buddhism, but they are never meant to reflect anything beyond the most superficial trappings of Christianity) but people will insist on attributing everything to Jesus. Apparently the Christians have a monopoly on the word “peace” now? It’s not for Christmas. It’s for winter. We could all use peace and coziness, regardless of whether a fat man in a red suit has ever brought us presents.
How can it be summer already? But it is. School here ends May 23rd, and I’m off to present my thoughts about Bonnie Jo Campbell Comics in Michigan, so I decided to clear this off my plate in a simple but elegant fashion before I left. I’ll do something fancier in the fall. I’m trying to dream big, like I did as a kid, and I hope the kids at this school are too.
The top font is called Indie. The bottom I just drew freehand.
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.
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.
My ridiculous heath issues have put a damper on my creative activities of late, but I have a friend whose health issues are much more serious; she had major surgery today and I decided to make her this card. Get well soon. You know.
Recently I decided that I should stop hoarding paper and just try to use it all to make art. I also have some papier-mâché I might post later, but the projects I have in mind are more complicated than just slapping colors on a balloon, and I’ve only done the preliminary steps.
As always, I see a million ways this could be a better image, but I’m only at about 50% capacity lately, so just being able to work at all was a coup.
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!