Tag Archives: paper craft

E Pluribus Unum

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Of course, she did much more than most people, with much less than most people. 

Usually, my holiday bulletin boards are sort of cheerful and joy-themed, but last night, while considering my intentions, I decided that there was a message that everyone needed to hear. E pluribus unum; one nation, indivisible, a house divided against itself cannot stand; we are one. If we can’t find a way to come together, to heal the rifts between people that brought us the most polarizing and depressing election of my almost-42 years on this planet, we can’t expect to achieve much of anything.

After settling the theme of “unity,” I researched for a while and found a lot of wonderful quote, most of which were a bit sophisticated for my primary audience, a number of whom are still learning to read. This Helen Keller quote summed up the intention in words that your average 8-year-old can understand.

Before anything else, I had already decided I wanted to go font-heavy, to use fancy lettering, which takes 4 times as long, but used to be a mainstay of this genre for me. Once I had settled on the quote, I chose the typeface by searching “19th century fonts” and “victorian fonts.” These letters are based on  Longdon Decorative. I smoothed out a few of its peculiar bumps, but otherwise feel like this cut letters are pretty faithful representations.

No visual imagery really jumped to mind, except maybe hands, reaching or helping. Maybe I’ll go back tomorrow and add a picture if one comes to mind, but I doubt it. Had I more time, I could have come up with something, but I was already 45 minutes late to help the Girl with her report about Jane Goodall, plus getting sick due to the overwhelming stench of the laminating machine. Someone said that they might have changed the type of plastic used in this machine, because they’d actually relocated it to the next room and it still smelled twice as bad as when it was behind the library desk. My head still hurts from those noxious fumes. At any rate, it seemed important to have this bulletin board and this blog post available first thing Wednesday morning.

So, what do you think? Can we just try to love each other? And if that’s too much, maybe acceptance? Tolerance, at a bare minimum. Can’t we just tolerate one another?

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Delirium Fish Headpiece

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It’s the fully adjustable crown of fishies of my dreams, and yours too, I’m sure. 

The final piece for my Delirium cosplay: a cloud of fishes floating around my head. Turned out to be a good thing that I couldn’t find any prefabricated fish ornaments because these origami fish are banging and jamming and swimmingly wonderful, plus, you know, extra layer of surreality. Why is that person wearing a halo of origami fish on her head?

Learning to fold origami fish didn’t take all that long, surprisingly. They’re painted with acrylics to match the tutu. Start to finish making the fish only took a couple hours, and since I already had the paper from 1000 cranes and the paint from a few other projects, the fish cost nothing to make. The headband was 15 cents and the tiny barrettes were 10 cents each. The wire was the most expensive part.

Also made a set of cloisonné fish earrings from old charms, one of which was my mother’s, and the other of which was a gift from the Vampire Bat. Now, assuming that I can find my regular clothes required for the outfit–fishnet shirt, fishnet stockings, colored stockings, leather jacket–the cosplay is all ready to go. I’d search out the pieces now but The Man is sleeping.

 

Malala Yousafzai and Love of Learning

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We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. ~Malala Yousafzai

Considering my final message of the school year, I really wanted to do something that spoke to the ideas of unity and acceptance and love, concepts that seem widely absent from the world this year, and decided to choose a quote from Malala Yousafzai, the education rights activist. If you don’t know about the amazing life of Malala, you should check her out. In a nutshell, she was an 11-year-old girl living under the Taliban when she was asked to blog about her experience as a schoolgirl in a country where education for girls was outlawed, and she began to speak in favor of education and against the regime. Four years later, the Taliban shot her in the head to shut her up, but she survived, and kept at what she had been doing, and went on to win a Nobel Peace prize and some other things too. She graduated high school and went on to open her own school. I don’t think she’s yet turned 20.

It seems like a lot of the problems in our country are predicated by a lack of comprehensive education, a sort of selective myopia about what education means, and what’s important, which is why I chose this quote. You can’t make informed decisions if your schooling has massive lacunae. You need science and literature to understand your world, and you need a good overview of science and literature. You can’t for example, teach science and literature but deliberately leave out the workings of evolution and stories about sex  and claim that you know the shape of the world.

If you must zealously guard your deficits in case something that clashes with your beliefs slips through, then your beliefs are probably not as not as strong as you think they are. Learn about the things that scare you and then evaluate whether or not they’re useful (and why they’re frightening). And that means actually learn. Don’t just be like some people and sit in the classroom with your fingers in your ears, or demanding the teacher reconcile observable phenomena with your preconceived notions. That’s not learning. Science means you look at the quantitative data, not just the parts that validate your story. Literature means you look at the entire human experience, not just the parts that are pretty and clean.

Technically, and from an artistic perspective, this is one of my less ambitious bulletin boards, but I think the kids will enjoy it. Those are real strings on the balloons, and they move when the wind blows. Someone will probably pull them off. Oh well. It took 4 days total, although the first day I just put up the background because I was busy. Then it took a couple hours to make and paste the letters, a couple hours to make the rainbow and the books, and a couple hours to finish and hang everything. The Girl was there to help me, because her school got out a week before mine, and she helpfully pointed out, 3/4 of the way through the rainbow, that I had arranged the colors backward, probably because I haven’t had a good night sleep in weeks. Then she said that it was OK, because the rainbow was unique, like Malala.

So tired.

1000 Origami Cranes

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Yes, I counted them.

On December 8, 2015, I decided to implement 2 minor changes in my life. First, I began teaching myself to play the ukulele, and second, I began folding 1000 origami cranes. Now, just under 5 months later, my time investment has manifested into accomplishment. Not that I will ever be performing Led Zepplin’s greatest hits on the ukulele for an appreciative audience, but I can make songs come out of the thing, anyway. And here are my 1000 paper cranes.

If you’re unfamiliar with the legend of the 1000 paper cranes, it’s an old bit of Japanese folklore: whoever folds these cranes in less than a year and keeps them in their home will be granted a wish, or lifelong luck. Some say they stand for prosperity and health, or for prayers for peace. Things like that. It was a more obscure superstition until after World War II, when a little girl named Sadako Sasuki, dying from leukemia caused by her proximity to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as a baby,  started to fold them in the hospital while praying to beat the cancer. She didn’t make it, but her determination was communicated throughout the country until she became a symbol herself.

Traditionally, the cranes are threaded together on 25 strings in bunches of 40. I think I may put them into a less rigid accounting, but the main thing is to keep the rainbow pattern.

I never had a specific wish associated with these cranes. I’d like peace and prosperity and good health, surely. But really I was just trying to remind myself what it’s like to see a big project through to the end. For me, the end wasn’t about wishing, but about returning to the beginning. From the beginning, I knew that when I finished folding cranes, I would start writing a new book, a different book from the other books I’ve written, a book that would be unconstrained by the world’s notion about what’s OK. A horror novel, a ghost story, a tale of obsession, a metaphor for addiction. A book where extremely messed up things happen to wholly innocent people because the world is inherently unfair. A book without apology, that doesn’t care if it offends you, because frankly, the world doesn’t care if it offends me, so why pull punches? My 11th unpublished novel…

Selling is boring. Selling is the worst. Creating things is exciting, and it is the best.

To that end, I’ll probably be changing the format of the blog in the near future, but it’s uncertain what that would look like right now. It doesn’t seem possible to just stop drawing comics, but it been proven repeatedly that 4 comics a week isn’t feasible. There are other things to do.

Good at Heart

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You can tell which letter I did yesterday and which I did today, because yesterday’s letter are all too skinny. Still, a cool effect.

Some bulletins boards I make for the kids, but every once in a while I make one strictly for me. Hopefully the kids enjoy and get something out of it, but I needed the reminder. The lift.

The quote, of course, is from Anne Frank, written not terribly long before she and her family were betrayed to the Nazis and sent to the death camp where all of them, except for Anne’s father, died. About 70 MILLION people died in World War II. But Anne was right. In general, people are really good at heart. Just sometimes, they fall for the darkness. The darkness seems to be cyclical. And catching.

The political situation in America right now is terrifying to me. The darkness has a platform and a voice, but I have to believe that the light always prevails. Still, I cried in the car going home after I made this bulletin board, contemplating all the commonplace hatred that has bubbled to the surface of society in the last 20 years.

The butterflies refer to the poem “I Never Saw another Butterfly,” and the eponymous book in which it appears. It’s a collection of poetry written by Jewish children who were interned at Terezín, the Nazi’s “model” camp outside of Prague. While Terezín wasn’t a death camp, over 90% of the Jews who went sent there did not survive the war. The single yellow leaf is a reference to Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, a book that should be required reading for human beings. It’s partially a Holocaust narrative, but it’s also a manual for life, written in a time of death: a light in a the darkness.

The moral of the story is that you have to remain hopeful, or the darkness will swallow you.

How to Fly Higher Than an Eagle

You are the wings beneath my wings.

You are the wings beneath my wings.

This Isaac Newton quote probably refers most particularly to the work of 2 great scientists who came before him: Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei. Although Newton is still regarded as one of the greatest scientists to ever live, having made major contributions to the fields of mathematics, optics, celestial mechanics, and of course, the study of gravity, over 300 years ago, he had to acknowledge that his leaps would not have been possible had he not studied the foundational works of those who came before.

In other words, read a book.

A crow riding an eagle

A crow riding an eagle

As for the image, there are fairy tales that involve smaller birds flying higher and farther than stronger birds by riding on their backs, and there are several sets of photographs of this phenomenon which you can Google at your leisure. It’s a documented fact that little birds sometimes hitch a ride on bigger birds.

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Close up on the wing. Somehow, my freehand drawing shortened the back wing considerably, which I didn’t notice until after I cut it out, andI ended up having to add 2 pieces to make it big enough, but that was OK, since eagles have those layers of feathers anyway. it looks better this way.

The kerning on this one is off, because I only had a really limited time to work (I actually wanted to put in clouds, but as it was it took 30 minutes longer than I wanted) and didn’t measure properly. The letters were cut pretty haphazardly, no guidelines, no rulers. I just counted the occurrence of the individual letters and cut them of folded paper, so I only had to do each shape once.

In addition, I spilled a 1/4 bottle of rubber cement all over my shirt/the cement without noticing. That’s a first for me.

Back to School Bulletin Board: (Another) Turtle!

Yep, summer vacation is over.

Yep, summer vacation is over.

I know I just did a turtle, but this is a different turtle. The green sea turtle is, of course, a saltwater creature, whereas this turtle is a freshwater type. Originally, it was supposed to be a red eared slider, a turtle that is a popular pet and, as a result, one of the most invasive species on the planet, but they are native to this region and not considered a nuisance here. However, I didn’t bring a reference photo of a slider, so what we have here is a sort of generic painted turtle. Painted turtles also live in this region. The concept of this bulletin board is from a nearby park called Agua Caliente, where, until recently, natural springs kept everything very lush. I believe the springs have recently dried up, and I haven’t been back in a while, but I’m sure you can still see palm trees, aquatic turtles, and fish there, even if some of the lagoons are drained.

A fresh canvas!

A fresh canvas!

Last summer’s design had help up pretty well; it’s always a particular shame to take the old one down when it still looks good, but they can’t really be repurposed, due to the fact that they’re completely full of open staples and therefore sort of dangerous to touch. Plus, there’s no way to rehang them unless you go and bend all the staple closed, and I use hundreds of staples in a typical bulletin board.

I get my paper from the source!

I get my paper from the source!

I think yellow is a cheerful, but unusual background color. I probably would have gone for blue, to better represent water, but they hadn’t ordered any more butcher paper and no blue was to be had.

Incidentally, I don’t think I’ve ever shared a photo of this giant rack of paper, from which I get most of my colors. (Some of them–the construction paper colors–also come from the supply closet in the office, but the butcher paper is just kept out in the hallway on this rolling rack. It’s never in precisely the same spot, but it’s easy to find. It took me a while before I could effectively use the (blunt) cutting edge against which you have the pull the paper to effectively create a straight rip. It’s very joyful. Sometimes the kids can get paper, if their teachers tell them to, but for me I still feel a little frisson of power knowing that I can have any color paper I want. Bwoo ha ha ha.

Any color except blue, apparently.

Measure a lot of times, paste once.

Measure a lot of times, paste once.

I drew the shell first, then traced its edge to get the letters to fit on its back. Then I traced the edge again to get the letters to fit on top.

Very, very welcome.

Very, very welcome.

From there, I glue everything to the board. It’s sort of a rote operation. I add a few staples for insurance, and then I go back over the design and add a bunch of staples for accent (and security). Here you can see how the staples add texture and dimensionality to the turtle’s head.

That is a face only another turtle could love.

That is a face only another turtle could love.

When the turtle and the text were finished, there was still a lot of blank space and the whole thing looked kind of threadbare. First I added some palm trees, then some fish and some river rocks, and then a few more fish. I go back and glue anything that isn’t lying flat again.

I did this!

I did this!

Truthfully, I meant to start this yesterday, but instead I spent the entire day obsessing about how filthy my office was and totally forgot what I had planned to do. Needless to say, I have not yet started cleaning my office. However, I have created and uploaded some new art, so my conditions from yesterday were still fulfilled. This isn’t my favorite design–it feels like it needs a lot more background–but I only had one day to do it if there was going to be a new bulletin board when the kids came back and it’s 104 degrees out (this bulletin board is outside) and there’s a fire on the mountain, so I feel like the 5 hours I put in today was all I had for this project. It’s cute and it looks OK. So, success.