I wanted pinking shears for a special request bulletin board I’ll be doing later in the week, but apparently that’s not a thing anymore, because I had to buy a set of 12 “decorative scissors” to get the one pair I needed. They’re not as high quality as the ones my mom used to own but the whole set was $13 so I’ll probably get my money’s worth. Testing them out tonight, I accidentally made this flower, which I then painted intentionally and glued down with matte medium. Cute. I’m on a mission to get paint on every time of this floor.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.