Tag Archives: paper

Dream Big

summer 2019 bulletin board

Back to the basics here.

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.

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I’m No Angel

img_7920 (1)I’m not comfortable with creating religious content, and since this design needed to include the Mission San Xavier del Bac, I wanted to make it clear that we were looking, as the lyrics suggest, at a picture of a child with wings, not an angel. I thought giving her rainbow hair and rainbow wings would eliminate confusion, but no sooner had I finished worked, a small child came by, excitedly pointed at my work, and said, “It’s an angel! An angel with rainbow hair and rainbow wings!”

Ah, well. I’m used to being misunderstood. Also, angel people see angels everywhere.

Of course, this bulletin board is inspired by the Paul Simon song, “Under African Skies,” from the amazing 1986 album Graceland, which he recorded with a variety of musicians, many of whom were South African. This track features 3 South African artists as well as the vocal work of Linda Ronstadt. The entire verse goes as follows:

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing ’round my nursery door
I said take this child, Lord
From Tucson Arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won’t bother you no more

While many people, no doubt, wish that the children around them would be less bothersome, obviously I couldn’t hang that line up outside the elementary school library. The basic function of people in an elementary school library is to be bothered by children. I mean, not bothered by them per se….

Anyway, the school or their supplier changed the shade of the blue butcher paper, resulting in less contrast between the text and the background than anticipated. I guess I can’t do green on blue anymore. My first pictures, taken in artificial light, were unusable; you could barely see the letters, let alone read them. With better lighting and a DSLR I got some usable images, although I had to do a lot of color correction, and it’s still not as good as the phone picture I posted on Instagram with the Juno filter. But it is readable. I couldn’t find the name of this font; it was just a thumbnail when I Googled “musical font” and the link didn’t work so I can’t credit the source.

If you find yourself in Tucson, Arizona, I recommend a trip to the mission, one of the oldest buildings in America. Don’t come during Catholic holidays, because the Mission is still in use and you’re not supposed to wander around during mass, but the rest of the time it’s an interesting place to explore. There’s a museum, and a tiny chapel full of candles and saints, and a wooden statue of Saint Francis that people get real cozy with, and a gift shop, and a grotto you can hike to with a shrine to Mary. Also, if you come in decent weather in the middle of the day, there will be a bunch of Tohono O’odham people selling fry bread out front. If you are a person who can safely consume white flour and oil, it’s a real pleasure.

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.

Get Well Soon

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I regret nothing.

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.

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!