Thursday, November 15, 2012

French Wedding, Zazzle and GIMP

Zazzle makes it pretty easy to coordinate your wedding (or anniversary, reception or other event) with all the stationery products you need, with customized cards you design yourself or a huge variety of interesting designs from other designers. I am going to use a few products that I recently designed as an example.

I have been kind of interested and charmed lately by the vintage bunting/garlands that have been popping up in many places lately. Some might recall the Halloween bunting I made for our home decor and my daughter's birthday party last month.

SPOOKY Bunting

I used GIMP, my free image manipulation program, to make French ephemera wedding bunting to apply to various products in Zazzle. The background for the letters to spell out OUR WEDDING is   made of lovely vintage French typography, advertisements, receipts, etc. - all from Karen at the Graphics Fairy. It took a bit of time to shape each piece of ephemera into the pennant, or equilateral triangle, shape before applying the letter to each one. I used a great font called Chocolate Box Decorative.

I then applied a background and text and came up with invitations, Save the Date postcards and RSVP cards.

Table seating cards and menu cards are also possibilities.

I have the French Wedding bunting with alternative backgrounds that I have not yet posted on Zazzle. These are more colorful designs with swirls and leaves in the background in either aqua/teal or purple/lilac/tan.

Now, I have to admit that I had the individual pieces of the wedding bunting done right after I made the Halloween banner, but I could not for the life of me draw a satisfactorily smooth line as the "string" the bunting pieces were attached to. I tried again and again. Guess my hand is just not that steady.

So, in the interim, I have been watching quite a few GIMP tutorials on YouTube, and been reading a lot of GIMP advice. When I found this written tutorial about how to draw a circle, and other shapes in GIMP, I knew it was just what I needed for this bunting project. 

Basically, you use your select tool, in this case the circle (or oval) select. Position your selection where you want your line to be; it doesn't matter if part goes off your image (mine had to a lot to get the correct curve) or if there is extra where you don't want a line, you can just erase later. When you have your selection positioned, go to Edit-Stroke selection, then make your line as thick as you want it (I believe mine were 3 pixels). This also works for squares and rectangles with the rectangle select tools and for other shapes with straight lines. This was a great discovery for me.

I made this funky, fun design drawing a circle the same way on a transparent layer as a guideline for laying out the wreath, then just making it invisible (or deleting it) later.

I know this GIMP "discovery" is probably very elementary for most GIMP users, but I am still reading, watching and learning (mostly through trial and error) and it was just what I needed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween Party Ideas

I know it has been about 100 years since I wrote a blog post.

My garden is still plugging along and getting a bit refreshed in the Texas 2nd growing season...I have lots of little red peppers, arugula and a couple of little Fairy Tale eggplant, plus so many happy herbs.

Also, I have continued with my art and craft projects, especially creating and posting lots of stuff to my Zazzle store. I am totally unprepared, but a lot of people seem to be getting ready for Christmas already, and are buying their cards and ornaments, especially popular have been the international Santas, like the Paris, Rome and London cards and ornaments.

But here lately, I have to admit, I have been a bit preoccupied by Halloween. You see, my daughter, who has a mid-October birthday, has decided that she wants to have a Halloween costume birthday party at home. ! What, you mean I have to clean and organize my house?? Actually, I love the idea, and we have been brain-storming lots of cool decorations, foods and spooky activities.

Today, I made this "SPOOKY" Halloween banner, using scrapbooking paper, card stock, a scalloped paper punch, a great font, Elementary Gothic Bookhand, and small black fabric ribbon. Here it is hanging from our antique (past its prime) piano.

I had wanted to make another banner that I found as a free printable on line. I think this person did such a good job in designing this banner, but I just couldn't get it to print right, after selecting landscape a few times, and other options that should make that work with my printer...even tried it with another computer. Alas.

I do have about 2/3s of it printed out  and cut out, so I will ask my computer expert to help me with this.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time today soaking, scraping and scrubbing labels off of various "potion" and "poison" bottles for beverages. Here are some cool sites and resources for printable Halloween bottle labels. The 1st is one of 2 I found at the Graphics Fairy site.

These are going to be awesome beverage labels for my daughter's party.

Also, I found out the most awesome thing online...but unfortunately, I do not remember what site it was on. If you add a little tonic water to a beverage, then it will glow in a black light. (I'm really excited about this one!)

Well, that is what is going on with us this season. Maybe, I'll post party pictures later. And after that is all over, maybe I will even get around to painting again.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chilling Yet Personable Dystopian Novel "When She Woke"

I have almost finished When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, a re-imagining of "The Scarlet Letter" set in the not too distant future, and reminding me a lot at times of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" and often as disturbing. The reminders the reader gets that the novel is set in the future in our country, such as technological advances and gadgets, do not seem very far fetched at all, and the changes in policy, attitude and law that have pushed society to the situation in the book seem chillingly likely and address many present day political and social concerns. That the book is set mainly in Plano and Dallas, with mentions of familiar places like Oak Lawn, Mockingbird Station, SMU and Garland, only serves to bring it home more strongly to me, a lifelong resident of Dallas-Fort Worth who grew up in Garland. The main character, Hannah Payne, obviously a more modern day sounding nod to Hester Prynne, a young woman who grew up in a loving but very limiting, extremely Christian family and environment, is easy to care about and her emotions, predicament and realizations are very easy to identify with. The book addresses some pretty thorny topics, and I needed to take a little break from my growing apprehension as I approach the end, but it is also well written and engaging. I recommend it.

Hillary Jourdan is the author of Mudbound (2006), a prize-winning, New York Times bestseller. (Which I have not read, but I mean to remedy that soon.).

Thanks to Michelle Rhea for the gift of the book. (I hope you got one for yourself too!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fused Glass and Arts Goggle Festival

It's time for spring Arts Goggle in Fort Worth's cool near Southside neighborhood tomorrow afternoon and evening. One of the things I have been doing this week to get ready is creating a few more fused glass suncatchers. (Starting in the morning before it's too hot to run the kiln!)

A few of the older suncatchers, available on Etsy

Paris Eiffel Tower suncatcher

Backlit with some sun shining through

Experiments with wire-wrapping, copper inclusion

Since I will have a space outside this time around instead of the large room and wall space I have had for some previous shows, I will be showing mostly jewelry, these suncatchers and a few smaller pieces of art.

I'll be at 300 South Main Plaza Saturday May 19th from 4-10.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Poem and History

Happy Mayday!

Today I thought I'd share a May poem from about 12 years ago. The daughter in question is now a beautiful young woman who will be turning 24 later this month.

My Daughter in Baptist Youth
for Brenna, age 12

Sometimes I throw out words,
casual, not an issue,
words like Maia, Athena, Mara,
names of goddesses.
Words like myth and story
when we speak of these old tales
and dictums, histories of magic
and supernatural cruelties,
campsite tips - things we are
told to live our lives by.

Sometimes, her faith
held tight in her young heart,
she balks, challenges,
walks away, hurt and tearing.
And so I keep it easy, thrown in,
aside. The myths an option,
all the other stories - tidbits,
tastes of all belief,
the names sprinkled in like salt.

Sometimes, on a spring night,
we come together, blissful,
around a leaping fire,
roast marshmallows and
admire the flowers resurrected
after winter.
Celebrate Beltane, her birthmonth,
bring in the May.

by Anita M. Barnard
published in Above Us Only Sky
Incarnate Muse Press 2003

This is also Beltaine. The Celtic festival "Beltine (or Beltaine) was celebrated on 1 May, a spring-time festival of optimism. Fertility ritual again was important, in part perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun, symbolized by the lighting of fires through which livestock were driven, and around which the people danced in a sunwise direction."  -Nora Chadwick (from Wikipedia, where you can read more). We love a festival involving fires and often make a fire in the fire pit on this also makes a good excuse for roasting vegetables (or marshmallows) over the wood fire.

May 1st is also Labor Day in many countries.

The vintage Maypole image is from the Graphics Fairy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Designing Pillows —- Digital Art for Zazzle

Sometime in January I posted in a Zazzle forum calling for ideas for new products how cool it would be if independent designers (me, for instance) could design throw pillows to be produced by Zazzle. I was pretty excited on February 7th when I found out that they now have that in place, and I quickly designed 3 pillows on GIMP. A really nice thing about these pillows and the other housewares products that came out at that time, is that they are being manufactured by a company that "sustainably employs" and supports single mothers.

Here are the three pillow designs that have sold from my store so far. You can see a theme emerging as far as what is popular. (I also see that with my iPhone cases and cards.) Two of these have a digitally collaged background of  vintage Parisian and French ephemera, including an old invoice, receipt, handwritten letter, the handwritten manuscript of Madame Bovary, lovely typography and old stamps, with a number of the vintage images from Karen at the Graphics Fairy.
Paris Eiffel Tower Butterfly Pillow mojo_throwpillow
Paris Eiffel Tower Butterfly Pillow by 13MoonshineDesigns
Vintage Paris French Ephemera Pillow mojo_throwpillow
Vintage Paris French Ephemera Pillow by 13MoonshineDesigns

Three of my other pillow designs were featured products on Zazzle, wining Today's Best Awards.

Sunflower Ancient Rome Italian Pillow mojo_throwpillow
Sunflower Ancient Rome Italian Pillow by 13MoonshineDesigns

And just a couple of days ago:
Vintage French Floral Dress Forms Pillow mojo_throwpillow
Vintage French Floral Dress Forms Pillow by 13MoonshineDesigns

I have actually designed 49  pillows that are available in my store.

If you are a Zazzle designer who has sold any pillows, add a comment to my post with a link to your best selling pillow design.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fonts Are Cool

I love fonts. I have just been on a shopping binge for fonts. I am so excited by the ones I got!

My new fonts

I got these at FontRiver. There are thousands of fonts there...and thousands I haven't even seen Yet.  I am really glad these people offer FREE fonts and amazed by the people who design all the wonderful fonts and then offer them for free. Yesterday after lusting after some great fonts for a while, with some help from Edward I learned how to unzip and install the fonts to my font folder. ("Font folder" I had no idea, and I can honestly say I had never been in my Control Panel before.)

I have no idea how I would ever use the magical unicorn font, but it was too fun to pass up. I love the Jane Austen one that is based on her handwriting.

I used the Adine Kirnberg font on this Shakespeare themed pillow cover I made.

Shakespeare Romeo loves Juliet Pillow

And the very pretty Chopin font for this one, that isn't sewn yet.

Imagine Peace Pillow

My brain is pretty worked up imagining all the things I can do with these fonts. I am offering personalized pillow covers using a choice from five of these fonts in my etsy home decor shop.