Archive for the ‘2017 TO THE MAX’ Category

Beginner’s Guide to Calligraphy

This month I was learning on my own instead of taking a class, so I know I didn’t do as thorough a job as if I had the guidance of a professional/someone forcing me to do things. Still, I consulted a lot of professionals, in the form of taking their books out from the library:

Sources (Books)
Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thore
Spencerian Handwriting by Platts Roger Spencer
Simple Stroke Calligraphy by Marci Donley
Encyclopedia of Calligraphy Techniques by Dana Hardy Wilson
Calligraphy by Margaret Morgan
Calligraphy in Ten Easy Lessons
Step by Step Calligraphy
Mastering Calligraphy by Gaye Godfrey-Nicholes

Of these, I liked the first one, Modern Calligraphy, the best. It went really in-depth about supplies and what to look for, explaining where you really do need to spend some money and where it’s okay to cheap out, especially for beginners. I also had this amazing Christmas present from Melissa:

A calligraphy kit!

A calligraphy kit!

It had a good practice booklet, pen, ink, and vellum. It was nice to have the basic supplies already. Here’s a practice booklet:

As you can see, my lack of artistic skill is definitely a drawback

As you can see, my lack of artistic skill is definitely a drawback

I also can’t seem to get the thin vs thick lines that really define calligraphy. It’s all about the pressure you exert, which I suppose I could get with more practice:

My handwriting will always look kind of awkward to me, I guess

My handwriting will always look kind of awkward to me, I guess

I’m probably not going to get more practice, though, because I discovered this month that, though I like the results of calligraphy, I don’t really like doing it, particularly. It’s fine, but I don’t have the drive to put in the time and effort I’d need to actually get good at it.

HOWEVER, one of the online sources I consulted, The Postman’s Knock, had an awesome tutorial about how to do CHEATING CALLIGRAPHY!! I am all about cheating, y’all. You can do it with a ballpoint, which I write in my journal with all the time. I immediately started practicing.

What would you have tried first?

What would you have tried first?

I write fast, which is probably why my handwriting is largely illegible. But for this you have to slow down, so I’m hoping I’ll at least take that lesson away from it to improve the quality of my journals in general, if not have them in beautiful Spencerian hand like I maybe naively hoped would happen this month.

I've started doing the first letter of each entry, like I'm important or something

I’ve started doing the first letter of each entry, like I’m important or something

I’m glad I took this month to play with calligraphy since it’s something that’s always interested me. Now I know all I want to about it, and I don’t have to wonder anymore. Plus, I think it’s improved my writing in some little ways.

Best Part: Livening up my journal!

Livens up the journal!

Like this!


worst Part: Sucking at drawing means sucking at calligraphy
Will I do this again?: Nope

Not sure what my plan for next month is yet, but I’m tentatively saying rock climbing!

Previously: Beginner’s Guide to Weaving

Beginner’s Guide to Weaving

One of my goals this year is to try a new thing every month, and for January I took an intense week-long weaving course at the John C. Campbell Folk School. The Folk School itself is pretty incredible, and you should definitely check it out, but today we’re here to talk about weaving. On a four harness floor loom. If you’re a beginner and just want to get your feet wet weaving, I’m not sure I’d recommend a floor loom, because even the small model (“Baby Wolf”) that we used was a beast.

They all had names, and mine was Osma

They all had names, and mine was Osma

Before I went, I watched a bunch of youtube videos of other people using looms, in the hopes that it would help me understand the big picture. It kind of helped, I guess, although the process was still way more complicated than I thought. But before you even get to the loom, you need to pick your yarn and colors and do a bunch of math. Surprise! Every “feminine art” is actually all about math in the end; the patriarchy of science is built on lies (duh).

warpweft

Do you remember what weaving is from those little pot holder looms? The vertical fibers are the warp, which gets secured to the loom through a lengthy process of measuring, adjusting tension, and threading things with hooks. The horizontal threads are what you add through the process of weaving by moving your shuttle back and forth.

This is how you measure it out/set it up to go on the loom

This is how you measure it out/set it up to go on the loom

That’s a warping board, if you want to know. Then you secure the warp you made on there with ties and transfer it over to the loom where the finnicky process begins.

Not pictured: me constantly asking my neighbor if this is right

Not pictured: me constantly asking my neighbor if this is right

That board with all the nails sticking in it is used to measure your warp out evenly to the width of the finished project.

Note the shoelaces and coffee can: technical weaving tools

Note the shoelaces and coffee can: technical weaving tools

Then you wind the rest of that sucker on the back of the loom making sure to keep your tension even.

Have fun! This takes hours

Have fun! This takes hours

Then you thread each individual strand through the eye of a heddle (the metal needle-like things) in a specific order/pattern depending on the pattern you want to make on your finished work. Because this was a four-harness loom, there were four rows of heddles. The most basic threading would be harness 1, harness 2, harness 3, harness 4 repeat, but you can also get fancy.

LOL you thought the threading was over

LOL you thought the threading was over

NOW you’ve got to thread every individual strand through this metal contraption called a reed (because they were once made from legit reeds). Don’t skip any spaces! Unless you’re supposed to, of course.

Tie that sucker on to the front!

Tie that sucker on to the front!

Now you are finally ready to weave! Once you tie up your pedals to specific harnesses and wind bobbins and what not. Pressing down on the pedals (okay, TREADLES, fine–I did learn the correct vocab) will lift certain harnesses, allowing you to pass your shuttle underneath those threads and above the others.

Yay, weaving!

Yay, weaving!

Best Part: My cool weaving class friends! I feel like we were a weaving support group.
Worst Part: Tuesday at noon when we had had NINE HOURS of class and still were not weaving.
Will I do this again?: I’m not rushing out to buy a four harness floor loom because I didn’t enjoy it enough to be worth the time and expense. But it was fun to try, and maybe a lap loom will be in my future.

I also made up a weaving song, set to the tune of Reading Rainbow because I was weaving a rainbow scarf:

Shuttle goes through the shed,
Do some math in your head
Look around the room
We’re all on looms
Weaving class!
I CAN WEAVE ANYTHING!
With sort of a plan
And a coffee can
Weaving class!

Yay!

Yay!

Next: Beginner’s Guide to Calligraphy

2017 Goals: TO THE MAX

Can you believe it’s already the second week of 2017 and I haven’t made any goals yet? Just kidding, you know I prepared a spreadsheet about this like a month ago. Here’s what they are:

1. Write a Beginner’s Guide Once a Month
This is a blog series I want to start where I try something I’ve never done before and write a blog post about it. The January one is going to be The Beginner’s Guide to Weaving since I’m taking a class on it this month, but other ideas I’ve had include: juggling, rock climbing, make up, calligraphy, and pole dancing (there’s a pole dancing gym near my apartment!). We’ll see what else the year brings!

2. Sew something once a month
Guys, my sewing machine is so underused that I can hear it crying in the night from neglect.

Don't be fooled by its calm exterior

Don’t be fooled by its calm exterior

So I’m hoping to change that this year, even with just small projects or alterations.

3. Write in my journal once a week
You probably remember how I keep a journal and have since 6th grade (and sporadically even before that). I’ve kind of fallen out of the habit lately, and I want that to change.

4. Make one new recipe each week
I’m pretty sure I do this anyway, but I want to keep better track. Last week I made a chicken apricot tagine that Steven hated. And I forgot to take a picture. Oh well.

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days
This is actually going to be a challenge for me, especially since I’ve found that working in the back room of the library pretty quickly destroys a manicure. So I’m going to get better at touch ups!

6. Finish a coloring book
Guys, I was into coloring books way before adult coloring books existed. I would spend plane trips faithfully coloring in pictures of animals and my fellow adult passengers would think there was something wrong with me. But I’m not sure I’ve ever actually finished a coloring book? This is wasteful and going to change.

7. Read The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi

It's only like 800 pages

It’s only like 800 pages


Remember how great it was reading all of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable in a year? Probably not, because it wasn’t, but I guess enough time has passed that I’m willing to give reading another one of my reference books a go. So far I’ve discovered there are way more underground civilizations than I could ever imagine.

8. Be Active every day
This one is the stretch goal because I already know I’m going to fail. Still, I’m making a stab at doing the best I can. I could never go to the gym every day or do any one kind of exercise every day, but this way I can mix it up between long walks, cycling, weights, yoga, aerobics class, whatever. On day eight I’m at about 50% which is shitty but also better than nothing.

Previously: 2016 Goals

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