Fish, Scarlett, Ruby

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I have made a new variation of the sketchbook.

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Three different covers. Endpapers are cut from one of Recollections “Black Jack” papers. Book pages cut from a nice substantial Southworth paper I’ve had for maybe… *thinks back to the last time we may have actually printed out a résumé* … a really long time. I drew the fish a few years ago when I was dabbling in surface pattern design. So we meet again, eh, fish?

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Of course an ephemera pocket.

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I have been gone a lot lately from my home, and Scarlett especially was not stoked. There was some regressive behavior and acting out.

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I was reminded, though, of how much I liked the Sea House Warming Hut living roof, and how much I miss having a current build. But then I remembered the fate of the Argo Wool Works…

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… and sighed. Thus far, the room box that houses the set for Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries is unravaged, cunningly set atop a bookcase, so that will have to continue to suffice for my construction longings. Scarlett is a year old now — a small cat in stature forever! — and although her depredations have diminished considerably, I am reluctant to reengage with my nemesis.

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The reason for my absence is shown above, in this picture taken by my daughter, of her daughters. Here is four-year-old Maddie reacting to the sounds of her 10-day-old sister, Ruby. We are all so in love.

 

 

Packaging Process, In Progress

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The new finished open sketchbooks require different packaging than the current MMS+S flat kits. I set about designing an insert for the books’ 3 x 4-inch plastic bags that will provide a protected, recessed container. After roughing out dimensions on paper, I work in Illustrator to draft a model. White cardstock cuts first, with numerous and many revisions.

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Once I’ve got a solid working white model, I cut models in my intended paper, a rich black cardstock.

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Numerous iterations transpire. Where does the cutout appear? Where will the labels go? How does it fit in the bag? Where are the dominant folds vs. the grain of the paper? How can I best optimize use of paper, given a 12 x 12-inch maximum dimension? How might I make this easier, more elegant to assemble?

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Some versions later, I’ve got my best solution (though what’s pictured is not it :) I streamline the pattern in Illustrator for optimal cutting on the Cricut machine, joining paths, eliminating rogue anchor points, and doubling key scorelines. This happens about 11 times.

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Earlier today I walked out on the back deck to take the mass quantities of paper scrap I generate to the recycling bin, and I noticed this sudden dramatic bloom on one of the new nursling succulents. Dumb angle photo, but what a pleasant surprise!

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A side view of the insert. It’s effectively one layer of cardstock thick on the sidewalls, and three on the bottom, with two on the immediate front face. Sturdy enough to withstand shipping? Do I need to add another layer to the sidewalls? Test mailings will tell.

backview

The backside. Utilitarian!

Sidenote: I work in inches for packaging, and in points and picas for most other applications, such as labels. Graphic designers are bilingual that way.

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Insert sorted for now, my attention turns to labeling. The current 3 x 3-inch labels will not work for this package. I consider two 1-inch labels — enough to order some — when a header card occurs to me. First ideas include, for some reason, a cutout circle to hang on a rack.

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But then I wonder why? I’m not a hanging rack sort of shop. The circle is unnecessary.

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I rework the design a bit more. A staple will anchor lower center, through the bag and insert, to secure the header card and further reinforce the package.

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Because this packaging is for a one-of-a-kind, original artwork, a signed certificate of authenticity is included :D

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And the deskmess to back it up (not included).

Finished Sketchbooks

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For the first time, I am making finished sketchbooks.

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Featuring a bookmarked center spread with an original watercolor sketch, there are bits and bobs peeking out, much like our own 1:1 sketchbooks. The inspiration for the bits and bobs is Keli’s clever receipt notebook.

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The covers have a snippet or collage of other original art, meaning that each sketchbook will be one-of-a-kind.

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Here are the first four center spreads. Each will be bound into the classic sketchbook cover, then individually bitted and bobbed.

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In addition to sketches I’m doing some abstract expression-y explorations.

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What doesn’t make the design cut to center spread will be used for the bits and bobs, and cover illustrations. The books are finished to be relatively flat, measuring 1.625 x 1.125 inches (4.13 x 2.86 cm). This is the real deal — original art made 1:12 scale — for the love of miniatures and color and drawing and watercolor markers. And bits and bobs :)

Alrighty

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The first three Vintage Maps organizer kits are up over at MMS+S. There’s combinations of vertical file holders, file folders, and folios, and they all come with cream-colored rounded-corner stationery sized to fit.

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Still to come are Vintage Maps sketchbooks, and combo kits with folios. Of the ten Cavallini & Co. maps I bought from Two Hands Paperie, these five had the scale and style I was looking for: Berlin, London, Rome, Seattle, San Francisco.

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london

rome

I’m still a little iffy on Seattle. A bit too much water and legends.

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SF

Also in MMS+S is an Office Essentials kit of three vertical file holders, 12 matching file folders and 12 sheets of cream-colored, round-cornered stationery. (Additional file folder sets are available separately.) The kit is available in the Warm colorway (orange, yellow and gray) and Grayscale (white, gray and black), as well as all black or all white. The white is perfect if you want to color your own surface patterns with markers or watercolor.

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Granddaughter Madeline is about to have a new baby sister, hence my general distraction/absence from writing and commenting on all your wonderful projects. I miss you.

Remember this succulent flower stalk I posted a while back?

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This is what it looks like now, fully bloomed.

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(The background looks a little different because I cleared out a bunch of growth that had developed unsightly speckling. Sub-optimal location.)

View from the top:

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There’s a lot of stuff going on! It’s holding its own, with very little insect depredation, stable and very long-blooming. May we all be so blessed.

DeskMess

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I have long been a fan of Cavallini & Co. paper products, especially their vintage maps and posters.

I used their map of San Francisco on the underside of the Sea House Pavilion roof.

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And their vintage map of Italy on the back wall of Loft 1961, my first ever miniature build.

Cavallini & Co. print on beautiful cream-colored Italian paper of a substantial, but not too heavy, weight. I finally found a retail source, Two Hands Paperie, that carries *all* of their posters — at the best pricing! — and invested in a supply of lovely vintage city and country maps.

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Because we all need vertical file holders to tidy our bookshelves, and journals, folios and file folders made from perfectly-scaled vintage maps of favorite places: London, Berlin, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Rome, Paris.

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Vertical file with file folders. (London pictured.)

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The vertical files hold three sketchbooks or travel journals, as well as file folders and the new Vintage Map Journals with jaunty red bookmarks. The files are the same size as the solid-color Office Essentials vertical files, although of a different construction. The vertical files can also house the new Vintage Map Folios that hold fine cream-colored stationery or map file folders. The folios can also act as a slip case for a sketchbook or journal. It’s an elegant system designed to organize the shambles of your miniature office. Look for them real soon over at MMS+S.

 

Maps Variation

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Like many others, I love pretty much everything about maps, for many reasons and in many ways. Soon after I finished the first round of sketchbooks, I thought about the iconic appeal of a road atlas, and built a few from an old spiral-bound Michelin North America volume I had on hand.

I experimented with covers and endpapers until arriving at this version of the classic sketchbook.

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With a road map cover over mint green cardstock.

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Graphically chosen road map endpapers bound to the blank cream pages.

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And all those invitational blank pages, awaiting your expression.

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I *wish* I had thought of this option before I listed the sketchbook kits over at MMS+S; I like it that much, and will be adding it to the shop. For those of you who have already ordered sketchbook kits — thank you! — please message me if maps appeal and I’ll send you the components to add to your kits. Then we’ll all be happy and mappy!

 

Decorations, Sketchbook

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The latest issue of the newsletter Cut, Fold+Make is out. If you missed this month, the sign up is over on the right. It’s a short curated list of ideas and links that inspire and support creative practice.

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There’s a fun suggestion for a miniature paper garland, and first looks at the new sketchbook kit.

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Possibly what’s most adorable is the ephemera pocket on the inside back cover. They’re  available as kits now over at MMS+S in iconic black cover, kraft, as well as the Warm colorway (orange, yellow and gray) of the Office Essentials line of organizers.

It is spring!

 

Where I’m At

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Between my good fortune of building MagnaTiles by the first warm light of morning with a four-year-old adept…

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… and extended bouts of staring at the walls, change is ahand and afoot here in Nancyland, in the best possible way. The Office Essentials suite of kits over at MMS+S is still imminent, plus of course I still keep thinking up more essentials — the quintessential journal?! — and wait, a graceful, worthwhile pencil cup! But, and so you see. However. The newest edition of the inspirational newsletter Cut, Fold + Make is about to be released, and I think the wee pencil cup plans will be the giveaway. Please sign up if you’ve not already.

You know that feeling of being drawn in several different directions, all good, all at once? A bounty of opportunity and satisfaction. I choose this way :)

Honor, Office Essentials, A Sconce

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Earlier this month, I was delighted to receive an email from Uppercase magazine publisher Janine, saying that the Plastic Litter collage would be included in No. 33. Today, while flipping through a lo-res digital preview of the upcoming issue, I was astounded to see it was given a full page! Whoa and wowser. Above is a photo from her newsletter, with action shots of the printing process. Of course all of you are already subscribers, so I don’t even have to go on about how truly worthwhile and inspirational this publication is.

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I’m about three-quarters of the way through photographing and writing instructions, kitting and listing the four or five kits that comprise the new Office Essentials line over at MMS+S. Then it will be on to the wall sconce kit, which is through prototyping, yay!

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For my birthday, our water heater ruptured and flooded the under-house utility room for $1,750. Other than that rude occurrence, everything was lovely. Thank you! I’m getting back to work now!

 

 

Same As It Ever Was

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The late night sorties continue, despite my best defenses.

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This just made me laugh out loud; she so looks like Alice in Wonderland/Grace Slick doing “One pill makes you larger, and…”

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Zilly and Stormy continue to meet up after work, and are really enjoying getting to know one another. Here they are, chatting away, sitting on what I refer to as the “floral footstools of anxiety”. It’s got nothing to do with them, and is a story for perhaps another time? The fabric, however, is fabulous: “London Calling” from Studio RK for Robert Kaufman. I want to reupholster everything in it.

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For my birthday I purchased a set of lenses for my iPhone from Photojojo. I’ve not had much time to purposely explore them — it’s not even quite my birthday yet— but here are a few snapshots.

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I was most interested in the macro and telephoto, but could not resist the fisheyes and filter lenses. Above is EC01 Echeveria, looking fabulous larger than miniature life-size.

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These are very lively moss flowers, less than a half-inch tall, growing on the backyard retaining wall, as seen through the macro lens. Who know spores had EYES?!

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And here is either the fisheye or super fisheye, good for laughs and turning one’s home into a hobbit-hole. In the foreground are the lens boxen. I heartily recommend!

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I’m about to go south, and then north, for a couple of days. I wrote and photographed the instructions and listing for the first of the MMS+S Office Essentials, in colorway “Warm” today, but will hold off actually listing them at MMS+S until I return and have a chance to kit and document the whole series.

The south part is to my family in Santa Cruz, and the north part is to a *very* special tour my delightful husband has managed to arrange, of a very special archive of amazing artifacts, all housed on a fairyland ranch that is so sprawling and gorgeous it takes one’s breath away. (And/or, is typically Northern Californian.) Happy birthday to me, and all the March babies!