Armature, Proto, Beloveds

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I have arrived at a satisfactory method for building yucca armatures, from wire to planting.

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As usual, it was a process of experimentation. I walked around the neighborhood (hilly!), and I looked at a lot of pictures on Google, trying to synthesize what it is that makes a yucca trunk a *quintessential* yucca trunk.

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This is the current result. Braxton Payne pot, torn paper over wire armature, medium green starting leaf clusters.

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Outlined in Khaki, tipped in Sunflower, center stripe in Leaf Green (left). Medium green stock start, right. Very subtle.

I’m feeling good about my progress. Kits and specimens imminent!

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Meanwhile, I’m going back down to Santa Cruz tomorrow, to spend time with all my baby girls. Ruby is now one month old. Maddie is four, and wakes up first thing every morning to cuddle with her sister. This is the life.

Yucca: Armatures, Protos, Colors

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It’s end of day, for now. Made some progress with the yucca exploration.

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I began with tearing brown paper into thin strips.

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And wrapping multiple layers over florist wire to build up a convincing yucca stalk-and-stem armature.

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Yucca species are varied in color, though not as much as succulents, perhaps. In miniatures, I ascribe less to slavish reproduction and more to evocation of spirit :) Starting with white cardstock for this one, each leaf end gets tipped with Winsor & Newton Promarker Sunflower and Amber, both sides.

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Broad strokes of Pear Green color each leaf.

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Both sides colored. The inks blend as they build up and mellow as they dry.

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Thin cross-leaf striping, in Moss.

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More cross-striping on the ends with Amber, and surprise leaf tipping in Poppy.

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I snipped through the lower edge, applied a thin line of glue, and began rolling the leaves up into a cluster.

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Adding a generous dab of glue to the rolled end to ensure a well-bonded base.

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Inverted in a cup of fine gravel, I let the leaf clusters dry completely. This makes arranging and styling easier — and more robust — later on.

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Clipping the end of each armature branch with pliers creates a flat surface on which to glue a leaf cluster. Holding until set ensures uprightyness :)

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Watching glue dry. Again.

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I added two more trunks, wrapping everything together at the base.

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To improve the transition from leaves to trunk, I cut sections of 7 or 8 leaves and applied glue.

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I wrapped these just below the base of the leaf/trunk join.

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All trunks wrapped with leaves, and drying. I’m awaiting a larger cylinder pot to plant this particular specimen in, before unfurling and styling the leaves — the really satisfying part.

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I’m fairly happy with the appearance and versatility of this plant concept thus far. They work well on an armature, date pit stem, or just as foliage — and any combination thereof. I even think this pattern and method could work for Sansevieria, with the right colors and a little bit of shaping.

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The next step is to explore and evaluate color stock choices, which brings us back to the first photo in this post. Above is medium green cardstock (cut with a dulling blade, resulting in torn, dragged edges and general scuzz. This particular design cut really seems to blunt a blade fast :(

This green leaf set is colored with Holly swashes and edging, and a subtle Leaf Green vertical stripe. Very different than coloring on white. Each stock seems to absorb the inks differently, as well. I’ll show some side-by-side color comparisons next time.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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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.

 

Sketchbooks Listed, Echeveria Eyecandy

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The sketchbooks are kitted and listed! Each kit makes three books. The pages are cream-colored and acid-free :) You have a choice of cover colors: black, Warm (orange, yellow and gray) or kraft. I went detailed on the instructions, and introduce a good vocabulary word: bifolium (singular); bifolia (plural).

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Here are three sketchbooks in Warm, before their bookmarks get trimmed.

I was shuffling around outside, pulling weeds between storms, and noticed this leggy echeveria on the shadier side of the yard is working on a flower display.

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Buds closeup:

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Love these colors. And just before it started raining again, (wind blowing, hard to focus) this closeup of a hen-and-chicks echeveria flower:

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Yum.

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!

Shade Concept

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Inspired by the bicycle basket of Almira Gulch, I’m happily exploring different size weavers on the 1/16-inch paper spokes loom. (Wait, please click the link. Years ago I had a boyfriend who would hum this song whenever he thought I was being too crabby. It still makes me smile.)

Anyway. This is made with eighth-inch weavers. The shade is 1.5 inches in diameter, supported by two interior rims, cut from cardboard and covered in cardstock.

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Here you can see the intriguing patterns cast when light shines through the structure. Considering that the flat weave is made from two rectangular shapes, the effects of layering and light are interesting. (I don’t know why my thumb looks like a misshapen grub.)

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I’m also working a 3/32-inch weave. That’s one less than an eighth. Finer.

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Hard to compare the eighth-inch weave because of the curvature, but maybe squint your eyes? Don’t yet know which I prefer.

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Light shining through. So pretty! I see now that I’d move the lower rim to the very bottom of the shade. Undecided if additional trim is warranted. Next I will fiddle with a top thingy to channel the wires (I picture this as a hanging lamp). Don’t think I’ll mess at all with a harp, as it all seems so particular to the kind of bulb one is using.

Lightists, now is when I would *love* if you’d chime in and tell me all the things I’m missing and should consider. I’m just here watching the Miss Gulch clip a few more times :)