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?

ephemera_pocket

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

concept

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?

variations

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!

sideview

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.

berlin

london

rome

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

seattle

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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sleep

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.

 

Alcatraz Afternoon

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There’s a 1:87 scale model of Alcatraz Island at Pier 33. (You can get a good overview of the model in this video made by Family Travel Fun.) The guard tower in the dock area was especially well done.

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Poking around the island and its buildings is a compelling and visceral history lesson. This trip I became interested in the textures of decay. Here is a light on the Electrical Repair Shop, just past the Guardhouse and Sally Port.

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An interior light switch in the New Industries Building.

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A map of peeling paint on a cement support column.

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Overseen by pipes, velveted in rust.

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There was a new art installation in the New Industries Building, but I found this partial view more interesting.

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A busted sink and commode. And pipes.

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Closer to the sink. It looks friendly.

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Looking north towards Marin, the remains of the Post Exchange, built in 1910, as a general store for soldiers and their families. (When Alcatraz became a federal prison in 1934, the PX was converted into a recreation hall and officer’s club, with a dance floor, gymnasium, two-lane bowling alley and soda fountain.) It was destroyed in a fire in 1970.

The quotation on May’s welcome page, “New ideas need old buildings” is from Jane Jacobs.

Sensational Travel Journals

Oscar Wilde wrote, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

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In that spirit, the OE Travel Journals kits are available over at MMS+S. There are two kit options listed, and one secret option at hand. The two listed options are for three blank journals, or one road atlas and two blank journals. I’ve made a video of the secret option:

YES. It is a secret gatefold pages option for both the sketchbooks and the travel journals. They work well with the single pages and maps, and are fun besides. Just add a note when ordering and I’ll include as many as you like with your kit/s, until I’m able to list them properly. Though they won’t be secret anymore, they’ll still be fun.

Production notes: If you like quiet page-turning fx, turn your sound on. The alarming bandage: I bashed my poor knuckle on a boulder rock emptying a cement bird bath. I tried to keep it out of the frame, but it’s like it has a mind of its own.

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!

 

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.