Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Project (also why I'm crazy)

Yes, I think I have officially gone crazy. I've always had the tendency to take on too much - too many projects that are time intensive, on short order, when I'm busy with other things. BUT this one might just be the craziest. 

I'm moving with M across the country in less than two weeks. In this time I need to pack all my stuff, say goodbye to everyone, celebrate my birthday, AND make a new costume. It's for a friend of mine whose been my roommate since sophomore year, and she really loves this dress:

from here
It's a painting called Springtime of Life, by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. So yes, this is my plan. Luckily, we have all the fabric, and I made the corset yesterday. The fabric is really lovely - a pair of huge curtains from the local thrift store, in this dusty rose fabric that looks like textured silk (it isn't silk, but it looks neat).  The curtains also came with lining in a sort of stiff white cotton thing, which I'll be using for petticoats and the corset. Unfortunately, though I managed to make the whole corset yesterday, I think I misjudged my seam allowances, so it's actually too big for her. Since I've already put in the boning and the grommets, I'll be attacking it with tucks and darts to try and slim it down without starting over.

I'll keep you updated on the progress of this crazy project!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to photograph jewelry indoors

I was on a jewelry-making kick the day before yesterday, and wanted to share what I made. All of these will be for sale on my etsy shop, and a few of them already are.

I've always had difficulty taking photos for selling things. Mostly I run into the problem that I live in a small apartment, with dorm-room-type furniture, and no direct light. This means that I have to take photos either outside or in the middle of the day, when the light is best near the window. It also means that I don't have any nice distressed wood or gleaming white tabletops to set my pieces on. However, I seem to have come across a solution.

I found a length of white muslin in my fabric stash that I ironed to death, and laid out over our (rather ugly) coffee table. That gave me a great neutral background, especially for close-ups. The earrings were difficult to photograph flat, so I borrowed a white ceramic bowl to hang them on. This caused another problem, as the angle that I was shooting at for the earrings included things around my table. Although the short focus made it so that it was all blurry, the dark jumble of colors was confusing and distracting from the jewelry. So I set up a pile of books and other fabrics to drape the muslin over in order to create a backdrop that would block out the rest of my apartment.

I'm really quite pleased with the way they turned out - all soft and bright, and the white background really helps to keep focus on the colors of the pieces. I did have to tweak things a bit on the computer in order to make sure the colors were true to reality, but it wasn't much, and didn't take more than a couple minutes per photo.

Next I will be tackling the outdoor/model shoot...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Spinning Update

I've been doing a lot of spinning recently. The first bit was really uneven and crazy, and also really thick, so I decided to split the roving in half again to get something closer to worsted weight. Also the submerging in hot water and stretching to dry really works well. So I have five skeins done, and three more drying at the minute (the room still smells of sheep, so I'm glad that M says she doesn't mind). 

Of the three that are drying, I have one more of that dark grey, one lighter grey that has really long and frizzy fibers, and one set of a mystery dyed roving. I bought the dyed roving at a yarn store that was going out of business - it's yellow and purple, with a bit of white and dark blue. Also, it's like spinning a cloud, it's that soft! Unfortunately, that seems to make it very difficult to spin evenly, so the first set is a bit lumpy, we'll have to see if it gets better. 

Now for some glamour shots of my yarn...

Monday, July 2, 2012

New drawings

I've been experimenting with a new drawing style. It's something I did a little while in Ireland, when I was exploring Art Nouveau methods, then transferred to some decorations on pottery this past year. Now I've sort of transformed that basic idea, and used it to embellish figures. They're actually really fun to do - I start with a pencil sketch to get the shapes and positions figured out, then go over the outlines with a pen, adding the decorative doodle bits. I'm playing around with how to finish the images - the last three are 'finished' but I don't think they're quite what I'm looking for. 

Learning to spin

While I was in Ireland, I learned some basic spinning techniques from a friend. I did a little spinning on her spindle, and then stopped for a really long time (despite having gotten so excited that I bought lots of roving). A couple months ago, I finally got around to getting my own spindle, but it took me until today to actually do anything with it. I'm really glad I did, though. 

In order to refresh myself, I did some searching online for spinning tutorials. Mostly I really liked this one. It was really helpful, especially her other two videos about prepping the roving, and how to deal with the yarn after you've spun it.

So I sat down and spun about 3/4 of a white wool roving that I purchased from England (while I was in Ireland). The first bit (hanging on the hangers) used about half of the roving, and is currently hanging on the back of my bedroom door, drying to set the twist. My room also smells of sheep.  The second bit I did, still on the spindle, used 1/4 of the wool, and is about half as thick as the first one. I think it's better for me to work thinner, though it's difficult to convince myself I can actually spin something that thin. It's not actually thin, just feels like it - it's probably still about worsted weight or a bit lighter. I can't imagine spinning lace-weight or thread.

Also, I seem to only be able to spin so much yarn on my spindle before I have to remove it and start over, which is a bit of a shame. It just reaches this point where the bundle of spun yarn underneath the whorl is too wide, and the bit that goes up and around the hook won't stay in place when I'm spinning and gets all tangled. I feel like a larger spindle would help this, maybe? But for now I can't spin a terribly long length of yarn in one piece (the first one was about 45 feet, I think?)