Friday, July 29, 2011

A Shot Glass of Convenience

When I was a kid, I thought shot glasses were just small cute glasses (like those found in a make-believe tea party; I was too young to know that they were actually for adults taking shots of liquor.) If my parents went out of town for some reason, they would often bring me back a shot glass as a souvenir. Maybe that seems like a strange souvenir for a child, but really it was probably a souvenir of convenience (and certainly not any sort of promotion of underage drinking).

Shot glasses are super easy souvenirs since they can be found at many airport gift shops, they’re fairly inexpensive and there’s a variety to choose from. A good shot glass design should reflect the specialness of the place, whether it’s a particular monument or attraction, symbol, color, idea—just something that shows its personality and how it’s different from other places. It can be a challenge to find an attractive shot glass (since most fall into the bland or ugly category), but a few of my cuter shot glasses are in the photo above.

It’s been years since I got a new shot glass because I just don’t have the need (or the space) for more unnecessary stuff. I admit that if I’m waiting in an airport I might peruse a gift shop and see what they have to offer, but I practically never buy anything. After a while you have less of a desire to collect “evidence” that you went some place (because isn’t a good photo and the memory enough?). Souvenir knickknacks are inevitably items that you’ll probably never use (whether it be shot glasses, key chains, postcards, etc.) and will just inconveniently take up space…even the cute ones.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

DIY: Paper Earrings

There are times where you might want or need “disposable” earrings, like a Halloween costume or holiday-related earrings. This is a simple way to create earrings that can be whatever shape you can cut out of paper.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Shear Boredom is a Good Thing…Sometimes

I recently had plans to meet my mom for coffee, and while I got there on time, she was running late. That left me waiting alone with some extra time on my hands, so I plucked a notebook and pen from my bag and started sketching ideas.

Every so often I find great motivation in boredom. When I’m waiting for someone or something I’m given the (often unwanted) gift of time, and this can force me to think about projects without extraneous distractions. There are two routes I’ll consider when thinking about a project, the concept (or the “what's the overall idea?”) and the method (as in “how do I put this all together and make it work?”).

Concepts usually come to me in a sudden burst of inspiration—I may see something or remember something that sparks my imagination (like wanting to use my memory of the Estate Game to create something). It’s often more subconscious; I may be doing something mundane and then an idea just pops into my head. On the flip side, I often have to actively think about the methods I’ll use in a project; this tends to be a slower more methodical process (especially if there’s special construction issues to take into consideration).

So I generally try to use my waiting time wisely. It’s not that I’m excited to be bored, because I’m not. But sometimes boredom can make you want to do something; it can nudge you to think and create and to be productive.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It’s a Pun—Japanese Style

I love wordplay. It amuses me to see words used in an interesting manner. While my understanding of Japanese in limited, when I “get” a pun it makes me smile. Here are a few cute (animal-related) products using Japanese puns:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Letterpress Cards Too Cute to Use

I love the look and feel of letterpress cards—the thick soft paper beautifully pressed with ink makes me smile in appreciation. So much so that I once took a one-day “Introduction to Letterpress” class (that lasted about six hours), and I quickly learned that doing letterpress was not for me. Why? Because you really have to carve out hours of time to do letterpress, and the impatient person in me just wants to be able to create letterpress pieces without the set up and clean up part (which of course isn’t going to happen). So if I’m not going to create my own letterpress pieces, then that leaves buying pieces instead.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Estate Game Pad

Growing up, my family often trekked out during the height of summer to visit relatives in California. We went by car, and as children this was an especially long drive. Being cooped up in a small space isn’t really pleasant for anyone, and there were certainly bouts of whining and complaining by my brother and me (mostly about the heat since we didn’t have air conditioning in the car for many years).

Car games could amuse us for a bit, and one of the games my brother and I would play was the “Estate Game”. We would take turns and select the possessions we wanted when our parents died. (A cheery game, I know. And don’t worry, our parents were not offended by this game—I dare say that it amused them.) Inspired by this childhood memory, I decided to create a game pad for this game.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Brother the Marshmallow

I’ve compared my brother to a marshmallow on several occasions (of course to his face). Why a marshmallow? That’s pretty self-explanatory—he’s soft on the outside, soft on the inside and sweet all the way through. (Yeah, there’s no deep reasoning or amusing story for this, just an apt comparison.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hang in There! Card

I’ve never owned a “Hang in there!” poster, but I’ve certainly seen my fair share of them—at schools, at doctor and dentist offices and in movies. (I think most people can already visualize one of the many “cat struggling to stay on a tree branch” posters.) I thought I’d create my own “Hang in there!” version as a birthday card for my brother.

Friday, July 8, 2011

DIY: Plastic Canvas Jewelry

I picked up some more plastic canvas because I thought I’d be able to advantage of its grid pattern to make some jewelry. Plastic canvas comes in a few basic colors and I chose three sheets: black, white and blue. Each sheet cost me about 60 cents, and I was able to use it in a couple of ways to create some inexpensive costume jewelry.

There are two ways that I used to connect the plastic canvas together: elastic and jump rings.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

DIY: Woven Bracelet

In one of my art classes I had to make “wearable art”. This was not to be confused with a costume (e.g. pirates and princesses). No, this was something constructed using any materials we found fit and it could look like and be anything.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Half-Baked Projects: Is it Done Yet?

A half-baked cupcake is not tasty. No one wants a cupcake that looks good on the outside and yet is raw in the inside. What good is it to have all the ingredients there and not to have a fully baked cupcake?

Half-done design projects are similarly unsatisfying, the pieces may be there but it doesn’t quite “work” yet. I have quite a few personal design projects that are half-done; they often start off well enough but with time I slowly lose my motivation and sometimes months will pass with no new progress. Every so often I’ll actually forget about a project and then suddenly remember it, and then look upon it with fresh eyes [and sometimes wonder, “What was I thinking?” Perhaps I wasn’t thinking at all. (Sigh.)].

One of the worst things is to be stalled in the design process, because it’s like pedaling on a stationary bike, you’re putting in lots of effort and getting nowhere—and that’s just exhausting. So it’s good to get some perspective on half-done projects, and time away can help you see the flaws as well as the possibilities. It can move you in a different direction or trigger a whole new idea that sparks a renewed sense of motivation to complete a project.

Yet, sometimes my inability to finish my half-done projects is my own fault because I get distracted with shiny new ideas. The new ideas tend to take precedent (for at least a little while)—since inspiration is motivation. And I’ll continue to work on a new project until it too reaches a point where I hit a mental wall, and then I can go back to my older projects and work on them again. A half-baked project doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth, so I try to finish them…eventually. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

DIY: Button Jewelry Holder

While I haven’t actually used buttons in any sewing projects (thus far) that doesn’t stop me from buying them—especially if they’re on sale. It’s hard to resist the pull of a cute button, since there are just too many adorable buttons to choose from. [Sigh.] (I know. I just totally tried to rationalize my unnecessary need to buy buttons…I’m sorry.)

So I had a variety of buttons that I thought were pretty and I wanted to display them in a project in some way. I decided that I could use buttons as a design accent in a (much needed) jewelry holder (since I have an abundance of jewelry and no way to organize it). I wanted an easy and power-tool-free way to create a wall jewelry holder and after spending some time staring at various items at a craft store, this is what I came up with.