Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Coloring Books

I used a Christmas gift card to purchase some adult coloring books. Then, I took my books to an office supply store with a printing area and had them cut the spines off. About $2 per cut. Since all my books were the same size, it could be done with a single cut, saving even more money. They have a massive, guillotine style paper trimmer, with a vise built in and a motor driving the blade. The gentleman doing my cuts has a GF who has him trim her coloring books for her, so he took the least amount of spine. Some of my pages were still in folio format.

I can work on one sheet of paper at a time. I don't worry about messing up the other sheets, and I am not fighting the valley of a paperback book.

Go me!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Colored pencils!

I have fallen victim to the latest craze of adult coloring. Being me, I've gone out and done some research on how to color. Yes. I really did research.

Here are the websites where I gathered information that I found to be useful.

  • Dickblick.com  You will have to scroll to the bottom to find the videos that are tutorials on colored pencils. 
  • Elfwood.com   More text than graphics, but lots of useful information. Was I absolutely wowed by his finished graphic? I wasn't sure it was finished. 
  • Art is Fun  This one is a brief, direct, useful set of instructions. They also include links to more information and some very good instruction books. 
  • The Virtual Instructor Comparison chart of some different brands of colored pencils. Also has a lot of the instruction you will find on Pinterest, like drawing and eye and a nose.  
  • The Coloring Book Club Blog This one has a good bit of instruction, but also is part of a monthly club, where you pay to download coloring books that you then print out for yourself. 
There are three basic types of colored pencils. 
Wax based -the most common type. 
Oil based -not nearly as common.
Water-soluble -also known as watercolor pencils, can be wax or oil based. They are not actually watercolor paint in a pencil form. 
It is OK to use all three types of pencil in a single piece of artwork.

When making a pencil, pigment is mixed with wax or oil, some copyright ingredients, and clay to form a colored paste. That paste is extruded into a thick, noodle-like core. The cores are dried, cut to length, and put inside a shaped 'sandwich' of wood to create a pencil. So, you talk about the 'core' of a colored pencil, not the lead of it. 

Within the three types, there are sub-types based on whether the cores are very hard or soft, the size of the core, the shape of the wood, and whether there is a wood casing at all. 

The amount of pigment, the final rigidity of the core and the quality of the wood used all combine to create a better or not so nice pencil. Cheap wood doesn't sharpen well. Fragile cores break easily, even breaking inside the wood casing of the pencil. Dropping a colored pencil isn't a good thing. Heating a wax based pencil will soften the core and reduce breakage. Since I live in Florida, just working outside on my lanai can change how my pencils respond to pressure while I'm using them. 

Don't assume that all cores should be soft and responsive. There are times when a much harder core is desired. Detail work is best done with a harder core that can be sharpened to an extremely precise point. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

E Books

I am currently completing an update of my e-book collection. I have over 3,000 titles. I've been reading books in digital format since 1997. I read a lot. I always have.

I use Calibre on my home computer to manage my books. There is no hand held e reader that can manage that many titles. Especially since I don't get them all from the same place. How could I? I was reading e-books before Kindle was invented!

This means, like all competent librarians, I must spent time sorting through  my collection, marking groups, making titles and authors make sense and making sure that I can find the book that I am looking for. I have discovered that by tagging my books, I can sort through them easily and find books on the subject that I'm interested in. But taking the time to tag 3,000 books? Not so wonderful. I do it one author at a time. That way, I can frequently apply tags in groups.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Long Line of Makers

I was thinking of my father and this father's day. I remembered that he did a lot of making things when he was young. I have on my dresser, one of the lead soldiers that he made when he was a child. He had molds, he melted the lead and poured his own toys. As a child, I played with them, setting them up and shooting them down with a popgun that my grandfather found corks for. The corks were too big and he had to trim them down.

The concept of dealing with melting and cooking things to create toys was a part of my own childhood. I had a Mattel "Thingmaker" when I was young. I put liquid plastic into a mold, put the mold onto a heating element and cooked the plastic into either monsters, or flowers, or Peanuts characters. There was a risk of getting burned, and I probably did, though I don't remember it. I never owned an Easy-Bake oven, but my best friend, Becky, did.

So, not only did I grow up making things, so did my father before me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stabilizer Basics

New machine embroiderers are always asking, "What stabilizer should I use?" Usually, they are overwhelmed by the variety of responses they get. One person loves a stabilizer that another person hates.

My advice is that a newbie should get three stabilizers. One cutaway, one tearaway, and one wash away. All should be light weight. That's it! No iron on. No heavyweight. No medium weight. No heat away. When a heavier weight stabilizer is needed, use multiple layers. When floating, use 505 adhesive, pins, or a tack-down stitch.

Why do I suggest this? Because it makes it a lot simpler for a newbie. I teach newbies that a tearaway should be used for wovens and a cut away for knits. Wash away is for topping. There's so much to learn and remember about machine embroidery. Sixty-eleven different types of stabilizers are sixty-eight too many.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

It Ain't Broke, So I Don't Have to Fix It!

I had a slight problem with the new embroidery machine. It gave me an error message. I knew there was an easy fix for it, but couldn't recall exactly what it was. No panic. I looked for an instructional video on line and had to push a few buttons on the screen and slowly turn a knob.


The Avance was right back to work.

While I was looking for the video, there was a subtext running through my head. A similar error on Mama Bernina, and she'd be in the shop for a week or two and it would cost a minimum of $100. My worst case fear was that I'd have to load the Avance into my truck and drive it to Tampa.

I'd heard really good things about these machines. I'm inclined to believe them now. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Career!

I have started a business. Studio PALS, LLC. I bought an Avance commercial, 15 needle embroidery machine. I've gone through many hours of training on it. I got digitizing software to create designs to use. I've had many hours of training on that, too. While I don't feel cocky, I am confident that I can produce a quality product. Go me!