Pop-Up Practice

Thinking of various books to make this summer and I’ve always been interested in making a pop-up book.

I like the challenge of the pop-up and because I didn’t know anything about it I bought a book. There’s a lot of geometry involved which is fine, but I’m finding that just folding the paper in a kind of Tim Gunn make-it-work fashion is getting better results for me.
This is my first test page. Because a pop-up is all about the motion I made it into a small video. Which gave me another challenge. I wanted music but didn’t want to use copyrighted stuff or search for free music. So another test and trial– using GarageBand to make a mini soundtrack. I spent more time trying to figure out how to use the app, but when all is said and done, I think it’s not a bad effort for being all made on my phone.

Without further ado, Octopus Pop-Up:

Birthday Zine Update: Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover

Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover (in progress)
Mai Nichi Mushroom Cover (in progress)
I’ve almost got the cover completed. I want to add a fox behind the mushrooms or looking up at them as if they are gigantic. I used the illustration I posted about yesterday. I scanned the sketch and then applied the dark strokes filter to a copied layer of the sketch and reduced the opacity to see some of the sketch underneath.

Still having font issues. I gave up on looking for cute fonts in Japanese. I used Hiragino Gothic Standard, rasterized it and played with the edges. I just wanted a softer, more playful look for the kanji. I’m also going to change the font for Fiction Feature–it’s hard to read on the mushroom colored background.

Now that I’m doing content for 10 Types of Mushrooms, I realize I’m going to have to change it to 5 types. It’s getting pretty text heavy, and frankly, I’m getting bored. Plus I still need to write “The Great Mushroom Detective.” Games are done and put into a Photoshop file. Still thinking about how to decorate them.

My first idea is to print the zine on craft paper, but the stuff I have is quite dark. I’ll probably need to do some color adjustments for text. But it’s kind of coming together.

Short Review of “Japanese Manga, Anime and Games Exhibition” at The National Center of Art Tokyo

20150711-120339-43419169.jpg
The show is running now until August 31 and tickets are 1000 yen, photography is not allowed on the exhibition.

I have mixed feelings about this show. I’m a manga, anime and game fan and I was really excited to see this show. I saw some favorites like Ghost in the Shell and Detective Conan, and Work by Osamu Tezuka, Final Fantasy and Monster Hunter. I saw some artists I wasn’t familiar with and a bit about 3-D rendering for Grand Tourismo.

I most particularly enjoyed the character development examples and the story boarding for animation.

But this show is also really text heavy and most of the text was in Japanese only. If your reading level is good you will definitely get more out if it. Maybe it was the language barrier, but I felt it had a kind of sterility that the few interactive games didn’t make up for.

If you’re a die-hard fan or otaku, you probably will not find anything new (but who knows). If you’re looking to be educated and expand your knowledge of the field, you need language skills.

Do I regret going? No. I enjoyed the art and the storyboards. I just wasn’t as amazed as I expected. I feel like the show tried to be too broad and maybe lacked depth. Maybe it’s best to say it’s like a primer to the topic.

I’m keen to hear other perspectives of the show. Please let me know what you thought of the exhibition.

A Tragic Cookie Romance.

While working on other posts, I got the urge to make a stop motion video. I know. Squirrel!-like attention span. Luckily, I remembered some old footage I’d taken using an app called Stop Motion Studio and I put it together on iMovie on my iPhone. The text was done on Over.

So, now I bring to you the tale of two emo gingerbread cookies who take their fate into their own hands.
Disclaimer: Don’t let your cookies try this at home. All cookies in this film were enthusiastically consumed.

Song: black mamba, the academy is- almost here.

My friend Sean made this summary of the video:

It’s like Romeo and Juliet…if they were deliciously dissolved in tea…rather than the whole stabbing and poison. 🙂

Star-Fold Book

20140228-211815.jpg

I’m trying different book binding techniques for submissions to the Tokyo Art Book Fair.

This effort measure 4.5cmx 4.5 cm. The six page book uses photographs of my snowflakes. The cover is made by recycling a Starbucks bag.

I’d like to try variations that have decoration on the top and bottom white spaces.

I’m Hosting a Workshop at Tokyo Spidering Show at Hagiso Gallery

Tokyo Art Byte is holding their first group show called Tokyo Spidering at Hagiso Gallery in Yanaka in Tokyo. I’m really excited to be part of this group. Members range in age and media types but really come together to discuss art and help each other progress their studio work.

Art Byte is holding a series of events and workshops during the show. You can read more about the events here. I’m hosting an event on two different days.  It will be a fun relaxed event so I hope you can drop by. Japanese information follows.

Character Building from a Scribble.

DATES:
Sunday, October 20 , 13:00-15:00
Sunday, October 27. 13:00-15:00

Kaiju Grocery Shopping
Release your creativity and create a character from a scribble. Scribble on paper then choose lines to keep or erase to bring out the character within. Characters will be created on hagaki-size cards. Workshop members are free to take their creations home with them.

Materials: pencil, papers, eraser, colored pencils, felt pens provided by me.

Workshop Size: Drop in but only 6 people at a time.

Duration: 2 hours.

03-5832-9808
October 15-October 27, 2013
12:00 – 21:00
月曜日定休(月曜祝日の場合火曜)
-営業時間変更のお知らせ-

落書きからキャラクター創造しましょう (Loriさん)
10月20日(日)13:00 – 15:00、 HAGI-ROOM/HAGI-ARTで ((誰でも参加できますですが6 人まで一度に)
10月27日(日)13:00 – 15:00、 HAGI-ROOM/HAGI-ARTで ((誰でも参加できますですが6 人まで一度に)

03-5832-9808
October 15-October 27, 2013
12:00 – 21:00
月曜日定休(月曜祝日の場合火曜)
-営業時間変更のお知らせ-

Most Useful Glue Ever!

20130217-150811.jpg

Have you ever wished that you could make your own Post-it type notes? Or maybe you wanted to glue something on but still be able to take it off?

I just found a really nice tape-style glue that does the trick. Kokuyo has a product called Dot-liner that comes in two types of glue. It works just like the white-out tape. Drag it along your paper and you get a neat, smooth line. No goop. No spills.

The つめ替え(tsume kae) type allows you to glue items but remove it from the surface and replace it without damaging the surface or the item. The glue remaining on the paper rubs off with without a trace with a finger, unless your finger is dirty.

I’ve been using it for laying out photos and text for a book project I am working on. I’m able to take the workbook with me and work on the go without worrying that things are going to fall out. It’s never been easier to do this.

Tape always looks messy or gets bulky. Stick glue doesn’t always work. Sometimes stick glue gets chunky when applying. It’s also supposed to be “permanent” but I’ve found the stick glue often loses its stickiness. It doesn’t clean off from paper surfaces nicely either.

You can buy it Japan at almost any stationery store or at Amazon Japan. I’ve seen similar stuff on Amazon.com but I think your best bet would be to check a scrap booking place.

20130209-191756.jpg

Snowmen Fight: Samurai vs Ninja. Get Your Winter War Mittens Here!I A Post in 2 Parts. Part the Second.

recycled sweater into mittens
Recycled sweater with my own felted design. Fighting snowmen. Ninja vs. Samurai

Today, I finish the article of the making of the Fuyu no Jin Mittens. As I wrote in the previous post Fuyu no Jin means a winter war in Japanese. Traditionally, it’s army against army in winter but my mittens are going small scale. Yes, I’m taking a lot of liberties.

The previous post was about the designing process. This is about the construction process.

Materials

100% wool sweater to be recycled
Felting wool in 5 colors

  • White or ivory
  • Grey
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red

Embroidery thread
4 tiny black beads for eyes
Needle Felting Gear

  • Felting Needle
  • Sponge (for underneath the needle and project
  • Liquid soap
  • Water (warm to hot)

Sewing Machine or Hand Needle and Thread
Needle for sewing details
design for felting
Mitten Template (made from tracing hand or a template you like)

Pattern to Sewing
1.  Make a template to trace out the mittens.

  • I searched the Internet for a nice template but never really found one. It seems like thumbs are the trickiest part. This time I added thumbs separately.  I ended up tracing the outline of my hand with a 1 cm allowance I wanted tighter mittens rather than loose and the sweater I was recycling has a lot of give.

2. Trace or pin the template to the sweater and cut it out. I traced one side then flipped the template for the back reverse side then traced, cutting the body of the mitten as one piece and one seam. Thumbs were not part of this template. I added thumbs by draping material over my thumb.

  • If I had to do it again I would trace the whole hand, thumb included then just flip the template. I did that with a second pair. Construction was easier and it didn’t feel different to wear.

3. Sew the mittens up. I hand-sewed these and it took a couple hours for each mitt. I used a sewing machine on a second pair and it went much faster.

  • I first tried to felt the seams. That didn’t go well. It might have worked if I’d allowed more than a .5cm. The seam felting was wasted time.

Adding the Design
1.  Put the mittens on the hand and mark out the part the design will fit into.

2.  Trace the design onto the mitten.

  • I redrew the design from the sketch on the mitt rather than trace. I used disappearing fabric marker which became a bit troublesome. As time passed, I had to redraw on the mitten. This happened several times so the design morphed a bit. Rather than getting upset, I just consider this transition part of the process.

3.  Put the sponge inside the mitten and under where you will needle felt.

4.  Needle felt the design. I followed the instructions from this website for how to felt a design onto a surface. I think their instructions were good. Rather than repeating them here, I recommend you check out the link.

Felting
1.   Hand-wash the design using hot water and liquid soap. Gently rub the design to felt the fibers. You might want to wear rubber gloves if the water is hot but still be careful about burns.

2.  Roll the mittens the mittens in a towel and allow to dry flat. Be gentle!

3.  Check the design when dry and use the felting needle on loose parts or tidy up the design.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 if needed.

5.  If the design is secure and you are happy with it embroider embellishments.
On these mittens I embroidered a mouth and sewed on two onyx beads for eyes.

Care
These mittens might survive a machine wash, though I wouldn’t care to test it. I recommend gentle hand-washing and drying flat.

Use
I’ve used the mittens for daily wear and bike rides and they worked well.  When I made felted seams, the seams opened up during a bike ride. So far, the hand-sewing has been durable and no problems with the designs.

If you have any suggestions of feedback about making the design or construction process easier, I’d love to hear.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hope you enjoyed the two posts.

Snowmen Fight: Samurai vs Ninja. Get Your Winter War Mittens Here!I A Post in 2 Parts. Part the First

recycled sweater into mittens
Recycled sweater with my own felted design. Fighting snowmen. Ninja vs. Samurai

Time: 10 hours (depending on skill and gear)

Materials

100% wool sweater to be recycled
Mitten Template (made from tracing hand)
Felting wool in 5 colors
Embroidery thread
4 tiny black beads for eyes
Needle Felting Gear
Sewing Machine (or Needle) and Thread
Needle for sewing details
design for felting
(for a more complete materials list, check out part 2)

Process

Brainstorming

I attended a local Stitch and Bitch but I hadn’t any current, portable projects to work on. I showed up because it’s a nice crowd and I decided I’d work on an idea of something to make. I had an old cashmere sweater that was just too short for me and thought I’d recycle it. I’d recently seen some needle felting and it occurred to me that I could felt a design onto recycled mittens. I had no idea really what I wanted to sketch so I just let my pencil wander.

I was a bit surprised that this is where I ended up. I love to draw snowmen (in Japanese they are called yukidaruma). I wanted the snowman to have a little bit of character and something Japanese-styled. All I can say about the ninja is that I must have seen something on TV around that time. The way I drew the mask is a little bit like the female ninja character, Nezumi Onna (mouse woman) on a jidai-geki.

The snowflake above the head was supposed to be a shuriken/snowflake. I loved the idea but I quickly gave up the shuriken idea as being too difficult to for felting and the size.

I’m not sure how authentic nunchuks are for Japan and ninja.  I don’t think they are very authentic but they were fun and easy to do, so I used them.

So I had one hand done, but didn’t want to have ninja vs. ninja. So a samurai was the next logical choice.

I had this idea of them fighting on a bridge with a castle in the background and snow falling. Then I had a reality check. This was my first needle-felting design project and I wanted it to looks good and be simple. I still like the idea so I might actually do this as a drawing someday.

I was really happy with how I got this snowman to appear to have more dynamic movement but still be round and weighty. His chomage (the samurai hairstyle) at this point looks ok. The clothes are suggestive of Japanese men’s kimono rather than representative.

That’s a Fun Sketch, but Can You Felt It?

So I had two simple designs that I really liked. Before I started to make the mittens, I wanted to make sure that I could felt the design well enough to satisfy me. This was my first time to felt a 2-D pattern, not to mention one of my own design. I didn’t want to go through the work of making mittens only to mess them up with shoddy work. I needed practice. In all honesty, the project languished at this stage for a few months.

I started with the ninja.

I did a bit of research and found this site for felting designs with a felting needle. I checked out a lot of sites but this was the easiest for me to understand.

Felting test #1. Ninja

I cut out a strip from the sweater and drew the design on the wool. It’s not easy to do a good sketch with a fabric marker on wool. I made an underbody of the snowman before felting his clothes on. I don’t know if I would do it that way again. I didn’t with the samurai and that was easier and less bulky.

When I finished I was pretty happy with it. Since I liked it quite a bit and didn’t want to waste the effort, I made it into a bookmark. The pink border in needled felted from some felting wool I had so that the sweater background wouldn’t unravel.

 

Next up was the samurai.

Having learned my lesson from the ninja (taken out of context, that sounds much more interesting than needle-felting), I didn’t put an underbody and felt clothes on top. The effect is a bit different. It gives the work a bit of a pieced effect, more pronounced lines between the colors. Sometimes it made a bit more of a gap than I would like but maybe that’s just the medium and I have to live with it.

Felting Test #2: Samurai

This time I didn’t make a bookmark. The piece I cut was just large enough to test my design. I felt confident with the felting technique after the ninja. I wanted to practice the samurai before doing the mitten. Now I regret not taking a bigger piece to make a bookmark of the samurai. I’ll maybe felt it onto a larger piece someday.

Which brings us to the end of the design and practice portion of this entry. Check out part 2 on Friday.
If you have any suggestions of feedback about making the design process easier, I’d love to hear.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hope you enjoyed it.

Felt Your Way to New Characters with Needle Felting.

needle felted jam, camera, matsrushyka and a needle charm
From lumps of fluffy wool to unique characters. Kit by Hamanaka.

This is needle felting mixed together with a photography, lomo-esque feel. Crafting and photography in a happy union!

As you may have noticed from my previous post, Dreaming of Imaginary Dragon Fish, I’m really interested in character creation. Fimo is a great option for 3-d shapes, but I’m not keen on baking it in my oven. It’s a poor example of the appliance, but it’s the only one I have. Since I live in Japan, I’m constantly surrounded by cute little things and that led me to needle felting.

People who are really good at needle felting can create incredible detail. Check out this example from feltedmice’s photostream at Flickr:
Needle Felted "Gumdrop" a 2-1/2" Baby Bunny By Barby Anderson / Helen Priem made the Owl
The bunny is by Barby Anderson and the owl by Helen Priem.

Incredible, right?

I jumped in with baby steps and started with a kit. The kit maker is a Japanese company called Hamanaka. The kit cost ¥700. Here is a link for the kit on Amazon Japan. This lomo-inspired kit leapt right off the shelf and into my shopping basket. My own felt camera? Oh yeah! The jam jars were cute and I loved the colors for the matryushka. The kit even called for making a spoon! The instructions were ok. They were written in Japanese so my comprehension wasn’t perfect, but the diagrams made up for it. It took me about thirty minutes to figure out the Japanese instructions. Each character took from one to two hours. Also, if you’ve been having a bad day, poking the needle into a bunch of wool is kind of therapeutic. Just be careful. The needle is very sharp and if you poke your finger, it will hurt.

I plan to develop some skill, then, someday, design my own characters.

The snowman at the back is my creation not from the kit. It’s not spectacular but it was good practice. The snowman is also practical as a sewing needle charm. By needle charm, I mean something like a pincushion, for sticking needles in while working on stuff. I also made a bunny head needle charm, but I gave it to a friend before photographing it.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to start making my own characters yet. There are still a lot of cute kits from Hamanaka. And there is something to be said for being able to follow instructions and end up with something that looks like the example.

If you have any favorite kits or favorite materials for character creation, please share!

Until next time, happy creating!

L.