Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Review: Girl Genius by Kaja and Phil Foglio

I have to confess an addiction to Pat Rothfuss's blog. He is a spectacular writer, and his blog is well written and funny. At any rate, after reading his recent post about Girl Genius, I proceeded to the Girl Genious website and spent the next week immersed in the comic every spare minute I had. Literally. There were times when I opened up my laptop to read just half of a page. :) I am desperately sad that I've read everything there is for now, and I'm going a little crazy in a corner of my mind that the story is not yet finished.

I cannot say anything about Girl Genious that Pat didn't say, except that, when I have $22 that's not immediately due to pay some bill or another, I'll be buying that first book, and I won't be sending it to Pat to take him up on his guarantee!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicks with Sticks Continued...

I'm still working from The Chicks with Sticks, but I skipped the knit clutch pattern because (I'm sorry, chicks) it's one of the very few projects in the book I wasn't enthusiastic about, and I don't even use all the handbags I have.

I moved on to the Dirty Girl Washcloths, which I was excited about because they use purl stitch as well as knit, and the patterns are simple but cool (as well as useful!). I finished the first washcloth and knitted about 15 rows of the second when I realized that my stitches were twisted because I had been wrapping the yarn clockwise instead of counter clockwise. So I tore it all out and started over. Last night, I got to the point where I was when I started over, and it looks so good!

I can't wait to try out the basket weave stitch and then use these stitches on other, bigger projects. I'm sad because the book is due back to the library on Thursday, and someone else has already reserved it. I guess I'll just have to make a purchase this week. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting, and My Camera Woes

My lack of a camera is getting more annoying than a shirt that keeps riding up to your waist. I want to take my broken camera to Best Buy tonight, but I don't know if I'll have time. We're trying to get the house clean and put together for my partner's parents to come over (they're arriving tomorrow and staying with us for 10 days), and that so far has meant a whole lot of work and not much time for anything else. If my warranty doesn't cover it, I want to get a new camera, but new camaras cost money, an item which I am lacking in any quantity.

I recently borrowed The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting from the library, and I'm so excited about it! I already crochet, but knitting is just so much more versatile, and all my favorite patterns are knit. I have to admit to having been intimidated by knitting, but The Chicks with Sticks goes through everything in a fun lesson-like format. Each lesson has a project or two at the end, and most of the projects are super-cute things that I'd love to make. So far, I love the book, although their instructions for casting on seem to be missing a step, and I had to look for an online tutorial to show me how to do it. I might actually buy my own copy, since you can only keep a library book for so long.

The first project in the book is a simple fringed scarf; it's supposed to be knit using a worsted-weight wool yarn and a sparkly lace-weight yarn, but after discovering how lacking JoAnn is in the yarn variety department (next time, I'm going to the little yarn store downtown), I decided to knit mine with only one chunky Lion Brand yarn. It's called Charlotte Blue:

See, this is where the camera trouble comes in; I want to show you how far I've gotten in just a few episodes of Top Chef and Gossip Girl, but all I can do is provide stock photos of my yarn. :( I knit while my partner watches TV, and I'm pretty happy with how quickly it's going. (In a side note, I should admit that there's a deeply-hidden part of me that loves shows like Gossip Girl, even though the rest of me knows I should be ashamed of said love. This last month is the first time I've had TV (other than DVDs) in three years, which makes it even more addictive. :))

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review: The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo

I hope that your holiday weekend was wonderful and relaxing, or at least busy with things you wanted to be doing!

I was busy, but happily. One of the things I did over the weekend was read The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Yoko Tanaka.

I loved this book. It is the story of an orphaned boy who lives with a soldier who fought beside his father. The boy is told by a fortuneteller that his sister lives, and in order to find her, he must follow the elephant. That same night, a magician conjurs an elephant, which falls right through the ceiling of the theater he is performing in.

The Magician's Elephant is a story about magic, and what is possible when you believe. Kate DiCamillo does not need flowery language; her writing is beautiful without pretension. The voice she uses throughout the book is simple, funny, and touching, and she does it all deftly. Yoko Tanaka's illustrations are perfect for the story. All of the illustrations are in black and white, and they capture the magical tone of the story. This story has had me asking, What if? Why not? Could it be? ever since I put it down.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

First Custom Piece: The Deer Skin Journal

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked me if I could make a journal out of deer skin. “Why not?” I said, thinking it would be similar to leather, but thinner and maybe more supple. When I looked inside the bag she gave me several weeks later, I found myself to be holding a bag full of the scraps of home-cured, fur-still-on deer skin that were left after the hunter had made a vest out of the skin.

I’ve spent the time since then looking at other books, journals, etc., trying to get an idea of what to do with the mismatched scraps. On Sunday, I finally bucked down, pulled out the scraps and some bits of matching leather I already had, measured it, turned it upside-down, wrapped it around a text block, photographed it, and generally brainstormed. What came out of it was a rather attractive and original journal that perfectly fit one of the ~5”x7” text blocks I had already put together.
I used two pieces of the skin that matched fairly well, one for the front and one for the back, and then used a piece of supple light brown leather for the spine.

I sewed the headbands by hand, which I’ve decided is one of my favorite things about binding, and it’s especially cool because it’ll keep this journal strongly together.

The paper I used for the end pages and flyleaves is the same map paper I used to make my friend’s journal for Christmas. I do love it, but it’s a little too weak for the job of end pages, really. It folds and buckles, but that's actually kind of cool too because it makes the paper look even older.

I’m really pleased with the way the journal turned out in the end. Just a couple of final touch-ups to make sure that fur is going to stay where I put it, and it’ll be ready for its role as wedding gift to the hunter groom. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Odd and the Frost Giants, by Neil Gaiman

I read Odd and the Frost Giants, by Neil Gaiman yesterday. It was another quick read, but far more enjoyable than the last one. Neil Gaiman is a master of writing, and I say that because it is rare that one person can successfully write in so many different genres.

Odd and the Frost Giants is about a Viking's son who just doesn't fit in (which is fun, because I just watched How to Train Your Dragon - if you haven't seen it yet, you should, regardless of how old you happen to be). After his father dies, his mother marries another man in the village, and during one particular winter that was just lasting far too long and after putting up with more than enough taunting, Odd decides to leave. He takes some supplies and goes back to the hut they lived in when his father was alive. From there, he learns exactly what's causing the extra-long winter and decides to go on an adventure to fix things.

I'd forgotten what a pleasure it could be to read a well-written children's book. Odd and the Frost Giants is simply written, and while it is at all elaborate, Gaiman wrote everything that needed to be in those pages. I could practically see Odd and his mother, the bear, fox, and eagle, and the frost giant. I can't imagine that there will be much criticism of this book. I hope everyone finds the time to pick it up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Child Thief, by Brom (and Green Angel, by Alice Hoffman)

I sat outside in the sun and finished The Child Thief on Saturday. It fits into the "fairy tale" part of the Once Upon a Time Challenge, but mostly I read it because it's Brom. As should be expected when you open a book by Brom (or look at any of his art), The Child Thief is filled with magic and darkness. It's not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach, as Brom has no qualms about describing graphic details or including horrific scenes. There are many of those, as the story is about a boy who steals children, takes them to his fort on Avalon where they become the Devils (the Lost Boys of Peter Pan) and where they train so that they can fight his war against the monsterous captain and his crew in a centuries-long attempt to save Avalon. Brom finds the sinister in Peter Pan and brings it to the forefront of the story, weaving it so skillfully with the magic of the tale that you finish the book feeling like you just read the true story of Peter Pan. The Child Thief is like the gritty truth Brom revealed by pulling back all the years of candy coating.

Green Angel was a library book sale purchase, and I expected much from it when I sat down to read it this weekend. It's a short book that can be read in one sitting, but I can only recommend it for the beauty of the prose. The way Hoffman put words together was beautiful, but it was almost as though she focused so much on the words that she forgot what the words were saying. The story was choppy, and I felt that most of the time the narrator told me what happened rather than showing me. I also found it difficult to identify with the main character, in spite of the fact that ten years ago I was an angsty, shy, withdrawn teenage girl myself. This book may be one of the few books that goes back to the library in a donation box.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Winter's Heart, by Robert Jordan

I flew through Winter's Heart; audio books make it easy to read anywhere hands-free, regardless of the weather. I know a lot of people are dissatisfied with this book, as they are with most of the books in the Wheel of Time series after the first three to five, but I liked it. Robert Jordan is a master story-teller; he may not tell a clean, tight story, but he tells a fascinating one. Things are heating up in the Wheel of Time series, and I called my partner a few times with exclamations about what happened in this book. Mat finally returns to the story with a lot of space in the book, some mysterious characters are revealed for who they really are, and things I've been waiting for for books finally happened. The slowness that bogged down the last few books doesn't touch this one, and it ends with a bang.

I'm excited to read the rest of the series, but I want to take a short break to read Brom's The Child Thief. I love Brom, and I've been excited about reading this book since it came out. Also, this Peter Pan-inspired story will fit nicely into the fairy tale requirement for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Path of Daggers, by Robert Jordan

I finished listening to this book as I walked in the door to work this morning. I love a good audio book, and Robert Jordan read by Kate Reading and Michael Kremer is a great audio book. The Path of Daggers fits into the fantasy niche for the Once Upon a Time Challenge, and of course it counts as one of my hundred, so that's two birds with one very happy stone.

The Path of Daggers is the eighth book in the Wheel of Time Series, and I would say you have to read the rest of the series before reading this one. I don't want to spoil the book for those who haven't read it yet, but I do want to say a few things about it. (If, by the way, you'd like to talk about the book in more spoiling detail, you can email me, and I'd be thrilled to chat!)

The first three or four books in the series were fairly fast-paced. A lot happened, and a lot of mysteries and prophesies were brought into the mix. The characters were interesting, well-rounded characters and the plot was well-developed (although the road to Cairhien took waaaaaaay too long).

Books four through six were well-written and full of character development, but they moved more slowly; there was a lot of political maneuvering and very little action. I think this is where the series loses a lot of readers, but if you're tempted to stop, don't.

Book seven picks up a little bit more, and things start to get into motion again, but while things begin to happen quickly, they also happen with little or no reasoning at all. I love the idea of Travelling, but while Jordan's characters fly all over the map, so does a bit of the plot. Mat's headed in one direction, then suddenly, Rand changes his mind, and Mat steps through one of the Travelling windows with his Band of the Red Hand and does something completely different. (Speaking of Mat, I adore his character, but I haven't read much about him at all in The Path of Daggers.

In spite of the fact that all that Travelling scatters the plot, things get really interesting in book eight, and the last chapter, with Jordan's description of what the people and rumors are saying, leaves you fairly certain about what didn't happen but completely in the dark about exactly what did happen. I was happy to see Egwene (my favorite character) start to pick up a bit more of the oomph that I've heard she really comes into in The Gathering Storm. She's tougher, smarter, more confident, and more capable of pushing things in the direction she wants them to go. This is a woman who might seem young, but she's more in control than anyone expects.

Speaking of Egwene, Robert Jordan has some interesting takes on women in his books. But that's another topic for another time.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Embroidered Bookcloth: The North Wind

I posted earlier about a sketch for some embroidered bookcloth and the new fabric I'd bought. The sketch was inspired by the fairy tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," and it's of the North Wind blowing the golden apple across the covers of the book. Here are some photos of the embroidered realization of that sketch. :)
Still in the hoop:

The full view. Needs some ironing, doesn't it? This will span from the back cover, over the spine, and across the front cover, blowing that golden apple away.

Here's a close-up. You can only see two kinds of stitching here: stem stitch and split stitch, but I also did a couple lines of chain stitch too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making MtG (or any other card game!) Deck Boxes

I spent the weekend working on deck boxes. They're made to hold Magic: the Gathering decks, but they could really hold any cards you happen to have, including those Pinochle cards you have wrapped in a disintegrating rubber band in your junk drawer.
These are my two test boxes, since I wasn't positive that the measurements were perfect. Good thing, too, because they're definitely not perfect. The first box was made out of my yellow-green and gold vine paper.

There were problems with the hinge, so the lid of the box is a little too high at the hinge and juts out over the front. See?

Not to worry, though. I fixed that problem with my second box, so the hinge is the perfect size.

You can see that the lid isn't raised at the hinge, everything is flush (although the box is open a bit in the picture). The only problem with this one is that in the back, the spine is about 1/16" short. You can see that in the bottom left-hand corner of the picture. Hardly noticeable, but still there. The next one will be perfect.

Even when they're not perfect, I get so much satisfaction out of making something with my hands and seeing the finished product. And just the four boxes I've made show so much improvement.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Once Upon a Time Challenge, and Melissa Nucera

I just joined the Once Upon a Time Challenge (just click on the picture above for the link), reading four books between now (the challenge started on the first day of Spring, March 21) and the last day of spring, June 20. The challenge includes several different levels, or quests. I am doing Quest the Second, to read at least one book from each of the four categories: fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, and mythology. It shouldn't be too difficult for me, because that's what I love the most, but I've also added the Short Story Weekends Quest, where I will read a short story each weekend. I will post about it on Mondays. This weekend will be the first.

The challenge is sponsored by a fabulous artist, Melissa Nucera. I looked at her Etsy page, ThisYearsGirl, and I found myself writing stories in my head to go along with her work. In May, when I've got a little extra money, I'm going to purchase one of her prints. I think the piece called Unwritten Tale is hauntingly beautiful. It's the kind of art that you think about for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Warbreaker: How audio book readers can ruin a good story

I'm currently reading three different books at once. When you're me, this happens. I started Path of Daggers, by Robert Jordan first, but we only have the pristine first printing of the first edition copy, which, needless to say, can't exactly be stuffed in my purse to read on the bus or during lunch. So I started reading Anna Karenina, which I am surprisingly enjoying and am quite far into by now. On vacation, we started listening to Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson (he's finishing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series with Jordan's notes).

I like Brandon Sanderson. His writing is a little overly explanatory and his language often strays into overly formal or absurdly casual, but he tells a good, creative, interesting story and he writes strong, well-developed characters whose good/evil factor is always somewhere in the gray zone. His Mistborn trilogy was phenomenal, and if you even think you might like fantasy, you should read those books. I was excited when Warbreaker came out, but like many bibliophiles, I was already reading four other books and haven't gotten to it until now.

And let me say, the audio book sucks. I'm so disappointed in it. The reader is supposed to be this uber-talented actor-type, so I was looking forward to it, but the reader pauses in the wrong (and distracting) places, reads some characters with a stereotypical dumb surfer voice (no, they're not surfers), puts question marks into sentences where there is only a comma, and drones when he reads Sanderson's frequent explanations of what's going on and how things work. When I picked up the actual book yesterday, I got sucked right in; it's just as good as his other writing.

Brandon, please find another reader to do your audio books!

*As an aside, the readers who did the entire Wheel of Time series, Kate Reading and Michael Kremer, are spectacular, and their interpretation of the inflections, tones, and accents only benefited the story.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anna Karenina: Halfway-through Review

I intended to read Anna Karenina for a book club I really want to join, but I started the book far too late, and although the meeting has passed, I am finishing the book. My partner says it's a terrible book, but I'm actually finding a lot to like. I'll tell you what I think about it, but have you read it? Did you like it/hate it/spend a lot of time thinking but never come to a conclusion?

I read Tolstoy's War and Peace in college, and I really hated it. At the end of the semester, I still had 50 pages left to go, and you know what? The slip of paper I used as a bookmark is still sitting in the book, 50 pages from the end.

In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy does still meander off-course and from topic to topic, some of the dialogue is nonsensical (a character will say one thing, and the character responding will say something on a completely different topic), and there are several storylines. However, since that college course, I've discovered a fondness for plots that involve multiple storylines and characters connected by a single character or a few characters, or even connected only by a single event; stories that show the threads of commonality between people everywhere. There are fewer characters and fewer storylines in Anna Karenina than in War and Peace, so it's easier to keep track of them, and they are also more interesting. I've also developed a respect for Tolstoy's way of diverging from the plot to tell the reader what he thinks about humanity or what other people think about life. It's a truly fascinating read, and I don't regret all the time it will take to read this giant of a book.

I hope I have time after finishing Anna Karenina to read the next book that book club is reading!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sketches for Embroidered Book Cloth

I'm so happy with my productivity yesterday evening! I went to JoAnn for some new colors of fabric to embroider on (it was on sale, so I bought 1/2 yard each of four colors for $4.12 (woohoo!): gray, dark purple, green, and sky blue).

Then I came home and designed a new pattern to stitch on my next bookcloth. Those two vertical lines are where the spine will be, so this design will span the entire cover.

Then I tore apart the last of those magazines I found and salvaged the last of those sweet pictures on the covers and inside. Can't wait to turn those into books and boxes!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bookbinding update

In the middle of stitching on Friday evening, my last needle threader broke (it's lasted me for months, so I wasn't that surprised), which put a huge damper on the stitching process. However, I got a ton of other stuff done on Friday evening and got new threaders on Sunday. The weekend was soooo productive! I cut papers and book boards, folded signatures, and stitched and glued textblocks for five books!

I also finished the compass rose, and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I want to get some more colors of fabric to stitch on. Sky blue, leaf green, stormy gray, butter yellow...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Embroidered Bookcloth: Compass Rose Progress

Just a short progress update on my compass rose bookcloth. This photo was taken on Wednesday, and this weekend, I'm hoping to get the stitching done then cut pages and get the signatures ready for casing in. I'm currently pretty broke, so we'll see if I can afford to purchase some paper to adhere the cloth to.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Embroidered Bookcloth: A Bibliophile's Craft

Since I took my first bookbinding class, I've been fascinated by the idea of making my own bookcloth. I took up embroidering last year, and something I've been wanting to do is to make a series of embroidered books all centered around a single theme.

I adore fairy tales, folk tales, tall tales, myths, and all their incarnations and reincarnations. They're the inspiration for many of my ideas, and they're the inspiration for this latest one.

The first fairy tale I'm doing is "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." It would be too long to provide a synopsis here, but if you've never read it, I highly recommend taking ten minutes of your time and doing so.

I'm embroidering several pieces of cloth with images from the story. The first image is a compass rose, and I'm working on that one now. After that, some of my ideas are a golden apple, an aspen leaf, a candle dripping drops of tallow, the face of a white bear, and the face of a man combined with that of a bear.

Here's the progress on the compass rose so far:

And a close-up:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coyote, Anansi, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox

My life seems to be filled with tricksters this winter. After realizing that Bury Me Standing is overdue at the library, I decided to just return it and read something else. I chose Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, because it's one of few stand-alone audiobooks I have on my iPod, and I can't exactly be taking good hardcovers outside in this snow.

I think, before I started listening, I wasn't really paying attention to the title. Anansi. The trickster of African stories. Winter is the season of the trickster, you know. It's the time of the year when you can tell and hear trickster stories without getting the often unwelcome attention of the trickster. And this winter, intentionally or not, I've been doing just that. It started with Coyote Road, which is a collection of original trickster stories prefaced by a long history of the trickster and the history of the trickster throughout the world. That was followed by going to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which, by the way, was absolutely fantastic. :) Charles de Lint's books feature Raven as well as Coyote (who's called Cody and is a background character). And now Anansi Boys, which I chose simply because I love Neil Gaiman, not remembering that Anansi is another trickster. I never even read the description of the story, but after listening to the first couple chapters, I'm pretty sure it's about the sons of Anansi.

Trickster's stories show up all around the world: Kitsune in Japanese tales, Raven and Coyote in Native American stories, Anansi in African and Carribean stories, Puck in Celtic tales, Hermes in Greek, etc., etc. One thing I've always been fascinated by is fairy and folk tales, and the ways in which they are adapted and used in cultures as time goes by. If I went back to school, I'm pretty sure that's what I'd study.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Widdershins, Bury Me Standing, and a dog in the snow

I finished Widdershins yesterday. It was a good book, but I find myself disenchanted with the ending. I know that the stories are kind of fairy-tale-esque, but it's such a clean ending: all the bad guys die, all the good guys live and get together; even the two who were killed end up coming back to life. I'm starting a non-fiction book called Bury Me Standing: the gypsies and their journey. I don't read much non-fiction, but I was curious about this one.

The snow we've gotten is incredible, and I've decided that I can't decide if Onyx is part snow ostrich or part dolphin. I couldn't get a picture of him diving through the snow, but here's him burying his head in it:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hand-sewn Headbands

This is a book I showed in a post in my old blog, but it's worth showing here. If you click on the photo, you can see the headband more clearly in the large version.

I bound this journal for an old friend of mine, and it was the second hollowback hardcover I made. The first was in my first bookbinding class, and that class taught me a lot but inspired more questions than it answered. One of the big questions was, If you're binding books by hand, why not take the extra time to sew in a functional headband instead of just gluing on a non-functional decorative one? And how do you do that, anyway?

After looking through tutorial after tutorial online, I found one on a blog called Pied Crow Press. The photos are great and show each step clearly, the instructions are detailed and understandable, and my first headbands turned out beautifully. The beads on the headband on the bottom are a little rougher, but not by much, and the top one was wonderful. Definitely gift-worthy. Anyway, if you're curious about hand-sewn headbands, here's a link to the tutorial. Happy binding!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Charles de Lint

Why, oh why have I never read Charles de Lint before now? I'm already in my mid-twenties, which means that a decade and a half of pure literary enjoyment has been lost! I guess I'll have to make up for lost time.

A couple days ago, I finished the first book I've read by de Lint: The Onion Girl (by the way, I want the dress Jilly's wearing on the cover). He's a spectacular writer, getting into the gritty of things, bringing his readers the magic that lives in the places that are too dark to see into. I got the feeling, reading Jilly's story, that she is the center of an entire web of stories. Sometimes, she might be on the sidelines when you're looking at someone else's story, but everything connects to her and through her. I could be wrong. I suppose I'll find out as I read more of de Lint. I've started Widdershins, which is a continuation of Jilly's story, and then I'll go back and read other stuff by de Lint.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making a Box with a Tray: Green with Gold

My first box was fairly simple in comarison to the box I'm working on now. There were certainly fewer parts to cut out. This box will be basically the same, but it will be about 2 1/2" longer and the sides will be taller to accomodate a second tray. Most boxes made with a removable tray are jewelry boxes and don't have the dividers in the bottom, but mine will not be for jewelry, and there will be dividers in the bottom as well as the top tray.

The two most important things about box making and bookbinding that I would not have expected: math/formulas and labeling the pieces. But the paper and the process are the most fun parts. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Exposed-spine Sewings

I've been spending some time on Flickr, looking at other people's work, finding inspiration and just admiring it. One of the things I really want to learn to do is different types of stitching, like Coptic. One of the great things about living in Ann Arbor is that Hollander's is right downtown, so I can go there any time for decorative paper, bookboard, or pretty much anything else I want. I can also take the workshops they offer. Next month, they're offering a workshop on two exposed-spine sewings: one is coptic, and the other is button-hole stitch.

I've really loved the other classes I've taken, but I'm not sure if I should spend $110 on a class or if I should just teach myself. I think I'll see how easy it is to learn from tutorials (that's now I learned to do hand-sewn headbands), and then take the workshop if I need more. If they ever offer a class that teaches several different kinds of stitching, I'll be signed up in a heartbeat!

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Awesome Find: Up-cycling Old Magazines

Yesterday on my way out of the office, I discovered an entire cart overflowing with old science magazines and journals. Now, if you've never seen a copy of Kidney International, you're missing out, but if you have, you know why I took as many as I could carry home with me. The microscopic photos on the covers vacillate between uber-cool and awe-inspiringly beautiful. I took a photo of a small sample last night, and even though the lighting's not that great, you can still see just how sweet these covers are. They're going to become the new covers of books and boxes, and I'm so excited to tear them apart and make them into something new and beautiful!

My favorite two:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

100+ Reading Challenge

I haven't been reading as much lately as I usually do. Maybe because I spend so much time thinking about creating. I found the 2010 Reading Challenge, and even though we're already well into February, I figured I might as well see if I can do this. I usually read about 60 books a year. Another 40 is a lot, especially since much of what I read is quite hefty reading, like Robert Jordan and Alexandre Dumas. But we'll see how I do. :) I also joined a book club that reads two books a month, and while I probably won't be able to make both meetings, why not read both books?

The next book is Atonement, by Ian McEwan, which means that I have to pay off my exhorbitant library fines so I can borrow it from the AADL. It's gotten to the point where I honestly wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper to buy a book than pay the old fines and borrow it from the library. Does anyone else rack up the library fines, or is it just me?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finds at The Dawn Treader (Incarceron)

In Ann Arbor, there is a used bookstore called The Dawn Treader, and while I love used bookstores, I love Dawn Treader the most because of their absolutely ginormous collection of fantasy and sci-fi. Also, they obviously accept trade-ins, and one of my friends who's leaving the country gave me her little trade-in certificate, so she essentially handed me $7.50 to spend on books.

Over the weekend, I got an Advance Reading Copy of Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher. The book was $5.50, so I should have gotten a new trade-in certificate for $2, but the woman at the register wrote $2.50 instead. I know it's only 50 cents, but I feel like I should tell them next time I go in.

Anyway, I'm going to finish the book today. It's delicious. This is one of those books that keeps you up at night and makes you forget to feed the dog. The characters are compelling and well-developed, and the story is fast-paced and set in a world where darkness has seeped into the light of idealism. I think I've read too many books in my life, because the general story line so far has been predictable, but reviews say the ending has quite the twist, so I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Boxes, paper, and USB drives

I never seem to do everything I intend to do over the weekend. Time just doesn't move the way I think it's going to. :) I did finish the first box I started, and it turned out beautifully. I'll post pictures later. I don't have them with me right now because of what happened yesterday. Yesterday, I thought my entire creative life was ending; my little USB flash drive stopped working, and silly woman that I am, I haven't backed it up in a loooonng time. My partner saved me by jiggling it around a little in the USB port of my laptop and bending it so it tipped up long enough for me to drag everything from it and drop it onto my desktop. So... Everything is still there, it's just no longer portable. Guess I need a new flash drive. :(

The formulas for the second box are finished, so I'll be able to start cutting boards and papers tonight. I'm excited, because this box is the one I'm making for me, and I'll be thrilled to get my cards into a proper box. I'm making it with a gorgeous green paper with gold vines, and the inside will be a gold Lakta paper. Again, pictures to follow.

Edit: Here are a couple pictures of the box (the ribbons are to pull out the contents without dumping everything out):

And here's a picture of the paper I'm going to use for my box. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Box Making

I took a couple of basic bookbinding classes last year, and from what I learned there, I’m teaching myself how to make boxes. I’m pretty excited about all the ideas I have banging around in my skull.

The inspiration for box-making is actually uber nerdy, but I’m okay with that. I recently picked up some Magic: the Gathering cards and started to play. Now, if you play, you already know, but if you don’t, then one of the things you should know about these cards is that, unlike regular old playing cards, Magic cards come in packaging that really isn't meant to hold them for any longer than it takes for someone to buy them and take them out. No neat little box to slip them back into. They come with all kinds of packaging (I know, it makes my eco-self cringe too) that’s not meant to hold your cards after you take them out. So…What to do with those cards?

Option 1: Keep some in the flimsy, open plastic packaging they come in and figure out what to do with the ones that won't fit.
Option 2: Purchase a rather tacky deck box for each set of 60 cards.
Option 3: Keep them in a used box.
Option 4: Rubber-band them all together.
Option 5: Forget about it altogether and just leave them spread across the coffee table where they’re free game for the dog.
Option 6: Make my own box, customized with my own design, details, size, number of cards it holds, etc.

Needless to say, my crafty self immediately started fantasizing about glue and decorative papers, and I was sold. This is the tray just after it was glued together (this particular box is going to hold 1200 cards):