Sunday, January 27, 2008

Playing Hooky and Finishing a Book

Last night, I finished a book I've been working on for quite awhile. I should have been studying for the GRE, but the brain needed some creative juices used up. It contains and gives a visual interpretation of an Emily Dickenson poem about death.

This is the cover.
I constructed it as an accordian fold book.
The pages are sewn onto an unbleached cotton strip.
The text is written in black ink and the suggestion of earth is brown ink.

Here it is all laid out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Green Artist

Check out this podcast of an interview with the artist El Anatsui. He uses recycled materials to create incredibly beautiful work.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Computer Predjudice

Creativity is about thinking outside the box, problem solving for more than just the obvious, and thinking about how what you generate will impact the people it comes in contact with. There's a certain amount of creativity involved in producing a product for a target audience.

However, as normal human beings we naturally fall into regular habits and assumptions. One that drives me nuts has to do with computers and doing the minimum.

When I get directions on how to fix something and only find PC instructions I'm thankful that, like most Mac users, I'm smarter than the average bear. We Mac users have to be since we are rarely considered important enough to care about. In fact, when we started producing computer training discs where I work, I have exerted a lot of pressure to make sure that the instructions include BOTH PC and Mac.

I just got the free GRE prep disc in the mail and I can't run it because it's Windows only. Are they saying that since I only have access to Macs that I'm not important enough or worthy enough to receive a free disc like the PC users get?

Well, the GRE guys seem to only do the minimum. Fortunately I'm smarter than the average bear and I'll just have to figure out how to find other ways of getting my GRE practice in.

Easy Green

Here's an easy green thing: Take only one or two napkins!!!

Are you one of those people who grabs a whole handful of napkins when you go to the fast food restaurant? How many of them do you throw away after not using them?

Well, STOP IT!

If you actually use more than 2 and you're older than 10, I'd say you need to work on your table manners.

Take the time to only pull out one or two and if you get messy in spite of your best efforts, go back and get a couple more.

One place where it's hard to control the number of napkins you get is the drive through. So here's a couple of ideas.
• If you eat in the car, stick the extras in the glove compartment or center compartment for when you need a paper towel, napkin, or facial tissue.
• If you take it home, put the extras where you can use them for other meals. There's no reason you can't use them for non-fast food meals at home. If you eat fast food regularly, you'll never have to buy napkins again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fugly Crocheting

I've been a crocheter for over 30 years and so when I read that someone thought crocheting was "fugly" I took it personally. Another comment a short time later about crocheting being more "crafty" than knitting, motivated me to do something about this erroneous and ignorant view of crochet. FYI, I also knit although I don't call myself a knitter.

I feel a strong need to prove them wrong.

As much as I love to make and create things, I do try to be a little practical in my choice of projects since I have a limited number of people to give things to and they can take only so much. But I don't care anymore. I'm just going to create and decide what to do with it later. I'm going to make them up and post them for you to pass judgment.

I LOVE bags, hats, and scarves, and I like making them. I often wish I could have a bag/hat/scarf walk-in closet. And so my first two presentations for you to consider are bags. They aren't lined yet, but I will do that later when I have a bunch of them to do all at once. The linings will make them more functional and prevent things like pens or crochet hooks from escaping. I'd like to extend my apologies for the less than stellar photos, but I'll do more formal shots after I've lined them.

I made the first one on our New Year trip to Taos. It's made of blue one-ply Frog Tree Alpaca and a Mohair/viscose blend that is variegated red, green, blue, and beige with a little bling. The body is 100% single crochet, so a beginner could do it. I used a lucet to make the strap (easy to learn and a nice technique) but you could crochet it or buy a cord.

Taos Evening

This one I made last weekend in a few hours. I used Lion Brand Chenille Thick & Quick (Royal Blue), Trellis (Copper Penny), and Incredible (Aquarium). Once again it's 100% single crochet, even the strap. When I line it, I'll add some stiffener to help it hold it's shape.

Tropical Horizon

P.S. Friends and Family: If you see something you like and want, let me know and I'll send it to you.

More Green

There's some things we really need to think about when thinking "green."

Is it really green because someone says it is. I mentioned in my previous post on Seeing Green that I'm a print buyer. I know something is green if it has the FSC logo on it since I know that it had to go through rigorous certifications at every stage from how the forest that the trees came from is managed all the way to how the printer manages their shop. However, the "green" fabric that I was shown may not be since the regulations and certifications for that aspect of the print industry aren't so iron clad.

And then there is that window envelope with the corn based film I was telling you about. It may be good for the environment, but is it harming us elsewhere?

If I have to choose between saving someone's life or being green I'd have to pick saving someone's life. So now you're saying "What? What do you mean? Isn't saving the environment saving lives?" And I say yes, up to a point.

The majority of the people in this world live in deep poverty. Those of us living in the West are filthy rich compared to the rest of the world. It's not because they're lazy or violent or because they bring it on themselves, it's because the rich exploit the poor and take away their opportunities and their hope. We, the rich, throw money at them to make ourselves feel better and... but that's a whole different post. Back to being green.

The people who pay the biggest price are the poor when we, the rich, aren't being green. The globe we live on has a natural rhythm that includes temperature changes over time.

Yes it's true! Back in the days of the Renaissance the earth was warm enough that England grew grapes and made wines that rivaled those of France. Flax (from which linen is made) is a warm climate crop and could be grown as far north as Germany. Life was prosperous until the temperature dropped a few degrees and then we have the poverty and hunger of the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

So if that's true, why should we worry about global warming. Because we've taken the natural rhythm of the earth and exaggerated it. It's like constantly irritating a wound so it won't heal. When the heat won't stop going up, it's the poor, especially in the developing world, that take the hit. They have no artificial defenses to protect them from the changing environment like we do. They're the ones that suffer when there is no rain since they can't just run down to the grocery store to buy food grown in a place where there is no drought. They can't just turn on a faucet that pulls it's water from a reservoir carefully maintained in another part of the region. They're stuck with what is immediately available and if the environmental conditions are adverse, there might not be anything available. So they move somewhere else until those resources are exhausted and the cycle continues.

But being green could make the circumstances for the poor even worse. Let's talk about those corn based products that are going to save our world. Where will the corn come from? Can our high yield farm techniques help us to provide all the corn we will need or will we have to import it? If we have to import it, where will it come from? If it comes from a developing country will it force the cost of corn up so high that the even the farmer who raises it can't afford to buy it?

So we need to go green responsibly. Don't just jump on the bandwagon and go with the flow. Be intelligent and ask questions. Do a little research before just going for it. If someone says it's green, check to make sure it really is. Is it regulated and are there standards that determine if it's green? Do they make sense?

And most of all, who does it impact and how? This whole global warming, going green thing really is global. It doesn't just affect how we live, it affects everyone. So in your quest to go green, make sure you're also saving lives.

Seeing Green

Green is fashionable right now. With all the hooplah about global warming, hybrid cars, carbon footprints and such, everyone is beginning to feel the pressure.

So what's a person to do? Go hide in a corner and cry? Or run down to the nearest hardware store and max out the credit card on florescent lightbulbs, extra insulation for the attic, light switches that sense when the room is occupied and automatically turn the lights on and off, plastic to cover your windows....?

I'm a print buyer by profession and green has struck that industry as well. I have an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) brochure sitting on my desk right now. I also got to get a look at "green" fabric for banner displays last week. We've been investigating window envelopes with corn based film for the windows.

I do believe we need to start thinking about the mess we're making of the world for the sake of comfort and consumerism. We heat our homes to a toasty 72ยบ in winter and cool them in summer. We buy a house in a nice neighborhood and then drive 20 to 40 miles round trip to work. We leave our Tivo on 24/7 so that we can be sure to record all our favorite shows don't bother to shut down the computer, just log out, since it's faster to get up and running that way. And there are all those clocks in the house that are always running. The one in the bedroom, the one in the bathroom, the one on all 3 DVD players, and the one on the stove as well as the one on the microwave. All those little things quietly eating electricity. And then there are all those disposable products... I could go on forever, but what to do.

Here's an idea. Start with one thing you can handle. Most people recycle. Our waste disposal companies often make it easy by providing guidelines and bins. So if you haven't started yet, it's a good place to start turning green.

If you're someone who uses a lot of light in your home, change to florescent. I must confess that we haven't done that yet. I live under florescents at work all day and they wear me out. So we just keep the lights off except in the room where we're at. For example, we change the main light bulbs in our family room and my studio fairly regularly, but I can't remember the last time I had to replace a light bulb in the kitchen or living room.

If you want to go to a larger scale, start finding ways you can conserve otherwise. How about your junk mail. On the Church of the Customer blog, the writer saved up his junk mail for a year and accumulated over 21 pounds of paper. Somehow that seems low.

Can you imagine how much you would reduce the amount of trash you put on the curb every week if you didn't get any junk mail? Sound like an out of reach dream? Go to the DMA web site and sign up for a dollar to get your junk mail stopped. I did and I'm really looking forward to when it starts kicking in. It takes about 3 months to start tapering off since most mailings are planned at least that far in advance.

Does anyone else have any small but easy and significant ideas that can help us live a little more green? Please share.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Worn Out

I'm worn out. I've finally got both my applications for graduate school submitted and all I have to do is take the GRE in the next 3 weeks. EEEEEEEK! For better or worse, I will be really glad when all this is over.

It's not just the stress of getting everything pulled together and done. It's the emotional rollercoaster that I deal with every day. It's even affecting my work, although I'm trying hard not to let it.

Then comes the stress of waiting to find out if I got accepted, then how to proceed if I to proceed if I don't. I don't even want to think about that now, not until after the test.

I do know that I'm going to get a lot of sewing (new curtains) and spinning (for a sweater) done in February and March. I'm looking forward to it.