Thursday, November 20, 2014

Arts and Crafts

Growing up, it annoyed me to hear "Arts and Crafts" said in the same breath. Like they're the same, if you did one you did the other. It annoyed me because I considered myself an artist, but not a crafter. And I really didn't want to be a crafter. I drew and painted and illustrated and created and experimented. I didn't craft.

Of course, I had a very specific idea of what crafting was. Crafting was what those moms with the clean houses did in order to make their clean houses all decorated and cute. They'd find some cute thing someone else had already made and follow the step-by-step instructions and end up with the same cute thingy to put on their cute, clean doors or tables or whatever.

(DISCLAIMER: there is nothing at all wrong with having a cute, clean house.)

I wasn't interested in cute. Or in cleaning for that matter. Getting paint all over myself, and the canvas--now THAT was something I could handle. And getting ALL the dishes dirty in the creation of a beautifully delicious pie, or leaving bits of paper all over the carpet after a snowflake cutting session. (Those are mandatory every winter. No exceptions.)

Snowflake cutting was the closest I came to crafting. But snowflakes were kind of brainy and creative, if you know what I mean--making them with six points is a challenge for awhile, but then you do them with five, and then with seven, or three (four or eight points was just too easy). I did it enough to kind of intuitively know what the final snowflake would look like. It always baffled me (still does, actually) that people would follow a pattern to cut a snowflake. I mean, seriously? You follow the directions on how to fold it--that makes sense. And then you make something unique and cool! You know, that whole every-snowflake-is-unique thing? You don't follow a pattern.  Seriously?

So if I was never really interested in crafting, why on earth would I apply for a job at a crafting company?

Easy answer: I didn't.

A fellow illustration major did. He was offered the job but didn't feel like it was the right fit for him. He ran into me on campus and mentioned there was an opportunity for a vector-based illustration job, and I was the only one he knew who really liked working in vector, so would I possibly be interested in that? Sure, I said. He told me that if he decided not to accept the job offer, he'd recommend me. They contacted me about a week later and it ended up working out, and there I was, working for Cricut, designing crafts.

So it wasn't that I applied at a crafting company, it was that someone recommended me for creating vector-based artwork.

My first project wasn't an easy one, and I can now actually talk about it because it's released for everyone to buy--the 3D Floral Home Decor cartridge ( So not only was I doing paper art, I was doing fairly complicated 3D paper art for people to decorate their cute clean houses with (I mean, Home Decor is right in the title) for my very first project.

And I discovered something about myself. I'm still not interested in having a clean, cute, decorated, trendy, etc. house. (I fit the disorganized artist stereotype pretty well.) What I am interested in is visual problem solving--figuring out how to make something work. And then how to make it better.

Some of the coolest flowers on that cartridge came from seeing something someone else had done and saying, ok, thats cool, but how can I make something even cooler? And some of it I just completely made up.

And it was so. much. fun.

And now I can't stop. I've designed and assembled about 5 new Christmas ornaments by this point, cut out on my awesome Cricut Explore machine. Its taken multiple tries to get them right, and my garbage can is full of failed attempts and the carpet is covered in paper confetti.

And then, when I've finally got something that works, what do I do? I might take a quick snapshot for instagram, and then I stick it on the shelf, along with the other final versions and a bit of dust (I don't clean, remember?)--and start a new experiment.

It was never really about creating something to display and look cool.

It's about creating something cool, period.

I think back on all the projects and mediums I've gotten really into--ambigrams, stained glass, even oil painting, and a freaking upside-down picture book--they have specific limitations, and then you have to take those limitations and say, ok, what can I do? What will work? To me, thats the most interesting reason to do arts and crafts.

Yeah, I said them together. Arts and Crafts.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lah de dah de dah de dah de dah...

I used to write in this blog alot. Well, maybe not alot. But with some frequency. Ish. Lately, I haven't. At least, not very frequently.

So I'm writing just to write, but I don't really have anything to say. Lah de dah.

Life is kind of in a weird place right now, because I'm still in Provo, but not taking classes, and not quite graduated yet. So school is over, but not. I'm also in a weird place where I want to stay in Provo but also really want to leave and go somewhere ELSE.

Also, I'm working full time. With like, a real job. Part of what makes this so weird is that I wasn't even job searching--I feel like, if I had been searching and applying and thinking about getting a job, I would feel more normal about now having one. But I was only planning on doing my internship this semester, so having a job kind of fall in my lap has been extremely strange. And the fact that I have a job doing art that is NOT in a movie or game studio--jobs like that actually exist? Why did nobody tell me this? I make shapes on a computer, and then a machine cuts them out. Its kinda cool. Take a look at for more cool stuff to do with that.

Also, I have a car now. Just a little old 2002 Toyota Corolla. Her name is Martha. I'm still figuring out this whole car-owning thing.

And I'm tired. I'm going to just post this now, just to have posted, not because I said anything interesting or substantial.

The end.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Books I read in 2013

Its time for my traditional books-I-read-this-year post! Everyone else is reflecting on things they did and things they will do and making new goals, and all I seem to care about is how many books I read--what they were, how many there are, and how many I'd like to read the next year. Which doesn't seem quite as, you know, deep.

But on the other hand, it kind of is. I think books can show a lot about how your year went--or at least, how my year went. There is a Lord Peter quote about books being like shells you shed to show previous periods of development, but I'm to lazy to find the exact words right now.

Anyway. What I read this year.

These are in reverse order, meaning the book I read most recently is listed first. This isn't a complete list because I'm not nearly as organized or on the ball as I'd like to be, and sometimes I'd go a few weeks or a month or more without remembering to write down titles of what I'd read, so I'm sure there are a few books missing here. Most are novels, mostly YA but some Middle Grade and Adult, and some are graphic novels. My goal was to read 52 books (one per week), a goal which I met by the skin of my teeth--there are 52 titles here. This is less than half of what I've read other years, but this year was very busy in other ways. I think I want to make a goal for 78 books next year--1.5 books a week (since, yanno, I don't have homework anymore). We'll see how that goes.

Ok, ok, ok, finally--here they are. The books I read in 2013:

  • East, Edith Pattou (again)
  • Friends With Boys (graphic novel), Faith Erin Hicks
  • Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
  • The Maytrees, Anne Dillard
  • Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott
  • Very Far Away from Anywhere Else, Usrula K Le Guin
  • Clouds of Witness, Dorothy Sayers (again)
  • A Letter of Mary, Laurie R. King
  • My Antonia, Willa Cather
  • Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers (again)
  • A Monsterous Regiment of Women, Laurie R King
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie R King
  • North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell (Librivox)
  • The Search Part 2
  • The Search Part 1
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Librivox)
  • The Princess and the Bear, Mette Ivie Harrison
  • Passage, Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Legacy, Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Beguilement, Lois McMaster Bujold
  • The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold (again)
  • The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Doomsday Book, Connie Willis
  • The Seven Towers, Patricia C. Wrede (again)
  • The Perilous Gard, Elizabeth Marie Pope (again)
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi
  • Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Crown Duel, Sherwood Smith (again)
  • A Stranger to Command, Sherwood Smith
  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly
  • Memory, Lois McMaster Bujold (again)
  • Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor
  • Well of Ascension, Brandon Sanderson
  • Shards of Honor, Lois McMaster Bujold (again)
  • Cryoburn, Lois McMaster Bujold (again)
  • Brothers in Arms, Lois McMaster Bujold (again)
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (Librivox)
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (Librivox)
  • Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began, Art Spiegelman (graphic novel)
  • Maus I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman (graphic novel)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Audiobook), J.K. Rowling
  • Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson
  • Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson (Librivox)
  • Spellhunter, R.J. Anderson
  • Tuesdays in the Castle, Jessica Day George
  • Old Mans War, John Scalzi
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson
  • A Countess Below Stairs, Eva Ibbotson
  • The Warrior's Apprentice, Lois McMaster Bujold (again)
  • Memory, Lois McMaster Bujold (again)
  • Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy Sayers (again)