Creative adventuring involves lots of play, experimentation, and curiosity. Here are some gifts I think are ace for anyone you know who’s into such things. And I assume you’re into such things, so share this gift guide with people who are shopping for you!
I’m sure I’ve included Show Your Work in recommendation lists before, but who cares? It’s fabulous.
What better way to spark imagination than by turning the expected on its head? A notebook of black paper seems just about perfect. (See gel pens for a great accompaniment!)
Danielle Krysa’s new book is outstanding, and will help everyone in the world quiet their inner critic and get down to making stuff.
A fountain pen! The Pilot Kakuna is inexpensive and a total delight to write with.
Sound isolating headphones. These don’t rely on electronic noise cancellation, but rather cocoon you in a comfy state that’s removed from the noise around you. Perfect for getting into the creative zone!
Creations are best when shared. A lightweight, flexible gadget like this wee GorillaPod allows for endless possibilities for using a phonecam!
I don’t know why I waited so long to do collage in my art journal, since I’ve wanted to experiment more with collage for a very long time. (Probably that’s the reason right there, eh?)
And then it was finally the weekend, and the kid and I spent an absolutely blissful hour making a total mess on the dining-room table. He made a collage for his teacher (I can’t believe he’s finishing kindergarten this week!), and I messed around painting over the collage, and making another one on the facing page, and painting over the paint wash, and generally just playing and playing and forgetting my own brain and happy happy happy.
It was especially fun doing this alongside the kid, because he loves – loves – glitter glue. So there was glitter glue everywhere, and he kept wanting me to use it, so I totally did. I definitely love using materials and media that are just hanging around. This is probably why I’ve never been even remotely interested in scrapbooking, at least in the super-merchandised way. I’m not at all turned on by using packaged stuff to create new things on paper, but I’m absolutely blissed out using scraps I’d otherwise recycle, or grabbing tissue paper that’s been lying around for ages, or sticking my finger in the blob of glitter glue my kid accidentally squeezed all over the place.
I’ve mentioned before that my relationship with art-making has been complicated since I was a kid. Well. I think abstract art is the way to my heart, my friends. I really do. I can’t wait to finish up my work today so I can rip and glue and paint some more stuff.
For the first time, over three weeks into starting this daily art journaling challenge, I think I’m starting to really get it. And I think that once my month is up, I’m going to want to stick with it. Maybe in a book that doesn’t have a spiral binding, so I can make a proper spread. In fact, I may pull an old book from the shelf and repurpose it. Because why not.
If you, too, want to see what this art journaling thing is all about, you should join us!
I had an idea last week when I was writing the Weekly Digest, and the idea was about art journaling. I’ve been wanting to really commit to giving an art journal a shot, and I don’t want to let my cluelessness about how to actually do it get in the way anymore.
I’ve heard from quite a lot of people recently about how they, too, want to give art journaling a try, but also don’t really know how or where to start. So it became really quite obvious to me that we should do this together. And what better way to do something new together than to commit to do it together every day for a month?
Of course right.
I’m starting today, along with several dozen people if the number of clicks from my newsletter is any indication. Want to join in with us? Here’s the gist:
Every day for a month, spend at least a few minutes art journaling. You get to decide what that means for you – part of the fun in doing this together is that we’ll get to see all the different, hugely varied things people make in their journals!
Post about it every so often. Tag your social media posts with #dailyartjournal so we can all follow along (and feel free to tag me at @kpwerker!).
There is no number 3.
If you’d like to get occasional emails over the course of your month with encouragement, tips, and prompts, sign up right here.
I’ve had a love/hate thing going with Facebook for a very, very long time. I love it for making it so easy to stay in touch with far-flung friends and family; I hate it for making it so complicated to use for business.
But right now, for the first time ever, I’m loving it far more than hating it.
I’d sorta noticed other people doing it, but then I heard Kara, of Kara’s Couture Cakes, describe the details of it, and a giant window in my brain opened right up.
I’ve loved using Periscope to do live video. But I’ve been aware all along that Periscope has some inherent downsides: to watch a Periscope broadcast, you have to have the app on your phone; Periscope is still new, so not that many people have the app on their phone; you can comment during Periscope broadcasts, but twenty-four hours after the broadcast, both the video and comments disappear.
But on Facebook? Half the world is already on there. And though you can only broadcast using a mobile device, you can watch live videos on any platform including your desktop computer. And the piece de resistance: when a broadcast ends, the video is archived permanently on the broadcaster’s page, and people can continue to like and comment on it indefinitely. There can be actual ongoing conversation!
Which, to me, just all sounds like tremendous fun.
And when you hover over that video, click the link to subscribe! That means you’ll be alerted by Facebook whenever I broadcast live. Even if you can’t tune in right then and there, you’ll be able to click the notification to see the archived video whenever you want.
I’m going to share more projects I make on there, and do some tutorials, talk about daily creative habits, and generally wax on about why and how we can all have more fun making stuff. I hope you’ll join me!
(If you’re not on Facebook, or are cynical like I am and don’t want to watch the video over there, I’m posting it below. Go ahead and indulge your curiosity.)
We’ve all gotten caught up in a fantasy about making something, yeah? Maybe it’s a quilt for someone’s wedding, a fancy cake with a unicorn on top, mosaic paving stones for the garden… Whatever it is, this fantasy sits outside the realm of stuff you make and resides firmly in your imagination.
But why? Why do we spend so much time thinking about our fantasy about making the perfect hand-blown glass vase, or a sweater for our best friend’s new baby, but not actually making it?
Scratch that. Who cares about why? Let’s talk about why not.
Why not just make it? I mean, sure, yes, the projects of fantasy aren’t the simple ones you can just make in an afternoon. No. Usually they’re the ones that will require lots of learning, lots of practice, lots of trial and error. They take time.
And here’s the thing about time: it just keeps going. For every day and month we spend fantasizing, what we’re most certainly not doing is putting in the doing of that learning, practicing, trying and trying again.
Let’s change that, eh? Let’s try to take those creative fantasies and yank them into reality.
Three Simple Things to Do to Start Actually Making Your Fantasy Project
1. Do One Small Thing
Emphasis on the do part. You’ve already made a Pinterest board with pretty links. You’ve already put a dozen books on hold at the library. You’ve already started out the window for hours imagining what it’ll be like to make and then have this project. None of these things is doing the project. So start with one small step. Just one tiny act of doing. Maybe it’s washing and ironing the fabric you’ll use. Maybe it’s sketching out a design. Maybe it’s not just watching, but actually following along and doing the steps of an online tutorial. This tiny baby step will be like a giant leap over the line between fantasy and reality. The next steps will be obvious, and way easier to take.
2. Talk About It
Just talk about it. Pluck your fantasy out of the vacuum of your own mind, and toss it out into the open. I’m not talking about making some kind of outrageous public commitment to making your thing; I just mean, like, mention it casually. Saying it out loud makes it real. Far more real than keeping it to yourself. So tell your friends about your fantasy project, even just in passing. Mention it on your blog. Ask your Facebook friends if anyone’s ever made a thing like that. Saying it out loud makes it real. And making it real is the whole point.
3. Sign Up for Something
Maybe it’s a class or a craft-along or an info session at the local arts organization. Whatever it is – sign yourself up. Commit with your money or commit with your word, or both. And then, most importantly, show up. Do not bail. Do not consider this the lowest hanging fruit when life gets nuts and you need to let something go. Making your fantasy into a reality is important. Because it will make you happy. So make a commitment – a small commitment, just for one night, or for a casual craft-along where it’s no big deal if you end up behind their schedule – and then show up.
Valentine’s Day with a kindergartener. Gimme a break. Here’s how it was, two days before the class party:
I was staring down the fight I was going to have with my five-year-old about filling out valentines for every single kid in his class. In a stroke of genius, I had at least thought to buy a printable that only had a From: field and no To: field. But the kid was still going to have to write his name twenty-one times, in a tiny tiny space. My husband half joked that I should carve a stamp of his signature, and I was like, YES. I will carve a stamp of my kid’s name, just as he writes it in his wonky five-year-old hand, and then he can go to town stamping it all over the damn place.
As the universe so often does in the face of parental genius, it stuck it to me by having my son react with total glee at the prospect of writing his name twenty-one times. The kid happily sat for half an hour and did just that, and then went back and spent another half an hour writing a classmate’s name on the back of each valentine, such was his eagerness to participate in this ridiculous and increasingly out-of-control annual tradition.
But I had gotten it into my head to make a stamp of his name in his own handwriting, so as he wrote away, I did just that. Here’s how you can do this, too, so your kid can have some fun “signing” their name, and it’d be a pretty cool thing to keep for posterity, too, eh?
Step 1: Have your kid write their name. Have them use a thick(ish) marker so you won’t have to struggle with fine lines when you carve the stamp. I drew a rectangle for him to write in, to constrain the size. (He felt his first attempted O was too big for the other letters to fit…)
Step 2: Using a pencil, first outline then colour in the letters. Go heavy on the pencil. This will allow you to do the next step.
Step 3: Place the paper on top of the rubber, hold it firmly in place with your fingers, and use a flat object to rub it (I used the side of the pencil). This will transfer the pencil markings onto the rubber (in reverse – you need to carve a word backwards into a stamp so it shows up forwards when you apply it).
Step 4: Use a pencil or a ballpoint pen to outline the transferred letters so they’re clear and distinct.
Step 5: Fill in the letters so it’s blatantly obvious that you won’t be carving there – you’ll carve around the letters.
Step 6: Using the finest point carving nib you have, carve an outline around the outside of the letters (and the inside of any letters that have negative space, like the O featured here). Proceed to carve around the letters, using a larger nib so it doesn’t get tedious, and use a craft knife as needed to cut away excess rubber.
Step 7 (optional): Mount the stamp on a piece of wood to make using it easier and less messy.
Now go to town! Or, rather, let your kid go to town stamping their name all over the place!