Thursday, June 24, 2010

First time I tried selling my work

I'm really grateful to my sister for sending me this picture. There was a community center close to the home I grew up in, where they held an annual craft sale. It was a heady experience for me, since, at least by the standards of a kid, it was very successful for me, and a real confidence booster. But for me now the most interesting part is looking back, seeing examples of much, much older work.

Almost everything I made long ago is gone, except for a few things I made for others that they kept safe. (My oldest sister Sabynthe has a centaur and a man-hunting monster that I made around this time.) The other creations fell to the economic realities of childhood- I could not afford to buy a neverending stream of pipecleaners, so when I tired of a figure, I would disassemble it and make it into something else. The figures on this table had all lived past lives as other sorts of creatures.

It made sense to me at the time, and certainly the enjoyment of making these critters was vastly extended by recycling the material, but it also means that I have lost the physical history of how I went about teaching myself how to make these creatures. So this photo is fascinating to me, as a glimpse into the past.

These figures were made before I realized you could make flat expanses of woven pipecleaner, so the red dragon on the table has empty gaps in his wings, rather than solid wings. I'd say that weaving pipecleaner into flat expanses was one of the most important things I've worked out, because it allowed me to break free of the 'stick man' model. Everything I made at this point was basically a stick man with various embellishments, but weaving into a frame of pipecleaner allowed me to make winged dragons, castle walls, ships with rooms inside them- anything my imagination could devise.

Of course, even that freedom was limited by the strength of the pipecleaners, because everything was wobbly and easily distorted. It took a surprisingly long time (ie the last five years) to think of using thicker wire armatures to allow more elaborate structures that would not collapse under their own weight.

I just keep thinking- on my own, I've come up with a handful of tricks that allow me to make all sorts of things. But what sort of tricks have others devised, that I never thought of? Because for everything I work out on my own, there's surely ten other tricks I'd never have thought of on my own.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Catching up on Image Backlog

It's amazing how little time is left, once you're done all your 'grownup' stuff. The only time I can really call my own is that brief interval after the kids are in bed but before Angie and I go to bed- and because we have varied interests, it's terribly difficult not to keep carving more time for ourselves out of the only thing left- sleep. So it's when we should be asleep that I'm doing my writing, my game night preparation, and so forth. I even steal a few minutes on various computer games (which I have always loved, but my upbringing has sort of conditioned me to feel embarrassed about. Thank goodness they are becoming mainstream, it makes it easier)

So we're pretty much sleep deprived all the time. Apparently this is common for members of modern society, but we do it without coffee.

Anyhow, I've got a bunch of images of things I've made that I've been sitting on for a while, and I hope to carve a few minutes out of each day to start posting them. I'm not working on any active projects now (at least, nothing pipecleaner related) but that will change.

My sister sent me an image of the first time I ever tried selling these pipecleaner creatures- I don't remember the year, but I would guess I was about nine years old. That's going up first.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ramping Down

As soon as I finish three current projects, I'm going to take a few months away from pipecleaners- with a family and garden and many beasts in the house, there's not a lot of time to spare on multiple hobbies. So rather than dribble my way through multiple hobbies at once, I'm going to focus on a few at a time. This is nothing new- I've always done pipecleaners in surges, then taken a break. But every surge I find myself figuring out all sorts of tricks I've never done before.

This last time, I made the largest, and (at least, I think) coolest dragon I've ever made, and in the process figured out a few new tricks that I've never done before. The scales of the dragon are totally new, for instance. I'm pretty happy with how they came out.

I'm also going to finally have time to post the pictures I've taken of my work, and to comment on them- this is over six months of photos. So while my hands are less busy (with pipecleaners, anyhow) this site is likely to get a little busier, for a while.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Going to Stellarcon

It took some time to decide whether to go or not, because I've been spread mightily thin of late, but in the end, I've decided to attend a second local con, Stellarcon, in order to take part in the art show.

While I enjoyed MACE very much, there was a lot to do there, and I was unable to participate, because I was tied to the dealer's hall. This time my work will be on display on my behalf, alongside the work of other fantasy and science fiction artists, which will allow me to enjoy the opportunities of the con a little more fully.

The theme of the con is 'Steampunk,' a genre I've learned to love over the last year through the excellent ongoing story of Girl Genius, and my failed attempts to master Steamband (a steampunk themed variant of Angband, which, laying aside the complexities of the family tree, is a member of the family of roguelike games).

Once I finish my current projects- a sculpture of Great A'Tuin, the largest dragon I've ever made, and a few other things, I'll be free to consider a new sculpture with the steampunk theme. We'll see what happens, but for the moment, I am excited to attend- maybe get to a writer's workshop, definitely try out a few new games. And hopefully find people interested in my work.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Craft Sale

A few weeks ago, I attended the annual craft sale at my place of employment. I'm currently working at the EPA, and most of the people I interact with there are scientists of various specialties. Now, I've not attended a craft sale since I was quite young (and my sister recently uncovered a picture of that sale, I'll post it later. Really brings back memories) so it was, much like this whole recent enterprise, somewhat experimental. When I was nine, I sold lots and lots of pipecleaner creatures, but I was young and cute. And I'm kind of not anymore- if I sell something, it's hopefully because the piece had merit.
Since my recent foray to MACE was among gamers and fantasy enthusiasts, I was not surprised when my dragons sold as fast as I could make them. But among the EPA scientists, I once again could not make them fast enough to meet the interest they stirred. (I even made a man hugging a tree- surely appropriate for the Environmental Protection Agency- but it remained behind, while dragon after dragon sold)

So whether you are a scientist, gamer, or whatever, dragons are just plain cool. Good thing they were always my favorite thing to make. Heheh.

One side effect of this, though, is that I wind up making an awful lot of the same thing. None are identical, each one a little different from the last, and I'd like to believe I refine the technique each time, but it's a strange line to walk. Sometimes I am an artist, making original sculptures. And sometimes I am a toymaker, asked to make the same popular toy over and over. Which is fine, as long as it remains fun for me to make them, and I seriously doubt dragons will stop being fun anytime soon. (Sports team mascots may be a different story though- I just finished making three of the same mascot in a row, and I'm fine with stopping that one for a bit.)

I've tried to catch a picture of each creature I make, but many got away from me unphotographed. However, I've still got a fair number of photos, which I'll be posting over the next while, along with my thoughts about the experience each entailed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Red Dragon Commission

While at MACE, I made a point of staying up on my feet, always visibly working on something. I hoped that this would result in people feeling free to ask for things that were not on the table, and it did turn out this way. I was pretty tired of standing by the end, but I definitely think the effort paid off.
Over the course of the con, I made a large red dragon, a small purple one, a blue dragon, a tiger cub, an elven archer, and a few other odds and ends. Most got away from me without getting photographed, and the ones I did photograph, the pictures were a little rough. I will have to be sure to take more time to take good pictures in the future, but for now, I'm glad to at least have this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pipecleaners can do anything

Because I've been making pipecleaner creations for so long, I've always had them on hand, and they've turned out to be pretty useful for other things as well. For example, at this moment, the door on our ferret cage is held closed by twists of pipecleaner. Within the same cage, I built an extra floor out of linoleum and wire cube sections, all held together by pipecleaner. I suppose that if I were a smoker, I could even clean my pipe with them.

My sister recently came across a picture from an family road trip, some twenty years ago. Then, as now, I was an avid reader, but we drove a long ways in the dark, making it rather difficult to keep reading. I tried to use a flashlight, but it was too awkward, so I used pipecleaners to attach the flashlight to my glasses, so I could keep reading.

Seriously. I think atoms might be held together by tiny pipecleaners. They can do anything.