Category Archives: Creativity

Templates, Bags, and Stress

 

A few posts back, I mentioned that I make reversible, drawstring dice bags. Because the bags are reversible, I basically make two bags and sew them together. All sides of the bags are made from the same pattern.

Since I have to cut out so many of the same pieces, I made a template out of some thin cardboard that I could just run a rotary cutter around. Voila! Fast and easy. However, if I got in too big of a hurry or I wasn’t paying attention, my rotary cutter would cut into or shave off a wee bit of the cardboard. Well, that was going to change the shape and size of my template eventually. Enter my friend who had just gotten a 3D printer. I asked him if he would be willing to print a template for my pattern, if I created the design. He said sure.

He then told me about TinkerCad. It’s a free online 3D design tool that’s pretty simple to use. I went to the site and I created a super simple template that ended up looking like so:

 

tinkercad-template

 

I sent it to my friend and he printed it for me. It seems that sometimes I have pretty awesome ideas. The template turned out really well and works great! I can cut fabric pieces out in no time flat *and* still have an intact template after it all.

 

 

Once I had the 3D printed template, I had a ton of material cut out and ready to go. With so much fabric pre-cut, I can quickly throw together a completed bag. 

 

dice-bag-collage

 

With those bags I opened my Etsy store, Pixel Whimsy Shop. At some point I showed a friend who owns a small cafe and cooking school pictures of some of the drawstring bags. She asked me if I could make a reusable, washable grocery bag. I said I didn’t see why not. So, I went home that night to see if I could make one. I didn’t purchase enough material, as I didn’t have a pattern when I bought it, and I ended up making a miniature reversible, reusable grocery bag. It turned out super cute.

 

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I posted pictures of it on my Facebook page. So many people went crazy over this bag that I threw together on a whim. I had people asking me what material I had, how much I was charging for them, if they were in my Etsy store yet. Needless to say, I was completely caught off guard by people wanting these. My friend with the cafe? She wanted four for her patrons to purchase and one for herself.

 

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Regular sized shopping/tote bag.

 

I should mention that this happened a week before school started. I teach and I knew that I would not have much time to sew once school started. I began working on bags like a madwoman. I was going practically non-stop from 7:30 in the morning until evening, trying  to get the hang of the construction of the bag, in order to finish as many as I could. I got quite a few finished and out to their new homes. And suddenly, what had been a fun little side project became incredibly stressful. I was running out of free time and I wanted them to be (ahem…) perfect because people were paying me to make them.

 

tote-bag-collage

 

I started clenching my teeth while I sat at the sewing machine. I ended up with headaches and eventually a migraine. On Wednesday evening of that week, I went to bed at 8:15 and slept straight through until 7:30 the next morning, only to wake up to the same headache. My jaws were ridiculously tight. I decided to go to the chiropractor, hoping she could give me some relief, but I couldn’t get in to see her until Friday.

As I was talking to my chiropractor, she commented on how tense I was, how tight my muscles were, especially in my jaws. I told her about the stress of the week. Before I left she told me, “I cannot tell you in good conscience to go home and sew. I think you need a break.”

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I went home and thought, “I can finish one more bag.” As soon as I sat down to the sewing machine, I was completely tense, jaws completely clenched. I quickly decided that I would, indeed, not be completing any bags. I got up, turned my sewing machine off, and started packing and putting away all sewing supplies. I could feel the stress start to easy immediately.

 

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I made another Facebook post. I told everyone that I was extremely grateful for their support and all of the people who wanted a bag, but I just could not do it. I had to take a break. I had realized that I did not want to begin the school year like a crazy person who was ridiculously stressed. Anyway, this was supposed to be fun, not stressful. All of the comments were so positive and people told me how good it was that I was able to recognize it so quickly and relieve the pressure from myself.

That was three months ago. A week ago, I lifted the self imposed sewing ban. I put together several dice bags. They were quick and easy. I haven’t approached the shopping/tote bags yet, but will soon. I have to admit it felt nice to be sewing again. Hopefully, this weekend I will get some more made.

 

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It was absolutely crazy how quickly everything changed from something that was new and fun to something that was starting to affect my health because of stress. I’m glad that I could recognize that things had taken a horrible turn. I’m glad I took a three month sewing hiatus. I’m glad that I started sewing again and that it is still enjoyable.

The lesson? If you find yourself in a situation that is completely stressing you out or wearing on you mentally, maybe you should take a break. Sure, you might not be able to walk away for three months, but sometimes walking away for a few minutes or an hour can give you a chance to take a breath and reset.

 

 

We are the music makers…

I’m back. Sorry I’ve been away so long. I wrote a blog post saying as much and then I found out that Gene Wilder passed away. So, I ended up writing something about Wilder/Wonka to post instead. It has a bit more serious tone than I intended, but I think it has a good message, so I’m going to leave it.

Gene Wilder was an amazing talent and seemed like a sweet, gentle soul. And while his passing is very sad, he left us many treasures to look back upon and enjoy. One of these treasures is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It has always been one of my favorite movies. Wilder’s portrayal of Wonka makes the movie what it is. He throws himself into the role and is the embodiment of the wild, eccentric chocolate maker. There are so many wonderfully quotable moments. One of my favorites will always be when Wonka quotes the poem Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.” Here’s the entirety of the poem’s first stanza:

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

It is up to us to be makers. It is up to us to create, not wait for someone else to create it. Don’t wait until you think you are good enough. Start now. Grab on to today and put something out into the world. It could be a poem for a loved one, a drawing for yourself, a dinner for a friend, the list is endless. Put it out there and you never know where it may lead. It doesn’t have to be perfect. (I think we learned that a few posts ago.) Put a little piece of yourself out there and be content in knowing that you are enriching the world, even if it’s your own little slice. You never know what tomorrow holds, make the most of today. I need to take that advice myself. Be a little like Wonka, try to remember to push the whimsy. 

Wilder Wonka

Rest in peace, Mr. Wilder. Thanks for all that you created and put out into the world.

 

P.S. On a side note, I was waiting for permission from someone to use a hand-lettered picture of the quote that I had found on the internet. It hit me this morning that I’m posting about not waiting on someone else to make something. So, I sat down today and lettered the quote myself. Yay!

Also, Mike and I talked about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on his podcast, if you feel up to it, you can listen along on as we laugh and talk about the movie.

Episode 8 – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Plans and Perfection, Or Lack Thereof

I said I sort of had a plan the last time we met. Mondays shall be blog posts and Wednesdays shall be comics, I decreed. Well, I was wrong. And you know what? That’s okay. I’m getting a feel for things around here and life has been going on. Also, can we just not mention the procrastination thing? That’d be great, thanks.

So, I caught a bit of flak from a few friends about the last post Do, Don’t Dabble. I was told by multiple sources that I was being too hard on myself and was asked what was wrong with dabbling. I can take constructive criticism and I have to admit that they were right. I was being too hard on myself; though, I usually am. I also have to admit that for a blog with Whimsy in the name, that first post wasn’t very whimsical. Sorry ‘bout that.

For all the “Do! Don’t dabble!” I was spouting last time, I didn’t follow my own advice. I’ve drawn, I’ve perler beaded, and I’ve sewn a bag. I haven’t written, obviously, or there would have been a post last week. Ha. Due to all the loving criticism I received, I’ve come to realize that dabbling is doing. Yes, I also realize that I could be sending mixed messages about doing and dabbling. Sorry ‘bout that, too. You know, maybe the problem is that I don’t make the time to practice or work on things, not that I dabble. I’m a sometimes dabbler. A bit of a lazy dabbler. And then, there’s that procrastination thing again. Yikes. We still won’t talk about that. Maybe some other time…

Speaking of doing some dabbling, I got an early Christmas present to aid and abet in said activities. I got a shiny, new, awesome sewing machine! (Thanks, Mike!) I was so excited that I sat down that night and I made a reversible drawstring bag. They are so quick and easy to make. I really, really need to start making more of these things. I keep buying great fabric to make bags and then not sewing bags. I think I may have a fabric problem. Okay, I know I have a fabric problem, but I keep buying more. I don’t want to talk about how much is in the closet right now. At some point, when we can actually buckle down and do it, Mike and I would like to open an Etsy store and sell the bags, as well as bead sprites.IMG_0311

You may not know what a bead sprite is. Bead sprites are pixel art made out of fusible plastic beads. There are countless patterns floating around the web for almost any design or theme you could want. If you don’t like what you see, you can just make your own pattern, your own design. I recently made a Mario sprite from a pattern I found online. He’s not been ironed yet, which fuses the beads together permanently, so he is still stuck on tape to keep him from falling apart. Last year, I created my own miniature version of one of my favorite paintings, The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. I love the way it turned out. It was super challenging, but very fun, trying to figure out which colors to use where and how to modify it to such a small scale. I think it turned out rather well, if I do say so myself.

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Oh! Paintings! Mike and I went to an awesome art museum this past weekend. It is Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tn. I absolutely fell in love with an abstract called Phenomena Royal Violet Visitation by Paul Jenkins. I was positively smitten. I want a print of it.

Phenomena Royal Violet Visitation.Paul Jenkins
There were so many other great works of art there, too, including amazing sculptures of marble and of glass. As we wandered through the museum, I meticulously examined the paintings. I looked at the brush strokes, the pencil lines, the smudges. And I realized something. Most of them weren’t perfect. Most of them weren’t exactly true to life. And they were all wonderful. They were all hanging in a museum. People looked at them and appreciated them. They spoke to people. So, maybe, just maybe, my art doesn’t have to be perfect, maybe it can be appreciated just the way it is.

And maybe imperfection is just perfect.


Do, Don’t Dabble

I’m a dabbler. I’ve just recently decided that word describes me. As in one who dabbles. Here’s the Merriam-Webster definition of dabble: to work or involve oneself superficially or intermittently, especially in a secondary activity or interest. Forget secondary activities. Let’s go for tertiary or even quaternary, which I didn’t even know was a word until just now. I dabble in this and that, but I don’t think I can honestly say I do anything. I draw… sometimes. I sew… sometimes. I paint… sometimes. I bake… write… knit… sometimes. Yeah, see a pattern? That whole “Jack of all trades, master of none” adage? Yep, that’s me. I can do most things well enough, but I wouldn’t say that I’m really great at any of it.

I was frustrated with myself a while ago for not being super at any of the things that I dabble in. My sweetie, Mike, said, “Maybe it’s because you have too many interests. You pick up something else before you let yourself get really good at something. Maybe you should just concentrate on one thing for a while.” You know, he might be right. I have a basket full of yarn at the end of the couch. I have a closet full of material. I have a box full of paint and paintbrushes and small canvases. I have a ridiculous amount of perler beads. I don’t know how many pencils, markers, crayons, and ink pens I have. Maybe it’s time to just focus on one thing. Perhaps two.

It probably doesn’t help that I am overly critical of myself. When I do something, I usually see all of the flaws before I see anything else. I made a cake this past week for my younger son’s birthday. It actually turned out fairly well, considering I was finishing it as we were walking out the door. However, when I was finished, all I could focus on was what could’ve been better. The same thing happened when I was trying to draw the comic strip for last week. If I can’t get it immediately, I start to judge what I’m doing, and in turn myself, pretty harshly. Which is silly because I wouldn’t do that with anyone else. I don’t know how many times I’ve encouraged others to keep at something, telling them that they will get better with time. Why shouldn’t I encourage myself the same way?

Burger Cake

Do you know why the giant hamburger cake is going to have a ton of flaws in my eyes? (Other than I’m overly critical of myself.) Why I can’t draw people very well? Because I dabble, I don’t do. I can’t tell you the last time I made a themed cake. And I haven’t really practiced drawing people, because I am terrible at drawing people. What kind of sense does that make? “I can’t draw people, therefore, I will not draw people.” That seems a little ridiculous. I should say, “I can’t draw people, therefore, I should practice drawing people.” I want to get better.

Faces

How am I going to do that? By starting a blog. You might be asking, “Why a blog?” Who knows? It is precariously close to just one more thing in which to dabble. I’ve been thinking about starting one for a while. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I really had anything to contribute to this vast virtual world we all share. But here I am, writing a blog post. I’m hoping that creating and maintaining a blog will help me become more accountable for myself and my projects. I’m hoping that with this blog I can do, not dabble. Surely, if I tell all of you lovely people that I am working on something there will have to be some sort of follow through, right? Right. *fingers crossed*

So, what’s the plan? Wait. Plan? I’m supposed to have a plan? I don’t have one. Yet. Not really. Because I’m not entirely sure what direction I would like this to have. I have an idea of what Pushing Whimsy will look like. For now, I’ve decided that I’ll try to post a short comic strip on Wednesdays and an actual blog post on Mondays. Mondays are generally bleh, so why not brighten everyone’s day with some Whimsy? Okay, so that kind of looks like a plan. Maybe I do have one.

And maybe it’s time for me to do, not dabble. See you Wednesday.

First Whimsy Wednesday!

Guys, can I be honest? It’s my blog, so yes. I guess, I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to drawing. If I can’t get it just right, it’s not good enough. I need to work on that… This week’s cartoon is just three heads. And they are all basically the same. I cannot tell you how many times I sketched and re-sketched  these and changed the hair and outlined them on bright white paper. Just to like none of them. So, I’m giving you my original sketch from my sketch book. Which is a terrible thing to do for a blog because it’s in pencil and not done properly, but oh well. It’ll only get better with time, right? I can only hope. I’ll see you next week. Until then, don’t forget to keep pushing whimsy.