F is for Fabric

“Hey, nice bag!” says kind stranger.

“Thanks!” says proud owner.

“Where did you buy it?”

“Oh, I made it...” proud maker says, blushing.

“Oh, no way! I really like the fabric! Where did you get it?”

Here's where I've always wanted to say,“Oh, yeah, I made this fabric." Well, wish granted!! I have, literally, CREATED MY OWN FABRIC! The exciting story about how this came to be is as follows.

So. When I was at Purl Soho (which is just straight up ridiculous, by the way, have  you been to that place?) back in February, I found this book which inspired the emotions on the right:


If you’re unfamiliar with Heather Ross, you are (like I was only a few months ago) living in a world of boring fabric designs.

Not only are her prints rich in color, but they incorporate original drawings and artwork that evoke happy nostalgia. I am particularly drawn to how she combines hand-drawn art and Photoshop... and ever since I discovered this book, I have been DYING to dive into this challenge:


And challenge it was: Several really ambitious artistic endeavors all wrapped into one.

First: Decide to draw the chicken.

Choosing my subject was actually a piece ‘o cake. Meet Maude.


I found this card in probably 2005 at 16 Hands when it was on Main Street in Ann Arbor. (Note: I have since tried to get more of them, but it doesn't seem they are making them anymore!) And, since Maude has made her way with me to all of my various homes, front and center on my wall, and she ALWAYS manages to make me chuckle... I decided it was time to pay homage to her and her foam yoga mat.

What is it about her that is so captivating? I mean, she not only asks us a good question around life and work ethic, but she also exudes personality. Something about the way her little plastic chicken legs angle in towards each other, or how one eyeball is just a tiny bit larger, or the fact that somehow her little plastic hip juts out to one side ever so slightly... Sass and angst all wrapped up into one plastic chicken.

Maude, you are my hero.

Second: Draw the chicken.

Wow. I guess I hadn’t drawn in a while. She’s not only complex in her emotions, but Maude is difficult to duplicate. Truly a rare bird.

Third: Photoshop the chicken.

So here’s where my fabulous Photoshop training came into use! I got down and dirty with the polygons, the command T function, the marquee tool, and I got up close and personal with Maude, pixel by pixel.

After some deliberation, I decided on a chevron pattern and tried to stick to the original color palette as much as possible, in order to honor the original card.

Here are some thrilling screen shots of the process:


Fourth: Print the chicken.

Do you know about Spoonflower? WOW. I have known about them for a little while now; I follow them on Instagram, and my friend Susannah has printed fabric with them before. But now, I truly am a believer. Essentially, you upload a JPEG file and they PRINT FABRIC WITH YOUR DESIGN ON IT. That’s it! So simple.

Here's the process (Captured in a mere three photos!)

Spoon1 Spoon2 Spoon3

And now... I await my yard of "Maude the Yogi" fabric! So exciting! What should I make with it? Leave me a comment below if you have an idea!

A is for Amateur Animation

Ahhh! The letter A is such a high profile letter! I mean, it’s my letter. It’s ridiculous how much I adore that block letter A. And it's the FIRST letter! The Alpha of the whole summer. I have lists upon lists of amazing activities for the first letter. So many of my favorite things start with this letter. Artichokes. Avocado. Apple Pie. Arizmendi. Ann Arbor. I mean, just look at my house: A-Collage

I mean, really.

And there are two more that aren't even pictured.

But back to the blog.

Okay, here’s the story of this year's letter A activity:

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to participate in the Photoshop training course, Blogshop, here in San Francisco. Ever since then, I have become a Photoshop junkie. More specifically, I have gone cuckoo for the animated GIF. I do not exaggerate. I made my friends suffer through a photo session involving a five person rotation (with props) on my loveseat to create my first GIF. I documented a school project by creating a GIF for each of the groups (there were 22), and then placing them in a 3 by 7 grid (check out my page on the wiki if you’re a Friends schooler!) and it was...awesome. Potentially migraine-inducing, but awesome just the same. And yet, I still haven’t satisfied my ravenous hunger for animation.

Enter Alphabet Summer.

Back when Alphabet Summer was just a twinkle in my little Valencian eye, my “Save Tuesdays” crew in Spain used to craft it up HARD CORE. Once, we even rented a giant apartment in Denia and spent THE ENTIRE WEEKEND CRAFTING. It was wild. It was there, somewhere between a stop-motion animation session and a hair dyeing extravaganza, that my little blob friends Maxi and Carmel were born.

Occasionally a way to illustrate internal turmoil, and mostly just because they’re so fun to draw, they became my favorite two-dimensional amigos. Maxi is the nervous, anxious one; Carmel, his laid back and fun-loving contrast. They generally are only seen in my journal, but they eventually became the main characters in my second NaNoWriMo novel (2011’s thrilling Star-Crossed Glovers, about an adult co-ed softball league, among other equally as exciting things.) Who knew back in Valencia that Maxi had been the starting catcher on his college baseball team and was working a dead-end job in Ferndale, Michigan, playing Wednesday night softball with a group of misfits?

So, here you have it: A little bit of simple Photoshop magic + little blob creatures = Amateur (but amazing) Animation.

Everyone, this is Maxi, and this is Carmel. Maxi, Carmel, meet everybody.

The GIF plays on repeat, so if you miss something just watch again!