28 March 2010

[BFG] Nothing to Report

I guess maybe I haven't been very geeky lately. Fringe and Doctor Who both have new episodes coming soon, though, and True Blood after that, so be prepared.

I've been playing Assassin's Creed when I can pry BillyZ away from his racing games long enough, and I really need to get started on Shadow of Destiny. Maybe this evening. Most of my reading has been non-fiction of the natural history sort, though I did just get some comics via BookMooch . . .

Um. Yeah. And I haven't got any more rejections for stories lately, though I have a number still out in the world. I have to get working on pitches/cover letters for my YA books so I can send those out.

Right now I should get started on an article on the PSP and Nintendo Game Boy. Last PSP article was a how-to on converting homebrew files to KXploit form, which you mostly don't need to do these days, but I want to be complete in my how-to homebrew series.

And that's about it for geekery from the BFG, herself.

Busy Getting Nothing Done

It seems to be the story of my life: I'm busy pretty much all the time, and if I'm not actually making or writing something, then I'm reading or doing research. Even when I play videogames, I'm working, because I work for a gaming website. So I've been busy all weekend, and have crossed almost nothing off my to-do list. I really need to write some articles. And get some product made for the Halifax Crafters spring market, which is in a few weeks.

To be fair, I didn't just waste the weekend. I did organize my stock of existing product to get some idea of what I need to make. There is a batch of half-done tiny pocket journals, and I will have to do a batch of Japanese-binding jewellery. And I came up with an idea for new product. One of the things I've been wanting to do is make greeting cards from my illustrations, but I haven't had any I liked well enough to use. But now (you'll see if you read on) I have a couple of images I like. So next time I'm in Truro or Halifax, I'll visit Staples for some of those pre-cut greeting cards that are made especially for inkjet printing on. My large-format Canon photoprinter does really nice prints, so that end is covered. I'm also going to do magnets. I just have to decide how many of each thing I'll be likely to sell, because I'm short enough on funds that I don't want to buy more supplies than I actually need.

I've mentioned ATCs before--that is, Artist Trading Cards. They're little trading card sized piece of art that you trade with other artists. Or you can sell them, in which case they're called ACEOs (Art Cards Editions and Originals). I made one a little while ago to trade with a fellow Etsy Steam Team member.

Leonardo's Clockwork Scarab was made in a hand-coloured edition of 15, two of which stay home (one for me and one for BillyZ), two are on sale at Etsy and ArtFire, one has gone to CreativeEtching, one will go to a trader partner in . . . Sweden, I think, and 9 are left to trade.

Doktor Valentine's Discombobulation Ray was an experiment in markers, which I'm not so good at. A last minute application of pencil crayon highlights saved the image, and it'll become magnets to sell at the fair, and later online. I haven't put it up for trade yet, as I'm rather fond of it, but if the magnets turn out well, I'll either sell the original on Etsy, or make it available for trade.

Aeryn Daring in Sepia was a less-successful experiment with sepia drawing ink. I'm not fond of how it bled, though fortunately it's really only noticeable up close. I also don't like how the paper texture is so visible--guess I'll have to buy the good watercolour paper soon. Otherwise, it turned out OK, and it's up for trades. I may do magnets from this one, but I haven't decided yet.

Valkyrie I'm very pleased with. It was an attempt to get away from the over-detailing I tend to do in inks, and just use a simple outline with basic washes. I think it's successful for what it is, and it will become greeting cards. Maybe magnets, too. I've entered her in a couple of mythology-themed ATC contests, and when those are over I may put her up for sale on Etsy. If the greeting cards turn out well.

The Fox & the Grapes illustrates an Aesop's fable and was an attempt to get myself to use more dynamic perspective. It's actually a detail from a larger image that has more vines and leaves and the rest of the fox's tail--I'll probably go back now and do the whole thing on a postcard. This is another one that will be greeting cards (and maybe magnets). I'm hanging on to it for a while, but will probably sell or trade it eventually.

We've had more spring birds showing up, despite the recent snow, but that's a post for later. Right now I have a big stew to make.

26 March 2010

Weekly Wishlist: ACEOs by Renee Nault

So I think I'm going to combine "Monday Multiples" and "Wednesday Wishlist" into one Weekly Wishlist post, because this blog is threatening to turn into a "cool stuff I found on Etsy" blog, when it's supposed to a "what I'm making/writing/doing/seeing in my yard" blog. (For the "what geeky thing am I in love with now" see my other blog, BFG, and for "what has Niko learned about bones/archaeology/palaeontology" see my other other blog Osteosophy.)

One of the things I've been working on lately (and I'll post more on this in my next post) is an ACEO or ATC (basically, trading cards for artists) to trade for one like this. I've become fascinated with the tiny trading card format, so I started researching ATCs (and ended up writing an article on them for Handmade News). The latest result of this, my newest distraction, is that I've found some wonderful illustrators. One I just had to share is Renee Nault. Here's a taste:

Not only does she make gorgeous ink and watercolour paintings (see her work here on Etsy, here on her own website, and here on illustratedATCs), she's also from my old hometown (inasmuch as I have a hometown) of Victoria, BC. I'm absolutely going to buy one of her ATCs, as soon as I can decide which one. And one of my goals is to get accepted to illustratedATCs (it's a juried site), so I can trade for her work, and the work of some of the other fabulous illustrators who hang out there. Whee!

18 March 2010

Weekly Wishlist: Nocturnal Time Piece

See how I cleverly changed the title of this post so no one will notice I forgot to post it yesterday? Heh.

Anyway, this week's wishlist pick is a very cool nocturlabe by Whystler's Workshop on Etsy.

It's plastic, which I don't normally like, but the difference here is that it was made by a 3D printing process from a digital file, which is just really, really cool. I like the idea of using the latest technology to produce an item of very old technology.

And it's actually functional, too, so you can take it outside at night and, assuming the sky is clear and there aren't any hills or trees in the way, find the north star and figure out what time it is.

[BFG] Reject

Got a rejection for "Hollow Bones" from Clarkesworld this morning. The next couple of places I plan to send it currently have other stories of mine, so I'll wait to send it out again.

In the meantime, I'm editing "Perilous Child" for submission to a themed anthology, and transcribing chapter 19 of White Foxes so I can move on to writing new chapters.

Oh, and I'm finally going to start on that review copy of Shadow of Destiny for PSP, so I can review it for work. My PS3 and/or controllers seem to be behaving sluggishly today, as BillyZee tries to play Assassin's Creed. He's been trying to escape some guards for half an hour, over and over and still getting killed. I hope this isn't a sign that the PS3 is about to crap out, because it's the 60 GB model with full backwards compatibility, and I won't be able to replace it.

Addendum: I also got a rejection slip in the mail from Fantasy & Science Fiction for "Cobbleshore Knit." Perhaps not surprisingly, they use the exact same form rejections they did back in the 90s when I was submitting. I think the next place I planned to send this story still has another one, so I'll hold off a bit before sending it out.

17 March 2010

[BFG] Fantasy Submissions

In an effort to get myself back to working on fiction, which I neglected while in art school, I've started submitting again. I began by entering my YA novel A Madness of Kentaurs in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The first round was judged entirely on the pitch. I suck at writing pitches and didn't make it through. Obviously I need to work on writing pitches if I ever hope to get a novel published. You can read the the Kentaurs pitch in a previous post.

Then late last month, I dealt with the disappointment of not making it to round two in ABNA by sending out a bunch of stories. Here are the results so far, by story title:
  • Caught on Thorns - submitted to Dark Discoveries via e-sub, haven't heard back
  • Cobbleshore Knit - submitted to Fantasy & Science Fiction via mail, haven't heard back
  • Daughters of the Sea King - submitted to Weird Tales via e-sub, haven't heard back
  • Dragon's Egg - submitted to Silver Blade via e-sub, haven't heard back
  • Fox Point Dragon - submitted to Cricket via mail, haven't heard back
  • Great Skerry - submitted to Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show via e-sub, haven't heard back
  • Hollow Bones - submitted to Dreams of Decadence via esub, rejected; submitted to Clarkesworld via e-sub, haven't heard back
  • King of Kings, Ruler of Camels - submitted to Cabinet des Fees via e-sub, rejected; haven't resubmitted yet
  • The Promise of Roses - submitted to Strange Horizons via e-sub, haven't heard back yet
  • Remembering to Fly - submitted to Fantasy via e-sub, rejected; haven't resubmitted yet
  • Sealskin - sent to Interzone via mail, haven't heard back
  • Sharper and More Fragrant - submitted to Clarkesworld via e-sub, rejected; submitted to Fantasy via e-sub, rejected; haven't resubmitted yet
  • Spinning - submitted to Realms of Fantasy via mail, haven't heard back yet

So I'm working my way though the pros and semi-pros and will eventually start sending to the smaller no-pay zines when I run out of paying markets.

16 March 2010

ACEO: Leonardo's Clockwork Scarab

One of my fellow Etsy Steam Team members offered some very cool copper and brass etched ACEOs (Art Cards, Edition and Originals) to trade and I piped up saying I'd make a tiny linocut. Well, turns out 3 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches is really tiny. Not that I can't do a lino that small, it's just that I came up with a design I really liked, but which was way too complex for lino. So instead I did an ink drawing and scanned it, then added some gears in Illustrator (thanks to the "Gears" typeface from Scriptorium which came in a pack of faces I bought a while ago for doing titles for my comics).

Then I wrestled with my laser printer for a while until I determined that it wasn't going to print onto printmaking rag paper no matter how I cajoled or threatened it. So I printed the images onto rag paper with my lovely Canon Pixma Pro9000 photoprinter instead. It may be time for a new laser printer. Here are some of the cards, not yet coloured.

Next I have to see if the photo inks will withstand water. If they do, I'll tea-stain the paper to age it, and then hand-colour with watercolours. If they don't, I'll carefully tea-stain only the very edges, then hand-colour with pencil crayon. I need to get these done, because the one I'm trading for was in today's mail.

So if you want to trade, let me know. I'm doing 15 of these, and one's spoken for, plus I'll keep one or two. Whatever's left I'll put in my Etsy and ArtFire shops.

And, in case it isn't obvious, it's a scarab beetle, with clockwork, and wings inspired by one of Leonardo daVinci's flying machines. I think I'm still going to attempt a tiny ACEO linocut, but not a scarab flying machine. Maybe just a simple beetle.

Spring Cards: Design 1 Complete

I don't know if I'll get any more of these done by the time the Halifax Crafters Spring Market happens (which is April 17-18), but at least I'll have this one done: The Bluejay (Cyanocitta cristata).

I'm planning to do a whole "Birds of Nova Scotia" series eventually (collect them all!). Next I'll probably do a downy (or maybe hairy) woodpecker, and then chickadee. Mostly because they're some of the most common visitors around here, and I know I can do them in two colours. I'd like to do pheasant, too, but he'd take at least three (black, red-brown and green).

If you're curious about the process of designing letterpress cards (or at least the process I used in this particular instance), you can see my posts on the preliminary design and the digital proof for this same card.

Actually, just for fun, here are the three images in sequence:

15 March 2010

Monday Multiples: Narcissus by Andrea Starkey

Here's another case of a shop so full of lovely prints I had a hard time deciding which one to feature. Because I'm in a spring mood, though, I chose this narcissus reduction linocut.

Andrea Starkey's Etsy shop, starkeyart, features hand-pulled linocuts and woodcuts of trees, forests and other natural subjects in soft, earthy colours. Go look at the loveliness.

13 March 2010

New Bookbinding Article

I've finally got back into writing my "Bookbinding Basics" column (formerly "Leaf by Leaf") for Handmade News. The latest one, in preparation for more tutorials, is "Basic Toolkit." It describes what I think are the few tools you really need to do most bookbinding, from basic to intermediate structures at least. These are the tools I wouldn't want to be without. If you read the article and like it, it'd be nice if you could click the little "thumbs-up" doohickey at the bottom.

It's a Coming

Spring, that is. Bill spotted a couple of new visitors to the birdseed in the past couple of days, one of which was a grackle, and grackles are spring/summer birds around these parts.

If that's not enough evidence, I found a couple of dandelions (or dandelion-like weeds) flowering next to the house. I'd take a photo, but I keep forgetting until it's shady where they are and they've closed up their flowers for the night. But they're there and I've seen them.

The pheasant has continued to come back almost every day, strutting up the driveway with his long tail at a 45-degree angle. And yesterday we saw a big brown hawk chasing another bird in our yard. It happened so fast there was no chance to identify either bird except brown hawk with pale head and something vaguely falcon-shaped. Maybe. Of course I didn't have my glasses on, but I was at least outside or I might not have seen them at all.

And most evenings (and even some surprisingly early afternoons) we hear an owl hoo-hooing in the nearby woods. Plus there was that skunk last week that woke me up with his delightful smell at 5:30 am. So spring is definitely on its way, though the weirdness that is Nova Scotia weather could still mean cold and wet, or even snow again, before the winter gives up.

Addendum: So those dandelion-like weeds I mentioned are in fact coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), and according to my one book on NS plantlife (Edible Wild Plants of Nova Scotia by Heather MacLeod and Barbara MacDonald), they shouldn't be blooming for another two months. Hmm. At any rate, they weren't in shade yet when I popped outside (and I discovered many more of them), so I took a few photos of which this is one:

I'm going to need a good general book on NS plants (that includes the non-edible variety) before this season gets too far advanced.

[BFG] Latest Videogame Writing

Once upon a time, I started trying to cover more homebrew on my work site, About PSP, but I eventually gave up because it's so easy to get confused. I did succeed, however, in downgrading my PSP (an old PSP-1000 model) to firmware version 1.50, the best version for homebrew.

Lately, I've given it another shot, and started a series of articles on how to run homebrew on verious firmware versions and models of PSP. Here's the series so far, with many more to come in the weeks ahead.

I've also returned to a series of very fun, but perhaps not very traffic-attracting, articles on classic handheld gaming consoles. To make them suitable for the site, of course, I can't just write little historical sketches for each one. Instead, I have to relate them to the PSP, which has actually turned out to be a fun challenge, and I think may have resulted in somewhat better articles than I might otherwise have written. Here's that series (so far).

The PSP and the History of Handheld Videogaming

And in yesterday's mail I got a review copy of Konami's Shadow of Destiny, a remake (or maybe just a port, I'm not sure) of a 2001 PS2 game. That'll be my next review, sometime next week. My last review was Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which I loved so much I'm going to download the original Silent Hill PSOne game to my PS3, and start playing through the whole series.

Watch This. Right Now.

Click this.

10 March 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Tiny Robot by Industrial Fairytale

I knew Industrial Fairytale was going to make an appearance in the Wishlist sooner or later, it was just a matter of choosing which marvelous thing to feature. Scrolling through her Etsy shop today, I realized that of course, it must be Tiny Robot. So here is "Tiny Robot and His Cold Metal Heart."

Industrial Fairytale is Sarah Dungan who, aside from making adorable tiny robots, cephalopod pendants and other delightful polymer clay things, also does lovely illustrations (and you can consider her self-published art books on the Wishlist too, even if I didn't include a picture) (actually, most of the stuff in her shop is on my wishlist). She's a fellow member of the Etsy Steam Team (there's a logo link over there in the left column somewhere, if you want to find out more), has her own blog, and co-runs the Cephalopod Tea Party blog. You can find more of her work on her website.

09 March 2010

Monday Multiples: Phalanx by chartwellprint

This week's featured print is "Phalanx" by chartwellprint on Etsy.

The artist works with traditional printmaking techniques on copper (I also prefer copper for intaglio prints), and looks to fishing and watery things for subjects. All the prints are accomplished but I especially like the juxtaposition of different patterns and surfaces in "Phalanx."

06 March 2010

[BFG] Wow . . .

I really don't like Microsoft (no, it's not a Mac/PC fangirl thing, I'm just tired of their stuff not working) (ok, maybe it is a Mac/PC fangirl thing), but their upcoming Courier "digital journal" looks really amazing. It could be very disappointing, but it looks like I've always thought e-book should and opens like -gasp!- a book.

That doesn't mean I don't want an iPad any more (boy do I ever). Of course, it'll be a loooong time before I can afford either one, so I guess it's moot.

Addendum: Maybe the reason I like is that it looks like an iPad that folds closed like a book . . .

03 March 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Steampunk Heart

Monster Kookies makes wonderfully fantastic anatomically correct heart pendants. Like this one:

They're sculpted in polymer clay, painted and embellished. I love how this one looks like clockwork. Others look like little scientific heart models, and one even looks like wood.

You can find these very cool hearts at the Monster Kookies Etsy shop, along with zombie cupcakes, clockwork birds and other cute-creepy things. Go look, it's fun. You can also find Monster Kookies work on deviantArt.

01 March 2010

Monday Multiples: Swan Monotype

Technically, a monotype isn't a multiple, so this week the feature's title is a misnomer, but it's still a print, so I'm including it. So this week's featured print is "Swan," a monotype print by Lori Dean Dyment of Dean Dyment Studios.

You'll find Dean Dyment Studios on Etsy, where there's a shop full of wonderful monotypes, linocuts and other prints. Lori Dean Dyment also has a blog, So I was thinking ..., where you can read about her work and find out what some of her favorite art on the web is.