Monday, December 31, 2012

Zelda and Shadow Misjudge the Monster of Luckberry Park

Happy New Year!! Here is my last illustration to share in 2012. It is an unintentional homage to Kilroy. It is done in gouache and pen and is 15 by 20 inches.

   Zelda is a notorious jewel thief and is proud of her qualities of ingenuity, grit and gumption that contributes to her great success in the field of robbery. She works alone except for the assistance she receives from her pet cat and sidekick shadow. Zelda was influenced to become a thief by the most notorious of literary robbers, Robin Hood. Zelda was similarly inspired by the principle of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Zelda decided to only steal from corrupt and cruel rich while leaving the kind-hearted rich to enjoy  their wealth unimpeded upon. She has stolen from many a cruel rich person. The evil Countess Lydia Cordelia the Third, King Francis Benedict Harthfellow and Financier Marcus Peppernut have all been victims of Zelda's nimble fingers and clever scheming.
    But a couple of years ago she was led astray by her sense of power and her own greedy desires. Zelda and Shadow completed a particularly difficult heist involving a corrupt diplomat. The diplomat had a cellar full of jewels up to the waist. Zelda and Shadow stole all of the jewels! Instead of giving the bounty to the poor as usual, Zelda built a great mansion out of all the jewels she stole. The great house glittered beautifully in the sunlight. But soon Zelda felt guilty about the betrayal of her morals in the favor of indulging her own fanciful whims. She converted her sparkling mansion into a commune and invited all like-minded individuals to join her. Soon Zelda was back to only stealing for the poor.
   After several successful heists that led to the renovation of the orphanage and successful completion of a new homeless shelter, Zelda and Shadow decided to set their sights on the notorious monster of Luckberry Park. Zelda and Shadow sneaked into the monsters house and stole several handfuls of jewels worth thousands of dollars. The monster, whose eyes are keener and more alert then Zelda suspected, spotted the thieving duo as they left his premises. He could have easily picked up Zelda and smooshed her within his tight grip, but he instead left her to escape unharmed. And this is where Zelda made her mistake. She assumed that the odd and reclusive monster was just as cruel as his appearance hinted at. But the monster is a kind soul with a love for the world and for all the worlds inhabitants. He abhors violence of any kind. And, the monster has heard of Zelda and her philanthropic ways. He knew at least his stolen wealth would go to a good cause.
  In three years Zelda and the monster will meet again under completely different circumstances. She will realize how wrong she was to ever assume the monster is anything but sweet and kind. The two will become quick friends. Together they will work on more humanitarian endeavors in order to make the world better. Although they will not always agree. The monster will encourage Zelda to give up her thievery  Likewise, Zelda will encourage the monster to join her on a heist or two. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

How To: Make Jewelry Out Of Dollhouse Miniatures

  When I was younger, my grandma made me a beautiful Victorian dollhouse with lights that actually worked. I wish I had a picture to share because the house is in storage now. Even though the house is more of an art piece then a kids toy, there is just no room so it remains in storage. After she was done, there was left over dollhouse supplies that I now have in a box. Dollhouse miniatures really are enchanting. It is hard not to say 'awwwww' when viewing a tiny version of an ordinary thing. I though that instead of leaving all of these miniature trinkets in a box, I would make jewelry out of some of them. I am going to share a tutorial on how to make your own dollhouse miniatures into jewelry. So go dig through your own dusty boxes of childhood memorabilia in search of the perfect new charm for your necklace! Or if you want your own tea pot or flower vase necklace but do not have any dollhouse supplies, you can find dollhouse miniatures often at craft or hobby stores, or online.

Step One: Pull your bead cap so it is the right size for your miniature.

   The bead cap goes on top of your miniature, to transform your ordinary dollhouse accessory into a charm. The bead caps are easy to pull into the size your need. Just adjust and fit it to your tiny thing.

Step Two: Glue the bead cap to the top of your dollhouse miniature.

You should use a sturdy glue. Let the glue dry before moving on to the next step so the bead cap is securely attached.

Step Three: Add loop.

 The hole on top of the bead cap is not large enough to fit through a necklace chain. So you will need to add a loop to the top. Pull the loop apart and then attach it to the bead cap before pressing the two ends together again.

Step Four: Put your new charm on to a necklace chain.

   If your choose to make a necklace out of a miniature that has it's own built in loop, (Something such as a teacup) you can skip step one. You do not need a bead cap. Here is what I did for my miniature teacup necklace.

Decided on my teacup.

Added the loop to the teacup handle.

Put it on a necklace chain.

 Of course I could have just put the teacup directly on the necklace without attaching a loop, but I like how it looks better with a loop. It feels more like an official piece of jewelry!

I also made pins. Pins are very easy to make. All you need is the same type of tough glue you used for the necklace charms, pin backs and of course your dollhouse miniature. Just glue the pin back to the the back of your miniature.

Here are examples of some of the jewelry I made:

Clock Necklace
Teacup Necklace
Tea Kettle Necklace 
Book Necklace
Book Necklace Version Two

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Amazing Plants!

   I purchased two new plants recently at Sky Nursery, which is a huge nursery on highway 99. I love going to nurseries and looking at all the plants. Once, I was at a nursery in Northern California where I was admiring all the various botanical delights. An especially pretty tropical plant caught my eye so I gave it a closer look. On one of the leaves of the plant was a tiny green frog. It was strange to see the little frog because I knew he did not belong there. By 'there' I mean both the nursery and the dreary and chilly part of Northern California I was living in. The little frog looked like he belonged in a warm and muggy rain forest full of prehistoric-sized flowers and birds the color of rainbow sherbet.
   This is what I think happened. The plant was harvested in a garden within a tropical forest. The little frog had hopped around and after spotting the plant thought it looked to be a good place to perch. Next thing he knows, he's being stuffed in a box and shipped off to America. When the box is opened,  the frog and his plant are at the nursery. It's actually kind of a sad story, because living in a tropical forest is a nice life for a frog.

  One plant I got is called 'String of Pearls.'  These plants are succulents that originated from Southwest Africa (according to this blog). I have been wanting one of these plants for a long time. I like them because they are odd and seem like a plant that someone might make up to put on a set of sci-fi tv show.

   Here is the other plant I got. It is a succulent too, but I do not know what type. I looked in the 'Western Garden Book' and online in order to identify this mystery plant, but neither were good leads. The leaves are thick, pale green and slightly fuzzy. It feels like a Panda Plant, but the leaves look different. Does anyone have any ideas about what kind of succulent this little guy could be?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Whimsical Animals on the Tips of Matchsticks

    I recently rewatched the movie 'The Royal Tennenbaums' for the first time in a long while. It's such a great movie and I remembered all the reasons why I loved it. The visuals aesthetics of that movie are stunning, the soundtrack is amazing, and the characters are all odd, slightly neurotic but lovable. After watching this movie again, I started thinking about how there has been a backlash against Wes Anderson in recent years. A lot of complaints center around his work being too twee and whimsical. These critiques never resonate with me because I love whimsy. And most things that are described as 'twee' I  like, even if the word was used disparagingly. But the dismals of Anderson are to hasty because his movies offer a lot more then twee and whimsy. Originally I was going to write a long defense of Anderson's movies, but instead I'll link to this article which makes a lot of great arguments in Andersons defense. And here is a link to one of my favorite parts of 'The Royal Tennenbaums', and one of the best movie montages ever!
  Also, today I read this really interesting article on Slate about new animals that were discovered in 2012. It features a frog so small it fits on a dime and a chameleon so tiny it fits on the end of a match stick! I love that new animals are still being discovered frequently. It makes the world seem even more full of possibilities.  Like, maybe someday some lucky scientist will discover a rare species of cat that is so small it fits on a dime. Or an explorer in a far off jungle will find the amazing flying monkey!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

  It is Christmas time! Hooray!

   Here are some pheffernusses my Dad and Mom made. Pheffernusses are a German Christmas cookie made with delicious spices such as cloves and cinnamon. Pheffernusses means peppernuts. They are very tasty!

Here are some Christmas cookies I made and decorated. They are sugar cookies with colorful icing and sprinkles.

  David and I did not have a tree topper for our tree so I made a moon out of paper mache. I made a moon because I like moons but also because I felt like being cheeky and contrary since most trees are topped with stars.

    I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ladder To The Sky

Here are some photos I took in my friend's neighborhood. I took these around Halloween  so that explains the skeleton and various other adorably morbid decorations.

   I've recently seen two very interesting documentaries that I would recommend watching. One is called 'The Queen of Versailles' and the other is called 'Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles'. 'The Queen of Versailles' is a movie about a wealthy family who was building the largest house in America. The movie starts before the economic collapse and follows the family as they weather unfamiliar financial woes after the collapse. The movie portrays a complicated portrait of the family. After watching the movie, I had a hard time making up my mind on how I felt about the people.
    The second movie, "Resurrect Dead' is about tiles that have been found embedded in the roads and sidewalks of various cities in North and South America.  These tiles have been appearing since the eighties. The tiles almost always say: "TOYNBEE IDEA, IN MOVIE `2001, RESURRECT DEAD, ON PLANET JUPITER." Sometimes there are other sentiments along with the main passage. The tiles origins have been a mystery for years. The movie follows three Toynbee Tile enthusiasts as they set out to solve the mystery of who is behind the tiles. It was very interesting and it made me want to investigate a mystery. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How To: Make Treasure Map Wrapping Paper

    So, the world did not end yesterday after all, which means you actually do need to wrap all of your Holiday presents. Here is a tutorial on how to make treasure map wrapping paper.


  For my treasure map, I used a normal sized piece of paper from my sketchbook because I made the wrapping paper for a small present. But you can also use a larger piece of paper for larger presents.

Step One: Draw your map in pencil.

  You can make your map look any way you want. I drew a couple of land looking shapes to be islands and then drew trees on the islands and waves in the sea.  I drew a Christmas tree where the 'X' marks the treasure.

Step Two: Pen in drawing.

  Use a waterproof pen and go over your drawing.

Step Three: Brew the black tea.

I used five bags of tea do get a rich golden color. If you brew your tea and want a different shade, use another tea bag for a darker shade or more water for a lighter shade.

Step Four: Paint over map using tea and brush.

This makes the treasure map look old, like a it is from a hundred years ago, when every island had hidden treasure and the sea was full of surely peg-legged pirates.

Step Five: Use watercolor to add color to your map.

I only colored a small portion of the map so the tea color was still the most prominent color. But you can color as much as you want depending on how you want it to look!

Step Six (Optional Step): Burn the edges of the map.

  Burning the edges helps further the aged look of the map. This step is optional and should be done near a water source and all necessary safety precautions should be taken. If you do not want to burn the edges of the map but still want to give it a weathered look, you can tear around the map too. But if you decide to do this, you should do it before you paint over the map with tea or the normal color of the paper will show at the torn parts.

Step Eight: Wrap the present!

Mue Mue  eagerly awaiting Christmas so he can open the present.
He will be sorely disappointed when he realizes this present is not for him.