Friday, December 23, 2016

Our Kodiak Wall

This project has been a long time coming!  I've been planning it and collecting pieces for a while, and it's finally come to fruition after painstakingly gathering everything I wanted to use.  Wahoo!

I've been visualizing it, picking accessories and photos out, having Alaska themed art professionally framed, and anticipating seeing the final project complete since long before we even left Kodiak.

I was a little intimidated by the idea of a gallery wall.  It seemed like it would be difficult to get a handle on how to make what was in my head look straight and appropriately spaced on the wall. 

To the internet!

I found a few tutorials and jumped right on in.  God bless the internet. How did we even figure shit out easily before?  It's exhausting just thinking about how much more effort doing stuff inevitably was before we all had google to tell us crap.  Anyway...

The easiest way I found to tackle a gallery wall is to lay out the pictures and pieces the way you'd like them to be arranged on a large sheet of butcher paper.  Outline each frame and put  a dot where you want to hang each frame.

Of course, I didn't have any butcher paper, so I used what I had.  Which was newspaper.  Taped together in the approximate size of the wall I planned to use.  Not pretty, but it worked just fine.

I replaced all of the black and white photos with new Alaska pictures we took over the three years we lived there.

I messed around with the layout until I found one I liked, and then I outlined all of the pictures with a black sharpie and marked the spot where each one was to be hung.

Next, I taped the giant mess of newspaper to the wall, and hammered a nail or hanger into the spots I marked for each picture.

As you can see, I started with paper I had, but quickly realized I didn't have enough and switched to newspaper.

Once I hammered a nail into each dot, I carefully ripped the template off the wall and started hanging.  Truth be told, I had to readjust a few of the pictures, but overall everything looked good.

Not too bad for my first attempt!

I had to specifically request he include Kodiak!
I collected art from local Kodiak artists while we lived there, but the bulk of the wall is my own photography. 

One of my favorites is the reclaimed wood cut out of the state of Alaska. 

I found an artist on Etsy and thought it would be a perfect addition to the wall.

Too damn cute!

The colorful, rectangular piece on the top right is a picture by a local Kodiak artist of an old, historical cannery on Moser Bay.  The hubby got it for me for one of our Christmases in Alaska.  Another one of my favorites.

I've got an Alutiiq mask, a mini Alutiiq kayak paddle, the Crabfest poster from our first Crabfest, and all sorts of Alaskan photography.

I love it for my very first attempt!  Let's hear it for my Kodiak wall!

Ta-ta for now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sacramento's Oldest Bar

It was only a matter of time, you know.  Before I made my way to Sacramento's oldest bar, that is.  As some of you know, I kind of have a thing.  History & booze!  It's a great combo.

My fixation started a few years ago when I came across an article listing the oldest bar in every state.

I thought it would be fun to try and see as many as possible.  But, it doesn't even have to be the absolute oldest bar in the region.

Historical works for me, but the actual oldest bar is ideal. #PubGoals.

I find myself typing "fill-in-the-blank-city's" oldest bar into trusty google whenever I go somewhere to see if some historical pub sleuthing can be in my future.

So far, I've been to the oldest bar in Rome, Chicago, and Alaska.  A short list, so I need to get on it!

Ready to head in with the Hubby
Sacramento's oldest is called Old Ironsides, and it's a short bike ride from our house.

We checked it out not too long ago. Fun!

I'm not sure why they chose their name, since it's the nickname that was given to the warship the USS Constitution after The War of 1812.

Sacramento isn't exactly a maritime city, so your guess is as good as mine.

What I do know is that it was the first bar in Sacramento to be issued their liquor license after prohibition in 1933.

Old Ironsides was established in 1934, and has been in operation ever since.  Eighty-Two years.

A baby compared to some of the other oldest bars I've read about, but still counts on my grand quest to see historical pubs!

Most of the old bars I've been to have a huge medley of antiques hanging from every available surface. From framed art, to primary source photos, to furniture, to flags, to newspaper articles...but that wasn't the case here.

It still pulled off that vintage vibe, though. Somehow the vinyl stools and timeworn wallpaper subtly hinted at the history of the place.

I learned later that our bartender has worked there for 31 years.  I kind of love that.  Way to go, Al!

Hubby getting his oldest pub on

The stage & band setting up

There was a funky band playing that night we were looking forward to checking out called The Dustbowl Revival.  We'd never heard of them, and they rocked.  Lots of folks on stage, all sorts of horns, a stand up bass, you name it. Good stuff!

Oh, and lots of beards!

So, I can tick off this box in our Sacramento escapades.  I hear the oldest bar in California is in San Francisco, so maybe we'll take another roadie down to check it out.  Worth a trip to me.  History & booze...wheeeee!!

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Negativity Monster

Talk about a surprise!  My old boss contacted me recently with a completely unexpected and awesome creative opportunity. 

Ready for this?  She offered to hire me to create an altered book display for the library to promote the library association and the upcoming altered book art show.

Wait...what, now?  That was pretty much my reaction!  All I can say is that I was extremely flattered that she thought of me.

I've created my share of altered books over the years - you can check out a few of them here and here if you're so inclined.  Crafting altered books was always just for fun, so the fact that someone wanted to pay me for something that had been a hobby in the past?  Well, elated about covers it!

Along with feeling both flattered and enthusiastic, I was also freaking out a little bit.  Because of course, the negativity monster popped up on my shoulder to add his horrible and unwelcome two cents.

You know the negativity monster.  We all do.  Mine is an ugly, pointy eared, little shit that asks patronizing questions like, "Who do you think you are?  You're no professional artist, why would you ever agree to take this on?" And, "You know you're not artistically talented enough to make something that doesn't look like a 3rd grader did it, right?"

I told you - he's a shit.  Not to worry.  I told him to shut the hell up and I accepted the offer.   And I'm so glad that I didn't give in to doubt and fear!

Once I agreed, it was time to ratchet up the creative confidence and know that I could pull it off.  What fun it was, too!

The idea behind the project was to promote the Kodiak Public Library Association, emphasize that a membership to KPLA is an excellent holiday gift, and also to promote the upcoming altered book art show that the Kodiak Public Library Association and Kodiak Arts Council puts on every year.!  I started by viewing a few youtube tutorials on paper tree folding, as well as several step-by-step how to articles on carving books, etc. This was what I used to make the trees, and it was super straight forward and easy to follow.

There was quite a bit of paper folding & cutting to craft Sitka Spruce tree look alikes, since that tree is predominant on Kodiak and was part of the request.

It was basically lots of this:

Once I refined the technique, I made about a half a dozen trees to make a little forest of various sized "Spruce" trees.  They turned out cute!

After I made all the trees, I used an X-ACTO knife to cut out a rectangular shaped dropped space inside the main body of a hard cover book, using this step-by-step tutorial.  The pages are sealed with Mod Podge, so the whole bottom half of the book is secured to the back cover.

I covered the pages with colored and patterned scrapbook-type paper to pretty-up the tattered and glue covered pages so the finished project looked a little sleeker and more polished.

The last step was to come up with a way to promote a KPLA membership as a holiday gift.  Initially, I wanted to stencil on the opposite page, but I quickly realized that stenciling with paint was more challenging than I anticipated.  It was coming out messy looking, and I totally effed it up not even halfway through.  Case in point.

As you can see, I misaligned the M and the E and then promptly FUBAR-ed the last E.  Not to mention it looked sloppy.  So, I scrapped my grand plans to stencil, since it was my first time attempting it, and frankly I sucked at it!

I went in a different direction, and I think it's worlds better than my feeble attempt at stenciling.

Once I put it altogether, I was pretty happy with the final product.

Now all that's left is to ship it to Kodiak.  It's still a little surreal to me that this was work.  This?  How could this possibly be work?  It was nothing but fun, creative time for me, so I can't feel anything but gratitude that the opportunity came my way!

The author Seth Godin said it well:  "If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try."

So there's only one thing left to say.  Screw the negativity monster. Always say yes! 

Ta-ta for now.