All hail the mighty pencil: a powerful and beloved tool with a fanbase as sophisticated as the legions of jazz enthusiasts, yet so ubiquitous and humble that it all but escapes notice. The pencil is an incredibly simple device—essentially, a rock-and-dirt mix smashed together between some cut-up tree pieces—but the iteration that know today is a collaboration between hundreds of pencil makers over the course of 500 years. With their pen cousins, the elegant fountain and the pragmatic ballpoint, pencils are a founding member in the groundswell of interest for tangible, analog tools in an increasingly virtual, digital world.
If all you know of pencils are the Dixon Ticonderogas and plastic Bic mechanical pencils you carted around in your schoolbox, read on for a basic primer and some great resources for further exploration.
We all need a little inspiration. When you make something, you are producing output: a physical object or idea that draws on your inner well of creativity. And just like any set of reserves, overtapping the well can leave you with diminished resources. When that happens, the single best way to restock your inspiration stores is to simply experience other people being creative. Books are great, and listening to your favorite music is always energizing, but sometimes, the best thing to do is simply watch other people make stuff. Like, on an episode of TV.
Sure, there's an entire channel that's supposedly about "DIY"ing, but mostly, it's about the relationship drama between people doing home improvement projects. So, I thought I'd share some of my go-to series for when I'm looking for a little inspiration.
These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.
Oh my, the art of writing. Handwritten notes are always the classiest way to correspond, but here are a few people that take it up a notch with some of the most amazing hand drawn type you'll ever see.
I've been on a "big art" kick lately. And when I say "big", I mean gigantic (check out The World's Largest Wood Type for further clarification). There's something about a traditional art or craft done at a mind-blowingly large scale that just tickles my magic beans. So I'm going to file this 15' x 10' solvent transfer sign + tutorial in my enormous folder for all things awesome.
The creative folks at The Mandate Press applied this Beatrice Warde quote to a big ol' sheet of canvas that is, hands down, the largest solvent transfer I have ever seen. If you're not familiar with solvent transfers, the process is actually quite simple:
A few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at screen printing. It seemed like a simple, straightforward process: Get the supplies and make it happen. Well, I made it "happen" and ended up learning a bit along the way. Here's my process and the things to watch out for when starting out.
There are a number of simple kits out there with all the supplies you need to get started. While they all seem to be complete, you can get better materials by gathering it all yourself. Here's my list of everything you'll need for $50 - $100.
Make the Screens:
The first step is making your screens. While I used scrap wood in my shop, I wish I
We all have designs, and we all have ideas. And sometimes, they just have to get out of our heads and into the real world. Screen printing is a great way to ink art on just about anything from shirts to posters to wood. If you figure out how to do it right, it's the easiest way to create dozens of copies fast. So here's our look at the right gear and techniques you'll need to get started today.
Anyone who loves hiking or outdoor exploration is familiar with the cairn, that characteristic stacks of rocks used as a trailmarker, warning a steep overhang, or just a general, leave-just-a-little trace that someone was here. At first, each cairn is a little discovery, a naturalist's work of art that puts design and intentional experience into the landscape. And then you see them multiple times on every. single. trek. you take, and your eyes just gloss over them after awhile. (Unless you're lost. They're always welcome when you're lost.)
It's nearing Valentine's Day, and though my sweetheart and I don't usually do gifts, I wanted to make her something special. We're not big on the whole Hobby Lobby, scrapbook-y, shrine to ourselves approach to artwork, but I did want to incorporate a personal element. I recalled the custom DNA portraits I'd seen, and when searching, found the fingerprint prints offered by the same company. While I wouldn't even begin to understand how to go about visualizing DNA, I figured the custom fingerprint approach was probably pretty achievable.
I even figured out a way to make it seem a bit more handmade than the cold, tech-ier versions offered by the online companies. And, it only ended up costing me $6.00 USD. (I'm so thankful I've got someone who would be proud of me for creating an inexpensive DIY route, rather than impressed by how much I spent.)
Perhaps you've drawn a name for the office Secret Santa and it's time to pony up for a solid gift that won't break the bank. Maybe it's for your brother-in-law, a buddy who helped you move. Perhaps, even though you're thirty-two, your mom keeps on insisting you give her a complete wishlist from which she'll select her favorites. Whatever the reason, it's gift giving season. Here are 50 options to find something they (or you) will love.
My Instagram feed is about 50/50 with friends and outdoorsy travel photographers. I try to get out in wilderness as much as I can, and when I can't, I try to at least keep some photographic inspiration readily at hand. And let's be honest, probably all of us have tried our hand at capturing that gorgeous vista to which we couldn't quite do justice...
You know how when you're an artist or creative type, you're just so bursting with ideas that you can't possibly even write them all down, let alone execute them all?
Yeah, I don't either. The truth is, that old thing about inspiration and perspiration is kinda true. Sometimes, brilliant ideas do just hit you, but it's pretty rare, and likely, the outcome of lots of prep work. So, what to do in the meantime?
Stay creative. Create even when it's not your best work, if you're uninspired, or don't have the time or energy to do your best work. It doesn't matter. You just gotta keep at it.
Everyone likes a nice motivational quote with a fine adventurous backdrop and some nice typography that reminds us to get outside.
Leather is strong, durable, and extremely workable. But stitching leather involves some specific two-handed, two needle techniques, some specialized gear, and some definite knowhow. So, what to do when you want to make a custom piece, but aren't ready to invest the time and materials to learn to hand sew it?
You make no-sew project: just as strong, just as customizable.
We're back with some of our favorite media for you to devour as the summer draws to a close. Here's what's good:
I'm about two-thirds of the way through A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. It's a fictional exploration of the shooting of Bob Marley in December 1976, and the following decades of political, social, and criminal aftermath. I won't lie - it's intense. It has 50+ characters (and one of those little dramatis personae keys at the beginning, which I reference about every three pages). It feels like reading Joyce's Ulysses ... Biblical in scale, and I'm looking up some fact or reference (or rocksteady
There are sorts of reasons a guy would wanna take great photos at home: an artist or crafter, online shop owner, Instagram power user, or just an everyday documenter extraordinaire.
No matter your focus, these easy and affordable tips will help you dramatically improve your photography skills.
There's nothing like taking a tour inside the mind of an artistic genius (especially if your tour guide is himself an acclaimed artist) and that's exactly what Sidney Lumet did with his 2006 documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry about one of the most well respected architects of our time. You should absolutely see it if you haven't, but in the meantime, check out the craziness that is Gehry's initial sketches of some of his most famous buildings...
In my hometown there's a poster shop that makes letterpress posters for every band that plays at The Ryman Auditorium. The fun part is you never know what size the poster will be and you can count on the size being something that could only be framed in a custom size.