Humming To A New Hobby

Hobby Lobby is a great place to discover a new craft. I have always wanted to learn needlework and sewing and back in my younger years, my mother had attempted to pass on her love of cross-stitch. I started my first cross stitch project around 2005 and finished it sometime in 2014? Yeah, cross-stitch was not going to be my jam. But enter Hobby Lobby and Embroidery. Embroidery feels a lot more like coloring. Unlike cross-stitch, there’s very little counting involved and very simple schematics. You can even draw directly on the fabric! There are a few different stitches you can learn but overall I find that it allows a lot more freeform. I prefer to fill in my designs with as much color as possible too.

The Hobby Lobby Wildflowers Embroidery Project Kit completed!

The next best thing to hanging your art on the wall is actually wearing it. I have run out of wall in my home so for my first non-kit embroidery project, I picked a plain black dress to embellish. Of course, the dress was from a thrift store. The Hummingbird design is from Hobby Lobby’s Charm of Hummingbirds pattern pack. The final design is 6 inches by 8 inches and used only leftover thread from my first embroidery kit and the forever-ago cross stitch kit. The total process took about 10 hours.

A Very Happy Hummingbird

I didn’t really plan the colors and mostly just made decisions as I went along. I experimented threading different colors together in the stems and it was an interesting effect. This was fun but for a more serious project, I would consider more careful planning. Some of my stitches are fairly long and loose. This works out for the feathers as it gives a more “feathery” feel. For the main body this can be a problem. Short aligned stitches can create unintentional lines where there are not supposed to be any (if you look in the bird’s face, there is a line created in the yellow thread). Eventually I figured out a short alternating stitch that created a homogenous shape and tight stitching (see the green thread in the bird’s body). My hoop was also too big. Clothes can have some strange shapes which make it hard to stretch taught. So I have bought a smaller hoop for future uses.

Truly, a testament to high fashion (sarcasm)Also my camera is a potato.

I have not yet decided what my next embroidery project should be, but I am hoping it can be on an original piece. I have recently inherited a sewing machine. Wish me luck!

F is For Friends

After years of not making any original art and almost giving up, a friend gives me a chance to start over.

Before I had to worry about bills, taxes and economic fallout from a worldwide pandemic, I was just another kid deep into art. I had my own characters and stories and a dream to publish a graphic novel. At one point I really wanted to become an animator for Pixar. But those opportunities do not always come to those who work hard and get straight As. Financial wisdom and social connections are a bit more valuable and useful to making dreams a reality.

One of the first digital drawings I ever made in Gimp with a fancy Wacom tablet. I was very proud of this in 2011

Not knowing any better I went to community college to get my Graphic Design degree. I made my art and thought that finally I would be paid to do something fun. I quickly found out that making art for other people is not always fun. Don’t get me wrong, I was able to make some interesting things. But jobs always involve dealing with things or people you’re not always prepared to deal with. Tying a beloved hobby to your livelihood can quickly turn things sour. After 7 years of working “officially” as a Graphic Designer, I quit. I was creatively burned out. I had abandoned a lot of personal projects 3 years into the job. I had very little friendships and very little security from it all. I decided art was not going to be it for me and I better go get myself a better career while I still could.

But then there was this one friend… Similar to me, art had captivated her at a young age. When we first met, I paged through her sketchbooks. I was quickly reminded of my own drawings that I kept stored at home, but never looked at. We spent time together and she became a sort of lifeline for my creative desires. We often spoke about art and our stories and every once in a while I would feel the urge to doodle or write something. It would take time for me to heal from my burnout. When I moved into my new apartment a year ago, I immediately hung up some of my favorite drawings from the past years. I still shied away from my pencils and paper but I began to like art again.

Hobby Lobby art kits are a great place to rekindle long lost art skills.

Then one fateful night on Discord, my friend sent me the following:

I also wanted to mention that if you still wanted to get me a bday present I would love a drawing from you :3

Her name is Kristin. Kristin is incredibly sweet and caring and the type of person that can make you fight Goliath on her behalf, and win (when we are old, she’s going to be everyone’s favorite grandma). When this request came in, I knew I could not disappoint.

I went to work the day before it was due (in true college student fashion). Kristin and I have both designed “alter-egos” or avatars for ourselves. My avatar is named Tiger and is a 4’5″ tall redhead with a short temper. Kristin’s avatar is a 6 ft tall fluffy ‘chomer’ named Cheris. This is clearly a perfect match. Watch the Youtube video to see the whole process. The end result was fairly surprising considering my lack of practice.

I made two drawings: one pencil lineart and one colored pencil version. The text at the top of the artwork reads “Happy 25th Birthday”. The text at the bottom is french for “big fat slimy kisses” (the American equivalent would be to write XXX OOO at the end of a letter). The gift was received with great joy and was enough motivation to finally get me to publish a website. Believe or not, I’ve been sitting on this domain for 6 months.