Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Finds! Regretsy & Craftastrophe! (Prepare to be terrified)

Batman Fine Art Print on Craftastrophe

What better Friday Finds to showcase than the daringly dual disgusting websites of Craftastrophe and Regretsy? Those with weak stomachs set off by taxidermy or cross-stich penises should avoid.

Craftastrophe is a blog that combs the internet for terrifying craft projects. The blog can be a bit confusing, the best way to browse is to scroll halfway down the Craftastrophe homepage and click on one of the "Other Crafty Features" categories on the right.

A Fish Wearing a Squirrel Suit - Taxidermy via Regretsy
You have no idea how hard I wanted to put that in ALL CAPS.

Regretsy is very much arranged like (etsy requested regretsy change their website so people could differentiate), so it's unfortunately easy to navigate and find terrible things.

Both sites give commentary about the various "finds" they've made. It may seem mean-spirited, but they've also brought sales to the crafters and artists they've found.

So, if you're ready to delve into something terrible, here are the links:
Craftastrophe: Because handmade isn't always pretty.
Regretsy: Handmade? It looks like you made it with your feet.

Thanks to Rebecca for bringing both of these sites to my attention!

Back from the Deepest South: Mobile, Alabama

Dad's Birthday Dinner at Emeril's
Dad's Birthday Dinner at Emeril's
Sunday night we met up with my parents at Emeril's Gulf Coast Fish House in Gulfport, Mississippi for the Leah hand-off. Then I was shuffled off to Mobile.

Dauphin Island: Water TowerDauphin Island Water Tower - For some reason, it looks sinister
Our plans, since the weather forecast had said 73 and sunny, was to go biking on Dauphin Island. Even though we got up on Monday and it was in the 60's and raining a little, we decided to forge ahead anyway.

One of the more obscure things I miss about living on the Coast is bike riding on entirely flat terrain. Here in North Carolina there are hills, and I am a complete wuss about them.

Dauphin Island: No Swimming
My favorite picture from this trip - No Swimming! With me and Mom

As always, I went to America's Thrift Store in Mobile (my favorite thrift store, due to it's ridiculous size). I managed to find a leather coat for Will, and a nice skirt for myself, among other random things. I'll have to take a picture of all the stuff I brought back (including eyeball bead necklaces before I hand them out to Trick-or-treaters.)

The night before I left, my mom promised to make me anything for dinner I wanted, so I chose rump roast with potatoes and carrots, corn on the cob, and fried okra. I think I chose wisely.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back from the Deepest South: Big Easy

Halloween Parade in New Orleans
Terrifying Halloween Parade Float - they threw glowing eyeball necklaces (of which I have two)
I probably should have mentioned that I would be gone October 24 - 28, visiting my family down in New Orleans and Mobile. I should have, but I didn't. More importantly, let me show you what I did!

New Orleans: Parades, Shopping Independent Design Stores
First thing, Julie, Brad and I went to a New Orleans Halloween parade. I was sad, because none of us were aware that the parade crowd was going to be wearing costumes. Had I known, I would have brought one as a quick change after leaving the airport. I'll know for the future though.

We only caught the tail end of the parade (3 floats, 1 marching band) and I still have a couple of pounds of beads to show for it. Those people are serious about throwing things at their parades. I am, unfortunately, out of the habit of attending, as I kept dodging things instead of catching. Oops!

Shamarr Allen in New OrleansMy Blurry Pic of Shamarr Allen
We ate at Yuki, a Japanese restaurant, and then headed to the Irvin Mayfield Jazz Playhouse right off of Bourbon Street to see Shamarr Allen play.

Shamarr Allen, man.
That guy can freakin play the trumpet.

If you're into NOLA style brass band music, here's a few YouTube videos of him:
- Song: Meet me on Frenchmen St.
- Song: Gnarls Barkley's Crazy - I loved his cover of this, but the sound quality of this video is incredibly crappy

New Orleans has an amazingly supportive community for local independent artists - tons of places just to sell local art. I went to three different shops dedicated to selling locally designed t-shirts - all on one street.

I may very well have to move there.

Thanks to Julie and Brad, for letting me crash at their place.
Next up:
I'll give you the lowdown from the next leg of the trip: Mobile, Alabama.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Find! Obey My Brain Creations!

Squid Hat from Obey My Brain

If you're a cephalopod-love who hasn't stumbled across the great products (and pictures) from Obey My Brain yet, then I am surprised!

With the winter months quickly approaching, we're all looking for ways to keep ourselves warm and what better way than the graceful drape of tentacles to protect your delicate ears from stinging winds? And obviously, having an Octopus On Yo Head is a new fashion trend.

One of my favorite things about Obey My Brain is that you can optionally choose to get "bulging eyes" for your hat!

Of course, it's not just tentacley hats, there are also shark hats and some awesome artwork.

Check out Obey My Brain's Shop here!

Notes on Copyright for Artists (from the VAE BOBAA lecture series)

The lectures were awesome last night! The Visual Art Exchange really is a valuable resource for local artists, and I'm excited that I'm finally on their mailing list (if interested, you can sign up here).

As promised, notes from the talk by Anthony Biller, intellectual property lawyer, Coats & Bennett PLLC -
"Copyright Law for Artists"
  1. Copyright protects a particular way someone expresses themselves - it does not protect an idea or a process.

  2. A copyright transfers only through written agreement, except in work-for-hire situations.
    i.e. the only way a copyright leaves you is if you sign a paper saying so. Which means that freelance work is still copyright to the person who "made the expression" (the artist) and not the person who had the idea (the customer) unless you sign something that says otherwise.

  3. A copyright is not a monopoly right.
    If someone makes something identical to yours without having ever seen yours, then you both get copyrights on that. Copyright is not novel, just original to you.

  4. Don't copy.

  5. If you're asking "what is the percentage of the original I need to change to be legal" you're already starting down the wrong path.

  6. Aside from Fair Use, do everything you can to get permission from the original copyright holder.

  7. Copyright does not involve things that are common design elements or themes.

  8. If you created the design, act like the creator.

  9. Put copyright notices on your works. For example, paintings - write on the back "© #yourfullname #year" .

  10. Register your work with the Library of Congress.

  11. Fair Use is not an exception to copyright infringement, it is a legal copy.
    Be forewarned, there is a lot of ambiguity and subjectivity in precedence of Fair Use.

One of the problem he pointed out that whatever process you follow to make something Fair Use in a legal case, the entire thing will be decided by judge and jury. Which means you can't predict the outcome.

He also brought up the Shepard Fairey case, stating the he thought it was an obvious case of Fair Use, but "Mr. Fairey is not a perfect client" now.

I'll probably type up all of my notes and make them available next week, but those were his eleven primary talking points. ALSO! The VAE is going to make their notes available sometime in the coming weeks at (I'll be sure to alert you when it happens and post the link again).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Copyright and Trademarks and Artists, oh my!

Obama Hope StickerShepard Fairey Sticker - it may be illegal for you to look at this picture

If you've been attempting to follow the many twists and turns of the Shepard Fairey case, you're probably wondering just as much as I am about copyright and trademarks in visual art.

I learned about this in college, but recently I've been thinking it could be imperative to brush up on current issues.

As a visual artist, my personal opinions are biased (grrrr, the extended copyright shenanigans of Disney). I tend to lean towards less extended copyrights, and more creative terms from businesses (like the USPS vs. Postal Service, wherein they got the right to use the Postal Service's songs in their commercials, and sell their CDs). I find today's legal copyright action against artists confusing compared to a variety of examples in art history where obvious sampling was applauded. Professionally, I want to make sure I avoid trouble.

Silkscreening (the technique Shepard Fairey's design uses/is based on) attracts copyright law trouble today like nobody's business. The technique involves direct transfers of photograph-like images, so the original artwork tends to be very recognizable.

Silkscreening started gaining popularity with the Pop Art movement - and the most famous works are of copyrighted images and products. Andy Warhol's did not get sued for his Coca-Cola and Campbell's Soup prints, they were direct copies of logos and branded materials, yet they sold for several thousands of dollars with no legal action. Lichtenstein sampled pages directly from DC and other comic books. No lawsuits there either.

Essentially, I'm not trying to start some sort of flame war, it comes down to these questions:
- Has copyright law changed substantially?
- Has the attitude of businesses towards artists changed?
- Has the public's attitude towards artist's rights changed?

Here's some articles of interest:
- From Warhol to Chuck D: Copyright Criminals at the Downtown Library
- Warhol is Turning in his Grave (article by Cory Doctorow)
- (Probably) Valid Fair Use Summary

SO - I'm going to Visual Art Exchange's "Business of Being an Artist" lecture series tonight. One of the topics is "Copyright Law for Artists" by an intellectual property lawyer. Interesting and topical! Hopefully I'll have some answers to these burning questions tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vampire Weekend (not the band!)

Bela Lugosi Army
My Bela Lugosi Army

The first of many October costume events happened over the weekend. It was a vampire party, and Will and I decided to go old school - he as Bela Lugosi, and me as Elizabeth Bathory:

Bathory LeahShe Preferred to be Called Elly

I made a drink garland starring various vampires for the party, as well as finished Nick's present-vest (pictures coming soon of both of those) which meant I didn't have time to make Bathory's ridiculously HUGE collar.

I also made up a song about Elizabeth Bathory
(based on The Ramones' "Teenage Lobotomy"):
Bathory! Bathory! Bathory! Bathory!
The Count did a job on me
Now I am a real sickie
Guess I'll have to break the news
That I got no mind to lose
All the girls are so bloody
I'm Elizabeth Bathory!

There are more costume parties to come in October! And a visit to New Orleans/Mobile! I'm excited!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Find! Becky Stern

Lilypad Embroidery
"The embroidery uses traditional floss and techniques mixed with lights and sounds generated by the onboard software."

Everything Becky Stern does is a brilliantly geeky mixture of art, tech and craft. Being able to equally mix these three is something I'd love to do, though I don't know if I'll ever catch up on the tech side.

I stumbled across her website while looking for plush squid patterns, and completely forgot what I was there for while checking out her amazing projects.

TV-B-Gone Hoodie

One of my favorite projects is her TV-B-Gone hoodie. In a ninja-like fashion, it activates the TV-B-Gone sewn in the hoodie by the innocuous action of zipping the zipper. This turns off all TVs in an area (like at a restaurant). And of course she wrote an instructable on how to make your own. Brilliant!

As a parting gift, here's a few pictures from her "Body Technology Interfaces" projects.

Body-Laptop Interface

Ski Mask for Eating a Sandwich

I love all this! What else would you expect from someone who is an associate editor at CRAFT and MAKE, as well as an arts teacher? Check out more of her stuff at her website

All images

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Leah's Sewing for Beginners

A few people have asked me how I do sewing projects, so here's a sort of Leah's Incomplete Sewing Primer.

Almost every sewing project I do combines these two things:
1) An actual piece of clothing like the one I'm making (this week, I borrowed one of Nick's vests that fits well)
2) A tutorial or pattern to help me order the sewing process (this week, I have a Simplicity vest pattern).

I usually make the pattern from the actual clothing (trace out all the pieces and add seam allowance) then follow the directions from the tutorial/pattern.

Good places to start sewing:
- Replicate something simple you already have and fits: A-line skirt, unlined vest
- Modifying something that no longer fits: adjust shirt's size, make into a hoodie
- Make a stuffed animal

Tips for using your sewing machine:
- ALWAYS keep scrap fabric around for test sewing each time you re-thread
- Learn how to thread your machine - 75% of my problems are from threading
- Use thread the color of your material - it's hard to see mistakes

Awesome online tutorials that I use all the dang time:
- Kim's No Fail Zipper Tutorial
- Stuffed Animal Tutorial
(except I sew on the details BEFORE joining and stuffing them. I hate the difficulty of sewing onto things that are stuffed)

Honestly, if there's any project you'd like to try, do a google search for "free tutorial" with the project and you're likely to turn up something. And if you get stuck, improvise or combine something you've seen in another tutorial!

That's all from me, but I know a lot of you out there have machines and lots more sewing experience, So, what would you suggest to a beginner?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sewing a Vest (from a shirt)

Shirt to Vest Project: Exterior Pieces
This Shall Be a Vest!

I'm attempting to sew a vest from a large shirt. I'm even lining the dang thing which is making the project a lot more complicated.

Essentially, to assemble something with a lining, you have to think of the object as if it is being assembled through a black hole. Everything is all inside out, and upside down, and backwards. Then you sew it all together, turn it right side out, and hope you didn't screw up.

Lining Visualization Process
This is What Lining is Like!

This is Nick's birthday present. Of course, having to take measurements and borrowing vests from Nick has sort of blown the surprise, but I'm okay with that (and I asked him ahead of time if he would prefer a surprise drawing of a present, or a non-surprise actual present - he chose non-surprise).

A few people have asked me how to get started sewing, or what I do with my projects, and I'll be posting about that later this week!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Find! Etsy's GoldilocksBarrettes

On Fridays, I'm gonna start showing you inspirations I've found online. This week, I'm giving you treats (and sort of tricks?) by showing you Goldilocks Barrettes!

Goldilocks Barrettes carries a variety of barrettes all made to look like something delicious.

They have everything sweet - cake slices, cupcakes, meringue, truffles, ice cream - all of them amazingly detailed replicas. They also have sushi barrettes now. Oh dear, it's making me hungry just looking at the shop.

I actually have the red velvet cake barrette (seen here). Up close, the barrettes are just as beautiful as they are in the pictures. They're also very well made, no cake deterioration for me!

Anyone who loves sweets, and the idea of wearing them on their head, has found the perfect shop. Put food in your hair without all the worry!

Check out more delicious designs at Goldilocks Barrette's etsy shop.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where I Blather on About Reading, Goodreads (and I Made a Pie Chart)

Yes, I made a pie chart.

I read a lot of books. Of course... I work at a library. Libraries appeal to me in so many ways: they fulfill my goal of reading every awesome book, and my desire not to spend any money doing so.

Part of my reading habit now includes the following:
- Read a book before deciding to buy it
- Obsessively update account

Goodreads is where I got the numbers for my awesome pie chart up there. I keep track of book recommendations and check out what other people are reading (ahh, the gratification of being nosy on the internet). AND I can victoriously update each time I finish a book!

This year, there's one series I recommend without reservation - Scott Westerfield's Midnighters series. It's amazingly good science fiction. You should read it!

So, any good book recommendations for me?
Oops! I mean, after I finish Pratchett's new book Unseen Academicals, do you have any good book recommendations?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Etsy Shop Update: Steampunk & Squiddishness

Nikola Tesla, The Forgotten Wizard (drawing reproduction, framed)Nikola Tesla, The Forgotten Wizard (drawing reproduction, framed)

Last week and this week I've been refilling my etsy shop with a variety pack of new steampunk stuff. One of my favorites is this Nikola Tesla drawing done on a vintage page of "Excelsior!"

Temporal Limbo Ring (steampunk ring)Temporal Limbo Ring

Of course, there's more watch rings, and some stationery, because why wouldn't there be? I'm working on two really cool steampunk necklaces that I will hopefully finish up in the next week, and be able to show you.

Squiddish Pouches: Swimming En Masse
Squiddish Pouches: Swimming En Masse

The other new items I've made are these squiddish pouches! I had initially done the design for making these out of duct tape, but my duct tape skills are sorely lacking. Fortunately, my felt skills are vast and mighty!

Sometimes, your designs just work out better in a different medium.
Anyway, you can check out all the new stuff at!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Costume Sale!

Costume Sale Purchase!
Green Costume Coat! Woo!

I went to Raleigh Little Theater's Costume Sale on Saturday, and it was all kinds of awesome. (It was also all kinds of warm, which I wasn't expecting.)

This coat was $25, and came with green pants (that do not fit nor flatter). When checking out I discovered it also included this tall hat with "OZ" embroidered on it! It was apparently the costume for the doorman at the Emerald City (or rather, doorlady, as the former costume-wearer was there)

More purchases were made, of nicely priced mundane things, like $2 bloomers and a variety of cheap aprons, but they're all pretty much overshadowed by this coat. This Coat! It's very thick, so I'll have to figure out something chilly to wear it to.

I need to find more local theater costume sales!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Find! Etsy's lovechildboudoir

One of Lovechild Boudoir's Amazing Photoshoots

On Fridays, I'm gonna start showing you inspirations I've found online. This first week, I'm going to start out with a bang and show you images from Lovechild Boudoir!

Their shop combines the smoldering zip of burlesque steampunk carnival style goods. And so many stripes!

Bustle skirts, lingerie, coats, shrugs - it's enough to make a girl want to run away and join a time traveling circus!

Their customers include models and burlesque dancers from around the world.
AND I find myself mooning over their new bustle designs weekly.

Check out all the other delicious designs at lovechildboudoir's etsy shop.