Friday, September 30, 2016

Floss Backstock Storage

Dealing with my (ever growing) floss hoard- er, "collection" haha - has been an ongoing thing and subject of a handful of posts here already.

Last summer, I launched into making my own bobbins and storing my floss in plastic "bead boxes", or so I call them.  I had seen that's how my Granny keeps hers, and thought it was an awesome idea!

So that's how I've kept most of it, save for colors that I have a lot of, which have been stored in their original packaging, for multipacks,

or in plastic pencil boxes, for the loose skeins.  As I used up a bobbin, I'd find another skein of that color, if I had one, and wind it on.

That system was working okay, until...

The Great Floss Acquisition of 2016, as it shall forever be known.  I added 935 skeins (in 250 colors) to the collection.  I wasn't quite sure how I was going to store them, but started by winding one of each color onto my recycled bobbins and integrating them into the bead box system.  However, that still left me with several hundred skeins that were homeless.  I had sorted them into color groups, crammed into my pencil boxes and left it at that.

Until now.

First, after wondering if it was necessary - and finally deciding that it is - I started an inventory spreadsheet.  Until recently, I've done everything by color, the numbers on each skein don't mean much to me.  But I've been following some patterns lately (for things other than saddle pads designed in my brain)  and for those projects, the numbers ARE important.  I've had a couple of time consuming, frustrating sessions of digging through everything to see if I even have such and such number.  You'd think I'd have everything by now, but I don't!  I'm making due by using similar colors/numbers for the ones I'm missing and so far that's been fine.  I'm NOT looking to buy any more of this stuff for a good while.

An odd collection of random pencil boxes, crammed with floss, isn't a very useful solution.  And it would make doing inventory a nightmare (so far I've only inventoried my floss on bobbins).  So, a few days ago I was searching Pinterest (good ol' Pinterest..) for some ideas on how to deal with my backstock.

I settled on using this tutorial for inspiration and decided to give it a whirl.

The last few days I've been bagging the backstock skeins into snack bags, by number, or grouped with sequential numbers if I only have a couple of each, like 403 and 404 below.

Each has an index card, which I may write some information on later, or I might not, depending on how crazy I want to get with all of this.  They are mainly there to help keep a shape to the bag and not let things get all smooshed.

I quickly filled two plastic shoe boxes (all I had available) and..  I estimate I'm maybe only half way through.  Hmmm.

This morning, I went to the BX (base exchange) to check out their plastic shoe boxes.  They are a different design that the old ones I have, which vexed me, but I thought they were the only solution.  Unfortunately, they are even more tapered at the bottom and my snack floss bags won't even fit in them without significant smooshing (I took a bag of floss with me for size checking).

Next to the shoe boxes were these, the next largest size of plastic storage box.

Test bag indicated that they were way too big.  Sure, they'd fit in there, but a massive waste of space inside.  What to do?

It dawned on me to try standing them up.  Yes, that would work!  I can get two rows in each box with room for a divider and room to put the lid on.  Perfect!

So I bought two of these and I HOPE that alllll of the rest of the floss hoard will fit into them.  I also bought a roll of contact paper to line the bottoms, as per the tutorial.  I'm going to use some cardboard to make a divider.  Things might get fiddly until I get the boxes loaded - I don't want to permanently attach the divider I don't think.  But once the boxes are full, it should sit in there just fine between the rows I think.

The plan is to have additional dividers in the rows, by brand, and I'm thinking by number groups (100s, 200s, etc.) for the main batch -  which is Cosmo, a Japanese floss brand.

After everything is bagged by number, I'll add them into my inventory spreadsheet and then I should be good to go!

It may seem like a lot of work to get all of this sorted in such a way, but I think it will be well worth it when I don't have to spend so much time digging around to find such and such color and then determine how much of it that I have if working on a large project.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

An Awesome Sighting

Night before last I threw myself a bit of a pity party.  I was feeling like I sucked, my "work" sucked, etc.  I'll spare you the gory details.  Anyway, early yesterday morning I was sleepily scrolling through the Braymere blog, marveling at performance pictures from The Jennifer Show, when I came across this:

photo courtesy of Jennifer Buxton

I suddenly realized that Treats?! (the grey horse) was wearing the saddlepad that I stitched for Jennifer (along with the saddle and doll it was made to match).  That was really cool to see... but then...

Behind Treats...

That's a horse I painted!  I had no idea he was there showing and it was wonderful to see him pop up unexpectedly.

This picture made my morning, heck, made my day.

Pity party over, full speed ahead.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tiny Tuesday - Smaller Than Micro

I've already posted about Out of the Woods, one of the three horses that I painted to enter in The Jennifer Show.  However, I wanted to post about the other two, too.

They are...  tiny.

I've mentioned these little ones before, and talked about how I'd like to paint them sometime.  They are 1:72 scale cavalry figures.  I had no idea how they would turn out; I'd never painted anything so small and had only painted a few micro minis so far as anything below Stablemate size.

They turned out MUCH better than I'd ever hoped.

As usual, my pictures don't do them much justice, someday maybe I'll figure that out.

Without further ado, I present Admiral (bay) and Randy (chesnut):

Monday, September 26, 2016

Motivation Monday - No Old Nonsense

It's been a while since I've done a Motivation Monday post.  As always, I hope it is inspiring and that everyone has a great week!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Godzilla! ...Rice

Yesterday we took a trip towards Hirosaki (2 hours west of us) to see the rice art.  This was the last weekend to see it, as the rice fields in the area are being harvested now.  We had made it over there once last year, but got to the site just as they had closed.  This year Jeff was determined to see it, because, this year...  it was Godzilla!

Even standing in the viewing tower, 4 stories high, it was impossible to get the whole field in one regular picture.  There are two sites here.  One is two fields, separated by a road, but this field is one huge canvas.

So for the first time I tried to take a panorama picture with my phone.

Here's the view from ground level.

From different sides of the viewing tower, you could also see rock art.

I thought these were really neat too; made from lots and lots of small stones.

Our path back took us though the mountains.  The colors are just starting to change.

To close, here's a picture of Jeff on his steed, our transportation for the day.

He has done quite a bit of riding here this summer and I go with him every so often.  He's been learning a lot about some beautiful roads in his wanderings.  I enjoy riding with him, but I do miss having my own bike too.  We've window shopped for another bike and will most likely end up with (at least) one more for our fleet during our time here.  If it's one I can ride (as in short enough - my feet don't even touch the ground on the "horse" above), then I'll be able to do some two-wheeled exploring also.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Quick Post: Fun Little Project

Yesterday I finished up my latest cross-stitch masterpiece.

While I think this blog will be mostly horse (and some life) stuff going forward, I thought this was too cute not to share.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Make Good Art

Sad to say, I hadn't heard of Neil Gaiman until meeting Jeff.  Jeff is a big fan of his and I am now too.  I have not read nearly as much of his work as Jeff has, but I've enjoyed what I have read.  Also, I thoroughly enjoy listening to him read his own books in audiobook form.

A few years ago, I came across his commencement speech to the University of Arts in 2012.  I still like to go back and listen to it now and them.  I think that everyone, particularly anyone involved in art and being creative, should listen to it.

Here, I'll help:

(For a comic version of part of it, that the title of this post comes from, check out Zen Pencils)

I am, particularly as I get older I think, plagued by something..  well, I'm not even sure what to call it.  It's a strong feeling that everything has to be "just right" for me to do anything.  I have to have all the knowledge, all the supplies, before starting a project (and often it seems like I don't have everything, so I don't start - main problem: I'll never know enough).  I do love that, in the modern age - thanks to the Internet, we have an endless supply of information and resources at our fingertips.  An unquenchable thirst for knowledge is something I learned from my Granddad and I strongly feel that we never stop learning.

However...  information overload is paralyzing too.

Before the Internet, if I wanted to make something, I just did it.  I might use a picture or two out of a book for reference - or I might not.

Back then I made a lot of cool stuff!  Without the world of reference material at my fingertips.

References can be paralyzing.

Let's take horses for an example.  I really want to start sculpting horses and doing (and finishing!) more drastic customs (one of my favorite things).  I've been trying to learn more about anatomy and how to do things right ("right" is subjective, making things even more murky).  I keep telling myself that I don't want to start until I know more.... and more...  just a bit more...  then I'll start...

Of course, rationally, I know that it's ridiculous to think I can learn to do something, without DOING it, but... a lot of days, here I sit.

A few times I've started on a big project, only to find out partway through that I messed something up - due to lack of knowledge when I started.  The Epic, but stagnant, Stagecoach project is #1 on that list.  So what do I do?  Finish the project with the flaws?  Start over?  Abandon ship and work on something else? (last one being my answer to date)

Those experiences have led to this "I need to know more before I start" downward spiral.

Another "concern" (as if I need any more) is that I'd really like my "art" to be marketable.  Sure, I have had dreams of supporting myself by doing the things I love to do - who doesn't? - but I also don't want to be living in a house that's eyeball deep in things I've made, or feel like I'm doing it all for "nothing".

In order for certain things to be marketable (ie: model horses and related paraphernalia), certain standards "should" be met.  For live showing: accuracy on all fronts, and so on.

Arabian costumes are a HUGE interest of mine right now.  Well, they have been for many years, but I've really kicked it into high gear over the last several months, researching and collecting supplies to make them.  As another example of my problem: I've read that certain colors shouldn't be used (pink, for example).  So, I try to keep that in the back of my mind (with 5 million other facts) when making plans.  Of course, anyone paying attention might remember that my very first full costume IS pink, but there's a reason for that - more on it later someday.

Of course, there are pink costumes and presentation sets out there - I've seen 'em!  Not everyone is interested in showing - or accuracy.  Maybe someone really likes pink and doesn't care if it's "accurate" or not.  Maybe if I create a custom horse who's anatomy is wonky - but someone likes it anyway - that won't matter as much as I think it does.

Recently, I think I came up with the "solution".  I told a friend that I think the answer is to just make whatever I want to make.  When it comes to sales - marketing, and so on - if people like it and want to buy it: great!  If not, at least I made something that *I* like and, hopefully, learned something in the process - in order to make the next thing even better.

Sounds great to me.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, knowing a doing are two different things.  After years (!!) of making excuses, it will be hard to change.

I really want to make good art.  I know I'll have to make some crappy art first.

Above all, I just need to make some kind of art.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Kitchen Story

And now for something a little different... starring three new faces in the herd.


A new pony arrived today.

He appeared in the kitchen on my birthday.

"Birthday?  There's cake, right?  There better be cake."



"Who ate all the cake?!"

"Did someone say 'cake'?"



"Nope.  Nope.  Nope."


"Did someone say cake?"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cake Pony

Yesterday, my friend Holly came over to give me early birthday cake and a present.

Unknowingly, I was about to add to the horse herd.

I present...

Cake Pony!

She made me a gorgeous cake, topped with a pretty Schleich horse!  (I noticed that his colors also compliment the cake and pretzel fences quite nicely)

Freed from his grassy cake pasture, and all the green icing cleaned off, he is a handsome little guy.

When Jeff came home and saw him he exclaimed, "How did she find a Schleich horse that we've never seen?!  That is the prettiest one!"  He's been with me many times as I peruse Schleich, Safari, Papo, and such horses and other critters in toy stores.

Cake Pony (maybe that will be his name, though I think I could come up with something better..?) should fit in quite nicely here.

He didn't arrive alone though.

This pony was my actual present.

More on him in a future post.  Some of you may realize he looks a lot like a certain someone...