Friday, December 26, 2014

short-cuts, but only when desperate

I can still remember the year I had to admit that my winter holiday mailing list had grown too long to send original hand-made cards to each person on it. I was swallowed by guilt at the time, but the list grows longer every year.

Getting my favorite seasonal etegami made into glossy postcards by a professional printer is one solution that I've tried, but many of my friends and family have expressed a strong preference for the tactile qualities of original washi etegami. And hating to disappoint, I've cast about for a better solution to the problem. For a while I printed my chosen image on the thick washi cards that I generally use when I hand-paint the originals. This produced printed cards that were hard to tell apart from the original etegami, but I gave it up after it wrecked my printer head twice in two years.

Recently I tried printing my holiday etegami image on iron-on washi sheets. I sell pads of these on my Etsy shop and I always keep a stock for my personal use. They are intended for converting ordinary blank postcards into washi cards for etegami, but I never meant for them to be used with a printer. Still, the results were pretty good. They were thin enough to go through the printer without excessively burdening the printer head, and after I ironed them onto ordinary blank postcards they retained the soft, slightly fuzzy feel of washi. The self-adhesive washi sheets work well for this too, but they're a bit more expensive. I pass the sheets through my printer one sheet at a time to prevent their getting stuck inside.

Friday, December 19, 2014

digital downloads for great last-minute gifts

A great last-minute gift for yourself or someone else is the instantly downloadable ebook version of A Beginner's Guide to Etegami.

My collection of illustrated Scripture verses, An Etegami Sampler 2, is also available as a digital download. And if you prefer the print versions, these two books are available from my Etsy shop. Check out sample pages by clicking the links above.

And don't forget the high-resolution images of selected etegami that can be downloaded directly from my Etsy shop. You can use these images to make your own gift tags, book markers, place mats, greeting cards, and a huge variety of other items, as long as they are for non-commerical use. 

The greatest things about these digital gift options is that they cost nothing to ship and involve practically no waiting time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the sheep keep coming

I'm still working on year-of-the-sheep New Year cards for 2015. Even if I hadn't been born in the year of the sheep, I would still love to draw them. They come in such variety!

Friday, December 12, 2014

illustration friday (sea)

The shoe is soaked with sea water. It was the only thing the tsunami left behind when it took the child. The words translate roughly to: What the tsunami left behind.

This is an etegami from my earthquake/tsunami series, re-posted from May 23, 2011.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

etegami stones

I'm distracting myself by making little etegami stones. Except this one is so small, I couldn't get words onto it. I cut the images out of earlier etegami and glue them onto the stones. Bigger stones make nice paperweights, but they're harder to send through the mail system.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

illustration friday (light)

This is a Washi Collage depicting an oil lamp. The design incorporates a quote from the Bible (John 1: 1~5). Perfect for a Christmas card.  Prints can be ordered from Redbubble.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

bridging 12 years with a stamp

As you know, according to the Chinese/Japanese zodiac, 2015 is the year of the sheep. There are 12 animals in the zodiac cycle. The Japan Postal Service sells postcards printed specifically for New Years with stamps depicting the zodiac animal. The cards also come with a lottery number at the bottom so you can win prizes from the cards you receive (winners are announced in February), but that's beside the point. Notice the stamp they designed 12 years ago. A sheep knitting --and notice that the pre-printed cancellation mark is a skein of yarn! It appears that the sheep for 2015 has finally finished its knitting project. In the 12 intervening years, postage has risen by 2-yen because of the increase in consumer tax.

This photo was borrowed from an entertaining and informative website called Spoon & Tamago, Japanese Art, Design and Culture, which is well worth checking out.

NOTE: a friend pointed out something I had missed: "the current cancellation mark is circular knitting needles--two metal or wood needles connected by flex plastic! There is more--- the cancellation stripes have TWO knitting needles and one Crochet Hook!! What a great and secret design!

Friday, December 5, 2014

creative inspiration

I dearly love my art magazines. But great quality does not come cheap, and when you add overseas postage, the cost of a year's subscription to a good publication can shoot it far out of my price range. So my rules are (1) no more than one subscription per year, and (2) never subscribe to the same magazine two years in a row.

Over the years, I've subscribed to magazines about Nature, magazines about world literature, and magazines about creative cookery. But my long-term favorites are Gekkan Etegami (Etegami Monthly), published by the Japan Etegami Society, and UPPERCASE: "a magazine for the creative and curious," published four times a year from Canada.

For the past few years, I've been going back and forth between the last two. I've posted quite a bit about Gekkan Etegami on this blog, so my regular readers should be familiar with it by now. I don't think I've mentioned UPPERCASE before, but take my word for it, it is jam-jam-jam-packed with fascinating articles and great photos by and about successful artists and crafters from all over the world. I don't think there's an inch of wasted space in the whole magazine. Plus it's made with really thick paper and rich inks, and has the most wonderful inky smell when you open it up.

Now then, this is the time of year when I start wondering what I will subscribe to next. Should I go back to the magazine I subscribed to the year before last? (good choice) Or should I take the opportunity to discover something completely new? (great choice!) So I thought: why don't I ask my readers if they have a favorite magazine? Maybe it will be just the discovery that I am looking for. If you have a recommendation, please comment below, preferably with a link to a website that will give me detailed information. Thanks bunches!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

postage stamps for the holidays

I have a friend who loves etegami, but never paints them herself. She absolutely cannot resist buying cute postage stamps in the latest design whenever she comes near a post office. I benefit from this addiction because, each time she succumbs to it, she sends me a couple sheets of her latest purchase. I always reply to her with a thank-you etegami using one of her stamps. Win-win.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

etegami throw pillows

Yaaay! See what arrived in the post today: Three throw pillows I ordered from RedBubble, printed with etegami from my sheep series. I'm so very pleased with them.

Monday, December 1, 2014

christmas-y drink coasters

 I hosted an Etegami workshop for expat women at my house three days ago where we used corrugated cardboard to make Christmas cards and New Year cards. Our time was limited, and I wanted to focus on technique and tools for this non-traditional form of etegami, so we skipped a step or two by using images I had prepared in advance and photos that I had cut out from old interior decorating magazines.

Later, when I was sorting the leftover cardboard and images, I saw that none of the nutcracker doll photos had been used. So, while listening to the evening news, I began making holiday drink coasters from the leftover cardboard and images.

I did this the same way I'd taught my students to make cards, except that instead of cutting the cardboard into 4" x 6" postcards, I cut them into squares. I glued the images to the squares, then used a craft cutter to mark out the sections of paper that I wanted to peel off the top layer of the corrugated cardboard.

The point of doing this is to expose the "ribs" of the corrugated cardboard for a 3D effect. This also meant cutting along the edge of the image where it bordered the sections I wanted to peel away, so that the image didn't get peeled off by mistake. I wet the unwanted sections of paper by painting them with a paintbrush soaked in water. When the paper was wet enough, I took tweezers and carefully peeled it off the ribs. If any paper fuzz from the top layer stuck to the rib layer, I used the tweezers to remove it so that it didn't look sloppy.

I left enough of the top layer intact on each coaster to keep it from getting weak and floppy. I thought about adding words and putting my name stamp to each piece like I would do with my original etegami. But the images weren't my handiwork and I was too tired to choose words, so I finished up the project by pressing squares of clear self-adhesive vinyl film onto the surface of each coaster, making the tops, at least, water resistant.

It took only an hour to make 7 coasters. Now I'll have to find 7 people willing to come to our house at the same time so that we can use them. Let me know when you can come over. :)