100 Days of Teacup (Set 2)

setting up a teacup photo

Teacups are still happening. Here is the second set of 20.

Day 21: Watercolour crayon

Day 21: Watercolour crayon, using old Caran d'Ache Aquarelle Neocolor II.

Day 22: Dots

Day 22: Dots, ink on paper.

Day 23: One continuous line

Day 23: One continuous line, red fineliner on paper.

Day 24: It'll do

Day 24: It'll do. Green fineliner on paper, along with my batch cooking plan.

Day 25: Packing with teacup

Day 25: Packing with teacup. Artline marker on cardboard. Packing began then, and is still going. Ironically, there are no teacups in this box.

Day 26: Felt cutout

Day 26: Felt cutout.

Day 27: One continuous wire

Day 27: One continuous wire. Used craft wire. This was meant to be a beaded teacup, but my beads were sealed up in a packing crate.

Day 28: Sketch on a paper fan

Day 28: Sketch on a paper fan. I regret using colour pencils - the surface was too bumpy. Next time, I will try felt tip markers or watercolours.

Day 29: A smallish cup

Day 29: A smallish cup. Used an Artline 231 tech drawing pen.

Day 30: Keynote shapes

Day 30: Keynote shapes. I spent 2 days designing presentations. Pretty bloody exhausted by the end of it, but day 30 needed a teacup.

Day 31: Teacup stamps

Day 31: Teacup stamps. Drawn in Acorn, printed by Australia Post's personalised stamps service. This is nice as a one-off treat, but generally terrible value. 20 custom local stamps cost $27, which works out to $1.35 a stamp. The service seems to target people having special parties or weddings, and I'm thinking for a party that special, you'd invite a lot of guests... that's a lot of over-priced stamps. Guess I won't be having a special party any time soon!

Day 32: Pastel version of stamp artwork

Day 32: Pastel version of stamp artwork.

Day 33: Drawing with the flat side of pencil

Day 33: Drawing with the flat side of pencil.

Day 34: A RimWorld teacup

Day 34: A RimWorld teacup. It's all fun and games until half your colony gets malaria, your hunter loses an arm in a snake attack, and a fat pirate decomposes in your strawberries cos no one will dig him a grave.

Day 35: My teacup-shaped todo list

Day 35: My teacup-shaped todo list.

Day 36: Washi tape and wire

Day 36: Washi tape and wire.

Day 37: Finger painting in Sketches (iPad)

Day 37: Finger painting in Sketches.

Day 38: Peas, glue and ink on canvas

Day 38: Peas, glue and ink on canvas. With most of my art supplies packed away, I'm relying on salvaging what I can from what's still lying around the house.

Day 39: Ink on tracing paper

Day 39: Ink on tracing paper. Yep, more salvaging. I found the tracing paper under a yet-to-be-KM'd pile of crap in a corner of the study.

Day 40: Photo stitch

Day 40: Photo stitch. A copycat of art @blaizey made for me. I used a lovely business card from Lovegrove Photography, which came inside a thank you card for supporting his wet plate collodion photography campaign.

So, that's the second set. I noticed an interesting psychological thing around day 32. My mind would frame the creation of a teacup like it's some huge undertaking. But in reality, even the more complicated pieces - like the washi sculpture and stamp artwork - didn't take much time. Hmm... or maybe they did, but I was in flow and did not notice.

Anyway, nothing in the last 20 days felt like it took a great deal of time or effort, and at no point did I feel unable to do recreational stuff like watching tv or playing games. When life tasks needed to take priority, I found I could compensate by figuring out how art could be integrated into those tasks. All I needed to do was remember and spare a thought - the rest seemed to follow on from there.

I wonder if expectation is the reason some people grow away from creative endeavours. Expectation that if you're gonna do something, it should be bonkers amazing. Then it's so daunting, you never even start. This, over years and years.

But just to hammer out a thing - good or bad, for the sake of experiencing its creation - there's no expectation there. You don't spend extra energy constantly checking yourself while you're doing it. You just do it, and then look upon the thing once it's done.

If the lesson from the first set was to regard perspiration ahead of inspiration, the lesson from this set is surely to jump in and try stuff while being comfortable with the idea of failure. You know, there are so many areas in life where failure is largely irrelevant. Making tiny teacups for 100 days is one of them. What else might be too?

My first soap

That I made, not that I've used. Of course I use soap GOSH.

Courtesy of Chisa, this is a photo of my first homemade soap, using the "Scrubby" soap kit. It's the equivalent of baking with a White Wings cake mix, but aaaaah~ it still feels special when you're using it. Very smell! So lather! Wow!!

The kit is a 'melt-and-pour', meaning it comes with pre-made soap, which you melt, mix with nice smells and other things, then leave in a mold to set. Let me show you...

cutting pre-made melt-and-pour soap

Cutting pre-made melt-and-pour soap.

soap chunks in a microwaveable container

Soap chunks in a microwaveable container.

partway through short-burst microwave melting

Partway through short-burst microwave melting.

melted soap with orange essential oil

Melted soap with orange essential oil. This is when you add the scrub powders too.

molten soap poured in a mold

Molten soap poured in a mold.

soaps cooling on a rack

Soaps cooling on a rack. Actually, they're already cool, but it's best to leave them for another 24 hours to get even more awesome.

wrapped homemade soap bars

Wrapped and ready to go! I thought baking paper would be a nice hipster decorative thing, but it was actually shit. Tape doesn't stick to it, and it doesn't fold nicely. Don't use baking paper.

This is 100% simple soaping for n00bs, which I am. Well, I was. I feel confident enough now to try making soap from scratch, but ah... all in good time. :)

We must catch up

a heron taking off from the water

It's been hard to sit and write lately, despite wanting to. I'm tired after work, and at other times preoccupied by little adventures. Tonight was set aside for Prison Architect, but instead I think I'll have tea and tell you what's been happening.

pumpkin soup with Gourdon

So, before we left for the farm, we turned baby Gourdon into food. Here he is as a pumpkin soup. Bland pumpkin soup. It turns out Jarrahdale pumpkins are nutty, almost squash- and zucchini-like in flavour. The pumpkin-ness is mild, so they are better suited to curries. Lesson learned. If you're making pumpkin soup, use Butternut or a fecking Kent (also known as Jap).

pumpkin curry with Gourdon

Gourdon also became a curry, the mild flavour working well with spices and chickpeas. I used too much cumin, which gives me a headache if I don't cook it for long enough, so whatever's left in the freezer will need a long, long re-heat time.

We meant to make pumpkin pie too, but what was left didn't last til we got back from holiday. I think we would have ended up with similar results to the soup. The next pumpkin adventure will need to be a sweeter breed.

electronics button panel

I finished my Arduino course, the projects book that came with the starter kit. This is what an electronics button panel looks like without the actual buttons on top. The little interlocked E shapes are non-touching ends of a circuit. When you press the button, it mashes a conductive material across the two E's, which closes the circuit and transmits the button-press.

That alone was mindblowing after a lifetime-thus-far of a) not knowing, and b) never even thinking to wonder. Imagine the exhilaration to then hack the buttons to make the device think someone pressed a button when really it was my computer sending a false signal. I felt briefly boss-like with a hint of cyberpunk.

Raspberry Pi 2, unboxed

So, now I am an expert n00b. I'm scared to fall into the trap of just reading a bunch of stuff and thinking it's as good as actually doing it, so my next project will be to set up an LED display board for some kind of computer machine. I'm excited to learn about power ampy volty chargey stuff, cos electricity never made sense to me til now. But bless my gentle, patient physics teacher for trying.

#listersgottalist fav. expressions

In April, I joined the #listersgottalist challenge, but stopped halfway because I wasn't enjoying it. There's nothing inherently wrong with the challenge, but some days - many days - I didn't find it interesting to answer questions.

I felt obliged at first to see it through, but then remembered it's important to be as good at quitting as you are at continuing. My newfound konmari habit kicked in, and I chose to focus all my art energy on #100daysofteacup, which I am really enjoying even though it's hard work.

It's awkward to convey what a difference the konmari approach has made in my life. Whenever anyone asks, I feel like that person you worry about for maybe having joined a cult. Everything making me happy nowadays can be attributed at least in part to this "life-changing magic of tidying up". The joy aspect is what hit home for me, but for a good summary of the practical tidy-up stuff, I quite liked Chisa's blog post on konmari. Go read it. :)

beans and rice at the markets

I've been batch cooking food in advance, and calculating the cost per meal given the total expense. The first batch turned out great. We got 14 meals at about $6.50 each. I'm on my second batch now, which has so far averaged at $7 a meal, with another week's worth of food left to go. This will be my part-time finance's saving grace.

The one downside is eating the same thing over and over. Even with takeaway and ad-hoc meals in between, it's... OK, it's not actually that bad except I made 3 bean-based dishes this time around, and things are not so elegant in the stomach area. Learn from my mistakes.

homemade meal

I was so very happy about this, though - this picture is of a totally homemade meal. Homemade baked beans, homemade (handmade) bread, and homemade ginger beer. And I ate it on a little wooden table Niaal made for me. :D

One day, I hope for this to be a totally homegrown meal too. I want to grow the beans and tomatoes, the flour and the avocado, the ginger and the honey. Maybe even make the plates and bowls they get served in. It's my dream to - not necessarily be totally self-sufficient and live off the grid like a mega-hippie - but to understand how stuff works and be able to provide when I choose to. Even tiny progress like this makes that feel attainable.

fantastically smooth bars of soap

And I did end up making some soap. I took a lot of photos, which I cbf editing now, so I will tell you about that another day. It was heaps fun, and not as scary as I thought, and I'm game to try making some from scratch once we're in a bigger kitchen.

All right, my teacup is empty. Time for a refill. Good night, friends. :)

100 Days of Teacup (Set 1)

The 100 Day Project, how to play

Earlier this month, I pledged to spend 100 days of teacup in #The100DayProject.

May I show you my first 20 teacups?

Day 1: A study of edges + shadows

Day 1: A study of edges + shadows. Pencil and watercolour crayon drawing of peppermint tea, enjoyed at Sydney Airport on our way home from the farm. The crayons still work nicely, even after 20+ years.

Day 2: Acrylic on canvas

Day 2: Acrylic on canvas. I wanted to try making textures with paint, as people have told me you can do with oils. Oils are nicer to work with, but I will stick with acrylic until I learn not to get paint on everything.

Day 3: Origami

Day 3: Origami. Original "teatime" design by Tomohiro Tachi. I followed the MrViolinPeter tutorial on youtube. It looks complicated, but if you can fold 45° angles, you can totally do this.

Day 4: Crochet teacup

Day 4: Crochet teacup. I was really pleased with this, even though I'm not in love with amigurumi. The free Lion Brand tutorial is easy-teasy. :) The base is weighted with beans, the rest is filled with wadding.

Day 5: Paper art teacup

Day 5: Paper art teacup. A friend gave me a stack of beautiful washi paper, which I left untouched in a box of precious things. I found it again while KMing and decided it was time to help those beautiful papers fulfil their life purpose.

Day 6: Doodle on a napkin

Day 6: Doodle on a napkin stolen from a whiskey workshop at Whipper Snapper Distillery. If you're in Perth, love whiskey, and enjoy learning interesting things, go sign up for the 2-hour workshop. You learn about distilling, get to do some tasting - and The Royal is close enough for some good food after.

Day 7: Off-hand

Day 7: Off-hand. Felt-tip on paper. I have a drinking game I like to play with people. The first part is to get nicely sozzled and draw a teacup with your non-dominant hand. I wasn't drunk for this, though. Usually it doesn't go as well.

Day 8: Off-hand, eyes shut

Day 8: Off-hand, eyes shut. Marker on paper. The second part of the game is to shut your eyes and draw with your non-dominant hand. Once in a while, things look how they were meant to.

Day 9: Jute and glue

Day 9: Jute and glue. Because the glue took so long to dry, this took 3 days to complete. It stinks of PVA. I'd like to explore this more if I could find a less smelly adhesive.

Day 10: Layered pop-up card

Day 10: Layered pop-up card. Definitely something to be said here about using good quality materials. I used glossy labels salvaged from bedsheet packaging - annoying to work with. It might be fun to try again with nicer paper.

Day 11: Chalk pastel on paper

Day 11: Chalk pastel on paper. Again, good paper will make a good experience.

Day 12: Tea from a passionfruit shell

Day 12: Tea from a passionfruit shell. Even though I'm used to seeing Chinese and Japanese teacups, I don't find them very teacuppy without the other parts of a tea set. So I got a pot of tea and our last biscuit. It was nice. There was a hint of passionfruit aroma. :)

Day 13: Body paint on skin

Day 13: Body paint on skin. Neshka from Little Magic - Art & Design let me try her face paint. This is a lovely type of art. And the very temporary nature makes it feel so delightful. I would probably feel differently if I was covered in it, but something tiny like this is OK.

Day 14: LED dot matrix display

Day 14: LED dot matrix display. I was working on a LED display for a project; a teacup emerged. The Freetronics DMD is great. It comes with the cable, you just plug it into the arduino - so easy. I expected to struggle, but it only took an hour-ish to get the software, play around, then make the picture appear. That includes the nervous procrastination preceding all my projects. A more experienced maker could do it in half the time.

Day 15: Charcoal on paper

Day 15: Charcoal on paper. Some study of light and shadow. I did the top wrong. I know. :(

Day 16: Watercolour

Day 16: Watercolour. This was fun. Watercolour, let's date each other.

Day 17: Ink fingerpainting

Day 17: Ink fingerpainting. Normally, I try to prevent ink from getting on my fingers. But the stamp pad was just there. Finger was still black the next day. B-, would fingerpaint again, but won't use ink.

Day 18: Puff pastry and mozarella

Day 18: Puff pastry and mozarella. The fails are in the background. Beauty only matters for the photo. They were all equally yummy.

Day 19: Mouth drawing

Day 19: Mouth drawing. This felt weird. I think you have to use your tongue for finer control, but I didn't want to get licky with my pen. It's hard with a fineliner, cos too much slanting lifts the tip off the page. This could be worth trying with a paintbrush.

Day 20: Foot drawing

Day 20: Foot drawing. Also feels weird, also want to try with a paintbrush.

"Show up, show up, show up," says one of the posters for #The100DayProject. After 20 days of showing up, I realise art is more about perspiration than inspiration. Ideas flow fast and free when you're in the right state of mind, but it takes discipline and perseverance to turn it into something you can behold.

There are days my discipline wavers, but I want to make it to 100. It's like exercising muscles. I want to come out the other end with the creative process feeling like the natural course of things. I am still nervous about art, but starting to feel more confident.

The bit I enjoy most is having an excuse to try new stuff, or try new ways of doing old stuff. I don't know what you call these things. Art forms? Mediums? Some of them I've wanted to try for ages, but never got around to it. This is wonderful incentive.

I'll post sets here every 20 days, but if you'd like to follow the days, check out my instagram or 100 Days of Teacup album on Facebook.

So, that's it for now. 80 days to go.

Waaaaaaah~ 80 is a such a big number. T___T

Why I blog

quiet nook in a book store

Recently, a friend asked why I blog. I've been blogging since the 90s, so this question comes up a lot, yet it still catches me off guard. I ask myself all the time and end up second-guessing the answer.

This is maybe due in part to growing up in the 'teen domain scene', a period on the internet from 1997 to 2003, which was when I started blogging. We didn't call them blogs then; they were online journals. You were a journaller, or a diarist.

This was before Wordpress, or even Blogger. Think back to Livejournal and Xanga. Then further back to Diaryland. Then even further back to when it was something to brag about if you did it all with raw HTML by hand in Notepad (not even Dreamweaver or Hot Dog), then copypasted, uploaded or FTP'ed your updates online.

And at first, it wasn't even a journal that I kept. It was my site news, where I'd include thoughts and bits of what went on in my life. No archives. Just a page. So primitive.

I don't say this to show you how cool I am, but to give you an idea of the times. We were naïve, exploratory, adolescent webmasters... webmistresses? The scene was very female domainted, which makes me apprehensive about the "shortage of women in tech" problems I hear about today. If you chatted on forums, if you ran your own site, if you had AOL Instant Messenger, you'd connect with hundreds of girls like you, and be part of the scene. The evolution of personal websites in that era mirrored our teenage optimism and drama.

It wasn't actually called the 'teen domain scene' until later, when top-level domains suddenly became affordable and accessible for whomever. Kids my age and much younger were buying domains with stylish names, and hosting their friends. If you were hosted on a private domain (ie. not Geocities, Angelfire, Tripod, etc.), you were regarded in the upper echelons of our society.

Today's Domain Online, 2001

This screencap is a section of Today's Domain Online from 2001. If the scene was a town, the market square was discussion forums (UBB!) and AIM. Today's Domain Online would have been a combination of the town hall, local paper, and noticeboard.

Most of the girls in the scene were into writing, myself included. Fiction, poetry, rants, essays, journal entries, etc. I had favourite writers/webmistresses, who happened to like my stuff and each other's stuff too. Consequently, we kept in contact and linked to each other's sites. Normal, right?

But you know how things go in a crowd full of teenage girls. People started to view us as an exclusive clique. They called us the "inner circle" like we were all super cool best friends who were too good to hang out with anyone else. In reality, I think only 2 of the group were best friends irl. In case you're unfamiliar, 'irl' means 'in real life' - back then, your online life was considered separate to your offline (real) life.

There was nothing special about our group. We just got on, enjoyed writing, worked on our sites, and fangirled over cute boys and girls - never bothering with exclusivity and cliques. At least that's how I remember it.

And I remember when I got invited to a super cool private domain by one of the "inner circle" girls. The owner found it so stupid that a private domain raised your social status, and how everyone made a big deal over who was getting invited and who wasn't. So she registered uninvited.net and invited her friends as a tongue-in-cheek statement that getting hosted privately only meant you had a friend who used dad's credit card that one time. I'm pretty sure we were the only ones who appreciated the joke, but she was a sweetheart so it was FUNNY.

Well, now you see the emotional pressure cooker we grew up in, full of nuance you can only navigate if you're a teenager. So if you imagine the growing trend of publishing your life amidst the angsty, moody undercurrent of youth, you can understand my inner turmoil over blogging.

Because of course if you share anything personal, you're doing it for the attention. And omg if you say something that stands out just a little bit, then don't update for a while, your supporters worry you attempted suicide, and your detractors are scathing in their criticisms. This kind of thing happens to adults too for sure, but as an adult, you're more aware of the alternatives, and more accustomed to your hormones. At 16, 17, even 18, it can be overwhelming.

I don't mean to blame the scene for my insecurities. Just that whatever tendency for self-doubt I started with was surely amplified by these colourful and precarious, very cerebral, teenage years. Some insecurities hang around a while.

Over the years, I've faced cynics who will find negative reasons for everything I do or represent. I've encountered pessimists who artfully suggest I shouldn't share because they themselves don't, despite having "always wanted to try". I've dealt with paranoids and creepers, who think I'm sending secret messages to them in my blog posts. And garden variety snarky types who only ever cluck amongst themselves, so are generally harmless if you don't pay attention.

All this makes me hyper-aware of the consequences of sharing, so I constantly question my motives. If you do A knowing B will happen, does that mean you do it because you want B to happen, or are you only concerned with A? The answer, in practice, can be so complicated and sensitive to context.

I shouldn't be one-sided here. The good experiences far outweigh the bad. People are, for the most part, so supportive. I've had email accounts suspended because they filled up with too many nice messages (thanks, Rocketmail). I've gotten touching letters from young people who tell me they got into art or design because they were inspired by me and my work. Hearing that from a stranger is humbling, a huge wake-up call to try and be more responsible and brave.

What gets me most is hearing from people who got through a tough time after reading what I shared about going through a tough time. That gets me right in the feels. It gives suffering a purpose.

top 10 best moments in life

So, why do I blog?

There are practical reasons - practising writing and photography, keeping records, having a point of reference for my hobbies and thoughts, sharing knowledge, etc. And if that's the kind of answer you want, there's no need to read any further. It's all true, and the benefits are useful. I'd encourage anyone, especially creative or thinky people, to blog for this reason. Or at least keep a diary, if you don't like stuff in the public eye.

That's the real question, isn't it - why keep a public blog when a private diary will do? I keep many offline diaries, yet still publish a blog online.

There's this idea that as social creatures, humans are driven toward empathy - that's giving and getting. A private journal gives you a way to express, examine, and crystallise your thoughts away from bias and premature judgement, but it doesn't demand the level of accountability and consideration of things shared with other thinking, feeling individuals. When blogging, the act of creating for a shared space forces me to think about what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, who I'm doing it for, and how I put it into action.

It's not so much presenting only your best self for appearances' sake, though I'm sure that happens too. It's more that I'm always going to be myself by accident, so it's nice to learn how to do it considerately. It's an ongoing project in crafting the self from the inside out.

I also blog because I've been introduced to so many things via other people's blogs - things that made me look at life in new ways, and expand the boundaries of what I believe is possible. I've connected with people who hit the same obstacles I do, and in relating to their battles, I can get through mine. So, sharing is a way to contribute knowledge back into the pool, so others like me can find comfort.

Once upon a time, I feared this was a sugar-coated cover for being an attention-seeker, but now I realise 'attention-seeker' is actually the cop-out used by frightened people to avoid being brave and compassionate. Becauase it is scary being brave and compassionate. When you let your walls down to help others, you're vulnerable to attack.

Blogging with these motivations means I'm accumulating a site that is more or less an extension of my self. Which means I have a way to look at myself from the inside and the outside. At the risk of sounding conceited, I do read my own blog, and subscribe to it in my own feeds. I'm not famliar with "know thyself" philosophy, but as a concept and life pursuit, it feels important. I feel knowing myself will help me fare better in the world, fit more neatly into situations, and do right by others without ending up depleted. I blog as a way to contemplate the world and how I fit into it.

This has been a very long blog post on probably the most overdone, most boring topic to blog about. I still prefer to call it online journalling, and it's been part of my life for a very long time. This site in particular is more than a decade old. I ruminate often, and spend much time introspecting - blogging feels natural to me, maybe for that reason. Or maybe it's just habit now.

I get excited when people tell me they've started blogging, or are thinking of starting. In my experience, it's great for re-centering. Some people aren't into writing for themselves, so the presence of an audience can spark self-expression and clearer self-reflection. This is a fast and noisy fucking world, and we all have to make it from birth to death in ways that suit us individually. So I feel happy for people who take on projects that might settle the agitation within.

I do feel guilty about being happy. The innermost feelings of others are none of my business. But I guess if someone puts them online, it means they're OK with sharing. We can connect over very human feelings and moments, as considerate extensions of ourselves.

This feels nice. :)

Say your name and what you do

dismantled calculator buttons

This weekend, I played an icebreaker game, where you state your name and occupation for the group. Once upon a time, it was so easy; I could say "web designer" and that would be that. But I'm not one of those any more.

I haven't been one for a few years, actually, so I've felt awkward about this game for a while. A few things ran through my head this time. "Unemployed bum haha", but I start my new job tomorrow, so that would be a lie. My job title makes it look like "I work in marketing", but that's the minority of my week, so that's not true either.

This made me realise how compelling it is to define yourself by what someone pays you to be. What if you could afford to not work - what would you say then?

I could have said artist, but that's such a loose word. I believe everyone is an artist in their own way. I often say maker online, but typing it to people who understand is different to saying it out loud to people who very fairly might not. In retrospect, I should have said "cat minder" - that would have been the most accurate.

But after all that, I still defaulted to "web designer". I am disappointed with myself, because I did not mean it. It's my fast, no-think response, so leaning on it reinforces a habit of complacency. In all my side projects and activities, I don't pay enough attention to relating my self and passions to others, which has caught me out before. I know I must do better there, and this game was a reminder to keep at it.