Tag Archives: Organization

Ready, Rugosa


Moje Hammarberg: The actual plant is not this blinding, I swear.

I have two rugosa roses which I’m very fond of. Why? They require very little work. They have few diseases, and not only do I not need to spray them with anything, they would be damaged by spraying. This rose species tolerates a lot. The ‘rugosa’ regards their ridged leaves. Most of the flowers of the rugosas are tend to be simple single or double petaled blooms, and bear large orange hips. I have a Frau Dagmar Haustrup (sometimes ‘Hartopp’), and a Moje Hammarberg. I’ve grown the Haustrup in sunny California and in rainy Oregon with great success.

2013-05-08 15.57.56

The Frau

When most people think of roses, they are thinking of the hybrid tea roses, and then complain about how difficult roses are to grow. Ah no, I say, look at the rugosa. Then they object because the rugosa doesn’t come in orange, and they doom themselves to disappointment trying to begin growing roses with a hybrid tea (which is not to say it can’t be done, but really? All that for a stiff, low-scented bloom?).

It’s an illustration of using tools and methods suiting the skill level, and what is best suited to a situation. I don’t have a lot of time or energy to spray or debug, I like plants, but I’m not that into gardening. Half the project is preparation -this huge piece of wisdom I came by painfully, after many years of abandoned projects. I would try to sew clothes, sculpt busts, paint with watercolors without understanding darts, knowing how long to bake the Sculpey or how to lay in washes. I got a massive fail on most attempts and would give up, going back to what I did better.

I didn’t have an ‘a-ha’ moment as much as a slow realization. In my first degree (art) I took several etching classes. Before doing anything in that discipline the materials have to be prepared: the plate has to be beveled so it doesn’t ruin the blankets. The ground has to go on evenly so the lines don’t get messed up. The (expensive) paper has to be torn to the right size so as not waste any. Times have to be guaged for the acid bath or the image won’t look right. Hands must be washed or ink will get everywhere. And on and on.

After an ill-fated sewing project last year, I finally learned to make a muslin first, I found textbooks not only about darts but about making slopers too. I don’t think I’ll use Sculpey for much more than beads or buttons, but if I do, I’m getting a timer. When you get the right materials before starting, when have you the right rose, when you read the instructions first, the project is much more fun, less frustrating, and now I make fewer mistakes.

American Rose Society


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Filed under Life, Materials and Tools

The Great Fabric Book

Fabric Swatches in the Binder Like most of the art supplies in my life, I have too much fabric. It currently takes up a plastic bin, and overflows into the storage space. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s like my library, it’s stuck in an awkward place and there is a lot I’m never going to get to.

Which is why my swatch book came into being. It ‘s not much more than clips of material a couple inches wide stapled to a note card. I wrote as much information on the card (front and back) as I could think of. I included the composition (I have a lot of cottons), the weave, the date I entered it, and a short descriptions (for all those large patterned fabrics especially). Some of this information I had to to straight-up guess.

On the back I wrote how much I had of each (broke out the ruler for this one), whether it was pre-washed, where and when I’d gotten it, and then anything else that might be helpful. Some of the cloth came from old bed-sheets (good for muslins!), which had tags that told me everything I needed to know.

All of this I stuck in photo insert pages in a binder.

This project’s influence will, I hope, be two-fold: first, I need to know what is in that bin, without having to remove the contents. Second, it will help me prioritize the collection. This project promises to be tedious and time consuming. If I can’t be bothered to cut a bit off to label, I can happily get rid of it.

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Filed under Books, Colors and Images, Materials and Tools, To Do List

When to Fold? (On Giving Up)

Don't Worry. This is a muslin using an old bedsheet.

Don’t Worry. This is a muslin using an old bedsheet.

There is something to be said for being stubborn. To be an artist or craftsperson, you need tenacity, enough to see you to the end of a project. At some point (about the end of the second week of Nanowrimo) you will get discouraged. This can’t be any good you say, it’s cliche’d and badly made. You might push through, and your tenacity will have paid off.

Or not. In episode #12 of  Jason Brubaker’s Making Comics Podcast  (he also does the comic reMIND) they discussed knowing when it’s time to quit. Which got me thinking about Heinlein’s second rule of writing (you must finish what you start).

I started this jacket for a temp assignment interview, when I realized I didn’t have a suit. I had a pattern for a short jacket, and a skirt. I also had about three days before the interview. I knew from the start something extremely tailored would never work, because it’s impossible to make something professional looking in three days without any experience. I tried out the pattern before I bought any ‘real’ fabric luckily, and I knew by the middle of the second day this wasn’t going like I’d hoped. The project was abandoned and I bought something which worked (and got the assignment). Now there is no reason for me to finish the project. I don’t regret it — it will never be what I initially envisioned. Instead, I can focus my energy on to my navy blue knit dress.

There is tenacity and then there is trying to get a dead horse to run. When do you cut your losses and put a project out of it’s misery?  Knowing this is like knowing when something is done. It’s a matter of experience and a little luck (I had a printmaking teacher who would say you would have to lose something three times before you found it).

Heinlein’s Rules (for reference).


Filed under Follow-Up, Life

Organization makes Finishing Things So Much Easier

Last week, I bought two things. A stack of plastic boxes for my pens and pencils, and software for writing and organizing novels in progress– Scrivener.  In the interest of fairness: I had an winners code from last years contest and several good recommendations from fellow nanoers. So I had incentive to choose this software.

I did eight years of Nanowrimo, without the benefit of this software. I also never went back for deep edits. It’s easy to type out a first draft by just plowing forward. Never mind the characters that you introduced in chapter 2 never made another appearance, or the word ‘hello’ was invented with the telephone.   But if you want to go back, figure out how how to reintroduce the characters from chapter 2 (or even who they were), or correct the usage of ‘hello’, you are going to need to lay the narrative out and look at the pieces. Text producing programs cannot do that. They are for writing out words and pages. Once it gets past five pages or so the editing gets cumbersome. It’s like taking everything out of your closet and putting it back neatly, giving some away and throwing out the garbage.

The other purchase are a little more straightforward.
These were for my drawing supplies. I have it in my head to make a webcomic (remember this guy?). I have quite a lot of art supplies, but I needed the pens and pencil and erasers and rulers to be in a box at hand. A box that would hold them all and wasn’t being held together with rubber bands. That way I wouldn’t have to think of my materials when trying to wrestle with the stripes on my tiger.

Organization keeps me focused. It’s like a meditation to do before starting a project. I get my folders (virtual and otherwise), my pens and the proper eraser. I get the threads and the sketches I made. I’ll set up the framework for my project, and then all I’ll have to worry about is the creativity.



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Filed under Life, Links, Projects - Writing, To Do List

Woah. I Finished A Novel. (Sort Of)

So it’s been three years, but I finally finished my 2006 NaNoWrimo. It’s a story I’ve been working on in one form or another since oh, about eighth grade. Don’t worry, the thing has matured as I have and I expect it to mature more yet as I edit.

In some ways I’ve finished with the easy part — the easy part many people don’t finish. What the first draft comes down to is putting your butt in the chair and advancing the plot. If something doesn’t click, you can write it out in the next scene and write a ‘note to self’ to edit it later.

But the most important part is to write. The writing won’t be done all at once (the fastest I’ve ever done a draft is 30 days, that was part of a challenge and it was hardly the length of a usual novel: 50,000 words), so the best thing is to do a little ever time you get the chance. This may mean doing the same time every day, or like I did, in between everything else. I took a spiral bound notebook with me and wrote scenes on the bus, on my lunch hour, on the train, on the weekends. I wrote a lot of  other things in that notebook too, including bus schedules, phone numbers and grocery lists. Interspersed were pieces of my novel.  When I got home I would transcribe the latest bit of my story into the document in my computer.

I had to write the end of the story three times before I got one I could live with. There are a lot of loose ends to the narrative and I have a feeling I know what my next NaNoWrimo subject is going to be.

Something to keep in mind about writing though: everyone works differently. Find the thing that works for you. I may take a lot of searching. I can only write about what works for me.

So the “easy” part is done: now I get to edit this big fat mess. It’s a story I’ve been working on so long a yet I still love the characters — which I take as a good sign. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford the ink/paper needed to make a hard copy…

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Filed under Follow-Up, Projects - Writing


I was in Long’s today, for something else and I walked out with a new notebook. It isn’t high quality, and it only cost me three bucks, but it has each page divided in half: half for graph paper and half lined. It’s going to be my beading project book.

I found I needed one of these things about three minutes before, when I found a folder on the same aisle that came with a pad divided into “description,” “drawing”, and “actions for completion” on each page. I wanted the pad but decided that I had no need for the elaborate leather-like folder. Sadly, I couldn’t find the pad just alone. This composition-type notebook is the next best thing, Somewhere to draw my idea, and another place to list colors, materials, stitches, etc.

Let’s see, along with this “Beading Project Notebook” I have a notebook for:

  • General drawings, magazine clippings and ideas
  • Beading images and colors notebook
  • quick pen doodles (where I use obscene amounts of whiteout)
  • objective subjects (still life and landscapes), and developed ideas
  • Another general subject notebook used for printmaking class

I probably have too many, but I’ve found that If I have an idea or inspiration, I need to record it. Each of these notebooks has a quality level that applies to the subject it contains. For example, the objective subjects etc. notebook is a Moleskine notebook with thick creamy pages and a stiff cover. The quick pen doodles is really cheap, and the general subject notebooks are decent artist’s notebooks.  The feel of the paper helps me articulate the idea — whether it’s just exercises, or something more developed.

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Filed under Colors and Images, Inspiration, Life, Materials and Tools, New Ideas, To Do List


I organize. Actually I have a job which entails organizing. Since I organize things at least 7 hours out of five days of the week, I’ve developed a taste for it. Creativity certainly comes easier if you are organized. I’m not talking about the act of getting ideas –sometimes you need to throw the cards on that table and look for random patterns.  I mean in figuring out how to implement the ideas.  Get the idea then write it down, and when the idea has been fleshed out a bit all the materials to make it can be found without losing momentum.

I know I should keep myself better organized. I would get a lot more done. I do keep files on my computer religiously organized and my beads, which would be as someone once put it ‘bead soup’ if i didn’t. I was just organizing my beads and a beading materials last night, which inspired the subject of this post.

To keep myself and the myriad assortment of  brain waves that I get regularly, I keep lists. Lists upon lists.

Things I keep lists for:

  • To Do List
  • Stories I’m working on
  • Books I’d like to read.
  • Goals for the next month (or so)
  • Characters
  • Scenes (Not necessarily related to the characters above)
  • Colors in a picture I like
  • Colors that I like
  • Possible subjects for a themed necklace
  • Names (First and Last)
  • Websites
  • Possible posts for this blog
  • Songs that I want in the movie version of my story (dream big, right?).
  • Character attributes
  • Settings (again, not necessarily related any other story I’m working on)
  • Pen colors I’d like to buy
  • Things I need to do at work
  • How I’ve arranged all the files at work
  • Titles
  • Quotes
  • Bibliographies/sources (even for my own projects)
  • Ideas for ice cream flavors

Used to be I could remember a selection of things. I either got fat and lazy or old, probably both, but I started needing to write things down.  As long as I have compartments for things, be it pads of paper, beads, books, ideas, or colors, I can find them again. If I don’t have a place to put it, it becomes part of the ether, and is lost. Or lost and then found at some inconvenient time, like in the shower or after I’ve bought a new one.

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Filed under Inspiration, Life, New Ideas, To Do List