NaNoWriMo Preparation

This event with the group supports helps to get writers to write and explore their potential. I fully recommend it. http://nanowrimo.org/

This event with the group support helps to get writers to write and explore their potential. I fully recommend it. http://nanowrimo.org/

It is two weeks before the NaNoWriMo writing event starts in November.  This will be my fourth time participating in this event.  I have never made the goal of 50K, but each year despite all the stupid stuff that happens to me, I do improve each time.  This time I will be working on a new story.  And I will be taking a completely different approach to this time’s story than the Knight School Journal.

The Knight School Journal is about a boy on a journey of finding out that there is more to life than what he had originally thought and that he has the potential to be more.  The story is about Templar Knights, which despite what some may think, they are not gone and were not murdered out of existence.  They survived.  The hero of my story despite the many small and a few major challenges set before him will also learn that he can survive too.  But what is different about this story and the one I plan to write is that I wrote the Knight School Journal without any planning.  The story just came to me, and now I am at a point about halfway through, that I need to make some decisions and I need time.  So I need to work on a new story for this year’s event.

With characters like these one needs to be able to tell a story that goes with it.

With characters like these one needs to be able to tell a story that goes with it.

My new story came out of curious origins.  It came out of a costume for Halloween.  Needless to say, I have not been shy about my love for Star Wars and for having fun designing and building costumes.  So after I made the costume, I discovered I needed an explanation to go with my gear.  Who was I?  Why do I look the way I do?  I was not a scripted Star Wars character.  I was a Jedi, but I looked different, which meant explaining things.  Well, one  starts to explain one aspect and then one starts thinking and imagining what were the events involved concerning such a character.  And before you know it, you have a story.

The ideas kept coming forth without any effort as if the story wanted to be told.  I came up with names and backgrounds for my husband’s Mando merc character and decided to use the Canon character Gungi for our best pal, who dresses as a Wookiee.  So this is what I have been outlining for the past couple of months and have decided to use for my novel this November 2015.  I will write my Star Wars story.  I will finish it.   As to whether I will finish the whole thing in November – I have my doubts about that, but I think I can get a big chunk of it written in November.  50K words would be an ideal amount to write and perhaps more.  To be truthful, I don’t think the writing part will be the biggest battle, it will be getting published.  Being published is my goal and dream for this work.  I want it to be published as a Star Wars Canon piece of work.  I have already done hours of research and reading to prepare the outline.  I have re-watched the Clone Wars and the movies to get answers and ideas.  And now I am closely watching the Star Wars Rebels series as well.  I want this to compliment the stories that have already been told and work well with the ones to come.

I would like to suggest to any NaNoWriMo participants who are having a hard time getting inspired about what to write – if you do Cosplay or like dressing up in Halloween costumes, then perhaps you can find your inspiration in the costumes you select.

Keep checking in, and I will keep writing about the projects that  inspire me.

Gretchen Winkler ©2015

 

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Posted in Star Wars, Writing

Clone Troopers and Sumac

Fall CT 01 1000wEvery Fall the sumac leaves turn amazing colors of reddish orange, and I really love looking at these colors each year.  They last for a very short time, so I often feel the urge to photo them just to preserve those colors for a bit longer just in case I wish to look upon them again.  And then I realized that I have been negligent in posting anything much lately.  So….. I decided to put two things I enjoy together in my photos.

Now mind you that not all these pictures are award winning shots, but they are fun and can be a source of inspiration.  Lot’s of “what ifs” come to my mind.  I am a fan of the Clone Wars series and some shots remind me of the amazing planets where the Clone Troopers fought alongside their Jedi Knight companions.

Fall CT 02 1000w

Fall CT 03 1000w

This was a fun angle to shoot from.

This was a fun angle to shoot from.

 

I wonder what Commander Cody is looking at.

I wonder what Commander Cody is looking at.  Perhaps he saw me hovering above taking the previous shot.

Fall CT 06 1000h

Anakin always looks so intense. This is reflected especially in the action figure made of him.

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Fall CT 08 1000w

Trying out different angles and careful cropping can make some pictures better.

Trying out different angles and careful cropping can make some pictures better.

 

I have often contemplated using these pictures for the basis of an actual painting. Some I have used for drawing exercises. Either way, it is good practice for composition and contrast.

I have often contemplated using these pictures for the basis of an actual painting. Some I have used for drawing exercises.  Either way, it is good practice for composition and contrast.  I hope your Fall days are filled with inspiring images.

G. Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Digital Photography, Star Wars

A Swedish Jedi Robe?

Jedi Robe with Clone Trooper Helmet - "Hey there, how yah doing?"

Jedi Robe with Clone Trooper Helmet – “Hey there, how yah doing?”

So it’s that time of the year again when the weather cools down and the leaves start to turn warm shades of Autumn and one starts thinking about the holiday season that starts with Halloween.  Ah the joy of putting together the perfect costume for a night of pretending to be something else, or perhaps something that is more like our true selves inside.  Either way, it means costuming.  So I thought I would give my two cents worth this year and try and make something using an alternative material.  And since I am still in a hardcore Star Wars mode, (I am working on a Star Wars novel that I hope to get published and okayed by the people at Lucasfilm and Disney), I choose to make a Jedi Robe.  You know that traditional iconic covering that Jedi wear that is necessary to pulling off a truly authentic looking character from the Star Wars Universe.  So often I see these robes done in what I call the bed sheet Jedi costumes.  Most of the store bought costumes are of such materials, but if you truly take a close look at the actors from the movie, the robes are not made of thin cotton weave.

ThreeJedi

Take a look at the picture above.  We have three Jedi dressed in their traditional garments and neither of them look like their garments are made of thin cotton bed sheet like material.  The robes, vests, and undershirt garments all have a richness in texture and color.  Anakin’s is partially out of leather while Mace’s appears to have a  heavy linen quality.  And all three of them appear to have their robes made out of wool.  So why are there so many people making Jedi robes out of thin cotton?  Cost and availability.  Wool can be very expensive and depending upon where one lives, the variety of the types of wool available may be limited.  So what can one do about this?  Try and find other types of material that may work.  I actually made the vest piece for my own costume out of upholstery fabric, but it is heavy, somewhat cumbersome, and generally not washable.  It also doesn’t flow well so it would make a poor Jedi Robe.

Jedi Robe 02 1000hSo one day while in IKEA, I spotted these blankets.  There was a variety of choices of texture and color that were perfect for a Jedi’s Robe.  I started to wonder if it was even possible to make a Jedi Robe out of these blankets.  Would it be cost effective? Was there enough fabric?  Well, now I can answer those questions – it was about $50.00 to make this Jedi Robe.  It was also not enough material to make a tall or large person’s robe.  It would be more ideal for a child or small adult.  Three of these blanket rolls are required and this is a project not for the impatient sort of person.  The blankets like to fray or unravel since they are loosely woven.  And after this experience I have made a list of ideal things you may wish to have access to before trying this.

 

  1. Serger or Babylock machine to keep the edges from coming apart.
  2. A sewing machine is a must.
  3. Thread and sewing needle for hand sewing certain parts
  4. Pins with long needles and really big heads like the ones that quilters use.  Small pins will disappear into the blanket fabric and possibly slip out.
  5. Large clean flat space to lay the blanket out
  6. A measuring tape and long straight edge ruler or yard stick.  Meter sticks for those in country’s not still in the dark ages.
  7. Sharp Scissor for cutting fabric.
  8. A Vacuum to clean up the mess you will make.
  9. A simple pattern that does not require too many cuts into the blanket.  I used a pattern I found on the Internet and unfortunately I do not know the name of the designer of this very practical and useful pattern, but here it is for those who may wish to use it.  It links back to this page – http://www.forum.rebellegion.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=36267

1JediRobePattern

This is an awesome pattern that can be altered to any individual’s size if you do the math correctly.  Sorry no Common Core – this needs to be accurate if you want good results.  I have used this pattern to make two different sizes of wool Jedi Robes and I have been pleased with the results.  And I will make another one in the future.

Here are a series of photos taken during the making of the Jedi “IKEA” Robe that will hopefully make this process less stressful or perhaps you may simply rethink the idea of actually doing this.  I know I would want a serger to use and more space to lay out the blanket.  I also would not make it for a large person either as I had originally done.

Some basic tools needed for this project

Some basic tools needed for this project.  Ignore the dog that wanted to be in the photo. :)

 

I laid on piece on top of the other to make sure both sides would be symmetrical.

I laid one piece on top of the other to make sure both sides would be symmetrical.  Please note the second blanket was bigger than the first one, which does cause some engineering problems later.

 

My Mom has a special ruler that is good for the neck shape part of the pattern, but other patterns or t-shirt might aid in getting the right shape.

My Mom has a special ruler that is good for the neck shape part of the pattern, but other patterns or a t-shirt might help in getting the right shape figured out.  Remember that this is half of the neck area.

 

I used a Sharpie pen to mark the area to cut and then pinned it so that the fabric would not shift.

I used a Sharpie pen to mark the area to cut and then pinned it so that the fabric would not shift.

 

Sew along the cut edges of the blanket so that it will not fray so quickly and fall apart.

Sew along the cut edges of the blanket so that it will not fray so quickly and fall apart.

 

Start sewing together the pieces carefully. As you can see from the photo that the edges are starting to really fray. Dog is trying to supervise the project without much luck.

Start sewing together the pieces carefully.   As you can see from the photo that the edges are starting to really fray.   Dog is trying to supervise the project without much luck.

 

Cut out the hood part. Try and make good use of any already hemmed or selvage edges that will not require any extra work.

Cut out the hood part.  Try and make good use of any already hemmed or selvage edges that will not require any extra work.  I used the hemmed part of the blanket for the front opening of the hood.

 

Hand sewing will be necessary to make the garment look nice. Don't be afraid to put a little extra work into making it look good. It will pay off.

Hand sewing will be necessary to make the garment look nice.   Don’t be afraid to put a little extra work into making it look good.   It will pay off.  There were some places where hand sewing was necessary and not possible with a sewing machine.  Make sure you make the knots secure or else the thread make slip loose.

 

I had to add length to the robe to make it big enough for an adult male. This required me to do some odd stuff. It is not a perfect looking garment, but it has a rustic and almost used quality about it that is very much like the Star Wars Universe of characters.

I had to add length to the robe to make it big enough for an adult male.  This required me to do some odd stuff.  It is not a perfect looking garment, but it has a rustic and almost used quality about it that is very much like the Star Wars Universe of characters.

 

Some sections along the hemline looked awful and I had to do things to make it work.

Some sections along the hemline looked awful, and I had to do things to make it work.

 

Here's how it looks from the front.

Here’s how it looks from the front.  Note this Jedi likes to wear Hawaiian prints for his under garments.  ;)

 

Back view

Back view

This really has the potential to be a nice textured looking Jedi Robe.  The IKEA blanket would lend itself to making a more rustic care worn looking garment.  This could be done by leaving the exposed fraying edges to look as if damage had happened due to age or combat.  One could also leave the robe shorter if they were to take this approach as if something had happened to lose the original length of the garment.

In the end I am glad that I tried this project.  It had interesting results and I learned to be patient and cautious with the loose weave fabric.  Hope you have good results on your Star Wars Halloween or Cosplay projects.

Gretchen Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Costume, Halloween, Star Wars

Clones Wars meets the Beach

Beach banner 2015 1000wI finally decided to take some time away from the stress of waiting for something to happen and go to one of my favorite places – the beach up at Lake Tahoe.  This was the one place I missed when we moved away from Reno, Nevada.  I love Lake Tahoe.  It was a place where my grandparents lived and my Mom grew up during her teen years.  And then as a teenager, I spent many pleasant hours with friends hanging out at the beach.  So for me Lake Tahoe is spiritually inspiring and revitalizing.  It will be the one place that I will sorely miss when the day comes when we move away again.  And we will leave here as soon as a viable opportunity arises.  But I digress from the intended topic of my blog…..

This scene has the Clones and and Anakin wondering if they made it to the right location.

This scene has the Clones and and Anakin wondering if they made it to the right location.

The topic is the beach, digital photography, and our amazing collection of Star Wars actions figures that are just waiting to be the subject of amusing situational photos.  And what better way to pull oneself away from depression than having fun with Star Wars actions figures.  These Hasbro Black Series 6 inch figures have proven themselves to be very inspirational for creative fun and just plain digging oneself out of the dregs of gloom and doom.  They have proven themselves before and are doing it again.  I hope that sharing my joy with these figures will brighten someone else’s day as well.  They have already proven to be approved by my Twitter followers.

Here Commander Cody explains to General Skywalker that the Clone is simply blending in with the natives.

Here Commander Cody explains to General Skywalker that the Clone is simply blending in with the natives.

Clone Wars Beach 07phone 1000w

In the upper right corner – I should crop those people out because they are too big to maintain the illusion that the action figures fit into the scene.

Here is where Commander Cody and Anakin Skywalker join the other Clone and hope that Master Obi-Wan Kenobi will not be too mad when he shows up.

Here is where Commander Cody and Anakin Skywalker join the other Clone and hope that Master Obi-Wan Kenobi will not be too mad when he shows up.

So what is the secret of taking such pictures?  First one has to ignore the fact that one might look foolish playing with toys in public.  Not everyone will approve.  Ignore them.  This is about creating a scene that will invoke some kind of emotion for those that will view these pictures.  It’s just like a fine art project except no one will be impressed with your tortured soul.  They will think you are a nerd, geek, loser, and whatever other judgmental adjective that may cross their minds.  Once again ignore them.

The next consideration is that you might need to get into strange positions that may be less than dignified.  I am sure many professional photographers already know about this.  For these beach pictures I needed to lay flat on my stomach with my face towards the water front.  I find that laying down low at the figure’s eye level makes the pictures more interesting so that we are viewing the world from their perspective.  This will draw the viewer into the action figure’s world.

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Clone Wars Beach 05phone 1000

And this is where the three Republic guys are happy that the goose is not a Separatist Goose.

And this is where the three Republic guys are happy that the goose is not a Separatist Goose.

The next bit of advice is take more than one shot.  This is digital photography and you can throw away those messed up unwanted shots without feeling bad about wasting film.  Also when composing your photo think about what is being seen.  Is something important being blocked?  Are the characters at good angles?  Do you need to adjust them?  When I prepared for this scene I tried to make sure that no unwanted items appeared in the shots except one does not always have control over the wild life as you can see with the goose.  The goose kinda reminded me of some kind of organic AT-AT on the prowl across the beach.  Perhaps a bit more like the AT-STs – you know the two legged armored walkers seen in Return of the Jedi.

And practice is really the best advice I can offer.  Keep trying and evaluate what you do like  and don’t like about the pictures you take.  This goes for any subject matter that you may wish to photo.

Oh, and I guess one more thing…. May the Force be with you.  :)

G. Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Digital Photography, Star Wars, Travel

Back to School with Color Pencils

Crayola Banner

Drawing I did with the ink pens I obtained the previous year.

Drawing I did with the ink pens I obtained the previous year.

Traditionally back to school for the younger ages starts in the US around early September or late August when the temperatures used to cool down and the leaves would start to turn to the warm tones of Autumn.  So the mad dash for most parents is to obtain the materials for their children’s school year.  Many of the big box stores put out huge displays that are ready to entice the school year shoppers with pens, pencils, crayons, paper, backpacks, rulers, and so forth not to mention the clothing needs for attending school.  So since these displays are so successfully enticing and I don’t have any children to purchase items for, I find myself looking at what is available with myself in mind and sometimes purchasing these items that are generally for a reasonable price.  Last year I bought some colored ballpoint pens that turned out to be wonderfully fun to make practice drawings.  I even bought a second package just in case I used them up.

Dr. Zeumer - my Zebra psychologist character.

Dr. Zeumer – my Zebra psychologist character.

This year a package of 36 Crayola Colored Pencils caught my fancy.  I love to draw and have enjoyed doing so since I was very young.  Wax crayons had been a part of my childhood and so was the Crayola brand.  So this item seemed like a good purchase.  What I did not realize was how much I would really like these very affordable color pencils.  Normally, as an artist I prefer my Berol Prismacolor pencils that I find yield the best results for doing fine art, but I don’t like to waste these pencils on doing practice sketches, so I had bought a set from Michaels for doing practice work.  But the pencils from Michaels are too waxy.  They don’t blend or shade well, so the idea of finding another affordable set for doodling was ideal.  So imagine my surprise and pleasure by discovering a new type of color pencil that works better and is very affordable.

Exploring ideas for a new character that functions as a therapists to fictional characters.

Exploring ideas for a new character that functions as a psychological therapist to fictional characters.

Not only are the Crayola Color Pencils affordable, they blend well, have a nice variety of shades, and so far the  leads do not break like some of the other types of art pencils.  I have not dropped any of them yet, so they have not been fully tested for durability, but as of the moment, they are quite sturdy.  Perhaps Crayola designed them for children’s rough usage.

Sketch of Nude female

Sketch of Nude female

Sketch of Padme'

Sketch of Padme’

Additional sketch of Dr. Zeumer

Additional sketch of Dr. Zeumer

My final assessment concerning these color pencils is that buying these for your children will not only be practical, but they may enhance or encourage artistic development.  Art supplies can be very expensive and this artist appreciates a good product when she finds one.

G. Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Art, Education

Delay delay delay….DEEeee….Laaaaay!

The title of this blog should be sung instead of read.  It works better that way.

So you might be surmising from the title of the blog that there have been delays in the projects that I have been working on or planning to work on.   If that is your conclusion, then you would be correct.

So with so many delays, what keeps me from going stark raving mad?  Not much.

I am starting to feel the way Anakin looks.

I am starting to feel the way Anakin looks.

I feel a bit like Anakin Skywalker being told by the Jedi Council to be mindful of my feelings, and well, to be quite honest…. it’s normal and natural to feel a bit upset and frustrated by a constant barrage of problems creating a state of ineffectiveness.  That’s not a happy state of mind for me.  So keeping it under control has been hard and our current society is so repressed that there is no natural venting system for the average person.  I often wonder what people who are dealing with more serious problems such as the need for food, shelter, safety, and basic pain relief from a health condition do in a situation where there is no relief from the stress of one thing after another going wrong.

Anakin-clone-wars-anakin-skywalker-23121380-500-281Then I think about the fact that there is the scientific concept of probability that is way off the charts.  The probability that this many things can go wrong seems somewhat curious.  The situations that my husband and I have been experiencing is way beyond the normal amount of challenges that a person should experience per any time period.  And it’s not like we are running around screaming profanities at people and challenging them to duels.  We are pretty average  folks with above average problems.  It doesn’t add up.  So what the heck is going on?  How does one get a hold of this avalanche of strangeness?  Is there a way to fight it or does one just surf the wave of frustration and aggravation and hope to make it safely to the shore without too many shark bites?  I don’t have the answer.  I just plain don’t know.

What I do know is that I don’t want to give up on the projects that I have planned or started.  I know that much.  We are often told to pursue what we are passionate about and to put serious effort into the projects that matter.  This is hard to do with all our time and energy spent on life draining nonsense that originates from other people.  But we can’t exist without other Humans.   I am not a doctor, a lawyer, policeman, fireman, grocer, computer tech, plumber, and the list goes on.  We rely on other professionals to do their jobs while we are expected to do ours.  Has something changed?  It appears to me that the quality of professionalism and craftsmanship in the US has changed.  People just don’t care about what they do anymore.  They are sloppy and don’t take pride in their work.

I want people to take pride in their work.  And yes, I know that not all people are this way, but the number of people that are, is growing frightfully.  I know that many of our problems are based upon the fact that we rely on other people to carry out certain tasks.  If we could do it all ourselves, then we would not be having the amount of trouble that we have been experiencing.  Anyone else notice this?  If not, you are lucky.  And please know that the work you do, even if it is a data entry clerk putting in information into a computer database somewhere in a dark bleak office, the work you do correctly makes a difference.  If you do it wrong, then it will hurt someone in the long run.  And depending upon what type of information you are working in, it could ruin someone’s life or cost them their life.  Sometimes small jobs have big consequences.  So just because you are a little guy in a big pond, doesn’t mean that the work you do doesn’t matter.  It does matter.  Do it well.

Anakin-clone-wars-anakin-skywalker-23121379-500-281I keep trying to take these negative events and turn them into something positive, but it is getting to the point beyond my ability to smile happily in the typhoon.  I wonder how many others are just like me.  I can’t be alone in this, right?

I can’t guarantee that my next blog will have good news.  It may be more details of this strange odds defying avalanche of problems or issues as the PC crowd likes to say.  Let’s just hope that my heart isn’t broken by the time something goes right and that I can manage to bring forth the energy to do what I really enjoy and do best.  May the Force be with you and guide you down a path that is not littered with so many dark corners.

G. Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Art, Costume, Culture

Update on Leather Handbag Practice Project

My fingers are really sore from the hand sewing.  That was to be expected especially when using a thick material such as leather.  Despite the special three sided needle and poking holes with the awl like tool, it is still hard to shove the needle through and accurately make the needle point come out through the desired spot.  People who sew leather by hand and make it look like a machine did it are very talented and have a great deal of experience doing this.  I can imagine that some of you, who are experts, are laughing a bit at my stitches, but I take solace in the fact that I have never done this type of project before and it is starting to look like a purse.

I just hope that when it is done that it looks enough like a purse that I won’t be ashamed to use it.  Afterall, the leather was not cheap and I spent a great deal of time on it.

Some of the pictures will show that the process of putting something like this together is very important.  It is important to do certain parts before doing other parts such as the outside zipped pocket needed to be done before any of the side walls were attached to the purse.  Why?  Because installing the zipped pocket piece with the purse no longer being a flat piece of material would have been really difficult.  Hard to sew and hard to place correctly.  This is why store bought patterns to make clothes and other such items seem to be strange in their order of construction at times, but in reality they really have your best interests at heart when instructing you concerning the order of steps.

The following photos show my progress on this project.  Hopefully, I will have a set soon that shows the completion and perhaps my improved stitching as well.

 

Proper placement of the outside pocket was important or else it would look bad.

Proper placement of the outside pocket was important or else it would look bad.

 

Outside Zipped pocket in place.

Outside Zipped pocket in place.

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Sturdy interior fabric sew into pocket sections to help organize the interior of the purse.  One even has a zipped pocket for securing items.

Sturdy interior fabric sewn into pocket sections to help organize the interior of the purse.   One even has a zipped pocket for securing items.

 

Unfinished outside stitches but note the uneven nature of the stitches.  Very hard to get them neatly in a row like a machine would do.

Unfinished outside stitches but note the uneven nature of the stitches.   Very hard to get them neatly in a row like a machine would do.

It is starting to have purse like qualities.  I can see how things are starting to come together.  This is the fun part of the project - knowing that one is going in the right direction.

It is starting to have purse like qualities.   I can see how things are starting to come together.    This is the fun part of the project – knowing that one is going in the right direction.

G. Winkler © 2015

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Posted in Art, Goals, Preparation
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