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.

Clone Wars Beach 06phone 1000w

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

Delays and how to make good use of that time during waiting

Leather purse project  01So if you have been following my blog, then you may know about a project that I am doing for a friend.  You know, the Star Wars costume project.  Well, I just keep running into walls, and I think my head is starting to get sore from all that head bashing.  Argh.

So, in order to keep from going crazy, I have been trying to find a way to keep a positive mindset and do something that will help me with the project of creating a Jedi Temple Guard costume.  I have already done some preliminary sketches.  I can’t go much further without a dress form and some serious measurements.  And I have also considered what kind of materials should be used in this costume.  What would look best, be comfortable, and give the correct feeling for what the character is supposed to be.  One of the materials that I need to use is leather.  It is a natural material that will not cause my friend any allergy concerns and it is sturdy, and will look right for the kind of character.  But not all leather is the same.  There are many kinds and I am not expert on leather goods or making leather items.

My experience with leather is creating Renaissance Era pouches, belts, gloves, and protective Landsknechte vests and leggings.  I have even made a WWI era German Captain’s hat for my Uhlan’s costume.  The brim was leather.  So since it has been awhile since I have made things in leather and I have these delays, I thought I would make something to help improve my skills and knowledge base.  And one side note here – when doing a project just for learning, pick something that you really want to do for personal reasons.  It will help you stay inspired and focused on the project.  If there is no drive to get the project done, then completion and the drive to do it may never happen.  So I decided that I am sick and tired of having purses made of plastic or man made materials.  I like leather purses.  They last longer, are more durable, and tend to look better.

So I bought some materials to make my very own leather purse.  This involved designing what the purse looked like and considering what functional aspects I needed to make this a usable piece for when it was finished.  This was no simple task.  I also had to keep the construction process in mind as well because I was the person doing the construction and my skill set is somewhat limited and I was going to have to do this all by hand.

So first I drew out my designs for all the pieces, which included a lined interior.  Then I purchased the materials for the purse, which was not easy considering that I live in a town that has limited resources.  I was not able to get all my desired color choices.  Zippers for this project were proving to be less than easy to find, so I had to settle for brown zippers for the outside part of the purse.  I had wanted a matching dark green to the interior or a matching mustard gold color for the leather.  I got neither.  The outside zippers are dark brown.  And I have to live with it.  Oh well.  What can I say, I live on the Outer Rim.

New cell phone slip cover made of the leather to help project the phone from scratches.

New cell phone slip cover made of the leather to help project the phone from scratches.

Then next part is to carefully cut out materials.  When it comes to leather, it is expensive and taking care to conserve as much as possible is wise.  I already made a mistake and had to cut a second outside pocket to replace the one I messed up.  Luckily, I was able to turn the old outside pocket into a new cell phone case.  That seems to be working very well.  I have also discovered from working with this particular type of leather is that it is very soft and stretchy.  A bit too stretchy for making a purse.  It really needed to be a bit stiffer, so there is lesson number one.  Be mindful of the leather’s qualities in that it may cause unexpected problems during construction or even during use.  This Italian leather was on sale at Tandy and was wonderful to touch and probably would have been perfect for a jacket due to it’s flexible nature.  This would not be suitable in my mind for making a belt.

So below I have shared a few pictures of my progress on the purse.  I have no idea how this will look in the end.  In my mind, it looked fabulous, but as for reality, we shall see.  My hands are already sore and blistered from poking holes and shoving sharp thick needles through the leather.  This project may take some serious time, but I am learning something new.

Here I am trying to use common straight lines for the edges of the pieces to reduce the amount of waste.  I also drew lines on the wrong side of the leather to make cutting easier.

Here I am trying to use common straight lines for the edges of the pieces to reduce the amount of waste.   I also drew lines on the wrong side of the leather to make cutting easier.

Here is the back pocket that I had to cut out a second time.  Hand stitching is not easy and keeping the leather in place is also proving to be difficult so I used alligator clamps that are normally used to keep paper together.

Here is the back pocket that I had to cut out a second time.   Hand stitching is not easy and keeping the leather in place is also proving to be difficult so I used alligator clamps that are normally used to keep paper together.

 

G. Winkler ©2015

 

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Posted in Costume, Inspiration

Star Wars on my mind

Star Wars Inspiration 1000wWith costume research for my own needs and the needs of my two best friends and then my other friend who wants the Jedi Temple Guard costume made, I have been living and breathing Star Wars pretty intensely for the past year.  I’ve watched the Star Wars Clone Wars series multiple times and have read some excellent novels such as Bloodlines by Karen Traviss, Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, the Clone Wars series by Karen Miller, and just started A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller.    As well as  reading I have also been watching the new TV series the Star Wars Rebels, so at times I find myself utterly immersed in the Star Wars Universe.  I’ve had odd dreams where Boba Fett appears along with Obi-Wan Kenobi!! Curious.  I have found that I have gained a greater appreciation for the Boba Fett character after reading some of the novels and comic books that my husband has supplied me with.  He loves Boba Fett.

So being a writer and an artist I can’t ignore this intense amount of stimuli.  Ideas and stories start to form in my mind.  Lots of “what if questions” come to mind and I have started forming my own Star Wars novel.   At one point last Fall I wanted to write a story with Ahsoka and Ventress on some kind of adventure where they had to work together, but The Rebels series started and then the rumor of the Dark Disciple book came about, so I needed to shelve that idea until I knew more about the new stories being told. The battle in my mind is that I want to stay within the Canon storyline but also respect what has been written by the Expanded Universe authors before me. This would be no easy task.  I have come to realize this.  I will have to settle for doing the best I can.

So I have taken inspiration from the three costumes that my companions and I use for actual characters for my own novel.  So there will be two unique characters and one character from the Canon body of work – the Jedi Wookiee Gungi.  I am just hoping that nothing in the Canon bodies of work state that Gungi died.  So far so good, but that could change at any moment.  At times I wish I could ask the current writers of the Star Wars film materials for advice.  Goodness knows these people are probably inundated with fan mail and people wanting them to read their work.  Can you imagine what Dave Filoni’s email box must look like as well as the physical post box?

So what does one do when inspired to write something that is so much part of a world wide culture not to mention a business venture?  The written material I have read so far is a pretty intense measuring stick to hold one’s own work up to.  Do I spend time on a novel that may conflict with established material and potentially become a waste of great effort and time or go for the gusto and allow one’s imagination to take them on a trip to a far far away galaxy?

I am in conflict with the Force.   Fear and frustration are fighting with courage and creativity.

My inclinations are more Jedi than Sith, but one has to be passionate to write, so I guess there is just a little room for Sith.  :)

Gretchen Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Star Wars, Writing

The dress form from Hell

I am starting to feel the way Anakin looks.

I am starting to feel the way Anakin looks.

Okay.  I am about to lose my mind.  You know the costume project that I mentioned months ago.  I am still supposed to do it, but I have had nothing but problems trying to get this project started let alone even work on anything.

Let me tell you about the dress form from hell.  A dress form for those of you who do not know what one is…is a piece of equipment that can be shaped like a human male or female and is specially adjusted to the size of a specific person.  This allows the tailor or seamstress or costumer in my case to make sure the clothing fits the person in question without having to bother the person constantly for adjustments and “try ons”.  My friend, who asked me to make this costume, has one because he gets his clothes tailored and his tailor had one especially for him.  The tailor was very busy so I agreed to do the project.  And since my friend does not live near me, sending me this piece of equipment was the solution to the problem.

Yah,…..this is the story of the dress form from hell…..  The following is a list of events that have involved just the dress form.

 

  • We decided to pick up the item from California since we were going to be in the area.  We never heard from the tailor and could not meet up with him.
  • Then it was realized that the tailor was so busy it would be easier to send the item to us.  So my friend planned to have it put on an airplane and flown from San Jose to the Outer Rim where I live and I would pick it up from the airport. The damn planes don’t fly here because the Outer Rim is too primitive or something.
  • Okay, so my friend decides to have it shipped express with a tracking number.  He told me it would arrive in five or so days and gave me the number and told me I would have to go to the shipping place to pick it up because I would have to sign for it.
  • It didn’t arrive.
  • And it didn’t arrive.
  • And……it didn’t arrive.
  • So I contacted my friend who had to have an intense conversation with the shipping people.  Well, apparently the shipping company didn’t follow the instructions and shipped it as freight instead of what my friend purchased.  And mind you, my friend spent the money for the fast shipping.  So instead of being sent directly to the Outer Rim, it was down in Arizona.
  • Still not arrived.  By truck it should have arrived within a few days of that discovery.  So then the rumor was that it ended up in Las Vegas……
  • Then my friend said it showed up for sale on Ebay!!!
  • So then my friend had to call the cops and all kinds of crazy stuff. Luckily, the cops were able to retrieve the dress form from the criminals, so now the item is part of a crime investigation and my friend explains to the police that the item is needed for a project that has a deadline that is coming sooner and sooner as each week goes by.  So they manage to get the dress form to the sheriff’s department in the Outer Rim.
  • We wait again.  We call and find out that this is an odd situation and the sheriff had to do some figuring out on how to handle such a situation, so finally it is supposed to be with the UPS people and we told them that we planned to pick it up ourselves and sign for it.
  • They decide to try and deliver it on the day I was away from the house, and when we call them about this, they said they would deliver it to my friend’s apartment complex that evening.  They never showed up.
  • We have a tripped planned and will be gone.  The item is delivered to the apartment complex while we are away.  The apartment people kindly lock it away safely in their office.
  • So we had to wait until it was Monday to get into the apartment complex office.
  • The lady who had the keys was mugged the previous night and had her purse stolen, which held master keys to the complex, so all the locks had to be immediately changed for the complex.
  • So, new keys were made, but for some reason the new lock for the office where the package that we are waiting for is stored in will not open anymore.  The lock is faulty.  They cannot get into the room.
  • That was this morning.  The lock smith has been called and will show up around 3-5pm.

I am expecting the lock smith the have a flat tire or his wife have a baby.  Which do you think it will be?

There is more to this story of the Jedi Temple Guard costume, but it involves other parts and people.  I think I am going to lose my mind.  I am so stressed beyond belief.  I feel like I could go Anakin at any moment.

And I have not even started the project!!!!

G. Winkler ©2015

PS – There are so many problems with this project that it is mathematically possible but highly improbable.  This would even tax Data’s mind.

UPDATE: The box was empty and it had been stolen a second time!!!!

 

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Posted in Business, Costume
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