I made things!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

So I have this tendency.


I make all kinds of things, fully intending to list them on etsy (both to share them and to make space in the house for the next batch of things I'm compelled to make...), but...

for some reason, I don't list them.

It's not like it's particularly hard to list things on etsy.  In fact, they've made it much, much easier than it used to be, especially for multiple items with varying types.

But I just don't do it.  There are always more important things to do.  Like binge watching Doctor Who for the eighty-fourth time.

(I admit nothing.)

So I'm trying to work through the backlog now of EVERYTHING I have in the shelves that hasn't gone up.  Hoping to put up a few day.  Realistically, a few a week.

Starting with these:


I originally made a bunch of small watercolor paintings just kind of as practice, and turned them into these planner clips.  They're hand drawn and  hand painted, on heavy watercolor paper backed with sturdy cardboard, with a paperclip mounted in the back so you can use them as reusable tabs in your journals or planners, or just as decoration.

Six themed sets.  Available here.

Now to move on to the eighteen tons of other stuff I've made.  (Ahem.)

My Weirdo Inner Critic

Sunday, May 20, 2018

His name is Frank.  Frank has no idea that's a banana.

Maybe it's because I'm kind of an explorer by nature.

Or maybe it's just because I'm inherently kind of strange, and have a tendency to do things kind of backassward and to unnecessarily complicate things.  (Ahem.)

My inner critic, though -- the one that conventional wisdom likes to tell us is omnipresent and keeps you from trying new things -- has a broken GPS.

He shows up after I try new things.

(I mean, I'm late a lot, because time is weird and squishy for me, but after?  Come on, IC...it's kind of ridiculous.)

New things don't bother me, generally speaking.  I'm one of those that gets a wild cockeyed hare-brained idea, and all of me's like YASSSS...LET'S TRY SKYDIVING WITH A LIVE PIG IN OUR ARMS or something.  There's no second-guessing, and rarely a whole lot of thought about consequences.  Which has landed me in hot water a few (million) times.  Beside the point.

What it's also done is let me try a whole lot of things.

I learn best by experience.  Hands-on, with my boots on the ground.  If I'm smart, it's also after reading the instruction manual, but let's be clear: that doesn't always happen.  If something sounds interesting to me, I'm on my way to Michael's or REI or Target or whatever, ready to pick up whatever I need to just begin.

Then, three or four times later, the banana gun is blazing.

I'm sure there's something that sets it off, but heck if I know what it is.  Maybe it's a whole bunch of somethings.  Maybe it's just that the explorer part of me gets comfortable, and bored, and starts making up things to scare me.  Or I finally become aware that I'm hurtling towards the ground and this parachute is uncomfortable and this pig isn't really having the best time, either.

I finally realize that gravity works and that going SPLAT! would kind of suck for me and Baconator III.  (Yes, I've named my imaginary allegorical pig.  Hush.)

Sometimes, this is where I quit.

Even if I'm not going to literally die upon impact.  

My mind tells me that this isn't what it signed up for.  Or I see places where I could improve and it's just too much, too soon.  Or I start worrying that people will think whatever it is that people will think because EVERYBODY has an opinion and most of them are completely mean and irrelevant to what I'm doing.

(It's the last one that usually gets me, to be honest.)

Sometimes, I talk myself out of things because Frank with the Banana Gun is all, you can't compete with XYZ because you have a camera from 2006 and you need at least that $100000 new one to be relevant.  (Frank thinks I have unlimited funds and no creativity.  This, from a guy with a banana.)

Frank is full of crap.

He's also late (I'm usually in motion), poorly dressed, and has bad taste in weaponry.  And he's woefully out of touch.

Not that this stops him from trying.

Some people will tell you that you should be nice to your Inner Critic.

That you should thank it for being concerned about you.  That yes, you could die if you keep using a sewing machine (especially in my case) or that people might laugh at you for using a sub-standard lighting setup for your videos (which I am, though it's not affecting the output that much, really), or that you're going to fall flat on your face if you babble like you always do (also a possibility).

But here's the thing:

Like I said, Frank is full of crap and threatening you with a banana.

It's a. banana.

Sure, it can poke you in the eye, but really...what else could it do?  Be yellow and tasty?

Your critic might not be a Frank.

Yours might show up as a monster, brandishing an Uzi.  Or your eighth-grade art teacher with a gaggle of mean girls behind her.  Or the Godfather, kissing you on both cheeks and smelling like cannoli.

But folks -- they're all just bananas.

In the end, even if the worst thing that you're worried about happens, you probably won't splat on the pavement with a live pig.

The best parts of my life have happened because I ignored Frank's threats.

What have you got to lose?

(Also, bananas are tasty sliced up in oatmeal.  SUCK ON THAT, FRANK.)

COMING SOON

Saturday, May 19, 2018



COMING SOON.

I finally figured out how to take video without ripping out my own eyeballs and throwing them at random passers-by in frustration.*

I ALSO figured out how to host all the weird and varied things I want to do for said class all in one place.  This is like a revolution up in here.  I think I mentioned it last time, but teaching makes my head all spinny with excitement, and I want to be able to give people PDFs and templates and audio files and videos and downloadable/printable stuffs...without having to scatter it all over the internets.  And now, I can.

I get the lights and the remote for the camera on Tuesday-ish.

Lessons are mostly written.

I'm putting together the fun extras and printable stuff now.

(insert high-pitched squeal here.)

*also, this may have been too graphic, in hindsight.  Apologies for any lingering images of surprise flying eyeballs.

Oh, and for the record...

Monday, May 14, 2018



(I know.  Two posts in one day.  I'm a madwoman.  This one's short.)

I gave up on some things.

I'm not embroidering a weekly thing anymore.  I did one that I hated and it just soured me to doing more.  I may go back to it someday, because I do love me some floss.

I'm also not sending 100 postcards.  When my tooth blew up a week into the thing, followed by a gnarly cold and food poisoning, I realized I needed to simplify the daily grind a little.  I kept the zines; put away the postcards.  For now.  I do know I'll eventually send more, because they're my favorite way to send joy to random people, and I still have people on my list who need a good postcard-sized blop of mail love.

I went through my books that were in my queue.  All the realizations about outgrowing some of them were valid, so I re-evaluated what I had on hand....and donated roughly 3/4 of them to local Little Free Libraries.  I read some.  Some, I had to admit that I just wasn't going to.

I also went through my art supplies again.  As we speak, there are roughly two hundred pounds of things in bags and boxes on my dining room floor, waiting to be shuttled down to a Portland art supply house that buys used supplies.  I love what's left in my studio.  I haven't been able to say that in a long time.

Then I went at my pen and ink collection like a madwoman with a hatchet.  I'm down to pens I love, and inks I love and use.  We will not discuss the literal box full of stuff I culled out. 



Most importantly, I culled my IDEAS LIST.

There are things I'm just not going to get to, or things that I just wanted to try but half-heartedly.  Or things that require a whole lot of supplies or software or learning a whole new Thing.  Or ideas that, when I thought about them, I still couldn't make them fully flesh themselves out in my mind.

That left a substantial list left over. 

So I made a box.

Dream a little dream....



Let's talk about dreams for a second.

Not the sleep kind, where you're made of cheese and crackers are chasing you through the aisles at Starbucks.

(That might just be me.)

I mean the kind where you want something and you go after it.

For a while now, I've been in this weird phase where I was kind of devoid of most ambitions.  I thought it was depression, to be honest, because that's kind of what depression does, the bastard.  Sucks all the life out of you.

Turns out, I had a low-grade infection in my face.  Not even kidding.  I went to the dentist for a root canal, and two days afterward, all of a sudden, I WOKE UP.  It sounds kind of dramatic, and it was.  I went to bed feeling fairly normal (for me), and woke up like friggin' Snow White, with all the birds singing and normal human energy out of nowhere.

I asked the doc about it, because frankly, it was both exciting and a little terrifying, since I have one of those brains that immediately goes to you probably have a tumor, because people totally get an energy surge just before they drop dead, and I wanted to make sure to ask a pro before going all Web MD Warrior on myself.

Apparently, the infection in my jaw had been there for a long time, given the amount of (yes, gross, fair warning) necrosis in the tissue, and the way my jawbone had gone all spongey.  (They had to put in a titanium peg to give me a new tooth, even.  Sorry you'll have to think about that.  It really is as weird and icky as you think it might be.)

And living with a low-grade infection that's ever-so-slowly getting worse had been sucking out my body's will to live, apparently.  Taxing my immune system, causing me to live with a background noise of pain that I wasn't even aware I was fighting until it was gone and suddenly...I could think again.  I had no idea it was that bad.

It's been a month since the antibiotics kicked the crap out of my infected face.

I've literally done more in the past month than I have in the past year.  Things I wanted to do, but ultimately just meh-ed about because nothing seemed worth the energy to put into them.  Just before my tooth actually blew up, I'd even stopped dreaming about doing things.  I just thought I would wait out this depression monster sitting on my chest, and then, the ideas would start flowing again.

And now, they have.  And boyhowdy, have they been flowing.

My brain apparently saved up all the things it meh-ed over, and brought them back, with friends.

Thank all things holy.

So I've been working on things.  Big things.

  • 100 Days is the name of a series of 100 zines (not daily, just in total) that I think I talked about in the last entry.  I had to take a break when I caught some kind of mutant cold and then immediately gave myself food poisoning with some rather unfortunate ham, but I'm back at it now.  I'm trying for one a day, but some are more complex than others, and I'm fine with them taking more than one.  Which led to....
  • CUT & PASTE.  It's an online course about making creative one-page zines.  It's my first foray back into the world of teaching online, which I haven't done since 2003, really.  I'm learning all new software, all about video and video editing, and how to deliver content in an easy, accessible, FUN kind of way.  I missed teaching.  It's kind of where my strength is, and when I was giving classes in 2003, it was just too labor intensive -- everything was manual and required code and sixteen programs and a lot of tech issues.  Now, the tech's caught up, and this class is going to be awesome.  Which THEN led to two things...
  • A supersecret project that's not quite ready for prime time.  I'll be letting the world know about it, though.  Soon.  Very soon.  It involves another thing I got away from, but loved doing very much.  I'm aiming for mid-June, or sooner, so there's not a long wait. AND....
  • A whole LIST of online classes.  This first one's my learning curve.  I'm pretty sure once I get the hang of the editing and such, any subsequent classes will be much easier, and, of course, even better.  Which is probably why my brain went all sideways and made a list of about sixty more that I'd like to put out as soon as possible -- some re-releases of things I did before that are still relevant today, some brand new, some that I've had fully-fleshed-out outlines for for AGES and just didn't know how they were technologically feasible.
In other words, the dam broke, y'all.

Everything I've ever done well has been in one of two arenas (or both, simultaneously).  Teaching, or storytelling.

The fact that I didn't recognize this until now is baffling to me.

But with the suddenly-no-longer-infected clarity, I know now, and that's what counts.

I think I'm gonna need a few more hours in the day.

Get on that, Science....I got some dreams to chase.

I made a Thing!

Monday, April 23, 2018

This is thirty of them.  Thirty things.

I can be kind of a Joiner(tm).

I see all these cool projects and think ohmahgerd, I want to play along, forgetting that joining things takes time that I often don't have.  And, y'know, the kind of brain that sees things all the way through, whereas mine kind of loses interest part way in and meanders off after a pretty butterfly about two days later.

Enter the #100 Day Project.

The concept's simple: pick a thing and make/do that thing for the next 100 days.  It can be literally anything, and you can document it online (mostly instagram) or just do it.  Either way.  No real rules.

And, because my brain is my brain, I immediately came up with something like thirty different things I wanted to try doing.  Because I am Superwoman, who can bend time to her will and shoehorn ten hours' worth of activities into an hour's worth of free time.  Clearly.

Eventually, after going twelve rounds with my list of potentials, I settled on two.

One is this:


I'm sending a postcard a day to people who have influenced me, inspired me, or who might want or need a little extra love.

The way I see it, the world needs more of these random little shows of kindness and gratitude.  Sorta counters all the negative crap we get shovelled on our heads in great quantity every day.

Oddly enough, I'm on day 19 of this thing, and haven't missed a day.  Not even when my face exploded and I had to have an emergency root canal, where they ended up having to put a titanium screw in my face.  Not even kidding.  But I figure that if I can make a postcard on days where my face is trying to kill me and/or I'm being partially converted into a cyborg, I should be able to keep it going on "normal" days.  So there's that.

Then, there's this:
My hyperflexed toes say hello.

One hundred one-page zines.

Because I'm not entirely insane, I'm not actually doing this one every day, though, most of the time, it's been every day.  I'm just aiming for quantity with this.  One hundred one page zines.  If that takes a hundred days or two hundred days, so be it.  The goal sits at 100 one pagers.

I've finished week one (how I'm breaking this project up), and week two starts today.  (Took about a week off for the explodeyface thing, mentioned above.  I'm not superhuman, after all.)

That photo at the top?  That's thirty copies of seven days' worth of 8-page zines.  Wrapped in a strip of paper from an old book that finally fell apart.  Full of widely-varying rambles while I'm getting my footing with it, ranging from what I wanted to be when I grew up to kale chip recipes and a drawing of a local animal that groups up in a giant sex ball to mate with a dozen or so other lizards.  (The things one learns when one is researching local fauna...)

I initially only made ten copies of them, thinking it would be one for me, one for my mom (who, btw, would be horrified by the lizard sex ball thing), and eight to sit in a drawer until some intrepid soul bought one or two off etsy.  But all ten sold out in literally minutes, and I made this thirty, up there at the top. 

They're almost all sold out, too.  (I think I have one left at this point.)

I may need to rethink my print run sizes, going forward.  (It's all a learning curve at this point.)

Overall, this Joining Thing(tm) has been a good thing so far, this go-'round.

I like the challenge, and I really like getting my hands back into all the Making Of The Things that are physical, tangible.  I really missed publishing things and playing with layout and such.

The group start for #the100dayproject has passed (obviously), but you can join at any time.  It officially ends on July 11th, but a bunch of folks have said they took a year to do their own hundred days of (whatever).  So if you're interested, or the thought of it inspires you, do it.  Even if you don't make it the whole hundred days, you'll have created things you wouldn't have normally created, which is fantastic.

(Plus, people who start projects and don't finish them are still infinitely cooler than people who sit around wishing they'd start something and never do.  I'm just saying.)

anti-social media

Monday, April 9, 2018

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I've been thinking this evening.

I know.  Run away quickly.  There may be a burning smell.

People I know are getting all crazy about Facebook.

(As are people I don't know.  I don't know everyone, after all.)

There's two arguments that drive me nutbars insane about the whole dust-up/let's mass delete our accounts nonsense. 

(this ended up getting really long, so I'm hiding some of it behind a more tag thingie.  You're welcome.)  :D

© G O * E X P L O R I N G Maira Gall.