Entries in design (5)
Recently, I looked around our house. And once I averted my eyes from the scattered piles of Legos and the epidemic levels of paper that seem to affix themselves to every available flat surface, I realized something. While I spend hours of my free time designing home decor textiles, there is virtually no space in my house that lends itself to the things I design. Shouldn't a designer—even an amateur one—use her home as a canvas?
Home as canvas? This could get messy . . .? Read the full entry.
The other day, my mother-in-law called to ask me if we would be available for dinner on September 19th. That just sort of blew my mind. That's like a MONTH away! How on earth could I be expected to know what we're up to a month from now? See, we're not exactly the world's great planners ahead. Like, when I signed up for summer camp at the kiddo's school, we knew that at the end of the summer they would be going on break, right? But then we sort of got sucked into life and work and stuff, and all the sudden it was the Thursday before a two week (!) break, and we hadn't made Plan B. Uh oh. While I would never SELL the kiddo to the gypsies, I did consider for a brief moment a mutually beneficial rental arrangement (I kid, I kid!). We made it through the two weeks without childcare thanks to the generous help of our friends and family and the occasional abbreviated work day. But still.
I have vowed to do better. Which starts with owning a calendar. That I actually write on. But all the calendars I see in the stores are either attractive but ridiculous overkill (I do not want to carry around a three-ring binder of my obligations) or totally antiseptic, blah, and insufficient. Can you see where this is going?
Obviously, I had to design my own calendar. I had certain requirements. It had to be pretty but not fussy. It had to have big enough blocks to jot down a couple of words about important events, it needed a spot to put random notes, and it needed a place to scribble reminders of stuff happening in upcoming months. So, you know, we wouldn't be caught off guard next time el pequeño gets two weeks at Club Med from his school.
For those of you who have your calendars filled in and accounted for into 2012, I salute you (albeit with slight suspicion of you and your kind). For the rest of you, feel free to download these calendar sheets for your own use. And check back later in the week--I'm testing a mini tutorial for a easy, nifty way to bind these all together.
Download September-November here.
Download December-February here.
Download March-May here.
Download June-August here.
One observant commenter noted that this calendar is sort of unorthodox in the arrangement of the days of the week. Most calendars in the US use Sunday as the start of the week. Because this calendar was designed for use by our family, I decided to do it differently, to try to highlight the weekend time we have together in clear blocks. We go in so many different directions all week long, and we are constantly committing ourselves to parties and gatherings and obligations for the weekend, too. By putting the weekend days together, I'm hoping we can learn to be more discerning about what we sign on to on the weekends--if Saturday's jam-packed, we should try to decompress on Sunday, and vice-versa; I hope that by seeing the days side-by-side we can see that balance more clearly.
That's a lot of philosophizing about a relatively straightforward graphic design choice, eh?
Some people have a vision in their minds eye of a drawing or a design, and they can sit down with pen and paper and produce what's in their heads. I have spent most of my life wishing I had that gift.
Instead, I design and draw the way wind and water carve channels and figures out of rock—through relentless effort. And more often than not, what I set out deliberately to create gets left behind in favor of what has serendipitously taken shape.
I guess that's a metaphor for the way I live my life, too. I've been known to strike out intentionally on a nutty path, only to wind up, miraculously, more or less unscathed on a different route, accidentally doing what more or less always made sense. My life is a catalogue of dubious decisions that have turned out unreasonably well.
When I signed up for the silversmithing class I took last month, I was determined that I would try things I have read about for years but never been able to try. But by the time the class started I had fixated on the idea of the ginkgo leaf. And, really, there was absolutely nothing about making that leaf that was on my list of gotta-tries. On the last night of the class, with about an hour to go, I finished up my leaf (having worked about 5 hours total on it), and I still had a half a sheet of silver left. I started cutting out leaf and petal shapes with my saw, thinking I could make some components to use in earrings. But after I'd cut the first three of them, I realized I hadn't soldered a flipping thing, which was the whole reason I had wanted to take the class in the first place. So I quickly changed plans, cut out a base rectangle shape, filed and sanded feverishly, and took the pieces to my slightly annoyed instructor.
As I set the pieces into place, I knew that when I heated the flux (which is a wet paste that helps the solder flow), they would probably move out of position a bit, but I fiddled and tinkered to get them just right anyway. Sure enough, as soon as the flux heated up, two of the pieces started sliding around. I poked the first one back into place, but the second one looked better where accident had made it land than where I had planned, so I left it.
It was only as I was sanding and polishing my little piece that I realized that it's a metaphor for my life, too. There weren't any petals or leaves in the end. Just three birds, each flying a little off-center,* together.
And it's a reminder, too, that though I am not the gifted artist I have often wished I were, I do have a talent for making do with what the talents and skills I do have and letting serendipity do the rest. I'm okay with that.
*If you know my husband and my son, you know who the other two off-kilter birds are in this equation.
Since I have become obsessed with pattern and surface design, I've started trying to educate myself about the theory and principles that underlie great design.
Design*Sponge had a tutorial a while back from Julia Rothman. It was eye-opening to me because I have always made patterns digitally by applying the principles I learned in our 9th grade geometry class unit on M.C. Escher (essentially, take a shape away from one side, add it to the other, ad infinitem). And while this works for me, I think that sometimes the effect is too linear. Julia Rothman's approach is more low-tech, i.e. pen and paper and some paper cutting sleight of hand, but really satisfying. I think it results in a more organic feeling pattern, which is definitely something I want to explore more.
So, like any good nerd, I have also started reading this book,