1. This "Quick Takes" isn't so quick because there is so much going on!
Christmas break was fantastic. Nothing beats a family as amazing as mine, and I spent the month playing games, having late discussions, making and eating good food, playing with my little siblings, and basically just relaxing.
I did not sleep on an actual bed for eight nights of my break due to traveling and having guests over. It was so incredibly worth it!
One of the best parts?
50 people + 1 house + 1/2 week + board game marathons, good food, talent shows, charades, improv, engineering discussions, baby showers, fire juggling, late nights, dance parties, art lessons, robot wars, and more = MY AMAZING FAMILY!
3. Studio time-- also, I GOT A TORCH!
This Christmas break I had an entire week to spend in my little studio and made a lot of jewelry which will be appearing on my Etsy as soon as I get time to photograph the pieces here in my dorm.
But the best part?
I HAVE A TORCH.
Like, a propane and oxygen torch which gets to a couple thousand degrees and will let me solder, fuse, and melt metal.
I have been having so much fun experimenting and learning. This summer, when I have access to my torch again, I hope to come out with a new line of fine jewelry!
My first big project was developing a puzzle ring! These rings are SO fascinating to me. Expect more on this blog soon. :)
This ring's bezel is too big, but I'm soooo close to getting the hang of this.
I also have been perfecting the electroforming process that I blogged (and despaired) about several months ago. This is a tulip leaf turned copper!
For Christmas, my grandparents gave me a dip pen for calligraphy. I'll be needing it for my illustration classes in the future, but I'm so glad that I got it early because I am experimenting with calligraphy!
When I was younger (somewhere between nine and eleven) I started learning calligraphy using my mom's scrapbooking felt pens.
(My mom isn't very crafty, but the times that she has done crafty activities like scrapbooking and stamping with friends has really served me well by giving me access to awesome craft supplies!)
I had a cheap fountain pen with removable nibs that a friend gave me for my twelfth birthday, but after eight years of use the nibs were worn down. I hadn't really done calligraphy since the last Lord of the Rings poem illustrations I did two years ago.
I think that pointed pen calligraphy is going to be my new favorite thing. This is the first piece I made with that technique (from my instagram).
Pointed pen allows me to get the varying line widths and the cursive-style writing. I just need to practice more!
Also, nerdiness is important, even in calligraphy. This is a piece that I calligraphic with a broad nib. It's in Quenya, Tolkien's Elvish language, written in the Elvish script Tengwar:
5. Visiting a jeweler's.
My grandmother's wedding band was badly damaged recently, and they took it to a jeweler's for repair. This jeweler's isn't your ordinary retail place; they actually design high-end jewelry pieces.
AND I GOT A TOUR!
The family that owns the business was so welcoming and showed me around the entire studio, even letting me watch their mill, laser solderer, and 3D printer in action! And the main jeweler showed me the tiniest little torch head I've seen in my life. The flame is so small that you can only see it under a magnifying glass. I also got to see the inclusions in a real emerald with the magnifying glass!
They sent me home with some sample molds. This is SO AWESOME guys. Went I took at Metals class at my school, it was all with hand tools-- even for the advanced students. For lost-wax casting, students had to use a flex shaft to carve the one-use wax mold by hand.
This studio creates molds in a CAD software (3D modeling) to the customer's specifications. They then either mill a mold and inject it with wax (the left blue ring) or print it with resin in a 3D printer (the red one-- which was a setting for a ginormous stone and I got to try on the real ring!). The molds are then placed in dentist plaster, the wax/resin is melted, and the molten silver, gold, or other metal is poured in.
IT'S AWESOME. And look at how tiny and detailed everything is!
I had this puzzle box that my brother printed in my purse, since I was showing it to my grandpa during that trip. The jewelers were fascinated by it and it led to a really cool discussion about the different kinds of new technologies out there.
Since I love jewelry so much, and love it even more that I've seen a real designer's studio, I started looking around for jobs at jewelers' for the summer since I can't find any graphic design internships. I really hope my leads turn out. Working at a jeweler's would be an amazing experience.
6. 2014 in Books
Farewell, 2014. This is my year in books. It is one of my shortest booklists ever, with giant blocks of audiobooks (and podcasts) representing long drives and homework hours for my art and design classes.
I'm a little bit hard of hearing, and I've never been good at understanding people during phone calls.
Last year, during my Drawing I class, we were allowed to listen to our headphones. I started listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks. I started off listening to books I've read already, and over 2014 I worked up to listening to new books. I still have a hard time hearing and retaining all of the information, but I can proudly say that I've listened to The Great Gatsby without having read it first and I followed along just fine! Listening to books is a very different experience, but I enjoy having something entertaining/intellectual to do while drawing, and my listening skills have been improving dramatically. I can now follow along with conversations in our noisy dining hall without getting headaches!
It's so interesting to go back and revisit these titles and the real-life stories I experienced over this last year. My hope is that over this next year I will have the energy to savor some classics I've always wanted to read. Which of these books have you read and do you have any recommendations for 2015?
7. It is January and school has begun!
Last semester was a rough one. Despite having amazing friends and great activities every which way, by the end of the semester I lived each day simply to see it done and mark off items on my "to-do" list. It was a variety of things: having 27 hours of classes a week (plus homework), getting behind on work for my Shoppe, and (most predominately) some very bad experiences with a certain professor.
On the face of the matter, I did well. I'm maintaining a good GPA. I took calculus for the sake of learning calculus and expected to barely pass the class, but thanks to help from my professor and a math-teacher-in-training-friend, I got an A! (Plus it's really fascinating, sooooo...) I was active at my campus ministry, found some time to hang out with friends, and even stayed on track with laundry. In Color Theory, I painted pieces that I am fairly proud of, and in my Literature gen-ed called Heroic Quest I finally had a chance to study and discuss some deep philosophical pieces.
Outward appearances aren't everything, though, and I was restless, overwhelmed, and disillusioned. Praying, thinking, tinkering, reading, writing, and drawing-random-things-in-my-sketchbook took a backseat. Several of my classes were unfulfilling and in many ways a colossal waste of time and money. (My parents ruined me for school by teaching me to love learning; I would much rather get a B in a class that I learned a lot from than a perfect grade because I wasn't challenged). I even became irritated at good friends because I have a hard time saying no and felt a lot of pressure to always be doing things. Put me in a group setting and I will talk to everyone-- but the biggest thing that I learned from last semester is that I need alone time to refocus. (Also I need more than five hours of sleep to keep from panicking).
My biggest goal for this semester is to allow myself to unapologetically take time for myself. It is the times that I feel I should be doing everything that I need to step back. I'm usually not the kind of person to spend five hours on Netflix when I am overwhelmed; I am the kind of person who will just do more things. Jack of all trades, master of none, and a very discontent Jack at that. There are a lot of very good things in my life right now, far outweighing my legitimately stressful problems. Isn't it possible to make the most of every opportunity and also stop to smell the flowers?