Birthday Shirts!

I’ve mentioned before how June is a busy month for birthdays around here. Well, we have two of them. Now that I think about it, that describes every month March through June. Anyway, I decided to make t-shirts for both birthday boys. One asked me for a Baymax shirt and the other was having a cooking party so I made him a cupcake shirt.

I used my contact paper masking method to create stnecils for some fabric spray paint. I made the basic picture using the paint, then added the details in a couple of different ways.

For the cupcake shirt, I went back in with some embroidery thread to create outlines and details.

The other one being a cartoon character, I thought drawn details would fit better with the style. For that I used my trusty Sharpie pens I found on my trip to the closing Office Depot.

They both turned out really well. Well enough to say definitively that the contact paper method really works for creating stencils for the spray paint. It just takes a lot of light coats of paint to prevent bleeding and pooling at the edges of the sticker.

On Streaming, Ownership, and Why I Think Taylor Swift is Wrong

Not about the fact that the people who make music deserve to be paid for their creations. I fully agree with her in that aspect. But the part with which I disagree is her insistence that no one should ever provide music for free and it should solely be seen in terms of how much money you are getting.

By now, I’m sure everyone on the planet with Internet access and the ability read English has read Taylor Swift’s letter to Apple she posted over the weekend. My reading of it just happened to coincide with my listening to back episodes of the DIY Musician Podcast which had me in a mood to think a bit more about it. I was way back in the 2008 episodes, so I haven’t yet listened to the episode actually dealing with Apple Music. But the ones I was listening to in the airplane home after reading the letter were mentioning the use of streaming services like Pandora and (then brand-new) Spotify.

While listening to those episodes and thinking of Swift’s hissy-fit (because that’s really the most fitting name for posting something that could have been handled privately in a public forum in an attempt to make someone else look worse), it occurred to me that there might be artists out there thinking this streaming thing is going to end up being all there is. It certainly seems that way from Swift’s letter.

This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.

Streaming should never be seen as the sole source of an artist’s success. It should rank right above radio play, because that is essentially what it is. And it will not replace an individual’s personal music collection. Because that is the nature of music, and art in general. It should be made for the love of the craft, not because you need to pay down your debt. Yes, artists should be compensated, but that can’t be your entire reason for writing, performing, or anything else.

Those who become artists should want to do so because they can’t imagine doing anything else. They need to have a story to tell, something compelling to bring people in to the story, and a desire to do so whether or not they “make it big.” The goal can’t be to just rake in the money off digital streams while you churn out cookie-cutter earworms that appeal to five-year-olds (and annoy the rest of us). Streaming should be treated as a form of a preview, or a way to get your music out to people who might not learn of it otherwise. Because, no matter how many streaming services to which one is subscribed, no matter how the technology for listening to music changes, people are always going to want to own the music they love. They are always going to buy the music that resonates with them. Because creating a playlist on a streaming service says, “Yeah, these songs are alright,” but buying a song/album says, “I need this in my life.” And people are always going to have those songs they just need, if they are created with true artistic integrity and not just a greed to increase an artist’s net worth.

So, good job, Taylor, for whining about not being paid enough. We all know you’re the only one who’s going to end up seeing any of those royalties anyway, because that’s just how the royalty system works. Meanwhile, other hard-working artists will just make their living converting one casual streamer into a fan at a time.

Orange You Glad it Went Away

I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was…14?. Yeah, I think that was the first year I did my own laundry at camp/summer school. So let’s say I have about ten years of experience.I still don’t consider myself an expert by any means. I don’t sort colors or anything, other than having a pants/sleepwear/outerwear load and an “everything else” load. I have started reading the laundry labels, though.

That’s why this shirt in particular gets hand-washed. It’s supposed to keep it looking nice and help it to last longer. Except I thought I almost ruined is this past week. You see, a certain smallish someone was finishing his “chocolate and banilla” ice cream on our walk back home and managed to get it both of our top halves (and his bottom half). I sprayed it with stain spray before letting it soak in the hand-wash bucket as usual, but that didn’t do much. So I added oxyclean to the water and left it another night. That got the chocolate stain out, but it turned orange.

Mostly. There were a few tie dye-ish yellow places, but it was mainly orange.I set it out to dry, and miraculously the orange started disappearing. (The picture above was the next morning.)

Now it is back to normal. Still, I think I have learned my lesson: No more mixing oxyclean with the hand-wash soaps.

Experiments With Fabric Paint

As I explained Tuesday, I have a lot of birthday gifts to get made and I am doing test runs of the things I want to do. And today’s thing is spray-painting with fabric paint. I started by making a masking template out of contact paper.

Unfortunately, I only have clear contact paper. Makes it a little more difficult to see the positioning as the pieces are placed, but it worked out pretty well.

The only other problem is that I didn’t consider the contrast. So some of the lower letters get lost.

I think I’m going to try outlining the letters with my sharpies. If that doesn’t work, I’ll fill them in with black or white. Either way, I found out that, as long as I remember to press it down completely, the contact paper works. And that was what I wanted to find out.

A Week of Experimenting

June is a pretty busy birthday month around here. The first two weekends see two birthday parties, and as such I need to make some presents. Of course, I’m making some new things and have to make some test runs of techniques.

Like last night, when I made Oreo cookie pops from this Nerdy Nummies video. I started with the Baymax ones, then it wasn’t much of a jump to the Pok´mon and Pikachu designs.

Pikachu is basically the Baymax base without the M&Ms. I love how easy these are; so much easier than cake pops. A word of advice, though: You have to use at least the double stuffed cookies, and popsicle sticks work much better than lollipop sticks.

How Not To Be A Jerk While Filming

Listen, I get it. Your movie is going to be the greatest story ever told. Sure, it’s the same old trope of star-crossed lovers, or missed opportunities, or whatever you happen to have fallen asleep watching on TCM the night before you got your “brilliant idea,” but your’s os told in a completely new way. It just HAS to get made, whether you can pull together the budget to shoot it properly or not.

I also understand that filming on the big lots is really expensive, so if you want to be able to pay the catering bill you have to film somewhere else. Your cousin (or grandparents, or distant relative’s friend) has a great house in a great location that they are willing to rent to you for dirt cheap, so you are all set to roll. You pull the permits with the city and then put out tiny notices on the neighbors fences that you are going to invade their space in three days.

Here’s where it becomes annoying. You put out your little cones announcing to everyone that they now have to park down the street. You harass the UPS driver- who frequents the cul-de-sac so often he knows the names of all the dogs- with, “We’re filming here, you can’t go through right now.” You decide to film outside in the morning and tell the neighboring kids that they can’t play in their own yard because we need to, “Keep the noise level down.” (And you have the audacity to come up to those who are already sick of your crap and ask to piggyback off their Wifi connection because the house you are filming in doesn’t have one.) You take up every available parking space in the street from before 7 to after 10 every day, making those of us who actually live here and are trying to get things done have to park around the corner.

These are the behaviors you want to avoid, unless you particularly desire the hatred of those surrounding your filming location. If you want to film in a noiseless environment without paying for a space on a lot, go film in the country. If you really want to film in a suburban neighborhood, pay the neighbors, too. It doesn’t even have to be half as much as the place you are renting, just something to say, “Pardon the inconvenience.” Heck, when my friend turned 30, she gave all the neighbors a bottle of wine and said, “We are having my birthday party on this date. Please don’t call the cops with a noise complaint.” Just something to acknowledge you are being a pain in the ass, but also that you know you are and you feel bad about it. Even having someone personally come up and talk to the neighbors beforehand would be better than walking up every time you had yet another request. I would be more likely to encourage the kids into the backyard if I was asked nicely instead of flat out told, “Um, we are filming over here. Keep the noise down.” Especially after you have pissed the whole neighborhood off for the past week.

In conclusion (or, in Internet lingo, tl;dr): To avoid being a humongous jerk while you are filming your “masterpiece”, be kind to the neighbors. Otherwise, they will end up laughing maniacally thinking, “Serves you right,” every time a giant airplane or helicopter flies overhead and inevitably messes up your take. What, you didn’t know you were filming in a flight zone?

The Conclusion of the Bob’s Burgers Cross Stitch Saga

I wrote this last night. I sincerely tried to get it posted, but the Internet was hiding from the computers in our house between 4 and after 10:30 last night. So here it is, only a day late. As seems to be the case with everything associated with this project.

It feels like this project is haunting me. Currently typing this without Internet, almost like the ghost of projects past cut the Internet cable. Or, more likely, someone skidded on the slightly damp California road after this afternoon’s drizzle and smashed the transformer. Yeah, probably the latter.

Anyway, the Bob’s Burgers project. This is the first cross-stitch project I’ve ever “charted” on my own. Basically I just laid a grid over it and marked each box off as I went to keep track of where I was in the process. And I really need to keep track of where I was. I started the stitching on March 23 and finally finished on May 10. That means I spent over a month and a half on this project, but I was only a week late in mailing it.

It turned out pretty nicely, I think. Sure, a bit of the line work is wonky, but you have to remember that by the time I got around to that part I had drawn lines through most of the chart, so it was partially guessing. And for that I think it came out great. Also, considering it is probably just going to get tossed by the recipient to reuse the frame, I probably put way too much effort into it. But, as I told my mom, who cares if he likes it, I mainly made it for the Internet.

You can check out my Tumblr tag for the project for more in-progress photos.