Monday, 23 December 2013

"Dance For Me" - My Noir Comic

I've been shamefully absent from this blog for a while, due to a combination of family things and work. I've been meaning to post the entire Dance For Me comic for ages now, so without further ado, here it is. Hope you enjoy it. (Click to enlarge pages).

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Noir Comic Finished and Launched

Finally the little comic is done and printed. It was two weeks of hard work, more time consuming than I thought (of course I still had to go to work, etc). 

Here are some peeks at the two pages of drawings. This was when they were still on the tracing paper, before I scanned them in and fiddled around with the on Photoshop.

I wanted to make the cover look like one of those pulp detective novels from the 1940s and 50s. First I needed a sexy dame. With a bit of inspiration from Dita Von Teese and a book about the history of strippers in America, I found my lady.

After a harrowing night on the computer (it had to go to the printers the next day) I got it all finished, including the cover. The background was a photo of theatre curtains, and I used free fonts I downloaded for the titles. Detective Novels is in Government Agent BB, and Dance for Me is in True Crimes. I added the wear around the edge by using this great tutorial from Storyteller's Workshop Inc.

I sent the pdf off to Officeworks to have 100 copies printed out, and picked them up a couple of days later. What a disaster! The test copy I had printed at work on the new office printer turned out fine (see above), but the ones from Officeworks were really dark and inky. You can see below that they were much darker, and the paper they used had a sort of greyish blue cast to it so that contributed to the issue.

Luckily there's a copy shop in the basement of the library (why didn't I go there originally? I know, I'm kicking myself) and they printed them out again for me, in half colour, and it turned out looking more like the original. What a silly waste! Now I realise that it's always best to go to a printing place where you can talk to the people and get them to do a test print. Well, it's a learning experience!

So I folded 200 sheets of paper in half and stapled them all with my new long-arm stapler into little booklets. Ouch, my hands were hurting after I'd finished all that!

The launch went really well and all 100 copies of the Bordertown journal (with my comic as an insert) were sold! Yay! I completely forgot to take any photographs except a couple of very blurry ones with my friend Robyn.

Dress: Malibu Tiki Dress from Deadly Dames
Necklace: Metal Couture pistol pendant

And this selfie when I was getting ready. I made the orchid in my hair to match my dress, and I'll put a tutorial up about it next week. 

And last of all, a couple of little author/illustrator profile pictures I did of me and Mr Macska to go in the back of the comic. I think we make quite a cute little mouse couple.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Sketches for Noir Comic


I'm working on a very short (4 page) comic at the moment, which is a new experience for me. I've been reading comics for years, but I've never drawn one, and it's certainly a learning experience. This one is to go in a noir-themed short-fiction journal called Bordertown, which is a creative writing project that Mr Macska is involved in for uni.

The comic was inspired by this amazing piece of work by Melbourne jeweller William Llewellyn Griffiths, of Metal Couture. A few years ago he created three wind-up dioramas using taxidermied mice, and when you turned the handle the mice moved around.

This is the Swan Lake one, when the handle is turned the curtains open and the three little mice pirouette slowly to the sound of Swan Lake coming from a tiny music box inside. William made the chandelier and the tiny tiaras that the mice are wearing, and his wife Alice made the tutus.

These photos must have been taken before it was fully completed because the finished one is more elaborate, with jewelled trees on either side and some drapery in the background. You can see it in motion on this little video.

Anyway, here are a few poorly photographed sketches from my little comic, which concerns a mouse detective interviewing a serial killer cat who has been murdering and taxidermying mouse showgirls in a perverse attempt to "purify" them by turning them into ballerinas.

I've been tracing over the pencil drawing onto tracing paper with fineliner, and then I plan to scan the images and clean them up in Photoshop.

The finished comic will be a little A5 booklet, made to look like a pulp detective paperback, with the comic inside over 4 pages, and then a little bio of William and a picture of the original Swan Lake dancing mouse contraption.  I'll post more pictures soon as I get more done!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Librarian Ken

Meet Librarian Ken: he likes coffee, cats and dystopian-future novels. I made Ken's outfit for a competition at work, which was to raise money for charity. He even has a tiny Melbourne Uni staff card on a lanyard, and yes, that's actually his photo on the card.  Originally Ken looked like this:

I gave him a haircut and then made a completely new outfit for him. The only thing I kept were the shoes, cream loafers. The pants are made from men's kimono fabric, using the trousers from these patterns. The shirt I just made up on the spot (I cheated and didn't make any sleeves). The bowtie is a piece of velvet ribbon, and the glasses are made from fine black wire twisted into shape.

The cardigan was knitted using this vintage pattern from Free Vintage Patterns. It was a little bit small for a modern Ken (I think he's been going to the gym) so I added some more rows to the sleeves to make them longer. I knitted it up with 4ply and it took about 2 evenings to finish the whole thing.

 Here I am looking embarrassed! The competition was judged by Pam Mawson, who is the Creative Director of the Country Women's Association Victoria, and who was actually in town to judge the cakes at the Royal Melbourne Show. I won a CWA cookbook, so I shall be whipping up scones and lamingtons in no time.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Mermaid Birthday Card

Sunday is my grandfather's 94th birthday. When he was 14 he ran away to sea to be a sailor, so I thought he might like a mermaid for his birthday.

This is before I coloured it, the birthday card was coloured in pencil but I was thinking of doing a version in watercolour which will give some nice effects.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Tiny Food

I've always loved tiny things ever since my father made me a doll's house when I was a child and filled it with beautiful tiny furniture. So I was enchanted when I found the blog of Stéphanie Kilgast, called PetitPlat.

Stéphanie discovered miniature food making in 2007 when she was studying for her Masters in Architecture. She opened her Etsy shop the following year, and has been making increasingly amazing miniature food ever since.

All the food is made of Fimo, but she manages to get such an amazing range of textures. Look at this beautiful cake, it looks so spongey!

Or this tasty looking bread! It's so crusty and delicious looking, I can almost smell it.

If you are interested in how Stéphanie makes her amazing food, there are a few tutorials on her blog, including one for making lemons like the ones in the picture below.

Or better still, buy her book! It's self-published, and includes instructions in French and English on how to make tiny food for Easter, Halloween, Christmas and parties in general. 

The instructions and photographs look great, I've ordered a copy and I can't wait until it gets here! I'm sure having a go at making this tiny stuff will give me even more of an appreciation of how difficult it is to make.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

More Spinning

My first lot of handspun yarn! I finally finished spinning all the green and yellow stuff a while ago, and then I had to ply it, which is when you spin two or more strands together. This makes the yarn stronger and thicker, and stops it from unwinding itself. This is a 3 ply.

I've already started on my second spinning project, with some tops that I picked up very cheaply at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild sale day. It's much softer and I can spin it so much more finely. The tops are mostly royal blue with bits of yellow, white and pink included. At first I was going to leave the other colours out, but they actually make it much more interesting to spin, so I'm changing colour for a bit every now and then. They will probably be knitted into socks for Mr Macska eventually, but I'm sure he can cope with a tiny bit of pink.

The fabric in the background is a beautiful piece of Hungarian embroidery which I am going to make into cushions (I have two of them). It almost looks like it is woven, but it's actually stitched in lines on the red fabric.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Little Paris Kitchen

About a month ago I discovered a new cooking show on SBS. I'm not usually interested in programs about cooking, but a friend from work told me that the chef in question was like a cross between Nigella and Amelie, so I had to have a look!

Of course I'm talking about the lovely Rachel Khoo, a British girl who moved to Paris to study patisserie at Le Courdon Bleu, and who subsequently turned her one-room Paris flat into a restaurant so tiny that she could only seat two diners!

I fell in love with Rachel, who is cute, down-to-earth, and most of all, very real. Her food is classic homestyle French cooking with a twist. I can definitely see the Nigella in her (both women love cream and nice cardigans) and she charms every French person she meets. As well as showing her cooking in her miniscule kitchen (she only has a toaster oven!), her program has Rachel visiting some of her favourite food suppliers and places to eat in Paris, and taking inspiration from them.

Naturally there is a book, My Little Paris Kitchen. The recipes are a nice mixture of classic and adventurous. So far I've only tried the Potatoes Gratin, which was delicious, but I'm hoping to try more soon.

You can find the 12 recipes that were featured in the show on the BBC website.  I can't wait to try her Madeleines with Lemon Curd!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Bump and Grindercise

Bump and Grindercise logo by Gypsy Taylor

On Saturday I went to my new excercise class - Bump and Grindercise! Run by the glamorous burlesque dancer L'amour, the class is like a burlesque aerobics class with some twerking thrown in for good measure.
As you can see, L'amour really dresses up for her classes, so I felt I had to make something exciting to wear.

Tada! My new burlesque workout outfit! The bra is from a belly dancing costume I made for the end-of-year concert last year. I had some lycra left over, so I made a pair of high-waisted knickers to match, and wore them over fishnets.

I used The Betty High Waisted Panties pattern from Ohhh Lulu. It's very good, you just pay and get a PDF emailed to you instantly.

The panties knickers (sorry, it's just the most awful word) have a shaped front and back piece, and side panels, so you can make them out of contrasting fabrics if you so desire. The instructions are quite brief (no pun intended!) but there is a tutorial on making them on the Ohhh Lulu blog. 

Gertie (from Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing) made some and posted about them on her blog here - she mentions that she modified the pattern slightly to make them nip in at the waist more, and that's what I did too. Although the pattern uses lingerie elastic around the waist and leg openings, I bound the legs with strips of lycra and just folded the waist over and made a casing for elastic, as I wanted them to look more sturdy and less lingerie-like.

I'm definitely going to make some more pairs of knickers with this pattern - you can also use non-stretch fabrics cut on the bias for the front and back panels, so it would be nice to experiment with silk!