Keeping It Together on the Go

My (very long) quest for a new day bag is (finally) over.

A while back, I was drooling over a Haiku bag. And it was beautiful…one the outside. But I finally found one to look at, and the inside just didn’t excite me. Of course, after I first looked inside a Timbuk2, everything else paled in comparison. But my old day bag gave up the ghost after several years of use, and the day bag trying to fill the void was becoming more of a headache to use every day.

So, I debated, and I debated…and I debated. You guys saw part of that debate. I really wanted a bag that was the Timbuk2 on the inside and the Haiku on the outside. But I remembered that Timbuk2 had been experimenting with their look a little bit the last time I’d been on the site, so I decided to take another look.

The customization process on their main series offered a lot of options, and they were holding a sale on the size I wanted (because they’re getting rid of it 😦 ). I found what I thought was a tweed print, and fell in love. I created the bag and ordered it, and then wondered if I’d been rash. But the more I looked at what I thought was a print, the more I loved it.

The bag arrived a couple of days later, and you can see why I keep saying “what I thought was a print”: 

It’s not a tweed print on nylon. It’s tweed, and the size is perfect for me. I made a good rash decision.

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The Ergonomics of Triangles

When I was little, I used to love those brightly colored triangular pencil grips. I liked adding color to my pencil, and I always thought they felt funny. By the time I started teaching, the pencil grips had taken on a cylindrical shape and were built in to higher-end mechanical pencils. They also started leaving a callous on my finger.

Oddly enough, in the past year the rubber grips on mechanical pencils have taken on a more triangular shape, softer on the corners than the old hard rubber grips I loved as a child which seems to lead to that callous being aggravated less often.

This afternoon, I was drinking a Soup at Hand. I don’t drink them very often, but I find them convenient when I don’t want to break my working stride. When they first came out, I liked the hourglass shape of the can because it fit my little hand without making me feel like I have small hands. (It’s hard to find products that comfortably fit my hand.) But the cans I picked up while I was sick aren’t round; they’re slightly triangular in shape.

Fascinated, I shifted the can around in my hands a few times while I thought about the design change. As much as we’d all like to believe otherwise, our hands really don’t naturally wrap in a round fashion. I found grabbing the triagular grip, regardless of how the can was oriented, was far more comfortable, and I had a better grip on it than I did when I held the round section of the can.

I wonder if we’re going to see more handheld cylindrical items take on a triangular shape, or if this is a design fad.

Fairy Tale Design

This afternoon, I was watching the version of Cinderella with Brandi, which ends with a fairy-tale wedding. Except Cinderella’s dress was more in line with the fashion of when the movie was made.

It got me to thinking about the “fairy tale” look. When somebody tried to dress up “fairy tale”, the look is invariably steeped in medieval or Renaissance fashion. While people like Charles Perrault and the Grimms were recording folk tales throughout this time (or the 1800s, in the Grimms’ case? Ed– I was right.), most of the tales had been passed down orally for hundreds of years. Many of them actually traveled from various corners of the globe to become part of another culture’s lore.

As a result, trying to assign a “look” to any fairy tale is far more tricky than just slapping a corset over it and calling it “authentic”.

Having Fun With Color!

I’ve linked to ColourLovers in the past, but I really thought I’d like to share it with you as a fun tool. There are a ton of tools out there to help you find good color combinations based on science and math. ColourLovers allows you to explore based on your own perceptions.

The fun part is you can develop a palette that has anywhere from two to five colors in it, and then submit it for rating by other members in the community. If you select a color not previously used on the site, you get to name it. Members can rate and love both colors and palettes, which can lead to a cool personal library of color inspirations!

(For those curious, here are my own little library of creations and favorite colors and palettes. I am, as always, stuck in my love for those muted earthy colors and those slightly off-beat combinations!)

ColourLovers also has a great blog that covers everything from color symbolism to design theory to brief studies on colors found in various settings. It’s pretty good for those interested in color and its uses.

I need to find the time to sit down and play with the color schemes I’m debating for the website revamps. Maybe I’ll find that perfect shade of sage that seems to be eluding me.

But They’re Complements!

Any kid stuck in an art class learns about artistic complements, those colors opposite each other on the simplest color wheel. Each pair usually consists of a primary and a secondary derived from the combination of the other remaining primaries. We’re taught that these colors “complement” each other because they force the color to pop, to stand out.

There are examples all through advertising and the art world that demonstrate how well each pair plays together.

One of my favorites was an ad where a green-eyed girl was wearing red, and she was standing in a room that walls nearly the same shade as her eyes. It was such a powerful combination that it’s stuck with me twenty years later. The message comes through loud and clear- play with complements to make an impact.

Imaginer my surprise, then, to see an article titled “Red and Green Should Never Be Seen” on a color-blending site. One of the most basic rules children are taught in art class, and the design world frowns on it?

If you look at the article, you’ll see that it’s a design axiom that people love to break. In fact, the entire article is examples of color palettes that break various design axioms quite nicely. In fact, I’m even looking at one of them as a starting point for redoing one of my own websites.

You can decide for yourself whether to follow middle school art class or trends in design, but following color complements hasn’t failed me yet!

Oh, What Those Legos Can Do!

I know, I know. The correct plural of Lego is Lego. Grammar issues aside, this gallery, which includes M.C. Escher-based Lego sculptures, is incredible.

I’ve always loved Lego. I’ve always loved M.C. Escher. He’s done two of my favorite Escher pieces (Relativity and Waterfall). I’m in heaven! (A number of his other works are pretty interesting, too.)

There are actually a number of Lego artists who’ve shared their creations on the internet, some incredible sculptures. They’re worth hunting down.

The Comfort of a Design Notebook

A couple of months ago, I bought myself a recycled sketchpad with the intent of turning it into a design notebook and the knowledge the notebook would lie around blank (as so many notebooks do in my purple cave).

Then I started sketching out a plan for redesigning the other website. Then I started writing notes and to-do lists to myself to get everything organized. Then I started playing with paint chips and colored pencils. I think I’ve even done a little character analysis, with my own characters and with someone else’s characters, in there.

It’s become this interesting mixtures of text, images, and colors. It’s got its own little color coding going on so if I’m trying to find notes on a specific topic, I can. I think some of my self-exploration activities have landed in there.

The notebook lives right beside my desk, right under a pencil case that contains colored pencils, mechanical pencils, and a small ruler, and it gets pulled out often. If I’m not just thumbing through it, then I’m drawing out pieces of a room design I’d love to put together. I’m creating word clouds. I’m gluing in paint chips and then writing abstractly about how the colors work for me.

What started out with the intention of being a notebook that would only contain images and explanations of those images now is home to notes on topics for Dead Bunny, home to me thinking out loud in text and color. There are no boundaries on it, and that in turn removes the boundaries from my thinking processes.

Inspiration By Color

It’s not unusual for an idea, a concept, a project to grip your imagination so tightly that you can’t do much else until you create with it. But how many tines have you had the same problem with a color or a color combination?

I’ve long suffered from being haunted by color combinations. I can’t explain it, but it’s not unusual for a color or color combination to try to infiltrate every fiber of my being. It tries to come out in my wardrobe, my decorating, my design work. It’s crazy!

For a while, I was releasing my inner color demons by finding the right colors in embroidery floss and creating macramé bookmarks, just to have the combination somewhere nearby until the infatuation had run its course.

How about you? Have you ever been stalked by a color or color combination? How do you deal with it?

Walls as Part of the Design Process

One of the smartest things I ever did was invest in a white board and some smaller corkboards. They’ve been absolutely invaluable! Last summer, I decided to make my space more design-friendly by hanging up a white board and small corkboards.

The white board is home to various to-do lists and it’s not unusual to see me snatch it off the wall and draw a jewelry design on it. I’ve actually considered investing in another to keep near my bed so I don’t lose valuable time trying to get to my desk when I have a brilliant idea.

THe corkboards are filled with a collection of things. Two are filled with mementos from friends and students. The other two are filled with post-it notes, charms, and cards from various TCGs. These are my design boards, and I’m in serious need of more. These boards hold thoughts on jewelry, writing, and CafePress.

It’s actually really fun and pretty inspirational to be surrounded with my thoughts like this. When I can see them, I can just walk over, pull down a post-it note and start working on it for a bit. It’s motivational in its own way, and I never worry about running out of ideas, just space!

If you have a dedicated work space, consider putting up these types of tools so you can capture ideas at a moment’s notice. It’s very helpful, especially when you have a creativity block.

Sudden Flashes of Inspiration

I’m sure we’ve all been there. A sudden inspiration flashes through your brain, and you act on it immediately to keep it from escaping. I do it frequently at work, much to the amusement of my colleagues and my students. Without warning, I’ll suddenly snag a pad of post-it notes and a pencil and scribble something down. I’ll stick on whatever book I’m currently reading, bring it home, and stick it on my idea-generation bulletin board.

My friends are not quite as used to it, especially when I’m chatting online with them. It is somewhat unusual for me to go silent without an explanation during a chat session, so they’ll often ask me what I’m doing. Sometimes, this is a bad thing as I have to admit that I’m writing down ideas for five different fan fics so I could wade through them later. My friends are pretty tolerant and often amused by my responses, but I don’t think one of my friends was at all prepared for the response he got last night.

We’d both been sitting there quietly, so it seemed a bit odd when he asked what I was doing. I had just taken two bracelets given to me by someone who rubs me the wrong way and grouped them into a series of pieces that should be very fun to design and build! (I actually just spaced out for three minutes designing two of the pieces…oops!) I can only hope the silence on his end was him laughing at Rebecca’s craziness.

Inspiration…you won’t know when or how it will hit, but that’s what makes it inspiration, right?