The Booth

In the previous post, I explained that I will be undertaking voice overs and presenting some of my books as audiobooks. Great, awesome, let’s get cracking.

Not so fast.

After a practice run of about five minutes using my phone as the microphone, it was evident that there were issues with simply reading out a book.

  • There was too much background noise
  • I was inconsistent with the distance to the microphone
  • The quality was ok, but not brilliant
  • Every stuff-up kind of got lost
  • I was mumbling a lot
  • I was interrupted even more

What I needed, I decided, was a proper place where I could lock a door and do the recording in peace and concentrate solely on getting the words right. For that, I needed a room. The bedroom didn’t work out, nor the loungeroom, nor the laundry or toilet. Echoes and funky acoustics. Noisy neighbours. Running water pipes in the walls. On top of that, I wasn’t keen to slap a bunch of foam on the walls and get yelled at by Wifey.

A few solutions on the net, like making a foam-encased shroud, came up and I got some materials to make that happen – the top of an arch, some foam and baffle boards. The end result was not so great. Ambient sound still polluted the recording, and my phone was just not up to scratch.

Nope, no good. A room with a phone wasn’t going to cut it.

I needed to build a booth.

I had space in the garage. It was all over the place. A little bit here, a little bit under there, lots of it toward the roof. The hard part was consolidating it all, sticking all the space together to form a cohesive area. I rearranged shelves, threw out a bunch of junk, packed half-finished craft into boxes and got to the stage where I had enough space to knock up a wooden frame.

Now, I was going to buy some lengths of wood to make the frame, get it square and right, make it a little hut inside my garage, only at that exact time I came into a lot of scrap wood from the side of the road. Armed with a bunch of screws, a saw and a pencil, I made a fairly decent frame, using an old desk as the base of the booth.

To block out the noise, I used fibreglass insulation bats, sandwiched between masonite on one side and this funky white plastic sheeting. On top, more insulation, some plyboard and masonite. It has a door with a lock and a handle. When I close the door – it’s a lot quieter. Not dead silence, but a heck of a lot quieter.

The Black Knight

The other day Rebecca handed me a piece of board and told me to get creative.

Yesterday I handed it back to her:

Word to the wise: the vinyl backing glue ain’t the best for sticking tiles to tiles. I did have to use a bit of craft glue to keep the pieces on. Also, don’t get your pinkies in the way of the scalpel. Goes without saying, I know, but, you know… don’t.

The slate and marble tiles lend themselves nicely to a moody, Halloween kind of look, but nothing says you can’t get a little creative and apply daubs of paint here and there to bring it up. Eh, go on! Get down to the hardware store and pick up some lino!Mini Jeztyr Logo

What’s in the Box?

Now that the dust has settled from the Great Bookface Fiasco of ’16 – let’s not mention it again in polite company, eh? – it’s time to keep moving on.

In fact, I’m playing catch-up. There’s some excellent news to share, also a new book or two in the works, but more on all of that in a later post.

Today it’s all about Nathan.

Nathan? Nathan Who?

Nathan is not a who, rather a what. He’s a box. A fruit box, to be exact.

I’m not sure how it all started. One minute we were discussing high level enterprise architecture, the next minute, well… yeah. Don’t worry, it’s not a screamer vid, and it’s better with the sound on:

I’ll get back to something more serious in the next post. I promise.Mini Jeztyr Logo

Easter Eggs -Triumphs and Failures

Running with the purple and gold theme, I made up a few more eggs and painted them blue, graduating to white at the bottom. Then came the white vine squiggles, with round balls on the ends of white flicks.

Finally, the balls were filled with white, gold and rose gold, just to mix things up again. Gloss up with several coats of polyurethane and we’re ready for Easter.

Easter Eggs 2016 the rest.jpg

Almost.

There are two big rules that go with making Easter Eggs.

  1. Always make more eggs than you will need and
  2. Never let little boys with curious fingers anywhere near your eggs otherwise:

BrokenEgg.jpg

This guy was only three coats of gloss away from finished! Oh, the humanity!Mini Jeztyr Logo

Easter Eggs – 2016

Easter caught me by surprise this year. Had grand plans to have everything prepped and ready, then I looked down for a second. Boom! It’s the 21st of March. How did that happen without anyone noticing?

The theme this year: Colours. Purple and gold, white and black. I also made some blue eggs, just to mix it up a little. There are a few ‘experimental’ designs, good to keep in the back of my mind for another time. I settled on the white, organic lines with gold bubble-fruit.

PurpleAndGoldEggs.jpg

And, because it’s Easter, I’ve also made a couple of Golgotha eggs. It’s a sunset scene, with the hillock and the three crosses set against the outskirts of the City. There’s a bit of gold mixed in the sky there, doesn’t come up in the photo too well.

GolgothaDetail.jpg

For more, check out my egg-blowing page.

Happy Easter everyone!Mini Jeztyr Logo

Blowing Eggs – The Easy Way

It’s Easter, Sunday 27th of Match, so for all you egg painting freaks, you’re probably thinking, “How am I going to blow all of my eggs in time?”, right? Am I right? I’m right, aren’t I?

Fret not! A while back I put up a post about how to blow eggs, the ins and outs, pitfalls, and at the end I mentioned that one can use a breast pump to speed up the process. The ‘Egg Express‘ (pun intended), if you will.

I’ve had a couple of sideways glances and disbelieving looks so, to show you how fast and easy it all is, I made a video.

The benefits are many: You can make a little production line – clean the eggs, make the holes, blow the shells, wash them and dry them – to go even faster or, if you’re into comfort over speed, simply chill in front of the television while pumping away. No mess, no fuss.

The only hard part is cleaning up afterwards. If you’ve got a pull-apart pump (like the one pictured), cleaning is a breeze.

Sorry for the interruption to the Digital Versus Hardback series, but time is pressing for Easter, so I had to knock this one out.

Also, more Easter Eggs this year. I wonder what the theme will be?Mini Jeztyr Logo

Merry Christmas – Craft

For Easter I prefer to paint eggs rather than buy chocolate eggs, simply because I think it’s a bit more personal.

When it comes to Christmas gifts, I must confess I’m resigned to simply purchasing them. Easter has a gifting theme, I guess, which implicitly narrows the scope of what’s available to be gifted, which is good for craft.

Christmas doesn’t follow this pattern.

Being so open ended, Christmas gifts can be just about anything, and, being anything for anyone, craft tends to be forgotten about.

For Kris Kringle this year at OrderMate, we were given the brief of ‘Mouse-Pad’. At first I groaned at the thought of trawling websites, going through thousands of ‘yeah, not quite’ options, then the thought struck me: This is a perfect opportunity for craft!

The result?

MinionMousePad

Tada! I could yak on about it but, you know what? I’ll let the video do the talking. Tips are in the Craft page.

Merry Christmas Sarah!

Be a part of it

Just about tied up the Animation, so don’t think I’ve gone anywhere, and if you’ve been following along at home, you’ll know that I managed to get the music sorted with help from MixMaster and DJ Extraordinaire CRX – Christopher Besant.

And this brings up a very important point for you, my dear audience, for you are part of something special.

What’s that?

The other day I overheard at Coles, of all places, a couple lamenting that movie producers have run out of ideas. They were saying how movies these days are rehashed versions of old movies (looking squarely at you, Total Recall).

I think that isn’t quite right. What I do think is that a lot of fresh, crazy, awesome, inspiring, zany ideas are right there in the heads and hands of all the independent artists, authors and musicians out there.

Think about it: If one is forced to create something for a buck, then the end product has to appeal to the masses, it has to be marketable to a target audience.

If, instead, one is able to create art for the sake of creating art, and to hell with the monetary side of things, then one breaks the shackles on creativity, boundaries are pushed, ideas are cultivated.

How can you help?

These are the people who, despite financial, occupational and temporal commitments, spend their limited resources making stuff. Cool stuff. Interesting stuff. Stuff that you won’t find anywhere else simply because it came fresh out of a mind.

You can foster these minds by becoming supporters. Oh, great, a bid for money: Yes, but money is only one part of it. Hear me out.

Indie artists spend their time and money and sanity to bring their ideas to you. If you like what they’re doing, or if you can see where they are going, then you can help by funneling some of that love back in.

Time – Husbands, wives, friends and relatives, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, all of you have your own talents. OK, you may not be able to write your indie friend’s book, but you can help out by proofing, or designing a cover, or converting / uploading the book to distributers.

With work, family, emergencies and helping others out, time is a very precious commodity indeed, and anything you can do to ease the burden means less time juggling commitments and more time making.

Money – Buying an indie’s stuff is a true way to support an artist, but you can also support the wider community and it won’t cost the Earth. For example, Radio Rock 92.6 the Blitz is registered on Patreon. For only $1 a month, you can keep the radio on air which, in turn, support independent artists from around the world, so they can get their ideas out.

If it weren’t for The Blitz, I wouldn’t have heard of Megan Cooper, Circe Link or Lions Names Leo (Side note, looking forward to Megan Cooper’s Album “Ghosts, Choirs & Kings“).

Sanity – You can help by supporting those creative minds, by saying to those indie musicians and authors and artists, “We dig what you’re doing!” The hardest part, speaking from personal experience, is the lack of feedback. A simple ‘like’ goes a long way or, better yet, a quick comment on to your fav’s YouTube post reminds them that people are listening, they are reading, that the world still exists.

The toll on an artist is greater than you might think – consider the rate of substance abuse among artists – and I truly think that letting them know that their efforts are not in vain does more than giving them time and money.

Go on. Be part of it. Support your independent artists anyway you can.

Swamp-Beast Egg

Still with the creepy, Halloween theme, we have the Swamp-Beast Egg.

It was going to be Cthulu, but everyone knows that Cthulu has tentacles. If you want to get all Lovecraftian, it could possibly be a Deep-One Egg. I’ve also heard it being called a Dragon-Egg. Whatever.

Preparation

Find a fat, rounded egg, so that Swampy looks like he’s had a healthy fish diet. Get boggly eyes (makes everything cuter) and some impasto medium.

Undercoat as described earlier, let it dry and then paint in a solid green. If you’re after a light-hearted beast, go for a bright, vivid green. A dark green will be decidedly moodier. As for his tummy, settle for a muddy mustard of river-bed brown. Two solid coats of that and let Swampy dry.

Get some white paint and mix it into some impasto. Using a slim paintbrush, scoop and roll it onto the egg about midway to form the teeth. Think goofy, clumsy canines jutting upwards.

Meet 'Swamps', the Deep-One
Meet ‘Swamps’, the Deep-One

Clean your brush out, let it dry, then mix red with the impasto. Scoop and roll a thick slab to form the lower lip, draping it across the teeth. Build it up and sculpt it with a knife or spatula if you need to.

As always, just ask for diagrams if you need them.

While you’ve got a blob of red impasto sitting there doing nothing, dip your paintbrush in and tease to form spikes on the back. Continue all the way down the back. If the spikes fall over, tease them back up again. They’ll hold when they’re dry.

Finishing

Let it dry, then mix some green in the impasto and build the lower portion of the mouth, and some eyebrows above where the eye will be. Thick, heavy eyebrows give an impression of brutishness, so be moderate if you want a goofy, rather than ugly or scary egg.

Stick on the eyes and let it dry: big and close for cute, small and wide for piggy.

When it’s all dry, pick up a fine brush, mix a different shade of green and make a succession of ‘scales’, little U shapes in rows, all the way around. This is the most time consuming part, so make sure you’ve got a coffee handy, especially if you’re doing a batch. You are doing this in batches, right? Everyone is going to want one!

Alright, so keep going around and around, making little U’s, alternative the position on each row. You can afford to get thicker at the back, where his scales would be larger, but as you near his face, scatter the scales and make them finer and smaller.

Mix some lighter tummy colour, and, using a fine brush, make horizontal lines.

Some spikes or fins on the back, plenty of scales.
Some spikes or fins on the back, plenty of scales.

Let it dry. Get some shiny gloss (he’s a swamp beast, he’s wet) and slather it all over him, going for at least two coats. I’m yet to find a proper egg cup for him, but that’s ok: He’s one of those eggs that likes to be picked up and held.Mini Jeztyr Logo