Monday, June 29, 2015

Easy DIY Photo Backdrop Idea: Simple Cardboard and Fabric, Easy to Use and Store


Right now I'm in the midst of re-branding, taking photos for my new project and doing other product photos for a client. (If you need product photos or web work, contact me, I'd love to help!) I'm loving the idea of having a bunch of photo backdrops to select from on-hand and ready-to-go for taking pictures. Ideally, I'd have a huge industrial warehouse to spread and work in, but since I work from my apartment, I need to make backdrops that are easy to fold up and put away after use. Etsy has a wide selection of beautiful ones that I'll likely invest in eventually, but making your own is free or close to it and keeps your photos unique! Here's what I've been experimenting with behind-the-scenes.

It's pretty much as simple and glueing your fabric to cardboard. You can use foam core, or even poster board. I make them so they fold in half so I can hide them behind my expedit unit in my work area until needed.

I cut the cardboard in half, then duct tape the back so I can fold it and go. It helps to iron the fabric, but in most cases you can smooth it out with glue. Elmer's glue was perfect for my (50 cent yard sale!) burlap but spray adhesive like 3m Super 77 would be better for thin fabric.

It's fun to have a variety so you can stage photos with different colors and textures and see what works best for a story or editorial/branding style. I'll be here constructing a whole bunch of these!

I love using what I have for business. This may be a reductive idea but I hope it helps you brainstorm on creative photography and crafting! What do you use to take photos? Any unique tips or tricks to share?
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Savannah Explorations: The Beautiful, Romantic, Wormsloe Plantation and Historic Site

Unexpectedly, one of my favorite stops on our recent Savannah, Georgia adventure was our final one. Wormsloe planation is a historic site that boasts the longest oak-lined road in the world! It goes down a mile and a half! It's relaxing to walk through the trails and explore the old tabby ruins (basically only some fence and foundation is left) of the original plantation, a recreation of colony life, and just witness some of the wildlife. (For the first time in years, we were very slow, in person, to a deer!)

Normally, I'd write this but my eyes are burning/tired right now (The shame! But I've been working/doing lots of homework + can't sleep) so I'm copy-pasting some information about Wormsloe from this awesome travel website:

The name Wormsloe is taken from the Welsh border country that Jones was originally from. Jones was given a plot of land in town, and 500 acres on a peninsula south of town, and was allowed to build the fortified house, which had some boats and some soldiers. The soldiers were there to keep an eye out for any Spaniards who had a mind to move their holdings north from Florida to the English holdings in the Carolina’s which would put them into the no-man's land that Georgia was at the time. Jones held all sorts of jobs, surveyor, doctor, carpenter, cultivator of interesting fruits, commander of a company of marines, and probably most importantly, a friend to the founder of the colony, James Oglethorpe. Eventually his plantation got to be quite large, and in the true spirit of any new colony they cultivated all sorts of things, cotton, grapes, corn, rice, indigo and mulberry trees so they could feed their silkworms, which mostly proved unsuccessful. In 1749 the ban on slavery in the colony was lifted, (no word on if the ban on alcohol was also lifted,) but the plantation still was fairly unprofitable, though he eventually ended up with about 5500 acres and 5 lots in town. Jones died in 1775, which was probably good timing, as his son was for the Revolution, while he was very much against it. His heirs kept the land, but didn’t do much with it besides let it fall into a bit of disrepair. Eventually they built the first plantation house in 1828, and the owner at the time began an imprint that publishes books on Georgia history. The generation after that kept up the site, and made numerous improvements, including the oak alley, until it passed into a trust in the early 1970’s.

If you're in Savannah it's worth a stop. The history and surroundings are fascinating! The tabby foundation of the Wormsloe planation is the oldest standing structure in Savannah!

/Comments Off
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Get Organized: Letting Go. "Cleaning Parties" for Motivation and Purging Persuasion.


I had this post scheduled ahead of time to coincide with my planned "organization party" with friends. We've arranged a "cleaning party" system where we hop from house to house, helping each other purge and organize respective clutter. After all, it's much easier to help other people organize their stuff than to organize your own mess! While in the midst of cleaning I didn't snap any photos during the day with the bright natural lighting I prefer to work with! These pictures were taken into the morning hours after the clean-up was done.

We focused on the cluttered black bins in my IKEA expedit unit. Now all my herbalism homework, art supplies, and tools are neatly organized within. With my friend's helped I forced myself to donate and trash half-finished projects from years ago, along most my "I'm going to turn this into day" bits and bobs.

I'm not nearly done, I want to read my reference books and magazines, take notes, then sell and donate them. I'm also starting a system to scan my business receipts ASAP so I can go as paperless as possible. But the afternoon's worth of decluttering was an inspiring start. My vision is to keep surfaces mostly uncluttered and to have a huge "gallery" statement wall in each room, taking advantage of my apartment's tall-ass ceilings!

Tomorrow I have a huge pile of boxes to drag to the thrift store. I can't wait to take tons of didn't-sell merch and not-done projects down the stairs...for the last time! Unfinished projects and objects you're not 100% passionate about block your energy. BIG TIME. They bog you down, like an anchor tied around your neck...when you're trying to swim for your life! Right now there's a Yuko curled up on my lap. I'm finally adding some pieces that were floating around to my vision book, and my writer's block is clearing. It feels so good to purge and organize!

What things do you have trouble letting go? I was saving broken souvenirs and unfinished projects but finally let them go. By the way, if you look to the right on the blog (click through to the blog if you're reading via e-mail) I have a post schedule added. I want to do organization/home or diy posts every Monday. Let me know if you have any particular requests!
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Friday, June 19, 2015

Creative Collectors: A Retro-Font Designer's Vintage Ephemera and Typography Lot

Most creators collect. We're magpies, taking in objects from the outside world and using them as influence to conjure new creations. I love to have collections on display in every room in my home, but it's especially important to have collections for stimulation in my workspace. I continue to purge and become a minimalist, but I'll always collect vintage and inspiring artifacts to a degree. What I can't collect...I'll capture in other people's lots and share here, of course!

I thought I'd be fun to start with Jeff, a collector who's quarry is a literal necessity for his job as a retro font typographic designer!

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, Jeff?

I've resided in South Florida for over 50 years; relocating to the area when my parents decided to move here from New York state.  Since around January of 2006 I've been a typographic designer, specializing in retro-influenced computer fonts. Prior to this I've done a number of things... including working in office supplies, at a photo lab and a 7-1/2 year stint with a record label/recording studio as a general assistant.

2. You're a vintage font designer, which sounds like a dream job to me as a fellow vintage ephemera collector and font-nerd! How did you get into this work?

I've been in love with lettering since childhood.  Around the third grade, a fellow classmate brought a Stenso Lettering Guide into class.  I became fascinated with those paper stencils, and the "lettering bug" bit me... but it wasn't until about nine years ago that I decided to make my permanent career typographic design, and it was a decision based out of financial necessity.

3. Are you formally trained or did you pick it up as you went?

I've always been a "self-taught" and "hands-on" person, and my love of lettering was the basis for me developing type fonts.

4. How long have you collected vintage typography and signage?

You might say I first started collecting lettering items soon after I saw that stencil at school.  One of my earliest collections included a number of those stencils, along with other lettering items I'd find in various stores.

5. Where do you find most of your pieces?

In recent times, eBay has been my primary source of collectible material, but I've also been fortunate enough to meet some kind folks along the way who have supplied things I've been able to use as design influences.

6. Any tips for hunting down these collectibles?

Perseverance, and the willingness to hold firm against the temptation to get something "at any price".  Most sellers have no idea what the true value of an item is... so they often ask outlandish prices for such items... based on the highest price they've seen a similar item sell for.  Supply and demand drive true price values, not necessarily the age of an item.

7. What are your favorite pieces?

Stenso and E-Z Letter stencils hold a place that's dear to my heart.  I've also collected a number of vintage office supply items because of my association with the field, but space limitations keeps that collection to a minimum.  Over the years I've owned other vintage lettering devices, but have donated many of them to the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati once they had served their purpose.

8. Does your collection help you with your work?

Of course.  Many of those purchases were sign, lettering or marketing-related, and they were a fertile ground for many type revival ideas.  If any of your readers have any vintage lettering items they no longer need - especially Stenso or E-Z Letter stencils they think I can use, they can drop me a line at jnl1952 (at) juno (dot) com!

9. Any tips for would-be designers out there?

Don't close your eyes to the past, for as a famous saying teaches "you've got know where you've been to know where you're going".  Learn about earlier design influences and let your inner muse speak to you.  Find your own style and stick with it.  Break the formal rules if necessary, because art is a subjective entity.  One person will love your work, while others will hate it.  There is no right or wrong... just various interpretations of styles and choices.

10. All excellent tips! What's your favorite era of vintage typography/signage?

The Art Deco era, although there is always something interesting to find in every time period... with the possible exception of the 1970s.  A lot of BAD designs (typographically, in fashion and in society) still exist, and tend to overshadow the good designs.

Don't Be Shy! Thanks so much for taking the time out to share some of your collections and advice with us! I would love to feature your collections on the blog, please e-mail me if you have anything to share!

What are you collecting lately? I'm still on my ephemera kick, but I'm also on the prowl for unique mod planters, art prints, chairs/stools and 60s/70s clothing...
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My Top 22 Tools for Digital Making, Organization, and Running a Web Business

For an utter web-junkie that makes a living online, I don't use a massive array of aps or web tools daily. I adore my composition books for business notes, plan ahead with a simple $1.00 pocket calendar and love to keep it simple. Simple is good, but the right tools are vital for making a living on, or easily navigating, the web. These are my favorite tools for digital creating, organizing and running a web business that I've gathered over my many years working online. I use some of these daily! I'm always on the hunt for more, so please so share any you swear by in the comments!

1) Tool to Remember Passwords for Various Accounts + Extra Account Security | Roboforms

2) File Storage + Easy Way to Share Files for Collaboration | Dropbox

3) Photo Storage + Web Traffic Booster + Photographer Social Network | Flickr

4) Online Resume Host + Job Hunting Tool | LinkedIn

5) Free, Easy, Customizable Online Store Set-Up | Storenvy

6) Service to Help You Build a Gorgeous Stand-Alone Shop + Portfolio | Squarespace

7) Service for Selling Your Artwork Printed on Various Wares | Society6

8) A Space to Sell Your Themed, Curated, Handmade and Vintage Wares | Etsy

9) A Space to Sell a Wide Variety of Random Valuable Wares to a Wide Audience | eBay

10) User-friendly, Easily-Customized Way to Host a Blog | Blogger

11) Easy way to Set Up an Art Portfolio | Other People's Pixels

12) A Pretty, Visual BookMarking Tool + Website Traffic Generation | Pinterest *

13) Blog Reader, Bookmarker, and Blog Traffic Generation | Blog Lovin'

14) Tool to Find the Best Font for a Project (With the ones you already have ) |

15) Free, Royalty-Free Images | Morgue Files

16) Inexpensive, High Quality,  Royalty-Free Images | Dollar Photo

17) High Quality Stock Photos of All Kinds | iStockphoto

18) Document Making, Hosting, and Easy Sharing + Collaborating | Google Documents

19) 100% Free Fonts for Commercial Use | Font Squirrel 

20) Free Website Counter and Analytics | Google Analytics

21) Easier Website Domain Name Set-Up | GoDaddy

22) Additional Free Website Visit Counter and Analytics | Statcounter

* I see the merits of it, but I hate Pinterest! Every time I do a craft post I'm asked if I have a Pinterest on which to host my craft posts? No! That's what my blog is for, to host my content. I've met tons of people who think Pintetest creates the content rather than the creators themselves! Boo! Hiss! I know loads of people love it but I'm bitter about it. I feel like it contributes to a lot of content ubiquity as so many content creators copy and compete to keep their photos super "Pinterest sharable."

Do you have any swear-by, go-to aps or websites to share? I'd love to hear them! I've tried many different calendar and task-setting aps and collaboration softwares but I love the tangible tiny real calendar and the simplicity of google documents.
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Monday, June 15, 2015

Thunderbird Inn: A Kitschy Mid Century Modern Hotel Stay in Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia elicits many romantic visuals: live oaks drenched in spanish moss, the neon blitz of pink azalea flowers, and the stoic white columns of stately mansions. We saw all of that and more on my recent short two-day stay along with an unexpected surprise- mid century modern neon mod sign galore! I'll update with more, but first, a peek at the beautiful restored 1960s kitschy hotel where we stayed the night.

When we first arrived we had to seek quick refuge from the thunderstorm. The beautiful bright teal, yellow and red-orange of the exterior reminded me of hotels I've seen in photos of Palm Springs. Mid Century Modern perfection that brightened a gray arrival.

The small lobby mirrors the outside perfectly, creating an authentic mid century modern diner vibe. There's free lemonade, decaf and caffeinated coffee, and each room comes with a free can of soda and a free moon pie for each guest. Cute touches I didn't indulge in, too much sugar!

When we were settled into the room I realized I missed the most beautiful part of this Savannah landmark, that mod sign! As gorgeous at night as it is during the day! Massive and bright! Kitschy and beautiful. It reminded me of my favorite Tampa Hotel.

One shot I neglected to get was the bright, clean room right upon arrival. Seeing a neatly made kitschy inn bed with fresh white sheets is one of my favorite sights in the world; such is my geeky inn obsession...but this time Amber, Jill and I were too busy jumping on the beds to think about it! That was fun! The mattresses are that firm foam kind, so damn comfortable! The rooms are good-sized and the decor was cute. I forgot to snap a shot on the vintage (or vintage repo, more likely) rotary dial phone on the bedside table.

And in the morning you get free donuts! A rare treat for a small Inn stay. Funny, I didn't notice the free tea until looking back at the photos. I'll be back for that next time, it was such a comfortable stay that I'll definitely be back again!

Next time I'll have to ask about their bike rentals, too. There's so much to see and do in Savannah, Georgia, I'm surprised I've never visited since it's only a two hour drive away from Jacksonville! Next time I want to check out an herb shop I missed, spend more time in my new favorite vintage and nerd shops and of course, take in as many museums as possible!

You been on any summer adventures yet? We have many more planned! But for now, back to making money to fund these adventures, haha...
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Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer Adventure Times: Looking Back at Taino Caves and Cliff Divers in Puerto Rico

"That was the coolest place ever!" said my mom as she watched me edit the photos for this blog post.

My family braved our fear of heights to explore caves while visiting family in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The first time we visited La Ventana (the window), a cave that ends with a huge opening overlooking a valley miles below, it was unguided. The second time we visited a couple of years later the cave was privatized, so we put on our silly hard-hats and enjoyed the guided tour. This time, we learned that the nearby cave we'd visited before was a "birthing cave", a spiritual place where women would go to produce the newest Taino tribe members. What a beautiful sentiment. We also learned the Tainos were matriarchal, respecting the women who brought lives into the world.

The caves themselves remind me of the "Part of your World" musical number in The Little Mermaid. It was once submerged under the ocean and has multiple portholes looking up just like the one in Ariel's secret grotto! For the second cave, you climb up on a cliff overlooking the gorgeous turquoise waters, then descend a terrifying, rickety latter into the birthing caves. Light shines like prisms everywhere, all glistening scintilla and beautiful. I can't wait to go back one day! Even though the cliff divers (!!!) diving from tall heights and narrowly avoiding rocks was scary as hell to watch!

/Comments Off I'm exploring Savannah Georgia today, in the spirit of Summer Adventures. I'll be back with informative content soon
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Springfield Home Tours: Vintage, Mid Century Modern, and Classic Home Design


I'd been meaning to attend for years, but never bought my tickets in time. This year I finally took part in my neighborhood's tour of historic homes in the Springfield area. I love any excuse to peek through any home, after all! The architecture, decor, and histories that same each house is infinitely fascinating for me.

To start the tour you meet at a local office where vintage vignettes (sponsored by Eco Relics, which I wrote about here) were set up.

I especially enjoyed the yellow stool and classic chalkboard.

The first stop was a stunner from 1902, fully updated inside with gorgeous modern kitchens and bathrooms while retaining the qualities that made the original so special.

The standing shower with pebble flooring and huge jacuzzi tub are the stuff of dreams. The original stained glass windows really made this one stand out. The rounded rooms with extremely cozy, too.

The second stop was a home I'd love to occupy. I love a cozy bungalow and I miss having any kind of outdoor space to play with. I'd have so many potted plants and and get-togethers on that beautiful wrap-around porch. I have fond memories of balconies from my childhood in Italy.

I've never seen a home in real life follow many of the trends I see on blogs. I enjoyed how clean and modern it was with minimal collections and art pieces for impact.

The final stop on our tour is the former Barnet mansion, equipped with it's own elevator and servant's quarters!

I wish we would have had more time to ponder every detail on this tour but we had to rush through it. I'll definitely purchase tickets and explore beautiful local homes with history and character again next year! (There was another home we didn't get to peek into, it was blocked when paramedics had to assist a woman who needed assistance on the house's porch. I'm assuming she was faint from dehydration, it was HOT. AS. HELL out this weekend here in Florida.)

Which house would you like to live in? The last one is way too big for me! I wouldn't mind either the first or the second! Or any house! For now I play in other people's gardens...
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