Friday, September 24, 2010

Wedding Boxes

Over the past month, "A" and I have been collaborating on a set of boxes for a friend's wedding. These five mahogany boxes are gifts for the groomsmen, each one bearing the recipient's initials.

All of the boxes were cut from a single chunk (that's a technical term) of wood, so if lined up in a row the grain would run from end to end.

Sterling silver wire letters were soldered onto brass and oxidized for an antique feeling. The plaques were then riveted onto the lid with silver tubing. The lids slide off, revealing a burgundy felt-lined bottom.

We also included a surprise gift for the bride and groom—a box with their names and a special spot for each of them to keep their wedding band. 

I love collaborating with "A." (remember the eight box?) We spend so much time in our shops individually, and projects like this find us visiting each other, bouncing ideas around, and keeping each other's eyes on the deadline (something I could always use help with).

Wishing Toni and Drew many years of happiness together!

(It's killing me to have a finished project, and only and old point-and-click camera to shoot it with. Sorry for the less-than-fabulous photos. Camera, come back!)

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Damage

I spent yesterday at an arts market that is typically a great event for me, sales-wise, and a source of income I have grown to depend on. Six hours of chatting with potential customers and a delightful neighboring card maker, I loaded out of the show with exactly $42 in my pocket. 
Result: A long, frustrating day that was made bearable only through good conversation and new friends made
Hourly wage for the day, including set up and break down: $4.60

I pulled out my sewing machine determined to get an early start on holiday gifts, only to find the machine has some serious problems and needed to go to the shop.
Result: In the shop
Price for repair: $50

I finished a good handful of new pieces, set them up for a photo shoot, so I could share these new designs with the world, and get them listed in my shop. But when I tried to take the pictures? "err 99," camera completely out of commission.
Result: In the shop
Price for repair: $210

I have a shipment of materials arriving this afternoon, a white board with a list of enough orders to keep me busy this week, and a two-day arts festival to get ready for next weekend.
Result: In the shop
Spending my days working with my own two hands, making my own hours, and having the flexibility to be there when my kids need me: Priceless.

Until the camera returns, all shiny and like-new, I will be including old photos in my posts, or none at all. Bear with me...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Questions Answered

In the previous post, I invited you to ask any questions you had about me. Today, the answers.

Valarie asked to see more pictures of me, but after pouring over LOTS of family photos, I realized that I am always the photographer, not the subject. As a result, there are very few of me. Of the photos I am in, I'm always wearing sunglasses. I had no idea I wore them so much.

Emily had a few questions:
What is your favorite moment of the day? Easy. Picking the girls up at school. They both run to me as fast as they can and crash into me with a full-force hug. I actually have to brace myself! It seems like they have grown a bit each day, too, which makes me sad/happy/proud/amazed. 
What are your favorite materials to work with? Well, of course, I do love metal. I wish I could work with gold a little more often. It is really an experience to behold. There's something about the ancient-ness (I made up a new word!) of it that makes me feel like I've been let in on a secret thousands of years old. 
I have to add that I love painting as well. Acrylics do for now, but someday when I have the dream studio (ha!) I will paint with oils again. 
How old do you feel? Are you an old soul or a young soul? Hmn. I never thought about this, but I would have to say that it really depends on the day and the people I am surrounded by. I will admit to more and more gray hairs popping up each month, which I am not particularly a fan of. I suppose this serves to remind me that I'm no spring chicken anymore. Or am I? 
What is your favorite book/movie/song? One book? Impossible for me to name just one. I'll mention a few of my all-time favorites, though: East of Eden, The Poisonwood Bible, To Kill a Mockingbird.
I don't think I have a favorite movie, and my favorite song is Blue Sky by the Allman Brothers. I have some very strong, special memories associated with that song and each and every time I heard it, I am transported back to those times and places. 

Nicola asked:
How old were you when you married? I was 25, the old man was 23. Heh. 
What is your schooling background? I went to public school through high school, then attended Colorado State University, where I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts. 
Do you want more kids? Yes, but no. Does that make sense? We have decided our family is complete as it is, but if my heart overtook my brain on this matter, there would be many more little Ambroults. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

10 Things You Didn't Know About Me

Blogging is a funny thing. We make so many online connections and, if we're lucky, we get to know each other quite well. But even still, these friendships are limited, and there are always parts of our lives we will keep to ourselves, or things that seem insignificant enough just leave out of our blogging topics.

Every now and then, people post random facts about themselves and I always enjoy those posts so much. Lacking a blog topic at the moment, I thought I'd give it a shot, and let you in on a few things about me you might not know.

Red Rocks, Nevada 1999
1. I grew up on boats, but rarely get the chance to go for boat rides nowadays.

2. I once spent 3 days hanging on a cliff, rock climbing El Capitan (the Salathe Wall route) in Yosemite. 

3. I was once forced to sing Glen Medieros' "Nothing Gonna Change My Love For You" in front of a crowd at an English school in Vietnam (it's a loooong story, but if you have a moment, check out the link to the video. I promise it will make you laugh).

4. I love savory dinner food for breakfast. Cold leftovers are so much better than oatmeal.

5. My eyes are blue but I have a brown spot on my left iris, and so does my sister.

6. I got married on a whim in Las Vegas.

7. I sailed on a ship around the world, visiting 10 countries, for a study abroad semester.

8. I (not so secretly) want to be a painter when I grow up.

9. Each night in bed, I worry that I wasn't a good enough mother that day. 

10. I was a competitive swimmer for all of my youth, and as a result I get completely giddy watching the summer Olympic swimming events.
Kindergarten, 1979
So there you have it. A brief history of me.
Emily did this last spring, and even took it step further, inviting her readers to ask what they want to know about her. I loved reading the questions people had, as well as her answers, so today I am inviting you to do the same. Ask away, and I will answer your questions next week. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

5 Things: A Summer Summary

My first grader is quite excited to have homework of her own, now that she is a "grader." (I'm tempted to get some video footage of her homework enthusiasm so I can show it to her in 10 years). One of her assignments this week is to gather 5 things that represent what she did over summer vacation. As we gathered seashells, arcade tickets, carabiners, and more, I thought about what 5 things I would choose to represent my summer.
After giving it some thought, I decided that finding actual objects would be too ambiguous for me, so I chose 5 images, with words to accompany them, instead.

carousels (lots of them)

ice cream (lots of it)

initials (lots of them)

sand (dunes of it)

                                                    sisters (just two)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Power of Colors

While writing the previous post on color, I became acutely aware of my connection with colors. Colors wake me up, challenge me, inspire me, and change me. For me, and for many, color is what makes the world go 'round. Seeing a gorgeous combination of hues is sublime. Just take a look at this and tell me that doesn't light your fire.

A few months ago, I "met" Brandi, a jewelry designer who draws her inspiration from color. This week, she hosted a Color Palette Blog Walk, and here is my contribution. Tomorrow's theme is "blogger's choice--what's inspiring you."

Well, what's inspiring me right now is the time I have had in the woods with my family recently. A camping trip to the mountains, a climbing trip to an old haunt of ours, the quiet discovery of kids in the forest with no agenda and no distractions.

This photo was taken at our campsite. I was trying to capture all the different greens that were glowing above our heads, and the almost graphic quality of the darks where the leaves overlap. The photo doesn't quite do it justice, but making this color palette for it made me happy. I was transported back to the campsite, with all the serenity, scents, and feelings that go with it.

Also inspiring me right now? The skill, tenacity, and finesse with which our girls scaled these rocks. We are looking forward to a lifetime of rock climbing together as a family.

What's inspiring you right now?

Take a look at the color palettes other artists have created here. Amazing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beginner Drawing Lessons, Part III

Yay! Welcome to the third and final lesson in this three-part series: Color

Where would we be without color? The deep blue sea, scarlet poppies, and blazing sunsets would all be pretty nondescript without the hues that make them unforgettable.

There is so much to learn about color, but I'm going to keep it fairly simple here. While it is true that a strong foundation of color and color relationships will take an artist's work to the next level, for the purposes of this simple lesson, we'll skip the color wheel, so as not to bore the kids to death, and jump right to actually using color.

To start, let's go back to "seeing with our eyes and not our brains" (I know, I keep bringing this up, but it is one of the best things you can keep in mind when rendering objects). Just like the tomatoes of Lesson I are not perfectly spherical in shape, nor are they just red. On a single tomato we can spy red, orange, yellow, and deep crimson, and even a hue that seemed somewhat blue, not counting the greens of the stem and browns of the blemishes. It is precisely this myriad of color that makes an object interesting when rendered.

Take a closer look. See the variations. Encourage your kids to believe that they really are seeing colors that don't necessarily "make sense," like blue on a tomato.There are many reasons for seeing that blue, like a reflection from a nearby object, or the combination of a particular shade of red, mixed with the low-value tones of a shadow.

Even if your subject is a factory-made piece of purple plastic that features a consistent shade, that purple is going to appear slightly different, depending on how the light and shadows are effecting it. So, you see, nothing should ever be rendered as just one color, even if it is...just one color.

Color Exercise:
For this lesson, you will not necessarily need to set up a still life. In fact, drawing from nature would serve this lesson best, as objects that occur in nature tend to have many variations in color.
  • Take a walk with your kids around the yard or inside your home. Point to objects and have them say the first color that comes to mind, like "green!" for grass.
  • Next, have them take a closer look. If they can, have them touch the object, and look at it from all angles, noticing color differences. For example, a leaf might be bright green on the top, but a muted yellow-green on the underside. See if they can recognize more colors than the original one-word answer.
  •  Once your kids start drawing their objects, encourage them to use as many different colors as possible. A peach could be drawn using orange, red, brown, and yellow, as opposed to coloring it light orange in one place, dark orange where the shadow is.
  • Once they are comfortable with using so many colors, ask them to draw an object using a completely different set of colors. They could take a small collection of blues and oranges and render a leaf with shadows and highlights using the wacky colors. The end result will be an eye-popping composition. 
  • For and advanced challenge, try drawing a set of objects using only blocks and patches of color—no lines—like we did with value in Lesson II.
If you're you're interested in exploring color a little further, Marmalade Moon just posted a great list of color inspiration links.

I hope you and your kids enjoyed this Beginner Drawing series. I plan to expand upon these lessons in the future, and will keep you posted on that front, as details emerge.