Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

Warning: It’s gonna get disgusting.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

But not too much. We’re going to dance around the disgusting, hint at it, and then dart away quickly. You’ll be fine.

First, an inevitability has happened. I have found the only animal that grosses me so much I had to look away from the television. Let me explain what it is before I show it to you. It’s a plaque of barnacles that fell off of a pier or a boat and the living barnacles are opening and closing their front door which looks like a cat’s nictitating eyelid (already gross) and then instead of an eyeball being in there fingers come out. FINGERS COME OUT OF THE EYELID HOLES OF THINGS CLUSTERED ON A BLOB THAT LOOKS LIKE NEW YORK STREET GARBAGE. Nightmares for life. You ready? Here we go.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmfohJ7wMZA

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Second thing, I have a good old-fashioned stomach virus. I haven’t had one of these in twenty years! So exciting! They are pretty much how I remember from my youth. Someone I did not remember: vague hallucinating. Nothing drastic but juuuuuust enough to remind you of your unwell state, similar of how people describe pot (“Did you ever really look at your palm, man? I mean, really look?”). Two instances that happened today:

  1. When I was in the shower I realized I was doing that owl motion where your head moves back and forth, back and forth. Because I had just realized, guys, items in the foreground move more than items in the background! Trippy! And I probably should not have been showering without supervision! https://media.tenor.co/images/7f4af3eff9fe127d0bb3bdb41c08206c/raw
  2. I looked at the toilet paper roll packaging and it said “double roll” but I read it as “death roll” which made me think of crocodiles and how they kill their prey and then I might have dozed off on the can for ten or fifteen minutes. This has not been a day of peak excellence.

But I’m healing and soon I will be no longer infectious and that will be nice. Until then, Gatorade and Tums are my best buddies.

Chickens and Cookies.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Two interesting things happened recently. First, I was hanging out with my sister K. near her apartment in upper Manhattan and we were taking her dog for a walk. Coming towards us was an older gentleman and his sweet dog who my sister of course knows because all the dog people in her neighborhood know all the other dog people. I ended up chatting with the gentleman for about 10 minutes while they walked their beasties and he informed me that he is an animal trainer and groomer. He said he’s trained all kinds of animals and goes to conferences regularly. Here’s where it got awesomely weird – he said, “I was in Reno recently training chickens using the clicking method. Chickens are tough, they get bored easily and run away and then you have to run around the room trying to catch them. I thought, since we were in Reno, that I would train my chicken using dice. I got one die and started by teaching the chicken to pick it up, then I taught it to drop it at my command. Basically by the end I had taught the chicken to play craps.”

So that conversation happened. I went on Facebook later that week and sure enough, there’s pictures of him training his chicken.

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I didn’t ask his permission to use the images, therefore I blurred out the faces as a courtesy. Because I’m a nice person.

The second thing was cookies! Specifically, I painted cookies. Cricket’s sister was getting married and she was asking various friends and family to contribute their skills and talents. I figured I could paint the bride and groom’s initials on cookies and they could be given away as “thanks for coming” presents. So I was given cookies (I don’t bake so good) and I set up my icing and purple sugar crystals and got to work.

cookies1

I officially hate the letter “M.” “D” was so much easier to paint. From now on I will only do this for people who’s names start with “I.” All you Iagos out there, you want cookies? Gimme a call. When the icing was dry I put them in bags with Hershey’s Kisses and tied them with pretty ribbon that I curled myself. There were 42 bags. I curled so much ribbon, guys. Like all the ribbon on earth. I got real good at it too. I am a ribbon-curling master.

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And as people were leaving they could get a bag of cookies and a bottle of wine the couple made themselves. It was a lovely parting gift.

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Things and bits.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

1: I’m going to need this map. Someone make a kickstarter for this map that I can fund.

http://obviousplant.tumblr.com/post/143170362883/how-many-us-states-can-you-name-left-in-a

 

2: Look at this penmanship. Look at it.

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3: Low Cost Cosplay. A bunch of guys in what I  believe is Thailand take famous characters or celebrities and recreate them using crap found around their house. I don’t know half of the things they’re referencing. Doesn’t matter. Everything they do is a gift. They have a Facebook page that I highly recommend you join. https://www.facebook.com/Lowcostcosplay/

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4: In keeping with the Comic-Con-esque theme of the previous bit, I saw an amazing video of Alina Salina, a polymer artist, making a Cheshire Cat pendant. I’ve worked with polymer clay extensively and I can’t figure out how she did it. Maybe she’s using a particularly hard version of polymer clay, or she puts it in the fridge, but it does not go mushy when she works with it. Phenomenal work. Except for the part where it’s only the eyes and the substructure. That part is terrifying. Other than that, so so good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W54j-iP9O8

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5: Whenever I have downtime I like to visit The Best Of Tumblr. Tumblr… how does one describe Tumblr? It’s a collection of short thoughts and images and if it’s clever or pertinent enough and gets a ton of reblogs it ends up on The Best Of site. I think this picture is an excellent example. I love both the comments and the names.

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This is also an excellent example of Tumblr. Every person that comments makes it better.

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6: I got an email saying, “Hamilton tickets available now!” Oooh, I’m down for that. How foolish and naive I was. I clicked like an idiot, saw the prices and was all HELLNAWWW.

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The email should have said, “Hamilton tickets available now if you’re willing to sell your plasma forever!” That would have been far more accurate. That’s some tricky BS, Ticketmaster. Shame on you.

TV posters and my present obsession.

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

As I walk to work every day I am passed by a ton of city buses that have advertisements posted on the side. They zip by rather quickly so you only have a second to absorb the information presented. Which is how I got two shows very confused. See, there’s a show about what appears to be a family with a gay son.

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Okay, fine, but there’s also a show that I believe is about a son that disappears and a kid who shows up years later and claims to be that long-lost son but who knows?

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The posters designed for buses are nearly identical in structure with the son in the center and two family member on either side in a row. Long story short – I thought they were the same show for several weeks and was very confused and a bit offended. Why is it shattering this family that their son is gay? Is this 2016 or what? C’mon, Mainstream America, get with the program. Then I saw a 30-second spot for The Family and they didn’t mention homosexuality at all which threw me for a loop. Seriously, it took waaaay too long for me to figure out what my issue was. It’s a good thing I’m so pretty because Lord knows I ain’t smart.

Sometimes I go through a phase where I need to see every single YouTube video on a topic. For while it was power-washing videos. Then it was cyst-popping videos (don’t judge, it’s a thing that’s very popular, I am not alone). Now it’s nail tutorials. Oh my gosh, so much glitter. I don’t even really paint my nails because I need them short to type and work on my artsy endeavors but I’ve been like, “I’ll just wash one or two videos…” and then next time I check the clock is six hours later and I’ve grown a Rumpelstiltskin beard and Trump is already president. There are two channels I watch the most of. First there’s Naio Nails out of Yorkshire, England. I tell you the English bit because the accents of the ladies explaining are glorious and they thrill me no end. Really any video is good because they talk in all of them. Their voices are so soothing. Here are some of my favorites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clo4pqeJ7GI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mw1o4iMPYA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEcZt4dOdDE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCY5xLRFz-k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcXSJs2KThc

The other one is Simply Nailogical. The woman who does this channel, Christine, her voice is… less soothing. I sometimes watch her videos with the sound off. However she does some great techniques and she uses so so so much glitter. It heals what ails ya, all that glitter. Here are some of my favorites of hers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ffd58TL8wls

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYxhMJWi82I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZYG5jSGqpI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2CjRKxsgIY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBSWTiaouPI

Beware, the nail tutorials. They will steal your soul and all your free time.

beware-lolcat

Christmas Windows!

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Yeah, I know it’s around the end of February. You shush, I can get to things when I get to them. I saw very few windows this year and I don’t mean to sound like a jaded bourgeoisie snotbag but there’s only so many times you can see super-ornate windows before you’re like, eh, another super-ornate window. And many stores (I’m looking at you, Bulgari) do the same thing every year so it’s mind-blowingly awesome the first time you see it but as my grandma always said, “You see one giant glowing hinged snake covering a building, you’ve seen ’em all.” This year the two windows that really spoke to me were one specific display at Lord & Taylors and Bergdorf Goodman. First, the Lord & Taylor one. It was a cuckoo clock, a big one, all white with cute forest creatures hanging off and rotating around. I’m a sucker for a squirrel and a bird and a bunny so I tried to get out of people’s ways and watched for a while. It was so soothing and pleasant. Thank you, Lord & Taylor.

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Bergdorf proved something I’ve been saying for forever which is if you cover something with crystals it immediately becomes fantastic. I make a point to avoid using crystals because even though it works I consider it an easy way out. Who doesn’t like sparkly-sparkly? I think I mentioned this while working on the Ocean Reef Costume. Yup, yes I did. Bergdorf Goodman did a partnership with Swarovski Crystals so the encrusting, it was crusty. I must say I’m insanely impressed at the amount of work that clearly went into these. You need to glue each crystal down onto the substrate individually. So. Much. Work. Much props to the artists who worked on that. There were five major windows of note. First, the royalty one. Winner of that window: The small green Chinese Crested dog.

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Next, the purple mining window. I thought this was the weakest of the lot. The gigantic resin stalactites looked weird. Don’t get me wrong, it was spectacular, but it was the least spectacular of the bunch. There was a winner here too: the bat in the corner.

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Then the Neptune window. Most people don’t know but Swarovski, in addition to making crystals, makes high-quality fake pearls. That was what this window highlighted. The winner here: it’s a tie between the sea turtle and the jaunty shrimp.

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Ah, the sugary treats window. By far the most impressive, not because of the content, but because both all the items displayed AND the entire background was covered in hand-placed crystals. The amount of time that must have took is mind-boggling. The winner of this window: that crazy-intense background work.

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And finally the psychic window. The big wheel in the background spins slowly. The winner: the giant left hand.

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They show a bit of the creation process in this video I found.

Stuff and things and also stuff.

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

1. What I might do if I had a kid. Hell, I might do it anyway, progeny or no.

http://itsfunnytomemke.tumblr.com/post/137895837383/theinturnetexplorer-this-awesome-dad-spent-over

 

2. Spencer Tunick takes photos of naked people in public places. I posed for him when he did Grand Central about ten years ago. If you ever come to my apartment I have a photo from the shoot in my bathroom. I recently saw a picture where Spencer has incorporated, I wouldn’t say “clothing,” but a covering of some kind. Sort of. Vaguely. Whatever, it’s beautiful.

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3. It’s a boat that looks like it’s sinking! Ha ha! That amuses me.

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4. Hamsters. So cute with their beady little eyes until you take all the red out of the picture and then suddenly it’s AHHHHH JESUS DEMON PUPILS WHY

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5. This is the best picture from the most recent blizzard. It looks like an Impressionist painting. Wow. The photographer is Michelle Palazzo.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/eyeem-79952556.jpg

I heart TV. Let’s talk about it.

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

I haven’t had a chance to really delve into the television I’ve been enjoying but there’s so much good TV out there and while working on the millions of projects I’ve had to tackle recently I had the opportunity to binge-watch some excellent brain-candy. It’s all different kinds of shows so perhaps you will find one in the pile that works for you.

Arrow. I went to middle and high school in Rye, New York. About five years ahead of me was a guy named Greg Berlanti. He was an amazing actor and he has gone on to be a super-successful producer for a big chunk of DC Comics’ ventures into television. Arrow is one of his projects, as is Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Also I follow John Barrowman on Facebook ever since I decided he was the greatest post-watching Torchwood. Now I don’t know nothin’ about comics but because Greg’s name is attached and John Barrowman is on it my interest was piqued. I loved it. It fills the soap-opera / romance / sci-fi deficit you might have. Everyone is crazy-attractive. The villains are villainy. Lots of intrigue. The leads are tormented. The fight scenes are engaging. Occasionally some of these gorgeous people hook up with other gorgeous people. Bond-like gadgets are created. So many secrets are kept. The only complaint I have about the show (and maybe this is because I crammed three seasons over two weeks) is the amount of times a character would say “Are you okay?” and wait for another character’s response in order to move the plot along. I counted four “Are you okay?”s in one episode. I would occasionally yell out “I’M FINE DAMMIT” at my screen in response. Other than that, great fun show. Big fan.

Flash. Same story. I started watching it because of the crossover Flash actors making appearances in Arrow. In Arrow no one has super-powers, they’re all just extremely talented and well-trained. In Flash there was a nuclear explosion and now people can run very fast or control the weather or shoot fire out of their eyes, so if that’s an issue for you then this is not your show. But it’s fun and it’s easy to consume and the actors are charming and engaging.

Daredevil. This is a Marvel comic on Netflix. I seem to have gone on a comic-book kick but it just so happens that some of the most compelling stuff out there right now is comic-book based. I go where the good television leads me. It’s a Netflix series about a kid who loses his sense of sight from a chemical spill but in the process of going blind he realizes his other senses are heightened. He’s a lawyer by day, vigilante by night. This could very easily become extremely silly but it works. It’s very well-written and I was cautious but by the end I was on board. The only person I had a bit of a problem with was the bad guy played by Vincent D’Onofrio. He is my generation’s Christopher Walken. He has some weird speech tics that he has in every role he plays and each time I see him the only thing I think of is Edgar from Men in Black (D’Onofrio’s finest performance to date, IMO). Other than Vincent being a creepy cockroach in human form it’s a good series. I jumped in surprise at least two times.

Jessica Jones. Also a Marvel series, also on Netflix. I think it was greenlit due to the success of Daredevil. I absolutely loved it. First, the lead is a non-traditionally beautiful dark-haired woman, while her best friend (not the lead) is a traditionally beautiful blonde. Second, the lead falls in love with an African-American man and it’s not a huge deal. Third, the fact that several of the characters have superpowers isn’t the crux of the show, it’s about isolation and betrayal and loneliness. And finally, what I realized at the end is the love story isn’t between the lead and a man, it’s about her friendship with the blonde. The love story is about friendship between two women. AND the show was awesome. It was such a change from the usual stuff. I don’t have a problem with the usual Criminal Minds-type programming but I am delighted to see this departure and I hope it inspires more diversity on TV in the future.

The Knick. Wowsers. It’s like my love affair with New York and history hooked up with the best parts of the show House and had a baby. It’s great. The Knick is about a hospital called The Knickerbocker around 1912 in Manhattan. It’s a fictional hospital with fictional stories (although there was a hospital with that unofficial name in New York), but many aspects are based in reality. The sets and costumes and props are rigorously checked to be period-accurate and they are stunning. The main character is a brilliant drug-addicted doctor played by Clive Owen with an ego problem (there’s your House analogy) but it’s really an ensemble cast and they are all stellar. It delves into a lot of tough terrain – race, women’s roles, abortion, religion, addiction, mental illness, the advancement of medicine, etc. – so it’s not a “hey, I had a rough day at work and need to watch something to wind down” kind of show. Plus there is at least one gross medical procedure per episode. But I love it. Stephen Soderbergh directs and I believe also writed on The Knick and it better win a bunch of awards for everyone who works on it at some point in the near future.

Making a Murderer. Hoo boy. This one was tough. It’s a documentary series about Steven Avery. I mean, that’s true but it’s mainly about the tragic flaws in the American justice system, especially if you’re poor, not bright and ostracized by your community. I don’t want to get too into it, if you see it you should go in without bias. But there are some moments where you will feel compelled to throw a brick at the screen due to the complete and utter travesty of a police interrogation technique. Fight that urge. That television was expensive. You will regret smashing it. We all feel the same way.

Two artists that might make me not scared of dolls finally.

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Dolls are inherently creepy. The unblinking eyes. The unmovable expressions. Hell, a new horror film is coming up built on that premise. Remember my trip to Germany last year and the doll restaurant? Yep. Not a big fan of dolls. However, there is always room for change. And that change happened when I saw these handmade dolls from Russia. Two different artists. Russia is known for exceptional detail in their artwork. Their icons from many centuries ago are ornate.

Christ.the_.Pantocrator Iverskaya-Mother 160N08844_6D4HJ

And little has changed. One dollmaker is named Marina Bychkova and she is amazing. I know that word gets thrown around frequently, but hear me out. Marina makes articulated porcelain dolls with poseable limbs. She paints their faces. Then she embroiders and hand-beads their clothes. AND those metal headdresses, she makes them too. See? Amazing.

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Then there are the Popovy Sisters. Their work is more modern but I love it as well. It reminds me of Alexander McQueen’s work but wee.

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I could get on board with these dolls. NOBODY START SENDING ME DOLLS, THOUGH. FOR REALSIES. WORST NIGHTMARE. Unless they are by these artists. Then, mildly okay. OTHERWISE NO DOLLS.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Yes, I know it’s January 17th or whatever. It’s been a hellish two weeks. Would you like to hear about them? No? I’m telling you anyway. I was on a pitch, a global pitch. I had meetings with various European offices here in NY, as well as South American offices and Asian offices. Every one of them had sections of the Keynote deck they needed designed. I would meet with each office, incorporate their pages, then meet with the heads of the pitch, make their changes, back and forth and back and forth. THEN, when everything was hunky-dory a major not-to-be-meddled-with executive would come in and change everything on this 120-page document, causing me to have to stay up all damn night to make those changes. It was like this for two weeks. It got so intense I ended up getting a hotel room across the street from the office so I could grab four or five hours of sleep everyday with a minimal commute. The rest of the time was spent working. In my 12 years of being in the advertising industry this was one of the top five most stressful pitches I’ve been involved with. However it is now finished and I can return to my life of watching the Discovery Channel and writing blog entries. Let’s start with what I did on New Year’s Day. I have always wanted to do the Coney Island Polar Plunge. It’s held on New Year’s Day and people run into the ocean off of the Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn. Since I went to the Oase in Germany last year and had ice water thrown at my naked flesh I feel like I am emotionally and physically prepared to engage with the Atlantic. It wasn’t a coincidence that I picked this year because it was warm. Well, the air was 46 degrees and the water was about the same so maybe “warm” is the incorrect term, but glacier-like it was not. I was not aware that it is a charity event so I was delighted that my entry fee went to a camp for children with cancer. The theme is “freezin’ for a reason”. We arrived very early so we could be the first group in the ocean (so many people show up they space out the plunges). The police were cordoning off the beach and it totally looked like they had found body parts a là Dexter.

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We headed out to where we decided we would park our stuff and waited for our cue. A ton of people showed up to cheer on and/or mock the plungers.

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It started with a person in a full polar bear costume entering the ocean surrounded by women in bikinis playing trumpets. I would expect nothing else from Coney Island.

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And then we were told to line up. We stripped down to our bathing suits and went in. It was surprisingly not bad. I was surprised. I thought the cold water or the cold air would hurt but it didn’t. I would describe it as “excessively refreshing.”

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Afterwards we went for Russian food in the Brighton Beach area. Nothing warms the cold toesies like cherry dumplings and hot tea served in glass cups. I don’t know if I would ever do this again but I definitely would encourage others to because it’s a fun convivial atmosphere and it’s nice that it raises money for a good cause. I give it two shivery thumbs up.

Addendum: Here’s a super-cool picture of Coney Island from above.

coney-lsland

So very artistic am I.

Monday, December 14th, 2015

I know I’ve been super-lackadaisical with my posting of late and I don’t want anyone to think it is because I have given up on blogging. That is way far from the truth. It’s because I’ve been so busy, all in positive ways. But I think work is slowing a wee bit and now I can blog at the furious pace (like two posts a week, but still) I had become accustomed to.

One thing I’ve been tackling is my kitchen. Ah, my kitchen. The Sisyphean task I took on, what, seventeen years ago or something? It feels like that. But the last of my glass arrived and now I’m in the home stretch (Hallelujah Moses!). I put the white strips of glass over the white paint I laid down. And just to clarify, but white glass, I mean opaque white, semi-transparent white, as well as very pale brown, yellow and blue. I wanted nuances of white, not a flat white. It looks a bit aged which is pretty cool.

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After I finished all of those I tackled the trees. I made trapezoids and rectangles and irregular quadrilaterals out of clear glass with little bubbles in it, rounded all their corners using a grinder and glued them to onto the wall. It took seven hours to do the big trees and two and a half hours to do the small trees. And since I was making up the patterns on the fly I had to stop every two or three pieces and assess how I would proceed. It was a tough process but it would have been infinitely harder if I had planned where every piece was going to go.

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After that I made the orange dots that go in the center of the branches. I can’t take full credit for the delightful blobular branches. I realized afterwards that I had totally ripped off another artist, a great lowbrow one named Jeff Soto. See?

jeffsoto2 jeffsoto1

I don’t feel bad about it, I’m not making any money off of this project and it’s my kitchen anyway. Where was I? I was making the orange dots in the middle of the branches. I bought semi-transparent orange glass and then I traced circles onto it, roughly cut them out and then ground down any edges so they were round coins. Then I painted the backs with gold paint so they would be opaque and have a faint shimmer.

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Then I made the branches a dark red which look like a warm black, very nice, and now all that’s left is for me to do big background squares and I’m done. Done, I tell you! Home stretch!

kitchen-backsplash10

But wait, there’s more! In addition to working on my kitchen and doing my full-time job I was asked to make the photo op for our holiday party. And, like everything I do I went a wee bit overboard. I designed seven mountains composed of patterns containing our company colors (pink, purple and red) plus gold and silver. The three big mountains are on a background covered in snowflakes but the four smaller mountains go in the foreground, giving the photo op some depth. Here’s a rough mock-up I made so people would understand my vision.

super-rough-layout-v2

The studio we have (that have large format printers) printed out the back part and all the smaller mountains were printed and cut out. All I had to do was prop them up.

holiday-mountains

But nope. This is when I got really excited, went to Michael’s, bought $300 worth of crafty goodness and started making glittery, three-dimensional bits and pieces. It looked like it took no time at all but it actually took twenty-five hours or so. Crazy how things take a long time if you want them to be tidy and nice. Totally worth it. It turned out excellent. Here is a lovely photo of me installing the photo op in the space.

photo-op-setup

And here are some people posing with it. I feel very pleased with myself. *Pats self on back*

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Now that those projects are completed (or semi-completed) I shall hopefully get back to my usual schedule of getting things done (and blogged) in a reasonable amount of time.

Addendum: I got some decent pictures of the three-dimensional aspects of the mountains.

three-dimensional