Tidying is Magic

Well back in May I decided to make magazine containers MagazineBox for my son’s Zoobooks and my Hornbooks. Then I was making teacher gifts for the end of the year and realized making a small box for the items would be helpful. I still had a pile of cardboard so, I built boxes. This started a side tracking project where I made many more boxes with plans to continue making more. Everything I am using is recyclable and reusing shipping boxes we get. In this day of two day shipping it’s easy to have a pile of boxes. (To note I still shop locally whenever I can). All of this makes me happy and it’s honestly a lot of fun. I can use up decorative papers I have had and after checking out piles from neighbor’s spring cleaning I got a free roll of thick craft paper for covering. I also might have wrapping paper I keep that I am can apply to the outsides too. My hoarding of paper is finally going to something!

It’s funny that I titled this tidying is magic and start with a story of hoarding becoming useful. I don’t think you should keep things with hopes to eventually use them. Keep only the things you know you will use and if you don’t start using it within a month you should really get rid of it. I have a lot of other found objects that I have intended to use. These items are now weights that fill my mind and keep me from creating anything. There is a fine line between useful found objects and over cluttering.

This need to find order is why I picked up the The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I heard it was really helpful for de-cluttering and it is true. It said the right words to me which, released my need to hold onto things that could be useful. This book brought me back. I actually had the chance when I was younger to experience the magic Marie Kondo talks about. I came back home from college after having been cramped into a tiny dorm space with a dorm mate who had also tried to bring everything she owned to college. I had actually used a Uhaul to move into a college dorm, it was ridiculous. Also arriving home I realized I had made my childhood room into a shrine. My walls were wallpapered in photos from high school, there were candles on every surface, I had collections of weird objects and toys, and I had two closets and a floor to ceiling bookshelf stuffed full. After a year of college I was ready to let it all go; I got rid of everything until I could fit my belongs that weren’t furniture into my 1992 two door Toyota Celica. The day I finished it felt like I was standing in a meadow of fresh air. I made art for the rest of the summer unencumbered.

I want to get there again. It’s harder to retain that little stuff with children. They have their own pile of things and there comes a point where you can’t just purge their items without their consent. You probably also have another adult living with you that may or may not care about keeping a small amount. Keeping your own items in check while being distracted by the people you are living with is a new challenge for me. However, I started to process. Eight bags have been donated and I did not keep track of how many times I have gone to the recycling bin. Friday I made art all day and started to write this blog How-To. It was the first time in a long time I didn’t feel like I should really be doing stuff around the house. I thought after moving twice in the past 3 years I wouldn’t have too much but, I did. Finally letting go of the extra and finding a space for what I’m keeping feels amazing.

Now, some of the things I am keeping do need containers and rather than go on a spending spree at the container store I am using the containers that are too often found at my front door.

Here is a step by step of how I make a box.

Tools I need outside of cardboard:

2Tools

Glue, cheap brush, container, exact-o blade, pencil, card stock
(not pictured) a ruler

Then the box. I hang onto a box that is already a good size. This way I only have to build a lid.

1thebox

Then I take off the 4 top flaps.

3bottom-cleaning

I do this laying a ruler along the crease then cutting it with an exact-o. I recommend cutting around so the flap behind your cutting hand is already gone. You of course have no option for that on your first cut. If needed I take a portion of one of these flaps and glue it to the bottom of the box where there is a gap between the base flaps. This way my box has an even bottom.

4bottom-clean

Then I have a box! Now I lay this box on top of the piece of cardboard I intend to use as a lid. If possible I use the already existing creases for the sides. I measure out from each crease or edge line, if there aren’t enough creases, 1 1/4 inches for the sides.

5top-cuttingout

Once everything is drawn I cut out the lid and crease any sides that need it. To form a new crease I lay a ruler along my line and fold the side across it.

6top-creasing

Now I have a top!

7box-topcut

To connect the four corners of the top sides I cut out 1 1/2 inch by 1 inch pieces of card stock. I make a glue and water paste to brush onto these pieces for adhesive. This is were I use my glue, container, and brush. I make sure the glue is more glue than water but, I eyeball this until I get a consistency that works for me. I brush a thin layer of this adhesive onto my four card stock pieces and let them dry for about a minute. Then I attach them to one end of two sides.

8Top-Gluing

I give them a minute or two to dry. Then I fold down the sides to touching and adhere the other side of the card stock to the adjacent side. This can be tricky and I usually have to reapply pressure multiple times until everything is stuck.

9top-finishedglue

Eventually it all comes together and I have a lid!

10Finished-base-box

Before I get to decorating I test the lid to make sure it fits onto the base of the box. Everything fits; now, I can put on the paper to make it mine.

For the outside I like a plain color because this box is going to be used for storage and I don’t want something busy that will catch my eye all the time. This is where I use my craft paper. To not waste my craft paper I only use it on the sides of the base of the box. However, on the top I use my craft paper for the entire outside.

When measuring the paper for the outside of my box I do this like wrapping a present. I lay my pieces onto the paper and take note of the corners with my pencil then ruler in lines between these dots. I absolutely could measure the box and note that on the paper but, I find it faster to use the box as my ruler.

Because this is a larger box I cut out each side covering individually for the base. Two of these sides with have overlap corner flaps and two of these sides will have straight edges. All of these sides will have top and bottom flaps to glue over the top and bottom edges of the base. This will give the finished box a clean look.

11bottom-exteriorpaper

The flaps have 45º angled edges. If you make them 90º angled edges the will bunch at the corners. I make my flaps 1/2 an inch wide. I then cut out all of my pieces using my ruler and exact-o.

I then brush on a thin layer of glue over each side covering. After a minute of dry time I press the base onto the paper and then pick up the base and rub the paper onto the base with my hands. This flattens out any bubbles or ridges. Usually I have to add a little more glue to the edges of the covering to get it to lay flat. I do this with either my brush or a piece of paper. I paint the corner of a piece of card stock and slide it under the side covering, between it and the base, to give it a layer of glue. Then I press the side covering down to adhere it to the base.

Note: I start with the side coverings that have flaps on all four edges. They provide full covering on their sides. Then I put the side coverings on that have straight edges to give the box a clean finish.

12bottom-exterior

Now for the bottom of the base I cut out a piece of card stock so the bottom is a little hardier. This way it can endure being pulled off a shelf over its life. I brush on a layer of adhesive allow it to dry then press the paper onto the bottom of the base. This way I can see how I am lining up my corners.

12bottom of bottom

Now I add my craft paper to the top. I use a similar process but all in one piece of paper. I use the lid to measure its size on my craft paper by making a note of the corners. Then I measure out the distance of the edges. I draw lines on the craft paper for all of these edges. Finally I add flaps to the top of all the edges so it glues around to the inside of the box. This again finishes the top giving it a clean look. I give the flaps 45º angles and 1/2 and inch of width. I also add flaps to the sides of two edges. This way it will wrap around and not cardboard will be exposed.

13top-paper

After measuring and cutting this out I place my top onto the paper to see that everything is the right size.

13top-test

If all looks good I apply my thin layer glue, allow it to dry for a minute, then line the top over the paper and press it onto the paper. I then lift paper and lid and smooth out the paper around the lid with my hands. I apply more glue to any parts that need extra with either my brush or paper.

14gluing-corners

I press the sides that have side flaps down first. This way the clean cut edge can come down second and make a clean finish.

15Top-papered

Now the outside of my box is done.

For the inside paper I choose something decorative. I won’t have to look at it all the time so it won’t be distracting day to day but, it will be a treat whenever I open the box to get something out.

When measuring out this paper I actually use my ruler and measure the inside of the box. I find this makes my final cutting much more accurate. I take measurements of the width and length of the bottom, then the height of the sides. I draw this onto my paper and give two sides flaps at the edges and the other two sides get straight edges. The flaps again have 45º angles at the corners and are 1/2 wide.

16insidebottom-cutpaper

Next I crease all the lines of this paper on the decorative side. I lay my ruler on top of the paper align it with the inside corners and fold the paper across the ruler to create a crease.

17insidebottom-foldedpaper

I also do this on the flaps.

18Ruler-foldingpaper

Now I test this paper to make sure everything fits. I fold it into shape and slide it into the box.

19insidebottom-test

If it fits perfectly I brush a thin layer of glue onto the inside of the box, not the paper. Once that has had a minute to dry I put the paper back into the box and smooth it onto the box with my hands.

I then repeat this process with the lid.

Now I have a finished box!

21finalbox 22finalbox-inside

I consider this generally archival. Say for 10 years? The outside papers are archival, the cardboard is not. It can work for loose sketches and artwork but, I wouldn’t recommend permanently. I also use these boxes for make-up, jewelry, craft supplies, toys, whatever needs a box!

Shark Week!

I think the only people who don’t like sharks are those that have come into unwanted intimate contact with them. ie. some folks that have been visiting the NC coast lately. I have to admit I’m pretty afraid of water I can’t see to the bottom of for fear of a giant mouth showing up but, from a far, I love sharks! Hence, why I chose to do my last Sketchbook Project with the theme SHARKS! What perfect timing to share, the tail end of Shark Week.

Here are some of my favorite spreads.
SP2015-CaseyGirard

SP2015-CaseyGirard-1

SP2015-CaseyGirard-2

SP2015-CaseyGirard-3

SP2015-CaseyGirard-4

SP2015-CaseyGirard-5

SP2015-CaseyGirard-6

SP2015-CaseyGirard-7

SP2015-CaseyGirard-8

Here is a link to my fully digitized book at the Sketchbook Project’s website. You can also see my full sketchbook in person in Brooklyn at the Art Library or catch it when it comes to your town. Here is the link to the Mobile Library stops.

Shared Sketchbook

I am always so grateful for my friends. They keep me positive amidst all the strange happenings that go on in our world.

Recently I was so pumped to be contacted by my friend eHawk. We have both been swamped in daily projects and both are looking to focus our time towards our long term goals. In an effort to create routine and collaborate, we are jointly filling a sketchbook.

eHawk started the book with this page. Our plan is to fill the sketchbook each riffing off the other for inspiration of each new spread.

From her work, I made this my first page. CaseyGirardpage001

10 points for anyone that can identify the birds. This is based on a Southern White Rhino. Bring awareness and keep Rhinos in our world!

We aren’t setting deadlines for this project. You will just have to keep an eye out. I have mailed the sketchbook back so, look for an update from her on what comes next!

Peek-a-boo

I have been drawing. My friends at Fanartica got me to commit to drawing a piece for Dungeons & Dragons. I was thinking I would draw a monster from the game and I did but, it wasn’t what I had expected to be inspired to do. This came to me by asking my husband for suggestions since, he is a bit more familiar with D&D than I am. He suggested I draw a Beholder. He explained it was a giant eyeball wrapped in skin covered with lots of eyeballs on tentacles. It’s extremely powerful and magical and kills you with its gaze.

I sat with that and then of course decided it should be playing peek-a-boo with a baby because, why not? I knew to do this it had to look as sweet as possible. As if it could easily be in a baby book. Given that is my way of drawing it all seemed to come together perfectly.

Behold, the Babysitter Beholder and baby.

Babysitter Beholder-Peekaboo-Girard

Doesn’t it kind of look like a grandma with curlers in her hair?

Us Fanarticans did this group of fan art for a show at fan*alley in LA.

The opening will be Saturday, June 13, 18:00-22:00. Hope you can make it!

Octo-Puss in Boots from APE 2014

Yep, I sat on these for a long while. I was very winded from our visit to APE last October. My daughter had just learned how to run and rather than get to view all the artists’ tables I was stuck chasing her down the aisles and outside to the dock’s edge trying to keep her from jumping into the bay. We learned at this event we can’t take her with us when we go to cons. Unlike our oldest who enjoys them almost as much as we do.

We did have a moment when she shut her eyes while one of us was carrying her. During that moment we were able to meet Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera. It was wonderful to meet them and talk monsters. We compared a few notes about what monster shows we watch and my son got one of Bobby’s monster flip books. They also were kind enough to add to our Octo-Puss in Boots book.

bobby-chiu

kei-acedera

Our baby woke and a new crowd came to see Bobby and Kei. However, we got wise started visiting tables separately so, we could enjoy the art. My son loves BumperBoy so, he and his Dad visited Debbie Huey. They were able to convince her to draw us an Octo-Puss in Boots too.

debbie-huey

Our visit was sadly brief. We tried to pause at a few more tables but, were completely exhausted from the effort. We might try to go back this year, I’m debating about getting a table. APE 2015 is in new hands. It will be back in San Jose. At my current pace of making work, I think I may have stick with only Designer Con. Maybe next year I can be involved in more shows.

Thank you for contributing to our Octo-Puss in Boots Book! We loves your additions.

Let’s End This Hiatus

It’s been much too long since I posted to the blog. I apologize to you readers, I hope you will find me and come back. I wasn’t completely uncreative in my time away. If you followed my instagram I kept up with regular posting. I just wasn’t able to commit to the more lengthy blog. Also, most of my creativity has gone into non-art projects. However, since the beginning of 2015 that has slowly begun to change. My plan is to get back to posting regularly with new pieces and consistency. I have been floating for many years between projects and my ‘look’. My time off has given me a chance to explore myself and find what it means to be true to me. This is a brief history of what I have been up to since December of 2013.

After the holidays of 2013 I started baking. My daughter got old enough to be distracted but, not for long enough to sit down and draw. With this obstacle, I decided it was the time to learn how to make croissants. If you continued following me on instagram you will have seen all of my batches. I even got a sweet nod from the baker, Joanne Chang, who provided me with this wonderful recipe.

Attempting and then succeeding at making croissants gave me new confidence within myself. Since then, my goal has been to make as many of our meals, snacks, desserts, and treats as possible from scratch. I use a variety of sources, my favorites being Giada’s Healthy Cooking, Isa Does It, My Whole Food Life, Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook and Alton Brown’s recipes. These are my go-tos. Each brings its own batch of food to us. Given that we have to eat and my children are all-encompassing the rest of the time, I have allowed myself to take my creative space in cooking.

In the spring of 2014, we moved. We have settled ourselves down in Redwood City, CA, becoming home owner’s again. We have built garden boxes and set up house.

The garden boxes took over mine and my husband’s lives. As we rolled from setting up house the seedlings that I had brought over in containers went into these garden boxes end of May. By mid June we were up to our ears in cucumbers and additionally fruit from generous friend’s fruit trees. The canning bonanza that sucked up our summer began. We have made everything from jam to pickles to lemon curd. We have had enough pasta sauce to last the year from over 150 lbs of tomatoes grown from our Amish Paste tomato plants. It’s the common CA “problem” of an abundance of produce. A problem I am enjoying having and beginning to gain control over.

In the fall of 2014 our oldest started school and our youngest began climbing. I’m not aware of any productivity from this period of time. My life became a series of challenges to have cat-like reflexes catching my daughter as she ran, climbed, fell, and leaped. My back is a constant disaster. I have had multiple instances where contorting myself inappropriately has been necessary to protect her from injury. I was injured in most of these moments with muscle strains and bruising. My eldest provided challenges of the emotional sort with questions and confrontation to express himself and gain understanding of the world. I feel that all of this is par in having children. However, as the primary care giver art has had to stay in the trunk.

Until March, when I was able to run an art show for my son’s school auction. With the help of the auction coordinators and my co-art show coordinator we ran a great show and managed to sell almost all of the art. For myself, I created two original pieces that were successfully auctioned off. I pulled from the garden for my inspiration. 

After the auction I was brought back to cooking and gardening. I offered a service of making a pie a month as an auction item; since, I wasn’t able to complete a third art item. With my successes in croissants I have gained some skill in putting butter and flour together to make delicious. Pies have been the latest in my food time commitments. Thus far I have made, apple, key lime, orange, strawberry-rhubarb, strawberry, cherry, strawberry-peach, pecan, and of course pumpkin pies. I have tried many pie crusts and find that Joanne Chang’s and King Arthur Flour’s are my favorites.

Although, this spring as my daughter obtains more independence and my son has settled down, I am finding a better balance of all my desired activities. We finally had a fence put in which, gives me freedom to garden during the day; since, my daughter can no longer run away. She is entertained by eating strawberries from our patch and I can weed and manage our plants. I am done exploring all the options and keep my cooking to what I need and definitely want in our cupboards. This also means, I do not accept or take on more food than I want to process. My daughter has consistent sleeping patterns which, is giving me structured time to work. It feels like everything is coming together. We have firm routines now and no plans for more disruptive moving. This should mean I will be able to consistently create for a while. Here’s to starting the plan.

Holiday Season 2013

Oh man the holidays are always so busy. No matter how early I get started once December hits I feel like I’m scrambling. People laugh at me or look at me like I’m crazy that I start my shopping in October. However, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able get through the rest of my plans for December, making gifts and holiday sales.

Updates! All my items in my Etsy shop are 25% if you use the offer code HOORAY2013

Now in my Etsy shop is a made to order Personalized Name Print

nameprint-CaseyGirard

This weekend, on Sunday, I am participating in the Peninsula School Craft Fair.
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Come visit, support the school, and get great hand crafter gifts for the Holidays.

Happy Holidays!

Be on the look out for photos of this year’s ornament for my cousins. I will probably post them to my instagram.