Thursday, February 26, 2009

something different

I've been feeling a little one-dimensional lately, so I've decided to try some new things. One of those is letterboxing. In letterboxing, somebody hides a box with a log book and a special stamp in it, and then publishes clues so that people can find it. When you do, you stamp the log book with your own special stamp, and you stamp your own log book with the stamp from the box. More information here if you're curious.

Anyway, I was reading about this, and I got really psyched. It's a walk and an adventure, and if you get carried away with the stamping aspect, it's also a craft project! Of course you really don't need a special stamp for this--you could use your thumbprint if nothing else was available, and there's nothing wrong with store-bought stamps either, but reading about stamp-carving and seeing some of the incredible stamps people have created, I wanted to try it myself.

First I spent a ton of time working on the image I wanted: a lizard sitting on a ball of yarn. That's just not available in the standard clip art, even on the web! But with some heavy Photoshopping (actually, Gimping), and then tracing when my software skills ran out, I managed to come up with this:

Considering that I can't draw worth anything and I didn't even have any tracing paper, I was fairly impressed with the fact that it is clearly an iguana, and you can pretty much figure out that he's sitting on a ball of yarn. It could still use some refining, but it's not a bad start. (Ok, stop laughing out there.)

But then I started thinking, wait a minute, that's pretty complicated, and the finished stamp is supposed to be small, much smaller than this, so you don't hog the whole logbook. Maybe that's not the best image for your first ever attempt at this. So I decided to go with the Fire Lizard Studios lizard instead. He's pretty simple.

Well, this carving stuff is not as easy as it looks in the tutorial. (Duh, Cara, if they made it look hard in the tutorial, nobody would try it!) My first two attempts look like they were produced by kindergartners, and I kept accidentally amputating things when I was trying to carve out the extra stuff around the image. But the third attempt is passable.

I'm still having a hard time getting the toes right, but these are a million times better than the first two tries. Also, I think I heard that there are blades for cutting finer lines--I think if I had one of those, maybe I could actually get it to look how I want. I wanted to give him spots on his back, too, but there was no way. I could barely get the little circle where his tail curls. I definitely want to keep playing with this, but it's not bad for a first attempt. Don't think I'll be quitting my day job any time soon, or even the yarn job. But I did get a bunch of printmaking books last time I went to the library. Onward and upward!