Facebook Friends Portrait Project

blogOver the past few months I have grown to love drawing on my Android phone. Sketches go quick, are easily edited and it makes for a great boredom buster.

This past week I began drawing of photos I have taken of friends and family. I began with a drawing of my step-brother, Steve, simply because I liked the way his clothes were wrinkled in a particular photo. I continued to drawing my 2 year old daughter and then myself.
stevce

This quickly transformed into a full-blown illustration project with 50+ Facebook friends requesting custom portraits. A full gallery of the project in progress can be found here. If you would like to commission a custom portrait, for very reasonable prices I must say, please visit the shop for more details.

drawing on your phone.

collage2

I have a tendency to find some new creative outlet and become completely obsessed with the experimentation process of finding a new way to create art. Lately I have been dabbling with little drawings on my Samsung Galaxy S2 Andrioid phone.

When I first got this phone a few months back, I downloaded approximately 8 drawing and painting applications. Some were okay, and most with a lot left to be desired. The selection of brushes, finished image size and quality were definitely lacking. Then I found Sketchbook Mobile by Autodesk. I was able to “fingerpaint” by building up and saving layers, much like in Adobe Photoshop. You are able to your preferred drawing tool and customize the stroke and opacity to suit your needs. I freakin’ love it!

The three drawing above were drawn by finger in about 12 layers over a three night period per drawing. I found that drawing with a touchscreen stylus was more frustrating than helpful. The best part is, each finished piece can be exported as a .PNG for the highest dpi and they even look pretty great printed.
summerbearI’m then able to use my artwork in graphic design projects or other image manipulations. Totally rad, right?! Lots of plans for these drawings (and more importantly, this awesome app!)  for future projects.

AMPERSANDxyz now on Instagram.

instagramcollageFINALMaybe I’m a little behind the times, but I’m happy to say that Instagram is new on the list of my favorite obsessions. As thrilled as I was to have a simple photo filter app on my new phone, I am definitely more excited to see things through other people’s eyes all over the world.

Feel free to follow me @chrissyjoxyz for snapshot of what Im currently working on, things soon to be added to the shop, and a good amount of random stay-at-home-mom excitement.

old sketchbooks.

drawsomethingFINALcontrast1Sometimes when I’ve run out of creative energy I feel the urge to look through my sketchbooks. Forgotten pages of quick sketches and magazine cutouts serve as some great reference material for projects I don’t know how to start. Last night, I stumbled upon a stack of my old sketchbooks from college and high school. To be honest, most of it is useless to me now, but it reminded me of my frame of mind–or maybe my motto– in art school. Just draw something.
askewbookfinalTAPETEXT2I don’t know if I had a finished product or work of art in mind when I filled these few hundred pages, but when I look back at my doodles now, I remember exactly where I was in my life, where I lived and how I felt.  At one time I had eight full-sized sketchbooks in progress at one time.

My Drawing Anatomy for Illustration professor in college highly influenced my obsession with always having paper and pencils at hand. In just a short little comment, that may have gone unnoticed by most students, our professor shared with the class that he, as a practicing professional painter, never went anywhere without his books.
longbookstrio2bRIBBONTEXTI began to draw everything I saw, and especially things I wanted to simply remember. Above are two rough Prismacolor marker sketches I did when I moved to Center City, Philadelphia. I vividly remember the second one, done from my apartment building’s front steps in early evening. I had just walked down Pine Street and purchased a few single bottles of beers that were completely out of my price range, and spent time watching people walk home from work, drawing little things I saw, (oh, and drinking), and enjoying my alone time in the city.

I’m taking the time to revisit my old sketchbooks, and maybe I can find something that inspires me for projects I have planned. It has always been my goal to integrate my own work into my Etsy shop, although I also find a certain kind of inspiration from vintage. Even if, for right now, “just draw something” means, Just Draw Something Again.

can’t keep me from vintage.

newfebtapeTEXTIn my efforts and time spent creating and crafting, I have neglected to list my recent vintage finds at AMPERSANDxyz on Etsy. Well, until now that is.

Although I consider myself an artist first, and a collector second, I cant help but be drawn to items from the past. And, to be honest, the majority of my shop is made up of retro pieces  It’s hard not to appreciate the design and ingenuity of common household objects or fashion of the generations before.  Some were mass-produced, yes, but each and every item has a great artist (or artists) behind it.

Feel free to visit the shop at AMPERSANDXYZ.etsy.com.

experiments with shrink plastic.

As an artist, I can safely say I love every medium. Now, I’m not saying i have every craft supply completely figured out or the end result will be a masterpiece, but a love just the same. In this past year I have experimented with embroidery, rediscovered my excitement for printmaking, and even tried to sew a summer dress for my daughter. Not everything has worked out as planned, and I am well aware that I have no business touching any 3-dimensional material such as clay, ever again.

Today I found a new craft material which I foresee a lifelong love affair with. Shrink plastic. You might remember shrink plastic marketed as Shrinky Dinks from when you were a child. A thin sheet of plastic which can be drawn or painted on, cured in your oven, and resulting in a shrunken, thicker, and more vibrant version of your work of art. Shrink plastic has since grown up and many adults see it as a medium for scrapbooking, decorations and jewelry.

On almost every website that offered a shrink plastic tutorial, testing a square before your actual design was highly recommended. But guess what? That’s not exactly how I roll. I lieu of my sister’s upcoming birthday, I decided to make her a necklace featuring her beloved Great Danes, Abby and Emma.
abbyandemmanecklace-blog2As it turns out, I was completely thrilled with my first attempt using shrink plastic. I chose to use only standard black Sharpie markers, instead of getting all crazy with color for fear of making a muddled mess. Some of my sister’s Facebook photos of  “her girls” were used as reference. I ignored the enclosed instructions of an oven temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit and decided to play it safe at 275.  I did however, seal both sides with clear glossy varnish as suggested by many. Overall, I see a lot of shrink plastic in my future.

I bought my shrink plastic from Artistic Supplies on Etsy.

valentine’s day sweet heart felt garland.

DIY1I’m the first to admit that I haven’t been feeling all that festive for holidays this year. Between running an Etsy shop and our house been taken over by the terrible two’s, if there is any sort of celebratory decorating happening, it has to be quick. Today I made a simple hanging heart garland using craft eco-felt and baker’s twine. Once you have all of your supplies in order, it seriously only takes a matter of minutes to add a hint of romance to any of your household spaces.
STEP1-suppliesYou will need:
one piece of scrap paper, any weight.
a thin sharpie marker
scissors
scotch tape
sheets or scraps of wool felt, various colors
contrasting bakers twine (I used a black/natural twine I got from KNOT & BOW)
a large sewing/embroidery needle

step2-cutoutYou could go ahead and free-style your felt hearts if you desire, or make a simple template like I did. Just like you might remember from some sort of grade school craft assignment, fold your paper in half and draw one half of a heart shape against the folded edge. After drawing two types of hearts, I chose to go with the more stretched out heart look. I made my hearts approximately 4 inches square. Cut paper heart out.

step3-cuttout3
Layer your sheets of felt in a neat stack and scotch tape your paper heart to the top sheet. Cut out using very sharp scissors, making sure to firmly hold stack of felt in place. There is no science to this step, you will have some wonky looking heart on the bottom of your stack. Simply shape that one (or two) separately, using your scissors. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This is just a time saver, believe it or not.

step4-sewTake your time and thread your baker’s twine through the eye of your needle. Keep in mind, your chosen needle’s eye has to be quite large for this to work. I bought a standard package of embroidery needles and used the largest one. Then, hand sew a running stitch along the center of all of your felt hearts, alternating in colors. This last step really flies by, so it would be almost effortless to make a super long strand of this garland.
When you have sewn all of your felt cut-outs, make sure you leave a good amount of twine on either end to tie a small bow or for hanging.
step-done
As I mentioned above, if you are looking for a great place to find baker’s twine, KNOT & BOW on Etsy has some pretty good deals from time to time. Eco-felt can be found at any craft supply store or at shops such as Felt For Less on Etsy. This project cost me about $2.50 in supplies and only 15 minutes of a very much needed toddler-naptime.

my typewriter on AMC’s Mad Men.

A few months ago I heard some buzz around the Etsy Team forums that some sellers had the opportunity to work with celebrities and production studio prop departments in the form of having their products and merchandise used on the sets of tv shows or movies. Etsy is a great place to find something unique, so it only makes sense that it could potentially be one-stop-shopping for entertainment productions.

madmen1
Today I was contacted by the Prop Master for AMC’s Mad Men regarding typewriters I sell in my Etsy shop, AMPERSANDxyz. Long story short, my baby blue Brother De Luxe will be featured on the set of the upcoming sixth season of Mad Men!
madmen2Regardless that this typewriter was manufactured in Nagoya, Japan for Brother Industries of the UK, typewriters such as these were an American staple in the 1950’s and 1960’s home. Good Housekeeping even felt so incredibly confident in this particular model of typewriter, that they even put their name on it, in the form of a gold foil sticker on the top shell. These fully manual machines aren’t just a relic from the past. They are finding their way into the homes and hearts of the modern Americans, and not just on an episode of Mad Men.

If you would like to read more about the Prop Master of Mad Men, Ellen Freund, you can go to this Huffington Post interview. On the other hand, you could also read this fun interview about how Ellen Freund Spends $15,000 Per Episode on Mad Men Props. Yikes, but wow!

february.

AMPERSANDxyz loves LOVE.February is the month of love. Whether you’re more into the conventional kind, or the love for a sweet freakin’ deal. Only five more days to grab yourself a brand new retro typewriter, or any of our other vintage and handmade items at AMPERSANDxyz for a 15% off discount. Use coupon code LOVEANDSTUFF at checkout to save on your entire order.