March 28, 2012

Operation Quit Pinterest : Abort! Abort!

     Gentle readers, you know I love me some Pinterest. And, web-savvy intellectuals you all are, you probably are also aware of the recent controversy-bordering-on-public-uproar regarding Pinterest's terms of service. If you're not, you can either click these links for three well-written, thought-provoking articles on the topic from Huff Post, Scientific American, and photographer Kirsten Kowalski, OR (and this is obviously the better choice) you can continue reading here and find out how the whole 'To Pin or Not To Pin' movement has affected ME.
    Confessedly, I have been hooked on Pinterest from my first login, and I never thought much about the how or why of its existence. It seemed so obvious. Pinterest is pretty. Even if people Pin ugly things, somehow Pinterest remains pretty. And functional and distinctive and clean...all the aesthetic adjectives I love. I signed up, clicked that 'I agree' box on the terms of service without bothering to read them because, seriously, who does? and stayed up way too late Pinning all the pretty things.
     I soon recognized the importance of Pinning from the original source (also from the permalink of a blog post rather than the home page of the blog) and tried to always do so. Otherwise, how can anyone find the original designer/creator of an image? (For example, it just took me over half an hour of research to discover the origins of the 'Pin All the Things' comic above--the very funny blog Hyperbole and a Half--and still  I could not post the comic from its original source because no one pinned it from its permalink source code. So annoying!) I never Pinned too many of my own creations or images, as per the (late) Pinterest Rules of Etiquette, and I never said anything mean about anyone else's Pins. In other words, I was a good little Pinner. And Pinterest was good to me. It entertained, it drove traffic here, to my little corner of the blogosphere, it replaced all my cookbooks, and it made me feel all hip and trendy and in the know all at the same time.
     But when I woke up one morning last week, Brian was deeply engrossed in an article he told me I wasn't going to like. I had to read it of course; I can't ignore opportunities to turn my nose up in disgust. But he was right. I didn't like it.
     The article was another blog post from Scientific American. And it laid out in front of my face all the ugly details of the Pinterest terms of service that I (and so many others) had not bothered to read. Like the sentence that said Pinterest owned exclusive rights to copy, reproduce and sell anything I Pinned, without permission, royalties, or even credit given to the original creator/artist, even if I was Pinning a work that wasn't mine and, therefore, I had no right to relinquish the copyright in the first place. That was the ugliest sentence of all. Copyright is a touchy issue with me and I am a fierce protector of intellectual property rights. If I make it, I think of it, sew it, draw it, design it, write it, photograph it, sing it, film it, etc., then I want the credit. And I want the cash. How could I go on using Pinterest, knowingly giving away other artists' work when I don't even burn CDs or DVDs because that is so obviously wrong?  How many artists had I compromised by Pinning their images, thinking I was helping to promote their art? I had to ask the question Kalliope Monoyios was asking: Did Pinterest exist simply as a means to dupe the public into amassing a giant library of images for the use and monetary gain of a powerful corporation? I made up my mind to quit Pinterest, and blog about it, thereby inspiring 2.5 other people to also quit.
     You astute readers may have noticed, however, that this post is titled Operation Quit Pinterest: Abort! Abort! Because a few mornings later I woke up to this lovely email in my inbox:

     I allowed myself a little pajama-clad dance of joy before stopping to this enough? Do I know enough about what this email is really saying to trust in Pinterest once again? What are the real intentions behind the legal turns of phrase? By accepting this email at face value am I, essentially, just checking that 'I agree' box without understanding what I am agreeing to one more time?
     And that's where I am now. I have, hesitantly and carefully Pinned a very few things in the last couple of days, but I can't seem to muster the same Pin All the Things enthusiasm I used to own with geeky pride. Not yet, anyway. I have some more research (including pondering Glendon Mellow's followup article for Scientific American), and some tedious reading of terms of service to do. I guess Operation Quit Pinterest is not so much aborted as it is put on standby...I'll let you know, blogland. I'll let all 2.5 of you know.

What are your thoughts on the Pinning or lack thereof?


March 23, 2012

Hunger Games: Deep Thoughts and...Craft Time!

    I am conflicted, gentle readers.

See how conflicted I look?

    On the one hand, I consider myself to be an intelligent enough person and a serious enough reader to understand that the Hunger Games' post-modern dystopian world of Panem is, one might argue, a theoretical foreshadowing of the progress of America, with our obsessive, thoughtless consumption and our willingness to be entertained by  human failure and pain (hello, reality TV).  I fully realize that the surface story by which  we are all captivated--Katniss's story, and Peeta's and Haymitch's and Cinna's and Gale's--is a mere veil over an allegory of the soullessness of greed, ambition, and selfish, ignorant living. But on the other hand...I am SO GEEKING-OUT EXCITED about going to see the Hunger Games movie TONIGHT and showing you my craftalicious handmade Mockingjay T-shirt tutorial that I AM ABOUT TO PEE MY PANTS. (See actual emotion below.)

     (Q:How Capitol is that?)(A: Not as Capitol as the fact that I really want this nail polish.)
     I am officially letting myself off the guilt-hook for today. HUNGER GAMES DAY! It is, after all, just about a book series that is brilliantly written and addictive and thought-provoking, right? (Right? She repeats timidly.)
      Okay. Hunger Games T-shirts! I have seen many, many Hunger Games T-shirt tutorials online in the past few days (why do these books appeal so much to crafty types?) but I'm throwing in my own two cents anyhow. And I think my shirt turned out satisfactorily different than the rest. Once again, I am a little last minute on the event/holiday crafty bandwagon, but I have, finally jumped on board. My fellow last-minute crafters/ lit nerds with DIY skills: This one's for you.

You will need:
A plain black (or whatever color you want) T-shirt
A towel that can get paint on it
Straight pins
Mod Podge (optional)
Waxed freezer paper (optional)
An exacto knife
Metallic spray paint in the shade of your choice
A print-out of this image:

And about an hour (with dry time)

We'll start with the optional part. I wanted my stencil to be a little more durable, usable more than once, so I mod-podged my print out of the Mockingjay image to a piece of waxed freezer paper, applying the mod podge over the top to seal it as well. This is totally not necessary, but I knew I would be doing multiple t-shirts and I thought this might help the stencil hold up longer (and, as is often the case, I was right). ;-)

Then I cut all the white away from my stencil print out, using scissors for the large areas and an exacto knife for the  finer details.
I bet you can see where the rest of this is going (you smart cookies, you) but I will lay it out anyway.
Lay out the shirt someplace where you can paint (well-ventilated, people) and use the towel, folded, to create a flat pad in between the layers of the shirt. This is not only to prevent any paint from bleeding through (not likely, but just in case), but also to provide a cushion to push your pins into.

Use your straight pins to secure the more delicate parts of the Mockingjay stencil.

Spray! Lightly and from at least 10 inches away.
Give your shirt 15-20 minutes to dry before you remove the stencil, and another 40-45 minutes before you wear it. If you have time to wash it before wearing, then you won't go to the movies smelling like spray paint. Which is always nice. And, yes! These are totally washable. Just use the delicate cycle and dry on low heat or air dry. And then look fabulous! (See actual fabulousness below.)

I made this one with the dolman sleeves for me...

...and this classic long-sleeve scoop neck for my bestie (who is almost as much of a last-minute crafter geek as I am).

Now go to it!
Happy Hunger Games Day!


p.s. Thanks to my awesome SiL, Heidi for being my green-sleeved spray paint model, and to my super-duper photographer daughter who took the pics of me in the shirts. Yup. Seriously. And she's 7.

March 19, 2012

Vintage Fabric Project #1

   This beautiful, foggy weekend...

in between celebrating my sweet hubby's birthday, getting out and
hiking as a family...

buying my tickets for Hunger Games (geek out *squeal*!)...

and squeezing in a little fiction writing time (that hasn't happened in a while),
I managed to whip out a little living-room perk-up with some of that new old vintage fabric I'm loving.

It all started with this sad piano bench I wanted to use for the kids to sit on at our dining table.

(See how sad?) 
But I had that gorgeous blue and green and gold tapestry-type fabric in my fabulous new old pile...and then going through my fabric stash and combining new with old, I found a quirky combination of prints and colors I love.

So I reupholstered the seat of the bench, and then threw together a few fun, simple pillows to pull the colors into our living room (which, in our little space, is the same room as the dining room) :-)

I love how everything turned out...patchwork and mismatched ruffles and unexpected color combinations..old fabrics mixed with new.

And a happy bench at our little table.

Hope your weekend was wonderful as well.


March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Shabby Shamrock Tutorial

     I know, I know. I'm always a little late posting these things, but that's because I always plan and create my own minor holiday crafts last minute. By 'minor holiday' I mean any holiday other than Christmas and Easter. And maybe Thanksgiving and Halloween. St.Patrick's day? Definitely minor. We're neither Catholic nor Irish here, so there's really no 'getting into the spirit' of St. Patrick's Day around our house. It's a fun day to wear green and speak with a fake Irish accent, and it happens to be Brian's birthday, but that's pretty much it.
    Wow, I'm really building up the excitement for this tutorial, huh? the interest of having something cute, understated, non-beer related, lacking glitter, and...oh, yes, green to wear on the day that has been set aside for the Wearing O' The Green, I hereby give you, my fellow last-minute crafters, the Amber June Studios

Fine Yarn or Crewel Wool
Pin Back or Safety Pin
Hot Glue
A Little Twig

 Step One:
Without cutting your wool from the skein, begin wrapping a strand around the three middle fingers of your left hand (or your right hand, if you are a genius south-paw).
Wrap until you have a nice thick pillow of yarn looped around those fingers; at least 2 yards. More 
if you like.

Step Two:
When you are happy with the thickness of your loops, cut the yarn from its skein and tuck the loose end in among the loops.
Using a darker shade of green (did I mention the yarn should be green?), wrap and tie off the middle of your
yarn poof as you slip it from your fingers.

Step Three:

(This one was difficult to photograph one-handed, so I drew you a lil' picture.)

Step Four:
Continue wrapping the dark green yarn around the three sections of loops until you are happy with the 
shamrock-ness of your shamrock. Then, holding your little twig in place on the back of your 
shamrock, wrap the yarn around it as well, to secure it in place. Cut the wrap yarn from the skein.

Step Five:
Use a little daub (yes, I said daub) of hot glue to secure the end of the dark yarn and attach your 
pin back or safety pin at the same time  (I know, right?)

Voila! Shabby Shamrock.

Happy St. Patrick's Day. May all the...snakes stay out of Ireland...or something.
(No disrespect intended).


March 12, 2012

Today List : Y is for Yes, Please

      Today I am thinking:

:: about how joining the YMCA two weeks ago is one of the smartest things Brian and I have ever done for our family. And not just because the showers there always have enough hot water that I can wash my hair and shave my legs (I don't have to choose like I do at home!), but for a lot of other reasons as well. The independence available to our kids within a safe environment, the sense of community, the active family time, and the fun classes...I could go on. 

:: I can't believe my kids have developed, so quickly, into little rock climbers, scaling walls like Spiderman and ringing bells at the top of routes that I've seen adults struggle with (Mamma buttons busting here). They can't get enough and I love the trust relationship that has to exist between climber and belayer (usually me). There's a whole life metaphor there...

:: why didn't we do this sooner? We've always tried to be a healthy, active family, but we've also always let winter kind of get us down. It seems like such a 'duh' solution now, far more affordable than we'd expected, and worth twice what we pay. 

:: how nice it is, when I'm  feeling a little low, to say "Mamma needs endorphins, let's go play," and to have a place to go play, all together (family basketball, anyone?) or individually, each of getting a little space and a little attitude boost, so when we come back together again we're ready to be together, appreciating one another. 

Today I'm thinking: I <3 our local YMCA.


What does your family do to stay active and have fun?
Share your ideas in the comments!

March 9, 2012

Vintage Fabric Stash

Hello lovelies. 
Remember that recent influx of gorgeous vintage fabric I mentioned the other day?
Want to see a little bit of it? 

Upholstery -weight fabrics and quilting cotton and poplins and seersuckers, wool and twill and suitings and flannels...

...funky-fun knits and even notions...

(I couldn't decide if this bird print was retro-ugly or retro-awesome, but I took it anyway and now I'm kind of in love with it. In a retro-awesome-ugly way.)

...and patterns! I almost didn't take any patterns because I already have a pretty plentiful stash of vintage patterns from my gorgeous Grandma, but flipping through them, I did find an inspirational couple dozen or so.
Ideas... many ideas. 
My heartfelt thanks again to Stella and her kind, good, talented mother whose fabric stash this was. She was an inspirational woman. A woman of home and family and wisdom and faith and generosity. Clearly, that has not been lost on her daughter, nor on anyone who knew her.

Now to create!