Tuesday, May 31, 2011

History of Photoshopping

True Stuff: The Ethics of Retouching

There isn't really much that I can add to this article so you should just go read it for yourself.  I'm a big fan of discovering all of the history behind trends that everyone believes to be brand new.  This one is a pretty great example considering that the debate of retouching started up almost at the same time as photography.  Also, it makes me wonder how many of my relatives had some flaws taken away in those fancy postcard photos.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Squid in Homes

Sometimes I get awesome photos from customers on how they display their squid.  This is from a lovely lady in the Midwest. I am impressed with this mighty vine. 

I have a few more of these to do (and an entire file of fantastic ones of my squids out in the world, including crossing famous bodies of water) but if you have any photos of your squid or Tadly (or anything else I make) that you would like to send me please do!  I love seeing where my work ends up.  Email them to me at cleodees (at) gmail (dot) com or tag Cleo Dee on your photos for Facebook.  You can head there now to see some great examples, including one of my favorites.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Best Thing I've Seen All Week

 I posted this for Tadly earlier this week but I feel this needs to be re-posted again.  Mainly because this little creature is ADORABLE but also it's so fantastic that a species is rediscovered after more than a century.  

Also, it reminds me of a muskrat and I have fond memories of muskrats from my childhood.  We have a creek that runs right beside my family home.  For many years we had muskrats that had a little den about 10 feet from the side door and one summer one of the babies took a liking to me. It would then follow me around the yard and I would put out carrots for it to munch on.  I could never get close enough that I could hand-feed it and I wouldn't have even if I could since that has always been a big no-no in my wildlife rule book.

pure adorableness.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Abigail Recommends and Tadly Illustrations

Here is this week's Abigail Recommends.  Insider tip: I really did wear my nightgown for Book Day along with my favorite bonnet to dress up as Laura Ingalls and I did it at least 3 years in a row.  I was pretty skilled at dressing like her and running around our fields pretending to be her.  I read those books so many times I wore down places on the covers where my fingers rested.   In second or third grade my Grandma Shade started buying dolls from the Little House series.  I have Laura, Mary, Nellie and Almanzo.  Her goal was to get me the entire set but she passed away before that happened.  They are still under my bed at home in their boxes.  I never took them out because for some reason as a kid I was dead set on wanting to wait to display them when I had my own home.  Apparently as a child owing fancy dolls like these was not something I took lightly.  Now I'm waiting until I have a space where it won't look insane that I have 4 porcelain dolls on stands presented in glass domes because I don't want any dust to get onto Nellie's curls.  My lovely Aunt Linda (who knew the full extent of my love for this series) sent me the Little House Cookbook this Christmas and just sent me an article alerting me to Wendy McClure who wrote a book that I would have killed to write.  I haven't gotten a chance to read this yet but when I do I will read the crap out of it and dream of the day I go visit the places Laura lived and visit the library and museum (as discussed on This American Life).  It's right up there with going to Monticello for me. 

And in another note, this is my favorite Tadly illustration that Scott has done thus far.  Tadly Weekly #8.  Love it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Although I'm super excited about our new neighborhood I have been feeling wistful for the things we'll leave behind (although not the drunks, vandalism, assaults and non-existent parking).  Although we're not moving very far at all, Pittsburgh's neighborhoods are pretty self-contained so I'm not sure how often we'll really be back.  Also, the new place is sadly not as walkable so I'll really miss having a grocery store, post office and awesome deli and Thai food mere blocks from my apartment along with seeing at least one person we know while I'm out and about.

The view from upstairs.
The giant birdbath that's above the grass roof beside us.

Looking over the rooftops.
The slopes with their awesome network of incredibly steep stairs and adorable alley cats.
The train horns in the distance and the strict schedule of building shakes.

I think most of all I'll miss the riverfront trail.  I'll be getting Frick Park and Homewood Cemetery which I'm super excited about, but it was nice to have the trail as a quick option to walk while running errands to avoid the noise and heat of East Carson.

Monday, May 23, 2011

catch up

I hurt my shoulder sewing a large pile of squidtivity faces and backs so I decided to play catch up on other work.  Essential work such as embroidery organization and finally making various sizes of produce and bulk bags.   The main thing has been trying to figure out our new and much more complex camera. Our old one was dying.  Whites were gray and blacks and any dark colors would blend into dark backgrounds. These two problems made the squid photos pretty worthless.  The learning curve is steep but hey, at least my cat finally shows up in photos again.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Best Thing I've Seen All Week

I can't knit or crochet to begin with but I think even if I did I'd still be in awe at this knitted skeleton.  
Go here to see it in its full glory.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


We've already been to the grocery 3 times for egg boxes and the liquor store once for an ungodly amount of vodka boxes (they seem go through the vodka quite a bit in southside). We've pilfered through the trash of wealthy people with their fancy moving company boxes and discovered their propensity to just buy new things once they get to their new place.  They also don't like to break down their boxes and do love to set them out for regular trash instead of recycling.  But hey, in this case it worked for us.  You'd be amazed at how many printer and cookware boxes you can shove inside of a master bedroom wardrobe box.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mark on the Beast

Ico came back from his vet check up with the advice to loose weight, schedule an appointment for a teeth cleaning to combat the bleeding gums he has and also with a chip.  We figured we should get him microchipped since our new place leads directly outside and he is a bit of a runner when he's afraid.  But most importantly about this event were the papers you receive with your chip.  First is the certificate.  I think this is the closest Ico will ever come to a diploma.  Perhaps we'll hang it over his litter box.

we've accomplished something!
The next was a fear filled brochure on why to get your pet chipped. Keep in mind, we did decided to do it so I do think it's a fantastic idea depending on your situation but Scott and I both find advertising amusing.  Especially the kind that wants to play on a particular emotion.  Can you figure out what that emotion is?

Almost enough fear to distract me from that fabulous photo in the corner...almost.

Given the fact that losing your pet is normally in the back of your mind most days anyway, I don't think you really need to have a 6 page brochure with illustrations of sad little girls in giant golden shoes driving the point home about how crappy said day would be.  They really could have just given out pieces of paper saying "Losing your pet will literally rip your soul out of your body but this chip will hopefully make that gaping hole not last as long. But you already knew that so here are some numbers to get a small sense of security.  You're welcome".  Then they could have called it a day and gone back to doubling up on a horse.

Monday, May 16, 2011

For INDIEanna Handicraft

Here are a few of the new items I finished up this weekend for INDIEanna Handicraft.  The squid were the last things I needed to finish up for the show so except for some trunk repairs and figuring out how to display my aprons inside I'm ready.

aprons for apple picking
coffee on the go

Russian fairytale party

Friday, May 13, 2011

Best Thing I've Seen All Week

Check this out to see some awesome automata by Keith Newstead.  

Thursday's Accessory

Out and About

The weather is finally starting to lend itself well to long walks and traipsing.

greatest helmet ever.

The Mon is finally starting to recede.   Luckily this tree survived the flooding, although now there are a large amount of stumps down there to climb.  Also, ducks are awesome.

It's kind of like we're at the ocean!  Almost...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Move it

We're finally moving!  We're leaving the southside for the tree lined streets of Park place.  It's another one of Pittsburgh's many neighborhoods but this one is near the awesomeness of Frick Park and away from bars, no parking, drunks and all of the other fun stuff that goes along with that.  It's a much smaller place but we've realized that in the 5 years we've lived at our place now our living room has become a glorified hallway.  Now we'll be able to consolidate the studio and living room together and be super cozy.  Check here for updates on what will be happening with the shop.  And now it's time to gather boxes.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Desk Mess

Not pictured: 4 exploding bins of embroidery floss piled on top of the printer.
Yesterday I stopped embroidering long enough to look at my desk and realized I could no longer remember why there were various Tadly piled high.  I decide that I needed to clean but I figured I'd take a picture first since you rarely see what someone's desk looks like when it's actually in use.  Mainly because it's shameful and also you just don't have time to think about pictures when you're working away (but for me it's mainly shame- that bowl has been there far too long).
I also decided that I should catch up on packaging some wayward squid magnets.  Since these guys are new I don't have a box to put finished ones in yet and I wanted to keep them in sight so they are not forgotten.  Hence, I improvised.

I bought this spice rack to hold all of Tadly's suckers and pupils.  Since I punch them out all by hand I pick a day or two and get a stockpile going in all of the various colors and sizes I need.
The magnet squids have since found a new home all packaged up and in the trunk waiting for next month. The desk has about one more week before it's back to normal. 

Friday, May 06, 2011

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Secret Projects

One reason this is taking so long: one strand of embroidery floss.

I feel like a lot of items I make I never get to show until months later since they're waiting for customers.  This little peek will (hopefully) be finished and ready to show by the end of next week.  I'm still a little worried about getting everything done for it especially when it's combined with everything else that has a strict deadline this Spring. The main event is prepping for INDIEanna Handicraft Exchange which needs to be 100% completed before the 1st of June when I then get to help my best friend move here from Seattle (yay!) and possibly another time-consuming event of our own for that week.  It's going to be a busy May and June but July will be awesome. A nice and quiet awesome, which really is the best kind.  And hopefully not rainy, although it has been really beautiful with all of the trees losing their blossoms. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

squid a month club (April)

Here's a few of the squids sent out last month.  You can see a good sample of the collection over here.
Comic book lover who is also a lover of snow leopards
and also squid (of course).
A Marfa, Texas wedding

A Nintendo fan.   
I have yet to find a controller that doesn't have teeth marks on it.  Glad to see that was a pretty common reaction to BS level design and cartridges that wouldn't work even if you did blow into them. 

Monday, May 02, 2011

Craft Shows Through the Years (outdoors)

Here's a little peek at how my outdoor displays have evolved over the years. Enjoy!

Spring Bada Bing 2005
This was my first show ever.  I had no idea what to prepare for so I spent quite a bit of time looking through the suggested list of items to bring they sent along.  I based my prep list on a lot of things I first found here.  I didn't need a tent because they had wooden shelters for us to use but they didn't have a roof so tarps were suggested.  It did end up raining so the tarps proved quite useful.  I do remember us being one of the only people that had a tarp on the roof and also behind us so we were quite cozy and had lots of visitors hanging out in our space until the rain subsided.  I had no idea how to display my squid at the time so I used a bulletin board.  I also didn't have much stock so I sold out pretty quickly of most things, which was a nice feeling.  Also note the how we first did our signs. 

Crafty Bastards 2005

This was my second show and I bought a tent.  A beautiful tent.  I found it in the tailgating section of Dick's Sporting Goods in Altoona.  It had wonderful vents, was quick to set up, and had a silver lining so it was always nice and cool under there.  At this point I still had not sewn tablecloths and was using some unfortunate polka dot fabric.  I did make a fabric sign for the outside which served me well.  I have since retired this into a memento box.  You can kind of see some of the signs Scott started to make peeking out. These proved to be quite a hit with folks.  I think my signs get just as many photos taken as my plush.
My set up for outdoor shows didn't change much for the next few years and I don't really have any photos of these times so I'll jump ahead to 2008.
Renegade Brooklyn 2008
I think this is the first time we used any sort of trunk.  We found it to be quite useful and this seeded the idea for the steamer trunks that Scott thought of later that year.  At this time I was still using spinning racks for the squid .  Horrible! These would blow around all of the time and tangle the squid.  Even in an indoor situation they weren't ideal (hindsight) but outside it was just a lost cause.  I also still had some gridwalls.  These also weren't ideal for the type of items I was making.  I still had my outdoor sign plus a new pennant I had made.  We were in the pool again this year and there were thunderstorms and the pool flooded in some spots.  Our tent was a trooper though, at the end of the day when my tent was taken down and folded up the wind was so strong it blew the tent about 15 feet away from our space.  We had been the year before and although it had rained it wasn't terribly bad (this was how I first learned that plastic bins are the way to store your extra stock under tables).  This was our first hint at how early June weather in Brooklyn can be.

Crafty Bastards 2008

 The trunks are in full force, the gridwalls are gone, clothes lines are utilized.  Still have too many extra little baskets and display holders but after this I got even more ideas on how to consolidate (and better display) all of my items.  This also included getting rid of certain products to focus on ones I enjoyed making more.

Brooklyn Renegade 2010
 Probably the saddest show we've ever had.  The wind and rain was already pretty bad when we arrived and the forecast wasn't promising.  I don't know if it was our position but we seemed to be right in the line of the wind.  Our tent (which was ridiculously weighted) was one of the first in our area to be taken out. Even our wooden and metal trunks toppled over a few times.  Also, there was a softball game going on in front of us.  One ball hit a display trunk (thankfully missing a customer). Our dear neighbor Meg almost got a ball to the head at one point as well.  We only made it a few hours before our tent and merchandise was out of commission.  We made the decision to cut our loses since our trunks were in need of repair, our tent had buckled and I had lost a bit of squid to water damage.   I was super sad to leave a show and to know that my faithful tent had finally bit the dust.  Scott made me feel better though by taking me to Coney Island for the first time (because of course, the weather was looking up after we had left the show).  We also missed the second day of the show because I didn't want to rush out buying a new tent without doing research, especially considering the weather for the next day.

Renegade Chicago 2010
 This was our maiden run of a new tent.  I kept the wall from the old tent to use.  I spent so much time researching our new purchase and we realized once we put it up it should just be burned alive.  There were pinhole tears everywhere.  The vents didn't work. Also, it seemed to be low.  This was confirmed when someone came in and said they had the same tent and it should be much higher.  We also had to set it up in the rain and realized it was not as quick to put up as our first one and we were having problems getting the legs to lock and unlock.  We were soaked and worried about having another rerun of our last outdoor event (every single outdoor show we did last year had some sort of severe weather mishap).  After this show we had another outdoor show in St. Louis and ended up having to put a tarp over the roof in order to stop the leaking (which worked quite well).  Given all of the problems we had last year with the rain plus the prospect of moving this summer I'm not doing as many outdoor shows although I am still on the hunt for a tent for when I do.  I wish they still made our lovely purple guy but alas, I have yet to find it.