In this age of constant communication, the medium of our translation is homogenized into set typefaces of surprisingly limited variation. How can we regain our personal relationship with the physicality of the written word? Continue reading
There must always be a first, some brave fool to jump headlong into a new idea and herald its brilliance to the naysayers, the stick-in-the-muds, and all those not-so-innocent bystanders. Well, dear readers, let me introduce you to the Blank Canvas Living Baseball Cap Hat Brim Extender. This simple, easy to craft… er ‘engineer’ custom DIY hat brim extension keeps your face fresh and your eyes strategically shielded from any soul scarring double-takes from ignorant passers by. A blonde ponytail can only protect a gal from so much… sigh. But I ask you, at their genesis, haven’t all celebrated works of fashion prompted the question (in this case from a rather more than mildly concerned hubby): “Are you really going to wear that?”
What you’ll need to craft your own DIY hat brim extender:
-two baseball caps (mesh Nike hats shown)
-colour coordinated 3/4” velcro
-waterproof (dry clear) fabric adhesive
-clips for clamping (optional)
2- Cut and position Velcro as shown – hook side on brim extension. Glue and clamp in place.
3- Let dry overnight. Baste stitch around sweatband velco to secure (optional).
Note: Double brim can be positioned directly under the top brim for discreet storage. Double brim can also be angled for distinctly less-than-discreet shade coverage. Be bold, not burned!
When we untether ourselves from a set of behaviours and/or beliefs (however unhealthy) that have anchored us in this mad mad world, we must face the inevitable hell of ‘the void’. You’ve been there, when your brain chemistry is crashing hard and your whole universe turns in on itself and any semblance of hope dissolves into putrid stringy traces of vomit in your tortured throat – not to be too dramatic or anything. Welcome to the glamour of the void.
6:25AM – you’re sprawled on your bed in a frenzied state of wanton despair, with nothing to look forward to but the bland blind routine of daily responsibility – lucky you. No bullshitting, such purity of emotion is a rare and magical thing in our age of diffusion through screen and language. There’s something so fabulously indulgent about waking up to a viable world where everything good and beautiful exists only as a mockery of self.
We’re taught to fear the void, to stay in the arms of abusive lovers and abusive substances rather than embrace its grim romance. But no sense pining for bygone Byron days of poetic emotional abandon. Let’s get real. The void can be navigated and negotiated just like any other system state, provided, of course, you’ve got the balls.
5 tips to help you survive the void:
1) Accept the void with unrelenting compassion. Breathe. Feel the horror, the pain, and the misery as it is, as an eternity.
2) Go through the minimal motions of a day. Respect your system state and don’t pick a fight, do the dishes, or ask for a raise. And make sure to avoid news media!
3) Dress the part. Above is a 2014 collection of void-approved designs inspired by fashion design houses Chanel, Dior, and Alexander McQueen. But you don’t have to style your pain in haute couture. Even if it’s just apocalyptic back-of-the-drawer underwear, just be sure to carry a symbol of today’s truth. Note: Tragically, Lee Alexander McQueen didn’t make it through the void… a man gifted and cursed by a genius sensitivity.
4) Give yourself permission to force-feed your system: maximize your nutrients, drink lots of water, get some exercise, connect with your social support. Trust system state logic, it hasn’t failed you yet!
5) Don’t force hope. Today, there is none. And that’s perfectly OK. You may have the vague memory of being someone who had hope. Other people around you may provide precedent of hope. Whatever. That’s enough for today.
The void, just like a craving, is one of our most intimate human experiences. If we accept it for what it is, without panic, it can be an interim glamour in and of itself. There is no bridge. You must brave its black waters to get to the other side. Trust time and system state support to balance out your brain chemistry. But more importantly, trust the larger system to carry you up and along with it into the future. Reach your body into the current and let go… float, glassy eyed and screaming, into the glamour of the void.
Creative problem solving isn’t about sitting by yourself in a little corner hashing out some rigid step by step plan of action. It’s about responding to your materials, interacting with your environment, and fearlessly risking your time and ego by challenging your ideation at every step of the process.
When my boss asked me to design paper gauges for our two giant printers, I was thrilled; especially considering that despite my background, I’ve deliberately chosen a job that strictly confines me to rolling said paper when it comes out the other side of said behemoth printers (but that’s another story).
“Ooooo yes please!” I said, always eager to engage in any office sanctioned crafting. And really, is there any better kind?
I quizzed him on the design criteria: show amount of available paper (two sizes) without having to open the machines. And set to work, scouring our office for any potentially useful materials. A key exercise in creativity – feel free to try this at home – is to look at objects in terms of their inherent physical properties, not just by their associations (click here for classic candle/box experiment). For example, an elastic’s basic properties can allow it to become be a shock absorber, a vice, a sound generator, a friction enhancer, a weapon, a hinge, a sex toy… etc.
First attempt: I cut out the center of two paper plates (using small ceramic plate template), used Sharpie coloured wood coffee stirrers as indicators around a central pivot made of a paper clip (by first creating holes with thumbtacks and securing potential wood splitting with packing tape), then partook in label making to obscene excess. Brilliant!!
Except… for the fact that the resulting gauge looked exactly like two paper plates with coffee stirrers sandwiched in between, and carried the ugly evidence of someone with an obsessive fetish for label makers. And then there was the embarrassing discovery that moving one indicator influenced the rotation of the other. Sigh… not so brilliant after all.
Solution: Back to the drawing board. Always a sharp physical pain, but part of the creative process that must never smell your fear. There can be no mourning period. Huzza! Onwards and Upwards! I extended my foraging area to include resources available within walking distance on my lunchbreak. Brass spread-leg fasteners obtained! Cardstock… cardstock? After waiting for an eternity at the counter of a print shop, I’d almost given up hope. Then low and behold, a miracle! A dashing, ever so gallant, white knight of customer service came to my rescue with a stack of backroom off-of-stock-list sheets of two different weights. Huzza!
Sometimes, when you go out into the world with excitement, openness, and a clear mission, that world gets excited along with you and gives you what you so desperately need without asking anything in return. The gift of those few sheets were more than enough motivation to re-energize my demand for perfection from this project. No more compromises! This gauge was going to be perfect down to the mm… who are we kidding… the 1/2 mm!
Final design: So what if the heavier cardstock jammed the printer. I simply laminated the lighter version with packing tape and got on with X-acto-ing and blending my pencil crayons to a professional blur with strips of Kleenex. Brilliant! Perfection achieved! Perfectly proportioned, eminently easy to read, two super pro looking paper gauges = Mission accomplished?
“What do you think?” I asked my boss, proudly showing off my brand new twins.
“Hmmm,” he said, “I was thinking of something maybe a bit smaller.”
…oh for the lova’ pete.
We all want to drive more traffic to our sites, but we need to get creative when “come read my blog” is the internet equivalent of a stranger in line at Starbucks flipping open his wallet to show you pictures of his cat. This new flip book method is a way to engage people through animation, individual choice, and a take home object with real-world use to anyone who loves the smell and feel of books too much to fully convert to their eReaders.
How to promote your blog with a bookmark flip book:
“Check this out,” you say, leaning close to your target like you’re letting him/her in on a special secret – which of course you are. Holding your stack of bookmarks firmly near the midpoint, use your thumb to quickly flip through your images (each varied slightly), thus creating a lively animation of your blog’s theme. In the sample shown above I’ve used Blank Canvas Living’s mascot: Mitch the insatiable human itch. Lastly, invite your target to choose his/her favorite bookmark to take home.
How to make your own DIY blog bookmark flip book:
Copy/paste your website address and tagline down the left margin of any word processing (or graphics/draw) program, leaving suitable space between. Choose a simple, repeatable image that captures the theme of your blog. Note: the genitalia shown is optional, although I do think it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to any invitation. Copy/paste your graphic down the opposite margin, remembering to vary each one. You can also use repeating sets to save yourself some time/effort. Note: I’ve hand drawn the samples above, because an hour spent drawing a few dozen penises is almost as fun as an hour spent… Print out your bookmarks on card stock and cut/X-acto them apart. Flip!
“You’re certainly dressed for it,” says Dr. C, as she leads me through the maze of corridors on the 10th floor.
I know this detour is making me late for my own job rolling paper on the 6th, but the anticipation of adventure is too strong to resist. We stop in front of a solid metal door, painted army green and accented with row upon row of rounded rivets.
“There’s only one toilet in this one,” Dr. C explains, “and no windows. In the midst of the collaborative madness of war and industrialization, we can forget who we are – one human, one moment in time. Our processes are not mechanized, nor should they be. Our bodies are sacred and should be celebrated. Take your time, I’ll be waiting right here.”
The door takes all my strength to open, then slams shut behind me with a BANG that jolts my nerves into combat readiness. The room is small and closed, a tight box of ridged green metal with artificial light coming from bare humming tubes wired (crudely) into the ceiling. To my left, near the back wall, is a strange industrial object – all gearing and quietly rotating circular components – which spins slowly to reveal a hidden sink, like the prize in a Chinese puzzle box.
And to my right… is the most human toilet I’ve ever seen! It’s curves are unexpected, fleshy, and warm, despite the smooth, cool porcelain. I can’t stop myself. My hand involuntarily reaches out to touch the molded torso that extends seamlessly from the tank back. The seat swings open, invitingly, and I take my place beside the lovely bum. Drawn by an urge even more primal than my body’s function here, I draw my fingers down the shallow dip of her spine and follow her curves with the caress of one human exploring another for the first time. Nobody’s watching; I smack her lightly on the cheek.
This is intimacy. This is indulgence. Heck, this is fun! My mind begins to churn. If this is really possible, really happening, what other processes can be transformed? Suddenly, for the very first time, pants down and mind spinning, I know exactly who I want to be.
I heave open the heavy door and relish its BANG behind me. “Dr. C! I want to do it. I want to be part of this! You don’t even know it, but I was born to work here.”
“Of course you were.” She doesn’t seem at all surprised to see me so red cheeked and excited. “I knew it the moment I met you. Well, my dear, welcome to Blank Canvas Living.”
This post is about as PC as sending back an adopt Namibian baby after the novelty of carrying the little tike round on your hip has worn off. You’ve been warned! I woke up fat today, with a couple tike’s worth of pudge cantilevered out over my own hipbones. Not one single waistband would button or zip. A winter’s worth of last-hurray-before-milestone-birthday denial fueled debauchery, combined with a classic feminine retention, conspired to maximize the bloat factor – and on a Friday no less!
But I have a secret, I kinda like it. Actually, I feel like I’m breaking all the rules because I’m loving my new pounds in a sneaky, indulgent sort of way. I’m deep into a one night stand with a new partner, a strange woman with hedonistic appetites and soft, yielding flesh. I can’t help but wonder… Is this what it’s like to be a man? The lure of a novel body is intoxicating. How do men survive surrounded by so much flesh? Do they feel the same intense, driving curiosity to explore, and by exploring, possess? These curves are fresh and foreign, and I’m drawn into the passionate exoticism of knowing another body for the first time. The temporal (oh please dear gawd let it be temporal!) nature of my current weight allows a sense of detachment; my internal body image has not had time (or my permission!) to adjust. I am free to explore, to indulge – but what to wear?!
The temptation to dress for concealment, rather than display, is strong – and entirely culturally driven. But the logic is all backwards… What joy can there be in hiding? Hiding implies shame, and I feel no shame for maxing out my humanity in preparation for said epic B-Day (maybe a wee smidgen of guilt, but let’s not go there). Blank Canvas Living is, in essence, about honouring our humanity, and what could be more human than breakin’ out the cleavage.
My back-of-the-drawer-fat-day clothes don’t celebrate shit. Neither do yours. Let’s not kid ourselves. We all have go-to uniforms for when we wander too far from our own, uniquely personal, weight baselines. Instead of camouflage, I started searching my closet for something, anything, that would highlight my new curves. After various exercises in claustrophobia, I finally settled on an outfit: an extremely forgiving stretch gray A-line skirt; a serious push-up bra; and a fuchsia faux-pashmina, draped over my shoulders and cinched at the waist with a wide, embroidered belt.
So far the outfit has prompted at least one “is that Scottish…?” coworker complement. But more importantly, I think I look how I feel – powerful – like a medieval knight strapping on my house’s colours (heralding… pink?) before charging into battle. And as an added Friday bonus, I get to enjoy the delightfully fleshy treat that Tia Carerre (see left) was such a dear to sign last time I found myself in a similarly salacious situation.
Note: Ever notice how the holes on your belt form a statistical weight bell curve? The indents on my belt (shown above) reduces my waistline to a mathematical function through time. But any further ‘reducing’ requires a less numerical form of ‘crunching’ … sigh.
Michelle Violy Harper is a delight. Her quirky, oftentimes whimsical personal style is a celebration of…. yada yada – the articles have been written, Vogue, Style.com, etc. The tributes are effusive and entirely deserved. She’s spectacular (period).
We are inspired, millions of us, but to do what? Theoretically, we’re supposed to dig into our own psyches, moods, and fave cultural/fashion references to root out an individual style that best expresses who we are and/or how we wish to be perceived. Pretty straight forward, right?
Individual style is an illusion. For every time, for every trend, there are those who lead through exaggeration: Grace Kelly’s 1950s elegance, Kurt Cobain’s layered grunge jeans, Louis XIV’s Sun King ornamentation. Costuming these characters differently is unthinkable because their style is so closely linked to their psychologies. Their brains demand an outward expression of their eccentricities – they have no choice. To dress differently would be a betrayal of self, cause chaffing personal conflict, and render them invisible within their time.
Culture is pulled ahead by powerful personalities and powerful innovations. Fashion’s game changers are innately sensitive to the evolving culture around them and engage in a (often unconscious) back and forth influencing that, when successful, aligns them perfectly with the moment, even as they effectively pull it forward – making them inspirational touchstones to the public. Such sensitivity, combined with an exaggerated, ambitious personality, is a rare and sometimes dangerous mix (eg: Cobain, Leigh Bowery). The personal costs are high; it’s not often worth being envious beyond the clothes.
A brief stint working at Michaels Arts & Craft Superstore made something very clear: there are those who innovate, those who adapt ideas, and those who simply emulate. At Michaels, the innovators bought loose beads, those who needed inspiration bought kits, and the emulators preferred kits with full patterns/instructions. The same follows for fashion, and there is nothing wrong with it! This is the world! But this trend (and yes, it IS a trend) for universal personal, individual style is a philosophical fallacy.
Michelle Harper, born with a driving need to explore and experiment with her physicality, should be held aloft as inspiration. Because she, out of dozens of street style stars, is one of the very few able to transcend the trends hidden in plain view within the individuality movement (as patterned over time on sites like TheSartorialist.com – eg: fedoras, cameos). She is our latest, brightest touchstone – leather paillettes for all! ~wink
When you commit to the evolution of an idea, leave your ego at the door. The best self-editing, whether in writing or design, usually involves taking what you thought was shear mind-blowing brilliance, and tossing it straight out the window. Creative problem solving is all about trial and error, either performed mentally, or, as in this case, getting your hands dirty in real world testing.
This polymath has no Medici patron. As I explore Blank Canvas Living and work within the medium to develop a new way to tell a story using Story Thread Posts, I earn my creative freedom in a rather bizarre, yet beautifully brain preserving, way – rolling paper. Literally. I spend my 9-5s rolling epic seismic printouts, and when occasion calls for it, folding them. When our new set of wide-format printers came online, I went rollin…’ rollin…’ rollin’… along as usual, but when I stopped my palms and fingertips were black with toner! Sure, my version of coal dust is (probably? hopefully?) only vaguely toxic, but I couldn’t believe the engineers had overlooked the long term health of everyone using their products. The fact that these are the same minds currently slaving away on artificial intelligence is even more horrifying. ‘Slaving’ being the operative word. But anyways…
Latex was instant clammy hell. Garden gloves compromised dexterity. Everything was either too thick or too porous, or made my skin react. Cheap knit gloves worked best, but were still too porous at the contact points. I tried doubling them up, which worked at first, but made my fingers stiff with strain (a very odd sensation). I used a strip of tape to block the most stretched palm pores, then I had the exquisite, genius idea to impregnate the contact points with white glue. This proved effective, but was bulky and its texture rubbed off even more toner.
So, grudgingly, I chucked the genius and went for taped fingers (open at the back) and a T shaped palm covering. The solution is easily replaceable (to prevent the fibers from collecting too much toner dust), easy on and off, and doesn’t compromise my grip or dexterity. Is it the best solution? Ask my doctor in fifty years. But by then A.I. will have taken over and we’ll have some new version of coal dust to panic about – you’ll find my opinion (in pink) about that directly below.
While these quotes from Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Karl on Karl’ interview will resonate with any deeply creative person, they highlight the contrast between the visionary and all the tiny French fingers, living between bonbons and pinpricks, that labour over his Chanel haute couture. These petites-mains bring his dreams into the physical, then wait quietly for him to come and tighten their work, until every hemline and seam echo his “will and discipline” – thereby achieving a certain perfection. His self direction must be respected, even admired, but can any man be called a genius when he has left no room in his philosophy for the regenerative chaos of love?