Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Leather and wood organizer

A while back I had posted a teaser photo on Instagram.  Horray!  I had started a new project!  Typically when I do so, it usually takes me a few weeks to complete.

Not this time around!  I suppose I still have the "new year" attitude to just get stuff done.

So I found this lovely post on Design*Sponge and was instantly inspired to create my own wood and leather organizer.  In my project, I went a step further than their DIY.  I decided to add a few coats of clear glossy Polyurethane to my base board and then hang it on my wall.

Read below for my steps.  Click here for the original Design*Sponge post.

To begin with, the whole reason I even began this DIY was because I had most of the materials lying around my studio and house.  An extra random Ikea board?  Check.  Salvaged leather scraps?  Check.  Finish, miscellaneous tools and a hanging kit?  Check, check, and check.  I suppose that the only two things that I purchased were based off of wants rather than necessities.  ( I really liked the look of the brassy escutcheon pins and again, I wanted a glossy finish to my base board.  I have a few cans of semi-gloss in my garage and I knew that regular nails would work just as well.  But design aesthetics prevail and together, the pins and stain cost me around $10)

So again, materials you will need:
  • Wood plank (Mine measured 7.25"x31")
  • Leather
  • Brass nails/Escutcheon pins
  • Fine grit sandpaper (I used 220 grit)
  • Clear Gloss Polyurethane (I used Clear gloss fast-drying Minwax Polyurethane)
  • Cheap 2" brush
  • Paper towels
  • Heavy duty scissors/Utility Knife
  • Ruler
  • Hammer
  • Drill

The first thing I did was to prep my materials.  I cut out the pockets from the leather and lightly sanded the wood for the finish.  I measured out three different sizes for my leather pockets:
  • 6.25"x10"
  • 6.25"x12"
  • 6.25"x16"
The reason why I choose these measurements was just based off of the type of mail I tend to receive.  Postcards, legal letters, miscellaneous...  Once folded, each pocket could hold various types of mail based on their size.  I utilized some heavy duty fabric scissors to cut through the leather but if you don't own a pair, just use a handy utility knife on a cutting surface.

Next I added my clear, glossy poly finish to the base board.  Originally I thought I'd add about two coats of poly, I ended up adding four.  (The whole raw wood thing is nice.  But I don't like splinters and I often times end up with some kind of injury because of a raw edge.  I wanted the base board to look slick and smooth to the touch.)  This process took the longest since I had to wait in-between coats to add new layers.  I recommend the Minwax fast-drying polyurethane.  It cut the drying time in half and I was able to add two coats a day.

 After waiting between coats, make sure that you lightly sand when the poly is dry.  This ensures an even and dust free surface.  After sanding, wipe down the wood with a damp cloth.  Dry off the wood and you're ready to for another coat!

Finally, after the fourth coat of poly, I was satisfied enough to bring in the baseboard and finish the rest of the project.  Not pictured here, but again, I lightly sanded the wood and wiped it down one final time.  Here I marked out the placement of each pocket.

Once I had the placement of each pocket figured out, I marked where I wanted to nail in the pins.  I placed one pin in the middle of the back portion of the pocket and two on the outer corners securing it in place.

This last step was of my own preference.  I knew that I wanted to hang this on the wall in my kitchen.  You don't have to hand this piece but just leave it at that.  The Design*Sponge DIY shows their organizer leaning up again a wall or counter.

So in my case, I ended up pre-drilling some small holes for wiring and added some foam bumpers on the lower portion of the board.

And done!  It's that easy.  It probably only took me three and half days to complete this project and with a minimal amount of effort and materials.  I know that Thom and I will find great use of something so simple and I love the end result.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stern Grove Shoot

Today has been so warm and lovely.  It is one of the few ironically sunny days here in the Sunset neighborhood.  So I finally got out of the house and walked over to Stern Grove with Thom.  Here are my test shots from the new Petzval lens.  I'm still learning everyday from this lens (i.e. focusing issues) and the results have been increasingly better each time.

My next step with this lens is to figure out how to shoot self-portraiture...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A new planter

Along with my amazing Petzval lens, my package also came with a nifty little camera called La Sardina.  (A wide-angle 35mm tin can camera)  I haven't had much time to play around with this new retro camera but I did end up up-cycling the wooden box it came in.  I've hoarded a bunch of little succulents throughout the year and I've guiltily placed them in the back room as a temporary home.  Thom had suggested to just get rid of them but I couldn't see throwing away such lovely little plants.  A few of them had come from the boutonnieres of all the men in our wedding.  Needless to say, they mean something every time I look at them.

So I drilled a hole in the bottom of the box, lined it with plastic and filled it with dirt.  I planted the succulents and gave it a good watering.  The box now sits proudly on my kitchen table and has become a lovely reminder of grand past memories.

As you can see in a few of these photos, I shot with my new lens.  It definitely takes a bit of practice.  The super shallow depth of field makes it hard to create perfect in focus subject matter but I've slowly been getting the hang of it.

More to come...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Petzval lens for DSLR

Nearly six months ago I pined.  I longed.  I wished.  I waited...

I had stumbled upon the latest kickstarter lens project that had actually held my attention and made it's way straight to my heart.  The Petzval lens redeveloped to fit a DSLR camera system.  The project rooted itself deep in the same vein of old technologies mixing with new.  An idea and belief that I practice within my own art.  This project heralded back to "what once was" and yet seemed so cavalier.  The old with the new.   I love it.

And so, Thom surprised and gifted me the Petzval as my graduation present from receiving my masters.  The only catch was that I'd have to wait for production to get underway...actually far away in Russia, until the estimated ship date of early spring 2014.

Two weeks ago a package came for me in the mail.  And I flew home back to New York at the exact same time.  So again, I pined.  I longed.  I wished.  I waited.  Well my friends, the wait is over.  And it was Christmas all over again.  I was so excited about receiving this package that I can't even create a proper blog post or even write a decent review on the highly anticipated newly revolutionized Petzval lens for digital systems.  Blame my jet lag if you will. 

I did manage to shoot off a few tests around my apartment before the sun dropped.  Those I'll share here if only to admire that beautiful, swirly, creamy Petzval-renowned depth of field.

Don't worry, only after unpacking, a good long shower, hot meal and some decent sleep, will I go out this weekend, shoot and dutifully report.

You can read more on the lens here.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New year, new post, new image

Why hello there...

It's been quite a while since I last blogged (Blogger says 4 months!) and I don't have much of a good excuse as to why I haven't been keeping up.  I suppose that life just happens outside of blogging...

Recently I went to go see David Hockney's exhibition at the de Young museum.  I was surprised to see Hockney's dedication to exploring a single subject continually, for a length of time.  Hockney specifically focused his attention on the famous "Sermon on the Mount" by Claude Lorrain.  The exhibition showcased his version of the painting in numerous variations and editions.  For such a common and well known idea, Hockney continued to explore and push the ideas of the painting, transforming it into something of his own.

Inspired by my recent gallery visit, I want to create a blend of the mundane and the extraordinary.  Specifically, I'm interested in the idea of ascension and transformation.  Where would it happen?  What is the reaction?  What do you leave behind?  I plan to continue this exploration and create a series of narratives based on this new idea.