Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

My sister refurbished some coasters with paint and markers. They’re pretty cute!

She says, ”They were plain old cork coasters and I used acrylic paint and painted them all white, then went from there. I’m still not quite done—I need to put some kind of protective coating on them so they don’t get liquid or heat damage.”


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This past month I participated in a project called 30 Days of Creativity. You can probably guess what it entailed.

The days of my creative June are numbered, and here’s my list (skip to the bold words if you just want the bare bones). I admit that seeing it all written out like this makes me proud—not that I accomplished anything particularly grand or marvelous, but that I made time for creativity every day.

1. I ruminated on the idea of using just one thing to inspire creative projects. I came up with a simple recipe for eggplant. I wrote about both in a blog post: “One Inspiring Thing, or Easy Eggplant and Oregano Stew”.

2. I created a tranquil atmosphere (with tea-light candles and homemade iced tea) for my study circle. Maybe it barely counts as a pass, but I had an incredibly busy day that day!

3. I made a couple new friends at a conference. I also made some delicious vegan chili and cornbread.

4. I wrote a poem that in no way reflects my usual style. See “Something From Nothing, or Avoid A Void”.

5. After a very busy three days of conference-going (and presenting), I created some quiet time for myself. I spent it reading (fiction! Will reader response theory let me claim reading as creative time? I’m going to say yes).

6. I transcribed my presentation notes from the conference I spoke at and wrote two blog posts: “Sam or Spam? (Update)” and a post about my presentation, “Spirituality in the Workplace and Everyday Life: A Baha’i Perspective”.

7. I made a birthday cartoon for my friend Steven (and that quick blog post).

8. I practiced my Adobe InDesign skills by making an unusual business card. I shared it—and a few thoughts about the process—in my post, “A Business Card for a Friendship?”.

9. I posted a photograph I took awhile ago in my post “Tiny Fruit, or Giant Person?”.

10. My schedule on the 10th was a little tight. Just before bedtime I took a few silly self-portrait photos in order to comply with my pledge to create: “Self Loathing, Self Love, and Eating a Dinosaur”.

11. I doodled some cartoons and published it (which I don’t normally do): “Just a Few Doodles”.

12. My husband was coming home from a work conference, and I enjoy baking, so I made one of his favourite things as a welcome-home gift (but with some nutty/seedy additions): banana bread with pecans and pumpkin seeds.

13. My husband helped me compose a few limericks.

14. I wrote a short prose piece about the terrors of modernity and submitted it to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. They’ve published a couple of my lists before (see here), but this one was rejected. Still, I enjoyed writing it.

15. I spent a lot of time preparing study materials for the youth program (which I’m co-facilitating—with the great Emad) at this year’s Maritime Baha’i Summer School. The study materials were based on recent messages from the Universal House of Justice. Oh, also that day I listened to the Pointer Sisters for like two hours… and ate homemade noodles for dinner.

16.  I wrote and submitted a list to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I also edited and posted a guest post for this blog (written by my lovely friend Heather). [UPDATE: That list was rejected. I posted it here.]

17. I wrote a couple of my poems in calligraphy and submitted them to The Writer’s Block (which is looking for handwritten poetry for an upcoming issue).

18. We hosted board games at our house. The creative part was that I deliberately attempted unusual strategies of my own invention. (FYI San Juan players: prioritizing the monuments is not worth it!)

19. Honestly, I was not very creative on this day. It was rainy and we lounged around all day watching some season two of “Veronica Mars”, and then “Coraline”—in which creativity is certainly evident. It was the most fluid stop-motion film I’ve ever seen (and my animation-interested husband agrees), not to mention its solid, YA-novella-inspired story (originally by Neil Gaiman). Also, the soundtrack was very good (lots of candy-creepy harp playing, and bells). My most creative moment of the day, though, was discussing character studies and creative writing exercises with my husband, who is working on a graphic novel.

20. I submitted a few poems to Rhino Poetry Magazine. I’ve been using my 30 days to submit work at a more prolific rate than usual. Not exactly sure why—maybe I’ve just been feeling fueled by the creative solidarity? It’s more work than you might think; you have to polish things before you submit them, and then write perfectly short and sweet cover letters.

21. I wrote a guest post about wedding planning and reality TV, if you can believe it, for the fantastic blog Engendering Equality. [UPDATE: here it is!] I also collected a few of my flops into a post here called “Rejected Lists”.

22. Every year for Ayyám-i-Há I make a mix CD for a certain friend. This year, I failed in my mission. Luckily, he and his wife are expecting (imminently), so I made a mix CD called “Oldies for the New Kid”. If I could knit booties, I would; with me, mix CDs is what you get. Even for babies. Deal with it, Geoff. (And congratulations!)

23. I made two cards: one to go with that CD I just mentioned, and another to accompany a wedding gift. Unfortunately, I can’t mail them yet, what with the Canada Post strike!

24. We gave a friend some serious learnin’ in the art of the great board game Settlers of Catan. Does that count?

25. I participated in a challenging community consultation. Trust me, I had to get creative about some of the suggestions I voiced.

26. Today’s creative challenge: writing a blog post without using four specific keys on the keyboard. They are broken! See “Creative Freedom Within Limits” for the result.

27. A friend and I wrote a role-playing dinner-theatre-type game a couple of years ago, and we are working on polishing it up so that we can print prototypes and submit a proposal to a game-publishing company. I edited the game rules today. We’re getting there, step by step!

28. I’ve been learning how to use Adobe InDesign, and I designed a flyer for a yard sale we’re likely going to have as we get closer to our moving day next month. Check it out:

29. I began to write a query letter and proposal about our game (see Day 27).

30. The final day: this may seem like an anti-climactic end to the month, but I finished the query letter and proposal from yesterday. I actually consider this an accomplishment, since I’ve been meaning to get around to it for months.

That’s all for me. Have a great weekend!

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Remember when people used to visit one another and leave “calling cards”? Well, I have done absolutely no research about this, but leaving a calling card when you visited someone and they weren’t home and giving a card to a new contact were popular practices for years—especially before telephones, in the late Victorian and Modern times. I assume that calling cards eventually evolved into what we now call the “business card” (my guess is, from the late ’50s onward). What role did postmodernism play in this cultural evolution? I have no idea, nor do I want to get into it.

Yet I still feel little romantic pangs for the calling-card culture (and the Victorian era in general)—as many people feel for social conditions from historical eras that we just missed or that we, for whatever reason(s), feel an affinity for. That plus the fact that I’ve been learning how to use Adobe InDesign means that I made a silly card. I also happen to be participating in 30 Days of Creativity, so I can check Day 8 off my list.

What if we still used cards that were similar in format to business cards but had nothing to do with business? What if we presented other aspects of ourselves (say our friendships or general interests and hobbies, as in this example) in this format?

Then cards would be useless, obviously, except that it would be a fun and classy way to give someone your contact information. I just might actually make some calling cards for myself someday. Doesn’t this card give you a fairly clear idea about who we two are and what we two like? (Although it does not give a clear idea about what our email addresses are, and that is deliberate for the purposes of this post.)

My friend Dave actually made a personal card, while we were in university. He had 1000 printed, I think. I just looked all through my wallet for his card, in the hope that I could scan it and share it with you, but I could not find it. Alas! As I recall, it simply read (in cornflower-blue Helvetica, or something similar): “David [Surname]: In Existence for Over 20 Years” (followed by his email address and phone number). Frankly, it was awesome.

Another fun card to make would be very simple, and could just have three lines of text:



[contact info]

Why did I choose this as a project today? Let’s see:

1. “Business card” is pretty much the simplest InDesign template that exists, which is important to a beginner like me.

2. Samuel and I designed a fantastic logo for ourselves a few years ago, which we’ve used on comic strips and our self-published picture book. It was the perfect image for this project, in that it was available.

I must say, it was great fun. Graphic design is an area I am very happy to learn more about, and I like to think that I have a little knack for it that could be developed (although if you think this card is ugly, then maybe I’m wrong about that).

I guess what I’m saying, overall, is: let’s bring back calling cards—by which I mean, let’s not get bogged down by the strict definition of “business card” (though marketing and branding strategies still apply; jacks of all trades might be better off having different business cards for every type of service they offer, for example, rather than appearing to be an amateur at everything they do, simply because it’s all listed on one card—you know the everything cards I’m talking about, and they always seem shady). Yet there are so many of us who have multiple talents and skills and can provide a variety of services. Have a business card, of course, but maybe you’ll need a personal card for other occasions? Or maybe it would be more à la mode to make an iPhone-screen-sized card that you could swish off to people, or even a QR code that directs people to your web presence (I’m not even sure that’s possible).

I can’t really tell whether I’m joking about all this or not.

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I have to tell you about Change Bucket.

Here’s a little introduction (from the About page):

Change Bucket is inspired by the dual purpose of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program; namely, that of forming strong moral identities and developing the power of expression in youth aged 12 to 15.


The purpose of Change Bucket is simple: to channel this emerging consciousness by provoking thoughtful reflection through the visual arts and writing.


To toss something into the Change Bucket, please visit the “submit” page where we have posted a few guidelines. We look forward to your contributions.

The Change Bucket Team

It was launched recently by Emad Talisman (with consultation from a few friends, myself included), and he announced the project on his own blog. The design is still being tweaked, and for now Emad is managing the website, but my hope is that it will grow.

I hope the contributors will begin to feel ownership of the project, and I look forward to viewing artwork from all sorts of contributors. The plan is to eventually publish an anthology of artwork and writing by junior youth (ages 11–14).

Here’s a rather touching poem from Change Bucket by a young person I am proud to know, Ms. Samira Eblaghi (age 15) of Halifax, NS:

I Am the Lamb

Put eyes in blind men
Let them see
Give voice to the outspoken
Let them speak
Give the hater a heart
Give the lover a start
Reverse our world and see
What will come to be
Without legs we cannot walk
Without hands we cannot function
With no crossroad there’s no junction
Take my eyes
Let them see
Take my voice
Let them speak
Take my heart
Let them love
Take my legs
Let them walk
Take my hands
I’ll build the road
Show how to function
I could be the lion
I am the lamb

Spread the word to young people, far and wide, that there is a platform for their creativity!

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This knob allows you to see everything on the other side of the door in the glass ball, so you know what you’re getting yourself into when you choose to enter….

It is designed by an architect who has this awesome site for his firm:



Posted by Mary




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