Jan 29 2013

Tech Tuesday: Google IS Human!

Pixelkris
Share

What a crazy idea for Tech Tuesday, but we just had to tell you about our recent interaction with Google and why we love Google even more than before. It’s true, we can’t wait to check in and see if Google has changed its banner to some special doodle. Did you know you can peruse all their doodles – even the ones that show up in other countries but not ours (’cause even Google realizes we are not as sophisticated as other parts of the globe). Click here to check them out.

One of Kris’ favorite doodles was when Google commemorated Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday.

Google Doodle for Lucy

Google Doodle for Lucy

Click here for the interactive version.

Okay, back to why we love Google even more than before. We recently subscribed to Google Apps for Business. Because we often collaborate with Kris at home and Deb at the studio, we needed to access more and more files simultaneously. We were also able to get a good deal on project management software. (But that’s a topic for another Tech Tuesday). Deb had to clear up some questions we had, so when she filled out her request for help, she was offered a choice of telling Google how she felt that day (like confused, angry frustrated, etc.). Hey, what a way to get to the heart of the matter. Deb was so convinced that the dropdown menu helped her articulate her feelings better than anywhere else that she just had to tell Google. And guess what Google did . . . wrote her a handwritten letter!!! Now how’s that for making technology human! We ♥ Google!

Letter from Google

Letter from Google


Jan 25 2013

Bilbergia Design

deb-of-pixeladies
Share

When the world is fast asleep, I sometimes have spurts of creative energy.  Or was it because I had lunch with mega-creative Carla Barrett?  Or perhaps it’s because I should be doing some accounting work and am just a great procrastinator?  Whatever the reason, I had fun playing with Photoshop last night.  I decided I just had to make a design with a most ostentatious flower, Billbergia nutans.  What’s not to love about a plant with periwinkle and lime stripes coordinated with corally-pink and a bit of yellow to add some more punch?

 

The Billbergia Flower

The Billbergia Flower

I’m not the world’s best draw-er, but sometimes I get lucky and come up with something I like.  And if you like something once, why not triplicate it?

3 Billbergia Flowers

3 Billbergia Flowers

It’s much easier in Photoshop than with a real pen (plus I can erase and modify without messing up the paper). I like the quasi-woodcut/Weiner Werkstatt look.  How about adding some leaves.

 

Billbergia With Leaves

Billbergia With Leaves

With Photoshop and the “cutout” filter, you can give things a jagged, angular look.  You’ll lose detail with this filter, and I really liked the white spots. To make things more interesting, I like to put the filtered object over the original object and play with the blend modes.  Sometimes you’ll come up with something even better than either the original or the “cutout” version.

 

Modified Pattern

Modified Pattern

Unless you want a black and white pattern, you’ve got to add some color.  Since the original flower had a gorgeous pink color in it, I thought I’d just quickly paint over the flowers and leaves with a large brush.

 

Pink BillbergiaPink Billbergia

Pink BillbergiaPink Billbergia

Since I love teal and aqua and lime, I thought I’d play with those colors in the background. It wasn’t doing anything for me, but the flowers blended with the pink and the background were kind of interesting.

Billbergia With Colored Background

Billbergia With Colored Background

The other cool thing about Photoshop is working with layers.  So when you don’t like the background you thought you would, you can just “turn that layer off.”  Many hours later, I came up with a possibility.  I think with some cleaning up, this design might look good printed on linen for spring.  What do you think?

Billbergia Design

Billbergia Design


Jan 22 2013

Tech Tuesday: Creating A Pattern That Repeats Seamlessly

Pixelkris
Share

People have been asking what we’ll learn in the Designing Fabric with Photoshop Elements that starts on Monday. Well, we always say lots of things, but that’s not really a good answer. Besides adjustment layers, blend modes, and defining patterns, we also show you some tricks to making your own seamless repeats. You do so by using the Offset Filter. Here’s how it works:

1. Make a doodle and save it to your computer. It’s easier to make a repeat if your doodle doesn’t touch the edges.

2. In the Menu bar, click on Image > Image Size to open the Image Size dialog box.

3. Notate the image size in pixels.

4. Divide each number by two and write down the new numbers. This is not an exact science, so you can round the numbers up or down.

5. From the Menu bar, go to Filter > Other > Offset.

6. Enter the new numbers.

7. In the “Undefined Areas” section, check “Wrap Around.”

8. Click OK.

9. Draw to change any disconnects you see or to make any additions.

10. Repeat this process until you like what you see.

11. Define the new doodle as a pattern by selecting the entire doodle with the Rectangular Marquee tool and then clicking Edit > Define Pattern from the Menu bar.

12. Create a new file that is large enough to take several repeats of the pattern you made. (If your pattern is 2″ x 2″, try creating a new file that is 10″ x 10″. Don’t forget to check the resolution!)

13. Fill the image with the new pattern. From the Menu bar, click Edit > File > Fill Layer > Pattern, then pick Custom Pattern. The pattern you defined in Step 11 above is the last pattern in the list. Take a look at what we did below.

doodleSnakes-9

Original Doodle

doodleSnakes-10

First Offset

doodleSnakes-20

Midway Point

doodleSnakes-40

Final Pattern

doodleSnakes-Repeated

Seamless Repeat

The offset filter really is a combination of art and science, but the possibilities are endless. If you want to learn more about the art of designing seamless repeats, please join us in our online class that starts Monday, January 28. Go to our host at featheredfibers.wordpress.com for more information and to register for the class.


Jan 16 2013

High Tech Quilts

deb-of-pixeladies
Share

Welcome back.  Today you can see what fun I had with parts I gleaned from taking apart computer hard drives, cd burners and cell phones.  At our Studio Art Quilt Associates convention in Santa Fe, we’re going to have a silent auction of miniature art quilts just for people at the conference.  This will be part of Friday nights’ Santa Fe Spotlight, a festive couple of hours featuring music, merry-making and mingling (oh yes, and dessert, but that didn’t start with an “M”).   Knowing that Kris would be mad if I brought new and exciting things (she’d call it crap) into the studio she had just cleaned, I decided I had better make something lovely out of the parts to try to distract her.  It’s interesting working so small.  Every stitch has to be carefully thought out.   These little gems are 6” x 8” matted so that only the center 6 ½” x 4 ½” is visible.

Communications Failure

Communications Failure

“Communications Failure” is made with the PC board from a broken cell phone.  When I was searching through the scrap bag (remember, I’m the packrat!), I found a lovely print with figures on it.  The word veritable was printed in the selvedge.  This couple looked like they were having problems communicating, even without a non-working cell phone.

Gold Circle

Gold Circle

“Gold Circle” is a piece inspired by the curve in the PC board from a hard drive, and the tag I found in my box of clothing labels (See, I really am a packrat).  Does anyone remember Gold Circle, the store?

New Year's Eve In Silicon Valley

New Year’s Eve In Silicon Valley

“New Year’s Eve in Silicon Valley” came about as I was trying to find scrap colors to coordinate with the PC boards.  The background fabric was actually a stylized flower, but when I placed the board on the fabric, the board looked like a building and the curved lines reminded me of the light show in Hong Kong.  This building was way too short to be in Hong Kong, so I decided this is what would happen in San Jose on New Year’s Eve.


Jan 15 2013

Cool Computer Parts

deb-of-pixeladies
Share

I suppose I should title this post getting to know the Pixeladies—or, specifically, learning more about Deb than she wants you to know.
Hi, my name is Deb, and I’m a packrat. [Audience: Hi, Deb] It started during the holidays. I was cleaning up the studio and throwing things away. [Audience: (applauding) Good job, Deb!] [Kris (louder than anyone else in the audience): I don’t believe it.] So I decided I should go inside the house and see if there was anything else I could throw away. My DH Dave was also trying to purge his office, so he was making a pile of stuff to take to the e-recycler. You should know that DH is also a packrat. This pile included all sorts of computer stuff like hard drives (full-sized and laptop), cd burners, even old cell phones and TV remote controllers. Well this brought back childhood memories of taking apart Big Ben alarm clocks (you know the old black ones) and playing with Legos. [Audience (murmuring): Oh no! Not childhood memories. Not for a packrat. That could be dangerous.]
Well, I have grandchildren now. They like to play with Legos; maybe they’d like to take things apart. It’s not a stretch, right? Well, of course, I had to test it out for myself, right? [Audience: Of course. It’s called being safe and responsible.] [Kris (again louder than anyone else): Noooo! I can see where this is going] My dad gave DH some teeny-tiny screwdrivers for Christmas. You know, like the ones you use for eyeglasses, only smaller and with a gajillion different tips—flat head, phillips, hex. So DH, being the DH he is, brought down the tools, his mini vise, and even his visor with LED lights and magnifying lenses. [Men in the audience: Ooohh, aaahh.] I looked like a diamond cutter from Amsterdam, so I was ready to start taking something apart.

Teeny-tiny Tools

Teeny-tiny Tools

I started with a hard drive from a desktop computer. Put on the hex tip, ignore all the warning labels and start taking out the screws. Hmmm, it’s not coming apart. [Man in the audience (hmmphing loudly): She didn’t look under the labels] Yes. You are right, sir. Those sneaky @#$@ put screws under the labels. After bending the back of the case a little bit, I could see that there still had to be some screws in the case. I peeled off the warning labels and removed the rest of the screws. Wow! All that shiny metal. And perfectly round. My hear t beat faster. What I could do with all that shiny metal.

The (sigh longingly) Shiny, Round, Metal Things

The (sigh longingly) Shiny, Round, Metal Things

More screws, this time I need the phillips tip. Remove the screws. Hmmm. Still something’s keeping me from those (sigh longingly) shiny, round, metal things. I went to the tool drawer and got out the big, old flathead screwdriver. [Man in the audience: Thank gawd she didn’t try prying with the teeny tiny screwdrivers. That would have been grounds for divorce in my house]. Yep, sir, in my house, too. That’s why I have my own tools. (“He called them “teeny tiny” screwdrivers and he’s worrying about using them to pry with?” I thought to myself. I digress. Back to the story.)

Magnets From Many Hard Drives

Magnets From Many Hard Drives

One Magnet And Damage To Deb’s Finger

One Magnet And Damage To Deb’s Finger

Well it turns out a hard drive has magnets in it. Not just magnets, but MAGNETS! Not just MAGNETS, but very strong MAGNETS. It was not easy to pry them apart. But once I did, I could remove the fingered thing that kept me from my (sigh longingly) shiny, round, metal things. Wow, not just one, but many shiny, round, metal things. Large and small. But what’s this? The fingered thing is pretty cool. Wouldn’t that make interesting striped lines? If only I could get these flimsy parts off. A little prying—presto! A beautiful shiny metal thing that could make striped lines.

A Thing To Make Striped Lines

Striped Line Maker

PC Board

PC Board

Then I had to look at the green board with gold lines and black squares. It looks like a miniature city. Hmmm. What could I do with that? Put it in a quilt? [Kris: (obviously not as riveted as the rest of the audience) I told you, I told you. This is not good! (Now crying) I just cleaned the studio. Waaaahhhh!] This stuff is just too cool to throw away, I told myself. Magnets, (sigh longingly) shiny, round, metal things, beautiful shiny metal thing that could make striped lines. I need to keep these parts. [Audience: Oh no!]
Come back tomorrow, dear audience, to see what I made.


Jan 10 2013

See Us In “Metropolis” at the Blue Line Gallery

Pixelkris
Share

Kris likes to celebrate her birthday MONTH (January), but sometimes the DAY (Jan 10) can also be extra special. This is gonna be a good one. Our piece, “Hong Kong in Yellow” opens today at the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville, CA. The exhibit, Metropolis, focuses on cityscapes. “Hong Kong in Yellow” is really a peek into Deb’s brain. She took a photo of her favorite view of Hong Kong. 

Victoria Harbor

Well, Deb said, that’s not what Hong Kong looks like at all! Hong Kong is colorful: pink, yellow, orange, color, color, color! It’s noisy with lots of people and lots of smells (dim sum, anyone?). This photo just didn’t convey how lively the city really is. Maybe that’s why we love Photoshop so much. After some playing around – and a nod to Alice Neel and her signature blue outlines – Deb finally found her inner Hong Kong. We thought it fun to put the image in a traditional yet elongated attic window pattern.

“Hong Kong in Yellow”

We hope you can join us at the artist reception on January 19th. We can’t wait to see the other cityscapes.

 


Jan 4 2013

Designing Fabric with Photoshop Elements Begins Jan 28!

Pixelkris
Share

There’s no better way to start a new year than with a new class. If you’re looking into checking designing fabric off your bucket list, we’d love to see you in our online class: Designing Fabric with Photoshop Elements.Want to learn how to turn a photo into a border print, design fabric for that special occasion outfit, or create a unique fabric panel for a memorable quilt? We will work with filter galleries, blend modes, layer styles, and adjustment layers to help you go from ordinary to extraordinary. Click here to read the full course description. (.pdf)
Course Requirements: Students must know how to use the basic tools of PSE and layers. Class starts January 28. Click here to register for the class.

Columns Scarf


Jan 3 2013

Happy New Year!

Pixelkris
Share

The Pixeladies started the new year in traditional fashion – on vacation, spending time with our families. It’s always nice to take a little break. We come back refreshed and inspired to create anew. For Kris, New Year’s is spent at the big dinner with her mother-in-law’s family. There’s a lot of preparation involved, but the food is fantastic. This year we had special fun, wrapping our food in the silk furoshiki Kris’s cousin sent from Japan to help celebrate the publication of our book. It’s true – you always have a conversation starter if you bring your stuff wrapped in a furoshiki. Here’s to a healthy, happy, and creatively productive 2013!

Kris and her mother-in-law, Jane, on their way to the family New Year’s Day dinner.