What’s Goin’ On?

Beasties at Work - CrawCrafts BeastiesPhew! It feels like it’s been another busy old month here in Beastie Towers… but when I looked into my “Ready” box earlier, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of little monsters living in there yet. So much for my master plan of getting ALL my Christmas market stock made in the first 2 months of the year, eh?

That left me wondering what on earth I’d been up to, so I thought it was high time I offered another sneaky peek into life as a maker of monsters – hopefully it will help us all to solve the oh-so-intriguing Mystery of the Vanishing February!

First off, I ventured Northwards… And many of you will already have seen the photos Explorer Beastie and I took of our whistle-stop tour of Donegal.
Donegal Days with Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties(If you haven’t, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2 now!)

But that wasn’t the only reason for my trip. I was also planning to catch up with my buddy Julie from Juleco, so that she could teach me some new skills! Loyal BeastieBlog readers might remember the super revamping she did on the humble Beastie Passport last year…
Hooray! New Passports! CrawCrafts Beasties… So I thought she might be able to help me figure out a better way to do my commission sketches as well. I spend a HEEEEUUUUUGE amount of time on these – time I’d really rather use for knitting! With Julie’s help, I’ve been taking my first steps with computer illustration using Adobe Illustrator, in the hope that I’ll be able to re-use elements across numerous sketches, colour-match better with the yarns from my stash and (best of all) colour in with a single click! I already feel that I’m making progress – I just hope I can get the basics down before my free trial runs out. I’ll keep you posted!

I’ve also been having fun playing with the new toy I mentioned in last week’s post. Ever since I went to an Etsy product photography evening last spring, I’ve been meaning to make a lightbox for myself… It’s so easy, and yet I never seemed to be able to scrape together the 20-odd minutes it would have taken to throw one together. I was tormented by questions of where on earth I was going to keep the thing once I’d made it, and how I would extricate it from its hiding place when I needed to use it. Fortunately for me, Boyfriend was taking notes – and look what showed up in my Christmas stocking!
Beastie-Sized Photo Studio! CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s a Beastie-sized photography studio! It came complete with daylight lamps, backgrounds in 4 different colours and a tripod… And the best bit is that it folds down into an entirely portable (and stowable) 42cmΒ  square carry case. Now even the gloomiest winter mornings can be photoshoot days… I can’t wait to share my new-style pictures with you all, starting next week! I’ve had a few commissions on the go over the last while, and before each Beastie shipped out, they all got a little time in the studio.

In fact, commissions are probably what’s been munching up most of the month – they really do take time! And sometimes they demand a little bit of extra focus. So a couple of weekends ago, I did something that I haven’t done in… eeek, I don’t know how long! I unhooked myself from the internet. It helped that Boyfriend and I were heading off to the farm for a couple of days – in my mind, it makes a lot more sense to be offline when surrounded by wild countryside. As I made my way to the bus station on Friday evening, I caught up with all the notifications on my phone and then switched off data and WiFi for two whole days. I didn’t even take any pictures… Apart from the odd one down at the lake.
Down at the Lake - CrawCrafts BeastiesIt was just the break I needed. Much as I love being part of this vast online community and meeting people I’d never have encountered otherwise, it was nice to spend time talking, reading and crafting without the distraction of a steady stream of beeps and flashing lights. I also couldn’t get over how much longer my battery lasted! It was like being back in 2005!

And when I switched my phone back on the following Monday morning, it didn’t explode with a sudden influx of unread notifications – catching up didn’t take that long at all, and I was excited to see what everyone had been up to while I’d been away. The world didn’t end because I tuned it out for a couple of days, and I didn’t miss out on a massive order, a life-changing opportunity or a genuine email from an exiled prince who needed me to hold onto his fortune for a short time in exchange for serious ca$h mon€y. In fact, I might be tempted to do this more often!
Paddy Admires the View - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHow about you? Do you reckon you could go on an internet crash diet? Let me know in the comments! And normal service resumes next week, with another new Beastie for you to meet. See you then!


23 thoughts on “What’s Goin’ On?

  1. I love that final picture; it’s like he’s wistfully looking at the sheep in the hopes of a new sweater from one of them. As for Internet breaks, they are the best. Except for a quick email check in the morning, I try to keep one weekend day Internet-free (“try”). In some ways, being super busy has been nice since it leaves me little time to waste online. Also, I’ve never gotten a smartphone, so once I leave the house I am totally and happily unconnected…assuming I ever have time to leave the house, that is.

    1. Wooooah, you’ve managed to avoid the smartphone? NICE! I saw that they’re planning to re-release the mighty Nokia 3310 non-smartphone sometime this year, Boyfriend and I are half-considering getting them so we can do archaic turn-of-the-century things like talking on the phone, texting, playing “Snake” and nothing else. I’m also a fan of the odd internet-free weekend day, but as you say it can be hard to stick to completely!

      1. I love my stupid phone. If they do bring back the old Nokia, I may have to start carrying around my landline phone (with cord trailing behind) just to keep up my retro-ness.

  2. Good for you having a break from the online world. At weekends, I limit myself to checking things first thing in the morning and I mostly stick to that unless I am stuck somewhere and am bored rigid (such as waiting outside a guitar lesson). It wasn’t something I had to really work hard at either because weekends are family time and I don’t get the stretches of time that would lead to some pointless flicking through Facebook. Even during the week, I restrict myself to online access most days mostly so that I don’t use my phone as a self-distraction tool.

    1. Yes, I think it’s so important to set boundaries with it… Otherwise you can truly spend hours staring at a screen! And while I like that I can keep up with Beastie stuff in what would otherwise be dead time – queuing in the supermarket, bus journeys etc, I’m always wary of getting sucked into the time-eating wormhole of endless scrolling through news feeds! I’d much rather be knitting πŸ˜€

  3. Maybe my favorite ever post of yours Helen! I love the arc from what you are doing to what you are learning, what’s new and MOST IMPORTANTLY the need to recharge. Good for you! The only time I seem to be able to check out is when it is forced on me (e.g. when forcibly off the grid in the GalΓ‘pagos or Iran).

    1. I know what you mean… It’s very easy to lose track of the amount of time we spend looking after our online places, and I didn’t realise how much of my day goes on checking emails and trying to keep up with social media until I switched it all off! I’d say you noticed the same when you fell off the grid yourself – everything slows waaaay down, and you notice more of what’s actually going on around you. Thanks for your comment πŸ˜€

  4. What a great Beastie-sized photo studio! I understand putting off pictures for the right time of day to get that magic light. How awesome that the Beasties can now have their snapshots taken at any time (how convenient… and downright glamorous!). What lovely commission sketches (do you sell those on their own?). Do you use a drawing tablet? I’ve been dreaming of getting one. I imagine this could also help streamline the sketch-making process, in tandem with Illustrator. I also love the possibility of colouring at a single click!

    1. Thanks Shirley! Having consistent light is going to be great for photoshoots… Not only can I take pictures in the middle of the night if I want to, it’ll also even out the on-again-off-again nature of Irish daylight. Lighting here can change completely in the space of ten minutes thanks to the quirks of our climate! As for the sketches – no, I’ve never thought of selling them. I’ve always considered them more a way to show customers what I imagine their idea will look like. I figure I’d need to be waaaay better at drawing before anyone would pay me for my pictures! And my setup for using Illustrator is pretty basic for the moment – I’m perched in front of Boyfriend’s computer with a keyboard and mouse on my knee or the coffee table, so a spiffy new laptop is probably top of my shopping list. Do you use Illustrator too, or is it something you’re thinking of trying out?

      1. I think the sketches are just wonderful, Helen! Like Beastie portraits. πŸ™‚ What an interesting and neat process for making the final Beastie. I’m sure that Illustrator will be a great tool for this. Funny enough, I was laughing with my boyfriend last night about software. We were laughing at the fact that I do most of my drawing editing work in…. MS Paint. πŸ˜€ This was pretty unthinkable for a comp. sci guy. I look forward to learning more about your experiences with Illustrator. πŸ™‚

        1. Wow, thank you! That means a lot, coming from someone who can actually draw! It seems to me that drawing in Illustrator involves thinking about the structure of an image in a different way – it’s been a real voyage of discovery already, and I’m enjoying figuring out the angles. The only thing is that it’s expensive, and my free trial ends tomorrow 😱 So I might be jumping on the MS Paint bandwagon myself…

  5. Yes! We go backpacking in the wilderness in the summers and I love being completely unplugged and out in the middle of the mountains in Montana and Wyoming (in the States). I’ve had a few European adventures without phone and spotty internet and they have been the best. ❀ glad you had some time to unwind and I'm always so happy to see new posts! The light box will be sweet for photos–enjoy!

    1. Oh wow, Montana and Wyoming must be great for a bit of time away from the internet! I was actually in both places many years ago, because we had family there… Although back then, being online all the time wasn’t really an issue! I was totally amazed by the wide open spaces and incredible wildlife, I’d love to go back someday! Thanks for your comment πŸ˜€

  6. So happy for your little studio acquisition! It’s so neat!! Glad you guys got a chance to get away. Sometimes it’s super nice to unplug and drift a bit, as an accomplished hermit I can say I’ve done it, although I do tend to substitute internet for video games and TV…so not sure if that really counts… πŸ™‚

    1. Yeah, the same thing would have happened to me if I’d done my “digital detox” at home! But out in the countryside there were plenty of offline distractions to keep me entertained… I consider myself super-lucky that I have somewhere like this to visit whenever I like!

      1. Yeah, it looks really nice out there. I love getting out into nature, it’s great to get away from it all and just listen to water and birds. I think I spy some lambs in that field! Those things are adorable. I love it when they bounce around. πŸ™‚

        1. Yeah! It’s like their insides are made of elastic! I also love seeing cattle being let outside for the first time after a winter indoors… Even the old lady cows kick up their heels and run around a bit!

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