Sunday, December 02, 2007

All Shopped Out

I have to make something to take to a handmade gift exchange later this month. Since I'm pretty crappy at making things with my hands, it's always a challenge to find something that fits my limited skill range. Last year, I made these refrigerator magnets. Required skills? Cutting and gluing. I was able to manage that. Only just.

This year, I decided I'd make notecards using digital photos I've taken and this cool faux printmaking technique. I even came up with the scathingly brilliant idea of having the theme of the notecards be "Keep Portland Weird." Sadly, the printmaking technique (simple though it is) is way beyond me. Here's one failed attempt. It's weird all right, but it's also ugly and unidentifiable.

On to Plan B. Why not still make notecards, but just print the photos directly onto the cards? But does that really qualify as handmade and suitably labor-intensive? I decided I'd snazz up the photos in Photoshop, you know, make them look a bit artsier and weirder.

Six hours later, I find that I've spent most of the afternoon not doing fun right brain things, but doing taxing, left-brain, un-Saturday things like measuring pieces of cardstock with rulers and trying to remember how to use a crochety 11-year-old version of QuarkExpress to do layouts. Not that I ever really knew how to do that. It was about 6:00 PM before I opened up our equally ancient version of Photoshop and got it spluttering along in OS 9.

I've never properly learned how to use Photoshop either. My approach is basically, "I wonder what this will do?" Click. Apple Z. "I wonder what this will do?" Click. Apple Z. And so on and so forth.*

Fun! But also strangely exhausting. Since it's been about six years since I last spent any quality time blundering around in Photoshop, I had to refamiliarize myself with all the filters and that took ages. So many of them are just nuts, too.


Penismobile on the Chopping Block


Wacked Out Penismobile

Daft! Why would anyone want an effect like this? (I will admit that it was fun to see how kooky I could make this thing look. I could have kept going, but you get the idea.)

Also, I have this sneaking suspicion that a lot of these effects have just been so overused that no one ever wants to see them again. Will I be giving a gift that has 1996 written all over it?

Well, it's too late now. I've invested so much time, I don't want to start over on something else, so Photoshopped "Keep Portland Weird" notecards it will be. I do quite like how this one turned out. If it's one big late 20th-century cliche, please don't tell me.

Toothy Totem Pole

*For all you non-Mac people, Apple Z is the key combo for "Undo."

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