Sunday, December 21, 2008

Passing into the West

Today we made history.

Today, the combined choir of the Young KL Singers, the Malaysian Institute of Arts Music Department and the KL Children's Choir ended their three-day run of Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony at the Dewan Philharmonic Petronas with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.

The show premiered on the 19th of December. Four months of blood, sweat, more tears than I could possibly imagine, worry and stress, culminating in three nights of fear and trembling on stage, wanting to do the best we possibly could. Two nights of missed cues, thumping hearts, wrong notes. And it all ended in the best performance we've ever done.

Hearing the refrain Nef aear, si nef aearon echo in the symphony hall was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard - no mistakes, perfect time, voices light as air, clear as glass.

Listening to the men's chorus singing the Dwarven refrain of Un du abad, ku gan aga aznan on that last lifted note swell with the tenors in high register took my breath away. It was beautiful. It was moving. It was everything it was supposed to be and it brought tears to my eyes for the first time since we started singing in the symphony hall.

And when the same men's chorus stormed into 'Urus ni buzra! Arras talbabi filluma! with full deep bass volume, it was all I could do to not smile from ear to ear because of just how proud I was of them. Our men! (For the record, Asian voices don't do bass very well. Lots of tenors, lots of baritones, true basses? Very hard to find. Most of our basses are either transplanted baritones, or else they have the range of a Bass 1, ie: not that low. This part of the symphony was one hell of a challenge for them and they pulled it off.)

Today, things just fell into place. Clicked, like magic. The women sounded like the warriors they were supposed to be in Movement 3, mysterious and bell-like like the Elves they sang about in Movement 2, full of fire and rage in Movement 5 and Movement 6. The men rounded out that sound in all the Movements - warm, rounded tones, solid. And the children sang like angels, especially our boy soprano. The mezzo soprano and baritone soloists were on the top of their form - perfect performance today, all shivers down spine.

The soprano solo of 'Into the West' in the last Movement has never failed to touch me every time I've heard it these last few days. Today though, it brought me to the verge of tears because in a way, that's been our journey - all the rehearsals and the insane administrative work, and worrying about just how we're going to sound and how prepared we are - and now, it's over. Like the Grey Ships, we're passing into the West too.

It's been hard. I've been ill for the entire week, and have totally lost my voice, but today I managed to sing the last three Movements (I'll pay for it tomorrow I'm sure.) It's been a logistic nightmare in many, many ways.

But I would do it all over again, if just to hear the echoes of the choir's voices rising and falling, supporting Ann de Renais' bell-like 'Into the West' as it lifts into the air. This is why I joined choir. This is why I work for a choral academy. This is why, like a sucker for punishment, I come back to choir again and again. Because it's a labour of love. Because to hear something as perfect as this and know we've helped to make it happen is the best reward for all those agonizing months. And just maybe, sometimes, it's all the reason I need to carry on.

And all will turn to silver glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass
Into the West.

Bravo, MPO Lord of the Rings choir. I am so. Damned. Proud. Of all of you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dream: Berlin

Tired, sick, discouraged. Maybe that's why the dreams are so vivid.


Dark night on the streets. Grey, formless, it’s mixed up with another dream where I remember bright lights in a shop window – triangles and other ornaments in red neon and sparkling fairy lights. Lots of people. There always are lots of people, all faceless and nameless and they’re walking quickly, always never showing their faces. I’m walking too, past little lanes where there is water on the tiles – little lanes like those in Panglima Street or those alleyways locally here where there are drains and the backs of shop houses. In the other dream I know I hid with a group of people or at least came into contact with some like minds.

In this dream, I remember soldiers. Huge cordons of them around the city, wearing Berlin colours and bright brass buttons on their jackets. They’re menacing. The sheer force of so many of them makes the air prickle with danger. It makes me uneasy. I look at my companion – he’s faceless and nameless too, but a comrade-in-arms, that I know – and we both think with the startling clarity of thoughts in dreams that with so many of Germany’s forces gathered en mass like this, one good hard blow would cripple them permanently.

We must have agreed. In dreams, things like consensus happen as if by magic, completely naturally. The roads are dark. We’re on the way to where Berlin has headquartered their forces. Ahead in the night sky, a plane lifts off and the glow of the aerodrome halos in the darkness, menacing and cold. There are trees silhouetted against the halo and I think, ‘Luftwaffe.’

We need to hide. There are searchlights and beacons all around us as we try to get into cover. One of the beams catches us and throws us into high relief and I am terrified in case we are discovered and shot, but somehow, miraculously, the guards leave us be. We are in a drain, an overgrown, weedy monsoon drain shallower than most. I go down a little ways, and discover that it’s a hidden passage to the sentry box. We need uniforms or disguises. There are three doors near the sentry box – again, with dreams, the most illogical things seem possible. I know one of my comrades manages to find a uniform, and another, but when it is my turn, I can’t, and I remember thinking that we need to hurry, I can see their boots under the stalls and if I can’t find something to wear and soon, there will be trouble.

I turn the chainmaille ring on my finger and think that such a small gesture against Germany’s massive army is like a piece of tiny chainmaille in a sea of boots. A drop in the ocean. I wonder why we’re doing this, and the implications of failing. We don’t seem like heroes, just madmen.

When I wake, echoes of the Luftwaffe and the sour taste of futility linger like tired rags.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Adventures in Photography, Insanity, and Invention

Creative blocks stink.

They sit in your head, weigh down your psyche and weight your hands so when you pick up a marker or a pair of pliers, nothing presents itself. Not even the veriest smidgen of an idea. Other people's work becomes a source of wide-eyed admiration and immediate despair, and you want to throw up your hands forever and just give up because nothing will ever, ever be good enough. Words trickle onto a blank screen, you read them and promptly delete everything. You attempt Nanowrimo, because only a totally insane person would do that, start late because of show, fall sick, write in a frenzy and bottom out at 40k words because you miscalculated the cut-off time and besides, you fell asleep in total exhaustion after one hour's sleep the night before - and the one hour nap turned into six hours instead.

The last few months have been like that.

Perhaps it's just because I've been far too busy rushing from one production to the next, but creativity has taken an extreme back seat. Mostly, I've just been too tired to do much more than hope the next day is a little less hectic.

These two weeks have been looking up a bit though - after three horrible days of migraine, I finally staggered out of bed this morning (woken up by Buddhist funeral bells and chanting, of all things) and decided to get to some creative work after I finished the remainder of the costume plot I had to plan out for the Christmas play.

The result was one pair of earrings I've named Venetian Rose, and a lot of photography. And I mean, a lot of photography. I've had my camera for about three years and still never quite figured out how to tweak all the settings until I futzed around with it this afternoon.

So, finally, after months of black-hole-in-the-mind, this is what's been taking shape over the past couple weeks.

The Alien Zap Bracelet, named because the glass beads resembled little alien planetoids floating around. This is probably my favourite bracelet at present. All the colours make me smile.

I had the great privilege of meeting Stephanie Sersich, the glass artist, in Maine several years ago before I came back home - I'm also a proud owner of one of her spiky knotted bracelets, courtesy of a dear friend and his mother. When she published 'Designing Jewelry with Glass Beads', I immediately asked my brother to get the book for me if he could, and he did, bless him. This was an attempt at her Kinetic Earrings - except I couldn't find flat discs so I improvised with some foam cut-outs for making greeting cards, some waxed linen thread and some cheap lucite flowers to pair up with some shell beads and Czech pressed glass. They -were- fun to make!

Rebecca Mojica of Blue Buddha Boutique's Shaggy Loop Bracelet with a Mercenary's Twist. I wanted to make one of them the minute I saw the tutorial, but could I leave well enough alone? Nooooo, of course not, I had to add little bits of artistic wire and beads for colour, inspired by a tutorial in Beading Daily - and since I had to handcoil and cut all those coils, it took a few days to get a relatively simple bracelet made. I wound up making an S-clasp for it as well, and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. Next time though, I'm getting better quality jump rings. These were a -hell- to close flush.

A better view of the entire bracelet. Oh and yes, that's an iPod packaging case. How on earth did I never realise that the plastic casing an iPod comes in when purchased makes an -excellent- photography stand for earrings and bracelets when one has no decent surfaces to take pictures on?

It wouldn't be be me if I didn't make matching earrings of course.

Venetian Rose. These turned out exquisite; it's just that the photographer is lousy.

And that, pretty much, sums up my day, apart from rehearsals at night. Next installment - the Overdue Chronicles of the Great Turkish Drop Spindle Project, and when I've actually -scanned- my London journal, some excursions into that too.

Random Facts, Courtesy of C.

Somewhere along the way my blogging habit went out the window, somewhere around the time I lost my mind I think.

In an attempt to correct this, Chris has very kindly tagged me in a desperate attempt to get -something- going, or so I think anyways - sneaky but effective, dude!

So. Here we go, the Seven Random Things About Me Meme:

1. I am a Confused Soprano. Technically, I am a lyric soprano but I apparently seem to be developing a rather more solid alto range than I want - which means that any time the chamber choir needs an alto, guess who gets the call-up. This has earned me the nickname of 'The Travelling Soprano' or more aptly, 'The Confused One.'

2. I am an avid cook who destresses by standing over the stove and stirring up risotto. My dream is to have a large, airy professional-standard kitchen - eventually. (Right now I'm confined to a slice of kitchen where standing room can be a little awkward for even one person, and the occasional stray cat.)

3. I'm gluten-intolerant. As a result, I can cook for almost any food-allergy, given I spent three hellish years in university learning to adapt to my new eating habits and those of my vegan friends as well.

4. I love the Metal Gear Solid series. I can't play any of it because I get motion sickess, but I love it.

5. I read. Like a fiend. As in, a book or two a day. I have to consciously slow myself down when I'm reading non-fiction so I can make notes and bliss out, like the book I'm going through right now, Gideon's Spies (it's a history of the Mossad.)

6. Once upon a time I dated a Goth guitarist who used to play for the beginnings of what is now Abney Park.

7. I'm ambidextrous with the mouse. I often forget which side it's on, since I switch between hands without thinking whenever space constraints dictate. This often gets me a good swearing by people who have to use my computer afterwards.

And now since I'm supposed to tag people, here are the rules of it:

-You must link to the individual who tagged you and post the rules of TAG.
-Post 7 random facts about you.
-Tag 7 bloggers and link to them.
-Let them know that they have been tagged by leaving a message on their blog.

With many apologies, I thusly tag only 5 people:

Catalina (my beloved computer) has been giving trouble of late, so depending on how temperamental she is, updates may come either tonight or tomorrow - also depending on how well my camera shots turn out for the Great Drop Spindle Project, and the recent jewellery.

And to break up the monotony, I hereby present the newest Indie Band to hit the scene: The Voodoo Puppeteers, courtesy of the dressing room in the hotel that the choir was due to sing at for a big French function...

The choir was horsing around in the dressing rooms while waiting for our performance to take place. This is a rare instance of me getting in front of the camera to actually pose because by and large I -hate- taking photos.

And now, to learn up an orchestra score...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


...I am, actually, still alive. In rather more zombified fashion than previously. Highlights of the last few months include:

1) Research/vacation trip to UK - there are pictures. Marcelo, yes, I got the HMS Belfast from the outside (badly!)

2) 7 nights of choir rehearsals a week

3) See #2.

4) Making a drop spindle last weekend.

5) See #3.

More later, when I've scanned some stuff!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eight and Eight = 1 Lifetime, Bonus 2

There's a plane somewhere over a vast expanse of sea and sky right now, on course for Thailand. Somewhere in there is my best friend; with him, neatly packed, is eight years in a life encompassing past and present, condensed into eight days of a crazy, often heat-filled, wonderful visit.

How do you compact eight years into eight days? A year crammed into twenty-four hours? How do you measure the worth of smiles, in-jokes, fur, lemon meringue soup, Abyssal insanity and friendship over the span of a lifetime across several different continents?

I don't know. In a way, I don't need to know. When someone's willing to drive about twenty hours out from Oklahoma to Virginia Beach on an utter whim merely because a mutual friend is visiting me, stagger into my apartment at 5am in the morning with the accusation, "YOUR TOWN PLANNERS WERE ON CRACK!", and drive back home the next day for another twenty hours because he had to work - measurements don't count any more. That's the stuff memories are made of. That's the stuff my memories of Jer are made of, and so much more.

Jer the Furstack is the only person who's ever had the distinction of having me bake him Lemon Meringue Soup. There's a story to that, but suffice to say, lack of cornstarch in Lemon Meringue Pie is a bad thing. He survived Irish dance class when I dragged him with me on his second visit. He's seen me through fur, fire, distance and sword - quite literally this time around, that's another post on its own - and he's always been there. Even when he was stationed in different parts of the world, he was always there in some form or other, be it email or the occasional appearance on a game.

We had eight days together and we crammed eight years of a lifetime into it, and another few years to tide us over before the next visit - whenever that is, but it won't be another eight years, for sure.

Old lives, new lives. A not-so-distant past merged with my present in the form of an old, precious friendship.

Here's to many more years of broken epees and lemon meringue soup, Furstack.

Jer's farewell present: The Abyssals - Whisper in the Deep Shadows and the Pale Oracle of Dry Bones. Whisper is the one with blue eyes; Oracle could have been lots better, but at 5am in the morning? Sleep won over perfection by a few hairs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Prettyboys and Brats and Memes...

...because The Brat tagged me, so I'm here to execute some mild revenge in the form of 'It is always a bad idea to tag me, weird things show up.'


Pick up the nearest book (with at least 123 pages).
Turn to page 123.
Find the 5th sentence.
Post the 5th sentence.
Tag 5 people.

Nearest (actually the only) book at hand: Thinking with Type, Ellen Lupton

Page 123, 5th sentence: Similarly, modern architecture had displaced the centered facades of classical building with broken planes, modular elements, and continuous ribbons of windows (followed by diagram and drawings.)

If I tag 5 people at the moment, I may get slaughtered. So I'll pass on that one and look for suitable victims volunteers later.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spoons and Sporks

Singapore hit like a rush of adrenaline. Four days later I emerged from its clutches triumphant, bearing expanded choral horizons, Kurt Weill music scores, and a spoon.

In other words, I'm back from the Choir Music Camp in Singapore, armed and dangerous and waving flu medication everywhere as a preventive measure against the Flu Epidemic that evidently barrelled on through. With six members of the choir down sick, one can't be too careful, neh?

Then again, I -am- armed with the world's most celebrated spoon. Yes, spoon again, no, I won't explain that, you'll just have to ask. Updates enroute after the vegetating stage of the trip is over.

Vague promises of peacocks landed this gem fifteen minutes ago. The artist's disclaimer is that she's as sleepy as a doped hound dog and therefore, the quality is suspect. Yep, you know who you are.

Get well soon Brat!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peacocks, Peacocks, Peacocks

It began with umbrellas and ended with books, and dinner, and crazy-talk and lots of laughter. And the realization that fencing duels don't quite work very well with brollies instead of foils, but what the heck, it's fun.

Sometimes, all that matters is the crazy things. Totally random MP3s and the strangest comments in a conversation ever. Fleur, purple fluff, 2am dissolves into hysterics over peacocks, Sinfest snickers, green apples I forgot to eat for two weeks. The kind things - stuffed toys, the Agatha Christie express, scented oils, cinnamon cake, lemon pasta, rides to and fro from choir and house, and dinner to home.


Thanks, guys'n dolls. I don't think I could have pulled through this whole week without all of you.

And in honour of the menace that is Peacocks in High Estates, Katashi - something I did for a friend last year or so:

The mask and face could've come out a lot better in retrospect. Maybe next time, maybe next time.

Here's to the peacocks, Brat!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Universal Truths


Daughter mine, perfect the art
Of lipstick soldiers on chessboard squares
Of kingdoms won by hourglass curves.

The venom of a lover’s kiss
Brings queens to their knees.

The power of guns versus the power of rouge:
The darts of smiles have triggered shots
One glance of the eyes, a jealous rage.

Daughter mine, know these arts
Are lies:
Half-masticated fairytales
From trusting mouths
Mother to daughter, me to you
As much a lie as the fable -
Real men don’t cry.

--SYL, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

South Pacific Deep Blue Seas

A spectacular wireworking disaster with an attempted sculptural pendant last week left me with a pewter bowlful of twisted wires and unfinished frames after three hours of total disgust and non-productivity. Last night, being a masochist, I fished one of the mangled frames out, bent things around a bit, and decided it just might be workable. Until I mucked up the wire-wrapping.

So I took it to the steel chasing block and hammered it to death in the hopes of improving it, and this was the result:

It wound up being called South Pacific, because of the colour of the mother-of-pearl shells I was using.

And of course, I just had to have a matching set of earrings and ring to go with, because I'm that sort of weird chick:

Forgive the lousy pictures. My brain's slightly dead from lack of sleep, as I went to bed around 4am finishing all this up. Why? *Everybody chimes in* I'm Insane. And I hate leaving pieces unfinished.

Now I go fall flat on my face and have chocolate.

The sketches from Langkawi WILL come eventually.

Monday, March 31, 2008

(Non) Photoshopped Spines, Seadragons and Body Farms

Since last weekend, I have been the proud owner of a mostly-recovered, non-Photoshopped spine, and a beautiful silver iPod Nano, courtesy of my rockin' brother (the iPod, not the spine. That would be a little freaky.) I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I will once I get around to downloading the new iTunes! Aside of that there have been many shiny pretty objects that I'll get around to photographing, including the beautiful rings from Mei. They really are works of art, I absolutely adore 'em and have been wearing them two days straight.

Unfortunately due to circumstances and training, I wasn't able to join the Sketchcrawl that was held this weekend with Sandra and fellow artists - but I did manage some atonement during my family vacation to Langkawi Island last week. We spent time at Under Water World, where I got to see many, many curious sea creatures and lots of penguins. I'm a lousy photographer in general, so I sketched instead. Here is one of the most fascinating creatures there:

This is a Weedy Seadragon. Its colouration is a wonderfully fantastical congolomeration of red and black stripes and other colours I can't quite remember. It really does look like it has all different sorts of weeds growing off of it!

Reading/study material for the night - Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Body Farm by Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson. It really is a fascinating read about how the Body Farm at University of Tennessee was established and some of the bizarre cases that have passed through its doors. I've been trying to settle down to do some studying, and between this and the online Architecture notes from MIT, this is a lot more comprehensible.

More updates later, I promise - sketches, jewellery, and mad rambles. That last, after all, is almost obligatory if you go by the people who happily inform me I'm cheerfully insane. You notice I haven't refuted this yet either.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fly Me To The Moon - I Mean, I Need A Photoshopped Spine...

I suppose it was inevitable that the Flu Pandemonium would catch up with me. That would be the last two days, and I'm immensely thankful for the institution of Public Holidays so I can rest, after having to take sick leave on Tuesday. For whatever reason, the typical flu muscle aches seem to have settled in my lower back and hips, making it deuced painful to move, sit, stand, or bend. It's been aching for two days. That would be two days too many.

Times like this I -really- want to Photoshop myself a new spine.

That said, the combination of a choral version of Fly Me To The Moon and some beautiful glass beads which looked exactly like planets led to an afternoon of wrestling with wire, complete creativity block and bad temper. I broke one of the beads before finally deciding that a redesign might be in order. The result, of which I'm still not too happy with, became known as the Interplanetary Fly Me To The Moon Bracelet:

I really need to practice coiling those wire focal beads a bit more. And let's not get started about the fiasco that was the clasp, all because I was fool enough to forget to measure my wrist before I made it...

Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars...

I think I'll do just that in my dreams tonight. And hope for a new spine.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lo, The Fruits of Madness

...which result in 3.20am bedtimes for young women who obviously don't know the value of the perfection that is sleep.

To be fair, it was my intention to go to bed somewhat early. It was a perfectly good intention. It's also what the road to hell is paved with, so I've just added a new cobblestone to the already wide and bumpy path.

But I got caught up in the Coiled Earrings Tutorial, by the lovely Corra of de Cor's Handmades - do check the lady out, she is a marvellous jewellery artist with such an elegant touch! - and being stubborn, refused to go to bed till I'd mastered the Inanimate Objects that are wire and beads.

It was worth it mind, even if I made a total and utter imbecile mess of the top of it - one bead was a bit too recessed, and I yanked too hard at the wire with my pliers, thus breaking it and having to scramble to attempt and repair the damage. All the little imperfections bug me like no tomorrow; there goes my perfectionist streak again.

Tonight, I -attempt- to sleep. But since I'm already fiddling with wires to make the second half of that pair of earrings...ahem.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Emerging from the Bell Jar

References to Sylvia Plath not withstanding, this past week has been absolute madness, necessitating the burial of my head within the bell jar of work and an ostrich-like tendency to stare fixedly at anyone embarking on a different topic of conversation that does not involve 'Hong Kong' or 'Children's Choir'.

I should emerge this week with (most of) my sanity (somewhat) intact, and get back to the whole business of Jewellery, Art, and Speculation. I offer up, for humble appeasement, an unfinished work in progress of my favourite little Abyssal, Whisper. The finished work will be posted. Eventually.

On another note, the fact that I watched The Punisher and Hellboy to destress yesterday should probably send most of the people who know me (and the known world in general) running for the hills. It was bad enough they let me watch Hitman...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wire, Wire, Wire!

An epiphany occured this afternoon after two hours of costing trips for the Children's Choir sent me flying to take a break, in the form of photographing the jewellery pieces I've been working on for the past two weeks.

Namely: I have a tripod.

Yes, I have a desk tripod. It came with my camera some three years ago. It's also been sitting in my clothes cupboard for the last three years because I forgot it was there.

So it occured to me suddenly that it might make still shots a lot easier, and I dug it out after some creative invective (I reorganized my cupboard a while ago and it was not where it was supposed to be).

And it made the photographs a BREEZE. Stupid me! Now I don't have to worry about holding the camera still, because the tripod will do it for me...duh. Duh and duh again. Took this long for me to realize this. DUH.

Anyhow, for Mei especially, here are the pieces in no particular order:

Sha's Fire, another of my Dragaeran series of jewellery. She's a tough, sometimes cranky spitfire of a short little woman, and I thought the Fire Opal Swarovski crystals and Byzantine chain in bronze would work perfectly for her character.

An exercise from Kathy Frey's fantastic book, Elegant Wire Jewelry. It was fun, easy, and turned out as well as I could have expected. Instant gratification!

A wrapped-bezel mistake of a pendant. I originally wanted to see if I could replicate Eni Oken's wrapped bezel with attached charms...well, as it turned out, no, I couldn't, and had to scramble around to improvise. It's fine - just not what I originally intended!

This may be my second favourite bracelet that I've made so far. The black glass focal bead just cried out for something ornate and Victorian, so I experimented with twisting 22g black and 20g copper wire together. The antique effect was unexpected, but perfect for what I had in mind! It defied being named for at least two weeks till my friend Jon pointed out that Simon Green's Nightside books boasted the character of Julian Advent, the Victorian explorer turned Perfect Hero and Gentleman, and I should add him to my list of literary characters to run off with. And suddenly, Julian's Lady was born. This bracelet seems like what he might give to a lady he was interested in. I think, anyway.

An desire for instant gratification one evening led to these quick and easy projects.

I play keyboards for a wedding tomorrow morning at church, and the theme colours are orange, pink and brown. In a fit of insanity, this is what turned out - my first metal choker!

Given it's not yet midnight, and I'm not sleepy yet, I might do some sketching since I haven't done that yesterday.

Creativity-ward, ho! (Or perhaps I haven't had dinner yet and this is the blood sugar crash talking...)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dragaeran Duet

Stress must be good for me. Well, let me rephrase that. CERTAIN levels of stress that don't reach the state of my previous job must be somewhat good for me. Over the last few days, work has been just a touch busy; the result is that I find myself wanting to draw or create more shiny wire things even if I have to push myself to do it.

I haven't done any jewellery since the weekend; it feels weird, but my hands were hurting from using the pliers a bit too much my last bracelet. Pictures forthcoming, but I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. Black glass beads and copper! Very antique-looking.

So last night, after a day in which patience and grace were stretched to the limit of taut piano wire, this eventually produced itself at 2am in the morning. It took 30 minutes. For 30 minutes, it's definitely not satisfactory, at least to me - but it -did- get done faster than Whisper. Which is an improvement, so I s'ppose I should be pleased. Constance! Just for you since you wanted some more soft shading!

Vlad Taltos and Sha, minus the Fur Skillet

Vlad actually has a thicker, bushier mustache. I think. It's been almost a decade since I read the books. Either way, I wasn't about to mess with it and make it worse, so it stayed that way (the other explanation tentatively involved singed hair and a stove which made it so he had to grow it out again but.) Oh, and he's a creation of Steven Brust. Sha is a game character of mine and is running off with Vlad in my place**.

**: Refer to the entry for Jan. 31st for explanation of why I'm suddenly running off with an assassin from a book. Short version - I'm insane. That covers all bases nicely.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

For Love Of Furstacks

One of my favourite people in the whole wide world happens to be a furstack. It's a bit complicated to explain, but suffice to say that a role-playing game involving large furry felinoids who shed, and punky, demons-fear-to-anger chicks produced an in-joke whereby the player of the felinoid was promptly dubbed 'Furstack' and has remained so for the past eight years. (I sent him fur in Kosovo, but that's another story.)

Just for my favouritest furstack in the entire world, this came about tonight. It took too long, it took too many corrections, I rediscovered the pain of doing pencil shading, it looks a ton better scanned, and it looks fantastic upside down - just less so the right way up. Why, I don't know. But this is Whisper in the Deep Shadows, or at least a pale representation of what he SHOULD be like:

He looks a lot better as a Ball Jointed Doll, I promise. I don't have one, but I've seen one and it was the most perfect-looking Whisper imaginable.

Except for the fact that it cost over USD800? I'd have bought one just to drool over the perfection of the sculpting...

...which tells me I really need to go to bed. Like, now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's A Movie! ... So Sketch It

People watch movies to have fun. People watch movies to relax. I apparently watch movies to sketch.

I finally caught Sweeney Todd on the last day of its showing, and all I have to say is: Theatre graduate + beautifully costumed and made up film + Sondheim = Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. No more comments necessary, hein?

So of course I had to sketch it. The following were produced in a brief moment of utter insanity in the dark. If you're not convinced that white reflects light, try drawing Sweeney Todd singing 'London' in a dark theatre - trust me, there's light reflected to see a big blob of sketchbook if you keep one eye on the screen and another obliquely on the paper. Notice I didn't promise they'd be GOOD.

...And then there was Violence and I had to concentrate, and that was the end of productive artistry for the evening.

Tonight, I took apart 2 inches of European 4-in-1 chainmaille after deciding I was not about to craft 7.5 inches of migraine no matter -how- much I love this friend of mine. I can do about the same amount of Byzantine weave in half an hour, and this took 4 hours, most of it spent taking it apart and putting it together again. As a result, out came the sketchpad again, and the Chinese calligraphy pens since I hadn't used 'em in a while. The result: I -really- need a lot of practice with those things.

I can't wait for fencing class come Tuesday. Between that and the wirework jewellery (which I am still doing every day) I think that airport detectors'd have nothing on me when it comes to beeping out alarms for contact with too much metal.

Man, I really need to practice drawing some more too. How many hours in a day do I have again? Oh. Right. 24, not 56.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Possessions, Obsessions...Err, Batman?

There's a tradition, at least among some of my choir friends and I, that it doesn't matter what date Chinese New Year falls on. The weather? Will be HOT. Scorching, unadulterated, completely and unbearably hot, even if it was raining cats, dogs, and frogs just the week before. Nothing this year has disproved the trend yet.

As a result, I fled my furnace of a room for downstairs, and the fishtank outdoors. I admit to being fond of fish in general (both aesthetically and as food, yes.) They just tend to be a bit lively to draw when they're darting around. Ours are, as you can see, rather fat. They're a mixture of Japanese carp and huge-bellied goldfish that look frighteningly obese. They're cute.

Right after the goldfish, it was time for Batman. Marco? This. Is. Entirely. Your. Fault. I -have- excessive testosterone levels, see! (and it's noir because I can't for the life of me draw the style you did. I so suck.) The colour is a lot better for real; I just don't take very good photos.

And while I'm at it, this is the infamous Hammering Station for my metal and wirework jewellery:

These are the first bracelets and hammered charms I made my first day back on vacation:

These are the first rings I ever made and the green one is singularly screwed up because I had to use pliers to make a bend in it to stop the metal bead from running away:

This is Aliera, the ring that's companion to the Loiosh Bracelet (Aliera is a noblewoman of Dragaera with a honkin' huge Great Weapon of Doom):

This is a bracelet commissioned by a friend, and yes, fish again!

And I'm still working on another piece of chainmaille bracelet - this one the Sha's Fire Draegaran bracelet, in Byzantine weave.

Do they have Chainmaille Addictions Anonymous perhaps?

Friday, February 08, 2008

New Year Traditions

Every family here in Malaysia has different traditions for celebrating Chinese New Year. In mine, we give my mother's plants haircuts.

This requires just a wee bit of explanation so it doesn't sound quite so odd. My mother loves plants. More to the point, plants love her. Think of a benevolent Poison Ivy, and you have an idea of how our garden looks like, and how plants behave around Mom. Got a sick plant? Bring it over. Quite a few plants sent over for rehabilitation have stayed on as permanent residents, after their owners saw the results and realized they wouldn't be able to duplicate such conditions in their own gardens.

My mother swears she doesn't do anything but feed her plants organic compost, which is mostly just all the fruit-peel, tea leaves, and coffee grounds and eggshells that the household disposes of. Orange peel is the biggest contributer to the compost box, so we have a running family joke that if any of our pineapple plants, fruits or vegetables ever taste of oranges, we'll know why.

That being said, Mom is a fanatic about her plants looking nice for New Year. Since we live in such a hot climate, the plants do get some brown edges due to heat and old age. There is one particular potted plant that we've nicknamed the Twin Towers due to it having branched out from one bulb into two bulbs, and grown into a gigantic onion-looking piece of greenery. The ends of the Twin Towers -always- require trimming, so it's become known as 'giving the plant a haircut.' And since we've been doing this for about three years now, it's become a Household Tradition now.

In other news, today was Sketching to Blazes and Sucking Badly Day. I think I'm out of practice or else I'm just not concentrating, but oh, improvement, improvement, thou hath backslidden from me. The following are studies I did for a picture I'm intending to work on soon, and...ngh. Yeah, improvement needed.

The Family also got their fair share of being sketched tonight after dinner:

The scan quality is less than stellar, because I was trying to take flash photographs with my camera - no scanner here, alas. Tomorrow, it'll be Sketching Fish, which will hopefully go better than this.

And on the jewellery note, can't resist tossing this one up. It's named Loiosh, after one of the mythical dragon-like telepathic creatures called jhereg in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos novels. Even if I do say so myself? I'm really pleased with how this came out despite the clasp being a bit of a disaster. New Year bracelet!

More jewellery tomorrow and Gong Xi Fa Cai to all!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Stardust Falling

on a good night they say sometimes
sixty meteors fall
an invisible one streaked
past my window
sank into the dark
without a sound

could have been your heart breaking
could have been mine
but mine
would echo like an hollow tin box
heavy with melted dreams

maybe i heard though
it fell so quietly
i never knew it had gone

elephants have graveyards
memories do too
or so they say

i wonder where falling stars
go to die

--LSY, 2.51am
Chinese New Year's Eve

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Return of...the Camera!

My camera was, for a while, held captive by Another Party - actually, my father wanted to borrow it for something, which deprived me of its presence and the ability to take photographs (however bad) of the jewellery obsessions that have consumed me for the last month or so.

Given the photographs came out -really bad-, I somehow think perhaps the camera should have -stayed- with my father....

Anyhow, here is what I've been up to for the last few weeks:

Topmost - The Vlad Taltos bracelet**. Vlad is an fantasy/medieval assassin who has a lot of Pointy Objects, and he usually leaves a lot of dead people behind whenever he's working. He also wears a thick chain called Spellbreaker wrapped around his wrist and dresses normally in blacks and greys. I wanted to replicate Spellbreaker, hence the multiple chains - and of course, all the metal and spiky stones, and the grey/black bits.

Middle - What happens when I get lazy and refuse to fabricate any more lengths of chainmaille. This is the box weave I've been talking about in posts past; it got a bit tedious so I cheated and used larger jumprings and lengths of chain. Those are the matching earrings, the steel ones.

Bottom - The Surf and Guppies Summer Flirtation Bracelet, which is probably my favourite of the lot. Don't ask me why, those beads just looked like guppies and summer and surf and flirtation. The earrings are as colourful and mismatched as the beads, which is what I wanted.

A slightly better shot of the Surf and Guppies Summer Flirtation Bracelet. Yes, there were -worse-.

** Note: I should explain here that for some reason, a few friends and I got into a conversation about which literary characters I would and should run off with. I don't know why. It just happened (this is a common refrain.) The candidates in question were: John Constantine from the Hellblazer series, Vlad Taltos from the Dragaera novels, John Taylor from the Nightside series, and Hawk from the Hawk and Fisher stories. We decided on Vlad Taltos after more terrifying and scary reasons that should not see the light of day, but it got to where I decided to make a bracelet representing every single one of 'em. This is the first in the series; I'm already planning John Constantine and John Taylor.

Why yes, I -knew- I was insane. Didn't you?