Skate & Create

Derby Clinic & Scrimmage

On Sunday, we attended a roller derby clinic and scrimmage hosted by the Chesapeake Roller Derby. It was held in the Westminster Agricultural Center, which doubles as an oven in the summer. Words cannot describe the awesome fun we had.

Mascot Leelze skates amazingly fast now and mastered the cross-over on turns.

Cocoa was timekeeper.

We all learned a lot about skating.

We can’t wait for more.

Skate & Create

Roller Derby Pirates

Last September, my girls watched “Whip It” and became enamored with Roller Derby. They started roller skating and practiced hard. They were serious. I contacted the Chesapeake Roller Derby to inquire when kids can join up.

Around Thanksgiving, Chloe became very ill, left school and has been struggling ever since. The Chesapeake Roller Derby found out about it and were very supportive.  This evening, a bunch of their pirates (and maybe a couple of vampires) visited us at home. We hadn’t met these folks until tonight.

They made her a team shirt and brought her swag and hung out.  Things have been so hard lately – it was a gift to see Cocoa smile so much.

I need to say that everyone in our community has been wonderful – the Cedarmere PTA, the families from work and our neighbors. As we struggle with trying to get help for Chloe, the people around rise up and pitch in when we need it most.

Tonight was really special. The Chesapeake Roller Derby folks are truly wonderful. Thank you.




For part two of  “Screens and Zines” autumn kickoff weekend, Leezle and I spent a few hours at the Baltimore Book Festival. We volunteered our time at the Make Your Own Zine booth, and did just that.  I don’t know that we helped much, but it was extremely fun. I think Jim Lucio is a super nice guy and Baltimore is lucky to have him working in the office of Arts and Promotion.

On the way there, we ran into an old friend, which has finally come home with me:

The zine tent was packed with inspiration. They weren’t for sale – it was just an exhibit space.

There were a couple of tables set up to make your own.

and a copy machine on hand to do a small run of your newest creation:

Here’s a popular paper folding technique – a single 8 and 1/2 by 11″ piece of paper folded in half and then 4ths to create 8 panels per side (a lot like mini-comics). An incision is made up the center fold in-between the outer to panels.  This makes for an interesting layout.

Finished items:

The originals, starting with Leezle’s front and back and then mine, font and back. Click for larger:

Words cannot express the awesome. Hopefully the pictures can.

Joie de Vivre

Father’s Day

It’s been a nice day. My awesome kids made today awesome.

Jellyfish and Circus Peanut cards…

Coco even got the animals to make paw prints. Pumpkin wouldn’t hold still, though.

Yes – those are circus peanut fish. Wow.

I’ve wanted this book of surgical plates for a long time.

At Golden West Cafe on the Avenue, with my hons.


I had  a black bean breakfast burrito with veggie sausage, and six cups of coffee.

We saw some dead things AND Frida Kahlo stuff, too.

Thanks guys. I love you.


Pick of the Week!

Last week’s  SHAKY submission for Illustration Friday is “Pick of the Week!”

Thank you very much, Illustration Friday.  Happy!

Pick of the week!

Joie de Vivre

The Visionary Pinhole Birthday

On Saturday, I had one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. That of my daughter.

We spent the day at the American Visionary Art Museum learning about pinhole photography and camera obscura. The workshop was co-lead by Guillaume Pallat and Chris Peregoy, who were both generous with their experience and satisfyingly different in their approaches.

Christopher Peregoy and Guillaume Pallat
Our hosts, Chris and Guillaume

From Wikipedia: A pinhole camera is a very simple camera with no lens and a single very small aperture. Simply explained, it is a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from a scene passes through this single point and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box. Cameras using small apertures, and the human eye in bright light both act like a pinhole camera.

We spent the morning working in the studio constructing various cameras.  A pinhole camera can be made from just about anything – an oatmeal container, cigar box, old cans, paper bags, refrigerators – even books.  Here’s the birthday  girl working with Guillaume to transform an old  denim covered  pencil box into a camera (she’ll tell you how it worked on on her blog).


The book cameras  actually work really well.  Here, Ms. Felice is creating a chamber in the center of a book. The pages then get glued together, and the inside has to be painted with a matte black finish to prevent any light reflection inside the camera.

The wonderful Ms. Felice

A finished book camera.

Book Camera

Someone made a camera from a cooler:


A small cardboard film box, which worked really well because the inside is already black:

Kodak Box

Chis made a camera from a manky old soccer ball:



The Suitcase Camera

Suitcases make great cameras. Who knew?

Step one:  drill the crap out of it and paint the inside black.

Step one: drill the crap out of it.



Step two: Create an aperture from four razor blades.

Razor sharp hole

Step three: Take a picture.

Say cheese.

Coco, Chris and I sat outside AVAM and talked for about 13 minutes – that’s how long it took to get the exposure. Guillaume guessed that the  suitcase would be light tight once closed.  We should have taped the seam, though, as there was “light leak” which you can see in the photo below.  Lesson learned. Tape everything.

Relaxing for 13 minutes

The Tea Can Camera

My favorite is this Twinnings tea can, which was my first camera.  Step one was to make it dark (not shiny).

Can this work?

I used  a piece of pie tin for the aperture. Soda cans work well, too.


I placed my camera in the garden wall at AVAM.

Camera in the garden

We stood  still for 5 minutes, while other art viewers wandered casually in and out of our photo. Here’s the wonderful ghostly result –  a portrait of my 11 year old daughter and me on her birthday:

Jim and Coco

This was an amazing workshop and a wonderful day. Thanks to Coco for going with me, Felice at AVAM for being so cool to Coco and I, and to Chris & Guillaume for sharing so many ideas with us.

Happy birthday, Coco! I love you.