Saturday, August 30, 2014

Best results from recent contests

Today I'm finally caught up with summarizing my recent contest entries. Yesterday I rounded up a couple of designs that performed pretty well (at least by my standards), so we're wrapping up with the ones that have performed the very best.

The most recently finished contest was for something to do with beetles.  Of course I immediately thought of doing something punny with Volkswagons or The Beatles (or both at once), but decided instead on Egyptian scarabs. One of the other synergy designers is working on a set of colors matching those used by ancient Egyptians, of which I selected a subset. It was fun doodling a whole variety of variations on standard scarab carvings.


This got 133 votes and came in 55th out of 288. My favorite was this one (which won).

Further back in time, the theme was surfing, and we had to use these colors (plus white):

Color by COLOURlovers

I went with a pretty straightforward combination of surfboards and hibiscus.

Hibiscus Surfboards

This got 104 votes and came in 31st place out of 169. My favorite entry also featured hibiscus.

Finally, we got a theme of tennis. Not a topic I find particularly interesting. Thinking back on tennis historically, it reminded me of going to Hearst Castle, where one of the stories the tour guides like to tell you is how Hearst always wanted his guests to be active - illustrated with old film of his glamorous guests heading off to the tennis court. So, how about some twenties-style tennis clothes? I used the same colors as my art deco and library cards designs.

Dashing duds for twenties tennis

This got 136 votes and came in 23rd! That's my highest placement in quite a while. My favorite was this graphic repeat of tennis balls.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pretty good results

Continuing up the ladder from middling contest results, we can now enjoy reflecting on some that did a little better.

We had the first coordinates contest we've had for awhile, with a theme of sewing notions. I decided right off to expand on my existing stitching design, using the colors I originally tried out on the feather design. For the other coordinating designs, I immediately wanted to include hooks and eyes, since I've always found those very aesthetically appealing. And the pink in the color scheme reminded me of the pink sewing box Gramma Liz gave me for Christmas one year, soon after I really got into sewing as a kid, filled with all colors of thread and interesting notions. If I had more time, I would have drawn a bunch of different sewing accouterments flying out of it, but instead focused on the box itself. For the last pattern, I just wanted to do some kind of silhouette that I could fill in with different textures, so I went with ironing boards.

Potential of the sewing box - coordinates

This got 95 votes and came in the top third of entries. I'm particularly happy with how the hooks-and-eyes design turned out. The entries this week were honestly quite repetitive (so many spools of thread!) but my favorites were these two.

Then a bit of a strange theme - beards and mustaches.  I included all the animals I could find that have something resembling facial hair. For the colors, I reused the set I've used a couple times for different animal patterns.

Magnificent Beards of Nature

This got 78 votes, and alllllmost made it into the top quarter of entries. My favorite was this psychedelic assortment.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Now we're getting somewhere

Yesterday I went over some contest entries that couldn't make it into the top 50% - now I'm going to show you some that did!

One of the recent themes was one of those oddly-specific ones that seemed to have been inspired by randomly picked words, or something. Monsters, but done by hand-drawing with crayons. Well, I didn't feel like digging up some crayons and scanning something in, so I just used a crayon-esque brush in GIMP.  One of the synergy themes I hadn't used yet was "mad", so I made my monsters angry and used that color scheme.

Peeved Purple Peculiarities

It garnered 66 votes and came in 75th out of 167. The design I liked best was this one.

Next, the theme was "herb garden." I went for all herbs that are all native to California, using mostly this page as reference. Also, the colors are all from the state flag! Well, except for the yellow, and that's from the "California Welcome Center" sign I've referenced before.

California Native Herb Garden

The plants featured here are Tule mint, wood strawberry, miner's lettuce, yerba buena, Western yarrow, alum root, wild ginger, and California sagebrush. I'm pretty happy with how this came out - when I have the time I think I'll put each plant by itself in a repeat. This got 83 votes, but essentially the same relative placement as the crayon monsters due to there being many more entries in this contest. My favorite entries were these two.

Then, the contest was for Rhinoceroses. I used the same set of colors as my jazz design. Thinking that the most signifying feature of a rhino is the horn, I used just heads to try to make a pattern that looks abstract, almost like a houndstooth, from afar, and then resolves into rhinos when you look more closely.

Friendly Rhino faces

This got 76 votes and placed a little higher, at 88 out of 251. I liked this very cute Mary-Blair-esque damask and these more sophisticated home-dec style rhinos.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Still below average

Continuing from yesterday's roundup of poorly-performing contest entries, we now move on to the ones that came in closer to the middle.

For the hiking theme, there was a restricted palette with these six colors:

Color by COLOURlovers
Spoonflower_HikingColor by COLOURlovers

Plus white.  I did an overhead trail map, though I think my trails are a little too dense.

Through shady groves and sunny meadows

This got 47 votes and edged into the top two-thirds. My favorite was the graphic compasses (though I'd like it better at a smaller scale).

For the backpacks contest, I re-used the colors from my school papers and the cute cats from the Olympic events and created Kitten School:

Just after the bell rings at kitten school

This got 61 votes and crept a little closer to the median line. My favorite entries were these about camping and travel.

Next theme: farming. I was inspired by terrace farming.

terraced fields reflecting the sky

This only got 45 votes, but since this contest had many more entries than the previous two here, it placed a little higher, relatively speaking. (Generally, the more entries in a contest, the fewer votes any individual design gets.) On the understated side, I liked the sketchy textured fields, and for the more kid-centric, exuberant type of farm, I liked this one. And I liked the chickens and lemons.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The stinkers

There are a ton of contests that have finished up since the last time I blogged, so I'm going to start trying to catch up on them. First off, let's get the ones that did the worst out of the way.

We had the yearly Fabric8 contest, this time with the theme "cosmic voyage." Since the prize is bigger than other contests (a contract to make mass-produced fabric for a "real" company!) there are a boatload of entries. As a result they do a three-tier selection process: the staff winnows it down to 100 entries, then the community votes, then the top eight vote getters get some time to make three additional coordinating designs, then we all vote again on these four-design collections. So THIS time, for the first time, I made it into the top 100! Hooray!

The bad news is, of those 100, I then came in dead last in votes. Sad trumpet noise. It did at least get 50 votes, though. My take on the theme was an imaginary space voyage in a pretend rocket ship (i.e. cardboard box).

Cardboard Rockets

I got the colors from this palette (which I found just by searching through things tagged "cosmic"):
Color by COLOURlovers

My favorite entry in the initial round was this assortment of watercolor planets (which actually did make it into the final round as well). In the final round, though, I voted for this collection, on the strength of the coordinating bouquet and hexagon designs. Neither of those ultimately won - the winner was constellation-themed.

With fewer votes (18), but better relative placement (173/201), was my entry in the utensils contest. I chose some lesser-used implements (grapefruit spoons and honey dippers), some textures I already had on hand, and violá.

Grapefruit spoons and honeydippers

I used colors from these two palettes:

Color by COLOURlovers
Color by COLOURlovers

My favorite entry was this very folksy kitchen assortment.

Next increment up, with 31 votes, and just barely missing getting out of the bottom 20% of entries, was my take on fishing lures.

Specific lures for specific fish

My husband helped me come up with this one - catfish being lured by mice, dogfish being lured by bones, zebrafish being lured by grass, parrotfish by berries, and goldfish by little pickaxes. Like the "cosmic voyage" one, I browsed around for colors first:
Color by COLOURlovers

And then made the design. I don't think I made very good use of these colors - they look a lot nicer in the palette than they do in my repeat.

My favorite entry was this very stylized geometric border print.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Oh dear...

Hello blog! Long time no see! It's been all I can do lately to keep with my day job, my son, and just squeak in a Spoonflower contest entry every week. Now it's time to see if I can slip back in a little blog posting here and there.

Good news - I actually managed to do a little sewing for fun. I made "treat bags" for my son, nephew, and niece, to hold a few toys for the drive for a trip my family took all together. When I was a kid, we used to go camping up in the redwoods every year, and now that all the grandkids are old enough (4, 3, and 2) my parents decided to reinstate this tradition.

My grandmother, for these (and other) long car drives, used to make each of us these bags. My brother reminded me of that a few weeks before the trip, so I started to mull the idea of making my own version of them. I have quite a few fat quarters lying around from all my Spoonflower samples, so there's plenty of material to work with. I even looked up a pattern on how to make a little drawstring bag out of a fat quarter. But I was so busy trying to get ahead at work before the trip, I didn't think I was going to have the time.

One evening, after my son was asleep and I was just about to log back in to work, our power went out. Well, gosh, I guess since I can't work or use wifi on my iPhone I could sew instead! And thus I was able to get a toehold on the sewing, and made all three bags in time for the trip.

The patterns used here are the campground map, soil formation stripes, and ballet-dancing t-rexes. The bias tape on the B-for-Bruce bag is leftovers from Cord's quilt, on the I-for-Isabel bag is leftovers from Maren's quilt, and on the E-for-Emmett bag is some I had gotten as an alternate for Maren's quilt but didn't use.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A busy month!

Since I last posted, we have moved to Sonora! Very lovely forested location, deer and turkeys wandering by all the time, but still close to grocery stores and the like. Despite the move I've still managed to keep entering the weekly contests, so I have a few to catch up on.

First, the theme was lilies. I combined actual lilies and fleur-de-lis. The colors I got from the list of prize winning varieties of lilies from Wikipedia, collected on a board here. The background is the same pattern as I used for the bark on my bonsai trees, and the leafy pattern on the fleur-de-lis is the "kelp" pattern I've used for a few things.

Lily and fleur de lis color study

I got 32 votes for this and finished right at the top of the bottom third. There were several entries in this one I really, really liked: a riotous combination of lily-named flowers with other vegetation, one in the style of William Morris, and a bright, stylized take.

Then there was another contest to make a floral design, but in a black-and-white line-art style, such that it could be used like a coloring book page. The idea being, you could use it as colorable wallpaper. I pondered trying to do something inspired by ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) but beyond making a board with some of the stuff I liked best I couldn't get that idea to gel. I just combined my eight favorite flowers: honeysuckle, jasmine, orange blossoms, fuchsia, lavender, California poppies, borage, and snapdragons (Side note: since some people tag bonsai as ikebana, I discovered that you can make some of these into bonsai, which made me hyperventilate a little to be honest)

My favorite blooms

This entry got 47 votes and came in right in the middle. The design I could most see myself using as coloring book wallpaper was this one, and the design I liked most on its own was this more graphic one.

Continuing the plant theme, there was also a contest for terrariums. This was one of those themes I found intimidating, as it's easy to imagine all kinds of amazing, lush illustrations on the topic, but hard to execute them. So I took a very graphic, subdued take. I had fun looking up neat terrariums on Pinterest, though. I based the colors and proportions on this very tiny spice jar terrarium. The textures I used here were the isometric dots and lines I originally made for my school papers and the lattice (all of which can also be seen here), plus the knit I've used quite often.

Moss Terrariums

This entry did not catch on, got 12 votes, and finished in the bottom 10. My favorite was this one.

For the contest closest to Earth Day, the challenge was to make a 1-yard pattern for a reusable tote bag. The bag itself didn't necessarily need to be Earth Day-themed, but I decided to use a couple of my existing designs that are nature themed, and combined them together with this tote pattern that I liked. This uses the "kelp" mentioned above in two color combinations, the "star" pattern in two more, the meerkats I drew for my son, and the map pattern, which is one of my most popular. (I pulled the other fabric colors from the map design.)

Meerkat Tote Kit

My tote did pretty well, getting 132 votes and just squeaking into the top quartile. My favorites were this bright one in modern colors and this more serene, mid-century-ish take.

There was actually another holiday-related cut-and-sew challenge. Another tea towel, but this one with one of "Mom's" recipes on it, in honor of Mother's day. I knew immediately that I would adapt my mother's banana bread recipe (which she got from my paternal grandmother). And for fun I drew it as a diagram instead of writing out the recipe (plus this is really how I think of the recipe in my head). The colors are the same as the last time I combined family lore with a towel. The blue/green background patterns are, yet again, my "kelp" and the "knit" both mentioned previously. The brown texture in the border was one I put together for the "anti-Valentine's" faux-cross-stitch.

Banana Bread Diagram Recipe Towel

I got my hopes up pretty high for this one, as it gained a lot of "likes" through the week - enough to make it my second-most-liked design ever (behind Baby's Book of Computer Science, of course). But even so it ended up with 84 votes, and just above the median. The entry I could most likely see using as an actual kitchen towel was this one, which combined an actual old hand-written recipe card with some textures from hand-me-down cookbooks.