I walk every morning that I can.
Walking drives the shiny squirrels from my brain and really helps me focus for work - I'm not sure why. It's also the only time I have to "read" - i.e., listen to audiobooks. I do my best design work on my walks too - just being away from my supplies and the distractions of the day.
I tend to see the same humans and the same dogs on my walk - we are all creatures of habit in my neighborhood.
And one dog in particular makes my day every time I see him.
He's a smallish black lab mix - to me it looks like he's mixed with a collie breed. He is the friendliest, sweetest dog, and always comes to say hi, but not in an aggressive way - I'm allergic to dogs so I'm a little more reluctant to pet strange dogs than most. But he's just a sweetie.
The first morning I ever saw him - he was a dark streak across the soccer field at the park - chasing a frisbee and bringing it back to his owner like a little retrieving lightning bolt. That's where his collie really comes out - in his low, insanely fast sprints. I watched him for a few minutes before moving on, because I was wondering exactly how many hours he would do that before his owner got tired and took him home.
The next time I saw him, he was on the trail I walk, and he was coming towards me - I said hi to his owner and then looked down to greet him and was totally stunned to see that he was missing one of his back legs. Watching his tail wag while I patted him, I thought maybe I had been mistaken - that it wasn't the little furry streak of a dog racing for the frisbee the week before. But it was, and the next time I saw him chase the frisbee, I actually noticed that he only had three legs.
I was amazed.
And to me, anyway, it seemed like he neither knew nor cared that he was at 75% leggedness. He just seemed like he was really completely okay with being the best darn three-legged dog he could possibly be.
And I think he is.
While I definitely have seen animals get embarrassed - if you have pets, you've seen it too - I don't think they have a concept of the sort of worry people have about fitting in or being at least enough like most other people that no one will tweet a photo of them with the hashtag #neverwearthis or #the80scalledtheywanttheirhair back or whatever everyone worries about.
He just owns the three legs he has. It's awesome.
So today - I'm hosting the MIX-Ability challenge on Splitcoast, and my inspiration came from my friend Katherine - beadfreak22 on Splitcoast. She had done an art challenge with her mom and sisters, and had combined a bunch of different stamps - some animal, some human - to create a creature to rule over her budding catnip garden. You can see a photo of her in the challenge post.
I call this the Chimera Challenge - combine your stamps to create new creatures.
It just so happened - this is the hardest part - that I had two stamp sets that were proportioned properly to go together. The Birthday Fiesta llama, and the strong man from Guy Greetings. (This stamp set is extra cool, because it comes in cling, wood and photopolymer - I own the cling and the photopolymer, which is what I used here.) I laughed so hard when I stamped a test at my strange and awesome llama man! I decided to pair him with a message inspired by that little tripod dog, who could not care less about his missing leg. It's a message we all need to hear. Just OWN it and be awesome.
The Project Bin, and since I was stamping it onto a background I'd watercolored with Mission Gold on some cold press watercolor cards from Fabriano, I stamped it multiple times with my mini MISTI until it was good and dark.
I used a Colour Shaper brush - it's a cool brush with a rubbery tip on it (I used a #2) - to apply some Daler Rowney Pro White Ink - I picked this up in Santa Fe because I'm always looking for good opaque white products - for some highlights.
He cracks me up, llama man. He's so confident and proud, flexing his llama man muscles in his manpris.
As it should be.
Before I leave, I have to tell you about my favorite new craft room item - my camera stand!!
I read about this stand on Sandy Allnock's blog, and I decided to try it. I film all of my tutorials with my Iphone and I had been using a PVC stand for Periscope and filming tutorials, but my issue is, and always will be - desk real estate. I have a very teeny tiny craft room, and my desk is very short front to back. So even though I chopped the legs down on the PVC stand and weighted them - it was still something I had to put up and take down with each video because it was bulky, in the way, and frankly, not aesthetically pleasing, which - let's face it - we're crafters and a bit princessy that way.
So I ordered the new stand, and having been a consumer of about 300 different types of camera mounts, was skeptical a bit that it would end up being "the one".
But ladies and gentlemen - IT'S THE ONE!!!
Just to give you some perspective - the footprint of the PVC stand on my desk was 16" x 13".
The usable space on my desk is only 88" x 24" - so when I was using it - the stand was taking up about 10% of my desk. Not cool, my friends.
The NEW stand not only has a better, easy to open clamp for the phone, but the height, orientation and angle are all adjustable. It takes up just a tiny amount of space directly in front of my work area. It's got a very heavy base, so it won't tip over, no matter how big your phone is, and it takes about ten seconds to put together and set up. Here it is in action on my desk - always ready for a video and unobtrusive while I'm just crafting. AND my workspace looks neat and PVC-free! :)
The customer service is also great, so all in all, I'm going to give this a ginormous win.
I contacted them and raved about the stand (please do this when you find great products that work - it's just nice to hear thank you at your job :) ) and they were nice enough to offer a coupon code I can share with you. AND, because Independence Day is coming up, they are doubling their normal offer, so you can get 20% off a stand like mine with code UNDERSTANDBLUE. This offer will be good from today until Monday July 11th at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, at which point it will drop to 10%.
My sister just filmed a cooking episode for a PBS contest, and was wishing she'd had this instead of the awkward setup she rigged up.
I can absolutely promise you this is worth every penny. I'm in love. Huge props to the people at Arkon for an awesome product and for just being nice people.
So that's my crafty tip for the day - the only other thing I'll say before I go - is whatever you are - be a good one. Especially if you're a llama man.