SIP52, week 2 – Fun

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(for more information on the Stuck in Plastic toy photography group and more on their year long challenge SIP52, go to stuckinplastic.com)

So this week’s challenge was fun – and it should have been easy, right? Interestingly, I did have loads of ideas but for one reason or another they just didn’t come to fruition. I did find a toy sized selfie square (I think that’s what they’re called) and armed with an old friend set up the shot – working on the logic that these cardboard squares always produce, or are involved with, fun.

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From that though I learned that visual expressions (having fun) are an important part to the photographic process – sure this does convey some fun, but perhaps not enough.  But at least I had a fallback image.

That day, I went shopping and bought the Lego set “Rainbow Fun” (set number 10401).  Having built the unicorn and two halves of the rainbow (the instructions were for one half) I realised I had some spares left over.

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somewhere over/in the rainbow … is a powder blue unicorn!

I started to play with the bits and ended up making a little car… and then I saw that I could build the stationary plane – and the result was the image at the top of the blog.

For me, this shows the imaginative fun that comes from Lego in a “fourth wall” style set up.  I had a lot of fun making such a simple MOC, but the lego character in the picture is having fun imagining that they are flying somewhere.  Quite happy with this week’s result!

Next week’s photographic challenge is “fitness”… this could be an interesting one to achieve… have a great week!

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A week in creativity (SIP – Confidence)(w/e 14 Jan)(all)

Hello everyone!

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A Pelican’t

This has been an interesting week from a creative perspective with a large amount of introspection on my part, based on one image that I created.  Consequently, I will start a new approach this year.

I’m going to stop the “week in creativity” post; having looked at how many people follow this blog, against how many also follow my other social media channels, I’m telling people what they already knew.  Lots of effort (on my part), little reward for everyone else.  I will still post creative stuff (I’m hoping to see the Lumiere Lights in London next week) I just wont need to save it up for a weekend post.

What I will do, though, is focus on the weekly “Stuck In Plastic” “52 challenge.” (link here: https://www.stuckinplastic.com/2017/12/week-52-new-challenge-ahead/). Last week was “creativity” and this one is “Confidence”.  In this way I can try and discuss what inspired me to create the image(s) I produced for that word.  This won’t necessarily be weekly, but will be more as an when.

 

I hope that makes more sense.  It isn’t getting rid of anything (although I will be deleting my Frog Facebook page – that again seems to be more trouble than it’s worth) but hopefully making sure that I don’t inadvertently post something that might cause offence when you elderly Aunt Maud has come to visit.

 

Week 2 – Confidence

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As soon as I started to think about what to do with this picture, the song “Parklife” by Blur came into my head, and I knew that had to be in there somewhere (I had considered creating the lyrics as a giant background).  I started to think about how we might say to someone “oh that’s a bold choice of clothing” (it just so happened this week that I wore a new pair of boots that had a contrasting sole and this was the response).   But it was finished when I started to do some drawing and created something which created responses and which I put a perception on.  Having mentally added one comment + one comment = misunderstanding, I had started to justify my art to myself – that terrible inner dialogue that sometimes happens.  Ultimately I realised that when you present something you are projecting a confidence, even if you don’t feel that way.  At that point, the idea of a whiteboard on an easel came to mind – and the final picture pulled together.

 

Next week is “Fun” – and my head is already spinning with ideas which may involve the return of Lego, but I can see William and Benjamin continuing on their adventures too!

 

So hopefully, I’ll see you next week 🙂

A week in creativity (w/e 07.01)(all)

Hello everyone and a Happy New Year!  From a creative perspective, this year has started with an incredibly slow start – after seven months we moved back to the cottage, but not all the work has been completed in the house, so I wasn’t able to set up the office and I write this still surrounded by boxes.  It doesn’t help that we had terrible colds over the christmas week (in fact we still do) – Our Christmas Day dinner was on the Thursday!

Consequently, the “photo a day” challenge wasn’t as creative as I would have liked at all, and my drawings remained in my head and not on paper.  However, the Blog site “Stuck In Plastic” does have a new challenge that you might want to try – rather than a photo a day it has an idea a week – 52 weeks, 52 words – which is great for those who want to try and experiment and then edit the images rather than snap and post.  This week’s challenge was “Creativity” and I came up with two images:

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The first was a simple image edited through Picasa – I used a “heat map” filter followed by a “Holga” filter – I love the way that came out.  The second uses a vignette border, a museum border, but other than those they are as is.

Out of the two, I think the second one better represents the statement I am often presented with – “I’m not creative”.  There are so many things that we think we can’t do – but if there was a magic pill would we take it?  And if we knew we would have to take one forever would it become a chore?

 

Anyways, it’s only a short one and hopefully next week I may be better co-ordinated to produce something else.  Oh, and the Stuck In Plastic word for next week is “CONFIDENCE”.  Have fun!

 

Stuck in plastic’s blog is  stuckinplastic.com

A Year in creativity (2017)(all)

Hello everyone and welcome!  As it seems to be the year for doing best of rather than normal posts, this is a summary of what I think were 36 of what I considered the best images I had in my Images folder for this year.  I achieved this by distilling the 2,037 images I had taken over the year and removed any duplicates or “similars”; any images that I had taken for a specific reason (and just didn’t need anymore); any images that just looked half-attempted.  That reduced the total to a more manageable 887.  I know that there are images in other folders that I have still kept – such as photos of the house – but these weren’t the “creative” images. Of this remaining 800+ I curated to the 36.

I noticed that there was a lot less Lego this year in my pictures; sadly I think this was very much because of the fire we had back in May – so it just wasn’t available to use.  Hopefully next year I will be able to redress that.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you for reading my blog over the year and hope that it has inspired you to be creative yourself.  If there is anything that you think you would like to see more of please let me know – I’m still learning my art 🙂

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combining toy photography with very tolerant pets

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But sometimes they just want to know what you are doing!

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Heron at Kensingston Gardens

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Smallest statue in London

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new ways to pay homage to classic films

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Giant toys at Regents Park – art got big!

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Loved drawing this

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Morph turned 40 this year – an inspiration in stop motion camera work

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sound mind / sound body! This year I started doing Parkrun

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Yay! Icecream!

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I created a book this year all based around snails

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This Banksy went up in London’s Barbican – I managed to see it a day later!

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We went to the V&A to see the very popular Pink Floyd exhibition

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The day the sky went red

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card games

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The Bodykun dolls were fantastic for creating interesting photo set ups.

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more storytelling with the Naughty Rabbits

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Christmas lights

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art-inspired xmas tree drawings

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more made up album cover art!

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I tried different neck tie knots

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we went to plenty of gigs and concerts

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The Advent Adventure – the Black and White Christmas (18 – 24 December) (All) (1815 words)

“So how can I help you?” asked Doodlefig.

I replied by telling him how I was tracking down Cameo and how he had turned everything black and white.  Initially Doodlefig was concerned “All my coloured pens are shades of grey now, too”, but I pointed out that what I really needed was a way into capture Cameo – and to turn the machine off.

“Because of the problems I had with identifying roads from rivers, I managed to crash and lose plenty of radio controlled drone planes” I explained.  “Fortunately, Sandra’s friend Claire had a radio-controlled helicopter with a super strong video.  Apart from agreeing that she would fly the helicopter – because I kept breaking mine – we’ve started a sweep of the wooded area and I think we’re close.  Of course, getting there quietly will be a challenge, unless….”

“Unless I draw you a way through.”

“Exactly.”

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A shout from outside brought everyone outside, and Claire pointed at the large TV monitor.  In the centre of a wooded area was a large object with a big red button and the words “Wham!” on a screen.  As Claire panned back, the hut also came into view.

“That’s where Cameo is – Steven, can you draw the hole please?”

Within an instant, they stepped through and were in the woods.  After a couple of minutes of checking where they were and that everyone was OK from the experience, WPC Sandra instructed four policemen to surround the cabin whilst the rest of us returned to the machine. We looked at the device, trying to see if there was an off switch, but apart from that red button there was nothing.

Sandra looked under the machine.  She could see the main computer, shielded with a heat wrap so that it would remain cool whilst it worked… and it was there she saw a small loop of a red wire, poking out from the edge of the metal case.  With nothing to lose, she got out her scissors and snipped the wire.

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Nothing happened… at first.  Then we heard the sound of a fan starting to slow down.  The screen started to flicker before it started to display information that looked like a diagnostic check.  We saw the words “Over heat” and we immediately ran into the canopy of the woods.  I couldn’t help but peer round the tree to watch the screen.  The screen went blue, with the message “EXCEPTION: CORE OVERHEAT. SHUTDOWN IN 5… 4… 3…”  the screen went black and instantly colour started to flood back into the world.

A couple of other policemen that were with us immediately ran back to the machine and started to rip it apart, so that it would not be able to work again – just having the machine as evidence was enough.  Sandra, Steven and I then made our way over to the lair.

“But I can’t guess what’s inside” said Steven.  “I can’t just guess!”

“Well, you’re going to have to” replied Sandra, “I don’t think he will be coming out any time soon.”

Steven thought about it, then drew a door.  He opened it and they walked through – and into Cameo’s office.  Cameo was surprised to see them suddenly appear and shouted at K9 to attack them.  But K9 didn’t.  He had only been programmed to be friendly and helpful, so he continued to behave in his predictable manner.

Cameo started to get up, but Doodlefig was quicker and drew a small cell around Cameo.  He was caught!

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Cameo explained that he was fed up with everyone being so different from moment to moment, how one minute people were friendly, the next they might not be.  He was fed up with people not waiting their turn and just pushing in… unlike the old black and white films he had seen where everyone was nice, and things were just so… “Black and white?” answered Sandra.

At that point, I had to conclude my work.  I explained to Steven why I was there and that I had to decide whether they should be on the Naughty or Nice list.  I had decided that whilst Steven had been bad, it was with the intention for doing nice things to others, so he could remain on the Nice list, but that we would be monitoring him for the next ten years.

“Hang on” said Cameo, “You say there’s a list and that you decide who is Naughty and who is Nice. Well, here’s my take.  Irrespective of why he did it, that man did a bad thing – he should be on the Naughty List.  As for me, I don’t want to be on the list.  How do I unsubscribe?”

“You don’t unsubscribe” I answered.

“Well, how does that work?” replied Cameo. “You decide whether someone is good or bad, based on your opinion and perception of their behaviour, and there’s no way to unsubscribe OR plead your case!  I bet you’ve already decided which list I’m going to be on – and yet I’m sure I can explain how I’ve just made the world a better place for people!”

I thought for a moment.  “That is quite a quandary and in part you’re right.  There are times when we have to carefully think about a person’s behaviour – what they did, why they did it, and what they thought they would achieve. That’s why we have so many departments checking the lists.  Some people have unsubscribed from our list – they didn’t actually unsubscribe, they just stopped believing in Santa and his list.  But you didn’t do this for anyone else, you did this for yourself – and it didn’t work.”

“Talking of didn’t work” replied Cameo, “I’ll tell you something else that didn’t work too – this cell you drew me into.  The ink is still wet, and I’ve smudged a hole I can escape through!”

With that, Cameo ducked through the broken bar and ran outside.  He leapt onto the Skidoo and it jumped into life when he pressed the button.  He instantly started to drive down the hill.  Sandra saw the skis and knowing the area reckoned that she should ski down as quickly as the Skidoo – but told Steven to draw a hole in the Town square – because that was where Cameo would be coming out from the hillside.

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The colour was now returning to the trees and the village.  Stephanie and Mike were standing outside the café, drinking what they were thinking looked like hot chocolate, when the colour returned… as did the taste.  “Eugh!” Cried Mike, “I’ve over sugared this!”  Stephanie pointed at Mike’s jumper.  “I thought you had a patterned jumper on” she said.  “But it’s crumbs and Tomato Sauce from the burgers we had!”

“Oh grief!” exclaimed Mike. “I guess just being in Black and white was a good thing!  But your top does look pretty though!”

“It’s just a shame it doesn’t match the shoes and handbag!” laughed Stephanie.

 

We stepped out into the Town Square.  Steven had carefully made sure that the hole came out somewhere not obvious which I was pleased about – having us walk out into the centre of town would have raised so many questions.

Looking round the square, we saw an ice sculptor at work.  Steven watched him for a while and then went “Aha!” and got out his pens.  In an instant he had drawn three more sculptures – and placed them where Sandra had said Cameo would be coming out.  And she was right.

“Watch out!” cried Cameo.  He tried to avoid the sculptures, but instead caught the kerb stone and was flung from the skidoo.  The skidoo crashed into the town’s Christmas tree, and Cameo landed by our feet.  Steven immediately drew a pair of handcuffs around Cameo… and blotted the ink dry.

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Sandra skied to a stop by us.  “Well, that’s that sorted” she said.

 

Cameo smiled.  “Well, there’s plenty to keep the town courts busy – but now I know I don’t have to believe to be on the list I don’t believe in Christmas, I don’t believe in the Naughty and Nice List and I don’t believe in Santa… so all your work is for nothing! Ha ha ha!”

Sandra looked at me. “I wouldn’t say it was for nothing – not for us anyway.  Thank you.”

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I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around.  The first thing I saw was a sleigh, with a brown bag on it.  Then I saw the Black boots and red trousers… I didn’t need to look any further.

“Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas!” cried Santa. “We had heard about the case that Wodge was working on and we have been following it with great interest because it was just so unusual. I agree with Wodge’s decision regarding you Steven, but you must stop drawing in that way.  But here’s a small present of new crayons for you.”

Santa proceeded to give gifts out to everyone – new skis for Sandra, a new Seaplane for Mike (with apologies that we broke the last one), a new computer for Stephanie with a box of mechanics and electrics so she could work on her robotic arm project and gifts for everyone else.  Then Santa turned to Cameo.

“Well, I know you’ve been a naughty boy, so you know that you’re not on the Nice list.  You can work to go back onto the Nice list… but, oh, you don’t believe in the list.  In fact, you don’t believe in Santa either!  But of course, now you’ve met me, and you will watch that sleigh ride up into the air as I begin my evening job of distributing presents around the world.  So now you must ask yourself… do I believe in Santa?  Well, do you?”

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At that point, Granny Smith appeared.  “I heard Santa was in town” she said, “So I baked some cakes”.  Mike took one look at the cookies.  “You do know that we have colour back in the town now – I think you over baked them; they’re burnt black!”  Granny Smith looked saddened.  “But it’s the thought that counts” said Mike, “and I think with all the events it’s easy to forget how things should look.  Come over to my café, and have some of my cakes – and have a hot chocolate too.  On me.  All of you!”

“Thank you” said Santa, “but I’ll have to pass – plenty of things to do tonight!  Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas!”

With that, he got onto his sleigh and it zoomed off into the night.

 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was my Christmas report.   I hope that you’ve been good this year and that Santa stops by your house; I wish you a very happy Christmas, and hope that 2018 brings you fun, happiness and new adventures.

From all at Frog’s Pad, from Wodge, Stephanie, Mike, William, Sandra, Claire, Steven, Granny Smith, Santa, K9… and Cameo… merry Christmas!

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Advent Toys

Claire with the controller for the radio helicopter

A Christmas tree

The ice sculptor with a circular saw

The ice sculpture

Powered Skidoo

Santa’s sleigh

Santa Claus

The Safer Working Santa Initiative (All)

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Here at Elf and Safety we make sure that the workshop is run efficiently but safely.  In the last ten years we have managed to ensure that there has been no more than twenty recorded incidents of work-related injuries reported.  Of those, E&S made the elves report all of them – apparently getting your beard trapped is an everyday hazard.  But we noticed that whilst we can start to make sure that a Healthy Elf is a Happy Elf, we noticed that there are some major issues that are still happening in the working environment and that we need to tackle – even if it does mean that the Department has now appeared on the Naughty List.

We noticed that one particular member of the team has been actively flounting safety.  When we approached him, he seemed to take the whole thing as a joke, going “Ho Ho Ho!” all the time.  So we have introduced the Safer Santa Working Initiative and we are hopeful that this one individual will see sense this year.  To ensure that we were fair we also worked with a number of other Working Groups.  Admittedly, some of the rules do seem to deviate from popular culture, but it is important that we do everything we can to make sure everyone is safe.  The initiative consists of the following 25 guidance steps:

  1. No drinking Sherry whilst out delivering presents
  2. The Naughty List should be cross referenced with the Criminal Records Bureau and only those appearing in the lists maintained by the CRB can appear on the Naughty List.  Everything else is circumstantial and not admissible.  “Pulling your sister’s pigtails” is not a valid reason.
  3. Nor is “But he started it”.
  4. And the instruction “be quiet or you’ll both be on the Naughty List” is not a valid reason either.
  5. No drinking Sherry whilst out delivering presents.
  6. As some of the tasks will be working at height, 5-point harnesses must be fitted to all vehicles.
  7. Hard hats must be worn
  8. To comply with most Health and Safety requirements, Hi-visibilty, reflective clothing that is both weather and season-appropriate must be worn.  A floppy hat is not a protective item.
  9. Nor is a red suit.
  10. The bag that the presents are delivered in should be properly structured to enable the worker to carry without potential injury.  It is recommended that a wheeled bag is used instead.
  11. The chimney must not be used as a method for gaining entry to any properties.  The reported instance of an operative being stuck in one is reason enough.
  12. The operative should politely knock on the door to deliver the presents.  They should announce who they are
  13. The operative should also carry an identification card which will be clearly visible by means of a lanyard hung around the neck.
  14. No drinking of Sherry whilst out delivering presents.
  15. The vehicle (“sleigh”) should be fitted with the appropriate navigation lights to comply with all Civil Aviation Authority rules.
  16. The sleigh should also be mounted with suitable lighting to enable visibility.  Reliance on a faint glow from the nose of one reindeer is not suitable lighting.
  17. All reindeer should have an opportunity to lead the remaining reindeer as they pull the sleigh. Having “a very shiny nose” is not a valid reason and marginalises that reindeer.
  18. Asking children “if they have been bad or good” is not a suitable method of enquiry.
  19. We have advised the employee that they should not say that they “know if they have been bad or good” as this implies they have been stalking the young person.
  20. As is “knowing when you’re sleeping”
  21. Did we mention the Sherry?
  22. We cannot condone “kissing mummy” and such matters will be taken seriously.
  23. Whilst recognising the size of the delivery route, we recommend suitable stops at frequent intervals to rest the reindeer.
  24. Caution should be exercised with consuming milk and cookies – especially home made variety’s – as this could result in a bout of indigestion.
  25. Coming up with this list does not make us Scrooge.

We also tried to change the working hours to bring them inline with most working directives and have the deliveries over a more reasonable five to ten working days, but this was deemed unreasonable.

A week in creativity (ending 23rd December)(all)

Hello everyone!

It must be the run up to Christmas, but the creativity has been much lighter this week!  A night out watching a live band, a 5K walk around London and an evening with my father – along with a trip to Stonehenge for Yule – meant that no drawing happened mid week (in fact, I was so convinced I wouldn’t have time I didn’t take any drawing equipment with me).  I did sort out this years pictures though – and will be publishing a “Best of” post later in the week.

So here’s a short compilation of images I did manage, including more Xmas trees “in the style of”.  Have a great week – and a wonderful few days.

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Kawaii style xmas tree

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Haring

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Lichtenstein

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Magritte

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Warhol

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Zen

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Another Warhol

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“The dog’s shedding again”

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Apparently, in just four minifigures you can use all 36 official colours!

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I’ll have another blog on this one!

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Winter Solstice!

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The picture I sent to work colleagues!

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Carnaby Street’s colourful christmas lights

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Christmas tree in London

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The theme was “sparkly”. Morning dew on the grass after the last 5K cross country Parkrun for the year