30 August 2010

All My Friends Are Superheroes ...

"Tom's first superhero girlfriend was Someday. She had red hair, a compact frame and two superpowers: an amazing ability to think big and an unlimited capacity to procrastinate. Someday had never used her superpowers in combination until one Sunday morning, three months after she'd started dating Tom. They were lying in bed. Someday was staring at the ceiling.
'Imagine it all,' Someday said.
'Hmmm,' Tom said. He kissed Someday's freckled shoulder.
'We're going to get married and own a home. We're going to have kids....' she said.
Tom stopped kissing her freckled shoulder. He stopped moving his fingers. They could hear the refrigerator.
'...someday,' Someday quickly added.
The moment she said it, she shrank. It started happening all the time.
'I'm going to paint the bathroom ...' she'd say.
'Don't say it!' Tom would yell.
'... someday,' Someday would say. She'd shrink.
Every time Someday used her superpowers in combination she shrank, and every time she shrank, she shrank by a little bit more. When they'd met in March, Someday stood 5'4". By May she was 4'7". At the end of august she was 11". By October she was sleeping on the cotton from a bottle of aspirin.
The last time Tom saw her was in December, through a microscope. She stood next to a dust particle.
'Someday, I miss you!' Tom told her.
'Someday you won't,' she said.
She disappeared."

This is from an amazing book called 'All my Friends are Superheroes' by Canadian writer, Andrew Kaufman. One of the most adorable, clever and stick-with-you-afterwards books EVER! My friend Dawn introduced it to me a few months ago and I have read it numerous times since (no, she hasn't gotten her copy back yet, whoops). So I thought I would share it with you.

It's basically about a man named Tom who doesn't have a superpower. All his friends and ex girlfriends have powers, which are all exaggerated attributes of their personalities. The book tells of their superpowers and what happened on the day they realized they had powers. For example;

 "The Frog-Kisser was in high school when she first discovered her power.  Dating the captain of the football team has left her drained and unfulfilled. That’s when she discovered Brain, the head of the debating club, and her latent powers emerged.
Blessed with the ability to transform geeks into winners, she is cursed with the reality that once she enables his transformation, the origin of her initial attraction is gone."

The storyline revolves around the fact that Tom and his girlfriend, The Perfectionist, are struggling with their relationship... she can't see him, he became invisible to her by another man with superpowers. But I'm not giving anything else away.

It's a small book, only 108 pages so you can read it in under a few hours, but it's fantastic and an amazing insight into how we behave socially. I strongly recommend that you pick it up. It will have you trying to guess what your own superpower is for weeks afterwards.

Here's another little taste from the book. Really, you got to read it!

"The Couch Surfer;
Empowered with the ability to sustain life and limb without a job, steady companion or permanent place of residence, the Couch Surfer can be found roaming from couch to couch of friends' apartments all across the city. The Couch Surfer is not only able to withstand long periods of acute poverty but is also able to nutritionally sustain himself with only handfuls of breakfast cereals, slices of dry bread and condiments. Mysteriously, he always has cigarettes."

Aoife x

27 August 2010

I (heart) your item ...

Ok, one thing I believe Etsy should have on their site is an easier way to see how many hearts your items have. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but the only current way is to view each of your items individually and scroll down to the number of hearts listed (if there is an easier way that I've missed, please let me know).

Photo by Lee Ann L

Thankfully, craftcult.com has made things amazingly easier with their Heart-o-matic section of their website. Go here and put your Etsy user name into the text box and see all your items with their lovely hearts. Simple.

Aoife x

26 August 2010

New Paintings!

First of all let me appologise for the bad photographs, the lighting in my room is terrible and some of the paintings are still wet so I can;t take them with flash. But anyway, these are some of the new paintings I've been doing as part of my 4 Simple Goals I blogged about here. They will be available to buy from my Esty Store once I get better photos of them.

The first painting is the most recent and it was so much fun! Definitely going to do more of these. I see alot of Etsians and vintage bloggers drool over the Polaroid Land Camera, you will find images of this camera dotted across hundreds of blogs (and can you blame them? It's a beautiful camera, though I've no idea what they photograph like) so I decided to try one in a painting and I'm very happy with the result.

The design for my dead birdie painting was originally a house warming present for a friend, I blogged about it here. He allowed me to paint another version of it (infact, he practically insisted on it) and there will be a collection of them soon. I've loads of sketches for more of these as the original painting has gotten lots of attention in it's new home. We also jokingly came up with a newer design for something similar, but it will actually work so I'm going to start on those when I can.

These are just some cute rainbow designs I put together. I'm not sure where these came from or why but I really enjoy painting them.

And of course, a Zombie painting. 'Zombies are were people too!' is also going to be another collection with this black haired zombie girl in quite a few.

I have to say none of these paintings are my usual style, but my new goal is to create simpler, quicker paintings and it's working really well for me. It's so much fun and makes me enjoy painting more. Plus because I'm finishing paintings it's making me feel more productive and excited to be able to move on to another painting.

Aoife x

4 Simple Goals ... A Blog Project by Elsie

A lot of people who follow A Beautiful Mess will know that the author, Elsie, has started a wonderful blog project called 4 Simple Goals. It's taken me a while to figure out what my goals are, but finally I've had some time to sit down and decide.

Her guidelines are as follows:

1. choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. choose things you may not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish. 
2. do not choose result oriented goals, choose activity oriented goals. for example.... instead of "lose 10 pounds", choose something like "eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day". get what i'm saying? positive actions instead of just the end result! 
3. choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! they can be daily, weekly or one time experiences. 
4. choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! it can be a small or large reward. 
5. blog your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year!

So, my 4 Simple Goals are as follows:

1. Paint
It's amazing how something I love so much is so neglected. I used to spend months, even years finishing oil paintings. I'm now going to start using acrylic paints to speed up my painting process and finish quicker, simpler paintings that will be more fun and less draining than the larger, longer projects.
I'm hoping this will improve my skills, find new techniques and bring out new ideas.

2. Write
I love creative writing, but again it's something I don't do very often even though I keep a journal FULL of ideas. I'm going to start flicking through my writing journal and make use of the forgotten ideas and brainstorms by writing short stories just to amuse myself.
From this I hope to rediscover the joy I had in Secondary School (High School) when we had a creative essay assignment (I even really enjoyed writing my thesis in college). Hopefully this will spur more creativity and will possibly spill over into more projects.

3. De-Clutter
I have been on a very slow mission to de-clutter my life. For a while now I've felt very bogged down by everything I own, most of it completely useless and only vaguely sentimental. Ebay has been my main source of getting rid of my belongings and recently my sister, my friend and I have gone to weekly carboot sales to rid ourselves of useless clutter. My goal is to keep de-cluttering my belongings to only the pieces I really like, throw away things when they get useless instead of hanging onto them and resist buying in more useless stuff, unless I really need it.
From this I am hoping to own a number of good, high quality items instead of lots of cheap flimsy goods (i.e. 10 good pairs of well made, quality shoes instead of 30 pairs of cheap, easily breakable shoes) and hopefully it will encourage me to hand-make my own dresses and clothes instead of filling my wardrobe with barely worn, irrelevant junk.

4. Is a Secret
Unfortunately, my fourth goal is currently a secret. Only a handful of people know what I'm up to. Recently, due to unavoidable personal reasons, I've had to cut my plans to move to Galway short which was very upsetting as I had to leave a very good friend of mine hanging. My Mother, seeing how upset I was, decided to help me with something I've been talking about for a while now. I am currently taking small steps everyday towards this, with alot of help from my family and the few friends I've told. I will share more when I know for sure that this can definitely happen.
From this I am hoping to have something to look forward to everyday when I wake up. It's something that's making me want to achieve the first three goals even more. Also, the small steps in this goal might eventually lead to a dream of mine.

** You can view my new post about this secret goal here**

I'd love to hear what you think of this project, or even if you're taking part. Leave a comment linking me to your blog if you've posted goals already, or if Elsie has inspired you to start, link me when you've decided what they are. I think this is a wonderful project and will help alot of people change things in their lives for the better.

Aoife x

24 August 2010

Dressmaking ... Yeay!

I posted a blog about the idea of dressmaking classes here a while ago and since then I've been researching courses in my area, with slim results. Thankfully my wonderful, amazing, glorious Mother has offered to set aside two afternoons a week to teach me herself. How lovely is that? She's an amazing seamstress and made my beautiful debs dress for me (for those non-Irish followers the debs is like the prom) and has repaired, customized and resized countless items of clothing for me. Once, she took the zip out of a tight black satin River Island dress for me and turned the back into a corset lace-up with forest green ribbon.
It's going to be such a lovely feeling to say "my Mother taught me how to do this"... I just find it a little embarrassing that it's taken me until my 20's to actually take advantage of this opportunity. We start our lessons on Friday and fingers crossed I'll be a good student for her.

While I do plan to practice and practice and practice to list some designs on my Esty (way into the future), my main goal is to make dresses for myself. Since graduating from college I've been de-cluttering everything I own slowly through Ebay (and I've made a small fortune while doing so!... but I did have stuff from my college apartment, my Mum's house and my childhood house where my dad lived so quite alot of hoarding there). I'd like to have a very sparse wardrobe so I can build it back up again with stuff I've handmade myself.

Below are some fantastic items that make me sigh and get twitchy sewing fingers:

Here on Etsy. Sold. By MissBrache.

I've posted this dress before, but I just love it! Here on Etsy. Sold. By Nadinoo.

Even to be able to make this brocade coat that was designed for Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. I fell in love with this coat when I saw that scene with Narcissa, Bellatrix and Snape ... I think it's when they had the hood up that made me fall for it to be honest.

Now, I'm not a wedding person ... at all ... but the dress above is just stunning!
A recreation of this dress can be found here on Etsy. By BridalBlissDesigns.

How fun does this dress look to wear? I'd spend all day twirling and skipping in it. Here on Etsy. By Ouma.

And finally, one more from Nadinoo. Found here.

Oh, I'm far too excited now. I'll be dreaming about making patterns and dresses :) Yeay!

Aoife x

23 August 2010

KimDot, Zombie Etsy Teams shop of the week ...

Aw, how lovely! Marie from DeviantCandy & the Zombie Etsy Team chose KimDot for this weeks shop of the week. It was really fun answering their questions and it's pretty cool to see how other Zombie Etsians get inspired.
Other shops of the week included Licoricewits and Zombigurumi.

Here's a peak at the post:

KimDot is our Shop of the Week

 Posted by Zombie Etsy Team on August 23, 2010 at 9:47 AM

KimDot is our Shop of the Week!

Let’s give Aoife a warm welcome and take a look at her zombie goodies!

Aoife, I’m sure we are all wondering how you got into gaming AND zombies. Can you tell us a few things about yourself and your shop?

What starts the creative process?

Mostly day dreaming. I'm very rarely in the here and now and my mind often wonders to strange scenarios which pops and idea into my head.
What I love about the creative process is when your ideas expand and change, so what you finish with is a
completely different idea to what you started with. For example, my zombie dolls were a college project which started out as deformed fetus dolls in jars, then grew to dolls with disabilities, then changed to zombie dolls for my etsy shop.

Have you been inspired by any other zombie artists?

Most of my love for all things zombie come from games, films and endless arguments about the best ways to
survive zombie attacks. Unfortunately, I'm not very aware of many zombie artists and it's something I'd like to fix and research more.

Do you have any favorite inspirational places?

I would love to have a place like that but I trained myself to be able to sit anywhere and feel inspired. It's a
habit I got myself into in college and it's proved quite useful. I did this by socilising when I had creative work
to do. I would bring my sewing, painting, sketchbooks or essays to other peoples apartments and do my work amongst friends. I used to get quite frustrated when my surroundings felt uninspiring, now I can focus on my journals or sketchbooks and block out the world around me.
However, I do explore lots of abandoned houses and castle ruins in Ireland and these places keep me day dreaming about having places to hide out if there's ever a zombie outbreak.

What did your family think of your creations? Did they love them at first sight?

Yep, the absolutely loved them! My family are used to my art being a little strange so my zombie items were tame compared to some of my other work.

What are your future plans for your shop?

I'm going to try to include more zombie items, of course ... I would like to expand and re-design some of my dolls and will be experimenting with different textures for them. Hopefully, I will be able to branch out into Zombie photography and I also have ideas for a collection of zombie themed paintings in the works, so stay tuned!

Thank you so much for including me in shop of the week, I'm very honoured to be a part of it :)

Aoife from KimDot x

Let's take a look at some of her unique creations. I especially love the unique zombie case!

I hope you enjoyed our latest Shop of the Week and continue to watch for more!

You can follow Aoife and her creations at: http://aoife-blake.blogspot.com

Happy zombifying!


My bodyless legs ...

I've decided to put some of my third year college work up on my Esty Store

These photos are like that dress you love but keep tucked away in your wardrobe because you just don't have the right occasion for it. These photos have been sitting in my hard drive for years now, which is a pity because I love them and they deserve to be shown ... so, I think Etsy is the right occasion for these shots. My Mother helped me alot with these shots so these are a collaboration with my Mom and myself.

Just on one little thing, I would like you to know that they are neither a joke nor insult towards any wheelchair users. As I have said in the etsy description for each picture:

Please Note: This photograph is not intended to mock or insult the disabled community. These are my own legs in the picture (I had to use the timer and run into the shot :p) and the wheelchair is my Mothers. These photos are very near and dear to my heart as they were my third year college project about a personal relationship towards disability and my body.

You can click on the images for a direct link to their location in my shop.

Above is one of the first photos from this project. It was from my first photo shoot where I simply focused on my legs and their athleticism. The manipulation on this picture is much simpler than the other shots, but I like how it looks so I always kept it included.

This shot is one of my favourites and I'm not really sure why? It was my first big edit with photoshop and it was the start of hours and hours on my laptop tweeking pictures. I'm pretty much self-taught in photoshop, but I remember my good friend and house mate, Liz, helped me out alot at the start of this photograph (as she is a Graphic Designer and they knew waaaay more about this stuff than Sculpture did :p).
The shot was from the stage in the project where I was studying how we decorate our legs. Trust me, it's very hard to photograph 'decorated' legs without looking like you're trying to add sexuality. Think about it. Even bare legs hold sexual visions, I tried so hard to remove anything sexual from the images, even my tutors tried to help.

The shot above was never used in my end of year assessments for college. I have close to two hundred shots of my legs and the wheelchair from no less than four visits to the photography studio so this shot was edited from my final choices of shots to use, even though it's one of my favourites. It was cut because the model lights in this shoot were set just a teeny bit too high and there is some over-exposure to the right side of my legs. I like it, I thought it make my legs look a bit more surreal and slightly fake. But, there you go. 
I used my Mother's wheelchair for this project (don't worry, it was her spare one). She's an above knee amputee on both her legs, so you can see the relationship from the photographs to reality.

The shot above was originally in colour and I have bright blue footless tights on. By accident the perpetually malfunctioning college printer decided to print it in black and white and my tutors fell in love with the image without the colours. I'm still in two minds about whether to put up a coloured version of this. I have loads of different poses in this particular angle, so, maybe.

These photos were not easy to take. Mostly because I had to set the timer on the camera and dart into the frame and position myself (somewhat elegantly) onto the wheelchair in under 10 seconds. Thankfully, I always had the studio to myself and only had the technician laugh at me when I (embarrassingly) fell out of the chair a few times.
To add insult to injury, the somewhat gymnastic attempts that made me fall out of the chair were horrible to use. My bruises were in vain!

These images and more can be found in My Etsy Store.

Aoife x

17 August 2010

Photography & National Geographic ... I choose you!

I recently had a wonderful, adventurous few days in Dingle, Co. Kerry. I must say I came home very inspired by some of the artwork dotted all over the town. It was wonderful to see so many artists set up with very successful studios.
While there I got into a conversation about my work. I do tend to dabble in a little bit of everything and never really set my focus on any one thing. Jack of all trades, master of none. That's me.
So, I was asked 'if you had to choose one medium from now on which would you pick?' ... my immediate instinct told me to say painting, but when I thought about it the one thing I go to every time is my camera. Instead of creating a painting I usually tend to construct a scene for a photograph. I know way more about the history and techniques of photography than any other medium (which is a little ridiculous because I have a degree in Sculpture and really should know more about it) and when asked about my dream job I have two answers: to be a Set Designer for films, or a photographer for National Geographic.

Being a photographer for Nat Geo doesn't come easily. You have to have a minimum 5 year portfolio with photographs from all terrains ... snow, dessert, forest, underwater, mountain, people, etc ... plus all the qualifications (i.e. all those lovely letters after your name) and then if you get the job it's very, very tough.
You spend an enormous amount of time waiting belly down in water holding a giant lens to snap a crocodile, cooped up in a small hut for days to see that one little bird flutter by, or the famous photograph shown below by Steve Winter of a snow leopard which took him 10 months of waiting in Northern India to capture.

Still, I think it would be an amazing job.

So, after re-awakening my ever growing passion to photograph elusive animals and dangerous landscapes for Nat Geo, I have decided to share with you some photographs from others who aspire for their shot to appear inside it's glossy covers.
These are enteries for the annual photography competition held by National Geographic. Every day I flick through these to keep myself inspired and here are some of my favourites from each category: animals, people, landscape. I hope they inspire you too.


Manout and Elephant

Manatee and Fish

Cuban Tree Frog, Florida
(yes, the frog is eating the light!)

Lion Profile

Penguins Underwater, Antarctica


Dance Practice, Australia

The image above is very special to me because of it's caption: 'Friends for over 40 years, ballroom dancers Mary Hall, 85, and Gerald Kavanagh, 80, practice on a warm spring evening in Bendigo, Australia.' This image is exactly how I see my self and my oldest friend, John, when we're old and grey. We both became friends from gymnastics before we were even teenagers and I hope we'll be doing handstands in the backyard at the age of 80.

Football stadium, Colorado

Tightrope Performer, India

Triplet Policemen, New Jersey

Mahout Bathing Elephant, India


Terraced Rice Fields, China

Manarola, Italy

Candle Spruces at Night, Finland

Fly Gezer, Nevada

Rock Fort at Sunrise, India

Amazing, aren't they? All images are from  here.  

***PLEASE NOTE I do not own any of these photos nor did I take any of them, I am simple sharing them and linking them from the National Geographic website, thanks :) ***

Aoife x