DIY Crochet, Sewing, and Watercolor

DIY doll and crochet

Handmade bunny doll with crochet hood, infinity scarf, and leg warmers

Last week was hectic, so there was no Cultural Parallels article yesterday. In fact, I’ve decided to publish that particular segment on a biweekly basis for the rest of the year. I may choose to revert to a weekly schedule in 2016, though. I can’t believe it’s almost October!

Now that my sister’s birthday has passed, I can share some of what I’ve been working on lately.

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DIY Greeting Cards and the Digital Age

DIY Thank You Card Set

Four handmade thank you notecards and envelopes

I’ve been experimenting with DIY thank you cards as a creative outlet. For years, my sister and I have added personal touches to blank Hallmark envelopes. Last year, when she became old enough to drink alcohol legally, I drew a wine bottle with flowers springing from the top. When I finished, it occurred to me that I’d drawn a closed bottle, but that’s neither here nor there.

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Die Küche

 

The first installment of my "First 1000 Words" in German.

The initial installment of my German “First 1000 Words” project. Art by me.

Polyglots are linguistic superheroes. Some kids want to be Superman when they grow up, but I was more interested in expanding my lexicon than battling Lex Luthor. Throughout the years, I’ve attempted to learn Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Dutch. Most of these efforts have been ill fated; I gave up on Japanese after memorizing ten Kanji characters in elementary school, and I gave up on Dutch when I realized I would never use it. Despite the six years I spent studying Spanish, I am not fluent in the language. I was able to ask for directions in Barcelona, and help hispanohablante customers at work, but I think too slowly in Spanish to feel confident in conversation.

An excerpt from "The First Thousand Words," detailing words from the countryside.

An excerpt from “The First Thousand Words,” detailing words from the country.

A few weeks ago, I found a box of old childhood books. One of my favorites was a Where’s Waldo-esque fully illustrated book called The First Thousand Words. It struck me then that I was going about learning languages the wrong way. As a child, I learned English by associating words with pictures. In school, we’re taught to translate foreign languages into our native tongue. The problem is that this creates too many degrees of separation from thought to speech. Before responding to someone, we translate their words into our own, think of an English response, and then speak a translation. It’s too much! My goal is work on thinking in foreign languages, rather than simply attempting to speak them.

Inspired by The First Thousand Words, I’ve started learning German the way a German child would. I’m not yet concerned with conjugation charts; I’m focusing on listening to which words sound right. Ich habe einen Apfel. Sie isst ein Ei. In honor of my childhood book, I drew representations of a few things one might find in die Küche (the kitchen). In case anyone else wants to use my drawing as a learning tool, I included translations. However, I recommend focusing on pairing the German words with the pictures rather than the English translations. It was a fun exercise, so I might sketch more household items soon.

My mom painted the country scene on the front window of the playhouse my parents built me.

My mom painted the country scene on the front window of the playhouse my parents built me.

Under the Watercolor Sea

Mermaid and Trident, 2015

Mermaid and Trident, 2015

Due to my Internet service being the worst, I had to take an impromptu hiatus, but I’m back. I should have an entry on France up tomorrow, and I’ll definitely have a new Cultural Parallels segment up by Tuesday night.

During my blast from the past, analog week, I read a bit of Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber, and I ventured into the world of watercolor painting. I used to draw and ink little characters in high school, but I haven’t kept a steady sketchbook since. Instead of the ink bottle and pen nibs I was accustomed to, I used a 0.35mm pen to put down the lines on this mermaid drawing. Surprisingly, my hands are steadier with the pen nibs? I’m not yet confident enough in my watercolor skills to attempt shading, but with practice I’ll get there. My real question is: should mermaids have bellybuttons?