Monthly Archives: July 2009

for hire

When I was first laid off at the end of last summer, I was immediately hired as a contractor by my ex-employer. I was back in the office the same week that I had been escorted out. Soon, another catalog came up, and I was hired for that one, too. As well as some other projects that fell within my scope of abilities. At the same time, I was working on smaller projects for other clients. Busy enough to keep out of trouble, and enough money coming in to cover my bills and set aside a chunk for taxes.

In January, things started to slow down. I was able to devote more time to actually selling the vintage goodies that I’ve been collecting, and while I’ll never get rich that way, it’s “pin money” and I enjoy seeing good pieces go to good homes.

But that has slowed down as well.

I’m not good at networking. I’m painfully shy, and rarely talk to people outside of my small circle of friends. Heck, I don’t even call my friends. I’m much more comfortable online, and can fake a general sense of confidence, but when it comes to digging for work, I suck. I use “social media” (even the jargon makes me gag) for socializing. Not for marketing.

“But you’re a designer,” people say. “There’s plenty of work out there, don’t you do Web design?” To which my explanation is this: A dentist and a veterinarian are both doctors, but you wouldn’t want the one filling in for the other. The similarities between designing for print and designing for Web end at “looks good.” All of the background stuff, the stuff that the client never sees, is completely different. It’s like making a traditional cupcake versus a vegan, gluten-free cupcake. In the end, they’re both cupcakes. But the ingredients are totally different. A few people are truly skilled at both, but not as many as they would have you think. I’ve seen many good Web designers do poor print work because they don’t know to take into consideration the line screen, the dot gain, the gripper area, the inaccuracy of a guillotine cutter. In the end, those behind-the-scenes details will affect the look of the finished piece. One of my more recent gigs was to fix the print files that had been provided by the client’s usually-Web designer, because the printer had kicked them back. All of the margins had to be adjusted, and therefore pages of copy had to be reflowed, because the designer didn’t know about the required safety zone. During my days in prepress, I spent much of my time rebuilding “spot color” files that had been designed in whole or part in CMYK or worse, RGB. Your client wants to know why the printing bill is so high? Go ahead and tell them that we spent 4 hours, at $60 per (that was ’95), editing the files you gave us so that we could actually RIP them. Or quietly eat your markup without saying a word about it, which is what you’re going to do to save face.

Conversely, my portfolio site is built in iWeb, which means that, in addition to not being very creative, it has funny little CSS-related (I think) bugs that I recognize but don’t know how to fix. Also, it looks neat in Safari but loses all drop shadows in any other browser. Again, I don’t know how to fix that. I know what SEO is, but not how to “maximize potential” or integrate it into my site. I’m not even sure how to add GoogleAnalytics to my site. I think I could do it, but I’m pretty sure it would mean not being able to edit it in iWeb any longer and the code for my site is probably too robust for me to tackle in my little HTML editor. I can’t control my fonts? My lines will rebreak? Color will shift? I cannot begin to tell you everything that I don’t know about Web design. Bottom line: I’m a print designer, not a programmer.

So what I’m saying is this: I’m available. My design work is adequate, and my production skills are second to none. If it’s for print, I know what I’m doing. I am not good at conference calls, at meet-ups, at glad-handing or schmoozing. I am good at sitting at my desk (or yours, if you prefer me to be on site) and cranking out work. Hire me. You can find my poorly-self-built Web site at tiddleywink.com.

I think I’ll bake a batch of cupcakes today.

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Ketchup

What did the big tomato say to the little tomato? Hey, ketchup!

So here I am, probably a month since my last post, and where has the time gone?

I haven’t sewn anything since the last post, although I’ve managed to score some more vintage fabric yardage with which to make more dresses, to add to the stock of items in my etsy store. It’s only the actual SEWING OF THE DRESSES that I haven’t gotten around to. But I keep futzing with the pattern I drafted, or rather, I’m futzing with it in my head. What I need to do is futz with it on paper, and get the “final” pattern cut already! Perhaps I should add the Wild Ginger pattern drafting software to my Kaboodle list! Drooool. For myself, I bought a few new patterns: Simplicity 3673, Vogue 8555, Butterick 6582 (which was NOT on sale, and I rarely—if ever—pay as much for a modern pattern as I did for that one, but I didn’t want to wait for a sale and JoAnn was still out of stock, so I had to get it from Hancock and here it is two weeks later and I haven’t done a thing with it), and McCall’s 5382 for which I also bought a lovely Hawaiian-print fabric with which to sew View A. Of course, I already have plans to alter the dress with convertible straps and a contrast fabric, a choice forced by the just-a-bit-less-than-required length of that Hawaiian-print fabric that was left on the bolt.

My over-the-range microwave had a stroke, a fact that I mentioned on Twitter. Minutes later, as I was looking up prices for a replacement, a friend (@fruitlady) tweeted back that she had her old over-the-range sitting in her garage, and I could have it if I wanted. Let us now all praise the magic of Twitter, and the kindness of friends. Friends who offer up their microwaves, and other friends (@jgamet, @ekwoman, and @gogobigred) who offer their services and maintain a sense of humor while uninstalling the old and installing the new-to-me microwave. Complete with a late-night trip to the hardware store only to NOT find all of the bolts I needed, which required a second day of instally goodness when I did get the right bolts. New microwave in its native environment: IMG_0760

I made a dairy-free cake for the lactose-intolerant host of a 4th of July party, and it wasn’t half bad. I subbed coconut oil for the butter in a cocoa cake recipe that didn’t call for any milk in the first place. Filled the layers with cherry jam, and topped it with a meringue frosting which involved no milk, butter, or cream cheese. The cake was a little dry in my opinion, but I don’t know if that was a result of the fat substitution or of my high-altitude cooking adjustments. IMG_0770

I tried to make the cake a little patriotic, although the blue is more “baby shower” and less “field of stars.” I also wore my stars-and-stripes Chuck Taylors, a red, white, and blue Mickey Mouse t-shirt, and our host, an ex-cop, taught us a little about gun safety: IMG_0772IMG_0776IMG_0777

I took my mom to a Rockies game for her birthday. She enjoys baseball, but hadn’t been to a pro game since she last saw the Dodgers… at Ebbets Field. I believe she was 6. The weather was perfect, the company (we went with friends) was lovely, and the Rockies won the game 1-0. Mom described it as “like an amusement park, but without the sticky rides.” Which I think is a good thing. IMG_0795

Nick came out for a weekend visit, which nearly didn’t happen as his dog-sitter went missing before getting instructions regarding Ringo’s new medication. The dog sitter finally reappeared, but not until after Nick had missed his flight, and United cancelled both Nick’s arriving AND departing tickets, forcing him to buy them all over again, at last-minute prices. I cannot thank him enough for shelling out what he did just to come see me, and it was my great pleasure to make an airport run that night. As a result of all of the flurry and stress, we decided to skip the camping trip we’d anticipated, and instead spent a relaxing weekend loitering over coffees, floating in the pool, watching DVDs, and generally giggling. IMG_0806

Today, I’m back to a bit of jewelry making (a specific project, but I’ll try to get new things posted to my store soon) and thinking about what it will take to get my place in “guest condition” if Dave and Jessi decide to stay here for the duration of their upcoming visit to Denver. There are a few flies hanging out in the kitchen, a small offshoot gang from the swarm that has invaded my yard as a result of my next-door neighbors penning their dogs in their back yard 24/7 and then not picking up after them.* Yech. The fly trap is reaching maximum capacity, and stinks, so old-fashioned flypaper may be my next experiment.

*Every time I thought about reporting them to Animal Welfare, they would coincidentally clean up the poop. Additionally, the wife’s father is a cop in this town, and I wonder if anything would actually come of a warning or if it would get “taken care of.” I know it’s a health hazard, so I sent a message to the landlords. Even if they can’t do anything about it, they should know.

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