Monday, December 08, 2014

What I've been up to...

The last couple weeks I've been almost completely consumed by Minted's To Have And To Hold Wedding Challenge, but in a good way! Never have I had so many ideas swimming in my head: I only wish I started on the challenge sooner! But even still, 5 entries is still 5 times more than the first time I entered one of their wedding challenges with my Only Fish in the Sea design. In this challenge, I was determined to produce a series of bilingual Chinese/English invites after a series of failed attempts in the past. Looking back, I feel like I've come a long way since then. This time I started with 3 ideas and it quickly grew (or maybe that's spiraled out of control) into 5. I was focused on specifically Chinese/English because the wording and formatting for Chinese text is quite specific, especially when you get into formal wording. Plus I feel like I had to include the double-happiness character in there one way or another on them all. So without further ado, here are my 5 designs! Sidenote: voting has not begun yet but I will update you when it does with a look at some of my favorites from other designers. And here's a tip: if you 'like' a design, you can later filter challenge submissions by your likes so you can find them more quickly =)

Double knotted happiness - inspired by the knots found on traditional Chinese clothing. The knotted frame is shown in a rose gold foil texture, which if it gets picked to sell on Minted, would be actual foil when printed and not an illusion, in case you thought it was odd!

Knotted frame - inspired, again, by Chinese knots, but also Chinese architecture.

Neon joy - inspired by neon signs found in many major Asian cities. This bright design was a very big departure from my original starting point. How far did I stray? Well when I went to export to JPG, my AI file was still titled "Sakura", hehe. 
Painterly dew drops - after the last thing I designed, I was still feeling inspired by wreaths and the round shape of the card. It was also a fun challenge fitting all that text into such a small space.

And last but not least, Traditional Dress - inspired by cutesy things that we, Asians, love and traditional Chinese wedding attire.

I must say that no matter how many times I enter these challenges, my heart always skips a beat when I share my work with the world: it is so nerve-wracking! But in a good way =) Neon Joy & Traditional Dress were the last-minute additions to the collection. From concept to final product, most of my time was spent on tweaking the text and consulting my mom on the wording to make sure it all made sense and felt right to a Chinese parent so I have to thank my mom for all her help and patience with me. Thanks 媽媽! And you'll all be proud to know that through this process, I finally learned the keyboard shortcut to switch between Chinese & English typing =p I always knew how to switch on my Mac but on the PC I don't know why, I just never bothered to look up the keys! Working in Chinese & English kinda forced it upon to me to learn though. 

Phew. So that's what I've been up to lately, which would explain why you may or may not see a holiday card from us this year! 'Cause you know, carpenters never get around to fixing their own houses or something like that right? Well, apparently this stationer never gets around to her own stationery! nevertheless, I am going to try my hardest to get something of my own done because I'm still brimming with ideas!

Hope everyone else is feeling not as overhelmed by the impending holidays as I am and having a lovely December =)



PS: I forgot to mention, only because they are as integral to my process as is using my computer, that I owe lots of thanks to my dearest friend Holly & my always-blunt-but-very-constructively-critical husband for all their opinions on the many iterations of these designs I spammed their chat windows/inboxes with =p

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Van Remodel - Part 4

We're getting so close I can almost taste it! A lot of behind-the-scenes work was done over the last month with plumbing, engineering a lock for the fridge slide, adjustments to the cabinet, and cutting the counter to size just to name a few. In the last few days, however, the results have been more visually impacting as the 老公 put in some intense hours of work to put the sink/faucet/soap pump in, installing the cabinet & countertop, securing my bed platform to the frame and wiring up the cabinet for a light are the big ones I can think of.
I contributed greatly, as usual, with my insulating skills. I also had the task of creating a template for the 老公 so that he could cut a panel for the back corner. Making templates is something most who do conversion van campers don't seem to deal with, at least from my searches. Most people seem to have a vehicle with straight sides or straightforwardly curved contours so they can just slap paneling on without accounting for weird indents Our van has special curves and angles and we had to make cardboard templates for nearly every part of the walls. I feel that detail should not be forgotten in this project because it is so tedious but important and many things were contingent off those templates, which is why this has all taken so long. SIGH

Speaking of wall paneling, the 老公finished the wall paneling around the cabinet, so as of this moment we have walls on one whole side of the van! Whoo! In addition to that, he installed the solar controller on that wall panel (seen in the photo below on the right above the counter) so we can easily see what our power situation is. It's the little things, people!
You might notice some scratches in the face of our cabinet (or I might've just brought it to your attention and now you can't not see it), which is one of the most annoying oversights in this venture: the plywood was scratched up in many places when we bought it, but didn't see it until we got home and started cutting & so now they're emblazoned on the front. Le Sigh. We still need to seal the cabinet with something water-protecting so we'll probably tackle how to cover that up at that point. For now, it's in our faces reminding us to always double-check!

But on to happier notes: guess how much that "countertop" cost us? $10!!!! How? Because it's not countertop material! We bought some scrap cabinet siding from Ikea's as-is section and its length was PERFECT for our purposes. The 老公 only had to trim the back edge to get the depth we needed. Given its visual impact in the space, it was the cheapest thing we bought for the van. muahahaha. I am pretty proud of the find ^.^ Granted, because it's not countertop material we need to be a bit more delicate with it. I'm thinking we'll find something to re-surface it in once we ding it up enough. Of course it would be 1000x easier if I had thought to resurface it before all the fixtures went in and it got attached to the cabinet, but we are on a time-crunch & we're just trying to get it to a usable state for next weekend, so whatever.

With ALL that said, I know you were patiently waiting for me to just show you the progress already:

Isn't it so pretty?? Ignoring the missing chunk of ceiling panel & all those tools & random bits of garbage, of course =p

So yeah!!! Front seats & one of the side door panels & handles have gone in since I started this post. While he did that, I got to work on food prep for our trip:
Homemade dried mango & fruit leather is the yummiest =) 

Lots more prep to do before we leave but for once I finally feel on top of my tasks and ready for this trip!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Van Remodel - Part 3

As many who've gone through home renovations probably know, nothing ever goes as planned and preparation is more important than the actual construction part. Our van remodel is one of those cases. To be fair, things have been mostly successful because of the 老公's diligent planning: it's just all taken a very long time because our van's many curves & angles are one heck of a building-challenge! We spent a good amount of time trying to develop a way to build window frames with curved corners and things were going well (we learned all about kerfing wood), except that it was just taking wayyyy too much time and energy to get everything precise &, well, we wanted to move things along! We ultimately decided to cover up the non-opening part and frame up the vent/opening part in a simple box frame, which we admit is much more practical given that we never really "need" to look out the windows and that they're really just a big hole in our insulation efforts.

With that said, we've come a long way and I think we're on the home stretch to finishing this thing!

7 months ago:


What the 老公 has done:
- insulated the floors, walls, ceiling, wheel wells
- installed sound deadener in doors
- installed framing for the subfloor, walls, ceiling
- caulk the windows to waterproof (we learned this the hard way after a rain storm & discovering wet-subfloor that had to be taken out, dried, & re-insulated!)
- welded & painted the bed frame (partly installed here)
- made new door cover panels & upholstered them
- installed vent fan, solar panel, amp & speakers, winch to raise/lower half the bed, secondary battery
- re-wired the van for all the above plus lighting, fridge, water pump, accessory outlet
- recarpeted the front
- built & upholstered the header storage above the front seats
- installed floating vinyl plank flooring


Many months were spent just plotting out the wiring and researching materials. And I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting many other little things, but as you can see: it's been a big undertaking! Minus a bathroom, this has basically been a smaller-scale whole-house renovation.

What is left to do:
- finish insulating & installing the walls
- install the remaining door panels & handles
- install the fridge frame & water tank & pump
- build & install cabinets under the bed & for the sink/fridge
- install lights
- install floor edging at the doors
- sew cushion covers for the bed
- sew curtains for the front & windows on the doors
- re-install the driver & passenger seats
- possibly cover the wall/ceiling panels in fabric? We'll see how we feel about the bare plywood first before taking on more work

Evidently the left-to-do list is almost as long as the what's-been-done list, but the bulk of the work was planning so I feel we're in good shape to see this completed in the next month =) Not that we have much choice given our City of Rocks plan for June...

This has obviously been the 老公's project but I did help out a little! I helped with the sound deadener, wall & ceiling insulation & installation, picking out flooring, & general input on the planning process :D Yup. I'm that helpful. The sewn pieces are my task as well so I'm not completely useless in all this.

老公 says he's learned a lot for when we need to convert another van, but the biggest lesson would be to start with a van with straight sides!