Friday, June 29, 2012

Saying Goodbye

My darling girl left me today most unexpectedly. 

I am not sure how much I want to go into here, but it felt right to write about her. I have a candle in my apartment burning for her. 

Kitty came into my family as a surprise birthday present to my sister. She was so small she could sit in one hand, and had huge ears that stuck out like Yoda. She liked to play with my toes under the covers of my bed.

At that point, we weren't ready for a cat, and my mom advised us not to name her because we were going to find her a good home and shouldn't get too attached. Surprise, surprise: someone got too attached (me). Kitty came to us at only 6 weeks old, and I did a lot of research on how to take care of her. When the time came for my mom to take her to her new home, she returned later... with Kitty. She had seen the note I had written the night before with instructions on feeding and how to care for her, looked at me and said, "I just couldn't do it."

So Kitty became mine. I spent some years living in other cities and at college, but always came home to her. And finally, she moved in with me at the start of this year, and somewhere in the back of my mind I named our time together, "Erin and Kitty's Atlanta Adventure".

But today my darling girl left me after 8 years. I didn't realize she was having a stroke as I cradled her in her beloved blankie and rushed to the vet's.

Kitty loved tuna, belly-rubs, and curling up on top of my feet. She is dearly, dearly missed. I kept her collar and put it up next to her candle.

This last picture I took on Instagram - my baby and I, holding feet.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Am Secretly a Magical Elf

In the break before my summer class starts, I have secretly been transforming into a Work-shop Elf version of myself, in preparation for this year's convention. Huddled at my darling little wooden worktable with my clay, fuzzy cat curled up at my feet, I have been churning out charms, rings, and lots of fun jewelry-things using my magical elf skills (aka, too many cups of coffee).

I thought you might enjoy a sneak-peek :)

1 // Ruffle Rings - now available in my shop!
2 // Little pie charms for candy charm bracelets - in strawberry and blueberry!
3 // Bow ring army! Also available in my shop!
4 // A new wedding piece I'm working on, pale rose petals with amethyst center.
5 // Candy charm army - making tons of these for bracelets!
6 // And sushi for sushi rings!

Are you doing any summer shows?
Or making weekend crafts?
If you'd like to see more, follow me on Instagram @ Mirilittlebird :)

{ All images (c) erin mcmanness 2012 - if you repost or repin, please link back! }
{ Please inspire originality and respect my designs by refraining from making "copycats" - thank you! }

Friday, June 22, 2012

How to Kick Procrastination in the Face Like a Ninja Warrior

( OR if we're gonna get real: "How to Get Sh*t Done" )

As many of you know, I am currently in graduate school, pursuing my MFA in Illustration. For anyone who's had the strength of heart to tackle grad school, you know that there is not a time in your life where you have worked harder, longer, or more rigorously (my alter-ego Hermoine Granger secretly loves this).

When I came into school, I knew that I wanted to give 150% of myself to my education; to make the best work possible, to always stay on top of things, and to maintain that coveted 4.0 GPA. But I knew it wasn't going to be easy, and I needed to have a plan. 

Luckily, I have been freelancing for the past 3 years. Sometimes people think "freelancer" is code for "sit in your pjs all day and drink coffee", but more often than not it is code for "learning how not to let procrastination get the best of you". It took 3 years and a lot of learning experiences to be able to develop a plan for myself that truly helps me to overcome procrastination. Rather, to kick procrastination in the face like a ninja warrior!

Even if you're not in grad school, if you have a lot on your plate, or if you just have a difficult time getting down to business, this helped me, so hopefully it will help you. Please keep in mind that I'm just someone who likes to draw a lot, and I'm not a certified expert on this, it's simply the way that I've learned to be most successful and I wanted to share it with you.

Okay, here it goes... the secret! [dramatic music]

 Schedule Your Day.

Yep. That's it. Schedule your day. What do I mean by that? 
Here's an actual example I used during finals week: 

Take your day and divide it up to create a written schedule for yourself of the things you need to accomplish. Be realistic with yourself and your time. Account for things like dinner, showering, and other "around the house" chores.

This may seem like a pretty "duh" answer, but there are reasons this works better than a general "To-Do" list.

1. To-Do Lists are overwhelming.
You can keep adding things on as you think of them, and it's pretty easy to let that list get out of control. An overwhelming To-Do List is just code for Not Knowing Where to Start. By scheduling your day, you are limited to only the hours you actually have. This forces you not only to prioritize, but it also helps you to concretely realize that your time is limited, restoring that good sense of urgency that procrastination can gobble up.

2. Small chunks of time are less pressure.
By dividing up your day into small blocks of time, you give yourself the mental clarity to see that that list is not so overwhelming as you thought. When I have a large project to do, I often create a 1-hour block of time to do the first few steps, then in the next hour I move to a completely different task, and then finally come back to the original task. This helps keep your brain fresh. Hours and hours of work on one task can make it seem more daunting; therefore, you'll be less willing to sit down and start. Breaking it up helps you say, "Oh man, that's not too bad at all!".

3. A sense of urgency is restored.
It's easy to get up in the morning and say, "Oh, I have all day to do that... I'll just get on Facebook for a few minutes." And inevitably, as soon as midnight rolls around, you realize you had a ton of other things you wanted to accomplish that day as well. Scheduling your time is almost like playing a game with yourself. You want to be realistic, but it forces you to look at the clock and stay on track. It's a great motivator to look at that clock and go, "Alright, I'm kicking some serious butt! Let's try and finish this a few minutes early!" It's a great sense of accomplishment, which fuels your desire to keep rockin it out. And if you have a few minutes, reward yourself by hopping on Facebook or Pinterest. But keep that schedule in mind.

4. It helps clear out filler time.
We all check our email/facebook/blog a thousand times a day. And a lot of times we don't realize how much time these moments of "just checking" actually take up. By scheduling your day and creating a sense of urgency, you are able to eliminate these tasks from your work time, making your efforts more effective. If you have extra time, they become rewards as opposed to time-wasters.

5. Schedule time realistically.
It's crazy to book yourself so tight that you don't leave time to eat. Make sure you give yourself at least a half hour to make something and eat it with nothing else to do. Not only does this give you a moment to take a mental break and surf the web, it also acts as a reward and good stopping place. Creating this scheduled "down time" keeps you on-task and motivated to reach it.

6. At the end of the day, you feel like a boss.
In my schedules, I mark each time slot with a check-box. If you are anything like me, checking off that box is a mental pat-on-the-back and motivator to keep going. At the end of the day, look at all your check marks and give yourself some mad props...

...because you just kicked procrastination in the face like a ninja warrior!

I hope this was helpful :) If you liked this, please pin it and share it with your friends! And if you try it out, please let me know how it goes so we can be ninja warriors together!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DIY Tutorial: Painted Decorative Bottles

For all of my decorating and home needs, I generally hit up three places: Goodwill, and any paint supply store, and my own apartment. Thrifting and upcycling is a great way to get unique decor at a very cheap price. Plus, it's just fun to dig through stuff and see what you can find (thanks Dad for taking me antiquing as a kid!)

Since I already had the paint, this project legitimately cost me 
97 cents. 
Pennies! Beat that!
(with paint as an added cost, it will cost about $2.97)

Here's how you can have some cheap fancy fun too!

{ all designs & photos (c) erin mcmanness 2012 - if you repin or repost, please link back! }

With my other two bottles,
I may work in some neon and gold leaf - we'll see!

Let me know if you complete this tutorial -
please link me to the results in the comments! I'd love to see!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

True Life: I Have an Addiction

... to coffee. 

A serious/happy/shameless addiction. Over the past month or so, I have been doing a little Instagram project (like Photo-A-Day) where I take a picture of my coffee and what I'm doing while I enjoy it.

Some pictures include favourite restaurants, making jewelry for my shop, doodles for school, creating things for fashion class, and sending work off to gallery shows.

Just a fun little project I thought I'd share - 
do you document anything like this?

I promise I take pictures of things other than my coffee -- if you'd like to follow me on Instagram, hit me up at Mirilittlebird and I'll return the favour. Always fun to see what my friends are up to :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Belle Magazine

If you can't already tell from my extremely geek-worthy posts, I love going to school at SCAD. I've been here only 6 short months, but I already feel so blessed to have met so many amazingly talented people.

One of my good friends Ashley Tipton is a graphic designer who actually just graduated, and her work is fantastic! She recently put together Belle Magazine, a gorgeous blend of feminine fashion, dreamy photography, and fresh graphic design... and not only that, but it is interactive on the iPad. Whoa, seriously very cool.

{ all images/designs (c) ashley tipton 2012 - if you repin or repost, please give proper credit }

Honestly, this video (filmed by SCAD friend and awesome videographer Dinesh Dave) was way too boss not to share. Prepare to be thoroughly impressed: 

Belle Magazine from Ashley Tipton on Vimeo.

If you'd like to check out more of Ashley's work (and I highly recommend that you do), please check out her website at!

{ all images/designs (c) ashley tipton 2012 - if you repin or repost, please give proper credit }  
Thanks for reading, lovely birds~

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Florals - Ruffle Rings

For the past week, I have been putting together some new bridal pieces for the shop, and to sell at some shows this summer. These are probably some of my favourite things to make, honestly they just come out super pretty. And us girls like pretty, let's face it.

I also love these because all of the centerpieces are vintage buttons I found tucked away in a little antique shop in the woods of Pennsylvania. Thrifting/antiquing/treasure-hunting is one of my favourite things to do (though my paycheck does not agree), and I really like incorporating a truly unique aspect into all of my pieces.

Here is just a sample of the pieces I've made, 
and there are many more to come! 

Do you have a colour suggestion? Please leave a comment for me :)
All are available in my Etsy Shop.

Thanks for reading lovely birds!
Painting Tutorial coming atcha soon!
And if you know any brides in search of wedding jewelry, I would be honoured if you might introduce them to my work!

{ all photos and jewelry designs (c) erin mcmanness 2012 - if you repin or repost, please link back! }

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For last night, when you were trying to be very sweet to me, and I made some silly comment.
And for all of our crazy late-night adventures.
And P.S. this is not your surprise.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rain Artists Book

This book was created for my final project in my Printmaking class; it was loosely based on an infographic I saw floating around, and the influence of Iron & Wine, City & Colour, and RainyMood.

Honestly, this book was created mostly just for aesthetics (sometimes that's okay, right? Right.) 

I was working with a new medium - polymer plates - so I didn't want to make things too complicated for myself. Polymer plate is a type of photo-sensitive plastic that is exposed in the darkroom to create hand-drawn elements that would otherwise be impossible on the letterpress.

I don't have photos of the whole process (if you follow me on Instagram - Mirilittlebird - you can see some work in progress shots), but basically, you create your black and white design in Photoshop. Then, you invert the file so that all of your design is white, and the background is black. When the plate is exposed, the light will shine through the "white" or translucent areas and harden them so that they can be printed on the press.

It's a bit of a complicated process: you have to take your inverted file and print it on special film, then take that film (the negative) into the darkroom to expose it. My professor was kind enough to walk me through this process. You lay your negative on the plate in the exposing tray, then expose it. Once it is exposed, you place it in a little bath with funny little bristles. The parts you left translucent have become hard, and the little bristles swish away all the soft parts, leaving you with just your design. Slap that on the letterpress, add some ink, and voila! Amazingness.

So I printed all of the plates onto vellum, using a rainbow of colours on the rollers of the press. The cover is digitally printed (unfortunately), and is designed using some of my watercolour techniques.

The best part was cutting those clouds. Best. Part. 

The second best part was actually binding the books - once you get the hang of the pattern, it is extremely calming to sit there with your ipod and stitch them up. I'm still trying to figure out why my covers got warped, but it's been humid in Atlanta. Never a perfect world, eh? But beautiful nonetheless.

As always, thank you so much for reading!
Are you working on any projects right now? Since I have a break from school until my summer class starts at the end of June, I have been working mainly on shop stock, and getting my inventory together for Otakon this summer! I'm excited! 

{ All photos (c) Erin McManness 2012 - if you repost or repin, please link back! }

Monday, June 4, 2012

Geek Chic

For our final fashion project this quarter, our challenge was to take a menswear detail, and interpret it into a collection for women, with a design house in mind. I have already talked a little bit about this in previous posts; for this project, I chose more of a theme than a single detail:

Nerds, geeks, dorks, dweebs, lockerlunches, bookworms, brainiacs, four-eyes, brainy-boxes, and the intellectually badass. 
 Roll that up burrito style with the sexy luxury of fashion house Louis Vuitton, and you've got a delicious Geek Chic collection!

For this collection, there were a lot of different elements to keep in mind:

I chose to focus on the classic neutral browns of LV, paired with some pantone colour forecasts from FW2013: sage green and peachy pink. LV often uses lots of pattern-as-texture, so I tried to incorporate that as well. 

LV is most well-known for its amazing armcandy, so I also designed some lovely Geek Chic bags and clutches for the girls. Additionally, they all have feminine-styled brogue shoes ;)

 Turning to some graphic-designy layout to show my pieces (there were 12 in all), I illustrated some fun, nerdy accessories to go with my girls.

All of the images were sketched with graphite, scanned in, and coloured digitally in Photoshop.

Finally, the frames of all the girls' glasses were left blank intentionally, to suggest the invisibility that this demographic often feels among peers, a lack of identity or voice.

Thanks for reading! 
If you repin or repost, please link back :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

My apologies for the delay... Finals were crazyyyy! Now that I have a break from school until my summer class starts at the end of June, I will be posting much more frequently :)

So without further ado... the winner of the giveaway!


I don't see your email address listed, so please leave a comment here with your email so that I can contact you to give you your prize!

Thank you all so much for reading :)
More art coming soon! Also, recipes and DIYs!

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