Monday, December 15, 2014

The Law of Misfortune

When everything goes wrong, something better comes along,
Though perhaps you'll have to wait--it might show up very late.
But bottoms are a myth if the universe won't stop;
Every bottom is a ceiling, you're just standing on the top.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Blanket Fort a Month: December '14

We're working on a new photo project called "You're Missing It" and this photo happens to serve as the very first photo in the project.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Spirit

We have tea that smells like those cinnamon pine cones in the front of every store and the first few times I drank it, it tasted like Christmas, but now it just tastes exactly and only like those pine cones.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Free Printable Christmas Stickers

To anybody who gets mail from Silkworm and I: you're gonna be seein' these all over your envelopes like everywhere while it's Christmastime. You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mission of Magic: Cellophane Window Messages

I hope somebody sees this. I hope they understand.

For somewhat of a tutorial, you can refer to our post in which we made cellophane window jack-o-lanterns for this past Halloween. Obviously cut out letters to write words instead of little jack-o-lanterns, you silly goose. And just remember to trace your letters backwards so when you put the thingy on the window with the nice side facing outward, the letters will be the right way (we almost forgot!).

This Mission idea is also featured in our Missions of Magic zine, which we've listed for sale at our Etsy shop for only $3! It comes with stickers and everything, and it would make heaps of fun for a little Christmas gift where you and the gift receiver embark on a Grand Mission to complete all the Missions of Magic in the zine before the day is done!

Have you been doing any Missions or random acts lately?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thoughtful Handmade Gift Ideas

Want a really big squishy hug from your gift receiver this year?
Of course you do, that's what Christmas is all about.

1. An original zine about something the person loves. If they love bees, research a bunch of facts about bees and compile a zine of all the cool stuff you learned so they can learn it, too.

2. A deck of cards with 52 reasons why you love the person written on the cards. Sweet things like "I love you because you smell like honey and flowers" or goofy things like "I love you because your name spelled backwards spells Ynot."

3. A mixtape or CD playlist of songs you know the person would love. Songs with inside jokes living in them, or songs with sentimental meaning, or just sons you think would delight your person's musical taste buds.

4. A scrapbook of things that made you think of the person. You know when you're scrolling through the Internet and you stumble across that one meme? Or when you're in the grocery store and something related to an inside joke happens but your friend isn't there to share the moment? Collect those things and put 'em all in one spot to let that person know how much they're on your mind!

5. Silly badges for doing things that mean a lot to you. Best backrubber in town. Chef genius. Superior snuggler. Check out this fantastic badge tutorial for making your own badges!

6. A heavily annotated and analyzed book you know the person would love. I don't know, I find it fun to compare my interpretations of fiction with someone else's! Point out quotes and use sticky notes to write what you were thinking while reading a certain part.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 6th's Full Moon

So didja catch that we never mentioned November's full moon last month? Welp, strange things did happen, but we weren't at liberty to speak of such things until they were done and done, so we just let it slip and hoped no one would ask. Kudos to you for not gettin' too curious.

Anywho, now that's what's done is done--Silkworm was chosen by the moon to be part of Team Plan B for a top secret mission which we're still not allowed to blab about, but rest assured all the stars are nicely aligned and there's no need to panic anymore. He spent November training for the mission, which pretty much means I slept alone every night while he was awake on the moon doing whatever magical stuffed bears do with minimal gravity and what not.

There was surprisingly not much to talk about every morning when he returned, though I am quite jealous about one thing: he learned how to fly. Unfortunately, exhilarating as it is, he has to dip into his own magic and use it like gasoline, and although it replenishes, flying leaves him thoroughly exhausted, stiff, and mute. Supposedly he can train himself to use his resources more sparingly and therefore efficiently, like how a bear slows its heartbeat and breathing in winter to hibernate, but as of right now, he's mostly grounded.

Graciously, as a treat for his participation, the moon allowed Silkworm immunity from moon sickness throughout December, thus we have nothing to report back about December's full moon yesterday morning. Actually, we had a lovely night's sleep Friday night into Saturday morning. Both of us are wishing Silkworm would be given more opportunities like this, if only for the benefits that come with them. In the meantime, I think we'll be researching magical flying techniques. Do you think they have books on that kind of thing at the library?

Would You Rather: RaChil at The Cwafty Blog

This is RaChil. She's a crafter filled with quirk and a jack of all trades, always eager to learn a new skill. She organizes hosts around the world for a flat-Stanley-esque creature, Venture the traveling gnome, and goes on awesome art adventures. This is what we asked her:

Q: Would you rather be unable to look up at the sky or see everything in black and white?

A: To be honest this one is sort of easy for me. I like sunsets, clouds, stars and everything the sky has to offer really, but I would much rather see in color than black and white forever.So I personally would sacrifice my sky privilege for my seeing in color privilege.

I'm an artist so color plays a giant role in my life. I use color daily in my work and regular life. Purple in specific is very important to me and I like to surround myself with purple things. My life would be much sadder if I could not identify the color purple but only saw in black and white.

Color brightens my day, I like seeing strange or rare colors in my daily life for example in someone outfit I pass on a street or a plant I see while on a walk. I like to have discussions with other artistically minded people about what the exact color something is and what the appropriate name for that shade is, that's a great time to me.

On the other hand if I could look at the sky but everything was in black and white I wouldn't be enjoying the true splendor of the sky. A sunset isn't the same in black and white, neither is a good dark-purple clouded night. To get Shakespearean, T'would be better to never place mine eyes on such beauty if by seeing, I muddied the water.

I would wear an extra long visor my whole life never to see the sky if it meant I could retain the ability to see in color.

- RaChil

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Playlist: For Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The Jackson 5
Shake Up Christmas - Train
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Jack Johnson
The Christmas Waltz - She & Him
Baby It's Cold Outside - Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone
O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio
Douglas Mountain - Raffi

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Missions of Magic Zine Listed on Etsy!

Looky looky, my cookies! Silkworm and I have finally listed on our Etsy shop a special zine we've been working on since we posted that notice about Enchantemissary recruitment! This thing is chock full of information on Missions of Magic, but the best part about it is that it has 8 assignment Missions in the last bunch of pages for the reader to complete, and along with those Missions, you get little badge stickers to use when you finish a Mission. There's a page with a collection of circles with each Mission title inside, and upon completing each Mission, you can stick down the sticker badge for it over the corresponding circle.

We've had this idea floating around in our heads for quite some time as we weren't sure how we wanted to go about it, but I think we're both ecstatic about how this came out. If you have any feedback or questions, please let us know--and without further ado, have a look inside!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Preparation for Christmas

I genuinely get a little nervous every year around Christmastime, questioning if I'm being disrespectful to say I celebrate Christmas. This year I think my head has figured out a satisfying answer. I like to think there are two different Christmases--and I like to think that's okay. One is a religious holiday for Christians to celebrate Jesus Christ, and the other is "the Christmas spirit," which belongs to anyone else who believes in spreading happiness and kindness. I like to think as long as you're not disrespecting the original meaning of Christmas whilst celebrating the secondary meaning, it's no act of blasphemy. But that's just what I like to think. What do you think?

Nevertheless, Silkworm and I have been preparing for months now. We've already sent a package to my best friend at college--not like it made a dent in our to-do list. Here's a peek of what's been happening and what's to come for Zauberbear!

Being that December 1st was a Monday, we've already started doing a Mission of Magic every Monday with yesterday's mission. Stay tuned for more, and that playlist, and our greeting card photo, and a bunch of other wonderful updates!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mission of Magic: Rock House Community in the Woods

We went out early while the sunrise faded away. The air was warm and damp and I felt five pounds heavier on my right side with a bag full of rocks in my pocket. Silkworm was free to skip along ahead since our car was the only one in the parking lot and he insisted he couldn't sense any other humans in the park. We vowed to go out this early for hikes here more often.

We found a tree with nice roots to set up the community. One by one, I pulled the rocks out of my pocket and positioned them neatly in the grooves of the roots, hoping it'd be enough to keep them upright.

It would be nice to return to see them still there, but it would be just as nice to return and see some the houses, or all of them, have disappeared, probably to belong in other peoples' gardens. Either way, they'll make wonderful homes for any fairies that can find their way inside when the weather drops below freezing again.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Photographing the Stars

When Silkworm and I look up at the sky over our backyard on a clear night, we can probably count the amount of stars we can see. But when we bring out the camera, we get to see this:

ISO: 1600 || Aperture: f/1.8 || Shutter speed: 6 seconds

ISO: 1600 || Aperture: f/2.5 || Shutter speed: 5 seconds

ISO: 1250 || Aperture: f/3.5 || Shutter speed: 10 seconds

I think the coolest thing about photographs is that they don't really capture a split second, when you get down to the science of shutter speed. As long as the shutter is open, the camera is capturing time and turning it into pixels. That means that there is a whole stilled moment in every photograph, whether it was a fraction of a second or a handful of seconds--even minutes. And that means, you can bring out the stars human eyes can't see, because your camera is patient enough to wait for the light to reach it from billions of light years away.

Here's how we do it.

|| You'll need ||
Camera with ability to adjust shutter speed and aperture (DSLR)
Shutter release cable or remote (optional)
Starry skies

|| Camera settings ||
Set the aperture to a low number/wide opening (f/3.5 or lower).
The wider you go, the more light will reach your camera's sensor, which means more stars will show up. I often use anything above f/3.

Set the ISO to a high number.
High ISOs are usually used for steadying movement in action shots, but in this case, it's about how much light is allowed to reach your camera's sensor. The higher the ISO, the more light the sensors can slurp up and document, so set it pretty high--but not too high (over 1800) because then you'll end up with grain and noise stealing the stars' show.

Use a long shutter speed.
Anything over 6 seconds should bring out some stars. The longer the shutter stays open, the more light the sensor can detect and therefore the more stars your camera can capture.

|| Other stuff ||
Wait until about 2 hours after sunset to shoot.
If you go out too early and the sky's still a bit light, you won't be able to leave the shutter open long enough to capture a lot of stars without overexposing your photo or making it look like daytime.

Set your camera up away from any lights.
Streetlights overhead or house lights beside the camera might cause flares--and not the cool kind. Make sure, to the best of your abilities given your location, that you're surrounded by nothing but darkness.

Use Bulb Mode to keep the shutter open longer than 30 seconds.
If your photos aren't coming out bright enough or you're not capturing enough stars, switch to "Bulb Mode," which allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you're pressing the shutter button. You'll have to keep your finger very still for this, but if you have shaky hands, you can always use a shutter release remote or cable that's compatible with your camera. However, keep in mind...

Unless you want to shoot star trails, don't use shutter speeds longer than 25-30 seconds.
Stars move. The longer you keep the shutter open, the more likely you are to capture their movement in pixels. It's like light painting at light speed--slowed by the distance of millions and billions of miles. Star trails can make for some pretty cool shots, though.

Shoot in RAW format.
Shooting in RAW vs. JPEG allows you so much more freedom over the exposure of your photographs. Only certain programs like Photoshop Elements have RAW image converters that allow you to turn RAW images into JPEG images to edit or use them elsewhere, but it's well worth it.

You want a lot of light to reach your camera's sensor. Use a high ISO, a wide aperture, and a long shutter speed while your camera is steady on a tripod, and play around with the settings until they're perfect for the sky you're shooting. Wait until the sky is as dark as it's gonna get, shoot where there's no lights overhead or close beside you, and use RAW format for the best control over your photographs post-processing.

If you have any questions, leave 'em in the comments! We'll reply by email if you leave an email address, or you can just come back here to see what we said.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas Tree Substitutes

1. A live plant
Who officially named poor pine trees Christmas trees, and who decided they should be cut down and killed to serve as such? Buy a potted baby tree and call it your Christmas tree this year. Save the trees, buy a potted plant!

2. A cardboard tree
Start with two pieces of cardboard. Cut them each to look like a tree, with branches upon branches, leaving a "trunk" of untouched cardboard in the center of each. Then cut a slit through the trunk of one and fit the other tree in the slit, making a standing tree.

3. A tulle tree
Arrange pieces of tulle together in the shape of a tree. Adorn with lightweight ornaments and garlands.

4. A pine cone (or a bazillion)
A potted pine cone makes for a little desk-sized tree. Or, you can make a bigger tree by gluing pine cones to a Styrofoam cone.

5. A tree-shaped wall arrangement
Make a Christmas tree outline with lights strung up on the wall. Hang lengths of string across the "tree" to hang ornaments from, and use tacky (or clothespins on the string) to hang things like photos or greeting cards.

6. A ladder
Set up a cute-lookin' ladder--perhaps a thrift store treasure find--and wrap string and lights all the way around it. Ornaments and things can be hung from the strings, and you can also wrap garland around the legs.

7. Pieces of spare wood
Take one long piece of wood for the "trunk" and nail perpendicular pieces to it, gradually increasing in length from top to bottom to look like tree branches. Add small nails or screw-in hooks in random places sticking out to hang ornaments and garlands on.

8. A driftwood tree
Nail together alternating pieces of driftwood starting with long pieces on the bottom and gradually decreasing to short pieces at the top.

9. A pile of books
Stack all the books on your shelves, making each layer more condensed than the last one to shape the sculpture into a tree. This one is pretty cool, too.

10. Suspended ornaments
Hang ornaments from the ceiling, lining them up to look and act like a floating Christmas tree!

What'cha got goin' on in your home this year?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Blanket Fort a Month: November '14

Crocheted Silkworm's Christmas sweater, scrolled through Tumblr covered in goosebumps, sketched some photo shoot ideas, and wrote to Erin.
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