Guest blog post by Amanda of AlphabetArtPrints
When I first started making alphabet art, I was simply looking for a way to keep up with my photography while business was slow. It was winter, and my body tends to hate being in weather under 40 degrees, so I stood in my kitchen and pondered on what I could photograph that would be interesting. Now, if you know my kitchen, you know that it holds at max, one adult person. You throw in anything else, including a dslr and speedlite, and things get a little tight. But I grabbed a few things and away I went snapping photos. Within a few hours, I created my first draft of an alphabet, and I was in love.
Since my first go-round with an alphabet art, I’ve created almost a dozen alphabets in several themes. I continue to create new themes as they’re suggested to me…or as my little brain lights up with a new idea. Once that light bulb turns on, the only way to turn it off is to get those 26 shot and edited. Sometimes, I get a little frantic trying to pull together materials in a short period of time to get it all done. But my family bears with me, and my 3-year-old even tags along with her little camera, rearranging materials going, “Mommy, look! I made an O with this!”
I’d like to take you “backstage” on how one of these little creations come together. Let me show you my newest alphabet: HolyJollyABCS.
I wanted to create something colorful, something festive, something that OOZES of red and green jollies. So I grabbed my 3 month old and we braved the shelves in our 2 story shed to find our boxes of Christmas stuff. And because I think you need a visual, this is me and my 3 month old, Eleanor, strapped to me. This is pretty much the only way I can get anything done around here (peacefully). So yes, I photograph many things while baby-wearing. My back hates me for it, but she sure loves it.
Anyway, it’s important to have all your materials together in a photo shoot. For this project, my loot consisted of 2 large bins of Christmas stuff. One filled with ornaments and one filled with Christmas decor. And yes, that includes that lazy elf that ends up sitting in the same spot for 31 days in December. Yes, she does make an appearance in the HollyJollyABCs. I challenge you to take a look at the full alphabet later to see if you can spot her.
I also have about a dozen red and green squares cut from card stock. These serve as backgrounds for a festive alphabet. It also happens to be my favorite way of getting an all-color alphabet. To make things easy, I put all my card stock down in our big bay window. Want to know a great photography tip? Natural sunlight is best when it’s filtered a little bit, so this bay window is a perfect spot in the morning before the sun is beaming down through it. There’s just enough shade to keep it from being too harsh. Another tip: It doesn’t hurt to have a little extra light to keep shadows from forming. In my case, I bounced my speedlite off of the ceiling. I didn’t do it for ALL the photos, but it really helped in the ones that I felt needed it.
Now, the fun part is always going through supplies and taking a good look at them. Sometimes, I can pick up an item I’ve seen a million times before and find a way to look at it through a new perspective. For example, there’s this rocking horse ornament I’ve had for years. My grandmother gave it to me when I was a kid. It’s been on my Christmas tree for years. For this project, I needed to see it not as a rocking horse, but as shapes that could form a letter. That’s sort of the question I ask myself whenever I sit down with an alphabet project: What shapes does this object have? And will these shapes look like a letter in a photograph? I picked up this ornament and found that the underside of the horse has two long parallel lines and one in the middle connecting them. Ta-da…an H!
And here’s something fun: a miniature Christmas tree. I bought this little guy last year for my daughter to use as her tree. Using my “ABC eyes,” I found that the branches can bend into all kinds of shapes. Leave one up, Bend most down, and a couple catty cornered: There’s a K. Circle the topmost branch around: And a G.
While I like to let objects sit as natural as possible, sometimes they need a little coaxing to actually read as a letter. In the middle of my Christmas stash, I found a craft project my 3-year-old never finished last Christmas. Truth be told, I couldn’t figure it out. Inside the zip lock bag, there was Christmas ribbon and a few bells. This kind of Hodge Podge is the perfect way to create letters when I’m just brain-dead looking at everything else. For example, I found a beautiful Angel ornament that had glass lines I tried to create an E with. After placement and editing, it still looked…weird…and I had to scrap it. There’s no point in using something if no one is able to read a letter. So instead, I cut up some of the ribbon and “drew” myself an E. Innovative? Not really. But it is resourceful and gets the job done. The bells and the strings attached to them got me a B and an N when “drawn” into the right shapes.
And then there’s this beauty. Growing up, we always had an Angel on the top of our tree in lieu of a star. Somehow, I ended up with two angels in my box ‘o Christmas, and this is one of them. At first glance, you see her as a whole: a beautiful angel tree topper. But an alphabet project like this calls to look at the details as separate pieces that can be manipulated. Take a look. -Really- look at what she has to offer: She has two different strands of beads (Take a look at my “U” and “Y”) and she has a long golden wired ribbon. (Hello “M”!) This angel provided 3 individual letters just by what she’s holding! I really wanted to do something with those wings…all fury and such… but I think that’ll have to be for a different project. They weren’t working out for me this time.
So there you have it: A little peek into how my alphabet arts are created with everyday items. It takes a little space, some good lighting, and some imagination in “reading” items, but it’s always a fun adventure in these little projects. The best part about it? The end result is so fun to share, and I can use it to personalize ANY print for ANY person. I can’t wait to hear from YOU to create a one of a kind print you would love to decorate your home with this holiday season!
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For the next #CIJParty post please see main party post.