October 2014 : Libran birthdays

“The fallen leaves that jewel the ground. They know the art of dying. And leave with joy their glad gold hearts In scarlet shadows lying…” – October Song – Bert Jansch

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“We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything more.” Carl Jung

“Librans will be at the centre of the social circle with friendship, good eating and drinking featuring heavily. The coming together of stars on the 12th will bring about situations requiring specific diverse strategies. Indecisiveness will hit heavily when presented with a range of graphical images although artistic Librans will later make colourful patterns which helpfully sets up others for success. Some quick wits and a balanced prismatic strategy will be required for situations with unfathomable rules. Seek the path that leads to success, be clever and choose the one that doesn’t fall off life’s board. Don’t be lazy, grab the wheel of the car, travel at speed but avoid that last corner or you will crash and burn. If you play fair and avoid life’s pits and conveyor belts you will reach your flag. Useless someone has a big gun and knocks you off course…”

A Libra Horoscope for weekend October 11th-13th 2014

Charming, Open Minded, Fair,  Detailed, Artistic, Social, Co-operative, Idealistic, Creative and Balanced are all positive traits associated with people born between September 23 – October 22 according to various Astrological websites. In the negative column there is Procrastination and Laziness. I was born on October 14th and strangely, I look at these descriptors and would assign the a lot of these towards me. Personally, I don’t believe in Astrology at all (especially the nonsensical prediction of events) but I do agree in part with Jungs quote above. In my training as a Youth Worker, I looked at how people develop over time and the roles played by nature and nurture. Maybe as Jung seems to imply, I have these traits because I was born in the Autumn, early in the morning, into a certain family in a town in  Northern England. Equally I may have these traits because my Mother constantly pointed out that me being creative, fair, open minded, indecisive and lazy were all Libran traits and I may have unconsciously adopted these. More importantly, I believe I was brought up by great parents to accentuate these positive traits which happened to be ‘LibraIMG_4200n’.

Famous Librans include Eminem, Mark Rothko, Oscar Wilde, Arsene Wenger, Mahatma Gandhi, Harry Hill, Le Corbusier, Lee Harvey Oswald, Friedrich Nitzsche, Margaret Thatcher, Bob Geldof, TS Elliot, Vladimir Putin, John Lennon, Chevy Chase, Alfred Nobel, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Bridget Bardot and Sting. I look at this list and I see some of the positive elements in some of these people, in others I shudder to think that I share the same traits as them.

Its fair to say though, I am lucky that the people I know, born between the above dates are not like this. I have two good friends Sam and Cath who are the easiest of company. They are social, open minded, intelligent, calming and both have a “degree” in geek. For a number of years I have been happy to share our celebrations together. It started with me and Sam, as our birth dates are 2 days apart and we share the same group of friends. Then Cath joined in on a couple of occasions. In October 2014, one such shared birthday event was planned which included good food, fine alcohol and gaming madness. I just needed to make some cards

I love making birthday cards for friends as they give the opportunity to be completely different and create something unique and bespoke. See my single post of 2014 about making record shops and Bryan Adams cards for Chris and Lisa. It a license to be very Creative. My fellow Librans excelled in this also in 2014. IMG_4232Sam creating me a book based on the word -opolis. Knowing my love of doodled city landscapes, Sam started putting words into google linked to me with the ending –opolis… ie Billyopolis. This was produced into a fantastically barking tome. Cath had earlier in the year produced a series of letters which we received in December 2013/January 2014 in time for a Cthulthu game playing session. Each dated 100 years ago from Edinburgh, they follow a Lovecraftian theme of mysterious locations, tormented victims and everyday objects that turn menacing. In this case silver birch leaves, which just happened to fall out of the last letter received. These letters were so compelling and mysterious as we didn’t know who was sending them and also made a perfect short story.

IMG_4210So when I looked at making a unusual card for Caths special birthday, this story leapt to mind. I decided to make the letters into a book, which would be trapped inside a frame and surrounded by silver birch leaves. The initial element was creating a book. Steph (as the fastest typer) typed out the letters and then I tried a number of times to create the pages. The difficulty was not only getting pages in the correct order but also getting the text size right.  The text needed to be small but not too small that it was unreadable. I was also conscious that I wanted a number of pages which could be spaced out. These layout issues IMG_4203took a while until finally deciding on a Cambria size 5 font which gave 10 pages of text and 2 pages for a name plate and credits page. To get over the printing on both sides, all pages were printed out on a single sheet in pairs and once cut out. These were stuck back to back with their corresponding pair. This sounds as confusing as it was to do. Once dry, we were left with 3 thick sheets of paper which were folded down the centre and put together became the 12 pages of the book. Each page measures 4.5×6.4cm. A cover of black card, a little larger than the pages was cut and  a front title plate revealing the made up title ‘The Mystery Of The November Crags’ created. On this a single black embossed leaf was printed. Pages were placed inside the cover with a little PVA glue and once in place, Steph added a few stitches to secure.

IMG_4207Next leaves were required. We are lucky that over the years we have collected lots of printing equipment including a really good set of leaf stamps. One of which closely resembled a birch leaf, so after a bit of trying out ink and paper colours. Steph printed a sheet of green leafs of different hues on off-white card. As I started cutting them out I realised that these were probably a little too large. With some creative cutting I was able to cut down the leafs to more accommodating size whilst adding some randomness to the shape.

IMG_4208The frame’s were a great find, only £5 each at Debennams’s. These measure 10cm x 15cm (with a cm more on either side if using the border). Importantly it had enough depth of 1.5 cm to allow a paper element to reside comfortably. Assembly started with a backing piece of paper in slate grey being glued to the back plate of the frame to give a little stability. Spacers were then placed on either side of the spine of the book forcing the book to open at an angle when it was placed on the backing sheet. Further spacers were used to separate pages to add more depth and movement. The 40 leaves were then added at first to the book, some fully on pages (and sometimes hidden away), others poking out as though falling out. Then the rest were added to the background and the border. The border along with the use of spacers on some of the leaves added a little more depth. The whole piece was delicately put into the frame and looked great. Final job was to create another little book to hand over at the same time. This was a very satisfying build.

IMG_4218Sam’s card then followed along from this. Being the tree person the obvious link to the leaf stamps was inevitable. Issues abound over the size of the leaves as before as its difficult to build a tree when its foliage is a third of its height. So after a couple of practices to try a build a complex pop up leaf holding tree to live inside a frame, I went for an easier option.

IMG_4214A silhouette of a tree was used as a template. This was specifically picked for its lack of leaves and its general spookiness. Two versions were printed onto dark brown card and cut out. Assembly of the tree was a simple task with having one of the brown tree’s on top and then on the bottom having a darker reverse version by flipping the tree over onto its black printed silhouette. These were folded down the middle and with a little PVA down the Valley fold and a couple of stitches the two trees were held in place. Later small spacers were used the separate these elements at an angle.

IMG_4215Whereas Caths card had taken on Lovecraft colours on black, grey and green, this card was destined to be more Autumnal. The palate of the leaves were to be reds and golds, to go along with Sams house. Much experimentation ensued from Steph of printing a variety of leaf style, in various colours on selections of Red, Gold and off-white card. All leaves were glittery and  embossed. This time I didn’t want to fill the frame, and try to give the impression of leaves in the foreground blowing off the tree in the distance, so only the 12 best ones were cut out and used.

IMG_4217This time a wood veneer frame was used from the same range. The slate grey background replaced by a warming delicate brown colour and the assembly followed a similar route. With tree placed on the backing sheet, with slithers of spacers providing the depth. The 12 leaves were then scattered around the tree without touching it, some on the background others on the border. Again some were raised up to add to the movement.

These two were really enjoyable to make and with very Libran procrastination it is very difficult to say which is my favourite.

IMG_4231The weekend of the 11th to the 13th was an excellent celebration. Food and drinks on the Friday night with friends listening to music and generally catching up. Card and Present swapping took place, and we were all overjoyed with what we recieved. The next day (the 12th) after a small meander into Newcastle, the madness of board gaming began. Games played throughout the day (from top left clockwise) Dix It, Tsuro, Ice Towers, Formula D, Quirkle and Roborally. I won’t go into the games in detail, as a gaming post will follow later in the year.

I won no games but as the pretend horoscope explains above, it was full of the usual close calls. In a last lap of Formula D, I threw all caution to the wind, racing along at full speed only to crash on the last corner. In Dix it, it was a one bunny race until I stalled half way, bamboozled by the images being presented. The most gutting experience was Roborally, I love this game but I am totally useless at it. I inevitably get stuck on a conveyor belt or fall down a pit. This time, unbelievably I ended up 3 squares away from the finish, only to get pushed back and didn’t recover.

In the end, winning was not important. Having a laugh with good friends, playing fab games, drinking great beer and sharing my birthday with my fellow excellent Librans is all I needed.

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