Ages ago, when I was buffer, younger, and not falling apart, I used to play roller derby and LOVED it (I still love it). We lived in Alaska, I was on a team from North Pole, and I loved nothing more in my free time than being on my skates.
In derby, your best friend and derby partner is called your “derby wife,” and Jamie was mine (that’s me in the stripes and in the Captain America shirt, and Jamie in the NPBT team logo shirt that I designed)… Wonder Woman was our spirit animal, and we often paired up in our starry-bummed shorts.
(Ahhh, roller derby: where having a booty is actually an asset…and ALL body types have very important roles!)
So when Jamie told me (from miles away, and several years later) that she had signed up for the coming NOLA Running of the Bulls this July 8th, and asked if I’d make her helmet, I said HECK YES.
If you’re not familiar, New Orleans has an event similar to the infamous bull run in Pamplona, Spain–except minus blood, maiming, and actual BULLS. At the NOLA Bull Run, the “bulls” are all roller derby girls with horned helmets and plastic bats who skate around trying to bat-spank the runners, who all wear white shirts. It’s kind of a big deal, and sounds like a heck of a lot of fun.
Jamie showed me some photos for inspiration, and the main images I kept in my sights were this headpiece from MetamorphQC on Etsy, and the filigree on Lady Gaga’s Countess’ glove from American Horror Story. (You’ll see later that the end result looks nothing like either of these two, really, but that’s the great thing about inspiration–it inspires you to create your OWN thing…)
I was super ready to get started when the horns came! I immediately dismantled them (so very sorry!!). They were well-made–screwed into the headband they came with. I unscrewed the horns from the headband, sanded them down a bit to fit the curve of the helmet, drilled holes in the helmet, and re-mounted the horns onto the helmet with screws, gluing them down for extra support.
I made a trip to the craft store, grabbing several things I thought might work: tassles from the upholstery section, strings of beads and flowered ribbon from the ribbon section, flowers from the wedding section…Anything that fit the look and feel I was going for from that first photo.
Granted, I probably should’ve done this part LAST, as I hadn’t painted the actual helmet yet, but I am a very impatient artist, and I do what I want.
Then, I just had fun painting! I painted a snurfling bull with flourishes (similar to the one in the inspiration photos) and roses on one side, Jamie’s derby name on the other, and the NOLA bull run logo on the front.
I was a bit worried it would be too much, but I think in this case, too much is GOOOOOOD.
So feeling finally finished, I carefully packaged it all up, crossed my fingers for luck that the postal gods would keep it in one piece–and mailed it to Jamie. When she got it a few days later, I was excited to hear the squee through her text message, and she happily sent me some photos:
She already looks pretty darn cool in it–I can’t wait til she gets all fully decked out for the event. I’m sure it’ll be awesome fun!
So if you happen to be anywhere near NOLA and aren’t hiding in your house from the bull run, keep an eye out for Jamie, smiling and skatin’ it up with the other bulls…. ❤
I don’t normally like to be in the spotlight…I’m more a “behind the scenes” kinda lady. But since this blog began in the spirit of sharing, I thought that just for today–while it might be extremely awkward and uncomfortable for me–it’d be fun to continue with that tradition, step out of my comfy little coccoon, and share a few random facts about me and my little world.
It’s sort of long, so if you’re not interested in reading it ALL, feel free to skim. If you’re not interested in reading it AT ALL, I hope you enjoy all the pretty pictures…
I learned to draw from my mom & dad. My parents are both artists, so I learned early on the importance of shapes, shading, fine art, a respect for the traditional masters…and always rinsing your paintbrush.
A have a younger sister. My sister is a few years younger than me, but has two teenage daughters (I got a late start in the kid department). Aside from our mom, my sister’s been the biggest mom-spiration to me when I had Myla. She’s very talented, creative, and WAY tough. I go to her when I need the flat-out truth about whether or not I should be worried about something, or if I just need to “suck it up” (as they say in the army).
I spent four years in the U.S. Army as a Photolithographer. Basically, I printed maps and scowled a lot. I dealt with some VERY difficult people, but I also learned that I’m pretty stinkin’ strong. Despite the difficulty, it changed parts of my personality forever–for the best. Plus I got to roll around in the dirt in the woods. And remember that time I found a 5-inch centipede in my field gear?? Good times.
I got a late start. My husband and I were married for SEVEN years before we decided to have a kid. Best decision EVER. I never really considered having kids, I just never really gave it much thought. It was my husband’s awesome idea, really, so he deserves a million high fives. I just needed some time to give it some actual serious thought. She wasn’t an accident, though–she was VERY thought out…probably TOO thought out. But once I’m in, I’m all in, and she’s been the most challenging–and most absolutely magical–thing to ever have happened to me. I always say that if I’d never had her, I’d never know, so I’d be quite happy and fulfilled, thank you. But I can’t even begin to explain how much happiness she’s brought to me, and how intensely ecstatic I am to be her mom.
I played roller derby for a few years. I wasn’t super great or anything, but it felt REALLY good to skate around and knock other girls down. And when YOU got knocked down, you didn’t even mind. It was worth it, as long as it was a good hit. I sprained my collarbone and my jaw in derby, got countless fist-sized bruises, separated my fibula from my kneecap area, and twisted my ankle, and it was all worth it. You could all hate each other, and then get on the track and still play a great bout, and hug each other afterward because of the general respect it takes just to get on the track. I can’t explain how much I love derby. (Sadly, I don’t play anymore, but I still love it.)
This also might explain why I started putting Myla on skates when she was two…
I tattooed myself. Not something I’d recommend to everyone, but I have some prior tattooing experience, and I felt confident I could pull it off. It was awkward, and at one point I was afraid I was totally going to mess it up, but I love it. It’s from a retro photo of a girl roller skating with a pillow strapped to her butt, except I drew my own derby skates on her. It sort of signified my whole “all out–but carefully” attitude about most things, especially in derby. Bonus: the little girl had SUPER curly hair like Myla.
Although someone recently told me I don’t LOOK like it (whatever that means), I have many tattoos. I even trained a little to learn to tattoo from artists in different places we’ve lived. I never really developed this skill the way I would have liked, but I have had some very brave friends who let me tattoo them over the years.
Myla wasn’t always interested in drawing. We spent three LONG winters in Fairbanks Alaska, which is well below negative temperatures for 8 months out of the year. My husband was deployed. Myla (who had just turned two) and I spent a LOT of time indoors. We had to find ways to entertain ourselves. This usually involved tea parties with water, stacking up megablocks, baking soda & vinegar volcanoes, and trying not to climb the bookshelves. Eventually, it turned into fingerpainting and drawing on ourselves. It was hard, but it was fun. By the time she was three, she began turning her little doodles into “monsters,” and was suddenly VERY into drawing (and has been ever since).
I like to sing. I don’t have a picture for this…but I learned guitar in high school pretty much so I could have something to sing along to. I have an alternate-life fantasy that I could play Fantine in Les Mis, Judas in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar,” or Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (mainly because they have the coolest songs). Bonus trivia: I get teary-eyed at the National Anthem and some spirituals. Basically anything with the big feels.
If I could have dinner conversation with any of my favorite inspirational figures, I’d want Terry Gilliam, Sia, Jim Henson, Amy Poehler, Maurice Sendak, Beck and Tom Waits. Okay, so it’d be a pretty big dinner party, but think we’d all get along.
I am a horrible cook. I am not domestically skilled in the slightest. Anything I do in that field is purely functional. All of the creativity I have in so many other mediums stops dead cold at the threshold of the kitchen. One thing that has helped: getting one of those services that sends ingredients to your house for you to make your own DIY weekly meals by following a set of instructions. It’s a worthwhile splurge. It’s like paint by numbers: I don’t really know what I’m doing, but BAM–I have a delicious meal when I’m done.
I’m a perfectionist. The funny thing is, I THOUGHT I was pretty “laid back.” This line from my sketchbook explains it all: “I didn’t want to be perfect. I just didn’t want to make any mistakes.” …Yeah, I actually SAID that to a counselor once, and it wasn’t til those words came out of my mouth that I realized THAT was what being a perfectionist IS. I think it got worse with the deployments, and having full responsibility of the happiness and care of our kid on my own in Alaska. That’s a lot of pressure! Nothing in our lives is perfect, of course. But the fact that it wasn’t (and couldn’t be) and I expected it to be, frustrated me and made me feel bad about the way I was handling things. It’s weird, but I’m working on it.
Random tidbit: If you had asked me when I was five, I might have told you I wanted to be a ballerina and a vet. Which is funny, because I’m completely clumsy (and I’d just make a horrible vet).
I hate magicians. I repeat: I. HATE. MAGICIANS.
Another random tidbit: When I was a kid, I used to think if I practiced hard enough, I could learn telekenesis. Don’t ask me why. It was a combination of a bunch of sci-fi movies and strange books. I was a weird kid.
In my natural habitat, I have a potty mouth, which sort of blossomed during my time in the military. Despite this, I DO NOT swear in front of Myla. Sometimes it’s hard, but I’ve learned to appreciate words like, “goshdarnit” and “DANG.”
We have two dogs. A boxer named Scout, and a boston terrier named Adie. They are both old ladies who love and tolerate eachother. And we love and tolerate them immensely.
Adie (the boston) was my “hairy baby,” so she especially took awhile to warm up to Myla when she was born (mainly this occurred when Myla became old enough to eat–and floor drop–solid food). Scout, however, has always been a big sweet teddy bear (except with other dogs. She has dominance issues, probably from being bossed around by the boston).
I’m forty-one. Yeah, you heard me. If you’re young, I know that sounds ancient, but you know what’s awesome about forty? I. Don’t. CARE. I know who I am, and I’m pretty happy with that. I’m introverted, but I’m not shy. I’m awkward, but I can handle myself. I’m like a happy little snail with my shell, and I come out when I want, and I tuck in when I want. And I’m totally comfortable with that. Now the fun part is getting to know OTHER people!
I have a back disorder that I discovered after an injury in the army. I have some fairly rare thing called B27 in my blood that they don’t really understand (my sister has it too, surprisingly). They classify it as “spondyloarthritis,” which basically means “ongoing chronic back pain that we don’t understand and can’t really do anything about.” It’s always been a sharp pain in the same exact spot. Sometimes I am fine, and other times I’m in so much pain that I can barely walk. It’s become such a normal thing to live with, that even I get tired of complaining about it, so I just grin & bear it, because what else can ya do? But it basically means I’m in some level of back discomfort AT ALL TIMES. I’ve tried every treatment I have access to–from injections to infusions to medication–and they’ve all either had horrific side effects, or didn’t help in the slightest.
I love my job. I work from distance as a graphic artist for the army’s MWR in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I design posters for all of their events & facilities. I worked in-office for a couple of years, and when my husband was relocated with the army, I was lucky enough to have them keep me on. I love the people I work with–they were a great group when I worked in-office and they’re a great group from far away. Working from home sometimes means that my “desk” is occasionally on the floor, surrounded by dogs, and that in between work orders, I can throw a load of laundry in, or empty the dishwasher.
So that’s about it. And now I feel a little…exposed. Not my ENTIRE life in a nutshell, by any stretch…but enough to have fun with. So while I hurry and wrap myself up tightly and snug back in my snail shell, what are some strange and interesting facts about you? Think of three things, and comment–tell me some trivia or quirks about your own life!
I have a soft spot for Alaskan roller derby. Not long ago, I painted a helmet for a derby girl on the Rage City all-star team out of Anchorage, Alaska. (Have you seen my post about customizing derby helmets?) Since I used to play derby (on a much smaller team) in Alaska, I was super excited to hear that Rage City is raising money to travel to Texas to play in the heart of derby’s rebirth! And since we currently reside in Central Texas, I’m excited to see that happen.
Roller derby teams are almost always non-profit businesses, which means they have to raise all their money to play, to travel, to rent the practice space, to hold general insurance, and to hold bouts ALL by themselves, by hitting the pavement and asking for help. They have car washes, bake sales, make their own merch, all in their spare time, just to keep their team alive. What people get from derby is SO much more valuable. It’s strength from a quiet, shy girl who never really had a voice. It’s power from a bigger girl who always felt “in the way.” It’s determination from a geeky girl who never played a sport. These ladies work and train HARD, all while living everyday lives, working everyday jobs, being moms, wives, and students. Even if a team gets beat in a bout, there’s still so much love & respect for each other for actually having the nerve to get out and DO it that it doesn’t matter a whole lot. They know the work and dedication that goes into it. And there’s a fun bond in derby because there’s room for everyone–all shapes, all sizes, all ages, all walks of life.
SOOoooo if you’d like to help Rage City make their way to Texas, or support a fun, exciting sport at the same time, please go over to their GoFundMe page and help some sisters out!
I have this habit of customizing pretty much everything. I can’t stand a blank canvas, and I get even more excited to customize something FUNCTIONAL. So when I got a new pair of SCABS kneepads, they were not only awesome for my knees during falls (since an injury was jacking them up), with their white kneecaps, they were just begging do be doodled on….so I grabbed my trusty Sharpie markers and got to work.
Now this is one of those projects you do just for fun, because if you know anything about derby, you know those things are gonna get CREAMED. Point in fact: Here’s a picture of them in action:
And this is a pic of my newly customized kneepads after just one bout:
But you know, those doodles were fun while they lasted, and why not? I love to see people customize the things they own. To not accept them straight out of the box, to get creative and funky with them, even if it’s for a short time. What can YOU customize today?
I know I do a lot of posts about derby, but this one is pretty crafty, too…
With just a little tweaking and customizing, I can do a lot with a single pattern. I’ve bought a lot of patterns from MMMCrafts on Etsy, and the one I’ve had the most fun with is this Little Red pattern. I’ve never actually made Little Red, but I used the same doll pattern to make a sweet Princess Leia doll for my Star Wars-lovin’ daughter (separate Chewie found here, by the way).
But when my very good “derby wife,” Sunny (also the early founder of my derby team, NPBT), was moving out of state, I wanted to make her something cool & quirky & special.
Since she has short hair, I just left off the ponytails. I handpainted our team logo on her “shirt,” but I’ve done similar things where you can use iron-on transfers with computer paper and just iron on a logo.
Since our colors were red, white & green, I made the bottom half a different color to look like derby shorts. She has several tattoos, but I added several more to decorate her arms all up. I used acrylic paint for her face and tattoos, which (if you’ve ever gotten it on your clothes by accident you know) stays on fabric really well.
I put her number & name on back, made cute little wheels out of buttons and paint, and painted on the kneepads and wrist guards. The high socks are just a strip of fabric instead of doing one solid piece for the leg, as the pattern said.
I liked it so much, I had to make one for myself! Uh…I mean, for my daughter.
If I had a long, long time to spare, I’d maybe consider doing custom orders, but they sure do take awhile, and I might have to charge a bit for them. For now, give it a try it for yourself! It doesn’t even have to be derby-related. I think it’d be COOL to have a doll that looks like your friends or family….
(Let me put it out there that if you don’t have prior training in the art of tattooing, I would suggest to NOT try this at home. Go to a professional. They are paid BECAUSE of their experience, and a good artist is DEFINITELY worth it. I have some prior training, professional experience & equipment, and I STILL don’t always know what I’m doing.)
I wanted a derby tattoo. Not one that had allegiance to any certain team, but one that just represented a love for the sport and what it did for me. I joined derby in Alaska a few months before my husband’s deployment and it was a good distraction from the stresses and worries of life and a 2-year old. I worry about EVERYTHING, but once you get to practice, you pretty much have to leave it at the door and focus on your drills. I loved it, and put a lot of time, energy, and creative effort into it. So I wanted something to sort of mark that time. I found an old black & white retro photo of a girl skating with a pillow on her butt, which I found hilarious, because she’s all-out jumping at the same time. This is sort of my personality, too. And to top it off, the little girl in the pic had curly hair like my daughter. Taking time for myself away from my daughter, even for something I was passionate about, was very difficult for me, but I think it made the deployment a little softer a blow (we all know the key to a deployment is distraction, distraction, distraction)…
I made a couple of modifications to the original photo. First, I was initially hesitant to add my derby number, but it’s a number I associate with my husband, so I decided it was safe. He had always been so super supportive from the minute I joined.
Second, the girl in the original pic had old-school strap-on-your-shoes roller skates. I traded them out for a portrait of my favorite pair of skates…Reidell Minx 965s with Sure-Grip Avenger 45 degree angled plates. I’m cheap when it comes to clothes, and I’m not one for designer bags, so this was a BIG purchase for me. But, lemme tell you, those boots were MADE for flat-footed folks like myself and they were HEAVENLY. And the Avenger plates were like skating on butter. I LOVE them. They were so sweet & sassy, I called them my “Darth Skaters.” My Caddilacs. I have leather toecaps on the ends with cute little red skulls, so I added those, too.
As for the tattooing itself…..well, it could’ve been better. Tattoo artists have warned about tattooing yourself; you’ll be overly critical, you’ll obsess about it. As your work improves, you’ll regret your earlier work. But I thought if I was willing to tattoo on someone else, I should trust myself to tattoo myself.
Turns out the tattoo artists are right, in a way. The lines were QUITE wobbly because I was SOOO nervous about how it would turn out. There is a technique for artists where you draw something from a reference upside down, so it loses its preconceived shapes and becomes just the shading & shapes that you need to translate to your work. I have never been good at this technique, and despite my practicing drawing it several times, I wasn’t crazy with how it turned out. The face, more specifically. Looking back now, it’s such a smaller tattoo that the details (or lack thereof) of the face don’t matter much, but I was REALLY down about it at first. I thought I had butchered it.
All in all, though, I am pretty happy with the final piece! It means what I wanted it to mean, and I don’t think it turned out TOO bad for tattooing it upside down on my own leg.