Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

last one~ the TABLE pt. IV/ the bag

The bag! This is almost my favorite part of the table project in a way, because this is when the obsession with this thing reached it's peak madness for me personally. I think it was the day before the auction when I completed these totally unnecessary yet totally necessary objects. Although our children were really at the heart of the inspiration for this project, it occurred to me that I didn't know exactly how much they themselves were getting out of the whole thing, other than free license to run amok while the adults were absorbed in work. At the end of the day it's the little humans that are important, and I wanted to make objects only for them, to say thank you for your contribution, you are special.

I made two designs, one for our boys, one for our girl, from art used in the table. I sewed the bag out of this awesome hand loomed cotton canvas that I bought at an estate sale, possibly some anthropological artifact from a century ago, who knows, but anyway so perfect! It had a gorgeous selvedge that I left unseamed at the top. It was hard to silkscreen on, like sandpaper, but it gave an interesting hand. Webbing was from Echino and Sew LA.

pretty selvedge!

I hadn't silkscreened at home in like, twenty years. It hasn't changed. See how cheap thrifty I am by cramming two designs on one screen!

Pressing seams and stuff. I cut, printed, and heat fixed each panel before I started sewing. I used this tutorial on the Purl Bee as a loose guide for the pattern.

Pinning webbing, assembly line style. Here the auction is in a few days and the table itself, the original project, is complete. And I am wondering if I could be a little OCD at this point.

At the event, I presented the kids with their bags (inside: a blank sketchbook, a pen, some gum, cookies, and ninja mask -yeah! from the Japanese dollar store.) When they sat down in the Table to draw, it was all so worth it!!! Thanks again, little muses. XOXO

the TABLE pt. III, the fable of the table

This booklet come late in the table project, as it all started to gloriously mushroom beyond all reasonable proportion. I had been drawing mini-scenes with these characters for a few weeks and I just couldn't stop thinking about them. I think at this point we had given them names, and one night when I couldn't sleep, I thought it would be useful to write down more about who they were, I guess. (Yes it's true, with this last step they became even more the people we really know. Things are always more interesting when they are real....) We did not intend to use it exactly, but Steve and Abbey and I decided well, why not. I re-used some of the art from the table interior, and for text scanned my late-night scrawl directly, scratch outs and all. This book is kind of a distant relative to the Marcel Wanders book I did~ illustrated story as metaphor for design object. Thus the Fable of the Table was born. Click on photos to view larger and read text.

(Pages were copied and binding sewn on my grandma's 1980's Brother machine. Thanks guys, no one would have seen this if you didn't do it, heaven knows I had no time....)

* I guess I gotta say it: Be nice, don't steal. Text and images copyright Shannon McNeill 2011. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the TABLE pt. II

This is the group of illustrations that appeared as decals on the Table, in panel layout form. (The grey bits you see are placement for hinges, shelves, and other hardware to not intrude upon.) Panels were left with a generous amount of white space, as the original concept was that kids should be able to interact with the artwork via dry-erase. It was intended that the artwork should also be unified by a family of characters, which after a lot of ideas, were whittled down to seven, and later given names. (Otto, Pip, Blot, Daisy, Franklin, Slugadora, and Super Bear. Can you guess who is who? You will have to wait until I post the booklet, ha!) Since the decals are made by a laser cutting vinyl, all the negative space has to be picked out by hand. Yes, by hand. With the 27 or so art files we submitted, that is A LOT of picking. Thank you Amanda at Sign-It, you are the best.

(Does anyone remember Clark from the park in the dark? My less-night-terrors-inducing tribute....)

The illustration and character development took a really nice journey and landed in a place that was unexpected and kind of lovely. Something that started from a creepy-cool point of inspiration evolved into something a bit sweet and very familial. They turned out to be real creatures we know, and real things they say, and stuff they do. I became obsessed with this group of seven, and let them whisper in my ear even late into the night when I should have been sleeping. It is fair to say many details of this project took on lives of their own. After the drawings were complete, then words came to me, and then amazingly appeared assembled in booklet form (...thank you Steve and Abbey and the once-sharp needle on grandma's sewing machine.) More to come.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mid Century Italy Raymor Ceramic Pottery Elephant

Yeah, pretty soon I'll get table pix pt. 2 up. In the meantime, enjoy this item on eBay I like, but do not need. It's got tusks that are green, and on it's head!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


For the last month or so I've been collaborating on a project with my brother-in-law Steve and his friend Abbey, called Tables for Tots which benefits the Ronald McDonald House in San Diego. Basically, the idea is to take a generic set of wood table and chairs, and transform it into something totally cool that will then be put up for charity auction. Steve, who is an architect, and Abbey, interior designer, had the concept to make the outside a lovely sleek modern piece of furniture that's beautiful on the outside, and a fun, interactive, secret space that's kid-friendly on the inside. They kindly invited me to design the family of characters and scenes on the inside, as well as write a little 'zine/ comic book/ character profile sort of thing to hand out with it. For those who know our families it's easy to see the work and concept were deeply inspired by the personalities and obsessions of our own children. We entitled the piece "The Fable of the Table of OTTO". (Otto, after the lead character, and after a very special real-life nephew!)

Cabinet built around original table, and chairs still in original form. No paint yet.

Decals are ready! After a bit of character development, we refined it to a family of seven characters, and a total of 28 or so final illustrations. Thank you Sign-It for your generous donation of time and materials! Illustrations to follow in future post.

Steve applying decals. This is more towards the end after a lot (a lot a lot) of work completing the painting and getting the dry-erase vinyl applied, etc.

Table complete, closed.

Table inside. Chairs are now grey, original proportion refined. Bottom of cabinet is lined with divine hide rug donated from Kyle Bunting. (As well as hide pillows, tiny bit visible upper right.)

Cabinet, each surface fully open. The top folds up and the doors swing open to climb in, and the desk panels can flip up to access paper, pencils, and stored treasures.

Viola, tidy again!

Auction day. The kids are our demo models.

Sam draws. (I made those bags for them to celebrate the occasion. More in a future post.)

Hello you!

Generous white space so kids can draw with dry-erase to their heart's content.

The chairs, transformed!!

There is even a custom brand burned into the wood. Concept: Steve and Abbey, design: me, execution: Steve's dad and my father-in-law Gordon. It says OTTO, the Os and two Ts suggest the silhouette of a tabletop.

The boys sat in the cabinet during the live auction. And guess what? Grandma was the high bidder! What an amazing surprise. Here are some very lucky boys.

On top of all that, our project won Grand Prize! And all for such a good cause. Many thanks to Steve and Abbey for all their inspiration and hard work, and the countless donors who helped make this project possible. We couldn't have done it without you!