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Today is the last day to vote for my entry in the current contest on Spoonflower.com called Coral, Mint, Black, and White. (All of the entries were limited to just those four specified colors in their designs.) Here is my entry, called Skunks Among the Flowers.

skunksamongtheflowers

skunkfabricasseenonspoonflower

No purchase is necessary to vote and you can also vote for more than one entry. (One of my friends, who’s known on Spoonflower as bloomingwyldeiris also has an entry in the same contest right here.) See last week’s entry if you want to learn more about how I came up with that design. You can vote right here.

By the way, I’ve just received the test swatch from Spoonflower.com yesterday and I have to say that the result looks far better in real life than what you can see online. The coral flowers are especially vibrant in real life.

webfriendlyimage

If you like how it looks in the above photograph, vote for it right now.

Okay, once again I have something I created in a Spoonflower.com contest and voting has just begun today. Here is my entry, which I call Skunks Among the Flowers.

skunksamongtheflowers

The story behind this one is pretty interesting. I was looking at upcoming weekly contests where I found two that were scheduled close together that I found interesting. One was the Mythical Creature Plushies contest where I entered my Goat Man but he failed to make the Top Ten despite my lobbying of my friends and acquaintances on social media.

For my new Skunks Among the Flowers design, I entered it in the Coral, Mint, Black & White contest. I found this one very interesting because only designs that stuck to those four colors were accepted and all four colors must be used in some way. I’ve always loved creative challenges where you are under severe limitations like that because it really inspires you to work only with what you’re handed and I find that people tend to be more creative when there are limitations. Just compare the video games from the late 1970’s-1990’s (where programmers had to deal with graphic and memory limitations) compared to today, where computer power has gotten so strong that one has near infinite resources regarding colors, 3D graphics, stereo sound, etc. The former yielded such classics that are still beloved today like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Sonic the Hedgehog, Dragon’s Lair, Q*bert, and Qix. The more recent video games may have better sound and graphics but the video game manufacturers seem to release either hastily programmed mediocre games based on upcoming Disney movies, war games featuring lots of blood and carnage (such as the numerous Call of Duty games), or sports like the annual updated Madden’s Football featuring the latest players and realistic sounds as football players smash into each other with such a hard ferocity. The technology may be better but the focus on extremely violent video games featuring war, crime, and very violent sports is the main reason why I haven’t bought a console game in years (other than the latest in the Dance Dance Revolution and Just Dance series).

For this challenge Spoonflower not only specify which colors must be used but I also noticed this in each color square.

spoonflowercontestrules

There’s a hexadecimal code in each square, which led me to believe that Spoonflower wanted the exact shade of each color based on that hexadecimal code. Since I decided to design the fabric in Inkscape once again, I had to look up how to specify the exact color by hexadecimal. I found this tutorial, which was a tremendous help to me so I was able to pick the exact colors down to Spoonflower’s specifications.

As for what to design, I initially thought about a fox hiding among the brush in the forest. I was inspired by the time I briefly spotted a fox while I was checking out the historic Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore last fall. Plus in the past few years I’ve seen fox designs in all sorts of crafts sold at street fairs and fox clothes that I’ve seen on sale in various stores. For added measure, I thought about even doing a Zentangle design for the leaves in black and mint.

I kept that fox in the brush idea strictly in my mind because I was busy working on the Goat Man for that other contest. Once that project was finished, I turned my attention back to the next contest. I began to do some initial research when I decided to do a search for foxes on Spoonflower and I found a very large array of fox fabrics available in all kinds of designs and colors.

I began to have second thoughts about making fox fabric for the contest because there were so many fox fabrics already available for sale plus the numerous fox products I’ve seen sold in various places. Then there’s that massive Ylvis hit “What the Fox Says,” which also seemed to inspire more fox-related merchandise in the marketplace.

I remembered a workshop I took at the 2012 Summit of Awesome in Washington, DC where one of the panelists warned about creating designs that were currently trendy and popular because what is currently hot one year could become passé the next and you’re stuck with last year’s trendy inventory that you can’t move. That panelist mentioned owls as an example because a few years ago many indie crafters had owl products for sale, which were well received, which inspired other indie crafters to create their own owl products, which inspired big box retailers to stock owl merchandise, which led to such a total saturation of the owl merchandise market that potential customers would get so sick of seeing owls that they passed them by.

So as I saw the numerous fox fabrics, I began to fear a similar over saturation of foxes that would lead to voters ignoring my own fox design. One night, while I was in bed undergoing a fitful sleep (I was going through some financial-related stress and paranoia at the time), my thoughts turned to my fox fabric idea and then the idea of a skunk went into my head. I woke up and I realized that my fox fabric would be more interesting if I added a skunk as well (not to mention that a skunk would still be in keeping with Spoonflower’s four-color limitation).

I originally thought about having a fox and a skunk. Then I thought having a fox with two smaller skunks standing in a sort of a triangular pattern would look more interesting. When it came time to work on the design, I decided to jettison the fox altogether and just do skunks instead. Besides, there aren’t as many skunk fabrics on Spoonflower as there are fox fabrics.

Even though skunks spray out incredibly foul odors that are difficult to get rid of, I’ve always thought that they were cute. One of my favorite cartoon characters from my childhood was Pepé Le Pew, the French skunk who thought that he was the world’s greatest lover even though others were repulsed by the odors that he emitted. Which reminds me of this very brief skunk story from my past.

As a child growing up in Glen Burine, Maryland, my family used to frequent the Harundale Mall (which is noted in the Wikipedia for being the first indoor enclosed shopping mall on the East Coast and has since been converted into an open-air shopping center known as Harundale Plaza). One of the stores in that mall was Doctors Pet Center which, as you can guess by the name, was a pet store. I used to love going by there because the front windows always had an animal or two on display to the mall shoppers. Usually the animal was either a puppy or kitten, except for Easter when bunnies would be displayed instead.

One summer the store got a shipment of pet skunks, which had their scent glands surgically removed so they wouldn’t be able to spray anybody with their strong scents, and they were displayed in the front windows. I remember the store had signs with terrible puns, such as “We Have a PHEW to Sell!” I wanted a pet skunk but my parents vetoed the idea so I had to content myself with seeing them in the windows until every one of them were eventually sold. The following year the pet store got another batch of pet skunks to sell off. I remember that batch had an albino skunk, which really made it stand out from the rest.

Those were the only times I recall seeing the pet store selling skunks. A few years ago the State of Maryland amended its laws regarding owning exotic pets and I was worried because I owned a pet hedgehog at the time and hedgehogs in the U.S. are lumped in the same exotic animals category as tigers and chimpanzees, which means that not only are they more stringently regulated than dogs or cats but the laws regarding owning them vary from state to state. I breathed a sign of relief when I saw that owning a hedgehog was still legal in Maryland but I noted with interests that the state had added skunks to the list of banned exotic pets.

Well, anyway, I began to look up photos of skunks on the Internet and I did some sketches. I decided on a side profile of the skunk. I had an idea of the skunk of being among coral-colored flowers against a mint green background. I admit that I was inspired by this famous scene in Bambi where the young fawn was learning the word “flower” and, at that moment, Bambi finds a skunk among the flowers. He called that skunk “Flower” and the name stuck for the rest of the movie.

bambiandflower

At that point, I decided to draw the skunk using colored pencils. I drew it on white paper (which made it easy for me to just not color in any designated white areas). Finding black pencil was no problem. For the coral and mint colors, I used the colored pencils that came the closest to Spoonflower’s designated colors (although it wasn’t a 100% match). I used stencils to draw flower shapes in coral and I kept the background in mint green. Here is the result.

roughdrawing1

I liked the results and, had it been a simple picture, I would’ve kept it as is. However, I was designing this as a fabric with repetition and I began to worry that a side view of skunks would be a little bit too dull. So I had an idea of drawing another skunk in a different pose or angle. I looked at skunk pictures online again until I found one that inspired me to make this quick sketch.

roughdrawing2

I even liked that second drawing better than the first (and I liked the first). So I had an idea of where I wanted to go with this design.

I pulled up Inkscape and entered the hexadecimal code for mint and made an all-mint background. Using layers, I created a flower in coral then I kept on duplicating that flower until I had a floral pattern that covered the screen area. I arranged the flowers in a regular pattern formation that was harmonious and straight to the point of being borderline dull. Then I scanned and imported both skunk drawings. I traced over the skunks, copied both of them, then flipped two of them so they would be posed in an opposite direction. I also did a more irregular arrangement of the skunks with the idea that the skunks provided a fun chaos to an otherwise regular straight pattern.

Then I uploaded the result on Spoonflower.com and I did the appropriate selection so the fabric looked like this.

skunkfabricasseenonspoonflower

Once I was finished, I entered it in the contest. Working on the skunk fabric was pretty relaxing and it helped me take my mind off of my worries, which I really appreciated. However, I worked on this new contest entry so close to the previous contest and I began to burn out on making deadlines. Even though I enjoyed the creation process and it helped me to relieve stress, I’ve decided that, going forward, I’m going to limit myself to participating in no more than one Spoonflower contest per month while vowing that I would enter a contest only if I have an idea. Of course, I’ll skip some months if I don’t have any ideas for a certain contest.

I ordered a $5 sample a few days ago to see how it looks in real life. I’m currently waiting for the sample to arrive as of this writing. If I like the results, I will put this fabric on sale. In any case, you can vote for Skunks Among the Flowers right here.

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