new post on trollagerdi project

hi there, i thought i would redirect interest to the project page, here, where there’s a new post about our project.  i just finished a funding application, and it was so helpful that i thought i’d let people see how ambitious it is a year and a half out…


troll sweater design

i’m probably not doing it right.  i’m using graph paper, and filling in a little square for every stitch.  and now i’ve found a website that works with my computer, and i’m designing a generic knit pattern, and will leave the lopapeysa complexities alone for awhile.  i’m not even there yet.

i’m working on designing a little gryla figure, holding a wooden spoon and a bag full of naughty kids.  she’s in profile, stalking around on her mission.  it’s one figure, repeated over and over around the yoke of the sweater.  but i’m not sure how big to make it, or how many stitches to use, or any of those final details.  i’m just trying to make an icon at the moment,

it’s a pixel thing.  it’s like creating a new font.  you have to get into character map and draw the thing one pixel at a time.  and it only looks like a thing when you back away from it.  and every pixel alters its shape, its gesture, its attitude.

so i’m only starting.

first i drew a bunch of figures, and then jim did his version, and i drew all over his and then he drew another one, and then i spent a lot of time making them smaller, all on a piece of notebook paper.


then i got out the graph paper, and then i got online and found a pattern generator that you can trace imported pictures on.  so then i took a photo of my drawings, got rid of the lines, and transferred to the online pattern workgrid.


here’s how it looks filled in.


i worked up a few of them, filled them in with color, and saved them to show jim and discuss where to go from there.



you can perhaps see subtle differences between the versions.  i’m messing with the tail and the arm holding the bag.

grylafilled 1

tailarm 2



i’m not sure what i’m doing, so if you have a clue, please let me know.

project: troll sweater design

i need to design a lopapeysa using a troll design.  and after that modify it for an elf design.  i know nothing about lopapeysa (sweater made of icelandic sheep wool), but all the locals wear them in iceland because everybody’s mother in law knits, and quite a few guys knit as well.  so there are skeins of wool available even at the grocery store.  i came home with two of them when i returned from iceland.  one was a gift, and one was bought for 1/10 the cost of a new one at the red cross store in akureyri.  they are magnificent sweaters, but it’s 96 today in atlanta, so i’m only going to look at them for now, and wash them and put them up until winter.

one of the goals of the trollagerdi project is to open a gift shop, and develop a line of handcrafts to sell in this gift shop.  this is actually part of a much larger plan, which i heard about in reyjkavik, to open a handcraft giftshop that doesn’t sell the same horrid crap from china as every other giftshop in the country.  there are lots and lots of artists and artisans and craftpeople in iceland, and their sense of design is so individualistic and creative, so there’d be no lack of handcrafted souvenirs to sell.  they can easily be organized into themes, and then the medium left up to the artist.  it would be easy to work up a range of products across such themes as puffins, trolls, elves, northern lights, nature, using such materials as wood, wool, clay, stone, painting and photography.  i’ve left out whole categories – such as food, and books.  but pretty much everything people make by hand that is the least little bit touristy – lopapeysas, handmade elves, troll recipe books – would be welcome.  and i know a bunch of artists whose work would do just fine.

anyway, i am working with my friend kristrun to come up with some sweater designs.  right now people are producing puffin sweaters and horse sweaters (that i could find on the internet), and there are no doubt many variations of the lopapeysa design that include native animals and plants.  i’m not a knitter, but i have done surface design on scarves, and have made a few of my own designs to wear.  so i only know a little about the process as a whole, and nothing much at all about icelandic design.

here are some of the designs out there now.

5189316522_43a52e2741_s IMG_2877

i love these because they show how creative you can get with the basic design.

10261304_266980080147854_1057706671_a   1565_big

these are standard peysa designs with the figures in the body of the yoke.


as are these, but they’re larger photos, so i had to separate them.  sheep.

no elf sweaters?  no troll sweaters?  can’t find any.

here’s a good site for designing a sweater of this type.  i don’t currently have the ability to use it on my computer, but somebody else might.  i’m going to have to do it on a piece of graph paper, i think.

here are a few more examples i found just now.


this one is running hares.  they’re standing upright, like i want the trolls and elves, and tho they’re all the same, they have different attitudes depending on the stress on the wool.


here are more horses.


and some nice fish bones.  i’ve also seen this idea done in plant leaves.


and a different use of puffins


finally, a herd of reindeer.

i’ll post my progress on designing this sweater, but i have so much on my plate right now it might take awhile.  please comment with your suggestions.  perhaps i can mix trolls and elves, holding hands perhaps and facing forward, or in profile walking around the shoulders of the sweater.

finishing my first exterior wall mural


here we come to the last in many posts detailing my progress on this mural.  at this point i only had a couple of days left to work on the mural, and a combination of rain, a fall off a bike, last minute parties and trips and odds and ends before leaving town.  so the very last part of the mural was done between 5 and 6 in the morning, on a very cold day when my hands would start to freeze up after ten minutes of work.  so the timelapse clips are going to be shorter than usual…


mainly what i have done on the outside was to put on a very thin coat of the truest of the blues i used on the ocean around the figure.  i needed to obscure the lines between colors, and also make the sea lighter.  the other thing i had to do was make his eye blue, and finalize the colors in the beard.  there is black, a very strong green, and a very light green used here, and i took some even lighter green, approaching white, as highlights on the ‘gray’ parts of the beard.  i wanted to make him old, but ageing is fine, too.


next was the lettering.  i started by using my krink marker, and it’s the same problem with using rollers.  i can’t control them well enough, and prefer a brush.  tho i took pains to mark out the level baselines of the letters, i ended up putting the letters in all wonky.  the baseline isn’t level at this point, and the round letters like o,s,a and d were ungainly.  of course, talking to someone who stopped by to have a look while i was putting in the lettering remarked that trolls can’t write straight either, and that made me feel better.  but the letters are still all wrong.


so at 5 in the morning on the day i left town, i came out with the greenish white paint, and restated the lettering.  it’s now much thicker, and shadowed by a line of black.  i kept getting off the ladder and moving back to take a look, and then going back in for some more work.  and of course, at the end, i still wanted to put a raven at the bottom corner.  i had some good experiences with the ravens of the town, and ravens are associated with trolls, so if i couldn’t talk to the trolls, i could explain myself to the ravens, and i did so.  now they are my totem animal.

and this is the completed mural.  i am going to copyright the image and give a permanent license to the town of fjallabyggd to use for promotion.  and it’s part of a much larger project that i’m going to be giving a lot effort to. so stay tuned.

wall mural more

it’s been awhile; i apologize.  things have been a little busy, which you can see over on my travel blog.

so when we last did anything about this mural, it was to continue adding white to the blue paint and go around the figure making oceanlike lines.  pretty boring, as the timelapses will show.  and i’m  not even done with that in the picture below.


but finally i am finished.  then i took the flesh tone and went around making the nose especially a little fatter, and then i took the green and made sure to get every little fjord, and the same with the red.  i find i had originally drawn it all in pretty sloppily, and wanted it to be an exact map.


at that point it was time to stop messing around and commit myself to the facial features.  so i got out a thin brush and some black paint, and transferred the markings from my gridded drawing.  and suddenly the locals were paying a lot more attention to the mural.


the eyebrows and forehead hair was left to last because i didn’t feel like getting up on the ladder at that point.


i began lightening the antler headdress with whitened red-black paint, meaning to keep adding white and keep building up the lights in the middle of the antlers.  and while i was at it, i gave the figure red lips, red nose, cheeks, and ears.  just because i can’t stand to have a loaded brush and not make marks.


and when that was done, i decided i had to put color on the beard, so i got out the yukky green and slapped it up as thinly as i could, partly because i hate the color, adn partly because i only had a little green paint.  at this point one of the little kids who ride their bikes all day long in this area (because they’ve made several jumps in the back), decided to come up and make some remarks on my work, which of course i couldn’t understand, as neither of us speak the same language.  but everybody speaks art, so i handed him the paintbrush and he put in a considerable part of the lower beard, and then rode away.  i wonder if he told his mom or his friends that he helped.  i’ll be he will later.  if i see him again i’ll get him to put his name on it somewhere.


after the green was up, i toned it back down with the light green i used as a base.  and then restated the black lines.


and then i went around the frame of the picture with primer, having scraped it when i decided the picture needs a frame.  i’m not sure what i will paint it when i’m finished with the mural, but i will decide when i’m done.


at this point i still need to lighten up the antlers.  then i need to make the first few rings of blue ocean a little lighter, so that it reads from a distance, and while i’m at it i will smooth out the transitions in the blue.  and then there’s the raven, and the frame, and the title and labels (i’m going to put the cities in).  and then it’ll be done.  yay.

here are the relevant timelapses, 23, 24, 25, 25a, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

wall mural 9

yesterday, or was it the day before, i took the pot of blue that i’ve been mixing things into, and put it on the wall straight.  it’s quite blue.  i was careful to blend it over the blue black to

obscure the edge, feathering it with the side of the brush both onto the previous color and onto the white wall, tho that doesn’t seem to make any difference, as the next color goes on and obscures whatever is underneath.  a sense of closure, i suppose.  the blue black layer now appears more like a shadow than anything else, and that’s okay with me.


today was nice when i started…i took the blue from the can and added white this time.  not a whole bunch of white, about half and half.  and of course it’s too light, so i’m thinking i’ll be going over it with the straight blue once i’m done, to tone down the line.  the feathering didn’t make much difference in this case.  there was too much contrast.


this afternoon i went out again, in a slight drizzle, and painted it an even lighter blue, made by taking half of what i had and adding more white.  i now have lots of different pots of blue, just in case i have to resort to them before i’m finished.  i think that’s wise.


i’m going to keep adding white to the blue until i run out of room.  i’m getting it on the wood surrounding the picture, and i’ll have to decide what to do with the ‘frame’ when i’m finished.  maybe white housepaint, maybe a color.  maybe black.  i am planning on putting a raven at the lower right corner, where my signature should go.  we’ll see about signing it, but i’m positive about the raven.  ravens and trolls go together.

here are the relevant time lapses, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

wall mural 5, 6, 7, and 8 (or something like that)

so okay it’s been a few steps.  let me post the pictures and then i’ll talk about the process.


after i got the outline up – imperfectly but not to worry – i took stock of my colors – black, white, light blue, yellow green, phtalo green, scarlet, dark pink – and decided i might could mix up a nice caucasian skin tone.  not that trolls have white skin, mind you.  or maybe they’re pasty white because they live in the mountains and only come out in the winter when it’s dark and nobody’s about to see them.  i can’t be sure.  but anyway, i need a nice light color for the skin or the rest of it won’t make sense.  anyway nothing is final until i put the varnish on.

you can see dark around the edges of the color.  that’s because the graphite contour lines and the grid are unfixed, meaning the graphite smudges into the paint just like any good pigment.  that’s why i need to put a second coat of everything on there, even the black.


then, the next day, i mixed up some scarlet and black and got a nice brownish reddish color that i put on the antlers.  on impulse i also brushed some lightly onto the trolls cheeks, lip and nose.  just as indication, and because when i have a wet paintbrush in my hand nothing is safe.


the next day i found a film can full of green earth dry pigment, and it was enough to mix in with the white house paint.  however, it was very very faintly colored (as green earth is among the weakest of pigments) so i was forced to put in a tiny tiny drop of phthalo green paint, which of course was too much.  so now i’m working with seafoam green, which would have been great back in the 60s but looks a little odd now, especially against that white background.  but i have hopes to make all the white disappear in the end.  it really makes the face color stand out, tho, doesn’t it?  and please note i’ve extended his nose a wee bit and will have to fill it in later.


today, not knowing how to proceed with the hair and beard, i decided to start with the outside of the mural.  so i mixed up that horrid light blue with some black, and slapped it on around the outline of the troll with a 3″ brush, feathering the outside edges so there wouldn’t be a hard edge.  the trouble i’m going to have with this is that now it’s hard to distinguish the antler headdress from the surrounding ocean because there’s a lot of black in both colors, so no contrast.  it means i’ll have to highlight the antlers, which i guess i was going to do anyway.  now my hand is forced, tho.


later on today, since i wasn’t working very well on my other projects, i took the container with the blue-black and mixed more of the blue in, then went around the figure again, another 3″ out from the contour line, feathering the lighter blue into the darker blue and kind of glazing over the darker color so there wasn’t an edge. the effect is kind of a shadow near the figure.  later i intend to take the straight blue out of the can and put it up around the figure, and then take whatever blue is left and mix some more white into it and finish the painting to the edge.

but this is as far as i’ve gotten.  people in the town are beginning to slow down as they pass, and some even go up to it and point.  it’s obviously a map of iceland, but i’m not sure how many schoolchildren have seen the troll face in it.  it can’t be that i’m the first, tho i’ve asked and everybody says so.  but hey, i’m not going to copyright it or anything.

here are the relevant timelapses of the progress. – five, six, seven, eightnine, ten.