back from the dead, as Picmonkey!

When Picnik closed in April, bought out by Google, stripped of everything that actually made it great, and then moved over to Google+1 as their basic photo editing tools, I felt like a friend had died. I would wander around on the internet, bereft and hoping to run into Picnik, even though I knew it was “no longer with us”.

Even though I know how to use Photoshop and Gimp a little bit, and realize that anything I could do in Picnik could be done on one of those desktop image manipulation programs, I just really enjoyed using Picnik. It was fun, there was an avid community of users, and it was quick, you could do it on any computer with an internet connection (handy when I was traveling) and if you knew how to layer, layer, layer the effects on offer, it was amazing what you could do.

A few similar online photo-editing sites turned up, as Picnik neared its end…really horrible, lame versions, with crappy filters, crappy stickers, supermarket home brand vanilla-style features that just highlighted how much better Picnik was.

After I rushed eagerly to check out Aviary, the site that Flickr has partnered with for photo editing since Picnik died, and found something so crude and primitive that it could have been designed by Fisher Price for 3 year olds, I gave up looking. Picnik was gone, and nothing could take its place.

Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday, I found Picmonkey. I Googled “the best alternative to Picnik”, and was flooded with Picmonkey love in the search results.

A couple of former Picnik engineers, a rabbi, and a monkey meet in a bar.

The rabbi realizes he’s not in the middle of a corny joke so he leaves. But the monkey. The monkey starts raving wildly. He’s slapping the Picnik engineers on the back, congratulating them for pioneering the online photo editing space 6 years ago, and for enabling a whole new class of photographers to create beautiful images and hang out together. And the monkey has more ideas about time travel, connecting people, light speed, and making Brussels sprouts taste better. The engineers, they’re listening, but they’re onto something new. They scribble furiously on the backs of napkins and the edges of sleeve cuffs.

Several months later, here we are. A dynamic duo became a small dynamic team. And the world’s friendliest photo editor got a chance to start again. If you loved Picnik, PicMonkey is back in town and better than ever. It’s faster, more powerful, and easier to use. It’s the real deal you already know, plus 78% more monkey.

…Here’s who we are: a bunch of dedicated, in-the-trenches people who just want to make this online photo editor experience ridiculously great. We’re getting PicMonkey up and running, and then watch out. Keep your eyes peeled for more. Because we’re gonna keep adding more features and more tools and not stop until you scream and say “Holy Macarena, people, go home and get a life because you’ve done. it. all!”

JOY! Not only is it ‘like’ Picnik, it has nearly all the old features, plus many great new ones. It’s got a much sleeker, beautiful design, and I am lovin’ it so much, I could hug a monkey right now!

The Dough has Risen! Praise The Lard…

mmmm doughnut ...
mmmm bunchofpants


It’s The Day of The Donut! Rejoice!

I like The Day of The Donut (even though they misspelled doughnut) because it’s neither religious nor patriotic, the dogma is simple to digest, the subject is a fairly lovable character that is nice to smell and pretty to look at (though I wouldn’t really eat more than one doughnut per year—on The Day of Donut, of course—because it is such a noxious little bundle of trans fats, refined low GI carbohydrates,  and artificial thises, E-number thatses).

Anyway, they remind me of being 16, and of summer remedial classes (because I had flunked Chemistry) at the notorious St. Joseph’s College on España Avenue. I lived on Coke, doughnuts and Marlboros that summer. Remarkably, I was a skinny, sassy, defiant thing. *sigh* AND I came to love Chemistry.

I was inspired by these memories to commemorate the doughnut in a calorie-free felt version. In fact, I made two.

I rushed the first one in a flurry of excitement (impulsive, really) and since I didn’t quite know what I wanted, made an insipid doughnut. Vanilla and strawberry? AckArghOhGods! Not a pantywaist?!

The next one, I made with a stronger, clearer vision (i.e. chocolate) and with more intent (to document the steps for a quick tutorial, which you’ll find on from Hell to Breakfast.)

They’re quick to do (good lap project for a few hours in the afternoon), can be tarted up and decorated to look as patisserie-fancy as you please, and felt (yes, even acrylic felt) is a beauty to stitch with…it hides all your stitches in fluff. It doesn’t fray. You don’t need to leave seam margins, sew things inside-out, clip the seams and turns…none of that. And it stretches a bit when you stuff it, so those puckers and wrinkles you accidentally made vanish.

Day of the Donut 4: "We DEMAND it!"Now get out there, and show those doughnuts some love today!

Nicky Perryman’s Textile Art

blackberry_bird_detail2, originally uploaded by Nicky Perryman.

I’ve wanted to run around to all my crafty friends for a while now, squealing about Nicky’s work.

She’s an amazing embroiderer, both by hand and machine…she uses stitches that everyone knows, and yet her work’s so distinctive, and unique! The way she layers her fabrics, and the way she seeds them with color, the subtle gradations and textures…make them really stand out.

Some people are neat stitchers, some people have an eye for colour, some people bring fascinating texture to their work…she seems to have perfected all these facets, and more, of textile artistry, and brings them together in a harmonious whole that isn’t (as one would expect) garish, loud, heavy, or busy. A real master. AND she’s super nice, too. Gosh.

I’m inspired to embroider when I see her work, at the same time I find myself thinking “Oh, why bother with Nicky in the world?!”

So that someday you, too, will become as good as Nicky Perryman? *sigh*

Nicky Perryman’s Flickr set and blog