Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guess What I Did A Long Time Ago.

Last year, starting in September, I began planning my church's youth's New Year's Eve dance, an annual event held at the church building. Thinking back, I was never really given the assignment--I just sort of took it and ran with it...

I had a budget of a couple hundred dollars for a dance that was going to start at eight in the evening and go until midnight and I was supposed to plan for about 400 or 500 teenagers.

Now, to understand how I approached this whole thing, you have to understand a typical church dance: minimal decorations (maybe some Christmas lights?), a little table with snacks (oreos, anyone?) and chairs lined up against the walls. People mingle in the middle of the gym and occasionally dance, but generally what ends up happening is that kids meander around in the hallways of the church or sit in the chairs and desperately try to ignore the fact that they're at a dance.

To this, I said "No."

I rallied together a group of about a dozen youth and we started planning in September (much to their protestation. "The dance isn't for months!" they said. "Resistance is futile," I replied.) I went with an Art Deco theme, called it The Last Gala 2010 (a name a friend suggested), and based all the colors on Cobalt blue, white and silver. I wanted lights strung across the entire gym, so I asked for people to donate their white Christmas lights. I wanted real food, so I asked for people to donate real food. I set up tables with tablecloths and chairs with bows and an e-mail account. Anyone who wanted a reserved table with their friends could send an e-mail.

Instead of the usual half-hearted fliers (a staple of Mormonism), I sent an invitation to each individual youth:

(Please excuse the bad quality--instead of searching for the file on my computer, I took a picture
of the one I keep in my journal.)

I DID make fliers, but they looked like this:

(Except they were on blue paper, not white.)

Here are the preliminary sketches that I drew in October-November-ish of how I wanted the whole thing to look in the end:

Pretty ambitious. Well, I learned a lot about myself doing this dance and one thing I learned was that I have ambitious ideas and high expectations of myself. People told me not to get my hopes up. To them I said, "Resistance is futile."

I wanted this dance to be something different, something people would remember. I decided to shake things up a bit by serving hors d'oeuvres (fancy) and asking for people to donate board games and card games (casual and fun). You'll notice a running theme here--I asked for a lot of donations and, somewhat surprisingly, got everything I asked for. EVERYTHING. By the time people started arriving, there wasn't a darn thing missing. I wanted two chocolate fountains. We got two chocolate fountains. I wanted plain white, non-LED Christmas lights. I got them. What I'm trying to say is, people are generous and if you're planning something, don't be afraid to ask for stuff (well in advance, though, obviously). Especially if you're a Mormon. 

I really had the time of my life planning this monster. 

Here is the church gym before (with some tables and wire for lights):

And here it is during preparation:

Here it is with tablecloths, place settings and a few lights. Notice also the white drapes tied with blue bows. 

And the tables were set thusly:

Because, fancy.

That thing you see hanging in the background was something I designed on the computer and then, with the help of a few friends, transferred onto a white sheet. Here's what it looked like close up:

It's hard to capture in pictures the way it felt... It was definitely different from other dances.

Yes. The place settings are reserved for specific people in specific parties with the name of every person and every party at every place. All in all it took three whole days to set up, but it was kind of funny--I organized everything so that no one was breaking their back to get things done and everything got done efficiently. It was organized well enough that I was able to do what I wanted, such as writing every place spot by hand and making sure the tables were set well and answer questions when people had them. 

I couldn't have gotten it done without the help of those who who volunteered to set up. 

For several years, the tradition at the New Years dance has been a balloon drop. They put balloons in a net and then drop them at midnight... and then everyone pops them like crazy. A noisy mess ensues because teenagers are usually not the types to clean up the balloons they pop. I decided to take the balloon drop idea and rework it, coming up with a balloon rise, partly inspired by the movie Tangled with the floating lanterns.

The day of the dance (at this point everything was set up entirely) we filled nearly five hundred balloons with helium...

But first we slipped a TINY glow stick into each one. Tiny--fingernail sized. Then we filled them with helium.

There I am, tying balloons. It was nice that everything was done beforehand--all we had to do on the actual day was fill balloons and get the food together. 

There were SO MANY balloons. I've never seen so many before in my life!

This was only one bundle.

During the dance, since, like I mentioned before, many of the kids end up walking around the outside of the church, we blocked off every hallway with tree branches spray painted white, forcing them to remain inside. The main doors were open and the doors that led to the bathrooms were open. Everything else was blocked off and guarded by one of the dance's chaperons.

The dance itself went over well. Everyone had a place to sit and mingle and play games, and even so the dance floor was never empty. It was well-lit, but not bright. The decorations gave it a sense of decorum and the fact that most of the girls were dressed in formal attire made it feel like a classier thing that church dances usually are, but not stuffy. Just... fun. 

And, if I may be so bold as to say so myself, it turned out perfectly. Exactly as I planned. Every table and chair looked just like what I had been imagining for so many months. 

As midnight drew closer, we brought out the balloons, tied to silver carts, and handed one to every youth there. Imagine two or three of those bundles of balloons coming in through every door, keeping in mind it was a surprise to most of those in attendance. To me, at least, it was magical. We instructed them to carefully break the glow stick inside their balloon (which is much easier than it sounds) and counted down to midnight, turning off all of the lights in the gym.

I cannot explain the experience, standing on the stage and watching hundreds of glowing balloons float up to the ceiling simultaneously. It sounds so silly, but bear with me. To me it was more than just a unique way to ring in the New Year. It was a symbol of an accomplishment. I did something. I single-handedly organized a group of unorganized teens. I lead them in the direction of my own goal. I brought about something memorable--I watched something that started as an idea come to life and shared it with others. I made other people happy with the talents I've been given. And that sums it up. I was able, for a night, to make four hundred people happy.

Oh gosh, this is starting to sound personal. Anyway, here's a picture (it doesn't do anything justice, but whatever):

Another valuable lesson I learned was about tradition, especially Mormon tradition. I took everything about a traditional dance and turned it on its head. I challenged every limit and it paid off. It made me realize something crucial: there are two types of people. There are "cookie cutters" (people that fit the mold and try to fit into the accepted standard) and there are mavericks. A cookie cutter doesn't take chances. A maverick does. A cookie cutter accepts while a maverick questions. A cookie cutter wears heels. A maverick wears Chuck Taylors.

(Dirty ones. To my own formal New Year's Eve Dance.)

When push comes to shove, a maverick is true to himself and a cookie cutter is true to the cookie cutter.

The next day when we got back to the church to clean things up, all of the balloons were on the floor. Clean up only took a couple of hours. We (miraculously) got everything back to its rightful owners. 

Doing the dance, I learned a lot about myself. It was a daunting task that I fearlessly (and somewhat recklessly) undertook. I gave it 200% and learned how to NOT be a cookie cutter. I like to think those are my defining factors and the New Years Resolutions that carried my throughout 2011. If I'm going to do something, I'm going to do give it everything I've got and then some--and I'm going to try and do it differently than anyone else would think to. 

Well, now its 2012 (or, twenty-dozen as the cool kids say) and I have new New Year's resolutions that I would like to share with you (all five of you) in this post: this year is my year. I was born more than two weeks too late and often joke that I'm a late bloomer. I wait until the last second to start things, but when I do jump in, I do it with a bang. I hope in the months (perhaps years) to come, this blog is less a rambling update to extended family and more of a record of my achievements--because I'm ambitious, that's why. And to propel myself further, I've made a resolution to ALWAYS SAY YES. Because every opportunity is an opportunity to meet new people and gain new experiences. 

So if you have a project you think I'd enjoy, shoot me an email at because I'll say yes and give it my all. Let's go somewhere awesome this year. 

Happy New Year, folks.

P.S................................................. I also do parties.

(This balloon met me on the stairs when I got home, 
with its tail perfectly curled as if to say, "Good job.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Birthday, Scrooge, Tablet.

So I've been working on several projects lately but I thought I'd update a little bit because on my birthday I got a graphics tablet. I'm sorry if you don't know what a graphics tablet is because the only way I can describe it is by saying it's magical. Through it, I can draw directly onto the computer, with magic. It's lovely.

I just finished reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which is one of my favorites (I ALSO just finished William Shatner's Shatner Rules and it is quite possibly my new favorite). If you haven't read it (Christmas Carol, not Shatner Rules), you should go find yourself a copy right now because it's the Christmas season (well... I guess it applies to both books). Also, unlike most classics it's VERY easy to understand and is very short.

So, inspired by the story of Scrooge and with stylus in hand, I created this for you to enjoy:

I know you're thinking it's sort of crappy looking, but I like it and I don't even care what you say. I was using lots of fancy things like gradients and filters and giving it a background and making the lettering look nice and using lots of colors and textures, but this is the final product and this is what I like.... except maybe that it looks like it says 'caroe' instead of 'carol.' Hmmmmm.....

If you don't get it, I'll explain: the candle represents the first ghost, who is described as being very candle-like and even have a snuffer as a hat. The second is the torch that the Ghost of Christmas Present uses to spread Christmas Cheer. You know what... I wish I had one of those torches. And the third represents the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come because electric Christmas lights weren't around in Dickensian England. Within the story, they're a thing of the future. 

Anyway, I like the graphics tablet LOTS and that's all I have to say about it. 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chess Set.

A while back, I posted this doodle of a chess design:

Well, lately I've been trying to broaden my horizons artistically and decided to try my hand at sculpting and this is the result:

Here's my chess set. It took two days to make from start to finish, which was much shorter than I had expected. They started out looking like this:

After which, I drew the checkers and stripes on.

 Here are the kings standing side by side. I wanted to keep that Alice-In-Wonderland kind of feel and so they don't match exactly and feel kind of skewed. It's also hard to tell in the pictures, but they are pretty sturdy and feel like ceramic. They're not gummy or pliable at all.

Here are the queens together. I made them hearts and diamonds to be reminiscent of a deck of cards.

For the bishops, I wanted them to resemble actual Bishop hats. Here's the result:

Here are the knights:

And the rooks:

And finally the pawns are just little tiny:

So... there you have it.

If you're interested in buying a set, email me at
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Listen To Me Right Now Or Else I'll Cut Your Throat.

You know how you can tell I'm serious about this post? Because of it's title. Right there are the words 'or else I'll cut your throat' and those words mean business. (I was going to say 'or else I'll cut your fingers off and put them in a jar in my closet, along with the rest of the severed limbs I've collected over the years,' but I didn't want people to think tl;dr).

Here's the deal, friends and neighbors: people have, in the past, gone out of their way to tell me that they like the artworks that I do (that's right, artworks). So I started this blog, ho hum whatever, right? Wrong.

That's how this goes... right?

Either you are all lying and the things I do are unworthy of the attention of the general public, or... you know what, the end. I didn't have a finish for that sentence when I started it. So there. If you seriously like the things I do, I have to ask you a favor, but first, backstory.

I was wondering what would be considered, you know, 'good' for a number of page views and clicked the first link I saw when I Googled it, which gave me this helpful gem:

I took that to mean 'do a google search for what your blog is about and then divide the number of hits by blah blah math hoobity blah.' I did just that:

Am I the only one who read the 'did you mean...' in a snotty voice?

Google told me 'about 11,000 results.'  So then I did another Google search:

Because it is the year 2011 (that means it's the high-tech future right now) and there is no reason why I should be expected to do my own math problems, that's why. Wait... isn't there a movie along that premise where nobody knows how to do long division except the one guy and he ends up saving the people and.... I feel like maybe my dad made it up to threaten me when I got bad grades in math? Let's not talk about it any more.

Now, I'm not going to tell you how many page views I get in a day because that's personal and who are you to be nosying around in my private matters, anyway? But I AM going to tell you it's not one thousand one hundred and one. 

Now for the tricky part. Do you have a Facebook? Do you also have friends? Did you answer yes to both of the above questions? Great. Then you can help me. You see, I have a handy dandy little Facebook page. Right now, I have this many followers:

That number is called 33. So here's what I ask of you: please, oh please oh please oh please, may you copy and paste the URL of my blog and/or Facebook page onto your profile and the profiles of anyone you might think would be interested in what I do. Ashamedly, yes. I am asking you to promote me and my work. It would be greatly, greatly appreciated. I'm just trying to branch out a little. Also, if YOU have a blog, I would greatly appreciate it if you would send a link to me, via FB or something. 

And to anyone who might be new here, let me introduce myself. My name is Jordyn Ashli Baker and this is my blog of weirdy little art things to look at and stuff. I post designstypography, clip art, projects, and custom shoes a couple times a week. Every picture, clip art, design, etc. I post is at your disposal to use for free because that's what art is all about: sharing. I also sell custom-designed hand-painted shoes for $30.00 or $35.00 a pair, depending on where the shoes come from. I'm passionate about everything from the Fibonacci sequence to Shakespeare. I'm not a wonderfully all-around fabulous artist all the time, but I put my heart into what I do and I'm eighteen without any formal artistic schooling, but learning as I go along. I've got a few pieces of commission work under my belt and I'm more than willing to tackle other projects. If you have one in mind or would like custom shoes, email me at

Now, in parting, I'm going to leave you with a picture of my pet sugar glider, Bruce, because who could resist such adorably huge eyes? No one except maybe Skeletor.