When I started work on the new website, I did not know yet what I was getting into. Many smart people advised me to just pick up a simple web page creator, use a readymade site template, and throw a site up in a few days of work. But I wanted the site to be more of a personal creation than that – Not just some pics plugged into someone else’s layout, but my own creation from start to finish, including all of the graphics therein.
It didn’t quite work out that way100% – There are a few small pieces of clip art used here and there for decoration, and the site code that runs some of the adjuncts such as the Facebook and Twitter boxes was certainly supplied by them, but overall I think I have achieved my goal. As I write this, the new site is slowly uploading in entirety over our creaky semi-broadband connection, and should be operational by this evening.
There is a lot of new content in the site – Lots of social networking add-ons to allow people to follow our activity on Facebook and the like, as well as easy links to enable sharing favorite pipe pics and purchases. I had to fast-learn a lot of new stuff along the way…. The last time I wrote my website, there was no such thing as CSS, for instance! So, it was a challenging learning experience. I hope the new site will bring us a bit more into modern times, and hold us well for a few years to come. It’s a great personal satisfaction to know that I wrote my site code from scratch in a text editor, and can work with it in future in nuts & bolts fashion, with a firm understanding of just what underpins everything.
Aside from the dull bits like the code, the artwork and graphics are as personalized as one can get – A lot of our lives over the past few years is literally laid into the graphical foundations of the website. The green background, for instance, is a photo montage – a multiple exposure of a collection of our photos from Brittany. A friend came to see us one (very wet) Spring and we had a great visit, touring local sites near Herbignac and going as far as Carnac and the oceanscape nearby. These photos are laid one over the other, merging into a fine misty unity that collects the dominant colors and imagery from all to create the wispy, foggy background wallpaper. Look close and you can see hints of stone castle walls, overcast Breton grey skies, and stormy coasts. It isn’t just a random wallpaper thrown together in Photoshop – It’s a collection of experiences that we have actually lived.
The same goes for every aspect of background graphics on the site, from the pipe drawings I’ve sketched for fun to each of the catalog header images. The spidery, reddish, dark-yet-colorful background of the Talbert Pipes header? It’s a photo montage of pics from our Autumn Davidson County fair, taken just after we returned to the USA. The header background for Ligne Bretagne is a photo I took of the standing stones of Carnac, while standing among them (They let you do this in the off season), combined with an old Brittany map and seen through a thin haze of brown Breton sea cliff pictures (again, combined into a multiple exposure and lightened to barely a tint). The Goblins header? Multiple exposures of a walk through a Breton forest one damp May evening, combined with half-seen pictures of past Goblins.
The personalized theme carries to even the smallest details – the “Join our Email List” image is a clip-art postcard lettered with text colored by another montage of green Brittany pics, just to create a texture for the type, and decorated with a stamp of a past Talbert Briar. I even made our own 404 error page, which I hope not many people will see!
In summary, our new site, like all our work, is my best attempt to create as personal and enjoyable and distinct an experience as possible. I hope you will enjoy it.