Jenna Steely is a designer & artist in the Bay Area


Yarn is cool

I've been expanding from my pom pom obsession into broader yarn arts. Knitting/crocheting is cool and all, but those have never really interested me that much—perhaps because its (usually) a fairly structured process and result. I've been grooving on ways of using yarn in asymmetrical, unexpected, and random ways—like abstract art, but with a squishy textile medium. I want to make a jacket that expands on this idea.

Here's some inspiration: 

Pom poms I

I've started a new idle hobby—making pom poms. They are pretty easy to make, and a bit mindless, so sometimes I'll sit on the floor when we watch a netflix show and crank through a few pom poms. 

I bought a pack of 4 sizes of pom pom makers, and 5 different colors of yarn. It's been fun to mix and match colors and decide where to mix colors. Also seeing how the pom ends up depending on where I started wrapping yarn or how thick I wrap it before cutting and tying it off. 

One of the funnest parts is shaping the pom. I have a large bowl I use to catch the fuzzies as I shape the orbs. When you cut all the threads, they aren't all the same length (the interior yarn is shorter than the exterior pieces) so they need to be trimmed up. I'm getting better at eyeballing these for "evenness" but at first it was difficult to eyeball the shape of a sphere!

Pics to come. 


Not to beat a dead horse, but I'm pretty pleased with these layouts and wanted to capture them somewhere. So here they are.

Right now, I'm asking myself whether its okay (or is it too lame or unprofessional?) to put my own wedding website in my portfolio. i'm so pleased with it that I very much want to, and I do keep a number of personal projects there, which I feel express my personal style and creativity. But is it too narcissistic? Objectively, I feel it is a great example of story telling and art direction. But there's something kind of uncomfortable in celebrating something so personal, so publicly. 

Anyone have thoughts on this? 

Our wedding website is way cooler than most other wedding websites, and I actually mean it

It's up! Check it out at The final photos turned out spectacular. I'm forever grateful to Ross for helping me realize my vision.

Here's the save-the-date: 


And the final finished photos: 

Jenna Comment
Road trip wrap up

Just got back from our road trip today. We were gone just a week and 2 days, but it feels like a month. We packed so much into our journey, driving over 2,000 miles in 7 days. 

Our Itinerary: 

  Approximation of route (Google won't let me fine tune it or add any more stops)

Approximation of route (Google won't let me fine tune it or add any more stops)

Days -1, 0: Logan, UT for a wedding
Day 1: Logan --> Salt Lake City --> Goblin Valley State Park
Day 2: Capitol Reef (2 mile hike) --> Bryce Canyon ( 4.3 mile hike) --> Zion
Day 3: Zion (8 mile Observation Point hike)
Day 4: Zion (hiked the Narrows) --> Grand Canyon by way of the Vermillion Cliffs --> Page, AZ
Day 5: Waterholes Canyon (3 miles hike) --> Monument Valley --> Santa Fe, NM
Day 6: Meow Wolf, thrift shopping, saw Annihilation (that's a whole other thing, phew!) --> Albuquerque
Day 7: White Sands National Monument --> Albuquerque
Day 8: Fly home! (that was today)

For my first time experiencing the southwest, I must say, my mind was blown. This is some of the most stunning land I have ever seen. Somehow each destination was completely different from the last, a new take on canyons or hoodoos or some other erosion-based earth formation—buy day 4 my brain was turning to mush trying to comprehend the time periods and processes that got us from ocean-covered North America to the present highly dramatic formations. 

I was blown away by the varieties of colors of the earth: reds, pinks, oranges, ochres, whites and browns, offset by the strange plant life that thrives in desert climates: olives and icy greens and purples. And the textures: blobby, glorpy "goblins," jagged hoodoos, intense cliffs, arches, sheer vertical drops, juxtaposed with rounded, smoothed sandstone, loose sand dunes, crumbling buttes and mesas and spires. 

Most of these destinations I feel we got to spend enough time hiking or exploring that I got most of what I wanted out of the stop. The exception is this: since we only did a mere drive-by of the Grand Canyon, the most insane of all of them, I feel like although I technically "saw" it, I didn't get to truly experience it, and thus have some serious unfinished business there. Perhaps a rafting trip or other backcountry adventure? I could spend weeks there, it's so vast. 

I'm grateful for the incredible earth I've witnessed, and for my partner in crime for taking this awesome adventure with me. Hoping to see more of it soon!

Creepy kids in creepy ads

Found a great post from Wait But Why on creepy kids in creepy vintage ads. Here's some favorites. 

Unedited photos are back...

And they look super cool! I'm really excited. Ross did an incredible job shooting to my direction, and he is a wizard with flash lighting.

Flash photography has always been a bit of a mystery to me; in design school photography classes I learned how to use hot lights and control how they filter, focus and bounce light around, and it's very WYSIWYG that way—every adjustment you make is immediately visible, and you are just shooting that visible light. But with flash, you really have no idea until you take the shot and review it. And after each adjustment, you need to take another test shot to see if the light is pointing the right way, at the correct power level, with the right levels on your camera and such. So in a way it seems trickier and more intimidating. But I now see how nice it is to have much smaller/lightweight gear that doesn't get ultra hot. It certainly is an art form, and I am grateful for such a rad friend who wants to do this for me!

Heres a quick sneak peek at a few of the unedited shots. We still have some post-processing to do to manipulate the lights a bit and clean things up, but I am just thrilled with what I'm seeing!

Jenna Comments
Portrait Inspiration

Thomas and I are engaged! With weddings come a lot of bullshit, and a lot of same-same. But we are weirdos, and we are artists. And we would like to subvert the traditional wedding route. 

First off, we're getting married at Burning Man. So that will be different and wonderful. But we will also be having a wedding in October for the friends and family who don't go to Burning Man. I haven't been that excited about planning the second wedding, because its hard to do without getting plugged into the industrial wedding world—which I loathe. But we came up with a concept now that I'm really stoked about. We're going to make the October wedding into a competition between our families/friends to decide which last name we both take. 

So for this competition-wedding, we need some engagement photos taken. But I don't want them to be normal, expected engagement photos, such as Thomas and I gazing at each other in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. I want the website and save-the-dates to have a colorful, moody vibe. As a nod to our respective aesthetics, the site will have a black and white base (Thomas), and colorful photography (me).

My friend Ross has volunteered to help me realize this vision. He's got a lot of gear and gels, and is excited to do a shoot. Here's some shots from the moodboard I shared with him:

We're meeting tonight to play around before scheduling a real shoot. I'm excited!