Ocupado!

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Ocupado!

I’m thinking stabbed fingers and hand/arm/finger cramps count as danger

As I sit here waiting for a sumptuous lunch of fake-Kraft Mac n Cheese (I love its name in Canada even more–Kraft Dinner, aka KD), i am 99% done with my project of this week. (Which is fitting, and you will see why very shortly.)

I decided this was the perfect year to enter the annual birdhouse contest at a store called Phoebe’s Nest. But my initial thoughts were “I can’t think of anything to do!” and “My woodcraft skills are questionable!” Then I thought of something. Not a woodcraft project at all, but a tent, made of (this will surprise no one who has been following along so far) felt.

And like the wildass that I am, I freehanded the whole damn thing (which is occasionally obvious).

And I really really like this project.

Almost every bit of this is made of recycled materials, and the rest from leftovers from past or undone projects, which is one of the things that pleases me about it. The floor and side walls of the tent are made of a sweater I got at a thrift store and felted in the washing machine. I reinforced the floor by sewing a piece of cardboard from a mail order purchase between two pieces of the thick felt.

Two layers of felt with a piece of cardboard sewn between.

I made a frame of a heavier gauge wire from my “I’m going to make jewelry!” phase, slipping it into slits in the floor and sewing it to the tent walls.

Getting the frame in place--o hai thar, foreman!

And attaching frame and walls to floor.

The end flaps are made of a square of a burlappy sort of material that came in a bag of fabric scraps from the costume shop at American Players Theatre.

Pretty purple fabric, trimmed off a costume-in-progress at American Players Theatre.

Then I made the signs from pieces of another thrift shop sweater, needle felting the words on them. As you can see, my freehanding tendencies — and Eyeball once, cut multiple times philosophy — sometimes get the better of me. #Occupy has some serious kerning issues. I did better with the long banner, which may have been helped by felting in We and then 99% and then filling in the middle 2 lines.

The stark black stitching is intentional — those are meant to be tie-strap thingies.

Birds do twitter too.

So woo hoo! Finished! Except not. I really wanted there to be some things inside the tent. So I made a sleeping bag and a matching one that’s rolled up, and a red backpack. And I decided on one more thing, both to make the shape of the backpack less flat, and also because I didn’t like the empty backpack any more than I liked an empty tent. So I made a wee book to go inside. I used stick-on Velcro to put the pieces in place — hooks only, as the felt provides the fuzzy.

Personal effects.

One more bit of verisimilitude to go, and it will be done. So now, full of KD, I go downstairs to photocopy or scan (whichever looks best) the cover of the CD version of an album I owned in vinyl back in the late 70s. It came with a stencil so you could spray paint the cover everywhere, which was my inspiration for making a sign of it.

As it turned out, I photocopied it, but the copy came out black and white. So I added the incandescent yellow of the album graphics with a yellow sharpie. Mod Podged the whole thing onto cereal box cardboard and used staples and a bit of Velcro to place the sign at the mouth of the tent. And this is the version I submitted to the contest:

Occupy Birdhouse

And Tom Robinson, those songs are still pretty relevant today (sad to say). Rock on.

While in past years the birdhouses were all sold and donated to a fund to restore the local theater, this year they will be returned to the artists. So I plan to be showing this at Wiscon this year, where it will probably also be for sale.

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