Monthly Archives: February 2012

Warning: angelic wardrobe malfunction

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The success of my agenda for the day sorta depended on me leaping up the moment I awoke and doing so many things so fast that I am but a blur to common mortals.

Yeah, that happened. (Not)

I’ve been awake for 3 1/2 hours and have had two large iced coffees, organized meds for the week, spent a long time on a site that sells canes (a sign that I am discouraged about chronic foot pain and am taking the family motto to heart: Panic early and often. Plus planning ahead for old age, as I am vain and do not want drugstore canes.)

I was out and about most of yesterday, meeting up with a friend for lunch, some store exploring and then dinner. I had a ticket in the evening for Ira Glass’s talk on story and radio. Two fantastic presentations on creativity in two days — not bad! Ira talked about the things that make up a good story and a good radio presentation, and one of the things he kept coming back to is a sense of movement. This happened, which led to this, and this, and this is what happened next. He talked about Scheherazade and the 1001 Arabian nights, and how it was narrative suspense that not only saved her life but restored her husband, the king, back to sanity, which returned when he began having empathy for the people in the story. Ira described Scheherazade as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which of course I loved.

One of the things he said that struck a spark was that you had to make your story, or creative endeavor, first and foremost to amuse yourself, or it would never have that power for others. I write for a living, and it’s definitely ephemeral material, but I do frequently amuse myself, and I’m grateful that I’m allowed to do that.

A fascinating fact from last night: Everyone knows the story of how Van Halen demanded in their concert rider that there be bowls of M&Ms in the dressing room, and all the brown M&Ms had to be picked out, and this is always used as an example of excess and diva-like qualities. Ira said this was in fact the opposite: that the band’s equipment is reliant on quick setup and teardown, but procedures must be followed to the letter for the safety of the band, the crew, the audience. Brown M&Ms are the band’s canary in the coalmine — if there are brown M&Ms in the dressing room, they know the venue didn’t read the rider or half-assed it, and safety measures may also have been laxly followed or not followed at all. LOVE that story.

Speaking of storytelling, I’m not sure I did that evening justice, but it was full of terrific info and cool counterpoints to the Elmo documentary. It’s great to load up on creative explorations at the beginning of this year-long project.

Now I have to go do some creative stuff. Be back later today with a project.

I leave you with a random picture, which I guess could illustrate creativity gone amok: a hot mess o’ angels from the House on the Rock.

Angelic Hot Mess: the House on the Rock

I’m made of felt…and my nose comes off

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Just got back from seeing the documentary Being Elmo, which I had been wanting to see since I saw Kevin Clash interviewed by Jon Stewart. It wasn’t a disappointment — anyone who’s interested in the creative spirit definitely should see this film. I’m always fascinated by people who knew what they wanted to do from a very young age, when it’s not one of the more typical kid ambitions like astronaut or firefighter or cowboy. Like my friend Erin, who knew she wanted to be a dictionary editor from the moment she learned there was such a job. And Kevin Clash, who saw the Muppets when he was 10 and knew he wanted to be a puppeteer, and immediately started doing it. His parents were amazing, so accepting of his ambitions from the moment he hacked the furry lining out of his dad’s trench coat to make a monkey.

It’s about the joy of doing the thing you love the most, which you can see in just about every shot of the Sesame Street team doing their work. And the generosity of those who mentor others and open new worlds to them. There are scenes of Kevin meeting the man who built Big Bird and other big puppets and getting the grand tour and answers to all his questions about how the Muppets were constructed (I love the old film clips of people explaining this great new material they’re working with: FLEECE. Cue heavenly choir.) And near the end of the documentary we see Kevin showing a young girl all the exciting stuff in his own workshop and quizzing her on what she knows about the puppeteers on Sesame Street (a lot).

And we learn how Kevin took over the character of Elmo from another puppeteer (who didn’t like working with the character, who was quite different) and how Kevin re-envisioned Elmo and made him the embodiment of love. You see it so strongly when Kevin and Elmo are interacting with ill and dying kids whose Make A Wish dream is to meet Elmo. One of the people who talk about Kevin in the documentary says when a puppet is true and real, what you’re seeing is the soul of the puppeteer.

Lots of great old clips. I especially loved the ones of teenaged Kevin at the sewing machine , finishing a seam and biting off the thread. And his teenaged efforts are well constructed, Muppet-like, with tons of personality.

This is a lovely film about a beautiful soul and the many people who influence a creative life. (And it got me thinking of the fact that I knew I wanted to write from the time I was 10, and I had mentors who encouraged me and gave me opportunities, and parents who were proud and loving.) It’s a movie that makes you want to come home and create something.

I had a big dorky smile on my face for much of it. Seriously. Go.

Cuidado! Hay pterodactyls!

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You know that Doctor Who episode where time has been borked and there are flying cars and pterodactyls and Winston Churchill and Cleopatra, because history is all happening at once?

Yeah, kind of like that. At this stage it’s not one week, one craft. I have a whole whirlwind of projects I’m in the midst of at the moment, on top of the item I finished last Friday as a birthday gift but haven’t posted yet.

Those items would happen to be (because I know you are burning to know):

• Dyeing several silk scarves as gifts to internet strangers, which I will be posting about soon.
• Finishing a “sweater surgery” knit scarf I keep fiddling with and rethinking
• Working on funky and functional storage for my craft room/guest room, which I hope to have finished before I have a guest soon, and which may account for more than one project
• Infinity scarf/necklace project
• A geek craft project, which I shall not describe just now
• Birthday present I should be working on this very second.

Plus I need to:

• Send photos for the art show I’ve applied for.

Plus I want to:

• Experiment with a cool new idea for that art show.

I expect things will sort themselves out eventually and time will become unborked.

I feel like I ought to post a picture for you all, though. Chosen at random:

You can never go wrong with a cat picture.

Dye dye DYE!!!

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Paying attention to wash cycles is NOT my strong suit, people! But I have some items in the wash machine to dye, and I have to keep it from going into rinse and keep the wash cycle going for 50 minutes to an hour or so. Which is why I’m sitting in my hallway (the washer/dryer are at the garage end of the hall) with the timer set every three minutes so I can track how long a wash cycle takes.

This isn’t a project at this point, but it’s a little prep work for one that will happen later. And also just rescuing (I hope!) a pair of jeans that are a little too weatherbeaten to wear to work on the days when we’re allowed to.

I’m using iDye, which I’ve never used before. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever dyed anything with dye that is supposed to be used for that purpose. Never dyed anything in the wash machine before. I hope it’s as easy as the packet claims! Though I do generally trust Dharma Trading.

ACK! Good thing I was paying attention. It started to drain way before I would have thought based on what the dial setting looked like. Pays to be neurotic sometimes…

Watch out! Project #1

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I got into a big felt frenzy shortly before Thanksgiving and went out and bought a ridiculous amount of sweaters to felt in the washing machine. That’s an activity which is very satisfying all on its own. You throw a big honkin’ woolly mess of a sweater into the machine and out comes a thick, felty sweater perfect for a toddler whose knuckles drag the ground. Everyone needs dozens of those, right?

So my first few projects will include some small feltiness, and sometime during the year I will I will work up to some large feltiness.

The project I’m going to start with is a birthday present for a friend. It’s one I did before I started documenting makies on a massive scale, so what I have is just a couple of pictures. I didn’t follow any specific pattern on this. I was inspired by a French press cozy I saw in Felt Frenzy (Heather Brack and Shannon Okey, Interweave Press), the first book I got on felting, and a picture I saw of a knitted cup cozy in an ad. I didn’t even know cup cozies were a Thing then, but I instantly thought they should be. I was about 90% finished and close to the date of the party when it occurred to me that a top-to-bottom design worked for a French press because, y’know, people weren’t going to be putting their lips on it. I cut it down a little, but it also dropped a bit when the cup (which was part of the gift) was picked up. Sort of a plus, I guess, but sort of not. When I gave it I felt the urge to preface it with a big disclaimer.

Here it is: Cup cozy with matching coaster. Alpaca beige felt and merino wool aqua. Needle felted flowers

A day or two after the party I got a lovely email from one of the women who’d been at the party but wasn’t the recipient of the present, saying how beautiful the colors were and how she loved the hand of the fabrics and how each hand stitch had such love in it. What a wonderful thing to have someone see in your work, and to be reminded of. We see our uneven stitches or other little faults because we want to produce good work and we want our gifts to be perfect. It’s a gift to have someone see and remind us of the beauty that doesn’t show on the surface. And looking at the picture right now, it is a sweet little thing.

 

And the person I gave it to wrote me a note and said she has been using it and enjoying it.

Chaos!

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One thing that drives me nuts about crafting: I’ll be searching for something I need for a project and won’t be able to find it where I think it is, but I’ll run across something else and think. “Huh. What’s that doing there?” Without fail, 2 weeks later I need the thing I did run across and now I can’t remember where that thing is.

I am currently wanting to find two groups of objects:
1. A small group of metal pieces and parts from the found objects box at the arts center where I hang out. I chose them because they have personality and I thought they’d be cool in an assemblage. But now I’m thinking they would make good objects to use for rubbings to make robot designs on some silk scarves for Wiscon. (Wiscon is the feminist science fiction convention that’s been going on yearly in Madison, Wisconsin for 35 years. It attracts some very cool people, and I’ve participated for the last few years in the art show there and you should go.)

So while looking for the still-at-large robot bits, I ran across:

2. The ball-bearing shower curtain rings that glide smoothly on the rod. I took them off when I got some that looked snazzier, and put them someplace that makes no sense. And now that I bought a shower curtain to use as a window curtain, I want those curtain rings. Haven’t yet started the search, but it will probably be epic.

Ironically, this post was written in a fit of frustration at a time when the blog wasn’t happening yet. I ran across it while getting ready for my first project post. Both items, by the way, have been found and are in use or are about to be.