Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Fast and the Furious: Project Post #12

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The Fast and the Furious: Project Post #12

Even though I said I didn’t want to, I started sewing on one of the projects again. Made some progress, but realized I couldn’t possibly get it done today (tonight), so I grumped around and finally decided to try tie-dyeing a silk scarf with food coloring. I’ve never dyed with it before, but a crafty friend had told me she’s done it, so I thought I’d give it a try. I bought both kinds of food coloring, but went totally with neon for this one.

Everything I used, except water, vinegar and the microwave.

So basically, I just kinda made this system up. I did use the tie-dye method I’d learned in the class where I made last week’s project, the scarf with felting. Made little bobbles of glass pebbles tied off with rubber bands, most with one, but a few with two or more. I think I like the ones and twos best.

I have nothing witty to say here. Try back later.

I really liked the way the ligatures turned out in the tie-dying in that class, but was disappointed that I seemed to have lost those subtle details completely in all the sudsy water rolling and rolling to felt the fuzzy bits on. So I’d been wanting to use that method another time.

Or this one, either.

Wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do from this point, where I’d squirted most of the bobbles with food coloring. Then I checked out the chart on the back of the boxes telling how to make different colors, and oooooohhh. Due to my ongoing love affair with teal, I picked that color and mixed the blue and green as directed for cake batter. I mean, I dunno. Then I poured on 1/2 cup of boiling water onto those color drops as it said in the egg dyeing directions, and I splashed a bit more vinegar than the amount they said (because I hadn’t noticed that they called for vinegar at all). Then I poured the boiling water with color onto the whole scarf and put it into the microwave for a minute. Again, I dunno. I just made this up as I went along. I might’ve given it more time, but I got nervous when I peeked at it and it was steaming heartily. (A touch of PTSD after burning the silk/wool scarf, maybe?) So I took it out and let it sit for a while.

Dunno if the steam will show at this resolution, but trust me.

Once it cooled down, I undid all the ties and hung the thing up. I’m pretty damn excited about it. Love that I can mix up some cool, non primary colors.

And there it is, fresh out of the microwave.

You can see the designs the ligatures made.

Neat, huh? The tighter you get the rubber bands all around the scarf, the more of those subtle markings you'll see.

And one more bitchin’ closeup.

So need to play with these colors some more. So so cool....

This is so what I needed today: a project that gets me fired up again and has me plotting what other things I want to try. I have a great idea, but I’m not sure how to execute it (uh-oh. That’s always the way that leads to disappointment).

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Look! I made a mopey post!

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Your danger-facing crafter is Miss Crabbypants today. I did some work on a DIY project, but some aspects of it look kind of crappy, and I don’t think it’s going to suit the purpose I meant it for as well as I’d hoped. I’m not ready to call it complete, though, so pictures will come later.

I had way too high hopes for this weekend, and all I’d get done, and just blah. And the realization that the project was going to be a disappointment came right at the time when it was too late to make it to the movie I’d decided to skip so I could get stuff done. I will regroup, though, and it will be okay. The project will work in some respect, just not the one I was counting on.

So now I’m trying to figure out how to step up with an actual project for this week. I’m in the midst of a couple of sewing projects, but I don’t want to toil away over either of them like I’m in a sweatshop to get them completely finished. I would much rather spend the bulk of the evening watching the S5 Doctor Who disks I got before vacation. So…something that’s hella fast, or something I started work on a while ago and isn’t too far from finished….

Oh, and I forgot to make note of another reason I’m crabby. I spent about half the day being a grown-up, doing the checkbook and budget thing and writing checks for a TON of bills, and then taking a carload of stuff to the indoor flea market and redoing my space. (Okay, the flea market part is fairly fun, but I would have picked a different day for it, but I can only go on weekends.)

Must make a decision and get going.

I am glad I didn’t go to the movie, because now it is raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock. (TM my dad)

Mr. Pointy

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Mr. Pointy

I think I may have made up for yesterday’s complete worthlessness.

Today I finished my project, ironed and then washed a dozen silk scarves. No, that’s not out of order. I wanted to use the iron to set the color before washing, which is what the instructions are for the oil paints for fabric that I sometime use. I figured it was good general advice. Ironed a few of them, and have more still drying last time I checked.

I washer-felted 4 sweaters: 3 that I bought at Goodwill in Austin, and one that I’ve had for a very long time. My bathroom now smells like a wet sheep. Did a bit of wet-felting with some wool roving that I had, overlaid with “silk handkerchief,” a very filamenty silk that comes from a cocoon. It doesn’t look like it’ll be sticking to the felt cuff I wanted to make, so I’ll have to pull out the sharp and pointy things again. And last, I got out the seam ripper and removed the sleeves from an Indian ladies’ Kameez that I bought in Austin at the thrift store. gorgeous silk overlayer, which has started to shred a bit. I am not sure what I’ll make of them. Not long enough to sew together to make a scarf. Might make a good back panel overlay for the denim vest I bought, also from a thrift shop.

Oh wait! One other thing: I ironed some designs I’d painted on this pullover hoodie I’m doing an upcycle on, then tossed it in the washer. That one feels like a disappointment in the making, so I haven’t exactly been powering through working on it. I did some stitching at the edges and decided I hate it. I used oil paint crayons to do the designs and wasn’t too careful, so it got all over my hands, so there are smears of color in places where I didn’t intend. I want to try to fix it so I want to wear it, but so far no luck. So it was quite the frenzy of activity once I got moving. Now I am done with the moving, because my legs and feet are in a lot of pain that rest and naproxen aren’t helping at all.

Okay, but enough about all that. Project time!

Back in March I took a 3-hour class that involved some nuno felting techniques, though it wasn’t the standard all-over covering of felt that the term nuno conveys. Our first step was dyeing our white silk scarf blanks. I learned a few goodies about tie-dyeing, using glass pebbles (the kind you use in floral arrangements) inside a twist of rubber band fastened silk, and adding color directly to the bundle with cattle syringes bought at Farm & Fleet (no pointy needles, however). I really liked the effect I got, but I kinda feel like it got lost or hidden during the next phase, the wet felting.

I chose lavender and lilac to go with the glasses frames I had ordered (even before I had my eye exam, I loved them that much). Chose dyed roving in purple, periwinkle and an inky shade of blue. Then we wrapped them up around pool noodles (Obscure fact: I am in an imaginary band called the Pool Noodles with a dancer for NY City Ballet, whom I know only through Twitter.), poured on some sudsy water and rolled. And rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled, in my case. I had accidentally grabbed some mohair. Mohair will not stick to silk as wool will, unless it has some wool to fasten itself to. Well, it’s hard to see what’s working and what’s not when your work is wrapped around a pool noodle, so there was unwrapping, sighing, rewrapping, and rolling, lathering, rinsing, repeating. It was a bit frustrating, but the instructor helped and it improved things, and she also told me I could needle-felt the mohair into the piece.

So the needle felting is the part I did today. I would have preferred the wet felting to work. Needle felting punches the fibers through the silk, so you wind up with a funky whiskery thing happening on the other side of the fabric. The fabric puckers too — not that it’s terrible — the felting of fibers on top of the wool actually makes little creases and folds as it catches during the rolling around process. Another reason it’s not ideal is, the design gets smaller and the funky curly mohairs get punched into submission so you lose that cool look. But punch ’em down I did, and I still like the result a lot, even though there were things I liked that got lost along the way. I finished off the project by ironing the scarf, since I was already ironing a bunch of scarves.

I have a friend who has long said, “If you learn one good thing in a class, you’ve gotten your money’s worth.” I got two. The little glass marble bundle technique of tie dyeing, and something I feel like a complete idiot for never knowing: once you’ve done all your dyeing and abusing of your scarf, a rinse in water with some fabric softener will bring back that deliciously silky feeling to your silk. Seems so obvious, yet it has never occurred to me.

Anyway! Show and tell time!

Hair of mo. You can see how curly it is, as this bit did bond to the silk and wool.

And here's a loose piece I needle felted into the scarf.

Good shot of the whiskery bits that come through the reverse when you needle felt.

Aaand the finished project, after ironing.

Soft and pretty, yes?

I would show how it looks on, with the glasses, but I keep nodding off over the keyboard, so I think that’s a message. I’ll try to remember to snap a quick shot of me wearing the scarf.

Goodnight, y’all!

ALL UR BASE ARE BELONG TO US

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So sunny and beautiful outside, that I just want to go out onto the deck and sit with my glass of iced coffee and read or do some embroidery or something. But it’s 48 degrees out there. That’s the cognitive dissonance that comes from having an early April vacation in Austin, Texas. All but 2 days of my vacation I sat out on the deck at the apartment I rented for two or three hours, reading or writing posts. Another day I went out to breakfast at Kerbey Lane and sat out on their deck, where I ended up in a conversation with multiple people and stayed quite a while there, too.

Austin was fabulous, full of inspiration and wonderful people to converse with, terrific food and entrepreneurship. So much creativity in so many ways. I should have taken a lot more photos than I did.

Came back to a week that was a bit disheartening, and with a place I needed to be every evening except Monday, so there wasn’t much chance to recharge. Yesterday was the day I planned to plunge back into creativity, and I just couldn’t get things going. And what’s the best thing to do when you’re already beating yourself up about not attending to creative work? Oh, getting into a Twitter argument with someone whose idea of political point-making is “Moron! Ha! Pwned you!” Not that I was stupid enough to try actual substance myself; I just kept pointing out, “That is not remotely pwnage.”

Why do we waste energy on such idiocy when we know that it’s idiocy? Am I the only creative person who pisses away valuable project time this way? Why?

I do have a project. I finished a piece I started a while back, and that gave me some energy to do prep work on art show stuff. I’m not done with that, but stopped to have a snack, and need to get back to it.

Oh, and I bought a Craftsy class on layering and slashing fabrics, as I got a half-price offer. Though the first lesson keeps talking about my fabric stash, which I don’t have much of. I did get some actual garments at thrift shops in Austin that I plan to use for the fabric.

Okay, on to the work of the day. Check this space out later; I will be posting my project.

Happy little bats

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So. The last 9 days, I was in Austin, Texas. Which was a completely kickass vacation, I’m pleased to say. The past year has been a bit rough in several ways, but this was a trip that made stress melt away. I got to have quiet mornings on the deck with a glass of iced coffee, got to meet up with online friends to do fun stuff, got to experience the special weirdness that Austin excels at, and meet amazingly friendly people. And eat fabulous food.

I got a couple different DCFG projects of mine fangirled, which was delightful — the painted/decoupaged shoes got several compliments, and the TARDIS kindle cozy could have gotten me a niche in a great little Austin store if not for the fact that I’m not from Texas.

And yes, even while racing around hearing music and shopping and thrift shopping, I did not forget my duty to create my weekly project. This time I had company while doing so. While looking through the do512.com site (if you’re ever going to Austin, it’s essential), I stumbled on the Austin franchise of Painting with a Twist. It’s a business that offers space and supplies to make a painting in one night, as a local artist guides you through the process.

Aprons and finished works.

You all work on the same painting, with different paintings offered on different days. The do512 listing showed thumbnails of each day’s painting, so I decided on mine at the beginning of the trip, figuring it would be a terrific souvenir: Starry Austin Night, which compressed the Austin skyline with Van Gogh swoops and swirls of stars behind it.

One paper plate held the colors we needed for the evening's work, and the other provided a palette for blending.

Oh, and I forgot the Twist part of Painting with a Twist. Each person can bring their own snacks and beer, wine or whatever, so it’s a party with a painting. (Our instructor told us his first group with that painting — we were the second — brought hard liquor and were stinking drunk and rowdy. Would love to see their works! Ours was pretty mellow.)

When we walked in our easels and paper-plate palettes were set up, and we got our 16″ x 24″ canvas when we paid. David, our instructor, led us through the process, giving us general guidelines for blending shades and spacing elements by finger-widths and stuff. There was a finished painting to reference, plus David painted a new one as he walked us through the process, and for some of the finer details, he used a white board to give us a closer look at what we should be doing.

I couldn’t help but think of the Happy Little Trees guy, and in fact, the comparison was acknowledged. Wish I’d taken a picture of it: there was a sketch of HLTG by David’s easel, with HIS NAME above and BOB ROSS below.

Despite the fact that we were working on the same image, there was a range of different looks to the students’ works, whether or not they wanted it. Periodically you’d hear little noises of frustration when a brushstroke didn’t go the way a painter wanted, and there was a lot of “I like yours, but mine…” I suspect, though, that the longer people lived with their own paintings, the better they liked them. Mine has grown on me. I originally planned to go back over a few spots but I’ve decided, to quote Anne Lamott, to leave it lay where Jesus flang it.

Smished skyline of Austin welcomes you!

Number Nine…Number Nine…Project #9

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Number Nine…Number Nine…Project #9

Perfectly awesome, y/y?

As promised, no felt on this week’s project. This one was decided on impulse, when I started thinking about shoes for travel. I’ve seen a couple of interesting things on Pinterest lately: painted shoes and collaged shoes. I thought of the perfect pair for this project: I have this wonderful pair of clogs — cushy, comfortable and cool. The problem is I’ve pretty much worn them to death. They’re black fake leather with red fake reptile wingtips, and even once they were completely shabby I invariably got comments about how awesome they are. But the black has pretty much worn away, though if I remember right, the wingtips are still in good shape. So I had this bright idea to paint them. I was thinking sky blue with painted clouds on the black parts, and maybe liquid gold leaf on the wingtips.

So of course I couldn’t find them. I do believe they’re somewhere — they’re too beloved to toss out without them looking WAY worse. But I found another pair of shoes, a cushy pair of clogs with a neoprene collar type thing that makes a strap across the heel. Comfortable, but pretty clodhopper-looking, so they look many years younger than their actual age. I didn’t think to photograph them before I started to pain them, so you’ll have to imagine a very dark brown, pebbly leather.

I took them and a bottle of neon blue acrylic paint to my art group, where I promptly appalled one of the women there. “You’re not going to paint them!” she said a time or two. “But they’re perfectly good shoes!” (We wear the same size, too, which probably made watching this desecration a little more painful.

But now they are perfectly awesome shoes.

Perfectly awesome, y/y?

Once I find the other pair of shoes, I have learned a few things of use. I will definitely need primer of some sort to get a pure color. I happen to like the teal that came from the combo of neon blue and dark brown, so I’m completely happy. But I dropped the whole sky idea and decided to decoupage something onto the shoes instead. Thought about something along the lines of a vintage picture from an old dictionary or encyclopedia, but nothing specific called my name and it seemed they’d be likely to be too small. So I leated through an art book I have that’s a small trim size but fairly fat, with a painting on every page. I found a bunch of them at a bookstore for $1 each because their spines were broken, so I bought several to hack up for art projects.

Found this one by Carel Fabritus:

The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritus

Because, you know: birds.

The other thing I learned, paper doesn’t really like to curve around shoes, and once curved, may not want to stay that way. As my foot beds the shoe, little cracks are appearing, but I actually like them. I will put a few more layers of varnish over them to preserve them, wrinkles and cracks and all.

Transformed from hardly-ever-wear to so-damn-cool-I-want-to-wear-them-all-the-time.

Doctor, Doctor give me the news

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Doctor, Doctor give me the news

Finished!! In all its hasty, half-assed glory!

With a break for a run for meds and groceries and another for a phone call with my brother, I got the thing done in about 13 hours.

There is an embroidery needle at large somewhere on the sofa, so that adds this week’s danger quotient.

So here are some process pictures and the finished project.

It's sloppier on the inside.

While I like playing around with six strands of embroidery thread, it can get hopelessly knotty on occasion. As it did way early in the embellishment stage. But y’know, this project was meant to have a screen-friendly microfiber partial lining, so I said to heck with teasing the whole thing out. It wasn’t going to budge.

My eye doc recently gave me one of those nice glasses cleaning cloths, which I figured would make a good liner to keep the scratches on the screen to a minimum. Unfortunately, not big enough to line the whole cozy. But microfiber is a bear to push a needle through, so it’s just as well.

Then I had some additional embellishments and the closure to add, and here’s the result. With trademark imperfection, but I rather like it.

Unfortunately the call box sign is a wee bit off kilter, but I am not going to mess with it further. Its imperfection is charming. Isn't it? ISN'T IT??

And here’s a closer view of the closure. The loop is made of elastic, which I had to run out and buy, since the package of elastic I remembered and dug up in my sewing kit had the Woolworth’s label on it. (!) Got some nice multiple-purpose 3/8″ white elastic. I had a brainstorm as I was contemplating how I wanted to attach the elastic loop. I took a set of Sharpies I’d bought some time ago and drew stripes along the elastic.

Remind you of anyone?

Like last week’s project, this was all repurposed stuff, or something from the stash except for the elastic, and I did actually have elastic, but it was a good 12 plus years old — well, five years older than that, because Woolworth’s closed in 1997.

So…very…tired… Am nodding off at the keyboard now, and I have work in the morning, so it’s nighty night for now.

And a moratorium on felt. Next week I’ll see what other types of trouble I can get into.