The next project post will be presented with a delay. However, we will not be cutting out huge chunks — or overlay it with moronic commentary. (Well, no more moronic than usual.) Please join us then to be stunned, amazed, confused, delighted.
So I have this porch fantasy that I’ve had ever since I lived in NYC. I got to indulge it bigtime during my vacation in Austin this spring, though the balcony was a fairly small one, it was just about perfect. I actually have a deck where I am living now (actually a small upstairs one and a bigger downstairs one), but both of them get a lot of direct sun after about 11 a.m., so I haven’t been using them as much as I thought I would when I was lusting after my very own porch back in NYC.
Spent some time looking at pergolas and quailed to discover they are heinously expensive, so imagine my glee when I found a tutorial through Pinterest on making a simple portable sun shade. So I let my porch lust flower again, this time going into epic Outdoor Living Room mode.
I haven’t done the sun shade yet, I think because I’m intimidated by the cement work that goes with making the shade poles, but I have started on the project nonetheless.
It begins with a relic of my NYC days, a crappy low cabinet of pressboard with white laminated finish. It was half of a two-piece thing, with a shelf hutch on top. The hutch is in a closet pretending to be useful pantry shelving (that is another project which will be an enormous obsession, I can tell). The cabinet has been trailing around with me through the last couple of moves (when a company pays for movers and gives you three weeks to uproot your life, EVERYTHING trails around with you), and most recently it’s been in the basement.
So I finally hauled it out and onto the downstairs deck to spray paint it. My plan is to nail a trellis to it to create a little bit of a screen so neither the neighbors or I will feel on display if we both happen to be out on our decks. There may or may not be outdoor sheer curtains.
So here’s step #1:
It’s not smooth and perfect, and I’m totally fine with that. This is going to be sitting out in the weather, so it’s meant to be pretty casual. (The streaks, however, are just where I wiped a bit of dew off the top before toweling it all off.)
It hasn’t been the most awesome spray-paint weather this summer — it’s either too hot or crazy humid or both. We had a cool day so I jumped at it. Next is probably the trellis. Whenever.
Wednesday night I made another “bleach-paint” tee on another shirt with an unfortunate rack/grease spot OTP, this time using a stencil, and I really like the design I ended up with. It will surprise no one who’s been reading along so far that it didn’t come out perfectly. I was very careful to peel off the stencil carefully, but I still got some marks on the shirt, which don’t look it in the pictures, but came out looking kind of gray.
The stencil, by the way, was made with two smaller stencils I got in a pack at Walmart, with lots of fleur-de-lis variations and other swirly bits, plus simpler shapes like the circle. I traced them onto white removable Contact Paper, then flopped the swirly design on the other side of the circle.
I don’t have pictures of every step, since I did the Contact Paper bits at my art group gathering Wednesday night. Like I said, the design was a little fiddly, tough to cut out perfectly, but I don’t think it really made a difference with the bleach bleed anyway. But here it is with the bleach on.
Love it, totally planned to wear it to work the next day, but when I put it on … well, the combination of the circles, the placement, and the flesh* color (*flesh color according to the adhesive strip bandage industry, at any rate) made it seem just a little … nipply.
I decided making it not flesh* color in some way would probably decrease that effect, or my neurosis about it anyway. I considered a tie-dye look craft I’d seen done with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol, but the attempt I made on a test piece (I KNOW!! For once I used a TEST PIECE!) wasn’t awesome, so I decided not to go for that.
So I decided on the lace-spraypaint technique and just plowed ahead with it. I think that solves the prob, or maybe I’ve just stopped being neurotic about it. I thought I’d do something to mask the gray spots, so I moved the lace piece to different spots along the front and spray painted here and there. I ended up with some spots that were spray paint blobs, but I decided (once again) that I really don’t mind that. I have a printed tee I got at Maurice that looks like I rolled around on the floor of a wine bar or something, so it’s not a deal-breaker.
So here’s the final result!
Can’t wait to wear it!
Last winter I discovered raclette, the absolute perfect food. Potatoes, melted butter, melted cheese. What’s not to love?
Ah, that. The pure liquid fat dripping off the fork and right onto my chest. And the plain t-shirt I was wearing for the first time. Raclette, just like salad dressing, likes big busts and it cannot lie.
Solid color tees, so great because they go with everything, are always the most endangered item in my closet. If they make it past a third wearing without being consigned to the pile of formerly wearable at work clothing, it’s a minor (and temporary) miracle.
My Pinterest board titled “T-shirt Renovations” is chock full of ideas for t-shirt fixes, so I thought I would share some of my attempts to rescue splattered tees.
The first one I did quite a while ago, shortly after the Raclette Incident. I found a perfect stencil in a pack I had bought, using my oil paint Shiva Sticks. The bigger circle in the center is right where the raclette spot was. It filled in nicely (though the iridescent charcoal and silver paints came out looking pretty matte black and grey on the cotton jersey).
Until it went through the wash. Then the paint over the grease spot faded out. I started drawing it in with a Sharpie in a moment of boredom, but I figured that might not end well. I have had some thoughts on how to deal with that center bit, but it involves a little something I have lost track of and I didn’t want to go buy another (and the hardware stores are closed on Sunday anyway). It’ll make a return engagement when I find the missing piece and get the project done.
Just recently I saw a P.S. — I made this! post about spraypainting a top through a yard or so of lace. So happens I bought 2 lace curtains at a Goodwill recently for under $5 total, so I cut one of the panels and spraypainted copper fabric paint onto this brown tee. The result is so subtle in person that the lace effect is pretty lost, but it looks like the stain was taken care of.
Neither thing appears to be true in this photo. Haven’t decided if it needs something further, or if I should just wear it as is. Since it’ll be 97 degrees F tomorrow and this has long sleeves, I have some time to think.
I have some thoughts on that, too.
This last picture is the t-shirt rescue I like best. I’ve seen this one on Pinterest too. You make a design with the Chlorox pen on a colored shirt, let it rest 30 minutes, then wash. I freehanded the design, based on one of my favorite ZenTangle designs, the henna drum. I simplified it way down because the fine point of the double sided bleach pen is still pretty wide — it’s for stain treatment and not drawing, after all. There’s bleed, but I still love how it came out.
I’m really looking forward to wearing this one.
Is of course one of mine. I buy things for a project in the heat of inspiration, then if I don’t actually do them right away, when I do want to do them, the supplies I need are just dropped wherever instead of organized someplace with all the other stuff I need.
Now there is a thing I want to do, and I have no idea where the things I need are. Grrrr.
So. Fannishness and fan culture. There’s liking a show or book or movie or whatever; people who do that might even consider themselves a fan of that whatever. But fandom is when people seek one another out to talk about that thing, squee over it (sometimes complain about it), create things (stories, vids, drawings, cartoons, podfics or podcasts), consume those fan-made things, write meta about themes and issues in their favorite source text, do good works within or outside the fandom community, get together to see actors in person at conventions, or get together to see each other at cons that have no celebrity component. Some even find themselves collected to seek advance degrees in media studies or popular culture, hyphenating themselves as Aca-Fans. I have been a solitary fan and a part of fandom, and I much prefer the community of fans. One of my closest friends got me into fandom as a way of life, but fandom as a way of life has also gotten me some of my closest friends. It’s so Escher!
One of my ways of interacting with my fandoms has been writing fanfiction. I’m absolutely no good at writing meta posts that explore every angle of a character or plotline, but I can write a story that shows those angles and goes even further than the source does. It’s just how I’m built. I started writing fanfic as an adult as a break from a very frustrating piece of literary fiction I was writing, and then I just didn’t quit. Because of the nature of fandom, I quickly learned that the things I wanted from a literary publication — people talking about my writing, people talking to me about my writing (I worked in publishing for 10 years, so I didn’t bother wishing for money or huge bestsellerdom because I knew too much about how things work) — those things are readily available to fic writers who are good writers. (And, actually, to some who are terrible writers.)
Despite the widespread belief that fanfiction is written by people who can’t actually write or by 14-year-old girls, there’s plenty out there to blow your mind, if you know where to look. We’re not all “practicing” or venting our frustrations with our sad, miserable lives. Henry Jenkins and other aca-fans point out that it’s a way of taking stories back out of the hands of multinational corporations, of engaging in dialogue or even criticism of the source texts we love. (And yes, there are plenty of times we fall in love with problematic texts. As Woody Allen said about being a dick and taking up with his lover’s daughter, “The heart wants what it wants.”) We explore, we “what if,” we fix. Some of us write steamy alternate universe fics where vampires and werewolves are dental hygienists or Formula One race car drivers, and some may even file the serial numbers off, as we say, and have NY Times bestselling trilogies.
A just about perfect introduction to fanfiction is last summer’s Time article by Lev Grossman, who really just got what it’s about. You can find that here, if you’re interested:
One of the things that’s great about fannish life is the gift culture that surrounds the writing and artwork fans create. It’s not just the legal ramifications of trying to sell stories about characters who are licensed and copyrighted up the yin yang. It’s that we write for the sheer joy of exploring the worlds and characters we love, and we’re delighted to share what we’ve made when we’re finished. Often people who read a story will respond with some praise and a “thank you for sharing this.” I wouldn’t consider otherwise (mostly), but it’s nice to hear. Sometimes you get offerings in return: an icon, a bit of art, a desktop image, a recorded podfic of your story. There are fic exchanges that are directly gifts, written to order, with random recipients hand-chosen or chosen by algorithm. Yuletide is one of the biggest, in which participants request stories in an obscure or tiny fandom, and write in another obscure fandom for their recipient. It’s kind of terrifying to sign up for these events, but kind of awesome too. (And the organizing of such events is also a big labor of love, done by fans for fans.)
I was telling all this to a friend who visited a few months ago, and she’d just come from an academic conference. She loved the “gift culture” phrase a lot — and said that at the conference, it was expressed as “gift economy.” She said the difference in words was hugely important. Nobody’s counting up, it’s more pay it forward than pay it back. I like that too.
One thing that has struck me as I’ve gone through Pinterest marking potential projects and reading tutorials from here and there. The crafting community seems to have a feel for the gift culture too. Tutorials have a feel of “I made this thing; let me show you how,” or “I figured out this neat trick to make this other thing easier.” Or sometimes it’s “I am not insane and am not going to pay $3200 for a handbag. Let me show you how to make something close.” I have to confess, I’m kind of okay with that. I don’t care about labels. I find it hard to believe there’s a handbag anywhere that’s worth that kind of loot. I think sharing those ideas and appreciating one another’s work is a cool thing about Pintersts and the blogs I’ve traveled because of a lead I got on a pinboard.
There is one thing that troubles me. That’s the pins/tutorials that show how to knock off a piece that’s something an entrepreneur came up with, who’s not charging batshit insane prices for it. Not everything out there is produced by a faceless corporation, and I think it’s important to be respectful of someone who has put their own creativity out there and taken financial risks to do so. I’ve only seen one example when I know this to be true, and it’s not a site selling the same design already made up, just a tutorial. But the tutorial that’s traveling around Pinterest uses the same name that the entrepreneur came up with to refer to the design. It does also link back to her shop, so it’s not claiming credit, and if you prefer to buy one from the originator, it’s easy to do. So I’m not condemning here, I’m just trying to work out how I feel, where I stand. I’m a fan of the remix, the hack, but that’s where I hit my own personal boundary.
I have, in fact, been working on a project all weekend long. You just can’t see it.
This one’s a short story. It’s a gift, part of a summertime gift exchange, and authors can’t reveal their identities until all the stories are posted, which is expected to be in September.
So maybe now is a good time to write about the gift culture of fandom and crafting, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.
Or maybe not, yknow, now, because it’s time to get myself ready for work.
I hope to get some small project done in the next day or two as a visible project, and yes, also a post about gift culture.
I got up first thing and took 2 pictures of my project and as I was cropping them on the computer I noticed something that’s barely noticeable on the actual thing, so I had to fix it. Did that, photographed it, and now I’m ready.
So, the project itself. This is one that started out in one of our women’s art gatherings. I’d brought another project to work on, but I saw what everyone else was doing, and I was all, “Ooooh, shiny!”
Literally, because we were using shiny silver metal tape [tm] to make fake pewter medallions. This was a project I’d seen done before (when I was also hell-bent on some other project) and thought was cool, so I jumped on the second chance. There’s a lot you can do with this method — adding them to altered Altoid tins (and I really would love to have a supply of these tins, but I am not a person who regularly sucks on mints), or make art cards of them, or do what I did here, adding it as a decorative element to a box.
The shiny silver metal tape [tm] can be found at hardware stores or places like WalMart. I hear there’s now a lookalike of plastic so you have to be careful you really have the metal type. It’s on a roll about the size of duct tape.
The big thing you can do with this tape (other than whatever its actual purpose might be) is play with texture. I’ve seen some very pretty cards made where it’s been taped onto card stock and then rolled through an embossing machine. But for this project we used pre-cut chipwood shapes and used little shaped paper punches on card stock. One of our group uses old plastic cards as her design base — used gift cards, stowaway hotel key cards and the like. Some of the group combined different shapes and came up with some really cool abstract designs. I found a paper punch with a tree design (probably for Christmas card projects) and decided to make a wee forest, and I chose a round chipwood precut as my base, since I decided to put it on a round paper mache box.
The box, by the way, was one of those items that sometimes appears in the stash of art materials in the famous back room at these art gatherings. Sometimes people start working on something and then lose interest, or they’re only there for one time (we get the occasional tourist passing through who comes to art night, which is pretty cool). So this box was one of those pieces, with a patchy coating of white paint. I kind of liked the effect, which made me think of birch bark, so I left it as it was. It could probably look more like birch bark, but I decided I’d rather have it be suggestive of such than be taken too far so it looks nothing like it.
On to the fake pewter! One of the regulars taught us this project, which she’d gotten from a show on HGTV before they switched their programming all around to appeal to a different demographic. Take your backing chipwood piece and glue on shapes of card stock or more chipwood, then carefully tape over the whole thing with your shiny silver metal tape [tm]. Your edges will overlap a little bit, but you want to rub them down so they’re hardly visible. We used orangewood sticks like you’d get in a manicure set. The same stick gets rubbed over the shapes around the edges so there’s some definition there. It takes a while to get the tape pushed down over a complex grouping of layers, but you want to be careful not to punch holes in the tape.
Once that’s done to your satisfaction, the next step is to etch some designs into the surface of your medallion. I went with some simpler Zen Tangle filler patterns, varying the patterns in different areas, as I would in a paper-and-ink Tangle. This part of the project I did a while back, so I can’t remember what I used to make the etched parts — something more pointed than the orange stick, but not so sharp it would tear the tape.
That’s as far as I got the night of the art gathering, and the box and the medallion have been sitting among my stash for a while. So finally I pulled it out and finished it, which was pretty simple. The last bit for the fake pewter is to brush on black paint so that it goes into the etched lines, then rub it off with a tissue so that the paint stays in the lines but mostly comes off the rest. It might take a few times to get it right so all the paint doesn’t come off, and if you rub too hard over the seam where the tape overlaps, it can curl up or wrinkle.
So after the paint dried I glued the medallion piece onto the round box, and then it was done.
So there was a spot that looking at it in person I thought might pass for a part of the fake wood, but that is one photo that screams “tiny coffee stain!” So this morning I grabbed some craft whitewash and a tissue and dabbed some one, and I think I’ve nailed it.
Well, I’m still not feeling the burning desire for documentation. That’s just wrong!
It’s horribly, horribly hot (though not as hot as elsewhere), and I came home to melt onto the sofa, have dinner, and work on writing a story that needs to be finished and looked over by a beta reader by Sunday. I took a long break from fiction writing, and the first attempts were a little dead, but I’m sliding back into the groove a bit. Now it is ten and I don’t feel like wielding the camera.
This heat just does not agree with me, and it’s going to be sticking around for at least the next few days.
Anyway, I’m gonna get on that tomorrow.
I need to get my motivation working: Did Julie Powell shirk her aspic? Did Jonathan Coulton find himself Thingless during Thing of the Week?
Well, actually, I have a thing. I just am lacking motivation to prove it.
I do have a project finished, but I am not feeling particularly inclined to photograph it and/or write about it tonight.
I plan to do so by the end of the day tomorrow, since this past week’s project was also published on a Monday.
Good night, y’all!