Tag Archives: Austin TX

Hit the deck!

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Hit the deck!

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:

Ombre cabinet. I used 3 shades of spray paint.

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.

East meets vest; Project 17

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East meets vest; Project 17

This embellished denim vest is a project that I’ve been working on for a couple of months on and off. Both the vest and the fabric came from thrift shops in Austin. The print fabric came from a silk tunic of the type Indian women wear, which had some ripping at the sleeves.

It’s certainly proof that my hand stitching doesn’t get any better with practice, though in my defense the vest is a thick and unwieldy piece to sew. And it’s definitely proof that I need to get over myself and start using the sewing machine. This would have been done in a day if I’d done so, and the stitching would have been better, and I wouldn’t have found myself with a big fold of off-kilter fabric as I neared the end, as it would have been easier to pin properly. I took it back and forth to various places to work on, and hand it folded or rolled much of the time, with just a pair of pins to keep things in place right where I was working. I worked on it at art class, once during lunch break at work and carried it around at Wiscon but never pulled it out once.

Not the ideal way of working, but I still think the result is cute and wearable, and I don’t think the flaws will be that visible unless people are up close looking for them.

But yeah. Next big project like this (and I have one), I’m going to get that sewing machine figured out. The only reason I’m being so chicken about it is that I haven’t touched a sewing machine in decades.

Anyway, the result:

Not bad for someone who doesn’t know what she’s doing. But seriously. This took MONTHS. So using the sewing machine next time.

I am wicked tired and almost went to bed after posting just the one photo, but I’m sure the mistakes are what you come for, yes?

Sometimes freehanding not so awesome.

I wanted the gold trim to line up with the bottom of the vest (as much as a straight piece would line up with a curved vest), so I had to come up with something to get rid of the excess material, so I just folded it into a little dart and hand sewed it. Not the greatest solution, but it worked, and the colors and the print hide a multitude of sins.

Yeah, that little tuck.

Okay, I’m thoroughly knackered, so that’s it for tonight.

Oh, and I also sewed a little piece on the front, too. It may need something more, but I’m considering it done for all intents and purposes.

A little freeform circle on the front pocket. Needs salt.

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!