Tag Archives: imperfection

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.

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)

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!

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of Warhol

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Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of Warhol

So yes, a perfect gift for my future sister-in-law. It finally clicked a day or two after I found this great tutorial on painting faux-Warhol portraits, hand painted instead of silk screened:

http://cathiefilian.blogspot.com/2009/02/make-it-artwork-la-warhol.html

Future SIL has a dog that she is just mad about, and the rest of the family finds Zoe adorable too. (And Zoe and my brother are nuts about each other, aww.) So I got my brother to email me some pictures of her, and he informed me that Zoe’s mama particularly loves pictures of her with her ears cocked forward.

This project definitely strayed into I-cut-out-my-own-leaf territory (see my post on second grade art, “The Darkest Depths of Mordor”), both intentionally and unintentionally. My main departure from Cathie’s project is that I chose smaller canvases — a 2-ft. by 2-ft. commitment seems to be a lot to ask of another person’s decor. Plus I had four 5-in. by 4-in. canvases, which adds up to a much more reasonable 8 x 10. Most other departures were accidental. They made a difference, too, but I ended up liking this project a LOT anyway.

For one thing, I had trouble printing out the photo onto actual photo paper (I was too impatient to go through all the figuring out of settings and that, or to waste any more photo paper.), so instead of photocopying a print, I just printed out four originals onto regular paper. I don’t know if that affected my results or not.

It will surprise none of you who read my tale of second grade impetuousness that I JUST NOW discovered I used the wrong kind of brush in painting over the pictures once they were Mod Podged onto the canvas. The materials list says foam brushes, which I totally missed. ::forehead smack:: So there are brushstrokes I could not make go away. (I think they look a little worse in the photos than in person, but some colors were definitely streakier than others. And I wonder if the dark background made those parts tend toward streakiness anyway because of the ink coverage.) They don’t look exactly Warhol like, but I do think they look cool.

Zoe in progress

I decided to dab on a little iridescent gold paint onto the buckle of Zoe’s collar in each print, which gave me the brainstorm of using the same paint (Shiva Sticks oil paint crayons) around the canvas edges. This is a case in which I intentionally made it imperfect, drawing it across the edges and then smudging it into the canvas with my fingers. The two or three times I got a little streak of gold on the edge of the image itself, I left it there. It goes with the streaky look of the painting, and adds an energy to the piece, I think. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. After that, a few coats of varnish for acrylic and oil, and done!

Zoe x 4.

Like I said, it didn’t come out just like the tutorial (which looks pretty awesome), but I still like the result. Just for the hell of it I’ll have to try doing a canvas with the foam brush and see the difference that makes. And maybe next time read a little more closely when I’m diving into a tutorial project….

The Darkest Depths of Mordor (AKA Second Grade)

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This probably says more about me and my lack of perseverance to become perfectly adept at things than anything else, but I have to say I always thought that artists who intentially weave or build imperfections into their work so as not to seem to be attempting to imitate God are … well, kinda arrogant.

If I ever turn out a piece of work that to me embodies total perfection, I might think, “YEAH, I nailed that,” but I’m not going to go on to believe I’m God or even godlike. I might feel like a rock star for about fifteen minutes. Or until I see someone who rocked the same type of work even harder.

So … yeah. I probably strive for perfection less than I should.

There’s this story I have about my first day of second grade. The teacher, who had a name that would serve some fantasy writer brilliantly as the name of some species vaguely stolen from the Nazgul, handed out little squares of cardboard for us to cut out templates for construction paper leaves. I somehow missed the information that the leaf had already been drawn on the cardboard and we were supposed to cut along the lines. The outline was on the reverse side of the square I got, so I just (as I so often do) dived right in and started cutting freehand.

When Mrs. Ringwraith got the drift of what I was doing, she held up my purportedly crappy leaf template and announced to the class that mine was different from anyone else’s and wrong wrong WRONG, and I’d just have to wait until some other kid got done with his or her template and I could use it to make some acceptable construction paper leaves.

(Way to just half-ass your first-day bulletin boards there, lady. Palm it off on the kids. Don’t think I don’t see what you did there.)

So acceptable art is what’s like what everyone else is doing, and all leaves happen to be maple leaves. All righty then!

Y’know, as a kid I should have been a teacher’s dream. I’m smart, I like reading and thinking, and I want to be liked by teachers, workshop leaders, etc. But Mrs. R continued to be impossible to please, and she loved to call me out in front of the whole class when I did something that wasn’t up to her specifications. Including the only F I ever got. (Which was for the time I had circled the right answers as instructed and then got so…freakin…bored waiting for everyone else to finish that I underlined all the wrong answers for something to do.

But there was one thing this woman didn’t factor in, and that’s the fact that I’m stubborn as hell and have been pretty much since I was born. So Mrs. Ringwraith, wherever you are in the afterlife, rest assured that I still freehand shit, for good or ill.

There’s art that I love that is marvelously intricate or luminous or beautifully drafted — something that makes me feel in awe of the work that went into it, and makes me wish I could do something like that. But I also love art by self-taught artists, works by outsider artists and people with a wild and strange vision that they have to impart. Not that these works can’t be incredibly intricate and beautifully crafted — witness the baseball-card sized scenes embroidered from sock thread by Ray Materson while he was in prison:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ray-Matersons-Artwork-Fine-Embroidery-Images/207733692591347

I love the energy and passion of these self-taught artists. I have some of the same tastes in music — my progression through a genre of music usually starts with what’s current and then tracks back through influences until I get to what’s a little rawer.

You won’t, however, be reading the phrase “spirituality of imperfection” anywhere but in this here post. Back when I was in publishing, I wrote flap copy for a book on this topic. All I had to work with was a ten page introduction but no actual work or outline (which did not even exist at the time), and I did the best I could. Some time later the editor showed me the authors’ response to my work, and it was one of the two snottiest author notes I ever saw. So that phrase never achieved the ring of sincerity for me.

So there you have it, a little manifesto. This probably isn’t the place to be looking for perfection, but I hope to provide some entertaining and passionate pieces, and I do promise at some point that I’ll share some of my crappier creations. They are good for a laugh, I guarantee.