Tag Archives: Wiscon

The Week in Dangerous Crafts

Standard
The Week in Dangerous Crafts

So I’m back from Wiscon, the feminist SF convention that takes place in Madison every year. It’s my mini-vacation; after the first year of commuting an hour each way, I started staying at the con hotel, which means I can manage later nights and/or earlier mornings. The last few years I’ve been putting stuff in the art show, some for sale, some not, but just to show off. Mostly scarves — first the very subtly colored silks I made with plants for dye. This year I’ve found ways to get much brighter colors, so I put in mostly those newer scarves, plus some framed collages and some of the galaxy tees and deconstructed tee shirts I made the last couple of weeks. It was a lot — 48 pieces, which required marking them all down on the control sheet, then making bid sheets for each one, which I usually do over lunch with my friend Gwynne, who comes to the con from LA.

I missed a lot of the opening stuff while I put up all my pieces (with help from a wonderful volunteer), and then was so tired I crawled up to my room without going to the opening ceremonies or parties.

I checked in once or twice a day to see how things were going, but for most of the weekend, it didn’t seem like much was moving at all. But by the time I took down my 3 panels, I realized some had gone. Once we checked the bid sheets against the control sheet, I realized it was even more than I thought. I haven’t added it all up yet (the art show folks double and triple check that stuff, then send a check), but I think it’s going to prove to be worth the work. Not THAT much work, though. Maybe I’ll take it back down to two panels next year, and mostly keep it to scarves.

When I get over Wiscon exhaustion I’d like to put some up on Etsy, and maybe try a few scarves in my flea market booth. Otherwise, they will just be hanging around the house for another year, bogarting the TV remote and drinking beer.

Anyhow, here’s my booth:

Panels 1 & 2

…and the other side:

Next year, I hope to pare down my selection and my work, and maybe put some of the energy into making a kickass outfit for the big party night on Sunday. Everyone looked so inspirational and fabulous for the dance party!

Can I take an incomplete? Project #13

Standard

I spent a lot of my weekend moving furniture and cleaning the carpet in my living room, or recovering from doing so. And despairing over how the process of cleaning something could create such utter chaos in my house and hoping I could get things somewhat sorted by the time I have company next weekend. But I finally did settle in while waiting for the carpet to dry, and finished a project I’ve been working on for a while.

Well, not quite…

I’m close to finished, but I need another four buttons to finish my cuff bracelet, and some kind of closure that uses them, so I’ll have to hit a fabric store or the dreaded Walmart. (All right, I admit it — I bought the original eight buttons at Walmart. So yes. That is where I will have to go.)

Once more, my fondness for using bits and bobs and irregular leftovers bites me in the butt, but I don’t think I care. I had half a cowlneck sweater in alpaca wool left over from another project (the Occupy tent? Can’t quite remember), so I figured it would make a cool cuff, though it’s not exactly a fit.

When I was in Austin, I bought some silk hankies at a fiber store. They aren’t actual hankies but the silk pod from a cocoon that’s been stretched out over a square frame. The pack I bought was dyed a delicious mixture of purple and blue called Spilled Ink. I thought that would make a great thing to use as an overlay on the alpaca, so I attempted a wet felting, adding some wool into the mix to get fibers of both the silk and wool sticking to the alpaca. Not a great success (or even a medium success), as they just peeled off the alpaca. But I liked where it was going so I pulled out the felting tool and needled away.

Image

The matter of closing the thing is probably the trickiest of this whole project (yes, it’s free-handed). I liked the thought of a row of tiny buttons, very Victorian in that fiddly sort of way. My first thought was that I’d make a loop of elastic on the opposite side and slip them over the buttons, but I don’t think I like the way it looks.

Image
Made the decision to put another row of buttons on the opposite side instead, and I guess I’ll try some kind of lacing system to get the thing to close. I’ll have to report on that when it’s finished, but I think I have a way to get it to work. Maybe a couple of options.

After adding the last bits of roving into the design, I am pretty happy with what I have. I did sew on a couple of wee little beads, remarkable more for the source than anything else. A year or two ago I bought an armload’s worth of wee beaded bracelets on eBay that Eliza Dushku had donated to one of her favorite causes. (I don’t even want to say what I ended up spending because I could not allow defeat.) Some of the stretchy little bracelets are so stretched out they’re just loose strings, more or less, so I had planned to use them in various projects, but this is the first. I put in three, just for a mysterious bit of sparkle, and I might add more later.

Image
Alas, I got nothing done for the art show at Wiscon, which had been one of my major goals this weekend. I have the stash of silk scarves, of course, but I wanted to have a few different types of art up there too. Well, after I have finished moving all the furniture back into place and completely spiffed up the guest room. Ahem.

By the way, the color of the alpaca is truer in the second picture, not the yellowed first or third. My camera’s batteries died and so I had to use my phone.

 

And hey, as of today I’m one-quarter of my way to my goal. WOOOOO!

First one’s free, kid…

Standard
First one’s free, kid…

So regular readers of this blog may remember (::cough::) that I was somewhat (::cough::) cranky on Sunday and not feeling the big creative love until sometime around 6 or 7 pm. Then I made a tie-dyed scarf with a new medium, plain ol’ food coloring.

Well, I got all charged up again and ended up making another five in one day, and I am loving them to pieces.

I love when that happens.

Here they are, with the one that started the whole frenzy.

The dye packages have little charts telling you how to make other colors, so I tried my hand. My first attempt was stormy blue. I didn’t stir the color mix up after pouring in the hot water, so I got this scarf that still has separate patches of the color component — and I love it.

Imperfection FOR THE WIN.

The apricot scarf I stirred the component colors better, but due to the small container dye method (which I love), it still has a nicely watercolor effect. Apricot, you may be fascinated to know, comes from mixing GREEN AND PINK.

WAIT. WHAT?

Will try to post more colors another time.

This weekend will be interesting. I’ve got a bunch of things yet to make for Wiscon, plus getting the house in order for a guest in a week. Must also sneak over to my flea market booth and see how I’m doing!

Ocupado!

Standard
Ocupado!

I’m thinking stabbed fingers and hand/arm/finger cramps count as danger

As I sit here waiting for a sumptuous lunch of fake-Kraft Mac n Cheese (I love its name in Canada even more–Kraft Dinner, aka KD), i am 99% done with my project of this week. (Which is fitting, and you will see why very shortly.)

I decided this was the perfect year to enter the annual birdhouse contest at a store called Phoebe’s Nest. But my initial thoughts were “I can’t think of anything to do!” and “My woodcraft skills are questionable!” Then I thought of something. Not a woodcraft project at all, but a tent, made of (this will surprise no one who has been following along so far) felt.

And like the wildass that I am, I freehanded the whole damn thing (which is occasionally obvious).

And I really really like this project.

Almost every bit of this is made of recycled materials, and the rest from leftovers from past or undone projects, which is one of the things that pleases me about it. The floor and side walls of the tent are made of a sweater I got at a thrift store and felted in the washing machine. I reinforced the floor by sewing a piece of cardboard from a mail order purchase between two pieces of the thick felt.

Two layers of felt with a piece of cardboard sewn between.

I made a frame of a heavier gauge wire from my “I’m going to make jewelry!” phase, slipping it into slits in the floor and sewing it to the tent walls.

Getting the frame in place--o hai thar, foreman!

And attaching frame and walls to floor.

The end flaps are made of a square of a burlappy sort of material that came in a bag of fabric scraps from the costume shop at American Players Theatre.

Pretty purple fabric, trimmed off a costume-in-progress at American Players Theatre.

Then I made the signs from pieces of another thrift shop sweater, needle felting the words on them. As you can see, my freehanding tendencies — and Eyeball once, cut multiple times philosophy — sometimes get the better of me. #Occupy has some serious kerning issues. I did better with the long banner, which may have been helped by felting in We and then 99% and then filling in the middle 2 lines.

The stark black stitching is intentional — those are meant to be tie-strap thingies.

Birds do twitter too.

So woo hoo! Finished! Except not. I really wanted there to be some things inside the tent. So I made a sleeping bag and a matching one that’s rolled up, and a red backpack. And I decided on one more thing, both to make the shape of the backpack less flat, and also because I didn’t like the empty backpack any more than I liked an empty tent. So I made a wee book to go inside. I used stick-on Velcro to put the pieces in place — hooks only, as the felt provides the fuzzy.

Personal effects.

One more bit of verisimilitude to go, and it will be done. So now, full of KD, I go downstairs to photocopy or scan (whichever looks best) the cover of the CD version of an album I owned in vinyl back in the late 70s. It came with a stencil so you could spray paint the cover everywhere, which was my inspiration for making a sign of it.

As it turned out, I photocopied it, but the copy came out black and white. So I added the incandescent yellow of the album graphics with a yellow sharpie. Mod Podged the whole thing onto cereal box cardboard and used staples and a bit of Velcro to place the sign at the mouth of the tent. And this is the version I submitted to the contest:

Occupy Birdhouse

And Tom Robinson, those songs are still pretty relevant today (sad to say). Rock on.

While in past years the birdhouses were all sold and donated to a fund to restore the local theater, this year they will be returned to the artists. So I plan to be showing this at Wiscon this year, where it will probably also be for sale.

“MY GOD, IT’S FULL OF STARS”

Standard
“MY GOD, IT’S FULL OF STARS”

By the time this year is more than halfway through, I suspect the most-used tag will be Fixes for t-shirts I wrecked by dropping food on my rack.

This is the first. Though it was originally kinda ruined when I got bleach spots on the hip. How that occurred I can’t even tell you, since I don’t use bleach in my laundry. It’s a mystery. I was wearing it anyway under a cardigan, but then I dropped something on my rack (it’s always salad dressing or something that won’t quietly disappear in the wash — someone needs to write a scientific paper on the attraction of oily foods to the sizable rack).

So I found a tutorial through Pinterest where that begins with you spritzing bleach all over a black cotton tee, so it seemed like a natural. Plus, it looks really amazing.

You can find the tutorial here:

http://treasuresandtravels.squarespace.com/blog/2012/2/21/diy-galaxy-tee.html

So here’s the shirt I started out with — a nice basic tee that I wasn’t nearly ready to part with yet. Except — crap! Grease stain!

Out, damned spot!

I sprayed the shirt with bleach, and then promptly tossed it in the washer. But here it is, post-spritz.

I love the fine spray of reddish color here.

I dotted around several colors: smudges of matte gray and some iridescent blue and red, using my Shiva oil paint sticks.

Point down, and a little twist of the wrist

Then I smeared around some white glitter paint throughout. The original tutorial used white paint and glitter separately, but I went with what I could find at the megalomart on the way home from work, which has a good fabric section and a crappier crafts section. I wore this once, then decided it needed more glitter. Though I wore it again, I suspect I’ll add some spots of paint by thumb-flicking paint-loaded bristles, rather than flicking the whole brush a la Pollock.

But here is its current form:

Pretty slick, huh?

Though I’m very nervous about it, I’m wanting to try this on a canvas tote, with some handwritten text in a resist medium before I bleach. I think it would make a very cool item for the Wiscon art show — which, HEY, I GOT ACCEPTED!!!

Chaos!

Standard

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.