Wednesday, March 20, 2019

La Primavera: Garden in a Tin

Two secret gardens

This is being posted on the first day of spring, but the inspiration for these gardens came a few weeks ago, during the type of downpour they now call an "atmospheric river." While sheltering under a tree I looked down and saw a large chunk of moss that had been kicked up and was now lying on the sidewalk. I promptly bent over, scooped it up, put it in my pocket, and went home and made these lovely little moss gardens. See end of post for how-to suggestions for making some of your own.

Secret Garden
Materials: Recycled little sweets tin; old Persian image, downloaded and transferred onto scrap of silk; rescued moss.  

The garden enclosed in a tin

The garden revealed

The garden on a sill in the sun

Alhambra Garden
Materials: old mysterious medallion with image of Arab woman; upcycled scrap from a fabric sample book; mirror-cloth stitching to secure medallion; recycled little screwtop sweets tin.

 A mysterious woman's hidden garden

The garden revealed

Garden in the sun

How-to Suggestions:

• Collect any and all little containers and tins that might make lovely little garden containers.  Scrape off old labels.

• Use downloaded, non-copyright images, interesting cloth, paint, or whatever comes to mind to decorate the lid.

• Collect moss to compose your garden. Moss will require spritzing with water every day.

• Alternate idea: use potting soil and a few seeds and actually plant a little garden in the tin. Make the tin lovely. Give as a gift, with instructions to open tin, water, and watch the wonder grow.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Stitching the Ocean

What do you do when you have the flu? Apparently I stitch waves and ripples and droplets and foam. All inspired by Hamonshu: A Book of Wave and Ripple Designs (1903), from the wonderful folks at the Public Domain Review. And here you go. I have left thread ends emerging from the front of the piece because I think it contributes to the general ocean spray/wet/chaos effect. Click on any piece to enlarge.

Spray (brown paper bag, thread)

Waves (brown paper bag, tea bags, thread)

Ripples (brown paper bag, thread)

Droplets (brown paper bag, tea bags, thread)

I am tagging this "false artifacts" as well as "textiles" because these pieces look like they came from somewhere and some time other than here and now.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Archetypal Word Images: The Crow, The Rabbit, and Mr. Kikkith

Never, never, never - Advice from my mother

Where these came from I do not know and where I am going with them remains to be seen. This is a departure from my heavy emphasis on textile and installation art over the past few years, but immediately feels like a deeply familiar flow zone, where words and images combine. This art safari started as most of mine do; with an experiment. I cut open, crumpled up, soaked, dried, and ironed a brown paper bag. And then...

This first piece is called Never, never never, based on advice from an anxious, fearful woman who did her best to impart warnings and wisdom about life. That advice ranged from never eat on the toilet seat, to never trust any advice from a woman friend. 

Crumpled brown paper bag, water color, pen, colored pencils


The next piece is titled Crows as Evidence of a Parallel Universe. There are lots of crows where I live. Every time I see them crying out and tumbling through the sky my heart wants to leap out of my chest.

Crows as Evidence of a Parallel Universe


And finally (for now) we have The Day Mr. Kikkith Floated Out to Sea. Here I experienced another revelation: when activities are happening in parallel, the narrative needn't be linear. It doesn't matter in which order you read the words on this page. And from another angle there is no need to read them at all.

The Day Mr. Kikkith Floated Out to Sea




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Advent Calendar: Hidden Worlds

TP cardboard rolls wrapped with microscopy images

The advent calendar series continues in 2018. In past years the calendar theme has included ball gowns, a time machine, haute couture, the mega terrific fabuloso surprise ball, and more. This year the focus (pardon the pun) is on the hidden worlds all around us. 

Step one was to collect a lot of my favorite recyclables, cardboard toilet paper tubes, which you can fashion into little boxes simply by folding in the ends. You'll need one tube for each day of your advent calendar. Because I have two recipients, I needed to collect 48.

Supplies: a ton of toilet paper tubes
The next step was to collect a lot of visually striking, funny, creepy, fascinating, weird microscopy images (photos taken using a microscope). I made this stage unnecessarily labor-intensive by tediously searching through microscopy images online and downloading the ones I thought were intriguing. I then used photoshop to resize the images, add titles to identify what they are, and add the number of the day on which they are to be opened.

Step Two: Wrap and glue microscopy images around TP tubes

In retrospect, I realized I could have saved myself a huge amount of time and effort by simply snagging a used photo book of striking microscopic images from Amazon for less than $5, and adding the daily numbers with marker pens. Images could also be identified using marker pens.

However, my do-it-yourself approach assured that I was able to include a fair number of fascinatingly bizarre images with a high amount of kid appeal, including creatures that live on your face and worms that live in your eyelashes.

Remembering the creepiness appeal factor

For the daily calendar surprises, I took advantage of a sale on a set of 48 kid-friendly mounted slides offering fascinating peeks into the hidden world. They're mounted on plastic instead of glass, have rounded corners, and clear labels on each slide. I needed to make two calendars, so this gave me 24 slides per calendar, one for each day leading up to Christmas. In addition to a slide per day, each little TP box also contains a traditional foil-wrapped chocolate coin.

Sample from slide set

Note that the images on the outside of the calendar boxes do not correspond to the slides within the boxes. The idea is that they are getting a double-peek into the hidden world each day: one via the image on the box, the other via the slide inside the box.

To enable them to view the slides, I included a pre-advent gift to be opened a few days before the calendar kick-off on December 1. It contains a budget, easy-to-use microscope for kids that was well-reviewed on Amazon. Happily, I have an Amazon credit card that racks up points, and discovered I had enough to cover both the microscope and the slide set, so the whole calendar ended up as a no-cost project.

Kid friendly, dirt cheap microscope

The next step was to string the little TP boxes into a garland for each recipient, using scraps of fabric and ribbon I had in my sewing supplies. I like to mix up the numbers on the garland so that each day of advent involves a hunt for the right box.

Creating a garland

One of many ways to hang the garland


The calendars have been packaged up, ready to be shipped to two little girls in Colorado. Having done my bit for the holidays, STEM education, and human perception, I am now ready for a long winter's nap.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Water Drops: Bojagin Wrapping Cloth

Bojagin wrapped object

The latest in a series of "bojagin" - Korean-inspired cloths hand-stitched together from scraps, each designed to wrap a specific object. Click here to learn more about bojagin and to see the rest of the bojagin on this blog: Bojagin Series.

This piece utilizes scraps of indigo-dyed cloth from an earlier shibori session.

"Indigo Girls" shibori session

Here is the water drop bojagin displayed as a wall hanging.

Indigo scraps, recycled thrift store men's shirts, redwood branch

Close-up detail

Close-up detail
And here is the object to be wrapped: a vintage brass water whistle in the shape of a bird. You fill the base with water, blow, and the result is chirping bird sounds.

Object to be wrapped: vintage water whistle

And finally, the object wrapped. This is the magic of bojagin, when the wrapped object holds untold possibilities and unlimited potential.

Wrapped in wonder

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

All the Rage: Trump Thaumatrope

Postcards and thaumatrope toys

The All the Rage brand has branched out from couture to do-it-yourself toys! The thaumatrope was invented in 1825 by Dr. John Ayrton Paris, and this simple optical illusion has entertained children and adults alike for almost 200 years. The classic version of this toy is a bird in a cage.

A classic thaumatrope

With a bird on one side of a disk and a cage on the opposite side, one only need "wind" the attached strings and release them to set the disk spinning and, voila, you see the bird in the cage.

A simple illusion
In this version, we get more ambitious regarding the cage contents.

Postcard front with a do-it-yourself thaumatrope

Postcard back with instructions (click to enlarge)

These were designed with the mid-term elections in mind, as a give-away incentive to encourage people to go to the polls. You may download a template for printing up your own thaumatropes at home using this link: Thaumatrope Template. Print them up, pass them out, and urge people to vote.

Two completed thaumatropes showing front and back

Sunday, September 16, 2018

All the Rage: Voices Against Trump

Wearing your politics on your sleeve

"Well I have news for you. We're already in a constitutional crisis." - Dan Rather

If ever there was a time to suit up, speak up, and stand by your values it is now. Thus the "All the Rage" series (click on "Politics" here or in the menu at right to see other creations in this series.

Clothing label

This shirt, created by collaging two men's thrift store shirts, is embellished with hand-embroidered quotes about the current president.

"He is a wolverine." - Dan Rather

Shirt front

"Mr. President, we are not afraid of you." 
- Maxine Waters

Shirt back

"Mexico is not going to pay for that fucking wall." - Vicente Fox


"Trump's action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees and raining sulfuric acid." - Stephen Hawking


"Sorta makes me look pretty good, doesn't it?"
- George W. Bush


"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not Christian. - Pope Francis


The quotes included on this shirt in addition to those highlighted above:

• It is our consensus view that Mr. Trump in the office of the presidency is a danger to the nation and the world. - Dr. Bandy Lee, Professor of Psychiatry, Yale

• The earth is not flat and climate change is real. Can someone please inform the folks at the White House? - Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General

• I think his remarks are divisive, stupid and wrong. - David Cameron, former British Prime Minister

• Standing up to bullies is the hallmark of a civilized society. - Robert Reich

• I don't like him. - George H.W. Bush

Wearing clothing with a conscience 

Time to go out and stitch some statement couture of your own and if you don't sew, use magic marker!

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