Friday, July 31, 2015

For the Love of Stones

Bathroom medicine chest installation: found stones

In this world there are those who love stones. Not special stones, not scientifically significant stones, not valuable stones ... just stones. They pick them up, they put them in their pockets, they have stones all over their house. I am one of those people. 

When plumbers arrived to tear out my bathroom walls, it presented an opportunity to resort some of my stones into new configurations while leaving others solidly in place. Here are the results.

New wall arrangement

Vintage, rusted scale; found stones; "pillow rock," once a San Francisco cobblestone, used for ship's ballast after the big 'quake and washed up on shore

Framed stone A

Close-up: found, rusted metal; stone; steel wire

Framed Stone B

Close-up: found, broken transistor; stone; knitted steel

Unframed hanging stone: found scrap metal, knitted steel, stone

Close-up of stone and knitted steel

Medicine cabinet installation: Stones on the Move and Bottled Emotions

Close-up: Bottled Emotions

Window arrangement: Pillow rocks, knitted steel, found stones, old branches and air plants.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stitched Selfies: Jersey Shore

A trio of hopeful optimists posting at the shore

This is the next-to-last piece in the Stitched Selfies series, executed in the tradition of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and the millions of people with iPhones and time to kill who find the capture and contemplation of their own image more fascinating than anything else the world has on offer.

Click to enlarge

The image is from a snapshot taken at Ship Ahoy beach club in Seabright, New Jersey. At left, cousin Peggy; at right, my annoyingly adorable little sister Susy acting out "I'm a little teapot"; and at center, myself, in a bathing suit I wish I still owned. Materials: photo transfer, cotton, embroidery, vintage Jersey Shore lifeguard patch.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Playing with Corn Husk Creations

Corn husk flower

In the past I've made corn husk dolls, a relatively easy craft. Look for a how-to sometime near the New Year because for me, making, drying and then burning corn husk dolls is an end-of-the-year ritual.

This time around I decided to noodle around with corn husks and see what else could be done. If you've never worked with corn husks before, head for your nearest Mexican grocery store, buy a bundle of dried corn husks, and separate a bunch of them to soak in cold water in a large pot for a couple of hours. This makes them soft, pliable, and easy to work with. Once you've finished your creation let it dry and the husks once again become rigid and fixed in whatever shape you've created.

Corn husks: a very cheap craft supply

You can also dye the husks using a natural dye of your choice, from onion skins and beets to red cabbage, turmeric, or blueberries. This time around I experimented with pure cranberry juice, letting the husks soak overnight, and got the lovely rose shade you see here. Rinse the dyed husk thoroughly before using to get rid of the juice; the dyed color remains.

Corn husk necklace

My initial goal was to experiment with corn husk jewelry and I came up with this creation, comprised of cranberry-dyed corn husk disks and a couple of woven corn husk spheres, strung onto thin string. When wet, corn husks are easy to sew, which opens up lots of other future possibilities.

Corn husk necklace close-up

Because I couldn't stop there, I experimented with making a couple of miniature boxes, using a smaller version the recycled cereal box pattern I've posted previously, and an alternate pattern I found on the Web.

Corn husk boxes: natural and cranberry-dyed

Corn husk boxes

Finally, with a few remaining husks, I made a couple of corn husk flowers. These were assembled and then stitched together to secure the petals.

Corn husk flower

Corn husk flower

Expect more corn husk experiments in future months. I will be experimenting with more natural dyes, with stitching, and with corn husk flower brooches.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Jigsaw Shirt


The formula: Use a favorite sewing pattern (in this case a heavily adapted version of Burda 8710). Lay out the pattern pieces. Cut up a couple of thrift store men's shirts (I've used two shirts and one man's pajama shirt). Using a jigsaw puzzle frame of mind, start playing and laying out shirt pieces over the pattern pieces. Once you have a pleasing arrangement for a particular pattern piece, sew shirt pieces together so that you then have a single piece of fabric that extends beyond the borders of the pattern piece and cut out that piece. Sew the shirt together. Voila!

Shirt back (yes, it's the back)

Here's how I went about piecing these together. I had to add snippets of material to the bottom of the pattern on either side to have enough cloth for the flare, but used matching material so those additions aren't visible.

Click to enlarge

I like the way the opening in the gray pajama material at the bottom is off-center. I also love the way the use of the shirt button plackets for a collar turned out.

Button placket used for collar

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Seasonal Boro: Stitched Gingko Leaves, Round Two

2 seasons of stitched leaves

I first used traditional sashimi stitching to apply gingko leaves to small kimonos as a play on the Japanese practice of boro mending about a year ago. (See Happi Coat with Boro Mending and Gingko Leaves.) Now the gingko leaves are in bloom again and in the spirit of boro mending, I decided to freshen the kimonos with new leaves.

Happi coat with new and old leaves

Note how well the old leaves have held up with the sashiko stitching holding them in place. 

Kimono with old and new leaves

Adding new leaves is delicate business, but I find the way the fresh green juxtaposed with the brittle old brown mimics the shades of color in traditional boro very satisfying. I may try to squeeze in another round next season.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Specimens: A Crystalized Assemblage

Specimen jar

Experiments in crystallization continue with the Specimen Jar, an assemblage of stitched leaves, mussel and scallop shells and a few feathers, all crystallized and arranged in a jar, the leaves floating in mid-air with the aid of a little magician's thread. For techniques and how-to's, delve back through the category titled "Crystallization" on this blog.

Crystallized feather


Spiral stitched leaf

Spine and border stitched leaf

Spiral leaf no. 2

Rib-stitched leaf

Shells and feathers

Jar interior

Jar interior

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stitched Selfies: Rotten to the Core

The third in the Stitched Selfies Series, "Rotten to the Core" echoes a refrain I heard frequently whenever I misbehaved as a child (as in, "You are rotten to the core").

In amidst the textile pattern of repeating little girls (me circa 3 years old on a lawn in Georgia) we see the little girl's rotten inner core. We could go into the deep psychological implications of this piece, but let's not. A sense of humor serves as a balm to the most questionable of memories.

As with the other pieces in this Selfies Series, the techniques include digital photo manipulation, collage, iron-on transfer, cloth, and embroidery.

Still haven't quite figured out why I am doing these or what I am going to do with them, but I don't think I'm done yet. Stay tuned.

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