Friday, February 5, 2016

Fooling Around with Flotsam and Jetsam

Waiting around for creative inspiration to strike can be a depressing business and, on occasion, a one-way trip to a dark night of the soul. I have learned to fiddle in the interim, and as you can see by my last few posts I have been fiddling a lot lately.

Dog Watch

Here I am fiddling with a rusted old bottle cap found in the parking lot at Oakland's 7th Street Terminal park, combined with scraps of fabric from my overflowing fabric bins. While technically both flotsam and jetsam are maritime-related and come from ships, the beer bottle cap was found at the site of one of the largest shipping container ports in the world so I'm calling it jetsam, though it was probably jettisoned from a car. See the distinction between flotsam and jetsam as described by Wikipedia:

Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship's load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.


Japanese-style sashiko stitching adds a little interest to the fabric band.


So now I've got a beer bottle cap dog watch I can wear as I head out to look for something else to fiddle around with.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Tsukumogami: Objects with Souls

The Wandering Glove

According to Japanese folklore, objects that are over 100 years old become alive and self-aware and often plague or play tricks on humans. These objects are known as Tsukumogami. Japanese artists have created drawings and paintings of the more famous Tsukumogami, like the umbrella below.

A two-legged umbrella Tsukumogami from the "Hyakki Yagyo Zumaki" by Enshin Kanō

We are all free to interpret ancient folklore any way we please, and after finding a small red glove on the floor of the number 1R AC Transit bus, I decided that lost objects are another form of Tsukumogami. Simply by virtue of being lost and out in the world on their own they gain a soul. It was a rainy day and the glove was abandoned in a little puddle of muddy water. I tucked it into my pack, brought it home and washed it, and proceeded to use a little stitchery to bring its inner soul to light.

Close-up of face

I had assumed the glove's animating spirit would be mischievous and a little mean (having been abandoned in a mud puddle on a bus floor), but what emerged was a sort of silly, slap-happy fellow.

Human hair sprouting from the fingertips

The addition of tufts of human hair (my own) sprouting from the fingers served to lend the glove Tsukumogami a little gravitas.

Ready to head out into the world

What to do with the newborn Tsukumogami? I decided to put it back where I had found it, where it had first gained its wandering soul: on the AC Transit 1R bus.

Riding the 1R

Who knows where it will wander now, what pranks will be played, and what legends will grow around the tale of the wandering Tsukumogami glove. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thread Cupcake: A Textile Time Machine

Photo by Pam O'Connell

The thread cupcake above represents over five years of sewing, with snippets of thread from various projects added bit by bit. As you finish a line of stitching there is always thread left on the needle. Instead of going into the garbage, my thread goes into my thread cupcake. In effect, it is a textile time machine. No matter how much thread I add the cupcake seems to absorb it all. Based on what I am sewing, the dominant colors of the cupcake shift over time.

If you sew, I strongly recommend you start a thread cupcake of your own. If, for some reason, you cannot appreciate the wonder and meaning of a thread cupcake I don't really think we can be friends.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

3-D Doodling

Sometimes, while waiting for grander, genius-level, earth-shattering inspiration to strike, it helps to indulge in a little doodling. And why restrict your doodling to the flatland of pencil and paper when 3D doodling can be so much more fun? All 3D doodles below were a thing of the moment, captured on camera and then gone.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Bottled Emotions: The Victorian Edition

I have played with the theme of bottled emotions in the past, but this vintage chocolate box provoked a new assemblage: Bottled Emotions: The Victorian Edition.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Maker Surprise Balls

A lot of surprise balls

Inspired by this year's advent calendar (click here: The Mega Terrific Fabuloso Advent Calendar Surprise Ball), I decided to create some maker surprise balls for an upcoming gallery pop-up sale. The idea here is that each ball (with some exceptions) contains innards that the recipient can use to make something of their own. Below are some examples and some exceptions.

Greener than Thou Ball

Ball innards

Save the planet with this eco-conscious surprise ball: 2 seed bomb bangles (yes, jewelry that empowers you to sow greenery everywhere - see past Seed Bomb Bangles post); necklace of recycled paper beads; gold mesh bag; two foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

Make Something Chinese Surprise Ball

Ball innards

Make Something Chinese: An assortment of gorgeous Chinese pendants including a 2" faux ivory frog, a faux ivory ring, and three carved stone fish; cord for stringing; and two foil-wrapped chocolate coins. Make pendants or perhaps use for decorative pulls for shades or lamp cords.

Primitive Beads Surprise Ball

Ball innards

Primitive Clay Bead Make Project: Create some gorgeous things with contents that include an small embroidered pull string bag from a Hmong hill tribe; 12 large carved clay beads; string for putting together something amazing; and two foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

Bruja Magic
Ball innards

Create some Bruja Magic! "Bruja" means "witch" in Spanish. Ball includes an assortment of magic talismans from Oaxaca including a packet of "Legitimate Powder; I have you tied up and spiked" (a love potion?); a small good fortune bag with a little picture of a saint outside and lots of little seeds, beads, and a mysterious vial inside; a milage (good luck charm) in the shape of a bird; a hand-cut, hand-painted tin hand with a heart in the palm, suitable for a pendant or wall hanging; and two foil-wrapped chocolate coins.

For the Young and Young-at-Heart

Ball innards

Above is one of the exceptions, though I suppose making fun could be considered a legitimate make project. This is the only ball I made for children, and it is in the shape of a fish. Contents include a mini-Slinky, a small finger flashlight, a small goldfish notebook, a toy car, and a foil-wrapped chocolate coin.

I could continue . . . I made dozens of balls. The transferable idea here is that if you are a maker yourself, you have accumulated an excess of supplies by now and you can use some of them to make some intriguing surprise balls, fostering the maker concept in a most entertaining way.

If you'd like to see the balls above and more up close and personal, below is a flyer for the pop-up gallery show.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fused Plastic Soft Sculpture: The Bruja Apron

Fused Plastic Bruja Apron

A second fused plastic soft sculpture - the Bruja Apron. Bruja means witch or medicine woman in Spanish. The first fused plastic sculpture was The Betty Apron, which was all sweetness and light. This apron takes a walk on the dark and mysterious side.

Front detail

The apron is fashioned from fused plastic bags, stitched and appliquéd to form the apron.


Back view


Back button detail


Scroll through the fused plastic category on this blog to see other fused plastic creations, from shoes to a maker project on pop-up banner installations, to lanterns, to Barbie clothes.

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