Saturday, May 16, 2020

An Infestation of Memories

World Traveling Mouse

These were completed on day 60 of the Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders. Has anyone else noticed that, given unlimited time, your mind has been wandering through the back alleyways and hidden caverns of your memories, surfacing vivid incidents, smells, sights, conversations or places you haven't thought about in years?

These "memory mice" were inspired by the posting just prior to this one, Cardboard Pets to Keep You Company. It occurred to me while making those little cardboard creatures that my memories during this long interlude of isolation are like mice—skittering around my apartment, seen in fleeting glimpses in my peripheral vision. So I decided to make some memory mice to scatter around my apartment in unexpected places.

The framed memory: page from my address book circa 1970

I created mice out of scraps of copper sheeting and assorted junk from my stash of rubble including: rust pieces found on the railroad tracks, tin can lids, old keys, pop-top tabs, broken jewelry, crumpled lightbulb bases, and more.  Each "memory," whether a photograph or scrap of paper, is framed using an old tin can lid and incorporated into the mouse structure.

This first mouse contains the page from an old address book that includes the location of the East African center and the Indian center of an international experimental college I attended in the twilight of the 1960s, an experience that profoundly changed to course of my life.

The Margot Mouse

The piece above is called the "Margot Mouse" after my grandmother, who was one cool character. That is her eye you see in the tin can frame, and the framed eye itself is a discard from an earlier project, Fiddling Around with Mrs. Fitzherbert's Eye (inspired by an interesting scrap of English history that focuses on intrigue and forbidden romance).

Detail of mouse head

Margot's eye

The final piece is called the Warthog Mouse because that's the way I kept referring to it while making it. It features a photo of me at around age 30, and if you take a close look at the expression on my face you will see how this piece got its name. The women in my family were all trained to deliver perfectly executed looks that could kill, and here you see my version at its finest. I still remember the top I was wearing, fast-forward fashion purchased in Bangkok (see—skittering memories).

Warthog Mouse

A look that could kill

Thus ends, for now, the saga of the three little memory mice. I may make more, though in all likelihood my attention will now drift on to something else—like gluing paper bags to my dining room wall.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Cardboard Pets to Keep You Company

Three insanely abstract mice

I have been doing projects via Zoom with my grand-nieces during the Covid-19 shelter-in-place, and our most recent project involved working with recycled cardboard (and we all have a lot of delivery boxes to dispose of, right?). The images that sparked this project were posted by someone on Facebook, but sadly lacked attribution. If anyone knows the creative brain behind these cardboard masks, let me know and I will post a link here.

Cardboard masks

I decided that instead of making a huge face or mask, I would create a pet to keep me company during isolation. While originally thinking in terms of a zany cat or dog, it turns out I am no more capable of assuming responsibility for a fantasy pet than I am a real pet. So instead my thoughts turned to mice. I have had mice in my apartment before. They feed themselves, they entertain themselves, they let themselves in and out; they are the perfect pets for a self-absorbed, absent-minded artist type. 

Here are my mice. Materials include cardboard, metallic paint, puffy paint, wire, and beads. I plan on installing them down near the baseboards, peeking out from behind the furniture.

Mouse one

Mouse two

Mouse three (we call him "Gordito")

Grab some cardboard and create your own menagerie.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sea Glass Whimsies

Installing a sea glass sculpture in my mini succulent garden

Lives there a soul who has visited the shore who doesn't have a stash of sea glass in their house? Well if you've got some sea glass and you've got some glue, get ready for some fun during these long pandemic days. This is sort of like creating mini-stained glass windows with no technical skills whatsoever. I used a small tube of super glue, but I suspect a glue gun might make this even easier.

Sea glass sculpture on window sill


The only trick to this is identifying a base piece that will allow your sculpture to stand up, making sure there are enough contact points between two glass pieces to allow you to achieve a bond, and balancing the whole thing. If you've chosen a good base, the balance part is easy.

A favorite piece

Alternate view


This final piece incorporates a shard of a sea-worn broken cup I found on a stretch of landfill on the San Francisco Bay that is slowly being eroded and yields wonderful finds from the past. This is the piece that kicked off this project.

Assemblage piece using old pottery

On window sill overlooking the lake

I hope you start playing with your own sea glass and make whatever space you have found yourself in during this shelter-in-place saga a touch more magical.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saint Corona Miracle Jam

Jam label

Yes folks, there really is a Saint Corona, martyred by having all four limbs torn apart, and patron saint of plagues (though there is some dispute about that). Google her and read all about it.

Meanwhile, we are in lockdown here in the Bay Area, I had too many blueberries that were in danger of going bad, and a friend in London suggested I just make them into jam. If you too are finding yourself having difficulty juggling grocery supplies and find that fruit is in danger of turning, make jam! Who knew it was so easy? It takes just half an hour and this simple little Recipe for Blueberry Jam makes it super easy. Only three ingredients, and you can find easy substitutes for all three of them. No blueberries? Use any fruit. No lemon? Substitute apple cider vinegar. Avoiding sugar? Use artificial sweetener. 

Blueberry miracle jam on whole grain toast with cream cheese

It was while stirring the jam on the stovetop (a very Little House on the Prairie activity) that I began to think I should design a label for the jam. I had already learned about St. Corona and had downloaded the few images I found of her online. At the end of this post, I am including a link to a downloadable PDF that offers a sheet of six labels for you to print out and slap on your own creations.

Below is alternative number one:

And here is an alternative label:

And now it is time for you to make some miracle jam of your own. Follow this link: Saint Corona Miracle Jam Labels. You will be able to download a one-sheet, printable PDF that looks like this:

Click link above for downloadable PDF

Have fun, stay safe.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Corona Couture: Two New Gloves!

Bats and Snakes!

This is the second post in the Corona Couture line. To see the premier posting featuring four different gloves, go to Corona Couture: Gloves to Die For. These are the final two in the series (unless this goes on for months and months, in which case I may make more). As a person in a high risk category, I wear these whenever I leave my apartment. Upon returning to my apartment I throw them in a basin of soapy water and wash my hands thoroughly as well. I think their main advantage is that they prevent me from touching my face.

The first design, shown above, was based on early days when the virus was restricted to the Wuhan province and they were trying to figure out the source. They had narrowed it down to bats or snakes. Now we now it is bats, but I came across this great old graphic online and just had to use it.

Close-up: Bats and Snakes!

As I explained in the earlier post, I ordered a half-dozen pairs of white cotton gloves from Amazon for under $7 total. I found images I wanted to use, printed them out on a photo transfer sheet, ironed them onto cotton fabric, and stitched the images onto the gloves.

La Corona

I think the La Corona gloves are my favorite so far. They use the La Corona image from the Mexican lotteria game. As my eight-year-old niece was fascinated to learn, "corona" means crown, and the virus got its name because of its crown-like spikes. The top, black-and-white image on the gloves is a new international graphic icon for the coronavirus.

My favorite


More Corona Couture will appear on these pages in coming weeks. I am currently considering creating a series of hats to be worn during Zoom meetings. Stay tuned, stay apart, and stay well.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Corona Couture: Gloves to Die For!

A cluster of coronavirus gloves

So it is early 2020 in the dawn of the millennium and the coronavirus hits. I am over 70 with a pre-existing respiratory problem and ride public transportation daily. What's a gal to do? As always, my answer is to immediately start making stuff — in this case, cotton gloves with coronavirus-related graphics and words. Perfect for touching all of those doorknobs, grab bars, railings, and other unsavory surfaces, and even more perfect as an ever-present reminder not to touch my face.

The basic gloves were purchased online at Amazon for just $6.95 for a six-pack. Embellishments include photo image transfer, patchwork, hand printing, beadwork and stitching. 

This first pair includes hand printing and microscopy images of the virus.

Add caption

This next pair features a microscopy image of a single virus cell and beadwork.



This pair includes a set of images that popped up on the internet right after the Wuhan outbreak, designed as international symbols relating to the virus.

From top right in the image below: a symbol for the virus itself, a symbol for coronavirus quarantine, and at lower right a symbol denoting "no coronavirus."

In this final (for now) pair, two ancient Chinese symbols have been employed. Seen more closely in the second photo below, the top symbol is a talisman to relieve the effects of all poisons, while the bottom symbol is a talisman to stop spirits from entering.

Worried about the virus? Go out and make some gloves of your own.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Wound Man Talisman #3

Wound Man: He won't protect you, but he knows how you feel.

Apparently I was not quite done with Wound Man (click here to see the two earlier versions and the back story regarding the history of this figure and image source). This version relies heavily on links with Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas. Materials include milagros (metal charms depicting the limb or body part or problem you would like to have miraculously removed by a deity) and dried peas from a necklace made in San Cristobal. Inside the little bottle is liquid and tiny stones from a magic packet purchased in my favorite aisle in the Oaxaca mercadeo, where the stuff for creating wonders and magic is sold. Both stones and liquid are promoted as "strong magic."

"Strong magic" stones and liquid.

The reverse features hand printing on a scrap of flower-pounded fabric.

Back of talisman

And the words? I saw them on a sign while I was riding by on a bus, and am simply passing the message along.

Related Posts with Thumbnails