Friday, October 17, 2014

Creative Paranoia: Embellished Flu Masks

Flaunting germs in a custom flu mask

About two years ago I tackled hand-stitched, embellished flu masks as a series of thematic art pieces suitable for display (see Fabulous Flu Masks). This current pass at flu masks was serendipitous and the result is a fun and easy DIY project that can take off in just about any direction that suits your fancy.
Free flu masks from Kaiser

On a trip to Kaiser for an annual checkup I spotted stations everywhere with dispensers of antibacterial lotion and free flu masks. Who could resist? The results are shown below. Wearing one of these could make the next trip through an airport a lot more entertaining. These may also serve as a cheap and easy approach to Halloween.

Cat (or dog) mask

The cat mask simply involves a black magic marker, a few scraps of felt, and a glue stick. The result is suitable for the disease-wary of all ages.

Ready to go through airport security

The next mask is an abstract of floating orange balls, fashioned from a salvaged, cheesy floral ornament, along with a little scotch tape on the inside to secure the wires. The result is satisfyingly alien and disconcerting enough to ward off fellow passengers.

Abstract, vaguely alien flu mask

This last mask, fashioned from old typewriter keys secured with a little silicon glue, is a bit more ominous.

"Stay Back"

Being perfectly clear

Try your hand at creating a few flu masks of your own. 

Taking a new passport photo

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Ultimate Upcycle: Mosquito Leggings

Mosquito leggings on Ometepe Island

A month-long trip to Nicaragua inspired this latest creation in the ongoing series, "Repurposed Men's Shirts." By night on the Corn Islands, mosquitos carry malaria. By day in towns and cities where folks congregate, mosquitos carry dengue fever. The challenge is keeping legs covered while wearing dresses or three-quarter-length loose pants, as is my wont. The solution? Upcycling a $1 thrift store man's shirt.

The how-to (click to enlarge)

The diagram above is self-explanatory for those who sew. Just turn under the upper raw edge and stitch down to form a casing for the elastic, leaving a small opening to run the elastic through. Run the elastic through the casing; overlap and stitch the elastic together at the ends; close small opening in the casing.

Finished legging on a lovely floor in Granada

Because these were intended to ward off mosquitos, I also stitched the upper opening on the cuff closed. If you're making these purely as a fashion statement, that will not be necessary. On me, the finished legging ends at my lower thigh, just above the knee. If you're short, the legging will extend higher.

Thigh-high leggings

Leggings on a hammock on Ometepe island

The perfect place for mosquito leggings: Little Corn Island

I am so enchanted by these leggings that even though I'm now back in the largely mosquito-free Bay Area, I plan on wearing them often, mixing and matching with other clothing. 

An unbeatable upcycled fashion look

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bicycle Inner Tube Jewelry: Tour de France

The "Tour de France" wristlet

The third creation fashioned from a single bicycle inner tube. (Scroll down or follow this link — bicycle inner tube — to see the earlier two projects.) This wristlet was made by slitting vertically along one of the inner tube ribs and opening the tube out flat. A search through a button collection surfaced a handful of alphabet buttons and a vintage button depicting the Eiffel Tower. The image is on paper covered by a dome of celluloid.

Click to enlarge

After cutting off a length that easily circled my wrist with a little left over, the ends were rounded off. The "Z" button on one end serves as an actual button to fasten the wristlet. A small slit on the other end cut with an Exacto knife serves as a buttonhole. Happily, the cut doesn't travel or widen no matter how much pressure I apply when buttoning the piece.

Buttonhole slit

The final wristlet in action:



The gorgeous vintage button that makes the piece

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bicycle Inner Tube Textile Patches

Bicycle inner tube cut-outs on recycled shirt

An alternative title for this piece might be, "How to Hack a Villager Shirt." If you grew up in the American suburbs in the late '50s/early '60s and were forced into the lock-step fashion regimen of circle pins, Villager clothing and kilt pins, then you'll understand the desire to tackle a Villager shirt and make it a bit more edgy. This is one of a series of projects all created from a single bicycle inner tube (see Bicycle Inner Tube Jewelry for the first project). Materials: Used Villager shirt from thrift store for $1; section of bicycle inner tube; glue stick; needle and thread.

Original, unembellished cotton shirt

I wanted to do a rabbit-in-the-moon motif (if you view the moon from near the equator, it looks like there is a rabbit on the moon, which has spawned a lot of moon and rabbit related folklore). The first step was to print out a bunch of rabbit, moon, and stars images gleaned through a Google image search. After slitting open the inner tube, I glued the images to the rubber (use a glue stick and the paper just washes right off afterwards) and cut them out. I cut circles out of the scraps.

Cutting out the rubber shapes

Stars and circles were attached with a single "X" stitch. Leaving edges free creates a kind of 3D effect. The rabbits have a couple of stitches up their length to prevent them curling back into the shape of the inner tube.

The finished product: a thoroughly hacked Villager shirt.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bicycle Inner Tube Jewelry

Gingko leaf necklace

The next few posts on this blog involve various experiments, all fashioned from a single bicycle inner tube. I've seen the sort of slashed, punked-out necklaces made out of inner tubes before which have their own Mad Max kind of charm, but I wanted to try for something more delicate.

Materials: inner tube, found red wire

Because inner tube rubber is so pliant and soft, you can not only cut it into fairly intricate shapes you can also sew it — in this case with a darning needle and some found red wire from a spool gifted to me by a friend who knows I like intriguing junk and materials.

Rubber gingko leaves

After drawing leaves directly onto the rubber with a ballpoint pen, I cut them out with a pair of small needlework scissors that enable delicate cutting.

Stitching rubber leaves

Happily, the rubber "grabs" the wire, so you can move the leaves up and down the wire, arrange them where you want, and they'll stay in place.

Sewn leaves

The final necklace is lighter than air. I like using a gingko leaf motif on a recycled materials necklace because the gingko is one tough tree, ancient and able to survive the pollution and vicissitudes of modern urban life. It's a survivor during an era of species extinction.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sixth Extinction Couture: Passenger Pigeons

Passenger pigeon elbow patch

In case you hadn't heard, we are currently in the midst of the sixth extinction. There have been five previous extinction events causing planet-wide species loss. The last, the fifth exctinction, was the one involving the meteor, subsequent Ice Age, and extinction of the dinosaurs. Scientists are predicting that this sixth extinction, caused by man in what is now called the age of the Anthropocene, looks to be more devastating than the fifth. 

Passenger pigeon specimens, Cornell

An early victim of the sixth extinction was the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird species on the planet, completely wiped out by us. Passenger pigeons were so thick in the sky in North America that a flock going overhead could blot out the sun for hours. The last recorded pigeon in the wild was shot in 1900. The last in captivity, Martha (named after Martha Washington) died in a zoo in 1914. On this 100-year anniversary, we are introducing the first in the line of Sixth Extinction Couture.

Upcycled Old Navy shirt

Stylish passenger pigeon elbow patches enhance this second-hand Old Navy shirt. The unsightly Old Navy label on the front of the shirt has been over-sewn with an image of passenger pigeon specimens.


Patches and label

There is also a sepia version, with sepia-toned elbow patches sewn onto an old Cotton Basics brown linen jacket.

Sepia elbow patches

Create Your Own Couture
I've included templates below that you may download and print out onto iron-on transfer paper to create your own Sixth Extinction Couture with passenger pigeon elbow patches. When people ask, tell them about Martha.

Template: click to enlarge

Once printed onto transfer paper, cut fairly closely around the images and iron onto cloth (white cotton works best). Then print out the oval patch template below onto cardstock. Place an oval atop your iron-on bird image and use as a template to cut out oval patch. 

Click to enlarge

The Old Navy patches above were done on white T-shirt material and sewn on unhemmed. The sepia version, done on smooth white cotton, was hemmed. Allow a little extra seam allowance around the oval if you're hemming. A strategy: roughly cut out the cloth about 1/4-inch larger all around than the oval. Place oval on cloth, iron around edge over oval template to create even hem and then slip template out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ossified Fairy Wings

Woodland specimens

As recorded earlier in this blog, a little-known fact has recently come to light, supported by the evidence documented on these pages: Fairies regularly shed their wings just as snakes shed their skins. It is theorized, though not proven, that this occurs during change of seasons from winter to spring. Once shed, the wings ossify and crystallize. See the prime specimen below.

Hanging wings: front

Hanging wings: back

The final photo below shows the wings held in a hand to give a sense of scale. If you're curious about how this was done and would like formulas and how-to information see Crystallization.

A wing in the hand is worth two fairies in the bush.

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