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.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Crystallization: Ossified Fairy Dress

Who knew that fairies shed their dresses and wings just like snakes shed their skins? Careful searching of a forest floor may lead to the discovery of a little ossified ballgown like the one above.

In this case the ossified gown has been replicated with a little human help and a supersaturated solution of 3 tablespoons 20 Mule Team Borax per cup of boiling water. The first step: create a diminutive ballgown out of scraps of linen.

Next step: immerse the gown in the supersaturated borax solution and let sit for a few hours (this crystallization process took just three hours—apparently borax crystals love linen).

In suspension

Suspension from above: a toothpick through the shoulder loops, hung by a piece of thread from a wooden skewer.

Drying, suspended from a corner over the kitchen sink

The finished gown, now weighing about a pound and able to stand on its own

A fairy gown in the hand...

Or hung on the wall

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Crystallization Experiment #4: Shells and Rocks

Crystallized rock and seashells

Here are some odds and ends from earlier crystallization experiments (see Crystallization for earlier experiments with books, photos, and eyeglasses). I think the point here is that you can crystallize absolutely anything and the question is: What would look far more interesting if it was crystallized? I already have my next experiment in mind...stay tuned.

Once again the formula used is 3 tablespoons 20 Mule Team Borax (available in any supermarket) to one cup boiling water. Stir to create a supersaturated solution, immerse your object, and walk away. You'll have stunning crystals in less than a day.

Crystallized rock

If you're like me you tend to pick stuff up when  you're wandering along the seashore. Once you get home you empty your pockets and end up with shells and rocks scattered here and there throughout your house. Now you can crystallize them and while they will still just be a bunch of crap lying around your house, they will be very, very interesting and mysterious crap.

Crystals following their own path along a seam in the rock


Scallop shell with gorgeous crystals

Close-up: gorgeously fat borax crystals

Clam shell sporting a spill of crystals


The end.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happi Coat with Boro Mending and Gingko Leaves

The second in a series of experiments with gingko leaves. This accompanies an earlier project, Japanese Boro Mending with Gingko Leaves, featuring a miniature kimono. Here a scaled-down, hand-sewn happi coat is the canvas. Happi coats, made of indigo or brown linen, date back to the Edo period (1603-1867) and usually featured a family crest. I find the leaves of one of the most ancient trees on the planet perfect for that purpose.

Front (click to enlarge)

Close-up, left side

Traditional Japanese sashiko stitching has been used to secure the leaves, which then become a form of boro mending, a traditional style of patching garments.

Close-up of sashiko stitching

Close-up of sashiko stitching

On the back of the coat, a few random little red leaves have been added as well.

Back (click to enlarge)

Close-up of left back

Close-up of right back

Red leaf

Close up of sashiko stitching

I will be posting pictures of both gingko leaf stitching projects after they age. My hope is that they will look even more like classic boro-mended garments at that point. To see boro mending on human-size clothing, from the practical to the extreme, click here: Boro.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Japanese Boro Mending with Gingko Leaves

This piece combines three of my favorite things: 1) the Japanese tradition of boro mending; 2) sashiko stitching; and 3) gingko leaves. All coming together on a scaled-down, hand-sewn kimono with a few other little leaves I picked up along the way added for embellishment.

Kimono front (click to enlarge)


Detail: stitched leaves

Detail: stitched leaves

Kimono back (click to enlarge)


Detail: stitched leaves

Detail: stitched leaf
To see a second experiment with stitched gingko leaves see Happi Coat with Boro Mending and Gingko Leaves.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Chopstick Training Shirt #1

Back of chopstick training shirt

What to do with a single yard of 45"-wide fabric (part of the score in an everything-you-can-stuff-in-a-bag-for-$5-deal at the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale)? In the past I've had fun fooling around with a square of fabric to create a garment so I thought I'd try once again. I've also had fun fooling around with chopsticks and have often incorporated the how-to instructions on restaurant chopsticks wrappers into various assemblages, jewelry, and other creations. For this piece I scoured the Internet searching for chopsticks how-to instructions, printed them out onto iron-on transfer paper, and created patches which I then sewed onto the chopsticks training shirt.

Front with close-up of instructional patch sewn on pocket

Back (see close-up of patches below)

Close-up of upper patches

I like the effect of iron-on transfer on the cotton plaid patch (a scrap from an upcycled man's shirt), creating an homage to the Japanese tradition of mixing plaids in textiles in interesting ways. These images are from a patent application for a chopstick user's training mechanism.

Lower side patch on front

Below is an outline of the steps I took to transform a yard of fabric into a vaguely Asian-looking training shirt. The fabric is cotton and gauzy, perfect for hot weather.

Click on image for close-up

Click on image for close-up

Obviously, all measurements can be adjusted to suit different sizes (e.g., trim a larger strip off the side in the initial cutting step; use that strip to create a longer shirt/tunic; make arm opening larger or smaller, etc.).

Final shirt

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crystallization Experiments #3: Photos

Vintage photo with alum crystals

The final experiment for now with crystallization before moving back to textiles (which, by the way, do NOT crystallize well). To see earlier experiments see Crystallization Experiments 1: Books and Paper Ephemera, and Crystallization Experiments 2: Reading Glass Curtains.

Photo in supersaturated Borax solution

I half expected photos to simply dissolve or to have the images become muddied when immersing them in supersaturated solutions but not so. In fact the reverse is true; crystallization seems to seal and preserve the photos, particularly the Borax crystals.

The formula again involves 3 tablespoons of 20 Mule Team Borax per cup of boiling water, stirring to dissolve and create a supersaturated solution. Immerse the photo and wait for crystals to attach. The photo here (taken circa 1973 and printed by a drugstore photo service) was immersed for about a day. It is now rigid and covered in crystals.

Self portrait: photograph encrusted with Borax crystals


The next photo, taken of my mother standing in the garden in Stone Mountain, Georgia circa 1949 or so, is also a commercially printed snapshot. This photo was immersed in an alum crystal solution (1/2 cup boiling water and 2.5 tablespoons alum), which forms much larger crystals, for about 24 hours.

Frozen hope: photo encrusted with alum crystals


The final experiment involves a photo circa 1910 or so, developed on an uncoated paper much thinner than the photographic paper used today. I left it in a supersaturated alum solution for a few hours. It crystallized nicely but once out of the bath and drying, the crystals began to fall off. As a result the end result shown below is a bit of a cheat. I glued crystals back on, which enabled me to strategically place them where I wanted to. However, in the close-up below you can see that hundreds of miniscule little crystals are adhering to the photo paper on their own.

A Moment in 1910: photo with alum crystals


How do you frame a crystallized photo? Find an old frame, remove the glass, and glue the photo directly to the frame backing. Here, both frame and backing were wood, which worked out well aesthetically.

Framed crystallized photo

 After viewing these experiments, a friend is planning to dip one-page programs for a memorial service for her mother in a Borax crystal solution. The possibilities are endless. The "frozen memories" metaphor is fairly compelling. Have fun experimenting on your own.
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