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.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Wound Man: A useful little talisman for people who seem to be falling apart

There are times in this life when the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" seem a bit much. I made these talismans for those times. I was inspired by "wound man" - a figure that appears, in various depictions, in all medieval medical textbooks. Wound man illustrates just about every injury known to medicine at that time that might befall an unlucky human being. Note the animals biting his feet, the assortment of weapons, even buboes near the groin from the plague.

Talisman one: front

Talisman one: back

These pieces employ iron-on photo transfer to cloth, broken jewelry and beads, eco-printed leaves on cotton, hand-stamped lettering, and lots of stitching. Talisman two (below) also incorporates a vintage tassel and glass beads.

I saw the phrase "expect no mercy" while looking out the window on a bus, and thought it would be apt for the back of the talisman. Go ahead and pray, but that rat bite is probably going to get infected and kill you anyway.

Talisman two: front

Talisman two: close-up

Talisman two: back

If you would like to learn more about wound man and see more versions of him, head on over to the marvelous Public Domain Review. And be careful out there!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Object Seeking a Purpose in Life

Collaged kimono fabric

During a trip to the "Kimono Refashioned" show at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco last spring, my final stop in the exhibit was in the hands-on activities room, where visitors could play around with scraps of kimono fabric (some of which were fabrics actually used for kimonos in the show). With a hungry companion and no time to linger, I picked up a few scraps of the fabric and tucked them in my pocket, figuring why should the museum care if I did something with them at the museum or at home. 

A few nights later, overcome with the itch to stitch, but with no particular project in mind, I put the scraps on my work table, moved them around a bit, and then stitched them together using Japanese sashiko stitching (though in places they also look like Indian kantha cloth).

So now I had what was, to me, a very pleasing, oddball piece of textile with absolutely no purpose in life. For a while I put it under a vase of flowers, which I will admit was very pleasing, but in the long run not really this textile's purpose. Then it simply sat on the sideboard in my dining room, waiting for something to come along.

And what came along was succulents. For no particular reason I began to pluck (using the correct, internet-approved method of twisting gently) single leaves from succulent plants I passed on my walk, then letting the stem end callous over and waiting for the thrilling little hair roots to appear. During this process I needed a place to let the succulent leaves rest and generate roots. My eye fell on the textile suffering from an existential crisis and the question of what this textile's purpose in life is was finally answered — it is a succulent nursery.

The succulent nursery

Little root hairs appearing

The moral to this story: Never hesitate to create something beautiful even though you don't know why you are doing it or what it is for.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Advent Calendar: Mistakes were Made

This is the ninth in a series of decidedly secular advent calendars. This year's theme is climate change since the recipients, now ages eight and ten, are becoming increasingly concerned and even skipped school to go see Greta Thunberg at a protest rally. Thus the title: Mistakes were Made — by many humans over many years, including probably you and me. 

However, it is also a double entendre —I made more than a few mistakes myself in the course of making this advent calendar (like forgetting to put something in one of the ornaments before sealing it closed with several layers of papier-mâché). This led to a number of weird little notes that direct you from one ball to another ball, and a lengthy, two-page "Advent Manifesto" explaining how all of this works. For you rugged readers who make it to the end, you will find the manifesto there.

I started off with one  papier-mâché ball because the idea of using recycled paper seemed to suit the theme, without thinking much about what kind of commitment that would entail when I needed twenty-four, one for each day of December leading up to the 25th. My work room was awash in flour-water sludge for weeks.

The larger balls hold climate-change-related projects, while the smaller balls hold a chocolate, foil-wrapped "coin" along with a climate change joke. And believe me, climate change jokes aren't easy to come by. I got most of the ones below from a German site, Die Klimaschutz Baustelle

Climate change jokes - click to enlarge

Just to make things a little more difficult I decided to add some papier-mâché birds, thinking in terms of the planet earth and the "fowl of the air, fish of the sea" sort of vaguely biblical thing.

Crazed polka dot cardinal

Little yellow bird

A pigeon so gorgeous it warrants several photos...

Pigeon close-up

Pigeon closest-up

And on the twelfth day arose the problem of the fish of the sea. Happily (and it took me half-way through the project to realize/remember this) I have an entire school of papier-mâché fish suspended from my bedroom ceiling. It was simply a matter of reeling in a few, gutting them by cutting a little hatch cover in their bellies, stuffing them with goodies, and papering the hatch cover back in place.

The fish of the sea
The trout

The goldfish (which is truly huge)

The objects inside the larger balls, fish, and pigeon were all accompanied by copy explaining the objects. They included things I've featured on this blog in the past, like DIY Seed Bomb Bangles and Living Mold Jewelry, and futuristic baskets made from recycled plastic and soda top tabs.

Inside of the gorgeous pigeon are several little bags of vintage buttons with the following copy:

While in the midst of making all of this, I spotted and bought two whoopee cushions at the Dollar Store, stuffed them into one of the larger balls and accompanied them with this copy:

Other items included bracelets and necklaces made of corn, peas, and beans that you could plant or eat, a shrine for old sewing needles, pins made out of rusted metal found on the railroad tracks, bee pins with copy about the importance of bees, and much, much more.

My original plan had been to create a garland out of recycled lace, with the objects hanging from the garland. As the project progressed I realized trying to assemble and pack a garland with so many unwieldy objects at this end and having them try to unpack and hang it somewhere at the other end seemed insane.

The garland idea

As a result, and because I was exhausted and had to get this in the mail, I decided to make it a "some assembly required" piece, including all of the lace and hanging supplies, but leaving the decision about how to hang it up to them.

I could not resist accompanying the entire package with the following manifesto. And yes, I hand-drew a picture of the chandelier-style hanging option on page two of the copy I sent. You will simply have to imagine it.

Manifesto page one - click to enlarge

Manifesto page two - click to enlarge

And great good luck to the recipients at the other end!

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