Thursday, September 30, 2010

All Business, All the Time: Repurposed Ties

This is the original garment I made that uses recycled men's ties. I hand stitched the jacket, it was kind of blah, and then I had a dream in which one of the dream characters was wearing the jacket as you see it below. They even showed me how the ties were stitched on. One of the few solutions I've ever received in a dream. Not a cure for cancer or anything but hey, you take what you can get.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fish Table

What can I say, other than that my goal when I become a wizened old lady is to open up a roadside attraction on the side of some lonely highway to delight passers-by. Make up your own tale about the story behind this table.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Braille Pins

This series of pins was inspired by the sensory garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland, where a circular little pathway leads you past a waist-high, winding stone wall and beds of aromatic herbs and plants. I don't know if you're supposed to or not, but I always pinch a little leaf here and there and smell my way around the garden. Originally the stone walls sported little brass plaques on top with Braille signage, offering the names of the plants. Alas, in a revamped version of the garden, the Braille signs no longer exist.



"Frog" One

"Frog" Two


Materials include tin can lids, scraps of metal, old jewelry pieces, flip top tabs, and a watch casing (for "rice"). I am aware of the irony here—a blind person wouldn't be able to see the pin you are wearing so they wouldn't know they could read it. If they did, they'd probably damage their fingers; the Braille dots were punched into the metal with a nail and the result is a little sharp. But the idea was nice.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Rubble Decor

Here's another sideboard (see the first by clicking here) assembled from bits of broken pottery found on the stretch of shore I call "Glass Beach," where the tides eat away at a landfill and slowly expose bits of glass and pottery and tumble them in the surf.

Click to enlarge.

Find the ear! Click to enlarge.

The sideboard was completed in two separate panels, slipped into place, and secured with a couple of nails (this is an apartment so it's easily removable). The two sections were then grouted together down the middle. Note: doing a pique assiette (broken pottery) mosaic with irregular found shards isn't easy and requires some desperate fast-paced grouting around and under odd overhangs. The little praying lady was not found on Glass Beach. At this point I have no idea where she came from, but she fit so beautifully onto the jutting plate that she got added to the sideboard.

FYI: the pie, cake and rabbit on the sideboard all come from Creative Growth—a wonderful project/gallery in Oakland where highly talented artists with mental, physical and developmental difficulties get to while away the day making wonderful things.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Recycled Rubber Bags: The Clutch

The last rubber bag in this series and one of my favorites—a small clutch. The clasp is magnetic, but the clasp decoration is a smashed lightbulb housing. For the back story on the rubber bags see this post.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recycled Rubber Bags: Guess What!

For back story on rubber bags see this post. Below we have a bag that incorporates a print I made of a vintage postcard I found in an antique barn on the Jersey Shore. I love the mystery of the story behind the card. The date is 1944 in the middle of World War II. It's sent from San Francisco. What's your guess?

Front of bag with inset postcard image depicting Golden Gate Bridge

Back of bag

Close-up of message side of postcard (click to enlarge)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recycled Rubber Bags: First Responders

More recycled rubber handbags. For the backstory see the original post here. The following are from the "first responder" series; all include inserts with first aid instruction from various sources.

Insert with graphic from Chinese first aid manual.

Insert with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation technique.

Insert from Chinese first aid manual. 

Again, it's the wear patterns on the rubber that really make the bag. Note the pebbled effect from road wear on the middle bag. The inserts are protected with a top layer of clear vinyl, and backed with a panel of rubber and then stitched into the bag. The security people at airports always stop me to discuss these bags. They seem to love them.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recycled Rubber Handbags

An obsession of mine for a while, and I find that you have to keep experimenting with just about anything before you get it exactly right. Thus the plethora of recycled rubber handbags in my wardrobe. 

These are made from recycled truck tire inner tubes. After experimenting with studs and rivets I finally settled on using a hand awl and sewing them together for the best and most durable results. Most of the clasps and D-rings (used to attach the shoulder strap) came from a bin at the Depot for Creative Reuse for about 25 cents each.

You use the natural curve of the tire and the bags pretty much make themselves (after you do a little geometry and math). What makes the rubber more interesting is the wear pattern, printing, and patching.

In subsequent posts I'll show close-ups of bags that reflect more creative playing around. Where do I get the rubber? If you've got an art car and drive out to the industrial netherlands of East or West Oakland to a station that services semi-trucks, the grizzled guys who work there tend to believe you when you say you want some old, unusable truck inner tubes destined for the waste pile for art. They let me pick and choose whatever I want for free. Heavy duty preliminary washing of the rubber is required before crafting can proceed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thai/Tie Messenger Jacket

The Final Message

This hand-stitched quasi-kimono-style jacket is my own design and employs recycled men's ties. The collage on the back denim panel uses the Silicone-Paper-Denim collage technique I've outlined in the previous post.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Let Them Eat Stones

Silicone-Paper-Denim Collage: A technique I figured out some time in the '80s that enables you to create a paper image collage on denim. The result is so durable it can go through a washing machine.

The Technique:
1. Figure out your collage and arrange the pieces on the denim to see how it looks.

2. Smear the back of one piece of paper in the collage with clear silicone (available at any hardware store; I use Dow Corning Auto Marine Sealant). Affix that piece in place on the denim. Repeat with all collage pieces. Let dry.

3. Use a large piece of tracing paper, lay it over your collage, and trace each collage piece, allowing about a quarter-inch extra margin around each piece. Carefully cut the shapes you've drawn out of the tracing paper. Cut only the shapes themselves. The end result should be a solid sheet of tracing paper with holes that mirror your collage pattern. 

4. You are now going to use the tracing paper as a mask for the final glue layer. Place the tracing paper on the collage again, matching the holes in the tracing paper to the shapes in the collage. You may tack the tracing paper down here and there using a little glue stick (which is water soluble) if you'd like, to make the next step less nerve wracking.

5.  Using your fingers (with paper towels nearby for emergencies), smear silicone over each hole in your tracing paper. This should create a silicone seal over each shape in your collage, and that seal should extend about a quarter-inch around each collage image. You can see how the seal extends beyond the image in the last picture above. When all shapes have been siliconed, lift the tracing paper away. Use a toothpick or q-tip to neaten up the edges of the shapes. Let dry.

The end result is a collage that is silicone-sealed on front and back, making the paper impervious to moisture, dirt, or whatever.

The Jacket:
I created this "let them eat stones" collage during my stint as a restaurant reviewer (10 years for the East Bay Express; 2 years for SF, the Magazine of Design and Style; and several editions of Fodor's guides to San Francisco). The denim jacket is sort of a James Dean approach to eating for a living in a town full of foodies.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mend Writing

An artful technique for tacking down patches, covering stains, or decorating a repurposed used garment.

Mend writing tacking down a blue jean patch insert ("ripped")

Tacking down the other side of the insert ("soft wear")

This embroidery strategy lets you get a word in edgewise by using the English alphabet but arranging it so that it looks vaguely like some kind of Asian writing.

Mend writing concealing stains

After laboriously hand-stitching the top above, I found it discouraging that I managed to get food stains on the front in fairly short order. Here, mend writing right over the stains pretty much solves the problem.


In mend writing, you incorporate some letters inside of other letters. Note the "t" inside the "s" above; the "i" inside the "a"; and the "e" inside the "n."


Because almost no one else can read mend writing, you can be very sarcastic and/or blunt in your communication.

Repurposed altered and patched shirt with mend writing

Above, a used shirt has been altered by removing the collar, shortening the sleeves, adding a pocket (using the sleeve material), shortening the length, and adding side slits. Some mishap or other shortly after it was completed also necessitated a patch on the front.

"used clothing"



The flip side

"wear it out"

"use it up"

Try deciphering the mend writing below on your own, and feel free to offer your translations in the comments section. Note - here I get a bit sarcastic about American consumerism.

A hint: the top horizontal bar appears to be missing from one of the "a" letters
Related Posts with Thumbnails