Monday, July 30, 2012

Early Xerox Art

Back in the days before personal computers and scanners, geeky artist types used to hang out around the Xerox machine and experiment with what the technology had to offer. One experiment involved moving the original while the machine was scanning (resulting in a wavy, ethereal Buddha series that is now lost to time). Another experiment involved running separations of an image through a color Xerox machine and building up a color image through a series of single-color print runs. Some store owners were friendly, some were not. I can remember one color Xerox machine blowing out its very expensive bulb over and over again.

The technique used for the image below is pretty basic and simply involves laying various 3D items on the glass. For some reason, you just don't get the same effect when you try this with scanning.

click on image to enlarge

Materials for this piece included: brass bowling trophy; rusted razor blades found on the railroad tracks; watch innards; metal crap found on street or railroad tracks.

Makes me want to run to the nearest Xerox store.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First Responder Jacket

Those of us who grew up with color pamphlets for underground bomb shelters on the end table in our neo-colonial suburban tract homes have an endless fascination with survival fantasies. I can remember starting a diary at age ten or so because hey, it happened to Anne Frank. This latest piece in an ongoing series of survival art (or artful survival) is a first responder jacket.

This upcycled thrift store find was a little blah until I started applying patches created from iron-on printer paper and images borrowed from Red Cross and Marine handbooks, and a circa 1950s pamphlet.

Jacket front: lower edge of the two front flaps have been sewn closed to create large pockets

Jacket back

The patches: I've decided that patches convey a gritty urban look to just about any article of clothing. Even patches of bunnies and puppies would look gritty from a distance. You may recognize some of the same images used for these patches from an earlier project, Survival Doll.

Back patch: creating primitive weapons

Back patch: creating a water filter using a pants leg

Making splints and slings

More weapons and CPR

Surviving an atomic blast

Applying a tourniquet

Because I may want to casually fling my jacket over the back of a chair, revealing the label, and because the original label no longer represents the garment, I also stitched a patch over the original label.

Patch covering label

To confirm the fact that I'm the gal you want to be crouching under a table with when the earthquake hits, I've sewn an emergency whistle inside the lapel.

Emergency whistle
And finally, I've converted the front inside linings into hidden pockets to thwart bad guys who want to steal my stuff.

Hidden pockets

And a final thought for those tempted to take this seriously: If you lose your sense of humor there is really no point in surviving.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Traveling Shirt

This piece builds on an earlier post, Upcycled Shirt #12. The transformed man's shirt illustrated in that post essentially served as a blank canvas for an embroidery-on-the-road project. Those of you with itchy fingers will sympathize with the compelling need some of us have to keep those fingers occupied at all times. In the past this has led to frantic searches for embroidery thread in Vientiane, Laos, or a trip to the stationery store for a sketchpad and pencils in Ios, Greece. For this trip to Costa Rica I planned ahead and brought the materials with me: the upcycled shirt, a spool of white thread, and a sewing needle.

Look carefully to see embroidered sleeves (click on photo to enlarge)

The trick is that, because this is white-on-white, the embroidery whispers rather than shouts. This means you can wear the shirt while the embroidery is in progress and no one will notice. Whenever you get bored, thread a needle and start stitching away again. This traveling project has several advantages, not the least of which is that it doesn't require any extra room in your suitcase and serves as a wearable piece of clothing during every stage of the process and also doubles as a travel journal and/or birding list.

Close-up of embroidery

Close-up of embroidery

The original idea was to record bird sightings on the sleeves and to record impressions of people on the body of the shirt. However, a month-and-a-half after returning home I was still embroidering away on the sleeves and realized this was becoming less of a travel journal and more of a chore. So this traveling shirt stops at the sleeves which include over fifty bird sightings.  To embroider an entire shirt I estimate a trip would need to last at least three months (assuming you want to be enjoying your surroundings and not inside embroidering all the time).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Brown Bag Paper Beads

Wearing a jumble of recycled paper beads on my wrist the other day, the thought occurred to me that while making paper beads from recycled magazine pages is nice, why not use other recycled materials and make the beads a bit more elegant?

Paper bead bracelet made from recycled magazine pages. Nice but ho-hum.

Ironically, in the recycled world stepping up the elegance means shifting from glossy, multicolor magazine pages to more understated paper bags and gum wrappers. The result is a bracelet that looks exotic, serves as a more upscale accessory, and would be the perfect accompaniment to the classic little black dress.

The elegance of brown paper bags and gum wrappers.

For those who have never made paper beads before, the technique can be learned in about two minutes. Cut long, narrow triangles of paper. Roll them up starting from the narrow end towards the wide end. Secure the last bit with a daub of glue stick. Voila - a paper bead. Finish the bead by coating with something like Mod Podge. Put beads on a length of string or twine.

In this case, after the paper bead was made a small strip of paper from a used gum wrapper was glued around the circumference of the bead before the Mod Podge finish was applied.

Close-up of beads

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