Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pun Couture: The Tern Coat

Have you ever created a huge, time-consuming project based on a total misunderstanding? Welcome to the Tern Coat - a labor-intensive, wearable pun.

Tern over a new leaf

Decades ago a friend told me a story about two young men in their late teens who gamboled about the San Francisco Delta and exchanged love notes that always contained a little drawing depicting a pun based on the words "tern" and "turn." Just after completing this project we had dinner and he told me I had completely misremembered the story. No matter - the false memory led to weeks of absorbing labor that resulted in the following.

Coat front

Coat back

The coat, which used to be an ankle-length duster I've had since the '70s, now shortened to about mid-calf, is embellished with 25 embroidered tern/turn puns. And here they are. 

A tern for the worse

Tern the other cheek

Done to a tern

From here to eternity

One good tern deserves another

Taking your tern

The tide has terned

Tune in, tern on, drop out

Tern back time

Tern a deaf ear

Tern down

Tern it over

Tern of the century

Tern off
Tern of the screw

Tern on

Tern on a dime

Tern the page

Tern the tables

Tern turtle

Tern up

Tern up the heat

Tern up your toes

Tern up your nose

From a distance, the garment simply looks like a patterned coat. It isn't until you get up close that you begin to wonder what is going on.

Coat detail

Coat detail

Coat detail

Coat detail

All in all, I'm pleased with the way it terned out.


  1. askdjhfasjdhfawieuhfashfasljdk i love it so much omg it's ternific

  2. well done.
    one good tern deserves another, <3
    in old lore one when wants to be safe from fairy glamor,
    it is a way of being in visible or change your luck you turn you coat too.
    in this political climate a terned coat is perfect.
    Terns can spend most of their life off land free from its restraints they are remarkable birds.

  3. so beautiful! check out the artwork featuring birds by artist tony fizpatrick

  4. These are so hilarious and beautiful!!!
    How about a vegetable version with beets? (when you have another few hundred hours to spare!): the beet goes on, if you can't beet 'em, etc etc
    Thanks for all the great posts and tutorials!

    1. Thank you Ingrid, but I'm just too beet to take on another coat!


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