Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Corona Couture: A Blouse that Screams

Pandemic Solo Fashion Show

A few weeks ago I came across a news clipping from Japan, where they had opened up an amusement park but in an attempt to reduce coronavirus risks, they also posted a sign saying: "Please scream inside your heart." To me, this seemed like a poetic encapsulation of the entire pandemic experience as well as a meditative mantra. As you get more tense and irritable during the isolation with restrictions and flat-out jerks who aren't following any health recommendations, best to scream inside your heart instead of at other people.

I took a blouse I never much wore or liked and did an all-around upcycle. My new pandemic mantra is now embroidered around the lower edge of the shirt. I top-stitched the shoulder seams using the same red embroidery thread. The gorgeous buttons are from a visit to my favorite button vendor on Portobello Road in London.

"please scream..." 

"...inside your heart."

Embroidery detail

Shouder detail

Fashion for a fragmented reality

Fashion postscript: I hand-stitched the pants early in the pandemic using fabric on hand (Kayla Kennington Designer Patterns, Perennial Pants Collection).

Sunday, July 26, 2020

All in All = The Wall

Pandemic-era wall treatment

Time for another chapter in the ongoing, seemingly endless Corona Chronicles. Getting bored during the pandemic? Grab some garbage and scraps of this and that and redecorate your house!

In this segment we feature a wall that happily consumed at least the first two months of the 2020 pandemic. My dining room has a faux paint treatment that makes it look sort of like a rotting Italian villa. However, this portion of the wall was a total fail that I have lived with for years. Because of extensive water damage, layers of the wall were exposed, and the happy solution was to make it look like a portion of the Italian villa's under-wall had rotted away as well. Unfortunately, the under-layer involved using a really unfortunate clay color.

What better time to work on reimagining a wall than while sheltering in place during a pandemic. I worked, of course, primarily with materials on hand, though I did encounter a world-wide ModgePodge shortage in the process.

By happy accident, the song I use to assure that I lather up my hands for the approved 20 seconds is Pink Floyd's, "The Wall," so I hummed that a lot during the project.

Here is a partial overview of the materials use in this annotated photo of the wall.

Wall ingredients (click on photo to enlarge)

Those materials include:

Ginkgo leaves painted gold

Ginkgo leaf prints on paper bags

Used tea bags

Gold leaf, and lots and lots of washed paper bags

Additional ingredients included: bits of rusted metal found along the railroad tracks; coins flattened on the tracks; bits of broken jewelry and watches.

About the paper bags: I have gotten addicted to working with paper bags. I cut them open into a rectangle and remove the seam. I then scrub them under water, wadding and unwadding them several times, then slap them on the side of my refrigerator where they dry flat. I know they're almost "done" when they fall off the refrigerator. There is many a night during this pandemic while I have watched TV to the background gentle shushing of leaves of paper falling off my refrigerator. This method produces a texture and softness I like.

To glue the paper onto the wall I used ModgePodge and also used it as a top coat sealant. At one point as I was making ginkgo leaf prints to add to the wall I thought, Huh, these leaves look so pretty themselves, I wonder if I could use real leaves on the wall as well. So I did, and attached them with gluestick. For heavier bits like watch parts and rust, I used clear silocone as the glue.

Here are a few final shots of the wall. It is almost impossible to photograph and looks very different based on angle and light. I have been living with the finished version for a few weeks now. I love it.

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