Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Transcultural Traveling Scarf

Does it get any better than floating polkadots?

This piece incorporates bits and pieces of textiles found, foraged and gifted over time. The base is part of a thin muslin sari from India. The polkadots are made from cloth scraps from West Africa, Guatemala, and both London and Oakland thrift finds.

The technique used to create polkadots involves making multiple circular shapes out of card stock. A scrap of fabric is then rough cut to extend about 1/2" beyond the card-stock template. The cloth is then ironed over the template to create a neat polkadot. The template is removed before stitching the polkadot down, and can be used again.

Creating polkadots

Ironing down the edges

Finished polkadot backside

The polkadots were attached by pick-stitching around each edge, working from the back of the scarf.

"Invisible" pick-stitching from back

As this is being written, the scarf is winging its way to London  - and from there to who knows where.

Ready to hit the road

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Pimp Your TV: The Flatscreen Version


Mixed assemblage: "Waiting"

When my clunky, decades-old tube TV finally bit the dust and I reluctantly replaced it with a flatscreen version, it took exactly 13 days before I simply couldn't stand having a soulless hunk of technology in my environment. Clearly it was time for Pimp Your TV #4.

Vintage typewriter keys, wood detail from antique Chinese lantern

Tiny model railroad figures painted copper

Magnetized test tube vases for growing herbs

The happy result

Recycling the Old TV

What to do with the clunky old tube tv? It has been through a lot of iterations during the Pimp Your TV series over the years.

The musical extravaganza version

The pink flamingo version

"Forbidden TV" version

After so many years of service throwing it out seemed unthinkable. As a temporary solution, I have turned it into a hallway nightlight, with plans to scribble artwork with a black felt tip marker across the screen at some point down the line.

Hallway installation: daytime view

Nighttime view

About Those Magnetized Test Tubes

The magnetized test tubes used in this version of Pimp Your TV have become one of my household standards, and I can't enthuse enough about their usefulness and versatility.

Magnetized test tubes

Simply glue small magnets to test tubes. Note that it is critical to use two magnets placed a distance apart on the test tube. Using one magnet will result in your test tube full of water spinning on its axis at the slightest vibration or breath of air, dumping its contents all over your decor. I use clear auto marine sealant (Dow Corning) to attach the magnets. Once you are armed with magnetized test tubes, the sky's the limit!

Below, magnetized test tubes take a basic metal desk lamp from ho-hum to boy howdy.

Growing rosemary and basil


You will find you start eyeing your environment for likely metal surfaces, like the metal brackets holding these window shelves in place.

Metal shelf bracket placement

And of course, there is always the refrigerator.

Here's hoping this has provided some inspiration on how to entertain yourself during the dark days of winter. Grab some glue, sort through your junk stash, and go hog wild pimping your own decor.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Advent 2022: Ode to the Backwards Feet People

A Celebration of Feet!

The Formula

2 party garments from the thrift store; lots of tulle and beaded fabric from past projects; lots of custom artwork converted into tags and iron-on panels; and lots and lots and lots of foot-related goodies.

The Grand Plan

The Next Frontier in Advent Couture

Here are the completed advent designer gowns - the smaller, glittery one for an 11-year-old, the ridiculously long black jersey jumpsuit for a 13-year-old. An add-on beaded stretch of fabric has been converted into the sash of a tulle apron. Each day, as the appropriate numbered foot tag is found and the tulle unfurled, the garment slowly evolves and takes shape. Along the way the gowns dispense novelty socks, toe rings, ankle bracelets, toenail polish, custom t-shirts, and theme-related iron-on patches.


Foot-themed elements include the numbered foot tags for the days of December...

A tag for each day

Lots of iron-on additions

The Gowns

Gown A

Gown A breast panel

A bit of ribbon added to the back helps the gown adjust to body size.

Gown A back

A tag on each gown at the back of the sash offers post-Christmas deconstruction tips.

Deconstruction tag

Gown B

Breast panel B

Gown B back

Close-up of Gown B goodies

The Backwards Feet People

While deep-diving into the theme of feet, I googled "feet myths and legends," and to my amazement stumbled upon the backwards feet people — a pervasive legend found in disparate places around the globe very much like the stories of a great flood. A secondary goal for this year's calendar became a commitment to spread the word about these mysterious, elusive creatures. The following text accompanies the bundle containing the first of two backwards feet people t-shirts contained in each gown.

Click to enlarge

The legend inspired designs for t-shirts (purchased from the thrift store and embellished using iron-on images).

The backwards feet running girl

Running girl design

Backwards feet logo t-shirt

Backwards feet logo

The Instructions

The recipients received the following information sheet at the top of the package containing the gowns.

Operating instructions

Thus concludes the tale of the 2022 advent calendar. Hopefully it brings you inspiration and joy, which you are encouraged to pass right along to others.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Fused Plastic Desk Lamp Shade

Gaudi lampshade

As Frank Zappa knew all too well, necessity is the mother of invention, and it can lead to some fun experimentation. When I bought this lamp from Amazon, I was going for the two USB ports built into the base as well as its dimming capabilities, and found the vaguely Edison, science-lab appearance appealing.

In practice, the bare bulb delivered a raw, unpleasant level of glare no one would want in their home. Instead of spending a half hour returning it, I decided to spend around five figuring out how to solve the problem.

I have posted about past experiments with Fused Plastic any number of times on this blog, in projects from  bunting bombing, to wildly frilly aprons, to Barbie survival gear, to Chinese Lanterns. If you follow the link you will find how-to tips for getting started on your own fused plastic experiments. Happily, my own experiments have resulted in a huge bag of promising plastic wrapping. This project incorporates a gift bag from the Gaudi Museum in Spain along with two different wrappings for toilet paper in bulk and a couple of clear vegetable bags to give thickness and strength.

The Gaudi on the lake

The How-To:

Measure, measure, measure. Make several stupid mistakes. Learn from them. And the solution is to use a strip of stiffer plastic (cut from some ribbed plastic shelf liner I have for some unknown reason) at top and bottom to hold the cylindrical shape, glued in with clear silicone sealant. Two wood skewers normally used for something like Chicken Yakitori are cut to size and inserted (after a lot more measuring) so that the shade balances perfectly atop the lamp.

The how-to

And there you have it. A lovely fused plastic lampshade that, while helping to save the planet, will also charmingly light up my life.

Monday, July 4, 2022

A Party in A Pothole


You are encouraged to zoom in

Like so much about America, our infrastructure seems to be crumbling - as evidenced by the killer pothole in front of my apartment building that has been trashing tires and wrecking suspensions for over five years now. Mysteriously, it is always filled with water due to a persistent leak that has stumped the city's finest for so long that they finally gave up.


The pothole

To celebrate the 4th of July and all that America is becoming, I decided to turn the pothole into a resort. This hit and run installation project was made far easier by the fact that all of the streets surrounding Lake Merritt in Oakland are closed and barricaded to prevent out of control crowds and any one of a number of unfortunate events. As a result I was able to sprawl in the street while gluing all the little figures into place.

At least five people including a security guard stopped to ask if I was okay during this process, which I guess is to be expected when you are a white-haired woman in your seventies lying prone in the street. Not a single one of them showed even a trace of interest when I explained I was doing an art installation. This is fine with me. My installations are for the perpetually curious souls who tend to see fine detail and wondrous things when they go out into the world. I would be equally happy if I succeeded in bringing even a moment of amusement and puzzlement to one of our neighborhood crows.

The North Shore

Happy Fourth of July.

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