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Midland, Texas, United States
I write. I make stuff.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Going Back In

That's kind of how I think of this, as "going back in." Meaning going back into a project that I've already done and then adding to it or going further or whatever. This is what I want to do now: keep working on things I've already done instead of adding more things to the closet. That's not going to work all the time because I have ideas for garments I want to try to make, like tweaking the apron pattern and making it out of lighter-weight linen. But for the most part, I don't want more stuff; I want to do more stuff to the stuff I already have.

Stuff. What a useful word. A veritable portmanteau of a word.

First, here's the latest duster. While I loved getting this linen for $2 a yard and had fun seeing how it would wash up and dye and stuff, I'm not loving the texture so much: it's rough and not so nice against the skin, and there's not a lot I can do with the surface: it's too nubby, for instance, for text, and it's too loosely woven for beads (they'd slip through the fabric). I had another duster in the darker shade of orange and sent it to Wendy to play with. So here's the duster and the apron I kept. I may keep these, or I may make others in other linen and then pass these on.

I used this pattern I made:
Seriously, that's pretty much the whole pattern, right there. I just continue down as long as I want each duster to be. I really love this shape and the way it fits me.

I've gone back and put a hook and eye closure on all of these dusters, just in case.
 The edge binding is hand-dyed handmade rayon/silk velvet bias binding, folded and pressed and sewn on with silk floss using the Cretan stitch.
 I had some red-orange silk floss with a metallic gold thread through it, and I thought I'd use it up. I started inside one of the pockets and went up over the shoulder and down the back to the bottom, over and over on just one side until I used it all up. Then I used DMC metallic gold thread in between the rows, just to see how it went and what it would look like. I don't like using polyester/rayon stuff, but I *do* like shiny, so it was a good experiment although probably not something I'll use again.

 These boards, below, were the shelves that were over the washer and dryer before last week's re-do. I realized that they would make a perfect top for my old workbench, which has a narrow, kind of funky top. The legs are sturdy, though, and it's the right height, and I think I can easily attach these permanently to the top, stain and wax the boards (there are 3), and have a really nice workbench. For my—ahem—collection of saws that I never use. Because 1) I don't have a good place to set them up and 2) I'm just the tiniest bit afraid of them.
 But never mind that! Let's move on, shall we? (I hate being afraid of *anything* but I have read Stephen King's short story, "The Mangler." Something even *I* remember.)

You've seen this before, the Flax jumper I worked on a while back, where I gutted the rag doll my mother and I made when I was five and stitched her onto the front. I've added other stuff, including a list of the places I lived, in order.

 This is what I stitched yesterday:
 And then I've been taking apart my old charm bracelets (I don't like any heaviness on my wrists or hands or around my neck), giving away parts of them and keeping the stuff that still means something. I had charms for all the states where I've lived (except Colorado, which somehow disappeared at some point), and I stitched those in place by the state names. I think these will go through the wash, but if they don't, I'll do something else. I mean, buttons go through, right? If these tear off, I'll mend the hole they leave and then reattach them using those fishing things, you know, the ones with the swivel and the snap hook you can undo. Then I could remove the charms before laundering. Or I could hand wash: I've never hand washed anything besides, long ago, pantyhose and underwear (never again), but reading India Flint's advice about hand washing, it doesn't sound so hideous. More of a meditation on the value of clothing. Whatever: this won't have to be washed often, as it's worn over stuff and doesn't touch my skin. As long as I can keep from getting food or wine on it, it's good.
 Most of these charms are about 50 years old.

 This, below, was rattling around the house; I don't know where it came from, but it had a loop on it, so I sewed it on, too. Why not?
 Then there's this, which I love. It was my baby bracelet from the hospital when I was born.
 I used two strands of strong thread to sew it on, and then I couched the cord that had held it to my wrist. See the little metal thing they smushed to hold the cord in place?
 So cool that this has remained intact all these years.
 A piece of red velvet from a dress my mother made when I was a baby.
 A charm sewed onto the appliqued cat.

 So that was fun, this jumper that's become all about my childhood, apparently. I love Going Back In and adding to stuff, making it richer and deeper and more meaningful. Also heavier, which I may someday regret when I have to have help to lift it up and put it on. Hire a train bearer for my clothes.

Then there's my Mad Scientist Lab Coat, which I love. I didn't make it; I bought it used. Here's what it looked like then, after I dyed it and made the pocket and added buttons but before I did other stuff, like removing the collar:

 After removing the collar and adding "Mad Scientist":

 Stitching along the front:

And now, after appliquéing a bunch of test tubes and stuff, which was way fun: I always wanted a chemistry set when I was a kid, so I'm making my own imaginary secret lab and assuming my secret identity at last. Universe, beware! (I'm sure I told y'all that the reason I never got a chemistry set as a kid was because of the time I was alone in the kitchen (a rarity; my parents weren't stupid) and I mixed up vinegar and baking soda in a glass, and when it started bubbling, I panicked and ran outside and threw it on the lawn. And burned a huge patch out of my father's grass, which kind of ratted me out, right there. No chemistry set for me, alas.)
 I never took chemistry in high school and had no interest in it because by that time I'd realized they wouldn't actually teach you to be a spy, which is what I'd always thought it was all about. And the reason I wanted to be a spy was Maxwell Smart's shoe phone. Duh.

 The WOW is for "Worlds of Wonder," which is what you find when you look through a microscope. At some point I may go back and bead the scope, but not now. Right now I've got all these other ideas that won't leave me alone, so I'm going to see where they want to go.

 I love these guys, below.
 I had a ton of hand-dyed floss and cotton perle in these funky shades of green and so used a bunch just stitching around on the seams. That's fun for me, too. I love adding random color, and this is an easy way to do it, and it's very portable and great to do while talking or watching a movie or something. I kind of think of everything as one of two things: it's either the part where I have to think and plan and make a pattern and cut and try stuff out, or it's the part where the work-work is all done and I can just cruise, doing the part I love. This is pretty much the way writing works for me, too. Once I've done the research and the interview and gotten the introduction, which tells me where I'm going, then I get to do the fun part of just telling the story.

OK, I admit it: I kind of love the research part, too. I'm a little geeky like that.


I also thought at some point I may Go Back In and put in some chemical equations or something, maybe make up some of my own. I was going to put on some for poison and explosives and stuff but figured that's the kind of thing that would get your internet searches flagged for sure.

Snort. Yeah, right: I'm EXACTLY the person who would be building a bomb.

I just made myself laugh out loud.

OK, OK. Where were we? Oh!

So that's it. I've got one more thing I've gone back to work on, and I was having fun doing it but quit to do this stuff, and now I'm ready to go back to it and finish up this part but don't want to: it's a jacket I wear all the time when it's chilly, but now it's not (it was like 90 yesterday), and I have no desire to work on something I know I won't wear for 6 months. I like to imagine finishing something and putting it on, and if I know I'm not going to be doing that for a while, I'd rather be working on something else. So I don't know about that one.

While I was writing this, it got really dark and cool outside, with some distant thunder and a breeze coming in, and the cats started going nuts, racing through the house and making those racing-cat noises. Now it's brighter and seems to be clearing up, and they're settling down again. Weird how that works on cats, isn't it? What do they feel? Barometric pressure, yeah, but how does that *feel* to them? I'd like to be a cat for a day, just to see what it's like. Minus the part about having to clean my butt with my tongue. Minus that part. Also the part about eating random fish and chicken parts. Eh, never mind. . . .

Thanks for coming by~~XO

Friday, May 15, 2015

This Week

I used to not show things that weren't Finished, but recently I've decided that nothing is ever finished, that things are always changing and that just because I've stopped working on something and like where it is enough to leave it, that doesn't mean it's done; I might decide to do more to it later. Or not. So here's where I am with the bag I made out of two of my mother's wool sweaters that I fulled. I also used not to take photos when the porch was all messy because I hate seeing photos with distracting backgrounds, but eh. I've got a lot of things going on, stuff I'm working on, and if I wait until the porch is all nice and bare-ish, I'll be waiting a long, long time. Because: I have to repaint the porch. Not different colors, but just a new coat of paint. And it's not going to be fun, seeing as how the spindles are alternating colors. It will be a total pain in the butt, but it's got to be done to protect the wood. You know how house painting goes: it seems silly, but if you don't do it, you'll be sorry later. So sometime here soon: porch painting. You'll hear me whinging all the way to Vancouver.

In addition to painting this room and all that stuff I showed you in the last post, I also went to the Hand Guy this week and had X-rays of my hands done again. It's been 2 years, so he wanted to see what's going on.

 We found out this finger (ring finger on my right hand) has fused itself in the distal joint, which is pretty dang cool to me. I hadn't even noticed until last week. It's functional and doesn't hurt unless someone grabs it and pinches it (the Hand Guy made me yelp), so it's good this way.
 I had fun taking photos of the process. Cool machine! So much more fun than mammograms.
 They let me take photos off the monitor. I think they're clear enough that I can enlarge them and use them for some stitching project later. Cool beans.

Then we went ahead and injected both CMC joints with steroids. I had that done on Tuesday and so had to kind of "take it easy," something I loathe, for a day. Thursday, yesterday, I got busy dealing with the windows in our bedroom. Forever ago I special ordered burgundy metal blinds and a white lace shade thing, and over those, like a valance, I tacked strings of silk roses. Very cool, and it looked great, but I think it's been about 20 years, and since I don't dust and shit, (you know what they say: adding "and shit" to anything makes it sound all gangster, and if anything needs to sound Gangster, it's dusting. Dusting: what a stupid concept).

Anyway, so I took all this stuff down yesterday and did a lot of vacuuming of dust, and now I'm thinking about what color I want to paint that window trim, which has *never* been painted and so is still off-white, omigod.

This stuff will all go to Goodwill. The lanterns may go in the trash; they're pretty trashed already even though they're still cool.

Gessoed with old, funky gesso, below, in preparation for being painted and made into hanging racks: some nice hooks screwed in and then the board screwed to a stud somewhere inconspicuous for hanging stuff like The EGE's running hats, stuff like that. I need to finish that today, but I've been having fun.

I also did an article this week, just so it doesn't sound like all I do is play. Of course, the profiles are so interesting to me that they don't really seem like Real Work, but that's the way work *should* be: so satisfying it doesn't seem like work. Which means to me that we have a really skewed definition of "work."

Huh. I could go on but will spare us all. Yay!

OK! At last! The bag as it is now:
 The antler closure was from a bunch of antlers we salvaged in the last hour of an estate sale. Nobody wanted them, and I hated the idea that all those (goats or little antelope) were killed and then their horns were just tossed away, so I paid some nominal amount and brought them home and have had them for over a decade and try to use them for things that are cool. I drilled two holes in this and had used it on another bag and then removed it and saved it. I enlarged the holes and sewed it on. And right after that I came across a 1910 silver half dollar that someone, my dad, I think, had made into a button with a solid shank soldered to the back. I wish I'd used it, but I'd already cut and stitched that huge-ass buttonhole to accommodate the antler and am not ready to go back and stitch it smaller. I may at some point, but I may use the half dollar as a button on something else. See? It doesn't matter: it doesn't have to be finished. I can change my mind and come back later.

 Janice Kissinger was both my inspiration and my guide on this project. She's fabulous.
 At some point I want to do some needle-felting and some felt appliqué on this, stiffening the sides and adding color. It seems like a cold-weather project, though, so for now I'm going to put it in a bin with a cedar block and store it until I'm ready.
 The belts were my dad's.
 And one last Cool Thing: I got this cheapo little shoe rack from Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $8 on clearance, and it holds our Yard Shoes and Walking/Running Shoes. We take these off on the porch, and this is just perfect for corralling them. (We take off other shoes, the ones we wear when we go somewhere, right inside the front door. It makes the house cleaner, quieter, and more peaceful: once I realized how many men spit randomly, wherever they are, in West Texas, I never wanted shoes in the house ever again. And then I realized that, symbolically, we're leaving the world outside when we come home, a very peaceful kind of ritual).
Now it's time to go walk. I've printed off some Google maps of my walking route for this idea I have for a stitched project (apron? duster? I don't know yet) that will be about my daily walk. I realized last night when I thought about this idea that it was inspired in part by one of the artists I interviewed. I'm not even sure which one it was or when we talked, but what I realized was that everything goes into some place in my mind and percolates and then bubbles up randomly in some form. I'll try to write more about this later, but my thumb says I've typed enough, and it's time to eat fruit and take that daily walk.

Thanks so much for coming by! Hope your week was good and that you have something you love planned for your weekend. XO