Off the Beaten Path

I wrote the following on January 12th. That was almost a month ago. Any guesses as to why I never bothered to publish it? I was on a guest computer and was unable to find a good pic to throw up in the heading. Yeah, that’s it. And now, I’m sitting here debating with myself whether I want to delete it, or try to edit it because it’s a month old and no entirely up to date. I’m not going to do that. I do that too frequently as it is. My dashboard has a cache of half-worked blogs that I never finished and now feel too lost in time to bother completing. That ends. So, here is what I intended to publish almost a month ago, still lacking a photo:

Today, I was going through my reader, reading some of the newer entries of other blogs that I love but don’t always have the time to dedicate to reading – because I am working, or spending time with friends and family, or creating things, or watching Hindi films (which is usually a 3 hour commitment where I actually have to pay attention to the screen so I don’t miss subtitles and get lost. No knitting or embroidering during a Hindi film. All the more reason I should probably buckle down a really learn the language beyond the handful of words and phrases I know.).

One of the posts I was reading was this post from my internet acquaintance, Arlee. If you’re a artsy person, or if you’ve been around an artsy person, or have noticed the chaos in some of the photos in my own posts, you know that clutter tends to be an inherent, and arguably essential, part of the process. Since I left my one bedroom apartment and moved into a house with 2 roommates, I haven’t had the kind of carte blanche to just wreak havoc in my endeavors (which my be part of why there seem to be fewer such endeavors, or at least not so many hardcore artistic adventures), because I need to be respectful of shared spaces. I’m also too broke to afford awesome studio space anywhere. Fortunately, my roommates are pretty laid back and awesome nerdy types that spend most of their free waking hours holed up in their bedrooms on their laptops (Nerdy types are just, in general, awesome people. Of course, I’m rather biased.), so I am usually able to get away with dominating the big table for 2-3 days before I actually need to clear it off (to make room for gaming).

Another bit of excitement I have is learning that The Culture Monk is going on an epic Drinking in the Culture Tour (he’s referring to copious amounts of coffee, not booze – why is it that “drinking”, unless you specify a beverage, always seems to refer to alcohol?).

And then lots and lots of random travel blogs from people that have either more determination or less emotional ties to family than I do. (Wander Onwards and Halph– which is done by my friend, Jesse – are a couple of these) I would love to be able to travel the world, to live abroad for awhile. But there are so many things I would miss out on if I left.. I am sure that somewhere there is a universe in which I am living in India or wandering aimlessly around the world.

But, for now, I think I am going to find some manner of crochet pattern on Ravelry for a lemur or meercat or something to make for this new baby in my family that was just born yesterday.

Advertisements

My Fangirl Crush on Hank Green and a New Tshirt!

The last time I posted, I was making pants. Those pants are not done. I got frustrated with the stupid zipper and banished them to the finish-some-random-months-later-because-you-angered-me pile. I keep that pile in the corner next to the couch. That will give that zipper time to think about what it’s done.

In other news, I discovered Hank and John Green. I know, I know.. oh so many people out there that were years ahead of me on this, but I’m apparently the first one in my circle of friends and family to have come upon them on the internets… and I’ve developed a huge fangirl crush on Hank. Yes. Hank Green is now officially in my guilt-free three (which goes 1. CM Punk 2. David Tennant 3. Hank Green if anyone is curious). I’m subscribed to Sci Show and Crash Course and am going through and watching every Vlogbrothers video in chronological order. Because when I get interested in something, I dive all the way in and no one recognizes me for several weeks until it’s leveled out. And now I have to share that wonder of discovery. So, here is a song that Hank sings about tshirts and jeans (Hey, look at that, I just made a random new obsession relate-able to the topic of this blog. I should get bonus points for that.)
However, as awesome as this song is and as awesome as Hank is, we here at A’Cloth the World know that even a tshirt and jeans carry meaning.

I kind of what this Nerdfighteria shirt. Because I want to communicate my nerdfighter status and my love of the entire concept when people stare at my boobs.

Don’t we? Yes we do. I like to wear my personality on my clothes. A lot of us do. I always see all these tshirts that I want but I never buy. I look at shirt woot and tshirt hell and ban tshirts regularly, and I see all these designs that I like and all these shirts that I’d like to have, but I seldom buy anything. Because I’m frugal and it’s hard to justify new clothes to me. My boyfriend has gazillions of tshirts and no qualms about spending money to buy more tshirts. Thankfully, he has good taste and we wear the same size. So, I raid his tshirts when I want to change up what I’m wearing.

Some months back, I purchased some Crayola fabric crayons, because I thought it would be fun and easy to decorate clothes that way. I mean, I love the look of embroidery, but, sometimes I want a faster turnaround, ya know? So, like a lot of my ideas for projects, the crayons sat in the bottom of a box of stuff for months before I reminded myself that I had them in the first place. I decided to try them out tonight. I saw a couple of disappointing reviews (here and here), but I wanted to try this out for myself.

I started with a plain tshirt and decided to draw and color directly on the shirt itself with the crayons. The instructions say to draw on paper and then transfer, but, that didn’t bode well for others, so, I just drew directly on the shirt.

GE GE GE

GE GE GE
And then I used an iron to heat set the designs. You can actually see a difference.
GE GE

Here I am rocking my new shirt!
GE GE

Yeah, I'm now a nerdfighter.

Yeah, I’m now a nerdfighter.

 

 

The End of a Journey; Post Art Show Reflection

As quickly as the Boneyard Arts Festival came upon me, and I rushed to complete my artworks, it flew by even quicker. After a month of hard work and pushing myself, it is both soothing and weird to be able to just lay back and relax. My brain is still scouring for the next urgent “to-do” and it feels lost and somewhat panicky, as though I’ve forgotten something. This past week has been especially stressful, as I had to pull all-nighters to finish my work on time alongside dealing with some pressure from my day job. I actually went to work Wednesday on not more than 90 minutes of sleep. I did it, though. I pulled through and each piece was a success, as was my live demo. If you’d like to follow this particular journey from the beginning, see my earlier posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Community Center for the Arts (C4A):

C4A is largely a space for music, but they are starting to become a space for visual art as well. They provide various music lessons for a variety of instruments and ages and many of their members are talented musicians on their own. I had 3 pieces on display here, and they will be on display through the rest of the week.

Acid Tears
GE
I originally created this piece for the Hatch show I participated in the early part of March, however it didn’t muster jury approval. Perhaps proof that the opinions of a jury aren’t the most important and that having a piece rejected isn’t the final word, this piece actually sold before it was hung for Boneyard, based on a photo that circulated. Even if it hadn’t, I would have still been very proud of it. I put many hours of blood, sweat, and tears into it. It is this piece in particular that deeply reflects my own struggles and how the echos of the past can color the present.

Silent Screams
GE

This was the piece I started with and it was the piece I finished with. This is the piece that I am perhaps most critical of, because I know that it does not match what I had in my mind. Despite all of the flaws that *I* see, the feedback I have had from others who have viewed my piece has been positive. We are always our own worst critics. We have to realize that what we give birth to as artists will not always mirror the image in our minds, and it may grow into it’s own. There is also no law that says any artwork cannot be improved upon just because it’s been shown.

The Cycle
GE
Perhaps the most powerful of these three works, at least for me, this one captured my attentions and my focus from the minute I began to work on it. As I mentioned to a friend on Facebook, this is my art-incarnate fetal self. It is my mother, my grandmother, it is the any-woman. A spiral that carries with it all the hopes and fears through time and generations, asking the ages old questions about fate and free will.

Of course, I was not the only artist to display here. These are my 2 favorite pieces.

From Carmen A. Egolf:

GE
From Sarah Keenan-Jones:

GE

Habitat for Humanity of Champaign:

This was especially fun for me. I was asked to do a live demo for 4 hours and, at first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. With limitless possibilities of activities to choose from, it was hard for me to narrow it down. Since I still had several balls of tshirt yarn left over from when I did that knitting workshop about a year and a half ago, I decided to do something with tshirt yarn. Wanting to be able to teach something new to passersby, I anticipated questions and brought enough supplies for others to join in if they wanted. For 4 hours I sat at the little table that the ReStore staff graciously let me pick out, with crochet hook in hand, and proceeded to craft a beautiful little flower as store patrons looked on and asked questions. Aside from my friend and fellow textile artist, Rachel Suntop, no one took up hook or needle alongside me, but I had a number of interested onlookers, including a little boy of perhaps 7 that exclaimed, “I want to learn how to do that when I grow up!”. You have no idea how much that really made my day. I hope I sparked an interest that sticks. It would be so nice if that little boy eventually grew into a man that could work wonders with hook and yarn!  I will likely never know, but it’s a happy daydream all the same.

Some photos of me working the demo, thanks to The News-Gazette and photographer, Heather Coit.

Photo by Heather Coit from The News-Gazette

Photo by Heather Coit from The News-Gazette

Crunch Time – The Stressful Step on the Journey from Concept to Art

So, the Boneyard Art Festival is now only a week out. Despite my best intentions and efforts, I am behind schedule. This, however, is normal. Over the course of the next day or two I will metamorphose into a crazed superwoman that somehow puts it all together,  just in the nick of time,  with a crazed expression and excessively large bags under her eyes from stress and lack of sleep.

Anyhow, this post is going to be short and sweet so I can get back to doing what I do. How about some pictures!

GE

Outlining the vocal apparatus.

GE

Trying to quilt as I go.

GE

Starting to think this would have been easier if I have worked from the edge and gone outward…

GE

…Because trying to *smoothly* connect all these haphazardly angled sections was a real pain!

GE

The bright pink basting stitches were an eyesore. Hand quilting the layers together. Have I mentioned this is the *background* for one of the pieces?

GE

Try to ignore the ugly pink basting stitches. See that swirl pattern? That is freehand quilting… by hand! I’m such a glutton for punishment…

This is why I need a studio! And, fyi, I do much of my work hunched over on the floor because I don't have a big table.

This is why I need a studio! And, fyi, I do much of my work hunched over on the floor because I don’t have a big table.

As a reminder, in case you haven’t read my previous posts, each year, 40 North – the arts council for Champaign county, orchestrates the Bonyard Arts Festival throughout Champaign-Urbana, IL and the rest of the county. I am registered with 2 different venues (more details at the bottom of this entry) and have set to work creating artwork for this festival. At C4A I am set to display artwork during April 12-13 and at Habitat for Humanity I am set to conduct a live demonstration on April 13, from 1-5pm, on artistic things that can be done with used clothing.

Warning Signs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Acid Tears” – An original work of mine created entirely from used clothing.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on art for the coming Boneyard Arts Festival. In my last few posts, I have been covering some of the works I am creating for this event, with a large part of the work being drawn from my personal experiences with domestic violence.  I could just continue on with updates on the progress on my work, but before I do, I want to talk a bit about this subject that still manages to plague virtually every society on this planet.

After I wrote my last post (and you can go back to each of my posts in this series – 1, 2, 3, 4), I talked about it with my mother, who responded, “Part of recovery is not to dwell in the past.”  And she is right. It is, perhaps, possible that maybe I’ve never fully recovered. However, I like to think that what I am doing is trying to understand and learn from the past. That is, after all, a large part of why we study history – that if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. It is also evident that while that particular nightmare has long since ended, others still suffer and there are still large, systemic issues within our society that allow these things to happen. We live in a world where a girl can be raped in a room full of people with no one stopping it and she is blamed and mocked while news reporters are saddened at the diminished futures for her rapists. And then, in an article that was just posted yesterday, it was reported that domestic violence homicides are rising.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”  -Thich Nhat Hanh

A question I often hear is, “Why do people stay in abusive relationships?”, or I will hear comments and statements that criticize victims, such as “I would be smart enough to leave” or “I wouldn’t put up with it”. When you are on the outside looking in, it can sometimes be hard to understand why. While each case is unique, there are some characteristics that can be found over and over in different stories. Often the victim had a low self-esteem to begin with. They often either do not know how to identify that they are in an abusive relationship – and not all forms of abuse are physical – or they believe the abusive behavior to be normal – which frequently happens when growing up with domestic violence. If they do not have a large social network, people they know and trust and can turn to for help and support, it is easy to grow dependent upon their partner and so it can become harder to feel like they can survive away from their partners.

Do you think you might be in an abusive relationship? Check the Warning Signs!

Feminist Majority Foundation provides some important facts regarding domestic violence

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

HelpGuide.org also has some good information available on their site on how to identify, escape and survive an abusive relationship.

Red Bull Fueled Late Nights – On the Journey from Concept to Art

GE

A page from my art journal. What started with one idea bloomed into an entire theme.

Right now, it is around 2:45 in the morning as I start to write this. Since I don’t have to work tomorrow (er, today), and I am behind schedule from where I would like to be, I decided to pull a late night working on pieces for the Boneyard Art Fest.  What started out with one idea grew into multiple pieces with an overall theme. And I am paying for it now. Check here to see how it started.

I’ve been looking back into my past and my experiences with domestic violence and have built each piece as various portraits of a woman – a hybrid between myself and my mother, but also extended into portraits of those who’ve had to endure these experiences in general as many of the feelings and themes are, sadly, universal.

The screams and cries

You may have already read the entry on Seeing Sound, or if you haven’t GEyou can go back and check it out. I’ve since hashed out the image I will be embroidering onto that denim hem background. I found a good diagram of the larynx online, and GEwith the help of a nurse friend of mine, we enlarged it to more or less be life sized. I then sketched out a rough (very rough) outline of what the embroidered image will look like. I still need to actually embroider it.

The Cycle of Violence

GE

Mother and Child planned layout

Violence begets violence. Children who grow up in an environment where there is domestic violence are more likely to learn and repeat those behaviors. This does not have to be fate, however. Cycles can be broken, but to do so takes effort. My mother made every effort she could to make sure the cycle would be broken with me, and I’d like to think that it has, but some days I’m not sure. It can be hard, when you’ve never seen an example of a healthy relationship, it can be hard to know what one is *supposed* to look like and it can be hard to tell if your reactions or feelings are normal and natural or conditioned.
I wanted to capture this generational cycle in another portrait. A portrait of the mother and child in utero. To plan the layout, I had a friend trace my outline onto poster board and I made the abdomen GEwider to incorporate a pregnant womb. It’s entirely possible that I’m not medically accurate as far as fetus size or belly size, but I made an honest attempt. I am currently in the process of creating the surprisingly complicated background for this piece and, once complete, intend to outline the body, womb and fetus with embroidered descriptor words and phrases (I may replace embroidery with a quicker method if I hit a serious time crunch).
For this background, I am using several different fabrics, all used clothing, in shades of black and blue (to symbolize bruising). This is what I was playing around with the other day. I am piecing these fabrics together crazy quilt style, to reflect the shattered lives, emotions and homes that must be stitched back together if we are to survive. And it goes deeper than that. I took a light blue fabric, the lining of an old prom dress, and wrote down the stories, the experiences, the feelings that have been handed down. Because I had to. Because in creating these works, I am digging deep into my own life and those stories needed to be GEthere. And I cut them into shards just like the other pieces and covered them with a layer of sheer fabric. I have done this for two reasons – 1) While these are my stories, they do not belong to me alone and I need to respect that. I’ve made it all but impossible to actually *read* them. 2) Like anything else, these histories are broken apart and distorted from time and perspectives. What I would have to say, what the other actors in these stories would have to say, are likely to be different parts of the same whole. And so, cutting them and obscuring them symbolizes that fact.

More to Come, Stay Tuned

I’ve more to say, but this is getting long and I need to get some amount of sleep. Check back Saturday, March 30th for more.

From Concept to Art – Experimentation

A large part of my artwork is experimenting. Even after I’ve developed a concept and/or laid out the basic framework for what I want to do, there is still the matter of playing around with aesthetics. (If you haven’t already, you might want to read parts 1 and 2 of this Concept to Art series)

GE

Right and wrong sides of fabric 1

At root, I am self taught. I read books and watch videos, but mostly I play around and experiment with techniques. One technique I wanted to experiment with was to use flour paste as a resist. I first saw this in the book Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric  by Jane Dunnewold and have been looking for an excuse to try it out. The basic idea is that you mix equal parts water and white flour, spread it evenly across the fabric, wait for it to dry and then do any of your dying. If you want to draw into the paste for designs, do it while it is wet.

GE

Fabric 2

Now, I have dozens of fabrics to try this out on, so I tested it with a couple. Since the fabrics I started with (both old dresses I’ve taken apart to re-purpose) were already

dark in color, I decided to use bleach instead of dye. It’s also snowing like mad outside and bleach is all I have on hand to try this with. Here is what I learned:

Only one of the fibers used in this black jacquard fabric even responds to bleach. This makes doing a paste resist on it almost pointless. However, when I brush it with bleach straight on, the design really pops out in a nice orangey-yellow. I may juxtapose bleached and unbleached segments.

GE GEGEGE

The test writing is also barely visible on the second test fabric. However, I do quite like the almost explosive effect on the fabric. Not yet sure what I’ll do. Also, I’ve observed that if too much bleach is poured on, the flour will turn into a kind of watery blob… which may have had some part in the explosive effect.

GEAnother technique I want to experiment with was pyrography. I’ve got an old soldering iron that my dad gave me some months ago and an old leather jacket of mine that I’ve taken apart to reuse somehow after it got too worn out for regular wear. You can see where I have written the word “test” with the iron, branding the leather. Thankfully, you cannot smell  GE the horrid stench in my apartment.

These experiments and their results will help me further determine how I will give life to the concepts and ideas of my mind.

 

What am I working on?

In case you haven’t read my previous posts, each year, 40 North – the arts council for Champaign county, orchestrates the Bonyard Arts Festival throughout Champaign-Urbana, IL and the rest of the county. I am registered with 2 different venues (more details at the bottom of this entry) and have set to work creating artwork for this festival. At C4A I am set to display artwork during April 12-13 and at Habitat for Humanity I am set to conduct a live demonstration on April 13, from 1-5pm, on artistic things that can be done with used clothing.