Come What May

So, welcome to 2014. New year, new chances to lie to myself about blogging more regularly and finishing unfinished projects. This will not be a polished entry, this may even get personal. Maybe. Right now I’m just typing words as they escape my brain between shoving unhealthy snacks in my face.

I’ve got my laptop next to me, with my camera, my sewing machine is out, and I have bits of fabric on the table. What follows is an insight into my creative and thought processes, raw, unedited – chaotic and probably going nowhere. But why am I still typing crap? Here – look at some pictures.


This is some sexy lingerie I bought several years ago. I only wore them once. They don’t even fit me anymore. I’m going to chop them up. Why not?


Chop CHOP! Choppy Chop! Lace is pretty.


Oh, remember these? Yeah, I’m still not sure what to do with them, but, they’re sitting in a pile on the table.


This looks kind of neat.


CRAP! I need pink thread! The stores are closed! All I have is embroidery and hand quilting thread! Grrr…

Do I want to just sew it with a contrasting thread color? Or use embroidery thread? I don’t want to wait until morning. I’m pushing through, making do, not putting it off. Embroidery thread it is. Such is life. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be messy, it can be chaotic, and it will be ok. It will. I promise. Screw the fairy tales and the picture perfect notions of what should be. The harder you push it, the less idyllic/idealistic it will be. Ideallic. Is that a word? Screw it. It is now. #Ideallic. Go trend that crap.

Idyllic -1:  pleasing or picturesque in natural simplicity; 2:  of, relating to, or being an idyll

Idealistic – 1: of or relating to the philosophical doctrine of the reality of ideas; 2: of high moral or intellectual value; elevated in nature or style; “an exalted ideal”; “argue in terms of high-flown ideals”- Oliver Franks; “a noble and lofty concept”; “a grand purpose”

Yeah, neither of those quite do it for me quite the way it feels in my mind standing by themselves. Oh, so, here’s a thing I’ve been working on off and on that I don’t think I’ve posted about:


I got the pattern from Urban Threads. It’s going to take me eons. Ok. I’m getting kind of sleepy. I think I’m going to post this and come back to this in the morning. Maybe I’ll get a stock of posts done to schedule over the next few weeks. Maybe I can be more regular. Maybe I can convince myself that I don’t actually NEED to have a point or well-formed idea. Maybe I can stop avoiding the blog and the facebook page when I haven’t finished any of my many unfinished projects. Maybe.

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!


Outlining the vocal apparatus.


Trying to quilt as I go.


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


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


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?


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.

Presto Change-o! Pants Become a Purse: Part 2

I know that a lot of time has passed between my last posting and this one. Part of that was dealing with the holidays and part has been trying to bust my butt to get other projects done to apply for Hatch, as the deadline is in just a few days. What is Hatch? In short, it is a creative re-use art fest that will be taking place this March in Champaign, IL. For more information, please see The Official Hatch Info Page.

Since last I posted I have completed the purse. I’ve been working on it here and there for the past month and actually just finished it off about 20 minutes prior to writing this entry. If you haven’t already read parts 1 and 2, check them out here: Part 1 & Part 2.
When I left off last time, I had transferred the Buddha image onto the purse but had not yet begun embroidery. For those of you that follow the Facebook page, you’ve already had a sneak peak at the progress on the embroidery. If you haven’t, well, do you see that little Facebook thing to the side? You should click the “Like” button. I’ll wait for you.  …  Done? Good. Here’s how Buddha turned out: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After Buddha was done, I began work on the lining. I used an old cotton bed sheet I picked up from a second hand store  awhile back. I added an inside pocket on one side of the lining, which proved to be a bit of a pain. If I make anymore, I’m using a zippered opening. I also added two more smaller pockets to what should have been the back pockets of the pants. I hate how so many women’s pants have fake decoration pockets. Maybe we might actually want to put something back there, huh? Maybe it’s just me. I’d also like to see more women’s pants with functional cargo pockets. Before I started carrying a purse regularly (which became a necessity for transporting yarn), I used to wear men’s cargo jeans almost exclusively (I’ve actually discussed this before).  Anyhow, here’s some pictures. First the back pockets:


Now, the lining:


The lining actually turned out to be not as deep as the purse itself, partly because I merely estimated the dimensions while laying the purse flat on the floor. I can always go back in and fix it later, but it’s good enough for now. I used part of the pant legs to make the handles. I made two. I cut 2 strips that were about 3 in x 30 in. Striped material is quite nice for nice straight lines.

The pants themselves had 4 nice belt loops that were more or less evenly spaced and ended up being the same width as the finished straps, so it was only natural for me to feed them into each other. Although I play hell feeding that much fabric through my machine, I think it came out quite nice.


Prepping for Embroidery

Continuing from my post earlier in the week, I set out to start embroidering the purse front before continuing on with the handles and lining.


I decided upon this image of Buddha because it is beautiful. Also, I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on Buddhism over the last couple of months and so it’s been on my mind. Here are a couple of videos from YouTube, for those of you who might be interested. Feel free to skip over them if you’re not 🙂 This first is only about 2-3 minutes and is just a basic introduction to what Buddhism is.

This next one is the first of a two-part look at the relationship between Buddhism and science. This one is actually pretty cool and gets into quantum physics.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo get the image onto the purse, it is best to trace the image with a heat transfer marker or pen and then iron on the design. I have both a Sulky iron-on transfer pen (which is my preferred implement) and a basic heat transfer pencil. I discovered my Sulky pen was dry so I have to use the pencil.

Maybe because I’m tired, maybe because I just wasn’t thinking, I thought neither about the printer ink nor to use an OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAironing cloth. This is what happens when you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing, folks. I’m really hoping that the ink will come out. If not, I’ll have to decoratively hide it with some extra dazzle. Also, as you can see, the heat transfer pencil doesn’t show up nearly as well as I’d like (the Sulky pens show up so much better but don’t last very long at all).



Embroidery Doodling

One of the major problems I have in trying to get anything done, creative projects or otherwise, is that I get too caught up in planning and wanting to make sure that the tiniest details are perfect that it takes me forever to start or finish a project.(Anyone remember my nataraja quilt idea? I *still* haven’t quite figured out what I want to do.) As an exercise in just letting creative juices flow and not letting myself over-think, I decided to just do something. I grabbed the first spare piece of material I had (the mate for the pillowcase I used for purse lining), a small embroidery hoop and some embroidery floss and just let my hands move. Kind of like doodling. It was free style embroidery with no rules and I just sat from the outside looking in as my hands and the needle did whatever they felt like doing. It was a very freeing exercise, even if the end result wasn’t exactly all that pretty.

I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed creating swirls and circles…

I’m still not quite sure what to make of it, if anything.

Thoughts About: Embroidered Textiles by Sheila Paine

A couple of posts back, one of my readers gave me what has been perhaps the nicest compliment I have been paid to date. She commented upon the amount of thought and research I put into my posts, and that really made my day.  I am always reading and doing research on different textile traditions, DIY procedures, symbolism, etc. I thought I might give an overview and share a few of my thoughts on what I feel are some of the more influential works I have encountered. I will henceforth call this category of posts “Thoughts About”.

The last couple of weeks I have been reading Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine. I borrowed a copy from my local library, but after having read it, I will certainly be purchasing a copy to add to my bookshelf for continual reference.
This book is full of brilliant, stunning photos and information about embroidery from around the world. She breaks the information down into 4 chapters.

The first of these is “Guide to Identification” which breaks down major traditions by region and points out key identifying elements of the embroidery work. I have to give her props for including a brief mention of Hmong (which she refers to as Miao… which is indeed another name, but by and large they prefer to be called Hmong) and their work, which I wholeheartedly admire.

Chapters two and three, “The Decorative Power of Cult” and “Religion and its Patterns” respectively, deal with symbolism within embroidery as it relates to the divine and otherworldly. Both chapters look at meanings and how some of the representations have changed through time.  The only real difference between the chapters is that “cult” refers to earlier objects of worship such as the sun and the goddess and significant events like hunting, whereas “religion” is meant to refer to major religions as we know of them them today with their rules and structure, such as Christianity and Buddhism.

The final chapter, “The Magical Source of Protection”, looks at decoration as charm or talisman. Locations of stitchwork, beads or trinkets that are added into the embroidery, even the colors used all have a function and a meaning.

I love this book because it is such a rich source of information on symbolism and communication within textiles around the world… everything that I am interested in and that this blog serves to discuss. I will likely be referencing this book again and again in the future. 🙂