Scientific-ish observations on all the weird crafts I get into over at Risible Itinerant Enterprises.
I love stupid, random, pointless questions!(:
I’ve been reading a lot lately. To be fair, “a lot” is an incredibly subjective term. In reference to the average amount of recreational reading I’ve done over the course of my life, it’s not much at all, but when compared to the amount that I’ve ‘been able’ to do in the past few years it’s phenomenal. It’s funny how things shift in the physical world to align with your (updated, albeit unspoken) priorities, isn’t it? Unsurprisingly, much of this reading has ended up having a direct bearing on my blog project here in some way or another.
I was poking through Chris Guillebeau’s manifesto A Brief Guide to World Domination the other day (which, if you haven’t read, and have any interest in living an unconventional life, you totally should read. Also it is free, and incredibly interesting.), and I suddenly understood that *I* know I’m serious about this project, but how the heck could you know that? Because I’ve said so? A great many people say a great many things every day, and you and I both know that a whole fucking lot of it is absolute horseshit. How are you supposed to know that me telling you how excited I am to be able to do this, and how pensive I am at the prospect of being solely responsible for if it fails or succeeds, and how much I am enjoying all the learning and thought restructuring and new forms of organization and personal accountability and global interconnectedness and even the fairly steep learning curve on all the technology I’m throwing myself into, and Holy Wow did I mention just how very excited I am about this project?… how’re you going to know all that isn’t more of the aforementioned horseshit?
Well, how about this: Here’s my publishing schedule, so you know what you can expect from me, and so that you’ll know I’m serious about this project.
—Tutorial Tuesday: each Tuesday morning I will publish either a complete, original tutorial of a craft I came up with myself (including a list of supplies, detailed instructions, and pics and/or video of the process itself, and how long you can expect it to take from start to finish); or a sort of review of someone else’s tutorial, in which I’ll show you how my version of the craft turned out (including photos), give you any notes on streamling/updating the process or making it more eco- or wallet-friendly that you might need, and will of course include all relevant links to the original tutorial (and any specific/unique supplies you might need).
—Fervid Friday: each Friday afternoon I will publish an article of interest to the project at large, to help get both my and your creative juices pumping for the weekend. Because the project itself is of such broad scope, the topics may include (but are obviously not limited to): the nature of art, what it means to create/be creative, the little squicks of taking on a project like this, the relationship between art and spirituality/various religions/altered consciousness/music/mood/history/my-your-our future/pretty much anything else that comes to mind, et cetera. I think you get the idea. When I have guest posts, they’ll go here unless they’re specifically offering a tutorial.
—Weird Weekends: every other weekend (it will probably usually be Sunday, but I might occasionally surprise us all by having both free time and my act together well enough to put it out on Saturday) you’ll be treated to whatever other random things are happening with the project, or are slushing around in my head because of it, but that don’t really fit in either of the other categories. I suspect these will be of a more personal & reflective nature, and there is really just no telling what the content may consist of. Stay tuned & find out, I guess.
So there you have it. A consistent 2-3 posts a week from me, minimum. Now you know what to expect, and when you get it for a few weeks running you’ll know I’m as serious about this project as I already know I am. A big plus? I have something to hold myself to, a yardstick of sorts. You’d be surprised how difficult “creative output” really is to quantify. Empirical datum on the subject is frightfully absent in all the research papers.
Meanwhile, If you have questions, comments, or feedback of any kind, please tell me! I’d especially love to know what you’d like to see me post about in this creative journey that you’re not yet seeing… you telling me helps both of us. :)
Until next time…
Great news for everyone who loves cocaine! A new vaccine is currently being tested to reverse the lethal effects of a toxic overdose of cocaine. The vaccine contains a human monoclonal antibody with a stronger affinity for cocaine molecules than other that have been reported. So far the research looks promising for the future of drug therapy.
You can read the research here.
Toronto becomes first city to mandate green roofs
Toronto is the first city in North America with a bylaw that requires roofs to be green. And we’re not talking about paint. A green roof, also known as a living roof, uses various hardy plants to create a barrier between the sun’s rays and the tiles or shingles of the roof. The plants love the sun, and the building (and its inhabitants) enjoy more comfortable indoor temperatures as a result.
Toronto’s new legislation will require all residential, commercial and institutional buildings over 2,000 square meters to have between 20 and 60 percent living roofs. Although it’s been in place since early 2010, the bylaw will apply to new industrial development as of April 30, 2012. While this is the first city-wide mandate involving green roofs, Toronto’s decision follow’s in the footsteps of other cities, like Chicago and New York.
Under the direction of Mayor Richard Daley the city of Chicago put a 38,800 square foot green roof on a 12 story skyscraper in 2000. Twelve years later, that building now saves $5000 annually on utility bills, and Chicago boasts 7 million square feet of green roof space. New York has followed suit, and since planting a green roof on the Con Edison Learning Centre in Queens, the buildings managers have seen a 34 percent reduction of heat loss in winter, and reduced summer heat gain by 84 percent.
But lower utility bills aren’t the only benefit of planting a living roof. In addition to cooling down the city, green roofs create cleaner air, cleaner water, and provide a peaceful oasis for people, birds and insects in an otherwise polluted, concrete and asphalt-covered environment.
THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. I first heard about this while living in Chicago during the time period mentioned above, and my instant kneejerk reaction was “YES!”… not even just for all the reasons above, but also: imagine gardens. Like, places where you grow food? Yeah, those. In those spaces. What world hunger problem? What resources used to transport fresh produce to market? WhatWHAT??? Also also, even just as it is, it is just plain cool. There. I said it. It needed to be said.
Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion-picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word “collectible” as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success.
Fran Lebowitz (via thewoman76)
While everybody in the sane parts of the northern hemisphere is getting moist with joy at the fact that they can finally venture outside without dying of exposure within minutes, and is busily shedding as much clothing as humanly possible in celebration of this fact… things are a little different here in the great Sonoran Desert.
Here, everyone is alternately bemoaning the crazystupidinsaaane triple-digit heat and how it came “so much sooner this year than last” just like it does every year, filling kiddie pools with buckets of ice cubes as fast as their freezer and the local 7/11 can provide them, and casually enjoying the visual rewards of living so very close to so very many college campuses. The very clever among us are doing all 3 simultaneously.
Therefore, while everyone else is busy burning their wretchedly out of fashion coats they purchased last fall in a fit of freedom, glorious terrible freedom, and celebrating spring and summer and the warm weather and the furry little bunnies and all THAT, we are eyeing you suspiciously should you get even a smidge too far out of control in your premature poolside gyrations, and snickering knowingly under our breath, calm in the knowledge that we had the AC system in our cars checked out back in February; the freon is full, there are no holes in any of the hoses, and we can look forward to another solid 9 months of hell incarnate, safely ensconced within our little bubbles of sweet artificial bayside breezes on wheels, looking smexy in our Scottsdale designer sunglasses we got for $4 at the Mesa swapmeet. O, yes.
You see, here in the Valley of The Sun, we wait for winter the way the rest of America waits for summer. We covet it, worship it, build shrines to it. I’ve even heard tale that some people who work as healthcare professionals make sacrifices to it. If you haven’t survived an entire August here, you’ll never understand why anyone would do such things, but I can assure you: far, far crazier things are happening in this world right now.
Anyway. You know how every fall it seems like every craft/fashion/DIY/vintage blog in the world runs some kind of post on how to jazz up/cute-ify/bring new life to an old sweater or coat? Sometimes it’s centered around the holidays, and I don’t mind those much, because at least they’re easy to identify and therefore skip right past. Since, with the passing of this past March, I can now officially call myself a local in this madhouse, I finally feel secure in telling you that it’s the ones that want you to put pretty flowers (spring!) and hearts (valentines!) and fuzzy little ducks (easter!) and dewdrops (May!) and tons of cutesy, hopeful, return-of-fertility crap all over your most basic staple sweater, THOSE are the ones that just make me want to wretch with the utter predictability of it all.
Do these blogs seriously want you to take what is most likely literally the most versatile piece of clothing in your entire closet, and glue a bunch of pastel eggs, and little green leaves, and some sequins onto it, because it’ll remind you of spring (which is supposed to cheer you up, based on tricking your lizard brain into thinking you’ve already survived another winter when it has barely begun)? Because if they do, I would like to say to them “Girl, you done went and lost your whole damn mind.”
Obviously, I’m not having ANY of that around here. Ergo, I respectfully present the contrarian perspective. Here, my desert dwelling friends, is a seductively warm cardigan, with enough attitude to make you long for the days when sleeves are no longer a wish for a slow and agonizing death by sunstroke, and enough cuteness to make you risk wearing it to work a solid month before you know you really ought to.
I stumbled upon a tutorial over on Elsie Larson’s blog, A Beautiful Mess, which is gorgeous darling, as well as interesting because she gets into a lot of stuff that I don’t, creatively. Elsie herself is as sweet as her complexion is creamy, and even more lovely than her extensive vintage wardrobe (which I covet even unto death), so it’s absolutely nothing against her. It’s not even anything against the post’s author, someone named Lori Marie… maybe it was her first guest post or something, we’ll never know. The fact that she chose colors that make ME want to throw up in my mouth a little isn’t HER fault. After all, there’s no accounting for taste, especially my own. I’m not entirely sure how, but I made it from my eye snagging on this (for reasons probably entirely unrelated to the sweater):
to making this:
So she couldn’t have done too bad a job of it, really. You should check out her tutorial! I have some notes on it for when you’re ready to actually get to making the thing, that you should read before you do so, though.
- Supplies. 3/5
When I absorb a tutorial, I read/watch it repeatedly until I think I totally understand it, then go grab all my supplies, and sit down at the table and just have a go at the thing. If I get stuck, I’ll revisit the tutorial midstream if I really have to, but it’s kind of jarring to my creative flow. So it kind of matters when a person writing a tutorial doesn’t mention things like a thimble, some kind of pen to draw your shapes on the felt, and scissors to cut said shapes out with, in your supplies list. It’s better to list everything you actually laid your hands on during the creation process and have a person not need a thing they gathered, than to just assume everyone will have Nice Scissors That Everybody Knows Are Only For Momma’s Crafting And If You Touch Them The Retribution Will Commence (like I do around here). For example.
It also helps if they get specific, like by mentioning that your hands will thank you for using the comfort grip scissors (if you have them) long before you’re even halfway done cutting all those teeny felt pieces, or that you’ll want a very sharp, or very sturdy (but ideally both), needle to make it through your sweater & more than one layer of felt. Which, even if you use exactly the shapes and arrangements she did, you will be doing, many times. Oh, and this is where that thimble will come in handy. Little considerations like that matter in the planning stages; they save me time when I’m selecting which needle/scissors, they save me the frustration of cutting out a bazillion felt pieces when I could have picked a simpler pattern that would have looked just as good… and I didn’t do a third of what she did. The woman must have seamstresses callouses to die for. I mean, look how simple mine was compared to hers!
- Tutorial: 2/5
- Beginner (Not For Noobs)
To be fair, I got more multi-dimensional with it than she did; the red x in the bottom skull’s eye pictured above (as well as the centerpiece of the flower below), is 3 strands of embroidery floss going through 3 layers of felt, 3 layers of glue and 1 layer of pretty thick wool/cotton blend sweater. This, added to the glue stick problem & how I had to work around it, may have had a considerable effect on my needle/thimble issues.
Just FYI, a whipstitch, if you’ve never made one, takes about 30 stitches to master. Use any dimensional work you’ve planned into your design as practice time if you’re new or rusty. Also, due to the wool content of the felt, it loves to snag the embroidery floss at every opportunity. The floss also seems to enjoy looping itself around the buttons of your garment during every single stitch you make within 8 inches of a button, in total defiance of all known laws of physics. If you’re prepared for these little irritants before they manifest, they probably won’t bother you much. As an aside, I will think twice about ever adding a star-shaped piece of felt to anything ever again in my life unless it’s precut and I can just glue the whole thing down and be done with it.
She fails to mention that those glue sticks hold fuck all when you’re dealing with fuzzy sweater + fuzzy felt. Nothing was sticking to anything but my fingers, but it would have been so great (so much faster!) if they had worked. And I know it wasn’t my glue sticks, I actually laid out the extra $0.12 for the brand name last time! They still did nothing but lie to me, then laugh about it. I ended up switching to Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue in the gold bottle. I just used very small dots. It should be mentioned that with Aleene’s, you need to be sure your pieces are where you want them by the time it dries or they’ll pretty hard to move without machine washing, which will result in lost felt pieces, which you will then have to recut. Don’t try to sew the pieces on while it’s still wet; waiting for it to dry will require a bit more force, but won’t result in broken needles, frayed nerves, and a sticky mess. Just trust me on all of this.
Yes, I even did an extra little cutesy thing on the back, because my hair is short right now and why not? I couldn’t get a good photo of it to save my life, though. It was another triple layered felt effect, although by that time, *PROTIP*: I’d learned to glue then sew each layer from the top down to the next layer before finally putting the constructed piece onto the sweater, in classic ‘work smarter, not harder’ fashion.
I understand that tutorials laid out in this manner are intended to make relatively simplistic crafts seem accessible to newbies, and in that this one succeeds with flying colors (just check the comments). The problem inherent with that approach to this particular project, is that modifying clothes in such a detailed way, and by hand, is actually very time consuming, and that’s not what newbie-craftsters want; they want a quick fix, something that will spur them on to try something slightly harder or inspire them to finally tackle an idea of their own they’ve been toying with.
The tutorial comes off as if Lori breezed through her sweater in 90 minutes or so (and no timeframe is given). If she did, then she is a far better woman than I, and good for her. My take on her project, although drastically stylistically simplified, requiring less than a third as many assemblage pieces, and all supplies were already on hand, took me more than 8 hours over the course of 3 days. Just so that you know what to realistically expect. Although with the modifications and tips I’ve given you, I expect it’d take you half that total time & could be done in two 2-hour sessions (to allow the glue to dry overnight).
- Overall: 3.5/5
All that being said, I had a great time jazzing up this sweater. The minute I saw her finished project, I knew exactly which atrocity currently feeding moths in my closet I was going to work with even though I hadn’t seen or even thought about it in months; there’s just no substitute for inspiration. In our consumerist society, I believe it’s not only an environmentally friendly and an economically sound idea, but also a spiritually important approach to life, to work with what you’ve already got whenever possible, which is why not a few of my projects involve repurposing, recycling, or giving new life to clothes & objects I’ve already got, have been gifted to/found by me, or have been carefully preened from local thrift stores (of which I’m lucky to have quite the selection). I’ve had this sweater for sooo long, I wore it as new, then I rocked it as retro, then I pulled it off with the subtly ironic vibe, and now it’s back in style again… only better, because it’s personalized! Nobody will ever have one quite like it, unless the total revamping of my food & exercise thing ends up working out as well as everything else I’ve done this year, and I end up having to sell it because it’s way too big. Oh, wouldn’t that be grand!
I liked being able to go spooky and kooky yet feminine with the design, even while keeping it really simple visually. I enjoyed giving new life to a fairly oddball old sweater (why did I go for the red piping instead of plain black? I remember doing it, but I cannot recall why, dammit), and how the elements I chose really compliment the original piece. I liked being able to both complicate (4 different colors of embroidery thread!) and simplify (oh hell no with all those flowers!) her design. And yes, because I myself am often difficult, I even enjoyed the difficulties I encountered while undertaking the project. I just wish I’d had a decent heads up, is all.
As always, feedback of any type: questions, comments, suggestions for things you’d like to see me attempt in my Craft Lab, all are always welcome. I’d especially love to know what you’d like to see me post about in this creative journey that you’re not yet seeing… you telling me helps both of us.
Until next time…