Monday, June 27, 2011

The most interesting window curtains you'll ever see

After pinning up some painted lace "coral" and staring at the results for a while, I felt it needed some brighter colors and some lighter lace dripping off the bottom edge. So I went thrift-shopping and came home with an armload of polyester lace curtains, and got out the transfer paints the girls had given me Christmas before last, and which had been sitting unused and unloved during the months of depression.

These paints are a delight to use. First you squeeze out a few drops of different colors, moosh them around on a piece of paper, and let them dry. (You can also paint very delicate, precise designs if that's what you want; in this case I just wanted a general look of glowing colors.) Any kind of paper will do; I used the back sides of a first draft, because I have a lot of first and partial drafts lying around. That was plain old cheapest-available copy paper from the office supply store, and it worked fine.

Once the paint's dry, you can start having fun. Cover your ironing surface with newsprint, lay out your polyester fabric, put the painted paper color-side down, and start ironing color onto fabric. G&S Dye, the source for these particular paints, says you can expect to get two good transfers out of every painted page, but with lace you get a lot more; I painted four pages and used only one. The stuff has no detectable hand at all, which will be useful if I ever want to drape the lace gracefully.

The whole piece is under the sewing machine right now, where I'm tacking down the pinned-on laces as a subtle hint that I'd like them to stay right where they are during the next phases.

Thrift shops have a ton of polyester lace curtains; I didn't use a third of what I bought. One piece even has sea motifs - starfish and shells and whatnot - worked into the lace. I'm saving those for the next water-themed piece, which is clear in my mind but not yet so good in Poser Figure Artist.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just Beachy

And very pleasant it was, too. Warm enough to slosh up and down in the water, cool enough to sit on the balcony and watch the waves rolling in. Despite the warning signs, I encountered no rattlesnakes and only one moribund jellyfish. And I now have a world-class collection of images of water foaming over sand.

When not in the water I was reading, among other things, Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, for no particular reason than that I'd never read it before and occasionally I get this incomprehensible desire to become better educated. And no, that wasn't all I took down to read on the beach, but you really don't want to hear about the old John Grisham thriller or the new sex-and-shopping trashy novel. Huh? You do? Well, too damn bad. Go buy your own soft porn. I want to talk about Edmund Burke. Who was not only an extremely good writer, but almost prescient.

A lot of Reflections can be summarized and translated into modern English as follows: "You idiots, you had a system that was (sort of) working, and instead of trying to improve it, you broke it. Oh, my God, did you ever break it. This is not going to turn out well. There is no way this can possibly turn out well."

Bear in mind that he's writing in 1790, before the execution of Louis XVI, before the Reign of Terror.

He also had things to say that are eerily applicable to the present day: "Nations are wading deeper and deeper into an ocean of boundless debt." Needless to say, he didn't think that was going to work out so well either.

But what really impressed me was this:

"In the weakness of one kind of authority, and in the fluctuation of all, the officers of an army will remain for some time mutinous and full of faction, until some popular general, who...possesses the true spirit of command, shall draw the eyes of all men upon himself. Armies will obey him on his personal account....But the moment in which that event shall happen, the person who really commands the army is your master - the master of your king, the master of your Assembly, the master of your whole republic."

He wrote that in 1790 - and in 1799, two years after Burke's death, what did the French get? Napoleon Bonaparte.

I expect his spirit was looking down from Heaven and saying sadly, "I tried to tell you."

Friday, June 17, 2011

In progress...

I've been happily applying clumps of bamboo fiber and long water-weedy trails of dyed ribbon to "Drowned Woman." Now it's time to step back and...ok, first I need to pick out and re-sew that one piece of ribbon that has an angle in it. And then I get to pin up various bits of painted lace that look, I hope, very coral-ish, and stare at the thing, and try to decide if that's too much, and pin up the ombre sheer that's to overlay the whole piece and see how it looks. The thing is, I painted a lot of lace, and I don't think there's room for more than 3 or 4 pieces, and...oh, well. I can see another water-themed quilt in my near future; I've got to do something with all the leftovers from this piece, hand-dyed sparkly ribbon and silk ribbon and gauze and organza and painted lace.

Probably won't make a decision before we leave for the beach, where I plan to spend several days placidly bobbing up and down in salt water, alternating with hand quilting "Shrine Composition II."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

For one brief shining moment...

...there was actually something like Cleanliness and Order in my sewing room. I've been clearing out my stash and classifying/putting away the pile of Things I Don't Know What to Do With that had gradually engulfed the cutting table, the little table beside it, and was encroaching upon the sewing machine table beside that. The Elder Spawn is planning a yard sale and was happy to carry away 2 large boxes of fabric and 3 bags of yarn; that helped considerably. Anyway, today I was feeling almost-done... and then I got ambitious. "That quilt I started yonks ago and got stuck on... the pieces and possible trims are filling up two big plastic boxes. I really ought to toss it and put away the fabric and then I'd be able to get, say, the two boxes of silk scraps off the floor and into the closet."

Well, whaddaya know, I'm not "stuck" any more. I've been happily stitching down cheesecloth "hair" on the floating figure.

A bit of background: this piece was inspired by a WWI poster based on the sinking of the Lusitania and a poem by Elinor Wylie. I'll spare you the poem (for now) but here's a scan of the poster:

So, you see, the "hair" has to look as though it's floating. I'm reasonably happy with the result:

And sewing is a LOT more fun than folding fabric and deciding what to do with various odds and ends.

And now my cutting table looks like this:

But there was that moment, earlier today, when the table was actually clear of everything but a cutting mat, a ruler, an iron, and the box for Mistyfuse scraps.

I should have taken a picture.

Monday, June 6, 2011

As the dust clears...

So this week’s excuse for not blogging is that I've been shoveling out the sewing room, which is boring enough to do without writing about it too. Also, I’ve been trying to wait until I wouldn’t be lured seduced tempted to make tasteless puns. It’s really hard difficult to avoid feeling a certain relish satisfaction schadenfreude at seeing how thoroughly Anthony Weiner has cooked destroyed himself with a week of De Nile lies climaxing culminating in today’s arousing exciting surreal press conference. Ok, this is too hard difficult; I need a stiff strong drink.

And the picture has nothing to do with anything, except that with the sewing room in the state of chaos created by a serious cleaning and reorganization, about all I can do is fool around in Photoshop, combining a picture of some arches in Jaipur with a view of water churning behind the Seattle ferry.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sky Stairs, and a stray flippant thought

I opened up my news browser to a flurry of headlines saying that the Japanese seriously underestimated the tsunami risk when they built Fukushima.

A while ago, there was a story in the New York Times claiming that along the east coast of Japan there are carved stones set into the earth at intervals with inscriptions that translate roughly to "Don't build below this stone for fear of tsunamis." The story was about one village that actually read the manual and followed the instructions. They survived the tsunami.

So maybe the Japanese should go back to those stones and add a footnote: "Especially if you're building something with the potential to glow in the dark for the next ten thousand years."

And no, the picture doesn't have anything to do with all this. I'm just playing around a lot more in Photoshop now that I've got SuperPrinter and can, at least theoretically, print out images large enough to see the details without actually having your nose right up against the quilt. This is a staircase and a planet "built" out of a Hubble space photo.

As for how SuperPrinter and I are getting along...well, let's discuss that some other time. I think we're building a relationship, but it is fraught with frustration.
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