Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rise and Shine 2: Working with Scraps


Rise and Shine card

When you are gifted with something as wondrous as Tennessee Williams' mother's curtains you want to share the wealth. For the back story on the curtains and a look at the primary art piece created for those curtains use this link: Rise and Shine: Tennessee Williams' Mother's Curtains. With lots of extra material and loads of scraps left over, I created a limited run of these Rise and Shine cards.

Card front

Card back

Card back text enlarged

Opening the card

Card fully open, sitting in natural light

I love the way the curtain scrap creates a little room with light shining in the windows, reinforcing the "rise and shine" theme.

Card with lamp nearby casting yellow light through lower "window"

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rise and Shine: Tennessee Williams' Mother's Curtains


Rise and Shine, front

The nice thing about being known for producing an eclectic assortment of odd art pieces is that when people stumble across something odd, they give it to you. That was the case here, when my sister's friend's sister's friend bought Tennessee Williams' mother's old house in St. Louis and discovered that the mother's sheer curtains still hung in the windows. She took them down and eventually they passed along the chain of provenance described above and came to me. The resulting art piece, called Rise and Shine, is a gauzy child's dress embedded with quotes from Tennessee Williams plays.

Close-up, top front

Close-up, bottom front

Close-up, collar

The title of the piece, Rise and Shine, appears on the front collars of the dress and is taken from a quote from The Glass Menagerie: "Every time you come in yelling that God damn 'Rise and Shine!' 'Rise and Shine!' I say to myself, 'How lucky dead people are.'"

Front sleeve

Bottom front detail

Dress back

Back left collar

Back right collar

Back right sleeve

Back zipper

Back ruffle detail

There will be more to this Rise and Shine series in coming weeks — there were a lot of curtains. Meanwhile, here are the Tennessee Williams quotes used on this piece:

"Nothing human disgusts me unless it's unkind." - Night of the Iguana

"I'll be all right in a minute, I'm just bewildered — by life." - The Glass Menagerie

"I don't want realism. I want magic.!" - A Streetcar Named Desire

"Silence about a thing just magnifies it." - A Streetcar Named Desire

"We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal." - Camino Real

"There is a time for departure, even when there is no certain place to go." - Camino Real

"We are all of us sentenced to solitary confinement within our own skins, for life." - Orpheus Rising

"We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it." - The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore 


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Creative Obliteration of Corporate Logos

Enough with all of the branding, a misbegotten idea that works very well for the businesses involved but a sadly humiliating prospect for human beings who are reduced to little more than ambulatory billboards. And let's not even discuss the type of branding that sends the signal to everyone else: "I have lots and lots of money as indicated by the logo appearing prominently on this item of clothing."

It is time to obliterate corporate logos and stand proud as the raw, unlabeled human beings we were meant to be. I have played with this idea before in an earlier post: Geek Chic: QR Code Patches (click for a complete how-to). There the idea was to take advantage of all of those wonderful nearly-new men's shirts at thrift stores that are sadly marred by logos (often of failed software start-ups here in the Bay Area). Simply cover the logos over with QR code patches that you create yourself to send whatever message you want. I believe the one below, if scanned with a smartphone, will say, "Eat the Rich."

QR code patch: "Eat the Rich"

The person for whom I converted a lot of those QR code shirts has clearly gotten the message. Or rather, he has gotten the message and now considers logos distasteful. He recently handed me a Smith & Hawken vest, purchased new, with the request that I cover the logo somehow.

Patching in progress over brand logo

I leafed through a packet of random iron-on images I had created in the past, and decided to go with the following, found in an old Scientific American magazine at a thrift store.

Three ways of tying your shoes

I cropped the image and converted it to sepia tone and then printed it onto iron-on paper (remembering, of course, to reverse the image before printing so that, when ironed, the words read correctly).



A little bit of stitching, and Smith & Hawken was no more.

Sewing on patch with iron-on image

The recipient of this handiwork is currently hiking around Yosemite, happy in the knowledge that he is not a walking advertisement for a clothing company.


Time for you to go out and start obliterating a few logos on your own.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Just Passing Through: Installation Art with Found Materials

Weekend picnickers and partiers at Lake Merritt in Oakland often employ folding metal gazebos — the kind you see vendors using at farmers markets. When I saw this gazebo-gone-wrong lying abandoned on the lawn of the park a few doors down from my apartment building my first reaction was annoyance. Clearly someone couldn't figure out how to fold the damn thing back up again so they trashed it and left it behind.

Folding picnic gazebo gone wrong

Then, while sitting at a bus stop across the street from the metal wreck I thought, gee, that shape is really kind of interesting.



The lines are so intriguing it actually looks sculptural. So... I decided to embellish it just a bit to create an installation piece that was already 95% installed.



I had recently collected a bunch of feathers left on the ground around the lake from the annual Canada Geese molting season. I decided to use an old Ohlone technique for working with feathers. They used them to create skirts and capes. I used them to embellish the metal structure. The feathers and how-to regarding the Ohlone technique are shown below.

Feathers ready for hanging

Ohlone technique for creating a hanging loop on a feather

Finished loop with string tied on

The concept behind this installation is expressed in the title, "Just Passing Through," as explained in the signage below.

Sign printed on card stock, attached to metal limb of piece

Sign wording

The final step was to tie the Canada Geese feathers to the metal limbs of the piece, creating a kinetic sculpture.




Any day when you can turn an annoyance into art is a very good day indeed. And... the entire thing vanished a day later, presumably carted off by city workers or the Parks Department, turning the whole thing from an installation into a very short-lived performance piece. Do I mind? No. Like all the components involved, it was just passing through.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ex-Voto for the Miracle of a Kind Tree


Embroidered ex voto

I have been inspired in the past by Mexican retablos - folk-art images painted on tin or wood thanking Catholic holy figures for miracles received - and by the embroidered version of these ex-votos (offerings of gratitude), from San Miguel de Allende called milagros. See earlier work I've done along these lines by following this link: Ex-Votos.

Recently, while in Chiapas, I received via email the details of a miracle experienced by a little girl I know on her seventh birthday. According to her account, she was climbing a tree when she slipped and thought she was "falling to her death." The tree reached out its arms and saved her. A companion who witnessed the event testified, "I knew it was a peaceful tree."

Thus this embroidered retablo, recounting the event and offering thanks to the tree. The words on the pillow say: "Many thanks to the kind tree for opening its branches and saving me from falling to my death." 

Close-up detail

Close-up detail

And here is the little girl who was saved by the tree, with her embroidered ex voto pillow.

Still alive, thanks to a peaceful tree

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mended Fruits: Avocado


Mended avocado

Part of the Mended Produce series, a sewer's response to objects torn asunder and in seeming need of repair. (And yes, an avocado is indeed a fruit.) 






Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mended Vegetables: Fava Beans



Mending may start as a practical necessity, but throughout history and around the world we see it evolve into a tradition, an art form, a way of life, a mode of meditation. While shelling a pound of early spring fava beans a few days ago, the urge became irresistible. So here you have some mended favas, which I may (or may not) lead to a forthcoming series of mended fruits and vegetables depending on how the mood strikes me. Enjoy.






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