Thursday, August 25, 2016

a modest proposal, successfully accomplished


As our plucky heroine begins to refurbish her scant wardrobe contents, sometimes an almost useful garment needs just a little attention to become wearable...

I made the black/cream rayon batik popover dress last July, but miscalculated a bit on the neckline, which ended up being just a tad too low cut in the front - whenever I put anything in the pockets, the least little extra weight pulled the front down enough that it caused more décolletée than is really appropriate! Thought that rather than continue being annoyed, better would be an clever option to fill in the lower edge of the neckline.

Found some similar black/white ikat scraps, that seemed like they would do; I'd rather have had some more of the black/cream rayon batik, but done is better than perfect. If more of the rayon batik turns up at some point, I can always switch it out... but this gives me a wearable dress right now, and preserves my modesty while out and about in the world.

and, in further good news, making use of the now accessible workroom table, I have cut out an additional four popover dresses, which are all neatly in project bags hanging from the back of the sewing room door, waiting their turn to be stitched up. By the time I complete this stichery intensive, I should have reached my goal of eight wearable summer dresses, and will be able to return to only needing to replace them as they eventually wear out.

This is my longterm goal for my entire wardrobe, to have enough clothing for warm and cool seasons so I can go a week between laundry, and to not have everyday clothing that never leaves the closet. I am getting closer to my goal every year, and gradually revising what works and what does not work. Later, in early autumn, I will be replenishing my stock of "everyday dresses" which I wear when the temperatures are not beastly hot, i.e., most of the year, either alone or layered with knit tops under and/or pinafores over. They are the other garment that wears out quickly; popovers and everyday dresses rarely last three years before becoming too worn to wear or repair; such is the downside of a limited number of garments. Still, that gives me a chance to add variety over time, as opposed to in my closet!
:::

August SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 charter #14 rayon dress facing Tundra flooring
2 charter #15 popover neckline filled floor padding
3 Tullia painted banner - bag to Goodwill
4 embroidered yoke - bag to Goodwill
5 -- bag to Goodwill
6 - - bag to Goodwill
7 - - bag to Goodwill
8 - - bag to Goodwill
9 - - paper recycling
10 - - wood scraps
11 - - shelf unit
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
:::

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

wishful Wednesday - Finetec metallic paints


Our plucky heroine has really been enjoying painting SCA charters this year, have begun to design some charter illuminations, learn some historic calligraphy, and am considering possibly creating some original scrolls and medieval inspired artwork.

The process is so different than my enameling work that in truth "a change is as good as a rest"*, and I find that it is, for me, a form of meditation in action. Probably the fact that I am doing it for my own pleasure has a lot to do with that, as opposed to my metalwork and enameling, which, while pleasurable, also is my vocation, and hence needs to be pleasing to my patrons. (I find building regalia to be satisfying but highly stressful, since I always worry that it is "not good enough", one would think that after all these years, and with the almost always delighted recipients, that my worries would have faded)

Left is a glimpse of the border design from charter #15. I added quite a bit of internal detailing to the basic outline, and spent some time looking at medieval Persian miniatures for inspiration. Each reign chooses styles and options for the charter designs to be awarded during their time on the thrones... The unusual turquoise background color was my first decision, and all the additional colors and patterns were a result of balancing that out. It was a real challenge, and very different from my usual choices, very much a pleasant feeling to stretch in that way.

I really felt that the scrollwork needed the internal detailing to look well, and eventually found this contemporary site showing some really close images of traditional Persian painting techniques. I don't know much about Esra, but in this blog post she shares a great deal of information and photos of preparing the paper, grinding the pigments, and creating the artwork... It is a fascinating process!
:::

There is not much use in wishing that the several overloaded plum tree branches did not break. Apparently the old shed, recently removed from the backyard, did more than gradually deteriorate, but was also supporting the plum branches when they were close to harvest. This is a sad thing, that will require some additional tree pruning in the next few days...

What I am adding to my wishlist is some Finetec metallic paint. It would be quite nice to be able to add some gold details to future painted artwork, as was sometimes done in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (without the expense of using actual gold) These paints are quite highly recommended, and at the very least, adding a pan of "Arabic Gold" to my kit would be easy... I will need to visit Dick Blick and see if the Finetec pans are the same size as compatible with the pans in my Pelikan gouache paintbox.


* When looking up this homily, I was amused to find a venerable and almost unknown bit of doggerel from 1857 (author unknown) intended to popularize the phrase...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tuesday tidbits... a 6PAC+ sewing plan


so here's the story from our plucky heroine...

Her closet has been looking more and more empty, while the shelves of fabric stash, with no new denizens , are looking more abundant in comparison. An upcoming family gathering will be a good reason to add some new clothes to her current overly limited wardrobe. It will likely still be quite warm, so a mixture of mostly breezy summer dresses, with one or two layering pieces, should prove both easy to pack and easy to wear. Adding in a dash of unexpected color will help distract from the weight gained over the last several years - it's about being a survivor, not about being a fashion icon, and the people who love her best see her most truly, so why not give them something new to look at...


My 6PAC plan: An assortment of new, basic, printed rayon popover dresses. (One dark indigo/brown swirl batik, one faux-shibori double border print,* and one multicolor "bohemian" stripe.)  I have one more popover cut our waiting to be stitched, from a dress length of celery green floral rayon (what was I thinking?) that (with an eventual quick dip in the indigo vat) will turn to a nice subtle teal/turquoise. One black jacquard rayon popover, for more "dressy wear" This is already cut out and ready to sew, in a combination of floral and geometric textured jacquard fabrics, and with an elaborated yoke with embroidery, black sequin trimmings and narrow dark blue micro pleated trim.

These dresses are comparatively fast and easy to sew, all straight seams and all pattern pieces triangles and rectangles, a wardrobe staple to live in when the weather is warm. I initially developed this pattern by combining my knowledge of ancient garment construction with this contemporary Japanese pattern Nani Iro dress diagram

(Also, one cotton everyday dress in medium blue batik stripe; this dress is already cut out and ready to sew. One jacquard cotton denim medium blue pinafore, with the edges bound in multicolor ikat; this is cut out and ready to sew.)
:::

* another view of the faux shibori rayon... showing half the width... there is a mirrored border on the other selvedge. After much thought, and experimentation in the mirror, have decided to have the light colored squares run up the side front next to the narrow center panel, with the sides shading off into the stripey section, and use the central "plaid" area to cut the assorted gores.

Am considering the possiblity of maybe block printing the narrow center panel to add yet another pattern to this popover dress.

Monday, August 22, 2016

media Monday

in which our plucky heroine is very grateful for the local swimming pool, which saved our sanity this weekend (was 102 F on Saturday afternoon here, in the shade on my front porch)...

and in the interest of a bit of visual cooling and beauty, here is a lovely piece of environmental artwork:
:::

We did it! My Blue Cedar House pals came down this weekend. It was not a good weekend for yardwork (see note above on temperature), so aside from a modicum of weeding and backyard weedwhacking early in the mornings, we put our attention into some serious workroom decluttering...

The primary area of the central worktable is cleared, and the surrounding areas have plenty of clear floor space. We took six grocery sacks to Goodwill, three to recycling and one into the trash. A bunch of the lumber was shifted outside for future garden bed building. Now I can once again host teaching weekends here, and creative activity evenings! It is amazing what a huge difference it makes having a bit of company while doing the sort and discard!
.
There is now room to set up a narrow standing workbench underneath the shelves (where currently a few remaining boxes of yet unsorted random papers are stacked). You can see the file cabinet in the lefthand photo, and the pile of papers above it, and next to it... those I decided were a different task that the initial "clear the space for useability..." goal

Indeed, the other thing that feels like a real accomplishment this weekend, in addition to the initial major declutter and space clearing, was to then be able to see the smaller "chunks" of task that also need done, without panicking. I made a list, in my new notebook, of the sub-sections that still need attention in this room: my personal workbench, the soldering bench, the filing cabinet, the pantry, the tool zone, and the laundry zone.

In addition, I noted various smaller tasks that need done in there. There are two shelves that need wall anchors, as does the kiln shelf system. The standing workbench needs moved indoors from where it currently lives outside the back door. I need to sort the piles of papers and deal with the contents of the filing cabinet; it occurred to me that I can use it to both hold files and as a sort of stationary supply center, with paper and pads in the upper drawer for easy access, and actual files in the lower drawer, since I don't need to look at them often. This would have all the blank paper of various sorts corralled in one spot.

Overall, the ongoing efforts over weeks/months/years seems to be bearing fruit. In the past, my efforts to declutter primarily consisted of moving clutter from one part of the house to another. This time, the only thing moved to other parts of the house were objects that had actual spots where they lived in other rooms, and it felt fairly easy to simply let go of still useful but unneeded materials. I even sorted through an entire box of "mementos"; keeping the ones that actually had pleasant memories attached, and letting everything else return to the thing-stream!
:::

August SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 charter #14 rayon dress facing Tundra flooring
2 charter #15 - floor padding
3 Tullia painted banner - bag to Goodwill
4 embroidered yoke - bag to Goodwill
5 -- bag to Goodwill
6 - - bag to Goodwill
7 - - bag to Goodwill
8 - - bag to Goodwill
9 - - paper recycling
10 - - wood scraps
11 - - shelf unit
12 - - -
13 - - -
14 - - -
:::

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday fragments

in which our plucky heroine is concerned...

When out in the yard feeding the hens this morning, three plums I picked at random from the feral plum trees (to have with breakfast) are well ripe already. Checking my records from previous years, this has them about a month and a half earlier than usual, since they are usually ready in late September or sometime in October. The apples on the tree are also getting close to ripe; the last windfall was almost sweet. This amount of change is worriesome.

I suppose it is near time to clear and defrost the freezer, and think about making preserves. In years past, plum sauce time was a pleasant fall chore. Last night at midnight it was 81 F outside, and 80 F in the living room, here at Acorn Cottage. This weekend we are forecast triple digits, and recommended to avoid outdoor chores. I am cogitating on how best to rig a shade curtain in front of my west facing porch...
:::

It has been a rough few weeks, but here is something lighthearted: this is what it looks like, when you start learning Gothic calligraphy, and then go to purchase some bulk Dr Bronner's soap...
:::

August SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 charter #14 rayon dress facing Tundra flooring
2 charter #15 - floor padding
3 Tullia painted banner - bag to Goodwill
4 embroidered yoke - -
5 -- -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
:::

Monday, July 25, 2016

media Monday


in which our plucky heroine returns to a crepuscular state, as the weather returns to daystar prevalent...

This showed up on my FB feed and I found it oddly compelling...


Closed Circles Performance in a Three Faced Suit by Shao Buugeng Manipulations

And, this excellent flashback to an earlier time seems somehow appropriate on a hot summer day...

It's a Beautiful Day - White Bird - 7/7/1970 - Tanglewood
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 Thora trim bands yard waste bin
3 charter #13 pruned apple tree bag to Goodwill
4 chicken hurdles hem rayon dress bag to Goodwill
5 twin Laurel enamels- bag to Goodwill
6 tiny Pelican enamel - galvanised mesh
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
:::

Sunday, July 24, 2016

tiny and tinier...


in which our plucky heroine continues to push the envelope and shares some process pictures of the work that has happened here in the last two weeks...

Been working on some SCA peerage regalia, grateful that the weather has been surprisingly cooperative (working in front of a hot 1500°F kiln is a treat in the winter, but less pleasant in the heat of summer. The last few days, unusually cool and cloudy for July, have been a respite...

This Laurel enamel is filled enough that the next step will be hand grinding the surface down to a smooth contour.

Some time and careful work with the alundum stone really smooths out the surface contour; the rough surface will be cleaned with a fiberglass brush and then fired in the kiln to melt the glass to smooth again. Any remaining irregularity can then have small amounts of enamel added in a few more firings to fill any remaining irregularity in the contour

adding enamel in the shallow areas of the piece

This enamel is small, about 1" diameter. I decided to add central veins to the tiny leaves, which starts by adding some painting enamel* to the surface. Even using a 10/0 brush, the enamel goes on in fairly large irregular splotches...

The next step is to use a clean damp paintbrush to push the painting enamel into a more refined shape, detailing the center of the leaves...

One last trip into the kiln, to fuse the painting enamel to the surface, and my work on the enamel is done. Next step will be to create a setting so this can be worn as a pendant jewel

and the finished enamel as set: in a simple setting with a single pearl drop.

But in fact, I actually created a matched set of two medallions... as requested, for Christiana and Aelisia


and here they are as finished, prior to being sent on their way! Enamels are both 25mm (1") in diameter, cloisonne with limoges detailing, in simple silver settings with pendant freshwater pearls
:::


and once those were completed, it was time to be starting on another tiny peerage enamel, this time a Pelican. This enamel is even smaller than the previous set; this one is just under 21mm in diameter (the size of a US nickel coin). Am working on this one as a joint project with my former studio partner Bill Dawson who will be creating the elaborate setting with a Laurel wreath surround, and set with gems and pearls.

This is probably the smallest Pelican enamel I have done so far in my many years of creating regalia... I'm pretty chuffed at the amount of detail I managed to get with the cloisonné wires at this scale.
:::

July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 pewter casting Thora cuff trim bag of hangers
2 charter #12 Thora trim bands yard waste bin
3 charter #13 pruned apple tree bag to Goodwill
4 chicken hurdles hem rayon dress bag to Goodwill
5 twin Laurel enamels- bag to Goodwill
6 tiny Pelican enamel - galvanised mesh
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
11 - - -
12 - - -
:::

* Vitreous enamel is ground glass, that is applied to metal and fused at high temperatures. Doing this is one of my primary art forms, which I use to create jewelery and regalia. Regular enamel has the consistency of fine beach sand, and I work with it dampened with water, for safety and technique. Painting enamel has the consistency of talcum powder, I work with it dampened with lavender oil, which allows it to behave more like a substance halfway between paint and sand.