"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Monday, March 23, 2015

The "Save That Ratty Workshirt" Project

I was looking for an on-going project I could work on in between other things. You know, like when I only have maybe half an hour or so of dead time, but not ready to start another major project. Something I can stuff in a bag and drag along with me, or ignore for months and not feel guilty about neglecting it.

Years and years ago (back in the 70s) I did a lot of embroidery on a man's cotton work shirt. I wore it to death, and still have it. It was even featured in an "Clothing as Art" show at the Riverside Art Center and Museum, in Riverside, Ca. So I thought, why not start another shirt, only this time use up all my bits and pieces of leftover fabric, trim, beads, embroidery floss, etc to mend one of my husband's. He had a few, all given to him by pet food companies (he drives a big rig truck delivering pet food), and one of them, which had been relegated to the "wear it around the house/yard only" box, was pretty, well...ratty. I decided to rescue it and give it a new life.

This resurrection may not work. The shirt material is very worn and thin, and there are lots of frayed edges, and rips in the fabric. But the cotton is so very soft, and even if the shirt ends up totally covered, that nice cotton will still be the lining inside.

Here is what the shirt looks like. Yeah, pretty ratty.

It's obvious that the whole thing is going to have to be reinforced in some way. But, I can work on small sections of fabric adding beads or embroidery, or stenciling, then take that finished bit and sew it onto the shirt. Or I can work directly on the shirt.

This is what I have added so far. The denim patch was a piece cut from a pair of jeans, that  I was experimenting on with a bleach pen. The skull is a stamp. On the edge of the collar I sewed a leftover strip of binding from the Spring Bolero project. The little key is a cheap charm I dug out of my stash of "stuff."

I'm going to add beads to the denim patch, and I think the stitching is kinda-sorta like Japanese boro stitching, but much sloppier. This whole shirt project is meant to be a no-brainer, so I am not going to get anal over the stitching. I even left the end knots and tails on the outside, which I NEVER do on other things.

It may be years before this shirt is totally covered, or it may take only a few months before I decide the whole bloody project is a waste of time.  However, if I do manage to get the whole shirt covered, I bet it will look really awesome!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nomad 3 - Blue Wall

Still trying to make time for my art, which for the last five days was kinda tough, as Robert was home due to mechanical problems with the truck he drives at work. I would be in "drawing mode" and he'd come into the room to use the computer and want to chat while he surfed the internet. I finally had to tell him, "Um, I'm not trying to be pissy here, but, I am not going to talk." He finally "got it" and left me alone. It gave me a hint of what it will be like when he retires in five years, so there are some things we need to work out before that happens. Like, I need my space, and he needs his.

So, once Robert and I came to an understanding about me being "In the zone" I worked on the third in the Nomad series. Since the last drawing I did "I Am Watching" was really complicated and busy, I wanted to keep this one simple. I kinda had no choice, since the size of the drawing is small, only 8 1/2 x 11.

Nomad 3 - Blue Wall. Colored pencil on paper.

I found the photo of that beautifully textured wall on Pinterest, along with a photo of a woman (not pictured) dressed like the one in the drawing. After I finished the piece, I decided it would have looked better painted rather than done with pencil. Even with wanting to keep things simple, I couldn't get that great rough texture of the wall, or the deep blue of the paint. But, I still like the way it came out, and I think the colors work. Color is still something I struggle with...a lot.

Even though I am having a hard time getting the deep colors I want with the pencil,  I am going to  keep slogging away at it until I feel like I'm ready to move on to paint. I need the drawing practice and color studies. By the time the weather is reliably warm, I will be able to move out to my drafting table in the garage (and Robert can be free to use the computer without me grouching at him) and work on larger pieces, although I doubt I'll go much bigger than 16" x 20".

It also appears that I now have three series to work on, which is fun. First it was the Nomad Series, then I added the Gypsy Series, and then, out of nowhere, came the drawing "I Am Watching" which is what I refer to as the Mother Nature is Pissed Series. I have lots of ideas for all three, and have been collecting photos from Pinterest, or will use my own photos taken around our place, as sources.

My plan for the summer is to rotate my days between horses/yard/garden and artwork—which will include beading, sewing, and jewelry projects along with drawing/painting. Going back and forth, one day on, one day off, rather than trying to do, say, artwork in the morning and outdoor work in the afternoon—which wouldn't work, because once I get in the zone, I lose all track of time. Or the reverse, which would be worse, because by the time I'm finished, temps can be over 100 degrees and sometimes as high as 107-110. Sweating in the summer heat working horses all morning doesn't put me in the mood to paint. A bit of beading might be okay, but that's about it. I'm usually so wrung out and tired by the time I come in, I don't want to do anything but take a shower, sit on the couch, sip iced tea, and read. 

But despite that, I love summer, and look forward to playing both outside and inside. Beats the hell out of days and days of gloom, fog, and rain, which turns me into a major grumpas!  So, bring on the sun, the blue skies, the summer garden, and BBQs. I'm ready!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring Bolero finished & Next Projects

The Spring Bolero turned out quite nice. It is bolero number five in my growing collection. I did a ballpark calculation as to how many hours it took for me to bead the binding, and figured around five, give or take. It is very relaxing for me, as I listen to books on tape as I sew/bead. But the hours it takes to bead one just reinforces the notion that trying to  make them to sell would be a waste of my time and energy. Besides, as stated before, I do these for fun, and because I like wearing them.

Spring Bolero = Made from two Goodwill find women's knit shirts, and beads and embroidery thread from my own stash.

My next project is to turn this large, faux-silk (Rayon) beaded top into a kimono jacket. There are already gold bugle beads sew on it, very badly, and many are coming off. I will secure the loose ones, and probably add more. The idea is to cut it up the front, then add some kind of fringe/lace/trim to the bottom edge and to the ends of the sleeves, to make them hang nicely. This thing is kinda warped from, I suspect, lots of washing and is very baggy, but I liked the boho design and the slouchy feel of it, and thought, once the remodel is done, it would look great with a black tank top and jeans. For a mere $2.99 from the Goodwill, if it fails, I'm not out much.

Lastly are the gigantic man's t-shirts I got, again, from the Goodwill. I got two, one this dark blue, and the other is charcoal gray, for $2.99 each. They are Fruit of the Loom brand, and the cotton is a good weight, so I couldn't resist, even though the colors aren't very snazzy. I can fix that with embellishments. But wow, can't imagine the size some poor guy would have had to be for these babies to fit. However, it makes lots of material for me to play with. I just hope these shirts ended up in the Goodwill because whoever owned them lost all that weight and didn't need them anymore.

That's my lineup so far. Not sure what I will do with the two HUGE shirts, but a tunic might be one choice. I have a pattern for a simple one, if that's what I decide. Also, I recently bought a new stash of stencils, and these shirts are big blank canvasses begging for decoration. With that much fabric to play with, the possibilities are endless.

So that's me, making a happy wardrobe, one upcycled piece at a time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Goodwill Finds and the Spring Bolero

A few days ago I did a troll through the Goodwill, after dropping off three boxes of "stuff." I came home with quite a few nice finds = two ENORMOUS XXXXL man's T-shirts that I think I could get whole outfits out of, a faux silk kimono-type top made in India that already has some beading on it, and two woman's extra large T-shirts in a happy Spring green, with tiny sprigs of leaves in white. Now, normally, I would avoid anything with white like the plague, but this was a small pattern, and looked so cheerful, that I caved and bought it anyway.

The faux silk top, which has big, square sleeves...well, like a kimono...I am going to cut up the center and make into a kimono jacket. The beading on the fabric is sewn on pretty sloppy, but looks nice, so I will leave it and probably add more, and then replace the sloppy beads that will no doubt fall off as I wear it.

Not sure what I will do with the two huge man's T-shirts, but the possibilities are endless. They are nice, Fruit of the Loom brand, so the cotton has a good weight. The colors are dark navy blue, and charcoal grey. Yeah, the colors are kinda blah, but I can add stenciling, embroidery, beading, and appliques to whatever I make out of them, to jazz things up.

I will have photos of these pieces up later. Mainly because I got all ready to post this stuff, thought I had photoed all of it, only to discover I only had photos of the Spring bolero shirts. My bad.

Anyway, here is my progress on the Spring Bolero. Even though the two women's shirts were size XXL, and wide, I wasn't sure I would have enough fabric to do the binding, so the rich, chocolate brown was going to be my backup binding color. It looked really nice against the bright green. However, as it turned out, I had enough shirt fabric left over to do the binding if I did solid color on pattern, and the reverse on the sleeves.

The first two photos were taken on my dinning room table, and the lighting there makes the green look olive, and the brown look maroon. They are not. The rest of the photos were taken on my work table out in the garage, where the lighting is brighter, and the colors show up better. 

 The beads and embroidery thread were some I pulled from my stash.

And here is where I am so far. Still have to add the rest of the binding, then bead it. I may add beads to the body of the bolero, but haven't decided yet.

This makes bolero number five. I love these guys, and wear them a lot. I also love that they are easy to make, and lend themselves to all kinds of decorations. And they are the item I get most asked, "Do you make them to sell?" My answer is always, "No." They might be easy, but depending on how crazy I get with them, they are time-consuming. Besides, making them to sell would take all the fun out of it, and that's the biggy for me. I do them for fun.