Sunday, November 27, 2011

More Leggings

Another pair of too short leggings with holes in both knees.
This is the work in progress, the paper is my pattern for figuring out lengths and positioning.
I cut long strips from an old T-shirt and overlocked both edges with a rolled hem on the overlock machine using contrasting thread. These I cut into smaller strips which I sandwiched between two layers of fabric.
This is how I sew the patches on the knees. I use a sleeve board to pin the patch in place really well, then I turn the pants inside out and scrunch down from the waist to get at the knees.
Here is the finished product:

Legging resurrection

I was going through my daughter's dresser and found several of these leggings that had become too short and had holes in the knees--but still fit her at the waist.
I've also confiscated a few of my son's T-shirts that have become too small and also have holes in them. So I cut circle ruffles from the T-shirt to apply to the leggings.
Here is the finished "new" pants with ruffles and a heart shaped patch.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Halloween costume: Medusa Headdress

My daughter wanted to be Medusa for Halloween, so I made her a snake headdress. I used large gauge floral wire and some green fabric to make seven stuffed snakes. I sewed the wire to the seam allowance at the head of the snake before turning it so the wire was inside. Then I stuffed the snakes with polyfil and sewed the opening closed. I also sewed some of the fabric close to the wire.
I built a frame by wrapping more floral wire around my daughter's head--and leaving enough wire to adjust it later as the snake tails would add bulk. The photo shows how I would wrap the snake tails around the headband. But first I needed to paint them.
I painted them with acrylic paint mixed with a fabric paint medium. When the snakes were painted I set the paint by steaming them with steam from the iron.
I sewed on little beads for the eyes. The tongues are leather cord, cut at the end to make a split. (the tongues were inserted in the initial sewing)
And here it is, a dramatic Medusa headdress with snakes that can be adjusted. My daughter loved changing their positions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sweater make over

I haven't posted in quite a while--but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy with creative things.

I had this chenille sweater, which while pretty, was also shapeless and a solid color. So I decided to make it fancy. I took it in at the waist to give it some shape, and then appliqued butterflies cut from a fleece print to it. Then I stitched down the applique with embroidery thread and added embroidered details. Below is the basted design on the back.
Design basted to sweater front.
finished back.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Extreme Makeover: T-shirt

I haven't been doing much 2-D work lately, but I have been working with fabric. When I went to the San Mateo County fair, I saw some t-shirts that had been re-styled and I thought, Oh I could do that with some of my old shirts. So I started with these two. One was from a school my kids no longer attend--back in Texas, but I like the design. The other was a sleeveless shirt. Just not as necessary in the San Francisco Bay Area as it was in Texas; I rarely find a good day to wear it. So I decided to combine the two.
I cut the design off the T-shirt, and put it on the sleeveless at an angle to add more interest. Then I cut sleeves from the body of the T-shirt. I edged the sleeves with a roll hem on the serger using a contrasting red thread to pick up the red in the design.
Then I stitched in the sleeves.
And Viola! a cute "new" shirt.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fish Mobile

The fish mobile is finally finished. I haven't been working on much flat artwork recently but I've been working on 3-D and clothing projects. This is one that I've been working on for a while, doing bits and pieces as I go along. My daughter has an ocean themed room--and got an idea for a fish mobile with ribbons on it to be like water. But I ended up making my own ribbons from fabric which came out more like seaweed, or jelly fish tendrils.

Here is a close up of the fabric and some of the beads.
This was the first layer put on the framework. I used a floral wreath framework, which has several layers of wire for support.
I started by creating the fish, one at a time over a few weeks. This was the final fish I made.

The orange fish was the first fish I made.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Illustration Friday: Gesture (and frustration)

It started with a delightful book I'd made at a FABMO workshop. I'd layered in tissue paper in the book--and so I did a gesture drawing of my cat on the white page, and a line drawing on the tissue paper over that.

But then it got more complicated--I really liked the idea of the overlay, and I wanted to translate that to my blog post. And then I got frustrated. I didn't have the right tools to easily make an animated gif, and once I finally figured that out, I discovered that Blogger doesn't support animated gifs--and the only way to get them on there was a complicated work around which involved getting an account I don't already have...

So, reluctantly (and somewhat defiantly) I took my dear hubby's advice to take a break. When I came back I decided to try from a different angle--I would make a movie. So I did that. Started to make a post--and then wanted to add in the photo--and I couldn't get to the photo upload screen. So I saved the post to try a different browser--only when I pulled up the saved post: there was nothing there!

Big sigh that I finally got my post up--almost the way I want.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I have garden envy. My mom has lived in the same house for 31 years. And in the course of that time she, (with my father’s help) has built up lovely gardens. She belongs to a garden club and they get together and discuss flowers, and living in the Southwest: drought.

I’ve moved five times in the past five years. I currently live in a rental house, with a postage stamp yard and mature landscaping. (more like a postage stamp with a house shaped hole in the middle…) But the yard includes some beautiful tree-sized rosebays that occlude the privacy fence. And earlier we had Pride of Madeira spiking up. And one tomato, and one zucchini valiantly struggle in pots on the driveway.

My husband has plans to build an aquaponics structure. It is like hydroponics plus fish. The funny thing is aquaponics doesn’t qualify as organic gardening, because the fish manure is fresh! But aside from a small scale experiment that was dismantled, once the roof overhang shadowed the window from the summer sun, this is still locked in his head.

But then inside my head is a garden too. I've planted ideas: some have grown, some have blossomed, and some have withered on the vine. New ideas flit in and land briefly, like a humming bird, and flit off again--not even disturbing the branch. Were they even there?

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Illustration Friday: Remedy

It has been quite a while since I responded to an Illustration Friday prompt. I had started waiting for inspiration, which wasn't coming. When I started doing IF, it was a sort of practice. I would do an illustration even if I didn't have inspiration. Then life got in the way.

So this week's topic "Remedy" reminded me of Rescue Remedy: a homeopathic treatment from flower essences. I'm still not sure where I stand on homeopathy, but there is something pleasant about the idea of essence.

I've been reading Karen Maezen Miller's book Hand Wash Cold: care instructions for an ordinary life. She is a Zen priest. And whenever I read about Zen, my ego starts getting uncomfortable. And all the work I've been doing around my identity becomes Important. But being reminded to stop judging helps me sigh a little and let go. And wouldn't my identity be more comfortable just living in my ordinary life?

Maybe I should start practicing something again, but maybe I should be practicing nothing.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

More Patches

This time my jeans were the ones to have a blowout. My cat likes to get in my lap. Sometimes she would tick my pant leg to let me know she was coming. But other times she would just jump; my arm would be in the way and she would miss--and then hang from my pant leg. After multiple cat leaps and washings the fabric just gave up. Which is why I needed patches on both sides. So I decided to go for a little story, involving playful cats, of course.

Monday, May 16, 2011

When I Remember Blue...

When I remember blue I think about the Honda I had, and the blue boat that looked like the car was wearing a bike helmet.

From Twisted Stitches Monday Memory Meme prompt.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Illustration Friday: Beginning

A some point, in the last few weeks, "Beginning" was an IF prompt. After I did this piece I thought it would make a nice post for beginning. Several weeks ago I got to see the Mosaic of Lod at the Legion of Honor Museum. (here) Dating back to about 300 AD, this mosaic is an early example in the annuals of art history. (Not the beginning of art by any stretch, but certainly something durable that left a record for a long time.)

With mosaics on my mind, I kept the fragments of the egg shells from our dyed Easter eggs: Easter being a celebration of beginnings (and endings that morph into beginnings.) The kids weren't interested in the project--so I did my own. Some sort of spiral seemed appropriate--and I wanted to use all the colors.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Illustration Friday: Journey, visual note taking

I have read a lot lately about how the internet is rewiring our brains. There is fear or delight that we now consume information like butterflies: flitting from one nugget of info to the next without really going deeply into anything. The ones who are fearful lament how few take the time to journey through an entire book anymore.

While it does get harder with the demands of being a stay-at-home-mom who is homeschooling, I do still enjoy the journey through a whole book. (but I like being an information butterfly too.)

I've also been introduced to the concept of visual note taking, and thought I would give it a go for my notes on my most recent read In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise by George Prochnik.

So here is my first attempt at visual notes, and I've learned a few things. Like there is a skill to visual outlining that I don't have yet. The elements of composition such as size and contrast apply sort of like the Roman numerals and alphabet of written outlines. I made some of my images too big in comparison to the importance in the text. It is a very different form of illustration.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Just a little exploration of Sketchbook Pro on my iPad. I'm still trying to learn it since it is very different from working with Photoshop which is what I'm used to.

Illustration Friday: Duet

The IF prompt a week ago was "Duet." I started working on this while the kids were at choir practice last week, but didn't manage to finish it until choir practice this week. This was done on my iPad with Sketchbook Pro.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Illustration Friday: Toy

"It went zip when it went,
Bop when it stopped,
And whir when it stood still."
~from a song by Peter, Paul, and Mary
(Originally by Tom Paxton)

This week's topic is "toy." This song popped into my head when I read it. It is difficult to illustrate a mysterious object.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Illustration Friday: Cultivate

This week's prompt is Cultivate. We are cultivating a lot of things around here, including scientific minds. DH is growing pea plants as part of an experiment and having the kids observe their growth.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Illustration Friday: Stir

When things get all stirred up it takes a long time for anything to settle out. Which is why I've gone so long without posting. Homeschooling is harder than I thought, managing special needs is harder than I thought. Heck just getting this image off my iPad was harder than I thought.

This was also inspired by the Tsunami warning we had here a few days ago--that I didn't even know about until after the wave had "hit" California. Prayers for the people in Japan.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dusty: the birth of an idea

Meet Dusty, the copper wire dust bunny. This week's Illustration Friday's topic is "dusty."

The number one question a children's book author is asked on a school visit is: "Where do you get your ideas?" I'm sure other artists also field this question frequently. Here's a peek into how the idea for Dusty came to me.

My 10 year old son wants to learn how to solder so he can make sculptures. He got some large gauge copper wire and a soldering gun from my father for Christmas. The first attempt was a failure. So I went to Home Depot to look for materials that might be easier to solder, and found some stranded wire. I couldn’t buy a small chunk to play with; I had to buy the whole spool: 250 feet. So the question in my mind was “What other crafts can use this wire?”

Tuesday night I spent some time with my artist friends. Sarah had bought some miniature bottle for us to play with. Woody amazed us all by making a polymer clay rabbit that fit in the bottle. (My brain was now primed with rabbits.)

Wednesday night I had tap class. My instructor remarked that the janitorial team at the rec center wasn’t doing a good job, as she pointed out the large dust bunnies in the corner of the room. (rabbit reference number two.)

Friday, the Illustration Friday prompt came in: Dusty. Later I thought, “hmm, I could do a gesture drawing of a rabbit, it would look sort of like a dust bunny.”

This morning I walked past the spool of stranded wire. All the things that had been going on in my brain this week began to bump up against each other and snarl, like a dust bunny, in the corners of my mind. Then I knew what to do, make a wire sculpture of a dust bunny.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Practical Arts

I was shocked to discover how long it has been since I last posted. Too much life going on I suppose. And my creative endeavors have been leaning towards more practical things, like patching pants. My son is very hard on pants. This pair somehow got a very long vertical rip in them--so I fixed it by putting in a tree. He is very happy with the tree with skull camo bark. (I am a little concerned because when I showed him the pants he said "Cool Mom! I'm going to have to rip my pants more often!" Not exactly what I was going for...)