Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Time to Go Outside - Living Jewelry

Here is an updated take on an earlier idea (see Ecowatch) that involved converting a recycled man's watch into my own little plot of land. This time around I've used stichable vinyl to create a more versatile form of living jewelry.

These faux watches remind you that it is time to go outside. Little squares of handmade paper embedded with seeds slip right into a vinyl pocket on each watch. Keep them wet by watering twice a day, and in no time you have your own little secret garden.

To learn how to make the paper simply google "seeded handmade paper" and follow directions. Because I have a highly annoying newsprint advertising circular jamming up my mailbox once a week, I took great satisfaction in using those to create my seeded paper.

Creating a paper blend from junk mail

Cutting tabs from handmade seeded paper

I used two different kinds of seeds to make two different types of paper for this project: wheatgrass and cat grass.

Watches with seeded tabs inserted

Starting to grow

Note the blades of wheatgrass sneaking out of the right side of the pocket above, reminding us that nature has a mind of its own.

Harvest time

While I made most of the watches out of mustard colored vinyl, I also experimented with blackboard vinyl. This nifty material allows you to embellish your watch any way you wish using a stick of chalk, and to erase your embellishments and start over whenever you want.

Fun with blackboard vinyl

The two tiniest watches were made for two cat lovers — a six-year-old and eight-year-old — and are planted with cat grass tabs. Imagine a fey six-year-old extending her delicate arm and letting a cat nibble at the grass growing from her wrist. Childhood doesn't get much more magical than that.

Cat grass watches for two little girls

The photos below show basic wearing and maintenance how-to tips.

Live long and prosper

Trimming the garden
The fun isn't over yet. Stay tuned for some living jewelry pins.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bojagin 4: Wrapped Fish

Wrapped fish bojagin

Yes folks, my obsession with bojagin continues. To read the back-story on these Korean-inspired wrapping cloths, each tailored to wrap a specific object, go to the first posting — Bojagin: The Gift of Travel, or click on "bojagin" in the index to the right. This time around, we are wrapping fish and the bojagin itself has an underwater theme.

Bojagin unfurled and hanging from branch

Mixing and matching from my bins of fabric are part of the joy of this process. Here, materials include two different scraps of indigo-dyed cloth, a fragment of woven Guatemalan cloth, cotton scraps from a robe I made specifically to wear at hot springs, and a panel of old kikoy fabric from Kenya. It is all bound together with lots and lots of Japanese-style sashiko stitching.

Detail: fabric photo transfer of image from Persian manuscript

Bojagin are all about binding up luck and the object to be wrapped. In this case the object is a ceramic tea ceremony container I found in Japan about fifty years ago.

The object: ceramic tea ceremony container

Container opened

And finally, we have the object wrapped as it was meant to be. I am finding the final wrapped object and the accidental/serendipitous juxtaposition of fabrics and stitching the most aesthetically appealing part of this process.

The object wrapped

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bojagin 3: White on White

Wrapping cloth

Wrapping cloth in use

This is the third in a series of Korean-inspired wrapping cloths called bojagin. For the back story see Bojagin: The Gift of Travel, and to see the whole series click on "bojagin" in the blog index to the right. As with all bojagin, this cloth was created to wrap specific objects. And presumably the good luck that wrapped bojagin contain is safely tucked inside. 

Materials for this bojagin include an assortment of vintage handkerchiefs and napkins. While the title is "white on white," I used tan thread to highlight the stitch work. Below are some close-ups of stitching detail.

Corner and hanging loop detail

Detail: bottom of piece

Detail: white on white

I know I am not the only sewer out there who occasionally gets a thrill from flipping a piece over and looking at the stitching from the back, usually unexposed side. Here is the hidden side of this piece.

Detail: back of piece

A wrapping cloth is all about the object(s) to be wrapped. In this case, a trio of seeds collected from around the world that look like beautiful, polished wood sculptures.

Objects to be wrapped

And finally, once again, the wrapped objects.

Wrapped objects

In my next post, featuring yet another bojagin, I will include a wrapping how-to illustrating how my bojagin design works for both hanging and wrapping.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Bojagin 2: Cash Cow

Wrapping cloth

Wrapped object

This continues the series of wrapping cloths inspired by the Korean tradition of "bojagin," gift-wrapping cloths that are stitched with a specific object in mind. See the previous post—The Gift of Travel—for more about the inspiration and backstory.

This cloth has the subject of currency as a focus. Materials include a U.S. one dollar bill; tiny shell beads that harken back to Native American currency; and a 150-year-old Indian temple sari, itself a form of currency and stored wealth.



I particularly like the section of sari cloth below, where you can see a mended, rewoven section done many, many decades ago by an earlier owner.


And now to the object to be wrapped: an old brass coin bank shaped like a cow.

The object to be wrapped

And finally, the wrapped object. The Korean belief is that a wrapped object, by the very nature of being wrapped, contains good luck.

The wrapped object

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bojagin: The Gift of Travel

Wrapping cloth unfurled

Cloth in use

A recent visit to a show on the history of Korean fashion at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco stimulated an interest in "bojagin," Korean wrapping cloths, a tradition that dates back to the Three Kingdoms period (55 BC to 668 AD). Usually square, they are stitched using pieced cloth, often silk or ramie. Those employing patchwork or scrap fabric are known as "chogak bo." A particularly charming aspect of this tradition is concern for that which is being wrapped, to the point where a bojagin may be created especially to wrap a specific object. 

Close-up detail

I started stitching my own chogak bo and got completely hooked. Here is the first in a frankly obsessive series.

Close-up detail

My bojagin are technically chogak bo, since they are all stitched from scraps and remnants, some recent acquisitions, and some that have been in my possession for over fifty years. My wrapping cloths are also a themed interplay between the cloth and the object to be wrapped.

Corner detail

Materials for this wrapping cloth include scraps of a 150-year-old Indian temple sari, woven cloth from Guatemala, assorted beads, a scrap of upholstery fabric, an odd medallion of an Arab woman of unknown origin, and a Laotian 500 kip note.

Close-up detail

The object to be wrapped is a carved wood Buddha from Laos in the "no more fighting" pose.

Carved wood Buddha

And finally we have the object wrapped.

Wrapped Buddha

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for many more wrapping cloths to come.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Take Back the Nightshirt

Pam encounters herself in the Take Back the Nightshirt

Experiments with t-shirts and lace continue. I still have lots and lots of Tennessee Williams' mother's curtains at my disposal (for the back story on how I got the curtains, and to see the original art piece created from these voluminous drapery sheers, see Rise and Shine: Tennessee William's Mother's Curtains). For this version of the nightshirt, I decided to substitute the sheers for the lace.

The original inspiration for the t-shirt and lace nightshirt came during a spiritual retreat at Findhorn in northern Scotland. Our group for the week was a motley international mix of ages, inclinations, neuroses, and nationalities. My roommate Sondra, a high-powered, type-A businesswoman from Hong Kong, appeared one night in our bedroom wearing what appeared to be a regular old t-shirt with a deep border of lace on the hem. I jumped (as well as I am able at this point in life) out of bed to inspect the garment more closely. Below is a photo of Sondra, clearly sliding from type A down to type P or Q after feeling the Findhorn influence of fairies and garden sprites.

Sondra, looser than when she arrived at Findhorn.

My first stab at creatively interpreting Sondra's nightshirt was a children's wear twist on the theme (which tosses in two poets for good measure), The Longfellow, Williams, Milne Memorial Nightshirt for Fractious Young Women. This time around I tried an adult version. In both cases the shirts were failures in a sense: they are just too charming to be worn in the dark. 

The Take Back the Nightshirt

This version of the nightshirt incorporates a large, gray, man's t-shirt from the thrift store, a swath of Tennessee William's mother's curtains, and a length of white ribbon. 

Border detail: the "rise and shine" quote

I have once again used a Willliams' 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.'" I suppose that could be seen as depressing, but those among us who are "bad-waker-uppers" will appreciate the sentiment. The letters were hand-printed onto the ribbon using a vintage alphabet printing set.

Detail: polka dot

For the polka dots, I used a cardboard template to cut out a bunch of circles from the drapery sheers and then used a simple blanket stitch to attach them to the t-shirt and keep the edges from unraveling.

And here is my friend Pam doing a fabulous job of modeling the Take Back the Nightshirt.

Note the single polka dot, center back.

Pam, experiencing the power that only a Take Back the Nightshirt can endow.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Life Lesson #1: Burnt Toast

This is what happens when you burn your toast and start playing with tin foil letters, cut with excruciating care using an X-acto knife, and a very old, very vivid memory. I went through a lot of toast getting the lettering to work. Now I may or may not start playing with burnt toast and tin foil stencils, but for the moment the urge is satisfied.
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