Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Little Flowers

I oscillate between different arts and crafts. At regular intervals, I get tired of one thing and switch to another. It generally works out well, except when I'm trying to complete long-term projects.

When it comes to crocheting, the periods where I don't do it are often longer than other crafts. It often feels like a waste of time. Not that I don't enjoy it! It's just that I usually end up feeling like I could be doing so many other, more productive things. I usually grapple with those feelings until I give up and decide - to hell with it! Crocheting is happening!

I made this thing because I like the feel of the yarn. It will probably be a trivet, for setting hot pans on. (I'll take another picture when I get around to blocking it, when it will probably look more impressive.)


I intended to make the whole thing look like the center rings, but as they got bigger, I realized the pattern wasn't sustainable. So I made bigger blank spaces, and then eventually incorporated some orange. This is what an indecisive piece made with a random assortment of yarns looks like.

I still want to complete a larger project, but I don't have the time or energy to do it. So instead I'm returning to experiments with making patches and piecing them together.



These are my first two. The one with seven holes was the first one I did. I opted not to count what I was doing at first, because I make bad decisions like that. I liked the result, so I decided to recreate it. After a few tries, I settled on doing a magic circle with 7 single crochet stitches on it.

I've been trying to decide how to piece these together. I have an equal (or possibly larger) amount of white crochet thread, so an obvious choice would be daisies. While I like flowers, however, I don't know that what comes to mind is the best choice. It would probably be better for me to stay abstract.

More on this story as it develops.




Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Bumble: Food and a sleep tool


I really love this gingerbread pumpkin with a mouse: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/features/amazing-gingerbread-houses/another-entry-in-the-national-gingerbread-house-competition-by-k0/

Yoga-pose gingerbread men - http://holykaw.alltop.com/yoga-gingerbread-men

I really dig the Cheap Lazy Vegan channel. She's more realistic than a lot of the other vegan entertainers I've seen, since the recipes she shows don't really call for anything outlandish.
http://cheaplazyvegan.tumblr.com/

10 foods that used to be considered unfit to eat: http://mentalfloss.com/article/59303/10-popular-foods-once-considered-unfit-eat I'm surprised that portabello mushrooms are just larger criminy mushrooms.

Google's Quick Draw lets you teach an AI to tecognize doodles. https://quickdraw.withgoogle.com/

This site will let you know if the Large Hadron Collidor has destroyed the world: http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.comhttp://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/

My favorite gif of all time: http://beesbeesbees.com/http://beesbeesbees.com

Useful tool: Helps you figure out when to go to sleep or wake up in order to feel your best: http://sleepyti.me/http://sleepyti.me

Now we head into December, ready to await the darkest nights in the northern hemisphere. Enjoy hot drinks and sparkling dreams.











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Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Bumble: Sweets and Comforts

This is the time of year when we indulge in comforts of all sorts. And it's not a moment too soon this year! 2016 has proven very unpleasant for many, full of loss. It has taken so many important artists from us, so many beautiful things.

I hope that you can take this moment and be mindful of the things that give you comfort. The small things, very basic stuff - foods that satisfy and taste good, things that keep you warm, pleasant textures.

Sweets:


Sugar Plums and Comfits: http://www.historicfood.com/Comfits.htm









Saturday, November 19, 2016

Book Review: "Fitting Every Figure" and "The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction"

I have recently decided to up my game when it comes to clothing construction, as well as learning tailoring. I'm learning clothing construction because of a recent suggestion that I make a costume portfolio. It's been years since I've had a collection of costumes on hand, because I stopped having the materials and time to make them, and no occasions to justify making something really spectacular. So since I have to start from scratch, I want to learn as much as I can as I go, so that my results are the best they can be.

When beginning to learn something, my first action is to visit my local library's website and order whatever I see that looks interesting. It's awesome to get a stack of 10 or 20 books, and spend a little time leisurely perusing them. (Or as often happens nowadays, quickly flipping through the pages to see what will be worth my time to actually look over.)

Here are my thoughts on the two most recent books I've checked out about clothing creation!

The Complete Photo Guide To Clothing Construction

ISBN: 978-1-58923-777-3

I love complete guides for beginners. Even if I know a lot about a subject, I still usually learn new things in them. And this one certainly doesn't disappoint. It covers tools and how to use them, basic garments, how to read patterns, different types of stitches, and more.

I will spoil the secret in this one that shocked me: You can use pinking shears on on woven fabric to prevent the edges from fraying. I have told this to other people who already knew that, and they assure me it's true. I still can't believe it. Going to try this out once I get the pinking shears sharpened.


Threads Fitting For Every Figure

ISBN: 978-1-60085-396

I want to make my own patterns, but I'm not quite there yet. Currently I am exploring everything I can do with a bog coat, which is one of the most basic tops ever. It's a rectangle with two slits in the side, and then it's assembled into a jacket somehow. Making more complicated things from scratch is doable, but it takes a long time - as things tend to do when I don't know all the advanced ins and outs yet.

This book contains is a very complete guide to altering patterns, and I'm just super delighted with it! Besides using it to make/modify my designs, I'm also using it to alter pre-made patterns. You'll be able to see the results here.


About ISBN numbers: You can use these fantastic little codes to search for books on bookselling websites and libraries across the world. If your library system doesn't have a copy of the book, you can usually use the ISBN to request another library's copy as an ILL (Inter-Library Loan). Sometimes there is a cost, but often this service is provided for free!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Four basic hand stitches I use all the time

I've been hand-sewing for about 20 or so years now. For the most part, I've gotten by on these four stitches. These aren't the only

Running stitch


Also known as a straight stitch, the running stitch is one of the most basic workhorses you can have in your stitch arsenal.



One great thing about the running stitch is that there's an easy way to speed it up! Normally, you would push the needle through the fabric, then pull it and the thread all the way through. However, through much practice and dealing with looming deadlines, I've discovered that you can take a longer needle and push the head through the fabric multiple times before pulling the thread through. The fabric can be scrunched up near the bottom of the needle to get more stitches in. Then you just have to pull it all the way through, being careful not to let the needle knot up.

This stitch is good for holding fabric together. The fabric around the seam will fray if left alone, but I find this stitch is often good enough to last without any further work.

Overcast stitch



This stitch will help you keep your edges from fraying. It can also be used as a decorative outer stitch if you like.

Basically, put your needle through the fabric near the edge of what you're sewing. Pull the thread all the way through. Bring the needle up to the same side of the fabric you put the needle into before. Repeat.

For more sturdy fabric, I recommend doing a running stitch, then doing a blanket stitch over it.

Whip/blanket stitch

 The whip or blanket stitch is similar to the overcast stitch.



Put the needle through the fabric as with the overcast stitch. Bring it around to the front and put it down the same hole. Pull the thread almost all the way through. Bring the needle back around and pull it through the remaining loop of thread. Repeat.

I have often used this with the running stitch to 'serge' the edges. Having had access to a serger for a few months, I can say that the machine is very fast and convenient, but the hand stitches in many ways are sturdier. 

Slip-stitch 

This is a fantastic invisible stitch for finishing objects. I only learned this one a few months ago, because I used to just use a whip stitch around the outer edges of my projects. Using this stitch has made my work look much more professional.



This stitch is a little more complicated to explain, but is very similar to the running stitch once you have it set up.

Fold the edges of two pieces of fabric over, then pin them together with the edges inward. Stick the needle into the fabric in the valley of the seam, then push it out through the top of the folded over edge of one piece of fabric. Put the needle in the top edge of the other piece of fabric, and push it out a little further along the fabric. Put the needle in the top of the other piece of fabric and repeat. Continue this process, alternating sides each time.

When it's time to make the knot, try to put the knot below the seam. It's a little difficult and takes experimentation, but is well worth it if you can learn how to do it.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Celtic Knotwork Poison Ivy coat: Update

Gremlin is one of our cats. She is what we call a 'follow cat' - a cat who insists on following one or more humans throughout the house. She's also very momsy, and loves nothing more than having everyone sleep in a pile and giving baths to cats and humans alike.

Today, she is helping to model the wool coat I've been redesigning and decorating for my Poison Ivy costume collection. My goal is to have a mix and match set of costume pieces that I can use for any weather or situation.

It is a military style coat that I unfortunately never got a picture of when I first recieved it. I haven't changes the basic structure much, though, so it should be easy to imagine it's original state.



Anyway, I am working on the embroidery that I intend to have border most of the coat. It's about half done. In the picture above, there is a silver thread running alongside green knotwork. This particular style of interlacing is pretty much the simplest one I know how to do. I haven't had much practice with making carpet pages (Those full pages of illumination in medieval books), and trying to make a design that fit all the panels of the coat was just too much. So I started with the trim, and intend to design the rest later.








The back of the coat used to be split, but I filled that in when I had to expand the size of the coat. I'm not entirely sure why, and I might take that panel out later.

The finished side has one puffy line and a silver thread. I believe I'm about 2/3rds to 3/4 of the way done.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Bumble: Pumpkins

Fall is still here! That means pumpkins are still in bountiful supply. This week's Bumble is all about the squash!

David S. Pumpkins - I assume some folks are probably sick of him already, but I find David Pumpkins delightful. Haven't laughed that much at a non-political SNL skit in a long time.



Other Pumpkins

Nasa had a pumpkin carving contest! The results look really cool!

Thieves stole $2,000 worth of pumpkins Cadaver Dave would be very upset. (More about him later.)


The Great Pumpkin Flood: Halloween Without Pumpkins - With recent weather changes, I've been worried about the future of pumpkins. :(

With that said, if you are ever faced with a pumpkin shortage (Or if other family members/loved ones hate pumpkin) and you want pumpkin pie, you can always try Carrot Pie. I used to hate pumpkin pie until someone offered me a slice of carrot pie. It had all the flavors of pumpkin pie, minus the pumpkin, and I didn't really taste carrot at all. Since then, I've grown to love pumpkin!



And lastly, a lovely view of pumpkins on a farm, available as a postcard on Zazzle:


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mad scientist persona

I got ahold of 2 and a half yards of black velveteen! And two 2 yard pieces of white and black stripey fabric! I'll be mixing in some plain white fabric to complete the outfit.



I've been trying to come up with a mad scientist robot costume, and these two fabrics fit the bill perfectly. The velveteen will add a nice texture, and...I just like stripes! This will of course be a steam punk inspired outfit, because I am a huge fan of Steam Powered Giraffe.

Normally I'd try and fit some knotwork interlacing into the outfit, but in this case, that just feels a bit off. I'm thinking that having lines and patches of white or black.

Now let's go over the first draft design from head to toe.

First, a wig. I love the old style curly wigs with a big bow in the back. I have a black curly wig I can modify, but I'm leaning more towards using some of those stretchy mesh tubes. My hope is that it would look like wires and cables.


I don't know if I want to go the route of goggles, since that is considered by some a cliche now. If I did make a pair, however, I'd probably use a set of regular everyday goggles I have on hand, and decorate over it with more of the fabric. Maybe add some neat lenses. And of course, a bow in the back (Which would end up being the bow on the wig, if I can get it to work.) 



Now for the coat! The back is on the left, front on the right. I am tempted to use the laser cutter to make buttons shaped like gears (A design I could then make more of and sell, I assume.) The darker shaded areas will be velveteen, and the striped areas will be striped cotton. I'd like to add some white velvet or cotton to the side of the front velveteen panel.

For the bow, I am considering using laser cut acrylic or wood painted to look like metal.


I suspect the pants will be hard to see on this outfit, because I of course also want to wear striped tights or socks. These will be breeches, one of my favorite style of pants - and of course there will be bows on the sides of the cuffs.



Lastly, shoes! I don't want to mess around with boots, so I can either make some small shoes or buy remade ballet flats. I have not had good luck lately making shoes, so I might start out with remade ones. This outfit could give me the push to go ahead and make shoemaking supplies, which is something I'd like to have anyway.



I haven't chosen a name for this persona yet. Not sure when it'll be ready to debate, as I also have to work on developing a character and robotic movements. But I expect I can get the outfit done by sometime in January.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A soon to be lasered design!

I've been learning how to make good designs to use on a laser cutter, and I think I'm getting somewhere! I've been learning tons about inkscape and Inkpad by having actual projects to work on. It's amazing how projects bring focus.

I'm pleased that it's so orderly, but that I am able to add the touches I enjoy in my hand-drawn work. And as a fan of putting little dots on things, I am delighted by how I can add in all sorts of repeatimg shapes.

This piece will be laser cut as a brooch, which will then be attached to a hat. I'm also consdering attempting to make a cube lamp or a decorative box.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Bumble: Anything But Politics Mystery Bag

Today's Bumble has no theme

Engraving velvet bags - I am super excited about laser cutting and making clothes. After acquiring a bit of black velveteen, I remembered an artist I met once who sold special hand-crushed velvet. I wondered if I could achieve a similar effect with a laser cutter, amd indeed I can! So I intend to decorate the fabric, then turn it into something awesome.

28 Reasons to Love Black Cats - Sure, it's a Buzz Feed article. But it has pictures of kitties in it! I am very for adopting black cats. They have a harder time getting adopted. Also, their eyes stand out so well against their faces, which I think is very beautiful.

Torrit Gray - Once a year, Gamblin Artist's Colors sucks up all the pigment residue in the factory, mixes it into paint (which always turns out a shade of gray), and gives free tubes to customers. It's an awesome way to use something that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Types Of Gears - The different basic types of gears.

Silkie Chickens - These chickens are small, fluffy, and friendly.

Byrd Baylor - She is one of my favorite children's authors. I highly recommend "Everybody Needs A Rock."


I hope everyone is able to find rest and consolation during this difficult time.
Pumpkins and leaves to you all!
- Mr. Bumblepants



Friday, November 4, 2016

Art Block

I recently got over a big bout of art block and near-burnout. That’s actually why I’ve restarted this blog. Normally with art block, I just switch to a different type of craft until I’m interested in what I was working on again. I’ll also take breaks where I just enjoy other people’s art rather than make my own. (Or I’ll just repost a bunch of fall related stuff on Tumblr!) Generally, taking a break to do something that grabs my interest is enough to get me over any art block.

But this year, I hit a huge block that lasted for months. I am a huge fan of Halloween and fall, so it was baffling to me that the season was here and I just felt -nothing- about it. I tried switching things up, but nothing changed. Nothing was fun or meaningful. In short, these months sucked real, real bad.

Thankfully that’s over, and now I’ve had a bit of time to figure out what happened. Since I know art block and burnout is a huge problem for many people, I want to share in case it helps anyone else.


What went wrong:


The first part of this is that I didn’t have a clear direction I was trying to head into. I was busy making lots of things, sure, but no real reason for doing so. I was doing Halloween related crafts because “I’m one of those people who likes Halloween” and not “This is something I really want to do that furthers my goals.”

The second part is that I have had an increase in obligations and responsibilities lately. I love what I’m doing, but I also have problems that need accommodation. I have social anxiety and a limited amount of energy. I have to choose wisely how I interact with people, and how I spend my time. Instead of doing that, I was running around trying to do everything, and not setting proper boundaries. It seemed fine at the time, and also seemed necessary with all the deadlines. I really wasn’t aware of the extent of the problem until I was really deep into it.

And finally, I was trying to continue my tradition of doing a bunch of stuff for my favorite season when I did not have the same amount of time I’m used to having to complete them in. So plans had to become smaller and smaller until there was no way to shrink them anymore if I was going to actually do them. I didn’t want to let these things go, so I decided to just push through it. But then reality stuck its head in the room and let me know that actually, no, I didn’t have time to everything.

At the lowest point, I was feeling pretty robotic and lifeless. Nothing had a point. I was just passing boring, pointless time. And there was no indication that anything would ever really have meaning again.


How I fixed it:


The turning point started when I came home one day and the fireplace was lit. It was cozy, and had that familiar fall and winter smell. I felt something fizzle somewhere in my brain, which eventually manifested as the thought, “I could toast some marshmallows.” I grabbed the Halloween quilt I finished last year, wrapped myself up in it, and toasted some of Trader Joe’s vegetarian marshmallows. It didn’t fix everything, but it was at least something.

After that, I had the feeling that I could actually get over this. Since I felt better after doing something basic and seasonal, I decided that what I should do is get at the base of what it is I love about fall. Since fall is the season that inspires me most and informs my art, I figured that if I could below the surface and really get at what it meant to me, maybe I’d emerge with what direction I should go in. 

I decided to give in to reality, and get rid of every task I possibly could. If it wasn’t necessary for me to do, I wasn’t doing it. Cleaning was dropped to the bare minimum. I went from trying to make lots of my own food to eating ready made meals. Then I dedicated myself to just pursuing whatever seemed fun, provided it didn’t involve making plans. I started watching Jas Townsend & Son videos about 18th century cooking. I also listened to a lot of stuff from maximumfun.org. I watched music videos I’ve always enjoyed, especially “I Love It” by Steam Powered Giraffe. That helped immensely, and I could feel myself returning from burnout.

Things finally snapped back into place while I attended a local Halloween event called The Festival of the Macabre. I was still back to normal, but I was enjoying myself. And it was great to be surrounded by people enjoying Halloween as much as I do. After asking someone about getting involved, it was suggested I put together a portfolio of costuming work to show what I could do. And that was so weird to me, because I’d written off costuming a long time ago as something that I couldn’t reasonably expect to be involved in. Later that night, as I pondered how I would put together a portfolio, I could suddenly see how I could tie together all my interests, and had a very clear direction to head into. Best of all, it was all doable. I’d seen other people do such things. Two days later, I was back to normal, bouncing around over the fact that Halloween is coming. 


What I learned:


  • It’s important to have a clear idea of where you’re going and why
  • When you recognize that something is not working, alter how it’s done or simply drop it ASAP.
  • If you don’t stop when you need to, things will only get worse and you’ll still have to stop later whether or not it’s convenient.
  • Being in the middle of a project or well into a job is no reason not to change things up. You’ll only benefit from better work conditions, and not changing could destroy all your hard work.


I wish you the best of success if you get stuck in art block or burnout. I hope my story helps you!

Happy Haunting!
- Mr. Bumblepants



Referenced stuff:

Jas Townsend and Son