Sarcastra

Sarcastra

The lovely and quirky author of this site.

Dec 052017
 

The winter Solstice Party for 2017 will be held on Saturday, 16 December starting at 1800 – which is 6pm for you folks really bad at simple math. The invitations are already late, so consider this your notification. If you’ve been invited before, consider yourself invited again.

At the rate things are going, the invitations will arrive in the mail a day or two before the party. If anything goes wrong at this point, I’ll either hand them out at the party (for those who give a shit) or mail them belatedly, like greeting cards. I am currently fighting against being overwhelmed, and this is how it is going to be.

Nov 202017
 

Lunch hour painting
Felt like I needed a pick-me-up on Monday, but settled for painting such instead. The cat’s expression is one I’m working on.

Lunch hour painting
I had no inspiration this day, so I swiped some paint across a page, then made animals from the blobs. I don’t know what creature that big-fisted pink thing is. I also don’t know what the animals might be protesting or supporting. I painted, that’s enough.

Lunch hour painting
Numbats eat termites and they are adorable – what more could you want. Unfortunately, this South Australian animal is endangered, too.

Lunch hour painting
Know that Tom Petty song, Wildflowers? The lyrics go, “You belong among the wildflowers ..” and so on. I had a note in my inspiration folder to finish it as “six feet under them” and finally got the spark to do it. Although the small size makes it more like “at least three feet under them.” Love this one.

Nov 162017
 

Sometimes the best way to deal with being creatively sluggish and behind on your schedule is to say FUCK IT!!! and play Minecraft until your feet get cold. Repeat as needed.

Nov 152017
 

It is the middle of November?! And the Solstice Party is in the middle of December?! I should have the handmade invitations in the mail this week?! I haven’t even started the sketch for carving! I need a day off, or three, to catch up.

Nov 132017
 

Three this week! Woot!
Lunch hour painting, coals from Baba Yaga.
Most people who know stories of Baba Yaga first envision the chicken legged house, or the witch herself, but the part of the most familiar story that sticks with me is the coals. It was the goal of her quest, the coals were well-earned, and they are hastily given at the end in a skull. That part lives in my head. Magical, red and gray coals being tossed into a human skull for carrying. It always seemed the bone wouldn’t be enough insulation for carrying. I always imagine Vasalisa picking up the first sturdy branch she found that had forks to wedge the skull into during her travels home. Last year when Slick and I were clearing branches from our yard, I found a really good one. I even tried it on against my head to be sure, and it was a good fit for a human skull. I idly wanted to toss some red LED battery lights in an appropriate Halloween skull and make my Vasalisa’s torch. Fortunately for my project list, I didn’t keep track of the branch – although it is probably still out there.
In one of the subscription art supply boxes I receive, there was a skinny landscape format watercolor sketchbook. (Just a link if you’re interested, no affiliate or any strings at all.) I’d seen it before but not purchased because I don’t do city or land scapes and I was unsure I’d find uses for it specifically. Between this sketchbook and a sample sheet of some truly luscious Daniel Smith Watercolors, I was carried gently on a wave of painting thoughts back to the lunchtime paintings. The long paper called out for this torch rendition, although I didn’t use the WC samples on this.

Lunch hour painting, taxidermy fox.
In one of my dreams, Slick and I attended a sort of estate sale, but it was for an institute or club of some kind. There were art books, pieces of furniture, a variety of things. I went out some dark, double doors onto a small courtyard fenced with black wrought iron. The sidewalk was damp with rain and the tree leaves sparkled as their wet surfaces caught sunlight. In the shadow of a branch, I saw what at first appeared to be a fox. As I got closer, I saw it wasn’t really a fox. The fur was flat and the snout had an oddly long shape to it. It was a taxidermied fox, and it appeared unnatural enough for me to remember later.

Lunch hour painting, a silly fucking cat on the internet.
We wound down an evening looking at funny cat clips online and this one stuck with me. The angle of his eyes and that single tooth sticking out won me over. Had to snap a screenshot and paint this silly cat. It was fun. I like combining a couple layers of pen linework and watercolor. The look of it pleases me.

Now to see if this week is equally productive.

Nov 092017
 

Using foam interlining in a snap flap pouch, attempt #3. No French seams this time.
pouch with foam interlining and snap flap closure
This is fine. Again, using fabric scraps that looked good enough, plus a stripe of small and colorful, patchworked bits. Pretty enough. I like it much better with regular, internal seams.

pouch with foam interlining and snap flap closure
I estimated the width of the flap to match the front of back width, minus the sides that have bottom boxed edges. This worked quite well. I cut the foam to NOT fill the edges so that it could fold flat and not be puffy. Coincidentally, a pack of index cards fit inside this pouch perfectly – which is great because I need storage for a pack I opened and then the cats knocked them off the table onto the floor. That worked out.

The next foam interlining project is much more involved and the foam is the least of it. Hope to get it done soon, but if I don’t that’s fine, too. I’m enjoying taking my time on all the little pieces of this project, which I am completely making up at every step as I go along.

Nov 082017
 

Last week on the internets, I saw a sewing project that had impressive interior structure, but also looked soft and squishy. I suspected a foam and asked the sewist what she used. Surely enough, her response was Pellon Flex Foam. This is a thin (.125″) foam sheet that can be sewn, pressed, manipulated, whatever. Like interfacing or batting, but simply open cell foam. Ever in need of new things to try (true) and in dire need of more creative supplies (diametric opposite of true) I hopped on to Amazon and got a roll of Flex Foam in the non-lined, non-fusible version. The lined and fusible version are probably easier to handle and more convenient to use, but I didn’t know what I was going to use it for and the bare, naked foam on a roll version would offer the most options. Plus, it was available immediately and was WAY cheaper.

While I waited for delivery, I thought of ways I could use the stuff. Some obvious choices are shaped containers, like wine bags, pouches, etc. Not being a drinker, I started thinking about bags and pouches, but didn’t want to use the same old non-foamy methods as usual. For those I use lining, interfacing, batting, stabilizer, etc. in varying combinations depending on the item. To make the foam easy to insert or use, I thought I’d go for French seams. And hey, while I’m at it, I haven’t used the snap dies for my press for a while. Why don’t I make them with snaps instead of zippers – I’ve used plenty of zippers this year.

This is how I get myself into trouble. A new, unfamiliar interlining product, French seams I don’t usually use, and forcing snap closures or additions. I can’t do anything easy.

Nonetheless, I carried on and whipped up a couple prototypes when the foam arrived. I am a big believer in sharing failures alongside successes because how else can one learn? I hate going to blogs where folks casually show perfect finished products in flattering lighting and stylish props with no indication of the effort to get there. Save that shit for your Etsy shop! I need to see how you fucked it up! I want to see the chewed up seams that wouldn’t get through the presser foot, the crooked alignments that forced you to change your pattern, and hear all about the challenges you overcame to get that product to do what you wanted.

We all have different priorities.

Thus, the first tries:
Foam lined, snap pouches, with flaps closed.
A simple, French seamed, foam lined, snap closure pouch in blue print on the right, another in stripes on the left. Since they were made from the first scraps I grabbed that didn’t look hideous, they are odd shaped and sized. If something fits in these nicely, it is by pure chance alone.

Foam lined, snap pouches, with flaps open.
Same pouches with flaps open.

While I consider these failures, they aren’t really. They’re merely NOT GOOD ENOUGH. The one on the right was attempt #1 and I rather miscalculated (which implies I calculated at all, which I didn’t, everything is freehand) how much SA (seam allowance) would be eaten by the seaming and the foam puff, so the foldover flap is noticeably larger than it needs to be. It isn’t terrible, but it bugs me. Also, the lining fabric is not adhered to the naked foam anywhere but the edge seams, so the fabric … I don’t know a word for this .. it exists away from the foam. It doesn’t lay flat, or next to it. As the pouch moves, the lining moves and the foam doesn’t. Improvement choices are to make the lining tighter so it can’t move or to attach the lining fabric to the foam so there can be no excess when the seams are sewn. And I don’t like French seams inside the pouch. You don’t notice them at first because they’re fine, but once you notice them, they bug you. Or, me, at least. As well, doing boxed bottom corners with French seaming was new to me and I fucked it up, ripped it out and redid it. The seams ended up a bit fatter than they ought to have been if I’d done it right.

On to attempt #2 on the left. To make the flap SA match the pouch SA, I did the flap with French seams, then the pouch, making sure to aim inward on the lining fabric as I went to help with the loose lining fabric problem I had on the #1 pouch. These worked; the flap is not significantly bigger than the pouch, the lining fabric is snugger, and I finagled the boxed corners with French seaming better (seam edges first, box, tuck raw edges before box seam). I still don’t like it.

So, that sucked. I do realize I set myself the hardest, rockiest path up this hill, so I am not surprised. For the next attempt, I took away one of the restrictions, the French seams – since I like them the least. Also, French seams on pouches with flaps removes any fast or easiness from the seaming. I mean, really. Why do French seams which are best for fast, clean, interior seams that are enclosed when a third of your project must be seamed and turned out before you can assemble the body? It is illogical. I’ve found (from a few minutes of reviewing blog “tutorials” on this subject) that the people doing them this way are also simply seaming the edges up and leaving them with an exterior seam showing. Yuck. No thank you. That would be fine for giveaway-freebies or initial children’s sewing projects, but I don’t want that. It is also NOT GOOD ENOUGH and I’m going to die. I don’t have time to make expectedly lower-quality work.

I’ve gone on for a while now, so I’ll need to show attempt #3 tomorrow.

Nov 062017
 

Between workload, inconveniently timed meetings, and the almost-dead creative funk, I only got in two lunchtime paintings the past couple weeks.

Painting of Tasmanian devils.
I had a pic of a pair of Tasmanian devils in my Inspiration folder for a while now, and it was time. I like how their markings look like Batman symbols.

Painting of a wolf in the workplace.
After a work thing, I had to paint this. Wolf in the Workplace seems to be sprouting as a theme for me. At least, when I’m painting at work.

Got some good creative work time in yesterday and will share some pics soon. Yea for sewing!

Nov 032017
 

Moxie and Slick.
Moxie, cleaning her face while laying on Slick.

We have both (Slick and me, not Slick and Moxie) been working very hard lately. We took a break and stayed on the couch the whole evening. It was good. I can face today with a refreshed feeling. Moxie even took advantage and spent some time being sweet while Slick snuggled her.

Oct 312017
 

… lowering my expectations fast enough.
Pinata

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