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.
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.
Three this week! Woot!
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.
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.
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.
Using foam interlining in a snap flap pouch, attempt #3. No French seams this time.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Between workload, inconveniently timed meetings, and the almost-dead creative funk, I only got in two lunchtime paintings the past couple weeks.
Got some good creative work time in yesterday and will share some pics soon. Yea for sewing!
I don’t know what’s going on. My Muse is on a mini-break, maybe. I go down to the workshop and am simply indifferent to my lovely fabric and excellent sewing machines. New carving blocks seem dull. My watercolors remain dry and untouched. Freshly emulsion coated screens sit, gathering dust, waiting and becoming less efficient. Something is off, and I don’t quite know how to fix it, but I’m not to panic mode — yet.
Fortunately, I have a variety of projects that do not require inspiration or design thought, and can make progress even with very little motivation. I have a quilt ongoing with all color, design, and layout decisions already made and pictured in my head, so I’ve got some of that done.
Sometimes I find myself with my head laying on the sewing platform, presser foot LED reflecting off my cheek while I stare at the screen saver pics my Chromecast puts up.
But, that is the most fun part of making Scrappy Cats, so the bases sit there. I tried to do a third one, but the fabric pull was borderline depressing (for NO good reason – the fabrics are FINE!) and forcing myself to start stitching even one piece down, that I know I could cover up if I didn’t like it later, made me give up so suddenly I didn’t even turn my machine (Nome) off. More staring.
New supplies excite me, but a recent Sketchbox with cool items only produced some swatches and a doodle. Inktober is meaningless to me. There are no Lunch Hour Paintings. Poetry eludes me (although some might argue it does normally – hah). Minecraft didn’t even help.
Maybe I’ll go for a hike tomorrow. Something different. I’m not sad, depressed, nothing so easily defined. I’m healthy, happy, as well-slept as usual. Work is exciting and new – maybe my brain cells are tired? Perhaps they need a break after all the technical work? Breaks are fine. I make art for my own pleasure, so I’m not up against deadlines or anything. Not really – all projects I do are self-imposed nowadays. Maybe I’ll do what normal people do. What is that? Watch television? Shop? Play games on their cell phones? Blech – forget all that. Maybe …. shit. I just don’t know. I’ll clean and sort and wind bobbins until I do know.
Lacking energy, motivation and time, I bunted with an easy page of autumn leaves. This day, I’d hoped to have a walk to enjoy the leaf colors, but it snowed and destroyed my plans. So, I have these colorful ones, at least.
I will take your heart with me
carry it in a red bag tied around my neck.
Down the path to the copse
and the tiny cabin we never got around to.
More of a shack, really.
We will wake with the sunlight and birdsong,
your heart and I. No alarm clocks here.
We will forage in the woods for toppings
and roast them for a pizza in the evening.
It won’t be very tasty.
We will drink cider and more cider by starlight;
we will serenade the sliver moon.
The night creatures will scoff at us,
but we are free, wild, and alive!
And maybe a little drunk.
I will bring your heart back to you
you are weary, worn, flat.
Your heart and I will remind you
how to believe in magic, how to live.
Because life is magic.
Voodoo lilies, or corpse flowers. Once a year, the giant varieties give off a rotting corpse scent to attract carrion flies, their pollinators. Some medium varieties are a food source; the spadix (big center part) is quite tasty and part of many dishes, having a gel-forming property when combined and cooked. I think they’re quite pretty and have carved a couple blocks to see if I can pull off a small fabric print.
That’s it for this week.
Inktober has started and while I am not interested in using a month long challenge to focus on my ink linework, I thought I’d get involved just enough to have some fun. I combined two drawing prompt lists, the official Inktober one and another by an artist more focused on drawing than ink, Drawlloween.
The official list wasn’t interesting enough, nor was Drawlloween, so I’m doing mashups of the two together. Since my Inktober is strictly based on the fun I might have doing it, I am only doing it when I feel like it, am inspired to, and don’t have anything else going on that might be more fun.
Goblin, Divided. This was another workshop one. I say eat the cake first. You don’t know what can happen next. “An asteroid could hit. Do you want to be the schmuck who apologizes right before the world ends?” Community quote. I’ll likely go back and add color to these later, when I’m in a crunch and only have time or capacity for something like that.
Wolf needs coffee. Certainly inspired by work nonsense. I wanted to express how I felt and wanted an animal to stand in for me so I quickly took a couple of those stupid internet personality quizzes. What animal are you? One said wolf, another said ring-tailed lemur because I like groups (WTF?!) and another failed to process. So, I went with wolf. It works.
Vampire Poison, harvesting for cash! Found an index card on my desk and doodled out this bit for the Inktober/Drawlloween mashup. I had simply given up on art for the night as I had a nasty headache, but this was apparently the minimal effort I was willing to go to.
This bit was inspired by my supreme tiredness and desire to go home and go back to bed. While doing my fast, minimal research, I learned that bears don’t actually hibernate, as in they don’t sleep through the winter. They go into torpor, sleep longer and have much less activity. That is what I feel like sometimes.
This one was surprisingly fun. I wasn’t that inspired by mothman as a prompt, until I did some research. I was familiar with the movies from the book, but not the IRL urban myth that spawned the book. I learned about the sightings, the sandhill crane supposition, the Silver Bridge collapse (very interesting, from an engineering standpoint – even though my engineering is quite different than a bridge, the philosophy and lessons learned apply the same) and the statue! After learning the best explanation of the mothman was a wayward sandhill crane, I searched for moth that had similar wings and coloring. The silk moth, tragic existence though it is now, caught my eye and became my mothman inspiration. Those antenna! Thus, this painting is my “What really happened to the Mothman” proposal – trapped in the wreckage of the Silver Bridge collapse, drowned and never discovered. Got him underwater!
Okay, that was a good week for paintings.
It took me a while, but I made more fabric shag pouches and finished off the couple that were only started before. This is one of the past shags:
A blue pencil pouch sized job. Someone found my shop on Etsy by searching for “shag bag” which is hilarious. I’m using it. I don’t know if this is what they were looking for, or if shag bag means something else to them, but shag is a funny word and I’m going with it. Shag bag.
Red, small shag bag. This one was interesting because I’d only worked previously with blue theme on blue background, or theme on black background. This bag is also different because it is a double sided shag bag. The shag is on both sides and wraps on down to the bottom. It looks like some kind of fabric-Tribble-pufferfish when you stuff it full and it rounds out. Funny.
A large, Halloween shag bag. Full-on, could-be-a-clutch purse size! I love Halloween (duh!) and had so much fun finding Halloween fabric scraps for this. I don’t know who would use it, but here it is. I love it.
Large, blue theme shag bag. This was a request/interest from a gal who missed out on the first one because it was too small at the opening to fit a sketchbook inside. This one fits a sketchbook fine and is off living in its new home.
These are all listed in my Etsy shop (except the last one) if you want to look at more pictures, or get one. Lots of detail photos of pockets, plus dimensions listed – which is why I’m not putting those details here.
Working on a new project (see previous post) is already producing a small nest of trimmed ends which will become new fabric bits. I think shag bags are going to be one of those things I make every few months (quarter? half year?) to manage all those bits. I might start a box to contain them – one mishap to the flat piece of cardboard I keep them sorted by color on could be detrimental my system. That and cats. You never quite know what the cats are going to do when I leave the workshop door open and unattended for more than five minutes. Yeah, I’m going to start a divider sorted box.
Last night, after finally clearing the cutting board of three large projects, I went downstairs with a full 2.5 hours to myself and the self-imposed freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted. I thought I’d do the small, seasonal project which I have waiting in the wings and which could, reasonably be completed in the time I had that night.
I didn’t do that.
Instead, I found myself in a frenetic haze, pulling fabrics off the shelves as colors caught my creative eye and quickly sewing together some ideas. After a while, I realized something was off, tore them apart and redirected slightly.
I don’t know about those gray skellies. I think they might be okay how I see them playing out. If not, I’ll do another. The greatest desire I had last night was the color combinations you see started here. There are three total combos for this blast of desire, two here; the other is in a pile beside Nome, which is what I’ve named my new machine (after having her for 1.5 years). Although, I have some longing feeling for Gretchen, my solid, reliable Pfaff mechanical machine which is gathering dust bunnies on the workshop floor. When I reorg the workshop, I’ll find a way to get her set up alongside Nome. They can share my attentions. I have plenty of sewing desire for both of them. Polyamorous projects?
Amazingly, six paintings from last week. Sorta. Two of them I was able to fit in because I found and used old sketches, and one wasn’t a lunch time painting, but a Friday-night-on-the-couch drawing, but I’m putting it with these guys.
… than to confuse me with someone who builds a dam.
A couple internet otter-memes inspired this one. Otters are pretty fucking cute. Had time for this only because I’d sketched it a bit last week, but hadn’t the time to paint it then.
A few weeks ago, I did a rough sketch of some witches, but ended up having to work for lunch. I flipped through the current sketchbook (which is getting towards the end) and found it and used it. Autumn! Halloween! Excellent! I imagine them waiting for their stew to be ready to eat on this crisp, dark evening.
On Friday night I had an image in my head of … a certain thing, a guy in a comic, ultra-color style, smoking and … this is not it. This is only about 25% it. But, seeing this wrong drawing reminds me of the right one in my head, so it will serve until I have a chance to actually do it right. More Hellboy, less trendy boy.
Wow, lots of quick paintings last week! I need to remember that even quick, partial sketches that I don’t have time to refine and line will help me out later. Every small step helps. As well, sometimes I get uncomfortable that these are so loose, sloppy, and messy. I have to tell myself, again and again, that I’m doing the whole process in less than an hour. The idea, fast research, sketching, getting out supplies, sketch and linework, paint, dry, refine lines, photo, edit, and post. That is a lot of actions for a single hour. Plus, who gives a shit (besides that naggy voice in my head) if they’re messy. Fuck it. I have a creative hour for myself in the midst of a corporate workday and it makes me happy and more able to cope with shit. This is good.
After a couple weeks of struggle with a time-limited project, I gave up. I couldn’t get it right and the clock was ticking. Defeat was admitted, pieces were salvaged and set aside for future reuse. [heavy sigh]
Another time-limited project is up next, but I couldn’t jump right into it yet. Instead I found myself in the mood to sew hundreds of tiny bits of fabric down. You really do have to be in the mood to spend hours doing this. I got another shaggy pouch done (a large blue one that is promised) and started on a large and small shaggy pouch in a Halloween theme. I did have to seek out some fabric from the stash for this, which was fun. I finished the large (seen above) off and now have one small and one medium pouch to finish. Before I can photograph them, I need to finish them all and clear my cutting board space, as that is where I take pics at the moment. I have too many things out lately. Need to finish projects and get them out of the way. I’m afraid I’m going to have to make this a goal next year; finishing partial projects and paring down some supplies. I need more space to move, do.
After entertaining the night before, I was tired this day. I played around with paint until something came up, and a fast poem about being tired and looking forward to sleep. Written in silver Sharpie atop the watercolors.