Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday tidbits


Working on some of the details: these are the "pearl cups" for the Dragon's Mist coronets getting their edges smoothed and polished before being attached. Bit by bit this project will be completed. By the end of the month. At the end of this week...
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Never know what I'll find in the morning when I go let the chickens out of their house... today there were several Northern Flickers on the side yard fence, doing a courtship ritual. They continued while I stood there, though they flew off to the nearby neighbors garage roof when I let the chickens out.

This is similar to what they were doing:

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday musings


in which our plucky heroine cogitates on imposter syndrome, or at least the variant that seems to be one of her particular demons...

I am struggling, struggling with fear of failure, to such a degree that I often stop working at all. Convinced to where I have endangered my own good name and commitments. This is not okay. Injuries and broken tools have stood in my way this year. I have decided to simply push myself through all this. Somehow. Set a timer and do ten minutes in the workroom. It has not gotten any easier. Why does my artist mind seize on the failures, and why do the good words of others not ease me. I am convinced my efforts will result in yet more wasted effort and broken projects. Set the timer and do another ten minutes... this is no way to get things done, and yet as I am so fond of saying, incremental progress is still progress. The trick will be to see if these tiny increments will combine to get this project finished in time.

Part of this struggle is that in my deepest self, I don't see myself as an artist, as a metalworker, or even really as an enamelist. I am a designer, who makes things with fabric, and occasionally with other media. When left to myself, I draw dresses, or I draw toys, I do not draw jewelry. I wonder sometimes if I have chosen a sideways path in my own life. But I must needs get the projects done that I have agreed to complete, and must needs continue to find ways to earn my daily bread, ways that folks in the bright world are willing to pay me for my efforts. And there will be more cogitation, more daily pages of writing to let go of and ideas to mull over, and in the meantime - set timer and do ten minutes in the workroom. This is far harder than when I was feeling i'd lost my sewing mojo. Set the timer and do another ten minutes, and hope that the ten minutes will prime the pump...
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This is encouraging, even when the world is difficult
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Strange spherical flowers, not alliums as I expected but apparently a thistle/sunflower relative: Echinops ritro aka "little globe thistle", and good bee fodder (though our plucky heroine saw fit not to go nose to nose with the honeybees) One of the British common names for this is "blue hedgehog"... I like that even better than little globe thistle!
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Sad apples, infested with codling moth, destined for the yard waste bin, as they cannot be safely composted on site. So far I've discarded about 3/4 of this years apple crop. Next year will try various things to prevent this. Took a break from the workroom project to feed the chooks their before bedtime snack, and got distracted when picking up the windfall apples and decided on some pro-active apple removal... there are still a few apples left on the tree that are not obviously damaged, but discarding so many is discouraging. The learning curve is a challenge, but I didn't grow up doing any gardening at all...
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July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 blue tunic for B chook shade tarp recycle bin full
2 grey gown for M toilet seat replaced yardwaste bin
3 linen gown for S - codling apples
4 black batik popover - -
5 Laurel brooch setting - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -

Sunday, July 26, 2015

soggy Sunday


in which our plucky heroine gets unexpectedly soaked to the skin, but managed to rotate assorted mop buckets and pour almost forty gallons of water into one of the empty water barrels...

We had about a half hour long cloudburst this afternoon. Very rare indeed is any rain at all here during the late spring through early autumn. This, the rain plus the stored water, will be a great help to keeping pet plants (strawberry starts, feral grapevine, frontyard potted figs, rhubarb) alive for the rest of the summer. Someday will hopefully have the resources to build a system in place to actually channel downspout water into the barrels without requiring hand carrying three gallon buckets from assorted downspouts... but water in storage for plant watering later is a big win!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Friday fragments


Another hummingbird sighted in the front yard this morning... apparently hardy fuschia is a treat for them? When I walked out the front door to see what was flowering this morning the bird came right up to the fuchsia while I was standing next to it!! Brave little hummer and what a delightful way to start my morning! I need to plant more things in the yard that are hummingbird treats...
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Progress report on the reverse applique project: the front neckline design had to be applied and painted in several stages in order to place the stencil in a centered and smooth orientation on the already sewn RTW garment

The back neckline motifs are painted as well; all the painted bits need to cure for 24 hours and then be heat set with a dry iron, before the kelly green layer can be basted in place and the reverse applique stitching begun
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Just found out that there are times once a week when the local city pool is free; if my ancient swimsuit is still wearable, can take advantage of the option and do some water-walking which is a recommended aid to my PT and recovery
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Need to make a framework to hold bird netting above the salad table. Glad I didn't yet reseed it, since local squirrels had a field day today digging and tossing the dirt all over the porch. Some of the saved plum withies, lashed together with cord, should be a suitable way to support anti-tree-rat netting, and I can start growing some more greens...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday tidbits


in which our plucky heroine considers a definition, and makes progress slowly...

artisanry (n.) - artifacts decorative and useful, skillfully made, with love and a touch of whimsey.  See also: Artisanry,The (n.) - the largest and most favorite room in Acorn Cottage where materials and ideas dance together with my clever fingers to become something new.
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The initial sketch for the neckline embellishment was dubbed "too floral", so the small flowers were removed from the design in favor of more leaves and tendrils:

In order to transfer the sketch to the semi-opaque freezer paper, the simplest way (for those without a lightbox, as is the case here in Acorn Cottage) is to tape the layers to a bright window, allowing for tracing whilst standing up in a simple process. The two sheets of the design were aligned and taped in place first, and then a large-enough piece of freezer paper was taped on as an overlay...
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The design, though only sketched out, is clearly visible, and the tracing process is comparatively easy - the second image shows a partially completed design motif.  Once traced, it is necessary to cut out the freezer paper stencil; I use an exacto knife, with a plastic kitchen cutting board underneath the paper. There are an assortment of gadgets and processes that can be used for making these tasks either quicker or less direct; some folks use a light box for the tracing, some figure out ways to print the design directly on the freezer paper with their computer printer, or use graphics programs to do the sketch and design work, and there are dedicated machines that can cut the stencil for you... but our plucky heroine is somewhat old school and does these tasks by hand.

Once the stencil panels are cut out, they need to be ironed to the fabric prior to applying paint. Because this project is being done on a RTW garment, each section of the neckline needs to be dealt with one at a time to keep the paper flat and smooth. The first quarter panel, on the back neckline, is ironed in place:
Once the paint has been applied, it needs to dry, cure for 24 hours, and then be ironed on the wrong side - the heat treatment makes the paint permanent and washfast. Then it will be possible to begin the actual reverse applique process of stitching and cutting. There is a reason why Alabama Chanin garments sell for the couture prices they do. Even a relatively simple quantity of embellishment takes a substantial amount of time.
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while I know I've not been cooking as much as usual because temperature from Hades, was it really necessary for a spider to build a web across the stovetop/pot-rack? Don't worry, I scooped her up in a bowl and took her outside, and being a kindly person, did not dump her in with the hens...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

well begun is half done


in which our plucky heroine starts something sketchy...

This is the initial stage of adding a reverse applique design to the RTW dress neckline. First lay a piece of thin newsprint over the front bodice, and use fingers to locate the neckline edge and the seams of the front panel; this allows me to create a design that doesn't overlap the seams, since cutting through the construction that holds the dress together would be a bad idea; using newsprint rather than, say, transparent plastic, means that I can then cut out the paper as if it were a pattern piece, and draw my initial sketch directly:
This also lets me revise my design as much as needed, to get a pleasing and balanced look. Taking a break between the initial sketching and/or taking a photograph and looking at that, allows a bit of objectivity - for example, some of the curves of the stem and the location of the rightmost flower are not quite right, and will be corrected before the design is cut. The next step is to either trace or transfer the design to freezer paper somehow*, and then cut out the temporary stencil, iron in place, and apply the paint. Once I do that, I will also add designs to the back portions of the neckline as well.

* what I will do is to pin or staple the design sketch to the layer of freezer paper, and cut them out together. I also do this when making more than one identical stencils, as for the two cuffs - I stapled two layers of freezer paper back to back, which gave me a mirrored pair of designs.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine devours the 20%...

The first of my five tomatoes is ready to eat. When touched to see if it was ripe, it fell off into my hand.

Two tomato plants live on the front porch: one with zero blossoms or fruit, and the other, smaller, plant has five fruit in various stages of growth. Am tempted to remove "Plant Zero" and put in something else, but in the meantime, I hear a salad calling my name...
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There's never a dull Friday evening here at the cottage... last night's amusment : minor home plumbing repairs! Our plucky heroine, after some careful research as to how best to detach the former "permanently attached" but recently broken biffie seat, has spent several hours doing some less than glamorous home improvement. Detachment was easy, replacement acquired and almost finished being installed. The "Sta-Tite" nuts need to have the final delicate torque applied with a proper socket wrench ratchet, and I seem to have misplaced mine. A ratcheting screwdriver is not as useful a substitute as it normally is. Nonetheless, a potty with a secure seat is a very good thing, compared to the alternative! (Saturday morning update: some very careful use of the adjustable wrench finished the job)
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My friend SR bought a RTW black cotton jersey dress, and I am going to customise it for her with decorative reverse applique designs on the neckline, cuffs and at the hemline. Custom cut original freezer paper stencils of foliage, flowers, and a few bunnies, kelly green cotton jersey, soft slightly darker green textile paint, and forest green craft thread for the stitching...
 
The design is first applied using textile paint and a freezer paper stencil, then the inner layer of knit, which will become visible through the cut away areas, is basted into place, making sure to match the grainline. Dark green on black is hard to photograph... and just a glimpse of the inner layer of bright kelly green cotton jersey, which will make a vivid accent against the black dress and dark green stenciled motifs

Spent several hours on hold on the phone* earlier this week which gave me a good opportunity to finish the reverse applique cuffs... This is Alabama Chanin style raw edge reverse applique - knit fabric is stenciled, layered, hand-stitched around the design, and then the center of the stenciled areas are cut away to reveal the inner layer of fabric. I personally love the somewhat bohemian look of this technique, and have used it quite a bit on my own clothing
It is difficult to get a good photo of the combination of solid black with vivid green, it looks darker in real life. I am eager to start on the neckline border, which will be much easier to set up and to stitch... working inside already completed sleeve ends was tricksey
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It occurred to me this morning that a workshop later this summer, on "how to do the Alabama Chanin reverse applique technique" might be both fun to teach and fun for potential students... (and also not require turning on the kiln!)
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July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 blue tunic for B chook shade tarp recycle bin full
2 grey gown for M toilet seat replaced yardwaste bin
3 linen gown for S - -
4 black batik popover - -
5 Laurel brooch setting - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -

*sorting out insurance coverage foo so I could actually get the physical therapy my doctor requested for my injured knee.