Monday, November 29, 2010

My room is a mess.

Today I decided to take the bus home at a time I normally never do. I saw shadows I normally never see, and I am quite taken with shadows lately. I think this infatuation started when I began tracing shadows of grass and dandelions in my sketchbook, which is a lot harder than it sounds. There is a window in the library, with a shade that is damaged on the opposite side. By what, I am not sure, but I know that the stain creates a beautiful pattern, especially on days like today, when Cleveland is confused and finds itself abnormally sunny and smelling of spring. These intricate shadows are my favorite. Ones that are so fine, lines that are so anemic that it's hard to distinguish between cobwebs or tangled threads or marks in graphite made by an artistic two year old or these dances between light and dark. Hot glue trails make lovely shadows. Lace, of course. Anything knotted or twisted or interlocking. Branches with leaves. Branches lacking leaves. I often find myself tracing them with my eye, but if I had my way, there'd be graphite all over my walls, recording the departure of autumn as the tree outside my window shed its summer skin.

Today I decided I would sew. Not embroider, although I've been tempted, and am still contemplating it... Just sew. I have a garment to make for my fibers class that will (if all goes according to plan) reveal invisible forces. I'll talk more about that another day. This garment, a dress, actually, is to be made of layers of chiffon, which, although incredibly lovely, is the biggest pain the butt to work with. So tomorrow morning, bright and early, my roommate and I will head out on an excursion to Joanns so I can purchase a rotary cutter and even more fabric.

My room is currently a disaster area. I have pocket people hiding everywhere. Storyboard contact sheets spread across my bed. Photo history flashcards spilled next to my record player. Record sleeves resting on nearly all horizontal surfaces. Chiffon fabric everywhere. Scraps everywhere. A nice pile of loose threads clumped on my drawing table. Newsprint pad leaning on my closet door. Patterns made of said newsprint for said garment shuffled across my floorboards. Scissors. Tape measures. Crayola crayons. Sketchbooks. Rulers. Pins. Spools. Saddle shoes and red sneakers and rainboots and vintage boots and warm autumn boots kicked to the side. Winter coat and autumn scarves hanging off my bed.

It's a good thing I never have time to sleep, because I don't have any room to.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pocket Friends!

Really, I don't have the time to be posting on here at all. But since I didn't go home for Thanksgiving and instead stayed in Cleveland and worked, I figured I could take a few moments (a.k.a. procrastinate a little longer) and share some of what I have been up to.

Earlier this semester, I decided to experiment with free motion machine embroidery in my fibers class. I think it took all of two seconds before I was completely in love with the process. It seems strange, but as I was free handing my name, I realized that this was the way I think sometimes. A lot of times when I can't fall asleep or can't pay attention or otherwise can't do what it is I'm supposed to be doing, I end up daydreaming about all sorts of silly impossibilities. What if this room was upside down? What if there were waterfalls spilling through the windows? What if the entire room moved instead of my pencil? Well, that is more or less what this form of embroidery is. I move the embroidery hoop around while the needle stays stationary.

I started making portraits of all sorts of people: characters, celebrities, imaginary friends. And in the process, I accumulated a library of images to reference. Maybe I'll share some of those another day. But I really started getting into it. And with each person I looked up or discovered a beautiful picture of, I ended up reading all about them. There are some fascinating folks out there, let me tell you.

Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire

Buddy Holly
Sara Crewe from A Little Princess
George Harrison
Alice Liddell
Oscar Wilde

The next step for me was to make something with these portraits: Pocket Friends. How cool would it be to reach into your pocket and pull out James Dean? Pretty awesome, right? But it doesn't have to be James Dean. It could be Bob Dylan or Holly Golightly or Arthur the Aardvark. Really, you could have anyone you wanted as a friend. Please don't think I'm crazy, now. This idea actually evolved from one of my earliest (and favorite) imaginary friends: Pocket Bunnies. When I was younger, I was INCREDIBLY shy. Too shy, in fact, to play with my imaginary friends. Yikes! So I'd invent these friends, give them personalities, write stories about them, draw pictures about them, but never actually play with them. But pocket bunnies were great because they were just that: tiny little bunnies that I could fit in my pocket without anyone knowing. So before I embarked on making pocket Vanna White or Rod Serling, I made some pocket bunnies and a LOT of pocket owls! There's something quite comforting about having a little owl in your pocket. I've been carrying a little purple guy around for weeks now!

After having a process down, I used this as the basis for a project in fibers. We had to create a gift. That's it. Preferably one that keeps on giving in some way, but it's really out of our hands after a certain point. So I decided to make a gift for Mia, my 4 year old sister and sometimes siamese twin. Here's the thing with Mia: she never sleeps in her own bed. She always falls asleep next to someone else, wherever they are. And she has nightmares a lot. But she tells me that she's brave. She calls herself "Bravey Girl," except when bedtime rolls around. As you can imagine, this disrupts the rest of the household when they have a kicking 4 year old mid-nightmare next to them. So here's how my gift would pay off. I made Mia a little pillow, just her size, with 5 pockets in the back. Those pockets would be used to hold the 5 little pocket friends I made her, all brave girls in their own right. So when bedtime came, she could rest easy with 5 little friends under her head. But she could always pull one out and hold it in her hand, as they were sized to fit perfectly in her grip. A bit like worry dolls, I'm hoping she'll find them comforting. I guess we'll find out in a few weeks when I give them to her!

My typical set up: sewing machine, laptop, record player all close at hand. And a pink ukulele under my table for when I need a break.

Here's the beginning of the process: I use a Mark B Gone pen to draw the characters on the fabric, then embroider them one by one.

Eventually, I end up with a collage of people. You can see the blue ink from the pen, as this was before it had been washed out. Next I backed them with flannel in corresponding colors and stuffed them.

I sewed the pillow, which is smaller than a regular pillow. Use my sewing machine or laptop for scale? Oh, and I ended up on Tumblr for a bit. Haha

Here's the pillow with the 5 girls in their pockets. You can see traces of their lines.

And here they are poking out.

From left to right: Sara Crewe from A Little Princess; Wendy Darling from Peter Pan; Samantha Parkington the American Girl doll; Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden; and Pippi Longstocking.

Here's a better scale reference!

And here they are in action! Haha, this probably gives it away that I finished these around 4am! By the way, have I mentioned that I love aprons? Check out all that extra pocket space! Just think of how many pocket owls I could carry with me!

By the way, this is Fiona, my sewing machine I got last month. Have I mentioned that nearly all of my inanimate objects have names? Halloween candy in the background :) And the embroidery hoops have frames from an animated .GIF.

My mom warned me against certain brands and lower models of sewing machines. She said that I go to art school and would probably end up doing something weird. Well, less than 48 hours after bringing Fiona home and I was embroidering on leaves. Good idea, Mom.

In my studio at school, where I spend 17 hours a day a lot of the time. The PC comes with our studios. Then I bring in my MacBook Pro (Hello Pandora and Conan and Barn Owl). All sorts of images collaged on my wall before they end up animated or in my sketchbook. Some embroideries hanging up. Not safety scissors. OCD embroidery floss. All the little rectangles are part of a contact sheet of all the scenes for an animation I'm finishing up. Animation narration typed out and taped on the computer tower. Stacks of library books for one of my papers (that thankfully is already out of the way). Obese sketchbook filled with collages of sorts. Moleskine calendar/planner that I can't live without. Vintage saddle shoes that Nicholas bought me. I'm in love with them.

Anyway, besides living in my studio and listening to Pandora enough that I have Conan's commercials memorized ("Why? I need a job..."), and besides editing animations like crazy and getting ready for finals (I'm already done with classes!), I've been getting ready for the CIA student holiday sale, where I will be selling (you guessed it) Pocket Friends! Of course, I'm going to add little ribbons so they can serve as Christmas ornaments! Who wouldn't want a pop culture Christmas tree? So far, I've embroidered 4 different images of Alice (of Wonderland), based on the John Tenniel illustrations; the Mad Hatter; The White Rabbit; The Queen of Hearts; Amelia Earhart; Anastasia Romanov (I love missing persons); Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow; Buddy the Elf; Clark W. Griswold (Christmas Vacation); Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol); Gizmo (Gremlins); Jack Skellington as Santa Claus (The Nightmare Before Christmas); Kevin McCallister (Home Alone); Ralphie Parker (A Christmas Story); Scott Calvin (The Santa Claus);  Sara Crewe (A Little Princess); Samantha Parkington (American Girl doll); Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz); and Lady Gaga, who, by the way, was Mia's favorite.

So I have to ask, if you could have ANYONE as a pocket friend, who would you want?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Things I Have Been Up To Lately Besides Dropping Off The Face Of The Earth

  1. Living in my studio. More or less.
  2. Paying 75 cents for coffee and getting 80 cents in change. Thank you, vending machine, for supporting my caffeine habit.
  3. Sewing pocket owls. They're as magical as they sound.
  4. Making pocket friends.
  5. Free motion machine embroidery. I love it.
  6. Buying a sewing machine. See #5.
  7. The opposite of animation. What's that mean? Instead of animating objects and people, I'm animating the camera used to capture them. What's that mean? You'll have to wait until I put it on Vimeo, which will hopefully be December 8th.
  8. Talking with amazing visiting artists like Brent Green and Jim Campbell.
  9. Trying to figure out programming and coding and other stuff that involves math in order to create an interactive installation. Yikes.
  10. Doing the pythagorean theorem. Remember that? Yeah, I didn't. I couldn't even remember what it was called. I just knew there had to be some mathematical way to figure out how to connect a chimney to a roof. Wait, what? Oh yeah, see #11.
  11. Building a fort, 4 foot by 5 foot by 4 foot high, a roof that peaked at 6 feet, and a chimney that was just under 7 feet.
  12. Shedding cardboard.
  13. Sitting in my fort.
  14. Having said fort collapse on me less than 10 minutes before my exhibition started.
  15. Still sitting outside in my collapsed fort for 3 hours.
  16. Not writing my paper that's due Monday. Oops. I guess that's what I'll be doing tomorrow.
  17. Buying beautiful chiffon fabric for a garment I'll be making that I really don't feel like explaining right now.
  18. Not sleeping enough.
  19. Thrifting.
  20. Realizing that the majority of the clothes I own previously belonged to either senior citizens or small children.
  21. Skyping with my favorite 4 year old. We like to talk about boys.
  22. Visiting my family for a weekend.
  23. Enjoying delicious apple cider & donuts at the cider mill. The highlight of autumn, as far as I'm concerned.
  24. Playing flute like crazy. I missed it. And now whenever I take it out, I lose track of time. At least now I have a project related to it. That's an excuse, right?
  25. Listening to Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Dion, and friends.
  26. Scheduling classes for next semester. I'm so excited!
  27. Re-reading parts of my absolute favorite book ever. Not that I have time for that.
  28. Writing down my bucket list instead of just verbally announcing things I hope to do before I die.
  29. Wearing beautiful vintage saddle shoes.
  30. Making legwarmers.
  31. Hula hooping. But that's nothing new.
  32. Making mix tapes for Mia, because I gave her my walkman, which she calls her iPod.
  33. Trying to figure out how to use an iPod, since my roommate passed her old one onto me. I've never had one before!
  34. Enjoying CS5. It's beautiful.
  35. Collaging. More than I had the chance to last year, but not as much as I'd like to.
  36. Watching Love Actually even though it's a little early.
  37. Getting into George Harrison.
  38. Wishing there were closer to 32 hours in a day. Think of everything I could get done!