Sunday, January 27, 2008

We'll miss you, Heath...

I have to admit that it's a little alarming how sad I am about Heath Ledger's passing away.  I know it's silly and he's just a celebrity... but he was really young.  And I watched 10 Things I Hate About You enough times in highschool to feel like we hung out.  So, the ladies (including Michael) at Viv Pickle decided to give him a little send away.
To you, Heath.
What can we say?  We would have looked really nice at his funeral.  Natalia's wearing a corset.

The memorial handkerchief came in really handy for mopping our tears.

The cupcake reads:  "I just can't believe he's really gone."

Everyone look up to Heaven!

And in case any of you don't remember or haven't seen it:  here's one last farewell...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Infinite Revolutions

A couple of weekends ago a co-worker and I went to a spinning class at a local studio space.  (Spinning yarn; not like, on a bicycle in a gym.  Which is what my roommate Chrissy thought.  C'mon, I ride my bike everyday, why would I need  class??)  

I LOVE spinning yarn.  I've been doing it for about three years: using a drop spindle and mostly pre-prepped roving.  I've finally gotten proficient enough to determine the thickness of my yarn, and to keep an entire skein even.  But as of yet, I haven been
 unable to make multi-plied yarn.  Also, spinning by hand takes forever.   So... I REALLY want a spinning wheel.  (At left is my current set up:  Marino roving, spindle I *cough: stole!* from MICA, and some finished, sparkly, yarn: similar to the yarn I gave Nellie for Christmas!)

I found out about the class a couple of months ago: originally it was supposed to be a multi week, step by step class, using both drop spindles and spinning wheels.  But, apparently not enough people signed up, so the class ended up being an informal spinning bee with an informative "class" before it.

About 12 women showed up: half of them toting a variety of spinning wheels, the other half carrying nothing except anticipation.  Those who were there to learn were outfitted with drop-spindles and  the instructors stash wool while the experienced spinners set up and got started.

I was the youngest woman in the room by, like, 15-20 years.  And I wanted them ALL to be my mentor.  (I know people my age spin!  Where are they all?  We should have a spinning bee of our own!)  You know that feeling when you're really excited and you can't keep still and you're like a 4 year old, bouncing around, attention span completely shot?  I was like that.  I wanted to
 look at the fancy wheels, the simple wheels, the electric spinning machine!   

This woman had just moved to Philly from Montana.  At the moment, she didn't have a great place to live, or many fibers friends.  She said that she spent most of her time lying in bed, cat on one side, dog on the other, spinning yarn on her electric spinning machine!  Sounds comfortable, albeit a little lonely.  Here, she is plying a wool yarn she'd been spinning for a few days.

Eventually, I annoyed the spinners so much that the instructor brought out a wheel that I could try.  And... I sucked at it.  I mean, I SUCKED at it.  I couldn't get the yarn to wind around the bobbin, so it just kept twisting and twisting.  And the wheel sucked in my fiber faster than I could separate and prep it, so the yarn was completely uncontrolled:  THICK, thin.... THICK...  Not even slubby.  Just sucky.  I made this little skein of reallllly over twisted yarn.  Totally unusable.  But... I am not one to be discouraged easily.  Sort of.  (This is a Louet Victoria: one of the more simple and portable wheels on the market.  I thought that would make it a little cheaper, but no.  $600!  Fucker!)

The secret motivation behind my fascination?  I really REALLY REALLY want to build a spinning wheel out of a bicycle.  (really bad.)  Rachel Faller's boyfriend did it last summer and I covet it with the passion of a thousand biblical sins.  Unfortunately, I don't know anything about spinning on wheel.  Also, I never took physics.  And I don't have a welding studio?  I know, it seems grim, but I am determined!  So here's my dilemma:  I got some money for christmas specifically for the purchase of either a new sewing machine (the tension on mine is fucked) or a spinning wheel.  Should I just suck it up and buy a cheap, used wheel to practice on?  And collect the bike parts separately?  Or should I go ahead, teach myself physics, and forge on with my bicycle scheme?  I'm so torn.  Help!

In the meantime... I have just a few other projects I can work on....

Friday, January 18, 2008

Out and About- Fibers Style

I hate to admit it, but I really really enjoy finding out that some of my favorite People are gay.  And I'm not talking about celebrities (although, did anyone else see those photos of Paris Hilton with Kate Moening??!  Hot?  Not?  Confused...)  or even prominent book figures (Dumbledore?!?  I have so many FEELINGS!).  No, I gain a specific pleasure in discovering that vaguely famous, incredibly nerdy individuals are as gay as a maypole.  Or anyway, as gay as I am.

I think it started when I discovered that, not only are both Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes gay, but that they were lovers in the 60's!  I had the fortune to come across this information right in the midst of my infatuation for both of their post-structuralist theories.  To imagine the two of them sitting together, smoking cigarettes and debating language made me infinitely happy.  

Recently I have become rather enamored upon a certain knitting podcast:  "Cast-On!  with Brenda Dayne".  (I think I may have mentioned it to a few of you?  All of you?!  A number of times?!!  Sorry... enthusiasm is just ok.)  Anyway, it's so fabulous!  Brenda is an American ex-pat living in Whales.  She publishes her hour long podcast almost once a week.  Ish.  Her show is full of fibers community announcements, lingo, storytelling, and independent music.  I knew I was going to be hooked when, half-way through my first episode, she played one of my favorite Girlyman songs!  Girlyman!  Enamored doesn't quite cover how much emotion I feel for this show.

So, in case you couldn't put 2 and 2 together, I found out today that Brenda's a les!  She has a civil partnership with a woman named Tanya!  Tanya doesn't feature often, but is referenced in a subtle way that suggests a total intimacy.

Ok, I know that remarking upon (and writing an entire blog about) someone's sexual orientation seems sensationalist at best and immature at worst but, I feel the need to explain why this makes me so happy:  I think it makes me feel even more connected to people who, in most respects, are completely separate from me.  In the case of historical figures, it gives me a little bit of insight that I... wouldn't even have noticed I was ignoring.  (Although, I grant that this particular situation may not only occur in the gay community, but simply in the learning of historical persons romantic relationships makes their lives that much more real.)

 As you may have surmised... I overthink... pretty much everything.  (I like to attribute it to being a cancer.)  I am constantly weighing the relationship between "traditional women's work" and contemporary feminism.  (It is a conflict that is so intriguing to me that I am considering finding a way to study it academically.)  Knitting, spinning, weaving, dyeing, sewing, embroidery and the rest are still seen as something for "old biddies" and "spinstresses".  Even this new wave of popularity is still striving to break away from old stereotypes and knit a new manifesto for consciousness and political awareness... without stumbling back into the pit of "kitsch" and trend.   

To find out that Brenda was gay was especially bolstering.  Her lifestyle is one of a sort of.. technically savy, socially conscious Martha Stewart.  She's always telling stories of walking the dog though the hills of Whales, knitting by the window while watching it snow and rain, and fixing elaborate and delicious sounding meals.  She spends her time in the pursuit of happy crafting:  dabbling in almost all of the afore-mentioned women's traditions.  It was such a relief to find out that my dream life (wife, dog, yarn and astounding intelligence) are inspiringly achievable.  The reality of such a compromise between tradition and technology allowed me to realize just how much I want to find it for myself, both in my art and in my life.

Le sigh.  Next stop: grad school?  Or me stalking Brenda Dayne in the Welsh countryside.  One or the other, I suppose.  Here's the link for the cast-on website so you can revel in the same glory that I revel in. .  Enjoy!

Ok... lots more projects to post so stay tuned to "overthinkers anonymous"... 

Happy friday!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Accumulation of Stories to Tell

Blogging is harder than I thought it would be.  (Wow, that sounds like such a cop out!)  But really:  I had forgotten how simply difficult it is to sit and write.  Especially about art (or fibers).  I care so much about presenting art and myself well that I am nervous whenever I sit down to post a new entry.  I'm also utterly surprised by how much I come across in my own to life that I find worthy of posting!  I had sort of been under the impression that I haven't been doing enough art since school; but even since my last blog I have accumulated so many activities to share that I'm daunted of posting.  (I have a feeling that my entries are going to be fairly long... sorry!)

With that vague reflection... STUFF THIS WEEK!

At the end of last week I officially finished my last Christmas present!  (Right on time, too...)  This year, I knew I had to man up.  The past couple of years  have begged off gift giving because of my rigorous school schedule.  (Finals AND presents?  Yeah right!  I had a hard enough time with finals and SLEEP!)  But with no academic projects in my way I really had no excuse.  So I made everyone a canvas tote bag out of recyled MICA dropcloths!  

I had started noticing the fabulousness of the dropcloths before I graduated in the spring.  And in some deep recess of my brain, I think I was trying to figure out how to get my hands on a couple throughout the whole year.  I ended up forgetting entirely, but on my very last visit to the Fibers Dept, I fortuitously ran into a friend who had had the same thought.  She had collected a pile of 6 or 7 dropcloths that were going to be thrown away anyway, and she was nice enough to let me have 2!  I lugged them the 10 blocks home, and up the 4 flights of un-air-conditioned stairs and immediately unfurled them.  They were amazing!!  The department only chooses to discard the most used and abused dropcloths, which only meant that they were even more covered with colored dye, splashes, and prints!  The images had no rhyme or reason.  Person after person had simply ignored the canvas as it was stretched underneath their blank fabric:  they printed on it without any thought or planning.  The range of images, even just on the two that I had, was wide and fabulous!
Notice on this sample the bodge-podge mix of images!  Anchor, life saver, squirrell... I loved using this canvas.  It was so nostalgic to see the ghostly remnants of images that I knew only from other students finished projects.  There were even some that I knew intimately:  they belonged to my friends or even myself.
Most of them were simple totes, but Adam wanted something that he could buckle around his body while riding his bike, so I impromptu-ly added an adjustable belt strap and reflector buckle!  As shown here.  (Although, he's kind of wearing it backwards.  He'll get it eventually.)

Ok, I actually have to go to work... but I have more stories to tell about this week!  So keep looking, the best is yet to come!  Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Doppleganger Tuesday at Viv Pickle Studios

So, what started out being a fun activity actually turned into an interesting social experiment.

Last week a couple of my co-workers proposed that we draw names from a hat and come to work dressed as eachother.  Almost everyone was totally stoked and we all jumped at the chance to play along.  We drew names on Thursday and planned for the event to take place on the following Tuesday:  thus giving us enough time to find appropriate clothes.  

The rest of the week progressed with an increasing sense of unease.  Conversations got quieter, interactions more awkward, as each 
one of us tried to anonymously analyze the wardrobe of another co-worker.  The nerves were two-fold.  I kept trying to snatch glances of my target, while also keeping an eye out for who was trying to snatch glances at me.  I was nervous getting dressed on Friday and Monday because I knew that whatever I wore would influence how someone thought of me, and would directly effect their emulation of me.  As soon as I was aware that there was someone specific looking closely at my outfit, there was so much pressure.  It was like getting dressed to go out socially, but with even more at stake.  

Meanwhile, I had drawn the name of the most hip, anti-social girl who works there.  (I know that sounds like somewhat of a contradiction, but she's the kind of cool that is too cool to hang out with the rest of the gang.  You know the type.)  Although I had no reason to think otherwise, I was already unsure that she liked me.  In my head, her like or dislike hinged on my interpretation of her "look".  

The pressure was on. 

Two shopping trips (but no purchases) later, I still had nothing.  I had seen some things that I thought would work in Target, but when i tried them on I just realized why they weren't my style.  I was trying on shirts with placates and straight, loose fronts:  they looked horrible on me!  Not flattering in any way, shape or form.  My friend Kati was in a similar stew.  She had chosen a co-worker who was older and who's style is... pretty much opposite Kati's.  We talked about not wanting to look offensive to the person we were trying to be, attempting to look presentable as ourselves as them, and being recognizable to the rest of the staff.

The day arrives...

That's me on the left dressed as Rebecca L, Rebecca Batt (different Rebecca) as Juliet, Carrie-Ann as Reesha, Natalia as Melanie and Melanie as Michael.  (What's really interesting, actually, is that photos can't actually convey how awkward it
 was to work as and around someone dressed as someone else.  Although swapped sartorial identities are humorous and embarrassing in real life, they mean nothing to the internet.)

Here's Reesha dressed as me!  Notice the earthtones, glasses and requisite Harry Potter  pin which reads:  "I passed my O.W.L.'s with Flying Colors"!  (Which she made herself.)  Amazing!!  Also, she's wearing these GREAT twill converses that I would totally wear if, y'know, they belonged to me and not her.  Blast!

(*side note:  sorry for the shitty formatting... I'm still getting used to this whole browser situation...)

Anyway, it was a really interesting experience.  It was like an accidental experiment in the social power of clothing.  We choose what we wear so carefully and so carelessly at the same time.  By this age (mid twenties and up?) our wardrobes are pretty much a set palate.  But one person's everyday wear is another person's costume.  I feel like this idea of "clothes as costume" is discussed a lot in the queer community because of all the conversations about clothes and gender-roles.  (Which, ironically didn't really come up today even with a gay boy being thrown into the mix.  He was happy as heck to don a wig and a patterned sweatshirt, sorry no photo, and his clothes are gender-neutral enough to not make a girl uncomfortable.)

Even hair was an important signifier of... fashion roles:
I've thought about doing projects with clothing and costume for a while now.  My plan (as far as art scheming goes) is to ask a number of people to choose my entire wardrobe for extended periods of time.  The people would be chosen specifically for my relationship with them:  both people I'm very close to and people who I don't know quite as well.  (My mother would be a particularly interesting choice, I think.)  I would then have both me and the clothing-chooser keep a diary of how it felt to be on either side of the experiment.  I find it really interesting because, as social people, we tend to ask eachother for fashion advice all the time.  This would just be the ultimate extreme of that practice.  Hopefully one day I'll get around to actually doing it.

Anyway, it was fun to watch this whole group of intelligent, conscious individuals stumble into a learning experience.  Also I think we're going to be doing theme days a lot more often now.  Other potential topics:

1. Corporate Business Attire
2. Extreme versions of ourselves
3. Ourselves at 15
4. The Outfit You've Always Wanted to Wear But Never Had the Opportunity

I'm stoked.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2008: Cowboy Up!

So, I decided that this year's theme is going to be the above mentioned:  "2008:  Cowboy Up!"  By which I mean, I'm fully intending to get off my butt, make some cool stuff, and share it.  With you.  The internet.  My dear old friend.

No, but actually, I was inspired to start this blog by one of my best friends, the amazing and talented NellyFace, who has apparently had a secret blog for quite a while now!  I love the idea of blogs.  It feels to me like we are passing inspiration through the web;  to people who, although we may not know, may never know, we share passions and experiences with.  

When we were at school, there was always this group of people surrounding us, working passionately on their own projects, who could always spare a moment to look at other peoples' work.  They could help out with a critique, a suggestion, or a cup of coffee.  (Or tea.  Or rice.  Or beer.)  I was so excited to graduate and I had this ridiculous idea that, without school to interfere with my time, I could actually do the work I wanted to do!  But since May, I have done little to nothing constructive, let alone anything "conceptual".  But reading Nelly's blog, and some others that I've come across, I'm beginning to feel as if maybe, just maybe, it's possible to have artistic community here on the web.  And sometimes just putting ideas out into the world helps them to take on new life.  

Ok, so that's kind of a characteristically cheesy introduction to my blog.  Don't worry, I promise it'll get better.  :0)