Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kaleidoscopic Pendants

I saw someone else's work on Etsy, and was inspired to try my hand and my kaleidoscoped images. I got a variety of materials to adhere the reduced kaleidoscopes to, and did the first batch last night:
The three large ones were hammered-look cheap metal pendants that cost 49¢ on clearance, the others are wooden beads, flattened ovals, about an inch long. Those were $2 for the strand. I used Inkssenstials Glossy Accents to seal the image on the bead after I glued them down. The images are printed on photo paper, then sealed with matte sealant (both sides) so the ink jet inks wouldn't run.

I am quite pleased with my first attempt. There are a few small air bubbles in the wooden pendants and some designs worked better than others, but they came out beautifully for never having done this before.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Still More Fun

Front and back views (before the haircut) of another needle-felted ATC, this one embellished with Patons Cha-Cha yarn. This is "My Funny Valentine" because that's the song playing in my head. This is just ridiculously entertaining...

More Fun with Felt

So far (knock wood), I have only jabbed myself the one time. Here's a needle felted ATC I'm calling "Pearls". I was amazed how much fuzz was on the back before I gave it a haircut. (The snipped pieces will go into the center of another bead, so nothing gets waisted.)

It's rather a mindless activity - well, except for concentrating on not skewering your fingers - and kinda relaxing. I will definitely be doing more of this. Who knew (other than the spinners) now much fun wool roving could be??

Making Felted Beads

I have drawn first blood with the felting needles, trying to fuse a fold in one of my experimental beads. (Yep, they're sharp all right!) I'm finding the trickiest part is getting a uniform size, more than perfect smoothness, but the instructions couldn't be simpler.

(In case you're curious, I was thinking "pumpkin" when I made these, hence the colors.)
Eventually, this and mixed-media beads is going to become a wild Hallowe'en necklace. I have quite a collection built up of various components, and plan to make more. Right now, it's just a concept in my head, but it something I've had in there for a few years now, waiting to be born. Some of my favorite beads were actually made for me by a talented friend working with lampwork techniques. She's a genius with ceramics, and her glasswork is exciting.

I have made and plan to do more shrink plastic pumpkins inspired by 1950s graphics. I'd like to experiment with paper/paper maché and fabric, as well. What got me thinking about the idea was this necklace I made from one of Melinda's ghosts:

This choker is just okay... The little ghost is darling and the lampwork beads are nice, but it's boo-o-ring! Then we (Melinda, Mom and I) went to the big bead show up in Milwaukee and I found lots more Hallowe'en colored stuff. On the way back home, I sketched furiously in the back seat (dunno what I did with those...) and the necklace just kind of exploded in my brain. *snort* Likely, when it's finished, it will look like it exploded, as well!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two Photos, Same Veil (Both Not Great)

Here's the other veil I dyed. Colors are bronze, khaki, golden yellow, deep yellow and avocado. It's not a lousy photo, because it does show the brightness of the colors, but none of the detail in the spirals (of which there are many). Taken with flash:

Here's the exact same veil, in the same room, same camera, more or less same position on the same chair, but without flash, only natural morning sunshine from an east-facing window:

You can see more of the detail, but the colors are washed out. They will have to do until I can work out something better.

This one looked very much all brown when it was still wet from the vinegar steam bath. It wasn't until it was washed and dried that the detail appeared. This was done by taking a silk veil, folded into eighths, and twisting many spirals into the fabric (damp with a soda ash solution) and rubber banding it loosely for stability in getting it off the floor where I was working on the spirals.

I'll try to get a better photo...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Silk Dyeing

I don't have a picture of the one I did for myself yet, but here's the one I did for Mom.

This is what the folded, rolled and tied silk looked like before it got dyed. And this is what it looked like once it came out of the vinegar sauna:

Because there was a fair amount of white still in it, this was then overdyed with a diluted pink. Washed and dried, the colors aren't so bright, but you can see the pattern clearly. The rose window center is very nicely defined.

I love dyeing silk. It's messy, yes, but very satisfying. 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

More Haiku

lady luna
in a veil of trees

Photo was taken a few years ago, but the haiku was inspired Thursday night, by another full moon, and another tree.

tattered lace
filmy mist shrouds
glowing moon

Don't have a photo of this; summer and fall nights sometimes produce very patchy low-lying fog. The moonlight and my headlights illuminate it, making driving tricky, but it's really lovely.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dyeing Silk Veils

A veil can be a bellydancer's best friend, but whether she dances with one or not, I don't think anyone could argue how much fun it is to dye the silk yourself. Tonight I'm dyeing two more silk veils, but only one of them's for me. Mom wants one; she plans to wear it as a scarf/shawl.

My dance teacher's having a dye party, and the dye and processing is all done there, so I get to have all the fun without all the mess. Whee! I'll post pics probably Monday or Tuesday.

Here's an older photo I took of my teacher performing at a restaurant, with a hand-dyed silk veil. Nothing beats silk!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Haiku - 1st (serious) Attempt

turquoise sprays
on black porous stone
salted mist

The "rules" according to Jane Reichhold (Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-on Guide):
1. three lines, short-long-short, ignoring syllable count*
2. should contain a fragment and a phrase
3. contain some element of nature
4. verbs in present tense
5. don't use capitals or punctuation
6. avoid rhymes

* According to Reichhold, Japanese counts syllables differently than English does. The usual way of English haiku of 5-, 7- and 5-syllable lines doesn't translate properly within the spirit of haiku. Also, Japanese naturally has 5- and 7-on (how they count "syllables") phrases, as well as seasonal words (which English lacks). 

After reading the first half of this book, I'm pretty convinced that haiku is either A) an art peculiar to the Japanese language, untranslatable to English, or B) heck with that! I'll do whatever I want! - and the latter seems to be more where Reichhold is heading, within the guidelines, of course. There are nuances in Japanese that is completely absent from English: seasonal words, punctuation words, phrases that just happen to have the right number of whatsits... So is it even appropriate to try to write haiku in a language that is so flat? Here's the same question in a different context: Is it appropriate to belly dance to music that is not Middle Eastern? Ask 10 people, get 12 answers.

Art is fluid, passing from culture to culture, picking up a little here, a little there, and leaving some behind. The Romany people are experts at this! Leaving pieces of their culture as they migrated (fled) India into the West, adopting things from their host countries in their attempts to survive. I'm not Japanese (not in this or any life, as far as I know), and I don't speak their language, but I don't think that should preclude me from using an art form that is "theirs." I do believe there are conventions that should be followed within any art form. Belly dancing to "Brick House" is just wrong, IMNSHO, and writing haiku about a football game would be, too - though I can imagine exceptions to both.

Are there Rights and Wrongs in art? Yes, I think there are, but I also know that nothing stays the same, and things that don't grow/evolve will stagnate and die. Vive l'évolution!

Photo is mine, taken at the Olivine Pools, Maui, HI; June 2007.

Thomas Hawk/SFMoMA Controversy

Thomas Hawk is the pen name for a photographer/blogger who got tossed out of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, because he refused to stop taking pictures (allowed with certain restrictions - toward the bottom of the page) in the museum. The Director of Visitor Relations was apparently being confrontational and rude, and Hawk was right back. As my husband is so fond of saying, "I wasn't there, I didn't see what happened."

Seems to me that two confrontational men got into a pissing contest to see whose was bigger. Being confrontational is not something I will shy from if pushed far enough, but I have to be pushed pretty far. In his shoes, would I have gone off the way Hawk did? ("Don't know, wasn't there.") I'd like to think I would first ask (not shout down a level) what the problem was. I don't think I'd continue to take photos after being told not to (regardless of what the museum's website stated), and if I felt I'd been treated unreasonably, complain to management. But I wasn't there. Perhaps the DoVR really was that big a jerk that it pushed all Hawk's buttons to the point where he pushed back.

Yes, photography is allowed in the atrium of SFMoMA. But the DoVR was apparently concerned that there was an employee privacy/rights issue, that she was getting photos taken down her blouse. Hawk was using a wide angle lens, which I'm sure meant nothing to the DoVR. Whether he was asked nicely or ordered rudely, Hawk continued to take photos, even as the DoVR shouted up at him, and then splashed his side of the story and the DoVR's name and photo all over the Internet. 

Who's in the right here? "I don't know, I wasn't there." But I do know this: by being this confrontational and obnoxious (calling the DoVR an asshole before editing the post after the damage was done), he's making it harder for photographers to function, and calling down suspicion and grief when paranoia is already through the roof. Refusing to listen to the photographer or look at the photos in question to see if they were "damaging" was pig-headed. Sounds to me like both men were in the wrong.

Standing up for your rights is one thing; as a paid member of the SFMoMA, Hawk could have gone over the DoVR's head and lodged a complaint rationally. Instead, he forced the hand of the person he argued with and was forcibly ejected. The manner in which he tried to state his case made it less likely to be heard, not more. So while most of the Internet is toasting Hawk for his valor in standing up for his "rights" and condemning the DoVR for being a jerk, I'll take the position of stating they are both wrong and suggest both men take a Valium and get over it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hamsa ATCs

These 4 ATCs were done for a hand-themed swap at They are stylized hands of Fatima, or hamsas, with Indian mehndi patterns mounted on glitter cardstock. It's a symbol of good luck and protection in the Middle East. They're prettier in person, the color much more metallic than the scanner shows. Going out in tomorrow's mail (hopefully)!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Typically I don't bother overmuch with poetry. I went through that phase all adolescents seem to, writing bad, angsty poems about how no one understands me, blah, blah, blah... When I am inspired, I tend to concentrate on rhythm rather than rhyme, which my dear husband claims: Si metrum non habet, non est poema. Feh!  Fac ut vivas!

ANYway, lately I've been drawn to the Haiku. Dunno why. I tried to find something about haiku at the used bookshop, but came up empty. I'll have to hit the library, and hope that I find what I need there.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The first picture below was taken for my dance teacher by a professional photographer, who's also a friend, Alison Visona. I was telling Magda last night about my kaleidoscope experiments, and she asked if I could take that picture and make it a kaleidoscope.

Here is one of the resultant images: 
People invariably end up looking a little creepy through a kaleidoscope, but this one's not too bad. It's recognizable if you know what you're looking at (especially if you have the original photo as reference), but abstracted enough to be pattern as well.