Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My First Successful Tatting Pattern Creation

I just finished the second half of this tonight, which was the real kicker as to whether I did it right or not. I wanted to invent something with a little crisscross in the middle, but have never tatted anything where I had to measure my picots (the long loopy things that I have crossed over in the middle). This is my second attempt--the first time I just eyeballed it and the picots were much too long, they wouldn't have laid flat once crossed over. I think maybe this pattern might make a nice bracelet or a Gothic choker with a cameo dangling from it. For now, I'm proud of myself for having figured out the fuzzy geometry well enough for it to work. It reminds me of a club from a deck of cards--perhaps this one will be called 'The Queen of Clubs'.
Back to proofreading now. I think my next few blog posts will have something to do with my husband's and my book. Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

If They're Not Goat Heads, What Are They?

When we last met here at the Easily Distracted Blog, I was profoundly expounding on the freaky-looking weeds in my back yard that I did not know the name of. As it turns out, I did know the name (Goat Heads) , I was just using it to refer to a different plant, these bastards:

I know these look kind of like regular crabgrass from the first picture, and they are clearly related to crabgrass, but these are crabgrass with deadly spikey seeds coming off of the ends in clusters.

You can see from the branching of the blades and the root structure how much they look like normal crabgrass. The first time you bend down and attempt to yank one of these out of the ground you will think it's crabgrass, until you grab hold of it and get a whole palm-full of spikes in your hand. Check out the ends with the seeds themselves.
(Okay, also check out my awesome nails. I feel like I painted them with a flannel suit.) Each individual seed has (I think) 12 spikes coming out of it, and the seeds pop off one at a time and will lodge themselves into just about anything. The little spikes seem to have barbs on them, as they are difficult to get back out once they are stuck in your skin. After removal, the skin is irritated for a little while. I can only say that's true for humans, my dogs, once they stand there and refuse to move until I risk my own safety and pull them out, seem to get over it pretty quickly. As a further side note, Cassie, the Aussie Shepherd, won some serious respect from me the first time I saw her walk through a patch of it. Let's face it, she's walking Velcro, so ten or so of them lodged in the spaces between her toes as soon as she stepped near them. She sat down, turned that paw over and chewed each sticker out with her teeth and spit them out. It was like some old war movie where the hero chews the bullet out of his own flesh and spits it out like he's John Wayne or something.
As summer goes on, the older seeds dry into little brown, hard versions of the same thing, which is when they become truly indestructible and can lodge themselves in your flesh with wood-splinter-like tenacity. Even after the spikes break off (like after they've punctured your bicycle tire) the core of the seed is still rock hard, getting lodged in tire and shoe tread grooves everywhere, thus furthering they're dissemination throughout the Westside of Albuquerque. I'm not sure why these haven't completely taken over the world yet, as they seem to come back all up and down our street with the slightest rain. If any of my Southwest-savvy readers have any idea what these are called, I'd love to know. Now that I know what a goat head really is, I have discovered that there's actually a fairly specific weevil that eats them. I'd love to know what, short of Godzilla, eats these.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Funky Spaceship Weeds in my Back Yard!

I just pulled up a bunch of weeds in my yard yesterday and decided to take some pictures of them because they are so bizarre looking. The plant has a woody, rather fragile tap root and the plant sprawls out in all directions with pinnately compound leaves (each leaf has a stem off of which come several leaflets, like a fern), little yellow flowers and these green
seeds with spikes on them.
It is the seeds that take this plant over the top from "hey, that's a kind of cool looking weed, I think I'll let it live," to "WTF!!?? Tiny invaders from another planet are here to violate our housepets (and possibly explain the origins of Velcro)!"

There is an artist named Kathleen Dustin who creates purses and other decorative, functional objects from polymer clay in the style of strange seed pods and whatnot. She came to The Wooden Cow and gave a talk about her work. I need to send her these pictures because I totally need a purse like that seed. Don't you think? Nobody would f**k with me in line at the bank, that's for sure.

In fact, it reminds me of an illustration by Patrick Woodroffe that I have in a book somewhere... I think the one I was thinking of was from his book "Mythopoeikon" and is called "The Thorn Apple Tree." Here's a snapshot of it from my book.
It is a beautiful book, by the way. You can go buy a copy of this fantastic art book on Amazon here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Win a $20 Gift Certificate Towards Lovely Handmade Jewelry!

One of my favorite jewelry makers, Bits 'n Beads by Gilliauna, is having a promotional blog contest on a blog called IndieSpotting. I just clicked out a bunch of entries for myself, but now you can too! Gilliauna makes some lovely jewelry with semiprecious stones, silver and gold. Go check out her lovely shop and perhaps you will find something you would like to spend your $20 gift certificate on.
Here's the link to the contest:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Trying to create a new tatting design!

Okay, yes, I know I really need to get back to drawing, which is what I do, right? But in the meanwhile, tatting has become a fun distraction. I think between that and the shrink plastic stuff and the limited amount of wire-wrapping I've tried, I could open a new shop with jewelry, almost as scatter-brained in focus as my art shop!
My latest project is an attempt to design my own pattern simply based on ideas from others' works that I have seen. The flower motif that is stained with purple around the edges was my first attempt, and while I think it looks pretty, it doesn't lay flat and the petals of the outer flower motif overlap, which wasn't what I wanted. Still pretty though, so I was going to use it as an experimental piece and perhaps add that pretty crystal sitting next to it, maybe as a dangle coming out of the middle. The piece that is still white is my second attempt and only has a couple of mistakes. It seems to lay flat a little better, and I think it looks like a pansy, so I will probably stain the middle yellow and put some purple and blue around the edges.
I wish I knew someone in the area who also needle tatted; it would be nice to be able to look over someone's shoulder or ask questions at key points to see if there is a tidier way to do certain things. Without that benefit, I will just have to continue combing the internet for advice.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tatting--Another Distraction

Tatting is a form of lacemaking that dates back to the early 19th century, and, according to Wikipedia, is inexplicably thought to be derived from the French word frivolité, reflecting its complete lack of usefulness. The only other remotely interesting thing Wikipedia had to say about it was that it has been used for occupational therapy, to give recovering patients something to do with their hands. I totally get that.

I learned shuttle tatting as a bored kid from some old craft instruction booklet my Mom had, and that method of lacemaking is a fairly annoying tangle of Cat's Cradle-like knots and holding your hands and fingers just so and getting lots of knots that were not part of the instructions that
require a magnifying glass and a needle to undo (if you aren't willing to simply throw the piece away and start over). This pastime was quickly and wisely set aside for crochet and knitting and, well, art.

When I started selling my fine art on Etsy, I wandered randomly through all the categories of
handmade stuff to see what was there, and amongst all that stuff, I found
people who did tatting.
They made the usual useless doilies and lace collars, but then some of them made jewelry--really hot, Goth, steampunk, kick-ass jewelry. So I looked up some of these artists to see how they did it, and they mentioned this term called "needle tatting". I bought some tatting needles (long, straight needles with no points on the ends), procrastinated a while longer, then finally hunkered down, read the instructions, and figured it out. I had had this idea rattling around in my head that this type of lace might look really cool hand-dyed with permanent inks, so, after finding some patterns I liked, I tried my idea. Apparently, it was a fairly good one, or at least I think so. I'm not sure if I am going to sell these items in my same store or if I'm going to take them over to The Wooden Cow here in Albuquerque to see if they sell, but I'm building up quite a collection, so I guess I'd better share it. With that thought in mind, I'm sharing it here to see how it does. This last photo is the first set I made, a choker and earring set, hand dyed with turquoise ink to make a gradient going across each piece. My husband also thought it was a really nice picture, despite Mimi having her tongue stuck out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Guess I Should Get Back To My Blog

I just purchased my second batch of Moo Mini cards with about a jillion different images on them. They are so fun and eye-catching and cute that people should want to take them. I intend on leaving them in conspicuous places for people to take and then perhaps maybe check out my website once they realize it is a business card.

As I was looking at them today, it occurred to me that the web address for this damn blog of mine is on them. Well crap. Now, I love to blather on about myself and my own selfish interests and pretend someone else cares as much as the next person, but I really can't stand blogging. That's not to say that I don't read my friends' blogs because I want to read about some contest they're sponsoring or about their personal dysfunction for my own entertainment (Yes, I mean you, Erin), but as far as my own desire to waste time in THIS PARTICULAR WAY, it's just not my thing. I'm sure I'm interesting to some people, but let's face it, part of the reason I am a visual artist is because visual art doesn't necessarily need an explanation. You either like it or you don't.
But I understand that part of being an artist is letting people know who they are buying the image from. Something that helps the viewer connect with what they are buying and (hopefully) hanging up in their own home or office. Something they can relate to, or laugh about, or feel sorry for, or be proud of, or whatever.
So here's your little tidbit for today to get to know me by. My artwork is not usually chock full of meaning, I probably just created it because I thought it was a good idea at the time. Sometimes I think of a great title for an image before I've even imagined the image. For instance, the drawing "Redheads Just Aren't For Me" is, well, a portrait in effigy, and, well, the title pretty much captures the full scope and give-a-fuck-ness (yes, I know there's a real word for that, but it's my blog and I just made it up and I like it) of how I felt about a particular person at the time. Granted, I'm
pretty much over it now, but the picture came out, IMHO, pretty f***ing awesome (I hate cussing more than once in a single blog post) so I'm still pretty proud of how I used my own snarky sarcasm to mock my own pain and create it.

Then on the other hand, sometimes I imagine a picture, either in part or in its entirety, and never think of a great title and that always really bugs me. I look at it and think the image is awesome, and I show it to my friends and
family and random people on the street in the hopes that they can do my job for me and help me come up with something besides "Untitled". I wind up just using whatever lame title I can think of and running with it, like "Purple Cat", "Weedy Study" or "The Seer". "The Seer" bugs me the most, because the title really makes it seem like it should mean something, but it's just a cool picture.
So there's some insight about me, and I will try to get better about writing shorter, more interesting posts about myself and the wacky sh!t I do. I promise not to blog about ironing shirts.
Tomorrow's topic, all this crazy lace I've been making, and how I feel about tatting! Sounds pretty all-encompassing, I know, but try and hold out until tomorrow.