Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Challenge is in the costume... BRING IT ON!!!

I L-O-V-E Halloween! It is my favorite day of the year.  It unravels my creativity like a steam roller pushing tar on a city street filled with holes! Some other years I've been busy and rather completed or bought costumes at the stores but it all depends on the main vibe or idea for that year. I remember one memorable year that I made two superheroes costumes for my girls. Lavagirl (Yes, "Sharkboy & Lavagirl", Taylor Lautners a.k.a. "Jacob" debut movie) and Violet (The Incredibles).  It was just because they looked so much alike at that moment... what can I say, they are my dress up dolls. Both of them turned out super (get it.. superheroes). Lavagirl had this structured overall with a foamy shell over dance clothes, red flame hair and control enhanced forearm cover... excellent. For Violet I made black shinny underwear (Please.. let hope it's not a trend through her life) belt, gloves, mask and over the knee boot-like shoe covers to complete the costume. I loved making every stitch.
After that adventure, we settled years after with store bought from dark goth cheerleaders with a werewolf for a patriarch to cartoon characters like Flapjack and Coraline, also gave me the opportunity (and long lived fantasy) to wear my pointy ears and uniform as a vulkan member of the starship Enterprise. Yes, I'm a Trekkie (I differ with the term Trekker since I have been programmed with it since almost bitrth, Hail Gene Roddenberry!). This year I have to thank comicons and anime for the inspiration and challenges before me. We've been attending those kinds of activities (thanks for the teenager scoff) and I have to tell you the truth, I'm hooked. I'm hooked on the art, the weird stories and conceptions but most of all the way young people put themselves in these super weird but sometimes awesomely intricate costumes.

This year, I proudly announce Hit Girl and Blue Lightning (fictional but possible counterpart).
I know, I know....   Kick Ass is a very violent and bloody movie but it's so "I cannot look away from the action" movie, I just couldn't resist. Plus, it's got Nicholas Cage in it! I love the guy.. he's crazy..  right down my alley.

It's decided so let's get a move on. I did my research on the web and discovered that there are NO MORE HG costumes available, not that I was going to spend $70.00+ dollars in a cheaply made costume. So the experimenting began. It was a little challenging to get some fabric that looked like dark lilac leather and purple plaid but with a little ingenuity and good shopping skills, the bets are on me. I won't give more details on my posts so the next one is going to be the finished project. Just like I used to say to my boss "give me a challenge", there is nothing better and cheaper to boost your self esteem than an enjoyable challenge, lots of enthusiasm and fun. Skills help too. And if it doesn't work out as well... she'll have a new funky set of pajamas.

So.... Bring it on!!!

PS:  If you're wondering, this year I'm recycling my costume. My handy dandy velvety cloak (so I'm veeery comfortable underneath) and of course, pointy ears... again.  I'm the b*%^%ch witch.  Hey! someone has to be the villain.

Leave a comment and tell me what are you planning to be this Halloween. Love to hear ideas and suggestions, the more inexpensive, the better.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Fabric Infatuation and other crafting illnesses

Periodically we need to step back and look at our big picture and make whatever changes are needed. In the meantime we try to get entertained by looking at other people big picture through reality TV (as if some were) and tend to evaluate ourselves in some other level.  This is my own "Intervention" where I've become "Obsessed" and a "Hoarder" in my own house that's looks like a "Project Runway" and thinking "That's Clever".  We quickly switch to our denial mode and start looking for bigger storage to stash all our "future projects".  It's no coincidence that I call this "Craftingjunkie".  I've designed a 12 step program (in 5 steps) for myself but that's another whole other project.

The problem starts in our childhood with a harmless attempt from our desperate mothers looking for something for us to do in the summer months (or any other needed "me time"). My mother and grandmother taught the way of the hook, and if I was just like my daughter, was the only time I would shut up. Later came the sewing lessons. For a couple of summers, my sister and I, attended class at a neighbors house making wonderful clothes that were not going to be worn more than twice because of an awkward fit and fashion. With practice came longer wear life. I did some more fashions but the sewing stopped in college where other interests arose and I was off the bobbin for good.  I relapsed when I started having children and I saw my mom and grandma crocheting blankets and booties. I was hooked again.

When I decided to stay at home it slowly creep up on me. There is always the costumes for school activities and the quick fixes of hand me downs. That passes as normal use of fabric stash. Then the crocheting began in the parking lot while waiting for them to get out of school. Then the waiting in the tutoring, volleyball, ballet, tennis. The activities changed but never the waiting. It was not my fault, it was there, so portable, so systematic, so meditative, so many wonderful colors of crochet thread. I had to have them. And it wasn't only crochet. No. I was clever. I switched from crochet to knitting. It's like entering a zen like state of mind. A couple of minutes into knitting and my shoulders and jaw began to relax. BETTER than Xanax. But like a good junkie, I needed a little more kick.  I discovered felting. That was like graduating to crack.  I loved felting but natural wool is difficult to get here in the caribbean. I've been importing wool and made my mom bring me wool instead of travel souvenirs. Then came the needle felting. Needles, crochet thread, yarn, hooks and fabric were beginning to take up space in my not so big house. Lying to my husband when he caught me with newly bought yarn and thread. Stashing and hiding fabric around the house. I needed help.

To get well from these ailments I had to face the fact that I needed help and take action, but it has to be done slowly and carefully not to trigger the awful shopping therapy withdrawal. For my "Fabric Infatuation" I started to take count and samples of all the stashes and categorize them in index card. That way I see what I have and stick to projects with those fabrics specifically. My deep feelings of "Yarn Yearning" are contained because I haven't done any knitting in a while, but I have them in ziplock bags by type and all in a giant Ziplock bag (no, I'm not anal retentive). Part of my recovery is to visit them and and have a session of "Feeling the Felt Therapy", hand felting until I felt better, no pun intended. The "Frustration Release by Felt" is closely related to the feeling the felt but works in emergencies with the felting needle. There is nothing better than stabbing when you're angry. That didn't came out right. But trust me, if you're careful is better than boxing. The crochet has been more persistent with commissioned items here and there and always looking for cute thing to try. When I thought I was out, they pull me back in.... I can say I'm still "Hooked on the Hook". It is difficult to kick this habit since it was the first thing I learned. But when I really decided to stop the insanity and concentrate and produce more was when I got me the ultimate vice. A new computerized 80 stitch sewing machine... on sale!!!!. The sprocket in my heart went boom, I'm in love. Of course, my youngest daughter jumped on the opportunity to inherited my old one. There is always a black fluffy hairy sheep in the family. Now I'm continuing the cycle once more teaching her to sew properly. They learned to crochet first.. I see the pattern emerging (get it pattern?) so history repeats itself. I guess these are illnesses that I don't mind passing on.

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment or tell me how I can help you with your crafting emergency.   :)

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

WARNING: needle felting can be hazardous to your health.

In this month of February inevitably, love is all around us. It would sound a little bit weird (if not lonely) to say that I just found a new craft to love. If you have read my blog you know that I have a love-hate relationship with felting. I love the finished product but I hate the self inflicting pain that comes with handling and bashing of hot, scalding material. I decided to take my relationship with felting to the next level. So, like a terrified teenager that asks a date to the prom, I got the courage to order my first needle felting kit. It felt like Christmas morning when I opened the package. 5 colors of roving wool (new term to learn, makes me feel like a pro), roving material, 4 different needles and a generous size foam to stab. I was so ready. I had my handmade felt ready to poke. I started to place the wool in a freestyle manner and get the feel for the stabbing. Repetitive stabbing... like entering "The Zone".  Stabby McStab Stab was my mantra. Is this IT? I asked myself. It's so easy! The finished product was a mismatch of colors that resembled an abstract painting. Just like McDonald's.. I'm Loving it!  How many more things can I do with this? I ventured myself in the vast ocean of tutorials that is Youtube and learned the proper way to needle felt. Not being too far from the actual technique, I continued snooping when I saw this beautiful figure of a creature that resembled one of the "Dark Crystal" puppets.  OMG! (as a celestial choir sounded in my ear) Soft sculpting! I fell deeply in love.....  I'm sorry my dear husband but I'm having an affair with.... needles and wool.

As I developed my relationship with my new love, I'm starting to see that is like any other relationship... filled with highs and lows, periods of elation, beauty, love and well, pain. Physical pain. The beginning was just like the eHarmony commercials, observing and excited on how could I mold it as I wished to hopefully see my desired results. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain on my index finger. How could my beloved craft backfire me like this? It hurts like being cheated. I didn't have a bleeding heart but a bleeding finger. How could this be possible? Well, accidents happen. The next stabbing came in the form of an electric current through my spine. "I'm clumsy" I thought. Then, another, I was starting to sweat. Now my thumb and index finger are throbbing. Stop! This is not for the freestyle felter. I took a deep breath and payed attention at what I was doing. Too much excitement on the first date.

I learned a painful lesson. I was behaving like an overly infatuated lover, I had to take it easy. I put it aside until the next day when my finger wouldn't hurt but eagerly waiting for the next phone call.. I mean felting session. Now I know that felting can be a dangerous craft if careless, I know that we can do beautiful things together if we take it a step at a time and most importantly get some protection (say whaaaat??) for my fingers. In the meantime I'm adding variety to our relationship, I'm going to order myself more colors of roving wool.   Definitively....    Love is in the air.

If you want to see amazing soft sculpting in fabric, take a look at the work of artist Lisa Lichtenfels. It will blow your mind.

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Friday, January 1, 2010

I.V. lines are not for knitting

The shopping absurdity of December is starting to make me think of what the holidays are all about, family. No, I didn't take that from a Hallmark card. For me shopping is like going hunting, challenging and full of gratification (when you get stuff at more than half price yey!). But this year was different. The month began with a lot of planning, presents and decorating... until that december night (screeching halt!). Early in December I sent the proper evaluations to Santa to start running the operation, you know, put a good word to the jolly fluffy guy and start with the celebrations. This year,  I evoked the Martha in me, thinking of trying my luck making cookies to share with my girls teachers. All the Christmas cheer was literally starting to get into my skin. I started the celebrations by going on a date with my hubby to a concert. Before dropping the girls at their grandma's I felt a sharp sting on my right buttock (love the word.. butt-ocks). "What an angry mosquito" I thought. Little that I knew I was soon be visiting the hospital with a giant infection that looked like a third buttock (butt-oks butt-ocks  ;D). There I was, with my butt in the air and with every passing moment, losing my Christmas spirit and my dignity as well. I could have asked my husband to bring my knitting ammunition since I was going to spend some time there, but I passed because I was hooked on antibiotics intravenously. I must have been really sick. I may not be hyperactive, but in that bed, my mind really was,  plus the medication.. I was in hyperdrive. I saw shapes coming out of my curtain patterns, and little bunnies from the holes in the ceiling panels. Then my attention shifted to the clear liquid bag and the little plastic tubes filled with liquid, transparent and crystal like. They were my curvy icicles. They had the same width and flexibility as yarn. Could it be knitted? Could I be so bored to think that IT could be knitted? We'll see.

My stay at Chateu Saint Francis (San Francisco Hospital) wasn't long enough to get into my nerves but I was anxious to get back to normal. So I thought. I had my little own hospital in my house, 6 more days of IV antibiotics and my own hanging pole plus a hole in my butt cheek that made me wrap in plastic every time I wanted to take a shower. When the 6 days were over and the needle was taken out I felt like cuffs were taken off. YES. I was free! I could Knit!!! The male nurse that came every day to fill my prescription gave me a weird look when I asked if I could keep the tubes. OK???? he said, not asking for what I wanted it for.  That's a very intelligent man.

I thought that if I filled the tubes with water, they would stay a bit stiffer and could do some kind of stitch or knot that would resemble a weave. Sometimes our ideas look great in our dreamy little heads but when taken into action could be a disaster. I took a small towel just in case I messed up... that was the smartest thing that came out of this clinical boredom. I tested knot after knot and every time I was being showered with my intentions. None of it landed on the towel (thanks a lot Murphy's law). Nope, this one is for "craftfail". It looked like a mess of tubes with no use for it what so ever (again with the "it's a good idea but...). I thought of filling it with colored water and maybe glitter but I lost all confidence. I let it go.

I continued my merry holiday taking it easy because I still have an open wound, which is getting smaller by the day (yey me!!). I'm sure I'll be up and literally running within the next couple of weeks (thanks to the yearly promise of getting in shape and lose a couple of pounds). I've already pimped out my workspace so all I have left is to be like NIKE and just DO IT. I'll do take better care of myself, I'll do keep thing running smoothly, I'll do prepare myself for the unexpected. We think that we're indestructible... Hey!  I still don't know what bit me but it was sure smaller than me and the bacteria was... well you know. But I take this as an opportunity to see ourselves and our families and work together when an emergency shows up. Gratitude, appreciation and pride are traits that have to be acknowledged every day... not to be discovered at a moment of need. I'm immensely grateful to my husband for all his care (BTW.. he's an excellent nurse), proud of my children who worked together (without bickering... that I know of) and I appreciate much, much more all the people that helped me and wished me well. We can accomplish a lot of thing with love and dedication and what we cannot do, we just put it aside, let our frustration go and keep doing what we were doing.... just like knitting IV lines... they are not meant to be knitted.

Happy New Year!!!! 2010
Arthur C. Clarke was wrong.... this is nothing like Space Odyssey:2010
I wish that every one has a great year filled with love, health, happiness, work and lots quality time to spend with our friends and family. Hug, dance, work, sing, give and be thankful.

Pilar Gonzalez

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