Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lets Paint a Peacock Feather-On Silk

I thought I'd photo document my most recent scarf creation. Hopefully you'll be inspired to create one yourself. Painting on silk is really very easy. I taught myself by simply watching some YouTube videos while ironing laundry.

What You'll Need:

1. silk you can buy this online or at Jerry's Art-O-Rama
2. silk paint
3. A tiny paintbrush
4. Gutta Resist and little squeeze bottle with a metal hollow tip (like a mini cake decorating tip) You can get these online or at Jerry's Art Store as well.
5 A frame. My awesome boyfriend made this frame for me with pieces of scrap wood. But you can use anything that lifts and stretches your silk off the table.

Using thumbtacks securely stretch your silk across the frame. All four sides would be best, but as you can see in my picture. My silk scarf is long and thin and I'm only able to affix three sides to the frame. That's okay, as long and it's tight enough that the silk won't touch the table.

Using the Gutta Resist draw out your design. It can be a simple geometric pattern. I'm using free flowing lines to create the individual feathers that make up the Peacock feather. The resist acts like a barrier and has the consistency of liquid rubber cement. Make sure your lines are thick enough to ensure that the ink won't bleed through. The resist can be removed after the scarf is finished by dry-cleaning it. And all that will be left is the pure white silk beneath.

Pour a tiny amount of the highly concentrated silk paint into separate containers. You can use water to decrease the intensity of the ink color. But keep in mind the ink will dry much lighter than it looks when it's wet. Use your paint brush to "color in the lines." It's that simple. The resist will keep the ink from going places you don't want it too--as long as you can color in the lines.

Careful for drips! The silk acts as a wick and it only takes a tiny drop of ink to create a large area of color. Feel free to mix and blend the paint/ink however you like. These paints do a lovely job of looking like a watercolor painting and it's hard to go wrong with color combinations

Half-way though my project I decided that I didn't have enough individual "feathers" so I went back in and created more using the gutta resist. You can always add to your design. This scarf is going to have several separate painted areas. Just make sure the ink is dry before you move the silk around.

Now one section of my scarf is finished. I'm going to let it dry before I move it to work on other areas of the scarf. Still to come... setting the ink so the scarf is machine washable and the colors won't bleed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Blood Type is A Minor

I'm a music junkie. I'll buy gas station coffee instead of Starbucks to cut pennies, but will open my wallet for any good new song. Thankfully I have a lot of really awesome people in my life who are constantly introducing me to new, amazing music. So now, I'd like to return the favor and pass on some songs that I think you need to discover. A lot of these songs you can download for free, or at least listen to on their myspace pages. So grab of cup of coffee, cheap or otherwise and start exploring these gems. I've listed 20, and yes, it was painful to narrow them down to just these.

Northern Lights by The Thoughts from the album Consider the Bear

Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie from the album The Opposite Side of the Sea

Tickle me Pink by Johnny Flynn from the album A Larum

I by Andrew Bird from the album Weather Systems

Down at Columbia and Cameron by The Physics of Meaning

Astral Weeks by Van Morrisson from the album Astral Weeks

Fire Door by Ani Difranco from the album Like I Said

Two Blue Lights by Songs: Ohia from the album It Didn't Rain

Sawed-Off Shotgun by Luego from the album I Know, I Know

Wagon Wheel by The Old Crow Medicine Show from the album O.C.M.S.

Carolina Drama by The Raconteurs from the album Consolers of the Lonely

Long Way to Go by Railroad Earth from the album Elko

Black/White by The Raveonettes from The Sound of Color

Anthem for a Seventeen-year-old-girl by Broken Social Scene from the album You Forgot It in People

Skinny Love by Bon Iver from the album For Emma, Forever Ago

Beat Beat by The Nation History from the album Beat Beat Heartbeat

Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap from the album Speak for Yourself

Only as the Day is Long by Sera Cahoone from album Only as the Day is Long

Bass Song by Hayden from the album Skyscraper National Park

I Was a Lover by my all time favorite group, TV on the Radio.

Monday, March 23, 2009

When Hunger Strikes

Image by ElinJernberg

I'm curious how many other out there have that dark angry side of them I like to call, the Blood Sugar Bitch.

It was my boyfriend, Nick and my two-year anniversary. We decided to start the celebration with a cocktail out on the front porch. Life was good and we chatted happily as the sun sank. It was decided we'd get head out to my favorite restaurant Magnolia Grill for a lavish celebratory dinner.

"I'm just gonna get dressed honey" I say as I head to my bedroom to freshen up.
"Take your time, I'm in no rush" Nick sweetly replies as he pours himself another cocktail.

It happens so subtly and so quickly that you don't even have time to take action until it's too late. One minute I'm humming to myself as I put on make-up and the next I'm cursing and screaming "I don't have anything to wear!" As I frantically pull clothes from the closet and throw them violently on the floor. I scream out again. "I don't have a damn thing to wear!" But I'm not the only one who's been overtaken by the Blood Sugar Bitch.

"What's taking you so long! We should have left 30 mins ago!" Nick angrily yells up to me.
"Shut-up you JERK! How dare you talk to me like that!"

We have now reached the initial Blood Sugar Bitch Stage 1. After a few more fits of panicked rage an equally angry Nick manages to get me into the car. It's at this point I decided that my outfit looks so bad, there's no way I can possibly go out to a nice dinner. Now please understand that I'm a flip-flops and jeans kind of gal. I'm not normally one to obsess about my clothes in this manner. I decide that I can't go anywhere until I have outfit validation, and the only other person around to ask is my younger brother, George. The poor guy never saw it coming.
"Well, honestly Mary, I have seen you in better looking, classier outfits. I mean, this one looks just fine, it's just not your best."

So now Nick and I are back in the car, headed home again so I can change. This is when Blood Sugar Bitch reaches stage 2. I break down in tears.
"What's wrong now?!"
"I'm hungry!!"

We now, for the first time, realize what has happened. We've been through this together many times before, and have an emergency plan in place. Find food immediately. I would have eaten a bag of raw popcorn kernels on the spot, but it was our anniversary and I had my heart set on a special meal.

"Sushi!" Nick cries out frantically. "It's the closest nice place. We can be eating apps in 8 mins flat"
I can hear the desperation in his voice and I begin my practiced breathing techniques as we drive to the restaurant. I should mention that once I realized that the Blood Sugar Bitch has taken over, I'm not allowed to talk. So we ride in silence each praying that there won't be a wait.

Min of 1.5 hour wait. I almost break down in tears again.
"Are we gonna break-up on our two-year anniversary" Nick genuinely asks.

We then head immediately to Harris Teeter and buy three frozen pizzas and a celebratory boxed cheesecake which I ate frozen in the car.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A favorite love poem

Image by: PhotoBird


Draw a line. Write a line. There.
Stay in line, hold the line, a glance
between the lines is fine but don’t
turn corners, cross, cut in, go over
or out, between two points of no
return’s a line of flight, between
two points of view’s a line of vision.
But a line of thought is rarely
straight, an open line’s no party
line, however fine your point.
A line of fire communicates, but drop
your weapons and drop your line,
consider the shortest distance from x
to y, let x be me, let y be you.

-Martha Collins

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Champagne on a Beer Budget

I'm not a wealthy girl. And while the term "starving artist" would most appropriately label my income, it in no way defines my lifestyle. As I type, I'm nibbling on a Ganache brownie made by a professional pastry chief who sells tasties from her Etsy Shop "Fancy That Cookies". I'm not exactly sure what ganache is, but I'm pretty sure it's the closest thing to heavenly sent manna. Along with my decant brownies I have a Chocolate Torte that's literally too beautiful for me to eat, so it's going to my mom as a gift. Now why, might you ask, does a girl who makes such little money, invest in professionally baked goods? No, it's not because I'm a fat girl with a chocolate addiction. (not that there's anything wrong with a chocolate addiction--for the record.) It's because I traded, bartered, exchanged goods for them. Trading has become my favorite past time. I trade for whatever I can get my greedy snobby hands on. Fine pastries, lavish homemade soaps, custom fitted hand crafted jewelry, fine art prints, soy candles and vegan organic face lotions. Items that even if I made a lot of money, couldn't afford on a regular basis. But little broke Mary can, and frequently splurges on herself and loved ones.

But how? It's simple. I have talents and items that others want. And I want their talents and items. Why would I spend overvalued government issued paper money when I can use my arts as commodity? But don't think it's always easy finding fellow artists and crafters who are willing to trade. It takes some patient and kind queries. Don't pressure others to trade and don't get your feelings hurt if no one wants to trade with you. If you aren't successful in finding folks to trade with, it just means that you aren't asking enough of the right people. Or, maybe you just aren't giving them enough options to choose from. I've had a few people ask me to trade and when I have a look at what they have to offer it's a poor showing. Make sure that what you have to trade is a valuable commodity. It might be something like housecleaning skills. But you better be a good house cleaner! Or maybe you can crunch numbers for taxes, but make sure your math is a hell of a lot better than mine or I'm never going to trade with you again. And of course, some people don't trade simply for their own personal reasons which are really none of our business.

Here's how I generally think about trades:
I could spend 1 hour at an average 9-5 job making $8-$12 an hour or...I can spend 1 hour painting some of my glassware for a woman's wedding toast worth $60. The value of the glasses is in the time and talent I put in. But my raw cost is minimal. Now this bride-to-be makes beautiful sterling silver jewelry. We make a trade. She gets the glasses-- an expensive set to boot-- and I get a pair of custom created earrings worth about $60 that I can't afford.

I could keep going on and on about trades I've made but my brownie is gone and I've got some cookies to sample next.

(items pictured above are from previous trades that I've made. All images link to the Etsy shop where they were sold. Please admire their work and do not spam them for trades unless you ask very politely and won't get your feelings hurt if they say no)

Friday, March 20, 2009

And to start: a poem

I've given myself the task of starting this blog. I have a degree in Creative Writing and my fingers freeze over the keyboard when I think about having to write for an audience who is essentially, the entire world (and whatever alien life forms are secretly tracking our existence). I think this must be the crux of my blogger's block. It's one thing to write for an enthusiastic small classroom of ten, but the world!? Pressure is on. So I thought I'd start with a little warm up--or cheating-- and post a poem that I've already written. This poem was published this pasts year for the Syracuse Cultural Workers, 2009 Women's Date Book. A publication for peace, justice, equality and all sorts of other warm and fuzzy good things. But the best was the check they sent for the grand sum of $125. Follow the link and you'll find my poem first under the "dedication spread." I hope you'll all be inspired to submit a poem yourself. (There will be a book signing following this blog.)


I'm laughing, but I don't think it's funny. 

People explain my words to me. They say 

My face is an open book. How unfair. 

Blue eyes and big teeth, that's my face. 

That's not me. My skin says I'm Caucasian, 

But maybe I want to be blue. A cool blue,

The color of tropical water rippling beneath 

A palm tree shadow.

I have small ears, 

Do you think that means I can't hear you?

Well I do. 
I hear you loud and clear. 

And I laugh out loud with my big teeth showing

And my blue eyes squinting. Because I can hear you, 

You and your tone, your condescending jokes 

And your patronizing explanations.

I'm laughing, but I'm not amused.

My squinting eyes can see you. My big teeth want to bite you. 

This face ain't no open book. This face is cliff notes

To the book you never took the time to read.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Esty shop

My awesome friend David set up an RSS feed of my etsy shop
He also created my entire website So he's pretty much the best guy ever.