Monday, April 20, 2015

Tumblr Wumblr

In case anyone is wondering, I've been focusing on a new project since the first of the year. Thus, there has been a little less sewing/spinning/knitting/general making of crafty things. I decided, instead of using this blog to post updates and sketches for my upcoming Webcomic that I will be posting to a Tumblr blog.

Visit my Sketchbook Blog to see what I've been drawing lately!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Very Personal Offering - Hair Art

WARNING - This post features the traditional art of making things with human hair, you might be totally grossed out by this. I don't really care. I like it.

When one thinks of Hair art, usually the Victorian Era comes to mind. While they raised the act of creating with human hair to a high art, and obsessively traded in momentos of human body parts (teeth, for example), the Victorians did not invent the art. A number of old folk traditions use hair in the making of charms, spells, sigils and the like. Both for protective and harmful magics.

 I collected hair for several months, straight from the brush. Note that it has not been cleaned, as hair is actually stronger and easier to work with when it has a bit of natural oil. I spun it up with a drop spindle, and plied each lump from a center pull ball. It spun fairly smooth and fine, with the occasional little lump or tangle.
 I then made a bias woven strap. This is a simple technique that needs no set-up nor loom, one could start it without even the pins with a little dexterity. After laying out the threads, I started on the left and wove across the other threads at a diagonal. The next thread follows the first, but alternating over and under. Thus, each thread starts with an "over and ends with an under, then wraps around to hang downwards for the next pass. Each thread moves to the left with each row, and eventually gets to be the active thread and return to the right!

It didn't take all that long to weave a few feet of this ribbon (Sewing scissors for scale.) Some of my bundles of hair yarn were longer than others, so I trimmed off the long bits to use for future projects. (It is, also, not as if I will stop growing my raw materials.) I used it to wrap a lovely bundle of flowers destined to be a very special offering. A little piece of me, carefully prepared, going back to the earth!

Happy Spring everyone!

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Dead Hedge for a Lively Garden

As the season warms a number of garden projects are getting underway. This year, among other things, I am making some new beds in underused parts of the yard. And adding some privacy. Mr. Crafty has been asking for more solid fencing since he moved in, and we have a dog now who will pace and charge the fence when other dogs are about. (Yes, we are training her out of it, no it's not happened yet...)

I first heard about dead hedges in the BBC's fantastic history programs concerning  historic farming. It was commonly used as stock fencing in spots that a live hedge wasn't growing. But there are a number of important features of a dead hedge that make it useful in the modern garden as well.
1.) It uses up material that does not compost well unless you have a mulching machine.
2.) It offers important habitat to many wild garden friends, including native bees!
3.) It's basically free. I bought a few sturdy stakes to complement my scavenged branches.
 Here it is growing and shaping up. As other parts of the yard get cleared out and suckers get trimmed down I keep finding more and more material to add to it. I've been digging my new veggie bed right in front of it and that has yielded tree roots as well.
And now, spring has sprung, the grass is painfully green, there are rows of beets planted, and the hedge is almost to the top of the fence. It will compact with time so I will have to keep adding to it. Fortunately, I have plenty of pruning yet to go, so there will be no lack of materials!

Get out and put your hands in the soil@

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Woodland Skirt.

 Every now and again a fabric comes along that just screams at you from the shelf "WEAR ME!" It's hard to believe that this cute little dainty girl holding a soft fluffy bunny would scream like that, but she did. I have witnesses. So I bought a yard and brought her home... and stuck it on the shelf.

Then, as luck would have it, about a year later some other fabrics from the collection went on sale, so I snatched up the remnants and got down to business! This barefoot nature loving girl needed a skirt covered with barefoot nature loving girls!

Of course, one of the challenges of working with such a fabric, is the inhumanity of cutting of feet and heads. So I drafted a pattern to make the best use of each row of girls, and no body-chopping. I ended up with three long strips to be the hem of the skirt. The other two fabrics were then divided into tiers, six panels around, each layer larger at the bottom than at the top. Pockets were made (skirts can have pockets! It's magical, I know.)
 So, a very swishy, swingy skirt was sewn. Perfect for running barefoot in the woods! And how did I get it so swishy? How did I protect the wee feet of these girls?
A bias tape maker, and a trip to the hardware store. Four yards of fine ball chain is sewn into the bias wrapped hem, now it doesn't ride up when I walk or fly up in the wind. Hardward store notions are the best...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Report - Anomaly Con

I just began recovering from the weekend at Anomaly Con. It was packed with fantastic, creative people, interesting and engaging panels, beautiful outfits, and mad science.

I was spotted with Teh Ebil Bunny the first two days... (Check out his page, and Tofu Snow for more great pictures of attendees.)

But managed to escape his notice on Sunday, and instead played the mad music of the Dyne on the
mighty pipe organ. (Disclaimer - I am not, in fact a Heterodyne Spark, nor a mad scientist, nor terribly skilled at the organ.)

And costumed Life Drawing! Which is far more exciting than nekkid people, trust me on this one. Naked bodies are basic anatomy, clothing adds expression and movement.
Particularly if one is drawing wild characters like this guy. Yes, that is a sock on his hand, I believe they were having a very deep interview...

I had a great time, and was able to send a few folks home with accessories from VonKlank's. I'm already plotting and planning, designing and drafting, and generally excited about next year!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Finds - Anomalous

I am preparing, once again, to enter the strange  strange world of Anomaly Con! Each year the costumes get better, the mustache contest gets wilder, and there are more and more great panels. (Anthropology of Mythical Monsters, anyone?)

In honor of another fantastic year, here's Mme. Vonklank's Top Six Anomalies.

An ACEO, the modern carte-de-visite, by AlteredHead 
A magnificent image of Annie Jones and her lovely beard, reproduced by FringePop
A wee cephalopodic friend, jarred with care by TinplateStudios
A visit from Madam Spirit, practitioner of occult arts, image by DecayedPixels
A sweet little anomaly, made by AnomalyJewelry. 
The sixth Anomaly? It is the fact that only these Five Anomalies exist. I hope to see some of my local steampunk friends this weekend! To the Con we go...

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Renewing Light - Eggshell Candles

 Spring is the time for renewal, for rebirth, for regeneration. Many ancient peoples saw the symbols of the cycle as snakes - shedding their skins; and eggs, holding the potential for new life within. As the celebrations of a new spring season morphed from honoring Eoster, Freya, Idunn and other Goddesses of fertility and new life into the Christian Easter celebration of a literally reborn son/sun; the use of eggs for the holiday continued. Sensable, really, as this is the time of year that poultry begin to lay eggs again anyway.

The last two years I've made eggshell candles, simple and neat. It takes almost no special preparation or skills, three ingredients, and only the time required to melt the wax. I've been collecting wax bits from the bottom of tea lights and candle ends for at least a year, this picture only captures the first of them! As the wax melted I emptied all the little tins into the pot. (Those metal circles are usually aluminum, so they can be recycled.)
 I always keep my egg shells to give back to my egg provider (like a drug dealer, only tastier), the chickens happily eat the old shells and produce stronger eggs. I went through a few cases and picked out the halves that were large and sturdy, I also chose a variety of colors.
 The hot wax was spooned into the shells, filling each one as high as possible. The wax happens to be red from some red candle ends used, but wax is easily colored by adding an old crayon to the mix.

 I cut the wick string into short pieces, and dipped each piece in wax. Any cotton fiber twine will work if well soaked in wax, but official wicking is inexpensive and quite superior.

After the Wax has begun to harden slightly, and a small film forms on top, the wick is stuck through and pushed to the bottom. If the wax is too soft the wicks sink off to one side. If it is too hard it will be tough to push the wick down.
Ta-da! The wax gets quite a bit lighter as it hardens, so don't be afraid to use plenty of color for a brilliant candle if you want it. These make great crafts for kids, or craft loving adults. The shells can be decorated for added excitement! They are also perfect for outside spaces, as they are entirely biodegradable.

Enjoy your Equinox, welcome to spring!