4.24.2011

Pysanky : D

When I was a kid, I loved flipping through a mega rad book called Back To Basics. One of the projects it describes is how to make traditional Pysanka, which are Ukrainian dyed Spring eggs. It basically works by using a tiny funnel on a stick that's filled with melted wax and you write on a raw egg. Once you dye it, the areas covered by wax will stay white. When you draw on the dyed egg and dip it again, the areas you covered the second time will remain the first color you dyed it and you continue that way to make a pattern. When it's finished, you melt the wax off next to a candle and wipe it clean.

Sooooo... when I was a child I read that and thought "yeaaaaaah, too much work." Now I'm a bit older, however, and it's always been one of those things I wanted to have the patience to do and I recently made some with my family! Yay. Go us. :3



This is my brother sketching out his design.


Here is my sis writing on her egg with an old fashioned kistka.

As I'm sure you could imagine, figuring out how to work with the wax was pretty hard. Not only did you have to get used to working with a totally new tool, but how to get the wax the right temperature. Too hot and it would flow out too fast and make blobs, but too cool and it would get hard again and need re-melting over a candle.



The dyes are super intense and, as I understand it, kind of toxic. I'm not really into working with that sort of thing, but I don't know that there's a replacement for them with the same intensity.


Here's my other sis melting her wax off.



Taaaaa....d.... Okay, this is my shame egg.

My first egg came out terribly. XD Laughably terrible, actually. But I'm okay with that. I believe in that saying that to be a good artist, you must first allow yourself to be a bad one. If anything, it was actually a little exciting because working with a kistka and wax was so totally foreign and it was neat being in new territory... It really is terrible, though. XDD




We had so many people who wanted to make pysanky that we needed some extra tools to cut down on waiting time so we picked up a couple more from our bookstore. They were styled more like this and were amaaaaaaazing! The wood and wire kistka was a lot more difficult to regulate temperature with. The cup is made of a funelled metal, so the tip was a little irregular, but this kind with the plastic handle is really well formed and it made all of our hyper wobbly lines and clunky wax improve immediately.




My next eggs were much less crappy, but I think what was more important is that with the kistkas being easier to work with it felt more like something I could enjoy doing rather than something I was fighting to get through without the risk of suddenly screwing the whole thing up because of wax problems.

Even though Easter is over, I'm still working on them and practicing because I really hoped to learn it so I could send one to a friend and then the list started growing with friends and family I wanted to make them for. I think it's going to take a while to keep practicing and to make them all. Apparently, in the Ukraine, a family used would give out 60 or something to their family and neighbors. Crap. I think I'm at... like... four? But I really like eggs as an art medium, like when I use them for drilling. I don't know that I'd call myself an egg artist or anything, but the more I learn about egg-related arts, the more I find out there's a geeky underworld of egg artists and it makes me wonder what other kinds of arts people might do with them.



Yay, eggs!

4.16.2011

Body Forms and Ikebana

When I first started hosting game night at my house, I started them all out really easy. I think there were probably some sodas involved. Very likely chips as well. It's been a few weeks, however, and so I've slowly worn them down.



Oh yeah, I went there. Tablecloth and tea.


My new FANTABULOUS body form (of doom)::


Yesterday I got something I'm super stoked on. Remember how I said I wanted to make some cute skirts? Well even though gathered rectangle skirts are relatively easy to do, not everything I want to make is so easy. Ideally I'd love to make some Tasha Tudor inspired dresses in a nice, airy cotton that are sturdy and straight forward.


Doesn't every photo of her make you want to swear off electricity forever and go outside? D:

I'm going to be using some patterns from Sensibility to make my own cotton dresses. I'm going to be using either Regency (with the modified necklines) or the Georgian pattern (drawstring, not structured.)


Regency


Georgian

I've already gotten my patterns (they're quite large, as well! In 8x11 envelopes, rather than the usual packet size from the fabric shop) but for something like this, I feel it's time to move into body form territory.


Booyah.

But wait.......




HULLO.


Yes, in case nobody has heard of this kind before, this is a "Uniquely You" foam body form. I don't know how anyone fits themselves. And I'd never really heard much good about traditional amateur forms with their dials and such so I decided to try this kind, especially since I've been having body size flux and continuing to lose weight slowly over the months. Why does that matter?


Uhhhhhhhh...

This kind of body form takes an overly exaggerated figure (no, really, so says the instructions.) and includes a sort of cloth casing that you put onto your body and have tailored very snugly to your own figure.


Then you're meant to struggle it back on and it compresses the foam to "your" shape for a supposedly perfect match. So that means, if you change size, all you need do is re-adjust the cover and the form will change with you! Yays! But let me tell you all... you have not lived until you've tried to reach in and shove foam bewbs that large into a fabric sausage casing. That was... interesting.

So... I'm going to have to get some help fitting the case and I'll have to update on how it works in a few months.



Ikebana Adventurrrrr!


My kid is not big on toys. She has her favorites-mainly stuffed animals, books, and blocks-but apart from those items, she really isn't big into toys as much as wants to play with things that -do- things. With that in mind, I've started a collection of activity based toys (such as our day painting outside) that I can store in a shoe organizer, with the ones she can do alone on bottom and the ones she needs help with on top.


It's not really that impressive yet, but we'll just give it some time and see how it works out (and how it fills out, too!)


Supplies::

  • watering can
  • scissors or clippers (optional)
  • vase or small jar
  • notebook or one piece of paper
  • pencil
  • basket or container




I threw together this flower arranging kit after drooling over this set by Montessori Services, which was adorable as can be with its doilies and apron and such... but Flora is only turning two this month and, at 53$, I thought I could put together one a little less flashy for less. It's a little more about the broad function than the details at this age, I think.

Indeed, considering I used items from my house for the most part and only went out of my way to buy the vase for 1.50$ from the thrift store, I'd call this pretty inexpensive! Maybe when she's a touch older she might better appreciate kid-sized scissors and doilies and special gloves, but not right now. XD

OPT. STEP ONE::
I wanted to fiddle around with some scrap paper and make my own books and pencils sheath for the kit, even though they were very casually constructed. But maybe if your kid is older, you might want them to have a chance to make their own book. The ones I made are really simple.

Simply take a paper (mine is cardstock from a file folder) and fold it into quarters. Cut open the two folded peaks nearly to the edge, but stop a fraction of an inch from the crease so they're still slightly attached and it will make a two second booklet of any rectangle or square paper you like. Nothing to write home about, but I remember loving being able to "make a book" when I was a kid, so it has its uses!

STEP TWO::
Gather your materials into a basket or bucket so you won't go juggling everything while you're on a walk. You might want to consider two baskets if your kid is old enough to carry one. One for the flowers for them, one for the supplies for you... or leave your supplies at a work station, take your walk, and return to your station to arrange.

STEP THREE::
Go adventuring and stuff! D:




We found lots of Plumeria on the ground. Flora's first choice 'find' was a dead leaf. So who knows, your scissors or clippers may be totally optional- or you might want to leave them out on purpose if you prefer to collect only 'found' items and not cut anything.


We found some neat stuff and pointed out "baby leaves" or "flowers" or "bug" and whatever else she might know the name of.



Felt around on different textures... you know, stuff like that.


We've been growing clover, so that was especially fun for her to have watered them for the past few weeks and then get to pick a few for her vase.


STEP FOUR::
Add water.




STEP FIVE::
Select the flowers to be used




STEP SIX::
The obvious one.





(Some flowers ended up in particularly creative locations.)


DONE! :D 


After all the flower arranging, it actually started raining so Flora ran off to get messy and I decided to record her first flower arrangement in her memory book. ...This is where the notebook you made or tucked in before comes in handy if you haven't already chosen to use it to sketch sights out "in the field". Which, for us, is the back yard so... :3



See the rain?


Now?




Tada and stuff! : D



Everything, apart from her vase of flowers, of course, got tucked back into the little shoe organizer cubby it came from in the first place. I really like these kinds of activities with kids because they're part play, part learning, and part open exploration. I feel like she's happier when she's having a chance to do things she can get her hands in that feel like 'real grown-up things' and then it's fun for me to see the way she approaches the activities changes with age.




The end : D


Are there any kinds of fun idea tips you could give me for the purpose of filling out my activity cubbies?

4.15.2011

On childish art and name changes

When I started my business, hmmm, somewhere in the neighborhood of six or seven years ago, I wasn't really sure what to call it. I loved the imagery of the catchphrase I often use ("Wear Nature"), but it seemed clunky as a business name. I think the first product tags I ever made were little folded over pieces of computer paper on a thin .99 per spool ribbon with the name "Meander" impressed on them via a stamp I carved on an eraser. I had my first retail account and proudly delivered my order to the little shop that was picking me up, but I didn't use the name for long. It just seemed a little lacking somehow.

Eventually I settled on "Meandrous" because it described the feel of what I liked to make and also included my name, which I thought was sort of... well, actually I wasn't sure if it'd seem egotistical, but my sister convinced me that artists incorporate their names into their business titles all the time. XD "MeandrousArt" became an easy online moniker for obvious reasons, however, after staring at variations of "Meandrous" and "MeandrousArt" for years, I guess I was just kind of getting itchy for a change.


You may now notice that I've changed the name of this blog to "... with lilacs in her hair ...". My favorite creation to date is a headdress I made of paper roses on wood wrapped wire...



So when I decided to name the blog, I was picturing a pretty, sunny crown of twigs and lilacs. Maybe I can make something like that one day. I looove lilacs! Although I was hesitant to choose lilacs as the flower because I work primarily with roses, I decided to go 'meh'. It makes me feel all cuddly inside when I read it. Don't get me wrong, I love the smell of roses and I love working with them as an art statement, but there's something about the scent of lilacs that wins me over. Maybe even more than any other flower.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the name change. I'm sure I'll be changing the blog theme shortly to reflect the name change. I guess I kind of jumped the gun there... XD bear with me and I'll sort out a new look soon. <3



On to art and all, I have to say that it's been really easy to do projects for Flora lately because they're so easy and quick and playful. I think that's what I'm really craving right now. I just want to make things that feel like toys but that don't really take a lot of time or mental investment. Do you ever feel that way? Like you want to just fiddle around with crayons and dime toys and glitter and screw being an adult?





I remember tracing my outline when I was a kid. It was fun to use doing it on her as an excuse to be indulgent with a few hours and tape together scrap pages and then color and lay on the ground for a while.





I can't really call her an excuse to punch cute shapes into food because I don't think she's old enough to notice. But things like this are the kind of thing I love doing right now even if it doesn't really accomplish much or contribute to business somehow. ....


...Although these eggs took a little practice to get right, but once you do they're cute! Scrambled egg, layered with spinach and a bit of veggie cheese, then rolled up into a log, then more egg down and a layer of salsa and rolled up into a bigger loaf. Slice into oblong slices, cut diagonally, and rearrange into a heart. Did that make sense? Ah well.





Flora's room has been a bit of a white box for a while, especially because I decorated it with the papers from her birthday party. I wanted to bring in some color.




It's not a designer bedroom by any means and has toys littered all over, but I figured by bringing in a few recurring colors and playing them up, it could look at least more cohesive, if nothing else.


She seemed stoked about playing with yarn so I made her a heart garland to frame her kitchen. Tutorial was from :: Skip To My Lou



I made her some so so cute puffy balls and accordion lanterns. I think even if the puff balls go out of vogue, I will still make them and stick them everywhere. I just LOVE how much super cute fun these bring to rooms.



I also decided that I should take the sorry looking modular wardrobe I have for her and do something cute to it and then give it a good reorganization because it's kind of... you know. Drab and filled with random bits of things she shoves in the cubbies with no order. Blah.



So I was like... yeah... goddamnit, I'm going to paint this thing! I poured myself a glass of wine and sketched an image that mimicked a piece of wrapping paper I liked and got to it.



The first line was wobbly and black when I realised that nothing in her room is black at all.



It's basically red, pink, or green.



So red it was! While I finished the outline that day, I still need to go over the outline again to get better coverage and then fill it in. Since I was craving 'easy and fun and playful' kind of projects, this one started to feel a little... well... painstaking, so it got slightly abandoned. I'm sure I'll pick it up sooner or later and finish. When I saw it coming together I felt the strong desire to just paint mad all over a wall and make a big mural like this. I've never been much of a painter or had much experience in it, so it's kind of fun.





Then there was the fun flower painting project she and I did a little while back... You know, it's all been a lot of fun doing things for Flora and seeing how she's getting old enough to enjoy activities with me and getting her hands into stuff... but I kind of want to do things for me too, you know? So, I thought, if I could do something playful and fun that got me excited, what would I do?




Well, I think the first problem with feeling lighthearted and playful is that my studio looks like this right now. I know, right? All that work I did to make a cute, airy studio, it's kind of fallen apart. Humidity is killer in Hawaii and I just got a new bike and trailer for the kid and I to go peddling around on chores in and I don't want to leave it outside or, before I know it, it'll be a big pile of rust. My studio is the only place I can really fit it very well, which I understand having to do. But the stuff all over the table? It's terrible.


It's even spilling onto my counters outside of the studio- balancing on tea boxes and obscuring the cups.


Is it my artistic streak lending to disorder or am I just lazy about cleaning up after myself? It seems like I regularly get everything piled up and then need to do a big overhaul.

Whatever the problem is, it's hard to feel energetic about making cute things when you're working in this, so I decided, goddamnit again, I was going to clean up a bit and then make something fun and lighthearted if it killed me! >.>;;




While cleaning I found some cool stuff I forgot about, like this box. Ooooh, cute, mini, organized box of mobile charm making parts. Cuuuuuute.



I also found some things I love and had to get rid of. This was BY FAR my very favorite Hello Kitty design ever produced by Sanrio but... remember that thing I said about humidity? Well, the case is just trashy looking now, sadly. x...x I loved it, but I got rid of it.



By now it was about 1.30 am and I was feeling crazy tired and couldn't manage a smile that wasn't dorky so I stuck my tongue out and called it good. I found this old mini hat I made and decided to keep it. I made it to sell waaaaay way back when I opened my Etsy shop. I didn't really know what Steampunk or Neo Victorian were then, which is probably what I should have tagged this hat with, but I'd tagged it as Lolita so it never really sold. Knowing what I know about alt fashions now, I can see why selling it as a Loli design is kind of a stretch for most common Loli styles but I just didn't get that at the time. I liked the colors and liked some of the ideas in Lolita style and tried to make something I thought could reflect that and figured there might be some Loli out there who dug it but after it didn't sell for a few rotations I just took it off and it sat around in a box for four years as a lesson in understanding how to tag your items for the appropriate demographic. After finding it again during the cleaning, I kind of thought, hey, screw it. I love this hat and I think that it's a sign that I should just keep the little bastard! 






Anywho, I cleaned not until it was all done... because it WAS one thirty, remember. I'm also very ADD about stuff and I was running out of focus. I got a third of the table cleared, however.






It was enough that I could just focus on the little bits of it that -were- ordered and the kind of random collections I've tucked up there to inspire me. It seemed so pleasant again (as long as I cropped my vision as well as I cropped this photo) that it made me want to finish the table. You know... after sleep anyway.


I like my studio, you know? It's not the most perfectly organized place, or even the most colorful place. But it's a nice combination of arranged and... how do you say? Lived in? As much as my heart flutters at the stark perfection of magazine homes, I think a little bit of clutter now and then that makes it look like someone lives there makes me feel comfortable. It's not visually more satisfying than perfection, sure. But it feels more homey, I think.








So next on the order was something playful. But I also needed it to be simple. Not only did I want it to be pure fun and pure easy, but it was getting late and I'd been determined I would do this. Kind of counterintuitive of playfulness, huh? Whatever. SO! I got out this kind of ugly ass plastic mushroom someone gave me a bundle of that I didn't quite know what I could do with, but that looked way to retro and quirky to turn down. I've always -wanted- to use them for something, but I wasn't sure how I could ever use them in a way that wasn't tacky. Still, I wanted to try. Today seemed like a good day. Er... good early A.M.










Since I was already going balls out with the plastic mushroom, I decided I'd use some aged netting type stuff I'd gotten for another project. And some riiiibbon maybe... meeeeh. I was like, yeah, I'll just keep throwing shit on here! This is fun! Yays!  I did a little hand sewing on it because I actually find that pretty relaxing.










So then I'm looking at this pile of wooden beads and abandoned buttons and plastic mushroom and I'm kinda like...... ".... Do I like this? Or is this the product of a crazy determination to make things at 2 in the morning?" Then I was like... "You know what this needs?"








Yeah. It needed a sprig of crystals. And not just any crystals, but crystals that I glued on. I was kind of laughing at this point because, in a way, it's definitely "me". I mean, I can see my aesthetic in it for sure... but I wasn't really sure about it. It was riding the edge between quirky cute and "take that dumb mushroom off and it'll be fine" and I still don't really know on what side of the fence it falls.

Finally I decided to go to bed and let the glue dry and face it in the morning, just glad I did something kinda lighthearted, regardless of the final  feel of it.











In the morning I popped it on and took a photo in my bathroom. Then I looked at the camera and said "Wow, I can see a sloppy towel on the rack. That's rock star." So I left and tried it again.






This time I thought "Well, okay, now you cut off the top of the clip. At least now it'll help compare in the question of whether or not the mushroom is funny or just funny looking." Taking pictures of the side of your head is hard.










I think that, while I really wanted to feel all excited and liberated doing something sort of childish and without caring about having to make something perfect, I didn't really end up feeling that way. XD Maybe it was the way I set out TO DO something and the determination I had that I WAS GOING TO RELAX AND DO SOMETHING FUN GAAAAAAAAAAAH... or what, but I kind of missed just doing what I usually do. I really do like taking the time to work on something that's sort of delicate and balanced and working on its details until it feels just right. And I often want to create things that feel more frivolous or playful, but my style is really just a little more detail and accent-oriented and I don't think I should fight that so much. I mean, I tried to make a simple, cute, plastic mushroom hairclip and ended up with a vintage component fascinator with crystals and ribbon... and then a little plastic mushroom. : P

Maybe it's a metaphor. n...n;;;







So, what do you think? Is it cute and precocious with the crazy mushroom or is my id telling me to chill tfo and just do what feels right instead of what I think I should think feels right? ... or am I overthinking it because I'm up at 2 am again and getting rummy? XD