Thursday, 29 August 2013

I Feel a New Series Coming on, Drawings and Beginning a New Refashion

birds on sea rocks
Brunswick Heads
I dreamt of mermaids last week and woke with the remnants of inspiration in the ethers. My friend and I had already planned one of our artists' dates where she photographs and I take photos and draw. We had been talking of driving inland, but synchronicity was in the air and we both wanted to find tide pools.

Our beaches aren't really the tide pool kind. But we did find a few shallow puddles inbetween some beautiful rocks with plenty of seabirds.
sea rocks and sea bird
Brunswick Heads by the wall
A pretty archetypal scene for mermaids. Isn't the colour of the water amazing?

On a sadder note but still on the inspiration theme, a few days later this poor bird killed itself with a crash against our window. 

drawing a dead bird
drawing the bird my window killed
This was my way of saying 'sorry' and 'I love you'. And also it was a chance to draw a bird which I am grateful for.

possible mermaid inspiration
Later in the week more possible mermaid settings. I like the bit gloomier setting, and there were a multitude of birds flying around those trees.

art journal background for class
Birds were a bit of a theme this week. An art journal background I did in preparation for my class. A combination of gesso resist, masking and stencilling. 

Alabama Chanin inspiration
And finally, a new refashion project. I thought I would try a t-shirt with a seam down the front and back. I had to do some changes on the pattern as I didn't want it that low in the front or in the back.
five men's blue t-shirts
thrifted men's t-shirts
Here is the starting point. Which shirts will I use?
men's t-shirts cut to a new pattern
newest refashion beginning
I went for these three. It will be interesting to see if I can make the half logo work.

morning walk
I took a few photos on my morning walk. This is the 'tame' side of the road. Most of the forest has been cut down for grazing land many years ago.

morning walk, tame side of the road
morning walk, wild side of the road
We live on the edge of the rainforest. Our place was originally in a cow paddock but we have planted nearly 10,000 trees to extend this forest. Now we are part of it, and the land we 'own' extends miles into  this hillside. It is not easy to get there.

pen and ink study of hair
Hair study, pen and ink drawing
I impulsively spent the morning drawing this hair study, not sure why. But when I shared it on my facebook page, Sharon suggested it as a good hairstyle for a mermaid. Perfect! You have to trust these impulses, they take you new places. 

So that was some of my creative week. What have you been up to?



Thursday, 22 August 2013

How Inefficient Creativity Really Is or the Pink T-Shirt Refashion

I tell my students "creativity is not efficient". It is not about getting things right the first time (or second or third or sometimes ever.) Which is not a bad thing. The journey is fun, it is often better than what you end up with. And while that may sound bad in an results-oriented culture like ours, it really really isn't.

This is a rather long tale of my most recently finished refashion. I understand if you don't want to go on the entire journey. But keep in mind, this is about more than taking some thrifted t-shirts and making them into a refashioned t-shirt, it is also about a creative journey.

Thrifted t-shirts ready to be resewn
initial inspiration for pink t-shirt refashion
It began with the thrifted t-shirts above. I had the luck to find 3 pink t-shirts that were the same colour (the third one I didn't need so isn't in the photo). The hot pink t on the left is my main focus. It has a Pooh logo (yes the bear) embroidered on the front. The rainforest grey-green t-shirt is a poop colour, but out of the softest organic cotton. My original idea was a double-layered Alabama Chanin inspired t-shirt, pink on the outside, poo colour on the inside. A reverse appliqué to bring the grey onto the pink front and therefore subvert some of the pink Pooh sweetness.

I had decided at this point that the Pooh logo would be on the back rather than the front.

I was going for the Alabama Chanin t-shirt with a seam down the front and the back. I had recut the pattern to have a higher neckline and different armholes so that I could add sleeves to it.

My first problem. When I cut out the green underlayer there was no way to avoid the rainforest rescue stencilled logo. If it had been on the outside I would have just kept it (a rather nice parrot) but on the inside it was going to be scratching against my skin. Disappointing but I had to drop the second layer.

At this time I also decided to go back to the t-shirt style I have done before, the one without a seam down the front and back.

drawing on pink refashion
I still wanted to use some of the poo colour because I actually really like it with the pink. I love neutrals with brights. Also I still had to tone down the Pooh pink sweetness for me to wear it.
Pooh lives in a forest right? So what about some trees? I drew these on with a fabric marker.

appliqued and embroidered trees on a t-shirt
Embroidering in the tree trunks

I went ahead with some appliqué with the grey-green t-shirt fabric, and then the trunks were too faint. Here I am embroidering them in. 

Hand sewn shoulder seams
Hand-sewn shoulder seams

It is all put together by hand-sewing. This is one of the reasons I love doing these refashions, I love hand-sewing. For some reason I love hand-sewing but not embroidery. I can't figure that one out.


The front and the back with the shoulder seams sewn up.
Yes Pooh is a bit slanted. I decided to go with the selvage when I cut it out instead of keeping the logo straight. I am not sure I would make that same decision again. 

Sleeve options
Sorry about the blurry photo. 
I am deciding which colour of sleeves to go with. It seemed obvious to me once I put them up. 


Most of the seams are sewn twice. I hand-sew the seam, then felt and topstitch the seam down. I like the way it looks and I want to make it stronger as I don't have the same faith in the strength of my hand-sewn seams as I would with machine sewn. That probably isn't deserved as the hand-sewing is done with thicker than normal and doubled thread.

I could only get one sleeve out of each t-shirt so it was good that I had two matching pink t-shirts.

Both sleeves attached
My next drama has to do with the t-shirt not being long enough. The torso being too short was a cutting decision that I made so I would have enough dark pink fabric from the main t-shirt to make the neck binding from. I didn't want the apricot pink next to my face because it doesn't look good on me.

I love the way you can control stuff like that when you are making your own clothes.

Where can I cut the bottoms from?

The trouble is, I don't have enough red fabric left to extend the bottom of both the front and the back. Here I am seeing if I can get another bottom bit out of what is left from one of the sleeve t-shirts. I finally managed to get enough out of the left one which turned out to be a slightly larger size. Happy days. 


Testing out how it will look. I decide to put the pink on the front and the red in the back. Why? Because there is less contrast with the red and I am hoping it will bring less attention to my generous *ahem* bottom.

Pink refashioned t-shirt

Here it is sewn on. I like it.

This goes on and on, doesn't it? No wonder this has taken me ages to finish. 
I don't really mind though.



I feel like the front needs something a little further up. I find a great illustration of Pooh with the bees.

This could be good, but I have to draw it right the first time. I don't know of any way to get the pen out if I mess it up.

applique, embroidery and drawing

Phew, I was successful. 


Pinning the neckline binding on to sew.

Pink refashioned t-shirt
Pink Pooh Refashioned T-shirt

Finally it is finished. Not too bad, still very pink even with the appliqué  and brown stitching. I do have moods where I want to wear pink so that should be okay. 

pink refashioned t-shirt
Pink Pooh Refashioned T-shirt

 And the back.

I have to say photographing myself wearing my refashion is one of my least favourite parts. I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't get the t-shirt over my mannequin's shoulders once the side seams were sewn - so I couldn't use it for the model. Damn.

pink refashioned t-shirt

I added this one at the end because the light is better than in the one where I am wearing it.

Now the one question I try not to ask myself is: Was it worth it? This particular t-shirt may not be worth the time I put into it. But creating it brought me a lot of pleasure, and who knows where what I learned making it might bring me to? 



Monday, 12 August 2013

Painting Inspiration. but not so much Refashioning this Week


I went on an outing with my good friend the photographer this week. She took me to this very special beach. It may not look like much in this photo, but that is the fault of my camera. The magic didn't show up in my photos (so disappointing.) 

There were thousands and thousands of tiny blue soldier crabs on this beach. As you walk towards them, they and run away in small masses. They also quickly dig underneath the sand to hide. ( I wonder why they are called soldier crabs, they were sensitive and timid.)

Fortunately the video I took of a small group in the water came out. 

If anyone knows how to make the videos larger in blogger, I would love to know.



We also walked around to another beach where my friend rushed ahead, intent on taking photos of the seabirds.


I was content to stay under the tree and do a little drawing. The photo was pretty hopeless so it was a good thing that I did. I also find that drawing helps me to internalise what I am seeing.

drawing of tree roots in a sketchbook
Sketchbook drawing

Later in the week I returned to town to teach a private student.

Handmade stamps
Handmade stamps from ezicarve
We did some stamp making using Ezicarve. It is a lot like carving into linoleum, but softer to work with. I am making a small series of beetle stamps for printing onto my refashions.

Path leading to a beach
Pathway to the beach
Afterwards I went for a walk at a nearby beach to regenerate my energy before life drawing. 


It is the end of winter in Australia, so I wasn't going into the water.

beach in winter

Not too crowded for a sunny Saturday.
Then off to my friend's studio for some drawing from a model.


She was an excellent model. Life drawing is a time for me just to draw, not worrying too much about what it looks like. They are studies rather than finished drawings.


I don't have a lot to show in the refashioning department. I am hand sewing up the arm and side seams. Then I just have the neck to go and I think I am done.

I enjoy the hand-sewing but I think I might pull out the sewing machine as well.








Monday, 5 August 2013

Art and Refashion during the Week


I thought we might start with where we left off form last week, with the angora and cotton t-shirt refashion. If you want to see earlier stages, go here and the very beginning here

It began with a pullover top where I loved the fabric but hated the sweatshirt shape. I recut it with an Alabama Chanin pattern found in the book Alabama Studio Sewing and Design. The above is my third time at trying to find a stencil pattern that I like and think will work with this top.

stencilling on a refashioned t-shirt

Here is the top, after stencilling. I know the grey piecing on the sleeves must seem a little random. I didn't have enough fabric in the original shirt, hence the grey. I am still trying to integrate it. I might do that with some grey appliqué over the stencilling. Or I could add it with more circle crosses. What do you think?

stencilling on a refashioned pullover

And here is the back. I haven't sewn up the sides or the sleeves yet. I am doing it all with hand-sewing so it is a bit slow. I like the cross on the sleeve.

I was originally thinking it could be cool to have extra-long sleeves with thumbholes, but I have gone off that idea and so now need to shorten them. 


Here is a little mother wallaby who has been around our place a lot lately. She has a joey (a baby) in her pouch. Occasionally he pops out and has a jump around. If you startle him he will run and jump back in. So cute.

partly done watercolor painting of a girl with seagulls
watercolour in process by Zom Osborne

In the studio, I managed to fix up the watercolour painting that was partly eaten by bugs. She is actually a bit further along than this, but I haven't taken another photo yet.

Byron Main Beach on a cloudy winter's day
Byron Bay Main Beach

I did get to the beach one day this week. Winter is a beautiful time where I live in Australia; the days can reach the mid-70's. This day wasn't so warm, but cloudy days are lovely in their own way.

I found the half-submerged tree interesting. Possible future painting idea?


And I also ran across this intriguing structure someone had made. I wanted to stay and draw it, but the sky was starting to spit.

Before I let you go, do you have the patience for another refashion? This one I shared the beginnings of a few weeks ago. 


It is made from 3 thrifted t-shirts. I embroidered the tree appliqués a few weeks ago. I am considering drawing the little illustration of Pooh with his balloon above the trees - the back of the refashion has a Pooh embellishment from the original t-shirt. 


Here I am sewing up the sides and sleeves. I am hoping to have this one finished soon. Maybe by next week.