Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sneaking up to Santa Time

I'm at that slightly frustrating time in the making calendar for someone who loves to blog. It's nearly Christmas. I'm doing lots of making, but it's mainly for gifts. And I hate to spoil the surprise for my friends. At the same time I don't like to leave a blank here either. So I guess I'll post the occasional sneak peak.
This migrated from my knitting needles to my blocking board this morning, via a warm soak in the bathroom basin. Tomorrow I'm hoping to turn it into its final form.
Just to complicate matters, it seems that either my computer or my internet connection doesn't want to play nicely this morning. So I may need to shift my focus there. That's not nearly as much fun as making gifts!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Bonus and a Challenge

I had a market yesterday at Sussex Neighbourhood House. I've done several markets recently--since doing the Make Craft Your Business course. I still have lots to learn and decisions to make about where I want to go with my textile art. Being out and about with my work is one of the best aspects of a market for me. I love to interact with people about my craft and to see how they respond to my work.
Yesterday's market brought an unexpected bonus. I came home with this dress manequin.
I've been wanting a manequin for a couple of reasons. If I'm going to sell my work online, I need a way of photographing it in context. A live model would be ideal. A dummy is the next best thing. As I discovered while trying to snap this pic, even finding a suitable spot in my house without too much background clutter is a challenge. And I'd like this to tone in with the other display props I've been making for myself. So at the very least I'm thinking I'll cover it with calico.
Then there's a question of body image and reality. That's a much bigger challenge--in more ways than one. One of the reasons this manequin was on offer is that she's quite a small size. I measured the waist and bust when I got home. I don't think I've ever been that size as an adult--never!
An obvious use for a dress manequin is to assist in dressmaking. But that's no use unless the manequin's shape and my body shape bear some resemblance to each other. Even if I'm only going to use it for display purposes, I don't want to fall into the trap of portraying an impossible body as an ideal. So the reality of this slim form is going to have to be fleshed out somehow.
I don't have a plan yet, but I have some ideas. I'm thinking of bubble wrap as a first layer. That will keep it light. Then maybe a some quilt wadding offcuts and some old clothes to give me a layer that's good for taking pins. I'll finish it off with a stitched calico shell. Hopefully that will give me a neat finish. I don't have any markets for the next month or two, so I guess I just found myself a challenge to keep me busy. 

Edited to add:
I've just found this tutorial and am adding it here for future reference. It sounds as though the critical issue is that the dress form should be smaller than me. So I'm off to a good start.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Exploring and Translating

I'm not a great traveller. I have grown up in an increasingly multi-cultural nation, in a family where English was a second language. So I am familiar with the challenges, oddities and impossibilities of translation. As an artist I'm forever exploring new territory--resorting to sign language where necessary in my attempts to understand and be understood.

This term I've had a bit more of a chance to explore working with clay. One of the local Neighbourhood Houses offered a one-off workshop to make clay beads. It went so well, that an ongoing class grew out of it. It's a whole new world for me. I'm intrigued by the possibilities. This morning I needed to unwind. And I had a bit of porcelain clay waiting on my table.

I made this.
I started off with a basic pinch-pot. Then I thinned out one side of the bowl a bit more. The pleats came next. Unlike fabric, clay doesn't easily form a crisp fold. Next I shaped the other side of the bowl, then worked the lower part to the point that I hope it will be translucent when fired.  I fiddled and refined as much as I could, never quite sure when communication between myself and my chosen medium would break down completely. I think we're still on speaking terms.
I'm happy with what I've managed to form. I can see things that could be improved, but am not confident enough to push it any further just yet. My plan is to bring this to class next week and see what the teacher has to suggest. If it survives the firing process, I'm planning to use it to hold a candle. Now there's something I couldn't say nearly so well in my usual language of textiles.