Friday, January 23, 2009

Creating a Quilt

No, I have not suddenly learned to sew in any sort of competent or artistic fashion. But I did track down the information for my (now expired) substitute teacher's license, as well as the forms for getting it reactivated. I have an appointment this afternoon to swing by the site of my most favorite teaching experience ever (high school English, with the assignment being The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock) and have them attest that they'd like me back. Luckily, in Wisconsin all you need for a 3 year substitute teacher certificate is a bachelor's degree in something (anything, really), a school willing to say that they might give you an assignment someday, and the wherewithal to go through the background check. Oh, and $100 for the license.
I have also followed up with several tentative leads for website photography, and am doing some loss-leader portrait work this Sunday. I've also got a line on 2 art shows which might include my work, and will be discussing the possibility of teaching a Saturday morning class on outdoor portrait photography.
Farmer's market will be coming up again before we know it, so I'm laying in supplies of knitted goods and rethinking my display strategy. I want to be able to show larger prints on a vertical surface, so Rick and I are thinking about creating a Z-shaped stand-up floor display from some vintage screen doors and a couple of piano hinges. (We'll see if it works.) And I need to figure out how to make some display bins, rather than paying the big bucks such things command online. I like the idea of using recycled materials, and I think I want to paint it all barn red (which should work well, since Rick tells me he accidentally dusted my market canopy with red paint while working on his car in the garage).
In addition to the much discussed photography and knitting, I think I've convinced Rick to teach me to weld. We've got the equipment, and Lord knows we've got enough left-over car parts sitting around, so I may try my hand at welding yard art sculptures for the market. And I bought a book yesterday on mosaics - I've always been curious about it, and there was a woman at the Port Washington Market a few times who did really well with just a few basic mirror pieces. Lots of opportunities for recycling!
And in addition to Lay Academy (which has me in DeForest again this weekend), I've begun the process to be licensed as a lay minister for this summer. I've been asked to cover for our regular minister while he's on sabbatical for 3 months, and licensing will allow me to administer communion to shut-ins and perform the sacraments in case of emergency. So suddenly I have 10 separate preaching assignments and a bunch of homework coming up!
Dan told me a while back that it's not always necessary to find a job that pays x, if you can instead find 6 jobs that you like and that each pay x/6. We'll see.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Deus Ex Machina (or not)

If you're an English Major (or read a certain Isaac Asimov story repeatedly at an impressionable age), you've familiar with the term deus ex machina. It means, more or less, automatic miracle: the cowboys are huddled in the back of a shack riddled with bullet holes, with the crooked sheriff and his bloodthirsty mob of a posse about to set fire to the building - when a flying saucer darts out of the sky unexpectedly, stunning the bad guys with its ray gun and beaming the good guys to safety. Completely unexpected, more than a bit implausible, and having the effect of fixing problems in a way which is not particularly sensitive to the flow of the story.

So anyway, our hero (that would be me) is faced with a challenge: she is about to lose her job, is inevitably concerned about the change in circumstances and income, and is presented with a series of challenges and options. She worries. She considers. She does some math. She frets. She makes some inquiries. Suddenly, she gets a call from a local law firm! Two attorneys have contacted them, singing her praises and insisting that she must be hired! They want to meet her, and when they do, the interview goes great! Her worries are unfounded and she's going to walk into a new position without a hiccup, and possibly even a raise! And then . . . the letter comes to say they've hired someone "more suited to their immediate needs." It seems that nobody is going to swoop unexpectedly out of the heavens and rescue me dramatically from my current situation; instead, I'm going to have to deal with it myself.
I did what most people would do in my situation - I ate some chocolate. And then I took my camera for a walk.

Meanwhile, I very much enjoyed the "We Are One" concert on Sunday, even if I did think the structure of the Tom Hanks piece was a bit odd. Bettye La Vette and Jon Bon Jovi's duet of the old Sam Cooke tune, A Change Is Gonna Come, was fabulous. And I was extremely moved by the inauguration ceremony itself - which probably means that I am excessively empathetic, since (as a white girl from the burbs who has never worried about being limited by her racial background) it's not like I had a huge private stake in the election of an African-American president. But I will always and forever be moved to tears by the sight of large crowds waving flags and singing patriotic music, or by the grandeur of our political process (when uncorrupted).

I like Obama. I hope he does well. He's got a long, hard row to hoe, but he has the support of a strong partner in Michelle, and a wave of positive emotion from the general public the likes of which I've never seen before. And he seems to be making some good first steps.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Aren't You Jealous?

Remember Farmer Luke and his need for size 12 socks? Well, his mom dropped this off at my office today:

Not one, but two pies. Apple (because nothing says "Inauguration Day" like apple pie) and raspberry (because we're all about diversity).

I love the barter system.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Work in Progress

I don't know what it is - maybe the instant gratification. These felted kid socks whip up in no time, and I don't have to study the pattern so much as glance at it occasionally. No matter what other knitting projects might be in work, I always need a "brainless knitting" project to keep my hands busy in the car or wherever. In any case, here's the weekend's efforts:

You're looking at the unfelted versions of a "kid's medium" for Eli, a "kid's small" for JT, and a "kid's large" in green for Bret. Next up, a "woman's small" for Parker and my best guess of a "men's extra large" for Farmer Luke. (He wears a size 12, and his mom is bartering the knitting for a series of homemade pies.)

Life is good.

She Really Just Wants To Play

Dog: "Um, excuse me, but that's my bed."

Dog: "But you can use it if you want. That's fine. Unless you'd rather play? Look, I've got a ball. It even squeeks. Grab one end, and let's play tug of war."

Cat: "Don't make me kill you."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Think It's Going To Work

I'm puttering this weekend with projects for the Women's Wild Winter Weekend up at Moon Beach next month (which is an utterly fabulous time, and I heartily recommend it to anyone). My goal is to come up with two different projects which crafty women could accomplish in 45 minutes or so, which are fairly inexpensive, and which are at least a bit unique. Oh, and it should reflect the theme for the weekend, which this year is "Reflection." (If you are actually planning on attending the retreat, or know someone who is, please forget you just read that. As a matter of fact, please go away now and don't read this until at least March.)

So Mary and Maggie, the fabulous sisters who are running the show again this year, have developed an image to use as the logo for this weekend. The silhouette, as in years past, will be stenciled on tote bags by the attendees and burned into sheet metal to make sculptures. The ladies were kind enough to share last year's logo ("Attitude") with me ahead of time so I could use it on a submission for the fundraiser auction, and that worked out so well that we're e-mailing back and forth about projects for this year's logo. And so, here's what I've got thus far:

Project 1: silk hankie

Dyna-Flow Silk dye (sourced from Dharma Trading Company)
10" silk hankie blanks (Dharma again), damp
Assortment of cheap brushes
Assortment of disposable cups for use in mixing dyes and washing brushes
Spray bottles filled with water - at least one for every 5 crafters
Freezer paper - one 33 yard roll should serve about 100 crafters
Fabric pens in coordinating colors
Masking tape
silhouette of logo, traced on paper

1. Tear off about 12" of paper and secure to table with masking tape, coated side up.
2. Spread damp hankie out on paper. Spritz with spray bottles as necessary.
3. Pour dye into cups, adding water for less intense colors or mixing dyes to achieve new colors.
4. Using paint brush, dye hankie.
5. Allow hankie to dry. In the example at right, I scrunched most of the hankie to create strong lines of dye, but left one section flat. You can either scrunch or not, as you see fit.
6. When hankie is dry or mostly dry, set dye with hot dry iron.
7. Place logo silhouette under dry hankie. The outline will be clearly visible through the hankie. Arrange the logo where you want it, and use masking tape to secure logo and hankie in place.
8. Using fabric pen, trace logo onto hankie. Sign and date hankie if desired.
9. Two days later, iron hankie again. Swish in sink with baby shampoo, rinse, swish with hair conditioner (this is a natural fiber, after all), and rinse again. Let dry, iron, and enjoy.

Project 2: Felted logo pin or magnet

Sheet of craft foam
Wool sweater from thrift shop, pre-shrunk
Tacky Spray (or some other adhesive that can be applied easily and uniformly)
Stencil of logo
Very sharp-tipped, small scissors
Pin back or magnet dot with adhesive
Large Sequin (1" or more)
Super glue

Prior to event, cut shrunken wool sweater in to flat pieces and glue to craft foam using Tacky Spray. Ideally, crafters could choose from several different color combinations of sweater & foam.

1. Using stencil, trace logo onto foam side of material.
2. Use scissors to cut out shape. (It may be necessary to use exacto-knife to cut out negative space by elbow.)
3. Attach sequin with super glue, creating a reflecting pool for your silhouette to gaze into thoughtfully.
4. Apply pin back or magnet dot.

It's actually a very easy project. I considered using a jeweler's jump ring to attach the sequin, or even sewing it to the wool with needle and thread - but I think we need to keep it basic for such a large group.