Thursday, November 27, 2014

Before the Food Coma

Thanksgiving here in the US seems to be all about excess. For most humans - even males - one Thanksgiving dinner on the day is sufficient, although due to various family configurations with their attendant obligations, many people will bravely attempt to consume more than one.
 Cats just don't get it. They would rather sit in boxes than try to figure it out.
I spent a few hours last night ensuring that the most important course (dessert. You had to ask?) would not fail, as well as getting a couple of side dishes out of the way, so I was able to spend some time this morning on a necklace. I'm completely in love with the colours: various antiqued metallic shades.

I think I'm ready to tackle the rest of the food prep.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All These Things

I don't know. I mean, I've been here, but I've not so much been sitting with time to blog so I guess I've been silent.

The room is completely painted though, ceiling and walls the same beige (and the baseboards too, I've been pressed for time, contrast - if any - can come later) and it looks decent.

I bought a new duvet cover and sewed a not even slightly ruffled dust ruffle because when it comes to daybeds all you can find is cream or white broderie anglaise which I just cannot. It's not even slightly hard and really doesn't take more than an hour or so. And you get to choose your fabric (you can see it below in the pictures of the table and the lamp).

I did a very small amount of beading while I considered my Room Strategy.
 I changed the way the rivoli is captured in the star-shaped pendant because it just looked BAD before.
 I made a couple of beaded beads as class samples for the class I'm teaching on Tuesday. I'm nuts about the colour ways - I might offer them as kits at Bead & Button next year.

I knew I needed to be completely ready in advance (except for printing out the instructions) because my daughter was going to be here for a week and while a new coat of paint is nice, it wasn't enough.

So I've been making things for the second bedroom.

At some undetermined point in the future I'll sell this house and when prospective buyers come to look at it, the rooms need to be furnished, need to look clean and at least halfway decent, and a room with only a crappy bookshelf and a daybed with really ugly linen isn't going to cut it and since I'm getting some work done on the house (and for about a week until I got a second opinion was under the impression that I absolutely had to get a new roof this instant) I was wanting to not have to spend a bunch of money for furnishings which I don't actually need.
I thought a pair of tables/nightstands might be useful, so I started with PVC, some wood and metallic spray paint and ended up with something that's not ghastly, though it's not quite as steady as I'd like - but I have Thoughts on how to fix that.
The room has an overhead light of course, but I had only one ugly lamp and a matched pair of tables really needs a matched pair of lamps.
PVC again. It's just so easy to work with, though I confess that cutting four-inch pipe isn't the best work I've done in my life. I'm just not very good with a hacksaw.

I'd never used one of those drill bits that makes big holes. It's kinda fun actually. What I really needed was a 5/8" drill bit because I wanted to glue clear iridescent marbled in the holes, but I didn't have one so perhaps another time. Plus the glueing would take too long; I was finishing the second lamp after my daughter arrived.
Meanwhile I finished another pendant which is very two-dimensional, but I was somehow hoping that with the addition of another colour a three-dimensional aspect would be added but sadly it wasn't. It looks like just a flower, but it's supposed to be a five-fold version of the thing that many people think of as a Celtic knot.

I know.

It misses the boat completely.

The lamp also needed metallic paint to match the table.
This picture is with a CFL bulb in it which would simply not get beyond the pink stage of illumination so I eventually swapped it for an LED bulb which is far more effective. It casts interesting blobs of light on the walls, even without the marbles, and illuminates quite well.
Once you start looking for instructions on how to make anything with PVC pipe, you will in fact find instructions on how to make just about anything with PVC pipe, though there are all sorts of dire warnings about how you will burn your house down if you wire your own lamps. I think I'm safe though, as I wired two lamps in my house about twenty or more years ago, one of which I use every day, and so far (touch wood) my house is unburned.

But I was extra-careful because I was tempted to have the bejeezes scared out of me by all that hellfire and brimstone talk. OK, fire only, but still - the tone was the same.

The idea for the lamp was from a pendant light I saw, which I was actually considering making as there are two hooks in the ceiling that I neglected to remove, and have been considering how to put them to good use. The problem is that they are just hooks in the ceiling, not supported or connected to any sort of joist and as four-inch PVC pipe is pretty heavy, as are LED bulbs, a DIY swag light turned out not to be on the cards. I could just see it falling down along with a chunk of ceiling and that amount of patching might just be beyond my capabilities.
I did find something to make to hang from the hooks though. From paper. This one is approximately basketball-sized. I'm still working on the next one. Or two.

After all that my daughter announced that she couldn't possibly conceive of sleeping in a twin bed and so has moved into the guest bedroom for her visit.

And her cat doesn't remember her anymore.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Too Bizy to Rite, No Brane Sells Left

Honestly, the painting thing is just ridiculous.

So the walls were covered in scotch tape; either its nasty sticky dirty residue or the stuff itself, invisibly melded with the wall, crumbling instead of peeling off. 

I bought some so-called adhesive remover that turned out to be oily, and I didn't need to be dealing with getting that off afterwards in order to have the paint adhere, so I bought something else which was pretty good at removing residue, but which still required the use of a razor blade to get the tape off. And then required washing - and then rinsing - the walls with something else toxic in order to get the residue of that stuff off.

This business takes time and I think I've inhaled so many neurotoxins that all I could smell today (and I know it was inside my own nose only) was sulphur dioxide which I'm pretty certain - I asked - no one else could smell.

So when I took the oily stuff back to Lowe's (they said I could if it didn't work), the woman at the Returns register told me I should have just used a blow drier, and next time I should call her.

Good to know, but too little too late because my son's walls are in far better shape.

The inter-toobs failed me on this one because it didn't tell me about that solution but instead steered me towards teratogenic substances. Luckily I'm no longer in the pregnancy business.

I did start the weekend off well though, by going to see Harlem Dance Theatre who were absolutely wonderful, except in the one number that ordinarily I'd have thought I'd have loved the best (Pas de Deux, music by Tchaikowsky, choreography by Balanchine)  except that the man was sloppy, the woman insipid, and he practically DROPPED her. If it had happened centre stage instead of almost in the wings, the audience would have gasped. I've never seen that happen before and while it was thrilling in a way, I'd rather not see that again ever.

The rest of the show was exceedingly good though.
And then I worked on class samples.

The beaded bead I was working on earlier in the week? Yeah turns out the bead store for all intents and purposes has no more of the rivoli beads (except one pink strand) but they do have these funky asymmetric beads that they call wonky beads that really work charmingly well.
And then I needed to see if this pendant could realistically fit into a two-hour class and even though they won't finish it (what else is new) in two hours, they will be able to do all the different things necessary for success, so I think it's doable.

And I have another sample.
And then tomorrow's class which promises to be well-attended also needed some work on the instructions. That bled into today.
Oh and yeah, my baby stopped by for brunch on Sunday on his way back to school after visiting a friend and because the place we decided to go was really busy, everything took longer so we had more time which is certainly always welcome.

I did at least get the entire room primed.

My plan is to paint walls, ceiling and doors all the same colour (beige, just pale beige) because they are all nasty and I just couldn't be bothered with the masking tape for all the colours. The ceiling though, that won't be fun. I can tell I'll need eyewear and probably a shower cap would not be a bad idea. I know I'm going to enjoy the outfit which will also need to include work gloves as the priming left me with a respectable blister.

I don't hate painting even though it takes longer than I tend to think it ought, but this time I find myself less in the mood, but the plan is in motion so I must go forward.

Kicking and screaming, whining and moaning mind you, but forward nonetheless.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The bead on the left is made using rivoli beads, which look something like two very wide, shallow cones joined at the equator.
I really like them, but they don't always seem to be available [from the bead store at which I teach], so if I want to teach this beaded bead as a class, I need to make sure that the design will also work with large rondelles.

While I do prefer the look with the rivoli beads, it does work with the rondelles too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


A couple of weeks ago I made the frame of a sphere using size fifteen seed beads - it's pretty small but not especially attractive. My intent was always to make a small one inside a larger one, but this is as yet a plan unrealized.

However I did make a larger version in which I was able to add some interest in the way of fire-polished beads around each junction.
Lots of holes, so lots of ways to suspend it from a chain. I suppose one could make a bail as part of the sphere though I sort of hate to taint it that way.
It's definitely much bigger than the first one which I think could fit inside it.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Over the Map

I've been on a bit of a sewing jag, among other things.

I made a dress on Thursday.
It's slightly experimental, using fabric from the stash and redrafting the side panels for integral pockets. Turned out fine, even though I did NOT match the stripes. It's clearly not haute couture (there may be haute couture hippie dresses, but that seems silly), and I'm fine with that.

Back in the nineties I was sewing around ninety percent of my clothes, even bathing suits and unmentionables on occasion. I looked into support undergarments (ok, bras) but it seemed like a rather exacting undertaking and besides, there would be no way to make them seamless without sophisticated machinery so I didn't go down that path.

I sewed a lot, and I was very efficient. I could make a pair of pleated dress pants in an evening and wear them to work the next day.

I was sewing in part because I could, in part to make what I wanted in the fabrics I wanted, in part because of the cost, but after a while I realized that I wasn't enjoying it all that much and that I'd much rather be knitting or spinning, so I largely stopped, though it took a while for my fabric purchases to slow to the same extent.

At this point I have a decent fabric stash.

I have a very nice sewing machine, frankly more machine than I've ever needed (or perhaps it didn't do quite what I'd hoped - or perhaps I never gained proficiency) and also became accustomed to a serger. I like the insides of my garments to not be embarrassing, in the same way that I like my pendants to be attractive on the underneath because they will at some point flip over.

My serger is fiddly, or possibly I'm insufficiently careful with it, as I was forever taking it to be readjusted, and after the last time that it refused to sew more than a couple of inches without the thread breaking, I went back to the old ways (zig-zag on the regular machine after trimming) of finishing edges but not happily.

I had bookmarked a few websites where they discuss repairing/readjusting sergers and yesterday, having finished the dress and considering some silk in the stash, a serger seemed appropriate (zig-zagging the edges of this silk would create bulk and I'm so over Hong Kong seams) so I dug up the bookmarks and lit into the serger.

It was completely seized up. The motor made a noise but after a very short time nothing would move.

It's got to be eighteen years old and for the price of two more adjustments I could buy a new one, and so I did.
It's not fancy (like the dead one) and doesn't thread itself (like the dead one), but it worked right out of the box without much fiddling, so I'm happy again.

I'd hoped to get my shirt finished by Saturday night, but I didn't.

I did get to see Ira Glass (One Radio Host, Two Dancers, in Three Acts) which was wonderful. I confess to having a bit of a crush on him - he's cute, nerdy, slightly awkward, articulate...yeah. But the show was very good, really!

I really should have been beading today because I'm pretty sure that a week away from class proposals I do not have enough for eight weeks, but apparently I needed to do other things.

For example, my daughter's old room needs painting.
Apart from being a rather bilious pale pink, it's also the room of a former teenager who used scotch tape with abandon. The tape that she peeled off has left sticky streaks that have gathered dirt, but the bulk of it remains stuck to the walls, invisible unless viewed from an angle, and integral until an attempt is made to prise it off, at which point it crumbles.

Prep will take rather longer than I had hoped.

In addition, I discovered something nasty.

One wall has always had a discoloured section that I suspected masked some cracking.

My suspicion was conformed when great swathes of the surface, no longer stuck to the wall, cracked off when I worried at it with a putty knife. I'm pretty sure I can fix it (there's a great bucket of Joint Compound in my basement) and I'm pretty sure I can avoid the area of discolouration because I, unlike the previous fixer, have primer, but it's yet another step in the prep I must do before painting.

My plans are simple: neutral walls (and door and closet doors, sigh), jute rug, natural linen soft furnishings (I think I might make a simple slip-cover for a chair which was never all that successful) and possibly a small table or dresser or the like. When my daughter comes to visit it should be at least halfway decent, right?

And oh yes, I finished the shirt.
I think it's necktie silk actually.

Some years ago there was a really excellent fabric store (which had a large online presence and more than adequate brick-and-mortar incarnation too) that was less than half a block from one of the worst jobs I've ever had, and for reasons vague and seemingly bogus, it was decided to close the brick-and-mortar store.  I was upset, the people who worked there were upset, and so in a show of solidarity (ok, total self-indulgence) I went there every day at lunchtime and bought something, anything.

The three fabrics used in the shirt were from a shipment of Italian silk and represent about a quarter of what I bought of that shipment. Maybe less. I made two skirts and two shirts and I have enough for another couple of shirts I think.

So it turns out that sewing doesn't really hurt my hands, unless I try to use blunt scissors on thick fabric, and the fabric stash is still consequential, so there might be a bit more sewing in my future. Or room-painting or beading or whatever.

I wish there was more Ira to tell the truth. That was fun.