consumerism, Upcycling, voluntary simplicity

The Year of Going Deeper

A lot of articles and posts came out in the past few years about people who have decided to drastically cut spending for a year. Pledges have run the gamut of the obsessive compulsive buy absolutely nothing, create no waste, grow all food and barter plans to more moderate plans to cut down and purge. And then, of course, there are those whose poverty leaves them no choice.

I became an advocate of voluntary simplicity in the late 80s, when I really couldn’t afford much extra anyway. For several years I wove on frame looms (still do) with rags and bought the cheapest yarn I could find at yarn outlets. I crocheted a lot. I worked at a bookstore that carried a lot of remainders and I was able buy samples from book buyers very cheaply and so book buying was my biggest addiction. When I came into a small inheritance from my aunt I spent it on a Harrisville floor loom kit, which I got at a wholesale price from a friend who had a weaving supply store.

We didn’t travel much or far. Both of us had low-wage jobs that gave little vacation time and no sick time at all. We would toss a tent and the dog in the back of our little pick-up truck on the rare weekend we had off at the same time, decided what direction to head, and went that way. We went to Lake Waccamaw a lot because it was free.

My life has accumulated a lot of stuff since those days, as we both got better, more stable jobs, a small house, and we absorbed the belongings of our parents that we couldn’t bear to part with. The book addiction is deeply rooted in both of us. I LOVE COLLECTING BOOKS of ALL kinds. Novels, art books, old musty books with Art Nouveau covers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, nature books, old textbooks, secretarial manuals…it’s bad in my house. The hoarding is bad. Bad, even though I regularly purge these books boxes at a time. At one time I justified it as wanting to open a used book store one day. I sold books on Amazon for a few years. Now I justify the hoarding as supplies for my book/mixed media/collage creations.

So this year, no purchasing of books or art supplies or knick-knacks that we do not need. I like the way David, the author of Go Deeper, Not Wider, approaches this idea. It puts a positive spin on using what we already have to enrich our lives. I’m not going without, I’m going deeper.

It’s already hard for me. I see a recommendation for a magazine, or a particular kind of scissors, and I look it up online. I know that if I buy an e-book or digital issue of a magazine it will most likely be forgotten without reading it. That has been proven. Online classes are bought and abandoned halfway through or sooner than that.

However, I mentioned that I bought the Blurb PDF of India Flint’s “Bagstories” and I have joined the private Facebook group where she is going to guide the buyers of her wee book in a project. This, so far, has already been worth the price for the connections I’ve made to other North Carolina artists on the Facebook group! This fabric may be a tad too stretchy for the bag projects, but I finally sacrificed my batik pants from the late 80s/early 90s that I loved so much and started cutting them up to reinvent them for a new use. I’ve almost finished measuring the warp for that rag rug project I began several years ago.

I’ve hoarded fabrics the way I’ve hoarded books – it’s time to go deeper into them as well.

art, book arts, collage, Upcycling

Flow


I finished the insides of the panels for the Flow book today. Tomorrow I will finish the back sides, which will be much simpler. I messed around with laying them on the floor and switching them around to make them “flow” better. I can already see what I will change in the process for the next book, but I’m going to finish this one and send it off.

When it hangs it needs to be ten feet long so I’ll have to do math tomorrow!

book arts, cloth weaving, depression/anxiety, papermaking, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Saint Patrick’s Day


Thinking about Ireland. Aching for it. I wish that I had the courage to throw everything to the wind and take a chance on trying to move there. Like, NOW. This is a photo that I took on the Burren in May, 2012.

Since I last wrote, spring came and then left.

When this weather system came roaring through, I had cluster migraines all day. I always feel concerned for the farmers when we have these false springs.

I read “Long Quiet Highway” by Natalie Goldberg this past week. It was time for me to read something about Buddhism. Do you ever wish that you could get back a feeling that you treasured and you don’t understand why you can’t? I don’t understand why I don’t care about certain things that I once cared about. It occurred to me months ago that maybe I should get out one of my many books on Buddhism or mindfulness or simplicity but I didn’t care enough to do it until this past week. I want to care. I want to care about cooking and gardening and even watching TV and movies again. I want to feel present again. I guess this is depression. I feel so lazy and blah. Anyway, Natalie’s book is excellent and it stirred something up that needed to surface. Let’s see if I can get moving forward.

The book also made me want to go to New Mexico. I think that Sandy and I will go there in September, if we have the money.

I meant to go see Natalie at her stop at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro on Sunday, but I started making a book and that took me into a time warp and I forgot.

It was the first book I have made in many moons. I didn’t have a real plan. My sewing machine was in the shop and so I got out the denim paper that I made last spring and a piece of the recycled denim woven cloth to make a cover. A couple of scraps of old pajama pants decorate the front. This one is for me to experiment with stitching on paper. The paper is very soft so if I make another book with it I will need to reinforce the signatures where the pages are folded and stitched to the cover.

I just picked up my sewing machine and I look forward to some frustration-free sewing this weekend.

cloth weaving, critters, political activism, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Disengaged

I guess it was inevitable that I would get burned out on outrage. I’m still keeping up with news until I get my mojo back though. Another bad cold did not help matters, but I got over this one fairly quickly. The next major political action I intend to take is the People’s Climate Mobilization in D.C. on April 29, 2017. I’m taking Amtrak up there early in the morning and a friend will meet me there, then I’m coming back on Amtrak late that afternoon. No overnight stay this time.


Work is busy, and a lot seems to be going on at high levels behind the scenes, which is disturbing for us who actually implement the policies. I’m grateful for my job, and I love my work. I hope that I will be able to keep it until I am at least 60 years old, when I will be able to receive most of my state pension if I leave the university. I would like to retire there, but not if I am not in the same department, which is one of the best places to work in the university. Unfortunately a lot depends on state politics here.

Craving studio time. Weekends are the only time I’ve made it over here so far this year. Right now I am weaving together more subtle checkerboard squares to mount shirt pockets on, for the blanket. Also I’m sewing random bits together to make new cloth, with no real plan on how to use them. Maybe they will go on the back of the blanket. It is curious that my passion has moved to sewing, considering the mental blocks I had to overcome. I wish very much that I could sew by hand, but at some point I accepted that my tendinitis is just not going to allow it except in very small amounts.

My problem is definitely not artist’s block now. It is time management and energy flow. I have a billion ideas. I want to get back to making paper and books again. And plant my garden. And plant a garden here at the studio house. Too many things!!!

The weather was beautiful week before last and I moved the Shannock loom out to the front porch for one day. Looking forward to weaving on the porch more often now that I have it screened with a ceiling fan and electricity. Susanne, Marianne, and I enjoyed the porch at the studio house too.

Registration for Focus on Book Arts opens tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. PST. Susanne and I definitely plan to go, and I think that Judy will come for part of it. This will be our third time going to this conference at Pacific University in Forest Grove. We’ll stay on campus because neither of us will have a lot of spare cash since we both are going to Europe on separate trips this spring. I have a voucher from Southwest from volunteering to give up my seat last September that will pay for my airfare or I wouldn’t even be able to consider it. The dilemma is what class(es) to take during the first three days? I know that I want Leighanna Light’s class on the weekend. I had thought to take a more technical class on leather binding for the first three days, but my heart says no. I thought about Jill Berry’s class, but I’d like to take at least one class from someone I haven’t studied (or played, depending on how you look at it!) with before. Now I’m thinking about the Chinese thread book class. That seems interesting.

Now, for your amusement, this is Diego versus the rug. Trust me, it went on much, much longer than these few seconds.

I guess the rug won this round.

fiber art, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Sewing in the new studio

As you know, I’m enjoying my new studio. I spent a good part of every day of my Christmas break from work there. It was hard to let go of that routine. From now on it will have to be on weeknights and weekends, although I will have to carve out time to do the stuff that needs to be done at home too, I suppose.

It helps to have a great studio-mate!

Looks like we have a big snowstorm bearing down on us tonight so I’m going to try to scoot by there and pick up a few items to work on at home. There are some pieces that I want to hand stitch on.

We’ll have plenty of firewood, although most of this needs to cure to use next winter. No problem, we have lots of old wood in the back since the last two winters were so mild.

The travel t-shirt quilt layout is basically this:

Now I’m stitching together strips of cloth and triangles to have a pile of this “filler” material to choose from to put in between the t-shirt pieces. I hung a sheet from a piece of wooden moulding for my design wall and I fiddle around with pinning pieces up and moving them around.

I’ve spent more than half of the last month sick with two different bad colds. I don’t recommend it as a diet plan, but I did lose five pounds. You have to take the positive where you can get it these days.

critters, Upcycling, whatever

T-shirt Upcycling and Life

Just some photos from the last few days

^^^The Lyle Lovett collection, well loved

^^^This one was in absolute tatters

^^^Pablocito actually was taking a bath in the tub, but he wouldn’t do it after I got the camera.

^^^Theo doesn’t like the camera either, which is a damned shame since he’s so handsome.

^^^Anybody want some big chunks of beautiful maple?


^^^Proof that I wasn’t a total humbug this Christmas

Blather, fiber art, Quilting, Slow cloth, Studio talk, Upcycling

Happy Kwanzaa and Boxing Day!

Well, I’m about holidayed out and I haven’t even celebrated much of anything! That’s typical for me, though. I started losing my holiday spirit when I worked in retail and then the many years of Christmas without my father and now my mother pretty much did it in. If I had chosen to have children, I’m sure it would have been different. I’m grateful that I’m in a place and time in my life where my friends and family understand and don’t judge or try to force me to be merry.

This Christmas we had my brother-in-law over for dinner on Christmas Eve and then watched westerns and A Christmas Story on Christmas Day by ourselves. We had a couple of good meals, one of which was collaborative between Sandy and me and it ended up much better than I would have ever guessed, but also may not ever be able to be replicated! It was linguine with shrimp and smoked beef kielbasa from the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, along with broccoli, red peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and feta cheese. Then yesterday I slow cooked a small pastured pork picnic ham in my crock pot with sweet potatoes, red potatoes, apple juice, water, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce. I cooked it just a tad too long but it was still tender and tasty. I foresee more barbecue in the future. (In North Carolina, barbecue is a noun and it refers only to pork. We do not barbecue. We cook or grill out.)

Right now I am at my studio on Wharton St. where I am working on ironing a light interfacing to the backs of old t-shirt logos and designs in preparation for a t-shirt quilt. I’m taking an online Craftsy class from Winnie Fleming called “The Ultimate T-Shirt Quilt.” (Today classes on Craftsy are less than $20, not affiliated, just sayin’.) So far it is perfect for me – I needed something to kick me into action that would be fun and not too taxing on my brain. Although I donated several of my better t-shirts to charity in my purges this past year, I saved some of my favorite for a project like this. Many of them are twenty years old and very worn out. I’m going to either draw, paint, or stitch over the designs that are worn out.

A little later Sandy and I are going to see Arrival at the movie theater. It’s hard to get me to go to a theater because I don’t like sitting in a crowd. But I like to see a sci-fi film on the big screen and Sandy loves loves loves going to the movies.

Then I’ll have the rest of the week all to myself when Sandy goes back to work. I’ll try to get over here in the morning and spend most of each day here, except for tomorrow when I need to get the painting around the front porch door finished so Sandy can hang the door back up.

It will feel a little like retirement!