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Midland, Texas, United States
I write. I make stuff.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

What's Going On

(because I like that Marvin Gaye song so much)

I don't really want to show y'all this. It's not finished, and, in fact, is SO FAR from being finished that whenever I think about it, I need to go lie down. You know how when you start something, maybe you don't think it all the way through? You get this idea and think, "Oh, how totally cool is THAT going to be?!" and you get all excited and jump in, and maybe the project takes on a life of its own. You're doing one part, and you're almost finished with that and you look at it and think, "Well, that's pretty cool, but wouldn't it be REALLY cool if you did that? Or that? Oh, wow!" And before you've thought about how much time it's going to take, there you are, committed to doing hours and hours and HOURS of work that you didn't originally plan.

That's where I am. People have seen this and asked, so nicely, if I'm going to be selling these. And I throw back my head and cackle maniacally. They actually step away from me in alarm. I appear crazed. Beware! If I were going to sell these, people would have to get a second mortgage to buy them. That's how much I can't imagine making these for anything but love. Or, rather, sheer stubbornness and possible lunacy.

The deal is that I have nicely laundered and bundled up t-shirts to do another half dozen of these, and the very idea of that--THE VERY IDEA--makes my head hurt. 

I have been stitching on this baby far, far too long, and there's no end in sight.

Here's what it looked like last time I showed you:

 Some were sewn here, and some hadn't been yet.

Since then, I have stitched--and remember, please: every bit of stitching is by hand. My hand. What wouldn't I give for some little elf helper to do some of the stitching while I sleep--all the panels and gores in place, and I've begun, this week, on the hem. Now, unlike a normal person who would look at this full skirt and see how much sheer footage of hem there is, I didn't say, "Well, let's just whipstitch that baby all the way around and call it done." Oh, no. Not I. Because I am, apparently, a crazy person. So of course *I* thought, "Ooooh, wouldn't it be cool if I did those little twisty things like on the Yoolies? Just bunches of those, all the way around?"
 You have to lay it down and spread it out to see the skirt.

 The one little section of the hem I've actually finished so far. Oy.

 I love these: if you whip all three edges of a seam that comes to a point,
 it will twist on itself like this. 
Tedious, but so cool to me.

Sure, they're cool, but they also take more time, more--and tighter--stitches. They require stitch placement, rather than just the rapid whip stitching you can do on the straight-away. 

Oh, I can't bear this. I went in to measure so I could tell you approximately how far along on the hem I actually am, and I spread it out and got the yardstick and then just stood there in shock. I'm not even 1/5th of the way. Maybe 1/10th. I couldn't bear to measure. I'm guessing another 20 hours, maybe? AIEEEEEEEEEEE.

The reason this is so hideous is because there's at least one more that I HAVE to do--it will be SOOOOO cool that I can't *not* do it. But thinking of the hours and hours and hours of stitching? It's just daunting. Sure, I love hand stitching. I really do. I'm not happy unless I have some project going on. But I like to *finish* things, you know? I like to work for a couple weeks on something and then have it finished and move on to something new. 

Ah, well. It's not hard work. The needle goes through easily. Only one finger is sore, and that's the one I use to catch the needle--you know, to tell where it's coming through on the back--and while I haven't stabbed it, I keep poking it over and over and over. And that's poked spot is right next to the spot where Moe bit me last week and left a big bruise below the skin. Why, you ask, did my baby Moe bite me? Because he thought I was a Post-it note. We were playing, and he thought my finger was the bit of paper he was trying to snag. And  then, just in the last couple days, he's begun bathing my hands. I don't know what's up with this--Lennie has done it all her life, but he's never done it before. He'll idly lick my wrist, and then he kind of zones out and licks and licks and lickslickslickslicks. Yes, it hurts. But I figure it's a companionable thing and don't want to be rude. We're going to have to re-direct this behavior, though, as I have raw patches on both sides of my wrist. (We had a cat once who would sit in my lap and lick the end of my nose, purring happily, until it would begin to bleed. I was loathe to disturb her, since she obviously thought she was taking care of me. I just went around with a little scab on the tip of my nose.)

Anyway. So that's what's going on here: miles of stitching, along with working on a profile for Art Journaling--you did know that that magazine is now letting me do profiles of journal artists, right? I think I mentioned it. I love this--I don't keep an art journal but LOVE them, and I love the minds of people who do keep them, and getting to talk to some of the people whose work just astounds me--well. It's fabulous. And then tomorrow is Podcast Day. Stampington is also letting me add QR codes to the ends of some of the articles I write for the various magazines--so if I have a podcast with the featured artist, people can scan the code and listen to the artist while they're looking at the photographs.  technology.I love being able to bring information and experiences to people who are like me and maybe don't live in the middle of some fabulous Art Mecca and so need all the inspiration they can get.

OK. Back to work. Thanks for coming by~~XO


Rani said...

Your works are amazing. My mother had a little leather thimble she used when stitching; I imagine you've tried that? Again, so love your creations.

LuLu Kellogg said...

I am in awe. Fantastic work! This dress just makes me happy to look at it and the wonderful colors.

LuLu Kellogg

Babette said...

I wanted to tell you that I think you're amazing. I know exactly what you're saying - I spend hours and hours on a fine silver piece, then someone wants to buy it... uh, it would cost a fortune. Well, sell me this one and make another they say. Shoot. Can't happen. Love you, Rice.

Kim said...

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one that endures the torture of being bathed by a cat because they do it to show their love.

I find with my licker, when I just can't stand it anymore I pet him. He stops licking to enjoy that, and I havn't hurt his feelings by pushing him away.

Love the new tee shirt design.

Melly Testa said...

I understand your need to stitch miles and miles of floss. I don't subscribe to Art Journaling but I will now.

Anonymous said...

Hooboy! You are my kind of crazy. I've been working on two projects for about ten years on and off (mostly off). One is beading a jacket with a funky orange-purple-olive patchworky print and the other is applique-ing a cabbage rose fabric, black background with bright red and yellow and orange flowers, onto my old fraying leopard print silk coat (to cover the frayed bits). I hope I finish before I die. About your journaling interviews, one of my favorite artists is eleanor peace bailey (no caps). She is a dollmaker and journaler and I think you two might be related (same haircut only hers is day-glo pink). Check her out on her blog at Thanks for all the great writing. I'm so glad you HAVE to do it. Joyce from Utah

mo said...

when i was visiting Phoenix at the beginning of the month (to meet my twin great-nephews), i picked up the latest issue of Art Journaling (i've been a fan since issue #1) but only skimmed it. 1-year-olds take all your attention, you know. so only yesterday i pulled it out of my travel bag and started really reading it. and suddenly i notice that the article i'm reading is by none other than ... the fantabulous Rice! that just made me so happy, since i adore your writing. so naturally i'm thrilled that i can look forward to more of your profiles in AJ .. yeay!

Ricë said...

Thanks, Mo! I think I've been hinting (maybe "nagging" would be a better word for it) for AJ profiles since it launched. I LOVE finding out about people who keep journals--they just fascinate me no end. And the one I'm working on now? Oh, my. My, my, my. I'd love to hang out in her studio with her. Or, better yet: peer inside her brain.

Marcie in Toledo said...

Oh my. Your poor brain thinks just like mine! I especially do the "wouldn't it be REALLY cool if" thing....I just made a " travelers ring" for my moms morphed into this tedious, time consuming thing that I would make, like...oh, 12 cents an hour...if I chose to sell I love the finished product, but not sure if I will do another one! But, I learned a lot in the process, enjoyed the exploration, and when I look at the clock and it says 4:30 am when I guessed it was probably midnight, I know it's been a great day!

jinxxxygirl said...

We had a cat that we assumed by its behavior had been taken away from its mother too young and it suck on our rottweilers ears. You could hear the sucking noises. And our rottweiler would just look at us with the most pitiful eyes because she was under strict orders not to hurt that kitten!

..... J ..... said...

Thank you for this post Rice. I have read it twice this morning. A friend asked me to make her a mini top hat. You know I really need to learn to "cackle maniacally". Well it has become personal now to learn to make these things and not out of hot glue and cardboard. I sew, I have sewn for ages, clothes, dolls, bears, but these little things..... No wonder the Hatter is Mad. But I want to learn how to make them. So I think of you and your voodoo dolls and all your other projects and keep going. Yep, "cackle maniacally" those will become my words of the day.

Art Is...Slan said...

Would it help if we told you that DMC have agreed to sponsor your Art is...You Benicia Immersion Yoolie Workshop???

Wendy said...

AIEEEEEE is right! But so worthwhile. I think after you've done wearing it, frame it, or leave it on permanent display on your mannequin - what a treasure! Better still, pass it on.

I once made a pinafore for my daughter intending to put just one hedgehog on the front - it ended up with a whole garden with flowers, worms, bees and butterflies all the way around. Yes, you sometimes you just can't 'not' do it.

Brent said...

Oh, how I am familiar with the sore spots. Not from cats, mind you, but to the many, many callouses and parts of my fingers where the skin is so tough, that even if I do stab myself, I don't bleed or even feel it/know I've done it. If that's not the mark of an artisan, I don't know what its. I'd love to have soft hands and perfectly manicured cuticles like my friends, but my friends come home from their day jobs and watch tv until they fall asleep. Who wants that?! I don't think that's an option for our kind.

People are always telling me to sell the stuff I make, and outside of the jewelry I do sell on my Etsy shop (I even have a hard time letting go of that, and I don't wear women's jewelry...) the idea is just preposterous. It's not just the time we spend on the things we make, it's the connection we form to them. We're part of them, they have so much of our energy in them.

As someone who shares a good chunk of your personality type, I suggest trying as hard as you can (and trust me, I know it's HARD) not to look at it as a timetable, or get so into it that it simple mustbedonerightthissecond lest the ideas all fall out of your head and the world will implode. They'll still be there, I promise. And if they aren't, new, better ones present themselves.

Stitch a hem, erase it from your mind, and take a break. Get a cup of coffee, play with the cats for a while, go sit outside in the yard. Then go back to it. This is the exact reason I have my art tables within rolling distance of my desk - I can roll away for a while if I need to and do some of that annoying but necessary "pay-the-bills" work, or browse blogs or whatever until my mind is ready to get back into it and I roll on back.

Good luck!

Robyn A said...

Because I'm new I'm going backwards - just read your profile of Kristen Robinson, very good. We can no longer buy Stampington magazines in Newcastle (Australia) so I had ordered Art Journalling just to look (read drool) and there you were.

Adrian said...

Just beautiful colors in this piece, Rice! The hand stitching really is amazing. You truly define, "Art to Wear".

Adrian said...

Sorry to be a nudge, but what colors did you use to dye those tees??? I'm spiraling all over in those colors!

Ricë said...

Yikes! I have no idea exactly how I dyed them all, but the basics: my go-to dye colors in these shades are Deep Orange, Hot Pink, Fuchsia, Golden Yellow, and Lemon Yellow. Most of these are a combination of several of those. Some were dyed and then over-dyed, some were tie-dyed, some were mistakes. I think the pink one was tie-dyed with dye added several times throughout the dye bath. I'm not really sure, but I *think* that makes it more mottled: rubber band up a white garment, put it in, add some dye, wait, add some more later. I'm not sure, though, if this is what produces that marble-y look. I need to do more experimenting.

Adrian said...

Thanks for the input on the way you got those colors, Rice. I didn't realize you did a dye bath, just thought it was all direct application. The idea of adding more dye and color later in the process is intriguing. I'm gonna try it. Thanks again!
PS - Have you tried the Tulip "One Step Dye" kits yet? I just got one of teal and am so excited that all I have to do is add water and work on damp cloth. No scary stuff with loose dye molecules and masks to wear. Yeah! Fast and loose! And they have videos on their website for inspiration.

Ricë said...

Let me know how it goes, please. How much it fades, esp--that's the biggest reason I use the Procion dye: permanence. I have no patience with fading dye: my hair gives me enough grief in that area!