Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pocket Friends!

Really, I don't have the time to be posting on here at all. But since I didn't go home for Thanksgiving and instead stayed in Cleveland and worked, I figured I could take a few moments (a.k.a. procrastinate a little longer) and share some of what I have been up to.

Earlier this semester, I decided to experiment with free motion machine embroidery in my fibers class. I think it took all of two seconds before I was completely in love with the process. It seems strange, but as I was free handing my name, I realized that this was the way I think sometimes. A lot of times when I can't fall asleep or can't pay attention or otherwise can't do what it is I'm supposed to be doing, I end up daydreaming about all sorts of silly impossibilities. What if this room was upside down? What if there were waterfalls spilling through the windows? What if the entire room moved instead of my pencil? Well, that is more or less what this form of embroidery is. I move the embroidery hoop around while the needle stays stationary.

I started making portraits of all sorts of people: characters, celebrities, imaginary friends. And in the process, I accumulated a library of images to reference. Maybe I'll share some of those another day. But I really started getting into it. And with each person I looked up or discovered a beautiful picture of, I ended up reading all about them. There are some fascinating folks out there, let me tell you.

Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire

Buddy Holly
Sara Crewe from A Little Princess
George Harrison
Alice Liddell
Oscar Wilde

The next step for me was to make something with these portraits: Pocket Friends. How cool would it be to reach into your pocket and pull out James Dean? Pretty awesome, right? But it doesn't have to be James Dean. It could be Bob Dylan or Holly Golightly or Arthur the Aardvark. Really, you could have anyone you wanted as a friend. Please don't think I'm crazy, now. This idea actually evolved from one of my earliest (and favorite) imaginary friends: Pocket Bunnies. When I was younger, I was INCREDIBLY shy. Too shy, in fact, to play with my imaginary friends. Yikes! So I'd invent these friends, give them personalities, write stories about them, draw pictures about them, but never actually play with them. But pocket bunnies were great because they were just that: tiny little bunnies that I could fit in my pocket without anyone knowing. So before I embarked on making pocket Vanna White or Rod Serling, I made some pocket bunnies and a LOT of pocket owls! There's something quite comforting about having a little owl in your pocket. I've been carrying a little purple guy around for weeks now!

After having a process down, I used this as the basis for a project in fibers. We had to create a gift. That's it. Preferably one that keeps on giving in some way, but it's really out of our hands after a certain point. So I decided to make a gift for Mia, my 4 year old sister and sometimes siamese twin. Here's the thing with Mia: she never sleeps in her own bed. She always falls asleep next to someone else, wherever they are. And she has nightmares a lot. But she tells me that she's brave. She calls herself "Bravey Girl," except when bedtime rolls around. As you can imagine, this disrupts the rest of the household when they have a kicking 4 year old mid-nightmare next to them. So here's how my gift would pay off. I made Mia a little pillow, just her size, with 5 pockets in the back. Those pockets would be used to hold the 5 little pocket friends I made her, all brave girls in their own right. So when bedtime came, she could rest easy with 5 little friends under her head. But she could always pull one out and hold it in her hand, as they were sized to fit perfectly in her grip. A bit like worry dolls, I'm hoping she'll find them comforting. I guess we'll find out in a few weeks when I give them to her!

My typical set up: sewing machine, laptop, record player all close at hand. And a pink ukulele under my table for when I need a break.

Here's the beginning of the process: I use a Mark B Gone pen to draw the characters on the fabric, then embroider them one by one.

Eventually, I end up with a collage of people. You can see the blue ink from the pen, as this was before it had been washed out. Next I backed them with flannel in corresponding colors and stuffed them.

I sewed the pillow, which is smaller than a regular pillow. Use my sewing machine or laptop for scale? Oh, and I ended up on Tumblr for a bit. Haha

Here's the pillow with the 5 girls in their pockets. You can see traces of their lines.

And here they are poking out.

From left to right: Sara Crewe from A Little Princess; Wendy Darling from Peter Pan; Samantha Parkington the American Girl doll; Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden; and Pippi Longstocking.

Here's a better scale reference!

And here they are in action! Haha, this probably gives it away that I finished these around 4am! By the way, have I mentioned that I love aprons? Check out all that extra pocket space! Just think of how many pocket owls I could carry with me!

By the way, this is Fiona, my sewing machine I got last month. Have I mentioned that nearly all of my inanimate objects have names? Halloween candy in the background :) And the embroidery hoops have frames from an animated .GIF.

My mom warned me against certain brands and lower models of sewing machines. She said that I go to art school and would probably end up doing something weird. Well, less than 48 hours after bringing Fiona home and I was embroidering on leaves. Good idea, Mom.

In my studio at school, where I spend 17 hours a day a lot of the time. The PC comes with our studios. Then I bring in my MacBook Pro (Hello Pandora and Conan and Barn Owl). All sorts of images collaged on my wall before they end up animated or in my sketchbook. Some embroideries hanging up. Not safety scissors. OCD embroidery floss. All the little rectangles are part of a contact sheet of all the scenes for an animation I'm finishing up. Animation narration typed out and taped on the computer tower. Stacks of library books for one of my papers (that thankfully is already out of the way). Obese sketchbook filled with collages of sorts. Moleskine calendar/planner that I can't live without. Vintage saddle shoes that Nicholas bought me. I'm in love with them.

Anyway, besides living in my studio and listening to Pandora enough that I have Conan's commercials memorized ("Why? I need a job..."), and besides editing animations like crazy and getting ready for finals (I'm already done with classes!), I've been getting ready for the CIA student holiday sale, where I will be selling (you guessed it) Pocket Friends! Of course, I'm going to add little ribbons so they can serve as Christmas ornaments! Who wouldn't want a pop culture Christmas tree? So far, I've embroidered 4 different images of Alice (of Wonderland), based on the John Tenniel illustrations; the Mad Hatter; The White Rabbit; The Queen of Hearts; Amelia Earhart; Anastasia Romanov (I love missing persons); Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow; Buddy the Elf; Clark W. Griswold (Christmas Vacation); Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol); Gizmo (Gremlins); Jack Skellington as Santa Claus (The Nightmare Before Christmas); Kevin McCallister (Home Alone); Ralphie Parker (A Christmas Story); Scott Calvin (The Santa Claus);  Sara Crewe (A Little Princess); Samantha Parkington (American Girl doll); Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz); and Lady Gaga, who, by the way, was Mia's favorite.

So I have to ask, if you could have ANYONE as a pocket friend, who would you want?

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