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On Paying It Forward

Friday is the day I designate for shifting my focus from the work I’ve been doing most of the week to something else that might not be related to it at all. I was consumed this week by a writing assignment for the Chapter Book Alchemist course. This week was all about getting a 60-word pitch submitted. Before I could craft a pitch, I had to make peace with my story. Making peace meant throwing out most of what I had written and reworking the story to give it legs. With the help of my critique group, the story was reworked enough so that the pitch could be posted in the proper document on the Facebook group page.

So today, I decided to put aside the writing (although I the rest of the story is floating around in my head, making endless suggestions) and continue carving out a linoleum block. I also have some bangles to finish up, some of which I will post here because of their paper embellishments.

Before I take the three steps to the work table, though, I wanted to share a wonderful site I found this morning. I was reading through the Publishers Weekly newsletter and noticed a link on the left sidebar. If you were with me on my Painting Words blog, you’d know I love snail mail–sending as well as receiving, of course. Much as I would have loved to actually make every postcard, it just wasn’t going to happen. I do love to scour little shops for good ones and I recently mailed one with the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. But then, here is a website that not only sends you a monthly bit of happy, they also send you a stamped envelope so that you can share it with someone else later on! The only downside to it at the moment is that it’s a USA only service but what’s to stop me from mailing it in another envelope and sharing it with friends overseas? I can still share the happy that way.

If you want to take a look, here’s the link to HOLSTEE. Even if you don’t fancy doing snail mail, I think you’ll enjoy visiting the site so have a go.

Here’s another share: I’ve taken courses with The Children’s Book Academy and each experience was nothing short of magical. The classes are informative, the instructors nurturing. There’s a lot of work to put in but it’s always fun and there’s always loads of support. A new class on writing is coming up. Spring is a great time to learn something new or to hone a skill. There is a special discount until May 5 so if you want to check it out, here’s the link to From Storyteller to Exquisite Writer: The Pleasures & Craft of Poetry Techniques.

#wearableart · cabinets · Deco Art Fabric paint · fabric · grandmothers · painting · patterns · sewing · Singer Sewing Machines · Tina Givens

Wearable Art

When I was a little girl, I used to go and explore my grandmother’s room. It wasn’t a big room but my grandmother, being a pack rat, managed to cram all sorts of wonderful things in it. She must have had at least two bookcases in there as well as a large, heavy wardrobe with a mirrored door. Then there was a smaller cabinet that she kept locked although she would unlock it when I’d be there. She knew I enjoyed looking at all her little treasures.

The first time I saw her sewing machine must have been the first time I ever saw a sewing machine. It was a Singer–the kind with a heavy metal stand and a treadle.  At the time, I was looking for ways to get more clothes for my dolls. This discovery told me that I had found the answer. All I had to do was to learn how to sew! I didn’t know anything about patterns. I didn’t even have fabric. But my grandmother did (of course). It wasn’t long before the weekends would find us in her bedroom, in front of the sewing machine sewing up whatever she thought would be easy enough for me to try.

The doll clothes came much later when I was able to deal with sleeves and darts and such. I also learned how to do a French seam because my grandmother liked everything tidy. When I was older, I took sewing lessons and even learned how to draft my own patterns. 

Nowadays there are endless patterns to choose from and while I don’t spend a lot of time sewing, I find myself buying patterns for those just-in-case moments. For the longest time, however, I’ve been mulling over a dress pattern that I felt would be ideal for someone like me who likes “shapeless” clothing. Since I do lots of planning and designing in my head (not ideal when you come to think of how my mind flits about but well, there you have it), I had been mentally drafting the pattern and reminding myself to commit it to paper.

Then I found Tina Givens! Her clothes aren’t for everyone and maybe most of them belong to a whole other era altogether, but I knew I found what I’d been looking for. Best of all, she shares four free patterns that are PDFs that you can download, print, and try out.

I downloaded the ones I wanted to try out and quickly realized that they’re easily adaptable. I also delighted in the fact that they made perfect “canvases” for whatever I felt like painting on them! So I sewed one of the patterns and after I washed the finished blouse, I grabbed my box of yet unused (and bought during a huge online sale) DecoArt Fabric Paint. It was the first time I used this brand of fabric paint. In my teens, I used a Japanese brand.


When I bought the paints, I also bought a resist medium and I was truly thankful that I did! It helped keep the paint from spreading out too far and it also made the leaf outlines possible. After 48 hours, I washed the blouse again to see how the paint would fare. It was perfect.

I sewed the blouse using the smallest size option because I had my niece in mind when I started the project. After sufficient drying and a quizzical once-over, I wrapped it up and sent it off to Hawaii. Today (just when I was starting this post), she popped me a message on Facebook to let me know she got it and even shared a photo of her wearing it. I hesitate to share it here because since she blocked her face with her phone, I figure she wouldn’t want me sharing her image with the rest of the world (not that the world reads my blog but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?).

I’m still going to draft that pattern in my head at some point, by the way. The painting in my head needs a “canvas” and that dress will be perfect for it.

Next up will be the painted wooden bangles although they might make their appearance on my Paper With Everything blog because I’ll be using mixed media which means more tea bags and paper!