Monday, March 26, 2007

Los Payasos de Oak Parque

I can't say that I've ever thought of clowning as a craft in the way that sewing's certainly a "craft" in the sense that it's an art form that takes a lot of work to get right. Bad clowns are depressing and sometimes even terrifying.

I don't know a whole lot about clowning, though Elliot has been studying circus arts for the past three or four years--he's a pretty proficient plate spinner, diabolo tosser, and juggler--and once in a while his teachers have the kids put makeup on and practice clowning. Over the past two weeks, though, Elliot and Astrid and I have been thinking and talking a lot about what it means to be a clown. We started because Elliot asked me to get him the long, thin balloons that clowns and magicians use to make balloon animals; the idea was for him to learn how to make a couple of shapes so that he could do them for Astrid's friends at her upcoming birthday party. While I was on the website to buy the balloons and pump, we started looking at clown makeup and decided to get some. Since everything arrived, we've been making *lots* of balloon animals. They're not at all hard to do! Once I got over my fear of having the balloons pop on me (not many do....they're pretty strong) I was shocked at how easy they are to make.

We're almost out of the first bag of 100 balloons (eeek--they went fast), so I ordered some more last night, along with some white clown makeup---we forgot to get it the first time around. Now the kids want to have a circus during our spring/summer block party. It's not scheduled yet, but I bet we'll need to buy more balloons before it happens.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why do scrap quilts cost so much to make?

I'm suddenly interested in making a pieced scrap quilt--instead of my usual can't-be-bothered strip piecing. I'm reading a book by Roberta Horton about the theory and aesthetics of "real" scrap's got me all excited. I looked forward all day to shopping on line for batting, templates, and a *little* bit of fabric. Yet I just got off, where I spent $50....the fabric wasn't all that expensive--but the templates were $18 (I hope they're worth it) and the batting was $8 (not bad, really---it's the good cotton stuff). I guess I didn't absolutely have to buy five half-yards of fabric. On the other hand, given the kind of week I've had, maybe it's exactly what I needed to do.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cyn, cynical--cyn, cynical--cynical is me....(sing like Dick Van Dyke)

(This is a picture of Astrid peeking into the kitchen. My sewing machine and one of Elliot's old handdrawn maps are behind her. I put this picture in because I feel very childish on, if you dare.)

I'm in the final stages of drafting my Bad Craft Blogs paper for the Popular Culture Conference in Boston--my husband and I are reading our papers on April 4. I've been aiming for nine pages, and I have about six right now--with one more day of spring break in which to finish the draft. I feel pretty confident that I can do it (unless I don't sleep tonight and feel bad in the morning), and I think it's going to be a pretty good paper. But. I'm sick to death of thinking about blogs. I've been looking at other people's blogs much more than I actually want to (I just found out, for instance, that there are 1048 blogs in the Knitting Blog ring), and I'm feeling like I did before I ever started my own blog---that they're good mostly for navel gazing egomaniacs with time on their hands.

And yet....this navel gazing egomaniac with no time on her hands has *really* enjoyed writing a blog, and I feel like a twelve-year-old wallflower when I google Seis Manos and can't find it, or when I go to Blogflux (where I tried to list myself) and I can't find it. I figure I'm doing something (or lots of somethings) wrong, but there's part of me that feels like I'm being left out by the popular kids. I've been feeling high on my tech savvy (not easy to do in a house where my husband can basically build a computer from scratch, and knows more acronyms than actual words)....

To top things off, I just about fainted tonight when I found that someone from U Washington had published a refereed article about knitting blogs in an online rhetoric journal. I was ready to call up the Popular Culture Association and let them know that I wouldn't have a paper to read, because someone had already written and published what I was going to say. Then I had the presence of mind (ha ha) to read the paper and I saw that it wasn't at all what I was trying to do.

This entry is way more "academic" than "creative," though a main reason for starting Seis Manos in the first place was to explore how artificial the divide between those two kinds of thinking is. I've been thinking how competition goes underground in women's craft blogs---women seem afraid to openly show how competitive they probably feel---and my immersion in writing this paper (and, I hope, a journal article built on it) has made the academic machisma I'm so used to feeling bleed way, way into an area that I've tried to keep it out of. Oh well. No one's reading this anyway! (Maybe if I start making lists of people I hate and envy--and who have no connection to sewing or crafting--this blog will suddenly become very popular and influential.)

Monday, March 5, 2007

The long, long braid

Astrid went back to school today (finally), and I didn't get a call from the secretary telling me she needed to come home. This feels like a great victory (I'll take them wherever I can get them these days). As we promised her, she got to bring her long, long polarfleece braid (about 8 feet now) to school for show and tell. I'm going to pick her and her brother up from school in a few minutes. It will be very interesting to hear Astrid's account of the reception her braid got: because she's in a Spanish-language Montessori class, and because I forgot to look up the words she might need in order to describe her work, I have no idea how her teachers or classmates will interpret what she definitely sees as a *big* achievement.

I've started lacing together my braid into an oval rug, and even though I've only got about 14 x 3 inches put together, it looks lovely. I'm already thinking about new projects to braid.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Okay, the bad cold turned into pneumonia, and I haven't felt like doing much but sleep. Elliot and Astrid, however, have been at home with ear infections, so sleeping hasn't happened as much as I have needed it to. There have been moments when I've actually gotten more peace if I was busy--I guess the kids are so used to me working on stuff that they are less likely to express neediness if I'm up and about than they are if I'm lying down. The second I lie down they have parched throats, grumbling tummies, ouches galore, and disputes that require immediate mediation.

I started braiding a rug out of cheap polarfleece last week, before I was so sick. Cutting the strips was the most fun, all things considered, mostly because I bought a 60 mm rotary cutter (I've wanted a bigger one for a long time--my little one just can't do thick piles of fabric). The braiding has been fun, too, but it's a drag to get up every few minutes to sew new strips onto the ends of the current ones. The braiding goes *really* fast. I wasn't able to find linen carpet thread in the stores (and I was too impatient to order some online--had I known that I was going to get pneumonia, gee, I would have ordered it last week), so I bought cotton crochet yarn. I was able to find the recommended kind of needle--it looks a bit like a ski. Of course, I don't at all feel like trying to put the rug together right now.

Perhaps the most gratifying part of this braiding adventure has been Astrid's big achievement: she asked me to teach her how to braid, and she learned very quickly. She needs help keeping it tight, but she definitely understands how braiding works. I told her that, once she's feeling better, she can bring her long (about seven feet) braid for show and tell.