Sunday, February 18, 2018

I Have Been Doing!

Sometimes you think about doing something. Sometimes you write about it. This past week I have been doing it. I have five projects in five different disciplines in progress and it feels GREAT! I also continue working weekly in a sixth discipline with a steady stream of projects coming from it. No, I haven't put my tax stuff together for our accountant yet. No, I haven't worked on my website or inventoried my extra glass studio materials preparatory to putting them up for sale online. No, I haven't done more than spot cleaning on the house in, oh, forever. But I am creating! This post is a celebratory drive-by of the creative fruits of my... fingers.

It's Sunday night, the wind is howling outside and the wind chimes practically have a symphony going on. Dave and Jessie have both gone to bed, and I'm sitting on the couch, rubbing my hands together and chortling at all the piles of creation nestled throughout the house (and car--all my wood lives in the minivan between Saturday woodworking classes).

The oldest continuously worked project is my spinning mash-up. In addition to the three bobbins on the table and the two spinning wheels with half-plus filled bobbins, I also have a good amount of plied yarn that I began knitting into a sweater earlier in the winter. I'm going to tink (unknit or knit backwards) the sweater and skein the yarn back up till I find the project I want to make with it. I still haven't found one that matched the yarn perfectly so I just keep on spinning.

Moving on through the fiber projects, I have finally finished warping the little table loom I got at spin-in (and correcting mistakes in it, and correcting again, and again...) and I have begun weaving dishtowels. I don't know why, but I am completely taken with cotton dishtowels right now, and as Mimi is an eight-harness loom, I am able to do several complicated pinwheel patterns all from the same warp. The first one has brown and white bands in the warp and the weft that make up the pinwheel pattern. As is the nature of weaving, all the dishtowels from this warp will have brown and white pattern stripes vertically, but I'm planning to swap out the brown for seven other colors for the rest. The dishcloths will measure about 16" wide by 18" long when they're finished.

The last of the fiber projects is a five ft by five-and-a-half ft fuzzy blanket I am making on a knitting board for Jessie. This project, like spinning, is a great in-front-of-the-tv activity. I started it last night while we were watching the Incredibles, and I worked on it for about another half hour this evening. Jessie picked the colors and is really looking forward to having it. I knitted her a similar one a year or so ago with traditional knitting needles... or maybe I crocheted it. I don't remember. Anyhoo, that one had a wide-open lacy pattern and this one--per Jessie's request--will be pretty solid.

Last week I also started back on the silver locket from the intermediate silversmithing class I took, and I tube set my first stone (the topaz--Jessie's birthstone). This week I hope to finish it by riveting the little silver stamped plaque inside, and tube setting the last two stones--sapphires from Montana. One of them is one I mined, and it's going to go into the remaining large tube (sapphire is Dave's birthstone). The other one is a tiny stone that will go into the little tube on the front of the locket. The blackish rainbow color of the metal is from liver of sulphur. I dipped it last week during open studio, and I'm still trying to decide if I like it.

Finally, I took a big step towards finishing the gaming table yesterday. It was a long, laborious, tiring activity, but I used the bandsaw to cut all the channels for the bridle joints at the top corners of the table, and dry-fitted them together. Next weekend is the glue-up for the top, and finishing the legs so I can do the mortises and tenons for the table apron. These pictures all show the curly pecan top rails of the table. Two of them show the bridle joints in the corners when they're together, and the other one shows the channels I cut for the joint. Right now they all protrude a quarter of an inch from each side and have sharp edges. The edges will be rounded down and maybe even shortened a bit when it's finished.

The final discipline is ceramics, and I swear my wheel-throwing is just improving by leaps and bounds! This past class I threw a pot similar to the leftmost one in the photo. Then I made two fitted lids for it. Jennifer, our instructor, recommends always throwing two lids in case one doesn't work out. When the vessel is bisque-fired, it'll have the lid in it to help prevent warping and uneven shrinking between the parts. Also new in my repertoire is the drinking glass in the middle of the photo. It's not huge, but it's the tallest cylinder I've thrown to date. Looking forward to trying a teapot this week.

Now off to join my dulcetly snoring spouse. Tomorrow, taxes. And feeding the bees. And working out. And weaving, and knitting, and spinning...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Same Day Over and Over Again

It's cold, it's grey, and it's been a long time since I've posted so I'm staying tucked under the down comforter for awhile blogging until the house warms up. We watched Groundhog Day last weekend and it just occurred to me that the day Phil Connors had to live over and over again for more than eight years was a day just like today ... I would have gone mad. Everything I do is based on time and continuity and almost nothing is completed in a day. Think about it. If everything starts over each day, projects would reset and couldn't be continued. Whatever I put into the kiln would be gone. If I got the loom warped, it would be empty the next day. Even if I did manage to finish something, it would be back in its original pieces the next day. Gah! What a horrible thought! Well, except for ceramics. I'd become a lot better throwing clay if I just practiced and wasn't focused on a finished piece. Of course I'd never learn anything about glazing at all since I'd never get tp see a piece come out of the kiln.

There is nothing to do in the garden in February--and even if there were, how depressing would it be to weed the beds and find all the weeds back the next day! Any renovations to the house would also disappear by the next day. I'd have to change everything I love to do. On the plus side, the house would never get dirtier (or course it wouldn't get any cleaner either). I'd know exactly where Baxter was going to pee at any given time and be able to get him outside first so I'd never have to clean that up again.

So if I had one day to live over and over again, how would I spend it? Could I work out and get completely into shape? Considering that Phil destroyed his body several times and it came back undamaged and unchanged the next day, probably not. He was able to learn the piano though, which requires building muscle memory. Hmmm. That piece of continuity is a little bit squiffy. And at the end of eight years for me it would only be a day for everyone else so I'd have to look physically the same. So what _would_ I do?

Well, I could read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies. I could become fluent again in French. I could learn Japanese and Arabic and renew my relationship with Russian. Oooh, I could start saxophone and zoom ahead in piano! I could master making bread! That's it! Eight years of the same day over and over again is all about practice. It's about infinite resources and do overs. It's not about completing anything. Instead, it's about the journey.

So what makes it different, really, from eight years of real life? Don't some people say life is about the journey, not the destination? Well for one thing, in life there are consequences to your choices in the journey--just like there are endings to the projects. I skipped over all the doing-stupid-stuff-for-fun-because-there-are-no-consequences things because while they might be entertaining for a little while, they'd get boring fast. In life there isn't infinite time: Any things you choose to do mean things you don't get to choose. Life is a lot of this OR that, not this AND that. In life there are chores, all the pesky little things like housework, taxes, doctor's appointments, and such that keep you from spending all your time learning and practicing.

And real life has now intruded on my musings requiring me to get out from under the warm covers and go work out. Japanese, Arabic, and saxophone are going to have to wait.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Days, a Week, and Energy

I love Sunday night. The previous week has ended and everything gets to start anew Monday morning. I don't really have a concept of weekend vs. weekday anymore. I realize that for Dave and Jessie there is a clear distinction between the two, but all days have the same potential for amazing fun and adventure for me. The time segment of a week still exists, and individual days mean different things: Monday and Wednesday are workout days, Wednesday also has a piano lesson, Thursday has ceramics class, now Saturday has an informal furniture-making/woodworking class, and Sunday night is time to bask in the plans for a new week, but weekday and weekend not so much.

I used to hate Sunday nights. When we first moved to Austin in '98, I was working as a software engineer for Business Objects and I traveled every week to client sites. I flew out Monday morning, flew home Friday evening, and cried every Sunday afternoon in dread of the upcoming week. Now it's Jessie's turn. I watch her withdraw and get blue starting Sunday afternoon/evening. I wish there were something I could do for her to make it better, but this is one of those things she's going to have to figure out on her own.

This week I have noticed something else about Sunday: it's the day when my energy is the lowest in the week. Last Monday I did my first B12 injection myself and it was an incredible day. Tuesday and Wednesday I felt like I had more energy than usual, and Thursday I was back to normal. Friday, however,  I started falling asleep whenever I sat for any length of time, and today I got up late, took a nap in the car, and another one later in the afternoon. I have no doubt that I'll go right to sleep tonight. I wish the B12 was more time release--or that I took injections more often!

I mentioned above that I'm taking an informal furniture-making/woodworking class on Saturday. Yesterday was my first one, and I prepared for it by finishing my games table design Thursday night and then going down to purchase wood at Berdoll Sawmill on Friday afternoon. Last summer I went to Dupuis Lumber in Polson for the blue pine slabs and rough sawn lumber for a bed and desk. I loved it there and never thought I would find anything like it in Austin, and then I found Berdoll! They specialize in sustainable native Texas hardwood natural edge slabs. The picture of their staff at right was taken next to a set of walnut slabs from one tree.

For the games table, I chose an 8" wide 8/4 board of curly pecan, another 8/4 pecan board for the legs, and some 8/4 mesquite for the apron and accents for the legs. I'll use maple plywood for the top and the bottom. While I was there I lusted after the mesquite slab at the top left of this post. It's 93" tall and 63" wide, and I think it would make the most incredible corner desk! There was a desk in their office that was also made from a slab and I was impressed by the artistry of the edges. In one place there should have been a cut edge, but instead it looked like it had been wind and water sculpted. I asked about it and was told it had been carved to look like that. Maybe if they still have the mesquite slab I like when I finish the games table, the liquor cabinet/bar, and the bed...

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

So Many Things

Tonight's moon
There are so many topics clamoring to be written about tonight! It's been a week since I last wrote, and it was a full one. The time in Destin on the hand spinning retreat was magical: full of friends, fiber, and dirty martinis with three olives. Since I've been back the weather has been warm so today I puttered with the bees a bit, started cleaning the pond, and took the dogs to the dog park. Yesterday afternoon I played hooky with Dave, and I worked out Monday and today. Though I haven't been as thorough as I might have been entering all my food data into My Fitness Pal, I have eaten well all week. Piano has also been played, I began design on another woodworking project--a bar/liquor cabinet to go with the games table--and I have done a bit of spinning. Oh yes, I've also made and shipped three glass orders!

Anya and I
But all of those accomplishments pale in comparison to the big news of the week (actually I think the big news of the week made everything else possible): I have begun giving myself my own B12 injections! I did one at the doctor with the technician on Monday (in my right thigh) and went straight from there to workout. It was a leg day, and I think the leg workout really pushed the B12 into my system faster as I was zinging with energy all the rest of the day.

Elke and Ann Lynn
Today is hump day and we begin the downward slide to the weekend. Tomorrow is ceramics class (and I have another glass order to make for shipping Friday), and Friday is a crafting morning with Becky and dogs-to-the-groomer day (whew! they are smelly!!). Saturday I'm supposed to go to a woodworking bring-your-own-project workshop at a local woodworker's studio, and I'll go if I can get further on my table design and pick up the wood Friday. This weekend is also when I'm supposed to start perennial seeds for the garden and I haven't even decided what to grow yet!

It is a good life


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

An Unintended Project

I made no resolutions this year. More specifically, I didn't resolve to get in shape, eat better, or lose weight. That way, experience has always shown me, lies madness. And yet...

I just got home from an appointment with a nutritionist. I went to see her because I wanted help managing the food component of my diabetes. As part of the consult it came up that I would not be averse to losing weight. Not averse to, but pessimistic about the reality of. Carla, however, was a bubbling font of optimism, and I left the office with sample meal plans for breakfast, lunch and snack--I'm not messing with Dave's cooking other than to add more vegetables for me and have slightly smaller portions of his scrumptious entrees. Surprisingly, I can actually see myself losing weight by following this plan. Well, I guess that's not so surprising: you can succeed with all weight loss plans if you follow them! What I should have said is, I can see being able to easily follow this plan without too much effort, and If I do, I'll lose weight. Oh yes, I'll also better manage my diabetes.

In the past when I have dieted (aka paying attention to what I'm eating and counting/measuring it) I have wanted to restrict my intake such that I would lose at least three lbs a week and preferably five. Why do it if you can't do it quick was my younger self's motto. Realistic much? I approached working out the same way: 3-5 times a week, an hour a time. I'm an all-or-nothing, balls-to-the-wall kind of girl. And I failed at eating to lose weight and working out. Repeatedly.

But now maybe I'm older *and* wiser. The eating plan Carla put me on balances my carbs throughout the day and is targeted for a weight loss of 1 lb a week. While I'll barely notice that weight loss, looking at the foods I'm supposed to eat, I'll barely notice a change there either! The big rule for the diabetes is to eat carbs at every meal, and to always offset them with fat and/or protein. Her idea of a good breakfast for me is an egg, two slices of toast, a quarter of an avocado or an oz of cheese, a cup of milk, and a cup of raspberries. Wow! this morning on my way out the door I grabbed two mini croissants and two pieces of Laughing Cow cheese. According to her plan I'm about 238 calories short for the meal... Happy Day!

So now I have My Fitness Pal on my phone, and I'll start tracking my food and carbs to make sure I eat well and regularly. Oh yeah, and I might lose some weight too! Oh, for that working out thing? I go to the gym 1-2 days a week (I shoot for two) and work with a trainer who kicks my butt. Maybe 2018 will see less of me than did previous years!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Upcoming Projects Slooooow Style

Today is the beginning of my next chapter. Will it be a mystery? A whodunit? A comedy? A drama? For myself, I hope it will be if not boring, at least really calm. I hope it includes sleep and avoids deadlines. One of the first things it will contain is a hand spinning retreat in Destin. I will get to see old friends from Atlanta and I'll do nothing but sleep, eat, and spin for four days. What a great reset that will be! And I'm not even going to exhaust myself getting there this year as I'm going to fly this time.

While I'm there I'm going to finish up the spinning project I started last summer which got derailed with the onset of summer's medical issues and then the Fall and Winter of Great Endeavors. It's the mash-up of a bunch of different hand-dyed rovings from which I was going to knit a sweater. I started a sweater but don't like it so I'm going to tink it (that's knit it backwards) and make one of the knit swirl coats instead. I think I'll do a slightly larger version of this one. I like the drape, I like the flow. This will be a good match for the colorful yarn I'm spinning.

This is a bridle joint on the top corners of the table edge.
Sexy, huh?
Yesterday Dave, Jessie, and I finished the new layout of the sitting room which henceforth is to be called the Game Room. Today I puttered with the plans for the game table and picked up a few small tools I'll need. Tool shopping is always a treat, and since I finished the gig I had a little spare cash. I thought I was going to do a square version of the one from the Wood Whisperer Guild, but it's just not quite what we want. So instead it looks like I'll take the features I like from it--the top frame with the bridle joints in the corners, the lifting mechanism to remove the inset table top,  and the tapered legs--and I'll pull other details in from other designs. It means I'll have to go to Sketchup to do the design, but we'll get exactly what we want.

There's a new urban lumber mill here in Austin that mills downed trees and I'm excited to be getting my wood from them. Their philosophy is pretty cool:

"Harvest Lumber Company produces quality lumber with wood waste from Central Texas. After years of seeing countless trees being mulched and plenty of buildings being demolished, we felt a call to save this material. As two professional woodworkers we were excited to develop a wood processing facility that could mill, dry and retail this precious material. As stewards of the environment and longtime Austinites, we felt drawn to make a positive impact in our community. Our transparent operation located in Central Austin demonstrates real recycling at work and offers a variety of products for sale to the public. Harvest Lumber Company provides resources and guidance to both professional and novice woodworkers.  We look forward to helping you begin your next woodworking project."

But now, to bed. The spouse is calling, and I must go.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

I Begin a Total Mental and Physical Reset

After a year of posting every day, I have really slacked off. Forgive me all, for I have sinned. It's been seven days since my last posting. The project is done. The fashion show is done. The holidays are done. The art fair is done. It was a wild ride, and now it's done. I was very happy with the end of the project. I did (almost) everything I wanted to, they loved the work, and I even was given my own sparkletar (Sparkle avatar). What do you think? Kali the Destroyer, mother of all things, that from which all things come, time, and death.

Today Dave and I worked on a reset of the house, putting away Christmas and cleaning. I had such high hopes for what we'd accomplish, and we only got through about half of my list. That's not to say we didn't do really, really well, but I was overconfident on what I thought we'd get to. I think Dave did a lot more than I did and he was very happy with our progress.

I took a break midway through the cleaning frenzy to suit up and check on the bees with Zaga. We looked at her hive first, and it was great. Then we looked at my top bar hive, and the combs were mostly empty of honey and larvae. I did find the queen, but they need fed. The Flow hive was next up and they had bountiful combs of capped honey and a lot of activity. Then we went to the hybrid. It was eerie. There were a couple of dead bees, and some bees who had died while chewing their way out of the cells (hatching). Other than that the hive was stripped clean. There were no bees, no honey, no larvae, just wax. The next hive was the Lang hive of the gentle golden bees, and it was the same as the hybrid: a few dead bees, and everything else looked like a bee ghost town. I was pretty upset by this point, but shouldered on to the last hive, another Lang. Like the top bar it was almost devoid of honey, but there were bees, and I think I even saw some larvae. I didn't take all the frames all the way out. I looked just enough to see that they were there and really needed food. So I mixed up a couple of entrance feeders with 2:1 sugar syrup, and I am starting to feed them.

Now it's the end of an evening spent en famille with Dave, Jessie, and Dave's parents who are visiting through Monday. Everyone else has gone to their nests to settle down for a cozy night of sleep. I want to do the same, but first I thought I'd take look forward through the spring until we go to Montana. What is next? Nothing really for this week other than getting ready for five days at the January Spin-In in Destin with a couple of friends. I got a notification today that I was not selected for the Austin Fine Arts Festival this spring. My Master Spinner Level 2 class has been moved from February to October. I'm at a bit of a loose end! Maybe I'll just enjoy it and drift along a bit not planning or thinking about anything... Yeah, right. I hope I have more energy and enthusiasm tomorrow. I need my groove back!

Monday, January 15, 2018

I Welcome the New Year at Last

It's 59 degrees outside and dry, and school is cancelled for tomorrow due to weather... In the school district's defense, I had a doctor's appointment in the morning which has also been cancelled as they expect to be closed for weather too. It's supposed to rain starting soon, turning into snow and ice as the temperatures plummet by morning. With the hill at the end of our street, if the roads are icy, we won't be going anywhere tomorrow. I wish I had done my kiln loads today when it was 65 degrees out and thus warm in the studio too. Tomorrow and the next few days are going to be miserable.

As mentioned in yesterday's post, the fashion show is over. I am also coming to the end of the doc project--Dave would like me to be finished writing and him to be finished reviewing my writing by tomorrow. Oddly enough, I think I can make that goal. Then what? My in-laws asked me the other day what my next big project is, and I didn't have a specific one in mind, just a feeling I wanted to get down into the wood shop. I also need to finish my coursework for the level one master spinner course by the end of February, and I'm headed to Destin for a five-day spinning retreat in a week. SO it looks like wood and wool are on my horizon.

But more important than anything I'm winding up to do is stopping and relishing this moment of being DONE. I'll be honest, I have come to dread the holidays. There's too much going on at the end of the year and too much pressure to connect with friends, family, co-workers, and the world, and to celebrate your relationships and good feelings. Even this year when I managed to keep Christmas down to a dull roar with two presents for Dave, two presents from Dave, and fewer presents than previously for Jessie, it still was too much. I thought the cruise would take some of the pressure off because we wouldn't be back till Christmas Eve, but that wasn't the case. Between the art fair, starting the SQL docs, getting sick on the cruise, all three of us sharing a room on the cruise, Christmas, and the fashion show I have been stuck in a time of no personal time and no personal space. But now time is coming back to me.

On the idea of wood projects, Dave and I were discussing what to do with the "room" at the far end of the downstairs. We call it a room, but really our downstairs living area is one big room with the great room at one end, a dining room squeezed in between it and a kitchen, and then what we're calling a sitting room at the far end. Right now there is a piano, a couple of comfy chairs in front of the fireplace and a couple of bookcases in that room. And we never use it. In the interest of using it for more than piano practice and lessons, I proposed moving one chair and the bookcases out, moving the games cabinet in, and putting a 2-4-person games table in the middle of the room. We have been enjoying playing games of an evening, and this way we wouldn't have to worry if the dining room table was sticky. Dave thought my proposal was marvelous, and guess who's building the games table? As I am a member of the Wood Whisperer Guild I checked to see if there were any plans for a games table there, and, huzzah! Now I have plans! Though I think I will modify them some as we just want a 3.5 ft square pedestal table. We do want a lot of bells and whistles though including a cloth-covered, recessed gaming surface, cup holders, individual play surfaces, and modular accessories like dice trays, surfaces for plates of food, etc.

On a smaller scale I have decided to take all the remaining redwood from the old deck that's still piled in front of the garage and cut and plane it down into smaller pieces which I will use to build little redwood boxes and other small items. I like boxes and I want a project where I can practice skills like dovetailing, routing and inlay on a small scale. As soon as it dries up outside, I'll get right on it!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Rundown on the Runway

We have had several days of ups and downs here at the Griffith abode, and I have been pondering how to relate the events in this forum. I still don't have an answer, but I need to move on it or forget about it. I still don't have photos, but I will soon.

The last time I posted was last Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning. J and I had worked all day Monday, and it felt like we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And then I wrote about finishing and switching gears and how good it all felt, and fate stepped up to my challenge and said, "Take this!". Tuesday I went in to, kicked ass on doc, and everything was great. Jessie had rehearsal again until 8:00 that night, and came home to say the white dress was too big and needed to be taken in. Ugh. As it was lined, it meant taking in both the dress and the lining.

And thus began the descent into madness as from there on I lost track of time. Couture problems gleefully manifested daily as the rest of the week passed in a haze of late nights, too-full days, and unending sewing.

To finish the story of the white dress: Jessie pinned the dress on the model to mark where it needed to be taken in. The pins started to come out and were replaced by someone else with safety pins but on the other side of the dress. No, I have no idea how something could be both replaced and on the other side. By the time J got home, the safety pins (which didn't close properly) had started to come out. J had a pretty good idea (vague recollection) how much the dress should be taken in. I was dubious as taking in a form-fitting dress without exact requirements just sounded hazardous to me. But we had to do it because there weren't enough rehearsals left before the judging to refit. So we took it in, and this time we also hemmed it up. The next day when the model tried it on it was too tight. So it had to be let out, but we had cut the extra fabric out after taking it in as it would have been too bunchy under the dress if left in. The next step was to rip the sides out up to just above the waist, add in triangular panels to the dress and the lining, and hem it up again. And then there was still the ruffle to finish and the issue of making it fit better into the line (no blue, you see).

And then there was the blue ballgown. We turned it inside out and Jessie serged the entire hem together except for one small area to pull it back through right-side out again. Then we went to bed. J headed off to school the next morning, and when I got up I went to turn the dress right-side out so I could bring it to her rehearsal at the end of the school day.

Good thing I didn't wait till I was ready to leave as the physics of inside out does not work that way. In my defense, this is not a rare dressmaker error, and I still don't know why exactly, but for some reason if a lined dress is sewn together at the neckline and then down the back around the zipper you can't turn it inside out to hem. I have pictures, though they mostly look like a big wad of blue and god satin so it's hard to see that what I ended up with after pulling the dress right-side out again was a moebius strip. As I had gotten Jessie into the mess by telling her how to do the hem that way, I figured I should fix it. So I spent over half the day redoing it. I cut off the serged hem with a rotary cutter, turned the dress back right-side out, and went to the mass mind for a way to hem it inside out. Turns out you need to start with the dress right-side out, pin the hem that way (wrong sides together), then cut a slit in the lining and pull only the bottom of the dress through it. At this point the bottom is inside out and the top... isn't. Then you repin the hem in exactly the same place but with the right sides together. THEN you can serge it all the way around, pull it back through the slit in the lining, sew up the slit in the lining, and Bob's your uncle.

Fast forward to Friday, the day of dress rehearsal and judging. J was still sewing right up to a half hour after we were supposed to leave the house to get to the performing arts center (and then more in the car on the way). We got to dress rehearsal late, but Jessie and Isabelle's line was next to last so it all worked out. She finally finished at 9:30, and when I picked her up she was jubilant: The judges had told her everything was perfect, she couldn't have done better, and they asked her what she wanted to do in the fashion industry... The only cloud was that they didn't gush as much over Isabelle's part of the line--though they did say how well the two blended and you couldn't tell it was two designers.

And then it was Saturday. The clothes had been left at the performing arts center Friday night after judging in preparation for the show. No last-night/last-minute sewing, everything was done. The show began and the clothes were edgy, and the models (all McCallum students who had auditioned to participate) were as bored and aloof as any professional runway model could ever hope to be. The show was two hours long and featured the work of twelve student designers (and one design team--Jessie and Isabelle) shown by 29 or so models. Jessie and Isabelle's line was next to last, and it looked good. Neither of J's dresses were as wow-factor from far away as they had been up close, but they were clearly well-made (and the judges had examined all of the lines up close for quality of workmanship). Jessie is a demon for top-stitching and precision seams.

At the end of show the awards--1st to 3rd places--were announced. J did not place. I recognized the designer of one of the winning lines as she was towards the end too, but I'm still not sure who the others were.

As a parent, my heart ached for my child who didn't understand why she hadn't even placed. Why, she wanted to know, had the faculty advisor in charge of the show told her that they were being judged on the both the quality of the work and the design, when workmanship didn't seem to matter at all? Some of the pieces weren't even hemmed, they were just cut off. Nothing was lined, seams were crooked all over the place, why didn't this matter? Why had the judges said everything was perfect and couldn't have been done better if they weren't even going to place her? Other designers had said how harsh the judges had been about crooked and poorly done seams, and she wasn't given a single criticism, why?

As an adult and an artist who has spent the past 20 years in the creative world, I could see why the judges might not have picked her. Jessie is too grounded in the effort it she puts in to doing something--a combination of passion and keeping going until it finally matches the vision of her internal eye--to understand that it doesn't matter what it took to beat the materials into submission to achieve the goal. What matters isn't what the artist sees--it's what the audience sees. If the piece--be it clothes or a painting--makes the viewer think the maker was an artist and the work was inspired by a vision, that's what counts. The blood the artist may have poured into it doesn't. It often isn't the work that counts, it's the facade of its artisticness. The life and work of Vincent van Gogh provides a perfect example.

Not that I want Jessie to end up like Van Gogh. What mattered last night, today, and going forward is how she feels about her art and her craftsmanship. The only person she needs to please is herself. She has a right to be annoyed that the criteria she was given for success in this show were misrepresented, and that the judges weren't more helpful in their critique of her work. But she shouldn't be discouraged because her work wasn't acknowledged as she thought it should have been. The only validation that matters, the only criticism that matters is her own. She needs to keep listening to and following her own inner voice. And I hope she participates again next year.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Project Runway

I feel like I am living Project Runway...

After a marathon couture session that spanned from yesterday at 1:15 pm to 2:30 am, and then again from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm today, Jessie and I declared victory on her line for the fashion show this Saturday. I wish I had pictures. I kept meaning to get pictures, but it just hasn't happened. Tomorrow. The blue ball gown fit the model perfectly--it took two people to zip her into it, but once she was in nothing was moving around or falling down. Likewise the male models' clothes fit as if they were custom-tailored for him--which, of course, they had been. The model for the white dress was not at rehearsal tonight so J didn't get to fit her. Overall it the reception of the clothes by the models and the other designers, and the fit was so great that we are taking the night off.

The night off for me is being spent switching gears. I have put down one intense all-consuming adventure for another: Tomorrow I begin the end of the SQL docs. I am shooting for Friday for everything to be written, though I may take a couple more days to read through them again for a fine-tune and the last clean-up.

Switching gears is going to be accomplished with sleep. Sweet dreams are made of these.

I am Stuck

I sip a cup of Evening in Missoula--a wonderful herbal tea from Montana Tea and Spice Company--and await my next turn pinning. Jessie sews, I pin, and the couture goes on. We're still not done and everything was due today, but we are almost there! The shirt is done save for the buttons. The pants are done save for the hem and the button on the fly. Jessie is sewing the vest and the lining together and as soon as she finishes we'll turn it right side out and do the last two seams. Then there'll be nothing but the button holes, buttons and topstitching. That leaves the white brocade dress which has a little gold shoulder ruffle to sew on, a hook in the back, the hem (after the fitting tomorrow) and some gold and blue glitz. And then there's the Great Big Ballgown. The skirt lining is pinned to the bodice lining, waiting for J to sew.

Both cats are on the table with the sewing machine trying their best to help J. Kaiju thinks the best way to help her is by lying on whatever she's sewing. The little kitty thinks moving thread, pins, fingers, whatever, is the best cat toy ever and made for her claws. When helping Jessie sew pales, she'll turn her attention to Kaiju and they'll commence WWIII (with vocals!) on the table. Eventually they'll get tired and Kaiju will sleep (with much disgruntlement NOT on the fabric being sewed) on a nice woven alpaca rug I haven't finished on the sewing table and Pavlova will curl up in a little wicker basket on the other side of the machine. As we have now been sewing going on 11 hours, there have been many sleep and play cycles.
More time has passed. More seams have been sewn. Still not finished. Tomorrow. Please by all that's holy. Tomorrow.