Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sheer Desperation: Upcycled First Responder Shirt with Maximum Pocket Power



Perfectly Pocketed

Sometimes you entirely lose sight of reality while thrift shopping. This voluminous pale-green shirt caught my eye and I had to have it, despite the fact that it violated my cardinal clothing rule: pockets are absolutely mandatory. This shirt had none. In addition, the garment is so sheer as to render it useless for all practical purposes, particularly when worn by a 68-year-old woman.

Totally sheer

What to do? I decided to make this shirt work against its intrinsically frivolous nature by transforming it into a street-ready uniform as part of my ongoing First Responder series. An ancient Chinese first aid print, converted into an iron-on transfer image and then to a fabric patch, offers a handy first-aid manual for just about anything that could possibly break on the human body.


 I also used one of my go-to strategies for solving the pocket problem by adding cargo pockets. See Braving the Urban Frontier with Cargo Pockets for more creative uses for this common thrift store find.

Three simple tweaks.

Close-up

The plan is to wear this upcycled shirt as a tunic over a black t-shirt and leggings. I figure I can pack enough supplies into the pockets to keep me going in the face of just about any urban disaster for a couple of days.

Onward (and always armed with a dark sense of humor)!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Smash-a-Trump: Holiday and Protest March Cascarones


Trump Cascarones

"Cascaron" literally translates to "eggshell," and in Mexico the term "cascarones" usually refers to eggshells filled with confetti — popular at Easter, New Year, Carnival, and just about any time you want to smash an egg on someone's head or back to cover them in confetti. They are now popular in various countries throughout Latin America.

Smashed Trump cascaron with confetti innards spilling out.

I decided to make a batch of Trump cascarones for this Easter, though it occurs to me that these would be a welcome addition to any protest march as well. I have included detailed how-to instructions below, along with a template of Trump faces so that you can crank out your own cascarones. Throw a Trump cascarones get-together and make a ton of them.

Tap end of raw egg

Begin by tapping the end of a raw egg with a spoon to just start a crack at the smaller end of the egg. Use a pin to carefully lift away egg shell from that end. You want an opening large enough to easily insert confetti. Use photo below as a guide, but this isn't an exact science.

Pick and lift shell pieces away with a pin.

I simply turned the raw eggs over and shook them into a plastic storage container. The yolk sort of plops its way through the opening, and it doesn't matter if the yolk breaks. Save the eggs for a cooking project.

Save the egg innards and use them later for cooking.

A friend of mine from San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico refers to Trump as "the orange man" due to his perpetually bizarre skin tone, so of course I went with orange dye. Around Eastertime you can pick up Easter egg dye. I had food coloring on hand, so I just used the formula given on the food coloring box to create orange. Wash your eggs and then dye them and let them dry. I used the egg carton as a drying rack, but you can also just turn them with the opening down on a paper towel to dry.

Dyeing and drying "orange man" eggs

I had a hard time finding paper confetti — all that I found available commercially was horribly eco-unfriendly metallic confetti. As an alternative I bought a huge, multicolored pack of tissue paper at the Dollar Store and made my own. Just cut narrow strips through a lot of stacked layers of the tissue paper, and then snip those strips into tiny pieces.

Stuff eggs with paper confetti

I had planned to use a makeshift paper funnel to pour confetti into the eggs but as it turned out, I was able to just pinch bunches of confetti between my fingers and stuff the confetti into the eggs. Stuff them fairly full. Cover the opening with a piece of blue tissue paper. Just eyeball the size of your openings and cut circles of tissue paper larger than the opening. I used a glue stick around the edge of the tissue paper circle and then pressed the circle in place. Note: Do not smear glue over your entire circle, and in particular you should avoid getting glue in the middle - you don't want your confetti adhering to the tissue paper.

Glue blue tissue paper over opening

Download, print, and use the template below to create the Trump faces. You'll see there are two versions - pick the one you like or use both (I did).

Template for Trump heads

Cut around a Trump head as shown below. Use a similar-size piece of carbon paper and some pink or orange tissue paper from your multicolored pack of tissue paper. I always have carbon paper on hand. If you don't, you can get some at any office supply store. Use a ballpoint pen to go over the lines on the Trump face and transfer that image onto the tissue paper. Ignore the very top of the head and the collar/tie at the bottom. Don't transfer those (see pictures below). Trim and use a glue stick to affix the face onto the egg. It will wrinkle a bit because the paper is flat and the egg is a three-dimensional oval, but you'll find that the wrinkles just press into place and the whole thing works.  Important: The chin should be down near the blue tissue paper covering the opening (see below). As this evolves, that blue tissue paper becomes his suit.

Transfer Trump face to tissue paper

Face transferred onto tissue paper

Tissue paper face glued onto egg

Using yellow tissue paper, cut three shapes like the one below. Start by cutting an oval, then snip into the oval at one end as shown. This is going to be his hair. Just eyeball the size. The picture following this one should help you see how this works.

Cut three pieces of yellow tissue paper like this.

Glue the three yellow hair pieces around the sides and back of the egg as shown below.

Glue yellow paper to egg sides and back.

Hair back

Now just crumple the hair with your fingers. There is no wrong way to do this. Then put little dabs of the glue stick on top of the egg and press various ends of the hair down to create comb-overs. I like leaving a lot of the hair loose and wild, like a bad comb-over caught in a wind storm.

Crumpled hair, and an added tie.

I realized at this final stage that a tie (red of course) would complete the cascaron. I had some red napkins on hand, and just cut out little two-layer ties freehand. You could also use red tissue paper.

Completed Trump cascarones

And there you have it — a batch of Trump cascarones. Can't wait to smash them.

And what to do with all of those eggs? I made a frittata:

Celebrate with a frittata

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Give Yourself a Medal: The Awards Jacket


The Uber-Official-Looking Awards Jacket

Sometimes you just deserve a medal. No one else may realize it, but deep in your heart you know it's true. And there is a certain something about a guy — or a gal — in uniform. The much-maligned author Jerzy Kozinsky knew this better than anyone. He would go to uniform shops and have them tailor-make a uniform that would transform him into an intimidating, high-ranking officer from some vague, obscure, non-existent country. My trip down this fantasy road began with the discovery of some badges at the bottom of a basket of assorted rubble at the Depot for Creative reuse in Oakland. I snagged a few that appealed to me and supplemented those with some iron-on images I had created in the past from my stash at home. Once I spotted this military-style linen jacket at the thrift store right around the corner from me, I was in business.

Awards, left shoulder

Close-up

I decided what all of the awards represented because, after all, I am the head honcho of this fantasy squadron. Note that the "Not" pin is from a previous post, "Dialog Pin for Troubled Times," where you will find how-to instructions to make pins of your own.

Right shoulder

Close-up

Accidents happen in any campaign and in this case, when I decided to remove the original clothing label from this recycled garment, I inadvertently snipped right through the fabric of the jacket at the neckline. No worries. The "cross child" label below, which uses an image lifted from a Japanese language card, not only covers the glitch, it communicates that there is someone you don't want to tangle with inside this uniform.

Back neck label: Don't mess with me.

Close-up

As an afterthought, I used my new (recycled) printing kit and fabric ink to print a motto for our times and for my branch of this non-existent military: "Despair is not an option." Quote courtesy of Bernie Sanders.


"Despair is not an option."

There is a fine line, when creating a garment like this, between fashioning something that can pass as street clothing and an interesting conversation-starter, and ending up with something that would make everyone on AC Transit move to the other end of the bus. I am hoping I have pulled off the former.

If you're ready to sign up for my non-existent army, go ahead and create a uniform of your own. This automatically qualifies you to become commanding officer of whatever branch of the force you wish, with full powers to award yourself medals. No saluting necessary, except maybe a peace sign.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Make Your Own Orange Man Voodoo Doll


Trump Voodoo Doll

Trump Voodoo Pincushion

For those frustrated when there is no marching to be done, petition to sign, or phone call to be made, here you have two versions of anti-Trump voodoo magic. I finished these in time for use during his first address to Congress. Now you can make some of your very own. First, the photos below will give you a sense of scale:



I am including instructions and templates for two different ways to make these. The first involves embroidering some yourself, the second offers an easier way out by cheating a bit with a full-color printout of the completed embroidery pieces.

How to Embroider Your Own Voodoo Doll

Download the black and white templates below. Print them out and then transfer to cloth by using carbon paper. Yes, they still sell carbon paper in well-stocked office supply stores. Put the cloth down first, then put the carbon paper on top of that (black, carbon side down facing the cloth), then the printout face-up. Use a ballpoint pen and press firmly, going over all of the lines on the printout. The drawing will transfer to your cloth via the carbon paper. Place your cloth Trump image face-down on another piece of cloth you want to use as the backing. Stitch around the border of the embroidery through both layers of cloth, leaving about a one-inch opening. Turn the piece through that opening so that the whole thing is right-side-out. Stuff the doll through the opening, then turn under the edges of the opening and stitch the opening closed from the outside.

Black and white embroidery template

Black and white embroidery template

Easy Non-Embroider Voodoo Dolls

For the easier method below, I scanned the two completed pieces of embroidery. All you have to do is print out this page onto a sheet of iron-on transfer paper. You can get iron-on transfer paper at any office supply store or online. As you can see, the image below is reversed so that when you iron it onto fabric, the final result will read correctly. Once printed onto transfer paper, cut out around each image, leaving a border for stitching. Iron each image onto fabric, following package instructions for your transfer paper. Choose backing material and place the fabric with the photo transfer image face-down on your backing material. Stitch around the border leaving about a one-inch opening. Turn the doll through the opening so that it is right side out. Stuff the doll through the opening. Turn under edges of the opening and stitch together from the outside.


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