Monday, July 22, 2013

The Graphics Fairy Brag Monday - Indochine


The central image came from the wondrous website of the Graphics Fairy, a veritable trove of vintage photos and art, all absolutely free. On Mondays participants can show off the many ways they have used those images in their creations, on everything from digital works like mine to pieces of furniture.  Very inspirational, so be sure to take a look.

On the photo I used, the words Indochine Francaise can be seen on the postage stamp, and Saigon is the first word penned at the top.  The date, 1906, can also be seen.  Something about the image just appealed to me, and without any concept in mind, I chose it as my starting point. Originally I composed it for a birthday greeting; this is a slightly altered version.  For those of you who may be interested in some general how-I-did-this comments, read on.  For everyone else, thanks for stopping by to have a look. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Money, money, money

We examined it, we read about it, we even got a little bag of it, the equivalent of about 40 bills of mixed denominations - alas, all shredded.  These little souvenir bags of worn-out money were being given away at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas first open house on Thursday.   And what a interesting and informative event it was!  The staff in this highly secure place and the numerous policemen could not have been more welcoming and  pleasant; there was even a table with an array of cookies and other treats.  Mr C said that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernake has been concerned about public relations and trying various avenues to help the public understand exactly what the Federal Reserve does, so maybe that accounts for the all-out hospitality.  But whatever the reason, it certainly made for an enjoyable experience. 
 The Dallas Fed is a striking contemporary complex built in 1992.  From the corner of the visitors' hall, you can look across Klyde Warren Park to the Arts District.


 Here are various displays, some interactive, on the regional economy, historical currency and the history of banking in the United States, explanations of how the Federal Reserve works and more.  This is a scale used by the Dallas Fed to weigh gold shipments that were used by many national banks to purchase their initials shares of capital stock in the Federal Reserve.

For the open house, there were also displays from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Fort Worth, the only place in this country outside of Washington, D.C. where paper currency is made.  (Did you know that?  I certainly didn't.)  Tables manned by craftsmen - Intaglio engravers, platemakers and photoengravers -  who actually do the work featured examples of the several processes that go into printing the new $100 bill that will be released in October.

We also attended a terrific presentation from Charlene Williams, associate director of the BEP's Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth (who obviously loves her job), on the history of the BEP, the money production process and the security features in U.S. paper currency.  There we learned that the BEP, which has regularly scheduled visitor hours, will also have special craft demonstrations during the last full week of July, so we are planning on going to that.  And we discovered there are regular visitor hours to see the Economy in Action permanent exhibits here at the Dallas Fed, well worth doing even without the added attractions that were part of the open house.  Indeed, a good way to pass some time in air-conditioned comfort during summer's 100-degree days while learning some fascinating facts about money, money, money.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Up White Rock Creek

White Rock Lake is a magnet for walkers and runners and cyclists, not to mention folks just enjoying being out by the water.  And on the water are usually some rowers and kayakers and perhaps a sailboat or two.  But enter White Rock Creek, that slightly mysterious wooded mouth at the north end of the lake, and the urban world slips away.  Or so it seems, although in the course of our one and a half mile journey up the creek this morning, we passed under a bridge thundering with rush-hour traffic and just beyond that to one side was manicured parkland.  Still, it's easy to imagine being in some secluded wilderness.  Well, okay, you do have to overlook the odd floating bottle or plastic bag draped over some tree roots; sadly it's not pristine.  Each time we've been there, we've talked about how, with some attention, this could be the kind of jewel that White Rock Lake has become.  But then, I guess it wouldn't offer this illusion of being remote and secret.

Our craft?  The noble Sea fits in the trunk of the car and inflates in less than 15 minutes.  (Pumping it up is great exercise for the legs!)  Mr. C. bought it four years ago; in addition to rowing about on White Rock Lake, we've taken it to Broken Bow, Oklahoma where we had an idyllic day on the lower Mountain Fork River.  And it's ferried us about the truly mysterious recesses of Cado Lake in East Texas with its moss-dripping cypresses and expanses of lotus.  The first time we rowed up White Rock Creek, it was an adventure, not knowing exactly where it went.  We had to portage around a huge fallen tree that required scrambling up and down a high and very muddy bank. And, curious to know what lay beyound each bend, we continued much farther up the creek where the snags (and the trash) became thicker.  Then one of those snags snagged us!  A few minutes of panic as a section of the bottom deflated, but we were able to make it back, all tired, hot, wet and muddy.  Mr. C said he had a great time.

Today was not, fortunately, as "adventurous," but it was a very pleasant way to begin the day.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A little purse for Linda

Let's see...I've dyed and stenciled a t-shirt for my friend Linda (whom I met at my first job out of college).  Another time I made her a linen jacket, also stenciled.  And there was a Christmas when I stenciled and painted a little box for her.  Last Christmas I gave her one of the pair of passion flower scarves I dyed and stenciled.  This year I thought maybe she'd received enough stenciled gifts from me, so instead I made this little appliqued, embroidered and beaded purse for her birthday in June. 

Originally I was simply going to make another of the mini crossbody bags I had sewn for myself this spring.  But I decided to change the design a bit, making it larger, curving the bottom, closing it with a flap and button rather than a zipper.  It measures about 5x7 inches with a 1-inch gusset. The rounded bottom does makes it easier to attach the gusset, rather than having to pivot carefully at the bottom corners as on the earlier bags.  I fused the same firm interfacing I used on those bags to the black linen front and back-and-flap (which were cut as one piece).  The back also has an outside pocket which you really can't see in the photo; I fused a lighter interfacing onto that.  Then I lightly fused pieces of the turquoise and green linen to Pellon Wonder Web, using a non-stick sheet on the other side of the web.  Next, I drew the geometric shapes, outlined them with stitching and cut them out.  I then arranged and fused them to the black linen. 

I had never tried free-motion stitching on my sewing machine before, and it was rather difficult to get the hang of it.  I chalked the stitching pattern I wanted to follow using a Dritz allover stipple stencil that I found in the quilting department.  And I stitched r-e-a-l-l-y slowly.  Then I sewed on some beads here and there because going over the top seems to be in my nature. 

I faced the flap with black linen and lined the purse with some silky light turquoise fabric I had in my scrap collection.  In fact, the only thing I purchased for this project was the button.  Unlike the earlier bags where I sewed the strap directly to the gusset, this time I used D-rings because I wanted the strap to be narrower than the gusset.  The one thing that went awry was that somewhere in the course of the fusing or the stitching, the flap got a little off-kilter; it doesn't show when it's closed, but it's slightly noticeable when it's open.  If I were to do it again, I would definitely thread-trace the seam lines and check to make sure that they were still perfectly straight and parallel after each step.

To be honest, this took a long time to make, and I don't think I'm going to be cranking out any more purses in the near future.  I'm also probably going to be buying Linda a gift come Christmas.