Sunday, November 18, 2007

hello to the long nights

lunchtime painting - Happy Holiday

A few days ago the monkeys invaded my moleskine a second time, this time as a lunchtime painting. I've had monkeys on the brain big time... including plans to make a few Holiday monkeys to sell. Would you like to give a good home to a monkey? Stay tuned, and I plan to unveil that in early December!

november nights

Just a couple of weeks ago was the time change (or was it last week?) In any case, the earth tilted and seemingly very quickly, it got dark much sooner than usual. Now it's dark by 5 o'clock, the world plunged in a poetic blueness, getting deeper and darker and colder as the winter goes on...

I like the change and I don't like it - it's just change, just one of those things. The daytime is as dramatic as the evening - the sun seems to shine even more intensely when it is around. I must say November is much more dramatic in New York than it was in Texas...

november mornings

Thursday, November 15, 2007

it's that time again...

it's that time again...

Pull up a pink plastic plate and have some cake - if we're in luck its my mom's white cake with homemade lemon frosting. (Ok, I can't remember what cake I had, but that is my favorite). Late 70's t-shirts optional.

Warning: if you don't feel like smiling you might get tickled just before they whip out the camera:

I love this so much
I have lots of happy birthday memories, although as you get older, you tend to not want to think about it more and more... The weather is always crappy, even in Texas I usually got a gray or rainy day. It always seems to be a busy time at work or (back in the day) at school. But something always happened to make me feel special, sometimes big things, sometimes small. My mom usually began the day singing me "Las MaƱanitas" and my dad (an operatic tenor-bass) would typically chime in. Even as a grown-up they still leave singing messages for me.

My sister always sends me parcels of goodies - she knows me very well, and all year long hoards little things she knows I'll love. As a kid, one of my favorite memories is of a surprise party my mom threw me in the 2nd grade - she'd called up my teacher and found the names of all my classmates and I was delighted as the doorbell rang all afternoon and familiar faces swirled around.

But my favorite (and only) party as an adult was my 27th - my best friend threw me a huge party at her house, and I got to hear "Happy Birthday" sung by many drunken revelers whose names I did not know. (I still owe you for that one, Steph). In short, I am blessed, and every time my birthday rolls around I am reminded of how many beautiful people and things can be found in this world. Pull up a chair, have some cake, and may all your birthdays be as great. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

cuteness experiments

Some of you may remember my last monkey experiments, and that I was thinking of making some monkeys to sell. le Carotte remembered, and was getting pretty impatient... But I was really uninspired by my efforts - they just weren't cute enough!

Don't believe me? Take a look:
before cuteness modifications

Okay, I know people tend to say nice things on blogs, but even I can't say anything nice about these two... they were just... weird looking... like scary old men... and not the nice kind. :)

Even le Carotte wasn't happy with his new cousin:
totally unrelated

Frankly, he had serious doubts they were related. I was so bummed about le Carotte's cousin until... the cuteness modifications!

before:not cute after:cute

Isn't it amazing the difference a few tweaks on a face can make? Ok, maybe it's just me, but before he looked like a grumpy old man and now he looks like a cute little monkey. I was so pleased I also made "cute modifications" on the other monkey:


Now le Carotte is much happier with his new cousin, Edgar:

What do you think? Were the cuteness experiments successful?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I've been busy...

El cielo esta llorando

Well, I've been busy, even taking into account the slowdown due to my hand issues. Overall, I've been very good, have switched all my mouse use to my left hand, and have spent a lot less time online, and stitching. I focus more on sketching and planning projects and hold myself to time limits for working, which actually helps me get less frustrated and burnt out.

Above is a small embroidered artwork that took me a month to finish very slowly, an hour here, an hour there. I used a light blue shirt as the fabric, stretched it over wooden bars, and used felt to add colors and textures. It's much smaller than the Sad girl, but I like how the extra color makes it very expressive. The words in Spanish read "El cielo esta llorando", or "the sky is crying", which happens to be one of my favorite Stevie Ray Vaughan songs. It also reminds me of the odd way, when you are going through an extra tough time, it is usually raining. Has that ever happened to you?

However, the slowdown has made things a bit tense around here. le Carotte is pretty impatient nowadays:
le Carotte is sulking

He seems to remember I was planning to make a few monkeys to sell, and wants to know what the holdup is! In particular, he requested a monkey that looked cuter (ie, looked more like him).

I was all tapped out for ideas, but he seemed to have one....
le Carotte has an idea

Which led me to some experiments I'll be showing you very soon....

Thank you

piensa en mi

First of all, I want to say "thank you" to everyone who commented on my last post on the Sad girl and the murdered women of Juarez. I'm not often moved enough to speak like that, but it is a situation that affects me very deeply... A special thank you to Kate, who stitched a beautiful tribute to the women of Juarez on her blog.

To find more background on the situation in Juarez (and the increasing violence towards women in many Latin American countries), visit:
Amnesty International: Justice for the Women of Juarez
WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America)

Also, I'm really interested in an embroidered art project being done by Lise Bjorne called "Desconocida" in which she assembles labels embroidered with the names of Juarez women. She is currently working on a project in Juarez, you can find out more on her blog.

Again, thank you for your kind words and for the moments you took to remember the women of Juarez!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dia de las Muertas

Sad girl embroidery complete

I've been wanting to show you the finished Sad girl for some time, but I never found the right moment. Now, with Dia de los Muertos upon us, I think this is the perfect time to show you Sad girl.

As you can see I pulled the fabric tight over wooden stretcher bars and stapled it in place (thank you Staple gun - a fabulous invention). I added little details here and there, like filling in the dress completely with chain stitch, filling in the roses, and adding French knots around the pajaritos:

pajarito on the left pajarito on the right

I also added lots of white French knots to the bottom of her dress:

me duele tanto!

Why do I think this is a good time to show you Sad girl? Right after I began stitching her, I began reading books on the Juarez murders, one of which I recommend to all of you called Daughters of Juarez by Teresa Rodriguez. It's a sad book, with no happy ending, but what is sadder is that terrible violence toward women is still occurring every day in Juarez, unchecked, and it is spreading to other cities in Mexico like Chihuahua City. Very young, poor women are abducted in broad daylight, are raped and murdered, and their bodies dumped in public places. Families who try to find their children are met with indifference from the police and organizations who try to help them receive death threats. Worse still, Mexico has a 14 year statute of limitations for murder convictions, so since these killings began in the early 90's the 14 year date is approaching and unsolved cases will be closed.

I know it's a heavy topic for my otherwise happy crafty blog, which is why I waited for Dia de los Muertos. I would like to suggest, if any of you have time, to think of these women on this day when in Mexico we think of all our loved ones who have passed on. These women were loved and cared for, and many of them made the TV remotes you use to change channels or put together your stereos.

I'd like to offer this little bird design as a free pattern for anyone who opposes the Juarez violence, or violence against women in general. The words in Spanish are "Piensa en Mi", or "Think of Me" and you are welcome to embroider this or place this image on your blog in remembrance of the women of Juarez and all the mothers who are still searching for their children:


I wish you all happiness on this day and may all the memories you have of your loved ones bring you joy and not sadness. I promise more happy posts very soon!