Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 2 of Trying to Stay Off Facebook Week and the Perils of Hypothetical Dating

just because.....

Well, actually because there is a lot of wonderful stuff there on Facebook, since I have subscribed to so many art/textile related posts (plus fish, history, a smattering of political, HONY) that I am either starting very few new projects, being paralyzed by the excess of other peoples' brilliant ideas, or I am constantly logging in to see who has commented on what I have put up, as if one does things for comments more than the sake of doing something.

Well and also because I made the mistake of relieving the boredom of a relatively happy life by going onto a dating site.....women in their 60s who are relatively happy and fulfilled in other ways should never go on dating websites. The men who look interesting never write back, or become extremely perfunctory after a short while, once they have detected something in your photos or personality that indicates you just won't do.  Plus they are in contact with 3 other women and have short attention spans. And where lonely men who live many miles away write trite compliments.  I imagine them with a shot of bourbon, cigarette in hand, shirt sleeves rolled up or in "wife beater" undershirts, leaning out their windowsills in seedy neighborhoods to catch that last breath of fresh air, then returning to their computers in their dark and squalid flats to look at photos of the "ladies" in California. "Hi, there, beautiful, whatcha doin'?"  Or the sleezeball swingers who are interested in anyone remotely sentient for their games. Or the con artists, or the married guys, or the actual dangerous psychopath who may be out there. Or the occasional guy who is more socially awkward than you and has very high expectations from your conversation that make you the one who becomes perfunctory.  This is not a natural way to meet people and it does nothing to increase trust between strangers. This hypothetical man has my sympathy, as my contacts who sidle away may indeed feel for me, but New York -- SF Bay Area,  Coos Bay -- SF Bay Area, Some Other Country -- SF Bay Area.....it's not happening, my virtual friend.  Go to the gym, find a community garden, talk to that lonely and available woman, who may indeed look her age, who lives in your apartment, who is right now tentatively putting her photo and self-description up on that dating site so she can be turned down or ignored by those who are socially better placed than her, because that's how life works.

All this leads to nothing but causes me to ask what it is I want to be doing with my life. No social life equals more time to compensate for a lack of social life by doing more art. Is this bad?  Well, yes, I need to get out more on a regular basis. And travel more, by myself or with family or others. And live less in the virtual world, which, like the men in shirtsleeves, produces a momentary flash of hope and a vision of a life not led, then increases the disappointment and isolation afterwards.

So, just don't do it, OK, spare yourself, hypothetically single 60 year old woman. The time of your life for forming new, exciting personal relationships may be over, but there is plenty more life to be led through your imagination and your skills. Work on what is workable and leave the rest for now.  Well, that's just me, I think other people are doing better than me in this quest, but that is the effect of Facebook and other social media, to make you thing everyone is doing better than you.  All this drops away when I am productively absorbed in something (even blogging, although it is also online). So, time to be productively absorbed so I can leave a legacy for the next generation....

We shall return to our regularly scheduled photo series on Mexico and a description of my project started there, which I have just finished. And I am starting back up on my next embroidery sampler, only I am also working in a bunch of stitches that I had diagrammed almost 20 years ago and thought I had lost because the place where I posted them went away. Now I get to try them out! And make slight variations when my original diagram turns out to not be as effective as I had hoped. And I must, MUST start working on curtains again. And I'm getting ready to travel back east and work with my grown up daughter on setting up a table loom. And tours of the Mall museums and one last chance at running into our President and telling him he did a tolerably good to excellent job and asking him what's going wrong with our country.  And take lots and lots of photos. And I want to update my Pinterest page organization and crafts dictionary links while the computer with the good code writing software is still working. And keep working on Spanish in some form or other.

So, on with life.  Hey, it's been a long time since I posted such an angsty, self-centered offering, eh?  One thing I have learned from social media is to control the expression of unhappiness.....it just causes some people to hasten in with sympathy and others to quietly back away, but it doesn't solve anything. And people truly back away from unhappiness, partly because it's out of their control and partly, perhaps, because they are afraid it will rub off a bit.  Far better to privately acknowledge a bit of bad feelings and then do something concrete to counteract them, because that is something a person can control, is their reaction.  But what's a blog without a bit of angst, eh? And if feelings get included somehow in the art you produce at the time, then my stuff has the range of joy and interest to nostalgia and loneliness, and that's how life goes. And that's why I will get more embroidery done, clean a couple of fish tanks and start on the curtains today, really I will....

I will end with a useful quote from the FB study (which actually says we are happy if we are actively posting and interacting, unhappy if we just passively read):

This aligns with research conducted earlier this year by John Eastwood and his colleagues at York University in a meta-analysis of boredom. What causes us to feel bored and, as a result, unhappy? Attention. When our attention is actively engaged, we aren’t bored; when we fail to engage, boredom sets in. As Eastwood’s work, along with recent research on media multitasking, have illustrated, the greater the number of things we have pulling at our attention, the less we are able to meaningfully engage, and the more discontented we become.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Huichol Yarn Inspired Beaded Gourd

That about sums it up!

So I have long made huichol style gourds....covered in wax with each bead embedded sideways. You build up the pattern in sets of 7 beads, each one surrounded by 6 others. I have just learned to embed strung beads in glue at my Hacienda Mosaico workshop, and I bought some Huichol yarn paintings while in Oaxaca. I had been assuming that the yarn was also glued, but after watching instructions for the traditional work (not the bed/glue projects inspired by the original), I realized they were using the same sort of wax-pitch blend to attach their yarn strands.

While I don't quite feel ready to try this (but I've just gotten an idea of how I might!), I wanted to try laying strung beads down into the waxed gourd, strung in rows instead of placed individually on end.

Here is how it started. First I covered the entire gourd with Beadswax, about half the depth of the size 11 beads when laid on their side.  I get my wax in person from the Caning Shop in Berkeley; it looks like they also do mail order, but if you live nearby you should go there because their store is a fantastic collection of beaded, caned, woven objects. I buy tiny gourds from them and the Beadswax goes a long way.


I started by running a strand of yellow beads around the whole gourd, then followed up with green and a big glob of blue. It's tricky at first. You want to hold the tension on the strand so that the beads are right next to each other as you press them into the wax. But too much tension and the thread may pull out of the beads before they are safely embedded. I started by leaving the end of the thread sticking out and trimming it once I was done. I need to go back with some better scissors, or else bury the strands in between the beads. After a while I learned to either start the next strand on top of the thread tip, or pull the thread into the strand of beads, very carefully, once about 10 beads had been embedded in the wax.


I started doubling back on myself in certain places. When you  make a sharp turn with a strand of beads, a bit of thread may show, but not much.

What I also began to realize is that it was quite possible for the strand of beads to become very tight, especially if you started turning back and forth. This is because I would tie a bead onto one end of the strand to secure it while I beaded from the other side. With the turns all the "give" began to disappear from the strand and the beads would start to jumble together. I kind of liked this effect in some places, kind of seismic looking. But I also started pulling the strand through the embedded beads as I went along, so there would continue to be extra string to be manipulated when needed. When you finish a strand you have to cut off the very last bead, either embedding the last couple of beads or just letting them drop off.


Here I threw in some brighter colors. With the yellow on the left I needed to fill in a small, pointed area, so I made sure I wasn't boxing myself into an area I couldn't bead out of. Or I could have just beaded in, cut the thread, and started over.


This is what a strand in progress looks like. I have to fit in two more loose beads to reach the point, embed them, then turn the corner sharply and continue on.


Here I have continued on, with the pale yellow beads now doubled.


The bottom


Striations. I have a weakness for layers...


Here is the top. Instead of making more layers going around the gourd I filled it with lines running back and forth. I got better at turning corners and estimating how many beads it would take to get from one place to another without boxing myself in.


There are some things that can be fixed later, like beads that slide sideways. I have a thin wooden skewer that I use to tip them back into place. Also if the wax is too warm or you push one line of beads in with too much force the beads may need compressing in some areas.  I still have a lot of string bits to get rid of.



Here is what helped to inspire me.


I think I will try waxing a flat surface, like a tile, and then adding a combination of beads and cotton crochet thread or even multi-strand, glossy, thicker types of floss.

One more thing. I'm concerned about the strings of thread pulling out. With regular huichol beading it's bead by bead. I've had them damaged and you just fill in with a new glob of wax and re-bead it. But a whole strand coming out could cover too large an area. I'm thinking about covering it in resin, and I see from some experiments that it would work, but you could only cover a small part at a time and wait a day for it to dry and the resin won't keep in small amounts to be applied day after day. So I'm still thinking about what to do.

Here is a little text piece; at least the resin doesn't dissolve the wax:



Anyway, this is my latest experiment and an example of how workshops and study of techniques pays off, just the right two sparks to come up with a new idea. With a flat surface there would be much less distortion and I would start out trying to make a specific shape, like a vine or a tree, and bead the main shape and then work around it. Or, as I said, some combination of beads and yarn.  All interesting and worthy of more experimentation, though the wax is still a bit too impermanent for me.

Friday, May 20, 2016

More Oaxaca Scenes

I'm realizing I have not remotely run out of photos....I will happily flog this into the ground because I learn a lot from going over the photos, trying to put them in context as far as location, history, type of craft, etc. I have at least two sets of street scenes, some interesting views from inside the cultural museum, a botanical garden tour and Monte Alban. And some panorama shots, for better or worse.

Enough burbling, I'm trying to at least keep up with my Facebook posts.
Santo Domingo de Guzman, the church portion (attached is the Cultural Museum, a topic for yet another day).  I have inside photos that I haven't processed yet.


A figure from an outside niche of the church.


These are brooms, made with either stiff grasses or reeds(?) They are the official street broom of Oaxaca, even the carts that look like the city provides have these kind of brooms.


Someone who waited too long for friends to finish shopping....


This was a yarn painting beside the skeleton; both were in a little alcove outside of some shops.


I think this was based on a photo, because of the kind of information that is included and the placement of street lamps.


In the US I have gotten completely used to gender neutral work postings. Here gender and age can be specified and you must look nice and send a photo to prove it.


Downtown Oaxaca is filled with buildings that have inviting inner courtyards featuring water, tropical plants, rows of little craft shops along the margins.



The buildings are all side by side and in the midst of restored areas are boarded up derelict buildings. I kept coming back to this one. Old buildings never seem to really die here, they get renovated. That is, nobody would tear this down and start over with modern architecture.




I find moldy, decrepit things almost as interesting as bright and shiny things....


Here is a bright and shiny thing....not a bird on stilts but a bird sitting on top of a fence part.  I think this is a vermilion flycatcher.


Below where the flycatcher was perched is a living wall, a feature of the inner courtyard of Hotel Las Mariposas, where we stayed. This is a really nice, peaceful place; I highly recommend it. Though many of the guests speak English, in general all of the staff speak Spanish only, so I didn't feel I was in some little isolated tourist haven.


It looks crow-like but I'm sure it's not. Some sort of corvid, though, safe to say. Here is a nice list of the birds of Mexico, with links you can follow for images.


Another view of the front of Santo Domingo, framed by palm trees. Below is one of the small open air craft markets.


A vase with interesting architecture, Hotel Las Mariposas.



This little boy was fascinated with whatever he was finding in the dirt of this planter box. His clothing matched the box so well I had to take a photo, but waited until he was turned away from the camera so he would be anonymous kid at a planter box.


And a grown up kid, with a unique vehicle.


I believe this was in another little nook at the hotel. I still haven't figured out if there is a name for these metal creations, often with bits of tools or scales, like this one. All bits of metal get recycled into new things.




Another view of the hotel courtyard. It was always decently cool here, no matter what the weather.


Last are some bits of architecture that caused me to break out the Gimp when I got home. Sometimes I take these photos and realize later on that they aren't all that remarkable subjects on their own, but the patterns are quite useful.






speaking of pareidolia....of course you see the little smiling face with the hands raised to its cheeks, right?


Just the star in the center.








I think these last two images were from the outside of the "casino" building (now a bookstore and other small stores). This one looks like a court jester, in the midst of making a snarky comment:


And this lady has seen better days, but looks like she should be carved on the prow of a ship.


That's it for part one of Oaxaca street and hotel scenes. More of similar to come soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Oaxaca Flowers and Trees

I can be a difficult person to travel with....always stopping in my tracks and calling out "wait a minute".....  Mexico is full of trees and vines that we either don't have in California or we have some wimped out version that only grows in greenhouses. So there were lots of times that I stopped abruptly to try to get images to identify once I got home. So now I am home and the time has come.....  I will be gradually adding names as I come across them.

Flame trees viewed through the windows of the cultural museum attached to Santo Domingo, Oaxaca.


Dried fruit on some tree also near Santo Domingo. I often use my camera as a telescope, getting closeups of things I can't make out with my own eyes.  This is part of why every walk, anywhere, is an adventure. :-)


This purple vine, seen both at Hacienda Mosaico as a wall covering and in  Hotel las Mariposas in Oaxaca as a horizontal trellis shade plant, may be Thunbergia grandiflora aka purple allamanda. I can certainly see the thunbergia resemblance....the black eyed susan vine, yellow, often with a brown center, that grows as an annual here in California.


There was a rock wall at Las Mariposas and the blue flowers would drop into the water at the bottom of the wall and gradually turn transparent.


There is a houseplant we buy in little containers called a "corn plant".  I think this is that plant grown up; it was 9 or 10 feet tall, growing next to the entryway to one of the rooms.


Begonias were also used as ground cover here. Argh! Jealous!


Flame tree, close up. They made the courtyard glow.


Yellow mystery vine #1.


Yellow mystery vine #2.


Jacaranda tree. Drought has been killing them in California.  There was a pink flowered tree in Puerto Vallarta, also covered in blooms, that people there called jacaranda as well. I have a photo elsewhere. I didn't see the pink ones in Oaxaca but I think it's called a Pink Trumpet Tree.


These are Mexico's version of the plumeria trees that are all over Hawaii.








Most of the following pictures where taken in the Ex-Convento de Santa Catalina. Part of this structure has been converted into a hotel (one which people like me really can't afford; the King and Queen of Spain stayed there once). But you can wander in off the street, past the friendly doormen, and visit the courtyards filled with flowers and peace and quiet.


Pink wall behind a red flame tree. It should have been much more visually annoying than it was.


A fern in a quiet courtyard.  Based on the Ex-Convento and the Cultural Museum, the religious orders really had it nice....thick walls and cool, shaded courtyards, privacy, food probably grown on site.




This is the name of the first garden that you see as you enter the building. It fascinates me because as I understand it, the plant we in the US call bougainvillea was named after the French explorer, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who discovered the plant growing in South America. In places were the plant is native it has a multitude of other descriptive names; in places like Mexico, where it has been introduced, the names are often variations on the scientific name, which much have existed prior to their introduction.  Anyway, "bugambilia" is Mexico's version.


And they really looked great here in the morning because you could capture the light shining through the brightly colored flower bracts.


This plant annoys me as far as any garden I will be tending myself, as it has thorny, twining branches and the thorns irritate your skin as well as poke it.


A daylily in a pot next to the bugambilia garden.



Another mystery plant in a nearby coffeeshop. These flowers were also irresistible targets for my camera.



Mexican plumeria in the same coffeeshop.




Papery bark on a street tree near Hotel las Mariposas.


Yellow street tree flower


kalanchoes and a little orange flower that grows in greenhouses here, crossandra, I believe.



BTW, an interesting phenomenon that I've only started noticing the past week or so. When I do a google search for images, especially plants, the first things that come up are stock photos for sale. I used to come up with more illustrations from articles on plants, where I could then look up a lot of useful information, now all I get is "pay us for this photo". Pahhhh.   Just sayin'......but at least they sometimes identify the plant by scientific name, which is really what I'm looking for.