And the Oscar for inspiration goes to…

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Spaghetti Western

Spaghetti Western

I am inspired by many things, sometimes even someone else’s inspiration from something – a kind of copy-cat inspiration!

Several year ago one of my sons became quite interested in the old Clint Eastwood movies, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, “A Fistful of Dollars”, and “A Few Dollars More”. He watched these often, and I noticed that images from these movies started to appear repeatedly in his artwork at the time. The character with the cowboy hat and poncho was rendered in oil, then in ceramic tile; horses of various kinds appeared in various mediums. Somewhere in all of this I started thinking about creating a spaghetti western piece.

I carried this idea around for a few years, and finally things came together when I started using my serger. There was something about the serged seams that resonated for this piece. Maybe it was even the relationship between the word “serger” and the name of the director of these movies, Sergio Leone. Then I came across some visually interesting paper; the back-side of a reel of mailing labels.

These movies may never have been Oscar-contenders, but they’ve retained their popularity and I imagine they have inspired many other works of art. When I finished this piece I felt like something was complete, some kind of loop had been closed between those hours of hearing those movies play and that idea brewing in my head.

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Laundry Luxury

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For the past year I’ve used a coin-operated washing machine, not so unusual in and of itself, except this one is located in my house. ┬áThe house had been a rental for many years, and when we converted it back to a single-family dwelling to occupy ourselves we decided the existing appliances were perfectly fine, at least for the time being. Sometimes I missed having a washing machine that had varying water levels and a delicate cycle that actually treated clothes delicately. Eventually I decided to show some gratitude for having a washing machine at all, so whenever I put those quarters into the slots ($1.50 per load) I thought about all the people in the world who don’t have washing machines. I never really knew how many people this was, but figured it was probably a lot.

The coin-op model

The coin-op model

Today we bought a new washer and dryer (the coin-op machine gave out). The new dryer although not totally necessary, will be more energy-efficient. We are lining up a new owner for the old dryer, so at least for now it will be used rather than end up in the scrap heap. This purchase made me curious to find out just how many people don’t have washing machines. While it turned out to be a more difficult research question than I’d imagined, I found a few statistics that give a little insight into the luxury of washing machine ownership:

  • According to HUD statistics from 2009, 84% of homes in the US have a washing machine; 81% have a dryer.
  • Worldwide the picture is a little different. In a TED lecture from 2010, Hans Rosling states that only 2 billion of the world’s 7 billion have access to a washing machine!

Even though I won’t be inserting coins into my new washer, I’ll try to remain thankful I’m not spending hours a day in the chore of cleaning clothes, and that as far as the luxury of owning a washing machine, world-wide I’m in the lucky minority.

Pattern vs. Preference

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By the time I took Home-Ec in junior high and then high school I’d already been sewing for a few years. I’d learned several short-cuts, and taught myself others. I’d also learned that the pattern didn’t always give the best order for doing things. But this was way before any kind of progressive educational ideas had hit mainstream education, and in Home-Ec we followed the rules. I watched classmates struggle with projects that could have been made simpler, and I resented having to make a stuffed animal first, followed by an apron, before we could move onto real garments. As freshmen we made a simple A-line skirt and a long-sleeved, button-down-the-front blouse with collar and cuffs. By the time we got to be a senior we were ready to take on a more complicated wool-suit. I never got that far, for various reasons, but mostly because I couldn’t stand to follow someone else’s direction when I knew a way that worked better for me.

Home Ec Apron

I recently found this apron, the one required in the freshmen class. Although I was unhappy about having to start with an apron, I did like this one. The fabric is still appealing to me and I still like the pocket treatment I came up with; I remember the teacher being concerned about this deviation from the simple single-pocket pattern we were supposed to follow. I’ve been wondering what to do with this apron, and decided that it is in great shape, and the best use is actually as an apron. I’ve moved it from storage to my kitchen, and when I wear it maybe it will inspire me to deviate from the recipe and be more creative in my cooking!

Apron Pockets

Apron Pockets