Tuesday, November 25

happy accident

So I just finished a series of pieces based on the Marcel Duchamp painting "The Chocolate Grinder."

Or, I should say, based on what I remember, based on the framed print I have of it, which is stashed somewhere on my back porch along with heaps of books, boxes of audio tubes and files full of job evaluations and insurance paperwork from 1993.

I didn't look at the print first.

It is not brown and gray. Perfect!

Wednesday, November 19

my tattoo is in a book.


I have now held a copy in my hands, and it's true, there it is: my forearm for all the world to see. Of course they didn't tell me it was "A fascinating catalog of visual imagery and personal folly" - ha ha. It turns out I'm proud of my folly. It may be the only thing I can truly call my own.

"Those who realize their folly are not true fools." - Zhuangzi

Sunday, October 26

serious trouble will bypass you.

my window sill would never tell you a lie.

Saturday, October 4

space is the place

I have a great Sun Ra quote somewhere, a good long rambling paragraph about how in these times you need to listen to the people who don't know what they're talking about. But I can't find it. So trust me.

Space is the place. There is a mortgage crisis, the stock market, which has never seemed real to me anyway, is bouncing all over. So what do I do? I sign a lease on a gigantic gorgeous artist studio. Good opportunities never seem to come at rational times.

I'm moving in this weekend and on Monday morning it will be my job. The more uncertain the world is, the more I prefer to have my fate in my own hands. And my own hands can't wait to set things up there and start creating great things.

Monday, September 22

the accidental parade is more entertaining
than the real one.

Okay, that was fun. I'm sore, groggy, and my face hurts from smiling so much. The Westcott St. Cultural Fair, with it's bizarre little peace-puppet parade, its aging co-op members, African dancers, slender vegans and high ratio of scruffy-teens has come and gone.

Dang! I met some sweet people, had lots of people seek me out from last year, saw lots of old store customers, chatted with new and old friends, and enjoyed the day long other parade, the informal one, the neverending stream of people I've seen around forever but never met, who all seem to be getting older too. There's that guy we used to call Bohemian Man, he's traded in his lizard boots for sneakers. Is that woman one of the belly dancers or is that her real outfit? Oh, that guy's rasta hat is even bigger. Humans and time, they make a great parade.

Thursday, August 28

this is the time.
and this is the record of the time.

I worked through a valiant round of tag making this morning. No wonder I put it off, it takes forever to churn out a new batch. Plus I have to tuck in all the nice dry fabric and get out the gooey tools. But tag day is always a good chance to pause and be proud that I am forging ahead, to acknowledge that I've used up a whole bunch and apparently I have enough faith that in the coming months I'll sew each one of these onto a new creation.
In other news: Syracuse. I complain about my city a lot. It deserves it. But I am thrilled, yes thrilled, to report that we have a new local fabric store. And by local I mean it is not a chain. It's in the Delavan Center, the artist's warehouse space where, conveniently enough, Mr. Lentil works.

Normally I use all recycled materials, but I admit they have caught my eye. I skulked in carefully, fearing that by the name alone (Feminine Touch Fabrics) they might kick me out immediately. But no. The owner Linda introduced herself, shook my hand, didn't gawk at my tattoos and promptly took me on a tour. They. Have. A. Warehouse. Full of fabric. I had many moments of bliss. I picket out some wonderfully inky-black stretch linen (sounds tacky but it is not) and a nice big remnant of coral cotton jersey. I'm not a big fabric hoarder, but they are nearby and as soon as I use this I will be back. If you're local, let me know and I'll meet you there. I mean it.

Friday, August 22

free jazz makes me proud to be a human.

More than most things. Frode Gjerstad + Paal Nilssen-Love Monday night at Metropolis.
Opening set by American Sphinx: Michael Hentz and Jarek Miller.
Thanks to Michael Hentz from NewThing for the pictures.

Wednesday, August 6

Mountains come out of the sky and THEY STAND THERE.

This isn't funny any more. I'm brushing my teeth, I'm washing the dishes, minding my own business and without advance notice discover I am humming or singing either the words or bass line from the Yes song Roundabout.

It has now been months. Months, my friends. A weaker mind would have snapped. A stronger mind would have bucked this somehow.

I did just discover the source though, and it has not helped. I haven't heard Roundabout in years, and, I must say, never on purpose. But I've been playing this pinball game on the Wii and one of the games has music that ends with a similar riff - just one measure. That planted the evil seed. But I refuse to stop playing the game. And thus I suffer.

Monday, July 28

lush plush.

There's a whole lotta good plush on etsy. I grabbed a coveted Treasury today and curated a lovely bunch of stuffed things.

Artists, by etsy name: nimoy, debivanzyl, girlsavage (thanks for the picture), dkoss2, spidercamp, curster, mummysam, Quirkles, ObeyMyBrain, herzensart, beccajo, catsmiaow.

Sunday, July 20

that's Mister Pot Roast to you.

I got sick. A horrid stomach virus whose details shall not be discussed here.

But upon my recovery I bounced back with a rabid desire for some disgusting food. We chose Ihop. I felt like I hadn't been out in the world in ages (perhaps because in my mind, Ihop = 1986.) The menu looked gigantic, daunting. The lighting harsh. It felt dangerous.

I ended up ordering a mildly healthy spinach salad but ate half of Mr. Lentil's strawberry cheesecake pancakes. For a brief magical moment I really wanted the Senior Pot Roast, thinking it said SeƱor Pot Roast and not just tough meat for the elderly. In conclusion: maybe I should not have been allowed out of the house yet. But I feel fine.

Tuesday, July 15

I come by it natural-like.

 I just got done processing pictures of my latest batch of clothes, the highlight being my first Secret Lentil Luxe piece: The Maid of the Moss Traveling Jacket. Oh dearie me I'm happy with this. It's cotton and linen, made of lots of greens and purples and sewn with miles and miles of freeform meandering thread. I picture someone wearing this and shrinking down really teensy-like, walking in between fronds of moss, sweeping out pebbles and spraying the moss with a mister. 
 I don't do as many drugs as you might think.

Monday, July 14

Blueberry Scones with Lime Sugar, or do not bake while tired.

Mark my words: if you aren't awake enough to follow a recipe, do not bake. If you get half way done and say "Oh, that's not baking soda ..." maybe you should have just watched someone cook on tv instead. So, I mixed my powders and sodas, only sort of measured the butter, mauled some berries beyond recognition and made a few of the scones larger than whales.

Still, they came out pretty dang good. I used girlsavage's recipe for raspberry scones to make the blueberry version with our first summer blueberries. And I topped them by pilfering spidercamp's suggestion for lime sugar. Yum.

Sunday, July 13

lyle love.

 I have a little Lyle Lovett problem. Well it isn't a problem, exactly. Even back when he married JR my then-coworkers knew enough to have me sit down before they broke the news.

Here's a sewing/portrait I did of him a handful of years ago. It took a while to find the right jacket for it but now it's wearable.
The only problem is that it seems to be haunted - I wear it once and it immediately goes missing in my house for months. And no, the problem is not my messiness. Ahem! How dare you suggest that?

Friday, July 4

i see weird people.


It's true: I only make clothes so I can play with other people I meet on the intarweb.

Here's the feedback someone, above, left me for a skirt she bought on etsy. (Reminder: today is July 4th.)

oh, beauuuuuutiful for spacious clothes, for layers of earth skirt!!! For helen's creativity and prices that don't huuuuuuuuurt! Se-CRET lentil, Se-CRET lentil, my clothing feels so freeeeeeeee! And wear her good clothes like you should from sea to shining seaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

Monday, May 12

second hand love

We went through a bit of vinyl withdrawal here at the Lentil house waiting for a replacement belt for our turntable. Now it's here, it's on, all is well. It is a bit hard to believe a large rubber band can cost so much, but okay. It's also hard to believe a cartridge can be worth $300 - as ours would be, except that Mr. Lentil scooped it up at a thrift store, new in the box, for four dollars. I guess it averages out just fine.

To celebrate we cracked the seal on our original Blue Note recording of Jackie McLean's Action. Yes, it was sealed, geeky collector types, and no, it was not the re-issue! When we owned a record store we had to part with a lot of things we loved. Now, a year past it's closing, I'm starting to feel like a citizen of the world again, of our world anyway, the world where we buy something of quality because we know what we love, and we keep it. It is a much better planet. We're back to our house full of flea market furniture, discarded library art, dusty books and records - back where we belong.

Mr. Lentil said "Are you sure? We could sell it on ebay." Yes, I'm sure. A lot of good things are worth more than money.

Thursday, May 8

turning japanese i think i'm turning japanese i really think so

Last night before bed I watched an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto who invented Wii Fit (among many other things). He was so sweet and obviously motivated by the simplicity and beauty of interactive design. Even saying it that way sounds too complicated. He is just directly connected with his work. Our work doesn't have to be complicated, just attentive and engaged, she mumbles to herself.

Then I went to bed and after dreaming about making thousands of Mii's in a contest, I dreamed I took Mr. Lentil out for his birthday to a small fancy restaurant owned by a Japanese family. We watched as they made our dinner, flat oval-shaped discs made of redbeans, served with a sauce and rice. I was taken aback when it didn't really taste like anything, but as we chewed it it got better and better. Then the mother and father and their little girl all came out with gifts for Mr. Lentil, wrapped in paper and covered with notes they had written to him in Japanese. So, in conclusion, thanks Japanese people, for all the food and video games.

First up today is a dress and shrug with ubersleeves made from the green and black fabrics that you see up there. Getting started with a CD mix of Brian Eno - Another Green World, Radiohead - I Might Be Wrong, Laurie Anderson - Big Science, Dr. John - In The Right Place, and my friend Norm: The Human - The Human Loves You. He does, you know.

Friday, April 25

my tattoo is cooler than i am, by far.

I took some better pictures of my tattoo this week. I also took some of the other one on my other forearm, which, for some reason, no one ever cares about. I won't even show it to you, so there. Take that. It's beautiful too. But you cannot see it.

I'm a bad leader. When I was a kid I had to earn beads for my Bluebird vest - for leadership, service, business, etc. But my mom was a group leader so I figured who wants to do all these boring things when we have boxes of those beads at home? What's my motivation here? Besides, who the hell wants to be seen in such an ugly vest? And when we recited our Bluebird pledge I would only mouth the line "I will always finish what I begin" because I didn't want to lie. Too bad there wasn't a bead for Cynical But Honest Pragmatism.

But I do enjoy running the Etsy People With Tattoos group. Perhaps because there is no work or obligation involved. Plus, no putting on skits, marching in a parade dressed "like an Indian" in a burlap outfit or selling candy door to door in the middle of Winter.

Friday, April 18

warn your children

So, I recently upgraded my operating system to Leopard. Ever since then, a couple times a day when I'm busy shuffling things around, a text file called "utah phillips quote" keeps opening up.

I didn't open it. It opens itself. (Cue the theremin.)

You might know Utah Phillips as the crusty old lefty who recorded an album with Ani DiFranco on her label. He's probably done a million other things, but that's how I found him.

I am a quote hoarder. You never know when a good quote is going to be useful. Apparently this one wants to be heard now. Or, my Mac wants you to hear it. Utah Phillips, to an auditorium of children:
"You're about to be told one more time that you're America's most valuable natural resource. Have you seen what they do to valuable natural resources? Have you seen a strip mine? Have you seen a clearcut in the forest? Have you seen a polluted river? Don't ever let them call you a valuable natural resource! They're gonna strip mine your soul! They're gonna clear-cut your best thoughts for the sake of profit, unless you learn to resist, 'cause the profit system follows the path of least resistance, and following the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked."

Thursday, April 17

second cherry? that sounds naughty

I got a mention on the blog Second Cherry today as part of a series on deconstructed fashion. Second Cherry is "for women who refuse to mature" - I didn't realize I was part of a demographic!

Sunday, April 13

it's not as bad as seeing how sausage is made, but it ain't pretty.

I'm overhauling my work space this weekend. Ugh! I couldn't bear to take a before picture, but here is a during shot:

My work room (what would be a normal person's dining room) is 10 by 11 feet wide, and I think I've actually come up with a plan to sew comfortably and, by moving a few key items, be able to shoot pictures in here. Ha! The Organizational Gods are laughing at me. I'm used to it. I ignore their hearty guffaws.
The clothing rack on wheels, where I sort source material for current projects, has a chunk of bright white fabric that gets tossed over it. When pivoted out it becomes the light diffuser for my half-assed photo booth.

By the way, these racks are the best thing ever. You can get a crappy Martha Stewart rack at KMart for about 60 bucks. Some day, without issuing out a plaintive warning call, it will crumble. For 52 dollars you can buy a real rack that you could use as a support beam in your house. Plus when you push it around you feel like you're in the garment district in New York. Well, I do anyway, but as Mr. Lentil said this morning, after seeing me stomp on a cardboard box: "You have a flair for the awkwardly dramatic." (Note to self: use this phrase on your next business cards.)
The only flaw in my plan? I have to kick Mr. Lentil's computer out of the other corner. But really, how can someone who keeps a drumset in our living room complain about a little thing like that?

Tuesday, April 8

talking heads vs. flapping lips

Here's the Black Ant dress I mentioned in my last post.

I don't want to hear people's lips flapping today - there is such a thing as too much NPR. I have a promising mix in ye olde cd player: Mike Doughty, Radiohead, Atlantic Drone, Talking Heads and Thelonius Monk. Surely good things will come from this. I think it's a law. I love mornings. Everything seems possible.

This morning I'm finishing up "Retired Military," a long duster in olive and red made from a vintage army jacket. I guess it's fitting (oh, bad pun) that I'm putting military clothing into peaceful service on the same day that the big wigs in uniform are talking to Congress about Oceania's oops - our war, while simultaneously I, sensitive soul, am too shell-shocked to listen to it on the radio. I'll play my own music and sew, thank you very much.

Tuesday, April 1

my advice: stare at what you love.

I like bugs. I just finished making The Black Ant Dress - yes, it's all black, with six pod pockets (two rows of three) cascading down the sides. No pictures yet. I don't think anyone will mistake it's wearer for an ant, but it is what I had in mind as I made it. Insects, six legs, etc.

I spent my formative years gently lifting logs and rocks and staring for a long time at whatever was there - the shiny shells of ants, the velvety bellies of orange newts, the gold foil of toads' eyes.

I was kind, except for a phase during which I was certain that toads would be happier in my elaborately built housing than they ever could be in the wild. Oh, and there was a pet grass snake that I tried taking for walks wearing a red yarn leash. Don't worry, he escaped. But for the most part I just watched.

It's still surprising to me what an important place these creatures hold in my imagination and that now, years later when I finally dare to call myself an artist, they are there waiting for me, their colors vivid, the smell of damp black dirt still fresh.

There are good reasons to spend time staring at things you love. What you are attentive to becomes part of you, and stays with you, with no effort on your part. I'll try to remember that the next time I'm tempted to watch tv.

You're also staring at a handmade stuffed dung beetle, Danny, with dung ball, from etsy seller weirdbuglady.

Saturday, March 29

this just in from the HMS Legume

I just got my Top Secret Lentil Advance Notice System - aka mailing list - running. I've been getting so many "When will you make another one like this?" questions that I thought I'd put out an alert on days I'm listing. Sign up - I won't bother you too often.

At the other end, the production end, I'm also trying to make more. More. Must. Make. More. Moving fast doesn't agree with me though. There's a reason I'm so fond of turtles and sloths.

Tuesday, March 25

rock paper scissors

I like getting inspired by objects whose shapes I enjoy. Milkweed pods, turtles, Dodge Darts and other old square cars, rocks. Usually I transmogrify that inspiration into my clothing, but today I started working on a more literal piece: a sculpted handbag shaped like those nice old metal working-man lunch boxes. They are such a satisfying shape. I made a scale model out of scrap paper and tomorrow I'll try out a real one.

I've just about got my mailing list ready to go. Of course I tinkered with it - I would never have my sign up box be blue! I set about mucking with the html - fine, boxes are now gray - but I tweaked it a bit too much and, well, broke it. As soon as I get it re-assembled I shall roll it out to the world. I should stick to paper and tape.

Friday, March 14

oops i did it again

Every once in a while I surprise myself and do the same thing twice. Well, more or less. I just finished this brown and purple babydoll dress with super long scrunchable sleeves. The colors make me very happy.

Late last night Mr. Lentil's eyes felt allergized and we heard geese flying overhead - sure signs of Spring.

Wednesday, February 27

look out - i will surely get "your goat"

I'm on day three of an incredibly calm productive stream of sewing. My secret? Very. Little. Internet. Time. I banned myself from the etsy forum, and I haven't looked back. I've finished 4 dresses, 2 tunics, 2 shirts and a few shirts. I've tried some new draping experiments and made some very different pieces from my norm. And even though it's snowy I churned out a few bright Spring dresses.

Oh, say, did I mention that I'm the spawn of Satan? I do searches for deconstructed clothing now and then to see what's out there. I just found this lovely piece of Reefer-Madness-esque propaganda from an LDS church "Image Integrity" site about the evils of deconstructed clothing. The best part:

Deconstructed clothes are purposely intended to visually communicate unwillingness to conform to looking "nice" as was once enjoyed. The looks are pridefully and immodestly, "in your face," for the purpose of getting attention, getting "your goat," or getting "the edge."
Wow, I feel so bad-ass now. I admit, at 43 I'm still mildly thrilled at being so misunderstood and judged. The best part is that they don't even seem to know what deconstructed means. It's sort of perfect.

For the record, I have nothing for or against the LDS church. Mr. Lentil holds a Philosophy degree and enjoys inviting their nice young elders in and chatting them up. Once a few of them shoveled our driveway. Plus, they put on a fantastic show.

Tuesday, February 26

if maple syrup, then Spring.

Here's the view today out the window of my work space. I sure feel silly making a bright celery green Spring dress. But Spring happens every year, right? Right?

Thursday, February 14

it's a DIY thing.

My interview in the flagship edition of DIY City was posted today. DIY City is an online mag put out by the fine folks at DIYthing. Each issue will feature a city, and although I'm removed from New York City they were kind enough to squeeze me in. It's quite an impressive undertaking!

I was interviewed by designer Lori Sandstedt of lorimarsha. Lori's also a reconstructer and I'm a big fan of her work. I just love that so many people can reconstruct clothes and have completely different styles. Where I'm cottons, solids and earth-tones, Lori is laces, plaids and patterns, West Coast sunshine and ripe fruit. She makes clothing, handbags and gorgeous chunky jewelry. I'm happy to have Lori as part of my informal online support network. She asked some great questions and being the grand overthinker that I am, I got all carried away answering them. I do hope you'll read the interview.

Saturday, February 9

one mission (like a salmon)

 Here's the dress I made from the orange and gray striped cotton. I had some matching salmon/orange thermal cotton and some super plush gray velour.

Tuesday, February 5

six impossible things

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast."

— The Queen, Alice in Wonderland
I set my toast plate down next to today's project (see yesterday's heinous drawing) and accidently made a fine photo opp. These colors please me. The darker blue-green is a velvet vintage skirt that will hopefully become a belt for this sweater. I got these small plates plus some cups and saucers years ago at the flea market.

I'm going to believe as many impossible things as I can today, including that my vote matters in today's presidential primary.

Monday, February 4

let us now praise good-humored self deprecation.

I think this speaks for itself.
Trust me, the real sweater will be three dimensional.

Sunday, February 3

"I ain't scaret."

Today on my "day off" I accidently made a dress. As a big fan of all things gray (or grey) I've been enjoying mixing it with other colors. So I was happy to find this gray and salmon orange cotton jersey in teeny little stripes. I made it, along with some matching orange thermal cotton and gray jersey and velour, into a dress. It's all ripply and textured and has a hidden side pocket. When it's all washed and ready I'll post the finished product.

I sort of can't wait to sleep, get up and have the "real" work week begin. I have a bunch of stuff ready to list and a pile of new projects lined up to make. As the young boy who timidly tripped up our stairs for Halloween one year said "I ain't scaret."

Saturday, February 2

sink in and tinker.

I've got a new wave of bag-making fever. I've made a few and plan to dig into my boxes of salvaged leather to make some more. For inspiration I dug through my archives to peek at some bags I made before I really got rolling on this whole full time maker/making gig.
These are three I made by a combination of weaving and sewing. The brown and purple one is made from wool and purple cotton jersey - it came out really well but I would never be patient enough to make another. I don't know how real weavers do what they do.

I also found a sort of bag-making manifesto called "dreams of bags" that I barely remember writing. As usual I was struggling with how to stay calm and get work done - ending with "sink in and tinker."

It's not a big mystery. You just have to sink in and tinker.

Why is this so hard to remember every morning?

Friday, February 1

ludwig ... let me count the ways

You'll have lemonade -
pink, and take afternoon naps.
Live with me, Ludwig.

Inspired by an etsy forum thread that called for us to write a haiku about something we covet, I wrote this poem for Ludwig. I admit, I am naturally suspicious of being a grown woman who is attracted to stuffed animals in the same way I distrust men with boy's names - the exception being Billy Collins. I guess I've just seen too many women wearing Disney sweatshirts. But this is different. I just know it is.

Ludwig was dreamed up and knit by Debi van Zyl, whose work and blog I am ever-so fond of. Her beasts make me happy. She makes paper things and mobiles too.

Tuesday, January 29

my heart got broken a little bit.

So, even though I should have stayed quiet about it I blabbed a titch some months ago about possibly being featured in a national magazine's article about reconstructed clothing. Well, it fell through. I spent a week (a week in December, ugh) making samples to send them, twenty four dollars in shipping, and of course, really got my hopes up.

They liked my clothes. But we had a misunderstanding about the models' sizes and nothing I sent fit their people. Ugh. That makes it worse. I guess I learned to ask more questions - I didn't because I was so excited and didn't want to be annoying. In retrospect, I would take annoying over heartbroken any day.

The black pillow above is from MooganCreations.