Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Power of Panties

I loved this story that came up today. As someone who has worked with underwear as an artform, I know that panties are a surefire attention getter. (One of my pieces, Seven Deadly Sins, is pictured at the end of this post.)

Thu Oct 25, 5:48 AM
BANGKOK (AFP) - A campaign is underway to chastise Myanmar's military regime, not through dialogue or sanctions, but by flooding the country's foreign embassies with women's underwear, an activist said Thursday.

A pro-democracy group based in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai is urging people all over the world to "post, deliver or fling" their undergarments to Myanmar's international embassies.

"The Burma military regime is not only brutal but very superstitious. They believe that contact with a woman's panties or sarong can rob them of their power," the Lanna Action for Burma group said on its website.

The generals who rule Myanmar, previously known as Burma, provoked international outcry in September when they violently cracked down on peaceful protesters, killing at least 13 people.

Europe and the United States led the chorus of disapproval, announcing new sanctions against the regime.

Despite the outcry and a United Nations statement deploring the crackdown and urging dialogue, the junta has shown little sign of moving any closer towards democracy or freeing opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Those behind the so-called "Panty Power" campaign hope that lingerie can succeed where international diplomacy has so far failed.

"We want to raise awareness first, and we want to target the Burmese government officials, letting them know we are against them abusing their power," said Tomoko, an activist with Lanna Action for Burma.

Tomoko, who goes by one name only, said she had heard that Myanmar embassies in Thailand, Australia and the United States had been targeted by the Panty Power campaign, which began last week.

"We are sending (the generals) panties as a symbol of putting their power down," she told AFP.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Swap-O-Rama-Rama at Austin Maker Faire

The stage is set...

...and comes alive with people.

It's Swap-O-Rama-Rama, where abundance is rampant and people are creating new from old everywhere you look.

There were the Austin Craft-O-Rama girls...

...and Gretchen Elsner with Soft Circuitry...

... and the famous Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching.

Designer Mary Keene makes a suggestion...

...and shows off her modded Maker Faire T-shirt.

Zimka gets a participant going on the machine...

...and silkscreening team Studio 3 was buzzing all day.

Ripping out seams...

...and sewing with one hand and a baby in the other!

Three guys learning how to sew...

...and Wendy Tremayne giving a talk about the Maker as Revolutionary. Did you know that becoming a maker can and will change the world? Raise your fist in the air and shout "I am a creator!"

And just so you can see that I did get out of the barn - here's one of the amazing art cars on display. The Yarn Car of course!

Austin is a wonderful town, I'd go back in a minute. And I have to say a huge thank you to the extraordinary folks at O'Reilly, Make and Craft magazines. They really pulled it off again!

Swap-O-Rama-Rama at Austin Maker Faire: The Fashion Show

One of the highlights of Swap-O-Rama-Rama is the fashion show, which is always fresh and fun and very spontaneous. The designers and artists who contribute their talents to the Swap get to show off their skills at converting the old and unusual into fabulous new garments. The Austin show featured the work of Tina Sparkles, Gretchen Elsner, Zimka, Hayley Pannone and Malissa Long. (I apologize for not taking detailed notes so I am afraid I can't identify each person's work, but check out their websites.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Leaves are Falling...

...and I'm headed south. Farther south than I've ever been in my life as it turns out - to Austin, Texas for Swap-O-Rama-Rama at Maker Faire. It promises to be a blast - Jenny Hart will be there, and the makers of the film Handmade Nation, and Sabrina Gschwandtner from Knit Knit and really, the absolutely coolest crew of sewers and designers. As I am still in my brace and somewhat medicated I think I will just float around and try and be helpful, and check out the rest of Maker Faire as much as possible.

And since I feel so guilty about posting without any pictures, here's a bit more from the vaults. My dream is to sew again one day (and I will!) But in the meantime here's "Falling Leaf", a piece that I consider a collaboration with the unknown Japanese artist who pieced together the indigo rags to make a serviceable wrapping cloth for moving furniture. I embroidered the maple leaves (a touch of Canadiana) and pieced the "Wild Goose" border.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Things to Make and Do

A few days ago I came across this old book in a used book store. I grabbed it instantly, recognising it as one of my very early influences. "Things to Make and Do", by Esther M. Bjoland got me started on a life time of making stuff. It's from 1960, and quite a treasure today with its simple hand drawn illustrations, enormous variety of projects and DIY philosophy.

The projects cost little or nothing and were intended to use things one had around the house. Cardboard boxes, scrap wood, paint, and crayons are the main ingredients. The author states in her introduction: "A child who has a chest full of ready-made playthings often becomes indifferent to them. Eventually none please or amuse and the toy-owner becomes restless, dissatisfied, and frequently difficult to live with. Such a child urgently needs a wholesome release from his ready made toys and to make some of is own." Sound like a description of modern times? And maybe not just children but adults could benefit by making things themselves? (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

So I spent my formative years immersed in books such as this, and I did indeed make stuff. Some of it was lame, like these yarn dolls (no fun to play with) but there was block printing, woodworking, making a leanto, sewing soft toys and much more. As I grew into my teenage years, I would buy craft magazines from Women's Day and Family Circle (this was in the 70's) - there really weren't a lot of resources out there. I remember going into the woods and collecting lichens and plants to naturally dye the thick, coarse yarn I had spun on a wheel converted from an old treadle sewing machine.

I remember making this peep show when I was about 10. What a classic rainy Saturday project!

Then came 1976 and punk rock reflected my teen angst perfectly. I spent many years denying my hippie heritage. But DIY was always a part of punk and in my mellow old age I don't see these aspects of myself as being all that far apart.

Reading it so many years later, I see an odd subtext, a vision of childhood that's just a little too perfect. Check out the end papers! Charming, maybe, but the more you look the stranger they are.

And look at how happy the mom is with the yarn holder her daughter has made. How motivating!! Too bad my mom wasn't a knitter, I would have made a hundred of these.

But, hey that's just the corrupting influence of art achool talking! I don't have the need to analyse the Freudian depths of this great book. Thank you, Esther M. Bjoland for setting me on the joyful path of creativity.