Meet Claramae

The name Claramae means "bright rebel", at least according to one of the name sites I went a-scouring.

Poor Claramae - her color looks really washed out in this picture. She's much brighter and livelier in person.

I've been playing around with color and fabric lately. Ok, so I've also been messing with glass painting, watercolors, embossing/coloring metals, doodling (zentangles), and a quilt (that started as an art quilt - but has gotten way out of control). The things I've learned - and subsequent results - from the materials I've been experimenting with, will come up in future posts. That's my way of letting you know I haven't been a total slacker - and my weak excuse for where I've been lately. Then again, as a single mom, do I really need an excuse about where I've been? Juggling the kids, a giant court case, more spine injections...oh forget it. I'm too exhausted to even bring it all up.

In Wednesday's post, I showed you how to make this awesome fabric.

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Claramae, the art doll I made with some of this fabric.

She's about 12" tall. I stitched her arms and legs separately - basically because I'm lazy...and had some serious help from the Princess. Doing it that way just made it a lot easier. You can see all her beautiful colors - the darker pieces come from various darker permanent markers, the lighter colors use lighter markers. (Der! Just in case you couldn't figure that one out for yourself.)

I made the pattern - which you are free to print out for your own use, if you'd like. Please do not post it on your site, in a book, or on handouts. If you'd like to use it in your own projects - or for a swap - that's totally fine, have a great time and send me pictures. To use it for any other purpose, please contact me so we can discuss it. (I hate saying that - but too many people without scruples make it necessary.)

I went to work cutting her out, then lovingly stitching and stuffing her. I'm still learning my way around the sewing machine, so yes, I'm aware she's not done exactly right. And that my stitches don't leave a perfectly measured seam all around her. But she's supposed to look like that. Yeah. That's it. She's exactly like I imagined her. Sure.
Beautiful eyelash trim makes up her hair. Once she was stuffed and stitched, I used black, purple, and red Sharpies to draw a few symbols on her. Most have no meaning other than decorative - but a few are symbols I seem to draw on everything.

The colors are a little off in these pictures - they are washed out. It's hard to get pictures of really colorful things with my camera. It's probably more operator error than a problem with my Canon PowerShot A560.

I intentionally left her backside plain. She's almost like a two-sided doll - you turn her one way and she's decorated, the other way she's plain. That has to be the stupidest thing I've ever said or written.

Her new home will be on a shelf in my studio, next to Stella. I haven't introduced you to Stella yet - but I will. She's still a work in progress and has been kind of neglected for the last eight months or so...but dang. She's a lot of work! You'll see what I mean when I get her finished and finally introduce her.

Anyway, this is Claramae - my "bright rebel". What do you think of her?


Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Princess wanted to make something to share with you for Thanksgiving - so I will keep this short and let her "present" to you stand out as today's post. I did want to share with you that I am thankful for each and every one of you. You guys are my sounding board, my friends, and my sanity. I could not get through the antics the childebeasts pull without you. You guys are the best - and for that, I am thankful.

Here is the special present the Princess made for you. She was very specific: post it on my blog for Thanksgiving, tell you "you're special" and to "remember to be thankful", and to say, "GOBBLE! GOBBLE!".

EDIT: You have to check this video out...consider it the second part of the Royal Zoos Thanksgiving wishes to you.


Make Your Own Fabric: DIY Fabric

I've been coloring some fabric lately, with a fun technique. The end result can be used in almost anything you want to make - and I chose to use some of mine in an art doll I've named Claramae. We'll get to Claramae later - first I want to introduce you to the technique.

Permanent markers, alcohol, and fabric. Here's a sample of the first step, permanent marker on cotton muslin. This is before the alcohol is added. Actually, it's Claramae...well, before she became Claramae.

One thing I've learned - but have a hard time remembering (besides my name) is that, with this technique, less is better. I have a habit of covering every available inch with color, beads, paint, ribbon, whatever. When doing this process, leaving spaces between the colors makes the colors bleed into each other really well. Marking all over the fabric (like I did) means you have to use more alcohol - and do a lot of blotting with paper towels. The up side to doing it "my" way is that you end up with some wonderfully colored paper (from under the fabric) and paper towels, ready to be incorporated into your next project.

This is a super easy way to make your own fabric/designs. I would not wash this fabric - I don't know how well it would hold up. It may be fine...but I just don't know. But anyone - kids and the "unartistic" - can do this. This doesn't involve nasty, caustic dyes or expensive fabric paints. And you know I'm all about the inexpensive art experience!

~ Muslin: washed and dried without fabric softener. This removes the fabric sizing and makes it easier to color.
~ Permanent Markers: Sharpies, BIC Mark Its, etc. Different nib widths works well - fine tips tend to leave more of a "line" on the fabric, while wide tips blend and bleed into the fabric better.
~ Alcohol: Either 70 or 90% works. (Or whatever numbers are close to those - I can't remember exactly what the percentages are.)
~ Eye Dropper, Spray Bottle, Q-Tips, Pipettes...anything that will transfer the alcohol to the fabric in an interesting way. I tend to use everything. Why limit yourself?

Draw on your fabric. If you're having a hard time with the fabric shifting, iron freezer paper to the back to provide a stiffer surface. Scribbles, lines, doodles, dots, scribbles, geometric shapes, scribbles...anything you want to draw. I would stay away from drawing actual pictures - they don't show up well. Unless you want recognizable lines, stick to loose scribbles (in case you didn't see that above) and blocks of colors. Like I mentioned before, leaving space between the colors produces a much different effect - coloring all over the fabric creates a lot of excess color that needs to be removed.

If you ironed freezer paper to your fabric, now is the time to remove it. (If you don't, this technique won't work.) Place paper under fabric - it can be newsprint, cardstock, whatever you want to use to catch the excess ink. Give some consideration to whether you want to use the paper in another project, and what sort of paper will be most versatile for you. I used 110# white cardstock - it's strong enough to handle the bleeding without tearing or leaking - but it's truly up to you and what you want to do with it. Just remember, this is permanent marker we're dealing with. You probably want to make sure you have a pretty absorbent paper under the fabric.Unless you want your table/desk/whatever to acquire a myriad of uncontrollable color.

Ok. So we've got the colored fabric on some sort of paper to soak up the excess we're going to spray, splash, spatter, dribble, squirt, flick, spritz, smear, pour, sprinkle, drizzle, trickle, mist, blob, atomize, scatter, drop, the alcohol onto the fabric. Whether you are careful or go for it with reckless abandon, you can't control the bleed. Keep adding alcohol, picking up your fabric and letting it run through the colors. Dab and blot with a paper towel or a piece of paper, when there's a lot of alcohol on the fabric and the color isn't moving any longer. Continue this until the colors disperse to your satisfaction. Lay the piece flat, smooth with your hands, let air dry. (The markers will stain your hands...and you want to let the fabric air dry, not your hands. You can always let your hands air dry, if you want...I don't care.)

Once the fabric is dry, I iron it to kind of heat set it. I don't know if it helps, but I do it anyway. Then it's ready for whatever project you want to use it on - and if you used decent paper and relatively strong paper towels, you've got those to incorporate into a project, too. Yay!

I won't be posting pictures of Claramae until Friday, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving and the Princess made something special for you. But don't miss Friday's post - when I'll introduce you to Claramae, the newest member of our zoo.


The White Flag of Surrender (Made of Underwear)

If you want to feel old and out-of-touch, take a teenage boy shopping for pants.

I am waving the white flag of surrender. Made of tighty-whities.

You see, I have been jean shopping for my sixteen year old son lately. It's taken us over a month to find something I will pay for. And don't make me want to disown him. Or run up behind him and yank the saggy butt part of his jeans down with one (not so) wild jerk.

What is up with kids? Why does my son find it necessary to let everyone in the universe see his underwear?? He would die if he knew I told you all he wears boxer-briefs...but he has no problem letting the state of Colorado know...he doesn't even care that everyone knows what color they are.

(In order to help some of you other parents rank a little higher on the - unwritten and constantly changing - "cool scale" than I do...apparently, singing "I see London, I see France, I see the mutant's under pants...Might be yellow, might be pink, all I know is they sure do stink!" is not funny to a sixteen year old man-boy. Especially when sung - kind of loudly - in front of his his decidedly uncool mother. They don't think it's funny even when they're on the phone.)

I threatened to wear my pants pulled down around my knees. Yep, I threatened to "sag". His face froze, contorted in fear, the likes of which I don't recall ever having seen before. Except the time I tried to make conversation with some girl he liked, when she called while he was out getting the mail.When he walked back into the house and found out who I was talking to, you could actually feel the earth stop rotating for a moment. It was like the sound of crickets chirping was some how jacked up by the universe - because that was the only sound audible for several long seconds, while (I assume) he was swallowing his heart back into his chest.

Back to my threat to "sag". I told him I would pull my jeans down around my knees - and go out in public like that. Probably on a day when he would be surrounded by friends. And that I would wear my "mom underwear" - you know, the really hideous pair every woman has shoved to the back of their drawer, that they just can't throw away in case they need it on laundry day or something, but that they never actually wear.

He didn't know this was just an empty threat. That I could never get my pants pulled down like that (because the waist isn't big enough - or isn't big enough to fit like that), and that I would never intentionally embarrass myself like that. (I do well enough embarrassing myself when I don't intend to - I really don't need to work at it.) But that's a mom's occasionally make up crazy things. Things just insane enough to keep her children wondering how imbalanced she actually is. Constantly keeping the 'beasts wondering just how beserk I am is one of my survival skills.

I don't even know how the man-boy can walk. He's gone through countless belts because they don't stretch when he sits down - and they are right around his bum, which increases in girth when you go from standing to sitting. There have been many times when he's walking somewhere, and we all have to stop and wait because he's got to reach down and grab his pants in order to keep them up. Many other times, he's lost them completely - his hands will be full and he'll be waddling along, pants down around his ankles. He's not the most coordinated child, either (must get that from his mom) - and the ankle drooping pants only work against him, to trip him up. Yet he's lost on why he would trip with his pants like that. Just as he's lost when he is unable to find "his size" in most stores. I always try to look surprised that 44x30 isn't a common size.

I'm sure in reality he probably wears a 38x36. Which, for the record, I've had him try on. He claims he can't get them over his thighs. Who am I to argue? I'm just the mom. I suppose I should let up since I'm not the one wearing them. Then again, I am the one subjected to seeing his constant "plumber's butt".

I may have given you the impression this is how he only wears jeans, which would be false. He also wears his Dockers like this, which caused a "discussion" every morning before he left for work (when he was working). Or when we're going to church. Or anywhere else. Which is what finally did me in.

I think I may try sagging - if only in my own home. (Remember, I want them to wonder about my sanity and just how far I'll go with things - not actually be fitted for a straight jacket. Again.) I've decided it really doesn't matter where I sag, it's the sagging in general that will mortify my offspring - and hopefully make them question my sanity unlike they ever have in the past. I'm thinking the idea of seeing a parent sag just may be perturbing enough to get my point across. I've already contemplated the long term results of such an action, and my conclusion is the same as it usually is...the 'beasts will already be in therapy blaming me for everything anyway, why not just add this to the list? I can always deny it later.

Maybe this would be taking it too far? I mean, it could seriously damage them to see their mom in her undies - whether I'm wearing pants around my knees or not. I don't want to do something akin to walking in on your grandma/grandpa while they're in the shower, changing clothes, or worse - getting amongst it. The 'beasts drive me nuts - but I do love them and don't want to damage their psyche. At least not in some really awful way that will never go away. I want to prove my point and get him to stop sagging, but I don't want to do something that would equal seeing your parents involved in some truly obnoxious incident on COPS, being set up on a blind date with your mom/dad, or accidentally hitting the wrong speed dial number on your phone only to "drunk dial" your grandparents.

Hmmm now that I really think about it, maybe I should contact my friend JD, who does all sorts of amusing things. She has a much better body than I do (just check out her nekkid post), and would probably do it - just so I don't have to.


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