Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Brussels Sprouts Holiday Branch: Let the Revels Begin!

"Oh brussels branch, oh brussels branch..."

Here is a project that has been on my to-do list for years, ever since Trader Joe's began carrying veggie-laden Brussels sprouts branches as a holiday special just before Thanksgiving every year. The Brussels branch is a prime candidate for a new holiday tradition and of course, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, every element of the holiday Brussels branch is edible. lovely are thy branches...

For those of you from around the world who don't celebrate this gluttonous holiday feast, feel free to incorporate the Brussels branch into your holiday festivities however you wish — as an alternative, edible Christmas tree, as a symbol of hope for the new year, as a pagan post for your Druid dances in the forest.

Tips and how-to advice:

• The upper, horizontal stalks provide supports for hanging decorations. The lower part of the branch remains solid sprouts.

• This holiday branch incorporates strung, fresh cranberries and bird silhouettes fashioned from tangerine peels. In less than a week I will be adding a how-to post to this blog about making your own orange and tangerine-peel silhouette decorations. You may, of course, decorate your own Brussels branch however you wish.

• The pot shown here has no holes on the bottom. It contains a little water to keep the branch fresh. More importantly, it contains a few big, heavy rocks to anchor the branch and offer it a little positioning support.

And now, enjoy some close-ups of my lovely Brussels branch and feel free to hum along to the classical holiday tune, "O Tannenbaum," substituting the phrase "Brussels branch" for "tannenbaum."

For truly dedicated revelers who are curious about how to go about actually eating their holiday branch once the festivities are over, here is a recipe for Cranberry Clementine Brussels Sprouts with Brown Sugar Glaze. Bon appétit - and stay tuned for the next posting on making orange and tangerine silhouette decorations. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Advent Calendar Ball Gown 2017

Let the revels begin:

Advent ball gown for eight-year-old


It is the time of year when I begin creating advent calendars, and this year's version is an interactive ball gown. Where is the ball? With the right attitude, the right gown, and the right accessories, the ball is wherever and whenever you say it is. The version above is for an eight-year-old recipient. The one below is for a six-year-old recipient. As this narrative progresses you will see the gowns unfurl.

Advent ball gown for six-year-old


These gowns began with a search at the thrift store for promising "base" dresses - the wackier the better. Starting with size small dresses and armed with the recipients' measurements, I then took the dresses in to fit at waist, chest, and shoulders/armholes.  Note that the green dress above has a stretch torso, making fitting easier, but it was still taken in about two inches on each side.

The next step was to cut 25 sections of tulle, with each section comprised of two to three pieces of tulle. The tulle was attached at the waist of each dress. A little square of rough-cut cloth covers the top of each section of tulle, as shown below. This is brash, bold, we-don't-care-if-it-clashes sewing.

Anchoring down the top of each tulle section

A few ribbon embellishments adorned with bells or jewels were added to some of the tulle sections to add to the frivolity.

Each tulle section was then used individually to package a daily prize, including a chocolate coin (a yearly advent tradition) and a bead, in accord with this year's accessory theme. A few pieces of bling (rhinestone brooch, stick-on jewels) are included as occasional added treats. Tulle is wrapped around the objects at the bottom to enclose the contents, then rolled upward and tied off with a bow. Another little section of ribbon containing the date of the month is attached to each bow.

Loot bags, string, bling, beads and chocolate coins
The recipients each receive a loot bag along with their calendar at the beginning of the month. The loot bag includes instructions and two types of string for making jewelry. As they unwrap their beads each day, they stash them in their loot bags until they have enough to start stringing and making their own jewelry.

And here is what the gowns will look like on December 25, once all the little packages are open and all of the tulle is unfurled:

Gown for eight-year-old



Gown for six-year-old



One can only imagine the final splendor when the gowns are adorned with hand-crafted bracelets and necklaces. As a young man in San Francisco once told me: "Accessories are everything."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mending Mania: London

Sewing and patching kit: London 10/17

My small, portable hand-sewing kit is one thing I will never, ever travel without. In recent years I have started including a packet of patches as well. In addition to bits of varied material, I also have an assortment of one-of-a-kind patches I created using photo transfer paper and a bank of intriguing non-copyright images I have collected over the years. Fully armed and ready to stitch, I hit a very hospitable friend's house in London for a ten-day stay. She fed me wonderful food and showed me around the lesser-known neighborhoods of London, and I patched clothes for her and her family. Her glass-ceilinged dining room became my temporary sewing atelier.

Sewing atelier

The mending mania included one pair of ripped jeans for a son willing to embrace non-conventional repairs:

Mended jeans

Close-up of mend: patched photo transfer image combined with under-mend and sashiko stitching.

One reversible raincoat with holes in lower front (with additional patches added to balance the look):

Back of coat with vertical patch

Close-up of sashiko stitching used on coat patches

Two diaphanous cotton shawls for a pregnant daughter, incorporating ancient Chinese medical text image and ancient Arab monkey image.

Two shawls with decorative (as opposed to functional) patches

Close-up: shawl patch

Close-up: shawl patch

Four shirts worn and torn by my lovely hostess. I had already repaired earlier tears in some of these, so the end effect here in some cases is the result of cumulative patching.

2 mended shirts

Close-up: patch using ancient Chinese medical text image and photo transfer

Patch using image from old Arab book and photo transfer

Patch using traditional Japanese sashiko stitching

Cumulative patching

Sashiko stitching for traditional Japanese Boro patching technique

Sashiko stitching

Patch using cloth photo transfer

Shirt with small previous sashiko patch

New patch using scrap of old Guatemalan cloth

I am happy when I sew, and at this point in my life I cannot imagine traveling anywhere without a sewing kit and a supply of patches in hand. I believe the people wandering around the planet sporting one of my patches are happy also. 

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lost and Found: Brush Necklace

The found object: battered makeup brush lying in crosswalk

Time to give another found object a soul and send it on its way. For the back story on this ongoing project and the Japanese folk belief in tsukumogami, or objects with souls, see an earlier post —Tsukumogami: Objects with Souls. For more lost objects in the series see: Found.

I actually walked past this fabulous find in the middle of a crosswalk because I was heading towards a destination and absorbed in the quotidian task of crossing the street. Once I reached the opposite curb, however, it took about three seconds to decide I had to backtrack and grab this wonderful object. In addition to normal wear and tear it looked like it had been run over a couple of times, chipping the paint on the handle, denting the metal, and giving it a wonderful aged patina. Once home, after thoroughly washing it, I studied it for a while until its soul emerged. And here it is.

Brush necklace

The battered, abandoned brush is now a necklace with decidedly tribal overtones.

Close-up, brush head

Regarding the how-to:

The How: A

The How: B

The final step in any of the projects in the Lost and Found series is to send the object back out into the world to continue its travels. Friends fought me on this particular object, urging me to keep the necklace, but my mission is to shepherd lost objects along on their way, not to hoard them. A few objects back I started attaching a card or tag to the objects. Here is the copy for this one:

Card cover

Card inside

Card back (QR code leads directly to this blog)

Necklace with tag

And finally, it was time to let this object go. It was just released at the same crosswalk where it was originally found. I left it, walked to my local thrift store around the corner, and by the time I walked back it was gone.

The release

If you have an eye for detail, you may be wondering what happened to the brush handle. Be assured, I have plans and they are in progress. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Climate Change Barbie

Climate Change Barbie Hits the Road

Introducing the newest false product from Stuff You Can't Have: Climate Change Barbie. She joins the ranks of the predicted 25 million to one billion refugees who will be forced to flee their homes over the next 40 years due to drought, floods, famine, and other climate-related threats.

Because water is scarce and temperatures are rising, Barbie has chopped off her locks and seldom shampoos or bothers to comb it. She sports the "black mask" many eco-migrants have painted on around their eyes to reduce glare from the sun.

Click to enlarge

During hot weather Barbie wraps a versatile single piece of cloth around her waist and then between her legs to form cropped, baggy pants. 

Click to enlarge

All eco-migrants who consider themselves Sixth Extinction adherents carry pouches of heritage seeds. Ever since the Global Seed Vault located in the arctic circle in Norway flooded due to global warming at the end of 2016 as the permafrost began to melt, Barbie and others realized a fail-safe back-up method was needed. That method was to give individual migrants small doomsday pouches of precious heritage seeds so that when and if climate change can be slowed or reversed, humans will have a shot at growing a wide variety of crops again.

Doomsday seed pouch

Pack with retractable solar panels

Barbie's backpack has retractable solar panels that are hooked up to a rechargeable battery inside the pack.

More about the pack and its contents below.

Close-up: Pack with retractable solar panels, side pockets for water bottles

Pack straps

Pack solar panels deployed
Inside the pack there is an assortment of supplies.

Click to enlarge


Solar oven closed for storage

Setting up the solar oven

Solar oven fully assembled

Climate change isn't only about heat, drought, and deserts — there are also superstorms, floods, and periods of unseasonably cold weather. As a seasoned eco-migrant, Barbie is ready for whatever happens next. Or at least she hopes she is.

And finally, Barbie needs a place to rest her head on her long trek to nowhere (most countries have closed their borders by the year 2025, refusing to accept any eco-migrants). Her poncho converts into a tent.

Note that development of every item and accessory in Barbie's wardrobe and equipment is based on the anticipated needs of human eco-migrants as predicted in a range of scientific reports and academic papers. And that failure of the Doomsday Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle? It really happened:

Search terms: Climate change Barbie, eco-migrant Barbie, global warming Barbie.
Related Posts with Thumbnails