Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Uniform Bags - Part 1

I know, three posts in one day?  Well, I have had a lot to catch you up on as far as what has been happening around here.  And I have finally gotten myself motivated enough to cut into someone else's son's military uniform, so that I can create a couple of bags for her, so that a little bit of her son is with her whenever she uses her bags....now, don't worry, he's alive and well, just not with his mom.  Being a mom, I completely understand!
But it was really something I had to give some time and space to....before I took scissors to something near and dear to someone else....because once its been cut, you can't ever put it back together like it was before.  So I had to decide which of the versions of the duffel bag that I had in my head would really be the most attractive use of the uniform's components, and also be the most useful and versatile.  The other bag, which will be an extra-large yoga mat bag, should be a good bit easier to put together.
I know I have shown this picture of my 'raw materials' for the bags in a previous post....but I wanted to include it here as a reminder of where I started.  I have spent a lot of time rearranging, inspecting, and just plain figuring out how this puzzle was going to fit together suitably.  And I sure didn't want to start with the cutting until I had a complete grasp as to what I wanted the end result to be.
I made the front and back panels by cutting this lovely pillow sham in half and making sure that the two pieces were 'the same'.  I had to close up the back (which faces inside the bag and will actually be concealed once I have made the bag's inside lining) and not have anything gaping or out of line or sync with any other part.  I also made the bottom for the bag, using the greenish cargo pants in the first pic.
The sides, well, they were more than the average challenge....the width of the bag was wider than my original idea, so I made a couple of pieces from the back of the uniform shirt, added a little ultrasuede pen holder, and commenced to add these pieces to a couple of matching placemats.  The big challenge was assembling the sides without sewing them closed, since they will be BIG pockets all the way down each side.
Now, these were my conceptual pictures for the front and back panels; the top picture is pretty much how the front ended up (I have sewn these on since taking the pictures) after everything was attached.  
The bottom picture is close....I changed the center piece....made it into a big pocket with the pre-upcycled smaller pocket on it and the 'U.S. Air Force' patch is sewn onto the bottom of the big pocket instead of being above it.  The squares with
the identical patches are from each sleeve, and I made the squares, which are now also pockets.  
On the outside of the bag, there are pockets on the front and back, and the sides are each big pockets....lots of pockets, lots of places to put things.  I really like lots of pockets, as you well know if you have ever seen my bags....pockets are sort of my trademark....especially those big side pockets.
That is the story of "The Uniform Bags" so far.  Tomorrow I will assemble all of the pieces and that will be what constitutes the outside of the bag.  I will also start figuring out the lining for this bag, which, go figure, will likely have a pocket or two!  
I will update you as soon as I have gotten more of this bag under my belt, so to speak.  Until then, I bid you peace....


Project: Lotus Blossom Shoes

"Onward Ho!!" as they said when they were trailblazing back in the pioneer days....I have never been afraid to be a trailblazer....
Back in 2010 when I started GoodKharmaReThreads, the upcycling and repurposing craze was underway but I don't think there were many people doing what I was, using items from thrift stores, especially stores with 'causes', so that my initial investment of raw materials for any project was purchased with funds that would partially go to help something or someone.  And of course I have donated many items for fundraisers, and also made specific items for special causes.  I love what I do! I feel fantastic knowing that there are more artists and artisans that share my philosophy these days. 
Okay, on to this project, which I am personally in love with: the lotus blossom shoes!   I am having so much fun doing these shoes - and covering up my original and ugly crap with these lovely flowers and greenery.  I'm not going to lie....it is a challenge to paint such beautiful examples of nature's wonder, and somehow capture and preserve that natural wonder in my work.  I will say that it takes a great deal of time to get these beauties 'right'.  I am still working on the first shoe, but it isn't too far from being done, I think. 
Mostly, I'm having to figure in the covering-up of my original little branches that I had painted on the shoes, before I decided to do the lotus blossoms.  I am also pretty much finished with each 'blossom' as I go, but I will go back and work on the lily pads and other greenery to give it the depth that goes along with that of the blossoms themselves.
As I said before, this is really a challenging project, due to the layers of color that I am finding necessary for the blooms.  But, those same layers work great when I have made a little mistake and can just keep painting till that little blip is no more.
Here, I am letting the pictures sort of tell the story of the progression of the project....as one blossom gets completed I have to figure what will be next and start looking for the perfect image to paint for that area of the shoe, always trying to envision the end result....never would have imagined that I'd be turning shoes into works of art, but it really is fun!!  It is going to take a while, getting BOTH shoes completed, which I don't mind....I want them to be awesome, and awesome can't be rushed.  The base product, a pair of Merrell clogs, in great condition, made of some fabric that has many of the properties of burlap (as far as weave, texture, feel), make for a great canvas. 
I will keep everyone posted on the progress of these guys....and I'd love to hear from you....a little input can be a good thing....since I have questions about a couple of things, ideas....such as, should I make these seem like they are part of a koi pond, and possibly add a watery look, or add a koi somewhere?  Let me know what you think!  I would love some feedback....                                                     


Project: Denim Handbag

Well, so much has been going on here at the GoodKharma studio that I decided to do a few blogs that basically are about a specific project; that way, for those that find a project particularly interesting can go straight to the posts that they want to follow.
This post is about that denim handbag, with cork handles, that I've been working on little by little....and it is very close to completion. 
I am finished with side one, the landscape scene, other than adding something to the water - probably some highlights and ripples, or something like that - and looking at it once more to see if anything needs touching up before I seal it with waterproofing sealant spray.

So, for side two, I decided on birds, and chose three to work with....the first two are a cardinal and what I believe to be a finch of some sort....and the third, well, it is from my imagination, other than the outline and pose and such....I made up the colors because the original one was yellow, and I already had a yellow bird on the bag.
But I needed a bird that was not on a branch, something to give the appearance of being near the ground instead, since the other two are on branches.
I am still not completely happy with this side of the bag.  I have considered whether or not to add a background to this side, or to somehow outline certain things....I don't really like either idea.  I will do some touch-up work on these guys and see if that will do the
trick to make sure that the dark parts, such as the black tail and
head on the yellow bird, are not lost against the dark denim.  Other than that I think this whole bag is very close to completion now.
I am excited at the thought of getting this one out there into the marketplace and seeing what kind of reactions I get.  Of course, I would love it if someone were to buy it in the near future....not about the money, just about the exposure for GKR as I work toward using multiple art mediums within a project (I am itching to get to the first Buddha bag, which combines painting with creating and sewing the bag).
There are so many things I want to work on, it is distracting at times.  I want to paint, but I want to sew, but I want to paint....and then all that other stuff - cooking, laundry, cleaning, chauffeuring, etc. - that I have to do, which all take away from the art.  But I remain dedicated; at least, most days I get a good bit done, fibromyalgia notwithstanding.
Okay, I will go on to my next blog....I have a couple more posts to do to get 'caught up'....whatever that is supposed to mean.  Thanks for your interest....if you have any ideas about this project, please feel free to share them....I would love to hear from you!
Until next time, namaste....


Sunday, May 3, 2015

May....Less Painting....More Sewing!

Yes, I've spent a good deal of time painting things....shoes....handbags....and now its time for me to get to sewing.  I have several bags to make....custom orders....the first GKR Buddha Bag....and so I will be changing gears, starting today!
I did manage to get a little painting in....what else does someone like me do first thing on a Sunday morning but a little painting....and finished my sandals....good old Birkenstocks that have seen better days, but now have a new face and allow me to 'show off' one of the things I enjoy and want to do more of....the shoes....painting the shoes....I really like the idea of wearing art on one's feet for some reason!

I guess I'll have to 'paint' my toenails so I can wear these today!  I'm pretty pleased with how they have turned out....they just need to be sprayed with sealant and they'll be ready to go!  
I also managed to finish the first side of the little denim handbag I've been painting....I am waiting for my muse and I to agree on what belongs on the other side of this one....I am leaning towards a big butterfly or birds?   Perhaps with some big blossoms or branches, depending on which creature gets chosen....but here is side one....

I also have been trying to finish 'side one' of an old project that my son brought me from NC a few weeks ago....I thought it was misplaced during my relocation, but I think I just missed a few things, so I was glad to open a box and find this little handbag waiting....
My first butterfly....and I've done quite a bit of work on this one since this picture....so I will update you on the progress next time I post.  Hopefully I will have this side finished and get to 'side two' in the near future.  A little morning painting each day and I will get it done soon enough....

I also did this butterfly on paper....and I have two more butterflies to paint....a black one and and orange one...to complete a set of three.  It should be pretty cool when they are all done....in fact, I think I might put the other two on 'side two' of this little bag, good practice for the regular paintings.
This is just a close-up, to show the detail....I found it quite challenging and learned a good deal about what paint will and will not forgive when doing this kind of work.  
Well, as I stated earlier, I will be doing limited painting for a while so that I can get some sewing done, but I will still pick up the brush every day for a half-hour or so....it gives a different kind of satisfaction than the sewing, or the writing....and so I won't just stop painting....it will just become the 'back burner' thing while I attend to the other stuff. 

There you have it....switching gears will be okay.  I know that once I delve into the sewing and cutting and ironing and pinning and all of the rest....I will enjoy the work....making something out of nothing!  It is great fun, and gives me so much pleasure, so it is really all good.  I know that I'm blessed to be able to do so many diverse creative activities, expanding GoodKharma as I go....as with the GKR Buddha Bags, which will combine painting and sewing.  
I should get myself to work now....ironing....ugh!  Not my favorite part of the process, but totally necessary.  I should have some baggage to show you when next we 'meet'....until then, I bid you peace.