The Digital Age and Old Photos

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I had the great idea a couple of years ago to scan all (yes, ALL) of my Mom's photos from her albums and boxes of photos for her Christmas present.

First, I researched photo scanners and there are a lot! I don't remember a lot of details cause that was a couple of years ago, but I remember there are mixed reviews and lots of different choices but really only 1 or 2 that would be of use to me. I really wanted one that is small and portable and that would be the least amount of work (duh!). I also thought it'd be great if I could scan them with my iPad. All that narrowed the selection to just about one. Luckily it wasn't horrible, just a little better than horrible, but it got the job done with minimum head ache (rescanning, skewed scans, crashes, etc). This is the one that I got: Kaiser Baas iPad Photo Scanner just in case you're looking for one. FYI, my husband hates it, it never works well for him, but I think it just gave out, it was good for one long run of scanning and that was it. At least I got my Mom's Photos scanned before it gave out.

I managed to get hundreds and hundreds of photos scanned during the 2 weeks at my Mom's that year. Peeling that magnetic type cover from old albums to get at the photos (some of which wouldn't peel up anymore), carefully plucking ooooold photos from ancient albums (the kind with the little black envelope corners holding in black and white photos with gorgeous scalloped edges, trudging through boxes and boxes of photos (I think we all just gvve up doing albums at one point and started shoving photos in boxes... maybe when it started becoming cheaper to take photos; cameras got cheaper, film got cheaper and had more shots per roll, developing got much cheaper; there ended up being just too many photos to keep up with and too little time to put them all nicely in albums). The scanning was a chore, for sure, but a welcome one. I really thought it'd be awesome to have all the old photos digital, safe and easily sharable. I'm not even sure how much longer some of those old photos would last, some were already severely faded.

Anyway, fast forward 2 years and I'm heading to my Mom's again for Christmas. ...and I still don't have the photos edited and shared. :( So I'm [quite desperately] doing them now... and remembering why I haven't done them in all this time. It's a PITA. First, nothing was really in order when I scanned them (semi, but not really) so I tried to divide them by births, lol, (photos before me, photos after first grandkids, photos after Tiago (my husband), photos after second grand kid (my son)... things pretty much went strictly digital after that. On top of that, nothing scans straight, so I have to straighten them. Also, at the time of scanning, I thought it was a great idea to scan two photos at once for some of the photo pages so now I have to duplicate each scan and crop them into 2 separate photos, etc. etc. etc. *sigh* Still, it's worth all the effort, right? Yes, definitely! I have just over 4 weeks to get them finished and shared somewhere (which is a whole other issue in itself).

Here are some of the really old photos that I adore:


What do you think? The original photo bomb? :)

Ultimate shot with the grandparents. This is my Mom and Aunt with their Grandma and Grandpa.

I love to see that people were just as goofy in the very stuffy 50s-60s as they are today.

My Grandmother. The goofiest person I know. (bare ankles, isn't she cold?)

Wow! That is one period photo there. That wallpaper, that dining set, the hair... lolol.

I don't understand this photo. Aren't they afraid at all that the cake will end up on the floor?

So coiffed for goofing off at the river! 

My Grandma again! The guy she's with was really trying to keep straight-faced, lol.
Well, back to editing. I'm excited to get these up for my Mom, and all the family, to see and comment on!!!

-xo deb.

Exploring Fabric Dyeing : Shibori : DIY

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Beautiful Textile by Naoko
So, I recently discovered the art of Shibori Dying! It is a technique for "tie-dying" fabric that is go-o-orgeous! I've actually seen this type of fabric treatment many times, I just didn't know that it had a special name or that it had quite a history behind it.

Briefly, it is an ancient Japanese fabric dying technique utilizing different things to bind or resist the fabric. It was originally used by the poor to prolong the life of clothing; when something got stained or faded or worn, the people would use the Shibori techniques to refresh their clothing. It has since become a very exact art. Some examples of Shibori art are just stunning. I've included a couple of photos that I think are exceptional.

You can read more about the art and history of Shibori in these books.*
Shibori: The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing
Memory on Cloth: Shibori Now
Shibori Designs & Techniques

I decided that I needed to try out some simple Shibori dying myself since I had a few items that I felt needed a little oomph! There is definitely a learning curve to it, I had some great results, some meh results, and a couple WTh results, lol.

Here we go, let me know if you have questions!!!

There are a variety of props, so to speak, that you can find around the house to use for the different techniques. I used:
A PVC style pipe, about 3" in diameter and about 14" long - easy to find at Home Depot or the like.
A bunch of 1" binder clips - like these: Medium Binder Clips, Steel Wire, 5/8" Cap., 1-1/4" Wide, Black/Silver, 36/Pack
Rubber bands - these are perfect: BAZIC Assorted Dimensions 227g/0.5 lbs. Rubber Bands, Multi Color (465-48P)
Cotton twine - or similar: Regency Natural Cooking Twine 1/2 Cone 100% Cotton
Two 5" wood squares - you can cut your own or buy pre-cut from a craft store.
A large bucket (I actually used one of those Ikea storage buckets)
Rit Dye - I used these: Rit Dye Powdered Fabric Dye, Black & Taupe
~or~ Indigo dye - this is the one I'm buying next: Jacquard Indigo Tie Dye Kit (Mini)

Wrapping & Binding
I tried several binding and resisting techniques for different pieces, thinking about what might work best for each. I honestly hadn't done tons of research about "how" best to do these techniques (I'm way too impatient for that, lol) so this was pretty much trial and error. The Shibori Wiki has great explanations.

1. Arashi Shibori or pole wrapping. I used a pretty short pole because a) it's all I had and b) my bucket was pretty small, so wrapping was a challenge. I had to wrap the string around super tightly and push the material down many times because I kept running out of pole! The whole shirt barely fit in the end, but I squeezed it on, lol. --you could also use rubber bands, but that's a LOT of banding to do.
My plain, white, blah shirt I never wore.

String tied tightly onto one end of wrapped shirt.

It was difficult with only two hands and a short pole to get it all wrapped up. It needs to be tight too!

2. Kumo Shibori - this is loosely a kumo shibori really, which is a pleated and bound technique. I kinda used some found objects to bind with. :)
Another plain, white, boring shirt... why do I keep buying these? lol.

The pleating process... which, btw, I think I did wrong. See below for Mistakes & Lessons Learned.

Folding over once, then again to make a "pleated" shape.

Binder clips! I thought it seemed appropriate, since I was "binding" the cloth for dying. ;)

I decided it needed more, so I wrapped some rubberbands in between the binder clips.

3. I'm not sure what technique this would fall under, I really wanted to try and get a ombre look but binding and dip dying the legs of the pants.
Some cropped linen pants that were just a little too see-thru!

I wrapped rubberbands at intervals around the legs of the pants (that I'd just bunched up with my hands) spacing them with the thought of getting an ombre effect with the dye when I dipped the legs only into the vat.

4. Ne-Maki Shibori - this technique is used a lot by wrapping the bands or ties around stones or other objects inside the fabric. I didn't do that, I just used rubberbands sort of modern tie-dye style.
A short white skirt that I never wore (and still don't, it's too short), but it made for a great practice piece.

I scattered the rubberbands around, a little to far in between it turns out, and double and triple-stacked some up.

5. Itajime Shibori - This was the original technique that I fell in love with and had in mind to try at first. It's accordion folded fabric sandwiched between two pieces of wood, of any shape.
An old, but super soft, wrap that was just dingy from age and needed a revival.

I accordion folded the wrap (not easy with a large piece of flimsy fabric-- ironing might have helped, but I'm way too lazy for that!) to about the same size as the wood squares I cut. You want a little bigger size because the parts that stick out are what catches the dye.

I bound and double bound the whole thing with rubberbands.

I just used some dyes I already had on hand since this was a practice run. I didn't want to invest the money or time into real indigo dyes (which are amazingly gorgeous, but require much more work). I used a taupe color and a black color (that ended up being not so black and more indigo anyway, lol)
Into the dye vat. The amount of time you leave them in will determine how dark the final color is, and the final color always comes out lighter when it dries.

You definitely learn a lot about technique along the way.

The legs of the pants dipped into the taupe. I then dipped the upper portion into the black to get a multi-color effect.

Opened up. You can see that no dye went under the wood pieces. I left this in the dye for at least 20 minutes.

Final Results
Here are my final results. Some great, some not so great. I'll list my mistakes and lessons learned at the end of the post.

I love how this turned out. It's hard to really tell in my not-so-great photo, but it's really beautiful. 

These turned out pretty good also. Not exactly as I imagined, but they still look good.

This is really an oops, but I actually like the asymmetrical look of the dye and pattern (you can't tell in this photo, but the pattern continues across the whole shirt, just muuuuch lighter!) Luckily I managed to fold the shirt exactly down the middle.

The skirt... Meh! I wish I'd put a LOT more rubberbands on it. It's deceiving when you're putting them on, the skirt scrunches up, making them seem closer together.

Now this shirt is a big Uh-Oh. :) This is where practicing technique really pays off. This is the front... it's ok.

And this is the back, lol. I really need to work out how to fold items so they dye more evenly.

Mistakes and Lessons Learned

So, there were some definite issues and things that need to be worked out for next time!

1. I need to really think about how to fold items for dying. The dye penetrates the outer layers of the fabric much more than the inner layers, which makes sense, but I just didn't think it'd be that much of a difference. I think folding in little tiny pleats, or accordion folding might work, or at least folding from the outside in (instead of in half) so that the dye will be more symmetrically applied. I'm really not sure what to do and think actual testing on scrap might be warranted.

2. Wrap binding string or rubberbands all the way to the very ends of the pieces. If the ends aren't bound also, they get much darker in color. Which isn't too bad, really, but can mess up a piece if you're wanting a highly finished outcome.

3. Use a stronger dye (maybe actual Indigo dye is better) if you're going to be dying things wrapped in many layers or bound tightly. My beige Arashi technique shirt could've used a bit more color on the parts that were not directly exposed to the dye. Again, a different folding technique would've helped that also, so at least it dyed more evenly. Or maybe if I'd let it soak for a whole lot longer.

4. Wear gloves! Another sign of my lazy side, lol, I didn't bother to dig out some gloves and so had black-ish finger tips for days! NOT pretty, especially under the fingernails. ;)

All in all, I had fun and really love a couple of the pieces. I would love to make a wall hanging or a bed cover next, with real indigo! I'll post when I do.

Have you tried Shibori dying? Or even tie dying?


*I do use affiliate links and would super-duper appreciate it if you could support my site by using the links to make purchases. -xo

Exploring Henna Body Art : Current Obsession

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Some practice floral designs.

So, as is my style, I decided to go ahead and do henna at a small festival even though I haven't picked up an actual henna cone (a henna cone is sort of a tiny pastry bag used for doing henna)! Crazy? Yes! But that's the way I like it, lol, I kinda thrive off of the unknown and pushing my limits. I think a lot of artists are like this, but I also know there are artists who are totally dedicated to learning and working on a skill for ages until everything is perfect, I actually sometimes envy them their patience and dedication.

Anyhoo... the festival was put on by a friend and I just sat up in the show booth with my quickly put together set-up. --I DO love putting together booth spaces, half the fun of a show is figuring out my booth! I put together a cool Indian/Bellydance playlist and printed some signs and waited for my henna to arrive so I could practice.

Henna arrived and did not cooperate! WTH... *sigh* I'd ordered pre-mixed paste partly to see what the consistency of "professional" paste is so that when I make my own later, I have a guideline. But, the paste I ordered was way too thick. I only figured this out after many tries at drawing with the paste and it coming out clumpy and not flowing easily, etc. After an afternoon of practicing and getting extremely frustrated, I took to Google and Youtube to see what good henna should look and behave like. ...NOT at all what I had, lol, it definitely seemed that it should flow more smoothly and should have more of a sheen when applied (until it dries). So, I emptied out all my nicely coned henna (and wasted many of my coveted hand-rolled cones), mixed in some water bit by bit, trying to guess at what the perfect consistency is. It's quite an art, this henna paste mixing! Re-coned the paste and tried again. MUCH better! I'd say still not the best, I still think it should be smoother judging by what I saw in the 100 YouTube videos I watched, but it was workable... good enough!

I then spent about 4 days practicing for hours each day trying to get the hang of drawing with henna. It is MUCH different, though, drawing with henna on paper than drawing with it on skin. I only have so much of my own skin available to henna on though (and my son wasn't willing to allow me to apply more that one small emblem from his favorite web comic) so I was still a bit nervous on how the day at the festival was going to go.

Day of festival: AWEsome! Although darn cold, it's hard to draw anything with cold fingers, the day was really fun. My clientele were mostly little girls and a few teens, but still awesome. It's funny, too, because I normally don't really like kids (sorry, lol) but the kids who are attracted to henna tend to be artistic and a bit alternative and eccentric, just like me, so we got along splendidly. It was cool encouraging them to go for their art and to try mehndi art and henna if they can, etc. Really fun.

I still have lots of practice to do before I feel comfortable with henna, especially the really intricate bridal henna (if I ever want to do that) or being able to do free-form henna (off the top of my head as opposed to referring to a design) but that's good, I like things that really stretch my abilities!

Some photos:

My first design on skin with actual henna!

The sign I made for my booth. Later realizing that Temporary Tattoo isn't really what henna is, it should read Body Art.

My booth. Not bad for last minute design.

Some very happy little girls!

-xo deb.

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