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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #16: Lemons

This week’s costume is all about lemons.

Initially, I thought of making a dress out of Lemonheads candy boxes but I couldn’t picture myself buying forty boxes of candy for this costume. So Lemonheads are an accent only, and the rest of me is all about lemons. Although I didn’t eat a lot of Lemonheads as a child, this candy reminds me of childhood because the box’s original design has a retro feel, like many items did in the 70s, when I was born. These days the Lemonhead box has an updated look but I feel nostalgic for the original design created when Lemonheads debuted in 1962:

Since I know you love trivia, here's a fun fact: Ferrara, the company that makes this candy, sells 500,000,000 Lemonheads each year. Wow. 


Creating an outfit about lemons is a fun choice for me because yellow is so cheerful and a happy color with which to work. And I love citrus scents, so lemons evoke a good feeling in that way, too. Fruit is beautiful and a symbol for life. Lemonade feels summery, too, so my costume references the current season. Out of curiosity, I Googled the symbolism of lemons and found that lemons symbolize love, longevity and friendship.

Today it delighted me to bring some smiles to people at a hospital. My friend needed a nerve block and I drove her to her appointment. While I was waiting for her, at least a dozen people walking by said that they liked my costume. Some were patients but most were staff at the hospital. It made me glad that my costume surprised and brightened people’s day. Hospitals are serious places and if my Wednesday whimsy helps lighten the mood, even for a minute, I’m happy to help. One woman, Jo, introduced herself to me and told me that my costume had made her day. I told her that her enthusiasm had made my day. (See, this whole bright-and-colorful-clothing thing really lifts moods. Give it a try!)
Alternative titles for this post:

·         “A lemon in the hand is worth two on the tree, far out of reach.”

·         (To be sung to the tune of “Yellow Submarine”) “We all love a yellow lemon tree, a yellow lemon tree, a yellow lemon tree..."

·         “When life hands you lemons, make a lemon dessert, and you don’t even have to share it!”

Well, it’s time for me to say goodbye for this week. If you think that I’m off to mop the floor with a lemon-scented cleaning product, you’re wrong. I like citrus scents but I’d still rather make art than scrub surfaces. I’m off to dream up something fun and fabulous for next Wednesday…

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #15--Butterflies!

My artistic challenge this week was to create an outfit that showcases butterflies. It’s hard not to like butterflies. They help pollinate our gardens, they are pretty to look at, and in some ways they are big mysteries disguised inside tiny bodies. I still don’t quite understand how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. (I’ve read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar dozens of times and I’m still stumped). These mystifying, colorful creatures bouncing through the air intrigue me, which is always a good qualification for costume inspiration. So with no further ado, here’s my butterfly-inspired outfit:

This shows my hat in an early stage of development:

And here it is once I’ve finished it:

Bird’s eye view (or would that be butterfly’s view?):

A better view of the back:


And the front:
Are you curious about my hat? I thought so. (We won’t quibble about whether it’s a hat. No, it doesn’t fully cover my head as hats generally do, but I’m wearing it on my head so for now it’s a hat.) It’s constructed from flexible plastic needlepoint mesh. I love this stuff, and I’ve used it on a number of my costumes because it has the wonderful quality of being somewhat rigid but also flexible and lightweight. (The trifecta!) I covered the mesh in orange batik fabric. (May I mention how much I adore batik? It’s the gorgeous effect you get when you use wax on a fabric, sometimes in a design, sometimes in a random way, to produce a mottled result. I have made my own batik but this fabric came from a local store.) Then I added black and white fabric in order to create a Monarch butterfly. I wanted the hat to be big but not heavy and I wanted the wings to move a little bit, as though it could take flight at any moment. I’m delighted with the result.

The butterflies on my shirt also include batik as well as other fabric pieces from my sewing stash. I think clothes deserve to be visually interesting on the front as well as the back, so I did a butterfly on each side. The front side has buttons as the spots. (I heart buttons.) This costume was really fun to make because I appliqued pieces together and it was a little like quilting, which I’ve started to learn in the last couple of years.

The necklace is something I made a year ago—not as a necklace, actually—using broken mirror pieces. I found it yesterday by accident, which proved to be perfect timing, and it demanded to be part of the effect today.

Monarch butterflies live only a few weeks, and for me, seeing one feels like I’ve been gifted with a happy surprise. A butterfly encounter is ephemeral, so I appreciate the few seconds when they are nearby. Then they’re off, bouncing through the air on those beautiful wings—which somehow are both strong and delicate at the same time—seeking another garden to dazzle.    

And now, like the butterfly, I am off. But I’ll come visit again soon. Let’s plan to meet right back here, next Wednesday…

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #14: Fortune

Years ago in a creative writing class taught by my friend Marsha, I wrote a piece about fortune cookies and their messages. I may post it on my blog at some point, but for now I’ll focus on how these messages prompted me to create my costume this week.

Messages in fortune cookies are fun to read (at least, for me). This is because, like astrological forecasts, they often are general enough to apply to any reader. (My opinion, of course.) I love how astrological forecasts often predict that someone is mulling over a big decision. I think this applies to anyone over the age of eighteen, regardless of zodiac sign! Anyway, the messages in cookies may apply to almost any living person, but somehow this doesn’t deter me from cracking open those crescent-shaped cookies to see what my fortune is. I think this appeals to me because I like surprises. Also, it seems like such a random thing: let’s put a message in dessert. Really? Or maybe it’s because the writer in me is obsessed with words and I want to see what’s written inside the cookie. In any case, fortune cookies are fun, and I decided that they would make a delightful costume. (In a strange coincidence, my friend Ky recently blogged about fortunes, and neither she nor I knew what the other was working on until the big reveal. So I’m not the only one who in intrigued by messages in food…)
Yes, this dress is covered with fortunes and yes, this is a giant fortune cookie atop my head. It’s always fun to take a familiar item and make it on a much larger scale. For my outfit, I decided to write the fortunes on fabric rather than paper. I’ve learned recently that paper clothing is tricky when you want to sit (even though you get extra points for rising to the challenge). I have taken the liberty of using colored markers for the messages, even though the fortunes I’ve seen come mostly in black. Hey, for someone who loves color, it’s hard to stick to a black-and-white scheme, and I think the pops of color here are fun. I chose a few different kinds of messages: some are funny but most have a serious aspect. Some are quotes I’ve loved for years, ones that inspire me, so this seemingly lighthearted costume has deeper layers, too. Some of the messages are ones I found online, but I did make up a few myself. I hope my costume gives people a laugh or some encouragement, or both.


The more I think about fortune cookies, the more they appeal to me. Maybe for some of us, the act of opening a cookie to receive direction appeals because it reminds us not to take things so seriously. Taking a moment to read advice inside a cookie provides a lighthearted break from the intensity of life. This feels especially true for those of us who are parents. We spend a lot of time trying to safeguard the future, planning, analyzing, trying to make wise financial choices and good decisions for our kids and the rest of their lives. That’s a lot of pressure! Maybe we need moments when the pressure is off and we’re reading pearls of wisdom hidden inside dessert. The fortunes often provide a laugh, which is a stress-buster, so I think I’m onto something here.
And on a related note, is anyone else craving Chinese food now?!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #13: Orange!

This week’s inspiration is a little less obvious than some of my costumes. Kids won’t get it. But that’s okay. My costume really isn’t intended to be an homage to a certain award-winning TV show. (What is its name? Something about the color orange…? Hmmm…). I haven’t watched more than a few minutes of that show (no offense to the show—I really don’t watch much TV lately). But its title is so catchy and it planted an idea in my brain. So I decided I’d go with it.  

This idea formed on a Saturday when I was at a giant garage sale and happened to find a few things in orange. Here are the items I found that have joined together to make this week’s costume:

·         2 orange shirts (garage sale)                                                      $2

·         I orange vinyl construction vest (garage sale)                         $1

·         Orange toys (garage sale)                                                           $1

·         Orange fabric iPad case (garage sale)                                       $1

·         Fabric and thread (fabric store)                                                 $3

·         Fabric already in my sewing stash                                             $0

Total spent on this outfit                                                             $8

Sometimes I like including the cost of my costume because I love showing that you don’t need a ton of money to create something memorable and fabulous. Just a few days ago someone commented that it must cost a lot to make these costumes. I told him it costs not much at all because I love garage sales, thrift stores, sales and recycled materials. Part of the fun of creating these costumes is seeing how much fabulousness I can create for not much money. (You could make a terrific costume if you had an unlimited amount to spend, yes, but you use your imagination more when you make something amazing for less.)

So today I am dressed head to toe in orange, with a few black accents because this actually enhances the orange-ness by providing contrast. If orange is the new black, sign me up. Black clothing really doesn’t do much for me—I need bright colors.

My hat is full of charmingly weird items. I love the idea of everyday items making surprise appearances as wearable art. This hat includes plastic fasteners, a rubber toy, recycled materials, part of a plastic bag of oranges, buttons, a broken slinky and so much more. Their common denominator is their color, and the variety in the objects just delights me.

The dress is made of a clear vinyl construction vest that I cut up, two orange shirts cut up to make a dress, scraps of fabric I’ve had for ages, buttons and felt.

My necklace is, of course, also a playful mix of everyday items.

These shoes I’ve had forever. They’ve been painted various colors, depending on the color of my costume. Who knows what color they’ll be next? (Stay tuned and you may find out.)

The purse I made from a padded iPad case I bought at a garage sale and reconfigured.

I hope you have enjoyed this week's wacky fun. Now, embrace the orange-ness of today and go have some Vitamin C!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wacky Wednesday #12: Corn—Ten Ways

Corn, ten ways: it sounds like a recipe, but it’s not. Unless you’re talking about how to make corn out of art materials. Corn is on my mind because it’s a summer crop and I see it growing at the community garden these days and for sale at the grocery store. Making a costume that celebrates corn appeals to me because corn is yellow (cheerful), and it’s visually interesting with all those green leaves flopping in different directions.

This week’s costume really doesn’t have a deeper meaning. It’s just about corn. There’s no metaphor intended. It’s not a commentary on the human condition. I’m not being deep. I just thought it would be fun to make some corn out of art supplies and to see how many different ways I could depict it. I attached seven ears of corn to my dress and I turned three of them into a hat.


Do you know the opening song from the musical Oklahoma? There’s a line in the song that goes like this: The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, and it looks like it’s climbin’ clear up to the sky…

I remember hearing that song when I was a child, while watching the film version of Oklahoma on tv. I scoffed at the idea that corn could be as high as an elephant’s eye. I was probably nine years old, and clearly an expert on corn. After all, I lived in Los Angeles, which is the corn-growing capital of America, right? So I would know. Fast forward a few decades and I get it. Corn really does grow tall. I’m still dazzled by corn growing at my community garden. It’s charming to see a little piece of the country in the suburbs.

Here are the supplies I used for each cob of corn:

 1)      Felt and buttons.

2)      Cardboard from cereal box, lemon Jello box and macaroni box, and yellow paper.

3)      Plastic water bottle, paint, Sharpie and fabric.

4)    Cardboard egg carton, cardboard leaves, paint.


     5)  Small pasta shells glued to a rolled-up paper plate, painted, with painted newspaper as husks.
     6) Chair caning, paper plate, paint, feathers.
     7)  Green and yellow Legos (and duct tape on the back, should a Lego try to jump overboard).


8)   Styrofoam, bubble wrap, paint, batik fabric 
9)   Felt, stuffing, ribbon, rick-rack, fabric, plastic ribbon (for husks)

10)   Felt, plastic tabs from bread bags

Everything I used in this project was stuff I already had on hand, with the exception of the green dress I bought at a thrift store (fifty cents!) and the binding tape (for the corn stalks) I bought at the fabric store ($3.76). My grand total for expenses: $4.26.

Here’s some corn-related trivia I found online:

There are some forty-five thousand items in the average American supermarket and more than a quarter of them now contain corn. This goes for the nonfood items as well: Everything from the toothpaste and cosmetics to the disposable diapers, trash bags, cleansers, charcoal briquettes, matches, and batteries, right down to the shine on the cover of the magazine that catches your eye by the checkout: corn. –Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: a natural history of four meals.

Good point, Michael. Suddenly, my costume has deeper meaning and in fact may be a metaphor for life as I know it in America in 2015. Corn is a huge part of our lives and my costume celebrates that. Now I can pat myself on my husk-covered back for creating a costume with many layers of meaning. I’m so deep. Aren’t you glad you spent a few minutes with me (your deep friend) today?

You’re welcome!