Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Introducing my alter ego - Vi presento il mio alter ego

Two nights ago I sewed up a funky little journal with assorted sheets of paper, including old contour drawings and sketches. Last night I decorated the front cover with an image of my alter ego, "Cartunia Maccaroni". She first appeared in 2006, when I started blogging. (Very interesting.. I just tried to access that blog and was unable to.) Anyway, here is the image I used then
The word "maccaroni", by the way, is not correct Italian, but is used in Neapolitan dialect. The correct term is "maccheroni".

Due sere fa mi sono cucita un piccolo quaderno, molto impreciso ma utilizzabile, con svariati fogli di carta, tra cui vecchi disegni e schizzi. Ieri sera ho decorato la copertina con un'immagine del mio alter ego, Cartunia Maccaroni, la quale ha fatto la sua prima apparizione nel 2006, quando ho iniziato a scrivere un blog, a cui con mia sorpresa ho appena scoperto di non poter accedere, non so perche`..).
In ogni caso l'immagine che ho usato allora e` quella qui sopra.  (Ai lettori di lingua inglese ho spiegato che "maccaroni" e` un termine dialettale napoletano, mentre quello corretto e` "maccheroni").

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Art Geeks

I've joined Art Geeks, an online community of art journal artists that somewhat fulfills my need to belong to a group of people with similar interests, something I do not have here. It also gives me more incentive to create, so that I don't get that "what's the point feeling" I occasionally have whenever I really get into making things, whether it be mixed media, ceramics, jewelry and so on.
I've been addicted to how-to tutorials for a long time, but now I've also watched a few of the vlogs of two of the instructors for the site as well. It's curious how you can begin to feel like you know the person vlogging or teaching, but you also realize that they know you a lot less or not at all. Just something to ponder.

Anyhow..... in 2009 I quickly sketched a series of faces with markers on pages of the San Francisco phone book, then cut and adhered them with gel medium to a sheet of watercolor paper. I forgot all about them until a week ago when I decided to add paint, pastels and pencils to the faces, with the intention of scanning the entire piece and then printing it to use the faces individually as parts of other pages.

Mi sono iscritta ad Art Geeks, una comunita` online di art journalists (non ho idea se esista una traduzione per questo termine in quanto e` una cosa molto popolare negli USA, in GB, in Australia, ma non tanto in Italia - insomma sono persone che disegnano e scrivono con tecnica mista, con o senza collage, in quaderni chiamati art journals, a volte creati da loro ). L'appartenenza a questo gruppo appaga in un certo senso il mio bisogno di fare parte di una comunita` di persone con cui ho degli interessi in comune, cosa che non ho da quando vivo qui. Mi offre anche un incentivo per creare e fa in modo che non mi venga quel pensiero "ma che senso ha" che ogni tanto affiora quando comincio ad appassionarmi a fare qualcosa di creativo, tipo tecnica mista, ceramica, gioielleria e cosi` via. 
E` da tempo che sono assuefatta ai video che insegnano tecniche fai da te, ma ultimamente ho guardato anche qualche vlog di due degli istruttori del sito. La cosa strana e` che mi accorgo di sentirmi come se fossero amiche e le conoscessi, rendendomi tuttavia allo stesso tempo conto che loro mi conoscono molto meno o per niente. Una cosa da ponderare.

Comunque.... andiamo avanti. Nel 2009 ho velocemente schizzato con pennarelli una serie di volti sulle pagine dell'elenco telefonico di San Francisco, poi le ho ritagliate ed aderite con gel medium a un foglio di carta da acquerello. Me ne sono dimenticata fino ad una settimana fa, quando ho deciso di aggiungervi pittura, pastelli e matite colorate, con l'intenzione di scannerizzare l'intera pagina e stamparla, per poi usare i volti individualmente come parti di altre pagine. 
I go through phases where I doodle flowers, abstract designs or eyes. Lately it has been eyes and sometimes they evolve into an entire face. Then I might end up liking it and wishing I hadn't done it in a notebook where I jot down brands of art supplies, recipes, dreams and dates when I planted some seed or another. Like in these two cases.
Quando faccio degli scarabocchi in genere sono fiori, cose astratte o occhi. L'ultimamente prevalgono gli occhi che a volte finiscono per essere volti interi, che poi possono anche piacermi e farmi desiderare di non averli disegnati in un quaderno dove mi annoto marche di prodotti, ricette, sogni o date in cui ho seminato qualcosa. Come, per esempio, queste due. 
I always get one eye closer to the nose than the other. Sometimes the left, sometimes the right.
I need to start sketching in an art journal otherwise my drawings end up as loose pages or in a notebook. In any case last night I decided that it will be a journal where I write one word or no words. It will be a mute art journal. So there. What can I say? I'm a rebel.
Un occhio mi viene sempre piu` vicino al naso dell'altro. A volte il sinistro, a volte il destro. Devo cominciare a scarabocchiare in un art journal, altrimenti i miei disegni finiscono su fogli sparsi o in un quaderno d'appunti, come questi. Comunque ieri sera ho deciso che sara` un art journal dove scrivero` al massimo una parola per pagina o nulla. Un art journal muto. Ecco. Cosa posso dire? Sono una ribelle.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Altered photos - Fotografie reinventate con la tecnica mista

During the last few days I've been looking over my old issues of Cloth Paper Scissors, and an article in the Winter 2004 issue, entitled Photo Refinish - The art of altering photographs, by Karen Michel,  caught my attention.
I decided that even if I haven't yet figured out where to set up a work space and where to organize my supplies, I was going to make something. The piece of furniture I had started painting on Friday is at a standstill because it generated a very unpleasant odor after the paint was applied, an odor that hasn't yet dissipated, and if it doesn't go away I'm not wasting any more time on it, particularly considering that several people have told me that I should have sanded it and primed it, or at least primed it first, or the paint will peel, etc. etc.
So I grabbed some duplicates of the hundreds of photos I have and started working on them. The process involves simply getting the photo wet, rubbing it with sand paper, and then adding water soluble crayons, paint, and whatever you want to them.
The first one was an almost exact copy of this one, of me in front of this house, taken sometime between 1977 and 1984 - not sure.
This was its first reincarnation,
but when I decided to peel off the gel medium I had put on it, a large part of the paint went with it, and I was left with this.
This is the final version. I don't know why "rose" is on there except that the word had been going around in my head for a few minutes, when I suddenly spotted it in a magazine and that was it.
This one, photographed after I had already partially sanded it,  
after many permutations, first turned into this,
and then this.
From two almost identical versions of this photograph (the images of my camera and hands are a reflection and not part of the photo)
I made these two.
And last of all my favorite, in this case from a postcard, not a photograph.
On the left is the image of my great-grandfather, Carlo Lamedica, printed on a postcard (of which I have at least 100) for an invitation to a show I had in 2002, of family images on tiles, at the community clay studio to which I belonged to in San Francisco. The young woman was our baby-sitter when we lived in Naples and the toddler is my little brother. I was in the photo too, but I used a paper copy and my image was rubbed out by too much water. 
This is definitely keeping me entertained for now!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Any ideas? Idee?

I'm feeling crafty lately, partly because of all the youtube videos I've been watching on upcycling, recycling and whatever, partly because winter is coming and that makes me want to paint, and glue and so on. So there was this piece of furniture that had been left here by my parents - even they must not have liked it much, and neither did I. But I kept it around because I thought it could be useful. Then the carpenter broke one of its glass doors - hard to replace because they are yellow with circles embossed on them. Then the painter moved it and broke off a leg. Then I helped the painter move it again, and we broke off another leg, at which point he showed me how they were all chewed up by termites. I had initially asked at the hardware store if there was a paint I could use on it and they told me nothing would stick because it is veneered or laminated or whatever. A bit hard to believe, but I said "if you say so" or "whatever" or something like that. I tried to get someone to fix it up for me, I tried to get the glass replaced, but got nowhere.
So when someone offered to take it to the dump for me - not as easy to accomplish in this small town in southern Italy as it was back in SF, where you could leave something on the street and it would be gone by the next morning - I said "please do and thank you very much". Well, he forgot. So I reminded him and he said "tomorrow before noon". That was a week ago, and in that week I've been fretting about the ungodly amount of craft supplies I have - ceramics, jewelry making, silk painting, mixed media, and painting -  and how am I going to organize all that stuff, and how insane it is that I have several empty rooms that I could turn into studios, but no shelves or furniture to stash the stuff in an orderly way, since I abandoned most of my furniture when I moved here, and what a pity that I can't use that ugly piece of furniture with the termity legs........
About 2 hours ago I yanked myself away from youtube and grabbed a paint brush and my half can of a wonderful water-based acrylic enamel that was used here to repaint all the old central heating radiators and that can be used on wood or metal and who knows what. I figured who cares since it's going to the dump anyway......maybe.....someday.....before noon.
(Riassunto per chi non legge l'inglese, visto che e` troppo lungo da tradurre: Vecchio mobile abbastanza bruttino, laminato, con due gambe e uno dei vetri delle finestre rotte, destinato alla discarica. Ho molto bisogno di un mobile per tutto il mio materiale artistico e, ispirata da tanti fai da te video su youtube, ho deciso di fare un ultimo tentativo di recuperarlo pitturandolo di bianco per poi decorarlo in qualche modo - o scrivendoci sopra con la pittura nera, o dipingendovi grandi fiori colorati, o schizzandolo di pittura, tanto per la discarica c'e` sempre tempo. Apprezzerei suggerimenti, solo non ditemi di farci il decoupage con carta da musica o pagine di vecchi libri o altro, perche` deve essere una cosa facile e veloce, altrimenti perdo l'interesse e, come tanti miei progetti, finira` nel mondo molto affollato dei progetti smarriti.....) 

Here's the progress I've made so far. Ecco quello che ho fatto finora.
In the photos it may not look as ugly as it really is, but believe me, it didn't work in any room and was just plain awkward. It's from the seventies or sixties, I don't know, and by the way apparently the broken legs don't make much of a difference since they were in the middle - there are plenty more legs.
So after I get the outside all white - I'm not messing with the inside - I plan on putting fabric in the windows (with tacks) and doing something funky on top of the white. Maybe writing all over with black paint, or painting colorful flowers, or splashing paint on it. Any ideas you might offer would be welcome, just don't tell me to decoupage it with sheet of music or old books or anything like that, because I want to keep it easy and fast or I will lose interest and it will end up in the very crowded never never land of so many of my projects, or the dump.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The gang - La banda

Cirillo and his partners in crime: Luna and Coco.
Cirillo e i suoi complici: Luna e Coco.
The way they were, just 10 months ago, while Sergeant Cirillo instructed the troops. Although they occasionally try to rebel, he never lets them forget who's in charge.
Come erano appena dieci mesi fa, mentre il sergente Cirillo addestrava le giovani reclute. Anche se ogni tanto cercano di ribellarsi, lui non fa mai dimenticare loro chi comanda.
Lately I've been walking them behind the house, outside their enclosure, with Cirillo on leash and the girls off, because they tend to stick around. Today I thought, what the heck, I'll let poor Cirillo off the leash too, and within seconds they were far in the distance.
Ultimamente li porto a fare una passeggiatina dietro la casa, fuori dal loro recinto, con Cirillo al guinzaglio e le due "sore" senza, perche` in genere loro non si allontanano. Oggi ho pensato, ma si`, lasciamo libero anche il povero Cirillo ed in un batter d'occhio erano lontanissimi.
Another second and they had gone through the hedge, onto the neighbor's land.
Ancora un altro secondo ed erano spariti oltre la siepe, nel terreno del vicino.
Fortunately my fears of them being killed by cars, hunters or the pack of wild dogs were unfounded and they returned 20 minutes later - happy tongues hanging out.
Per fortuna i miei timori che venissero uccisi da una macchina, da un cacciatore o dal branco di cani selvatici sono risultati infondati e sono tornati dopo 20 minuti, con le felici lingue appese.
This is Argo the Good. He doesn't associate with young rebels.
Questo e` Argo il Buono: lui non se la fa con giovani ribelli.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'm back....for now

It's been over two months since I said it was too hot to blog, and it's still very warm - a bit over 80 - but at least not over 100 as it was for what seemed like forever. 
A few days ago a friend put the idea into my head that instead of buying two hanging lampshades and six wall sconces - something I have put off for almost a year - I should make my own. 
I started looking at how to videos on youtube, and of course I became addicted, spending hours every day, for the last four days, looking at everything from DIY doily shades, to bottle cap shades, to infinity scarves, button bracelets (which I've made before), and on and on, including chocolate cake in a cup demos! 
I used to dye and paint silk scarves that I ordered by the box-full from the Dharma Trading company in California so, needless to say, even after giving many away as gifts and selling a few, I still had too many, particularly considering I never wear silk scarves! Strangely enough I couldn't find much on repurposing silk scarves, except for making them into bed covers or curtains, and one very cool video in which the silk is torn into strips and woven on a loom. 
I have trouble making longterm commitments, even though I've been married twice, or maybe because of that, so, if at all possible, I like to do stuff I can take apart again if I change my mind.
With that in mind last night I pulled out all my silk scarves, set aside the square ones and a couple of rectangular ones I particularly like and started messing around with braiding the rest. 
I braided some tightly...
Then I fiddled endlessly with tying the ends in different ways.
I eventually took apart the one pictured above and re-braided it more loosely, leaving the ends dangling, as you will see in a photo at the end. 
These three I braided loosely. The scarf on the left is purchased, the other two I dyed. The result is in the "group" photo.
Here I took one long scarf and tied another one folded in half to it.
And here is the "group" photo, minus one that I was wearing.  
The lavender and pink one is braided tightly and tied together at the end with a twisty tie. I plan on putting a few beads on an elastic cord to hold it in place (the size of a ponytail tie), since it's too thick for a brooch. I finished the purple one by making three knots in the purple end and tying both ends together. 
For the final one, coming up next, I tied two scarves together with a knot in the middle and two more equally spaced knots, one on either side of the middle one, and tied the loose ends in a sort of bow. I wore it out to market this morning like a necklace with the bow in the back.
Or you could wear the bow in front or on the side. 
If I were younger or had the b...s, I'd wear it with the bow on top of my head. I always did like that look.
Or you could use it to pull back your hair. 
While I was at the market, at the used clothes stall I bought an XL t-shirt to make a fringed scarf and 22 doilies (and to think that I got rid of tons of t-shirts and doilies before moving here....) Now I better make those dang lampshades!