Monday, March 11, 2013

A Tumblr!

Well, since more and more of the artists I follow have started up tumblr blogs, I decided to create one for myself. So far it's mostly just resharing other people's interesting things. I miss being able to do that with Google Buzz! I will be posting my fabric designs there from time to time as well, but nothing that hasn't been posted here already.  Anyhow, it's here if you want to take a look.

What prompted me to finally start it, after mulling it for awhile, was the Neil Gaiman project that just closed - he's doing a multiphase collaboration (that's actually marketing for BlackBerry, but who cares) called "A Calendar of Tales." First, he had short prompts for each month, which people could tweet responses to. He picked his favorite for each month and wrote a short story. Then, anyone could submit any kind of art they wanted that had been inspired by a story. I was mulling over a couple of them, but of course only had time to make one. I chose the April story, which involves a game of poker with ducks. So of course I created my illustration as a repeating pattern.

Playing Poker with Suspicious Ducks

The colors are mostly based on the ones you find on classic playing cards:
Color by COLOURlovers

Plus a few extra colors for the ducks (I ultimately only used the green and gold from this set):
Color by COLOURlovers

I submitted it via my new Tumblr (which a lot of folks were doing) - there, I put up a version that has my signature on it. In general, I figure that can be a less personal space, where I put up my designs and let them speak for themselves, whereas here on my blog I continue to explain them.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 7

This week's episode was an exercise in misdirection. Heidi sets the tone by introducing the challenge while accompanied by a duck on a leash. Once they get to the workroom, all is revealed - they are to make duck tape (a specific brand of duct tape) dresses! Specifically, prom dresses - and they will even have to be judged by actual high school students, whose votes will count towards 20% of their score.

Additionally, the pairs get mixed up again. Since Stanley won last time, he gets first pick. Richard enjoyed working together with him, so is miffed when Stanley chooses Layana. Then it's to the button bag to see who gets to pick next. Kate is relieved to be next, so that she can re-up with Tu. Amanda privately accuses her of simply being strategic, in the sense that since Tu seems to be the weaker designer between the two, Kate is in little danger of being eliminated, but Kate doesn't seem to have any such deviousness in mind. Michelle chooses Amanda, and Richard chooses Daniel, leaving Patricia and Samantha paired up - to Samantha's dismay.

There are many many different colors and patterns of tape available. Richard immediately grabs ALL of the gold tape, so that nobody else can have it. Everyone else is annoyed, leading to a whole cycle of whispered catty comments. Michelle and Amanda snicker that Richard and Daniel are just going to make a pantsuit, or a Miss America dress, so there's nothing to worry about.

We are given a little peek into the new pair dynamics. Kate points out that Layana is bossing around Stanley.   Stanley points out that Kate is bossing around Tu. Tu is quite happy to defer to Kate, since Kate is not all that far, temporally speaking, from her own prom, and Tu has never been to a prom at all. Michelle and Amanda have completely different, mutually horrifying, suggestions for what patterns to use (camo! blarg! tie-dye! whoaaa!), and finally decide to make their own oversized houndstooth with red and black tape.

Patricia has once again gone into textile creation mode for the skirt of the dress, layering and fraying black, blue, and silver tape. Samantha doesn't trust her, is freaking out about how long it will take and what it's really going to look like, and is frantically making a top after top to try to match by the time Tim arrives. Tim doesn't make her feel better by referring to the look as "Bride of the Tin Woodsman." He does like how Stanley and Layana's, and Michelle and Amanda's, are shaping up. Kate feels good about their dress, but Tim thinks it is too flat and forgettable.

There are several recurring themes among the comments of the designers about each other's work - Kate/Tu's is too boring. Stanley/Layana's and Samantha/Patricia's are too weird/silly. Michelle/Amanda's doesn't look like a prom dress. (Even Tu says this, with a startling amount of sass - suddenly he's an expert now?) Samantha liked Richard/Daniel's gold dress until they started adding ruffles around the bottom.

At the end of the day, they are taken to a high school gym, where a group of what must be some of the most close-mouthed teens in NYC (to have not posted any spoilers about this at the time!!) is waiting to put their votes in. We get a few very quick reaction shots. Amanda/Michelle - one girl laughing. Stanley/Layana - four girls nodding, and another quirking her eyebrows. Daniel/Richard - a Luna Lovegood lookalike with a blank expression. Kate/Tu - two different groups looking reflective. Samantha/Patricia - one girl doubling over with laughter.

Then there is a little social segment, where the kids get to chat with the designers and see the dresses up close before voting. Amanda and Michelle get hardly any traffic, but they still stand behind the design as it is. Patricia and Samantha's concoction is actually getting a good amount of positive attention, even though Daniel says it looks like a Jiffy Pop, and even Patricia calls it "a praying mantis - a city alien!"

The next morning they have the usual short amount of time before the runway show, but nobody makes any notable changes to their gowns. It turns out that Patricia and Samantha did get the most number of votes from the students! I wish we could have gotten a more specific breakdown of the voting.

For the regular judging, the judges are not fond of Kate and Tu's long denim-patterned mermaid gown or of Daniel and Richard's gold eighties ruffled sheath. In essence the criticism boils down the to fact that even though they are suitable PROM dresses (of varied shades of datedness), they are not really very interesting DUCK TAPE dresses. Those two pairs had tried to pretend they were working with fabric instead of tape, so the material ended up working against them and just looking like meh versions of regular dresses. Kate and Tu's is no fun and old- (or as Nina would have it, "OOOOOooooooold-") fashioned. Daniel and Richard's looks like it's from 20 years ago, and the interesting faux-lacing detail, being on the side, is inevitably hidden under the model's arms.

The other three pairs, whose dresses on a general scale seem overly colorful and odd, are more favorably judges because they are far more tuned to the medium of the challenge (rather than the proposed usage). Nina loves Samantha and Patricia's blue and silver poofball. I must admit the appeal escapes me - the shape of the skirt makes it look like it got wedged up between the model's legs. Nina thinks it looks like something Katy Perry would wear, though guest judge Chris Benz does say it has proportion issues.

Heidi loves the giant big pink bow on Harvey and Layana's petticoated black and white confection. Of Michelle and Amanda's houndstooth punk dress, the judges say that it looks like the wearer would be friends with Harvey and Layana's - though probably a bad influence on her. Alternatively, if Katy Perry did wear Samantha and Patricia's, then they think Gwen Stefani would wear this one.

Whew, that could be the highest rate of names I've ever written in a paragraph. In any case, Michelle and Amanda's is named as the winning dress - and Michelle gets the win, since the graphic pattern was largely her idea and work.

Kate and Tu are at the very bottom. The whole project was very clearly Kate's idea and execution, with Tu just doing work as directed by Kate. The judges debate - who should be eliminated? The one who's vision produced such a poor output, or the one who had no voice at all and no "design" contribution?

It seems we have the answer when the hapless Tu is eliminated. But then the final shocker - Kate is also out as well! Those crafty producers - usually if they do a double elimination, they hype it up for weeks ahead of time. This time, they're putting us all on notice that anything could happen. (DUN DUN DUN.)

Next time: outfits for male strippers. Yeah.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Three fabrics with gray backgrounds

Once again I've fallen a bit behind on Spoonflower contest wrapups. So here we go!

This first was for a design inspired by African textiles. What springs to mind most obviously from that is kente cloth, but I figured there had to be much more than that. I googled for a bit and found a type of print using symbols called adinkra. I love codes and symbolism, plus these had a really neat graphic quality.


When trying to pick which symbols to use, I finally decided to just choose one or two that I would want on something for my son. So when I found the "eban" that is supposed to represent safety and security, I went with that. The colors came from this diviner's pouch from Nigera. I could really picture this print used as a duvet cover. Perhaps some day I'll prove it would work by making one. This came in 223 out of 296 with 37 votes. I really liked the swooping geometric that came in second and these colorful masks. This contest had a ton of really great geometrics, the others of which I liked came in all kinds of wonderful color schemes: earthy, mod, indigo, and teal

Next, there was a contest to make a little pillow you could fill with rice or wheat, heat in the microwave, and snuggle with at bedtime to more quickly warm up a cold wintertime bed. The example given was an inner pillow shaped like a kitten, with a slipcover shaped like a mitten. Awww. My husband suggested I make mine Cthulhu. Yes! It took me a bit longer to decide what to do on the outer versus inner pillow, but I eventually decided on cthulhu on the outside and creepy cthulhu egg on the inside. The slipcover is lined with "wailing souls." I used a granite texture on both cthulhu parts, and you can see the plain colors I used here.

Cthulhu Snuggle Pillow with reversible slipcover

This came in 53 out of 97 with 118 votes. I did get a couple of messages from people who wanted to buy it, so the next time I order some prints I'll have to get this one! As it turns out, I wasn't the only one with a cthulhu entry. My favorite was the mama & baby dragon. Also eminently cuddleable were the piglet and panda in a sweater that came in fifth.

Finally, since it's March, we were directed to make fabrics with lions and lambs. I tried to think of a seasonally-appropriate context where you might find a lion and a lamb together. Then I randomly thought of them wearing ties. Then it hit me - TAXES! The lion and the lamb could be accountants working together to do your taxes! So that's what I went for. Like the snowflakes pattern, I tried to make this look like something you could imagine being used for kids' pajamas.

Brian the Lion and Sam the Lamb are here to do your taxes

They are surrounded by paperwork, pens, and cups of tea. I'm really pleased with how this came out. I think the repeat is pretty nice, and I managed to pick colors that made it look the way I envisioned it in my head. This came in 58 out of 151 with 93 votes. My favorites were this very sweet and whimsical entry that came in second and the dandelions (and dandelambs) that came in tenth.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 6

After being in the top last week, Benjamin is feeling much more confident. Michelle, on the other hand, is starting to seriously question herself after repeatedly being in the bottom - usually more due to her teammates than herself, but still. The episode begins with the button bag yet again. Michelle is the only designer no longer in a pair, so Heidi draws a name to decide the pair for which she will become third wheel. Since Michelle says in the interview room she absolutely doesn't want to work with Patricia, of course Patricia's name is drawn. Michelle manages to produce a creditable fake smile to seem OK with the assignment.

This week's challenge is to create a look for a senior citizen. Each designer gets to make a completely independent design with a mature lady, so the team mates are just there for feedback and not for purposes of making a collection. This seems like it could go a little better than lasts season's disastrous "real woman" challenge, since as the ladies are all introduced they none of them seem like the type to put up with passive-aggressive emotional abuse.

In the workroom, we see a newly-energized Ben falling back into the micromanager trap and setting his sights on making Amanda "push the envelope." Daniel seems to be overwhelming Samantha with questions. Tim is concerned that Harvey hasn't cut anything out. (Here is where you imagine the trademark Tim chin-on-hand with concerned eyebrows) Tim then sets off a round of blushing and giggling when he refers to the Michelle/Patricia/Layana group as "Team Threesome." Speaking of which, Patricia is creating a look, the showpiece of which is a poncho, that is going nowhere fast. Her companions in threesomeness have been trying to convince her it's no good, but it's not until Patricia actually puts it on her client that she agrees. So she starts over at the last minute. Happily, in the end everyone finishes a look for his or her lady without too much drama.

I know - whenever teams are formed now, I think Tim should be in charge of naming them. No more horrible cliches like "Dream Team" or (shudder) "Team Keeping it Real."

Also good at coming up with pithy, albeit embarrassing statements? Joan Rivers, who is guest judge. I must admit that pretty much the extent of my experience with Joan Rivers is repeated viewing of Spaceballs. So just imagine Dot Matrix doing the judging to see what life is like in my head.

Amanda's look was based on a print that really grabbed her - though the appeal of it escaped me, personally. It looked like contact paper you'd put inside your cabinets to stop your glasses from chipping. Then, unfortunately she made it into a dress that seemed like a random assortment of pattern pieces. Weird neckline! Fluttery sleeves! And let's not even talk about the disaster that was the back. Benjamin's teal party dress, I initially liked, but on a second look I saw the things that the judges called him out for. The fit on top was too tight and the poofiness of the skirt didn't do it any favors. But it seemed like a dress that could easily look quite nice with just a little tailoring. Their combined efforts easily landed them in the bottom.

Also in the bottom were Kate and Tu. Kate's printed skirt was nice, but the top was very weirdly fitted - why the sausage-casing torso when a simple, easy t-shirt shape would have worked just fine? Tu has produced a green wrap dress. When he admits that only the belt it's accessorized with is holding it closed, Joan Rivers literally screeches at him. She tells Kate that the top gives her client "dumpy boobs."

Team Threesome is safe, so we don't learn what exactly the judges would have said about Michelle's possibly-sun-dress-possibly-holiday dress with an interesting print, Layana's cute twenties-ish dress, or Patricia's hasty wrap jacket over blue skirt. However, before they get dismissed from the runway, the judges do tell them that had Patricia's look scored higher, Michelle's and Layana's looks would have been in contention for the win. Cue the backstage montage of Michelle and Layana trying to be supportive of Patricia, say "I told you so," and avoid strangling her all at once.

Richard makes a cute colorblocked and smocked dress. Joan loves the above-the-knee length, and when Richard reveals he had to coax his client to have it that short, Joan says he was right, and to her "you have great knees! Show them, b*tch!" Harvey makes a purple bolero suit that looks pretty good, but has some fit issues in the crotch. Joan Rivers approves of it - "Bingo!" I expected someone to make a seniors/bingo joke at that point, but no.

Daniel inevitably made a black suit. The proportions of it looked way off to me - the waist of the jacket was too high, making the curved hem of the jacket look like a valance over a looooong expanse of, well, crotch. At least it's a well-fitting crotch. Either I'm blowing it out of proportion (not that it needs help with that HA HA HA!) or the judges didn't mind it like I did, because they have nothing but praise (at least in the editing). Well, Joan does indicate it had more pizzazz by way of saying she wished she "looked more like a GILF." They are more mixed on Samantha's cheetah-print skirt with overly-sweet yellow top. Joan likes it though - which makes sense, since it totally looks like something she would wear. (Or maybe just something Dot Matrix would wear??) The key Joan phrase here was "menopausal kitten."

Stanley wins! BINGO! Amanda and Benjamin are the bottom two. Everyone, especially Amanda, seems sure that Amanda is out. Amanda is then stunned, tearful, and completely taken aback when Benjamin is eliminated. This prompts a "whoa it's getting real now" moment backstage before he is escorted off.

Next time: duct tape prom dresses!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Project Runway Season 11 Episode 5

This week begins with the infamous button bag - the teams are dissolved and the contestants are put into pairs instead. Samantha, coming off the win, gets to pick her partner first. She chooses Daniel, and by way of explaining that she picked him due to their similar aesthetics, says that they both "like shapes." I picture them drawing triangles together and giggling. In any case, from then on names are picked from the button bag, and each person selected gets to pick his or her partner. Richard chooses Stanley - after which Richard rhapsodizes over Stanley in the interview room, but curiously we are shown no reaction on Stanley's part whatsoever. Patricia chooses Layana, who is skeptical. Matthew chooses Michelle, who is skeptical. Kate chooses Tu. This leaves Amanda and Benjamin, who turn and make identical prissy faces at each other.

The challenge is revealed - each pair is to make outfits (for stage and for the red carpet) for country musician Miranda Lambert, whose name sounds familiar but is otherwise utterly unknown. The performance outfit doesn't have to match the red carpet outfit within each pair. The performance outfit seems like a MUCH harder challenge to me - dresses for the red carpet can safely fall into a pretty well known range and work for the majority of stars, whereas what somebody would wear on stage seems like something deeply personal and it would require a really outstanding understanding of her personality and persona to really nail it.

In the initial planning, Patricia wants to pull upon her Native American roots and have lots of traditional fringework. Kate and Tu are using A LOT of hand gestures to communicate. In Mood, everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to get navy leather. (Plus we are treated to another plug for the Mood T-shirts when some of the designers by them - and I'm a medium, by the way.) Amanda and Benjamin are embarrassed to discover they failed to spend $130 of their budget. Oops.

However, in the workroom, they seem to be doing fine and don't have any "oh, if only we had bought..." moments. Tu, on the other hand, is struggling, and gets a rough critique from Tim. He says he wishes he had more time, but due to his accent it sounds more like he was wishing for "more Tim." Either one could have helped! Matthew is also struggling, in a sitting around moping kind of way. Richard creates a highly transparent dress, and by the time he accepts that it HAS to be lined, there is no fabric on hand to do it. Mood t-shirt to the rescue! Richard chops off the lower halves of two just below the logo and makes a little tube dress - no problem.

Amanda's stage outfit is navy, fringed, and moves really well. Benjamin's red carpet gown is also navy and heavily corseted.

Tu's performance look has a peplum and Kate has made a red leather dress for the red carpet.

For the stage, Samantha made a leather vest and a fringe skirt. Daniel's red carpet outfit is overworked separates that look like an overworked dress.

Matthew sends out a oddly flappy LBD for a performance look, and Michelle has produced a skirt, leather vest, and giant leather necklace.

Patricia didn't manage to get as much fringe as she hoped on her stage outfit, and Layana sends out a serviceable pretty blue dress for the red carpet.

Richard's performance dress is pretty cool, but I think it's odd that it only has the straps and sparkles on the front. Stanley makes a nice black red carpet gown, but it has some weird fit issue with the plunging neckline, causing a bump.

Tu and Kate, and Patricia and Layana, are all safe. Amanda and Benjamin are in the top - Nina loves Benjamin's dress. Richard and Stanley are also in the top - Miranda Lambert (who gets to show up to judge, of course) loves Richard's.

In the bottom are Samantha, Daniel, Matthew, and Michelle. Miranda says she'd rather wear the outfit Samantha is wearing herself than the one Samantha cooked up for her. And she proclaims that Daniel's isn't red carpet at all, and even though it's separates, she'd never wear any part of it even with something else. Michelle's is called out as being too dated and AC/DC, and Michelle mounts a spirited defense that that's actually what she was going for. Matthew, on the other hand, has no defense, agrees with the judges that his is bad, and has nothing to say even after Miranda tries to pep him up.

Richard is named the winner! Matthew is out. In a classic Tim Gunn move, when he comes to collect Matthew he tells him (in front of everybody) that he essentially eliminated himself via self-sabotage.

Next time, it's the latest iteration on the "real woman" challenge - this time with senior citizens. I have a feeling there will be none of the horror shows we've had before of designers trampling over the clients' feelings - these ladies look pretty sassy.