Tuesday, July 30, 2013

roots before branches

sometimes i get lost, looking up into the heights of the branches cresting the trees above me. i long to be up there. amongst the clouds. the birds. and i have to remember that those branches cannot sail so high in the winds without first sending sturdy roots deep into the soil beneath my feet.

today i am tending to my roots. feeding my soul. needle chanting foundations. sorting fragments. but still keeping an eye to the branches of tomorrow.


Friday, July 26, 2013

at long last!

thank you for the continuing emails asking about my cloth art pieces, over-dyed salvage fragments, and rust-dyed cloth! in response, manhandled threads store is to be re-opened in just a few days! watch for the link to appear at the top of the right side-bar. new items will begin posting by the end of next week (or sooner). there are several rusted moons and suns, along with other rust-dyed fragments, salvage and art cloth scrap books (portfolio collections of cloth), and various art cloth pieces to be posted in the coming weeks!

Monday, July 22, 2013

time has a way about it...

"thirty was so strange for me.
i've really had to come to terms
with the fact that i am now 
a walking and talking adult."
-c.s. lewis

i remember feeling just so. as c.s. lewis did at thirty. i wonder how he felt at forty? at fifty? having just turned forty-eight a few days ago, time has intruded upon my thoughts once again. though this time, in a different manner. i've been thinking lately how i have forgotten how to manage my time. for years i have worked between 70 and 80+ hours a week. this leaves little more than stolen moments to play with between work and sleep. now, for the past month, i've reduced my hours to simply 40 a week. i have so much spare time. but i have forgotten how to utilize it. i have found myself sitting on the couch more often than not. wasting my time doing little to nothing. oddly overwhelmed by the nothingness, really. so, yesterday, i decided i could no longer afford to do this anymore. i began to reclaim control...

i picked up needle and thread and began chanting this abandoned piece once more. adding soft blues and muted oranges by hand to the machine stitched bird. chanting butterfly trails to remind them where they have been. begun digging through small, wooden boxes and satcheled caches of ephemera in search of more to push the boundaries of this little cloth.

oh, i know i am unlikely to stick with this one cloth until it is finished. there are too many others now calling for my attention, and you know how i like to jump around as my creativity directs me. but, for now, this little bird has captured my attention once again.

at least, that is, during the cool morning hours until the sun begins to beat like a south african drum. luring me out into the shady recesses where i have stashed my old farm truck and my fingers begin to itch for the sensation of oil and grit...


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

awesome crap this way ---->

what better way to spend a hot day than digging through someone else's crap in hopes of finding a treasure or two? it's one of my favorite ways to waste away a day off. and what better way to help your neighbors dig their way out of ending up on the next episode of hoarders? at least until it's their turn to help you do the same next month...

of course, the only sure way to keep yourself from becoming the next hoarders poster child is to make of list of what it is you are actually in the market for...and stick to it like a three legged fly to a dingy fly strip dangling in the hot summer sun! let's all practice now....say it with me....no. one more time...with feeling this time...NO!

of course, when i stumbled across this little vintage 1940's or 50's silvertone mandolin last saturday, my lips just couldn't seem to form the word. what's that? twenty five dollars, you say? (looks in my wallet stuffed with tens and twenties) all i got left is this one lonely old twenty dollar bill. would you take that? you will? awesome!

of course, all the way home i'm thinking: let's see...appalachian dulcimer, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, cigar box guitar, diddley bow, zither, lyra harp, jam stick...and some as yet to be identified doubled 2 stringed zither-ish thing... yep! it's time to add mandolin to that playlist! ack! it's a sickness! oh yeah...that's my story and i'm sticking to it!

funny, too, cuz i just received (amongst other treasures from my folks) a new book for my birthday yesterday: constructing a bluegrass mandolin, by roger siminoff. it's considered the mandolin builder's holy grail and is my latest addition to luthier books in preparation of my desire to begin building dulcimers, banjos, guitars and mandolins in the golden years of my retirement (yeah, yeah...that's still a couple decades off in the foggy distance...but a boy can dream, can't he? not to mention that i now also have that mighty fine 1960 international harvester pick up to take all those wonderful folk instruments to festivals and street fairs in. add a vintage suit, bow tie and pair of suspenders and i'll be ready!). woohoo! old age, ready or not, here i come!


Monday, July 15, 2013

for a song

you've seen this wonderful 1960 international harvester b110 quarter ton pick up truck on my blog before. it's been a stunning prop for a few of my cigar box guitars. but it is now more than just a prop. i just bought this little gem, quite literally, for a song!

it belonged to a neighbor down the street. he had bought it off an old cattle rancher who had bought it brand spanky new in 1960 to use as a feeder truck (for those of you city-bound folk, that's a truck that is used to haul feed out to the hungry cattle folk in the field).  my neighbor has kept it parked for the last 10+ years back by the fence that borders the horse field that runs a couple miles along the back of our street (which is where i have been using it as a photo prop) with a mind to someday restore it. yesterday, i noticed it had been moved and was now parked in front of his place. cleaned up. hosed down. and i thought, "hmmmm...what's going on here?"

being the nosey concerned type neighbor that i am, i dropped in for a beer and some catch up jabber and came to find out that he was fixin' to put it up for sale. i arched a brow. when he said he was asking $350 for it, i just about fell out of my recliner! a little yammering later and i truly did fall out of my recliner when we shook hands over the deal. not for the originally suggested $350 but in trade for one of my old guitars! not even one of my best guitars...but one of them that he used to come over and play from time to time (usually when his was in the pawn shop). an old steel string little number that i had rescued and restored from a local charity shop but never really took much of a cotton to!

so now i have this wonderful vintage farm truck (like i've been hankerin' for for years) with only 7,000 original miles, and a new mission in life: hunting down restoration parts!  it really don't even need much: repair the distributor; check out the brakes; seal a small leak in the radiator; replace a door handle and a couple fender emblems; new side view mirror; re-upholster the seat; paint (or not...i just can't decide on that one yet...however, i did manage to track down an original 1960-61 international harvester paint chip set today, so i can go with factory colors should i decide to paint it); and it's done! one of the best bits? international harvester engines are so straight forward, they are almost as easy to work on as a vw bug's (okay....so it has more to its 3.9L 240cid in-line 6 cylinder engine than a german rubber band, but you get the jist of what i'm sayin').

so, now i have something to keep me occupied when it's too hot to stitch - cuz it's never too hot to get covered in grease! makes me happier than a puppy with two peckers...


Sunday, July 14, 2013

stolen moment

"i have always been delighted
at the prospect of a new day,
a fresh try, one more start,
with perhaps a bit of magic
waiting somewhere behind the morning."
-j.b. priestly

i don't have any idea to whom this barn belongs. it is nestled amongst the trees in a field behind my house. sometimes there are horses lounging around. sometimes a goat or two. but i have never seem the farmer. i did, however, see a baby goat sneak into the barn this morning. i snuck in after him. he found another way out. unseen. but my attention was drawn already to this wondrous pattern of light and rustic board...


Friday, July 12, 2013

somewhere in the darkness

"time changes everything
except something within us
which is always surprised
by change."
-thomas hardy

time has been sitting on my mind of late like a bear on a stack of salmon bones. perhaps because i have had more of it (whatever that means) these past few weeks. perceptions begin to shift whenever routines change. the greater the change, the broader the shift. you begin to look at people and situations differently. realizations that once flickered like a tiny candle in a deep, dark room become a brilliant blaze which illuminate seemingly every corner. of course, at first the eyes must adjust to this new found clarity before the brain can begin to comprehend what is being seen.  in times such as these, it is good to fall back on something known.

i pulled this cloth out this morning and found myself stitching color again. bright, festive colors on cool, impersonal white. life dancing in all its brilliance across the blank face its absence. there is something liberating about this. perhaps there will be more of it in the coming days. this brilliant dancing of life. color. music. celebrational activities. perhaps a lot more...


Monday, July 8, 2013

the heat is on...

it's amazing what you can get a cow to do for an ice cube on a hot day like today! the weather has been surreal here lately under the big sky. raging thunder storms one minute and burning sun the next! now that that i've cut my hours at work down to a normal 40 hours a week, i thought i'd be getting all kinds of projects done...but mostly it's too hot to do much of anything. or too wet to get outside!

even though i feel like i haven't managed to get much done, i have been working a few more of those random neutral and rusted backgrounds, still with no particular vision in mind for them. though, a few of them have begun whispering ever so faintly about their own dreams...

between the odd stitching and stolen moments in the woodshop re-envisioning an old 1880's coffin-style violin case into something that creates music rather than just holding it, i've been trying to catch up on household chores that have been neglected for far too long because of work. nothing too exciting...though, i must say, it is lovely not to have enough cobwebs hanging around to decorate a haunted house or two!