Art Journal

Nature Ramblings ~ Past Times Time Travel ~ Romancing Daily Life

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ench By Sew-019 Boning Up on Bustiers: Part 2

I'm looking forward to airing a photo
of my actual denim bustier here!
Though I've enjoyed wearing it in public,
I haven't
gotten any cute photographs yet.
Bet you know how that is...
The latest Enchanted by Sewing Podcast has been published!
Two Ways to Listen
Option I)You can listen to the show right on the web by clicking on this link 

OR ~
Option ii)  Click on this link to iTunes  to download this and other Enchanted by Sewing shows to your mobile device (iPhone, Android, etc.) free from iTunes
Did I miss any links mentioned in the show? If so, please post here and let me know, or else email me EnchantedBySewing AT gmail DOT com
~ ~ ~
A bustier is an alluring garment, one many women would like to wear - if they dare. When I began to notice that women of all shapes, sizes and ages sewed and wore their bustiers with pleasure and pride, I decided to take a chance and learn to sew this very structured garment, that can be designed to flatter a wide variety of figure types.

- In last month show, I talked about what a buster is - a strapless garment that conforms to our figure, is  supported from the waistline , and can be worn by women of many figure types. 
- I also said that a bustier is not a corset, because a corset imposes a shape on our figure.  You can follow links in last months’ show notes to other related garments like corsolette, torsolette or basque.   
-       Last month I talked about Cut and Cloth
-       This month I focus on Construction

- FIRST  Pensamientos Primero A brief review of what I talked about last month to put this show into perspective,
- ENTONCES (THEN)  Constructing my Bustier. 
- Stepping through the process of creating my bustier from beginning to end, touching on   important techniques and other sewing stuff that I figured out along the way .
- FINALLY Pensimentos Finales:  Going Beyond this project 
~ ~ ~
Web Resources

Part 1: Boning Up on Bustiers

The Bustier Sewing Class I talked about is from Lynda Maynard, an instructor at Cañada College, San Francisco City College and also an instructor at Craftsy.

Lynda Maynard's “Fit” Class on Craftsy, which I plan to take.

Bustier Technicos - Dem Bones Gonna Walk Around
Sewing Boning Channels and Inserting the Bones

Seams to Fit Part 1 - A Little Less Laxity - Learning Precision

Seams to Fit Part 2 - 
Figuring out how to eliminate using a tracing wheel, has me making a stronger mark that is also less likely to damage my pattern or fabric.

Seams to Fit Part 3: More Power to Interlining- Using  stitching marks on my interlining pieces to define the stitching lines on the fashion fabric it's backing. 

Seams to Fit Part4: - Neat as a Pin - Using pin techniques to join sections of my bustier precisely.

Seams to Fit Part5:  - Staying - When a Seam Knows it's Place 

I did a lot of hand sewing towards the end of this project. Beeswax is my thread texturizer of choice, and it's a Green option too!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

An App for That: The Pedestrian's Rope Bridge App (Priority Street Crossing)

Do you find it so unfair that walkers have to waste precious minutes waiting to cross major boulevards when we're out for a walk?

Hey! Who is not wasting the planet's fossil fuels here? We walkers deserve a special right of way, when it comes to crossing busy streets. At the push of button, and not the one on that light pole that shouts "Wait" until it's darn good and ready to give me 8 seconds to get across a six lane highway, I should be able to get immediately and safely across any intersection I choose. 

And now I can.

With the Pedestrian's Rope Bridge App, the walker rules! With one quick swipe of a finger on my iPhone, a rope bridge comes shooting out of the bottom of my mobile device, springs up from my feet, arcs over busy streets, and let's me down safely on the other side of the road. It's neat, it's easy to use, and it's guaranteed to make others wonder, "Why am I driving when I could be walking?

Once I've crossed the street, another quick gesture on my phone and the bridge springs back into the base of my phone. Remember those retractable metal tape measures we used in the old days before we calibrated everything with laser beams? Yup, it slips back in pretty much the same way.

You can call this app a fantasy if you want, but just give it a couple of years...

~ ~ ~
Web Resources
Yes, many of my fantasy apps are inspired by other great thinkers. Like those of this author....Smithsonian Magazine - There Was an App for That: Apps That Changed the Course of History

iPhone Apps Development

Minding My Own Beeswax (Hand Sewing, Green Sewing)

You can buy beeswax with other sewing notions
But I like to use up the old ends from beeswax candles I buy at the Farmer's Market
In the final steps of finishing off my bustier project, I'm doing lots of hand sewing. I took this photo will waiting in the car, pick stitching away on the zipper, listening to NPR on the radio, and waiting for a family member who needed to be picked up after a medical procedure. (No, I was not driving!)

There's a traditional German saying "Langes Fädchen, faules Mädchen". That is about the extent of my knowledge in German. Anyway I disagree. A long thread may indeed make for a foolish girl (Girl? Are adult women and men never fools?) if she doesn't know enough to add some texturizer. I like a long thread that doesn't knot up as much as anybody. So I keep the old ends of my beeswax candles for just that purpose, running the thread through the stubs just after I rethread my needle, and also every so often while using the thread. 

Some people say you need to iron the thread once it's beeswaxed. But I never do. Also I imagine you might have some problem with beeswax piling up at the stitch entrance in glam fabric. But it works fine with denim, cotton, and linen for me.

You can, of course, buy hunks of beeswax for this purpose. You can also buy thread texturizer. I don't know what name that's sold under, as my old candle stubs work just fine. 

I love the smell and style of beeswax candles on the supper tableand I love to use the remains up to the last waxy morsel in my sewing.

With the scent of honey of honey in the air, as I pick stitch away on my bustier zipper, I'm  just that much more....

Enchanted by Sewing!

* * *
If English isn't your first language....
"Mind your own beeswax" , also abbreviated as MYOB, is an old idiomatic phrase used by children to indicate that someone should not be listening in on a private conversation, or asking questions that are not their own business. It's a joking reference to the similarly somewhat rude phrase, "Mind your own business".

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

But... What Would Beethoven Print? (3D Printing)

You just know the kind of organ
Beethoven would have chosen to print
There's been quite a lot in the media about wonderful advances in 3D printing in the medical field. No doubt about it, these are indeed noble uses for technology. Imagine being able to just pop that new appendix, still warm from the printer, into the fella on the table before you. Sure applications like print-on-demand bodily organs allows for great advances in medical science. But what really strikes my fancy, when it comes to 3D printing, is the creation of our own musical instruments. I'm not so much interested in the bodily organ as I am in the pipe organ.

The idea of a musician being able to design and create that pipe organ is what really intrigues me. Thinking about pipe organs  naturally leads to thoughts of  Beethoven. I'm guessing Beethoven would also have been more interested in printing a pipe organ than a fresh new lung or kidney.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium!
(Joy, beautiful spark of the divinity,
Daughter from Elysium!)

These lyrics, from Beethoven's famed 9'th symphony, enhance one of the most beloved classical music pieces in the western world*.  Beloved by people, that is, who have access to classical music training. Outside of choral singing, for those who come equipped with the right sort of vocal chords, that training requires access to a musical instrument. 

Though this symphony has words, the emotions that stir in the hearts of the performers as they come together to make this music happen, can't be accurately described. In fact, it spoils the experience if you try.

Yes indeed, there are musical folks working on rolling their own instruments. Check out the beautiful creations on Six 3D-Printed Musical Instruments, and what 3D Printing Could Do for Musicians. Sure 3D print-your-own-instrument technology isn't yet exactly at the affordable-for-the-masses stage, but neither were cell phones just a few years back. Maybe it won't be too long before that day, a few autumns from now, when the kids line up to pick up this years social studies text, the math workbook, and their sixth grade instrument. There just waiting for Mrs. O'Houlihan to come back from the staff room with that replacement box of liquid brass for the classroom 3D printer.

Any parent who has ever ponied up for an organ, clarinet, french horn, string bass, or flute knows that a child's access to an instrument of her own can make all the difference, when it comes to  being exposed to the wordless and wonderful joys of making her own music. Will many kids give up before the age of 10? You bet. Is there any guarantee that an individual will make it to even third chair violin in a small local symphony? Nope. 

But I know that if, at the age of 8, more kids are given the opportunity to play a hundred renditions of Frère Jacque on that french horn they printed at home, then one day the freude! of Beethoven's 9'th symphony is going to be waiting out there for one more kid looking for a little wordless wonder. 

And one more kid is going to get a chance to be a part of a wordless spark of divinity, at one with the daughter from Elysium.

* Classic western music is extremely popular in Asia as well.
~ ~ ~
Web Resources

3D Printing Organs, Other Medical Applications

Wikipedia: 3D Printing

Six 3D - Printed Musical Instruments and what 3D Printing Could Do for Musicians

Beethoven's 9'th Symphony Rules Supreme, as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Native Power! Poppies and Red Maids (Hiking Edgewood)

Enjoy the lovely details by clicking on the illustration above
Poppies, shout it.
 Red Maids love serpentine soil! 
We're the one percent!

We're so lucky to be able to enjoy an historic wildflower bloom at Edgewood, where rate serpentine soil  does it's best to keep invasive non-native plants at bay. Only one percent of California plays host to the rock type that produces this special dirt. 

Let's hear it for the natives!

~ ~ ~
Web Resources

Edgewood Rocks: Geology and Soils

Edgewood Nature Preserve

Monday, April 14, 2014

An App for That! Plumber's Friend App Saves the World

I'm in the final throes of finishing up my Edgewood Secrets iPhone app. Today I'm beginning the job of submitting it for approval

I created Edgewood Secrets as a companion for folks hiking at Edgewood Nature Preserve, here in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. I hike at Edgewood quite regularly and I'm also a wildflower docent there.  In the app, I share stories of different experiences I've had in the preserve, as well as tales I've been told by other folks. 

As great as it is (and I should know!) Edgewood Secrets is a pretty straightforward app. Like most developers, I have plenty of plans for other mobile device creations along similar lines. It's not challenging coming up with ideas for great apps, it's challenging doing the work involved to get those ideas implemented. And despite the typical claims of the folks who create the software development environment I use, the technology isn't easy.

The ideas, however, spin away. I keep lists of course. Yes, I have lists everywhere on my laptop, and iPhone. Most of them are quite practical. It's a matter of getting on with them. Then there are those....hummmm what can I call them? Speciality apps, I guess.

One of my favorite specialty app plans is the Plumber's Friend App (PFA).   Here's the user experience I envision...

Have you ever been brought up short while speeding out the door - your laptop zipped into it's case, your lunch packed in that outside pocket (so the avocodo doesn't mash onto your keyboard),  your teeth (hopefully) brushed, your hair at least looking brushed, and shoes that more or less match on both feet - to the call of "Mom, the toilet's backed up again!". Why oh why, you wonder for the hundred thousandth time, are we stuck with the retro fifties, only-one-bathroom apartment model? (Surely it couldn't be affordability.)

What to do? The metro isn't going to wait while you get out the plunger. And the folks at work aren't going to keep a chair warm for you in the 8:15 meeting. In fact... if you arrive late at that meeting, you're going to get volunteered to put on the Friday night Management Achievement Awards banquet. How fun will that be in addition to getting your already-behind-goal project fully functional before the project status meeting next week?

PFA to the rescue. You simply pull out your iPhone - now which pocket did you put that in? - aim it vaguely at the wall, and with one swipe of your finger you launch the Plumber's Friend App. PFA does it all for your. As you streak along making a beeline for the metro station, you hear from the open window above, that blessed sucking of air, a mighty flush, and the noise of your teenage daughter cheering (I did say this was pure fantasy, right?) as PFA once more saves both the world, and your day.  

I haven't quite identified the foundation kit classes I'm going to need to write this app. Perhaps they haven't quite yet been created. But you can be sure once they're out there, you'll be seeing a new app in the store. 

Do you think I'll be able to charge more than 99 cents for it? 

~ ~ ~
Web Resources

Yes, many of my fantasy apps are inspired by other great thinkers. Like those of this author....Smithsonian Magazine - There Was an App for That: Apps That Changed the Course of History

iPhone Apps Development

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Checkered Past - Edgewood Checker/Chocolate Lily

Fritillaria affinis
Checker or Chocolate
Lily is my beloved

Are you more checkered or chocolate? Once the Lamishin people dug your roots and bulbs for supper. But they ate a lot of things I'm glad I don't have to.

I prefer just enjoying your exotic checkery blooms, that I see only occasionally along the Edgewood Nature Preserve's oak woodland trails in the early spring. I'm awfully glad I don't find the need to turn you into fritillary stew.

~ ~ ~
If English isn't your first language. "A checkered past" refers  to people who have done improper things in the past - either unacceptable social behavior or illegal things - but now are somewhat reformed.
~ ~ ~
Web Resources

Edgewood Nature Preserve

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dark Side of the Force - Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing can be beautiful. In fact, it's got a touch of classic fantasy sci-fi charm about it. I'm thinking Alderon, before the Death Star (back in the first Star Wars release) blew up the entire planet.

Massive numbers of photos need the human touch.  A volunteer army of citizen scientists peruse these images working to differentiate cancer cells from normal blood and tissue cells. Can't you just see the people of that one-time tiny peaceful planet making similar contributions to those that are being made today in our own world?

Crowdsourcers contribute vital genetic information to Alzheimer research by contributing their own memory and attention test data. Other folks share information that is pooled in a database used by breast and ovarian cancer research. This isn't fantasy. It's reality.

Thousands of volunteers scour detailed satellite photos of the Indian Ocean, helping hugely in the effort to find a missing Malaysian Airlines jet. Crowdsourcing helps rescue workers to both avoid less likely search zones, as well as target areas where they are more likely to be successful. It's not just in movies when people come together in response to the suffering of others.

Other folks are involved in massive translation efforts. The goal of Duolingo is to “… get millions of people worldwide to translate the Internet.” (*). C-3PO himself, couldn't have done better.

People in Santa Cruz – ten percent of the population in fact – pooled their ideas and abilities to eliminate a $9.2 million shortfall for their city. The plans these people made continue raise money for the city and benefit local programs. Several other cities, both large and small, follow these same successful citizen government crowdsourcing patterns. Government of the people isn't a leftover from old time films.

Crowdsourcing sounds like a wonderful dream come true. We’re harnessing the good energy of thousands or even millions of people to create a righteous universe. It's something Star Warrior heroes like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia would totally get behind. We are talking the power of The Force here!

So what’s not to like about crowdsourcing?

How about the ability to send work offshore to be completed by desperate people earning a dollar or even pennies an hour? The author of the “Digital Sweatshop” Wikipedia page says “…digital sweatshops represent a phenomenon in a recent trend that offers workers and the employers the freedom to accept and request services. However, some believe that completing repetitive tasks for very small amount of money is an act of exploitation, hence the term sweatshop. A notable example is the Amazon Mechanical Turk, a marketplace dedicated to crowdsourcing.”

With Mechanical Turk, amazon has access to an unlimited labor pool that will almost literally work for peanuts, doing basic tasks a machine can’t do, but that doesn’t require skilled human labor. And amazon isn’t the only player in this outsourcing field. Crowdsourcing of cheaply paid labor, has become a huge part of the digital economy. 

Who’s doing the work? Desperate people who’ll do whatever is required to survive. And yes, the potential for slave labor and child labor is there as well. Oh of course it isn’t only these folks. Skilled digital laborers in a number of third world countries are just as determined to make money. It’s not too hard to figure out that a lot of our software development, and tech support have been driven off shore. 

I can hear some funny breathing headed down the hall. Darth Vadar is on the loose. This kind of energy harnessing isn’t drawing Earth’s citizens into a collective sense of accomplishment. Nor is it a righteous universe we’re building here. It’s more like we’re headed straight into a real life sci-fi fantasy world, complete with an evil emperor.  

Do previously well-paid western workers plan to go to battle with their determined competitors in other countries? We all 
need to make a buck, a rupee or a yen. It’s a matter of coming together and figuring out how to we can all earn a decent living. 

Sounds like we need to get busy on some citizen-of-the-world crowdsourcing techniques to kick Lord Vadar and the dark side of The Force right back into fantasy land.

~ ~ ~
Web Resources
Thanks to Fantasy Planet Art for making this postings image freely available

3 neat ways to participate in crowdsourced cancer and Alzheimer’s disease research

Crowdsourcing volunteers comb satellite photos for Malaysia Airlines jet

* Five Ways Crowdsourcing Can Transform the Public Sphere

GovFresh – Crowdsourcing Citizen Ideas

Wikipedia: Digital Sweatshop discusses not the concept, and also names names of companies who make use of the unlimited workforce of very low cost crowdsourcing

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Yerba Santa: Just What the Doctor Ordered? (Hiking Edgewood)

Yerba Santa, the Holy Herb, is once more in bloom,
 at the Edgewood Preserve

On the last two docent hikes I led, a lot of folks have been asking my questions about how Yerba Santa was used historically. The following is extracted from a report that I wrote for a CA native plant class. 

Yerba Santa has long been used in traditional medicines by people in California. This information, however, is for interest only. I have no idea if any medical research supports using Yerba Santa in any of this ways, or if the plant is safe to chew, swallow, or apply to your skin.

What do you call it? Well for starters, It's a Hydropyllaceae, a.k.a. That's the Waterleaf family to those in the know.

The plant itself may be called... Eriodictyon californicum Yerba Santa, Mountain balm, Palo Santo, Holy Plant , or Holy Herb . “Yerba Santa” translates from Spanish into English as “Holy Herb’. 

Yerba Santa has been used locally as a medicine, both by pre-contact (native) peoples, and the Spaniards who came after 1769.

It’s scientific name Eriodic'tyon comes from the Greek erion, "wool," and diktuon, "net", because the undersides of some of the leaves have a fuzzy look. The species name simply means it’s found in California.

Physical Description
This plant is an evergreen shrub that grows to about waist height at Edgewood, though it can grow to be 3 meters tall. When Edgewood Yerba Santa begins blooming, preserve visitors on my docent walks take quite an interest in it. They ask me, "Why is it all black like that?". The black part they're asking about is leaves have a faint odor and  are typically infected with a black fungus, HeterosporiumThe virus is not thought to hurt the plant, but it makes the leaves look ugly. 

Preferred Habitat
Yerba Santa is a typical chaparral plant. It grows profusely in this preserve on serpentine soil, in colonies that grow from shoots of shared underground roots.

Animal Uses including Human
Butterflies find the nectar of Yerba Santa very attractive.

“Yerba Santa was highly valued by many California tribes including the Salinan, Ohlone, Miwok, Pomo, and Yokuts who continue to use it for various medicinal purposes. The Spanish who came to early California were so impressed with the plant that they gave it the name Yerba Santa, meaning holy plant. Yerba Santa was introduced to the Spanish Padres 
at Mission San Antonio de Padua by the Salinan tribe and it became one of three major medicinal herbs used at the mission. The plants can be harvested at any stage, but are best in the fall when the leaves are sticky and aromatic. 

The Kashaya Pomo recommend gathering the leaves just before the plant begins to produce flowers. The leaves, stems and flowers are used . They are either eaten or made into a tea, decoction, or poultice. The flowers and the bitter, aromatic leaves may be used fresh or dried. The leaves and flowers were made into a “bitter or sweetish-soapy” tasting tea that was drunk to relieve headaches and other symptoms of tuberculosis. 

Infusions of Yerba Santa  leaves and flowers were used to treat fevers, coughs, colds, stomachaches asthma, rheumatism pleurisy, and to purify the blood. The Kawaiisu drank Yerba Santa tea instead of water for a month to treat gonorrhea. The Salinan used an infusion of the leaves as a balm for the eyes. Later, those at the San Antonio mission made eye balm by placing the leaves in corked glass bottles and allowing them to sweat in the sun.

Leaves were smoked or chewed to relieve asthma, coughs, colds, headaches, and stomachaches. Heated leaves were placed on the forehead to relieve headaches and other aches and sores. The sticky leaves conveniently stay in place upon the skin. Mashed leaves were applied externally to sores, cuts, wounds, and aching muscles. Mashed leaves were also used to reduce the swelling and relieve pain caused by bone  fractures . Yerba Santa, used alone or combined with other herbs, was applied to infected 
sores on humans and animals. The branches and leaves were burned in steam baths to treat rheumatism. 

Other Uses
The Ohlone wove the leaves into skirts and aprons. I wonder if they included those pretty purple flowers into the designs :-)

Wildlife: Bees visit the flowers of Yerba Santa, which make a deliciously spicy amber honey. Seedlings and young plants are relatively nutritious and palatable but the bitter compounds in mature Yerba Santa shrubs discourage most large herbivores. However it is an important forage crop for black- tailed deer in the winter when other food sources are unavailable. Birds and small mammals eat the seed capsules.

Livestock: Goats will sometimes eat the leaves and stems. Cattle will avoid Yerba Santa in favor of more palatable plants, which can be a problem in highly grazed areas where it can become the dominant plant. Because of it's nature preserve status there are no longer livestock here, but the Spanish certainly grazed cattle in local meadows.

Yerba Santa can be used for rehabilitating and stabilizing disturbed areas. The seeds germinate readily in disturbed soils. The shallow, spreading root system can help to stabilize areas subject to erosion caused by runoff.