Winters and the Fibers

Over dyeing gives you a bunch of new shades to play with.

Over dyeing gives you a bunch of new shades to play with!  Love my qiviut.

Cold.  Dark.  Winter.   We need to slow down and hibernate, but everyone is trying to stay on top of the game, bounce and shine like it is the middle of summer festivities.  A few years ago I decided that is why I have the winter blues and looked to occupy myself with some laid back fun, giving me time for introspection, planning and recharging for the coming year.  I used to craft a lot growing up, and noticed that as long as I work with my hands I am happy.  Learned the basics of woodwork, knitting, sewing and crochet before starting school.  Then added on a bunch of other things by urging my Mom to take workshops, and as we didn’t have a babysitter I could tag along for the classes.  She seemed to enjoy it too, btw.

Knitting was what I decided to start doing again.   Liking the idea of us living in some form of sustainable harmony with nature, I chose to go with only natural fibers, but only those that feel really good.  Otherwise, why spend all that time and effort if it is not slightly luxurious, a treat both to work with and wear!?

Robbed the bank to become a true fiber snob from the get go.  Cashmere and this thing I had never hear of “qiviut” from muskox, which I definitely had seen.  Twice as warm as cashmere, softer, can be washed in boiling water without shrinkage, keeps you warm even if it gets wet, doesn’t felt.  Apparently it must be made in heaven for people like me who hate to freeze.  Alpaca is nice too, and stretched my funds a bit.

The other year I found out my landlord had ripped me off, and was willing to settle.  Just couldn’t help myself, I was so in love with the qiviut that I bought enough yarn for six or seven sweaters.  Please never ask me how much I paid for that!  (I am a true blonde, however dirty blonde it is at this point, I do not remember)  The producer asked me if I owned a yarn store…  People usually only buy enough for a hat, and maybe gloves.
That is how I made myself feel like a kid in a candy store, freedom to play, create and still more yarn to go.  Eventually I started to dye it to get more colors, thinking: Geez, this is so much fun, I wish I could do this for a living!

This is my discreet black jacket..

This is my discreet black jacket..


OK, knitting is fun, sweaters are wonderful, but at times I need a jacket.  It was the third winter in a row I was looking for a regular black woolen jacket, without any luck.  Those in my price range either didn’t fit or had zippers and stuff that would tear up my sweaters that I spent hundreds of hours designing and making.  Those that fit and would be kind to my prideful sweat(ers) cost an arm and a leg, and there were way too many ugly details I wanted to change.  Enough is enough, I got a new sewing machine and then went to the fabric store.  No wonder I could not find the right coat in the stores.  It was apparently not a black coat I really wanted:


Back to knitting.  Smaller items, giving away some instead of only making things for myself.  You know when one thing leads to another and then you stand in front of that absolutely wonderful thing.  Somehow, I again stood in front of even more luxurious yarn and fleece, fitting the fiber snob that I am.  Ooh, like the softest cotton.  No, like silk.  No, what a cloud must feel like, and really warm.  Paco-Vicuna!!!?  A cross that apparently happen in nature at times, when alpaca and vicuna interbreed.  At one point I met a breeder of this very rare livestock who kept asking me if I spin.  No, not since a kid.  One of those times, at age 7, when I begged my Mom to take a workshop so I could learn.  The wheels started to turn in my mind.  This time I truly robbed the bank to get myself set up for a new life in the proverbial candy store, but more about that soon.

Here are some pics of my winters’ joys in NYC.

Hitting the Metal

Try something new

Well, well, well..
Gotten side tracked for longer than I realized.  My creativity took me in some other directions, as I will never be happy doing just one thing, gotta be a few things going.  This blog most likely will morph into being about all my creative fun.  Learning new things is a vitamin injection to life for me, and I decided it was time to finally get the basics down for MIG & TIG welding and patina.

Living small, my projects in class had to be modest in size.  MIG welding had a “flower stand” as part of the curriculum.  TIG welding on the other hand, gave us time in the studio on our own.  I was curious about working with copper.  It wasn’t covered in class how to do it, so all the more fun!!

The place I took my classes was called 3rd Ward.  It has since closed its doors, but was also a home to artists and craftsmen of many disciplines.  When I showed up with my big sheet of copper, the artists stared at me with either some fear and tongue-tied holding their breath, or slightly patronizing yet encouraging expressions of “Good Luck”, “Oh…that will take some time to learn…”  I hadn’t fully grasped in class that there are a bunch of hurdles and a steep learning curve when welding sheet metal.  The biggest one being that the heat transfers quickly to the edges (where it can’t travel any further) and the metal starts melting or warping.  My idea of making small boxes all of a sudden sounded like a sure way to make a puddle of copper.

Pneumatic scissors, gotta love them.  I forgot to take pic of it, but cutting sheet metal like paper!
Clamped everything in place.  Ready to start welding, all on my own, no supervision.  Yay!!!
OK, maybe not.  Somebody had forgotten to replace the bottle of gas and I had to pack up and return another day.

TIG welding copper

All ready to go, but no gas to see me through. 😦

I had two opportunities to use all my curse words, or get obsessively focused and finish my idea.  Both happened.  Yes, I melted some corners, and had to figure our how to repair them.  Other things seemed to work better than anyone around me had anticipated.  (I was probably still clueless).  Until attaching the last little piece on a lid to keep it from sliding off the box, that is.  Flashback to being that little kid who was always last at everything, or didn’t understand anything, when playing with the older kids who knew how to do it all.  Maybe welding is not part of my make-up?  Hey, none of the other students had even made an attempt at being there, although they maybe understood it all and did it at home?

The sh*t wont hang together

The sh*t won’t hang together.

Clean it for the umpteen time for another attempt.

Clean it for the umpteenth time for another attempt.

My teacher in MIG welding appeared to work on his own creations, swished by to inspect what I had done so far.  Called it a good job, but told me to take a 10min break, get some fresh air and I’d finish the pesky little f*cker, like all the other pieces that were technically more difficult.  He was right.  I added in some dark chocolate with the fresh air.  Obsessively focused only lasts so long.  I finished them up and, if I may brag a little bit, the condescending artist were now slightly impressed and asked me about how to weld copper.  My three teachers were happy to see their instructions taken seriously and pull off something they wouldn’t attempt themselves.  Apparently there are much easier ways to do this…  I guess the artists had a reason to be suspicious when I first arrived.


Ahh, accomplishments from fresh air and stubbornness.  Cleaning it up, exposing the golden copper again.

Ahh, accomplishments from fresh air and stubbornness. Cleaning it up, exposing the golden copper again.

In patina class I played around, explored a lot without a specific project.  Again, I loved my copper.  Salt and fumes of white vinegar creates azurite blue!
Lesson learned:  Much can be accomplished with stubbornness in focus, oblivion to difficulty and 10min fresh air.  Good teachers and a pat on the back is the foundation, though.




Dancing Earth

A friend I hadn’t seen for 10 years came to town with the company Dancing Earth from Santa Fe/San Francisco to be part of Battery Park Dance Festival.  I don’t know that I have ever seen anything like this.  The pictures do not, can not, show the healing these dancers brought to the audience.  Even while my focus was to take pictures, the energy they brought to us literally made my tears roll down my cheeks.    If you get a chance to see them – DO IT!!

They are all of Native American heritage and the dance is ceremonial dance brought to the stage, in beautiful choreography by the founder Rulan Tangen.  After the show, Micco told/danced us a story using 25 rings.  Like all dancers I was introduced to, he is as impressive on stage as off stage in his presence of joy and grace.  Thanks for posing!

Laura and Patrick

Laura Spaeth and Patrick Porter


Click any thumbnail for full size pictures

Patrick Porter

Click any thumbnail to view larger pictures.

Make-Up: Robbie

Here’s a shoot that was a lot of fun.  It gave me yet another reason to get a few new gadgets – yes, I love my toys.

Make-Up: Robbie Minjarez
Models: Aleksandra Zdero and S

Click a thumbnail for larger view and slide show

Destiny Devine

I hadn’t touched my camera for a few days too many.  I was itching and restless to do a shoot.  Got hold of Destiny Devine, who went up bright and early Sunday morning, put on her make-up and ready for her close-up, while sharing her fun and loving spirit.
(Click any picture to start slideshow)

Make Up: Edward…

Edward always seem to have surprises for me.  This time he took me to Connecticut for some pictures he needed to show off his work.  Actually, this was my first photo shoot where I traveled beyond the NYC subway system.  For some reason, I felt like a glamorous photographer.

Make Up: Edward Powell
Model: Felicia Page