Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Textophobia and Tuesday's With Indonesia!

Okay okay, Late again!

Tuesday's with Indonesia is brought to you by Komodo Dragons, found on Rinca, Western Flores and of course, Komodo Island.

(landscapes from Komodo)

Nowadays Komodo National Park is considered one of Indonesia's main attractions - I mean who could really pass up the opportunity to visit a dragon. But from the available information the government and park have taken amazing precautions about dragon oriented tourism. Yeah!

I love David Attenborough quite a bit, you know the old grandfather voice-over on every BBC nature documentary that's been made in the past 60 years. That's the man. Way Way Way back when, around the time that Indonesia was still probably thought of as native backwaters, the BBC and Attenborough actually went to Komodo Island. Traveling wasn't quite as easy back then and the "Zoo Quest" series they were filming led Attenborough into a few harrowing situations.

Attenborough tells of danger on the crew's hazardous boat trip with a gun-smuggling captain and the terror of erupting volcanoes. He also depicts for the listener some of the incredible sights he and his team witnessed - breathtaking butterflies, taking tea with Charlie the orang-utan and the the voyage to the little-known island of Komodo to capture the elusive Komodo Dragon. David Attenborough's early adventures are sometimes life-threatening, often hilarious and always totally absorbing.

Excellent. If I end up in these islands - expect to see me galloping around with a herd of Dragons.

On another strange note:

I'm pretty sure I have a very mild form of Textophobia - the persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of certain fabrics. I really really really cannot stand touching felt, the fabric on the ceilings of cars, fleece and increasingly cotton.

Lately I've been folding laundry or making my bed and constantly want to clench my teeth, moisturize my hands, and resist the urge to shiver. Although I am not afraid of these fabrics - I definitely don't want to touch them. Strange for someone who is making a quilt, likes to felt, and is currently crocheting with wool.

If you can image nails on a chalkboard, scraping your fork against a plate.... this is what I experience with felt. My mother has told me I didn't even like doing crafts with felt when I was little.

I hope it stops freaking me out, and starts to lessen. What if I can only surround my self with silks in the future!?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday's With Indonesia

Oops - I'm late!

But I was doing Indonesian related things yesterday, I went to the travel clinic and got an injection for Typhoid. Luckily I've had about a million vaccinations in my life, so thats basically the only one I need (unless you count the shot that costs 165$ x 3 - which is both ridiculous and impossible).
So other than getting shot up, I've been reading about the Nusa Tenggara region in Indonesia. On my never ending quest for finding the perfect deserted island - I've been looking up the tiny Gili islands, and Flores.
The Gili Islands are just west of Lombok (one of the islands east of Bali) and are advertised under things like "No Cars, No Motorbikes, No Problems" - exactly what I thought. They also aparently have a large Irish bar and an authentic sushi restaurant. Excellent things to add to a deserted atoll right?
If I was a diver/surfer these islands would be even better - maybe I'll learn to surf! Mostly I'll be looking forward to eating, relaxing and biking around this island... I can picture myself here:
Next on this list is Flores - one of the larger but less visited islands. The tourist focus is mainly wandering around the traditional villages, sunsets and a volcano named Kelimutu. Although I still have really mixed feelings about traditional villages as 'tourist destinations' I do believe that these villages may be better off then what has happened (and what I avoided) in thailand. I don't plan on actually making this the reason I visit Flores though.

The volcano(s) on Flores tend to have strange colour changing pools that remain a mystery to science. Some older pictures show Kelimutu with a black, a white and a red lake but now they are white, green and blue.

The best part for me about this island is the need to hire a guide to basically see anything. I'd like this. One on one tourism. I'm assuming the guy in the photo above is a guide. I hired a moto and driver in Cambodia and it was great because your guide knows a million interesting places, has crazy stories and there is no set agenda. You get to wander around with someone who speaks the language, is usually super funny and actually wants to get to know you.
There also isn't an agency/corportation taking money - just the guide so hopefully the tourism actually benefits the people more then it does in exploited areas.
I want to go here!

Monday, October 19, 2009

T-Shirt Quilt Step One, two, and three

I have been a bit crafty lately. I decided to take all of my old t-shirts that I'm really attached to and make them into a t-shirt quilt. You really only need so many t-shirts in your life anyway, but they always have such strange memories attached to them... so I almost always find it really difficult to throw them out or give them away.

A quilt means I can save them forever! And my kids (or probably my nieces and nephews) will see how awesome I was when I was a teenager!

T-shirts! - I have 12 in mine: 3 by 4 makes a double I think
Batting!- You can get really cheap bags that come in a pre-set size (twin, double, queen etc)
Backing! - Enough to cover the back of your quilt. The sales lady helped me find something that was triple wide so I wouldn't have to have seams down my back
Piecing material - I am using the same material as my backing, because I am lazy about trying to match something to 12 different t-shirts and also because my budget wouldn't let me go crazy. This is going to be used to fill in the actual blocks cut from the t-shirts so they are all the same size - good luck figuring out how much you'll need. I just bought a shit-ton.
Fusible/non-woven/medium weight interfacing! - to make the t-shirts usable.

You'll also need:
A sewing machine!
A rotary cutter!
An iron! (I just bought my first one ever!)
A cutting mat!
Clear block ruler.
and thread!

Step one:

I sat down and actually figured out which t-shirts I was going to use. I ended up needing three, so I stole a few from our most recent clothing swap and also one from my mom.

(Some of my treasured old rags)

Step two:

Maybe a professional would tell you to do this in a different order but this is what worked for me. I cut out the print from each t-shirt, and tried to do it in a way that I got the largest sized block I could. I didn't try to make them all the same size at this point - I just wanted to see what I would/could be working with. You can always regulate their sizing later.

Knits (t-shirt material) is literally horrible to make a quilt out of. It stretches like no ones business, and is pretty heavy. So even if you did some how succeed in cutting a perfect square or rectangle block out of it, your quilt would eventually turn into a pulled-out, ugly old rag if you used it more than once.

The solution is to buy fusible, non woven, medium weight interfacing. You get to iron it on the back of each shirt (glue side down!) and then suddenly the fabric makes a lot more sense.

(A shirt with interfacing on it)

Step three:

(my non measured pieces)

Spread your pieces out on a floor or huge table. Move them around and put them into the order you want for the finished product.

I measured each block and figured out what size I wanted the finished block to be. I usually tried to do it so I had roughly an inch on all sides of the image. Write down the measurements for each block or else you will cry later!

(I drew it out a poorly to scale version showing which shirt was where, and how large the finished piece would be because I am a visual person)

So from here you can figure out the widest and tallest pieces (one was 12" wide and another one was 11" tall). I want a border all around each shirt for consistency's sake so I figured out that a completely finished block would be 14" x 14". This means I'll have to cut borders for each shirt and all the border pieces will have to be customized for all my different sized shirts. Annoying, but at least my finished blocks will all be the same size in the end.

So before you cut: WAIT!
Make sure you add 1/4" to all sides of every piece you cut for sewing allowance. This will mean that a shirt piece that is 10" x 10" finished will actually be cut 10.5" x 10.5"

Man this probably makes no sense what so ever.
I'll post more steps later, but I'm tired already.

In any case here is my first 14"x14" block... just so you can see a finished one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I joined swap-bot awhile ago, because I am pretty cheesy and really like to get snail mail. If you haven't heard about it, its a place for people to join/create swaps which can be either electronic (and boring!) or postal. Its got a strange rating system to make sure all packages are sent and on time - but I guess thats a good thing even if its way more nerdy.

So far I've joined two swaps and gotten 2 awesome packages in the mail. I was supposed to get three - but I'll cross my fingers and hope my partner isn't being a lame dropout.
I think I'm going to find another one, because I got some really awesome stuff. And I also understand what other people will expect from me and what equals an awesome package.

Anyway - one of the swaps was based around colours: ie - send your partners something yellow, something black, something green, something red etc.

I sent a tiny heart I had hand felted to a lady in Lithuania and she jazzed it up a little bit. I thought I'd share our handiwork - although the creative bits are definitely hers <3

I wonder what she will use it for...

Tuesdays with Indonesia (and Cambodia)

Since I'm really bad at blogging, I'm going to start something: Tuesdays with Indonesia. Hopefully brought to you on every Tuesday, although surely it will be late on more than on occasion.

I hope to talk about the things I am reading about and interested in - which is mainly trying to find some non-polluted, untouristy beach to lay on and also try to find an alternative village to live in. They exist! Apparently the brother of a friend is working in one - and although they haven't heard from him since the earthquake, he is coming home soon - once Sumatra turns the power on.
Anyway today's post is brought to you by

Borobudur is a Buddhist temple, laid out like a complex tantric mandala and comprises something like 60 000 cubic meters of stone which were carved, transported and erected around 800 AD. No easy feat. Its survived the earthquakes, even disappeared for centuries under volcanic ash, and more recently was restored after a group of extremists explored an anti-Soeharto bomb in the middle. It is one of the finest temples in Java according to my guide book and I think I want to see it at sunrise.
Interesting choice considering I really hate trying to wade through people selling me things, and I hate being in the same location as a bunch of old Europeans wearing Tilley Hats. I really really hate Tilley Hats. But this spot is supposed to be very similar and awe inspiring as Ankor Wat in Cambodia - which I really loved.
Here are some pictures from that little trip (Now mind you these aren't the best pictures I have, but those are lost on some archived photo CD somewhere and these just happened to be online):
All around and within the temple complex are entrepreneurial/poverty stricken Cambodians trying to make a living off their small plots and herds of tourists. Most children we met begged us to buy things from them - anything. But these guys were pretty awesome. We played strange made up games with them for a little bit.
Tuk Tuking around the expansive temple complex was cheaper if you squished everyone into one tuk tuk.
This picture is infamous. I sent it into the Study-Abroad program that sent me to Thailand and they put this picture into all of their Thailand brochures. IDIOTS. Although idiots that paid me! Advertising for Thailand with something that is so obviously Cambodia is a little bit sad.
(Speaking of people trying to sell me things: I ended up leaving the temple complex with a million shitty postcards, that really nice scarf around my arms and that straw hat ha!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Birthday Buoys.

This weekend was lovely. My friend Kristen celebrated her 23rd birthday with a mini road trip to New River Beach, which isn't exactly a warm beach in the summer let alone at this time of year - but it is always beautiful.

We spent the day chucking rocks at other rocks, picking up rocks and looking underneath, and climbing rocks. Really it was fantastic. The best game ever was chucking rocks and seeing them break open against bigger rocks. They bounced like little 25 cent bouncy balls. Nothing is better then a picnic on a lonely beach with friends, fire, and beers.

I found a really good buoy (man if fucking smells) under a huge beach rock. It was at a weird angle where you probably couldn't see it from 99% of the surrounding rocks so good thing I was exploring. Its now (smell or no smell) living in my kitchen. What the hell do you do with a yellow and green buoy (and a boy with an 80's rude cool fleece)?

I also figured out my timer and took some excellent group shots

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sally Mann

Yesterday while trying (in vain) to brainstorm some more activities for my students I stumbled across the photos of Sally Mann. The book was dealing with them as sexually controversial images - this author needs to get over himself.

Her images for the series "Immediate Family" are chilling, especially beautiful and almost always nudes. I'd be hard pressed to call them sexually exploitive. Even my minimal research so far has already made it quite clear that her children (the main subjects in this first series) always knew they were posing for thecamera, and had a choice about whether they wanted that image used. She also stopped shooting them in the nude when they hit puberty.
Hay Hook
She looks like so much like a glowing goddess, a contradiction hung up like a piece of meat.

Night blooming cereus

Last Light

....liberating in so many ways

From the settings you can only imagine how amazing their homestead is in colour. But with her use of warm, high contrast, black and white it seems like something out of a horror film. Suddenly a muddy child can also be seen as a child with cuts and bruises.

I think I've fallen in love.