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1  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / happy body parts card - nsfw on: July 04, 2010 02:36:12 PM
Hey everyone!  I recently saw a drawing on the website of a podcast that I listen to, and immediately knew I had to embroider it.  I made it into a card (stitched on paper) for my partner's birthday.  Here's the link to the original image, which used to be black and white:  http://www.sexisfun.net/movies/index.html

Sorry for the bad photo quality!  I forgot to take a picture of the finished product before I mailed it, so my partner took a picture with his phone:

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I was curious how it would look different without the faces, so I saved those for last and took a progress shot - though I was impatient and didn't wait for decent lighting:

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The faces and arms add so much hilarity.  Enjoy! 
2  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / It's not about the &#*! polar bears on: August 05, 2009 07:43:35 PM
Hey everyone!

This project started because I wanted to try a free standing patch with a whipped stitch around the edges.  I have one friend that I instantly thought of - he and I always sit around talking about politics and the environment.  He loves putting stickers that make a big statement on his computer and then sitting in cafes with the sticker prominently displayed, generally in the hope that someone will start talking to him about it.  (For a while his computer said "Vasectomies prevent abortion." Before that was the HRC yellow equal sign for gay rights.)  I was going to stay with him during his birthday, so wanted to make a happy birthday/thanks-for-letting-me-eat-your-food present.  I asked him, "If you had a patch of a political nature, what would it say?"

This was his reply:
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(The close-ups turned out pretty blurry..)

When I started it, I was living in an off the grid community in California, so I had to use my own handwriting instead of a fancy computerized font, unfortunately.  Luckily, a great artist and illustrator lived on this community, so I got her to draw a polar bear for me.  She made a sketch that I traced while defining the lines a bit more.  Her drawing pretty much dictated the size of the patch.  I used split stitch and some back stitch for the outlining, satin stitch on the lettering, and long and short for the background.   The whipped stitch around the edges was actually really difficult, and I wasn't 100% happy with how it came out.  For some reason, the satin stitch was really hard to pull tight when it stretched over larger areas, something that I hadn't had a problem with in the past. You can see how the top and bottom of the first "I" don't lie flat.  I got really good at the long and short stitch though, as there was so much of it.

This piece was totally hilarious to make, especially while on various forms of public transportation. Some people didn't get it, others thought it was hilarious, others were really offended by it.  For anyone who doesn't get it, I think the gist is that the environment affects everyone, human survival depends on it, and doing something about it is not just to aid fluffy megafauna.  It was an amazing conversation starter for me while embroidering it, so I hope it's a great conversation starter for my friend while wearing it.

And yes, polar bears are cute, so we should save the environment for them along with everyone else.

3  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Re: (nsfw) Quote from Heathers on: March 15, 2009 07:26:10 PM
Woah, Spectrumsparskie - thanks for that link!  That's pretty crazy! I can't help finding it hilarious in the context of the quote, but I also hope that that woman is ok - ouch!  What a mad world.
4  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / (nsfw) Quote from Heathers on: March 14, 2009 06:48:07 PM
Hi everyone!

After reading the needlework board obsessively for several months, I'm finally posting a completed project!  So thanks for months of inspiration, everyone!

I had started embroidering back in the spring, and wanted to try cross stitching more recently to see what that was all about.  I picked my favorite quote from the movie Heathers, and took some borders from a subversive cross stitch pattern.

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I hope I'm using this 'mature image' button correctly.. hmm!

Pretty fun!  There's some awkwardness to finally framing this, since I promised it to a boyfriend-at-the-time who thought it was hilarious, and then put off framing it until we had been broken up for several months.  I'm totally still giving it him, chainsaw innuendo and all. These are reasons why it would be nice to finish projects instead of leaving them in a drawer overly long..
5  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Re: We'll build a house around her! (image heavy) on: March 08, 2009 02:38:46 PM
twoblue:  Haha, your life goals sound awesome.  I'd love to learn the banjo myself.. Yeah, out on the east coast, people really haven't heard of cob!  I didn't realize how unclear I was being in describing what I was doing until two friends independently mentioned to me how you could build houses out of corn.  I thought, "Hmm, corn, I haven't heard about this technique, interesting... oh, COB!!!!!" 

I know pretty much nothing about California, being an east coaster, myself, but I'm heading down to Santa Barbara to do some work trade at a place that offers workshops...  And I have indeed heard that northern California is full of cob wielding hippies.  Smiley
6  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Re: Modified emoticon pain scale embroidery (some foul language) on: March 08, 2009 01:58:10 PM
Wow, I love it!  I was extremely bitter about the pain scale when I had malaria.  It's so condescending...  I always thought, "Well, since I've never been on the verge of death, a 10 for me is completely different from someone who has undergone something really torturous.."  Your version is far superior!  Love the captions.
7  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Re: We'll build a house around her! (image heavy) on: March 07, 2009 12:05:38 PM
Since a lot of people are curious about snow, I feel like I should add - cob really doesn't do well if it gets wet, so the place to definitely not build with it is in a flood plain.  Otherwise, to protect from rain, it's good to build a nice stem wall (the part of the foundation that you can see) for the rain to splash on and have a roof with good, overhanging eaves.

I was thinking about whether snow melting and being wet would be a problem - I think in a place with driving rain or lots of slushy snow that would worry me, I'd use a lime plaster for the exterior instead of an earthen one.  Lime plaster eventually turns back into limestone on the side of your building!  I haven't really used it, but I'd love to play around with it more.

Retro_Rose: It's pretty easy to learn!  Check out the sites I posted above for nearby workshops. But also, if you're at all close to Vermont, there's a lot of natural building there - one place is a building/design school called Yestermorrow (I'll be there this summer!). Here are some more builders in the northeast: http://www.nbne.org/

Thanks for all the kind words everyone!
8  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Re: We'll build a house around her! (image heavy) on: March 06, 2009 12:35:25 PM
Yay!  I love to hear that some people are interested in doing this!  This is my sneaky goal... seducing crafty people into the natural building movement...

Taking a workshop is a great way to experience the cob madness - Cob Cottage Company has them, but if you aren't from Oregon, you can probably find something close to where you live as well!  Here are two websites with workshop listings.


If you'd like to check out a book about it, I'd recommend The Handsculpted House (written by the Cob Cottage Company folks).  Also, How to Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer explains how to build a cob oven in your backyard.  Cob ovens make amazing pizza and bread!  Kiko's ovens are also very sculptural and inspiring.

As for surviving snow:  Yep, these buildings are really strong!  But, in milder climates, they are a lot more energy efficient than in the cold.  Cob soaks up heat or cold and lets it out slowly, which keeps the indoor temperature really pleasant in Oregon, but in a colder place like the northeast, you'd want some good insulation too.  One technique for colder climates is "bale-cob", which combines cob and straw bales to get the benefits of cob, but insulation from the bales. Snow also means that designing the roof may require some more research, but nothing too wildly different. 

Sorry for the verbosity, but I hope that's helpful!  I'm teaching my first workshop in June, and am really psyched about it.  Stomping around in mud with other people is a lot of fun!
9  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Re: We'll build a house around her! (image heavy) on: March 06, 2009 12:22:10 AM
Thanks everyone!

The apprenticeship was with Cob Cottage Company in Coquille, Oregon.  I'll hopefully be going back soon, so maybe I can get some living roof shots. Smiley  When I left, there was a lot of happy moss and some flowers coming up on it.

Yes, the outlet - well, first it's funny that this are "finished" pictures but they're full of buckets, shovels, and various things lying around.  The plug going into the outlet was hooked up to a huge fan encouraging the earthen floor to dry. 

The cool thing about cob is that you can cut right into it with a machete or saw and make any changes you want.  So after we built the wall, but before it was bone-dry, we just carved an indentation with a machete  wherever we wanted wires or the outlet.  You can basically stick the outlet box straight into the cob, then cob/plaster over the wires.  I guess you could consider this unfortunate if you wanted to access the wires, but in that case you could put some pipes into the cob that you could pull wires in or out of.  (And the electricity there is solar/micro-hydro power.  Woot!)
10  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / We'll build a house around her! (image heavy) on: March 05, 2009 07:11:41 PM
Hey everyone!  So over the summer I made... a house!  I've been wanting to post pictures on Craftster, since for me natural building seems like a very large big craft project, but wasn't sure where to post. Didn't seem to fit in either interior decorating or yard work.

This building is called The Bedrock - I worked on it with 6 other people during an apprenticeship in natural building.  It's called the Bedrock since we built it around a large boulder, and then put our bed over this rock. I wish I had some before or in-progress shots so you can see this large rock, but the face is left exposed in the finished building.  The whole time I was thinking of the line from Peter Pan about Wendy after she is shot with an arrow - "We'll build a house around her!"

It's made with all natural materials like sand, clay, and straw (combined, a material called cob.)  We used earthen plasters made from the local clay, along with a kaolin plaster with yellow pigment.  The wood mostly came from the forest, and other materials were salvaged.  It's quite small at 100 sq. ft or so - basically a short term guest house.

I spent a long time working on the door:

Here is the (mostly) finished house:

The big windows in the front are for passive solar heating.  The roof is now a living roof, which was not 100% finished in this picture.  The shape of the roof is very experimental - it's basically a bowl that collects water and drains it to one side.  The plants on the roof also take in a lot of that water!

Shot of the interior from outside the west window:

Here you can see the bed + rock face:

A few more door glamor shots, since my arm almost fell off rasping that wood - the window is a glass dinner plate.  ...Or a plate-glass window (haha)...  We used an ugly old salvaged door, cut an arch into it, and covered it with cedar boards:

And here is everyone who contributed to building it!

The end!
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