Sunday, January 31, 2010

Authentic Style

I've flipped through magazines, catalogs and the net to find images that embody style to me. At first I was a little perplexed. This is supposed to give me insight into my authentic style, but I was making choices that seem to be at opposite ends of the scale. On one hand, I was choosing tailored suits (think Channel) and on the other were flowing dresses in hot pink with funky jewelry and bags.
I sorted them and made two spreads, one I've come to think of as my business self and the other my home/weekend self.

Do I look like any of these models - sure - plus about a hundred pounds. Do I have anything in my closet that looks like this? Well, I have one lovely suit in the same bright blue I've chosen for several dresses (which was another surprise - didn't realize I was so fond of blue). I also have a couple of flowing dresses with the bright colors I was drawn to.

Thinking back, I realize that I've had many different styles over my five decades. As a teenager in the 70's I wore funky platform shoes, jeans with the seams ripped and triangles of bright fabric sewn in to make them bell-bottoms, tee shirts sporting the logo of every college campus I'd been to for high school activities and a denim jacket covered with patches of every kind and description.

My 20's were characterized by comfortable jeans, sneakers and comfortable, loose fitting shirts. Easy to pull on, especially after my two children were born (and baby fat lingered). By by late 20's and early 30's I had become a quilter and textile artist. My then first grade son was constantly worried about what mom might show up at school in. I loved overall dresses I'd made from my dad's worn out overalls with feed sacks stitched to the bottom to form the skirt. These were generally embellished with buttons, beads and fabric paint. The preferred footwear was a pair of hot pink high top tennis shoes embellished with rhinestones and paint. (Wouldn't you have HATED having me as a mom?????) Then I began teaching embellished clothing classes that featured my "signature" jumper. I used a pillow top print with matching fabric to construct a jumper with the pillow picture on the front and included a pieced or patchwork band around the bottom of the skirt. By this time I had graduated college and began my teaching career (yeah - I was a late bloomer), so my jumpers took on kindergarten themes and were now accompanied by white leather tennis shoes (washable) with ankle socks that matched the jumper and tee shirt I wore under it.

Fast forward to my 40's. The look was now elastic waist pants with turtle necks under cute vests. Mostly the vests were purchased and sported holiday designs, but when I had the time I still did come patchwork and created a few one-of-a-kind designs. Sensible black lace-up walking shoes finished the ensemble.
Then 50 struck. Somewhere along the way I'd lost my sense of style. Throwing on the same old elastic waist pants and a tee shirt sporting our school logo had become easy and until recently I was okay with that. Where did I lose myself? I'm going to find the authentic me under the navy blue and gray school shirts, the same boring clothes day in and day out.

I certainly can't throw out my wardrobe and start over (not practical and couldn't afford it) but I'm thinking of some changes I can begin to slowly make. The short, boxy Channel jackets would make my heavy, short frame look a little taller. I've been sewing my own clothes since I was 12 and began designing my own patterns at 14, so I think it's time to drag the machine out and begin to think about a few key pieces that I could slowly add to begin a transformation, at least at work. I look dumpy in skirts with blouses tucked in (WAY too much tummy), but I could pair the jacket with a simple dress (like the blue princess style). I tend to wear my skirts too long - almost dragging the ground - mostly because I'm so short and I've been too lazy to hem them up. Looking at the pictures I've collected I'm thinking I need to stop my dresses just above my knees. My grandmother always told me to keep my knees covered because I had ugly knees (age 12 or so). Really great for my self esteem, right? Well, I've been looking at other women my age, and my knees don't look any better or worse than theirs, so look out granny - I'm going to show my knees!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First Journal Entry

I'm so excited - I've started my first entry. After school started again in January, I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends and getting nowhere fast. We are constantly analyzing data and changing our teaching in an attempt to meet all the needs of all the kids. What this really means is that we are constantly chasing our tails trying to stay caught up - never mind getting ahead. It was pretty depressing to work so many extra hours (no extra pay - teachers are under contract and on salary). I'd come home, eat a bite & fall into bed. Finally last night I decided I was going to get a page done in my journal even if I had to stay up til midnight (which I did).

I'm using a school composition book, 7" X 9 1/2", the kind that is saddle stitched in the middle. Because the pages are very thin, I've glued 2 pages together to make a heavier area to work on. I used a photo safe glue stick from Hobby Lobby and did several pages. I closed the book and weighted it down for a couple of days.

Next, I tried some painting on the pages to make a 2 page, double spread. The first spread I used regular kids watercolor paint pans. They looked okay, but the paints are so cheap that painting the 2 pages used all of the 3 colors I was using. So back to the drawing board. I have a lot of acrylic paints in the small plastic squeeze bottles (like Apple Barrel brand), so I tried watering some of them down on a paper plate and applying them with a 1/2" wide brush. This looked okay, but the colors didn't blend the way I wanted them to. I tried a couple of 2 page spreads and got a lot of really dark colors. I was wanting a pastel, swirly, blend of colors for my backgrounds. So I tried another 2 page spread using pastel paints that had been thinned with water. I applied one color at a time and let them dry in between colors. This was closer to what I was looking for.

Last night I flipped to the last pages I'd painted and started pulling some scrap paper from my stash. The paint is light peach and watery blue. I found a scrap of darker peach that had flowers punched from it. I though it would make a good boarder, so I tore the piece down to size to fit on my page. I love the way the paint shows through the flower cut-outs. I inked the edge with Jim Holtz Distress Ink in antique linen, then glued it with glue stick and let it dry for a couple of minutes. I used my Zig Scroll & Brush pen in Fawn to write over the whole thing. This entry was my gratitude page, just some of the things I'm grateful for. Doing the page helped my clear my head and I slept well for the first time in weeks - no nightmares about school or lying awake thinking about all that I need to get done.

I don't know that I'm finished with the page. I may go back and doodle some. I don't draw realistic pictures well, but I love to doodle and have discovered that I'm not half bad at it. Already the book is beginning to swell and won't stay closed, so today I plan to decorate the cover and put a closure on it. I love ephemera (papers & other junk that was meant to be used once and thrown away like ticket stubs, post cards, advertising logos, etc.) and I know that some of my collection will be working its way into my pages. That's going to add bulk, so I'll just plan for that in my closure.