Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Hardly got squat done on the costume last night. My creative bone went on strike with my three remaining brain cells, stole the car and went to the bars in Ybor for a rampant night of carousing. I stayed home drooling.

Talked to Cindy. She saw her costume online from her trip to Georgia and loves it. She's the one I have to please on this project, after all.

Found the following from Deepak Chopra with whom I have a like/barf relationship with. One line struck me though. I get up most mornings and sing praises of thanks about how very lucky I am. I love my rickety old, hurricane damaged and disorderly house, the gone back-to-the-wild acre of land it sits on, the wonderful views of water and nature I have from every door and window, and I'm so grateful that I've been privileged to live on a gorgeous planet. And not everyone can say that they have a cat that lives on their roof.

The line I highlighted below just tickled me since I have the strangest dislike for the falseness of money, wealth, objects showing it and the desire to accumulate more. Have been that way all my life. Now shiny objects and lint...there will never be enough of!

Adapted from How to Know God, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 2000)

The state of “I am” is at the source, and is pure being. “I am” forgoes pain and pleasure. Because all desire is centered on pain and pleasure, it comes as a surprise to find out that what I wanted all along was just to be. There are many kinds of worthwhile lives to lead. Is it worthwhile to lead the life of “I am”? You can live any way you want. By analogy, think of the world as a movie that includes everything; you cannot tell in any way that it is a movie; therefore, everyone behaves as if the scenario is real.

If you suddenly woke up and realized that nothing around you was real, what would you do? First of all, certain things would happen involuntarily. You wouldn’t be able to take other people’s drama seriously. The smallest irritants and the greatest tragedies, a pebble in your shoe and World War II, become equally unreal. Your detachment might set you apart, but you could keep it to yourself.

Motivation would also vanish, because there’s nothing to achieve in a dreamworld. Poverty is as good as a million dollars when it’s all play money. Emotional attachments would also drop away, since no one’s personality is real anymore. After you consider all these changes, not much choice is left. The end of illusion is the end of experience as we know it. What do you receive in exchange? Only reality, pure and unvarnished.

You shouldn’t pay so much attention to the movie.

If someone asks “Who are you?” every answer is misleading except “I am,” which means that we are all misled, even the miracle workers. We are the victims of mistaken identity. Our time has been spent projecting versions of reality, including versions of God, that are inadequate.

(Ed. Note* The photo above is Titled: Waiting for Curtain-Up by Rob Wallace - Wonderful photos!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Skirting the Issue

"Gypsy" is set in the 1930s, so I took my cue from the old Busby Berkeley musicals of the day. Check out the majorette skirt!

The result is a little pleated skirt with 30s sensibilities out of the dyed brocade. I set in pleats with the iron before applying the hologram sequins around the hem. Be sure you use a press cloth and test your iron on fabric scrap to see if there's melting or shrinkage before you hit the real thing!

You can start to see the finished shape of the costume now. The beaded fringes will go under the butterfly and will be backed with a Flexifirm underlining so it will stand straight without bending towards the curve of the body. We love our 'kitty bellies', but we want to keep them to ourselves!

The butterflies are creased severely, but it's hard to see it in a straight on view. I'll be adding the spring posts so they 'twanga' and two small pieces of elastic will hold tension on the wings so that they flitter a bit.

Today I'll finish the skirt back with a placket, Velcro and a button. Two small lengths of elastic will go in place in the sides to keep the skirt in place and allow for the acrobatics dancers do onstage. I'm also cutting the gauntlets, sewing the shoe laces, and will chalk out the wing designs and cut the skirt and bra backs.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

They Are Airborne!

I'm almost finished! Just need to put the backing on the butterfly appliques, heat set the center press with the iron, and attach them with springs. The picture above shows the beaded edge. This is an easy and effective finish to do with small beads and a whip stitch. You can use a sharp instead of a beading needle if you're driving it through Trimtex or Flexifirm because beading needles tend to break. Just use a bead that you test with the eye side of your needle to be sure it slides over.

I used some lavender and turquoise clear rocailles that Cindy and I found on eBay. I also added a row of the hologram sequins anchored with a rocaille to tie it together with the bra bead and sequin pattern. There are AB celendon green bugles used as accents. If you click on the pix you can see a larger picture and maybe a bit more detail. The long beaded strands you see are the ends of the long tassel which will go over center front of her 10" long beaded fringe. I'm still working on it.

I opted to use feathers and am really pleased with he results! I used colors from the brocade and the airbrush paints that I'll be painting her wings with. I think the feathers add a wonderfully tacky background to the wings and give them that outre' that Cindy's character Tessie would have her retired seamstress make her. Bottom left corner shows one of the appliques turned over so you can see the feather application to the back - again with good ole Aleene's Super Fabric glue. Click on it for a better look. I'll trim the quills when I've let them set a bit more and then make a back lining of the brocade. Should have the pantie skirt finished and think I'll make it a separate piece so that she can wear a clean pantie while washing the other pair.

Her character shoes came in yesterday along with the lace body suits. And hallelujah, they fit her tall frame! Always an issue with one-size-fits-all pieces. But the net and lace stretch just enough.

Her shoes will go to the shoe maker to have two industrial grommets placed into the sides so we can thread ribbon lacing through to emulate pointe shoes lacing. She bought some hologram ribbon just tacky enough to do the deed.

What do you think about the feathers?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Butterflies Are Not Free

But they are almost ready to fly onto the costume. Spent the past hours beading, setting stones, and embellishing the butterfly appliqués with additional glitz. I glued them to a Flexifirm backing with Aleene's Super Fabric glue, turned over the edges and glued then pinned them down to dry as you can see in the first picture above. Flexifirm is a very thick interfacing something akin to craft plastic or styrene and can be heat shaped when I'm happy with the look.

In the close up you can see the stones I used to shape and trace the wings and body. I used AB faceted crystals in a medium amethyst and pale turquoise blue pillow beads on the wing halos, rim set AB crystals in two colors to compliment the silver and gray iron on studs that form the rest of the butterfly and then used silver lined rose violet rocailles to outline the top and bottom of the wings. The smaller butterflies have a modified version of the beads and stones.

I will do more embellishment, put a on beaded edge, and am trying to decide whether or not to use feather tips around the edging before I put on the back lining lining. I like the different finishes of the stones.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bells and Butterflies

What you're seeing in the picture above is some of the prop pieces for the stripper's costume. The white lace with red and blue stones is the G-string that one of the Toreadorables picks up in the dressing room and hangs around her neck because she thinks it's a necklace. On the shoulder are the colored jingle bells Cindy's character installs on her costume as a gimmick in the 'Gotta Have A Gimmick' number.

We found some incredible appliques appropriate for an actor and I gussied up a tee-shirt for her as well. These three items are ready to go out the door.

Today, I work on the butterflys that go on the front of the gostume. I used the back side of the brocade I dyed as a contrast and will embellish and back them.

The gorgeous green silk gauze wings are cut out. I will keep them together as I lay out the color design with chalk before airbrushing them. Then they will be cut out, edges rolled, I'll stick a few pounds of beads and sequins on them to help weight them and finish with a collar and the dowels in the front edges.

The white ball of light you're seeing at the bottom of George's scratching post just flew by as I photographed this with the tripod. The other light balls on the green gauze I didn't see until I uploaded the pictures. I hope 'they' were approving my work!

This is the finished piece of 10" beaded fringe to go on the dance pant. The beige you can just barely see is the lycra pant and the brocade above will be pleated into a split skirt to cover the front. I'm also beading an 18" tassle for center front from additional colors of Miyuki's and rocailles. When you bead on a header of twill or horsehair, or even directly onto a garment. Keep your work from coming undone with a dab of fabric glue on all the knots on the wrong side.

Monday, April 21, 2008

There's A Bead In My Mouse

So. I know that doesn't sound quite upright, but it's true. I've been sitting in front of my computer, watching Dexter reruns, and beading the front fringe for the stripper's dance pants. Using your mouse pad as a bead surface has disadvantages.

Last night, after I put my work away, I hear this rattle every time I use the mouse. It's a bead that found its way inside via a tiny hole on the plate - and I can't get it out. It'll have to stay there and become half of a high-tech set of maracas.

I'm using strands of all of the bead colors we bought online. Anchor your beaded fringe on a substantial twill tape or horsehair braid as I did in the picture. Waxing your thread makes beading easier and adds to the longevity of the strands. I use regular top grade polyester sewing thread so that I can choose the color to match the bead. I double the thread and wax the ends to glide through the eye of the needle.

The trick to threading a tiny beading needle is to find the 'sweet side' - there's one side of the needle that is kerfed like a sewing machine needle with a narrow channel around the hole which helps guide the thread in. Moisten the eye of your needle - not the thread. The moistened needle eye wicks the thread towards the eye making your job faster. I pinch the very tip ends of the thread between my thumb and forefinger and press the needle down over the thread. Works better than a wire threader for me.

Also. If you're making beading fringe, hank beads work faster than loose beads. You can use the temporary hank threads to guide the beads onto your waxed thread.

More bead work tonight and lots of fiesta shaking of my mouse maracas!

Friday, April 18, 2008

What Was My Ancient Name?

by Darla Nunnery

Florida. I was sand and the green slippery roots on the ocean floor. Sun Father wanted me fertile, wanted to see his children there upon me, but I was already flourishing, just not in the way he wanted. He is my partner so I revealed my shoreline to his seed. Great beasts and humble men nestled in my groves, caught salty food from my seas, and bathed within my clear, cold caverns.

These children are mine as well as his; now their tribes and the name they gave me are lost forever. Outlanders call me Land of Flowers. Yes, they name me by my most sacred and beautiful treasure. These men of metal see only my beauty and virtue, not my wrath. I feel condemned to accept the choosing of whatever these men ravage. I sleep.

Occasionally when I wake I see men with plows. I see children who like to swim and fish. I hear hawks cry and and see buzzards flying in a spiral downward. There are women who love me. There is one who raises each morning and calls me by my name. I answer her with the scent of orange blossoms.

Like all who are virtuous and fertile, they fight over me. Grey suits hide and blue men can only sail around. Metal is replaced with cattle. Steam. Soot. Dust. What will you eat when your farm lands are gone?

I hide and so do those who love me. We lay awake at night together and listen to crickets and cicadas. I love to visualize the healing which will take place when the Outlanders are gone, the ones who only live upon me and not with me. If you eat food that is grown from me you are me. Your breath is made possible by my pine and palmetto offspring. The Children I invited with Sun Father are welcome, you are ALL welcome. Do not forget your own children; their inheritance is me, and I am not dead.

Practice Wings Finished

Cindy came over for the practice wings yesterday. I finished them up with Velcro in the car! Since the clean and reorganizing fest last weekend, I can't find diddle here!! Tip with Velcro: Always put the scratchy loops on the garment that's closest to the skin and the soft loops facing the skin. Velcro hook side is just nasty to feel rubbing against your skin.

Also used a variegated ribbon in greens as the collar piece faced with ribbon and bias and as the pouches to hold the wing dowels. I put a small 4" ribbon patch overlapped half an inch on the open top edge. This keeps the dowels from falling out when they're raised.

The power net is a no go. Won't take the tea stain. Makes it look a bit greenish, and not the good kind of olive skin tone greenish either! I'm having Cindy order 2 floozy looking body stockings from here and here (warning: nudity!! )which I will embellish with beads and crystals. One is net and the other a patterned lace. Her bra and dance pant will go over this so that the only thing naked about her will be her nose unlike the Pamela Anderson Lee model look alike.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Embellishing The Bra

Finished covering the bra and straps, sides are tucked under and stitched. I sewed four rows of hologram sequins along the tops of the cups and three rows of alternating green and medium purple Miyuki beads. Next comes the cup lining then onto the dance pant.

I don't think the power mesh is going to work for a body suit. After cartining it around under every light source from sun to LED to neon to incandesent, it is going to make Cindy's skin look like it has an unhealthy corpse-like pallor. I'm going to experiment with tea dyeing. Make that tea staining. It is Lycra after all. If the tea doesn't tan it up a little, we'll be searching for a body suit.

Pictures show the bra up to now. Under bust darts are plain in the pictures and you can see the slight ruching on the strap coverings which allow the elastic to expand.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Another sleepless night. I spent it going out with the flashlight trying to get George to answer me. I was in a total panic mode because I thought that this would be my fourth death in under a month and a half, and my fifth in less than half a year.

I could see her up on the dormer roof curled up totally still, but she wouldn't respond to my calls. I waited for first light because I thought I was going to have to go up there somehow and bring down a body. Mature, Rubenesque women have no business climbing up on roofs! And my neurons just might have decided that it's time for one of my spaz-outs sending me off of the overhang waving to the neighbors.

Then... glory! When I went out and called to her a little before 7:00 a.m, she pops up and wags her tail cat fashion, happy to see me, ran over to the edge of the roof and jumped down! She somehow had managed to get her jaw unlocked during the night. Maybe just relaxing in sleep or exhaustion did it. She was hurt yesterday afternoon after the Paradise Cleaning Crew left. I just cringed every time I looked at her up there with her jaw jacked wide open, head down and drool coming fast and furious. That must have been painful for her.

I figured out what happened: I heard a huge thump and roll on the roof just before I went outside yesterday. That's when I saw her up on the roof trying to get her head up and her mouth closed. The neighbor's white cat was running down from the deck and I shooed him off.

At first I thought that he had done it fighting with her. Then I remembered the thumping noise and went to where she was standing when I first saw her injured. There was a good sized oak branch that had broken the tall prickly pear cactus under her. It must have hit her as she was napping up there and dislocated her jaw. As most cats do when injured, she did not want anything to do with me knowing that I'd be messing with it trying to fix it.

Anyway. She's inside. Napping on my lap. Will stay inside until further notice. And I'll leave the neighbor's cat something else in his food bowl as an apology. Yes. I've been feeding him. You know me and strays. He seems to like it more here than his own home and has been talking to me instead of running away. He might need a snack while he's here.

George has had a rough time. She's used up two of her lives with the tea tree poisoning episode and getting bonked by the oak branch. She's started sneezing furiously the last few days. Not sure if it's the last of the melalueca coming out of her system or what. She's also lost a little weight. Not surprizing with all she's been through.

Anyway. I'm glad to have her back. Relieved not to have to bury another friend. I know that I'm at another crossroads in my life. This sort of thing doesn't happen to me without there being some major life change or move. Examples I gave to my good friend Pam Wood who lives in Randall, North Carolina when she asked if I was getting ready to 'check out' myself:

I'm not too sure that gacking is off the table with all the deaths I've been having. It's crossed my mind with all the souls that look to me leaving. I have been mentally pushed to write my will, clean up this house and get shit simple to handle. I don't want to leave a mess for my posse either. Whether that's for me or Annie, my executor and health care advocate, I don't know. It could be just so that I can get the business out of the way to be freed up.

I've done the purge a number of other times in my life. Every one of them involved a major move: Got rid of a marriage's worth of household stuff, had only what would fit in the back seat of my car alongside a cat, a dog, my guitar and a sewing machine and left Tampa for Atlanta; Sold everything I'd accumulated in Atlanta including complete suites of Basset dining room and Kohler living room furniture and moved to Kansas City; Got rid of a bunch of shit in KC - including some the moving men left in closets and cabinets and moved to Las Vegas; Sold a house in Vegas, got rid of some shit and moved to Salt Lake City; Had Chris, sold all that shit and moved back to Atlanta with Chris so Steve could pursue his classical guitar career; Divorced Steve, kept Chris, sold the house in Marietta and moved BACK to Salt Lake City; Met Jim and bought the ranch in Indianola, then divorced him, left a bunch of shit behind including horses and moved to Pleasant Grove; Left Utah for Tampa and this is where I've plotzed.

Robert at the Aquarius Papers** told me I was at another cross roads in my life. At first, I took it to mean death, but I'm starting to think that it may be connected with another move and life change direction. You might want to look into a yurt for your back yard just in case it's in your direction I'm changing.

I beaded on the strippers bra last night. All done with that. Will post you another picture of progress later on.

(**Whether you advocate for astrology or not, it's interesting to read this man's insightful and hopeful outlook. I found him searching for symbology with all the transitions and getting rid of stuff.

The picture is from the blog "Cat Named Jane", another cat lover. While George is solid white, this is exactly how she looked with her jaw dislocated.)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Covered Bra and Practice Wings

Pictures show progress on the practice wings dyed, cut and shaped, and ready to be pleated on tothe neck piece and have the dowels inserted. The markings were not airbrushed on. I manipulated the fabric while dying it with pigment dyes with foldings and creases. Letting the dye drip onto itself in spots created the water marks.
The clover leaf looking curve around the bottom edge allows the wings to stay off the floor when they're down and gives a wing shape when extended. I've got both wings pinned together on the left shoulder of my mannequin so the center back is to your right as you're looking at the picture.

The bra is under way nicely. I draped and pinned the fabric and basted it down. You can just see the under bust darts that are slip stitched in place. If you are covering a bra for belly dancing or a stripper costume, always use the bias on the diagonal of the cup and be sure you cut 4 to 6" more than you think it'll take to cover it. I always leave 4 inches or so on the sides and tack it only to the top and bottom of the bra elastic stretching the fabric slightly so that it gives. Leaving the ends open allows the side flaps to slide on the elastic bandeau. When I'm happy with the lay of it, I'll clean finish the edges by hand, sew a soft flannel lining into the cup so Cindy's "hoohaas" will be happy and will cover the straps with a loose ruching of bias brocade.

Hard to see the color. It's iridescent gold with purple and teal highlights and bits of blue here and there. Fancy headlights, huh!?!

Tomorrow, I'll finish the practice wings and start the layout for her silk wings with the airbrush. I had a group of excellent friends over today to help clean and organize. Most of the fabrics and trims I've had in four rooms is in the made-over storeroom. Shelves line the walls and there will be some in the middle of the room library style. I can now see almost everything I've got. Pictures of that later.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dye Job

Yesterday was day two of dyeing. I prepped Cindy's silk gauze by washing it in soap to remove the worm gunk in it and mixed up dyes. The first dye bath turned out too light a pastel because I got chicken and removed it before time was up. I used two blues in the next dye bath - denim and royal plus dark green to get a deep teal green. This time, I left it in the immersion for the full time then some and got this incredible teal green!

I used a flash on the silk hanging on the line so you can see the contrast as light hits it. The yardage in the background is the true color. I tinted the dance pantie and bra I'm using for Cindy's daughter Sky. Sky is worried about her mother's reputation and virtue among her young friends when they find out that Cindy is playing a stripper. Instead of leaving the costume base nude, I allowed them to sit in the dye bath so it's a little more obvious she has something on besides wings.

Got this wonderful brocade with a gold swirl pattern woven in metallic. I first dipped it in the teal dye bath to pull it together with the silk gauze then drizzled various pure colors on it - purple, dark green, light and dark blue. I love the results! The back is as beautiful as the fashion side! I'm saving scraps for art projects down the road.

The brocade will cover the bra and straps and the front of the dance pants. I was going to tone it down with an overlay of teal silk gauze but will wait and see how tacky it looks without it. I'm covering the pantie front tonight and will hopefully get to the bra tomorrow.

Cindy's bringing over the compressor for the airbrushes we got on eBay. I discovered that canned air only goes so far, is cumbersome and costly. Let me know what you think about the colors!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Finally got all the handwork done on the purple kimono. As I may want to show this garment in a show someday with Cindy's permission, I made the frog artsy as I do on many jackets such as the kimono.

You can see from the closeups all the beads and gemstones I used. The 'button' is a mother-of-pearl tooth used as a toggle through a nephrite jade ring. I left the end of the bias tube unfinished because it reminds me of a peace lily. Bead and crystal calyxes of course! You can't see all the sparkle but I guarantee you it's there!

I dyed the fabric for Cindy's practice wings just because there was a vat of dark cedar green pigment dye on the back porch left from Jeannie's gown. The fabric is quite a bit heavier than the silk gauze I'll be using for the real things, but I figure that they'll simulate the weight of the real thing after I finish piling on beads and bling. Also bought an extra set of dowels for the practice wings. I suppose I should put a picture of them up as well as I go.

The kimono just needs a final press before it goes on a hangar and in the bag.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

थें थे रूफ़ Fell In

The title was supposed to read "Then The Roof Fell In", but I've had this weird thing that happens in the title line that turns my writing into Urdu or some such.

I'm still coping by laying low. After the bout with George last week, I went to the Mango Post Office to pick up my mail Wednesday p.m. There was yellow police tape all around, official postal vehicles and inspectors, and a mess in the lobby. Seems the roof fell in under the weight of water from the afternoon storms we sometimes get here in the tropics.

Went to the temporary site to see if I could pick up mail and the first thing I said to Mitzi and Linda was that I had nothing to do with it and didn't touch anything. I'm trying to protect others by not getting around them so whatever I have doesn't rub off.

George is holding. I can tell that her coordination is affected and she does not have the power she had before the tea tree oil to make the beautiful jumps she could do. She's still staying close to me and is eating. She misses Loverboy terribly. So do I.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What I Learned About Tea Tree Oil and Cats

This is what yesterday had in store for me.

I put tea tree oil on my one remaining cat, George and then went on line after she started growling and acting weird to see what the vet sites had to say about it. Tea tree is toxic to cats and can kill them in doses of just 1% in pet shampoos and I put pure oil on her!!

After her running up in the attic and me trying to get her down calling, cajoling and climbing as far as I could on my step ladder, I called DJ to see if my nephew was around. He wasn't available but DJ said she and Jimmy would come as soon as Jimmy got back.

I tried calling every emergency service, animal rescue, fire department and cop I could think of. None of them would help except the animal trappers which would come over for $250.00 minimum. Humane Society offered a feral cat trap to leave up there with her. I tried explaining that she was poisoned and needed to get to the vet immediately but that was all they could suggest.

After a frantic call, I went over to pick up Tary Peace from work (Bless her ENtire soul) and she tried getting her down. Tary actually crawled up in the attic with GeorgeShe couldn't reach her under the eaves and had to give up .

Tary had suggested I open a can of tuna which I did. After Tary went home, I waved the tuna around under the attic and she finally let me crawl up the ladder and get her down. Jeannie Miller said she'd be here to help, too. I called both DJ and Jeannie back and told them that I had her. I've got an excellent bunch of friends. To a one of them, they would drop what they're doing and come help.

I bathed her as much as she'd let me with dish soap as the vet site suggested and took her to the vet. She still reeks of tea tree.

The vet did blood work on her kidneys and liver which seemed to be within limits, gave her a shot of cortisone and something to help stabilize her and told me to watch her and wait. So far, so good. I feel very lucky and blessed. She's alive. George has stuck close by me, which is great since she ducks every time I go towards her but wants to stay close. She's afraid I'll do something else to her, poor thing!! Don't blame her.

She slept with me last night and seems to be okay if not entirely herself. She got up last night calling and looking for Loverboy a few times and that wasn't easy. She's eating a little bit but I haven't seen her drinking her water. She's also been to the cat box.

I'm staying at home and I'm going to try not to talk to anyone. I seem to have this cloud around me just now and do not want to chance 'passing it around'. Please do not use any products on your animals without first checking on line! Many vets do not know the toxicity of tea tree! Go here to look.

I don't dare tempt Fate by asking "how much more..." because I'm afraid of the answer. Please keep me in prayer and add George, too! We'll take whatever flavor you have. I'd appreciate them.