Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lost and Found: Brush Necklace

The found object: battered makeup brush lying in crosswalk

Time to give another found object a soul and send it on its way. For the back story on this ongoing project and the Japanese folk belief in tsukumogami, or objects with souls, see an earlier post —Tsukumogami: Objects with Souls. For more lost objects in the series see: Found.

I actually walked past this fabulous find in the middle of a crosswalk because I was heading towards a destination and absorbed in the quotidian task of crossing the street. Once I reached the opposite curb, however, it took about three seconds to decide I had to backtrack and grab this wonderful object. In addition to normal wear and tear it looked like it had been run over a couple of times, chipping the paint on the handle, denting the metal, and giving it a wonderful aged patina. Once home, after thoroughly washing it, I studied it for a while until its soul emerged. And here it is.

Brush necklace

The battered, abandoned brush is now a necklace with decidedly tribal overtones.

Close-up, brush head

Regarding the how-to:

The How: A

The How: B

The final step in any of the projects in the Lost and Found series is to send the object back out into the world to continue its travels. Friends fought me on this particular object, urging me to keep the necklace, but my mission is to shepherd lost objects along on their way, not to hoard them. A few objects back I started attaching a card or tag to the objects. Here is the copy for this one:

Card cover

Card inside

Card back (QR code leads directly to this blog)

Necklace with tag

And finally, it was time to let this object go. It was just released at the same crosswalk where it was originally found. I left it, walked to my local thrift store around the corner, and by the time I walked back it was gone.

The release

If you have an eye for detail, you may be wondering what happened to the brush handle. Be assured, I have plans and they are in progress. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Climate Change Barbie

Climate Change Barbie Hits the Road

Introducing the newest false product from Stuff You Can't Have: Climate Change Barbie. She joins the ranks of the predicted 25 million to one billion refugees who will be forced to flee their homes over the next 40 years due to drought, floods, famine, and other climate-related threats.

Because water is scarce and temperatures are rising, Barbie has chopped off her locks and seldom shampoos or bothers to comb it. She sports the "black mask" many eco-migrants have painted on around their eyes to reduce glare from the sun.

Click to enlarge

During hot weather Barbie wraps a versatile single piece of cloth around her waist and then between her legs to form cropped, baggy pants. 

Click to enlarge

All eco-migrants who consider themselves Sixth Extinction adherents carry pouches of heritage seeds. Ever since the Global Seed Vault located in the arctic circle in Norway flooded due to global warming at the end of 2016 as the permafrost began to melt, Barbie and others realized a fail-safe back-up method was needed. That method was to give individual migrants small doomsday pouches of precious heritage seeds so that when and if climate change can be slowed or reversed, humans will have a shot at growing a wide variety of crops again.

Doomsday seed pouch

Pack with retractable solar panels

Barbie's backpack has retractable solar panels that are hooked up to a rechargeable battery inside the pack.

More about the pack and its contents below.

Close-up: Pack with retractable solar panels, side pockets for water bottles

Pack straps

Pack solar panels deployed
Inside the pack there is an assortment of supplies.

Click to enlarge


Solar oven closed for storage

Setting up the solar oven

Solar oven fully assembled

Climate change isn't only about heat, drought, and deserts — there are also superstorms, floods, and periods of unseasonably cold weather. As a seasoned eco-migrant, Barbie is ready for whatever happens next. Or at least she hopes she is.

And finally, Barbie needs a place to rest her head on her long trek to nowhere (most countries have closed their borders by the year 2025, refusing to accept any eco-migrants). Her poncho converts into a tent.

Note that development of every item and accessory in Barbie's wardrobe and equipment is based on the anticipated needs of human eco-migrants as predicted in a range of scientific reports and academic papers. And that failure of the Doomsday Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle? It really happened:

Search terms: Climate change Barbie, eco-migrant Barbie, global warming Barbie.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Giving a Little Lost Sock a Soul

Tsukumogami: little sock with a soul

Anyone who has followed this blog knows I love discovering and transforming found objects. When I learned about the Japanese folk belief that objects have the capacity to become alive and self-aware, it changed the way I relate to the objects I find. Somehow they have already managed to break free and venture out into the world on their own. Now I try to help them discover their soul. Then I release them to continue their journey. To learn more about Tsukumogami, see a past post, Tsukumogami: Objects with Souls. For other past work with found objects, follow this Found link.

Lost by the wayside

This Tsukumogami began with the discovery of a little, lost, blue-striped sock, found on the walking path beside Lake Merritt in Oakland, no doubt tossed from a stroller by a heartless renegade toddler. The first step is to study the object a while, searching for whatever is within yearning to break free.

Communing with lost object

The next step is to animate the object, bringing the hidden pirit of the sock to the fore.

A little worried

A little sad

A little surprised

The next step is to send the Tsukumogami back out into the world to meet whatever fate awaits.
I decided to attach a little tag to the sock so that the people who discover it and help it begin the next stage of its journey have some idea what they are dealing with.


I decided to release the newly awakened spirit sock close to where I had found it, and left it sitting on the base of a light post right by the Lake Merritt walking path.

Little Tsukumogami waiting for its fate


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Upcycled Fourth: Red, White, and a Little Blue

Cannibalizing two shirts for the greater good

Two thrift store men's shirts, each sporting a red and white stripe pattern, are combined together to create one new upcycled shirt. And here's how:

The how-to

Some detail shots:

Detail, top of shirt

Detail, inset pocket (hand-stitched)

Detail: patches covering old shirt logos

Detail: Cuffs reattached at elbow height

And a bonus for the Fourth of July: Since the shirt sports red and white stripes, I decided to add a pin to round out the ensemble for the holiday. The pin is fashioned from an old tin can lid (for more how-to info on tin can pins see Tin Can Frames Tutorial, or enter "tin can pins" in the search window of this blog and see a whole range of past tin can pins).

And yes, the sentiment is both political and emotional.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Home Decor for the Anthropocene

Eking beauty out of the apocalypse

We have entered the Anthropocene, an epoch in which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment — leading to the Sixth Extinction,  a sudden and dramatic decline of diversity of life on earth due to those same humans. Thus this addition to home decor, a reflection on our current plight.

This project began with a delicious poke bowl (pronounced po-kay), the Hawaiian food trend sweeping the mainland. I was sitting at home enjoying my to-go order of salmon and tuna poke when I began eyeing the bowl. Here is a food container that would never fly in Berkeley, but is somehow still okay in Oakland — a surprisingly sturdy plastic bowl.

Garbage? Discarded take-out bowl

One thing was instantly clear to me: this bowl should not be discarded. I use bowls as organizing vessels, and this looked like a prime candidate.

Organizing bowls

I scrounged through my supply closet until I came up with my personalized bible, awarded upon graduation from primary Sunday school at the Shrewsbury Presbyterian church. It has been a stand-by for years when I need thin, biblically-themed paper for decoupage or, in a pinch, when I need makeshift rolling papers. The passage I decided to use was apt: the story of Noah from Genesis.

Decoupaging with glue stick and strips of Genesis

Looking down on creation

As an embellishment I added a few gingko leaf prints in copper paint as a complimentary nod to an ancient tree with incredible survival skills that has, so far, managed to survive anything man throws at it. In fact, it is being increasingly used in urban settings because it thrives in polluted conditions. For how-to tips on printing with gingko leaves see an earlier post, Inside-Out Boxes.

Copper gingko print embellishments

Look inside the rim of the bowl in the photo above, and you will see the words "Surviving the Anthropocene" added to the decoupage, printed onto the margins of bible paper using my handy vintage typesetting kit.

Intriguing attitude on the part of god towards creation
And here is the finished piece. 

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