Archive for January 1, 2009

Ancient Home Ec Scars

Posted in Art, projects, socialization with tags , , , on January 1, 2009 by darcyarts

Do I love New Year’s Eve because, being an Aries, I love a fresh start?

I was asleep by 11 p.m. so it definitely has nothing to do with partying the night away.

I felt good about this passing because I am actually engaged in doing creative work that fascinates me.

I worked on my “Albi the racist dragon” project all day Wednesday. I have 3/4s of the dragon stitched and stuffed. Every stitch is done by hand.


 Admittedly, my version of Albi is a bit lighter in color than the video version but still it will be cool.

I ran a few errands Wednesday. I checked out the fabric store for a material that was heavy enough for a custom giant squid project I’ll start very soon. I moved into a new head space while browsing the aisles. I started looking at the crazy-huge variety of cloth as new art materials.

What? Women have been doing that for a long time you say? Yes, but I had avoided going there in my imagination.

Despite the reclaimed female DIY power of knitting and handmade crafting of accessories, simple clothes and all kinds of home-related comforts and tools, what came to mind when I though of Joanne’s Fabric was something from a strange sorta icky place in my head.

Somehow I thought only of  ladies who came to town to buy simple print fabric. Something they’d take back to their fundamentalist commune or home and  sew into appropriately modest ankle-length dresses. That meant repression. Modesty. Rigid roles. I did, in elementary school, occassionally attend an early fringe-Christian fundamentalist church with my next door neighbor.

Even though the DIY ethic has made traditional women’s crafts respectable again, and even though I have always refused wearing stupid fashions that don’t suit me, I was hung up on these weird emotional overtones having to do with repression and lack. Lack of style, lack of skill (mine – I cant sew on a machine for shite), lack of hip material in these fabric stores.

There are endless choices at Joanne’s these days and one of the last times I was there I saw two DIY-ish, tattooed girls with punky hair. Yes, out and out twisty hipsters in a Joanne’s in Redding. I know they’ve been there for years but i’ve been stuck in that washed-out fundamentalist-deprivation association.

But oh, how the mind plays tricks on us.

I generally consider any type of supplier fair game to be included in my tool/materials palette.  Home Depot is just as valid as Michael’s.  I look at the supplies with an open mind and work my brain to figure out how I might repurpose everything.

Now, even after seeing the tortures experienced by the Project Runway babes I am considering buying a sewing machine!!!

But I’m not telling the whole truth about my mental block against fabric stores. There is something deeper than the second-hand bland fundamentalist thing. I had a bad experience in my 7th grade home economics class.

My first simple skirt was simple and pretty sloppy. The material was so thin and unexciting. I had made a smashing pair of grey pants modeled on those worn by the cartoon version of Ringo in Yellow Submarine. They had the yellow and red stripes down the sides.

Fabulous achievement for me at 14. I didn’t think I could do much.

But the real creeping negative association, the burning scar associated forever in my mind with home economics came when I asked the teacher if I could leave class to go to the bathroom. She refused to let me. Soon after her refusal I peed my pantyhose.

Yup! 14 years old and instead of going to the bathroom against the wishes of the teacher I tried to hold it and failed. Puddle of shame.

At the time I was understandably mortified as was the teacher. She was of course absolutely apologetic. “Did I have some sort of bladder problem?” she asked. All too late.  I bet she never refused that request again.

But I guess now I could claim it was a radical proto punk reaction to repression.