Sunday, September 27, 2015

Never Settle For Just Plain

A new unfinished frame
Ever wander through a store and stumble on the craft department? I don't just mean what you find at Hobby Lobby, Michael's, JoAnns's or A.C. Moore, I've noticed that stores like Target and Walmart are carrying some of these same items. Paints, brushes and even wood frames, birdhouses all at varying prices. The wooden frame shown here was $1 at Walmart. It is about the same price at Michaels.

Here is the finished frame

A dollar? Well, you gotta get that, right? So you get a frame ... what do you do with it? I know that I have talked about this but I feel that each project, no matter the cost of the platform, be it a birdhouse, tray, platter or picture frame, presents a wonderful opportunity to think outside of the box. That is what prompted me to try this project.

Detail of a Crazy Quilt Frame
Since I started creating a variety of items using a "crazy quilt" design where I painted fabrics just as you might see on a fabric created quilt, I painted these items that seemed to be a hit. I won an award from DecoArt for my original "crazy quilt" birdhouse prompting me to try other that sold well on my former Etsy store.

I don't know about you, but finishing a wooden frame, either with a stain or a color didn't offer much of a challenge. As you can see here, the same frame painted is totally different. 

Right now, let me point out that it can a tedious process. Here's why:

First you have to select base colors of your fabrics. I used six (6) base colors. They were used at least twice on the frame. Since I wanted this to be a holiday frame, I decided to choose colors that would be found on Christmas wrapping paper.

Once the base "fabric" color is painted then each color would have its own, unique pattern. As you can see in the detail, these patterns again are similar to patterns would find on Christmas wrap. And let me tell you when you finish some patterns you are so very happy.
Even the back must be painted - here I used
a solid color

To complete the effect, I use a golden ink pen that you can paint on acrylic paints to create stitches, the final touch for my Crazy Quilt frame. This takes between one to two hours. You may not need to do this but "stitching" the fabrics together in paints add a final finishing touch.

To be honest, it is pretty easy to do. But remember it also takes a lot of time. I recommend you work on several items at the same time as you must allow the paint to dry since each painted fabric has the same design. It is too easy to smear paint used on one side as you work on another. Trust me, I know all about this! Its a pretty good thing acrylics dry quickly. It is relatively easy to repair or recreate but being careful saves having to waste time doing this exact thing. Go ahead try it. Since most of you already have the paints and brushes it's a small cost to experiment with a new style.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read some of the earlier blogs. I cover a wide variety of crafts, books, movies and more ... all items that depended on someone's design. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

My, My, Concerts Have Sure Come A Long Way: Going to the Foo Fighters Concert

One of the earliest live concerts that I saw, other than those in college, and we had some pretty good acts I might add, was a Sonny and Cher Concert is a city park in Seattle, WA. In those days all you needed was a fair sound system, a few lights and an enthusiastic large crowd. This was at their height too, 1967. How things have changed.

Electric Sign at Honda Center
Saturday I was with a friend who got tickets for the Foo Fighters Concert at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. Normally an ice skating arena for the Ducks hockey team, it does a nice job of making things accessible for concerts. It was packed and all the groupies were out on the floor. The bands leader, Dave Grohl, had broken his leg falling off a stage somewhere in Europe but didn't let that slow him down ... not one bit! The stage was set up with a long runway and he rode an electric cart up and down it from the stage to everyones delight!

Dave Grohl on his electric cart!
As much as I wanted to go, I was afraid I wouldn't know any of their music but when I went to that old standby, iTunes, I found clicking on their music I was more than surprised at how many of their songs I knew! I hadn't memorized the lyrics as many in the audience had but at least I knew the tunes.

My other fear was that I would be the oldest one there by several decades, not that it mattered but you do get tired of being stared at as if you are, say, a living fossil. There were other grey beards as well!

Watching all this I realized that what was once a simple production - an audience, lights, some kind of speakers and play music for the fans has changed from music oftentimes to a "production." We have come a long ways from "I Got You Babe" played forever in the movie "Ground Hog Day" to Garth Brooks, Taylor Swift or the Foo Fighters. Just think this all must be loaded on a truck. Sounds like "Ground Hog Day" to me!

Watching the bands take down and put up the next day at the Kaa Boo Festival in Del Mar, it has become something much greater than those early days. AND, it took somebody(s) to design and implement it. At Del Mar there was much scurrying around as the crew for the next band set up. I was in fact awed by all that went on and wondered how they could do it over and over again in venues that were never the same.

Honda Center filled for the Foo Fighters seen from the Nose Bleed section
I can't help but believe that long on-the-road concerts are grueling for just about everyone involved. Lessons must be learned at every stop, adjustments made to provide not only the best sound but the best show for the audience. I'm sure it doesn't take much to defeat the original purpose but also what we don't know won't make any difference anyway. 

Sometimes artists have great opening acts but Saturday night was not one of them. One of he biggest problems to me is the volume of sound. It is so loud that besides being unable to think, you are subjected to a volume of sound that almost makes you deaf. I couldn't understand a word they said and, of course, had never heard of them before so didn't know their music. It was hard to even pick out the tune. Loud does not make for great music.

While loud, the Foo Fighters were a bit different. You could recognize the music and on the first bar
Foo Fighters on stage
or two, the audience came to life. In fact they played a solid 2 1/2 hours straight!

Watching all this, studying what they were doing, you realize that concerts, like everything else in life, are designed for a certain affect. The huge video screens showed details we would never see, the sound was well, loud but tunes and voices were audible, the lighting was at times dramatic and changed with the flavor of the music. The overall effect is to surround you with an otherworld experience. It does too!

They are returning to Anaheim again next month and I heard people say they were coming back for that concert. I must be callous but unless they had a new album I wouldn't want to come back for a year or two.

Thank you for reading my blog. Why not take the time to read my older blogs that comment on a variety of ways our lives are designed.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Beards & Hair: A Short History of Men's Facial and Head Hair Styles

For many years, something upwards of 30 years, I wore a beard. I am not sure why but it seemed a logical next step from years of wearing a mustache. When I worked for Kmart in the early 70's we manager assistants were told NOT to wear beards, mustaches and the like by the corporate office in Troy, MI. I rebelled and grew a mustache, something I could do in a week. Every other man in our store, located back then and maybe even today in the backwater of Los Angeles County, Lancaster, CA grew a mustache too.  Few would visit us from Troy, MI and the manager, who didn't dare, supported our rebellion. I had tried earlier when I was in the Peace Corps but it was so hot and muggy in West Africa, I sweated so much I could feel the rivulets of sweat go down every hair! However, I moved on to a beard in the more civilized San Gabriel Valley, just east of the Los Angeles city limits. 

Post Metrosexual beard and hairstyle. 
All that's missing here are the tattoos.
Bin Laden
Recently I have become aware of the beards the post Metrosexual men have been wearing. Never much of a fashionista, a short jaunt to Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade recently made me totally aware that the young men were dressing differently than what was being worn in Alhambra. There are many Asians in my area now and they are probably as tuned in to the latest fads as anyone but even they couldn't match what I had seen on the west side. As I perused "People" magazines in doctors offices I saw this was what all the stars were wearing as well.

There were many young men that didn't look all the different than the model (above left) with a kind of pompadour on top with hair shaved on the sides and well, a Bin Laden styled beard. Neat and ratty.

General Grant - Savior of the Union
Never having seen this fashion before I wondered why would young men ape a face style from a man (Bin Laden above right) or group that we have fought now in wars for at least 14 years - the Taliban, ISIS and other Arabic terrorist groups. Yet we have a history of beards in the United States and looking farther into this realized beards are here today and gone tomorrow.
General Ambrose Burnside

The founding fathers were generally beardless, nary a mustache. However, by the time of the Civil War, just about every general and the Union President sported a beard. Why, we will never know. Someone was a trend setter and soon the fashion swept the nation. 

President Abraham Lincoln

There were a variety of styles to choose from ... a full beard like General Grant shown here or a modified moustache shown on General Burnside. That Grant won the war and Burnside was a disgrace seemed to have no affect on fashion. President Lincoln had a modified scraggy beard usually favored by Quakers and the Amish, eschewing the fancy twists and turns of some of his peers.

After the Civil War beards fell out of disfavor unless you were a settler who didn't care or have the time on the plains as railroads brought thousands of farmers to settle the land from around the world. Working class men rarely sported a beard. Class equaled head fashion.

King George of England
Europeans made beards acceptable again at the beginning of the 20th century. King George of England as well as Czar Nicholas of Russia had beards that sported a rather dandified mustache with many modifications. Captain Smith of the HMS Titanic also sported such a beard. Two years later when World War 1 started soldiers didn't have the time to preen themselves. Beards fell out of favor. The 1920's and 30's saw clean shaven men. Their frivolity was spent on suits and shirts and hair styles that we would recognize today. Suddenly men dressed much we do today and beards were a thing of the past. Women's styles were more drastically changed.

Lionel Richie with his Afro
Instead men worked with their hairdo's. Anyone remember the Afro? It wasn't just for the African Americans either. 

I sported an Afro being told it would hide my growing bald spot that started in my 20's. I don't know why women go through curling! Finally I started wearing it short after seeing a "combover" flipping in the wind. After that I swore that I would never ever do that, and never have.

The Afro was followed by the "shag" I think pioneered by Rod Stewart. Men, pretty much, didn't wear a beard but by then I did. There were a few mustaches, but mighty few. Again they were long droopy types recalling a cowboy on the farm. My father-in-law wore a beard for many years and since I had very sensitive facial skin it seemed the answer to a whole range of problems. When it was discovered that I had a blood disorder and had to beware of any kind of cuts when put on blood thinners, the beard was for me the best solution. It was bad enough shaving under my chin and neck!

Rod Stewarts shaggy cut
For awhile now, men have sported a two or three day unshaved look beard. It was popular everywhere ... movie stars, thugs and the average Joe on the street. I always thought it looked like you were too lazy to shave that day. When the clothing ads starting using models with that look it really took off. I remember reading an article written by some fashionista saying it was "sexy" and turned women and probably other men on too. I remember wondering if she had ever kissed a man with a 3 day beard. Like kissing sandpaper. I guess girlfriends and wives are good sports.

Hugh Jackman forgot to shave today
There were many, many styles in between. Marlon Brando, James Dean, Elvis Presley and the Fonz with their pompadours, the buzz cut and totally shaved heads especially favored by African-Americans, styles that faded sometimes and then suddenly returned. Remember the spiked Homer Simpson "does"?  With the likes of Justin Bieber ... hair piled on the top of his head and cut short on the sides the market was open again. The one good thing about these styles, if you had a head of hair to do it with, was that when a fashion died, you could always get another haircut.

What is so amazing to me is the need for men, who I guess spend as much now on certain grooming products as women, to follow a trend and yet within it be strive to be different, creating an element of individuality. This trend I believe started with tattoos. Tattoos could be individualized to the man but the fact you had them made you part of a group. I remember as a child only red neck, white trash ever had a tattoo. It was usually one or two on a bicep and usually 
Fashion elements combined - from the 50's to the 21st Century
covered by a t-shirt. Suddenly everyone had one. Many tattoos are undeniably beautiful in the here and now but give them 15 - 20 years when skin begins to sag. I remember my son being enamored with the huge eagle on the chest of our 80 year old neighbor who seemed to always be shirtless. However, one look and you knew the huge eagle on his chest had landed. 

While a tattoo is forever, mercifully haircuts seem to change like the weather. We live though in an era today where  our heads have elements of all past trends ... pompadour, military buzz cuts, beards of the Taliban and enough tattoos to please the Yakuza! The man shown here on the right has all these elements, even the rolled cuffs on his jeans ala James Dean! Where once this would have be been anathema to all regular people, it has become acceptable when movie stars such as Angelina Jolie and other stars sport such additions to their bodies. Why is it acceptable? Will the next generation continue this or will they, like the Boomers generally avoid doing this? 

These elements are conscious designs that we create for our lives seeking a kind of individuality within a carefully chosen group. I do have to wonder though, how many people wake up the next day and wonder why did I do that? This may not be a bad time to invest in laser tattoo removal!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please check out my other blogs that cover and whole range of comments on the designs that shape our lives!