Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!


Leave a comment

It ain’t pretty, but darn it… I darned it!

They don’t make things like they used to – really, I mean it, “they” don’t. And most people don’t take the time to fix or repair their belongings anymore either. If something breaks or tears it is tossed.

I admit to sometimes replacing things that broke – like multiple VHS VCRs over the years… when it costs less to buy a new one than to get the old one fixed, that is simple economics. The beta machine I bought survived for over 20 years, to be donated on while still functional – that was a well-made machine.

With things like clothing, how many people take the time to repair items? Themselves?

I remember I once fixed a hem on a skirt that had completely come undone during a work day – I used masking tape to put it back in place. It was a heavy polyester so the tape stuck to it well.  Then I forgot about it.   The amazing thing was that tape held for years! Through the washer and dryer multiple times too. I did eventually notice and redid the hem properly – before donating the skirt in one of our regular closet culls.

Hand-me-downs were normal for clothes, toys, furniture… pretty much anything including cars, when I was growing up. Family, friends, neighbours, anyone you knew would pass along things they no longer needed to you if had a need. Like baby clothes if you were expecting, or furniture if you had moved, toys for the kids to be passed along, dishwashers when they got a new one, a microwave, etc. Before anyone got rid of anything or donated to charity, they would check with the people they knew to see if anyone needed or wanted it.

My mom made most of our clothing, right through high school. And she would fix hems, repair tears, and convert old clothing into something new. There were four of us to keep clothed and not a lot of money, so things made there way through the family.

I remember repairing a greatly loved flannel shirt myself. It was teal and yellow plaid and it was so comfortable. But it was wearing out. Mom actually wanted to toss it – she had repaired it multiple times, and refused to anymore. So I started to mend over her mending. It had up to four layers of patches and mending in spots. I actually don’t remember if it completely disintegrated or mom removed it, but it did eventually vanish.

I routinely fix hems and seams. A lot of clothing that is available now is poorly made and you wear it once and discover holes in seams, or unravelling hems, or other flaws that need fixing. Securing buttons is a big one on new clothes – so many seem to be hanging by a single thread.

Case in point – last week I pulled a pair of heavy winter socks out of my drawer. I had not worn this particular pair yet, even though I’d had them for a couple years.

When I took them off I realized that the heel “patch” had completely separated from the body of the sock along the bottom – grey sock with green toes and heel. The weave had completely separated, if indeed, it had actually been attached at all.

I didn’t want to toss them as they are new and warm, and I’m on a budget. So decided I would darn them.

I’ve done it before but my hands are not what they used to be, neither is my eyesight.

Darning isn’t rocket surgery but being able to see helps. Even though I probably had dark green yarn, I used up some scrap yarn and floss I had sitting around from a project I finished a couple of weeks ago.  As it was different colours I was able to see what I was doing… sort of.

I didn’t take photo before I started repairing them as I hadn’t thought about posting the process, but you can see my fingers through the hole in the heel after I’d started.

How darning works is that you go through the loops of the weave that is still solid all one way across the hole, then, you go across anchoring the same way and weaving your thread through those first strands, to fill in the gap in the fabric or to pull it back together.  At least that’s how I do it. It isn’t hard BUT is fussy.

In the old days they had hard balls of bone, ceramic or glass that they would put in the heels of socks to shape them and make it easier to pass the needles through without poking yourself. I really could have used one. An old incandescent light bulb would have worked too, but none to be found around here. I tried stuffing a jar and a couple other things in there, but nothing fit or was the right shape, so I just stretched it out with my hand.

I don’t claim to be an expert and I’m sure there are probably neater ways to do this, but it worked.

Looking at these photos I feel like I sewed Ed the Sock’s mouth shut!

I turned it inside out to check and it looks not too bad. Hole is gone and mostly closed up. Ideally I should probably have pulled the two sides completely flush together, but there appeared to be a gap in the heel area – which is part of the reason I suspect the hole was there all along.

I now have a functional pair of socks again – Darn it!


Leave a comment

Last week of this semester!

Just finishing up my third semester in my Fine Arts – Advanced program! Actually, the semester isn’t over until this Thursday, April 18th, but I’ve finished all assignments, projects, papers and tests. Only have one drawing to hand in on Tuesday which I finished yesterday.

I admit to being hyper-organized: I plan out my time to complete everything based on course descriptions. Anything that I can do in advance gets done to allow time towards the end of term to work on the art projects which consume massive amounts of time! Particularly as I tend to take them a couple steps beyond the stated requirements.

The Coral Reef installation that I blogged about last post got tweeted out by the College President last week! We are super stoked.

2019TwitterDCPres

We chose such a good location for this, lots of comments on the “guest book” that is mounted beside it and we always see people taking photos of it as we walk by.

Our first paintings of the semester in Painting Studio class are now on display in the college. Mine is the “Blood Moon” with the ghost ship. These will probably stay up for a couple semesters – based on the previous displays.

The submission forms for the Annual Juried Student Art show were handed out last week. We can submit up to three pieces each, created within the last year. Last show I entered my Serpopard sculpture. This year I am entering a painting and two multi-media pieces.

I’ve mentioned before how I am not sure I have a style… I am beginning to think the multi-media thing is it.

I have a tendency to use materials at hand to embellish my work, regardless of the medium/technique the assignments call for. I’ve got decades of experience in creating props, costumes, accessories, wearable art and competitive body painting. Doing those projects involves building embellishments using recycled material, odd items that I have lying around and repurposing previous work. In the ladder collage I used old watercolour paintings and pencil crayon drawings from other projects, as well as work specifically done to use in it.

I used a lot of materials and techniques in my projects and have had to explain to some of my studio instructors what I am doing. I’ve used acrylic paint in a small squeeze bottle to create dimensional textures on flat work; used dryer sheets to create 3D items in a form of cloth-mâché; paper tole work in multi-media pieces; I’m always using Mod Podge for various purposes; and even applying gold leaf. I’ve even used make-up because I had a rocking metallic colour pigment that I couldn’t find in artist brand paints!

This photo shows what paper tole work is. You cut out multiples of the same image, and then layer them with spacers (I recycled heavy card stock from another class project for that in this one!) When you get to the height you want, you then start to cut out sections that you want to add more dimension to. In this I cut out the wing, the legs/feet and eye, to create another level of depth. It is fun, but extremely tedious! Hand cramping is always involved.

DSC07268 (2)

I find it satisfying to use what I have on hand and make things in a different way than expected.

In my final drawing project I have, again, gone multi-media. That will be my next post as I haven’t handed it in yet.


Leave a comment

I love Jars!

Where I live we don’t currently have a glass recycling program so, being a responsible recycler, I try to reuse and re-purpose as many glass containers as I can.

I’ve been ramping it up lately by reorganizing my kitchen and craft areas – the more glass jars I end up with, the more plastic I recycle.

A friend takes the recycled jars and adds handles to the lids making them quite decorative. I have a couple in my guest bath.

And another in my kitchen (I know what will be going in it, I just don’t have any right now.) And that pasta is just a decoration!

dsc03390

I use jars for small things like buttons and beads.

dsc03387

And as everyone in the world must, the Danish Butter Cookie tin!  This one is full of zippers.

I use them to hold tools in my studio.

I used a decorative jar to save my graduation corsage in – these types of jars work really well for keepsakes.  I think this one came with candy in it, but you can reuse candle jars too.

dsc03388

And I love mason jars!  They are perfect for food storage. The ultimate recycled jars – people give them to you full and you have them forever!

dsc03382

I store my nuts and baking supplies in the mason jars – it is so much neater than a bunch of bags or other containers.  I can see everything clearly in the cupboard.  I also store tea bags in jars – I cut out the name from the box and stick it in the jar.  The jars help keep the tea fresher longer.

I’ve also have some larger jars for things in bigger amounts – my almond and coconut flours, my homemade nut cereal mix, and snacking peanuts.

dsc03386

I also reuse spice jars of all sizes: glass and the larger plastic ones.  I like to make my own spice mixes so it is handy to have some spare jars on hand.

I have some can shelves and a large spice rack mounted in the stairwell to the basement, this is right off my kitchen and really convenient for me – I just take a step or two down and all my spices are at eye level!

dsc03385

I just stick labels on the recycled jars.  I buy bulk to refill the commercially labelled jars. And yes, the bottom four shelves are in alphabetical order…

dsc03383

I’ve discovered a really excellent sauerkraut, Bick’s Bavaria-Fest – and it comes in a nice squat wide-mouthed jar!  And it was on sale with bonus Airmiles… I have stocked up and have a plan for the jars once I’ve emptied them all.

DSC03285.JPG

If you’ve got a glass recycling program available by all means use it, but also remember that glass containers are extremely reusable, and in many more ways than I’ve mentioned above.