Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DIY: An Optical Illusion of Embroidery

Dontcha think it's pretty safe to say that the interests you had as a kid kinda-sorta shape your interests as an adult? Now, granted, not all the things you were fascinated with translate into adulthood (my super mad collection of Hot Wheels cars never resulted in my becoming a mechanic even if the grimy paint/clay combo under my nails kinda makes me look that way) but you gotta admit, some things leave their mark. For example, if you know me even a lil bit, would it surprise you that I loved my Fashion Plates growing up?
Gah, anyone else out there have these? My fave thing to do was to put together the most ridiculous outfits possible. Not at all like what I do on a daily basis. Not. At. All. 

There were some toys that I wanted with every ounce of my lil kid fiber which my parental units just flat out refused me. Take this Make Me Pretty Barbie, for instance. Just because I had this habit of hacking the hair off my dolls didn't mean I'd do the same to ole Babs. If Ida had this bad boy growin' up, I wonder how that woulda translated to adulthood. Would I have frosted my tips? Become tanorexic? The funny thing is, as I'm typing this post, I'm currently wearing a hot pink necklace, a side pony and a bow. So I guess some things stick with ya no matter whut. 
 What toy creator thought, "hey! Let's create a decapitated life-size Babs to make lil girls feel totes inadequate about their looks!" Sadly most of my buddy's Make Me Pretty Barbies ended up with Sharpie'ed faces and half burnt scalps. Which, with her edgy and punk-ish looks, always made her the Angsty Artsy Babs in my book. 

Naw, my parents couldn't be bothered with fun stuff like Decap Babs. Instead I was given educational and crafty stuff like my beloved calligraphy set and a never-ending latch hook kit. If you grew up in the 1980s, I wanna know what toys you had, yo. Take the wee quiz on the right and click on the toys you grew up with. Do you think stuff had anything to do with who you are now?
I spent weeks latch hookin' the crap outta that mushroom on my babysitters couch. I never did finish the thing...but I have always loved creating with fibers. So there's that.
Oh, my bad. They DID get me a Barbie (or twenty) along with an office chair (whuh?) and a 500 piece puzzle. To this very day I freaking hate puzzles. Why would anyone wanna put together 500 pieces of anything let alone a crappy 1980s landscape. These are the questions that haunt my sleepless nights. 

Often times, when I'm dreaming up lesson plans for the kids, I think to myself, "what did I love to do as a kid?" It's then that I think back to my Fashion Plates and my latch hookin' ways and retro fun-ness comes to mind. Like working with my spirograph for instance.
I'd totes forgotten about Spirograph until I discovered one in my art room a couple years back. Granted, it's missing some key pieces but I still had fun toying around with it. Over the summer, I found this very vintage version of a Spirograph called a Magic Designer. Did y'all have either of those growin' up?
When I first found that Spirograph in my room years ago, I spent a couple hours playing with the designs. I love the look of 'em -- they are so 1950s space-age-y. It was then that I decided to make several photos copies of them, trace them onto a piece of fabric and embroider a design. Hence the pillow. 
If only I'd had a Magic Designer in my life. Have y'all ever seen this bad boy? Check out what it can do.
Yeah. Magic. I don't think I'll be stitching up that anytime soon but I do love the look of the designs, don't you?
I really want like a half dozen of these in my art room for the kids to tinker around with. That's not too much ask, right? What I really like about the Magic Designer is that it's like a little self operating machine. You seriously just adjust the settings, insert your drawing tool and turn the crank. It's fascinating to watch. 
The only problemo? That little holder for your drawing tool is so narrow that I can't seem to get anything to fit. I tried to place the inside of an ink pen into the holder but it didn't work. The lovely artwork I showed above was left behind in the box from the previous owner. So now I'm in search of a wee pen. Along with the meaning of life. Wish me luck. 
But back to teaching. So you know I scored all those lovely embroidery hoops for my fourth grade kids. Now my brain is just in "embroidery project"mode. I dunno about having the kids stitch up this kind of optical illusion-ness as it took me forever but I do like the thought. So I'm working on it. Any and all advice/comments/here's-what-you-should-do's would be greatly appreciated. Purty puhlease and tank ew.
When I stitched this up a couple years ago, I really wanted to play around with a variety of stitches. My grandma taught me how to embroider one summer as a kid (see, back to my what-you-do-as-a-child theory). At the time, I really only learned the running stitch. It was fun creating this pillow because it forced me to learn add new stitches to my life.
So, whuh about y'all? Where there interests/toys/things-you-learned-and-loved as a kid that hang with you to this day? Still going to therapy because you're freaked out at My Buddy going "anywhere I go, he goooooes" (gah, stalker much?) or at Jem and the Holograms [my bad, spelled her name wrong in my poll!] being so "truly truly truly outrageous" that you'll never measure up (really? I wanna know what crap songwriter came up with those lyrics, y'all!). Take the lil quiz and fill me in! Oh and if I've forgotten any of your fave 1980s toys, please do fill me in. 

Until then, hope your week is Truly Truly Truly Outrageous! 

26 comments:

  1. Ha, I had the Make Me Pretty Barbie! My older brothers thought it would be hilarious to hairspray the hair and toss her in the microwave. I managed to get it out before an explosion.

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    1. OMG!! That's terrible! Brothers, I tell ya ;) Good story though :)

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  2. I LOVED my Fashion Plates, and thank you for reminding me of it! I wish I still had it. I also came across a Spirograph a little while ago, and spent ages re-discovering how creative it was. Your embroidery idea is such a good way of putting it to use.

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    1. Thank you! I actually just bought another set of Fashion Plates off etsy for way too much money...but my mom (who NEVER gets rid of ANYTHING) had sold them off...so I had to get a new set. Don't ask me why!

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  3. I loved my fashion plates and my spirograph! I bought one last summer on Amazon, not a real spirograph, but as close as I could find.
    How about a Creepy Crawler maker? After my grandmother died, I found a "lovely" lizard pin/broach in her jewelry box complete with a rusty safety pin in the back.

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    1. WHAT is a Creepy Crawler maker?! OMGoodness, that sounds amazingly frightening! Gotta google that :)

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  4. All great toys! But I love my Light Brite!

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    1. Me too, they always made me so happy. I think I need one in my life. That's it, it's going on my Christmas list!!

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  5. damn, lady! That magic designer is a fascinating machine! Now I want spirographs for my room too:) I didn't actually have fashion plates as a kid, but my cousins did, and let's just say I "dabbled" with it while spending time over at their house. I didn't really like those girls, but I didn't mind playing around with their fashion stuff, and their, ahem, action figures;)

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    1. Ha, and by the girls "action figures" do you mean "Barbies"?! ;) Speaking of toys, are the Star Wars ones you snap pics of yours from childhood?

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    2. maybe... I wish the star wars figs were mine! I did not have the foresight to save them. Some I melted on top of lamps in the family room, some had their heads and hands chewed off by my little brother:) I borrow the ones we get our kids for the photos. Except for greedo, he's all mine.

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  6. Sigh. I can't take your quiz. I mean, I turned 28 in 1980. My son was born in 1989. So no 80's toys. But I did have the original Barbie, in the 60's. And a doll named Tressie who looked a lot like Barbie, but her hair grew. Or to be more exact, the center of her hair grew and you let it cover the non-growing parts. Which still, at the time, was superior to Barbie because original Barbie, with her pony tail, had hair rooted around the border of her scalp, but - get this - she was BALD in the middle! You weren't supposed to take out the pony tail at all! But oh, we did... Meanwhile, Tressie didn't last long, because her hair, like the retractable cord on my vacuum, refused to go back in after it had been used a few times.

    We used to cut off my dad's old ties to make sheaths and evening gowns for Barbie, Tressie, and Midge (Barbie's redheaded freckled friend, who wore her hair in a flip and therefore must have had roots all over her head, I think.). The ties resulted in some glamorous evening gowns!

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  7. Um, I have glamorous visions of those tie-dresses, I bet they were fab! And, wow, Bald Barbie?! How frightening! They had to know little girls would take that pony tail out, what were they thinking! I had a doll with yarn hair that sounds just like tressie in that the hair grew from a hole in the middle. I promptly scalped her. It's amazing I still have all my hair, what with my hair-cutting ways ;)

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  8. Well I grew up more in the 90s but alot of arts and craft kits. My brother and I also had wooden shape blocks that we would create cities between our beds in our room when we were "Sleeping" then destroy them Godzilla style. The other really cool toy was some Tonka Trucks ( the metal ones not the crummy plastic ones nowadays). They both influence how or what I make art work now. When I have to make sculptures I like working like I was playing with blocks and drawing I loved drawing and painting buildings.

    As for an embroidery project you could have them make a simplified Mayan or Aztec Calendars. they could learn about symmetry.

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    1. Okay, you're a genius. But first, let's talk Tonka Trucks. I was ALWAYS insanely jelly of the boys that had those. I was NUTZ over my Hot Wheels collection (had to be Hot Wheels, I didn't like Matchbox as much) but always wanted a big ole Tonka Truck to play around in the dirt. That idea of sculpting as playing is super smart and freeing. Wow.

      Okay, we are totes learning about Latin America this year so that calendar tie-in is pretty freaking genius. Thank you!!

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  9. I was half 80's kid/half 90's kid. Spirograph, pot holder looms, and Barbies ruled my world... only not with the clothes the came with. I was forever making my own! I also loved anything Lisa Frank, pony beads, and those little plastic beads that you placed into a design or pattern, then melted together, whatever those were called. I probably miss my Spirograph the most. <3

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    1. Oh Lisa Frank, yeah man. So insanely bright and colorful with hot pink leopard print, loved it! Still do! I never had the melty beads but I know the kids still mess around with those!

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  10. OMG, that mushroom latchhook kit looks soooo familiar. I'm pretty sure I had that one!! I actually finished a few latchhooks as a kid although they took foreeeeever. I also loved Spirograph so much. We also had that machine that would whirl around like a record player while you squirted paint on the paper...what was that called??? All of our creations came out pretty hideous but it was fun to do. It was more of a 70's toy than an 80's one, probably. Now it's driving me crazy that I can't remember the name!

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    1. You should get a metal (latch hooked, of course) for finishing those rugs!! Those things wore me out, sister. It's no wonder I like my art projects kinda short-ish, I could never managed to finish anything that took me too long! My grandma had hooked my parents this really lovely (ahem) red latch hooked rug with a running tiger on it that they kept in their bedroom for years. I can see it now. Oh, that toy, I think someone called it a Paint Spinner? I never had one but suddenly need one in my life!

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  11. I have all of this stuff! The fashion plates were the BEST! I wonder if I still have it somewhere...

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    1. I wore my fashion plates OUT. They were so fun...but I always wanted a couple more plates to mix up the outfits a bit.

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  12. Toys in the 80's were the best… truly.

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  13. The pillows are fantastic. I found a spirograph at Five Below last year. We figured out that the non-circle shapes make the more intricate designs.

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)