Sunday, December 25, 2016

All I Want for Christmas is a Sleep-Eating Diary

I have found myself the last two nights awoken by the distinct sensation of something being lodged in my throat.  The first night, in a mild panic, it occurred to me that it was probably one in my yearly allotment of sleep-consumed spiders struggling for survival (after a few determined swallows, he was lost to the history of digestion).  Leave it to me to get fat by sleep-eating spiders.

On the second night, I was struck by the improbability of eating two of my own spiders on two consecutive nights, realizing quickly that the second one was YOUR spider - the one right by your bed, the one you went to massacre with a slipper, convincing yourself that you really smashed it but-good only to examine the bottom of said slipper to see no visible traces of guts or disembodied legs anywhere, leaving you sleepless for wondering if it now lurked among the bedclothes.

Yes, I just slept-ate your spider and that is why you'll see no "traditional present" from me under the tree this year.  In a world caught in the proverbial web of holiday consumerism, I offer you an alternative gift - the gift that keeps on giving, in fact.  Better than buying you a star or planting a tree in your name, I saved your life, your sanity, and your ability to sleep in peace.

I ate your spider.

Merry Christmas.

"The Web of Love" - Joi Lansing


Mr. Tiny

Friday, December 16, 2016

Crazy Crafty: Mrs. Santa's Got A Brand New Hat

At this point, failure should be no surprise to me.  Nevertheless, I am often shocked by my own missteps, feeling particularly disappointed when said failure results from a supposed area of personal expertise (e.g. crazy homemade hats).   Disappointment abounds in Mr. Tiny's Workshop...

Intent on showing off my wacky tacky Tree Toppers to the family, I paraded them through the living room before the hot glue was even dry.  So busy humming "Pomp and Circumstance," I completely misjudged the time it would take to finish the song before explaining my creations.  I had barely uttered the last "duh-dum" when Mary pounced.  Practically wrenching it from my hands, she perched the snow angel atop her head and covetously inquired if it was to be her Christmas hat.

Why hadn't I thought of that?!!  

Really, why?!!  I mean, I have long held the reputation for turning just about anything into a hat - candy containers, placemats, fruit baskets, paper plates, panty hose and whiffle balls, etc.  If I hadn't thought of transforming my dollar-store delights into headpieces then I was fairly certain that my imagination was broken.  I had failed the holiday.  I had failed myself.  The only way to rectify the situation was to make some holiday headware that would sustain Mary throughout a season's worth of parties.  This year, instead of a Christmas dress, Mary would get a Christmas head-dress - with one caveat; I told her that if I made the hat, she had to wear it to at least one holiday party.

It all began in very much the same way as the tree toppers; the usual suspects included glitter tulle, doll head/hands, graduated bells, pipe cleaner, and pompoms.  The red, white, and black tinsel trimmings came from a deconstructed penguin decoration found at the 99 Cents Store.

As I had used the baby doll head for the snow angel, all I had were the face and hands of a sweet, bespectacled old lady (but enough about me).  Using them, I carefully began transforming the flotsam and jetsam of the craft stash into the merriest of Christmas widows, Mrs. Santa.

I gave Mrs. Santa a full makeover (including a touch up of her eyes, lips, and hair).
She wears a mobcap and proffers a miniature Christmas tree from the cake supply store.
The two-tired skirt works as a veil; the white tinsel trim is wired so the veil can be shaped as needed.

As the hat grew in size and scope, it occurred to me that maybe this might be a bet that even I didn't have the nerve to enforce.  But Mary called my bluff.  Not only did she wear the Mrs. Santa hat to a party - she kind of rocked it.

In a bizarre, crazy Christmas way it works, right?
And when it is not in commission as a hat, it can
be employed as a super-festive toilet paper cozy! 

Mary also upped the ante of the bet; at the very last minute (as we were on our way out the door), she dared me to wear a crazy party hat.  With negative time on my hands and no hat, I grabbed a tinsel tree decoration from the side table, quickly wiring on some ornaments and a bit of elastic to make an "aluminum" christmas tree hat.

Leave it to these two weirdos to show up at a fancy, grown-up
holiday party wearing homemade garbage on their heads.

The strange part is that the hats were actually a hit!  As it turns out, having a Christmas tree sitting on your head is quite the ice-breaker; all evening long conversations began by acknowledging the celephant in the room...and the hat on his head.

" eyes are down here."

Even Sage, our host for the evening, approved of the ceiling-scraping millinery.
We're sending a plaster repairman next week. 

To balance the sky-high spectacle on her head, Mary wore all vintage - a black '40s dress in rayon crepe, costume jewelry, and a '40s fur jacket.  In spite of the ebullient holiday cheer inherent in Mrs. Santa, the outfit read as a wartime femme fatale in an unlikely and depressing yuletide movie (see: Christmas Holiday).  And so we say to you...

"Merry Christmas and A Happy Noir Year...'Always!'"

"Always" - Deanna Durbin in Christmas Holiday (1944)


Mr. Tiny

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sew What?! Mexicali Folk Couture Strikes Again

I like to pretend that my refusal to purchase scads of souvenirs is some kind of transcendence into a realm of heightened spirituality like, "I don't need twelve pairs of toy castanets, I'll carry every beautiful moment of this Spanish vacation in my heart."  More likely, it is because I'm cheap and fat, and every penny saved on tchotchkes is a dollar earned toward döner kebabs, fun-flavored Kit Kats, or Croatian pizza.  Don't even get me started on Croatian pizza.   

Yes, I'm cheap, chubby, and, lo theses many years later, I'm still tripping on all the untouched pairs of castanets left all over the house.  Recuerdos de España.

Apparently, my enlightened attitude isn't shared by my sister because, from one of her work trips to Mexico, she returned with an avalanche of souvenirs.  I can just see her, overwhelmed by the splendor of the mercado, eagerly shouting, "I'll take one of everything!"

Quite conscious of my inability to control the sewing urge when handed a pile of interesting fabric, Mary made sure that her purchases included a few yards of a striped Mexican textile in three colorways.  This fabric presented a particular challenge because each length was only eighteen inches wide.  Knowing that some creative piecing would be in order, I started draping the fabric on the dress form. 

My personal design challenge was to incorporate each colorway into the completed ensemble.

After several rounds of pinning, I decided on a poncho with a contrast yoke featuring a large neckline bow.  To balance the volume of the poncho, I made a simple pencil skirt, creating the necessary yardage by joining the fabric at the selvages.

Fast becoming a signature of Mr. Tiny's Mexicali Folk Couture,
the poncho and its bow are trimmed in eighteen handmade pompoms.
I hemmed a remnant of the white fabric to make the headscarf; the hat
is a purchased souvenir.

Envisioning a mid-century counterpart to Mary's overzealous souvenir hound, my concept for a photo shoot involved a classic car full of colorful souvenirs.  Time and finance are usually the fodder for the  epic battle waged between my lofty concepts and meager reality.  Thankfully, Mary's convertible Corvair, a million tissue-paper flowers, and our reliable friend-photographer, Fabian, came to my rescue.

When I told them that I wanted it to look like a sixty-year-old editorial from
Harper's Bazaar or Life Magazine, Mary and Fabian got right down to business.

Fabian always has a deft way of combining fashion and automotive photography.

Mary's shades are themselves a souvenir from our summer adventures in Venice.

"I have no impulse control and I don't care!"

As much as I loved Fabian's photographs, I couldn't help but notice my failings as a stylist; the matching basket purse I made is barely visible in any of the pictures.  And so, I feel compelled to give the purse its due.

The basket purse follows the color blocking on the outfit and, like the poncho, it
is trimmed in yellow pompoms.  If you're keeping score, that makes TWENTY!!! 

As much as I love it, I'm not sure how many opportunities Mary will have to wear this outfit in its entirety; like most of my (mis)adventures in design, it scratched a creative itch, allowing me to move on to the next project.  Thanks to Mary and Fabian for skipping the "Tijuana Taxi" and hitching a ride on the Mr. Tiny bandwagon!

"Tijuana Taxi" - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1966)


Mr. Tiny