Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Man in a Uniform

Hi Everyone,

Here's the latest on the grad school front -- I've been in touch with Prof. Susan Kaiser of the UC Davis Division of Textiles and Dept. of Women and Gender Studies, and she has agreed to chat with me about my grad school interests and an appropriate path for me to take. Among the topics of interest for Prof. Kaiser is the social meaning of clothing. I've just begun reading her book, The Social Psychology of Clothing: Symbolic Appearances in Context, and my mind is going in all sorts of directions about the possibilities. It's exciting to have a passion & to finally be exploring it.

On a related matter, yesterday Doug and I went shopping for more summer shirts. As I mentioned last week, I had hardly any summer shirts since I had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years. I tend to gravitate towards plaid/tartan cotton shirts for the summer, and Doug commented that I was getting a uniform for work. I've been thinking about this comment, and I think that my position as a secretary has influenced my selection of clothing. I think that it's important for me to project an image of being reliable and consistent in my work life, and I think that my selection of not-too-outlandish clothing reflects this image I'm trying to portray. Perhaps I'm totally off in my perception of my reliable and consistent image -- I've skipped ahead in Prof. Kaiser's book, and there's one section in which she writes about the Tseelson study[1] in which the wearer's perceptions of the message conveyed by the clothing were compared with the message received by the viewers. I'd be interested in seeing if my co-workers view my clothing as really projecting a reliable and consistent image.

On another level, I also like dressing conservatively (or what I think is conservatively) and then shocking viewers of my more racy artwork (e.g., the cock ring, the spaghetti jockstrap, and the cut-up bible piece) with the disconnect between my appearance and the outlandishness of these pieces.

Any thoughts, readers?

On a final note, my purchase of the additional summer shirts may be a moot point, as there appears to be a cooling trend -- on Friday it was 103F, and yesterday it was only 100F.
[1]Tseelon, E. 1989. Communicating via clothes. Ph.D. dissertation, Oxford University.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Socks Appeal

Hi Everyone,

Pennita responded to my previous post about grad schools with the possibility of California College of Arts in Oaktown, CA. I had thought about that school (and CCA does have Deborah Valoma, who does textile antropology). I'll have to do some thinking.

Yesterday I actually went shopping for summer clothes. I had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for so many summers that I hardly had any summer clothes, and it gets hot during the summer in Sacramento, CA, where I now live.

At the clothing store, I also decided to buy some new dress socks for work and some new white socks, which I wear during my play time. My old white play socks are still intact, but they're kind of gray. After we got home, Doug did a load of whites & washed the old white socks, which I plan to wear one more time before throwing out. I was sorting out the socks and was amazed at the good memories that the socks evoked. Here's a picture of three of the socks:

The top sock has the the red dirt stains from when Doug and I hiked the Na Pali coast on Kauai, HI in 2004. The middle sock has a blue spot from a dyeing day, and the bottom sock has black spots on the bottom from a workshop with Jacquetta Nisbitt at the 2004 Conference of Northern California Handweavers. I was shocked by the emotional attachment I had towards these graying socks. These gray play socks evoked the memories of happy times, and I thought of a different take on Yoshiko Wada's term (and name of her book), Memory on Cloth. Wada writes about cloth taking on the memory of shibori processes, but in yesterday's sock case, my own memories were displayed on the cloth, which reminded me of the power of textiles to elicit a range of emotions from me.

Speaking of textiles eliciting memories & emotions, Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote a song in the 1980s called
This Shirt, in which she describes the history of a particular shirt and her love of the shirt. At the end she sings, "This shirt is a grand old relic, With a grand old history...So old I should replace it, But I'm not about to try." (Ths lyrics are at the linked song title above.)

Speaking of memories, that song, This Shirt, was introduced to me by Jack Horn, someone I dated in the late 1980s (and who is MIA). So, that song brings up all sorts of memories. Another person I dated, Jeff Darcy, raised the related question asking if memories really are forgotten or do we just need the appropriate stimulus for the memories to come to the surface? Interestingly enough, music also has the power to evoke memories for me. My hearing a song brings me right back to the era when the song was popular.

I'd love to hear some of your thoughts about the power of textiles & music to evoke memories & emotions.

About what I'm working on -- I'm finished 1/4 of the 4th triple weave strip, so that's coming along slowly. I think I finished the bible piece this morning. Over this past week I realized that if I want to enter the bible piece in quilting shows, I probably need a backing layer. So, I decided to attach a used distowel to the back & call it a day. Here are pictures of the front & back:

I'll post the good images after Charr takes them later this month.


Sunday, June 11, 2006


Hi Everyone,

Wow. I've been such a deadbeat blogger. I've been feeling creative (which I haven't felt in months), so I've decided to go with it & create. I put a border on that bible piece, which I mentioned in my
bible piece entry a while back. You may remember that I had wanted to put black garters as a border, but I was having trouble getting garters shipped at a reasonable rate. So, I instead decided to make my own garters to save money. With the cost of materials, the amount of money I spent was the same as if I had bought those other black garters & had them shipped. And I also had to make these new garters. I think I learned my lesson on that one. Here's a bad photo of an edge:

Unfortunately, in this photo you can't see that I had sewn the garters to each other & to the bible pages with that same red thread. Fortunately, later this month I'm going to have the fabuzoid photographer, Charr Crail, take images of this piece & some of my more recent pieces. I'll post them probably in July.

When I was working on the piece, Doug commented that it looked Victorian and that it looked like an old fashioned sampler. That notion of a sampler inspired me to put the piece into a frame & call it a day.

I finally finished reading Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros. I don't know if you remember my remarking that this book is full of textile metaphors. One rich metaphor towards the end of the book in Chapter 80 is "The universe is a cloth, and all humanity interwoven. Each and every person connected to me, and me connected to them, like the strands of a rebozo. Pull one string and the whole thing comes undone. Each person who comes into my life affecting the pattern, and me affecting theirs."

Last night Doug and I were watching the new Pride & Prejudice movie. In one scene the characters are shopping for ribbons. In another scene, while the family is scurrying to get ready for a distinguished visitor, the mother calls to the daughters to get out the ribbons. It was interesting to see a scene about a time when ribbons were a high-status item.

Last week Doug told me to apply to my dream school for grad work. I've decided that I'd like a school that would allow me to not only do design, but would allow me to explore textile anthropology & the text-textile connection. I'm thinking perhaps UC Davis or Phila U or maybe returning to San Francisco State U. Readers -- do you have any suggestions?

I hope you read Sista Sledge's comment to my last blog entry, in which she challenges the relegation of craft to second-class status. You go sista! (Sista Sledge is my nickname for my sister, Mary Kay.)