DIY Jewelry Ideas – UFC Themed Necklace

Hooters girls are going to be there!” heralded my Viking in his sales pitch for a friend’s upcoming UFC party. Hooters girls, eh? As if watching the gnarly, bloody mayhem of Ultimate Fighting Championship wasn’t enticing enough… add giant breasted hot chicks and we’ve got a recipe for severe testosterone overload. Now, I’m not without my attributes, but wit, charm, and blonde hair can only take a gal so far when the surroundings are 100% eye candy. Solution? Parlaying some of said wit and charm into an eye grabbing, chest focused… craft project!! Because nothing’s sexier than a gal who can ‘bead’ down the competition.

DIY UFC themed necklace instructions:
Components modeled by a very manly, and surprisingly willing, neighbourhood construction worker – working on, yes, those are train tracks.
2 mini wrestler action figures ($10 for duo at Walmart)
2 lengths of 22 gauge wire (length of your leg) (Dollar Store)
1 package white/grey/black pony beads (Dollar Store)
wire cutters

1-Dismember wrestler action figures. Trim joints and scrape off unwanted paint.
2-Beginning at center point (see legs in detail pic), wrap both strands of wire around 1st body part. Secure by twisting wires together (three twists each time – to resemble UFC chain link fence around ring)
3-Working outwards from center, alternate beads as shown in detail pic. Thread each bead onto one strand (leaving other wire on outside of bead), then twist wires (three times) to secure.
4-Once all body parts and central chest area beading is complete, bend to form desired shape (see detail pic). Continue beading on either side until desired length.

Note: Eye protection is heavily recommended for this DIY necklace project!! I admit, dear readers, there was a moment halfway through this bizarre beading adventure when I had to ask myself: “Is this awesome or… just weird?” In my defense, I did promise you I’d do something radical over the weekend…

I woke up officially too fat for all my clothes – and I’m loving it!

This post is about as PC as sending back an adopt Namibian baby after the novelty of carrying the little tike round on your hip has worn off. You’ve been warned! I woke up fat today, with a couple tike’s worth of pudge cantilevered out over my own hipbones. Not one single waistband would button or zip. A winter’s worth of last-hurray-before-milestone-birthday denial fueled debauchery, combined with a classic feminine retention, conspired to maximize the bloat factor – and on a Friday no less!

But I have a secret, I kinda like it. Actually, I feel like I’m breaking all the rules because I’m loving my new pounds in a sneaky, indulgent sort of way. I’m deep into a one night stand with a new partner, a strange woman with hedonistic appetites and soft, yielding flesh. I can’t help but wonder… Is this what it’s like to be a man? The lure of a novel body is intoxicating. How do men survive surrounded by so much flesh? Do they feel the same intense, driving curiosity to explore, and by exploring, possess? These curves are fresh and foreign, and I’m drawn into the passionate exoticism of knowing another body for the first time. The temporal (oh please dear gawd let it be temporal!) nature of my current weight allows a sense of detachment; my internal body image has not had time (or my permission!) to adjust. I am free to explore, to indulge – but what to wear?!

The temptation to dress for concealment, rather than display, is strong – and entirely culturally driven. But the logic is all backwards… What joy can there be in hiding? Hiding implies shame, and I feel no shame for maxing out my humanity in preparation for said epic B-Day (maybe a wee smidgen of guilt, but let’s not go there). Blank Canvas Living is, in essence, about honouring our humanity, and what could be more human than breakin’ out the cleavage.

My back-of-the-drawer-fat-day clothes don’t celebrate shit. Neither do yours. Let’s not kid ourselves. We all have go-to uniforms for when we wander too far from our own, uniquely personal, weight baselines. Instead of camouflage, I started searching my closet for something, anything, that would highlight my new curves. After various exercises in claustrophobia, I finally settled on an outfit: an extremely forgiving stretch gray A-line skirt; a serious push-up bra; and a fuchsia faux-pashmina, draped over my shoulders and cinched at the waist with a wide, embroidered belt.

So far the outfit has prompted at least one “is that Scottish…?” coworker complement. But more importantly, I think I look how I feel – powerful – like a medieval knight strapping on my house’s colours (heralding… pink?) before charging into battle. And as an added Friday bonus, I get to enjoy the delightfully fleshy treat that Tia Carerre (see left) was such a dear to sign last time I found myself in a similarly salacious situation.

Note: Ever notice how the holes on your belt form a statistical weight bell curve? The indents on my belt (shown above) reduces my waistline to a mathematical function through time. But any further ‘reducing’ requires a less numerical form of ‘crunching’ … sigh.

Michelle Harper and the illusion of universal individual style

Michelle Violy Harper is a delight. Her quirky, oftentimes whimsical personal style is a celebration of…. yada yada – the articles have been written, Vogue, Style.com, etc. The tributes are effusive and entirely deserved. She’s spectacular (period).

We are inspired, millions of us, but to do what? Theoretically, we’re supposed to dig into our own psyches, moods, and fave cultural/fashion references to root out an individual style that best expresses who we are and/or how we wish to be perceived. Pretty straight forward, right?

Individual style is an illusion. For every time, for every trend, there are those who lead through exaggeration: Grace Kelly’s 1950s elegance, Kurt Cobain’s layered grunge jeans, Louis XIV’s Sun King ornamentation. Costuming these characters differently is unthinkable because their style is so closely linked to their psychologies. Their brains demand an outward expression of their eccentricities – they have no choice. To dress differently would be a betrayal of self, cause chaffing personal conflict, and render them invisible within their time.

Culture is pulled ahead by powerful personalities and powerful innovations. Fashion’s game changers are innately sensitive to the evolving culture around them and engage in a (often unconscious) back and forth influencing that, when successful, aligns them perfectly with the moment, even as they effectively pull it forward – making them inspirational touchstones to the public. Such sensitivity, combined with an exaggerated, ambitious personality, is a rare and sometimes dangerous mix (eg: Cobain, Leigh Bowery). The personal costs are high; it’s not often worth being envious beyond the clothes.

A brief stint working at Michaels Arts & Craft Superstore made something very clear: there are those who innovate, those who adapt ideas, and those who simply emulate. At Michaels, the innovators bought loose beads, those who needed inspiration bought kits, and the emulators preferred kits with full patterns/instructions. The same follows for fashion, and there is nothing wrong with it! This is the world! But this trend (and yes, it IS a trend) for universal personal, individual style is a philosophical fallacy.

Michelle Harper, born with a driving need to explore and experiment with her physicality, should be held aloft as inspiration. Because she, out of dozens of street style stars, is one of the very few able to transcend the trends hidden in plain view within the individuality movement (as patterned over time on sites like TheSartorialist.com – eg: fedoras, cameos). She is our latest, brightest touchstone – leather paillettes for all! ~wink

When what to wear to work becomes a military operation – A Che Guevara-ette personal style experiment

“What the hell are you wearing?” asks Doctor C, catching me in an embarrassingly macho pose in the elevator this morning.

“I don’t even know,” I say, blushing. “I was feeling kind of militant this morning so I figured I’d just go with it.”

“Nice cape. Do you think your boss is going to let you wear that hat all day?” She presses the button for her 10th floor Blank Canvas Living offices. My fate holds me on the 6th floor, rolling paper for geophysicists and dreaming about a creative future. My button’s red glow is as mocking as the smirk on Doctor C’s neon-coral lips.

“It’s actually a scarf,” I point out, ignoring her tone. “I knit it myself a few years ago, and I’m going to have to be strategic about the hat. It completes the whole Che Guevara-ette look – and the necklace adds some class.”

I see her trying to hold it in, but she breaks out laughing. “Because you’re the very picture of a classy lady right now!”

“Whatever. Life’s too short to stick to the script. I don’t care if I get in trouble. I just want to feel something when I get dressed. I can’t hide in my head anymore. I need to wear who I am, you know, honour my mood and story of the day. And you know what else? I feel like I could kick some serious ass wearing these pants. I stand differently. I walk differently. All I want to do is to climb a tree in some deep dark Bolivian forest and start scouting for a revolution- ”

“Woah there tiger,” Doctor C interrupts my tirade. “All this from wearer of the infamous ugly pants?”

We burned those bastards! Look what you started!”

She rolls her eyes and swings her long white braid from one shoulder to the other. “If you’re in the mood for war, girl, you really need to come upstairs and do a ‘tour’ in our West corner restroom.”

The 6th floor button winks out and the elevator doors open, but I’m too curious to get off. I leave the script and stay on board for whatever adventure is waiting for me on the 10th.

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Blank Canvas Thinkers: Karl Lagerfeld quotes about work/life balance and the perfect day

While these quotes from Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Karl on Karl’ interview will resonate with any deeply creative person, they highlight the contrast between the visionary and all the tiny French fingers, living between bonbons and pinpricks, that labour over his Chanel haute couture. These petites-mains bring his dreams into the physical, then wait quietly for him to come and tighten their work, until every hemline and seam echo his “will and discipline” – thereby achieving a certain perfection. His self direction must be respected, even admired, but can any man be called a genius when he has left no room in his philosophy for the regenerative chaos of love?

Fun at work with DIY Spanx-effect seismic waist shaper

After the surprising success of my fitted, fully darted, seismic pencil skirt, (engineered after the infamous burning of the ugly pants) my DIY ego has been leading me in strange and exciting directions. And after hearing that the client was thrilled with the S&M hood and handcuffs sketchbook cover/tote I designed, I can’t help but look at my own life with the same new freedom – as a series of creative problems to be solved. It’s an attitude I remember as being intrinsic to my nature, but one I thought I had to give up in order to ‘grow up’. Never! But I’m still trapped rolling paper on the 6th floor, while the offices of Blank Canvas Living, with their Antarctic restroom, are only 4 floors above me – may as well be the moon.

With a long, depressingly bleak workday ahead, I turn to the most primal of motivators, sex, to help me survive the 8 ½ hour abyss that lies ahead. But my Vargas pin-up sexy secretary style proves sorely lacking. No amount of tucking and sucking in front of the office bathroom mirror will fix my waistline’s lack of Vargas worthy shaping. The shirt puffs, and the skirt hangs as straight as a 1930s school marm’s who’s given up on men for good. Not to be defeated (and having no ready access to a Spanx body shaper) I look to the resources at hand: geophysical seismic paper plots (think earthquake movies), tape, and scissors.

 The first pattern fails miserably, and my DIY ego takes a major hit. But no matter, for my second attempt (checkmarked in illustration), I cut a new darting pattern and attach the sliced sections back together with clear packing tape. Note on darting: Straight vertical cuts for waist portion – size tightly to waist measurement. Triangle lower cuts create flare to give shape under skirt – size to desired hip flare. I laminate the ‘wrong’ side of the paper with more packing tape to give it substance and durability, but leave the seismic detailing bare, its printed squiggles conveniently matching my b/w outfit.

Back in the office bathroom, I tape the Spanx-effect waist shaper closed at the front, then spin it round so the seam is at the back. To make sure my knit skirt doesn’t slide around, I secure it with a few loops (like you’d use to stick a picture to a wall) of tape below the waistline – mission Vargasification accomplished. I experience an unexpected, but surprisingly delightful girdling effect. My posture instantly improves and my shape, if I do say so myself, would have made any pin up artist proud. I have to confess, I spend the rest of the day strutting around salaciously in my own private episode of Mad Men. But sadly, the office fellows seem more impressed with my use of their geophysical data than my seismically defined curves. Sigh… it’s a geophysicists’ world and I’m only working in it.

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Blank Canvas Thinkers: Architect Barry Berkus quote about the importance of sketching to the creative process

Barry Berkus, a world renowned architect based in Santa Barbara, has created a portfolio of inspirational structures that have evolved from exploratory sketching – the sensory rich dialogue between body, mind, and medium. Click Here to watch his excellent youtube series – How to think like an architect. From his innovative bubble diagrams to a brilliant plan for the rebuilding of New Orleans, this Blank Canvas thinker has the courage to practice what he preaches: Dream Big – Dare to Fail.

‘Artistic Bondage’ – DIY hood and handcuffs turn any sketchbook into a stylish mini-tote

Secret freedoms… deepest passions… strappy high heels… The wording of my first official Blank Canvas Living assignment comes loaded with clues to its criteria.

In order to integrate sketching into her hectic lifestyle, the client would need a way to carry a sketchbook discreetly, protect its pages, and be inspired to let go of her inhibitions and excuses every time she sits down to draw.

The nature of this project, with its almost total creative freedom, is intoxicating. My mind races with ideas. This is the same thrill I felt designing my seismic skirt after burning those horrible ugly pants up on the roof. I’ve craved this level of creative engagement for so long, and I need to prove with this assignment that I can be part of Blank Canvas Living as more than just a tourist.

One idea dominates all the others – a two part sadomasochistic hood and handcuffs protective tote. Is a bondage sex theme too much? Too extreme? I don’t know the client’s history, but those strappy high heeled shoes keep leading me straight back to BDSM. What better way to tempt the client into artistic expression than ‘artistic bondage’? I submit to the process, and get down to work…
Hood
1-Cut calf of sacrificial black leggings to length of sketchbook + 1” (depending on thickness of book)
2-Sew cut end closed to make a pouch

Handcuffs
1-Stretch 3/4” wide elastic around sketchbook to desired tension – cut two of these lengths and stitch ends together to form ‘cuffs’
2-Cut third length (the ‘chain’) with ¾” extra on both ends to fold around ‘cuff’ loops.
3-Sew ‘cuffs’ onto their ‘chain’

Slip the hood over the sketchbook, then slide on the cuffs, leaving enough slack in the ‘chain’ to create a handle. The handcuffs can be used alone (as shown), and will hold pens/pencils securely under the ‘chain’.

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Public Restroom Architecture – Antarctic inspired restroom design

antarctic public toilet architectural sketch 2“Let’s start your tour of Blank Canvas Living with one of our restrooms…”

I’m getting used to expecting the unexpected from my new friend, who met me at the door wearing a maxi shirtwaist dress of an almost clinical mint green. With her white braid wrapped loosely around her head, she could pass for a late 1800s factory worker, except for the flash of neon pink lipstick.

I push through the restroom’s double swing-hinge doors and nearly fall flat on my face! My foot stalls in mid-air over a deep glacier fissure full of strange looking machinery.

I hear her laughing behind me. “There’s a glass floor! It only ‘looks’ like you’re stepping onto – or I guess into – an Antarctic glacier. Our filtration fissure gets ’em every time.”

The trompe l’oeil effect is astonishing. Below the glass is a pitted porcelain replica of slowly melting glacier ice. Running down the middle is a molded crevasse containing a series of filters that appear to be treating the water flowing down from the equally astonishing glacial fountain/sink in the far corner of the mirror walled room. The reflections extend the space infinitely on either side, while the floor to ceiling windows behind the fountain look out over the river and into the lower cityscape beyond.

“You gave your bathroom a corner office?” I ask, once my footing is secure.

“Why slot ourselves into stables like livestock in a barn? We celebrate our humanity at Blank Canvas Living. Our clients love peeing in their own private Antarctic tents! And we’re on the edge of downtown so line of sight isn’t an issue.”

“Tents? Where are the toilets?”

She slides back a section of mirrored wall. Each stall is open glass on its longest side and hung with orange tenting to effect a cocoon-like privacy around the back. The toilet itself is bizarre, a smooth bowl mounted within a seemingly haphazard stack of red and yellow scientific equipment crates. Bizarre, but incredibly inviting, and quite practical – the paper having its own little crate off to one side.

“Is the rest of the office as crazy as this?” I ask, immediately regretting my choice of words.

“This is only the beginning, my dear.” She winks at me, then closes the mirror and begins demonstrating the temperature settings of the automatic faucet function of the fountain’s organically asymmetric fissure sinks. A voice over the PA interrupts the demo: “Would Doctor C please come to reception”.

“Looks like we’ll have to reschedule,” says my friend, evidently Doctor C. She reads my questioning expression. “Doctor of Philosophy,” she explains, prompting my next question.

“What exactly do you do here?”

“Do? To put it quite simply…we bring people into their stories. We create touchstone artifacts, practice Blank Canvas exercises in engagement, sense scrolling, and other techniques designed to loosen the brain associations that can trap us in our current cultural thought paradigms. People come to us when the conflict between what they’ve been taught they should do and how they were born coded to live becomes unmanageable. But the only way to know Blank Canvas Living beyond the abstraction of words is to start living it. Are you ready for your first assignment?”

I think back to last week’s personal waveform and the seismic skirt that started it all. “It all sounds cool, sure, maybe a teensy bit namby pamby, sorry. But it must be expensive to get involved in something like this.” The public toilet alone must have cost more than my annual salary rolling paper down on the 6th floor.

“Namby pamby my ass! Anyways, I don’t want you as a client… I want you as a counselor. Like I said, I’ve been keeping an eye out for someone like you. I have a client who wants to start keeping a sketchbook, but doesn’t think she can integrate it into her life, too busy… forgotten how to draw… yada yada, excuses galore. I want you to come up with a way to remind her that this is her secret freedom, a sensory path to her deepest passions. All you need to know is that she wears very strappy high heels, very strappy.” She cuts off any questions with a wave of her mint green cuff. “Now, let’s set up a time for you to come back…”

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(glacier pic source)

Fun at work with seismic pattern DIY pencil skirt design

…Continued from Previous Post – The ugly pants burn! An old resolution is torched and a new 2012 personal style makeover begins


I tie my sweater around my long johns’ waist for modesty’s sake, and get down to business, armed with a tape measure from the 10th floor (can’t wait until I’m allowed behind the frosted glass!) and my geophysical company’s office supplies. Turns out paper – a material I thought I knew so well – has a grain, a weft that must be respected for it to cooperate with the human form. I coax the curves with a staggered layering of scotch tape (packing tape proves too tacky and final). Cutting the pattern on the diagonal creates the chevron effect, and the fit is tailored with four darts on the front and ten ½” darts on the back – ending at different points to create a lifting effect that perfectly cups my….. Finally, to stabilize the shape of the side seams, I bend and tape in two thin pieces of metal I find digging through old printer/computer parts in our infamous ‘back room’.

Suddenly a revelation hits me; I’m having fun. But more than that, I’m entirely sated by my present, fully engaged in an interactive learning with the material and task at hand. My senses guide me through fluid problem solving with real time risks and rewards. Is this what she wanted me to know? Is this ‘blank canvas living’?

When I ring the buzzer on the 10th floor to return the tape measure, my new friend answers the frosted door herself. I do a few poses and show her my sketches, along with the results of my (trying to be super sexy in long johns, wool socks, and a paper skirt) self-timer, guerilla-style, file room photoshoot.

Her fluorescent pink lips glow even brighter when she laughs. “I had a feeling you were going to surprise me…” she says. “Let’s make an appointment for you to come back and take a tour. You know, I’ve been looking for someone like you for a long time.”

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