Sunday, May 13, 2012

Flower evolution, triangles, the end of the world, etc.

I dyed the felted flower again.  You may remember it from this post and this post. It started out a light Pepto Bismal pink and I used color remover on it then dyed it in a kind of gradiation deal because the color took quite strangely.  It would soak it up like mad, then really wash away when wrung--more than anything it was just hard to control and I had no idea how it would dry.

I felt like it needed to be muted down so my idea was to just dip it in brown but then I realized the opposite of pink/purple might be the best muter.  So I dipped it in some kelly green.  When it was wet it was perfectly grey.  I think.  I'm really color blind and greys/greens are my biggest problem.  This looks totally grey to me but somehow I feel like it's really green.  Every now and then I feel like I see it as green.

Whatever the case, it sure swatted all traces of pink out of it.  I'm thinking now all it may need is a dip in a watery brown bath and it will be kind of a neutral military looking tone.  I love the idea of making a really flowery silhouette like this a weird industrial non-color.

I've got some new things in the shop.
These have some stars that I made from regular take out containers from Panera.  This is pretty amazing, but the commercial and household plastic that has a 6 on the bottom in that little arrow/triangle symbol is suitable for DIY shrinky dinks.  Most of those squarish take out containers with the ribbed sides are '6' plastic.  I'm like shrinky dink queen and I had no idea.  Free Shrinky Dinks.  Amazing.

It's a little different, though.  With real shrinky dinks, there is a frosted side that really grips marker and color and then allows it to be seen through the glossy side when shrunk with a sort of 'under glass' effect.  All the lines look finer, more precise, intricate and the colors get more brilliant.  And I'm sure it's treated somehow to ensure the most uniform shrinkage and whatnot.

The diy plastic is hard to draw/color on well pre-baking because both sides are slick and shiny.  It smeared a bit but it was because I kept forgetting not to touch it.  If you use Sharpie, it will eventually dry, but takes a bit longer so you have to be super careful as you are working not to smudge.  I gave up because I didn't want to waste more of the small amount I had.  I ended up just cutting stars out of plain unmarked plastic.  For embellishment, I (post-shrinking) colored them with gold metallic permanent marker and gold glitter.

They seemed to shrink more than real shrinks would.  They were also much more melty when I removed them from the oven and the toolmarks really show.  Which I actually like, but certainly extra care should be taken so that the structural/design integrity isn't compromised.  There's a really nice satin effect to these that real ones don't have.  But the edges are not as naturally rounded and smooth--that's probably something else they've engineered in.

There's these too.  I almost kept them.  
. And there's these.  Triangles and chevrons are super big right now, aren't they.  I tried to mess these up a little so they didn't seem to be following that trend.

When I notice trends and dynamics I like to analyze the daylights out of them.  I see them as tangible manifestations of the collective unconscious--statements via symbols.  It's often said that the language of the sub/unconscious is imagery, and it's really meant in more of an individual sense. But there's no reason the sentiment can't be applied collectively; in fact, it's easier to apply and measure when you take fads, fashion, popular design and such into consideration as 'pictures.'  The forms that turn up can be deciphered for meaning.

I've written on the symbolism and possible deeper meanings behind some of the things I've noticed in the craft scene: the bird on a branch, the octopus.  Those are pretty straightforward in a lot of ways.

But as I continue spending my time absorbed in this crafty subulture, I'm noticing trends that I likely never would otherwise have even been aware of, like this triangle and chevron thing.  I think some of it is easy--the austerity, the return to simplicity.  But I think there's more, lots more.  I'm going to have to think about it a bit more deeply to write about it with any depth.  But it's hard to dismiss its obvious triangle symbolism as the marriage equality civil rights issue continues to fabulously press on like some welcome magic.

It's interesting too, that basic geometric shapes are super liminal as signifiers.  They are the most common forms used in ancient ornamentation, embellishment, and construction, yet they are also used to relate the notion of 'future.'  Something about the austerity and streamlinedness, I guess.  It alludes to aerodynamics and perhaps an obviously machine-produced origin.  The geometry of Art Deco comes to mind.  Shapes emphasizing and exaggerating the lack or unnecessity of handiwork--a byproduct of the rightful fears associated with the machine age in full swing and the replacement or irrelevance of humans.  Metropolis.  False Maria.

 But there's something big going on in this idea of duplicitous symbol.  In the way that the rhetoric of 'green' so easily represents the earth, nature, ecology, saving the planet, etc., the color green also represents everything alien and unearthly: the luminous green glow of radioactive/danger sludge, Spock's blood, "little green men", etc.

Opposites somehow share symbology and rhetoric as in: green man/little green man.  That is, the traditional Green Man archetype and the Little Green Men, a very modern archetype meaning aliens, seemingly could not be more opposite, as the former is a hybrid of human+nature, and the latter is on its face literally the furthest thing from human.  But most anthropomorphic and legendary creatures can be taken as a way to explore and record via folklore human relationships with various elements and spheres.  Bigfoot is a hybrid of human+wilderness.  Mermaids=human+sea.  Ghosts=human+death.  and on and on.

And Green Man=human+nature and Little Green Men=human+nature but extended to include 'space.'   So what seemed to be opposite is really the same thing just revised for modernity.  Uh...what was I talking about?

Oh yes, the triangle and geometrical forms so popular in fashion and craft right now, as the supposed date for the end of the world approaches. There's an analogy in here somewhere like the greenman thing.  It has to do with symbols of opposites turning into themselves--ancient/future, past/present.  Time.  Timelessness.  Which of course ties in nicely too, with the ubiquitous steampunk clockwork and all the 'victorian' imagery so popular.  Fin de siecle redux.  This is probably a good place to stop.


  1. Catching up on my blog reading here, and I am really impressed by your in depth analysis of symbolism, and the current craze for geometry. As I am continually drawn to antique Victorian imagery you have given me lots to "chew" on in terms of thought. The triangle and pyramid are very powerful symbols that contain and direct energy, yes hipsters have kind of diluted them but I agree that there is a reason why everyone is "revising" this symbol right now. A really nice exploration here, I hope you continue to share your thoughts on these matters.