Summer Camp

Campers signed this map painted on a black sheet

Every year, our small town is taken over. Thousands of under thirty-somethings flock to Three Sisters Park for Summer Camp, a music festival featuring over 60 bands on 5 stages over 3 days. Campers start showing up at the park on Wednesday, then literally pour through the gates on Thursday to set up their tents for the Friday through Sunday festival. The music is very loud, and there are the usual problems you might expect when that many people share a small space. In a lot of ways, it’s a zoo. So I was a little apprehensive when the Folk Art School decided to set up a fundraising tent at the event.

Painting t-shirts at summer campThe festival attracts a modern hippie sort of crowd. Think Woodstock, but without any political agenda. For the most part, the ‘kids’ are simply there to enjoy the music and have a good time. Once you get past the man skirts, nipple rings and dreadlocks, you start to notice how very polite everyone is. It’s quite an eye-opener in a lot of ways.

I worked up signage for the school tent, grunge-painting (more on that technique to come!) cheap sheeting for ‘Make Your Mark’ signups and tent banners. Campers were invited to sign their state or add their art to the sheets, and a drawing was held to give those items away.

Percussion instruments at Summer CampWe also offered recycled t-shirts to paint and re-fashion, fairy wings, tote bags, bandannas (in honor of Willie Nelson, who performed Sunday night), plus Sit ‘N’ Knit kits for creating iPod cases and Sit ‘N’ Sew coin purse kits. Unfortunately, most of those items missed the mark with the crowd, so we didn’t raise as much money as we’d hoped.

The Sound Garden, though, was a big hit. Using cast-off pvc pipes and outdated LP tanks, the guys in the group crafted one-of-a-kind musical instruments. Leftover electrical conduit became a sweet-sounding xylophone. A jingle bell wreath found new life as a tambourine. Got an old wind chime? It’s the perfect percussion piece.

Propane tank drums

Will we do this again next year? Maybe, with a better understanding of what the crowd enjoys, and a lot more sunscreen. And oh, yes. Open eyes.

Five Minutes of Fame

Article in the Peoria Journal Star

I know, I know. The saying is fifteen minutes of fame, but I’m saving the other ten for future fun. Nonetheless, I was thrilled to be included in a recent article in the Peoria Journal Star. Features writer Jennifer Davis interviewed me via phone several weeks ago, and the story appeared in the March 21st edition of the paper. I intended to tell you all about it a couple of weeks ago, but life intervened. It’s been a March of Madness around here.

That’s not me in the photo, but I was quoted extensively in the story. You can read the complete article on the paper’s website.

Braided rug made from upcycled denim

I’ve had several people congratulate me on the press, and one sweet little old lady who lives a few blocks away gave me a collection of mostly silk men’s ties to repurpose into something new. The ideas are steadily simmering away, and I’m hoping to put something together before too much time goes by.

Another reader offered to give me several pairs of discarded denims, but I had to decline, as I already have a fair-sized mountain of old jeans waiting to be reborn as braided denim rugs.


Worn Words

garment labels

I’ve always been drawn to details. Themed touches in store displays, sugar packets in restaurants, tiny little tidbits that draw the eye. I’m especially conscious of all the elements that help make a whole garment or accessory. Fabric texture, fasteners, bits of trim. I notice these things even more so since I started consciously trying to use more recycled goods.

Like garment labels. Those little bits of branding that can be so irritating and itchy at the back of the neck or along the waistband. Such important information–sizes, washing instructions, where an item was made–squeezed onto a tiny tag and sewn into a seam to ensure that the information and item are eternally attached. Until I arrive with my trusty seam ripper.

Worn Words in the making

I save all the interesting bits and pieces when I deconstruct garments for use in other things. Buttons? You betcha. Zippers? Oh, yeah. Labels? Yes, labels, too. You never know when one of those micro-marketing pieces might be just the right addition to a masterpiece in the making…