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August 27, 2004

This Land Is Your Land

From the files of the EFF:
A hilarious lampooning of both President Bush and Senator Kerry.

It made it to the EFF because a music publisher claimed to have the rights to the song “This Land Is Your Land” and tried to block JibJab Studios from publishing the animation which features the song in a way that is clearly covered by “fair use”. Unfortunately for Ludlow the EFF and others proved that Arlo Guthrie’s first published the music in 1945 (when copyrights were a more reasonable 28 years) and never applied to renew the copyright. Ludlow renewed the copyright in 1984, 11 years after it had already entered the public domain.

Posted by Eric at 01:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2004

Silk Break and Bamboo

Time to take a short break from working on silk… Tammy has run out of canvas, and it is hard to find suitable tapestry fabric, so time to do some cotton canvas for her. While I’m at it I will do some more linen and quilting cottons. I may do some silk as well but it will be with reactive dyes instead of French dye. One thing I think I will try is painting on thin silk (12mm crepe) with canvas underneath. Using the reactive dye, I should get closely matched silk and canvas as the dye is absorbed through the silk into the canvas. Steam the silk and batch the canvas. Could be interesting for bags.

I will be heading back out to Noank in search of more “Noank Bamboo” which I believe is one of the two indigenous types of bamboo for North America. It is not as “woody” as most bamboo I am used to, but for use as a dye this could be an advantage. Noank Bamboo grows wild throughout the area immediately around Noank and is considered a nuisance plant by most locals. If it does yield the same dye effect as the Yellow Groove Bamboo I used last week, I will have a great source for dyestuff.

My source for bamboo around here is great, her bamboo patch is beautiful and although I may be able to get 15 or 20 canes from her each year, more than that and the grove would suffer aesthetically if not physically. I estimate that I can get about 3 yards of silk dyed with two baths from each stalk, but the stalk has to be fresh cut. It’s a lot of effort — cutting down the bamboo, chopping and splitting it into small pieces, processing it for 3 hours, straining off the “tea” that results and then gently stirring the silk for 3 hours in the tea. This is done with half of a 20—25’ stalk for the first bath then, after the silk has dried, it is done again with the second half of the cane to make a second bath for the silk.

Actually I need to overlap the process so as soon as the silk is pulled from the first bath I have the remaining bamboo freshly chopped and ready to start boiling in a fresh bath. Really it is something that would ideally be all done outside and on site of the bamboo grove, especially since the silk has to be exposed to full sun for the effect to happen. If I can use the Noank bamboo (Noank is only 5 minutes away, and not via the bridge an tourist heavy roads) I should be able to cut a few canes (they only reach 12—15’) in the morning and dye all day long. If needed I could even make two trips out to Noank so the bamboo is super fresh.

Is it worth all the effort ?

I certainly think so. The results are subtle, yet spectacular. I am anxious to get some fresh bamboo to try layering this effect over already dyed silk to see how well it layers. Mmmmm teal or turquoise with pearlescent highlights!

Did I say that I love bamboo? So does Tammy after I was able to make her a custom shaped “corner-turner” out of bamboo in about 5 minutes. It would have cost $6 for a plastic one, and the bamboo one we were able to shape exactly as she wanted it very quickly.

Posted by Eric at 11:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2004

Bamboo and felting

Shibori felted shoulder bag The  Communal Work Table

Felting knits by hand is rewarding but extremely labour intensive. With no access to a washing machine that we can control the cycle of, Tammy and I bound and hand felted an old Lopi wool cardigan. Well, Tammy knit the cardigan years ago, I applied shibori resists to each of the (now separated) arms. I then felted each arm. It took about 3 hours of kneading, rubbing, scalding water and ice water shocks to arrive at the texture close to what we were wanting. The result is wonderful, and has now been sewn into a shoulder bag, but man, that was a lot of work. A friend showed us her felting out of the washing machine, which was a touch tighter, but more importantly did not require 3+ hours of manual labor to achieve.

While out looking at our friends latest knits and projects, I finally was able to collect some fresh bamboo. She has a beautiful grove of, I believe, Yellow Groove Bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) in her yard. She needed to thin out the grove and clean up where it had escaped it’s originally designed area. Thankfully in this climate it is not a very aggressive runner. I now have a caravan FULL of bamboo. Most of the canes were 30+ feet tall with bases of 1.5—2 inches in diameter. After cutting them in half, we filled the interior (we left room for ourselves of course) and put the rest on top of the caravan. For some odd reason we drew quite a few strange looks as we headed from Stonington through downtown Mystic. 

I have stripped some of the larger cane sections (bottoms) and then shredded all the branches and leaves. I let them soak for about an hour and then set about a half pound of them to boil in a pot of water with a pair of silk scarves bound with shibori resists. I didn’t let the water get over about 180 degrees F and cooked the mess of it for about two and a half hours. When it was done, the exposed white silk was cream colored and shinier than the reserved sections. It also has a slight green iridescence to it that you only catch glimpses of when the viewing angles change. The other scarf was one that had been discharged from black to black and tan. On this one the contrast between the black and tan mellowed and the same shine was added to the areas that were left exposed. Considering that this was a shot in the dark I think it turned out very well.

I know that there is one lady in Bali (?) who is using bamboo to achieve “snowy” whites on white silk. Unfortunately I have not been able to uncover her recipe although did just order an obscure book that I believe was written by her (one of two written by the same lady, but the other one is written in Japanese and while it apparently contains extensive recipe information, it would also be over $100 to get sent to the States). Hopefully this book will give me some more clues to this very promising technique. I love the very subtle nature of the technique and the low contrast of the colors. It is really amazing, especially if I can use it for the extra shine and iridescence as a layering technique on top of other colors.

Posted by Eric at 09:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2004

Thanks Charlie

The Mystic Art Show staff has decided — in what must have been a hard decision to make — to cancel the rest of the show. It was the only decision they could have made considering the updated forcast. Charlie will be passing right over Mystic as a tropical storm packing winds of 40—75 miles per hour. All the artists are right now packing up their art and their booths, while dissappointed the ones I talked with support the staffs decision as well.

Unfortunately this comes in a summer that has been quite slow already for Mystic. The art show generally brings lots of visitors to all the shops as well as the show itself.

Posted by Eric at 07:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Beautiful so far...

It’s a great morning, perfect in fact, blue skies. We’re headed out just now for the fair, lot’s of people down there today, good music in the park and it looked like a sizable number of people were buying too. Most of the artists are returnees from last year (or the past 30 years in some cases) but there were a number of new artists. Two were particularly interesting: one a quilter who dyes her own fabric to do photo realistic quilts, from a distance they looked like a photo or maybe a painting. Then there was an indigo katazome artist who I had seen a year ago at the Mystic Art Association. She works mostly on cotton and had a multitude of table cloths, shoulder bags and purses in her booth. All very nice and apparently popular with the crowd.

Hopefully, Charlie will leave Mystic be, but the artists are understandably concerned as the current forecast is for winds up to 50mph late tonight and tomorrow morning. We’ll see, but at least today was beautiful. We especially enjoyed just laying in the park enjoying the live music.

Posted by Eric at 02:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What a day for an art fair!

So the roads are now blocked off and a number of artists have begun setting up their booths. Tomorrow the fair kicks off first thing in the morning. Artists, music, food and wandering entertainers. It goes on rain or shine, but what about 40+ mph winds? Currently there is a very high probability that Charley will make it’s way through this area sometime in the next 36 hours. Smack dab in the middle of the festival! We will be enjoying the festival ourselves, taking breaks from our own preparations for Christmas fairs by taking in the fair in bite sized pieces.

In other news I have moved to working with Drupal’s CVS from August 12th, lot’s of nice improvements in there, and I figured I really shouldn’t spend too much time on an older release when I plan to deploy a site based on 4.5. Still getting my feet wet and there is much to do this weekend for entry into a fair, but I am planning out the taxonomies right now, and hope to start one site Tuesday. This site (and Family Updates) will be converted over to Drupal (and moved to it’s own domain) come early to mid September as well. I will be adding another site for Tamric Studios and my wife’s business. Tamric Studios will have informational, store and blog aspects. The blog entries will be entirely about Surface Design and may have some cross postings to here. This will remain the main place for patterns and other ramblings though.

Posted by Eric at 01:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 09, 2004

I really like this

Got some more time away from scarves, to polay with Drupal. I have two seperate installations, one of DrupalEd and one of Drupal 4.4.2. I am playing with the various modules and configuration options to try and find the feature set I like best. Installation of Drupal is exceedingly simple. Configuration is not hard, but there are many options and it does take a bit of time, playing with it, and reading the manuals and online forums to get comfortable with it.

So far I have spent about six hours on it and have one of the internal sites set up with about 90% of the features of MT3 or this MT installation. Drupal also has complex taxonomies, forums, multi-page story, file vault and online collaboration features. The more I play the more I like! Soon (after 4.5 is released) Drupal will be replacing the MT installation here and on Family Updates.

Posted by Eric at 01:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2004

Late Night Antics

Living in Mystic right on the estuary we have the opportunity to see many wild animals such as cranes, herons, osprey, cormorants and even occasional seals. One wild animal I see quite often though is a skunk that lives on the river bank by the Mystic Art Association. Every night it makes it’s way from it’s burrow across Water Street, up the Mystic River Press driveway, across our parking lot, up the rock cliff to the street the Historical Society (in Mystic’s original school building) is on. Later it comes back down the cliff looking for grubs and checks the dumpster. It continues across our parking lot and checks for food left at the Mystic River Press (for a pair of cats they have adopted) then heads on back across Water Street to the river.

I know his routine after many late evening breaks watching him. He usually makes his way up to the Historical Society around 2am and his return is between 3 and 4 am. Of course not being a clock watcher he is sometimes early or late, but usually he keeps a pretty routine schedule.

Just now (11:30pm) I was down reading a magazine and sitting on the stone “wall” — all of 18” tall — where the Mystic River Press building’s parking lot and garden drops down to the sidewalk in our parking area. As I was reading and finishing my cigarette I heard some leaves rustle just behind me. I thought at first it was one of the two cats as they are usually somewhat active about this time at night, I turned to look and reached out to pet the cat and discovered that it was not a cat, but the skunk. Not only was it the skunk but it was a scant 18 inches from my outstretched hand. He was obviously obsessed with catching a tasty bug until I turned, but he saw me at about the same time I recognized him for what he was. I withdrew my arm and slowly got off the wall into a crouch and duck walked slowly back away from him as he stamped his feet and watched me very carefully. Once I was about five feet away I ran another ten or fifteen feet for good measure. It wasn’t until I started to run that he moved at all, when he did it was back down towards Water Street at a full waddling run.

I don’t know who was more scared in the end, what scared me most was the idea of waking my wife and son with the unmistakable smell of skunk to get a bathtub full of tomato juice from the store.

Posted by Eric at 04:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 06, 2004

Drupal it is...

After playing with Drupal 4.4.2 for about 3 hours today, I am really pleased with it as a CMS. I think it will fit my needs really well. Actually I will wait until they release 4.5 later this month to begin working in full on the project, but I will continue to get familiar with Drupal and the many contributed modules. In particular I like the role based permissions, collaborative book and discussion forum features. The availability of the discussion forum built into the CMS will save a considerable amount of work trying to integrate a seperate forum system into MT or Wordpress.

I ran out of time (energy actually, had to dye and steam last night, ended up being up all night… now surviving only on Thai Iced Coffee but the sugar rush is fading fast…) but I will do more tire kicking this weekend after the Stonington Fair commemorating the anniversary of Stonington’s victory over a squadron of British warships in the War of 1812. This year a canon salvaged from the wreckage of one of the attacking ships will be unveiled after being fully preserved / restored and donated to the town.

Posted by Eric at 07:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 05, 2004

CMS fun

I have an upcoming project that will require a CMS system (as opposed to an extended blog system like MT or Wordpress.) Some of the functions I could get away with a creative use of MT to make it work, and I will continue to look at that as an option, but I am also checking the “full featured” open source CMS solutions as well. What I’m looking for is:

  1. output XHTML/CSS
  2. granular user/group rights control (guests, users, authors, publishers, admins) based on site sections
  3. easy to use backend for authors and publishers who would have little computer expertise, or no desire to learn another interface
  4. built in text area editor or simple plain text filter that outputs valid XHTML, smart quotes and doesn’t mangle UTF-8 characters
  5. MySQL based
  6. friendly URIs, preferably built in, but at least with a scheme that allows fairly easy mod_rewrite rules
  7. not a complete pig on server resources

There are other things I am looking for of course, but those are some of the bigger stumbling blocks I am seeing with other systems available right now…

So far phpWCMS is out because of it’s backend and user/group management mainly. I really like this system for the most part, and if this site was going to be all techies using it… but the site in question needs to be as simple as possible for authors and section administrators. The backend is not bad for a tech/geek, but for a non-geek author — it requires multiple screens to input an article, which for some of the contributors could be confusing and unwieldy. It also does not appear to have the ability to define groups of users and assign them rights on a per site section basis. On the plus side, while it does not generate clean XHTML out of the “box”, with only about an hour’s playing I was able to re-build the site layout with XHTML and CSS , no tables and list item menus and get it to look good and validate. With it’s built in editor / filters though I am not confident it would stay valid XHTML.

Next up? phpWebSite, but maybe I should start looking at Drupal, or maybe just go back to MT3 with multiple blogs as the CMS especially since many of the sections will be news or blog based anyways.

Posted by Eric at 08:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 02, 2004

Got My Vote!

Since there has been virtually no real policy/issues talk from any of the contestants, Jeremy over at Antipixel gets my vote right now based solely on his proposed policy against noise pollution.

“Punishments will be strict: your age in solitary confinement, listening to a perpetual 13-second loop of your infringing muffler alteration.”

The only drawback to living in Mystic is the noise. Not all the time mind you, but often enough a group of Harley riders come through town. They are nice enough folk, and their bikes are beautiful, but they are loud. Louder than the trains, louder even than a pair of A-10’s flying at 100ft. Especially when they open up the throttle in low gear to get up the hill leading out of town. Then there is the noise of them leaving (en mass) one of the bars or a restaurant at 2am.

I have to admit, when I was a teenager I rebuilt a ‘66 Mustang and eventually souped it up and put glasspacks on it. So I was guilty of excess noise, but at least when I did it I was a teenager without the benifit of good judgement.

I would love for downtown Mystic to become a “no motorized vehicle zone”, much like the walkplatz found in many European towns. The only vehicles allowed downtown would be emergency, utility/maintenance and delivery vehicles. It will never happen of course, then again in about two weeks we’ll have that for 4 days during the Outdoor Art Festival. Water, Holmes, Church and Main streets (including the bridge) will all be closed off to vehicle traffic, and while we will have many thousands of visitors during those days, it will be amazingly peaceful and quiet.

Maybe we could just get everyone into a Tzero or related vehicle…almost completely silent.

Posted by Eric at 03:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack