Thursday, March 26, 2020

Esoteric Denim Finished!

Alright, with this patch and trim job on the right arm, I am finished. Well, mostly. I need to touch up my maidens on the back, but all patches are attached with only those two needing some extra work now. If I could go out in public, I could wear this in public, but that's in bad form nowadays around here. Here is the right arm:



The edges of the skull/snake/moon emblem are ragged because I had to cut against the grain to trim the patch down to where I wanted it. I'm hoping that what I call the "whip stitch" (which probably means something entirely different to people who actually know what they're talking about) will provide some protection from fraying. It's pretty tight. I sewed parallel to the border, first, all the way around (twice on some stretches), then went over the initial stitches from the inside of the border to the outside, all the way around (twice on most of the edges).

As for the overall product, here are some shots:


Right quarter view


Left quarter view


Awkward back shot that I had to do gymnastics to get. Note absence of toilet in any background. I hate when people do these and catch their john behind them. Gross!


Selfie from the front. This is how you might encounter me once the apocalypse is over.


My favorite shot of all - me watching me watching . . . you get the idea . . . looking like I'm praising the moon and stars when in reality I'm only trying to figure out how to make this shot work. Still, I love this photo. Humor me.

And there you have it. A little later than I had hoped, ultimately, but I am rather pleased with the results and am VERY glad I took a month off of social media to get this thing started (after reading an inspiring book). I am planning on getting rid of some of these rivets in the future and replacing them with skull buttons or something because I like skulls (obviously). And I want something alongside that skull that's right under my neck on the back, too. Something small, cool, and esoteric. There is a pair of raven's claw patches (not the Harry Potter kind, incidentally - that's just weird) that I saw that I'm thinking about, but we shall see. And I might so something more on the front, who knows? For right now, the ritual is complete, and I need to banish it by saying that while I found a really good meditative state and great vibe while doing this working, it's all, as they say in Germany, "Quatsch".

Well, you just keep telling yourself that, anyway.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Back to the Back

The Esoteric Denim project, patch phase, is nearing the end. I say "patch phase" because I also plan, in time, to replace the rivets with skull-buttons. That will be down the road after this whole COVID-19 thing is more clear and when I'm not so worried about potential financial issues. Plus, we are very busy at my house with . . . a huge project. Suffice it to say that this project is the biggest thing we've undertaken in many, many years, so it's a time-sucker.

However, with our social calendar being effectively nullified, I've had time to sew. This is where the back is now:



As you can see, the back patches are now all attached. I trimmed the two side patches a little by folding them and ironing them to the same dimensions, then sewing them such that extra fabric on the back of the patch was first wrapped and pulled in toward the patch's underside, then pierced through and sewn into the actual fabric. At the moment, however, are only stitched in place. I need to do a lot of whip-stitching (that's what I'm calling it, anyway) where I will more firmly attach the edge of the patches to the denim and hopefully protect them from fraying, as well. 

Let's have a closer look at those ones, again First, the moon-goddess: 


And, second, the star-sower:


. . . which is one of my favorite patches on the entire jacket.

This leaves only one more patch on the arm to do. But that one is going to take some cutting, as well. I'm feeling pretty confident about my plan for that final patch, though it will, like the side-panels on the back triptych, require a couple of rounds of stitching to be sure it's finished well.

This has, so far, been a therapeutic, meditative project for me. I'm glad I started it during the month of my social media fast. That gave me a good mental head start and kept it from feeling overwhelming. And I would have been finished just in time for Garycon, next week. Now, however, it's turned into virtual Garycon.

I think I'll still wear the esoteric denim while gaming from my desktop anyway. I put in the work, I should enjoy the outfit!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The Three Stigmata of Palmer EldritchThe Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know Dick.

I've read some of his work and enjoyed it. But this was a deep philosophical dive on top of the classic psychological-warping mind games that PKD is famous for. All the tropes are here: a bevy of unlikable characters, each flawed in their own way; a scathing side-wise attack on the supposed values of 1950's America including rank capitalism, political subjugation of colonized peoples (or in this case, the colonizers themselves), and plastic-surgery-enhanced beauty; religious zealotry; and so on. Everything you'd want in a PKD novel is here. I thought I knew Dick. There was more that I just didn't get in my past readings of some of his other works. Really, I don't know Dick.

What really "gets" me about this novel, is that it gets me - right in the heart. PKD is mainly known for challenging readers intellectually by shattering their preconceived notions of reality. There is plenty of that here. In fact, more so, even, than many of his other works. But The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch doesn't rely purely on mind-tweaking to engage the reader. This novel has heart, especially in the chest of the one unlikable person who eventually emerges as the main character, Barney Mayerson. There are moments of genuine emotional pain, a sense of deeply-felt loss, which is rare in science fiction, generally, much more so when one is caught up in the psychedelic gonzo web of a Philip K. Dick novel. Mayerson's past choices and subsequent regrets are absolutely heart-crushing. Atonement is held out as a potential cure for his bad, even cruel decisions, then just as quickly withdrawn as unattainable.

There was such a thing as salvation. But -
Not for everyone.


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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Move on Back

The Esoteric Denim project continues . . . though at a slower pace. Lots of things happening in life, many of them good, that involve a lot of my time. So, I haven't been "on pace" as I was last month. But I can see the finish line. Only three more patches to go!


Here, you can see the leather skull patch I've sewn on (in a decidedly Frankensteinian manner). That patch cause more injuries than the rest of them combined, including having the needle plunge backwards into my finger (meaning: not the sharp side, the threaded side of the needle) in a decidedly uncomfortable manner. It was not pleasant. So, yes, I've made blood sacrifice for this project.

On my "triptych", I had been thinking for weeks about how to get the two "ladies" sewn in. These patches are thinner than the rest and cut with differing border widths, so I had to think about how to get them on without tearing them and somehow make the borders more consistent with each other. Then I thought "Duh - use an iron". With this newfound wisdom, I ironed the edges down to more or less straight lines and more or less consistent borders. I was afraid to cut them down because once you've done that, you've done it. And I was worried about the thin material. Folding the edges under and ironing them down resolves both of these issues. So they're pinned in, ready to go. Now to get sewing on them. Here they are, prepped and ready to go:


Sorry the picture quality isn't as good. We're actually getting some nice sun coming through the windows here in Wisconsin. Hey, don't spoil the end of winter for me, okay?

As far as social media goes, I'm back on twitter, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less than I used to be. And Facebook? What is that even? Don't remember. Don't much care to remember. Good riddance, Zuckers!!!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist's Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets

Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist's Prescription for Lip-Reading PuppetsQuay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist's Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets by Ron Magliozzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Brothers Quay are ageing, and someday, they will be subsumed into the darkness, only to emerge in their memory, their cinematic worlds, their graphic art, and books written about them - along with any residuals contained in the wires and boxes of the intrawebs. I hope to outlive them by many, many years. I also hope to enjoy their legacy that whole time. Not only to enjoy it, but to make something of it, if only in the worlds of roleplaying.

There is a strong element of the weird in the Quay's work, largely because of the presence of life where there should be no life - in hollowed-out puppets, stuffed rabbits, screws, and iron shavings. It's almost as if the trickster gods were granted power to imbue life into whatever they wished to.

On Deciphering the Pharmacist's Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets is a sort of lost scripture dedicated to these twin trickster gods. We learn a bit of their origins, just enough to hint at their moment of apotheosis in art school, standing before a wall of polish movie posters. We learn of their journey through graphic design, their descent into and alongside the artistic works of Bruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, Emma Hauch, Leonora Carrington, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Lech Jankowski, Michel de Ghelderode, and others. We even learn of the nectar of these gods, wines and beers that influenced them and that are hinted at in some of their works.

Two essays begin the work, "The Manic Department Store," by Ron Magliozzi and "Those Who Desire Without End," by Edwin Carels. These are insightful outsider accounts of the influences that propelled the brothers into their dark world and their navigations throughout. Then comes the mythic interview between Heinrycho Holtzmullero and "QQ" - a mystical text akin to Isaiah in its obscurity, yet revealing much that has been hidden. This, along with the dozens of illustrations of the exhibition (a sort of cryptic alphabet?) which gives the book its name, is the heart of the matter, a peek into the brains of the Brother's Quay provided by them, as if they were being interviewed by the long dead "HH". But one must ask, as one should always ask of any of the trickster god's(s') actions - can they be trusted? Are they deceiving us?

Consider me willfully-deceived.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sumer is Icumen In

Indeed, it is. Well, somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere it is. Here in Wisconsin, it is still winter. Plenty of time for sewing!

A brief update - Patch 2 of the left arm is now secured. The patch is from one of my favorite movies, The Wicker Man. I thought it appropriate for the esoteric denim. Those who have seen the movie know why. Those who don't . . . well, you'll have to see it. At this point, the left arm looks like this:


And, since it's not completely clear in the picture, here is what the Wicker Man patch looks like, up close and grimly beautiful:


Again, not the best stitching job, but I don't care. It's mine, and I love it!

Next, I think I will work on that Frank the Bunny patch. That one shouldn't take long. I'll be honest, I'm dreading doing the rest of the cloth patches, as I'm going to need to stitch those tight and thick and trim the edges, which scares me more than just a little. Then again, isn't that the point of the esoteric denim?

Previous entries:

Sew Much to Do

Ouroboros Complete

Back to the Back

Two Stitches Forward, One Stitch Back

Slew Going

Full Frontal

Incidentally, the social media fast is going well. One week left. But I might just very briefly check in on social media, then immediately withdraw until this project is completely done. In fact, I'm toying with the idea of doing this each time I want to tackle a project, just completely shutting off social media until I am done. Or I might do an intermittent fast, going forward. Say, every three months take a month off. I feel like now I am empowered to do that, to make that decision and not regret it. Honestly, I feel stronger for it.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Full Frontal

. . . of the esoteric denim. Can't wait to see what kind of visitors that title brings in . . .

You probably thought I had given up, stopped sewing, huh? WRONG! I still have a week of social-media-fasting (punctuated by the unfortunate fiasco of Garycon registration going horribly, horribly wrong for the third time in four years - I got on Twitter and FB long enough to express my hot displeasure, then up and left), so I'm trying to take advantage of this time as much as possible. Thing is, I actually have a pretty busy social schedule between date night with my wife every Friday, volunteer commitments every Sunday and most Monday nights, D&D every Tuesday night, and MCC once a month, not to mention other gaming one-offs, etc, etc, etc. Yes, I am busy. Hence the need for a break from social media. Socializing, while enjoyable, takes energy away from me. I recharge alone. Thankfully, sewing the esoteric denim has given me some recharging time!

Sew, where are we? (I can't help it - I'm a Dad). since last post, I've learned a few things, the most important of which is: use shorter lengths of thread. I thought that spooling that sucker out to around three feet would ensure that I had lots of thread to work with, postponing the need to re-thread the needle as long as possible. What I found was, with that long of a thread, you are bound (pun intended) to have thread bunch up and tangle, no matter how carefully you work. It's just (wait for it . . .) bound to happen. Something more like 18 inches works better. Much better.

In any case, here is where we are at:



Okay, so it's a little bumpy. meaning that I didn't have the patch stretched out enough to properly have it lay completely flat against the cloth. Frankly, I don't care. The bulging is sort of a cool effect, and if anyone wants to critique it in person, I'll ask them when the last time was that they picked up a sewing needle. Huh, Cinderella?

This next one was a bit tricky, because I didn't want to cover the white edging with black thread, nor did I want to use white thread. Instead of sewing over the border, like I usually do, I sewed within the border. Probably not the best thing for the patch, as there are now more holes inside than I might have if I had gone over the border, but chances are, this patch will still be stuck to this jacket long after I'm dead and gone. I present to you, The Psychonaut:

I love this little guy. Yeah, it's not the most prettily-sewn patch, but it's mine and I sewed it with my own hands. I wouldn't sell this jacket for a thousand dollars - this is my work of wearable collage-art. $5,000? Let's talk. Of course, I'll turn right around, spend the money, and make myself another esoteric denim. Though at least one of the patches I have is now off the market, so far as I can tell, so this thing is unique!

The two new additions, in combination, compose what patches I will be putting on the front of the jacket for the time being, like so:


In case you're wondering, that's a Frida Kahlo puzzle underneath the esoteric denim. Yes, another puzzle. We can't help ourselves at my house.

AND, the other patch I ordered arrived just a few days ago. I'm calling here Luna Philips . . . for obvious reasons:


She will be the right side of my back-triptych, to come. Now I need to go pin her on and get ready to sew the next patch. Soon . . . soon.