Subject Object? Mu.

When we make things, it’s neither about the objects as entities themselves, nor our understanding of their subjective contexts. It’s both, and something other-than-that. We shape our world, our selves, by making things and using things. We embody the objects, and they arise through us.

Can we look at things we make Objectively? Subjectively? Mu.

Just make.

 

The last 2 weeks I:

Made pompoms at The Knot Fibre Festival and wore them to work. The trick to making poms from t-shirting? Before you wind the strips around your pom shape (thanks, Threadbanger!), stretch it – it will curl in at the edges. Note the nice blue pom? Bec made that one. I also made poms to decorate banners for Vulcana Women’s Circus Magnificent Monster show.

Taught people how to use sewing machines. Again, at The Knot Fibre Festival, with Dorothy Walsh. Teaching people how to use their machines, rather than be afraid/ dismissive of them, is a wonderful process. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again (zen zen sew).

Played. I made flying machines at work (my jellyfish made from pipecleaners, pattypans and paper rocked). I also crocheted some more of my scrumble beanie. Anecdotally, I recognise the critical importance of big kids (“adults”) engaging in creative play and recognise the common blocks we all put for for not playing. I still don’t play enough. I’ll be working through this.

Documented lost shoes on Instagram. How people misplace only ONE shoe is fascinating.

Hosted a skateboard event. The new installation at work is Pat Hoffie’s Immaterial Labour (Skatebowl/ Proun Room). The work highlights the juncture between art, space, and post-industrialism. Better yet, people skate on it.

Thought deeply, worked on restoring my machinery and got on with my work.

IMG_20140706_111508 IMG_20140706_112337 IMG_20140706_121920

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This little line is A Big Thing

revision crop

This line is the final revision for the Leviathan last. A sample master last will now be produced, I’ll make the sample boot and put on to someone’s foot for fit testing. This little line is a long, long road.

When I started out in November _2011_ I thought it would be a fairly quick process to have lasts manufactured, boots made and on feet. A few months, six at the most.

Apparently not.

Clear communication with manufacturers is vital, but not the lynchpin to getting a product out. The lynchpin is … Do Not Fucking Give Up.

Rant and rave. Talk to people. Think about where things are going. Worry about finances. But don’t give up. You’ve got an idea, and you will find a hundred ways it doesn’t work before you can take a step forward. Then you’ll find another hundred sucky things. Keep on going. Big Things are made of Small Steps.

I’m so punk I polish my Docs

*starts cassette player with ‘Dirty Boots’/ Sonic Youth*

1990s. Teenage-me, yelling at parental person for daring to polish my Doc Martens. I don’t care for your bourgeoisie standards – I’m going to look nasty and enjoy disturbing delicate sensibilities.

2013. Nowadays-me, keeping my Doc Martens looking fine. I don’t care for what others believe Doc Marten’s should represent (grungy anti-establishment life) – I’m going to do my own thing.

Both views are okay. Both views are punk.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz struck a bass chord in my heart: post-punk is the feeling of being “older and facing the conundrum of growing up and making compromises that their eighteen-year-old selves might hate them for”. Post-punk is how I describe how I feel these days. What happens for us in 2013? We’ve gone through the ‘fuck you’ bit, and although we’re still ‘fuck you’ we’re also ‘I’m gonna do this thing over here where I eat decent food and wash my hair and participate in economic production/ consumption’. It’s hellishly confusing at times. It’s not so much growing up, but growing out – seeing more than just the relationship between myself and my boots, but the relationship between myself, production, consumption, and my boots. A bigger story.

I respect that the materials came from somewhere – the rubber, the leather, the thread, the chemical cements.

I respect that a fair amount of time and skill was needed to produce the boots.

I respect that a fair amount of time was needed to earn monies to pay for the boots.

I’m not going to waste all this effort by treating my boots badly and see them fall apart before my eyes. I value my boots because of their complicated connections and meanings.

So I polish my Docs. I clean them and polish them up every week or so. I also take care of other’s Docs too – my Alan’s work shoes, other boots that come through Damned Soles for restoration. I _don’t_ polish my Docs because That’s What Nice Normal People Do. I polish my Docs because of my ingrained punk ethic – DIY, understanding political power plays underlying everyday actions, walking to the beat of your own drum. I also like working with Docs because they are well constructed. Mending only works when you’ve got something to work with.

These bad girls were purchased from Downes in The Valley. The thick sole indicates they are from an much older production run of Docs.

This Is The Day – the challenge to make a minimalist wardrobe

Catherine came over yesterday to get back into the groove of sewing. She’s pretty talented _and_ also smart enough to ask for help when she knows she’s going to struggle with something. Struggle + anxiety that things aren’t working = more anxiety + often walking away from projects before they are off the ground/ throwing things out a window/ tears. Asking for help is something that takes a long time to learn.

Anyway. We got to talking about why sewing her own clothes is going to become a big part of her year – wanting to wear things that fit curvy lady bodies and wanting quality clothes that meet personal style, quality and colour desires. There are probably more cogs in the mechanism, but my brain has moved on from them onto new ideas. Wear The Shift is going to become the brick and mortar of a Catherine-Friendly-Wardrobe. Fucking tops idea and project.

I’m good with the making of stuff, and over the years have had _fucking tons_ of patterns and fabric, etc etc to make my own gear. I didn’t though. It seems I have issues with doing things for myself, plus I’m self-conscious about my weight gain over the last 7 years and that I have enormous boobs. I feel like a ship’s figurehead. Over the years I’ve decluttered and denied myself down to just a few patterns and a few pieces of fabric (fabric, patterns, and half-finished projects have all gone to good homes, not the bin). It’s a peaceful feeling to be free of so many unfinished projects, a wide open road. I’m mentally at a place where I can finally move on from years of being stuck in the mud.

Catherine and I have made a pact. This year we are going to sew a simple wardrobe for ourselves. No excuses. We have the technology.

Enter The Duffel Bag Project and The Carpet Bag Project. Inspired by Supernatural (Sam and Dean live out of duffel bags, it would seem) and the desire from childhood to run away and join an oriental caravan/ escape in a TARDIS, we are going to build a daily uniform that expands our sense of self, eliminates wastefulness, and will fit into one bag (this bag could be metaphysical).

 

The Carpet Bag Project is a synthesis of ideas.

My skin crawls at over consumption, and I love the freedom provided by making for yourself/ swapping clothes. There is so much more that can be unpacked in this idea, but for me, it’s basically – we don’t need that much stuff in our lives to be happy, and the creation of so much stuff is intrinsically bad. Love what we have, and have what we love.

The zen proverb ‘the best way to control your animals is to put them in a large paddock’. We are over-run with choice these days – not just what to wear, but where to go and what to know. With so many choices, many people have forgotten how to stop and make a true choice for themselves. I need the feelings of boundaries so that I can fully explore the possibilities within and make choices right for me. Not constriction, but the knowledge that each day is only a day, there are only so many hours in a year.  I’m not going to faff around with anything that isn’t meaningful for me.

I’ve a fascination with both material culture studies and the Slow Movement, and how we relate to the objects we use, and more importantly, create.

I really want to steal away in a TARDIS, and need to be able to scoop up my life in one go, throw it in a bag and _run_. I love my non-husband and children, but I can always return to the same point in time.

The idea of ‘dress for the job [read: life] you want’ is fundamental – to show who I am inside by how I dress and the honesty of wearing my heart on my sleeve.

 

The Uniform Project, Project 333 and 6 Items or Less have covered creating minimalist wardrobes and are really interesting reading. I’m going to do things a bit differently, though.

I’m not doing The Uniform Project, as it’s currently on hiatus, and I need to concentrate on building good stuff in my life before I can financially give to others. What I can do, though, freely encourage and support friends.

I’m not doing Project 333, for though it is a good foundation, I want to explore the freedom I have in through making my own clothes, shoes and accessories. With this in mind, 33 items per season is a bit more than I can handle (albeit items can transition from one season to another). I will be keeping track of Project 333 for encouragement.

I’m not doing 6 Items Or Less because I own 6 items or less, and it fucking sucks. I haven’t taken the time or resources to build more scope for myself, and this is something I need to do. That being said, it’s an awesome idea, and I’m looking forward to their 6 Items Or Less experiment site being up and running.

 

I am a post-punk Timelord (my ultimate ‘job’) with a deep love for orientalism and the occult. I do not wear ‘nice’ clothes or a lot of colour. I am also a visual person, and don’t work well from lists of 3 jeans, 3 sweaters, 2 shirts… that shit is boring. I need engagement and visual inspiration.

What I _am_ doing to support Project Carpet Bag –

I’ve created a Pinterest board to help me organize my ideas. I’d sort of started the idea with another board of mine, but I have patterns etc on the new board.

Catherine and I will help each other make body forms (I’ve recently some lost weight so need to make a new one) – this will help us drape to make our own patterns and check the fit of muslins/ pattern blocks we prepare.

Over the next month, I’ll choose my styles and fabrics (online fabric shopping for the win) and make a time sensitive plan. I’m busy and easily distracted, and if I fail to plan I plan to fail. You know it’s true.

I’ll touch base with supportive friends to help me keep going. I’m going to do this.

 

Funny thing, really. Whenever things were changing in my past, and I mean _big_ changes, I always found myself sitting down, staring at the sky and singing ‘This is the day’ by The The. I was doing some research (aka ‘Googling’) this morning about “minimalist wardrobe challenges”, and the background song for The Uniform Project’s film was this song. I also dreamt last night that I went back in time to set my life on a different course. So are big changes coming my way? I think so.

2013_03_This Is The Day

Don’t give up

It’s been a year overdue, but I’ve finally finished Damned Soles’ core product. Getting to this point has been a long road, filled with the usual crappy suspects. Surprisingly, though, the road started in a very small town in far western Queensland. A sand-change took me out there, a change of circumstances brought me back; in between times I realized that if I could thrive in the middle of nowhere I could probably handle Melbourne (Melbourne = shoe making course at RMIT Brunswick). So I moved to Melbourne in 2011, studied, and moved back home to Queensland.

Really, this was it.

Tracking back just a bit further, I’d taken a few short shoe making courses before through TAFTA and Hallelujah (Fortitude Valley). I feel happiest when I am making, and I enjoy making shoes the most. I realized after a time that I should really be focusing on this rather than working in an office/ retail outlet with people I wanted to stab in the eye with forks.

This year I have been working through my ideas for amazing rollerskates, starting with the seed that Roller Derby girls deserved better boots, and now have Leviathan to show. I’ve had so much help along the way – shout outs to the ladies of Skate Salvage, my friends, and lovingly so to Mr Bat, Ms Mu, Katherine, Aaron & Chris.

Damned Soles Leviathan

Most of all, and unapologetically, a shout-out to myself. I’m a very long way from seeing my dream in bricks and mortar (happy people in amazing skates, created in my Australian rollerskate workshop), but I’m rollin’ there. I didn’t give up. Ira Glass’ thoughts on working through early stages of creative growth were pivotal to my studies last year, and in making test boots this year – there is a _long_ period of time between starting something and seeing it come though as you dreamed it would be. Just keep going, work through it.

Sure, Aristotle & Winston Churchill have said similar things, but it’s not what creative people want to hear. Our hearts are on our sleeves, and we don’t want our work to suck. It will, though. Keep going, get clearer at being who you really are. I believe in you and your dreams.

Ira Glass

A difficulty in writing a biography

I love reading blog biographies, but I always feel like a bit of a wanker writing one for myself.  The underside of this is fear that those who know me best will privately disagree, and think that I’m making shit up to sound better.  This, of course, is bollocks.  Those who know me best are loud and vocal, have known me for years, and still love me.  I’m still inclined to turn the task over to others, but I’ll not do that.  At least not this time.

My name is Jen, and I’m a slow thinker. My thoughts, emotions and experiences settle onto paths within unknown countries, far from the direction of consciousness.  I am learning this, and so much more, about myself as I study shoemaking at Melbourne’s RMIT.  My heart belongs in Brisbane, though, and I’ll return there soon with Daughter to my Man and Dog.  Museums and the making of meaning are my professional fields; I’ve always yearned for the Next Big Creative Idea, and 2012 is my year for pursing this through custom fit roller derby boots. Like many people, I have enjoyable hobbies and prickly opinions – why don’t you hang about a while and we’ll talk things through, discussing entrepreneurship and shoemaking along the way.