January 2011


This is the painting I started the week before Joey was born.  I finally got around to finishing it last weekend.

Here’s how it looked when I last left off:

Going back into it was pretty straightforward, working from back to front:

I spent a lot of time on the drawing for this one.  The perspective is so funny— with the high horizon and the not-quite parallel lines— I felt like the scale of each object had to be just right in order for it to work.  I was a little worried that the people and trucks looked like they were made of legos.  Honestly, the guy in green does sort of look like he’s made of legos in the reference photo.  But overall I am pleased with the brushstrokes in this one.  The objects look like they have a 3-D form, and they also look like dabs of paint on canvas.  That’s the goal anyway.

We recently swapped the two rooms in our apartment so there would be room for Joey’s crib next to our bed.  That means— for a little while anyway— that I have the small room to myself as a studio.  (Or, as David calls it, my romper room.)

The easel the painting is sitting on is new.  I’ve been wanting a new easel for a while.  This one is great— very sturdy, easy to fold up, and tall enough to accommodate large canvases.  While we were at the art supply store I also picked up…

tiny plastic animals.  Love them.  I think I’m going to give them to my lab-mates as rig gods.  You know, to make sure their experiments go well.  There is definitely a level of complexity at which having a god or totem is the best way of ensuring that a machine keeps working.  I have heard, for example, that potters often have gods for their kilns.  I’m not sure where sewing machines fall on that scale.  Anyone out there have a sewing machine charm?  And does it work?


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Black wool motorcycle jacket

At last!  The jacket I started back in November is finished.  This is definitely the best jacket I have made so far, not least because it is the first jacket I made entirely from a commercial pattern (well, except for the pockets) instead of trying to make it up for myself.  But the construction is also much better.

Having grown up in the 80’s I have a mortal fear and loathing of shoulder pads.  I remember ripping the puffy ones out of sweaters every time we got back from the store.  But I’ve finally come around to the idea that a jacket needs shoulder shaping, if not necessarily shoulder padding.  This time I made myself some extra-thin shoulder supports out of two pieces of heavy-weight canvas.

I thought about adding a sleeve head but decided the seam allowances were bulky enough.  I think the result is a nice shoulder line without the dreaded line-backer look.  (Rebecca, what do you think?)

The fabric was a stash rescue.  I ordered this wool knit ages ago for a dress.  When it turned out to be too heavy and stiff for that purpose I consigned it to the giveaway pile.  Then when I started this jacket I kept scouring the internet for a heavy-weight black or gray fabric with some interesting texture…and there it was right in my stash!  The weight turns outs to be perfect for a jacket and the wool is nice and warm.

I really like this pattern (Burda 7424), and may even make it again in the houndstooth wool I had originally planned.  The cropped length gives the false impression that I’m not so short after all, and after taking 2 inches out of the sleeve length, I finally have a jacket with cuffs that fall at the right place.


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On juggling

I never really understood why the practice of going to work when one is the parent of a small child is referred to as “juggling.”

But now I get that both involve dropping things.

Like a full box of pipette tips, for instance.  Or a freshly pumped bottle of breastmilk.  Or an expensive piece of laboratory glassware.

And that is only the concrete objects.  There are also the bazillion small tasks on my to-do list that have somehow fallen off of it without my noticing.  Like writing thank you notes for baby gifts.  Or taking out the trash on the appropriate day.  Or remembering to put said breastmilk in the fridge when I get home and not at 4am when I suddenly remember that it is still in my backpack.

And that is where the metaphor breaks down.  Juggling (to me) implies a small number of equally-sized tasks, calmly and regularly following one another through the air.  But really, it feels more like two flaming torches, and half a dozen stuffed animals, and a stroller and an oscilloscope and an ungodly number of towels, all in various states of constantly falling down.

Oh yes, and a baby.

But despite the nagging feeling that I am not really holding it together, I guess— three weeks in— that I have manged to keep the most important balls in the air.

Namely, data was collected:

And the baby is still alive:

Everything else I figure I can pick up later.


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