Carpe diem…

My four day weekends have been reinstated, so there will be a little bit more crafting and other sorts of making posts on my blog, again. Yippee! I really missed my half-week of personal space.

stalking and stalking

I got up bright and early this morning, limped into the kitchen (the boat is still careened against the side of the Dinah Beach Yacht Club’s wharf, though I have gotten used to walking on a slope and feeling as though one leg is a foot shorter than the other) and made a cup of precariously tilting coffee. The tide was out and a few feet away from the back platform there was this egret stalking finger-sized fish in the shallows. It was an unusual point of view, for me, because we are rarely high-and-dry on a mud flat (thank god!) so I just had to take a picture. Bear with these occasional humdrum nature shots.

Later in the day I did the prep work for a new embroidery. There’s a Members’ Show coming up at Tactile Arts (that’s our local Craft Council Center) in November, and the theme is “Text”. No idea what I will finally put into the show, but I really want to use stitch and thought I’d get warmed to the theme by making an inspirational banner.

The fabric—some kind of valance— is the sister piece of the embroidery, Morir es descansar, and I found the pair at a Red Cross op-shop many years ago:

For the second piece I am using a variation on the imperative “Carpe diem.” So here’s the process I used to transfer the letters to the fabric…and it was much quicker this time than the last valance I embroidered! I flipped the words and then printed them out on regular printer paper. Trimmed around the words, and then roughly basted the pieces of paper to the wrong side of the valance.

I taped the valance to a window, with the paper pieces towards the glass, and drew what I could see of the design onto the fabric using a soft colored pencil (Derwent Inktense, in this case)

Here’s how the design looked after I removed the basting threads and the printed paper words. Because Derwent Inktense is water-soluble, I’m going to have to be very careful when I stitch the letters not to get my sweaty hands all over the drawing and smudge it. I wonder if a spray fixative would work on this the way it works on paper? I might try that, though I don’t want to stiffen the fabric surface, so I’ll test the spray on some other fabric, first. So far so good…

But there has to be a “and then I fucked it all up” part to every process, doesn’t there?

Here’s mine. And then I fucked it all up by trying to use dimensional paint on the first letter (was going to do the whole sentence, but after I saw what I had done on the ‘C’ I dropped the plan). My reasoning? The raised paint would save me from having to do all the padding of my satin stitches by hand, with needle and thread. Also thought maybe the copper coloring would give added interest when stitched over with satin stitches. AND I don’t know why, but metallic dimensional paint always seems like a good idea to me…it’s like I’m dying to use the stuff, but it never turns out the way I’d hoped. You’d think I would learn after a few spectacular failures, but I haven’t. I keep trying to fit this paint into projects.

Not ruined, I can fix it, but now I’m going to have to work harder at covering this mess up with very close, even, careful stitches. Gah.

Ich bin ein idiot, sometimes.


9 thoughts on “Carpe diem…

  1. “Carpe Diem” always makes me think of this quote from “The Anthologist” (a lovely book, btw):

    “‘Carpe diem’ doesn’t mean seize the day–it means something gentler and more sensible. ‘Carpe diem’ means pluck the day. Carpe, pluck. Seize the day would be “cape diem,” if my school Latin serves. No R. Very different piece of advice. What Horace had in mind was that you should gently pull on the day’s stem, as if it were, say, a wildflower or an olive, holding it with all the practiced care of your thumb and the side of your finger, which knows how to not crush easily crushed things–so that the day’s stalk or stem undergoes increasing tension and draws to a thinness, and a tightness, and then snaps softly away at its weakest point, perhaps leaking a little milky sap, and the flower, or the fruit, is released in your hand. Pluck the cranberry or blueberry of the day tenderly free without damaging it, is what Horace meant–pick the day, harvest the day, reap the day, mow the day, forage the day. Don’t freaking grab the day in your fist like a burger at a fairground and take a big chomping bite out of it. That’s not the kind of man that Horace was.”

    I love your work, btw. I’ve been reading your blog for ages.


    1. LOL That’s beautiful, Andrea, though you’ve killed my project (I was hiding the whole phrase, which is actually quite aggressive and contains an ‘expletive’) and now I feel crude, but I will continue because it made me laugh when I saw it (somewhere on the internet) and I’m hoping it will get a chuckle from other (non-prudish) people. 🙂 Thank you for sharing, must hunt that book and writer down, now.
      xx Nat


      1. Oh, I doubt I’ve killed it–I think I know the quote you’re using and I’m sure it will turn out great. You’re very welcome. I really loved the book; it is not a page-turner but I found it gripping just the same.

        (I read today’s post too. I work in the environmental/climate change field, and I spend a lot of time where you are right now. I don’t want to seem to be forcing a discussion where you’ve made it clear you don’t want one, but I just want to say that I understand.)


  2. Personally, I think it will be lovely. I can’t believe you do all this embroidery by hand! I have an on-line shop and sew. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve screwed something up and either have to start over or find a way to fix it. But, in the end I agree, we all learn something from out mistakes even if it takes 10 times to finally “get it”!


    1. Funny, I can’t believe this is all I’ve managed to do! I need an additional 12 hours in a day, I think, it drives me crazy to be so slowed down by everyday life and practical necessities.
      Thanks for all the visits and comments, Kiihele…you’re like my 5th biggest commenter! Your thoughts are cherished. 🙂


  3. Great post, dear! I agree with the ‘then I fucked it all up’ thing. It always happens, always going through a lovely moment, where you feel ‘the flow’ :p, then the ‘fucked it al up’ – stage, then I lot of creativity to solve what you’ve just messed up (and knowledge gathering by experience) and then you have to find that moment of, ‘ok, it’s not completely what I would have liked, but I did all I could’ and: ‘I’ll try again’. Never giving up. Never ending story. How tiring is that but there is no other way to live :D.
    Well, you seem to be very brave, that’s also what makes what you create more interesting to look at or to read about; not looking for that save sight, just experimenting. That is why I find your blog so incredibly more interesting. Uf, bla bla bla. Hope I made it clear anyway. 🙂 Thanks for REALLY sharing.


    1. They say the real trick of creativity is knowing when to stop. Something I really need to work on, as I never know when to stop! 😉 It would be good if there was learning involved, but in the case of metallic dimensional paint, as I said, I keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. I should throw the stuff away. But I can’t bear to throw out anything *shiny*. ha ha ha. Thank you for your lovely response to this post. I have been trying to “tell it like it is” whenever I write, and so I am thrilled that someone notices. Un abrazo fuerte ❤


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s