Tuesday, August 31, 2010

tuesday's trinkets & treasures: : The Fleet Foxes

Hello again ^_^

So as an added part of the series, I thought I would go with Tuesday. :) It's a pretty chill day for light blogging, as I have so much homework and so many classes to take care of. Tuesday's topics will cover little things that i have fallen in love with, from songs to items of clothing to jewelry to movies to secret places in the park... the list could go on, but I will stop it for now...

My first treasure is of course one of my favorite bands: The Fleet Foxes.

They are coming out with a new album soon, but as you may know, their prior album (self-titled) was a brilliant masterpiece in indie/folk music bliss!!!

The album is an album's album. It's not a bunch of randomly completed songs thrown onto a disc that happened to be released simultaneously: it is a work of art composed from start to finish with the "story" in mind. Perhaps not in the same realm as say, The Wall (a la Pink Floyd), but it still is a comprehensive work, not meant to be taken individually (though the songs are very much still enjoyable in that sense too :)

Sun it rises: from the first moments of this album, the tone is set; it is going to be a folksy, down-to-earth and earthy set of tunes. "Red squirrel in the morning..." The simple banjo & acoustic guitar riffs are reminiscent of family time sitting around a fire while out camping, and the vocals that begin soon enough after are so ethereal that you wonder if you are in heaven -- the down-to-earth quality is silmutaneously held and lost. The electric guitar added in later makes it apparent that the music is modern, without killing the vibe or jarring the simple tune. A great way to start the piece.

White winter hymnal: if you are familiar with this song, you have probably seen the video, which i don't think does this song justice! Starting with the simple tune carried by one voice, soon it turns into the harmonious bliss of three voices. The tambourine segues into the simple tune that is reminiscent of our best winter days, "I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats with scarves of red tied round their throats to keep their little heads from falling in the snow. And I turned round and there you go. And Michael, you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in summertime." It's a simple tune, yet the timpani makes it an adventure waiting to be had - it evokes the images of white snow-covered hills just waiting to be trampled through. The complex harmonies and a cappella voices make it a work truly interesting to the ear without being convoluted, and its simplicity is to be lauded.

Ragged Wood: I really am never going to get away from their harmonies. They ALWAYS blow me away. This song sounds most like a classic folk song to me. The bass riff is simple yet holds a good beat, the percussion is simple and the snare doesn't overpower anything else, and the guitar complements the bass and vocals perfectly. The folksy nature of this song always makes me think of cool fall breezes on the ocean. And deciduous trees. The guitar riff that precedes the bridge the song is so playful, it makes me just want to dance through fall leaves up at my favorite retreat house in Ligonier. When it changes to 6/8 time, it brilliantly waltzes in and out of my consciousness, making it a background thought, which more helps me appreciate the next song...

Tiger mountain peasant song: This song starts in a 6/8 lilt which speaks to the end of Ragged Wood, but seems almost like a happy requiem with the lyrics to "how can the body die?" It's a simple acoustic guitar that accompanies this tune from beginning to end. There are no layers to hide the emotion held in the vocals - they half saunter in a happy tune, half gimp at the sadness in the lyrics.

Quiet Houses: This song, in contrast with the blanched simplicity of the music in the prior song, bears an upbeat melody, and the harmonies presented never cease to fail my whimsical heart. "Lay me down; Don't give in; come to me; lay me down." This song is not about the lyrics but about what the notes can speak to your heart. It speaks as a love song, but not in the typical oozy sense -- it speaks as friends and lovers, like in a park where lines blur between the two, and the grass is a brownish green and the sky a faded blue; like the slightly muted color film from 1-9-7-0, with rounded corners on the bent old photo, and two friends sitting on a blanket at the end of the day, finding they love more than they can say.

He doesn't know why: The strident voices and piano chords open this song, written to what seems a dear old friend or brother. The piano chords are simple throughout the song, the drumbeats adding a sense of drama and regiment. This song is a story, from beginning to end, a letter to a loved one trying to recommend a return to the "original mind." At a major statement, "There's nothing I can do. There's nothing I can say," the music stops all but strict beats from the drums. Not until repeating this statement multiple times do the backup harmony vocals return to have a voice like angels, as if it's truly the end... ... ... but wait! It's not! After a few seconds of silence, a piano starts back up, playing pentatonic chords in a fashion that speaks like the brother's reconciliation, ending on a pleasing and resolved chord.

Heard them stirring: As always, the dear Fleet Foxes begin with a little vocal harmony, then turning to acoustic guitar and electric keys to set the rhythm with a tom drum faithfully hitting every half note beat. No real lyrics ever take place in this song: it is a focus on the musicality of the voices in junction with the instrumentation. A stringed instrument (i believe a mandolin) sounds off at about 1 minute, and adds the flair of an Oriental theme that was not present prior in the album. Finally, it climaxes as a gong is heard, the electric guitar makes its voice heard, and it gently fades out into...

Your protector: this song was the first I heard on this album, and is correspondingly, my favorite. Beginning with a duet of flutes whispering a melancholy melody, this song is practically a picture of the medieval romance. The vocals are added on top, eerie and lamenting, whilst also longingly imploring. The tambourine adds a beat more typical to dance, and the song gently turns to hopeful. The full instrumentation changes the melodic line to cut time, and becomes a full-on jig, proclaiming "as you lay to die beside me, baby on the morning that you came, would you wait for me? the other one would wait for me" It has both a distressed lyric and a hopeful tune that tells me it is of war and truly of death. The song then drastically changes: though still in the cut time that sounds like a jig, it has become dreadfully frightening. They sing in a frightening harmony, "you run with the devil," as if to say that there is no possibly hope of life in a war-torn soldier's heart: he wishes to love and misses his lover, but is torn by the cause of war and fealty to country. The guitar and banjo reek of a western folk song, but it soon changes to a drum and tambourine duet with the vocals blaring that his lover should, "tell your brother to be good; tell your sister not to go; tell your mother not to wait; tell your father i was good." the guitar only making choice statements, until the whole band again returns to proclaim the same chorus as before - the hopeful melody that hopes, indeed, that this poor soldier will get to see his beauty again, "as you lay to die beside me, baby on the morning that you came, would you wait for me? the other one would wait for me..."

Meadowlark: A simple acoustic guitar plays simple arpeggios throughout this song - the vocals a soliloquy over the top of the humble accompaniment. The lyrics, dedicated to a loved one, the "meadowlark" and "hummingbird," evoke images of beautiful songbirds and birds of beauty. He asks this meadowlark to "sing to me," and after, the group adds an accordion to the mix along with a full harmony arrangement to mimic the song of the birds. I envision a farm on a hill, covered in a golden brown thistle, with trees turned all red and golden and brown, birds hopping to and fro...

Blue ridge mountains: some simple guitar chords open the song, with the full harmony capabilities soaring, it would seem, up to the clouds, "lie down with me my dear; under stormy night; tell nobody." This part is as if it is spoken from the perspective of the lover (the"brother" spoken of later ) -- a love found and hidden. As if to jar out a waking dream, a hammered dulcimer springs out a glorious melody, still evoking the folk theme, yet changing the perspective from lover to the brother who is wondering "my brother, where do you intend to go tonight?" the guitar speeds up, opening to a different monologue. The brother is entreating his sibling to spend time with him so that "no one gets worried," and tells him "not to be careless, i'm sure it'll be fine," and finishes by telling him that "i love you, oh brother of mine." The dulcimer evokes autumn better than any other intstrument I know, and this song tells the story of change from fall to winter, as a love story, as it tells the story of a first snow. The deliberate drum beats at the prelude to the climax make the best segue into the vocal harmonies on top of the dulcimer on top of the guitar on top of the piano. The lover tells his brother how, "in the quivering forest where the shivering dog rests, our good grandfather built a wooden nest. And the river got frozen, and the hole got snowed in. And a yellow moon glowed bright 'til the morning light." To end the song rather abruptly, the accompaniment disappears, and the lover reveals his intentions, "even if [she] doesn't mind."

Oliver james: an easy guitar riff and a simple "ooh" open this song, sung almost completely a cappella for the first 43 seconds. A song of a woman finding a child in a cradle on the shore of a river, it speaks the story more through the simple folk tune than accompaniment. His name is "Oliver James," who was "washed in the rain," but "no longer." A story of the beginning of a family, a mother's love for her child, even if adopted. She remembers "when [she] rehearsed the actions of an innocent and anxious mother full of anxious love." The simple guitar speaks to the simplicity of family life, and speaks to the mother's gracious love for her new son, regardless of origins. But when she realizes it was "love for the one you know more," means that it is only for a memory, the phrase becomes "Oliver James, washed in the rain, [is] no longer," and ends in the solitary voices, singing a requiem that should have been a gloria.


So these are honestly just my humble opinions, but if anything, i hope this provokes you to listen to the album (please BUY the album, its FANTASTIC and the Fleet Foxes are BRILLIANT). They are some of my favorite songs for walking around in the autumn months, and always tear at my heartstrings while simultaneously bringing a smile to my face. The use of a variety of instruments, a true knowledge of music and what musicality really means makes the Fleet Foxes a joy to listen to to and a true pleasure for the ears.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

sewer's saturday: making a dressform

Welcome to my new scheduled postings :) hopefully the trite titles and silly pseudonyms will provoke more posting on my part... but we'll see.

This, as you can see, is the first post in the series on "sewer's saturday," posts dedicated to interesting things related to sewing, crafty-crafts, and the like. This means that I will discuss the merits of making my own clothes, thrifting, tailoring, knitting, crocheting, jewelrymaking, etc... I may host a few guests on this part who are more experienced in the different angles of crafty-crafts, as well. :)

So this first Saturday, I wanted to talk a little bit about making my own dressform. Over the summer, I managed to make 3 complete dressforms (which are all, unfortunately, stuck in California because, well, I don't have the money to ship them out here to Pittsburgh.

In the past I have made my dressforms out of:
1 SUPER large t-shirt (preferably used!) (long enough to reach your hips)
2 rolls of duct tape (i love the colored variety :)
bags and bags of old magazines/fabric scraps/newspapers, etc. will also need scissors and one lovely friend to help you.
In the future, I want to instead use paper tape instead of duct tape. Duct tape can be very sticky over time, and that's not good for the fabric. Paper tape (which is used basically like super clean papier-maché) is much cleaner and though not colorful, is much better for the clothes you will make and looks more professional.

So, here are the steps to making an awesome dressform for yourself, out of YOUR OWN body.

1) Put on the shirt over your regular undergarments (and of course a pair of shorts/pants, whathaveyou -- i'm talking just the top here). Don't wear other clothing under the t-shirt, because it will bulk up the form and can create problems when trying to cut off the form.

2) this is where your lovely friend is going to pitch in. (I did 85% of the tape wrapping on my form by myself, which may have been a really intense mistake, but mine turned out okay. In any case, I really don't recommend trying it yourself.) Begin to wrap you up in tape. If you want to do the first layer in duct tape (it's good for under-layers to ensure tightest fit) that's cool. Start at the waist first of all - make one complete wrap of the waist, then the spot right under the bust, then the hips (I hope your shirt is long enough to reach your hips!!)

3) after those 3 major spots, wrap the bust/shoulders. This part is not a horizontal wrap at all. You will pull the tape, in smallish strips first, in a very contoured fashion over the bust, first down from the shoulders to the fullest part of the bust, then from the under-line of the bust to the fullest part. In the back, you will also pull strips in a vertical fashion from the top of the shoulder to the tape spot that delineates (what would be, on the front,) the under-line of the bust. It should look kind of like overalls, basically.

4) Follow the form of the body to tape the remainder of the shoulders and the upper torso. Make sure the tape fits the contours of the body and doesn't fall like a shirt might, blanketing certain parts. You want it to fit like a glove!

5) after the bust/shoulders is done, you may wrap up the rest of the lower torso. Horizontally wrap it! Oh, and make sure you can breathe!!!!

6) after the first layer, basically do the same thing (steps 2-5) once (or if you prefer, twice) again. Use paper tape for the top (2) layer(s).

7) This step you will need scissors (and to stand veeerrrry still!). Your friend will cut you out of the form from the bottom up, in the exact middle of the back. Make sure not to cut any undergarments!!!

8) After the scissors, you will need the paper tape again -- tape up the seam where your friend cut you out so that both sides match up perfectly!

9) begin filling the form with scraps, starting with the armholes. Once the shoulder looks "filled", tape up the armholes with the paper tape. Do the same for the neck hole.

10) fill up the rest of the form with scraps, making sure that it is completely filled. The scraps *may* compress, so be careful not to loosely fill in the form. Make sure it is packed thoroughly!

11) when you get to the bottom, tape up most of the bottom opening except for a space in the middle to fit whatever pole you decide to use! (I just stick my forms on stools for now, I don't have a good pole yet...)

12) voila! a perfect dressform of your own body to use for making your OWN beautiful clothes! And the majority of it is reused/repurposed materials!!

If you have any questions, send them to oathkeeper24 (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, August 27, 2010

i don't know how many times i will have to ask forgiveness from you...

To my dearest followers,

I profusely apologize for my negligence. This is, of course, the 3rd time in the last year that I have apologized for this dreadful occurrence, but I also thought I would let you know that this blog is now in it's second year! I didn't get to celebrate my dear blog's actual birthday, but here, lets celebrate belatedly, shall we?

I will be having another giveaway shortly to celebrate my one year anniversary with "her sweet disposition" and my horribly inconsistent blog postings, but hopefully that will be coming soon!

In other news, I thought I might update you on the major occurrences in my life in the last 2 months since I have been horribly neglectful of my dear readers. This tends towards the narcissistic, but maybe you might want to hear what I have done? (Then again, as I recall discussing with a few friends, sometimes having a blog can seem narcissistic in the first place. And perhaps it is, but what I give is of myself...)

So, in the last 2 months, I have:

...lost my camera, thus resulting in my not being able to take outfit photos with anything but my webcam (lame!)

...celebrated 3 and 4 months with Kyle...

danny and jenn

adam and kim

...been unable to witness 4 sets of my friends get married... :(

John-John, Zachary, Matthew

...finished up my work with the 3 boys that I nanny for back in California... (again, :(

...finished up my work with Pure Fashion, a program run by Regnum Christi (the women's auxiliary of the Legionaries of Christ), and with that...

...finished a complete formal gown for one of my dear friends, Eva...

...worked hard on Second Stitch stuff, including...

...creating many new outfits and items for the show we registered for, in...

...preparing for our Eco-Chic show in Pittsburgh Fashion Week...

...packed myself up major for the last time that I can think of, and....

...moved out to Pittsburgh after a fulfilling and productive summer...

...I am glad to be back in the Burgh... published in Pittsburgh Fashion Magazine, and...

...made friends with the model who was photographed for our line...

...moved into the Citadel of the Immaculata, a Catholic young women's house in Greenfield...

...hosted a kickin' housewarming tea and picnic at the house...

...learned the bus system (for the time being, until new changes are implemented on 9/5...

...bought tickets for a Goo Goo Dolls show in October...

...been back to the Oratory...

...been back to Mass at my favorite place, the Pittsburgh Oratory...

...designed and sewed a lovely little blue clock dress in 2.5 hours the night before classes...

...started my senior year of college (!)...

...gotten our internet finally working...

...and missed blogging terribly while I over-occupied myself in the last two months.

Again, I am terribly sorry for leaving y'all hanging and not really participating in this whole online revelry lately. Life has been very busy and I have not had the time, energy, or resources to make posts. Hopefully I can put together a schedule and make my posts on a much more regular basis.

Thanks for putting up with me... you'll see the interesting things I have planned for the upcoming weeks... :)