Another Feminist Funko! My Custom Ida B. Wells POP

Mary_Garrity_-_Ida_B._Wells-Barnett_-_Google_Art_Project_-_restoration_cropI’d heard of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, but didn’t know much about her until a 2018 ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ podcast. Since then, everything I learn about this woman ~ born enslaved, emancipated then orphaned with younger siblings to care for, a teacher, an investigative journalist and newspaper publisher, anti-lynching activist, suffragist, civil rights pioneer ~ leaves me in awe. Any one of those is enough for a single lifetime, and she was ALL of them.

The more I’ve learned, the more I had to add Wells to my feminist Funko collection. (I still don’t understand why Funko hasn’t added black women to their American History line. Ok, I do understand, it’s the misogyny and the racism, but imagine how Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells POPs would completely change the narrative around Funko. Free marketing advice!)

For inspiration, I looked at a number of pictures, but mostly the Mary Garrity photo of Wells from c. 1893. I knew I’d need to recreate Wells’ iconic hairstyle and wanted an outfit as similar as possible to an old fashioned long dress / gown. My donor POP selections were Black Panther’s Nakia (left) and Mary Poppins (right).

My first plan was to make a mold of Nakia’s hair and use that to shape air-dry paper clay matching Wells’ upswept hair do. But that didn’t work out because, 1) mold making is not as easy as it looks and 2) when the POP is actually out of the box, you can tell Nakia’s hair is pretty curly ~ Wells’ photographed hair style is not.

Instead, I winged it, building up the paper clay in thick layers until I got a good height, adding the bun and then creating brushed texture by pressing a wet terry washcloth into the clay. After waiting about a week to make sure it was really dry… LOOK AT HOW FREAKIN’ GOOD IT TURNED OUT!

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Screw being modest. I ROCKED THIS HEAD SCULPT! Less well done, but still pretty good, was the teeny-tiny paper clay bow I added to the front of the dress’ neckline for additional dimension and color.

Speaking of color, I think I was unduly influenced by all the 19th century photographs of Wells. There’s no real way to match her skin tone from a black and white photo, so I custom mixed a brown that felt right. I’m also not sure the about the dress colors. On Michelle Duster’s new book, Ida B. Wells The Queen, the image of Wells is wearing pinks and oranges. But I don’t have pinks or orange paints in my stash right now and bright colors seem anachronistic, even if they aren’t. People today have a warped view of historic colors ~ Greek sculptures were brightly painted, not white! Victorian decor was actually so gaudy the green color literally killed people! ~ but, ultimately, I’m happy with the black and grey gown I ended up with.

Ida_1

(It may be silly, but I imagine this was Wells right before the conductor dragged her off of the train after she refused to give up her seat in 1884 ~ it’s an “Are you kidding me with this shit?” kind of pose.)

Ida_Triptych


After I tweeted about finishing this POP, Wells-Barnett’s great-granddaughter responded! She thought it was very cute and linked me to the family-run Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation that continues to honor the Wells legacy today. If you like my work creating this Ida B. Wells Funko POP, and can afford to, please make a donation to the Foundation. Thank you!

Even Penguins Are Fed Up

IMG_2461For a person who doesn’t particularly *like* birds, I seem strangely drawn to birds. I have to visit the flamingos at every zoo, chickadees make me melt, chickens have long been part of my home decor, the best photo I’ve ever taken in my life was of a pelican (seriously, look at that photo… the pelican’s so perfect it seems fake, but I was within 5 feet of it as it landed on that pier!) But, for no reason I can pin down, the birds I love the most are penguins. 

Which means I’ve always wanted to make a penguin quilt.

I spent years searching for the perfect black, white and red penguin fabric. Turns out, that’s not a very popular color combo for penguin fabrics. Black, white and blue is, not surprisingly, much more common. 

Once I realized that blue was going to be the accent color, an idea began to gel. I could mix some climate craftivism into my longed-for penguin quilt! Which is how I ended up with welcoming these protesting penguins into the world of Whimzie Quiltz ~

ProtestingPeguins_2PROTESTING PENGUINS by Whimzie Quiltz and More
Completed January 2021
Elizabeth Hartman’s Penguin Party Blocks; WQ Design
61″ x 66″
Personal Collection

Another quarantine quilt, the majority of the fabrics for this one were from my stash. It’s a bit hard to tell in the photo (why can’t the all be as good as that pelican pic?!?) but each penguin face is pieced from a different black-on-black fabric; each penguin body is a icy blue I had on hand, too. I did have to buy an additional yard of the funky black and white dot that I used for the background ~ that, and the backing fabric (the chubby blue penguin fabric in the photo below), were purchased online (staying home, staying safe!)

All the ‘SAVE THE ICE BERGS’ letters were machine appliquéd and I machine embroidered the four black and white protest signs, too. Global Warming Isn’t Cool, Climate Change Is Real, and Melt Hearts Not Habitats were all real signs I found when researching climate protests, but Less Carbon More Quilts is one I came up with myself. It’s my favorite 😀

Penguin2

After the massive amount of quilting I did on the quilt before this one I wanted something simpler (and easier) for this quilt. This wavy edge-to-edge stitch, broken up every 6 inches with a stylized snowflake, was the perfect choice. The whole quilt was finished after only 2 afternoons on the longarm! I worried that the appliqué and embroidery would make this quilt stiff, but with the free-flowing quilt design it’s one of the more soft and cuddly quilts I’ve ever done.

I’m actually glad I never found a black, white and red penguin fabric. Given my inexplicable obsession with these birds, I’m sure I would have loved any penguin quilt, but this one ended up extra meaningful. After all ~ and I’m not saying this just because I’m a quilter ~ think of how much less energy the world would use if each of us curled up safe and warm with a quilt instead of turning up the thermostat.

Less Carbon. More Quilts. Those protesting penguins definitely have the right idea!

Custom Kamala POP ~ Happy Inauguration Day!

Today is 1/20/2021 and yesterday was the last day that a woman has never been Vice President of the United States.

I’m celebrating the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by adding this custom POP to my collection of feminist Funkos ~ help me welcome Campaigning Kamala!

kamalafunko

To be fair, she’s not quite done. I’m not completely happy with her hair color, but this is the darkest brown I had in my paint stash. I can’t shop for more because of COVID times and mixing these inexpensive acrylic paints is dicey, but I might give it a try anyway before applying a final matte spray to protect all this hard work.

Campaigning Kamala is pieced together from 2 different POPs. Her head is from Vers (Captain Marvel) while her body is from Eve Moneypenny (Bond movie franchise).

Most of the changes to the head are paint ~ skin color, hair color, eyebrows etc. ~ although I had to fashion a new neck attachment from balsa wood because Vers turned out to be one of those bobblehead Funkos (shaking my fist at Marvel for making my creative life so hard.)

kamala-harris-converse-chuck-taylor-sneakers-289033-1603235458298-image.700x0cThe Moneypenny body, though, required actual alterations. This 2020 photo by Octavio Jones of Kamala on the campaign trail was my inspiration. The jacket Kamala has on in the photo does not have breast pockets, so I had to carve those off the Moneypenny doll with an Exacto knife. Moneypenny’s cropped pants didn’t quite work, either, so I carved the bottom edge slightly so that I could extend Kamala’s black jeans further down towards her Chuck Taylors. After sanding and painting both of these spots, you can barely tell there used to be something there.

The gun in the original doll’s hand had to go, too. While I was able to slice it off fairly easily, I did have to drill a small hole in the remaining hand for the microphone (which was made from a ball of air-dry clay and a toothpick and glued in place.)

I still hope that Funko releases an official Kamala Harris POP. The first female, first Black, first Jamaican-heritage and first South Asian-heritage Vice President deserves to be immortalized in tiny vinyl doll form! (She deserves a lot more than that, of course, but this is my thing, people. Let me have this.)

In the meantime, I’m excited to include this Campaigning Kamala POP to my Feminist Funko collection and adding my voice to those offering her well wishes as she takes office. Congratulations Vice President Harris!

Where’s My Pot of Gold?

One of the coping mechanisms I’ve been using to survive 10 months of quarantine is seeking out color. I ❤ highly saturated, vivid intense colors and I always have ~ the walls in my childhood bedroom were painted a yellow as bright as the sun! So when I saw Ara Jane Olufson’s High Volume ¾ Log Cabin, I knew now was the time to make one of my own.

somewhere_full copySOMEWHERE by Whimzie Quiltz and More
Completed January 2021
¾ Log Cabin Blocks designed by Are Jane Olufson
60″ x 72″
Personal Collection

You’d think that this would have been a fairly easy quilt, right? The blocks are pretty big, there aren’t that many seams, and, as a quarantine quilt, I was working primarily from fabrics already in my stash. But the problems started right away…

Problem #1 ~ 

I did not realize that my sewing machine’s ¼-seam foot – which I’ve been using for 20+ years, thank you Janome! – was on it’s last legs. In fact, it broke completely before I was done. Fortunately, the new one I ordered arrived pretty quickly, and that original little warrior now has a place of honor in my sewing room as a thank you for it’s service.

Problem #2 ~

The worn ¼-seam foot meant most of the blocks ended up not being true to size (you can still see the wobbly seams where I eased them together if you look closely.)

Problem #3 ~baptist-fan

Originally, I was going to use Baptist Fan quilting rulers to reinforce the rainbow idea (see right). After the second time I got my hand caught under the longarm while holding the ruler and had to wrench my bleeding fingers loose while screaming, I decided Baptist Fans weren’t the best choice.

Problems #4, 5, ~

Instead, I went with pebble quilting, using different threads to match each section. However, I didn’t have thread in all the colors of the fabric and had to purchase additional spools. Also, pebble quilting is extremely thread intensive, so I had to purchase more of even those colors I did have on hand. I ended up ordering new thread 3 times for this quilt. 

Problem #6 ~

Finally, not all the threads I needed came in the same weight, so I had to adjust the tension every single time I changed colors! I’ll be honest, I didn’t always get it right, so some of the stitching on the back is appallingly bad in places.

somewhere_stitching copy

Despite everything, this quilt (and I) persevered! And while, SOMEWHERE is not going to end up a cuddle quilt because the stitching is so incredibly dense, it will definitely still be loved. I’m adding a hanging sleeve and it’ll become one of the wall quilts I change out whenever the mood strikes.

It will be perfect for those times when some color is needed around here but I don’t feel up to painting all our walls yellow. 😀

‘That Little Girl Was Me’ Pillow

I’ve been creating like crazy since the first of the year… then Trump’s coup started on Wednesday and EVERYTHING stopped while I watched in horror. After too little sleep and too much Twitter scrolling, I needed some self care on Thursday. So yesterday afternoon, I paused as much as I could and finished this ‘That Little Girl Was Me‘ pillow.

KamalaPillow

You may have seen this image going around the Internet right after the US election in November. It’s based off a famous Norman Rockwell Civil Rights-era print, but revised to show Kamala Harris walking next to the shadow of Ruby Bridges as Ruby starts her first day of integrated schooling. The modern work, called That Little Girl Was Me, was designed by Bria Goeller for Good Trubble (read more about it here).

Good Trubble/WTF America sells it as both a print and on t-shirts. I’m rapidly running out of wall space here at home, but, as a quilter, I always have more space for pillows! So I purchased a shirt and added one of my favorite scrappy fabric borders in black.

Some prep work, like cutting the black scraps, was done while waiting for the t-shirt to ship, which really helped in terms of getting everything finished in one afternoon and evening (while, I won’t lie, frequently taking breaks to read more tweets.) If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that when you focus on making something happen, even when everything is falling apart around you, things can happen pretty quickly.

Which is my quilty way of saying “Hey, Congress ~ get off your asses and impeach / remove that motherfucker NOW!

Celebrating Catmas Isn’t Always Easy

This may be the silliest WINQ (When I‘m Not Quilting) project I’ve ever done.

The two previous cats who owned me pretty typically liked to play with Christmas tree ornaments. Solving that during the holidays is easy – just don’t place ornaments on the bottom branches within reach of paws.

Current cat, though, has a plastic fetish and likes to munch on the actual tree branches. So we started with a plain little fence, but then she learned to poke her tiny nose through the bars!

CatFence1

Yesterday, I added some foam core kittens to front of the barrier. It’s not quite the look I was going for, but I think we’ve managed to outsmart her for now.

Foam core cat fence in front of Christmas Tree


Just FYI in case you are worried about the multicolor lights wrapped around the foam core – electric cords are not a problem for her as long as the plastic hazard tags are removed. She’s obsessed with chewing flat plastic, not plastic in general. I can’t explain any of it.

Avocado Giftmas Exchange 2020

Star Trek: Deep Space Mine quiltBack when I was working on my Star Trek: Deep Space Mine quilt, I Googled ideas for the characters outfits and came across an online thread that discussed in detail the costume choices in each DS9 episode.

That thread was hosted on The Avocado, which I’ve come to learn is something like a MMO blog / message board / online community all wrapped up in one “indie pop culture website”. The topics covered are vast – from the DS9 costumes that originally lured me in to everyone’s pets, from daily politics to new and vintage TV – and everyone who participates is both brilliantly funny and amazingly supportive 😀 

I lurked about for quite a while, but have started participating at least a little every day. (I’d especially recommend the Creative Endeavors thread where Avocados can share professional or amateur arts and crafts projects every Tuesday morning. Lots of photographers, writers and even another quilter besides me!)

Anyway, when the call went out for the 5th Annual Avocado Giftmas** gift exchange, I was hesitant because I was still pretty new to the site. But newbies were specifically encouraged to join in, so I eventually decided to participate… AND I’M SO GLAD I DID!

After providing a little information about myself, I received a profile of my “giftee” in return. I, of course, said I was quilter and crafter, included some favorite TV shows and mentioned my interest in feminist Funkos and racial justice. My giftee’s interests leaned towards Star Wars, Marvel, 70s guitar rock and electric guitars. See if you can figure out who got what here ~

You might notice I got TWO pins from the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Since you are supposed to remain anonymous until the day of the exchange, when the first pin arrived in the mail without any other info, I assumed it was a thank you from SJSA for a donation I’d made earlier this year. In the meantime, the Giftmas organizer was helping my gifter track down my package ~ since we thought it hadn’t arrived ~ and ended up having a second pin sent. It wasn’t until that pin arrived that I realized what had happened!

I felt terrible for making my gifter worry, but that they were able to pick a gift that so perfectly matched me that I didn’t even realize it was a gift continues to make me giggle. And I’ve since learned they aren’t even a quilter themselves! That’s some high quality gift-picking!

My giftee seemed pretty pleased, as well. I included some Star Trek guitar picks from ActionMannys in addition to the pillow, so I was doubly worried about mashing-up two likes into one.  But everything seemed to work out ~ they really liked the avocado-themed card, said the picks were awesome and the pillow was ‘tremendous’!

I could not be having more fun. I’ve been on the main Giftmas and the Gifter Reveal Thyself threads all day, just having the best time. Everyone gave and got such clever, insightful, thoughtful gifts that it’s been like a never-ending Christmas morning with a family that numbers in the hundreds. I’m just so glad I did Giftmas, so glad I’ve found this community and so glad that someone else got that “guitar Solo” pun. 😀

I can’t wait until Giftmas 2021!


**Giftmas celebrates The Avocado’s annual start date in early December.

#ShopSmall

small-business-saturday

It’s Small Business Saturday, so I’m showing some ❤️ for my favorite small *creative* businesses ~

Rosie’s Calico Cupboard :: the best fabric store in all of San Diego (and maybe the world?) Offering one-on-one appointments and mail order during the time of COVID

The Invisible Chef :: local to San Diego and hungry? You’ll find it everything to satiate here, with catering, cooking classes and custom designed personal chef menus (personal favorite, anything with her coconut rice!)

Tribble Orphanarium :: Tribbles for adoption plus Trekkie swag for your cozy nerd cave! She just added cat nip tribbles for furry fans of Star Trek but I crush on her dinosaurs-as-Trek-characters stickers

Urban Threads :: One of my favorite sources for unique and awesome embroidery designs ~ if you see a super clever, super cute embroidery on one of my pieces, it probably comes from here

Raven Bookstore :: 20 years after I moved away, I rediscovered my hometown bookstore this year ~ oh, how I’ve missed them! Check out their #antiracist Black Power Reading List and say hi to the shop cat, Dashiell

Hunters Design Studio :: Some of the best quilt-y patterns, books and merch on the web. You’re going to especially love her word quilts because, trust me, she’s got a lot to say!

STARtorialist :: a curated collection of space- and science-themed products, supporting independent designers AND contributing to STEM education and outreach at the same time

WTFAmerica :: If you’ve seen the Ruby Bridges / Kamala Harris mash-up going around social media, this is the place to buy prints and shirts with that iconic image


I’m always looking for new and interesting places to support, so please leave your own small *creative* business or your favorite local shop in the comments! Thanks and warmest wishes!

Making Epic Shit

I’ve always wanted a catchphrase. Don’t really know why, except that people (or, more accurately, TV characters) who have one seem cool. Anyways… I think I’ve finally found words I want to live by, a motto to guide my actions now and in the future, the catchphrase I’ll be using from here on ~ 

create the things you wish existed; create the world you wish existed

Of course, as a quilter, I wanted to integrate this newfound purpose into my art right away, which has resulted in my latest quilt, Profanity & Fabric.

Profanity & Fabric quilt by Whimzie Quiltz and More

PROFANITY & FABRIC by Whimzie Quiltz and More 
Completed November 2020
Word Play Letters/Funky Sawtooth Stars
70” x 79”
Personal Collection

This quilt was born out of the 2020 quarantine. When lockdown first started in March and I could no longer shop for fabric in person, I started thinking about what I could do with my existing stash of fabric. In addition, I felt a strong desire to work with a brash, bright color in the face of all the uncertainty. And there is certainly nothing uncertain about that red!

Being shut in with nothing else to do was freeing in a way, as well – it’s a contradiction, I know! But I wanted to experience something new, wild, and different even though confined to my quilt studio. Which led me to Gwen Marston’s concept of liberated quiltmaking and Tonya Ricucci’s Word Play Quilts. Immersing myself in this improvisational technique was the perfect antidote for all the crazy, mixed-up feelings I was having (we were ALL having those feelings, right? Please tell me I wasn’t alone in that!)

Profanity & Fabric was also heavily influenced by the work of completely cauchy, whose quilt blog I started following after seeing her communal art project, the “Give A F*ck Quilt,” on Pinterest. (There is quite the story re: her quilt; I urge you to experience it yourself by clicking that link… go ahead, I’ll wait.) 

Give a F*ck Quilt by completely cauchy, et al

Give a F*ck Quilt by completely cauchy, et al

In any case, all these constraints and all this inspiration swirling around me last March finally came together in saturated beauty! 

Profanity & Fabric quilt as photographed in the wild

Profanity & Fabric quilt as photographed in the wild

I had to put the quilt top aside to focus on smaller quilted items for my Whimzie Quiltz Etsy store (*shameless plug alert* click through to see what wonders I have for sale there) so I wasn’t able to start the quilting on this project until November. Lucky for me, though, the pandemic is still raging ~ thanks, useless Trump administration ~ and I’m still stuck inside 8 months later.

I chose a pantograph, a repeating design sewn in a continuous line from one side of the quilt to the other, called Sparkler for the quilting (as you can see below, Sparkler was designed by Dawna Sanders.)

Sparkler pantograph by Dawna Sanders

Sparkler pantograph by Dawna Sanders

I don’t have a computerized longarm and I’m terrible at using a laser guide, so I usually hand draw the panto on sheets of thin paper (golden paper for quilt nerds) and sew over that using rulers. Which, in this case, worked out AMAZING! 

back of Profanity & Fabric quilt, with quilting

showing off that Sparkler panto on the quilt backing fabric

As I said, all the fabrics for the quilt top were from my stash and I even had enough of a fun orange fabric to piece together for the back. The only fabric purchased new for this quilt was the binding. And, well, I had to buy that, you see. I was haphazardly scrolling fabric Etsy when I came upon this – 

Spring Fling fabric swatch by EPIC fabrics

fabric swatch by EPIC Fabrics ~ yes you read that right, EPIC Fabrics!

Not only was the color scheme and design a perfect match for this quilt, but the fabric company is called EPIC. How could I not include some EPIC fabric in a quilt that shouts “Make Epic Shit”?

I’ve got more quarantine quilts to share coming, hopefully soon now that I have more time on my hands and my Etsy store is filled up with holiday merch (you did check it out, right? I don’t want to plug it repeatedly for no reason). But Profanity & Fabric will always have a special place in my quilt-y heart, especially as I continue to MAKE EPIC SHIT while creating the things I wish existed!


Fun fact about this quilt ~

I put the sections together from the bottom up and, at one point, my design wall weirdly read “you wish shit existed”!