More Marita in March

Olympia Dumpster Divers blog was originally started in July 2006 as a way to document Ruby Re-Usable’s HERE TODAY temporary art installation, although lately it seems like all Marita Dingus all the time, but I am sure you don’t mind, because Marita is so inspiring in the fearless way she recombines a myriad of recycled materials to create figures that resonate with cultural, historical, political and environmental issues.  So this month, we  will be posting about Marita once again.

The Gathering by Marita Dingus at Traver Gallery

Marita Dingus’ show “The Gathering” is at Traver Gallery, March 2- April 1, 2017 (more pics HERE and HERE).

“In her mixed media figurative sculptures, Dingus, to communicate her narratives, uses almost exclusively, recovered and found material as the medium for her sculptures, creating harmonious results from shattered pieces and discarded materials.

In her exhibition, Marita Dingus commemorates how humans continue to call upon the spirit world for help and guidance in conducting their affairs, especially in times of elevated threat and uncertainty. This show is inspired by Marita’s love of the nkondi sculptures of the Kongo people, which were used as spiritual enforcers of conflict resolutions. The Gathering represents the duality of people seeking spiritual support outside themselves when in fact the spiritual strength comes from within. Gathering is also a process of passing along to the next generation the skill to draw upon our inner strengths.” via Traver Gallery

This past Saturday Marita invited me to hang out with her and Lynn Di Nino at their wearable art sale at Dan Fear’s art studio in Tacoma, so I brought along my Singer 201k hand crank sewing machine for Marita to try out — she has several electric Singer 201 sewing machines and was skeptical about hand cranks, but was so impressed by the smoothness of the crank, the well-designed case, the portability and the practicality of it (when the power goes out, as it tends to do here in our part of the Pacific Northwest, a hand crank &/or a treadle is a useful sewing machine to have) — she totally fell in love with it and wants one now!

ps Marita introduced me to the glue gun back in 1986; more recently she is one of the people who has sparked my passion for vintage sewing machines.

Marita test sews with Ruby's 201k hand crank sewing machine

Ruby/ODD Is Still Here!

Oh, my, it has been way too long since your trashy friend Ruby Re-Usable has posted anything, not really sure why anymore, but, well, here I am now, ready to start blogging again.

So what have I been up to since the ODD Trash Menagerie entry back in June 2016?  Hmmm, perhaps posting on Ruby Re-Usable’s Facebook artist page or sometimes lost in the rabbit holes of Pinterest and Instagram.  Let’s see, there was the Vintage Sewing Machine event that I organized for the Lacey Library in September 2016, with a dozen old & antique sewing machines for the public to see and try sewing with (including hand-cranks and a treadle), and another Day of  the Dead workshop for Nova Middle School in October, as well as coordinating the 14th annual Duck the Malls Crafts and Art sale benefit for the Olympia Film Society in December.  Spent 2 weeks visiting family & friends in New Jersey and New England in July (which is better and worse than it sounds) and 2 weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii in December (which is as delicious and fragrant and fun as you imagine).  My whole website went down this summer and it took awhile to get back up, and there was the hot water heater fiasco that flooded the basement and created a remodeling project that meant moving around and letting go of a lot of art and art supplies and some sentimental stuff, which took a toll on my creative psyche.

Also, truth be told, acquisition syndrome also took hold, so there has been too much time spent thrift store shopping and searching online for various vintage sewing machines that suddenly seemed so alluring and necessary for the projects that never really materialized because anxiety over things beyond my control metastasized from an ennui into an artistic depression that felt/feels overwhelming.

I did, however, manage to use my herd hoard modest collection of vintage sewing machines for a functional recycled art project: a crazy quilt patchwork duvet cover made from an unwanted aloha shirt via Second-hand Sid, plus fabric scraps from friends and some new material purchased at the local quilting store.  My progress is documented on my Ruby Re-Usable flickr, but here are some of the highlights:

1st block, sewn on a Singer 301
1st block, sewn on a Singer 301
last block, sewn on a Singer 201 hand-crank
last block, sewn on a Singer 201 hand-crank
finished Crazy Quilt duvet cover by Ruby Re-Usable
finished Crazy Quilt duvet cover by Ruby Re-Usable

Well, that is it for this month, hope to post more this year, wish me luck!  Oh, and Happy Year of the Rooster!!


Recycled Art Sewing Machines

Well, the year of sewing projects is off to a slow start; here it is, the end of January, and the only project that I have completed is a small quilted box, made from fabric scraps that I dyed and printed back when I was an art student thirty years ago.  It is pictured here on the left, along with the Singer 212 “Featherweight” sewing machine that it was made on.  Do you see that cute little “Project Runway” pincushion in the foreground?  Our friend Tossa deTrash gave it to me a few years ago, and I thought it was adorable then but now I find it extra fabulous because I finally appreciated that it is a vintage Singer sewing machine (66 or 99 or ??).

Ruby's FW and stuff in studio

So I have reusing, rediscovering, and vintage sewing machines on my mind:

Singer1 by Jennifer Collier
Singer 1 by Jennifer Collier

Jennifer Collier explores the ‘remaking’ of household objects by stitching found and recycled papers. Welcome to her fantastical world, where every exquisite detail is made, folded and manipulated from paper. Once books, maps, envelopes, wallpaper or scrap, the paper is transformed into textural forms. Like cloth it is stitched to construct two or three dimensional objects, decorative and functional: lampshades, cameras, tools and furniture.

Eric Nadeau Exposition2
The Seamstress Series by Eric Nadeau: reconfigured vintage sewing machines      via Peaberry Designs

In dissecting and rebuilding 1865 to 1950 Singer and other-vintage-brands Sewing Machines made of embellished cast iron or colorful metal pieces, Nado pays homage to feminism in the working class. Seamstresses convey a sense of nostalgia woven in our common collective history.

Martin Messier, Sewing Machine Orchestra (Photo : Alexis Bellavance)
Martin Messier, Sewing Machine Orchestra (Photo : Alexis Bellavance)

Martin Messier doesn’t sew : he resuscitates old Singers put asleep years ago in order to release, in some magical ways, the luminous and sonorous presence of the past. He carries his public in a dreamlike universe where each machine, as singular subject, is magnified. After years of silence, Sewing Machine Orchestra is giving speech to these surviving objects of the industrial era. (video HERE)

Who knew vintage sewing machines could inspire such diverse works of art?!


Sew Long to 2015

Singer 201Featherweight
the Singer 201 Featherweight that I found at an estate sale

2015 has turned into “the year that Ruby became a sewing machine hoarder collector.”  It all started when Wanda Wastenot wanted to sew something using my boring old JC Penney sewing machine (a cheap portable machine that someone gave me over 30 years ago — I used it to make quilts and stuff when I was a fiber arts student at the UW, but it was never an inspiring sewing machine) and we discovered that the machine wasn’t working. So then our friend Carl S showed me how to get some of the dust out and give it some oil, which it desperately needed, since it had been sitting, unused and neglected, for quite some time.  Getting that machine to run again made me think about sewing again, which I haven’t really done in quite awhile.  I decided I needed some inspiration, and thought a treadle sewing machine just might do the trick, so I mentioned to Lulu Let-It-Go that I wanted one.  Well, it just so happened that someone had just told Lulu that she had an unwanted treadle sewing machine that she wanted to give away to a deserving artist.  Next thing you know, I was the proud owner of a White Rotary treadle sewing machine that needed some work, including a new belt, to get it running, which is how I met Molly of In Fine Time, who repairs and resells old sewing machines.  She got the treadle going, but I have to confess, I still have not sewn anything on it yet … meanwhile, I started reading about vintage sewing machines and fell in love with the idea of something so old being so solid and well made and useful, and the next thing I know, I have acquired a Singer 66 that was made in 1913 and a Singer 221 Featherweight that was made in 1950, plus a 1960’s Singer Fashion Mate 237 M-A that I thought might come in handy, and, more recently, an older Brother sewing machine that seemed like a good idea.  So many sewing machines — what to sew?! Hopefully 2016 will be the year of sewing projects!

Singer 66
the Singer 66 that I purchased via Craigslist (not the prettiest vintage sewing machine, but very functional — although I really do admire some of the more ornate models and hope to have one someday …)