Peep Toes and Eye Heels

In these dark days of Winter, boredom has driven me to craft:

A year or two ago I had a dream about a high-heeled shoe with an eye on the heel, much like the re-creation above. The heel itself was a unicorn horn. I sketched it upon awakening, and while I no longer remember the dream, I remember the drawing. I recently obtained polymer clay, a glue gun, and plastic eyes, to make these:

I didn’t make the shoes themselves; they are dance shoes I bought used for $5 at the local theater’s annual sale a few years ago. The eyes are plastic, which complicated things; the Fimo clay I shaped around them needs to be baked in an oven to harden, but the plastic would melt, so I had to make aluminum foil dummies. Also, they are life-size, which I think is too small. So I ordered some robust oven-safe 20mm glass irises, which finally arrived today, allowing me to make these:

I bought these shoes online, the red ones new, the brown ones used, both made of plastic and very cheap. I’m still developing my eye-making technique, getting closer to what I want. And when I reach my goal, I’ll…what? Look into mass production? I sure don’t want to spend my days hand-making Fimo shoe eyes, but injection-molded ones might be cool. Then people could hot-glue them to their own shoes, and my work would be done.

 

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The Dress That Looks Like a Tree

14 hours before Winter Solstice, my friend Mike Barkley took these photos of me in the Dress-That-Looks-Like-A-Tree, next to the Tree that looks like the Dress-That-Looks-Like-A-Tree, in the woods at Allerton Park. It was pretty freaking cold, just barely 40°F, and I had pedaled my velomobile 30 miles there in a headwind. We suffered for Art/Fashion!

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Nina Bunjevac’s Tarot

This summer I was surprised by several out-of-the blue, generous gifts. One of them was from illustrator Nina Bunjevac, with whom I communicate occasionally on social media – we have a little Mutual Admiration Society going. She sent me a set of beautiful French tarot cards, which I received last week and promptly stared at for several hours.

Although we share a first name, I promise that doesn’t bias me. Bunjevac’s line art epitomizes what I’ve always thought line art should be. She’s a direct creative heir to one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Virgil Finlay, and maybe a more distant cousin of Gustave Doré. Her lines go all the right ways, in intricate, mesmerizing patterns, without getting “busy.” Meanwhile she has a brilliant sense of overall design, so her drawings satisfy my eyes on both macro and micro views.

On a long bike ride recently, I contemplated animating one of her cards. I chose the Wheel of Fortune, La Roue, because it looked like Nina had already animated the eyes opening and closing, and I wanted to see them blink.

The animation itself is pretty simple, a 16-frame cycle at 12 fps. On the other hand, cutting pieces of illustration out of their backgrounds in GIMP is a time-consuming PITA, but sometimes I just gotta see what it’ll look like.

Speaking of the Tarot, many of its images derive from the Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation). The Wheel card, for example, depicts the 4 Heavenly Beasts or Living Creatures, which are also essentially the Seraphim of Ezekiel. Here’s my version from my stalled Apocalypse project:

It’s stalled because I’m just not feeling apocalyptic right now. The weather’s still decent, and I’m healthy and biking in the beautiful outdoors and getting swell gifts like Nina’s tarot cards. Life is good! Of course, this can and will change; the wheel of fortune keeps on turning. When it does, I’ll be back to animating the End of the World.

An 18-frame version that allows the eyes to rotate in the opposite direction of the rest of the wheel. I added movement to the clouds too.

 

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Protective Bicycle Amulets

Available now at PaleGrayLabs.com.

I originally created these for my bike Titania, but got enough stuff to make extras, because selling merch is what made-up religion is all about. Comes with a signed & dated, hand-stapled, 8-page Velosophical prayer book so you can conduct your own bike exorcisms, call for supernatural help on the road, sing hymns, and more.

With this, I think I’m finally done with this obsessive bike side-project, and can get back to animating the Apocalypse.

 

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Exorcise Bike, Part 2: Velocipe Cycladia

Velocipe Cycladia is the Goddess of bicycles and cyclists.

I had to make her up, because Madonna del Ghisallo just wan’t cutting it: not enough imagery, not enough paraphernalia, and no exorcisms I could find.

My new-to-me bike Titania needs an exorcism. Sometimes, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself, so I am writing it. (On the other hand, if I want bike repair done right, I take it to the shop. That’s the mechanic’s expertise; mine is art and making up new religions.)

Although not before named – or perhaps under many names – Cycladia has appeared with the bicycle almost from its beginnings. Evidence is in numerous vintage posters:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I removed some of these figures from their backgrounds, for possible future use:

But the Lady Liberator, at the top of this post, is my favorite. The bat-winged helmet especially inspires awe. So she will appear again in my next post, accompanying the exorcism prayer I composed today.

 

 

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