Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why Chandra's Head Is In The Oven

My friend Debra-Jean recommended that I take a look at Chandra of Head In The Oven who is a crafter that she really liked at the Aqua Book sale.  I emailed her and got some really neat stuff from her so I am going to quote Chandra of her art.  I love when artisans have such a vision and email me their story.   I also completely understand how she explains the contemporary woman.  In my previous life I was far from "domestic" and have received many insulting comments and looks for choosing to raise my own children instead of continue my career.  If you are pro woman then as a woman I can also choose to put my children before a career.  Why does a certain career or schooling show how important of a person you are?  I believe you should work to live...not the other way around.   If I never "work" again then I would be happy.  There are many more important things I can do in this world then make money.  ;)

"The arty/academic/blah-blah precis of what I do is that I am fascinated by the collisions between traditional artifacts and methodologies of domesticity and women's spaces, pushed up against the complex messaging of pop culture, particularly the current nostalgia for pop culture of the 80s.  What does it all mean in a contemporary context, especially to contemporary people's (often uneasy) relationships with domesticity (expressed, concurrently, in the current resurgence of baking/gardening/preserving as socially acceptable activities, and in the continued devaluing of activities and spaces traditionally deemed feminine spheres)? What happens when these artifacts and messages collide, collude?  I find that what emerges is a multi-textual and multi-textiled possibility for subversion, humour, reinterpretation, and transformation.

In normal speak, I find vintage aprons, clean and wash them up, and then hand-stitch 80s pop lyrics onto them.  (Although some lyrics wander into the 90s and even the early 2000s, and some linger from the late 70s).  I have sweet frilly aprons that say "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,"  BBQ aprons that say "My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hon," floral and gingham pieces that say "Whip it good," "She was a fast machine/She kept her motor clean," "All the boys think she's a spy," etc. 

Every one is unique, one of a kind, never to be exactly repeated.  They're all washable in a normal washing machine, and are meant to be used (spills and all).  I call myself "Head in the Oven" because if I actually had to be that kind of traditional domestic creature, live that kind of Ozzie and Harriet life, I would indeed put my head in the oven.  I like irony and sarcasm, I like colours and textures and playfulness, and embroidery is really my only domestic skill.  (Unless you count liberal spraying of Febreeze. I'm quite good at that too).

The aprons are for sale at Sew Dandee in the Village, at the Tara Davis Studio in Nelson, BC, and at whatever craft sale I get out to. I also do pillow cases ("99 dreams I have had/in every one a red balloon,"  "No sleep til Brooklyn!", "This is not my beautiful house!/This is not my beautiful wife!", etc).  I'll do custom orders if people email and ask for something specific (or just ask me to make them something special).  I also occasionally play around with other stuff (a linen Charles and Diana commemorative engagement tea towel, upon which I've embroidered "Liar!" in bright red thread across Charles' face), and do pieces in other needlework mediums (eg,I cross-stitched a 'traditional' Quaker Noah's ark sampler, using traditional hand-dyed threads, and instead of a bible verse, stitched "Save Ferris."  Those pieces are more time-consuming)."

So keep an eye out for Chandra of Head in the Oven at local craft fairs and if you are in Osborne Village make sure to check out her aprons at Sew Dandee.  Sew Dandee really seems to be one of the best places to look for good local artisans' work.

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