Fernando the Traveling Flamingo

This is one of my favorite poems featured in Wacky Rhymes. Hope you find it amusing!

Fernando the Traveling Flamingo

fernando

It started a typical early spring day.

I ventured outside just to see—

My beautiful flowers and buds in full bloom

Were trampled upon carelessly.

 

And also to add insult to injury,

I found on that fateful of days

My collection of knick knacks and garden décor

Abandoned in huge disarray.

 

gnomesGnellie and Gnobbs, my two cute garden gnomes,

Were cruelly ground into the dirt.

My prized yellow daffodils lowered their heads—

No more were they perky and pert.

 

 

The hummingbird feeder was robbed of its nectar.

The bird bath was knocked on its side.

My bright pink flamingo was ne’er to be found.

And I was at once mortified.

 

I dug up my gnomes and restored the décor.

Then I set up my garden aright.

Fool vandals had trampled my flowers, I thought

And they stole the pink bird out of spite!

 

But soon, I forgot this unpleasant event.

I continued with my household work.

Occasionally, I’d stop to think of the bird,

But thinking would make me beserk.

 

Then one late spring day as I gathered the mail,

I opened a curious letter.

Enclosed was a picture of my plastic bird,

Dressed in a knitted wool sweater.

fernandosydney

Behind him was the Sydney Opera House.

On the back he inscribed, “Good day, mate!

I’m here in Australia, where it’s bloody cold,

But the cool, five-star lodging’s first rate.

 

“I’m starting my fantastic trip ‘round the world,

And I had to begin here down under.

I’m so glad I thought to vacation here first—

This land’s filled with intrigue and wonder.

 

“Thanks so much for letting me travel abroad,

While you stay close at home and play bingo.

I’ll see you again when my trip here is done.

With Love, From Fernando Flamingo.”

 

I really was taken aback by the letter

Fernando decided to send.

This was more info than my feeble mind

Could ever quite well comprehend.

 

“My bird wasn’t kidnapped,” I said to myself,

In a whisper of utter elation.

“He’s off to discover what lies out beyond.

Fernando is just on vacation!”

 

The next card was postmarked Par Avion from France.

He posed by the Champs Eleysees.

He had a lit cigarette perched on his lips

And sported a cool black beret.

fernandoparis

“I’ve had all the wine I could drink,” ‘Nando wrote,

“All the cheese I could ever devour.

Here’s a snapshot of me at the Arc de Triomphe—

Another at the Eiffel Tower.”

 

 

I soon looked forward to ‘Nando’s postcards.

I wondered where he’d write from next,

I questioned how he could write cards with no hands—

A riddle which left me perplexed.

 

Soon I had piles of these cards from abroad—

Places too numerous to mention.

From the Kremlin, Great Wall, and Tiannenmen Square,

To the Republican National Convention.

 

fernandoTo New York, Bermuda, Haiti and Peru

The Yucatan at Chichen Itzà,

The Vatican, Florence, to Venice and Rome,

With a photo of him eating pizza.

 

 

 

 

My favoritist picture of all that he sent

Was a snapshot of him standing tall

With a flock of flamingos who looked just like him.

Yes, that was my favorite of all.

fernandochile

 

Then one day in autumn, I ventured outside.

My mailbox was empty, bereft.

I looked toward the garden, and there was my bird.

Looking like he’d never left.

 

He stood on one leg, and he said not a word.

A small satchel was tied ‘round his back,

With photos, four quarters and two cigarettes—

Was all that he kept in the sack.

 

fernandoNow each time I pass him to tend to my flowers,

I wonder what Fernando’s thinking.

I hear not a word when I talk to the bird,

But I could swear I’ve seen him winking.

 

Silk Painting Demo

Although I’ve been doing artsy things for a while, I’ve only been a silk painter for the last year and a half. It started with a silk painting class I took at the St. Louis Craft Alliance on Delmar. I was hooked, and I have been silk painting ever since! From my initial classes I have changed many of my methods for doing things, thanks both to the creative exchange I have had with fellow silk painters and to my handyman husband, who has designed many of the more efficient tools I use to paint.

A lot of people have asked me about how I make my scarves, especially when I show them the scarves and they feel the softness of the silk against their cheek. So, I decided to feature a demo of the silk painting process. I apologize in advance for some blurry photos (all of which were taken on my cell phone.)

I made the following scarves using the Serti technique. This is a French technique which allows you to “paint inside the lines,” so to speak. Because traditional silk dyes bleed when you paint them onto silk, one must draw lines to contain the dye using either gutta (which has a latex base) or a water-based resist method, which usually washes out after the dying is complete.

Here, I am making a lilac scarf with a blue background using Jacquard water-based resist, which is heat set and permanent. You’ll notice I alternate between two scarves: one in gold and one in silver. Although I decided I liked the look of the resist, I didn’t like the hand of the silk (it had a plastic feel) when the scarf was done. You could call this a fail, but it works for demo purposes and was certainly a learning experience for me.

Here is the process:

First, the silk must be stretched on a frame. In this demo, I used pine bars covered with duct tape and I pinned the silk at its edges with push pins. Although I initially learned this method of stretching, I have since graduated to a much more efficient stretcher system. But more on that on a later blog.

Next, I drew the lilacs free hand using the resist applied from a plastic applicator bottle. Here is the design in its working and finished state.

Once the resist dried, I applied the first background color of dye. For these lilacs, I wanted to paint the background first and then focus on painting the design last. I wet the entire scarf with clean water. Next, I free-brushed the first color of cyan in various spots. Finally, I filled in the white spots with marine green, which is a unique shade of blue. (I use Jacquard green label dyes, in case anyone wants to know.)

While the design was still wet, I scattered salt on the entire background. The salt I used here was the Jacquard silk salt, but I’ve found kosher salt (found at your local grocer) is cheaper and just as good. Why salt? It’s because the salt technique adds texture to the background and creates a starburst pattern, since the dyes are attracted to and absorbed by the salt.

Here are some close-ups of the salt technique against the pattern, yet to be painted. When the piece dries, you will see the starburst effect start to emerge.

silkscarfpaintingdemo007

I brush the salt from the background after it has dried and recycle it for later use.

Finally, the last step is to paint the pattern itself. Here are the silver and gold scarves side-by-side. Since I did this freehand, there are variations in the patterns. Often, I sketch a pattern on a separate piece of paper and trace it onto the silk before I get started, but not here. Each scarf is unique!

 

Once the entire scarf is dyed and dried, the silk must be steam fixed. This allows the dye to chemically bond with the silk, so it doesn’t bleed out when the scarf is washed. Steaming is a time-consuming and expensive process, so I will leave this topic for a later blog as well.

After the steaming is done, I usually wait 24-48 hours to let the scarves rest. Then I wash the excess dye from the scarf, rinse until the wash water is clear of dyes, and blot the scarves well with a towel. While still damp, I iron the scarf–in this case on the backside because I don’t want the heat-set resist to gum up my iron.

The finished scarves are now ready to display, sell, give away, or wear.

So that is the silk dyeing process in a nutshell. More about painting, stretching, and steaming later!

Thanks for visiting,

Lois

 

First blog post

Thanks for visiting this blog. In the future, I plan to share the fruits of all my creative endeavors with you regarding visual arts, music, and writing. I hope you will find it informative and inspirational. Feel free to post feedback.

Thanks again for visiting,

Lois