Welcome to the swamp! Here, lurking in the muck, where creativity spawns, you'll find Mrs Crocodile, aka Colleen Dunkel, a costumer and teacher based in Basel, Switzerland.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some things just fall apart and I don't cut them up

I'm having a bad hair day, so here's my Saturday self-portrait: a picture of the seat of my pants.  And the words: some things I don't cut up, they just fall apart or wear down.  Actually I wanted to find meaning in maintenance for you and write about it, but as I took the picture here, I was struck by how exceedingly difficult it is to take a picture of the back of myself; have fun with your fantasy of me on a Saturday with no kids pretending to get work done in the office, aiming an iphone at my backside.  Taking a picture in reverse is even harder than actually seeing my back, so wouldn't it be time to just look forward?   And with meaning in maintenance I mean to say, how wonderful it is to have a financial crisis upon us because I saw some beautiful old items of clothing walking down the street today and I'm telling you they were not new, but dug out of the deepest recesses of women's closets.  I will now walk forward to my closet to go in reverse stylishly.  Have a good weekend! 
Mrs Crocodile

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Exhilarated Exhibitionist

Wow!  You're back!  How lovely to have you!  And now I've hit the first of my blogging realizations and a long list:
1) You readers all of the sudden think I'm an exhibitionist (funny this information is not new to me)
2) You readers I haven't heard from in years are saying stuff I don't remember (but am delighted to hear)
3) You readers I talk to everyday are getting worried (don't)

4) Comment moderation is exactly what this blog is about, cutting stuff up that once was might have been good and putting it back together in the search for meaning (Breathe, woman and comment please, people).
5) I am spending an enormous amount of time here, to the detriment of completing other things like taxes, the dishes, paying bills, writing in my diary, seeing friends in real life, filing, sewing and even cutting stuff up.
So today I have decided not to procrastinate and rather than do the stuff on the to do list, post a picture of myself and revel in the exhibitionism my friends were always warning me about.  This is a picture of a top I made recently: the sleeves come off and can be either a skirt or a ruff or sleeves again and the top is just a top.  I loved this ruffly fabric when I first saw it and it's really very stretchy. In that vein, it is always fun to pull at something like a rubber band and let it boing back.  It is just plain good old fun to have items of clothing that you can shoot around the house when you're not wearing them.  If I was daring enough I could even compare that to relationships, because when you think about it, there's always something boinging back your way or you shoot it and it misses its target.  Having been daring enough to say that I now go back to the practical: the top was an idea for a pattern that I had in my head for years, but never accomplished till now.  And why?  Because I found excuses!  There are no more excuses, just doing and being and have a great day!!  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the trees are greener and fuller and Spring is luscious!
Yours,
Mrs Crocodile

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cutting stuff up and putting it back together just excites me

I have just discovered that I have a fetish! Cutting up a creation that was once dear to me and putting it back together to make something else in the name of getting my aggressions out, is the most thrilling thing I've done since, well, the first time I wore no underpants to my next door neighbor's house and I was five.  And I was already cutting up loads of stuff back then, but my parents didn't allow me to have such nice scissors.  I'm telling you I have finally discovered that yes I do have a fetish and yes I am proud of it even if sadly the end result has nothing to do with the feeling or the process of catharsis achieved.  And that is when I have a pair of very shiny, very sharp scissors who whisper 'swish' but not 'Swiss' to me in my hands as I open and close them.  The little metallic snap that they make at the end, which is most definitely the most seductive of sounds, sends me to higher heights.
I know it's mad, but I needed some explanation for this picture.  Rather than the truth of what really went on inside of me that day, here is a pillow that I made but I can't even put it with the other 21 throw pillows on the day bed, because the questions, five-year-olds ask are just not ready to be answered by me today.  Truth be told:  It was a quilt I made for a man I saved myself for and a time when I thought I really could sew all that stuff back together and have it all in a neat little place.  As life would have it, nothing is neat, not even the clean lines a pair of scissors makes as they cut through something new fresh and unspoiled.
Hope you are enjoying unspoiled beauty today,
Yours and watch out for my right hand,
Mrs Crocodile

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Keep Your Friends Forever, Seal Them in Plastic, Part Three

Oh the trouble with beautiful things!  One day something is beautiful and the next day the same thing just annoys me.  Yesterday I put a collage up on the blog, today, I go back to the drawing board and in this case, I'll make a new collage on the kitchen table.  Actually, in the last post I was too certain.  Too certain that the collage would be liked and too certain that Sea, Sun and Sand is all we need.  And I contradict myself:  if my readers really knew me they would know that I can't stop fantasizing about moving into a tree house like in my post Chez-moi, but I deal daily with the battle to have beautiful objects around me and to reduce things to a minimum.  Here in this picture Ella is wearing a quilt, in fact an old friend I should call it.  Who knew I had so much red around me?  A maternity blouse offered lots of silk, a long red skirt some wool crepe, flannel from a dress I made for my niece, washable maroon wool from a chair that I re-covered.  The golden green was from a wall hanging that was once one piece but it is obviously now two.  Making the backing deep purple was Chris's idea, which made the whole thing very luxurious.  I like to give new life to things which once held meaning: one more way to keep my friends sealed in plastic...smile, smile.
Enjoy this for today,
Yours,
Mrs Crococdile

Friday, April 16, 2010

Big Walking Feet, Arms Wide Open

This is all I really need: Sun, Sand, Feet and Smile.  Actually not, but I'm trying to convince Chief Cook at Koo-ki Blog that she should take this collage and hang it up on her bare walls.  She asked me for something happy and embracing life and since happy is about all I'm really interested in, well maybe two other things involving keeping the fridge full and staving off loneliness, here it is:  Big Walking Feet, Arms Wide Open.  This collage was completed in October 2009 when I was spending a lot of time driving between Basel and Colmar and missing the sun and the sand of my native California.  This time her shoes match, her body is a crowd of people laying on the beach, her bikini bottom is a gloriously overflowing ham and veg dinner, her bikini top is re-used golden chocolate foil.  Her legs are sugar wrappers.  Her arms, more wrapped around herself than open wide, are a necklace.  Her one eye is the sun in the sky.  I'm not interpreting it for you, just giving you the background in this case: sand.  I just can't figure out if she's just starting off or slowing down.  So what do you think Chris?  Want to put up with her on your walls?
Yours, enjoying the sun yet?
Mrs Crocodile

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keep Your Friends Forever, Seal Them in Plastic, Part Two


The last post was flimsy in comparison.  In this second edition of "Keep your friends forever..", I would like to present to you 'the jeans quilt'.  After making this quilt with all of Bernard's old jeans that didn't fit him anymore, I stayed in bed for a few days to recover.  But not under that quilt because it came out so very heavy, about ten kilos or about the weight of eight pairs of men's jeans size range from 34-36, long.  I don't know everything he did in those jeans and honestly I didn't want to know.  But the fun was had in making it.  There are at least 12 pockets where you can hide things you want to have access to later, which could come in really handy, I mean when does anyone have a pocket in bed?  And wasn't this invention just waiting to happen? 
And this is a side point but probably the most important part of it:  I have made a quilt for every major event in my life.  I suppose you could call it a kind of personal commemoration.  The year I made this quilt was a productive year: I made two.  And the year before that I repaired a white one with lots of blood colored fabric and last year I cut one up into little pieces.  And now I'd better stop and let him comment on this one before I put my foot in it.  Or lose something else in the many pockets or even get crushed under the weight of eight pairs of jeans. 
Yours, with jeans on, and it's still Spring,
Mrs Crocodile

Monday, April 5, 2010

Keep Your Friends Forever, Seal Them in Plastic, Part One

"Keep your friends forever, seal them in plastic" was the saying in the fortune cookie.  There must have been something lost in the translation, but as usual I understand things in my own way, don't you?  Since none of my really good friends or worst enemies for that matter, have consented to me laminating them and hanging them from my walls, here's my secondary interpretation of "seal them in plastic", and an idea for an art project.  You can see one of the creations in the picture.  It is made of four scarves that I wore at very different times in my life and that I bought or acquired in four different countries, spanning almost 18 years: London, Venice, Paris and Basel.  The silk on two of them had been worn down so much that it was beginning to be shredded scarf.  So I cut away the bits that were falling apart, ruffled them up and voilà a fancy top!  Well maybe they won't last forever, but I'm glad I can wear these 'friends' again for some special event I like to think I'll think up.

So, you want to do it, too?  Here's the idea of an art project that will also fuel ideas and stories for this blog:

Step One:  Find an item in your closet that is dear to you, a representation of enormous sentimental value or something that for some reason, you just can't give away.  Be it a hand-bag, a pair of heels, a dress, a scarf, an old t-shirt, old jeans, whatever.  It would be easier for me to transform it, if it was once a piece of clothing since I know where to begin with textiles.  Stiff materials like wood and metal are more difficult, but you could challenge me.  Keep in mind that you don't wear the item anymore because it's too small, too big, too worn out, too smelly, not your style anymore and after I get through with it, you may not recognize it. Step Two: You give the item to me along with a story, written or oral, about the item to be transformed.  Step Three: We photograph the new item it has become and I hope and pray that you actually like it. Step Four:  we collect our new stuff made out of old garb and organize the event I'm thinking I'll like to organize.

Accepting sentimental stuff now!
Yours, with seam ripper at the ready!
Mrs Crocodile

Friday, April 2, 2010

Colors for 'Closer', the play now in Basel, 2

Is it me or are the best things in life coincidences? A woman gets into a car wreck and meets the man of her dreams.  A man walks a different way to the library, meets an old acquaintance, who buys him lunch and offers him a new job.  An actress takes her pink bag to rehearsals, it sets off the colors for a whole scene.  A scene full of 'You didn't fall in love, you gave into temptation'.  And 'Please don't hate me.'  'It's easier than loving you.'  I know some people probably hate this play, and yes loving it is hard, but you will come around once you've seen it.  It will grow on you and you will find yourself trying to remember lines that resonated because there was something related to your relationship, marriage, break-up, and life.  Because the closer we come the farther apart we are.  And going back to coincidences:  Somehow all of these people meet on a mere coincidence, and the plot unfolds.  Just see it.  Saturday is the last night.